Enhanced Sex Offender Scrutiny Logical

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The tragic situation involving Sarah Foxwell, the 11-year-old Parsonsburg girl abducted from her home days before Christmas and killed sometime thereafter, has touched many souls in the region.

It’s the young innocent life unfairly ended by a disturbed individual that bothers all of us, but it’s also the fact it could have been prevented that’s especially painful.

The law enforcement and judicial systems are taking much of the blame here, and they certainly deserve to be scrutinized. A look at his checkered criminal history reveals numerous sex offenses involving minors, even his own daughter, reportedly, and some subsequent light and questionable prison sentences.

A thorough review by legislators and criminal leaders should be immediately authorized to determine whether the system is letting our most vulnerable down. This case and this man’s history should be specifically studied. There must be some specific questions raised about the suspect’s past and why he received the light sentences and early probation opportunities he did.

The good news is there’s a groundswell of support to do just that and put the state’s sex offender registry under the microscope and the compliance policies associated with it.

The bad news is, and this is not the popular sentiment, some culpability should be placed on the family because a few obvious measures could have saved this girl’s life. It has been widely reported the suspect, who had a relationship with the young girl’s aunt, her guardian, knew where the spare key was kept for the house.

Knowing of the suspect’s past sex offense history, the aunt or some family member should have been conscientious enough to realize common sense says to relocate the key. There were numerous other confusing missteps along the way that could have prevented this situation from ever unfolding and breaking the hearts of many on Christmas.

Whenever a case involving a sexual offender is in the news, calls for stricter measures, such as electronic monitoring, are inevitable. It’s understandable when tragedies are preventable to be critical and seek changes. We think an extensive review is indeed needed, and it’s our hope some changes are approved by the legislature in time.

In the meantime, we encourage all residents to look at the state’s sex offender registry. Anyone with a child should be privy to this information. Trust is something that has to be earned. It’s not something everyone is entitled to be given. We need to know who is living in our community.

We recommend readers simply do an online search for the Maryland Sex Offender Registry and explore. It’s worth knowing that 17 offenders live in the 21811 zip code; that 21 live in the 21842 zip code; that nine live in the 21863 zip code; that one lives in the 21813 zip code; and that 68 live in the 21801 zip code.

America is the place for second chances, and it’s fair for most people to get that opportunity to show they are reformed when bad judgment has been proven and the consequences have been paid. There’s a difference between people who make a mistake and pay the price or those with a sick proclivity to prey on the most vulnerable among us. This suspect should have never been walking and working among us. Surely, other victims will come forward now that his mug shot has been widely distributed.

Rather than focus on the past, we need to encourage our legislators to immediately get to work on the present and future and to better protect all of us. An independent review is the first step followed by some wholesale changes in the way we prosecute, sentence and monitor the criminals among us.

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