By Sandy . . . One of the issues that we keep high on our radar is that of business and social entities excluding persons who are listed on sexual offense registries.
Nextdoor.com is one about which reports have come in periodically. Nextdoor bills itself as “the private social network for your neighborhood.” It’s like a limited Facebook: no charge to join, no requirements to participate or post; provides a platform for online connection with those who live in the same limited neighborhood area with each other.
Typical Nextdoor postings involve announcements of block parties, requests for info about a good handyman or tv repair person, or warnings that a break-in has occurred.
Recently we received a very detailed report from a NARSOL supporter, Robert, a 77-year-old registrant in Kentucky whose crime was 22 years ago and who has given permission that we use the information supplied in his report.
Not long ago, Robert received an invitation from Nextdoor, and he followed the links and the procedure to accept the invitation to sign up.
Imagine his surprise when, after being specifically invited, he received this rejection:
I’m sorry to hear about your difficulty registering for Nextdoor.
Unfortunately, public records indicate that your Nextdoor address is listed on the Kentucky Sex Offender Registry, and our policy therefore blocks everyone in your household from using Nextdoor:
We understand there are many people on offender registries who do not pose a threat to their neighbors. Unfortunately, we have no way to reliably distinguish between those who do and those who do not.
In addition, Nextdoor has partnerships with more than 500 police departments, city governments, and other public agencies, and they have made clear to us that a no exceptions policy with regard to the households of registered sex offenders is a necessary precondition for these partnerships.
I’m sorry that we’re therefore unable to grant you access to Nextdoor at this time.
In the agreement linked above, the prohibition against anyone living at a residence where a person is registered is specified under Eligibility, third paragraph, item (2) and was revised as effective May 18 this year for existing members and June 1 for new ones.
I find especially interesting the portion that I have written in dark red. Whether this is indeed factual or simply Nextdoor’s cop-out — pun intended — it is certainly no shock to us that it would be law enforcement driving the prohibition and discrimination against those on the registry.
One of our greatest educational challenges is clearly helping law enforcement, as an entity, understand that these types of policies, while doing nothing to enhance safety, are instrumental in interfering with the rehabilitation and re-assimilation goals of their own criminal justice systems.
Or, as I can still hear my grandmother saying, they are cutting off their noses to spite their faces.
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.