Sex Offender Registry is Not an Educational Tool

Sex offender registries were created as a free and public educational tool; however, is that assessment entirely correct? Since 2006 when states were mandated with implementing registries, society has watched the registry, and all its strange collection of information become stale and flat. In fact, to seek out the educational benefit of the registry are quickly identifying major flaws where education is hugely lacking or not relevant at all.

Logging on to the North Carolina’s sex offense registry allows the public to access such features as offender statistics. However, the only statistical data available to the public is the census data per all 100 North Carolina counties – nothing more. If a visitor or researcher to the website wants to search a basic account of racial, gender, origin, misdemeanor versus felon, high risk, repeat offenders, out of state but relocated or other simple information, it cannot be quickly or accurately assessed. However, the state website has been in production since 2006 without any updates. That’s right! Despite the hundreds of legislative bills, laws, and changes within the law, and a pouring of federal and state dollars to “educate the public,” the highest law enforcement in the state has failed to educate with relevant and updated information beneficial to the State of North Carolina.

Some may argue, “why make the registry better?” I would counter by saying, “if the subject matter isn’t of any relevant or current use, then let’s cancel or eliminate the materials altogether.” Why on earth would the state try to hide how many African Americans, Hispanics, or gender on the sex offender registry? Perhaps those that crafted the registry intended on a “lump sum” design so that anyone listed is indeed publically shamed or assumed to be the worst of the worst. But perhaps another issue is that the best academic scholars are unable to rely on a registry that is supposed to be the most accurate system available to the public? Masking critical data that may best-identified trends and analysis has not been readily available. The omission of essential data presents severe questions and scrutiny of potentially and often being false or highly misleading.

Facts remain that the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry is a profitable enterprise business scheme rather than an actual educational tool. Police and sheriff agencies that enter facial recognition data from the website to port into such services as Amazon with use at fair events just the cusp of problems that lay ahead of the registry’s usefulness. It is a state-mandated marketing tool to comply with federal law and guidelines but used for other testing means to pry and inch its way into being a relevant topic matter with no instructor, no course materials, no test, and naturally no real results.

Nearly all of the 24,000 North Carolina registrants have committed a crime well over twenty plus years ago. Yet this is the best solution to monitor a specific crime using ex post facto methodologies? The registry is clinging on to a poorly designed process with an even more horrible process under the guise of safety and security. The only people secure with the sex offender website are those with business connectivity with prison, software, and lobbying contracts to keep it alive. It is millions of dollars of taxpayers wasted money that has collateral consequences of creating the most harm in the way we educate, rehabilitate, and reintegrate those that commit certain crimes.

The registry is way out of date and no longer a need for the people of the United States and the people of North Carolina. Let’s agree its time to move on with this trainwreck experimental program. It is time to end the registry before it comes to collateral damage morphing into drug, DUI, or other crimes with no pathway of redemption or something that occurred decades ago. Just like justice reforms are a hot topic of change across our nation, so should educational reforms be an integral part of that discussion. The sex registry, in general, isn’t an educational or justice tool. It is, after all, nothing more than a poorly designed marketing tool that must be ended before it inevitably ends democracy and freedoms as we know it.

Image Is Everything: How The Anti-Registry Movement Has A Potential Public Relations Image Problem

Today I read in the news where an elementary student in Florida was bullied for creating and wearing a homemade version of the University of Tennesee shirt for a “college colors day” school event. But what happened next was a complete surprise for the student at the University of Tennessee adopted his design, making it an official design which has been the highlight of anti-bullying sales. It is where negative development suddenly became a positive experience for both the student and the community. Mainly, it was an excellent lesson learned moment in how to image and public perception quickly manifests into a unique public relations opportunity.

But anti-bullying sometimes has a two-way street. A discussion with doctorate students tackled how the sex offender registry seems to be along with the same tactics of bullying towards a specific group of people ā€” mainly registered offenders. However, many in the discussion group also emphasized where anti-registry organizations tend to become rather intimidating in return towards the opposition. But an interesting sociological research discovery has quickly identified that anti-registry advocacy websites, in dates ranging over fifteen years, are defined as targeting its primary membership or followers. Rather than emphasizing policy indifferences, the discovery of rhetoric or discourse became personal in nature and parliamentarian. This led to further discussions that anti-registry advocacy, in general, isn’t focused upon the core legislative or policy of facilitating open dialog. Anti-Registry members often create quasi-registries identifying individuals within their advocacy. I was unsure how to approach this because of my relationships within anti-registry support and being harassed by a specific individual from the past. But the consensus of the doctoral level discussion group left me with a feeling that anti-registry organizations have a public relations snafu on its hands, and the internet is not very forgiving upon removing past discussions. It is viewed in the interim moment as a disgruntled group of people that seem to cannot come together to remedy a complex issue. A core reason to take away from our discussions over the past three weeks was anti-registry groups appear solidly disgruntled in general. This was a disturbing revelation to me and provided me insight on how the future of anti-registry movements must become more diplomatic and rational in discussions to maintain a close dialog with leadership rather it be opposite or within scope.

Sociologist, psychologists, communications, and policy scholars researched the internet and media sites deeply to discuss our topic of registry image and effect. The assignment provided research tools from an outside perspective that presented insight that I was unaware of. Rather than guiding others on how they viewed the sex offender registry, I wanted to gain knowledge of how they saw the registry by seeking “anti registry only materials or websites.” What the group discovered was a dark and often vicious bully styled dialog or information about the opposition or policy. There was little to no alignment towards sharing commonality or similarities that would perhaps open a dialog towards “being in the same room” to discuss how to remedy many situations where registrants may have a voice. Instead, scholars came to the same conclusion that anti-registry advocates don’t appear to want to facilitate change or chip away at issues. Instead, the consensus was it was an all or nothing gamble with an amplified noise effect of laying claim to victimization. I am unsure if I agree with these assessments. But as a researcher, I must keep an open mind that our image is our cause. One nasty comment or bullying tactic from within about others reflects upon us all and will ultimately set back any hopes of navigating forward.

To best address negativity within the anti-registry movement, there must be an act of forgiveness for the actions of others. This began with lengthy discussions with various members of Congress, state representatives of multiple states, and candid dialog with sheriffs, attorney generals, and pro-registry organizations. This is a reset for the organization I represent but also how I can influence change among a persuasive university. So far, the motion is working, and some legislation has been tabled, deleted, or challenged. Is it an absolute win? Not always. But the open doors has managed to develop into a transparent dialog and small steps towards better resolution and outcomes. The days of bullying one another have significantly ended. Congressional, state and municipality leadership now has credible representation to perform diplomatic relationships where each side has a value in being heard and respected. The outcome has both positive and negative results. However, the benefit is that there is an opportunity to be continually heard without the need for bullying, petty name-calling, and allowing discussions to be facilitated among professionals rather than amateurs. This is where mastery level and higher scholars collectively agree that anti-registry organizations must do more to expand among other organizations that have dotted line influences to determine best that registry advocacy and its effects are among all walks of life, race, religion, and gender.

Our initial findings quickly identified that anti-registry movements must promptly develop a strategy to reach out to media outlets to discuss the problematic stigmas but also reasonably address how to facilitate effective public policy. Merely throwing a target to media that the registry must be abolished was not the most effective methods in starting that conversation. Next, there must be a face representation and aligned embodiment of the same language, script, and calm delivery that changes the stigma that all registrants are angry individuals with a motive to shout down legislation or policy leaders. Again, the consensus was that anti-registry issues had to become personal where others are deeply affected, but those individuals would be required to come forward to advocate from their perspective. Lastly, image means everything in today’s media-filled world. The delivery must be polished and well-rehearsed. Too much data doesn’t get the message delivered. The public image wants to visualize rehabilitative, reformed, and well thought out diplomatic individuals willing to calmly work with the most strenuous opposition. There must always be a methodology of cohesiveness and respectful disagreement but complimentary as not to alienate from within or the intended audience. Again, image and easy to follow scripts are the keys towards successful and credible conversations. If the public relations perception fails to change, then so will the same result become increasingly clear that the registry or similarly policy-driven initiatives will remain for decades to come.

Disclosure: doctoral-level students of law, public policy, sociology, and communications researched in depth about sex offender advocacy websites to best determine if they could understand the cause and effects of registrants, families, and allies. Their findings were not influenced by myself. The research group studied scholarly and anti-registry organizations solely based upon web-searches The assessment presented is only based upon their discoveries and document sharing. No interviews were necessary for this academic workshop. The purpose was to learn how credible information may be introduced, and the impact researchers can be emotionally influenced as a particular cause may have significant issues that distract from the core cause of the organizational framework. This is not a scientific published study. However, the communications and sociology departments have discussed perhaps pursuing a scholarly project.Ā 

Advocacy Is A Buzzword

Over the summer, I have been enrolled in doctoral courses to meet my educational requirements towards the completion of my Ph.D. in Public Policy. I have had the interesting ability to collaborate with various universities. During a recent conference call, we managed to discuss the particulars of research that we are currently engaged with or wish to pursue. Many students took a moment to review the various organizations they have been connecting or collaborating. There were discussions on how to better understand the perspective. Are the usefulness of information, advocacy, and how the organizational framework is useful towards a community or audience? One identifying issue kept repeating itself. That issue is that organizational fractures are common. Perhaps a reason that many causes or concerns never officially get off the ground is actionable working agendas, or motivational advocacy are too involved in personal issue or squabbles over petty things.

I too struggled over the past few months within organizations that, to me, seemed to be the best insightful methodology at quickly identifying issue or concern. What may be considered petty politics are often blown way over the proportion of the realities that either nobody cares or people are concerned with the microcosms of office politics. But a departmental professor brought up a very valid point that “advocacy is a buzzword that projects an interest mainly with one-sided viewpoints.” I had to let that sink in for a moment to grasp the concept. But perhaps the professor is right? Public policy, at least from my skill set, should be about the approach of balance from both sides. It doesn’t imply that I should discard my advocacy or belief systems. Instead, I should allow discourse to learn, strategize, but use compromise as a way to tweak towards results-driven deliverables.

There is much research, data, and scholarly information readily available if one looks deep enough. At times there may not be relevant data on a larger scale. But when I seek databases to drill down far enough, I can obtain the data to start something or allow an issue to expand by updating the results or findings. After all, that is, research in general.

What is missing from sex offender registry advocacy is professional quantitative research methods. Sure there are informational sites that show various statistical data, but rarely, are available by journal sites. However, for the sake of fairness, there is plenty of sex offense data from federal and state publications. While that particular data may be discouraging to sex offender advocacy, the data is credible and adequately peer-reviewed. But I pose this challenge to seek out a specified research method and bring that into the academic arena. Only then will that information become credible, listened, argued, and scholarly enough to gain traction. Perhaps this is why sex offender policy is stuck in the mud. There is only the emotional data rather than equity of research methods that may be introduced into an academic and shared among those that practice law?

Until state or local sex offender advocacy organizations begin to utilize comparative analysis and research methods within its structures, it will continue to fall upon deaf ears. Primarily because that particular data is a buzzword of credible information that fails to meet the credibility standard to the academic community. Now is time to begin shifting the burden of knowledge to scholars, professionals, and laypersons to deliver that message striking a chord of compromise and discourse.

Setting A Standard For Sex Offender Advocacy

If you have been cyberstalked, cyberbullied, or fallen prey to the donation scams in the “name of advocacy”, I encourage you to contact your local law enforcement

Ever since the inception of the sex offender registry personal information of whereabouts, vehicles, jobs, schools, and other sensitive information is for the public to use at a cost that could leave registrants and family members vulnerable towards predatory behaviors by those that choose to use the registry as a cyberstalking tool. Recently I encountered trolling that quickly developed into a criminal cyberstalking incident that authorities alerted my family and me. Because it was a personal matter, there was no need to involve organizations or others. However, local deputies and authorities from other states suddenly changed that narrative as it came to my attention that organizations had been contacted with threats of intimidation made – and continues today. I brushed most of the noise off and went back to business as usual. But it was my family, my university, and my friends that saw significant safety concerns and decided to escalate the issue much further by contacting police to file a formal complaint.

Ethical Standards. Principles that when followed, promote values such as trust, good behavior, fairness, and/or kindness. There is not one consistent set of standards that all companies follow, but each company has the right to develop the standards that are meaningful for their organization.

Local law enforcement authorities sat me down and began asking lots of questions about my memberships with various registry organizations. It was then I started to take notice that something wasn’t quite right. I felt as if the mood was shifting that the very organizations I choose to represent may have aggressive or perhaps criminal behaviors associated with them? My complaint was quickly handed over to federal agents that peppered me with questions. I felt as if my association with advocacy had taken a wrong turn to become involved with a criminal organization meant to harm individuals. At least that was the perception I was presented. The information, evidence, and pages upon pages of graphic details dating back almost a decade were enough to make me think critically that perhaps some within advocacy wish to intimidate both externally and internally. Unlicensed, unregistered, fake company names with many pseudo names changed over the years to cyberstalk, cyberbully, and disruption of organizations. But it didn’t stop there. The same tactics were and are being used to target advocates from within the organization. If federal authorities were presenting this as a warning along with internet protocol addresses with locations, then the information provided by other organizations, people and a university was eye-opening as well into the criminal behaviors and practices that tarnish the reputation of law-abiding advocacy organizations and its membership. It was a very sad moment to learn a consistant pattern of cyberstalking and cyberbullying actions from within the registry community bringing an agenda of harm and harrassment fellow registry advocates.

Cyber-bullying is when a person is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen, or teen using interactive and digital technologies, such as the Internet or through phones. It has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor. Once adults become involved, it becomes cyber-harassment or cyberstalking

Companies and organizations have a responsibility for maintaining a code of ethical and responsible behavior both for its officers but also its membership. If a person claims to be a member but hasnt ever maintained membership then isnt it the responsibulity of that organization to halt bad behaviors or fraudulent claims of being an active member? It is an open-ended question but presents a candid discussion as to membership criteria and perhaps separating a cult-like establishment branding. But when personal actions skirt a fine line between organizational and individual requirements, then it becomes a liability to the organization for not pushing back to protect its corporate integrity guidelines and active members. Organizations that fail to address improper or unethical behaviors are accepting the burden of the association not by membership, but by the actions of its members that perhaps sends the wrong message that illegal practices are acceptable – as long as we don’t know about it, or pretend not to acknowledge it. When law enforcement agencies paint a picture that some within registry advocacy borderlines hate speech can support it with documentation, facts, and evidence, then it creates a thin wedge “am I on the right side of advocacy?” It presents a surreal moment that perhaps questions why there are many divisions, factions, groups, posing under differing names but mainly under one or more umbrellas? To be on the right side of advocacy organisations must embrace member standards and conduct. Without such standards organizations cannot produce a standard to be reasonably heard or visible and allows leadership to become tainted by outside influence. I may be a member of the ACLU or other organizations, but I dont overstep my bounds by speaking on their behalf. Instead, I allow credible appointed professionals to do that leg of the work so that the message is consistant and reflects a good image upon the organization. I don’t belong to advocacy to press one-sided issue or to become a part of a cult-like experience. I belong and commit to advocacy so that both sides have equal representation of compromise and the best possible solution for all.

For now, I am allowing local and federal investigators to do their job and determine the next steps which appear to be rapidly moving. Naturally, law enforcement always has my support because of my faith in democracy as a nation of laws where we follow them. My biggest fear and concern is that there will be unintentional victims that are associated with select individuals. However, people choose to follow whomever they wish – but perhaps at a significant cost by association. Additionally, as a retired Army veteran, I support and defend our constitution, which includes free speech. But when that speech is impaired to mask or inflict cowardly harm or discourse, then it is safe to deem such predators as organizational terror cells intent on not standing up for justice, but hiding behind aliases similar to the mentally disturbed or radicalized individuals. If your message is more about the person rather than the cause, then perhaps you are in the wrong advocacy program? Lastly, I am not a John Doe and have mentioned for the sake of advocacy that I do not wish to be an anonymous figure. I do not have alias accounts or screen names – and never have. I do understand the need for privacy for those still living in shame, guilt, or vulnerable circumstances for the protection of self, family, and loved ones. Typically, it is these people that deserve our best foot forward ensuring that we are providing them a credible voice by the restoration of good ethical behaviors by working in their best interests to make their lives better – not worse by micromanaging every word or quote seeking to control their speech or particular advocacy.

Radicalization is a process by which an individual, or group comes to adopt increasingly extreme political, social, or religious ideals and aspirations that reject or undermine the status quo or contemporary ideas and expressions of the nation.

I believe in our nation and believe that our system, despite its flaws, has the best intentions of being protecting all Americans. I do not perform acts to desecrate our nation’s flag by referring to it as a “rag.” I don’t apply women in derogatory misogynistic methods just because I don’t get my way. I refuse to enlist others to support a one-sided conversation. I have a political compass that is personal and not introduced in my day-to-day professional routines. Lobbying may have its political leanings, but advocacy takes no firm stance on political ideology. Therefore I treat all my professional encounters equally. I am an LGBT member and take a personal stance on ensuring my and the rights of others are not hindered. As a person with ADHD, I am cognitive of mental health and social issues and believe that many registrants with such diagnosis are widely overlooked and not a recognizable introduction of motive or other circumstances. Therefore, I also advocate for ADHD among autism based organizations but only in a supportive, non-professional, role. I converse in a respectful tone even when I disagree, and I certainly don’t abuse a system for my benefit. I am a Christian but recognize others for their beliefs and respect their choices. I wont stoop to lows such as support for methods of cyberbullying or cyberstalking of opponents or allies. Those on the sex registry are not at war with our country. Instead, registrants should choose to become active participants in civic duties by contacting legislators, the press, religious, and other civic causes to have an amplified voice of diplomacy, discourse, and recognition. But to become credible, we must be trustworthy too. The childlike behaviors of fake screen names, fraudulent companies, false banking methods, fake charities, maybe false disability claims, and sometimes phony victimization won’t help causes if we allow select people to ruin the standard of advocacy by setting a higher standard. There have been too many past lawsuits levied to individuals not playing by the simple rule of discourse within the sex offender advocacy mission. Until national and local groups can clean up its act and tackle the stain by specific individuals, advocacy won’t have a viable voice among society because it embraces the wrongs rather than the pursuit of the right. Nobody ever claimed advocacy would be easy. But the art of public policy and support must be met with civility, patience, and respect. I would expect such poor displays of behavior from middle or high schoolers; not professional advocacy organization members? So much for people acting their age?

In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain, or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law, a criminal law, or it may cause no loss of money, property or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong.

I will maintain cautious advocacy towards lawful and transparent legislation. The current climate of various political criticisms has polarized our nation, municipalities, and organizational framework. However, I am an individual that may occasionally expect profound discourse from opponents. But at no point would I ever expect personal attacks and the lack of parliamentary professionalism from within advocacy work? Perhaps it is time for advocacy organizations to implement and hold accountable individuals that pose more harm to others than protecting them? Sooner or later the toll that one bad actor brings upon an organization which will eventually leak into to the mainstream media may be a setback for advocacy without the hope of recovery because it is deemed as criminals continuing to support criminal behaviors. Registrants certainly would never allow authorities to abuse the voice, liberty, and rights? Why on earth would registrants be fearful or live in fear from one of their supposed allies? That seems to be the standard dilemma organizations must directly address for the sake of growth, expansion, and a safe-space of getting the message out. It is not a perfect system, but it seems to be filled with imperfections that are stifling others by hate-filled anger laced tactic that must immediately stop before someone gets hurt. It is this instablity local and national advocacy MUST address – and soon. Otherwise, I forecast that national advocacy organizations will be be burned from both ends without a care in the world because it would leave only one person remaining to carry on his/her personal agenda at the cost of so many affected by the registry. As police and other advocates have suggested, it is the perfect “gaslighting” strategy which is especially sad because police do rely upon advocacy groups as support mechanisms within communities. (yes, police can be helpful even if laws they are sworn to uphold are unpopular among registrants)

There are nearly one million individuals listed on sex offender registries. But less than micro percent of registrants belong to or support advocacy groups to meet their needs or concerns. Perhaps one reason is that registrants are uncomfortable at being vulnerable, exposed, publically shamed, cyberbullied, or cyberstalked by others within the organizational framework.

If we are to be advocates of helping to craft sound public policy and rational laws, then it might be helpful if we practice what we preach? Otherwise, recidivism rates will venture towards another arena that will maintain the stigma of predatory behaviors and make restrictions worse for those that DO obey and respect laws, people, and boundaries.

Footnote: I have a very supportive and large family, a robust network of good reliable lifelong friends, a wonderful university department that has been beyond supportive, and a partner of over seven years active that has always been there for me. It is these pillars of support that have introduced and advocated for myself to stamp out cyberbullying and predatory behaviors by others. It is also these support pillars that are the ones that assist in helping about a specific individual that targets, harasses, and uses the internet as a predatory tool rather than a resource for good. But some people cannot be rehabilitated and perhaps the best solution is for them to be placed in lifetime civil commitments for their own protection and for the good of society? It is these pillars of support that will do all means not only to protect myself from harm but others by civilly and criminally charging those that skillfully commit wrongful conduct but play out the victim card. My family and support system are more insightful and eager to handle the bad elements of society using it for personal gain and exploiting others for entertainment purposes. Personally, I appreciate all the offline concerns and support to stamp out this self-proclaimed-self-absorbed “Beetlejuice” government abuser and facilitator of misogynistic hatred under the guise of sex offender advocacy. If you have been cyberstalked, cyberbullied, or fallen prey to the donation scams in the “name of advocacy”, I encourage you to contact your local law enforcement authorities to file a formal complaint or charges. Allow law enforcement to work for you for a change and stop this criminal behavior.

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