First of all, let me tell you my story so you know exactly where I’m coming from. My punishment for my crime and my conviction are well deserved, but many of the trials I’ve had to overcome since my release are not. After I tell you my story, I will tell you my views and beliefs concerning the registry and how it will destroy America.
I had a decent career in the US Marines quite a few years back, but I also had an addiction that eventually destroyed that career. I was addicted to pornography.
Over the course of my adult life, my addiction grew into an obsession and while using file sharing program such as Limewire, Kazaa, and Morpheus, I discovered child pornography.
I knew I had a problem. I was afraid to go tell anyone though because for one I was ashamed. For two, I was afraid of being turned in and going to jail. The only “help” out there for people with a pornography addiction was faith based and I am strictly non-religious. I continued viewing it over 7 years because I could not find help without getting locked up. I’m not saying I’m not responsible for my choices because I definitely am, but I think I may have victimized less people and not created a bigger market if I could’ve found help.
In late 2009, I was put under investigation by NCIS and a protective order was put on me against my own children with a CPS case. CPS determined that my computer activities and my fathering were not related, but the protective order remained. I had no due process rights to see my kids because it was an “administrative” measure. The only “due process” for something like this in the military is called request mast, which I exercised. When I went to talk to the Colonel, his Sergeant Major tried to get me to incriminate myself by asking how long I’d been offending. At that point, high ranks in the military didn’t intimidate me much because I knew I was going to jail anyways, so I told him he couldn’t ask me that since the trial was still ongoing.
So, fast forward to late 2010 when I was convicted of possession of child pornography and one count of distribution (since file sharing programs allow uploads). I was sentenced to four years total. Nowhere in my trial was I ever directed to register upon release to satisfy due process.
During my incarceration, I was not allowed to communicate with my children at all as a rule of the brig. It had already been a year from the protective order.
While incarcerated in the brig, we had opportunities to reduce our time incarcerated by attending treatment, CLEP classes, and a multitude of other things to better ourselves. Although I don’t regret any of the things I did to better myself, the time I shaved off ended up being worthless. This was my first experience of the registry screwing me. When it was time for my release, I was being forced to go on “mandatory supervised release” which is really a way of saying parole. This term was reserved for sex offenders only. I was unable to find suitable housing for my release according to my parole officer.
Some of my family didn’t want the “red dot” on their house, while others lived within range of a school, park, etc. I was forced to stay in the brig past my release date by almost 3 months because when I did find someone willing to let me stay with them that was compliant with range restrictions, my parole officer sat on my paperwork. Again, no recourse or due process.
I was finally released in November 2013. One of my most inconvenient restrictions was not being able to use the internet. I was also allowed zero contact with children, so I still couldn’t talk to my kids. I had to get approval to use the computers at the unemployment office to help find a job which I found to be very difficult. After about a month of driving up there (it was about a 15 minute drive) almost every day putting in applications and resumes, I finally got a job at a national pizza chain where I had experience from before the military. I told my boss of my history and that I was on parole prior to being hired. He assured me he didn’t hire underage workers due to insurance reasons already, so it wasn’t a problem.
I quickly worked my way up into an assistant management position and was on par to be in line for a general management position as they opened up. My parole officer did not let me substitute as a driver though because of the odd chance there would be children answering the door of the customer. Once my parole was complete, however, I added myself as a delivery driver since I no longer had that restriction. Within about a week or two of doing that, Papa John’s did another background check on me since I was adding a position and noticed that their store showed up on the registry. The corporate office subsequently terminated me because they didn’t want to be associated with the registry. This is actually illegal in my state, but no lawyer would take my case.
When released from parole, I regained contact with my children through my ex-wife without the courts and went to see them every two weeks. Recently, she cut off my visitation after I asked her to bring them to the city (she lives in the country) to see my new place and scope out the neighborhood. My prior place was in the ghetto and I didn’t feel comfortable with her bringing them there. While I was looking for a place, the impact of the registry was really felt when many apartment communities “redlined” sex offenders on top of range restrictions.
After working a temp job for a little while after the pizza job, I decided to go back to school since I still rated the GI Bill. I applied at the one University that had the degree program I really wanted and they denied me due to my registration status. I am now going to a community type school for a much more generic type of degree. I should mention I tried to go to school while on parole, but my parole officer didn’t allow it because I’d have to use computers.
I then started working as a marketing representative for a carpet cleaning company after working on the labor end. My boss was well aware of my history. I secured a contract with a very prestigious real estate company for our company to be one of their preferred vendors. This was a big contract and was going to bring in a lot of business. Two weeks later, that said real estate company cancelled the contract because my company was on the registry, also illegal in my state, but only the company could sue, not me. This, among a few other reasons, was part of the reason I ended up quitting a few weeks later. My company didn’t deserve that.
Now, I have no contact with my children, which I have to fight in court myself since no lawyer wants to take my case, and I am living off of the GI bill since employment is virtually impossible. I’m working on starting my own business, but I’m sure they’ll have issues with that too.
So, here’s how the registry is completely unconstitutional: It’s a bill of attainder which is specifically forbidden, it consistently violates ex post facto law with retroactive restrictions, it violates due process given to us in the 5th and 14th amendments. The 14th is actually more descriptive saying that nobody will be in jeopardy of life, limb, or liberty without due process. I don’t care who says it’s “administrative” (the government’s way of skirting around people’s rights), redlining, range, restrictions, and the gross violation of privacy on the internet is liberty and should have due process. It violates the 8th amendment of no cruel and unusual punishment considering no other type of crime is held to a registry (yet!) The problem with this is that the Supreme Court has deemed the registry to be constitutional on the grounds that the loss of liberty is not the intent of the law, but community safety is. I fail to see that clause authorized in the constitution, nor do I see that due process is only for criminal justice laws and that “administrative” don’t apply.
Now, they’ve authorized a scarlet letter on passports which has the potential to deny sex offenders the liberty to travel and see the world after serving their debt to society since many countries will deny entrance to the country due to this identifier.
Right now, the people online that still advocate for a registry do so saying it’s a punishment. I have yet to see one person advocate for the NEED of a registry other than we deserve what we’re getting. Anyone that advocates for reform is called a “criminal apologist” Since when is it American to deny the rights of people because the majority just don’t like them? Actually, it’s been American policy for quite some time now. Women were severely restricted for many years. Blacks and other races of color were restricted for many years. People accused of witchcraft, gays and lesbians, the list goes on. Here we are in the 21st century and it’s happening all over again. Granted, the “sex offender class” are people who have been convicted of a specific type of crime which does make it slightly different, but the concept is the same. It’s the same as the Nuremburg laws in Germany prior to WWII.
Here’s the implications if society allows these registries to continue: More registries for other things will start popping up. As a matter of fact, they’ve already started. In Utah, they have a “white collar criminal” registry. Donald Trump is calling for a ban on Muslims and highly restricting illegal aliens. I see a Muslim registry coming if not a Arab registry. I see a gang member registry coming. I see an STD registry coming. I see a Mexican registry coming.
As bad and as ancient as these registry ideas sound, the sex offender registry opens the door because it’s considered “administrative” and “non-punitive” Lawyers and lawmakers will use the existence of the sex offender registry and the case law that goes with it to justify these other illegal registries. This is just the start, but maybe it needs to happen for Americans to wake up! If they fight those registries, it will give the advocates for reforming the sex offender registry case law ammunition to fight ours. Soon, they may even start removing statute of limitations laws for sex crimes since offenders have to register for life anyways. If they do that, most of the country will end up on the registry including John Walsh.
There is hope and I’m going to use this opportunity to present my plan that will restore the majority of our rights while giving the naysayers their stupid registry as well. This plan is not perfect and I truly advocate for abolishing the registry, but things happen more often with compromise which is what I’m proposing. Any concerns or suggestions are welcome.
Here’s the plan: