Thank you for reading the inaugural edition of our periodic newsletter. It is our intention to produce this newsletter two to four times per year.
When you receive your issue of The W.A.R. Call, now and in the future, we humbly ask that you forward it to friends and family members; those who are strong advocates and those who are just mildly sympathetic to our cause. Additionally, we ask that you print and send it to any incarcerated loved ones (or at least, the most important pages).
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as of May 30, 2018, there were 904,011 men, women, and children on the Sex Offender Registry in this country
Since our formation in 2011, Women Against Registry has been a sometimes solitary voice for families that have a loved one required to register. Over time, our advocacy has grown so that now we speak on behalf of, not only the families, but those who find themselves unjustly incarcerated and those who have already paid their debt to society but still languish in “open-air prisons. To those of you who staunchly stand by your loved ones despite the associated anxiety and fear; to those of you who stand against the cruel injustice that we all face every day; and especially to those of you who stand up for this cause by spending your time, sharing your knowledge, giving your money, expending your energy, and helping others in numerous ways…. you have our undying appreciation and gratitude. We applaud you and your efforts. We could not do what we do without you.
With the support of our members and a belief in our cause, we have been known, on occasion, to ‘push the envelope’ just a bit. We have been known to teach people who did not necessarily want to be taught. We have been known to say things in a rather emphatic way. Our directors have argued on radio shows, testified in state legislative hearings, publicly protested, commented on news articles, spoken at conferences and more. I have been known to talk to strangers about our cause, especially when I have a captive audience….in an elevator, for instance. It is not always easy to step out of our comfort zone but this advocacy requires it. It demands that extra effort. Our loved ones deserve that from us.
There are various ways to advocate, and maybe that method depends on the issue at hand. Our particular cause has its litigation advocates; those who file lawsuits so the people in power can’t get away with unconstitutional practices. Our cause has its legislative advocates; those that write laws and push hard to get them moved through a legislative body, and we have supported some of these efforts. But we have focused our advocacy efforts on the education of the masses; those acutely involved in this issue and those who have never even thought of it. Of course we want to teach everyone about the injustice, the wasted cost, the false recidivism rates, the unwarranted fear, and more; but we also want to teach our own members that they are empowered in this effort. Empowerment is a state of mind; it only need be activated to know that it exists. We understand how difficult this can be, but empowerment is an important step in being able to teach others and to advocate for this cause.
And now, in addition to educating and empowering, we want to show the human side to this issue; the strength, loyalty, and love of a mother for her son; the happiness and tears shared by a husband and wife through the dirty glass window in a jailhouse visiting room; the anger and frustration of a young man, manipulated by a duplicitous officer in a sting operation; the innocence and bewilderment of a young couple who did absolutely nothing wrong when they were exploring their own sexuality until suddenly, one of them passed over the arbitrary ‘adult’ line; and the complete powerlessness of almost everyone in this issue who has been intimidated, taken advantage of, and essentially bullied into taking a plea agreement.
We intend to put a face on these raw emotions. We believe that the human side of our issue can sometimes say so much more than facts and figures. We need to humanize this injustice. We need to show, without a doubt, that we are human beings in need of a second chance; we are caring, feeling individuals that deserve redemption; we are loving, living souls who want a chance to prove that the act for which we found legal trouble, is something we did, not who we are.
My final message to you in this very first issue of The W.A.R. Call is that your potential is boundless. Whether you believe it or not, you are already empowered. I believe in each and every one of you. Thank you for your support.
Some of you know a Director or two or maybe all of us. Some of you do not know any of us. As of this writing, we are a Board of seven members. We all try in our own ways to add value to this organization. We have Directors meetings once per month and discuss a wide range of topics affecting all of us. We are always on the lookout for smart, energetic, motivated, and articulate individuals to join our Board of Directors; to help us in this fight to restore fairness to our system of juris prudence; and to help us in our struggle to restore human rights to our loved ones. Listed below are some biographical details for each of our Directors. We welcome the chance to meet you in person.
Vicki re-established Women Against Registry in 2011. Her purpose at that time – and continuing to this day – was to be the voice for family members of those required to register. She is a tireless, passionate worker for this cause. She works long hours, rarely taking personal time. Over the years, Vicki has been a visible and vocal presence as W.A.R.’s President and as such, has many friends and admirers within this advocacy. She has more than a few detractors as well; but that is a crystal clear indicator that she speaks her mind and stands her ground on the things she believes. Those are qualities that you want in the leader of an organization. Vicki leads this organization by example. At any given time, she might be speaking at a conference, commenting on a news article, communicating with other national advocates, working on the details of W.A.R.’s next conference, attending a support meeting, visiting someone who is incarcerated, testifying for a bill in a legislative hearing, comforting someone on our hotline, educating a single individual who is woefully unaware of our issue, having a stern discussion with a senator, or conducting any number of other advocacy efforts. These endeavors are generally long, difficult and frustrating. The victories are often few and far between. But one thing that gives Vicki particular pleasure is to watch a W.A.R. member turn into a supporter; and then, slowly, into an advocate.
We say that those of us who fear action are cocooning
so it must also be said that advocates, like Vicki,
have surely broken out of the cocoon
and spread their wings to fly.
When she takes a break from her calling in life, she enjoys working in the garden, making fudge, and searching Pinterest for yet more things to fill her time. She lives outside St. Louis, Missouri. You can reach her at vicki.henry@womenagainstregistry, Families of Registrants on LinkedIn or @WomenAgainstReg on Twitter.
Jon has been a W.A.R. Director since late in 2015. In his role as Senior Advisor, he is the primary writer and editor for the organization. In this capacity, he has created W.A.R. brochures, developed job descriptions, and participated in several volunteer projects; he has written to Dear Abby, Jared Kushner, the State Farm Grant Program and the Governor’s Task Force in Missouri. He has worked closely with W.A.R’s President to develop the Missouri Support Group program and has participated in many of these meetings. Jon took over the Snail Mail Program that sends letters and brochures to individuals on the registry in an attempt to increase W.A.R. membership and to get these individuals involved in this advocacy. Jon has displayed W.A.R. material and spoken at the conferences of other organizations. He has testified at Missouri Congressional hearings in Jefferson City, Missouri and he runs the Director’s meetings for the organization. In addition, Jon was the emcee for the conference in 2017 and 2018, and will reprise that role in 2019. He and his wife Debra (also a Director with W.A.R.), have three adult children. They have been married for nearly 40 years and live in the greater St. Louis, Missouri metropolitan area.
Debra joined W.A.R. in mid-2015. She juggles a full-time job, and until recently, ownership of her own business, and yet still manages to play a vital role in the organization. Debra is a “people-person” who has participated in a radio talk show about our issue, spoken with a TV reporter for a news segment about W.A.R., demonstrated when the the U.S. Attorney General came to St. Louis, and spoke directly to Senator Claire McCaskill. In addition, she has represented W.A.R. at the ATSA and Federal Sentencing Guidelines conferences; she has been instrumental in the planning of our conferences; and she has been involved in various other efforts as well. She lives outside St. Louis, Missouri.
Judy was a Special Education Teacher for 22 Years before retiring several years ago. She has been involved with Missouri Citizen’s for Reform and with Women Against Registry. She recently became the Membership Director with W.A.R. and has been working to organize our membership roles. She has taken responsibility, with another W.A.R. member, for running the Support Group meetings in Columbia Missouri. Judy is a high energy Director who is not afraid to take on added responsibility. Judy lives outside St. Louis Missouri.
Chuck is in charge of our W.A.R. website and Facebook page. He keeps the sites up and running,deals with glitches that inevitably occur, and loads the sites with pertinent content. He helps with the building and maintenance of the state websites when needed and he did an awesome job of revamping our website recently. He was instrumental in the set-up and running of our audio and visual equipment during our first two conferences. Chuck lives in Illinois.
With a young child and two jobs, Lori is extremely busy. But because she is methodical and organized, she still finds time to work with W.A.R. on membership issues. Lori is a long-standing member of our organization from the state of Alabama.
Matt is a wedding photographer, an award-winning independent film-maker, and he’s a podcaster. On behalf of W.A.R., he created a well-received podcast for the Hate-Studies conference at Gonzaga University in 2017. He will be working on a training podcast for our effort to put a new face on W.A.R. (see story page 18). Matt lives in Washington State.
As you know, Women Against Registry has a National Operation. We have members in almost all 50 states and there are some affiliated State Chapters in various states around the country. The chapters that have associated websites are listed below with their web addresses. If you would like to become more involved in your state by communicating with other state members, working with an existing State Chapter, or possibly even starting a state chapter, please contact us at email@example.com
State State Website
As citizens of this country, we can make a difference in the laws that our legislators introduce. In Missouri, someone saw a person outside a museum. They recognized this person from his picture on the registry. They complained to their State Representative and as a result, museums were added to the list of restricted locations for those who must register. Think of it: one single person; one single complaint; and now it is a State Law. We have to stand up and be heard to stop this kind of hurtful nonsense; to change the draconian laws in this country.
If we include families members, our group numbers in the millions. We must stand as one and shout about this injustice. One way we can voice our concerns is to testify at our state capitols when bills come up for review in open hearings. But the only way accomplish that goal is to stay abreast of the legislative agenda, to read the bills, and to notify a constituent group that is ready to act; ready to go to the capitol and testify with personal stories and scientifically-backed facts. If this sounds like too much work, then consider the alternative: living with the cruel injustice of these lopsided laws and the registry for the rest of our lives! Suddenly, the effort may seem more worthwhile.
The state listing below contains: the number of State Senators, the number of State Representatives, the opening dates for each legislative session, and a website link, with instructions for determining your state legislators. In many cases, the listed website is also the link for information about current legislative actions such as the introduction of new bills and the status of those bills in the legislative process.
AL 35 105 Mar 25, 2019 www.legislature.state.al.us Click on “Find my Legislator”
AK 20 40 Jan 15, 2019 http://w3.legis.state.ak.us/ Put your address in the “Who Represents Me” box
AZ 32 63 Jan 14, 2019 azleg.gov Hover over “Members” > click “Who is my Legislator”
AR 35 100 Jan 14, 2019 www.arkleg.state.ar.us Click the “House” tab > fill in your address next to the “Find my Representative > go back to the home page > click the Senate tab > click the “Search for my Senator” button, then fill in your address.
CA 40 80 Dec 3, 2018 http://www.legislature.ca.gov Click on “Legislators” > click search by address
CO 35 65 Jan 9, 2019 https://leg.colorado.gov Click on “Find my Legislator” at the top of the page, > click “by Address” on the top of the map
CT 36 151 Jan 9, 2019 https://www.cga.ct.gov Click on the “Representation” tab > click on “Find Your Legislators”
DE 21 41 Jan 18, 2019 https://legis.delaware.gov Enter your address in the “Who is my Legislator” box
FL 40 120 Mar 5, 2019 leg.state.fl.us On the left side of the page click “Senate”, > under the “Senators” tab, click “Find Your Legislators”
GA 56 180 Jan 14, 2019 http://www.legis.ga.gov For Senator: click on the “State Senate” tab, click “Senators” tab, > click “Find Your Legislator.” For Representative, click “House of Representatives” tab, > “Representatives” tab > click “Find Your Legislator.” In both cases you are then given three website choices for how to determine your legislators
HI 25 51 Jan 16, 2019 https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov Click “Legislators” button > enter your address next to “Find Your Legislator” in the upper right corner of the page
ID 35 70 Jan 7, 2019 https://legislature.idaho.gov/ Click “Who’s my Legislator”
IL 59 118 Jan 9, 2019 http://www.ilga.gov Under “Additional Resources, click “Legislator Lookup”
IN 50 100 Jan 14, 2019 http://iga.in.gov Click the “Information” tab >Find Your Legislator
IA 50 100 Jan 14, 2019 https://www.legis.iowa.gov Click the “Legislators” tab > select “Find Your Legislator”
KS 40 125 Jan 14, 2019 http://www.kslegislature.org/li/ On the left side, click “Find Your Legislator,” > click “Search by Address,” > enter your address
KY 38 100 Jan 8, 2019 http://lrc.ky.gov On the left side, under “Legislator Information” click “Who’s my Legislator”
LA 39 104 Apr 8, 2019 http://www.legis.la.gov On the left side of the page, click on “Who are my Legislators?”
ME 35 153 Apr 14, 2019 http://legislature.maine.gov Maine does not make this easy. In the middle of the page, click “ask a Librarian” pull-down menu >select “Find my Legislators.” You can easily find the legislators by town name but sometimes, this does not tell you your specific Representatives. For that, Maine asks that you click another selection with more options.
MD 47 141 Jan 9, 2019 http://mgaleg.maryland.gov Click “Legislators” tab, > click “Who Represents me” link in the upper right corner
MA 40 160 Jan 2, 2019 https://malegislature.gov/ Click the word “Legislators” in the box on the left side, > click on “Find my Legislator” under the “Quick Links” heading at the bottom of the page
MI 38 119 Jan 9, 2019 http://www.legislature.mi.gov Under the “Related Sites” heading at the bottom of the page, select “Contact Your Representative” > enter your address > go back to the “Related Sites” heading > select “Contact my Senator” then enter your address
MN 67 134 Jan 8, 2019 https://www.leg.state.mn.us Click “Who Represents Me?” at the bottom of the page
MS 52 122 Jan 8, 2019 https://www.legislature.ms.gov/ I was not able to find as legislator lookup on this site. You can try this site instead: https://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/ Select your state, enter your address, and select “Locate”
MO 34 163 Jan 9, 2019 mega.mo.gov Click “Member Lookup”
MT 50 100 Jan 7, 2019 https://www.leg.mt.gov Click “Find my Legislator”
NE 49 0* Jan 9, 2019 https://nebraskalegislature.gov On the left side, click “Senators”, > click “Find your Senator”
NV 21 42 Feb 4, 2019 leg.state.nv.us Click “Who’s my Legislator”
NH 24 400 Jan 2, 2019 http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us Under the heading “if you’re looking for…” select “Your Legislators”
NJ 40 80 Jan 9, 2019 https://www.njleg.state.nj.us On the left side, under the heading “Members” select “Find Your Legislator”
NM 42 70 Jan 15, 2019 https://nmlegis.gov Click “Legislators” tab>“Find my Legislator”
NY 63 150 Jan 9, 2019 https://assembly.state.ny.us On the right side under “Who is my Assemblymember?, select “search by address”
NC 50 120 Jan 16, 2019 https://www.ncleg.net Select “Who Represents Me” tab
ND 47 94 Jan 3, 2019 https://www.legis.nd.gov At the bottom of the page under “Legislative Information” select “Find my Legislators”
OH 33 99 Jan 7, 2019 https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/ Click “Legislators” tab > select “Find my Legislators”
OK 48 101 Feb 5, 2019 http://oklegislature.gov Click Legislators tab> Find my Legislator
OR 30 60 Feb 5, 2019 https://www.oregonlegislature.gov on the lower right side, enter address in the “Find your District & Legislators” box, select “GO”
PA 50 203 Jan 1, 2019 legis.state.pa.us Click “Your Address” for the “House” and the “Senate” under “Find my Legislator”
RI 38 75 Jan 1, 2019 http://www.rilin.state.ri.us Click “Find your Elected Officials” tab
SC 46 124 Jan 8, 2019 https://www.scstatehouse.gov On the bottom left side, enter your address in the “Find your Legislators” box
SD 35 70 Jan 8, 2019 https://sdlegislature.gov Click “Find my Legislator” at the top
TN 33 99 Jan 8, 2019 http://www.legislature.state.tn.us Click “Find my Legislator” at top
TX 31 150 Jan 8, 2019 https://capitol.texas.gov Fill in your address in the “Who Represents me” box
UT 29 75 Jan 28, 2019 le.utah.gov Click “Legislators” > fill in your address
VT 30 150 Jan 9, 2019 http://legislature.vermont.gov Click on the “House” or “Senate” tab, > click “Find Representatives”, or “Find Senators”, > click “Find your Legislator” >click the “by town” radio button > click “Search.” Unfortunately, in larger towns, you may need to know your district number and I do not see a way to determine that on this site.
WA 49 98 Jan 14, 2019 http://leg.wa.gov On the right side under “Find,” click “Your District and Legislators”
WDC 13 0* Jan 2, 2019 http://dccouncil.us At the bottom, enter your address in the “Find Your Councilmember” box
WV 34 100 Jan 9, 2019 http://wvlegislature.gov Hover over the “Senate” tab > select District Maps > if you do not know your district, select “Find your Voter Registration Information” Once you have determined your district, find your senators by use of the district maps. Repeat the process for the Representatives.
WI 33 99 Jan 7, 2019 http://legis.wisconsin.gov Click “Who are my Legislators”
WY 30 60 Jan 8, 2019 http://www.wyoleg.gov In the “Legislators” box, click “Find my Legislator”
* Nebraska has a unique system; all members of the legislature are non-partisan senators.
** DC is run by a City Council (in much the same way as a legislature) overseen by the Fed. Govt.
In future editions of The W.A.R. Call, we hope to provide legislative updates from various states regarding our issue. Having said that however, this topic is a moving target, a dynamic issue that is constantly changing. The only true way to get a handle on the activities of a State Legislature, is to be personally “plugged in” to the issue. In this newsletter, we can only report what is given to us by state leaders as we do not have a qualified or substantial enough volunteer staff to handle this type of job.
Do you know what projects we are working on? Do you know what we try to accomplish and what we actually do accomplish. Well, here are a few example of some past achievements or current in-work tasks.
National Conferences: In August 2018, W.A.R. held its second National Conference in St. Louis Missouri. We had a number of very good speakers and some extremely informative break-out sessions. We placed an emphasis on “networking” and believe a lot of connections were made. This year, there were not as many videos as in 2017 because of restrictions imposed by the speakers; they will be available soon on our website. One of the important lessons that we learned at the conference was about “changing the narrative” and “reframing the message.” This lesson teaches that the words we use in describing certain situations are vitally important when we are trying to make our case; especially when talking with the media. We are still working to understand this message and may seek further training for our Directors who can then train others. In addition to the 2017 and 2018 conferences, planning is now underway for our biggest effort thus far. We will have a conference, a rally, and a pre-arranged visit to Capitol Hill to speak with our Federal Representatives and Senators in September (finalized date is TBD). See the 2019 Conference page in this newsletter for more information.
Missouri Support Groups: In October of 2017, the Senior Advisor set off for Kansas City to run the first in a series of Support Groups across the state. Since that time, the President and the Senior Advisor have attended 15, 20 or maybe even 25 meetings in KC, Springfield, Jefferson City, Kirksville, St. Louis, Sikeston, and Cape Girardeau. Sometimes the meetings were lively and well attended; sometimes no one showed up except the W.A.R. personnel to run the meeting. We knew that there would be meetings like this but we believed in the process. Today, we have five active meeting centers in the state and four of the five meetings are run by local members. That is a success story that we hope will catch on in other states. The meetings are typically split into two halves. The first is a share session based on a chosen topic for the month. This gives everyone a chance to share and to vent their feelings to an audience that does not judge; an audience that can relate in ways that not many others can. The second half of the meetings are dedicated to education and advocacy. This is a chance to educate attendees about legislation, testifying, speaking with representatives, telling our stories, becoming empowered, and so much more. If you are in Missouri and have never attended one of these sessions, we encourage you to do so. Check the Events section of the website for scheduled meetings or give us a call. If you live in another state and want to start a Support Group in your area, let us know, we can help.
Just Future Project: We have begun an affiliation with Just Future Project. This is a positive step in our effort to build coalitions and to speak as a larger community with a stronger voice. The following introduction was provided at our request.
There is a new kid on the block! Women Against Registry (W.A.R) has joined forces with Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE), an organization with nearly half-a-century of experience pioneering advocacy on the vanguard of the criminal justice reform movement, to support a bold and radical advocacy model designed to tackle the hard questions. Just Future Project is a new initiative focused on challenging pre-crime preventative detention laws. Just Future Project is a people-driven grassroots advocacy campaign dedicated to building a movement of community members who are demanding an end to indefinite detention regimes. This innovative approach challenges the heart of the myth supporting systems to perpetually marginalize persons living with a past sex-related conviction. The theory behind the registry and the theory behind indefinite detention laws are one and the same. Women Against Registry is shinning light on the extreme injustice of the registry. Just Future Project is helping to create the space for states to rethink their approach to policy on sex-related crime. So-called “sexually violent predator” statutes were a triumph of fear over reason. It’s time for our elected officials to hear from a movement standing up for reason. Go to www.ajustfuture.org to learn more about the vision for a just future and how we plan to create change!
State Registry Project: In mid-2017, our Senior Advisor started a project with the help of several volunteers (Darin C., Mike T., John M.). It began with a review of the registry disclaimer page for each state. We were looking specifically for any registry site that:
If either of these instances were discovered, then a letter was sent to the proper authority respectfully asking for these changes to be implemented on their site. It is a testament to the difficulty of our plight that of 17 letters sent to the States, we received only three responses. Jon spoke with each of the respondents by phone. The individual in Florida kept telling him that the information was on their flyers and that individuals could print and distribute these flyers. Jon’s argument (that this had nothing to do with the language on the website) fell on deaf ears. The respondent from North Dakota was dismissive. She was defensive in her claim that the law met the federal requirement and that their wording would not be changed until the federal law was changed. Jon’s argument with her (that the Feds had no power over the wording on their website) also fell on deaf ears. The respondent from Washington said that they would review our request at their next meeting. And to the complete surprise and happiness of our Senior Advisor, their board agreed to make our requested changes and in fact, have already implemented those changes. It was a very large effort for a small victory but it shows that seemingly impossible changes can and do occur.
W.A.R. Support Line: We maintain our support phone line responsibilities in an attempt to help numerous individuals by providing information and emotional support.
W.A.R. Social Media Sites: We continue to maintain our website, our Facebook page, and our Twitter accounts to offer information to anyone who cares to visit them.
Membership Drive: Recently, the Board of Directors discussed making some changes to our membership incentives and rules in an attempt to increase our funding and increase our membership. Part of the reason for this is simple and exactly what you might think. There are bills to be paid, stamps to buy, conferences to attend and to promote. In short, we need money to operate. In addition, an organization such as ours, needs volunteers. Getting qualified, motivated volunteers is perhaps a lot more difficult than you might imagine. So, increasing our membership roles is a way to reach out to potential donors and volunteers. And finally, we have worked hard over the years to increase our visibility and our level of respect among advocates; we need to keep up this momentum. So, if you are considering an upgrade to your W.A.R. membership, we applaud you. I have included excerpts of our membership drive letter below. It is never too late to introduce someone new to W.A.R. or to increase your own commitment to your advocacy and to this organization. Thank you.
We are asking all of our members to step up their commitment to this organization; physically (by volunteering or attending meetings or talking to your legislators, etc.) and financially (by increasing your contributions). We are asking each of you to seek new members within your sphere of influence. And to all of those members who have been supporting our organization for months or years at the same amount, we are humbly asking that you to step up your level of support. Please remember that all donations and membership dues are tax deductible. So, will you please help this organization to be better; to do more; to succeed?
For reference, our current membership levels are:
We are offering incentives to new members and to “step-up” members, for some of our membership levels. The incentives are listed below.
In our effort to increase funds and the level of participation by our members, the Board of Directors has decided that any current non-paying members will be allowed a one year extension on their present waiver. However, after one year, we will discontinue this exception and hope that everyone can “step-up to the minimum membership level.
The 2017 and 2018 conferences were a big success. They were part of our President’s three year vision that included a third conference in Washington DC. In fact, the Washington DC events include a conference, a rally/march, and a visit to Capitol Hill for face-to-face meetings with our Federal Senators and Representatives. The three-year plan has been carefully designed to promote the importance of families and the unfair treatment that these families face; to encourage a sense of empowerment while building momentum for our cause; and finally, to make a public showing of support in a highly visible venue while sending a deluge of advocates to pressure our legislators. This final effort is designed to coordinate with similar efforts at state capitals around the country. Will we be able to accomplish these goals exactly as they are designed? Only time will tell but we are absolutely going to try..…with everything we’ve got!
As you can probably imagine, putting together a conference is a very big undertaking. As of yet, we have not solidified an exact date for the 2019 conference but we are working on it; and working on a number of other items as well. We will update our website and facebook page when we have more details.
Please consider attending our Washington DC events. I know this may be a lot to ask for some, but it might just turn out to be three days that you will never forget.
The 2019 Conference Planning Team is spearheading the initial effort. They are: Janice B., Kathleen G., Garnett B., Laurie J., Sal C., Sherie H., Jonathan G. & Vicki H.
Recently, the President of W.A.R. received a letter from a trusted confidant. The letter contained some very serious constructive criticism, and some very interesting suggestions for positive change at the organization. As a result, the Directors of W.A.R. have begun implementing a new strategy that will allow us to find our niche among the advocacy groups for this issue. We have begun to discuss ways in which we can become the humanizing face of this divisive subject; ways that we can show the emotion, the pain, the goodness, the empathy and the humanity of so many who have been sucked into a vortex of unjust and biased treatment regarding “so-called” sex offenses and the registry.
The way we propose to accomplish this change is with stories. Storytelling is a valuable tool that will allow others to realize the struggle and strife of this issue; more than facts, figures, graphs or statistics ever could.
If we can can gather a wide range of stories and preserve them in written, audio, and video formats, then we can retrieve and use them as needed to teach and to sway those who might otherwise be immovable in their beliefs. But this process is not as simple as it may sound. To accomplish our goals, we must first:
We believe this is a positive, worthwhile effort for W.A.R. to address. We believe this can have a positive affect on our overall advocacy.
So let us start here and now by saying:
We know you have a story!
And by asking:
Are you willing to share it?
Please let us know if you are willing to participate in this new project by sharing your story. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
share your story suggestion on a sticky note against grained wood
Stories can be long or short. They can be poignant and thought-provoking or light-hearted and even funny. The following featured story was selected from our archives. At the time it was collected, we were given permission to share it. However, not knowing how situations have changed for this person, we have edited the story slightly and decided not to reveal the author’s identity. Here is her story from 2014:
Last year, my live-in boyfriend was charged with possession of child porn. This occurred in October. The local law enforcement agency dismissed his charges in February. But just recently, his case was picked up by the Feds and he is currently being held in their custody.
Ten months after the alleged crime occurred, I was terminated by my employer after sixteen years on the job. He cited damage to the company’s reputation as the cause. I was not charged in the crime, my boyfriend and I do not share the same last name,andI was never mentioned inthe newspaper. so how was the reputation of my employer’s company damaged by keeping me on the job? I even tried to “do the right thing” by notifying my boss immediately after my boyfriend’s arrest.
I’ve lost my job and my retirement account. When I fill out job applications, I am always asked if I was terminated from my previous job and why; that’s a very tough question to answer. I’ve had to file bankruptcy, and am now unemployed for the first time in my life. I’m struggling to pay the most basic of my bills.
I believe that what my employer objected to, was the fact that I didn’t kick my loved-one out onto the street to be homeless; to freeze in the cold winter; or to starve, as he probably would since he had no other support system in place.
The knee jerk reactions of our legislators, the media, and many average citizens has ramped up into a mob mentality. This in-turn, has a brutal, hurtful, painful affect on the person who committed the crime; a person who, most of the time, is just trying to reclaim a decent life. And to make matters worse, the family and true friends of this individual are stigmatized as well. That is what I am trying to say here. That is my story.
Non-profit organizations often run partly or mostly on the shoulders of volunteers. With W.A.R., it is not so much a matter of needing volunteers to exist, so much as it is that we need volunteers to do more than we are doing now. And we always want to do more. Included below are excerpts from our Volunteer Letter. Your applications are always welcome.
Positions may or may not be available at all times. Potential volunteer positions include:
For some of our volunteer positions, selected individuals will be trained by current WAR members on the details of the chosen task; no particular experience is required. For other positions such as grant writing, comprehending legislative bills, lobbying, radio and TV interviewing, and writing press releases, we are looking for individuals with experience. And for one task, the Snail Mail Campaign, there is a financial consideration. Please be aware that not all volunteers are accepted and that an interview will most likely be included in this process.
If you wish to volunteer with W.A.R., please submit this page to:
Women Against Registry
Ballwin, MO 63021-1294
Human rights allow people to live with dignity, freedom, equality, justice and peace. Many people in our society have their basic human rights denied every day. Our families are among this denied group; denied by overly harsh sentences, by extreme bias and by the crushing stigma of the registry with all of its restrictions, its shame, and its invitation to vigilantes. So, when does redemption begin?
W.A.R. believes in the restoration of human rights to those who have been denied by a blatantly biased system. Our Judicial System will not self-correct; it will not remove this bias on its own; it will never offer deferential treatment to members of our “Scarlet Letter” society. We must force this monumental change with skill and the pressure of our vast numbers. And, we must attempt to educate absolutely everyone about this issue.
An important outcome of human rights education is empowerment. Empowered individuals have more confidence based on increased knowledge about a specific issue. These individuals are more confident about voicing their concerns; and acting on them. And also, empowerment occurs when people are bolstered by the knowledge that they are not alone in their fight for a particular cause.
So, let us be empowered to change our Judicial System by changing the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens. But in the process, let’s be clear about something. Women Against Registry does not condone illegal sexual activity. We do not condone illegal activity of any kind. We love our children and stand behind laws that protect them.
W.A.R. strongly believes that the Sex Offender Registry serves no higher purpose; it does not protect our children; it does not protect our families; and it does not make our neighborhoods safer. We believe, categorically, that it should be abolished….now!
W.A.R. is engaged in a prolonged battle for the reformation of our judicial system; for the restoration of our human rights; and for some redemption from our fellow citizens. It’s not too much to ask.
This inaugural edition of The W.A.R. Call has been filled with introductions and generalized news about our organization. We intend to fill future editions with more substantive information. We hope you have enjoyed the first edition of our National Newsletter. If you have any comments, criticisms, or suggested improvements, please contact us. Thanks for reading!!!