Imprisoned, on the registry for not revealing a medical condition

By Elizabeth Weil-Greenberg . . . Every five years, Mark Hunter has to pay around $300 to have his picture displayed in the newspaper and notices mailed to his neighbors, informing them that he is a sex offender. While on parole, he said, he pays about $60 a month in fees and has to attend a sex offender treatment class. His crime? In 2008, he was convicted of failing to tell two ex-girlfriends that he was HIV-positive.

Though neither partner contracted HIV, Hunter was still convicted under Arkansas’s HIV exposure law, which requires those who know they are HIV-positive to disclose their status to sexual partners. Sentenced to a dozen years in prison, he was released in 2011 after serving almost three.

But now, he must register as a sex offender, incurring the same obstacles, humiliation, and costs many others on registries face.

In Louisiana, where he now lives, Hunter’s driver’s license has “sex offender” written in capital letters under his photo, per the state’s registry requirements.

“When I saw it on my license, that was one of the most hardest things ever,” said Hunter, now 44. “Those two words on my license are still a hindrance to the life I want to live.”

Louisiana, Arkansas, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Washington State require, or authorize courts to require,those convicted under HIV criminalization laws to be on the sex offender registry, according to the Center for HIV Law and Policy. Advocates, who condemn the statutes as ineffective, stigmatizing, and unscientific, are working to modernize the laws in the courts and state legislatures.

But even some of the fixes fall short, they say, including an amendment to Louisiana’s law that was enacted last year that removed biting and spitting as specifically identified means of transmission. Disclosure of HIV status is still required.

“We do not need to be punishing people through the criminal law,” said Robert Suttle, assistant director of the Sero Project, which advocates HIV criminalization law reforms. “This is a public health issue.”

Hunter, a hemophiliac, was diagnosed with HIV in 1981, at age 7. He said he and his family largely kept his status a secret.

“People were treated harshly who had this disease,” said Hunter. “They were treated like outcasts.”

Read the full piece here at The Appeal.

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  • This topic has 9 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 1 year, 8 months ago by AvatarDon’t tread on me.
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    • #54544 Reply
      Nena Eschete

      How is that even legal? It’s his medical history? Dear God, this registry has gotten completely out of hand. The fees, the regulations, the constant fear and humiliation, along with posting your picture to the public and marking your license as such. If this is supposed to be helpful, then why shouldn’t All people that break the law have to do the same. Such a ridiculous law.

      • #54578 Reply
        Facts should matter

        The registry circumvents every aspect of your life – even private medical records! Our lives are an open book thanks to Megan’s Flaw. Privacy should be a protected human right.. it was actually the only thing that was keeping my sanity glued together. Without privacy, you don’t feel safe and you can’t function normally, so we’re forced to live in crisis and survival mode which increases the likelihood of homicide or suicide.

        How can SOCOTUS maintain it’s not punishment?

        • #54617 Reply

          Hyperarrousal Syndrome describes the plight of a registered person. A component of PTSD, it is a state of continuos alert to potential danger. While some animals are designed with such innate fear for their survival, humans are not. Our arousal or stress response is more attuned to our intelligent observations. So, when a RC knows that the threat is both real and constant, and the outcome can be devestating, both socially and existentially, relaxing vigilance is impossible. Stress of this sort stimulates the fight of flight mechanism, and triggers an adrenaline response. When one is constantly adrenalized, hyperarrousal occurs. This is. Like being in a low level panic at all times, waiting for that tipping point to bring on full blown panic. This is the drive behind the seldom admitted but often shared suicidal thoughts, anger, state of overwhelmed despair, etc. Fortunately, through support, like the NARSOL Fearless Project, this can get better. Coping needs a community of support. Oherwise, it’s a slow March towards despair and waiting on death. It frustrates me that no one bothers to discuss this nearly universal aspect of being in the registry.

          • #54707 Reply

            Your statement has pretty much described my life on the registry. Constant low level fear and anxiety with periods of full blown panic. Sometimes the panic is over nothing besides how I am feeling. I have no doubt that I have PTSD. Police and federal marshalls showing up at my home ready to draw down on me, random news paper articles, eggs thrown at the house in the middle of the night, posters in stores. In person reporting. Fear of driving, fear of being followed, fear of being pulled over for accidentally going through a light changing to red, or not fully stopping for a stop sign. I am constantly in fear. It is paralyzing. The anxiety I have had while waiting in line to cross international borders and going through secondary screening has effected me to the point I get anxiety waiting in lines at the supermarket. Now with the IML, cant travel most places anymore. Over 20 years of this, it will all end when im 6′ under.

            I just want to be left alone to live my life in peace with myself.

          • #55479 Reply
            Don’t tread on me

            You summed up how I feel in a single paragraph. I will use it next week to describe to my therapist how I feel

    • #54555 Reply

      How exactly is this driver’s license thing legal when, a federal court decided, in an Alabama case, that is unconstitutional? Sort of on the same subject but, not related to this article, If the federal courts upheld a habeas corpus, saying the registry is a type of confinement, why can’t a habeas corpus be filed in all states that similar or the same restrictions. Where are all the lawyers and constitutionalists on these ludicrous 17th century, idiotic, unamerican and the list goes on, laws? At the risk of sounding clicheic, this has to stop!

      • #54597 Reply

        I agree. I live in Louisiana and have SEX OFFENDER in bold letters under my driver’s license photo. I cannot understand how anyone could possibly think that they are protected because of what is written on my license. Also, SOs in Louisiana are required to have both the drivers license and a state issued ID (the kind people get instead of a drivers license). Both of these cards must be carried at all times and both have SEX OFFENDER written on them. Both of these cards are issued on a one year basis. This means that every SO has to go to the DMV each year to get them renewed, perhaps more often if the expiration dates on each card is out of sync with each other. Cost for this is about $60.00 a year. For the record, in the 5+ years that I have had to do this, I have not one single time ever shown either of these cards to anyone other than the clerk at the DMV during my annual renewal and to the deputy that comes to my home every month for a “compliance” check (all he does is want to see my SEX OFFENDER cards and make sure I still have them… such a waste of time for him and for me). I pay cash for everything or buy online. I refuse to participate in their shaming of me for something that didn’t that didn’t even involve any kind of sex. (In Louisiana, you can be required to register as a sex offender for interfering in the custody visitation). I also am prohibited in Louisiana from giving my own children gifts at Christmas.
        Ironically, convicted sex workers (prostitutes) are not required to have SEX OFFENDER on their driver’s licenses even though their “offense” was indeed “sex”.
        On another note, there is a bill in the Louisiana house currently that would make it a crime for a registered SO to be in the home of a homeschooler during the time the home study is taking place. Does this mean that each and every SO in Louisiana will be given the addresses of every home school location so that the SO will know where NOT to go? Talk about unintended consequences! Is the homeschool community aware of this?
        Another consequence is that home owners would now be told by the government who they can and cannot allow into their own home. Talk about government overreach! If I was a homeschooling parent I would be outraged.

    • #54579 Reply

      As of the ACA, affordable Care Act wasn’t primarily about lawfully providing parties access to individuals medical records. Who here would suggest those records were NOT entered into a database? Who would affirm that information could not be exploited by third parties interested in profit from those same digitized medical records. Collection and storage of metadata and biometrics is occurring by gov and large firms. Criminal DNA profiles are collected are they not? Is that collection about “regulation” or crime solving? Some of us know our DNA was not found present at crime scene and none was used to confirm quilt. We also know none would bother to compare.

    • #54689 Reply
      R M

      “Hunter, a hemophiliac, was diagnosed with HIV in 1981, at age 7. He said he and his family largely kept his status a secret.” Diagnosed at age 7 with HIV… let that sink in. Age 7. It wasn’t his fault, yet he is now punished for it. This saddens me that society has come to this state.

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