Opinion: Let he without sin cast the first stone
February 3, 2012
How do you feel about Dale Matthew Waite being released into our community?
“It upsets me, but not for my own safety. It worries me for other peoples safety.”
Junior Skooter Byrnes
“Considering that we’ve never had problems with sexual predators in precious history, I’m not too worried about it. But it does nag at the back of my mind.”
Freshman Holly Dunaway
“I don’t think we should have a sex offender here.”
Junior Dustin Martin
“it upsets me a lot.”
Sophomore Shianna Dockins
” I think he should be in a bigger city and still in jail. It’s such a small town. I think it’s a little more dangerous.”
Freshman Felicia Vasquez
“I don’t really have a point of view on him. If you stay clear of him then you’re in good hands. He lives all the way near Elk Head so at least he’s kind of out of town.”
Senior Joseph Romero
“He needs to go back to prison. He’s not a safe person to be around.”
Sophomore Coltin Neilson
“I guess it worries me a little bit but as long as I know what he looks like and where he lives that’s helpful.”
Math teacher Jeff Schlim
“My personal opinion is if he was deemed violent that the court would remove from society.”
Foreign language teacher Terri Harjes
Imagine living in a community that's supportive, proactive and safe. The real community isn't the streets or buildings it's built on, but the satisfactory relationships between the people belonging to the society. Members within it are successful when making strategic implementations, whether it's trying to achieve goals with public input or notifying the citizens of issues arising in the community. One might find Craig, Colorado a perfect fit for themselves, feeling comfortable enough to reside in this small town.
Say you consider yourself a "good Samaritan," unselfishly helping anyone in need of assistance, always making correct decisions because you know it's the right thing to do. Now flip the scenario, you're the antagonist. You've made some unforgiveable choices that have harmed other people and, consequently, your future. Would a "good Samaritan" stop to help you, or just let you become the latest notch at the bottom of the totem pole?
As for the community in Craig, the name Dale Mathew Waite is particularly familiar, his face being branded in the back of hundreds of minds. Waite gained an extreme amount of publicity for his conviction of sexual assault in 2009 and similar crimes in California in the 1980's. Waite was paroled in late November and now resides in Moffat County.
At first, when I thought about the new addition to Craig, I felt it was necessary that people take precautionary steps towards their safety. After hearing multiple repugnant comments, I was disappointed in our community. It makes me wonder if we have forgotten what the American justice system is all about.
A person has the right to freely start over after paying a certain debt, not to be hounded and ostracized for the rest of his life. Take Waite for example, he committed his crimes and paid his dues, including jail time in Colorado and twenty-five years of a fifty year sentence in California.
I'm not sitting here denying that there are people in this world who do wrongful things, but the stigma attached to sex offenders – branding them as threats to society is almost prejudice. I understand the feelings of fear when coming face to face with a person who has been labeled with the high intent to reoffend. Fear is natural and substantial, but it can be curved.
Looking at our lifestyles now, this was an awakening that should teach us how to become more aware of our boundaries and our surrounding environment. Take this opportunity and be thankful for the advanced warning of safety the government accommodates within a township.
The Jacob Wetterling Act of 1994 requires sexual offenders to notify law enforcement of their residence in a community. Due to the Jacob Wetterling Act, Craig acquired the advantage of a community meeting and being notified of Waite, but it doesn't mean we can become our own vigilantes just because we're afraid someone is going to walk around a corner and do something offensive.
Let these experiences teach us a lesson, we should step off our soapbox and realize Craig isn't the only place this happens and ask ourselves: If one of us were to be released back into society, how would we expect to be treated?