By Scott . . . I’m on the board of Illinois Voices for Reform and have been actively involved with the organization since 2012. I am on the registry for life as currently required by Illinois law due to an incident involving a minor back in 2008. I served two years of probation and successfully completed sex offender counseling in 2012. My wife and I love to travel, and we were fortunate to be able to travel to Europe for a week at the end of March. I gave the federally required 21 days international travel notice to my local police department. I had no problems traveling to Europe other than the usual hassle of being sent to secondary at O’Hare airport upon return to the U.S. which is typically a 5-10 minute inconvenience.
Approximately two weeks after I returned from Europe, the U.S. State Department sent out a passport revocation letter as required by International Megan’s Law. This letter arrived at my home via certified mail about a week after they sent it. The letter, as shown, requires me to immediately return my passport since under federal law my passport needs to contain words alerting countries that I was convicted of a sex offense against a minor. The government requires me to return my passport, and if I want a new one, I have to apply for one as if I have never had a passport. The expense will be around $200 for a new passport which includes obtaining a copy of my birth certificate ($26), another 10-year passport ($110) which, by the way, I had already renewed last year, and the execution fee ($35).
If the government requires this stamp on my passport, I can’t understand why they just don’t make me mail in the passport so that some overpaid government worker can stamp it and mail it back to me. Why does the government revoke my passport and make me go through the expense and hassle of renewing the passport? This seems to me clearly ex post facto punishment since I can’t think of any other rationale for such an irrational process. I also can’t understand why I am being singled out as a danger such that my government needs to call out my conviction to other countries. We don’t do this to people who have been convicted of any other crime. I am in favor of laws that protect the public while allowing law-abiding citizens formerly convicted of an offense to return to normal, productive lives. I don’t see how International Megan’s Law will accomplish this goal other than to oppress individuals like myself who were convicted of a sex offense against a minor. Our country needs to stop passing oppressive laws disguised as public safety measures and start passing laws that actually help to prevent crime while helping to reintegrate those who have been convicted of a criminal offense.
I do plan to eventually get a new passport with the requisite marking. And I plan to continue the fight to change state and national laws that do little more than to pile on more punishment to individuals who have already paid their debts to society and who pose no risk of re-offense.