Sunday, January 31, 2016

how it feels to register

How does it feel to have to register? carries a piece written by a registrant and he includes registration stories from other people. 

The writer tells us what it is like to register every three months:
The last week before I must register my family notices that I am irritable and tend to snap at them a lot.   I lose interest in most everything and do not eat very much.  I look at the date as many as twenty times a day.  I can’t be late.  I get sick often and I don’t sleep. Depression set in and I find it hard to concentrate.
About two days before I have to register I start playing the what if game.  What if the law has changed and I didn’t know it?  What if they change it to a strict 90 days and not the three month calendar date?  What if they arrest me for something I don’t know about?
Is he paranoid? Not a bit. Laws change and often registrants are not notified of the changes.
The same scenario plays out every time.  I take my wife into my office.  I make sure she has all my internet passwords and accounts.  I make sure she has our lawyer’s phone number close at hand.
Four times a year, he prepares to leave his family. Just in case.

The registration routine varies. Every jurisdiction does things a little differently. This man goes to an office where he has to go into the jail to register.
While the jailer retrieves my paperwork I look around the room.  Concrete block walls, brown in color.  It is cool around 65 degrees.  There are three holding cells behind me and a shower in the open [cell] to my left.  On more than one occasion I have been there when a prisoner was stripped and showered by force, once it was a woman.  I felt so badly for her.  She cried as they removed [her clothes,] showered her and threw her into a holding cell.  The jailers, one man and two women laughed and made comments about her body.  I was sickened by it and ask myself, Who are the sex offenders?
I know a man who, when registering for the first time, was asked to describe the child porn he downloaded. The officer asked, what race were the girls in the videos? None of those details were needed for the registration record; the officers entertained themselves by humiliating the man in front of his wife. So, yes, one does wonder who the creeps really are.

The writer tells the stories of other people who register or have a family member who does.

A mother says:
Every 90 days when my child is forced to register as a high risk, violent predator, for consensual sex at age 16, I feel a fire burn through my veins at how callously his life has been destroyed not only by the ignorance of the politicians but the citizens of this country who are under the myth that registries protect children. As a mother, parent and citizen I realize I have a responsibility to educate others with the truth on these laws and find ways to truly prevent child sexual abuse by using facts, statistics and education and treatment.
States that adopted the Adam Walsh Act assign tiers based on the crimes. Everyone convicted of this crime belongs to this tier; the tier assignments are automatic. No one looks at each registrant to decide if he or she presents a risk to the community. Lives of registrants and their families are profoundly affected, and unfairly affected, by that automatic tier assignment.

A man says:
It feels like I have no rights, my country is waging war against me and my family, and nothing I have done in 23 years counts for anything. 
A woman writes about her husband:
As he gets older, he slips further and further away from feeling like he’ll ever find any kind of redemption on this earth.  He’s also distanced himself more and more from his family because they’ve given him little opportunity for redemption.  It’s very difficult to watch on a daily basis.
Registry laws do not offer redemption; instead the registry keeps them from finding it in the community. When someone is given the label that generates fear and disgust from the community, how is he ever to live down his past?

The rest of us get to move beyond the mistakes we made, big and small. For registrants, the country is waging war against them, passing laws willy-nilly, with no regard to the effect on the families of registrants...and no regard for the fact that those laws protect no one.

No one except politicians. When you vote for a candidate because he or she promises to keep your children safe, you aren't protecting children, you are protecting the politician's job.

Abolish the registry.

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