By Steven . . .
I see so many stories here that are full of despair. People that have given up hope, or feel like their life can’t be worthwhile because of their status as a sex offender. “I cannot get a job because of my status as a registered sex offender, the registry is terrible and unconstitutional, the cops/sheriff/legislature is out to get me, etc.
I get it. I really do. I am on the registry too, and no matter what your complaint about the registry, I most likely agree with it. It needs to end.
But until it does, at some point you have to realize you are where you are. You can’t snap your fingers and change your situation. So how do you get on with life the best you can? Can you still have a good, fulfilling life, regardless of what happens with the registry? Of course you can. I don’t mean in any way to minimize the difficulties of being on the registry, but I am concerned that many here have just decided that, because you are on the registry with all its various requirements, your life is going to suck, and there is nothing you can do about it. Don’t believe that. It’s a lie. You still hold your future in your hands. It’s still up to you, although you will probably have to work your butt off to achieve what you want.
I have what at first would seem to be a huge advantage. I am educated, with a college degree. When I was first released from prison, I thought my education would be helpful to me. That people would be willing to look past my offense and hire me because of the good things I could bring to their open job position.
Instead, my degree was a hindrance. I was in this weird in-between spot. I was overqualified (because of my education) for the normal jobs that guys take when they are fresh out of prison. No one was interested in hiring someone with a college degree for jobs stocking shelves or waiting tables. I couldn’t get hired in the trades because of a lack of experience and know-how in those areas, not to mention some physical limitations that precluded my working in many of those areas. My education suited me to desk jobs, but my status as an offender and a registrant made those jobs difficult to get as well. I actually got to the point that I left my degree out of job applications because it was hurting me.
I know some of you feel like your only option is a terrible job with awful hours and worse pay. And maybe that’s the only option RIGHT NOW. But now isn’t forever.
I want to encourage you. Persist. Be tougher than your status as a sex offender. It’s hard, and it’s sometimes discouraging, but DO NOT QUIT!!!
At this point, I have been out of prison for almost 8 years, off paper (which is prison slang for “completed my whole sentence”) for almost 5. I had to start at the very bottom (part time with lousy pay and no future). But I persisted. I kept trying. I insisted on trying for jobs I wanted while working at the jobs I had to in order to pay the bills. This went on for about two years. I kept trying. I got discouraged and frustrated, but I knew I deserved a life. So I kept at it.
Then one day, I found a person who was in a position to help me better my job situation who ALSO was sympathetic to my status as an ex-offender (because most of us are in the “ex” category. You’re not offending now, right?). Without going into too much detail, I am now working in a great job with great people (all of whom know my status as an ex-offender and registrant). I am paid fairly. I work eight-hour days. I have a decent home and food to eat. I even have a dog. 🙂
Look, I am not about to tell you it’s easy. But it’s possible if you still go after what you want and you DO. NOT. QUIT. Be reasonable. Being a teacher or running a daycare is out. But you already know that. Adapt your skills and talents. If you need to go back to school, find a way. If you need to learn a new skill, find a way. There are people out there – more than you think – that are willing to give you a chance. You have to find them and be ready to seize the opportunities they offer you when you do find them. Above all, be persistent. Whether you want a desk job or to be a construction foreman or own a restaurant, you can do it. Your dreams are still worthwhile and attainable. You may need to adjust them, but you do not need to give up on them altogether. It may take awhile, and it WILL take patience and persistence. But you will get there. I’m living proof.
The state can slow you down. They can throw roadblocks in your way. But they cannot stop you if you are truly determined to have a good, fulfilling life.
I hope this encourages you, and I wish you all the luck in the world.