Today Scott Greenfeld reprints a depressing e-mail from a person who is a registered sex offender. The person's life on Earth is more-or-less over:
I wake up and cant believe whats happen . this has been going on now for 8 1/2 years i have no job i am broke i have nothing i am going to lose my home my parents pay for my bills but when you havnt been to a medical Doctor in 7 years or a dentist my teeth are rotting . I lost my medical insurance when i was fired from my job. my savings are gone.
i cant form a relationship because who wants to be with a felon and a registered sex offender ?? I have lost friends i had . Now they changed how you have to register so you have to pay for a drivers license every year and on top of that they charged $75 a year just for the privilege of being a registered sex offender which they raised to $ 125 which i don't have the money to pay for i don't have any money because i was fired from my job and am now unemployable I live off my parents who can not afford it. my life is a pure hell. i am 10 years older now and unemployed. all my savings which i had saved for retirement is GONE! but i want people to know ...
The e-mail is depressing because it's common. The sex offender registry is not filled with large angry men waiting to ambush you, your wives, sisters, or daughters when they walk down dark alleys. It's filled with people convicted of trivial sexual offenses.
A guy walks into a sauna at a 24-hour fitness where another guy's in there talking on a cell phone. They're both in towels. The guy who walks in takes a seat and, looking and smiling at the guy on the cell phone, drops his towel and starts quasi-masturbating. It's clear the guy's asking the other guy if he wants a little action. But the other guy's not interested.
Crude, sure, and not something I would want to see at the gym. Yet there was no touching; no approach; no threat. No children were present. No one was in any danger of being raped.
Heterosexual thought I may be, I have seen many penises. It's part of being in any locker room. And yet a man who shows me his penis too provocatively will be required to tell his neighbors that he's a danger to society. The person's life is over. How is that sane?
And a few years ago, a man named John the Guitarist posted a tragic account of finding himself on the sex offender registration. I verified his story through court records. What he said was true:
In December of 2001, I was in my senior year at a Georgia state university, majoring in Business Management. I was 25, and had already earned an associates degree in music at this point, as well....
I went to a party during that Christmas break, and there was a girl there. The fact that she was drinking beer and smoking cigarettes led me to believe that she was of legal age. I have never been a promiscuous person, but she came on to me, and we ended up sleeping together that night. I told the hosts of the party, a couple with whom I was good friends that I had hooked up with the girl at the party. They told me that she was the host's younger sister, and that she was 14 years old. They also told the father, who was a police officer.
The plea agreement did not seem all that bad at the time. I knew that, as the adult, I should have had the foresight not to have slept with that girl. I knew that the responsibility for the entire situation rested upon my shoulders. I took all the blame and felt genuinely remorseful for making such a stupid decision. They offered me a "First Offender" sentence. They would drop the Child Molestation charge, and leave the Statutory Rape. I was offered 10 years of probation, no jail time, and ordered to attend counseling, or "Sex Offender Treatment".... According to Georgia's First Offender Act, the case would also be shielded from the public and removed from my record if I was able to stay out of trouble for the duration of my probation. The most significant part of the plea agreement was that I would NOT have to register and have my name, address, and picture plastered across the Internet. The DA and Judge had decided that I did not deserve to have my life wrecked because of this. I took the plea, was grateful for what I had received, and attempted to become a contributing member of society. When I took the plea, the state also dropped all charges against the hosts of the party (Contributing to the delinquency of a Minor).
Being placed on the Sex Offender Registry is one of the most horrible things that our society has ever known. It is a cruel experiment by our government that has already been proven to do absolutely no good towards protecting society from dangerous people. The lawmakers had no idea what they were doing when they passed (and continue to pass) all these laws. I know this for a fact because my uncle, a member of the (GA) house of congress, even said so himself when I told him that my entire life had been ruined by a law that he didn't even remember voting on last year. It is absolutely mind blowing to myself and everyone that I have told (and I've told a lot of people at this point), but nobody seems to be able to do anything about it...nobody wants to touch it because it's such a "hot button" issue right now. Nobody would want to be accused of "Not wanting to protect the children..."
The biggest problem with all of this, through my eyes, is that I have done so much over the last 2 years. I have based and built my life around the guidelines that were set out for me. I am being forced to undo the successes that I have accomplished under these guidelines. To go back and change the rules 2 years later just seems unconscionable to me. The worst part is that forcing people to register has already been challenged at the Supreme Court level, and the verdict has been returned that it is not considered additional punishment to be placed on the Registry. If it were considered additional punishment, it would violate the constitutional laws of due process and against double jeopardy and ex post facto laws. The problem is that it IS additional punishment. Being placed on the sex offender website is probably one of the most horrible things that can happen to a person in today's society. The registry does not state the conditions of my probation. I'm sure that the lady who called the store did not realize that I was not violating any laws by teaching there. She, like most other people who check the registry, probably assumed that I was a child rapist/molester/kidnapper who deserves to burn in Hell forever. That is one of the biggest problems with the registry. People who are on it are automatically assumed to be the worst of the worst through society's eyes. I am not a rapist. I do not hurt children. I do not want to sleep with children.
Lives are being ruined. And for what? How does society benefit by requiring those men to register as sex offenders?