By The Outspoken Offender…
First and foremost, I’m not my crime. I believe this is one of the most powerful and important statements that people should hear. And not just for me, but for the countless others that have been convicted of a crime, including people living on the registry. This isn’t a statement that condones what I’ve done in the past or that I condone what others have done. Rather, it’s statement that says, “I’m still productive. I’m can still be an active, positive member of society if I choose to do so.”
Living on the Registry
Before my arrest in 2006, I was very active in TV news, radio broadcasting and film production. Since I was in the industry, my case was blasted all over the local and national news. It was a horrible experience to say the least, not only for myself, but for my family as well. After spending 41 months inside a federal prison, (2007-2012) and five years on federal supervision, my life continues as a registered sex offender. I actually don’t like that description so I prefer to say, “registered citizen.” But you get the point.
Jobs and Housing
I’ll keep this topic brief as I talk more about it here. Besides the social stigma of being on the sex offender registry, the constant denial of jobs and housing is one of the worst things to endure. This is true for anyone with a felony record and especially for people living on the registry. You only have to read reports like this one to grasp the crisis. Luckily, I’ve never been homeless but I’ve been close. Thanks to my families support, my never ending and fierce ambition to survive, and my diverse job resume, I’ve been able to keep off the streets. I know that I’m one of the lucky ones. Hopefully my luck will continue.
The Labeling Theory/Ostracism
“Labeling theory states that individuals who are given a label eventually subscribe to that label; in other words,it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the case of sex offenders, this can only mean more damage to society.” – Carla Schultz, San Jose State University
I agree Ms. Schultz’s statement. Again, without going into all the details here, the registry has caused more damage than good. It is a false sense of security and a moral panic.
In 2017, I completed my fifth film entitled, NOT FOR RENT!, a documentary that discusses discriminatory housing issues among ex-felons and sex offenders. The film also covers Utah’s Good Landlord Program and the negative effects it’s had on fair housing among former offenders. Among the numerous interviews in the film, I spoke with Kipling D. Williams, a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Purdue University. He states:
“Being excluded is painful because it threatens fundamental human needs, such as belonging and self-esteem.”
If we want a safer society, why ostracize people living on the registry by banning them from most housing rentals and employment? Wouldn’t this cause more instability and a better chance of re-offending? Though many experts believe this is the case, laws are still being enacted today that does the exact opposite of what we should be doing.
Advice for Others
Why am I putting myself out there, you ask? Because I want to help others and educate the public. These are my main goals. People living on the registry (and children!) are not the monsters you think they are. They are not a threat to anyone including your child(ren). But the stigma of the sex offender registry has already been applied. It labels people as dangerous, threatening, or worse, a violent sexual predator. I’ve imagined what would happen if I announced to people while grocery shopping that I was a registered sex offender. Of course I would get some weird looks. How many moms and dads would hold on to their kids tightly or actually leave the store? When did a sex offender automatically become a threat to all children?
My other focus of this blog is relationships. After my divorce in 2017, I’ve come to realize how little friends I actually have. Why is that? Does it have anything to do with my offense? I believe some of it does. I’ll never forget when I was still incarcerated I wrote a letter to a long-time friend of mine. She actually replied back and I was so happy to hear from her. She gave me a quick update on her family. She also mentioned that she didn’t hate me. That was a huge relief because her friendship meant a lot to me. I then sent her a Christmas card a couple of months later. Unfortunately, I received my own card back in the mail with “Return to Sender” written on the front. I was devastated. To this day, I have never heard from her.
I do appreciate you stopping by and reading my blog, and watching my vlogs on YouTube. It does mean a lot to me and hopefully I can be of some inspiration and support to you and your family. I always welcome your messages and stories. Hopefully we can form a team effort to educate and bring powerful stories to light. If you have a story to tell, contact me. Your story will always remain private.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:
“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
10 thoughts on “I am not my crime”
Thanks LC. Feel free to send me your story to my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello – my name is Helen and I have story for you. Our family only recently began dealing with the legalities of the criminal justice system and understanding what sex offender registries actually mean.
I’d like to share the specifics of our son’s story with you but due to the legal and sensitive nature of his case it would make me more comfortable to do so privately versus on this public comment blog.
Part of the reason I am reaching out at all is because your statement regarding your “never ending fierce ambition to survive”. This is touching because that survival instinct did not resonate with my son and so we no longer have him on earthly planes any more.
I look forward to sharing our story with you soon privately.
Yes, Helen, I’d love to listen and share.
Spread the word, there is help and there is hope. For anyone dealing with this in the best way they can and especially those who are on their own just try to stick with it. You’ll get to where you need to be, though it may not happen as soon as you want it to. If you’ve suffered greatly we ALL have as well. For many of us on here we’re trying to help family but eventually we’re doing this for anyone who thinks they’re done or that there’s no hope.
There IS ALWAYS hope, cruel though it may seem. Pick yourself up and join the effort.
Enjoyed reading all this. Been there/done that. My main problem was housing. It still may be a problem in the future.
The Outspoken Offender
Impressive post. A lot of good points were made. I was thinking the same sort of thing, about the ostracization of SOs leading to more crimes. Not just the ostracization of SOs leading to more crimes but the ostracization of other crimimals as well. Though it is not guaranteed that every person who is fully integrated into society would abide by the law. Some are very well predisposed to committing crimes again.
What I was thinking was that there is this continual “loop” or “cycle” when it comes to the American justice system and the American system as a whole. A lot of people who went through the justice system and desire change, redemption, and retribution are denied the very things that would keep them out of trouble. Things that would have kept some of them out of trouble in the 1st place. The things that sustain “law abiding” citizens everday and holds their freedom intact, and keeps the small number of them who would be predisposed to committing crimes, in line with the law. Things such as a job, a career, money, a vehicle, a house, and an apartment.
There are so many people who commit crimes simply because they had nothing better to do. Some of them, didn’t have a job/career to keep them busy or occupied so they decided to take or steal things from others or deal drugs to pay for the house or apartment with bills that are really expensive. Some of them also deal drugs to buy things for their children which are the minors that most of society has a deep “concern” for.
Some of them, didn’t have a home to feel positive energy and get some good rest, so they got depressed out on the streets and started drinking, doing drugs, or both. Being kept busy or occupied keeps a lot of people out of trouble. SOs are bound to get arrested simply for not registering, as they live under a bridge somewhere with no means of transportation to a precinct.
A number of drug addicts would get caught up in the continual loop of getting caught with drugs and/or drug paraphernalia, going through the system in jail and/or some drug/alcohol treatment center, then getting caught with drugs and/or drug paraphernalia again and repeating the cycle. Some addicts take things futher and get involved with gangs and drug dealers.
It doesn’t help that society passes judgement and negative labels, as that would only bring things into existence. Like from that quote you posted, certain people would only read or listen to the labels, let them sink in and decide that they truly are what they have been labeled as and that they have nothing good to offer society. Not just the judgement and labeling of SOs and other crimimals but the judgement and labeling of others in general. There’s this sort of “foreshadowing” as to what would become of a person, should the person allow it.
A good example is how a teen whose constantly told terrible things about himself or overhears those things from students and/or teachers decides one day to take it out on everyone. Things like “loser,” “you’re a nobody,” etc. To him, the people aren’t worth anything either. He ends up degrading others just as much as he was degraded. He isn’t worth anything so neither are they.
I’m sorry that is has been difficult for you lately. When you say your education means nothing, I would have to disagree with you. It is helpful! I think it’s at least helpful for yourself, your self-esteem and for future employment. Or, you could even start your own business using your paralegal degree.
You are NOT your past. I still have a hard time moving through life with a sex offense but I’ve come to realize that I can’t make everyone like me or accept me. I just got to do what I think is right and try to be as healthy physically and emotionally as possible. Good luck to you and keep going!
I have been feeling pretty upset lately because of the harsh judgement on my past. My case is one where the victim was not a victim but just under the age of consent. Nonetheless, the deed was done and I was in the wrong. But to not even be allowed to tell this for a consideration for a position in an area of employment that I am over qualified for still does nothing. Currently I have a 3.8 GPA ina paralegal certificate program but that means nothing because of the registry and my conviction. I want to do this as well. Reach out to others and credit those who do so. Thank you for posting this, it helps to not feel so alone in a world surrounded by millions of people. Like you stated I am NOT my past.
Hello Brandi, I hope you are doing well. My name is Michael and I’m in So Cal, and if you are willing, I will hire you, ASAP to help me organize and put together a Civil Complaint of a 3 year campaign of provocation, vandalism, and harassment carried by the family on a 10 acre lot next to my 10 acre lot. I will also need to like to hire Mr. “The Outspoken Offender” for his video and Documentary skills and talents. I hope I will be able speak with both on the phone at some point, because it’s a very long and convoluted situation by a large number of people and a dozen lawyers, cross-coupled with legends of churches. As every registrant is all too aware that label puts a large bright target on you. Add a bunch of money and a valuable piece of property, then the heat seeking missiles get launched…
To the out spoken offender and who ever else wants to listen. I have a story that stretches now almost 24 years my story just got another chapter today. I was turned down for a job that I was the most qualified for out of hundreds of applicants just because Im on the registry for a crime I didn’t knowingly commit almost 24 years ago.
If anyone wants to know my story if anyone can help I would greatly appreciate it… Im a chef… not a threat to anyone especially in a kitchen smh…..