People on the Sex Offender Registry
Michigan Resources for Registered Offenders
What PABC Still Does
PABC stopped housing registered sex offenders on campus as of August 20, 2015,and will not allow any more to live on campus in the future. This has been done to increase the services that we are able to offer to families with children. Some people working in the judicial system and other government agencies felt it was too risky to have registered offenders and children in the same facility, and they would not allow children at PABC for that reason. Since children rarely cause their own homelessness, we believe they need the most help and we want to maximize our services to them.
Even so, people who are on the Sex Offender Registry are still made in the image of God, and when they have fulfilled their jail or prison time, they still need a place to live. Most would be sent back to jail or prison if they do not have an address. If they deserve life in prison, then the laws should be changed to reflect that. But once released, they need a chance to live somewhere, get a job, support themselves, and understand the purpose for which God has made them.
Rather than simply refuse to help people on the registry, PABC has devised a plan whereby it can find off campus placement for them. PABC will not bring sex offenders on campus for interviews, but only accept letters, phone calls and e-mails. All interviews will take place at some distant location. Before explaining the new ministry, we include a summary of what we have learned over the past five years. Unfortunately, most people seem to believe that everyone on the registry is an evil person lurking around schools and playgrounds, hoping to grab and molest some innocent child. There are such offenders, but that is a small minority. PABC has housed 17 registered sex offenders, considered housing another 12, and briefly housed 13 people whom it considered sexually dangerous, but who are not on the registry. This has been our experience:
What Is Good for Everybody?
The goals of any effort to help people on the sex offender registry should be as follows:
A Christian housing ministry for those on the offender registry helps with all of the above points. Here is how:
PABC Off Campus Housing Ministry
The PABC Off Campus Housing Ministry is just like what it sounds—ministerial-directed housing for people off of the PABC campus. It has many other purposes, but housing cooperative sex offenders is one purpose, as the children on the PABC campus render it impossible to effectively serve both populations at the same place. It is not good to have homeless sex offenders walking the streets or to have them live in places that encourage illegal activity. Therefore, PABC is including them in its Off Campus Housing Ministry
So why would anyone, who has a quiet peaceful life, want to take someone into their home who is on the sex offender list? It is unlikely that they will receive anything from this effort that will fiscally compensate them for their efforts. A lot could go wrong and PABC does not have any insurance to cover it. But some Christians believe the scriptures and trust God for what He says. Most Christians know the story of the “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37). The priest and the Levite did not help the wounded traveler—probably because it was too dangerous. The robbers might still be around and it would be easy to attack someone on the ground, tending to an injured person. But the Samaritan, a man largely despised by the people of the day, was willing to get off his own donkey, tend to the injured man and put him on his donkey. He did it because it was worth risking danger to help a man in need.
And so it is worth bringing people into one's house who might not otherwise have any place to live, and who one can help on the path toward life, rather than a path toward crime and death. God promises to help believers who do this:
I want you to share your food with the hungry and to provide shelter for homeless, oppressed people. When you see someone naked, clothe him! Don't turn your back on your own flesh and blood! Then your light will shine like the sunrise; your restoration will quickly arrive; your godly behavior will go before you, and the LORD's splendor will be your rear guard (Isaiah 58:7-8, NET).
PABC cannot do the Off-Campus Housing Ministry by itself. It can only share its experiences and coordinate with others willing to perform this service to God and their fellow man.
These were his instructions to them: "The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields (Luke 10:2, NET).
Confusing Offender Rating Systems
When PABC accepted sex offenders in the past, some government officials encouraged us to take only those with a "less dangerous" rating. While that may sound simple enough, the two ranking systems in place do a poor job. Michigan's Criminal Sexual Conduct statutes (MCL 750.520a - n) have four degrees, the first degree being the most most serious and the fourth degree being the least serious. But when an offender is convicted and placed on the registry, they are assigned a "tier" level, from 1 to 3, which is the opposite order, 1 being the least dangerous and 3 being the most dangerous.
Even though the three tiers are promoted as an indicator of a former convict’s danger to society, they are only marginally useful for that. In general, tier 1 people exposed themselves, or touched others through their clothes, tier 2 touched others directly and tier 3 penetrated them. What the numbers do not tell, which is far more important, is how much criminal intent or “victim’s’ consent” is involved. For example, people who urinate in a public place, thinking they are alone, but seen by others can be prosecuted and become a tier 1 offender. They may have intended nothing sexual, but jut gave in to a bad idea. On the other hand, people who deliberately expose themselves to sexually offend or excite others are usually rated the same tier 1.
At the other extreme, a high school couple can have safe sex like they were taught in health class, but the older one can be rated a tier 3 offender for life because he was 18 and his willing-to-have-sex girlfriend was 15. It does not matter if he never knew about the law or if his girlfriend lied about her age and said she was 18. He will have the same tier 3 rating as a convicted 40-year old who hid in a park and forcibly raped unsuspecting children.
If we are trying to evaluate an offender's danger to the public, we must try to measure the level of consensuality he or she seeks. Offenders who only do things with those who are willing to do it with them are not very dangerous. There is great danger with those who want to force sex upon others, or who think the others want it when they clearly say they do not. Also, there are some people who can get along in peace most of the time, but when they get angry, jilted or triggered in some other way, they may occasionally get sexually forceful. So how can the public best be protected?
A tier system that included the level of consensuality in the offence would be an improvement—but the Michigan legislature will have to bring this about. But we are fighting an uphill battle. The fundamental problem is that our entertainment and society is full of adultery and fornication—sexual acts between unmarried people. As long as schools and laws encourage unmarried sex between consenting adults and consenting minors (technically illegal but almost never prosecuted), they are going to have a difficult time preventing sex between un-consenting people or between adults and minors.
Lessons Learned From Formerly Housing Sex Offenders