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.

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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.

Liberty is Fleeting

I am one of the few soldiers that actually patrolled the Iron Curtain between East and West Germany during the Cold War.  During that period I witnessed a divide between freedom and controlled environments. What separated two ideologies was a death strip filled with land mines, razor wire, metal spike crosswalks, and East German border guards that would shoot first and ask questions later. As an American soldier, I was proud that I didn’t live in a nation that habitually lied to its people, denied freedoms, embraced a one-party system, and would jail its citizens based merely on suspicion.

 

Fast forward today, and for some reason, I feel that I am in the middle of lousy reality dream. When I hear the President wants to build a wall along the border I can only think about how we spent decades, at the cost of lives, to tear down a wall.  Police are arresting people based on suspicion without evidence similar to how the Stazi arrested East Germans. Shootings or the use of tasers by law enforcement are often and highly questionable. Listening to our elected leadership habitually presenting false or misleading information all while dismissing the press is a bit disturbing and sounds like the days of Erich Honecker. It is as if we as a nation are told we have inalienable rights only to become the revised version of East Germany and the Soviet Union all over again. The recent United Nations withdrawal from the Human Rights Council should be a wakeup call that our seat of influence to the world has become an observation post where we have no real voice or teeth to promote freedom.

 

There was a time in my life where I could quickly recognize military uniforms and present a level of absolute respect and honor. Today, I witness police emulating military styled clothing closely resembling military uniforms adorned with ribbons, awards, and rank that were usually privilege and expressly used by the military. Overnight we have transformed our police departments into Soviet styled organizations and dressed police officers in military garb because it looks cool or intimidating. It is a stark reminder of civil service versus military service and how the two should instinctively be different visibly from one another. If police persist in wearing military uniforms and camouflage, then perhaps I should invoke my third amendment right of consent. Afterall, if the police want to dress up like military soldiers, then it is high time that this nation pushes back and hold those accountable that tarnish the uniform mixed with its stolen valor by using our third amendment right. The last time I looked, there were specific laws against the militarization of the police and adulteration of the standard police duty uniform.

 

Public buildings once the highlight of tours and open society have been quickly militarized with body scan devices, authenticated access points, and anti-ram bollards that have been institutionalized by a post 9/11 society. Former President Bush suggested that we continue to go about our business, but stay vigilant. The fear-based society of politicians and conspiracy theorist with no formidable data began the terror machine of identifying everyone as a threat. It started to develop registries and checkpoints such as no-fly, offender, terror watch lists, REAL Identification and so forth. These actions are no different than how the Soviet Union and communist countries continue to monitor and control its citizens today.  Specific controls are reminiscent of how Soviets and communist-based neighbors grew suspicious of one another by not becoming vigilant but turning into self-imposed informants. No facts are needed. Just a self-induced form of hysteria that something could happen is all to create a recipe of additional and unwarranted controls.  Lessons learned from history that showed Soviets and East Germans were taught to believe anything said by western media was false. The stigmatic message was that western news was manufactured to be a threat towards communist democracy; at least from their viewpoint. However, capitalism has a strange way today of acting similar to what communists claimed decades ago. Interesting that the Berlin Wall was meant to keep invading forces of the west out. Ironic that no westerners were ever shot for crossing into the east. Moreover, when the Berlin and Iron Curtain fell that unification efforts didn’t put nations into debt. In fact, it created a robust economic powerhouse where America is discovering difficulty in keeping up with the Germans.

 

As a soldier, I was taught and reminded of freedoms all around us both visible and invisible. I am told each time I see the Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, that it embraces the embodiment of freedom from all forms of oppression. An interesting fact is a broken chain that lies Liberty’s feet. It reminds us that we are not prisoners of our beliefs or pursuits. Liberty became an icon of freedom and of the United States and was a welcoming sight to immigrants arriving from abroad that all are welcome. But with an impending wall on our border, immigrant children separated from families, using religion as a precursor towards public policy, or prison populations higher than most national census seem perhaps fitting that we return the Statue of Liberty to France. Apparently, we are losing our vision, integrity, and accessibility with regards to freedom and how this nation was created.

 

“For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeteers, musicians and strange animals from conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conquerors rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children robed in white stood with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.”
– Gen. George C. Patton

Wall of Misinformation

Over the past year, our news has been filled with information and misinformation ranging from alternative facts, fake news, to downright bizarre statements. An interesting observation is that such information bias has been going on for centuries. If nobody has learned lessons from the Trojan Horse, Bill Clinton’s Affair, or The Watergate Scandal then perhaps the ordinary citizen has become desensitized and accepting of half-truths.

In fact, our attention to half-truths is palpable when we watch the evening news. The first indication of our prejudices and preconceived bias is when an accused is splashed across the television screen. No matter how small or insignificant the issue the belief we have adopted is “they must be guilty because they were arrested.” At no point do media, journalists, or the public identify a segment dedicated to whereas those accused are mentioned as pardoned, dismissed, or exonerated. Doing so could bring discredit upon journalism or perhaps adjust future news feeds as after the fact. However, many countries report only guilty findings well after trials. I am not suggesting that method would be acceptable. What I am suggesting is that perhaps we need to take a step back in how we as a nation embrace innocent until proven guilty. The current scheme that society adapted is insinuating people are guilty by arrest, outrageous bond assessments and merely being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Perhaps the worst part of fake news and half-truths is when someone accuses another individual of a crime that didn’t occur. There are numerous protections both from law and media that place anonymity to those that claim to be victims. But a Trojan Horse moment is when the Duke Lacrosse players were exonerated after spending tens of thousands of dollars to prove their innocence. It was only then that the “victim” was mentioned but was never criminally charged. The wall of misinformation didn’t suddenly collapse. A reason it didn’t crash is that we are desensitized and accepting of half-truths. Instead, more half-truths and false allegations began to increase because the scales of justice protect the victim with no consequences when bogus and fictitious information is presented to police, prosecutors, and the public. The only occurrence where the wall can crumble is when the accusation affects you personally. That is when you begin yelling in a room to be equally heard and provide a rationale defense only to be silenced by numb and disinterested parties.

In today’s social media world it doesn’t take a sex offender registry to make an innocent person guilty in the eye of public opinion. In fact, a look at those accused without trial is immediately detached from the public view never to be mentioned again; unless it’s about allegations. The victim either quietly builds a coalition under the protection of anonymity or leaps into stardom without challenge or inquiry from journalists or hosts as to not bring additional scorn, discomfort or backlash from overly sensitive viewers. Prosecutors and police typically thank victims for being brave and courageous despite only taking the individuals word rather than profoundly investigating for potential holes or irregularities. Prosecutors and police are protected from immunities as well even if there is no evidence whatsoever. But if police or prosecutors discover an impropriety or issue that could exonerate an individual, it is quietly and conveniently omitted to shield its agency or division from further liabilities or internal review.

A lessons learned moment is that the general public doesn’t give a rats ass about the accused versus victims. Society enjoys entertainment value even if it has harmful effects on others.  The notion is that our judicial system is fair despite gripe about overload and cumbersome bureaucratic systems usually embraces a dark message of “you cant fight government” or “government always operates like that”. Again, we have become numb, desensitized, and far-removed from what doesn’t affect people directly because we accept wrongs as a norm. It is not uncommon for people to interject idioms such as “if you lie with dogs you will catch fleas.” However, the lowest level of humanity is slowly becoming the normative behavior as anyone can say anything without proof, evidence, credibility, or inquiry. We are quickly becoming an anarchy society with an absence of fair and reasonable government combined with a complete loss of basic rationale.

I predict a future where the sex offender registry will no longer be relevant. Instead, we will live in a world where social media and the internet will decide who is allowed to engage. There will be no need for a criminal background check because Facebook, Yelp, Google, Microsoft, and phone apps will best determine with its analytics who fits the mold of acceptable behaviors. This is not to meant to sound like a conspiracy theorist or alarmist. It is a fact that these social media indicators are already relevant and working today. With the over fifty different and propriety offender registries and police records managed differently by each state will eventually become a crazy mishmashed data service connecting to Facebook or other media providers.

Why do I say this? Because ordinary citizens have become desensitized and accepting of just about anything that sounds like the truth. We are products and no longer people essentially because some rushes to social media to voice outrage yet do nothing to actually make a difference.

The Holocaust of Sex Offenders

A lesson from World War II is to look beyond irrational laws created by the Nazis but focus on the way those laws were quietly reinforced by citizens without challenge or question. Initially, it was the German people and other nations that played a pivotal part of extermination of Jewish populations along with homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or anyone indifferent to the political ideology of the Nazis or its particular allies. After the war, nations took an oath never to allow people to become labeled, marked, branded, or classified creating any forms of second-class citizenry. The U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington DC reminds us of valuable lesson from a particular period. Silence and indifference to the suffering of others, or to the infringement of civil rights in any society, can—however unintentionally—perpetuate problems. Another lesson is the Holocaust was not an accident in history; it occurred because individuals, organizations, and governments made choices that legalized not only discrimination but also allowed prejudice, hatred, and ultimately mass murder to happen. Ironic that a museum teaching historical lessons about branding, labels, prejudice, and hatred are steps away from Congress where such laws of injustice are frequently created.

Naturally, there are vast differences between the Holocaust and the sex offender registry. However many parallels reflect how registered, the accused, convicted, or those suspected as potential offenders are labeled. One could argue that Jewish people committed no crime in comparison to a registered offender. However, many accused are convicted by plea deals or mear suspicion. It is only later with the introduction of discovery evidence, recants, perjury, or hidden evidence that sometimes pardons the innocent.  As for those that are indeed guilty they are the faces that somehow become the broad label of anyone closely related to offenders – somewhat similar to how jews or homosexuals were and are somewhat labeled today.   While we live in a nation based on fast and speedy trial notions, there is not much emphasis on thorough and impartial investigation overall. Sex offenders have been ignored, ostracized, and shunned far from ghettos, social media, employment, food assistance, medical attention and other humane issues that promote fairness and assimilation within the fabric of society. In fact, registered or convicted offenders no longer on the registry are slowly dying on the cusp of a constructed genocide machine based on a culture of segregation and demarkation. The registry is slowly changing from a second-class citizenship towards statelessness. Just as nations during WWII slowed or stopped the influx of Jewish settlers escaping unfair and harsh conditions by the Nazis, it’s U.S. states that accentuate the same conditions by disallowing those convicted of sexual offenses from departing or living freely within its borders unless police give permission. If this isn’t a method of efficacious genocide and Gestapo tactics, then I don’t know what else to say to convince you otherwise?

We are a nation of laws and consequences. At no point should a criminal charge become a “deal-making moment” for prosecutors or public policy convenience. Instead, the gavel of justice should be equally fair in punishment as the crime fits – if the person is indeed guilty. Today we see individuals convicted of murder or other felonious offenses released to live, work, and benefit freely from the bureaucracy of additional requirements. However, a first-time sex offender must endure for life the branded label of real-life purgatory until they die, commit suicide, or pass on. It is the new concentration camp that sex offenders must endure.  A large number of the registered are homeless, seek food pantries or meals, and attempt to live off the streets if permitted based on the jurisdictional law because they way politicians designed the registry requirements. It is no different than historical Nazi agendas, and we are slowly repeating a genocide and nationalist rhetoric all over again forgetting history and how it affected a particular group of people.

To the average registered offender, a life of prison would far be better and more accessible to maneuver than the complicated registry and its ever-changing requirements. I do not know of any person that has ever been released from jail to have parole requirements for thirty years to a lifetime? I know of no other criminal offense where a person must register with police on where he/she may live? I know of no such laws where individuals are disqualified from obtaining a real estate, commercial driver license, or medical certification? Offender endure policies such as anyone convicted of a sexual assault are banned from military installations, but convicted felons can access as long as the conviction is over seven years? I know of no other agency that requires sentenced individuals to relinquish internet identifiers? The list goes on and continues to grow no different than how the Nazis created bureaucratic laws confusing the Jewish population that constructively sent them to concentration camps and eventually their deaths. This is a recipe towards constructive genocide by any nation that defines and separates misdemeanors, felons, from registered offenders as another identifier. It is an ugly and straightforward issue that must be addressed as an equivalent and comparison to how the Nazi’s implemented its Final Solution formula.

The comparisons may sound a bit harsh, over the top, or exaggerated to some. However, if Americans want to stop becoming mass murderers and facilitating a machine of orchestrated ghettos, tent cities, homeless shelters, and poverty-stricken individuals, then it must end the sex offender registry and its divisional standard on classifications of a particular class of people it chose to identify. The registry is not informational or punishment. It is a weaponized database that places vital information to teach others how to achieve or become vigilantes, stalkers, preconception based zealots, ghetto boundary indicators, a fear factory of rhetoric comparable to how ordinary Germans labeled Jewish or those suspected to be related, homosexual, or didn’t support its government. It is an international danger towards humanity filled with bugaboo and trepidation.

Have we learned any lessons from the Holocaust or the acts of history perhaps repeating itself? I am not so optimistic about the learning outcome. However, one thing may be a valuable lesson learned is that citizens that implement and support methods to rid of people instead of a problem will ultimately be held accountable for his/her actions later in life. Merely interjecting later down the road that “we had no idea what was going on?” is not going to be enough to warrant an excuse. Accountability begins today so that we restore dignity by ending discrimination, prejudice, hatred, and ultimately a convenient state-sponsored murder scheme created in part by the sex offender registry. The Holocaust took the lives of over six million people. The sex offender registry is slowly inching its way towards that number.