Labeled for life

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At the age of 18, Arlan was convicted of first degree sexual assault of a child after having sex with a 12-year-old girl. The criminal complaint shows Arlan knew the girl, and doesn't reveal any violence or force were used. Arlan spent four years behind bars for that offense. Now, nearly 13 years later, Arlan is still reminded daily of the choice he made that night. Wisconsin law requires him to register as a sex offender for life. "We've had condoms on our mailbox, we've had phone calls, we've had reports to social services that we have sex toys laying around, that we parade our daughter around naked in front of men," said Meer. "I can't even get a job. A real job." Arlan's long-time companion, Jennifer Hale, says some laws for registered sex offenders aren't fair. "I want to know when it became our jobs to judge other people," said Hale. "I want to know why there's not a registry for murderers or attempted murderers because I don't want to live next door to them, either."

source: 'Labeled for Life, Part I' by Angela Salscheider;; WSAW; 15 May 2006

The Dept. of Corrections requires anyone convicted of a sex offense to go through treatment. It's in hopes sex offenders can understand their crimes and why what they did was wrong. Arlan Meer is a registered sex offender. It's his label for life, after having sex with a 12-year-old girl when he was 18. A criminal complaint shows Meer knew the girl and it doesn't reveal violence or force were used. Now, after serving a four year prison sentence, the 31-year-old Meer is still trying to piece his life back together. "This wrecked my life," said Meer. He is now a father and long-time companion to Jennifer Hale. "We are a good family, we are stable," said Hale. Stability is what local probation agents and therapists want registered sex offenders to find, to help keep them on the right track. The main type of treatment used is group therapy, similar to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, where admitting to mistakes are crucial. [...]

"We do not let offenders live next to schools, next to parks," said Mike Williams, a corrections field supervisor for the WI Dept. of Corrections. "There isn't exactly an amount of feet in Wisconsin like there is in some states but what we do is make an assessment of the residents and how close the risk factor is." But it still doesn't make some people, like Nicole and Mark Kruger, feel any safer. They have two daughters and just found out a sex offender lives two doors away. "I honestly believe if you hurt a child once, you shouldn't see the light of day again," said Mark. But Arlan Meer is seeing the light of day again. "I did the crime, I'll do the time, but should I have to pay for it for the rest of my life?" said Meer. Many of you might be answering, "yes" to Arlan's question, and it's a debate that's surely here to stay.

source: 'Labeled for Life, Part III' by Angela Salscheider;; WSAW; 16 May 2006