Neighbors Cancel Halloween… but it’s a good thing.

I live in a neighborhood that, for the most part, that is pretty quiet. Many of the people that once lived here have left or passed away. Over the past decade, lots of Hispanics and Latinos have become a significant part of my community. I did my part by welcoming all of them. This year my neighborhood has given me the ultimate present. My neighbors are not participating in “Halloween candy handouts” to anyone. One of my dearest neighbors, Jessie (an immigrant from Mexico), his wife, and two teenage boys, have been very supportive of me being on the registry. They let me know that all the neighbors decided to not allow trick or treating in our neighborhood. In fact, today, when a deputy came to do a home visit, my phone rang from three other Hispanic neighbors to let me know a deputy had come to my door for a unannounced compliance check when I wasn’t at home. All of my neighborhood thinks the registry is a bad idea overall and naturally do not trust police because they too have been profiled and labeled by others for the langauge they speak. But to take matters to another level, my neighbors won’t allow Halloween because it would exclude me because of phone apps available from the NC Attorney General that direct parents to avoid particular addresses of registrants. So, in turn, they have kicked out the long standing tradition citing, “if one is excluded, then everyone is excluded.” This is an awesome gift from my 38+ neighbors and homes!

To demonstrate how committed my neighbors are, the public school notified parents a few months ago that the bus stop directly in front of my home was to be relocated elsewhere because I was on the registry. Parents, knowingly aware of my registry status, refused to relocate their children to another stop, citing safety concerns of high-speed traffic which was true. They all pushed back to the school system where the bus stop remains in front of my house claiming they the school had no right to interfear in community affairs. One neighbor said, “the bus driver doesnt have to do anything but pick up and drop off my children. If the bus driver has a problem with it, then get another bus driver!” By the way, all the kids wave at me randomly in the morning when walking to the bus stop. Isn’t this they way communities should be for all? I am not the guy on the sex registry. I am a human treated like any another human that so happens to be on the sex registry for something with an adult almost a decade ago. Amazingly, not one parent was in opposition to moving the school bus stop and dropoff back to my house. It demonstrates that not everyone is consumed with the fear selling tactics of government telling others who and how you may interact with others.

Additionally, most Latino and Hispanic cultures think that Halloween intrudes upon a sacred holiday to honor the dead called “All Souls Day.” So our neighbors will be cooking some rather exciting dishes to celebrate. Of course, I am invited to take part in the festivities. Such demonstrations of good faith and neighborly friendships are how communities should be for all. It is a shame that the rest of the nation cannot follow the examples of others that not only risked their lives to settle in a new country but also protect a fellow American to rid of social stigma. Perhaps Latinos and Hispanics understand the consequences of the registry better than the average American? At least that is my understanding. But having neighbors like this shows that there is hope that we may look after one another despite having a language, cultural, or other barriers that seems so far apart but really arent.

I should make a bumper sticker for my car that reads, “ÂĄMis vecinos son mejores que tus vecinos!” which translates to “My neighbors are better than your neighbors!”

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 — 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. 

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?

Registry Advocate Site Sometimes Toxic

Over the past year, I have taken the time to personally take notice of each and every comment left on social media and offender registry websites. A common trait found within each posting is angered, choleric, frustrated, outraged, and worked up individuals. Naturally, it is rightfully so because of constructive methods the offender registry has caused and its effects on families, friends, and advocates. It is, after all, a severe topic matter leaving no wiggle room for positivity or light joking banter just to escape a moment of sanity. Most interesting is how one toxic comment can have an adverse effect on followers or allies. My discovery and rumination of registered offender comments perhaps are fueling the flames of consumption towards self-destruction and initiate disharmony by becoming overly critical of one another. Afterall, registered offenders are listed en masse without division or reasonable classifications that the public comprehends. To the ordinary viewer wishing to understand the dilemmas of registered offenders, is typically not introduced with efficacious dialog. Instead, it is a blended catchphrase cycle of coded information leaving future advocates, allies, and perhaps scholars feeling there is no representation of sounds individuals without becoming too personal rather than informative.

 

Let’s be honest about the elephant in the room. Sex offending is something that is on the one hand very serious but on the other hand, has been intensified and amplified. To the average citizen, the charge or allegation of sexual offending or registry requirements must indicate a grievous crime. The art of investigative technique is so arbitrary with the victim’s name removed for privacy sake and the details carefully scrubbed by prosecutors and police working in conjunction that it makes any allegation rather one-sided and guilty appearing. Of course, people are angry. But the accused has a duty or at least is told to remain calm and say nothing. Once trial comes and passes the indicted quickly learns a valuable life lesson that public opinion and plea bargains will continue to be the routine of the day. It is then that the registry requirements mixed with anger, disgust at a system that accepts tissues of tears instead of evidence or facts. The once calm and compliant accused is now labeled forever as the registered guilty offender with little to no support system to vent or seek a remedy to reverse a poor judgment or poor verdict. The anger should be redirected towards how media, justice, and public opinion has overtaken the balance of justice rather indifferent methods not found within any other trial standard – unless a witness protection program has been introduced.

 

This is where registered offenders take to the internet to voice a barrage of toxicity and vile about a system that has failed them. The the new second class citizen trying to figure out how to survive, cope and move forward with a syllabus listing of requirements to follow that often changes without notice. The rage and anger online overtake the critical message that people are suffering and require a moment to be heard. To the average joe that stumbles upon an offender, advocacy website is either introduced with a bombardment of anti-patronage issues or anger filled rhetoric. It turns off the potential learner leaving less informed and lessor of an advocate. There is a right way to exhibit immediacy, directness, passion, and emotion without scaring off a much-needed target audience. I too have accidentally fallen prey to my own unthought words in the past. I guess what I am trying to say is that caution is critical when attempting to discuss sensitive topic matters. Registry advocates shouldn’t appear to be in an “us versus them” standoff. Instead, the dialog should center at rationale and reasonable justice education.

 

What may work to educate the public is easy to read graphics, charts where offenders are prohibited to live/work/reside, a quick card of restrictions per state, a map of lifetime states regardless of a misdemeanor or low-level offenses. My point is that anger and disgust must develop in actionable policy with something indisputable and easy to read. News articles, blogs, social media, and passion rants eventually fade and die away. I fear that is what registry advocacy websites may be unintentionally doing. Offender sites must learn to play fair with one another and those that leave comments. Sometimes the comments are a sign of distress and help that may require some other intervention if we are going to be candid about mental health issues. Sometimes I bite my lip or roll my eyes at caustic comments between offenders, allies, and visitors. I’ve learned to read beyond the noise and try to understand how they feel. At some point, the anger and frustration must become a positive so that others can achieve hope or a bit of light when they need it most. Just because you are angry doesn’t give license to make others mad with you. In fact, I would like for all those affected by the registry to become educators. Tell your story, honestly and with conviction to influence others to become advocates, allies, and campaigners towards a change of this horribly constructive registry. Basically, learn to hone your interpersonal skills and become a bit more inclusive – even if you don’t want to be. The key to fighting the registry is to work together instead of tearing others away because they don’t think like you?

 

Don’t be ashamed of your past or something you cannot change. Turn that shame into constructive energy and learn to not only advocate for yourself but for others. You don’t have to be a perfect speaker, but you must learn to reign in tempers and going off script. Don’t worry about what the opposition, police or district attorneys say. Use your first amendment right to reach down deep and become a positive message for just one moment. Learn to say thank you once again, like someone on social media, follow them, repost to social media an article to garner attention to a particular cause. If someone wants to troll and express a dissenting position – let them, and don’t reply. Show the higher road and educative level of regaining your life, dignity, and sanity in return.

 

This particular blog is not intended for any individual. For the most part, registry websites do a wonderful job of getting the message out. It is the anger from within those affected by the registry that can bring more harm than good. But I completely understand and empathize that offenders need a platform to vent or rage. But think critically about who you may abandon at that unfiltered unparliamentary language? Use social media ‘like’ buttons rather than hate-filled rants. Do not give the opposition any platform whatsoever because they are not relevant – they are NOT on the registry. The most credible noise that should come from the registry is from people affected by it. Therefore they should be the voice that delivers how the registry has affected them, family, friends, advocates, and allies. Once we have a battle mission as to all agreeing together then will it be possible to win more allies and voices of rationale and change.

If the Sex Offender Registry Ended Tomorow

What if the U.S. Supreme Court miraculously ruled that sex offender registries were unconstitutional? First, the major news networks would be in meltdown mode. I am confident that cataclysm based voice commentary would involve Ron Book, John Walsh, and a cameo appearance by Nancy Grace would be in order. Police, politicians, school boards, and outraged registry supporters would behave like a Kanye West moment during Hurricane Katrina.

A recent web traffic study of the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry shows most searches of the website disclose a higher portion of commercial viewing than individual users. That indicates the registry overall is a business instead of a service to the community. Virtually citizens outraged at the registry termination are service-based organizations that provide traffic content. Which brings me to my first examination. Private registries such as Homefacts or other similar websites would scurry to improve its databases to unofficially track former registrants creating a new private fee-based registry. Criminal background service providers such as Truthfinder.com and others would begin building apps to connect with social networking quickly identify not only sex offenders but other felonious acts to lump in as a part of its services. It is not registries that are the problem, but private services are acting as registries with misinformation or expired data. The threat of private registries would be equivalent to a credit reporting agency relying on data ten years or older. Most disturbing is when these same service providers insist individuals pay to update what the company should keep current. And we wonder why we have so many problematic scams of misinformation in America? Because this data is not protected by the Fair Credit Act, many unsuspected “consumers” would be accidentally uploaded by name mixups or other collected information creating a false report of individuals. It is the hype of individuals such as Book, Walsh, and perhaps Grace that instigate a fear that danger always lurks around the corner. As long as lawmakers listen to these “unqualified experts” there will always be a justifiable need for misinformation and panic.

Congress and states would have more money to spend because it would no longer have a registry requirement. However, count on your elected leadership finding ways to spend newly discovered funds to make matters worse. I anticipate a sudden reaction in ancillary spending towards keeping specific laws intact such as residency restrictions, being on school or daycare property and discovering clever ways of identifying offenders without a registry. I do expect legislation to be introduced for passport and driver license expansion to include identifiers for all former registered offenders. Again, never assume with panic organizations where one victory suddenly creates twenty additional problems. The courts will eventually be clogged with too many lawsuits to count. But, this is the giant registry at work with more legs than a centipede.

As for the judicial system, it could be the straw that breaks the camels back. Prosecutors and judges would begin implementing lengthy prison sentences as a replacement to plea deals for lesser sentencing. Judges are incredibly aware how to use the registry as a weapon. Otherwise without the registry prisons would be at peak population counts. Without the registry do count on higher civil commitment rates because all those so-called political appointed psychology boards have to “protect their jobs.”  These commitment boards will suddenly panic as to what to do with offenders if they continue to believe that sexual offenses cannot be rehabilitated – naturally, they are appointed to think that way. As long as prosecutors and judges remain elected officials, there will invariably be a promotion of fear-based rhetoric and the need to escalate that fear even if civil liberties are jeopardized. Proof that the registry was never information based but planned punishment.

Lastly, kiosks would suddenly emerge requiring instant background checks to enter buildings, companies, organizations, or public emergency disaster shelters as a miniature quasi-registry with complementary sticky name-tags to wear that you passed its self-imposed quality restrictions. Implementation of kiosks would demonstrate consternation and expansion of criminal based information perhaps purchased from the same unofficial registry websites with outdated data. Naturally, to correct the issue individuals would be in the crossfire of misinformation being forced to pay to correct information that shouldn’t have been public in the first place? Do count on companies and organizations to be sued for wrongful information based on false or inaccurate information being shared. As always, there will be a nice disclaimer to say “this organization is not responsible for incorrect information” and to call another organization to straighten out the fiasco. If kiosks aren’t bad enough, then it may be safe to assume facial recognition is the next wave of information sharing. But the best bizarre standard may be similar to the airport Global Entry standard. Those with a background check based card similar to the REAL ID act would gain quicker access than those that don’t. It wouldn’t surprise me if this implements sooner because it is already being discussed with particular lawmakers?

Does all this imply that the registry needs to remain? Certainly not. It does suggest a peek into the proverbial future that California and the rest of America created. The registry beast will ultimately find its reach grasping innocent victims, family, friends, and advocates combined with misinformation no different than the Hillary Clinton Pizzagate scandal. Politicians with greased palms accepting Book or Walsh dollars with falsity with “consulting” and exclusive paperback deals may be the real injury as to why homeless, jobless, prison rates, major crimes, and other economic problems have risen – and continue to increase. However, if humanity will take a leap of faith to help assimilate offenders back into society rather than a registry requirement, they may quickly discover that homeless, jobless, prison rate, major crimes, and other economic worries become lessened with better opportunities and outcomes.

Patty Wetterling once voiced her concern about the registry. But her voice was dismissed as consumed by the giant enterprise of the registry to squelch any opposition and voice of reason. I have calculated my investigation and analysis of perhaps what the world will be like if the registry goes away. In fact, I find it may be more dangerous because politicians and opponents enjoy selling fear and anxiety. However, I tend to reflect more of the powerful words borrowed from Colin Powell saying, “If you break it, you fix it!

The registry is broke and breaking the bank of economic stability and primary rationale with Ameican culture. It had proven to be no more effective today than when it was implemented. It is convoluted, harmful to families, and swallowing up innocent bystanders under the guise of behaviors sometimes not closely associated with rape or violent offenses. The only beneficiary to the registry is companies and individuals that use the registry for its benefit. Individuals that visit the registry, if they can find the correct one, have mentioned feeling less educated or informed because of the lump sum mindset. It is a mammoth service that provides no service to any community and offers no real protection. Typically it is the person not on the registry that one should be concerned with. That is not a hint or suggestion that the registry works. That would equivalent to when an impaired driver gets behind the wheel, gets arrested, have his/her license revoked until court appearance, posts bond, only to drive back home still under the influence and continue driving back and forth to work on a suspended license. I see that the DMV registry is sarcastically impressive. The bottom line is that no registry is useful. What is effective? Law, evidence and a plan to deal with repeat offenders.

Lastly, adding specific laws to the registry requirement further creates a constructive culture of recidivism. What was once black and white to understanding registry requirements are replaced with black and gray content with ambiguous meaning. That is what lawmakers have created, and the registry continues to administer as a broken database of tiered information. This colossal effort of spending and identification in hopes to reduce specific behavior has not matured but expanded into an enterprise business. The registry provides sole benefit to a select few overstated commentary advocates, fear-based advertisers, careless data content providers, and a few attorneys career obsessed with tales of removing people from the registry only to have those reinstated because of retroactive legislation. Even if the registry ended tomorrow, the struggle to regain identity would be an uphill climb because of hostility and resistance towards a failed experiment. Despite police officers being relieved of sex offense monitoring allowing more officers to patrol streets abandon logic and consideration. It’s the opponents that would be out of business and have the ambition to create further harm by selling a new potion claiming it will keep a community safe. Perhaps the best safety and slaying the giant is to meet my neighbors no longer hiding because of registry requirements actively engaged and involved in my neighborhood. We don’t need an app or registry for that – and it will save me and my community a lot of money!

In the meantime, the sex offender registry ending anytime soon doesnt appear to have an optomistic outlook.