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Patty Wetterling NOW Questions Sex Offender Laws

March 2014 National:

Story-1: Patty Wetterling Discusses Sex Offender Laws in 2007

On an overcast spring day in 1996, a handful of people filed out of the Oval Office and assembled on the driveway of the White House before a scrum of reporters. They cast satisfied glances at the television cameras as birds chirped and a helicopter whirred nearby. Nothing except for the white memorial ribbons pinned to their lapels indicated the nature of their fateful connection to each other as the parents of children kidnapped by strangers and, in all but one case, viciously assaulted and murdered.

Standing together, they represented a grim who's who of notorious child abductions of the late 20th century. On one end was John Walsh, whose six-year-old son, Adam, was abducted from a department store in Hollywood, Florida, in 1981 and later discovered decapitated. Then there was Marc Klaas, the father of Polly Klaas, a 12-year-old girl who was kidnapped at knifepoint from her bedroom in Petaluma, California, in 1993 and whose body was found two months later in a shallow grave. In the middle were Rich and Maureen Kanka, whose seven-year-old daughter, Megan, was kidnapped, raped, and murdered in 1994 by a convicted sex offender living across the street from their home in New Jersey. At the front of the group was Patty Wetterling, the mother of Jacob Wetterling, an 11-year-old who was abducted at gunpoint near his home in St. Joseph, Minnesota, in 1989 and never found. ..Continued..

Story-2: Patty Wetterling: The harm in sex-offender laws
Published in the Sacramento Bee, September 14, 2007

ST. JOSEPH, Minn. -- My son Jacob was kidnapped on Oct. 22, 1989. Neither his brother nor his friend saw the man's face. He was masked, he had a gun and he ordered them to run to the woods. By the time they looked back, Jacob was gone and so was the man. Since that day, I have been on a journey to find him and to stop this from ever happening to another child, another family.

But I'm worried that we're focusing so much energy on naming and shaming convicted sex offenders that we're not doing as much as we should to protect our children from other real threats.

Many states make former offenders register for life, restrict where they can live, and make their details known to the public. And yet the evidence suggests these laws may do more harm than good.

Jacob's Law was the first federal attempt to prevent convicted sex offenders from repeating their crimes after release. It was the outcome of my unwanted education in sexual violence against children. ..Continued..

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