No ethical person can read this and conclude that such treatment by society is fair, responsible, compassionate or American. It is the ethical duty of every citizen who believes in our society’s commitment to the freedoms guaranteed by the Declaration and the Constitution to oppose efforts to persecute former sex offenders, because our elected officials will not oppose them. It is, in the end, a matter of choosing national integrity over bigotry and fear.
“I am one of those untouchables. And I’m not one of those ones that everyone agrees shouldn’t be on the registry.
“When I first got out of prison and was on probation there was no sex offender registry and wouldn’t be for most of the five years I was on probation. I was able to find work easily, a place to live and had a large support group of family and friends who were aware of my offense and were there for me and helped to ensure that I fulfilled my probation community service and therapy requirements. Once I was on the public registry, 90 % of those people disappeared as they didn’t want to suffer the consequences of guilt by association.
“Right before my probation ended, the sex offender registry law was passed. Since that time the laws have changed so much, and the interpretation of those laws by the State Police who run the registry has varied so much, that the requirement for me to register and whether I would be on the public or private registry has bounced back forth numerous times from not having to register, to having to register but not be on the on-line registry, to having to register and be on the public registry, plus bouncing back and forth between having to register every year to having to register every 90 days.
“Also, when the law was first passed I was supposed to be on it for ten years, but they changed that law to everyone has to be on it for life unless you have a judge remove you …but that’s almost impossible.
“I lived in the same apartment building for ten years with no problems. Then two months into the lease of my tenth year someone posted a copy of my registry page in the lobby and I was informed by the manager my lease wouldn’t be renewed when it expired. She also told me that the only reason was because I was on the registry. And that if I wasn’t, even with my crimes she would gladly rent to me. But after that It was impossible to find another place to live. Every apartment asked if I was on the registry and if I said yes, my application was denied. After a couple of denials and the expense of the application fees I gave up and ended up sleeping on a relatives couch.
“Eventually we were evicted from that apartment and I ended up living in a run down hotel. I am lucky that a friend who was aware of my being on the registry, although I was unaware she knew at the time, offered me her condo as a place to live.
“My job opportunities have disappeared where once they were numerous, even with my felony conviction. I got a great new job recently, the man who hired me was aware of my convictions and my being on the registry, but two weeks into the new job the national office came back and said no. I was fired.
“I use to be able to get out in the community, participate in volunteer activities with my friends, work and have relationships. Now I can’t volunteer anywhere, I have a small handful of friends, work is hard to find and keep and since I was put back on the public registry the number of women who will date me has dried up when before, even with knowing my crime, there were women who were willing to have a relationship with me but wouldn’t do it once my crimes were out there on the internet.
“Now I go to work and come straight home and lock my door and I don’t answer it for anyone unless I know them. My blinds are always shut and I never open the windows. Before the registry even with my horrible crime I was able to reintegrate into society. Since the registry came into existence I’ve become more and more isolated and paranoid. Every interaction I have with every person is clouded with “do they know and if they do is that why I didn’t get the job, the apartment, the invite to the party,” etc etc etc.
“And I know it’s not going to get better; its only going to get worse. There will come a time when I won’t be able to find work and a place to rent. At that point I will have a choice between being unemployed and homeless, and getting money wherever and whenever I can by any means I can to allow me to rent some cheap hotel room.
“I’ve finally said to hell with worrying what people think about me. If people like me, fine; if they don’t, fine. I don’t care anymore. As long as I don’t do any harm to anyone I don’t care what anyone thinks about me any more, and I know that the only one who is going to look out for me is me.
“So society has to ask itself:
“Which makes you safer? Me pre-registry, where I had a stable well-rounded life of friends and activities or me post registry enactment, paranoid, isolated , and only concerned with insuring my own survival?