America’s Untouchables

Americans allow prisoners in its penitentiaries to get raped, despite the fact that it is a blatant violation of the prisoners’ civil rights. They even tolerate TV shows making light of the situation, which is a human rights scandal: how many times have you heard the FBI agent or police in shows like “Law and Order” or “The Mentalist” taunt an arrested criminal with the prospect that he will soon be a prison sex-toy? Never mind: American don’t really care about the abuse of prisoners. Similarly, the nation is systematically making it impossible for convicted sex offenders who have served their time to live a normal life anywhere. They might as well be in prison. Well, except then they might get raped.

Now, in addition to schools and parks, sex offenders—who might just be someone arrested for urinating in public, or an 18 year-old who had consensual sex with 15-year-old—can’t use libraries in Knox County, Tennessee. Those listed on the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry have been banned from visiting county libraries under an executive order issued Monday by Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. They can still use the county library system’s online services and have a proxy check out and return materials on their behalf.  If caught inside the buildings, however, they face arrest.  “I just don’t want them anywhere around our kids,” Burchett said.  “The ultimate decision is how we pursue it.  I want to get out in front of this. There’s no need to toil around with it.  I don’t want them anywhere around our kids.”

If anyone is aware of a prior problem with children being molested at public libraries, I’d like to know about it. There haven’t been such incidents in Knox County.  Parents have just decided there, as they have elsewhere, that “not in my back yard” can and should be applied to human beings, especially those who have few advocates and no powerful allies. And as for the former sex offender who has served his debt to society and sincerely wants to start anew, be part of a community, and enjoy the rights of being a citizen of the United States? He’s out of luck. Eh, who cares? He’s just a pervert, right?

The treatment of former sex offenders who have served out their sentences is no less than persecution, justified, as so many abuses of government power are, by concern for children. This is an ends justifies the means solution in which the means are unconscionable. Let’s designate a level of sex offender status that warrants permanent custodial oversight, and allow the rest to serve their sentences and rebuild their lives, like other former felons. America’s principles do not permit it to have an “untouchable” class, but that is what fear and callousness are creating, in Tennessee and elsewhere.

35 thoughts on “America’s Untouchables

  1. Wow- Shelomith. This story really touched my heart. I hate to hear what the registry has done to you and your life. This is not fair and no-one I mean no-one should be subjected to this type of treatment due to registry. Enough is enough. I can relate on a different level (as a partner of a sex offender) how this charge changes EVERYTHING for the negative. There are times where I just want to cry. Prior to this charge, like you, my boyfriend was a happy, fun person full of life and since on the registry he is depressed and does not want to go anywhere either. We hardly laugh anymore. We cannot go to the park, an event, a movie, or out of the county for five years because of his monitoring which is supposed to paying $350.00 per month for in addition to his 100/month for sex offender classes and $52.00 per month for probation. I realize that it is hard for anyone to find a job in this economy but if you add in the fact that you have any kind of issue (especially a sex offender status) it really hinders you from getting a job. How do they expect sex offenders to afford this if they do not have family that will or even can help? That is $502.00 per month for five years which totals 30,102.00 and that does not include the fines and court costs. What is wrong with the public? The public must be made aware of what happens to sex offenders and what the registry has done to them and if they are lucky enough to have them, their loved ones. I am sure that most of them find no other alternative but to end up homeless and just disappear and if they reappear they end up in prison. Imprisonment is not the answer for the majority of sex offenders. The registry is not an answer or solution for the majority of sex offenders either. I can totally understand how you feel although I am not the sex offender I am suffering with him through this unjust punishment. I hope that things get better for you. Where are you at? Maybe there is a support or church group nearby that you can go to. I know that some of the RSOL (Registered Sex Offender Legislative) organizations in various states are trying to not only change the laws but also, support the needs and concerns of sex offenders and their loved ones. Go on line and look for a chapter in your state – google RSOL. Good Luck!

  2. Offender- I would like to know where your site is too. I am hesitant in posting my personal e-mail but if you go to you will have opportunities to hear from many because there is a separate support group for the families of sex offenders, of which I am involved and you will find my name come across as much as I can on discussions module. Please let me know further for if there is anything that I can do to help you get the word out on what the registry does to the sex offenders and their loved ones- I am here!

  3. The problem is not just with sex offenders. All released prisoners face the same issues, even it is worse for sex offenders.

    Justice too often has become a venue for revenge. America’s sentencing is too harsh, our prisons don’t rehabilitate, and our parolees aren’t helped. Nations that spend a large amount of energy reintegrating prisoners back into successful members of society, spend a fraction of the amount per capita that America does.

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