By Brandon Rendon
2023 TX H.B. 607 “AN ACT relating to the Solicitation of Pen Pals by certain inmates of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.”
“Certain Inmates,” this bill targets only sex offenders (for now). On its face that may not sound so bad. Why should these supposed sexual deviants, rapists, pedophiles, etc… be allowed another platform or outlet to reach potential new victims? After all, that’s why they’re here isn’t it? Isolation from society? Well, here is why that’s wrong and counterproductive to the underlying problem.
When an animal (pet) does something wrong, i.e. chewing shoes or damaging property, does one simply beat the animal down & lock it in a kennel? Well, no. Not if you want to prevent the behavior from being repeated. Instead one uses corrective behaviors, such as positive reinforcement, encouragement of positive behavior and the like. So why do we do this to sex offenders? Once convicted, they are sent to a prison where they are beaten, raped, and sometimes perish from sustained injuries. To put it bluntly, they are ostracized through the length of their incarceration by their “peers,” offered little to no help or support from the outside, and often are victims themselves who never received help.
According to the 2023 Department of Justice Study, the recidivism rate for sex offenders is 5.3%. Let that sink in. More so, therapeutic programs succeed in helping them to avoid relapses, manage & control “deviant” behavior, and in helping the offender understand their origins of this disorder.
Like drug addicts, there is no “cure” for sex offending behavior. However, treatment & recognition of these patterns of behavior are often successful in helping the offender regain control over their life and/or the behavior. This is much like how an alcoholic or drug addict recognizes trigger behavior and environmental risk factors to proactively avoid certain situations. I say all this to point out that further alienation or condemnation will not have the desired effect. Programs like CURE-SORT (Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants-Sex Offenders Restored through Treatment) offer information to promote the rehabilitation and successful reentry into society for these offenders as well as Facts v.s. Myths, position papers, and other educational material.
I don’t believe this bill to be support the new mission of the TDCJ, nor to support the rehabilitative goals of those inmates seeking change. Not only that, if we allow these lawmakers to discriminate against one type of inmate, where is the line drawn to stop them from targeting all of Texas’ inmates? Give them an inch and they’ll take everything. Look at our Indigenous Reservation’s “peace treaties.” Don’t let them continue to alienate our loved ones. At the end of the day, we are all human. All life is sacred. Remember to honor all our relations.
Brandon Rendon is incarcerated in Texas