For my final piece at Transom I researched the rights of sex offenders post prison. Here’s some backstory to this complex story.
What surprised me most about the end result for this piece was how measured it now seems. It certainly didn’t start that way. I knew I was choosing a tough subject when I wanted to do a piece about sex offenders. Originally it was supposed to be about how a ‘dangerous’ offender could be released from prison and not properly monitored, increasing the likelihood that they would reoffend. And in a way, that’s quite straightforward. Sex offenders are bad people. This is the general consensus.
As I started to research the story I ran up against some walls — mainly key people unwilling to be interviewed on tape. But I also found that things weren’t as black and white as I had imagined. I had always believed that all offenders were horrible people who had committed horrific crimes but now my perceptions were beginning to change. It was during this time that I read about the ‘God Bus’ in Yarmouth and a picture of a town started to emerge. A town concerned about the safety of their children when a Level 3 offender was roaming the streets in his brightly coloured school bus. How they had rallied together to remove this faction of society, innocent or not, from their streets. I knew I had my story, or so I thought.
But it wasn’t to be and this was the biggest lesson I learned. You’re prepped from the outset that your story may not unfold the way you thought it would. But sometimes, at that very last minute, your story can grab you by the ears and spin you right upside down. The more tape I got or didn’t get, the more I realized my story was not turning out how I expected it to, let alone how I wanted it to. And so I had to adapt yet again. I found myself in the eleventh hour really unsure about where I was going with this piece. And throw into that the subject matter itself. I was really struggling to make sense of something that was almost impossible to defend. What did I even want to say?
Thankfully with the endlessly patient support of Rob and Catie and my wonderful, honest and generous classmates, I was able to pull myself from deep within the reeds and create a strong, well-informed and unbiased piece.
Listen to it here
Read about more of the stories from the course here