Governor Acknowledges Hatred of Sex Offenders
The cat is out of the bag…Governor Jeb Bush has recently admitted his personal hatred and prejudicial disdain for sexual offenders trapped at the Arcadia prison known as the Florida Civil Commitment Center. A scathing four part investigative story in the Miami Herald by reporter Jason Grotto has exposed abuse, corruption, fraud and violence towards the sexual offenders legally trapped there, while implicating the State for incompetence and neglect. Governor Bush, when confronted with the Miami Herald’s findings, stated "But, like, I mean, this is a group of people that are the sickest of the sick", Bush said. "They are truly perverted and they are not curable, and we are spending $54,000 a year on these folks".
Is it any wonder that the Arcadia commitment sex offender prison, previously spun by Jeb Bush’s minions as a "state of the art treatment center", is a total failure? When our Governor believes that offenders are perverted and the sickest of the sick, could there be any substantial rehabilitative effort coming out of Tallahassee? No, there could never be. Arcadia was designed to fail from the beginning, as Florida under Republican control continues to dismantle all supportive and therapeutic services for troubled families touched by sexual abuse. Governor Martinez, the Republican governor who preceded Bush, dismantled all sex offender rehabilitative programs in the prisons statewide, denying every sex offender the assistance that can make all the difference upon their release. Since 2000, the State has released over 15,000 sex offenders from prison without any treatment. At the same time, the Legislature continues passing more punitive laws and restrictions, such as the Jessica Lundsford Act that do little, if anything, to protect our communities. Studies indicate that punishment does not solve this widespread, pervasive public health problem, but treatment can and does. So why does Jeb Bush want to abuse and punish rather than rehabilitate? The proof is in the pudding…"These are grotesque crimes", says Bush. "They should be put away…imprisoned forever. That would solve this problem".
There you have it. Jeb Bush does not believe in treatment for offenders hence his version of a treatment program becomes a chamber of horrors. Utilizing smoke and mirrors and a legal slight of hand the State has created a cesspool of abuse, neglect and despair, then tries to blame the Liberty Corporation for the massive problems at the commitment center after the proverbial poop hits the fan. The "privatization" of government services, touted by Bush as cost effective, has failed across Florida on almost every level, but it succeeds in shielding the government from taking direct responsibility for failure. Similar to Jeb’s brother George W. blaming the abuse and torture of suspected terrorists on others beyond his direct control, the State can blame Liberty Corp. for the treatment center’s failure, while pretending lawmakers weren’t aware of the problems. In reality, the Legislature and the Governor ignored thousands of warnings, letters, pleas from the families of the men, lawsuits and reports from their own internal investigators.
Republican Anex Villalobos from Miami admitted to the Miami Herald that the real intent of the Jimmy Ryce Act was to keep offenders locked up, not help or rehabilitate them. "Sexual offenders were not receiving heavy prison sentences, that’s what we needed to fix", said Villalobos. Federal Justice Dept. studies reveal that sex offenders nationwide have the lowest recidivism rate of any class of prisoners. Shouldn’t this offer hope that even the toughest cases deserve a chance at rehabilitation? The question begs to be asked…does Governor Bush want the sex offenders to fail? Why set up a corrupt treatment scam, strip the men of their civil liberties and extend their sentences under the guise of helping them, unless the goal was additional abuse and punishment all along?
When Governor Bush’s daughter was busted for crack cocaine, didn’t he want to see her get help and a real chance to turn her life around? How would Jeb Bush tolerate his daughter being thrown into a hellhole like Arcadia, stripped of her dignity while being abused by staff and inmates? After she served her time and paid her debt to society, how would Bush like to see his daughter’s plea bargain reneged by prosecutors who insisted she wouldn’t succeed in society and needed to be locked away, maybe indefinitely? How would Jeb as a father feel when his daughter’s hope for redemption was crushed by state hired counselors who took what they learned in the bogus counseling and used it against his daughter at her "commitment trial" to keep her from ever being released?
Until the Governor and the Legislature stop abusing sex offenders and denying them legitimate help, sexual abuse in our society will only worsen. Our Governor needs to look in the mirror and the sooner the better.
Don Sweeney L.M.H.C.-C.A.P.
Sympathy for the Devil
Governor Jeb Bush recently complained that sex offenders being systematically abused at the Florida Civil Commitment Center don’t deserve any sympathy. I’ve worked as a therapist with sex offenders for over two decades and I can tell you the last thing offenders want is sympathy. Healing damaged emotions and breaking the cycle of addiction while learning to love in healthy relationships are the treatment goals of all sex offenders. The Governor’s insistence that offenders are untreatable underscores the magnitude of lies spread to generate fear to a gullible and misinformed public. Contrary to what authorities will tell you, virtually all sex offenders are themselves untreated victims, many of them sexualized by women (who are rarely apprehended)…a sexist double standard conspires to keep this fact secret. For boys sexualized by males, our homophobic culture helps drive this form of abuse further into the closet. And the fact that almost eighty percent of sexual abuse in America is actually family, not stranger related, ensures that nothing will be reported, given the hateful and "punishment only" mentality pushed by lawmakers today.
Promoting fear and intolerance has always worked well for tough talking politicians and law enforcement types, serving their agendas of expansion and power but actually doing little to effectively address the problem (analogous to the war on drugs, another law enforcement failure). Cultivating the current stigma against sex offenders by those in power only fosters increased secrecy and allows this widespread social problem to multiply exponentially…today’s untreated victims are tomorrow’s offenders. Sympathy for offenders? How about empathy for the children and troubled families we continue to harm by branding this problem with a scarlet letter.
Don Sweeney L.M.H.C.-C.A.P.
A Better Solution
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St. Petersburg, FL 33709