Registrant Apartheid: A Warning on Government Infringement

There is a saying that every man’s home is his castle. This saying originated from ancient Rome and later became a part of values with regards to privacy and security. There is a certain amount of honor in having a space to call your own. Rather it is a house, apartment, mobile home, camper, tent, motel room, shelter, or couch surfing home is where you should feel welcome, comfortable, and safe.

quid enim sanctius, quid omni religione munitius, quam domus unusquisque civium?
What more sacred, what more strongly guarded by every holy feeling, than a man’s own home? —Cicero

Upon visiting the doorsteps of others, there is often a welcoming greeting mat awaiting your either expected or unscheduled arrival. The welcome is clear that you are valued as a person with the freedom to engage with others unrestricted without the need of chaperon or assistance. However, society has turned from its welcoming mats to a sorted inquisitive band of uncertain litmus tests using a scoring mechanism only they understand. It is as if people that are supposed to be our trusted friends and allies have suddenly become narcissists?

There are plenty of narcissistic people on the planet (perhaps you know a few on Twitter?). But a home whether permanent or temporary shouldn’t be subjected to emotional strain and narcissistic behaviors in the forms of businesses sharing guest information with police.

A few years ago the hotel chain Motel 6 began a voluntary program sharing hotel guest information with police. Police would then run the guest information by national criminal computers to check for outstanding warrants, immigration, and sex offenders perhaps staying on its properties. Many of those snared took the issue to court and won massive legal settlements against the hotel chain.

Motel 6 will pay $12 million to settle lawsuit after sharing guest info with ICE

Recently the state of Florida introduced a legislative bill mandating that hotels or forms of lodging check all guest information for potential sex offenders visiting the state or seeking shelter. Florida already has the worst conditional restrictions for those visiting or living in the state. But to go a step further creeping into the privacy of a business to share its guest information with police is far reaching into dangerous territory. Sooner or later the police checks will expand into other sensitive details allowing firms to cherry pick who it chooses to allow as guests. We can see it now that as an example of the story of John Smith. John Smith is visiting Orlando on business. Back home in Texas he has a lovely wife and two wonderful children still in school. However John planned a discreet rendezvous with a lovely lady he met through a phone app. He checks into the hotel; the hotel runs a check and police come busting in because John Smith shows as a registered sex offender from Texas! However, it is the wrong John Smith. Now his embarrassment surfaces on a TMZ Odd Storys TV segment. His marrigage is instantly shattered placing his infidelities in public light. His future to mend ways with his wife and family are in peril. Rather than quickly blaming John for his poor choice of action or blame upon the police, the hotel is the key responsible party for sharing his mandated data. Sure, Mr. Smith was in the wrong for cheating, but his rights to privacy and his castle was violated. If Florida wants to check guests staying for 30 days or more, then that may be a bit more reasonable than staying overnight or a few days? Mr. Smith may have a civil claim with some very interesting litigation potentially placing a hotel chain in bankruptcy from the settlement he could receive? Nevertheless, the business has a duty and responsibility to protect consumer data, its property, and its guests. The hotel didn’t call the police. Instead, the law supersedes the business ability to act within autonomous actions by making a warrantless searches much easier.

Apartheid (segregation; lit. “separateness”): a system of institutionalized segregation characterized by an authoritarian political culture. It entailed the separation of public facilities, social events, housing, and employment opportunities. Complex laws are created to suppress and punish both individuals or supporters.

All this unnecessary panic legislation has taken liberty and freedoms this country embraces into a practicing police state. The nation and states already have a public sex registry tied into schools, employment, apartments, and volunteer organizations. It is frustrating enough to pay extra fees to the government to take part in PreCheck amenities to prove I’m not a flight risk to go through airport security. But laws similar to Florida are opening a door to only the privilege that PreCheck styled services or data sharing between businesses and police will extend to hotels, car rentals, U-Haul, gyms, hospitals, and perhaps to retail stores with fitting rooms.

For decades Americans have tried every method possible to rid of policing within bedrooms or homes. It is one thing when a person commits a criminal offense. But to begin a trend instructing a person where, when, and how they may live is unAmerican. When any government branch instructs by policy a business to share user data for a paid services without consent and expectation of reasonable privacies, it endangers free movement and prohibits choice. Services aren’t the same as purchasing bullets, dynamite, drugs, or restricted materials. The castle that we choose to make our home will always be a human right. The defense of that castle is a government facilitating registrant apartheid no different than blockbusting tactics and a revision of sundown towns.

Sundown towns, also known as sunset towns or gray towns, were all-white municipalities or neighborhoods in the United States that practiced a form of segregation—historically by enforcing restrictions excluding people not white via some combination of discriminatory local laws, intimidation, and violence.

There are many sex offense laws on the books with residential restrictions, employment exclusions, public space constraints, social media limitations, and the list goes on. If someone made a smartphone app to provide legal information to registrants or the curious, it would be inconceivable to develop. It is perhaps why there won’t be an app for that particular purpose because updates would have to occur daily to keep up with legislation, legal decisions, and refined interpretations. Pretty much the future of iPhones would require a Tesla vehicle battery pack to keep up with sex offender laws on any given day!

America is no longer the home of the free. Instead, it may reconsider changing it to Home of the Fee. There is nothing more disgusting than watching America with a populist agenda sway from the governance of law to experiment with socialist criminal law, embracing utilitarian principles. We are a society on a pathway towards the destruction of individual liberty but for the beginning of government interference upon capitalism and autonomy thanks in part to states such as Florida leading the way to mandate sharing consumer information without any probable cause.

Surely the utilitarian must admit that whatever the facts of the matter may be, it is logically possible that an ‘unjust’ system of punishment—e.g. a system involving collective punishments, retroactive laws and punishments, or punishments of parents and relations of the offender—may be more useful than a ‘just’ system of punishment?H. J. McCloskey

Sure, the notion of every man’s home is his castle is undoubtedly questionable as America continues its quest to legislate freedoms. Perhaps it should say, every man’s home was once his castle.

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Justice Reform Must Include Mental Health Reforms

Recently there has been an increased awareness of Justice Reforms in America. According to the Brookings Institution, it reports that we are spending $80 billion a year on incarceration. However, according to the U.S. government, we spend on average $3.5 trillion on health care annually. I raise the two separate issues to pinpoint a severe flaw that both systems are broken and in disrepair.

To help find a solution, some lawmakers have introduced policy allowing the privatization of prisons systems suggesting a reduction burdening taxpayers. Yet, these private prisons profit $7.4 billion annually. Let that sink in for a minute. If a private prison can turn a profit, then why isn’t our national corrections system rolling in surplus? Trillions of dollars on health care spending or roughly $10K per person and we should be the most mentally and physically fit people in the world? But that is not even an actuality in comparison to other nations with free health care. But it’s more complicated than that – because we choose to make it complicated.

Some could argue that jails and prisons provide health care, mental health assessments, and medication to inmates. While true, it holds two temporary but critical flaws. First, the inmate must volunteer and often establish a co-pay payment while incarcerated leaving many in additional debt when released. Second, once an inmate has been set free, there is no continuation of health services of any kind. While there may be low-cost municipal services to the formerly incarcerated the stigma of finding a job, housing, transportation, food, and reassimilation into a skeptic and often hostile community serves no real purpose or plan for successful outcomes. A practical reason for high recidivism rates is that the mentally ill are the most likely to return to jail or prison because they will have housing, food, reassimilation of structure, and medicine. However, somewhat like the perception of registered sex offenders is viewed as all-encompassing violent criminals. The same could be said in how we label those in the mental health community as criminals when in the judicial system.

The reality is that for justice reforms to deliver a sustainable solution the legal system it must collaborate and establish a strategy. A part of that strategy is to include health care and free easy to access proven mental health programs. A reason our health care system is broken because of the lack of accessibility and wage to pay for preventative health services. That same argument extends towards mental health both post and preventative. When an individual pleads for help, but no resources are readily available then there begins the problem in how we should be addressing it. However, if that same individual commits a crime because the bureaucracy fails to establish relationships with health care providers, then it will always be a win-win for prisons and recidivism.

Nobody will claim that justice reform is an easy task. Ultimately, it will be an expensive endeavor both politically, financially, and with strong emotional discourse. But if we make an attempt to focus on a long term strategy regulated by nonpartisan individuals its success may be achievable and results driven. If American society can experience sizable shifts in capitalism where factories that once monopolized the world were replaced with higher skilled and improved conditions why can’t we create and collaborate a rational plan to reduce incarcerations and a clogged judicial system with health organizations that understand data proven methods that will deliver immediate results? If we can invest in soldiers to train them to be leaders on a battlefield, train college students to create inventions to change the world then we can certainly change the dynamic of our outdated judicial and prison systems by reinvesting in proven and life-saving methodologies with long-term cost savings visible in the horizon.

Sex Offender Driver License Ineffective

Recently I had a meeting with a representative of a state house. The reason for the meeting was he wanted to introduce legislation that would require an identifiable designator for registered sex offenders on a driver license. To be candid, I was caught off guard because I had not adequately prepared to answer his questions and perhaps needed a bit more data to deliver a case. However, I took a professional route by providing the best optimal argument against such a plan.

A driver license is not by federal standards a truly legal form of identification. Yes, it is produced by a state government but not issued by a federal government. Therefore, there is a gray area that its intended purpose is for motor vehicle standards. A state-issued identification card is, in fact, a state-issued ID but also falls under particular rules that it too is not a federal ID. The Real ID Act of 2005 modified U.S. law after 9/11 to increase security for state-issued ID cards targeting immigration and terror-related issues. There is nothing that requires or prohibits states allowing them to add anything to a driver license they wish. Essentially, it is the states that have created a defacto identification card that has morphed into this massive data sharing scheme.

The Commonwealth of Virginia recently added fishing and hunting icons to its driver license for registered hunting and wildlife programs. Many states have added veteran status among a string of added organ donor icons. Some states have introduced and are actively using the sex offender stamp on its driver license. My argument is “when does it stop? As a concerned driver, I am more concerned about habitual drunk drivers or those with serious motor vehicle matters being quickly identified at a car rental counter or borrowing a car than a sex offender behind the wheel. Why not target the driver license with a DUI stamp to the very people that are a hazard to our roads?” The representative paused for a minute and said, “I never thought of that?” I went on to say that the registry is enough and a driver license will eventually become out of control allowing information overload. There is no data to prove its success nor data to disprove it. Therefore, it must be a waste of money and effort. The representative agreed and terminated the idea.

The significance of this issue is that states already have an expensive endeavor maintaining driver records, security, authentication, and standards a driver license program. Additional resources such as insurance, collision reporting, traffic infractions, vehicle titles and registrations, social security numbers, medical reporting, voter ID, and other traffic-related factors somewhat overload a system that requires consumer updates each expiration period. Adding additional information such as sex offender, wildlife permits, other sensitive information shouldn’t be a part of the driver license policy. There is an active registry for that. It may appear convenient, but at some point, the system is bound to collapse, become compromised and too costly for an agency to undertake. Eventually, it will become outsourced and cost taxpayers and states a hefty fee in the long term. Additionally, getting out of the program will require significantly more resources and funding.

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service

Say goodbye to Land of the Free

Growing up I can recall moments where I would often see a sign posted on a business establishment window with the words, “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service.” Those words set a standard of particular behaviors expected by society. Fast forward and those signs have been removed, bypassed with the introduction of flip-flops, or completely ignored. There appears to be a standard that implied rules or laws are meant to be broken or perhaps apply to individuals we selectively want to create constructive prejudisms.

Decades ago establishments and Jim Crow laws applied to where an African-American could legally use a restroom, water fountain, eat, shop, and perhaps live. Eventually, those ridiculous laws were overturned, but someone migrated under the table towards the homosexual community as a silent gesture. However, if people look closely, there are continual hints that such laws used in a discriminatory fashion that continually apply restrictions but in discrete methods. Such methods begin when areas wish to gentrify neighborhoods, business districts, or rezoning regulation. Grandfather clauses became a thing of the past to be replaced with loitering, eminent domain, low-cost housing initiatives, immigration reforms, and group home regulations. These issues present an odor of Jim Crow legislation but masked and prepackaged to tailor a politically correct argument with a single vision and directive to make it nearly impossible for people to have an actual say regarding their wishes or wants.

Society claims to be free embracing the rule of law only if it applies to their standard which varies from person to person. In fact, legislation and regulation have been either pedestaled as too extreme or either too weak. There is no middle ground or an act of understanding anymore – at least from my daily observations. Instead of “no shirt, no shoes, no service” we have constructed conditions where people are no longer free to choose where they live. Such choices could be if a person has deemed a registered sex offender or an individual ordered by the courts for domestic violence has restrictions placed upon them. Again, these are hidden versions of Jim Crow styled laws not allowing free people to move freely. But when registrants, parolees, or rehabilitated drug users attempt to find work, housing, and to integrate into society once again, the Bill of Rights, Constitution, the rule of law, human rights, societal behaviors of redemption have been somehow tossed out the window. My argument is that law has become a new form of selective prejudices to create and manufacture how we can hope to keep others to their standard rather than an equitable and equal standard.

A fact is that society continually seeks not justice but an issue it wants to either rid of or kept hidden, invisible, and unnoticed by others for the sake of properly value and supposed safety. Americans do like to pick on the underdog quite often. However, a free nation that enjoys and employs a vast sex registry among a large jail and prison network it won’t even with the best prison reforms be able to hide the fact that supporters of such methods are no different than Jim Crow supporters. In fact, they are enabling the visions of Jim Crow standards no differently by citing freedoms to live, shop, work anywhere as long as it’s not in my neighborhood or community. Say goodbye to Land of the Free based on that assessment.

We Are Pontius Pilate

Since the first of the year, I have been going to the gym 3 to 4 times a week to rediscover how to get my body back in shape and to fit in reasonably sized clothing choices once again. I attend a wellness center filled with many people, usually mature or older, seeking to either get in shape or highlight therapy towards injuries and such. After a vigorous swim, I decided to enter the hot tub. For some reason, the hot tub at this wellness center has jokingly become the informal roundtable pool

Todays topic began with the R.Kelly grand jury indictment. I carefully listed to all the various unscholarly noise and gut assumptions. After nearly five or so minutes of listening I felt as if the conversation had become judge, jury, and executioner well before evidence or trial can present its arugment. 

What ended the conversation quickly is when an older lady looked over and asked me directly, “do you think he is guilty?”  I replied with, “I have no formal opinion on the matter because I don’t know R. Kelly nor do I live in the Chicago metro area.”  The hot tub quickly became quiet. The facial expressions snapped over to glare at me to suggest I am the onion in the soup. She then said in a careful tone, “but there are perverts like him out there harming kids.”   I said, “yes, but R. Kelly’s issues don’t affect me directly. However, what I am most concerned about our citizens that may be called to be potential jurors claiming to not know anything about R. Kelly but do and want to spread bias while affirming an oath to a judge and God then they will be fair an impartial. Now, that does affect all of us.”  Quickly the hot tub emptied. I knew that I hit a raw nerve. But instead of listening there is cult or gang-like atmosphere that people insist that we agree with fears and affirm everyone is out to get us or do harm despite the fact that it is thousands of miles away or next door.

Rather than engaging in an argument I quickly became the advocate of reason. Did I obtain any winners or sway people? Perhaps not. But what I did convey is pushback towards normative behaviors that we must agree or nod to keep the peace when in fact we are just reinforcing a bad behavior. 

I managed to get out of the hot tub and go to the locker room to change ending a workout. In the locker room I saw a few men from the pool area. As I was changing, one leaned over and said, “you know that woman is a preachers wife?”  I looked back with a smile and said, “I could tell with all those virtuous Christian values pouring out.”  Everyone in the locker room laughed with agreement. The men began suggesting I was the only person that ever stood up to disagree with her. I tried to explain that as a Christian my beliefs are to seek justice, then mercy, and forgiveness. I said, “People have a choice to either be more like Jesus or become like Pontius Pilate.”  That alone cemented that we are often quick to adjudicate before weighing evidence.  It is not my intentions to sound overly biblical or born-again. Instead it is important that people claiming to be Christians practice what they preach. 

On that note, there are many people not only entering correctional facilities today but a large number are let out and attempting to reintegrate into society. In my eyes those exiting the legal system in America have paid their price and should be treated as paying that debt to society. If our culture has no planning towards atonement and reentry into society then we have no reason to provide love, worth, or ambition in excelling as life continues by those affected or connected to incarceration or registry requirement.  It is fine to dislike the crime, but our energy shouldn’t be consumed with hating the person. Disappointment should be brief lapses over time. Instead, we live in a world today where we want to lock people up and throw away the key. Eventually that place too will become overcrowded and bursting with no room to reform and teach others because a person influenced others to think like them. It’s not gangs we should be worried about. It is the ganglike mentality that fails to separate between the street gang and the hypocrites that appear ganglike we should worry about. 

Unique Double Entendre

Sometimes in life, we may experience an event or circumstance where we are accused of something that didn’t happen, or we were not responsible for but cannot seem to shrug the allegation. All too many times we hastily read a splash headline where someone is charged with something and naturally our perception and sensation rush to judge just because there is something reportable. Either way we are either consumed by noise or the noise consumes us.

What we fail to realize is that partaking the sensationalistic and judgemental journey is no different than a sidelined lynch mob forming judge, jury, and executioner well before any established facts are assimilated. Regardless of narrative we either enjoy watching power being used in hopes for good or are overpowered in an attempt to recover the good from within ourselves. Often when we discover that truths are twisted or false allegations are discovered an immediate reaction is to become angry for a swift moment at the accusor but briefly feel remorse for the accused adding “I bet he/she learned a lesson.” But we as the observers learned absollytely nothing only to put unnecceary energy into the next upcoming news allegation.

The recent highlighting of sexual assault or sexual allegations has become so weaponized that despite all the warnings from high profiled cases as the Duke Lacrosse scandal didn’t teach or instill any valuable lessons learned that people, in fact, lie or misrepresent circumstances. Today, truth, reality, evidence, and motive have been significantly replaced by dishonesty, fabrication, concealment, and agenda. Why would people lie is perhaps that first plausible argument? A supporting fact is selling and technique. A salesperson may bend, adulterate, or skew the truth about something to convince and persuade others to rid of a problem or product. After all, corporatism is an integral part of our American DNA. While ethos, value or other attributes may be instilled upon all of us, we do have a nasty habit of cutting ethical corners where lies, deception, and opportunity become opportune weapons tucked away in our arsenal despite how insignificant it may appear to self or others. A common mantra for some is “just don’t get caught!” That alone can be a double edged sword or a unique double entendre.

A majority of individuals on sex offender registries or incarcerated are there because of plea deals created and expedited by a legal system with its own politicized agenda. This is not to imply that every person on the registry or incarcerated is innocent. What it does suggest is based on two stages. The first is the state possibly reduced a criminal charge for convenience to a judicial system without actually reflecting the merits of the crime. If it is convenience to the legal system then why not allow prayer for judgements as an alternative? Perhaps a reason is the legal system doesn’t make money from dismissals or set aside cases. Second, most sexually based offender crimes are either technologically related or he said-she said disagreement with a developmental phase towards the creation of violative standards. What that means, is interpretation instead of facts are introduced with the baggage of emotion, tissues of lies, and a hunch of what occurred. Examples could be where people arrested for possession of child pornography are deemed equal or similar to those that create and promote it. It brings to mind drug dealers versus drug users. Both are treated in the eyes of justice as criminals yet we rarely witness the prosecution or pursuit of drug lords or manufacturers. Why? Because of our clinging to the corporatism model that we disrupt one business opportunity to shift towards a newer and vastly improved business model much harder to pursue and capture. Therefore, law enforcement will continue to seek the little man because it creates an opportunity to rush judgment to hopefully develop a credible case and argument. 

Ten Million Registrants?

Recently the Attorney General for the State of Michigan, Dana Nessel presented an argument to the federal court that the sex offender registry is so burdensome and fail to distinguish between dangerous offenders and those who are not a threat to the community. However, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals previously ruled, that Michigan’s registry is punishment and cannot be applied retroactively.

Before we pop the Champaign corks and begin to celebrate that those affected by the registry and its advocates observe various rulings only to have them become ignored or administratively adjusted. It is somewhat similar to when we hear that a person is “free to go”. But there seems to be paperwork or other administrative details before the individual is actually free. We do live in a nation where statue mandates “fast and speedy trail” but there is no clear rule or policy to mandate the efficiency and workflow of civil procedures.

While I am exited about the Michigan case and its merit lets not forget that a federal court made a previous ruling that hasnt propelled the required traction for immedete enforcement. If the Attorney General wants to gain trust to those affected by the sex registry then the next step of good faith is to stop enforcing a requirement that Michigan registrants to pay an annual sex offender fee. While this sounds like an extreme format towards legislative battles between executive and legislative branches of government, the validation lies with how sincere Dana Nessel intends to pursue how to fix the registry or abolish it, should that be a future project? Perhaps Dana should reach out to current registrants and families affected by the registry for a comprehensive evalution of options?

Let’s face facts that a sex registry is an entertainment tool in the eyes of the general public than an educational tool. To date, there are at least a million registrants. But the bigger picture is undisclosed of those connected to the sex registry. There are parents, grandparents, siblings spouses, and children connected to the daily lives of registered sex offenders. This implies that the sex registry could potentially affect not just one million registrants, but over five to ten million citizens. If registrants are not allowed to be a part of a child’s developmental and parental programs, then that facilitates others such as grandparents, siblings, or friends to remedy that a child has equal access to programs. But if one parent is excluded because of public policy or law then the registry itself is an accomplice portion that devides families, communities, and facilitates potential homelessness issues for Americans. Perhaps this is why Attorney Generals are quickly discovering the sex registry has outgrown its usefulness and should be dissolved.

I am confident that the sex registry will eventually come to an end. The only people clinging on to the notion of registry requirements are those that seek enterprising methods to create a fear-based business model usually siding with law enforcement programs instead of social community programming. These models are facilitated without any facts, any data, any proof, or any rational support that lists work. Instead, there is a culture laced hobgoblin atmosphere that communities are laced with sexual predators creating unnecessary anxieties. Groups of law enforcement unions additionally lay claim to the high effective rate of registry requirements are directly power grabbing. If the registry is so successful as a deterrent, then why has the registry more than tripled in the decade? The answer is somewhat simplified that children are the newest growing members to the registry. With lifetime commitments naturally, the registry will continue to manifest and absorb more people discarding that the registry is, in fact, has deterrent features.

Again, it is essential to remain optimistic that leaders like Dana Nessel do bring value to the sex offender registry argument. However, as the states leading law enforcement agent, she has much more to prove by actions instead of appearing in a courtroom. Registrants and families are watching to witness the outcomes.