Letters: Feb. 4, 2011

Terminology in sex offender story misleading

There was a serious error in this newspaper’s otherwise very complete coverage of public safety efforts. In its article “County sex offender audits on the rise” by Shelli DeRobertis (Jan. 25) the term “sex offender” was used throughout to describe people who are being audited. That term may not fit. While every person audited has been convicted in the past of some sexual misconduct, that does not mean they are still committing sex offenses now, which use of that term suggests.
Equally, further down the piece, when it accurately reported that a “parolee” must adhere to being drug and alcohol-free, while continuing to speak of all the others under the audit who are also registered, the inference is given that everyone being audited is on parole, which is not true. Most people on California’s registry completed any parole they were given, in many cases, decades ago.
Our registration law serves a valuable function when it lets the public know who among it were convicted of sexual offenses, so that they may be kept under watch by the community itself. This also helps the former offender to remain “former” as he or she never knows when he or she is being observed. For these reasons alone, audits to confirm their accurate location are essential. Reports on them, however, must adhere to accuracy if they are to benefit the reader. Referring to formerly convicted people as if they are still offenders, and of those who are registered as if they are all still on parole misrepresents the facts your readers deserve to have.
FYI, the nonprofit I serve counsels paroled sex offenders as I was one some 20 years ago who has never had any further legal problems. For more, go to www.californiaregistrants.net

Jake Goldenflame, J.D., M.A.
Project Director
Personhood Development Center of California

We must be vigilant about prescription drug problem

Kudos to Bianca Kaplanek for the depth and detail of her Jan. 28 story, “Prescription drug abuse addressed at meeting.”
As it should, the story examined the destructive results of prescription drug and heroin abuse among teens.
In my role as the County Supervisor representing Solana Beach and surrounding communities, I have seen firsthand the consequences suffered by drug-addicted teens who had considered themselves indestructible.
All too often, the nightmare of drug abuse begins with leftover pain-killers or other prescription drugs right from the family’s medicine cabinet.
My office took action on this issue in 2008, organizing the formation of the Oxy Task Force — a consortium of county, state and federal officials — whose mission was to educate the community about the danger of OxyContin and to reduce its supply. The task force recently has expanded to include all prescription drugs.
As we campaign to raise awareness about prescription drug dangers we also have acted to get rid of the drugs themselves. Last year, Sheriff Bill Gore and I authored an ordinance to install 23 prescription drug drop-off boxes at secure locations throughout the county.
Residents can dump prescription and over-the-counter drugs in these receptacles with no questions asked. One of the drop-off boxes can be found at the Encinitas Sheriff’s Station.
We also have hosted take-back days, where I joined Sheriff’s deputies and DEA agents in the collection efforts. Our most recent event netted nearly 4,800 pounds of drugs.
These are positive steps, but complacency could invite tragedy. I appreciate Sheriff’s Sgt. David Ross once again working late to inform the community and I applaud parents who are committed to spreading the word about this important issue.
Parents who believe their child might have a drug problem should call the county’s Access and Crisis Line at (800) 479-3339.

Pam Slater-Price
District 3 Supervisor
San Diego County Board of Supervisors