Collateral damage: hearth and home and dreams of Paris

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By Dolley Madison…..

In spite of strong opposition on the part of advocacy groups and from a significant number of very credible journalists and media outlets, the legislation known as International Megan’s Law passed and was signed by the President. For all who have ever been convicted of a sexually based offense, this has serious implications for any future plans regarding an overseas business trip or a far away beach vacation.
My family has fancied the idea of going to Europe for quite some time. Traveling with our school-aged child to explore her family’s roots has always seemed like an awesome adventure. We even have a travel fund savings account set aside for that purpose, and in spite of dipping into it for state-side trips, including a couple of RSOL conferences, some years we’ve managed to save enough so that my grandmother’s native Frankfurt, the statue of that Nuremberg bookseller who was assassinated by Napoleon’s army, and authentic marzipan seem just around the corner.

Other years, when registered Hubby is out of work due to a lay off, or the one time he was fired due to being on the registry, the travel fund sits motionless, whimpering for an infusion.

We are fortunate. We have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, warm beds, vehicles to drive, and the dog is healthy. At least one of us has remained employed; many registrants are not as fortunate. They suffer lonely, cold nights in a society that leeches away the hope for the simplest comforts, let alone any thoughts of traveling abroad.

Thirteen years ago, when I made the first beginnings of involvement with a sex offender reform movement, I never dreamed that I’d eventually be worried about traveling abroad or vehemently opposing a bill that would put my name on a list for residing as an adult with a registered sex offender. I did not know I would become so angry about what the registry has cost us, angry enough to fight for something so specific and insular. Naively, I had set out to fight for ALL, not the few with the means to travel, not only the innocent, not only the easiest to represent. I thought civil rights meant equality, and equality meant the same for everyone.

I know now that each is affected in his or her own way. The struggle of the poverty stricken single man required to register due to an underage, consensual relationship is no less than that of the man fighting an addiction to porn who has lost his wife and children over it. The anguish of the father who is not allowed to be part of his children’s lives is no greater than the grief of the mother over her son’s loss of a meaningful career. And those who are scorned and denied the pleasure—or the necessity—of foreign travel, as well as those who will find themselves ridiculed, humiliated, and even harmed because of a “unique” identifying mark on their passports are no less part of the collateral damage in the war that our society is waging on anyone who can be labeled a sex offender.

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10 Thoughts to “Collateral damage: hearth and home and dreams of Paris”

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  1. Fred

    You got that right “war that our society is waging” We could be at least 850,000 strong and that doesn’t include spouses, parents, friends or unrelated supporters. WE CAN BE VERY STRONG if the majority of us would rise up and stop cowering in shame. That is what is crippling us the most.

    1. Fred

      The reality is we are literally only one step away from being rounded up and imprisoned or even killed. If you follow the patterns that were imposed on Jews in Nazi Germany, you will see how very similar they are to what is happening to sex offenders.

      The first stage is getting the general population to hate and fear the group deemed undesirable.

      The second stage is forcing that group deemed undesirable to provide all information on where they can be found.

      The third stage is confining that group deemed undesirable to specific locations.

      The final step is rounding up that group deemed undesirable and transporting them to a location for extermination.

      I don’t think it is too far out of reality to consider the possibility that we are being used as the stepping stone to create more ethic cleansing laws for other groups deemed undesirable.

      As an experiment I had my brother post a question on social media to an audience of 5000 people. The question was “If you became president tomorrow what is the first thing you would do.”

      I was shocked by how many people said they would make the death penalty mandatory for anyone convicted of a sex crime. My heart literally jumped every time I read one of those comments.

      This situation is very bad. Make no mistake about that.

    2. Emil S

      The whole registry is a big slap on the face on the US constitution. Why are we not fighting for even being in the registry for the first time offense? If the recidivism rate is very high (as they say in the media) then put those who commit offense again in the registry! Why shackle first time offenders into the lifetime of restrictions, shame, and bondage?

      So a person makes a mistake, he/she completes his/her jail/prison sentence and/or pays all restitution. That should have been the end and of itself.
      However, then there is decades of being in the sex offender registry with notifications and visits periodically (which is very strict), along with its restrictions on the place to live, work, family, society, etc.
      On top of that many, if not all states, now have years of Post Release Supervision (which is similar to Probation) on top of the court sentence after release and besides being in the registry.

      It seems that it is because people have not done much that these lawyers and politicians are so embolden to pass these draconian new laws every year. And now this Megan law? Our number has grown, but our voices are yet to be heard!

      When will we draw a line in the sand and say “Enough is enough.”

      They have passed real ID Act in the US and which would be mandatory by 2017 for everyone in the US, and you all can be sure that they will pass another law requiring sex offenders ID to be tagged in their ID, which will then put more scrutiny when you want to rent a room in a hotel, go to an event, vacation within this country, etc; anywhere where they require to look at your ID and you will be discriminated for being in the registry.

      1. JR

        Florida already marks driver licenses with the SO statute number on the front of the license.

      2. Emil S

        yeah JR, I heard that they even have camps for sex offenders there in Florida. Such an appalling situation, and it seems it’s only getting worse.

      3. JR

        Emil, well…as for “camps” there are unofficial areas in which homeless registered citizens live for lack of any other “legal” residency options.

        These areas are unfortunate, however, the scarier issue is our Civil Commitment Center the “Jimmy Ryce Center.” Those committed there are given no indication of the manner in which they can be released (other than being deemed “fit” to reenter society). Once you’re in… You may never get out.

        What’s scarier than that? You can be committed there without being found guilty of a sex offense.

        Come visit Florida sometime! It’s fantastic…

    3. PHYS ED

      You got that right, Fred! By now we should be over 1,000,000 strong – our numbers are becoming Legion! If we all stood up and pooled our money, We could hire a hell of a dream team of lawyers to mount a tremendous class action fight to get rid of a lot of these registry laws and all kinds of bull hockey restrictions on common civil liberties that all citizens are supposed to enjoy.
      With the supremely bigoted Scalia gone to his proper sphere in the nether regions, chances for a return to the Warren Court era and sensible strike downs of these crazy laws put forward and signed by pandering legislators worried about their own jobs – and a gutless Obama right in their midst with his signing off on the new international Megan’s law concerning passports. If he had any backbone at all he would’ve vetoed it.

    4. Chris F.

      It’s a lot more complicated than that. Sure, shame plays a part. Also financial incapability, online communication restrictions, lack of support networks, and other side effects and consequences of the registry play a part. It amazes me that someone, or more than one someone, by now hasn’t gone Postal. I know that at times it has been a close thing for me and I’ve seriously considered it.

  2. RP

    I would not be shocked about how many people act like a mob. These are armchair social justice warriors and little more. The fact is that things are changing for the better over all. The “War On” everything has taken a toll on this nation and enough of them see it.

    We just need to keep doing what we are doing and speaking truth to lies when and where we can.

    As to travel, it might be worth exploring petitioning any government that act solely on the stamp to turn someone a away for a process of petition. Maybe a look at a universal right to travel etc claim unless there is a specific nation has a prohibition against felons entering. If the only reason to bar someone is that they have a stamped passport, I suspect a lot of western nations would allow for legal redress.

  3. Martin

    In the interest of making lemonade when handed lemons; My hot button is traveling. I LOVE to travel. It has depressed me to a whole new level since IML was passed. After thinking about it and trying to find something to hang onto I think I might have found a loophole. Our only restriction to travel domestically is that we have to notify them within 21 days of leaving of leaving the state. The US has many territories to its name, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Mariana Islands, Saipam, and Guam. I am hoping our travel restrictions will allow us to go to these territories. Does anyone have any info?