In a guest view post, by Vicki Henry, “Millions of Lives Ruined by Sex Offender Registry, Says Top Anti-Registry Advocate”,
the author wrote, “as an example of how our families are harmed [by the sex registry]. A well-meaning teacher printed out profile pictures of local [sex] 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…”
One of our former commenters, Bangkok quickly chimed in and said the writer was lying.
Now another commenter says it is not so far fetched, and that it happened to her son.
By Collateral Damage
The exact same thing happened to my son in karate class. They printed out pictures and addresses of sex offenders living within one mile of the facility to advertise a self-defense class, so this does happen.
My children’s school passes out pictures and addresses of all the sex offenders in the neighborhood every Halloween, so this does happen.
My children’s friends’ parents regularly look up registrants in the area, so this does happen.
I had a nosy co-worker google my husband’s name to see what he does for a living, and then pass out registry information to other co-workers, costing me a job, so this does happen.
My children and I constantly have to look over our shoulders, and regularly lose friends when they discover their father is a registered offender. You don’t realize what it is like to have your children live as the collateral damage when everyone wants to be the “savior” so they can feel good about “protecting” the innocent . Meanwhile, they do more damage to the families than they could ever imagine.
I don’t want to argue with you [Bangkok] regarding whether or not there should be a registry, as I believe you have already shown your feelings on the subject. And please don’t give me any responses that start with “if it were me, I would…” as we have all heard these comments ad nauseum from family and friends that ultimately left our sides. Until you live a day in my shoes, you have no idea the trauma that we have experienced.
I am only asking that you take a step back to see the innocent lives – the wives and children – that are caught up in the net and suffer shaming, shunning, violence, and prejudice through no fault of their own. We are the collateral damage that gets overlooked.
End of Collateral Damage’s Comment
By Frank Parlato
I think the point is well taken. There is not doubt that people find out about people who are on the sex registry. And that will include friends and acquaintances of their children. It is also true that many registered sex offenders have families and are not threats to society.
Hence, the damage to their children is real, because they are ostracized and condemned or shunned because of their parent.
This is a very difficult issue. There are, of course, true human menaces, and the point of the sex offender registry is to protect children and others from potential danger.
And yet, at the same time, the registry causes danger, or at least humiliation, to the registrant’s children and family and often to the registrant him or herself.
It is curious too. People who are arguably equally or more dangerous, like paroled murderers, home invaders, kidnappers, violent felons, burglars, manslaughterers, robbers, drug dealers, drunk drivers who ran over and killed someone, are on no registry and could live next door to you without your knowing.
A friend of mine has a tenant. He is on the sex registry. He is in his 30s. When he was 18, he had consensual sex with his girlfriend who was just shy of 17, the legal age of consent in New York. Her parents found out about their relationship. They did not want him as her boyfriend and they pressed criminal charges. It’s a long story but he was arrested and served a short prison sentence, but – and this he did not understand at the time – his plea deal meant he had to register as a sex offender.
It is nearly 20 years later and he still has to register and everywhere he goes and everywhere he moves, this follows him like a dark shadow. It has literally ruined his life. Yet, by all accounts, he is a good young man. He has not been in any trouble since his indiscretion when he was 18. But his life has been one dark haunting.
In his case, the sex offender registry is a grave injustice, a horror. An equal punishment, both cruel and unnecessary.
It is curious too, very curious, since in the same neighborhood, where everyone knows who he is, or can easily find out about him, there are a number of convicted felons, for drug and violent crimes living there anonymously, for society does not require them to register or be be named publicly.
It is assumed that once they served their time, they should be afforded the chance at redemption. They paid their debt to society.
How is it then that this young man who had a teenage affair some 20 years ago, can never pay his debt to society?
How is it that the children, his children, if he had any, must be plague by his youthful indiscretion?
There simply has to be a better way. There should be some method to eliminate from the registry those who are no more likely to reoffend than other classes of criminals.
Near the very street he lives, is a man who drove while drunk and killed a 16 year old girl, a girl just about to turn 17. The crime of this drunk driver was far greater than the crime of a young man having sex with his girlfriend a month shy of her 17th birthday.
But there is no endless punishment for the drunk driver. He got in his car and went to work this early morning and there was no one who googled a registry for him. But the young girl he plowed down will never see the sunrise.
For the young man who is my friend’s tenant, his shame goes on year after year.