My name is Jamie, and I am on the Registry in Pennsylvania. I have been on it since 2004 after being released from jail after serving a 5-year sentence. I was convicted of aggravated indecent assault, along with a slew of other related charges. The judge at my sentencing hearing informed me that upon release, I would be required to register for the rest of my life. I was 29 years old at that time. I am now 50 years old. That judge also told me that having to register is not punitive, but simply administrative. This conviction has cost me my family, friends, a promising career and my dignity. I was under the foolish impression that I would get out of jail, get a job, go back to school and move on with my life. Well…
When I got out of jail in 2004, I very quickly found out that no one would hire me. I found out about background checks that reveal literally every aspect of your life. Only back then, background checks had to be filed in paper, and a pretty decent fee to accompany it. As the years progressed, finding out about someone got much easier, and cheaper. Some places even do it for free. Trust me, I have done my research on that topic. In 2005 I did manage to get a job. It was a sales position at a well-known retail chain. Now, to get this job I had to lie on my application when it came to the conviction history question. I merely checked off No, and prayed they would’t dig too deep. I was hired. Full time, medical benefits, the whole enchilada. I was happy. Then, one day after about 3 months of employment I was called into the manager’s office. The manager outright asked me if I was on the sex offender registry. She then turned her computer monitor to me, and there on the screen was my State Sex Offender Registry page. My photo, address, everything. What could I say? But before I could give an answer, she told me I was fired. A security guard came and got me, took me down to my department to get my jacket, and escorted me, in front of my co-workers, out of the building. Turns out, I heard from someone who worked there, someone else there got curious about me and Googled my name. I think you know the rest. But, almost immediately after that, I got another job. One that was better than the last one. I would be in a nice call center taking calls from customers. The money was great, as were the hours. I even moved to a better place and got myself a new car. Then, 6 months later, as I was working, I saw a familiar face. He had just been hired. Then it hit me; I knew him from jail. And he apparently remembered me because 48 hours later I was fired from that job, too. Reason given: a concerned employee tipped them off.
Since then, I have had 3 extended bouts of homelessness, 2 more felony convictions due to RSO violations (its tough to register when you can’t get to the registration site, no transportation, no friends to take me there) and 1 suicide attempt. Getting a job is out of the question, and trust me, I have tried. Even enrolling in a good school is impossible. I now live in a very bad section of my city, depending upon Social Security Disability benefits. All these years later, my former friends and all of my family will have nothing to do with me. I don’t try making new friends, because again, Google is an awesome tool to find out about somebody. And in today’s paranoid society, that is what people do; Google new acquaintances and neighbors. Again, been there, done that.
Does the SOR really work? No. Does it protect society and its children? No. Is it a great investment of the taxpayers’ money? No. All it does is open the registrant up to joblessness, homelessness, public scrutiny, vigilantism, mental health issues and suicide. Administrative? I disagree, Your Honor. It is punitive.
16 thoughts on “Yet Another Life Ruined”
So many people have these absolutely horrendous problems as a result of being on the registry. What can we all do that is constructive to get this changed. Sharing our stories here isn’t doing anything except giving people a place to tell their story and vent. While that is a good thing and serves a purpose, we need to DO something.
Stories do inform people. They can become aware of the sort of events leading up to a person’s arrest, certain things that happened during the person’s case and the repercussions from their charges. They can be informed of certain laws and changes (or add-ons) to laws, false accusation cases, crookedness on the part of law enforcement etc. Things that wouldn’t be heard anywhere else. Awareness of what is out there can help a lot of people. By the time certain people are “told” by society, they would be facing death.
More should be done but there’s not much that could be done in a nation where the majority of people oppose SOs (in many cases only the male SOs and often the ones with charges involving people under 18) at all costs. There is a whole other type of warfare, or battle going on. One we cannot see.
Years ago, a friendly woman who knew about my charges during the case, had told me that there is this “stigma” surrounding people with the sort of charges that I had. I don’t remember much but she spoke as if it were possible for society to “change” and get past their “stigma” towards SOs. She also implied that someone in my shoes could have been the one to make a cure for cancer. I think she also implied that once society had heard my story or got see me for who I really am, it could change.
The thing is that, even though the woman meant well, most Americans would never change their minds about SOs. Or have some understanding for them. Ignorance, fear, bitterness, and hatred towards SOs is ingrained in them and my story among many others is not some sort of “coming-out,” or LGBT/rainbow flag type of story. Or being a former or struggling drug/alcohol addict. Neither could men and women with an attraction to minors but haven’t done any crimes, tell others about their attraction. At least not a large number of people.
(I don’t know how the replies look on PC but I hope mine are not a jumbled mess.)
Sad fact is….The registry does work.. It works exactly as it has always been meant to..It always has been and always was meant to be a tool to create a second class of citizen for the purpose of abuse,mockery,torture,vigilantism, and shame.
People need someone to hate.Someone they can demean and treat worse then themselves , to make them feel better. In Rome it was Christians, In Iran it is gays, In Germany it was Jews, and in America it is you.
How do you stop it? As I have said from day one and been mocked for..The only way to stop it is the same way the blacks stopped it.. Strong enough violent dissent that politicians fear for their ivory towers. Anything less will accomplish nothing. What do you have to loose? Less then nothing.
I agree and so I fight back an empower others to as well. We all have our own talents, interest and gifts to give in this fight. I’ve used my position as a hairdresser to harness salons and barber shops via a sharpening machine I invented to get people kicked out of office and others elected. Never under-estimate the power of the mouth of a hairdresser. I have also trained others to do what I do. What ever your strength is use it and empower others along the way…
The registry is only for punishing sex offenders for life and to humiliate us forever how can it stop a pervert from walking by a park and snatching up a child? It can’t. its just pure ignorant when people google me I google them everyone has a skeleton in the closet! Fight back!
I have a couple of more experiences with that sort of thing but I will just go with one more. Don’t want to take up too much space here.
There was a time where I overheard another client refer to me as “pervert” when I was a part of some program at an apartment complex. He didn’t say that to me directly but to another client who had dropped me and someone else off somewhere. He had said that right as I got out of the van. I pieced things together and realized it had been that same driiver who let the client know my charges.
The next day or so, the client who was informed of my charges, put me on blast inside of the apartment that I was in. In the midst of 3 other clients, he made some terrible comment that I can’t repeat. Basically it was something that was ignorant and it fit into the way most Americans blindly think of SOs. Something to do with me “liking” to do a certain thing. It took me some time to catch on to the fact that it had been the client who drove the van, that told the other client my charges. Not sure how he knew, but most likely he looked me up on his smartphone or worse yet, perhaps a certain person that ran the apartment program had told him.
I distinctly remember him saying my last name as well as my first name, when he came towards me one time, to have a friendly chit-chat but I didn’t think much of it then. And that was before that ordeal I mentioned. At another point in time, I had actually seen him filling another client in on my charges, out in the open, as a group of us were waiting somewhere at a public place.
He had only been speaking to that client but other clients could just as easily have overheard him, as did I. He said whatever he said about me, audibly. Though no one had been paying attention. Also there was a time where he told me that he knew my charges. When he told me that, he didn’t know that I knew, that he knew. Though I didn’t tell him that. Every encounter I had with him, he had an overall friendly persona, but was still sleazy and slimey enough to pass my info to others. He had even informed me of another client’s mental disability. Told me what he had been diagnosed with.
Good luck Jamie. Hope for the best.
If you need people who understand and will try to help you , try going to SAA meetings. There you will find people who will not judge you and will support you.
What is an SAA meeting? Do you have link?
When I was caught up with that horrific system I encountered a lot of people that had something against SOs. Both people who had cases and those who didn’t. People who were free and people who were not free. Even attorneys have the same overall negative mentality towards SOs. I know the stories that I write are long but I need to make some sort of example.
I remember this one day like it was yesterday. When I had asked my own lawyer, a couple of minutes after the really good outcome of the case in the courtroom (perhaps I was under the assumption that the mood was lighthearted, because of what had just occured), if there was any possibility that I could get married and have a family. To which he got this really nervous look on his face and gave me a definitive NO (Like absolutely not). Then he implied that it was very unlikely in America. Perhaps also implying that I live in another country and lie/deceive a woman, not letting her know such a past. Then his eyes grew wide, got this glow to them and he said “Whose gonna wanna be with a sex offender?,” after which he got this look of disgust, such as “Ew”, or “Yeesh,” on his face, then leaned to the left in the bench a little, as if he had to get away from me. I sat in the same bench and was close to him on his right. The judge had already made his decision and we waiting for paperwork I think.
Several minutes later, he tells a person that was in a bench behind us that basically my case was done and expressed that there was a good outcome. The person seemed to like what he heard from what I could tell by the look on his face. The look on his face was relatively positive. Till the lawyer, threw in some bit about me not having to register as a “sex offender” after a certain point in time.
The young man, within seconds of looking like he agreed with what was said about the good outcome, got this look of uncertainty. He looked unsure. Maybe nervous or worried. The look on his face was negative but not a look of anger, disgust, or anything like that. He had this look like “Uhhhh,” “What on earth did I just hear?,” “What is going on here?” or “Really?.” He shut down a little. The lawyer, under the same dark influence that prosecutors and most other people have, had deliberately filled someone in on my status, to get him to look at me judgementally and in a bad way. To rouse that man against me. (Which was the same sort of thing happened in a psyche hospital and a couple of times in jail through the work of those behind the local news). He did it after that good outcome mind you. He did it on-the-low, making it look like casual talk. But I realized later on, exactly what he was doing. Or trying to do. There was no good reason for him to have spoken to the person. From there we went out of the courtroom to leave the courthouse.
In a hallway somewhere in the courthouse, the lawyer, upon hearing some man say “Fu@@ing pervert” to me after I checked a woman out (I guess any sort of normalcy was out the window for someone like me), got the same sort of strange and crooked grin I’ve seen both a possessed detective and prosecutor have. Even an inmate who had spread around my charges to inmates in a large unit.
The man and woman walked past us, as the lawyer walked alongside me, on my left. The man did not appear to be walking with the woman. So most likely he cursed me over someone he didn’t even know. I think she uttered “I know right.” Not sure. There was an influence on that man, as he had quickly turned around upon seeing me glance at the woman, got this twisted look on his face and cursed me out (there is this distinct way that these sort of people move and look).
That inmate whom I mentioned above, had exposed my charges to other inmates, in a unit with around 60-something men. The majority of which were SOs themselves, and most of which had contact crimes. I overheard vile, foul, and horrendous things from him and others this one random evening. Things from him such as “The… are gonna railroad him,” “he’s…gone” and something like “We should throw him over the railing”(don’t remember if the person said “from a building,” or “over the railing”) from someone else. Also I was questioned by someone who supposedly was in trouble for a contact crime with a person that was 12 or some age under 12. He stood in front of me and tried to get me to tell him what I was in trouble for. He wasn’t confrontational about it, but I knew that the only reason he had asked me about my charges was because this one possessed inmate had went around telling other inmates my charges to rouse the men in the unit against me. And he did. I didn’t just overhear things from him but others as well. One inmate cursed me directly, like 2 or 3 times. Referring to me as “hoe.”
I remember peeking over the railing where I stood several feet up (I was on the higher level where the other cells were), to where I saw the inmate who had went around saying my 1st and last name and telling others my charges. He was sitting on this table in the center of the unit, and as I looked down toward him, he had this horrible grin and stare. It was the stuff of nightmares. Something out of a horror movie. I have seen that sort thing a couple of times before that ordeal in the jail that evening, during that case or situation. He literally sat there looking up toward me like he was ready to eat me or something. I stood somewhere in front of the cell that was assigned to me, and it was as if he had already been looking toward that area before I even walked to the railing and glanced down toward him. Somehow he had already been sitting on the table in such a way, that his body was facing the direction of the cell I had been assigned to. Seconds within walking toward the railing and glancing over it, his eyes were already stuck and staring towards my face. He didn’t blink either. Looked like an “alien” took over his body. Just unbelievable.
By God Almighty, I was out of there the upcoming morning, and had been in that unit just for the previous evening. American society even got SO inmates in PC units, playing into the hatred and bitterness of SOs!!! Got them playing hero. Playing “good” or “righteous” as the citizens(like prosecutors) who would like them destroyed. Now aint that something?
This world truly is cruel. One things for sure, we gotta make the best of it. Crimes of a sexual nature in America, have been ordained as the “worst” and there’s not much that could be done about it. That is the opinion of the majority and has been for decades through the spread of fear, bitterness, hatred, and ignorance. Though at the same time, America is one the most oversexualized countries in the world and I believe that it has influenced many people to commit the sort of crimes it despises the most.
Most people believe that the SO registry works, despite the fact that it hasn’t made that much of a difference. They don’t mind that though. As long as they have their piece of mind. I’m sure that there aren’t that many cases where SOs on the list have done crimes again, but it’s for the safety of the community, I guess.
The crimes themselves don’t have much to do with anything. It’s all in the negative feelings and opinions of the people. In fact they pool all sex crimes, especially the ones involving people 18, together. The actual details don’t matter. Nothing actually matters. The crimes are just labeled worse by law, when involving people 12 and under. For example: a 20-something year old man who had two pics of some 17 year old girl, whom he was in a relationship with, would be seen the exact same way as people see most SOs. She would be labeled as a “child” by the media and that word would be used in whatever he was charged with.
One of the worst aspects of the registry is getting locked up and charged when a person had no means to go to a place and register. They know very well that not all SOs would be able drive to whichever place and register but better for them I guess.
I hope you pull through. What those people did was not a matter of safety. Safety was completely out of the question. They did those things out of spite. What they did shows just what type of world this really is. Some people tend to show their true colors when SOs are in their midsts. They can’t go to whichever parade or march, and promote peace and togetherness, but people will always be people.
Very sad, i went through a lot of this when i was a kid, now as a 32 year old man everyone that doesn’t know me thinks im some sort of child molester since its been 17 years….hoping one day they will stop extending the sentence! You have to start your own business and lie for licensing unfortunately, only why you can succeed and live a life not being homeless or robbing houses…
I can relate to all these issues and it is punishment. I have been listed for life in Virginia as a VSP for a non Violent crime that happened between my teenage son and an adult lady. I reported that crime to the police myself and now I’m listed as a Violent Sex Offender because I failed to report a crime in a timely manner. I have lost jobs, had major depression, anexity PTSD. you name it mentally its harsh. I never touched any child my teenage son had consensual sex with a female adult and now I have ti register for life for a crime that I reported.
Tammy, you need to get your story out there. Publicized. Maybe take it to a news organization (even though they like to fear monger on most stories, yours would be something totally different).
You need to make the public see the clowns that the lawmakers and judicial people truly are.
There are many others listed on the registry with petty “crimes” and you should band together in a class action lawsuit against your state.
So very Sorry this happened to you !
Im with you in heart and mind…i hope you are able to persevere and help change and fight this battle we are going through!
Your story is a POWERFUL EXAMPLE OF INJUSTICES TAKING PLACE ALL OVER THE U.S. !
IM PROUD TO MEET YOU Tammy Lawson and my prayer is for you and your family even though i dont know your details or others, I believe in RESTORATIVE JUSTICE AND FAIR SENTENCES !
Thanks for sharing !
My heart breaks for Jamie and anyone else on the registry having to deal with the bull. Cannot get a job or have a place to live really saddens me. What is wrong with our judicial system in the United States of America? Why is it they want a person to fail?
Down with the registry!!
Very well could be my story minus a few details…