Colorado Releases First "Sexually Violent Predator"

August 25 2005, 12:43 PM

The first "sexually violent predator" in a Colorado prison has been released. The Fort Collins police chief held a town meeting to alert the community that a dangerous man would be living in their midst. The meeting was held in a church, packed for the occasion. Who is this inmate? Did he kidnap and rape a small child? Did he accost a stranger in a parking lot or on a dark street and violently rape her before letting her go? The answer appears to be he did not. He is now 26. In 1999, when he was 20:

Jason Matthew Ballard, 26, was convicted of second-degree sexual assault for raping a drunken 17-year-old girl he met at a party in October 1999. Ballard was released from prison Aug. 3.

He wasn't convicted of the more serious crime of first-degree sexual assault. What this young man needs is a job, an accepting community ready to give him another chance, and the opportunity to show he can become a productive member of society. Why is he on the sexually violent predator list to begin with? He met five of the criteria. Take a look at some of them.

Ballard met five of the 10 qualifying factors, including failing the first grade, using alcohol during the sexual assault and being in denial, Morgan said. Meeting four of the factors would have been sufficient.

So, someone who fails the first grade, was drinking with someone they knew when they had sex, and either continues to insist it was a consensual encounter (or insists it was the only time they used force) even though a jury said differently (or they pleaded guilty to the charge to avoid the risk of being convicted on a more serious charge) warrants a town hall meeting. The Scarlet "SO" has replaced the Scarlet "A" in our society. What released offenders need is a job, a place to live, community support and acceptance and a second chance. That, not ostracism, will break cycle of recidivism.