We are the families living at the little ‘red dots’ you see on a registry map. Currently, there are almost three million of us; wives, mothers, sisters, girlfriends, brothers, fathers, grandparents, and so on. You notice I didn’t say friends as they have deserted the person required to register usually for two reasons; they feel awkward and don’t know what to say. Maybe try ‘You are not defined by the worst thing you have done. Neither am I and let’s get started helping to get you back on track.’
Women Against Registry is announcing the pivot from annihilation to reasonable accountability and justice for all, followed by transformative or restorative justice; restore the victim, the perpetrator AND the community.
The last published NCMEC number of registered citizens was 917,000 men, women and children (as young as 8 and 10 in some states) are required to register. The “crimes” range from urinating in public (indecent exposure), sexting, incest, mooning, exposure, false accusations by a soon-to-be ex-wife, angry girlfriend, or spiteful student, viewing abusive OR suggestive images of anyone 18 years old or younger, playing doctor, voyeurism, prostitution, solicitation, Romeo and Juliet consensual sexual dating relationships, rape, endangering the welfare of a child, the old bait-n-switch internet stings (taking sometimes 12 months before a person steps over the line) guys on the autism spectrum or with intellectual disabilities and many others.
Family members and registrants alike experience the collateral damage of being murdered, harassed, threatened, shot through a closed door, children beaten, signs placed in their yards, homes set on fire, vehicles damaged, being asked to leave their Christian churches, Synagogues and social organizations, children passed over for educational opportunities, flyers distributed around their neighborhood, wives lose their jobs when someone learns they are married to a registrant.
Academics and researchers indicate 3 things are needed for successful reintegration; a job, a place to live and a “positive” support system. Also, banning a registered citizen from drug treatment centers is not positive support. This amounts to cruel and unusual punishment which some judicial groups are taking notice of.
Persons required to register are here and WANT TO WORK in a day and time when practically every business has a ‘were hiring’ sign on their property. How does that make someone feel that knows that is out of their reach due to a background check revealing they are a registrant? Supporting their family instills pride and value to their being and society.
Now here is the exact point where the train went off the track and was driven by none other than those who are or were on the United States Supreme Court. Basically, sources relied upon by the Supreme Court in Smith v. Doe, a heavily cited constitutional decision on sexual offense registries, in fact provide no support at all for the so-called facts about re-offense rates that the Court treats as central to its constitutional conclusions. This misreading of the social science was abetted in part by the Solicitor General’s misrepresentations in the amicus brief it filed in this case. The false “facts” stated in the opinion have since been relied upon repeatedly by other courts in their own constitutional decisions, thus infecting an entire field of law as well as policy-making by legislative bodies. The backdrop for the ruination of human beings and their families was based on an advertisement in a 1985 Psychology Today magazine by a therapist trying to garner more business. (Paraphrased from Frightening and High)
A well-known study by Dr. Jill Levenson revealed that:
a) 93% of child sexual abuse victims knew their abuser;
b) 34.2% were family members;
c) 58.7% were acquaintances;
d) Only 7% of the perpetrators of child victims were strangers;
e) 40% of sexual assaults take place in the victim’s own home;
f) 20% take place in the home of a friend, neighbor or relative
There is a tremendous need to fund programs like “Stop It Now” that teach parents how to begin and maintain a dialog with their children to intervene before harm occurs and about grooming behaviors as well as other things at age-appropriate levels in their Circles of Safety.
There is no pride in being known as ‘the incarceration nation’ with 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s incarcerated. Mass incarceration, long sentences in deplorable dilapidated facilities with disgusting food and less than stellar medical services to the 95% of those coming out-produces health situations where disability services are required for the rest of the lives of human beings at taxpayer expense.
Here is an example of how our families are harmed. A well-meaning teacher printed out profile pictures of local registrants and put them on the board around the classroom. She promoted her effort to protect her students by suggesting they look at and remember those people. One student pointed at one picture and said, “Katie, isn’t that your dad?” It was….