NPR Can't Find Dissent for Sharpton March... But Champions Suffering N.Y. Sex Offenders

NPR’s All Things Considered on Saturday night offered unsurprisingly gushy coverage of Saturday’s Sharpton-replaces-MLK 50th anniversary march. There was no room in their stories for a black conservative or anyone who might be critical of the Black Left.

What might be surprising is NPR then airing a story getting out a hanky for sex offenders and warning about how a so-called “vigilante” group called “Parents for Megan’s Law” has way too much power on Long Island in monitoring sex offenders. They were even compared to George Zimmerman, the Left's favorite recent villain.

NPR outsourced the report to Charles Lane of WSHU-FM at Seton Hall University. (This is not the Charles Lane who writes for The Washington Post.) In Suffolk County on Long Island, they’ve put the victim’s-rights group in charge of monitoring sex offenders. That certainly is an interesting story, and it can be questioned as to whether an advocacy group has enough objectivity to monitor offenders.

But Lane was openly promoting the idea that asking questions of a black sex offender, Troy Wallace, was somehow an incident of "unlawful detention" and was somehow comparable to Trayvon Martin. Lane began: “Troy Wallace is 42. He has a shaved head and can bench more than 400 pounds. He has two kids and has been married for 18 years. One day last spring, he met the people that he calls the trackers.”

They asked him questions, and he wouldn’t answer. Wallace was being painted as a victim. Naturally, the NPR stringer selected Wallace for his race and his story – having sex with a 15-year-old when he was 20. He said the encounter was consensual and he thought she was 18, so he can be categorized by the audience as an “accidental sex offender.”

NPR didn’t tell listeners that the New York Times reported that after six months in jail in 1992 for his sex offense, Wallace “spent the next decade and a half in and out of prison for parole violations and a burglary conviction.”

The villains of the piece were the insensitive local politicians (Democrats!) who laughed at the victimized sex offenders:

CHARLES LANE: The Suffolk County Legislature approved the bill unanimously. Some, like Democrat Kate Browning, even joked about the law's desired outcome for sex offenders.

KATE BROWNING: And if they don't like it, then they know where they can go. Thank you.
(LAUGHTER)

STEVE BELLONE, SUFFOLK COUNTY EXECUTIVE: Other counties. (LAUGHTER)

LANE: Lawmakers aimed the bill at what they called predators, people who do bad things to vulnerable people. But Wallace says he and many others aren't bad people. When he was 20, he had consensual sex with a 15-year-old. Wallace says he thought the girl was 18. He avoided jail time by pleading guilty to a sexual assault.

(Don't you find it awesome that our tax dollars are used to air stories nationwide they categorize sex offenders as "what they call predators"? Is that the way NPR describes Catholic priests convicted of sex offenses, so-called predators?)

LANE: Since then, residency laws have become more and more restrictive. After Suffolk's latest law, he and other low-level offenders filed a lawsuit. Wallace says police essentially deputized the nonprofit Parents for Megan's Law to, quote, "harass" sex offenders in public.

WALLACE: It might be a negative impact if you just walk away from these people, which you legally have the right to do. But the fact that they attempt to ask you questions, just like your name, for whatever purpose, is an unlawful detention.

LANE: What makes Suffolk's crackdown unique is it's being outsourced to civilians. And not just any civilians, but to a victims' advocacy group. Larry Spirn, a local attorney who often defends sex offenders, says Parents for Megan's Law has a national reputation for being hostile to post-conviction sex offenders.

LARRY SPIRN: There isn't the kind of venomous attitudes that exist between police officers and the people that they arrest. I mean, for them, it's a job. That's why policing is a profession and not a, you know, a -- something to do when you don't have much else to do. It's not a vigilante exercise, and I think what we have here is an absolute vigilante exercise.

LANE: Spirn compares the possible repercussions to what happened between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman.

How on Earth is Troy Wallace being asked his name on the street like being shot after a violent fight? Lane never asked. He just used this inflammatory reference and walked away. Lane said the contract between Suffolk County and Parents of Megan’s Law “doesn't outline procedures for address verification or what constitutes proof of residence. In other words, according to Spirn, the line between monitoring and harassing isn't drawn, neither for the offender nor for the contractor.”

Alissa Ackerman, a professor specializing in “sex offender management” at the University of Washington, is even brought in to blame tough-on-crime policies for leading to more sex abuse: "These broad policies make it more difficult for offenders to live in the community. But when we are destabilizing offenders, when we're making it very difficult for them to find housing or very difficult for them to find work, we're causing more stress, and that may in the future lead to recidivism."

NPR: Not your Tough on Crime Network. It's your Bleeding Heart for Sex Offenders Network.




 

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis