A lot of communities have opened their towns, their homes, and their arms to the refugees from Hurricane Katrina. In Charlotte, for example, 300 people were given tickets to the Panthers/Saints opening football game (from the tickets reserved for players to give to friends and family) and got to see their Saints win. And in Massachusetts, 250 have been taken in on Cape Cod, with their plane welcomed by Governor Mitt Romney personally.
As the blush wore off, though, Massachusetts got a closer look at the shell-shocked fellow Americans they took in. And they discovered that seven of them are convicted sex offenders.
That raises an interesting dilemma. Back when hurricane season started, I recalled hearing about some people who were wondering if sex offenders should be allowed into emergency shelters — which were often schools, and often would house children — and would violate the laws requiring them to avoid such places. Would those restrictions be lifted in cases of emergency, or would the sex offenders have to seek shelter elsewhere?
In Massachusetts’ case, the seven men have been segregated to a separate floor, and guards have been stationed in the building. With luck, that’ll be enough to protect the general population.
But it’s inevitable that among the refugees will be such as sex offenders, and that question will have to be dealt with.
Should they be screened for at the point of departure? Should the communities accepting refugees be warned? Should they have the right to refuse to accept them?
And if the offenders are refused, what the hell should we do with them?
My personal choice tends to violate the law — apparently summary executions are illegal. But there has to be some way to deal with this problem. And we better figure it out, and soon.