What Is The Sex Offender Registry?

A question that we all must ask ourselves is, “what is the sex offender registry?” The answers that we provide in discussions are quickly assessed usually based on no fact or merit rather personal opinion or belief. Typically, a majority of replies may suggest the registry “is a tool for the community.” To me, that sounds like a safe way of skirting the question. On the one hand, some groups and advocates support registry to inform its community about violent offenders in the immediate area. On the other hand, the registry in its current form is a mish-mash of public urinators to brutally violent rapists. So we return to the question “is the registry an educational and informative tool for the community?”

Typically any individual charged with any crime in America would receive a fair trial and punishment or fine. That individual either serves time and is released to rebuild his/her life. However, for registered offenders, the balance of justice scales are entirely different. Public opinion based upon high profile issues tilt the justice scale away from the accused and punishment instead it is prison or probation carries an additional life sentence of registry requirements. Yes, it is a life sentence because even if an offender is removed from its states registry, he/she must report to any new state they move to and reregister. Additionally, if a former or active registrant decides to leave the USA for any nation, federal SORNA offices immediately alerts that nation of a known sex offender entering its country.

A fundamental problem with the current registry is that it is used for additional punishment purposes by police and prosecutors. After all, the registry was developed by those two parties which additionally tilts the scales of influence over a system that is intended to create fairness for all. I would suggest that if police and states want to save money and resources only to place violent repeat offenders on the registry. Doing so will quickly reduce a million registrants to only the most violent and chronic. The registry shouldn’t have been created as a form of additional punishment or atonement. This is why the registry in its current form is not an educational or informative tool for any community. Instead, it has been developed to be the “virtual boogieman” creating a sense of fear and costly for America and communities.

To be quite candid about the most valuable tool and resource to educate and inform communities is the internet itself. The average person doesn’t rush to a registry to look up an individual. He/She enters a name into a search engine to look at social media or other news items. If you see a few mug shots too many, then perhaps a bit of caution or discretion is suggested. It is ironic that a majority of American fear someone listed on the sex offender registry than an individual on an FBI wanted poster. That should indicate how messed up and confusing the sex registry has morphed over decades.

Advertisements

Sex Offender Score

If you have a credit card, then you have a FICO score. A FICO score is something that measures an individuals credit rating and gives an ability to establish credit or trust between parties. At least with a credit rating, there are various programs to assist people such as counseling, programs, Fair Credit Act laws and a statue of limitations that allow people to rebuild their lives. However, when it comes to the sex offender registry, there are no robust programs, free counseling, fair laws, and the loom of civil commitment issues hangs over the heads of many offenders.

I was trying to form some primary rationale as to why there should be any form of a sex offender registry. Sure, there may be a level that registries pose a deterrent. However, that logic is somewhat dismissive because we are witnessing an increase in registry offenses due in part to the #metoo movement. But what would happen if police were privy in access to sex registries? Would that make things any better for those affected? I would argue specific cases in the State of Colorado where low-level offenders are not required to be listed on public registries. It is the local police that prints a comprehensive or a complete listing of all registrants for anyone that asks. Regardless of what state law mandates, it is an abuse of certain police powers when leaders take upon themselves to create a hole in the system. Therefore leaving that specific power to law enforcement doesn’t seem to be in the best interest of having a hidden registry if it is currently being abused.

Another problem with the sex offender registry is the tier system. At least with a credit report, you are provided a number or score. Perhaps if the offender registry had a FICO styled number that could indicate the seriousness of an individual. After all, the registry is a lump sum deal. Maybe it is time to sort out the violent offenders from the fraternity house field streakers. Let’s say there is a calculation score of 320 for a person with multiple sex offenses, fails to register when required to do so, and the age of the most recent crime is less than a year old. Then there is the best rating of 850 for an offender with a misdemeanor conviction of an offense that is over fifteen years old. If there were a numbering pattern the registry tier system would get small very quickly. However, for the FICO styled registry to work states must allow a measure for offenders to be unconditionally released to allow ratings to increase.

Additionally, if the scoring system is high for certain registrants, then that could allow offenders to be removed from GPS monitoring as long as he/she remains compliant or maintains a specific score level. Is revamping the tier system a good idea? I cannot say. What I do suggest is that while I am for a complete dismantling of the registry system in America. I am willing to compromise and reform the current registry standard into something a bit reasonable and fair across the board. The current lump sum registry system is antiquated and doesn’t serve a purpose to educate or protect the public.

The fair credit act in America protects consumers from predatory styled tactics by lenders, creditors, and third-party agencies. Perhaps our criminal justice system should embrace necessary forms of this method and implement a fair sentencing act that doesn’t create conditions that harm families concerning offenders. Offenders and families shouldn’t be forced to move because a school, park or daycare is so many feet from an individual. If a crime occurs, then there are laws on the books to handle that particular issue. Perhaps introducing a sex offender score could alleviate parts of the current tier program that appears ambiguous and in most cases unfounded. But to overlap code with another law is nothing more than a bizarre method of assumption and defeats the purpose of a registry altogether. To address civil commitment issues, there may be a clause to structure a fair scoring system where a threat is a score that matches a blatant disregard for the law or yields mental health instabilities. At least these individuals would be allowed immediate sex offender treatment at a mental health facility rather than a prison.

The bottom line is that fear drives the sex offender registry and where there is a political motive or business drive there will some forms of corruption and ethical violations. People experience similar instances when reviewing his/her credit report when errors or blemishes impact the overall score. At least with a credit report, there are ways to repair it while offender registries fail to address or allow reasonable forms of rehabilitation. If rehabilitation is to become effective, then there must be a discussion as to how to create a workable solution so that offenders are allowed to return to some normalcy of society. Perhaps a scoring system may be an idea or suggestion of how to separate those violent offenders from non-violent offenders. Additionally, it may create a useful dialog as to if the registry is still valid and relevant in today’s society?

Someone Has To Look After These People

It is older generations that leave behind valuable lessons. However, it is a society in general that fails to learn from those lessons until it is too late. My grandmother, if she were still alive, would be 101 in a few days. She worked as a psychiatric nurse for the now-closed Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina for over 33 years. She loved her job because she had compassion and empathy for people. Many of her friends and relatives were concerned for her daily safety working closely with unpredictable seriously ill mental patients. However, she would eloquently put it, “someone has to look after these people.”

To me, that statement alone is paramount to many of the discussions surrounding criminal justice reform, mental illness, and compassion in society today. Decades ago politicians decided to close nearly all state-managed mental health facilities. Later it was insurance companies that began reducing policy coverages for underlying mental health assessments. Then that trickled down towards expensive medications that those with a mental illness cannot afford or ensure regiments are taken promptly to keep them off the streets. The bottom line is nobody is looking after the mentally ill. Well, at least not in a sense we were once accustomed to. Today, mental health is governed and managed by your local police or law enforcement department. Rather than adequately fund a psychiatric clinic, hospital, or increase our nursing shortages American culture feels that police can best manage the mental illness crisis.

When I read the newspaper and learn about another random school shooting, I quickly identify where such chaos and carnage could have been prevented not with gun control, safer schools, unique alert systems, or police presence. Instead the lack of mental health accessibility, counseling, facilities, and qualified individuals to identify these individuals are restricted by polished police cars, fancy badges, uniforms, guns, and police registries. A simple comparison of a mental health clinic versus a police station looks like night and day in America. Perhaps it is time to spread out that police funding to other departments to help citizens go back towards helping people and those with mental illnesses. Jails and solitary confinement facilities are not a proper way to treat mental illnesses.
Additionally, society must stop second-guessing individuals trying to use mental illness claims as a way to skirt criminal justice. It is time to allow qualified and licensed doctors to make that assessment. If someone is a danger to society, then let a someone with a medical license, doctorate, and a hospital residency instead of an individual with a two-week jailer course and basic first aid/CPR.

Lastly, psychiatric facilities are not institutions where we lock individuals up and throw away the key. They are treatment facilities that utilize plans of action to assimilate people back into society. After all, these are people and human beings too. The stigma of mental illness is typically identified negatively within society. That is because we fail to see or witness first hand the overall successes and rely on poor data or circumstances of particular individuals that enter and exit habitually. Our overall vision of mental health encompasses those where psychological effectiveness is not working rather than the whole. This is where we must halt rhetoric such as throwing away a key because doing so doesn’t provide a treatment plan or an ability to remedy mental health issues. Instead, it is a recipe to pass on the problems to future generations because there was nobody to look after them.

Sex Offender Advocacy Websites Need​ Teamwork

When I think of teamwork, I try to imagine everyone working toward a common goal or solution. In fact, the most successful teams are those that compliment a unified message even if there are disagreements within the organization.

Over the past seven years or so I have listened to many sex offender stories. Each story has similar circumstances regarding misleading information, false allegations, questionable evidence, deceitful police tactics, and the list goes on. I too have engaged or read sex offender advocacy websites and witnessed somewhat divide between those significantly affected by the registry.

Personally, I try to become as open-minded and sincere as my heart will allow. However when individuals somewhat overstep boundaries by becoming a bit overly ambitious or schooled as to their particular set of circumstances are superior to others, I blow it off and not take it personally. I am keenly aware that some people have an agenda to habitually become contrary or contradictory as if to assume their style of research or opinion holds a better rationale. However, the definition of leadership continues to embrace qualities like intelligence, extraversion, fluency, and most of all followers. If you don’t have a sustainable or credible following, then an individual may be spinning his/her wheels in place with an illusion that people are indeed listening – when in fact nobody is looking.

A lesson of collaboration or teamwork is somewhat like going to a favorite restaurant. The menu (agenda) is preset allowing some adjustments or substitutions but in a minor setting. The restaurant is sometimes packed with lots of diverse people with a few wait staff attending to the overall experience. But for some reason, there will be one individual that will assume the role that they must be the loudest and most recognizable person in the room. The restaurant mood can immediately sour based on one poor guest experience – especially if that guest commonly interrupts the environment with negativity. Not every advocacy website is intended to be a Yelp version of your experiences. Instead, it ought to be a resource for successful strategies so that others may learn, support, and utilize them.

Perhaps a lesson learned moment to share is that no matter how depressed, down, or burned out one may feel there shouldn’t be a daily agenda to be a real-life version of Debbie Downer. Try to be supportive of one another. Listening is the most effective quality of leadership next to positive interaction. There is currently lots of anger on the internet. Providing positive stories, feedback, and an ounce of hope may be the decision between followers and a fad that just didn’t get off the ground. Personally, I know first hand it is a hard task. But we must begin working as a team embracing a bit of unity for an issue that has created some problematic matters in our or a loved one’s life. If we don’t, then the restaurant will eventually close leaving some that are hopeful unemployed and no longer providing advocacy for our needs.

Where Is My Copy Of The Gay Agenda?

During the 1990’s I remember when gay equality was for many in the LGBT community was an in-depth secretive discussion. In fact, there was still the onset fear of being openly identified as gay or lesbian that many gay dance clubs or establishments wouldn’t open its doors until after 11PM. Many gay men wouldn’t show up until later knowing that heterosexuals were safely tucked away in their beds. Gay men would reverse park their cars to shield license plates being easily identified, and military base decals were obscured with tape or cardboard to hide from military police. After an evening of dancing and entertainment between gay members would suddenly end when Donna Summer’s hit “, Last Dance” was played. It marked the bar was closing, and the end of gay-themed fun would quickly resort back toward heterosexually-based demeanors and acting abilities of a straight-laced society.

The days of the gay bar seem long gone or appear to become mainstream leaving many in the LGBT community without an identity to call its own. When President Trump signed FOSTA (Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act), you might as well shot the heart out of the gay community. This is not to imply that gay men are prostitutes. Instead, it suggests that gay men used many adult-themed personal websites to meet one another.  Gay men, having few remaining outlets to seek other gay men, utilize, or used to access Backpage, Craigslist, or other hookup sites for dating, random sex or companionship. It has been the iconic staple for the gay community along when print ads would list men seeking men columns. Basically, it was the only outlet that allowed consenting adults to engage in not only sexual activity but a way for gay men to meet other gay men. However, male escorts and other sex workers were scattered in between the websites blending in with ads and conservatives sought a chance to forever close access to one part of the gay community. Overnight, Backpage, Craigslist, and countless other gay sites went dark due to government intervention due in part to FOSTA.

I used to laugh at the notion back in the 90’s when conservative lawmakers would make noise about “The Gay Agenda.” Strange that I never got my copy, but all the conservative lawmakers did? Despite the passage of gay marriage and specific LGBT equalities I always felt that the conservative agenda is to turn back the clock in the gay community. FOSTA, religious freedoms by the U.S. Supreme Court, repeal of transgendered in the military, the sex offender registry used as a weapon for allegations 30 years old or older, rollback of adoption laws, and countless other should be enough proof that anti-LGBT legislation is coming and shifting gay cultures. States with conservative lawmakers are rushing bills through committee quickly. While the nation is focused on Trump’s twitter feed legislation is blindsiding many LGBT Americans.

Personally, what two consenting adults do in the privacy of his/her bedroom is no business of mine. Other nations continue to engage in legalized prostitution or apps without government oversight, but they too are experiencing influence from not conservatives, but liberals that fought for pro-sex laws. Liberals in the German legislature seek to end legalized prostitution referring to #metoo influences and other fear-based and unfounded tactics. German conservatives surprisingly are against criminalizing or making sex worker registration more difficult. German conservatives cite that creating additional bureaucratic measures may begin pushing sex workers in the shadows similar to failed American sex culture. At least the Germans appear to be on the right strategy. Other nations don’t seem to be glued to mobile phone apps for gay hookups or dating, but it is a resource most accepted by the LGBT community. Its public policies and attitudes are far more accepting of the LGBT communities than the United States. In fact, many gay clubs continue to operate robustly allowing a healthy mixture of LGBT allies or the curious to enter its realm thanks primarily in part of sites such as Craigslist, Backpage, and other former websites affected by FOSTA.

Gay bars and gay dance clubs in America are closing based on an aging gay population leaving many young gay/bi men without places to call its own. It appears that neighborhood gyms are the newest substitute in gay meetings and hookups. Gay men are resorting to phone apps such as Tinder, Surge, Jack’d, Grindr, Scruff, and others. While that may appear okay to some, it provides a scary territory to LGBT members because of safety concerns.  However, when will these apps be affected by FOSTA and be taken offline leaving fewer choices? The conservative anti-gay agenda seems entirely clear to rid of LBGT communities, web access, bars, clubs, and apps once again isolating human beings from equal access. If the LGBT community isn’t careful, it may end up playing Semisonic’s “Closing Time” for any gay-themed establishment well before the end of the Trump-Pence presidency.

We Created Discrimination​

Many believe that prejudice is influenced or taught in the home. I suspect that could be a plausible argument. However, I tend to think that forms of discrimination are formed from particular events. I would cite such facts such as soldiers being deployed to Iraq and engaging with faction groups posing as soldiers. It could also be argued that military leadership paints a portrait of Muslim culture or middle easterners as radicals. We commonly hear and see this rhetoric often by soldiers displaying “morale” patches or scribbled helmet sayings similar to the days of “Commie Killer” adorned on cold war helmets.

 

But why are Americans suddenly anti-Latino or anti-Mexican? Immigrants typically embrace jobs that American youth won’t take or apply. Is it that unfair prejudice is actually our malice and bitterness is that they are employable while most American youth won’t take a moment to apply? It reminds me of the days where migrant workers filled American farmlands picking anything from cotton to yams far less in wages, benefits, and protections than the typical American worker. Generations beforehand worked side by side to pass on time treasured traditions ensuring that families would hopefully pass on to future generations. Eventually, those generations abandoned the hard and heat sweltering work. This the era of migrants to fill the slack left by younger generations to seek higher education or other employment means. It was American farmers that opened the floodgates to welcome anyone that would take jobs ranging from farms, manufacturing, production lines, janitorial, cooking, and other low paying or low skill jobs. Today we see job construction sites filled with not faces of the typical white or afro-American worker. Instead, we see construction sites all over America with a diverse mix of Hispanic and foreign workers. What I don’t understand is companies and individuals insist on hiring Latino workers while at the same time treat them as potential criminals or quasi-servants. It is as if the middle and low class of Americans have somewhat created the underclass of society that will work but ridicules that class for taking all the jobs available in the first place? It doesn’t make sense, but we use immigration law to argue about the legality of something Americans skirted the law in the first place.

 

When any form of leadership creates a dialog that a particular group of people is criminally prone with no facts to support it, then perception becomes a reality. Influences such as hate-filled speech lead to discrimination. With that being said, Latinos as a whole in America have been falsely criminalized. There are those that oppose such language but appear to be falling on deaf ears or silenced by the power of government influence. Folks, a lot can happen in four years during a Presidential cycle. But what has transpired over the past year has the recipe of leading from political divisions towards a severe civil war where the firestarter could come from the Latino community – and legitimately so. I certainly do not wish or want any forms of fighting. But individuals within society have a right to protect their integrity and stability that they refrain from becoming labeled or wrongly classified. When certain politicians decide to take it upon themselves to invoke religious scripture, then society may experience repercussions like no other they have witnessed.

 

A suggestion to return to some form of normalcy is for Americans to accept responsibilities that they habitually cut corners by outsourcing, allowing immigrants, don’t enforce hiring practices, and skirt issues to get ahead. It is somewhat strikingly similar where Americans would foolishly recommend that if African Americans were not happy with America that they could go back to Africa. Such exaggeration is not only stupid but a magnification of how and where discrimination and bigotry originates.
Every so many decades Americans disdain for other cultures publically airs its own forms of prejudice. Such recent events are when Japan during the 1970’s gas crisis began importing cars to the United States. 1980 were when China started to import cheaper manufactured goods. 1990 were when people from India began infiltrating customer service and high tech job markets. 2000 when suddenly Mexicans that had been here in the millions were decidedly a threat to Caucasian populations. Perhaps we should take a moment and remember that the melting pot doesn’t belong to any race, religion, creed, sex, or identity. Just because you discover it doesn’t make it exclusively yours. We are a society elected by people supposedly of laws. But when we create laws to enforce upon a particular class of people, then we are no longer a democracy.

 

Stop Dividing Families and Ideals

North Korea has a long-standing law called “three generations of punishment.”  If one person is found guilty of a crime and sent to a prison camp, so too will their entire family, and the subsequent two generations born at the camp must remain there for life. Perhaps President Trump sought to infuse a bit of that energy altering it by dividing parents from children housed at immigration camps. The President has a personal agenda that went a step further by hinting during his campaign suggesting Hispanics are rapists, criminals and responsible for gang warfare with sad commentary that some are good. Perhaps this is where the far-right embraces its unscholarly rhetoric because enforcement and creation of our policies seem somewhat North Korean, East German, and Soviet.

 

Before we begin slinging the hammer and sickle of change, we may want to reflect on how our perception and approach has significantly changed. Many may recount the days of Jane Fonda controversial visit to North Vietnam which branded her the name of “Hanoi Jane.” Another similar instance is when basketball star Dennis Rodman visited North Korea during the Obama administration. These individuals were hounded and scorned by media, the general public, and naturally politicians. Because high profile individuals attempt to try to mediate truce or other politicized means, there is a level of contempt that they are doing more harm than good. Today we are witnessing a dramatic shift in how sworn enemies or those where a majority of citizens are wary of relations, this President wants to stride in to assert that “these are good people.”  The implication is that tough and ruthless leaders are good and democratically elected individuals are not so good? At least that is the takeaway points I am witnessing. The punishment that Trump is conveying is the media is unfair to him, liberals are dividing this nation, the FBI is not to be trusted, anyone that disagrees with the President is not loyal and deserves public admonishment. Does this sound like a nation built upon free principles?

 

If you want to understand the platform of the traditional Republican Party, then reflect on a time where Nancy Reagan once touted, “say no to drugs” campaign. Shift forward to modern day platforms where heroin and drugs from Mexico is the biggest threat to American society. Attorney General Jeff Sessions guidances from former President Barack Obama’s administration that allowed states to legalize marijuana with minimal federal interference. Now Trump says he is likely to support ending a federal ban on pot. Perhaps that recent United States/North Korea summit had an ah-ha moment? Marijuana is legal in North Korea. It’s perfectly legal to buy and smoke cannabis in public and private. Cannabis grows wildly in North Korea and has been sold abroad by government agencies as a way to earn foreign currency.   Maybe Trump took a whiff and passed and saw a potential job creation moment? (after all, we didn’t see Dennis Rodman, but he was at the summit somewhere?)

 

What I do not understand is how our neighbors to the south are considered rapists, gangs, and drug dealers but the North Korean people are suddenly, in the eyes of the President, worthy of a sit-down? Ironic that North and South Korea are in negotiations to tear down its demilitarized zone in exchange for peace and prosperity. However, Trump continues to hammer at legislation to build a wall. North Korea has political prisoner camps that lock up families, and now we witness our administration locking up families but dividing them. I personally find it interesting that President Trump executive order 13767 to deploy all lawful means to secure our Nation’s border but then signs Executive Order 13841 to stop his initial order? Trump’s order legislation is becoming somewhat similar to the Nuremberg Laws of 1935.

 

Folks, the United States is critically divided because our President is not committed to stability instead it policy or diplomacy. In fact, the Presidential behavior of Trump has become someone similar to his Twitter feeds. It changes like the wind as to stir and generate so much buzz that we forget about the previous issue. The conversation that should bring us together to work out our policial differences sounds like a moment with Pope Francis. This is where positive LGBT experiences of inclusiveness are met with rug pulled moments. It usually begins where traditional Catholics are not so welcoming followed by a slew of sad commentary and misrepresentations of LGBT people become labeled and divided from membership with their families. At least that is where Americans learned how to become prejudice, in my opinion.

 

Might I suggest that we leave our political preference at the door when discussing how to repair the nation? For a brief moment, can we forget about our identities and the skin color, religion, or other distinguishable features at the door? Let’s have an open session involving how to fix things rather than what our political platform or religious doctrine says. When I build a table or chair, I don’t need my local politician or priest to discuss or influence how to make it better. It is people that get things done, no different than Dennis Rodman or Jane Fonda. They weren’t elected but at least facilitate to some form of reasonable change. Could we attempt the same path?