Open Letter to the Public

Dear Community Saviors,

There is not much worse than decision makers sitting around a table deciding your future and yet you’re not present at the table. The so-called leaders of the community will decide where you might live, travel to, and possibly determine where it is you cannot go. They will decide what information is publicly available, and they will not know or come to understand when you are or have become jobless and homeless. They have pledged to protect the community at all costs, which includes surreptitiously stealing or quickly stripping your own family’s reputation and well being, for the sake of public safety.

It is a slow death, the constant worry of humiliation at any given time for someone else’s past. It’s the loss of income, inability to move, to go places and partake in activities you’d otherwise be at free will to enjoy. The dark cloud that lingers does not distant itself quite in the same way that mental anguish, pain or suffering usually does after time. No, this does not subside. It’s constantly there, and it feels far from safe. Why are we, as a family, subjected to this? We are not our loved one’s crime, yet we are never away from being reminded of it every day some two, five, ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty… years later.

Everywhere, everyone, failed to ask the family, the root support system of the law-abiding, publicly registered sex offender, what life is like for them. Has anyone bothered to even remotely begin to think about what it might be like living with your address designated as the town’s witching grounds? Has anyone given thought to the child in the home who will be reminded of a possibly long ago occurrence that they had nothing to do with? Did it even occur to anyone that publicly registering every known man, woman, and child–in some states–by widely marking any and all persons convicted of a sex offense, no matter the circumstances and no matter how much time has elapsed since the conviction, would create a lifelong, everlasting gobstopper and prevent what we want criminals to do in the first place? Repent, rebuild, and live a healthy lifestyle? Shame on the media for sensationalizing this subject. Shame on the mental health professionals who have no business attempting to provide treatment to those they refuse to forgive and feel they are required to humiliate as if it’s their dutiful purpose. Shame on the criminal justice professionals who have allowed overzealous prosecutorial greed and fear of liability to overtake sound judgement and evidenced-based practices. And most importantly, shame on the American public for so quickly dismissing someone’s constitutional rights that could very well affect you too someday and for vehemently justifying your personal belief that it’s perfectly permissible to hate and to fear that which you do not understand and know absolutely nothing about except a screen shot on the Internet.

If the claim is to promote public safety, perhaps the approach that has caused as much or more panic to the community and additional pain and destruction to the individual and family, needs to be revised, Mr. and Ms. Lawmaker. A Law Enforcement Only registry for most individuals convicted of a sex offense seems like a reasonable place to start.

The Family Members, Friends, and Loved Ones of the People Convicted of a Sex Offense

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