Is refusing registered former sexual offenders shelter and support our best choice?

Originally published at the Exponent Telegram. Except for a limited local area, it is behind a paywall.

By Sandy . . . Gary Keith, city councilman and real estate agent of Clarksburg, West Virginia, has propelled himself into the spotlight by protesting against the policy of the Clarksburg Mission to extend their services to those in need indiscriminately, specifically to those who have a conviction for any one of a vast multitude of behaviors that causes one to be listed on a sexual offense registry.

He begins his op-ed, intended to amplify on his 30-minute video piece, with saying that he wants to educate the public. It is a shame that his attempts at education do not include what decades of studies show about those who commit sexual crime. Once punished and living in the community, their rate of reoffense is remarkably low, in the low single digits according to virtually every valid study. The factors most associated with rehabilitation and remaining offense free, this furthering the interests of public safety, are those things that the mission provides: a decent place to live, stability, support, acceptance, encouragement, and, in some cases, employment.

Rather than laud the mission for serving a much-needed role in the recovery and stability of these men, Mr. Keith chooses to criticize them for doing so and seeks to seriously damage their future operations by appealing to the public to cease their donations to the mission, donations on which the mission depends.

His primary point of contention is that the registrants staying at the mission are not from the immediate area. He says he is unable to find evidence that any of the shelter’s registered residents have ever had a Harrison County address. He also obviously could find no evidence that any of those residents have reoffended or engaged in any violence while at the mission, or he would surely have pointed that out.

Mr. Keith is raising the specter of the “other,” the “outsider,” to create unease and even fear in Clarksburg residents. He maintains that those on the registry in need of assistance are attracted to Clarksburg because similar organizations in other areas will not take them.

This is possibly the only factual point raised by Mr. Keith in his op-ed. Many such places refuse admittance to registrants. But rather than use his bully pulpit to try to shut down the one place in the area that does help them, why does Keith not rather encourage other missions and shelters to do what will best serve public safety and amend their policies to include acceptance of those on sexual offense registries?

It is not, however, what Mr. Keith does not do but what he does that quite possibly pushes the boundaries of decency and honesty.

As an example of the criminal outsider coming in and infiltrating the Clarksburg community, Keith finds a report of a man wanted by the police for assaulting his mother (Exponent Telegram, Nov. 21). Although the report does not say so, Keith maintains that the man was living at the mission and arrested there, and this may be true. What is not is any connection between this man and the targets of Mr. Keith’s venom, persons on sexual offense registries. There is nothing to indicate that the wanted felon had a conviction for a sexual crime, but this appears to be what Keith would have the reading public believe.

What is interesting is that the Telegram identifies the man as a “Clarksburg man,” but Keith maintains that he was from Weirton and makes a point of this being nowhere near Harrison County. Far down from the report of the arrest of the wanted man is a report of another person, a registrant, who moved from Weirton and was living in the mission; he was charged with failure to report his change of address to the state police within the mandated ten-day period.

Somehow, deliberately or through carelessness, Mr. Keith has conflated these two men.

And this begs the question of why; what is Keith’s motive? Only two seem logical.

Mr. Keith failed to do any research whatsoever on the topic and the issue, believes that the rehabilitation of former sexual offenders is aided by their being homeless and lacking support, believes that the two different men with totally different names discussed in the Telegram are the same person, and is doing what he actually feels to be in the best interest of his community.

Or Mr. Keith has some ulterior motive, possibly personal. He is, after all, a real estate agent. Does he represent properties close to the mission, and, if so, has he had difficulties perceived by him to be due to the presence of persons on the registry living at Clarksburg Mission?

I have no idea, but it does seem like a question that needs to be asked.

ADDENDUM: Mr. Keith has posted comments on our FB page that are nasty and totally unbecoming to a public servant. In my humble opinion, this man has no business being a representative of the people when he feels the way he feels about some of his constituents, those who live in his jurisdiction and are on the sexual offense registry. Even though we do not normally support petitions, we support this one.

http://chng.it/XrTdNvq7

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Sandy Rozek

Sandy 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.

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    • #66273 Reply
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      Perry

      Obviously, this guy’s got some kind of personal vendetta against Registered Citizens, and is vying for some kind of Public Office. Perhaps, he wants to be Mayor of the town he’s in. Here is yet, another example of Trump-Infused Politics seeping into everyday life all around the country. Let’s just call it for what it really is: An Outright Attempt, to make all Registrants Homeless, in hopes of the Winter Months killing Us off! This dude isn’t all that Slick. I see his intent.
      Now, I’ll certainly pray for the guy, but we’ve GOT to get Congress off it’s Collective-Do- Nothing-Butts, and MAKE THEM LEGISLATE REGISTRY ERADICATION LAWS, BEFORE WE DO GET KILLED BY THEM! Because that’s exactly what they’re doing now. Giving a Vigilantes Type of Militant Excuse to those who’s only goal in life, is to further Harass and seek to kill Us!

    • #66277 Reply
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      Donna

      Poor Mr. Keith, another individual that hates. I’m sure if it wasn’t people on the registry, it would be another group he doesn’t understand or even cares to try. I hope he has been contacted and shown some data that could put his mind at ease and possibly pass the info on to those that may side with him. What is a “Mission” for anyway, and what would it matter if people were coming from somewhere else to stay there? Just goes to show how ignorance can be so bad and possibly dangerous. I pray he will see what he is missing out on knowing and can stop making trouble for people who need help and just want a chance to find some peace!

    • #66287 Reply
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      James

      Thanks for letting me know of a worthy place in which to invest a donation! I’m thankful for ministries like this one, organizations who give people an opportunity where no other exists. Let’s show the Clarksburg Mission our support!

    • #66292 Reply
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      D.T.

      Unfortunately Mr. Keith’s feelings in Clarksburg are very mutual with the brand new police chief Mark Kiddy. (Sworn in Oct) he’s a former Commander with the WV state police. The same WV state police that are in charge of making sure all registered sex offenders keep in compliance. The only thing about this is, his daughter was supposedly raped back in high school. The guy who did it apparently got a good attorney and he walked scott free.
      This mad him very angry and he totally did whatever he could do personally to make life an absolute nightmare for anyone who is a registrant. I have personally had the pleasure of being bullied and wronged by Mr. Kiddy myself. But the thing is now I hear he’s working very closely with the city counsel member Mr. Keith about taking care of the “child molesters.” This guy should of been investigated by the FBI many years ago when he made his feelings toward sex offenders very open. Clarksburg is one of the most corrupt towns in America.

    • #66295 Reply
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      mut

      seems to me that private punishment outside the criminal justice process, or conspiring to do so, is vigilatism and a crime or tort.

    • #66297 Reply
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      Jim

      What this country needs to learn and realize is that they are creating a new race. The new race they are creating is the race of sex offenders. This new race, is a race of people that are being bullied, spat on, pushed and punished beyond reasonable limits. A race with no recourse and a race with no rights. What they also need to realize, is that they have created a race that with no rights and no recourse also has nothing to loose. A race with NOTHING to loose is something this country should have NEVER started. How many of us have nothing to loose??? I don’t. I’m PISSED OFF and TIRED.

    • #66305 Reply
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      Registered unwanted member of society

      Wait until you need a nursing home or assisted care if your one of us with the S.O. label “unwanted member of society”.
      A country that no one is free controlled by secret societies, which is the crazy efforts of very wealthy men in a lunatic asylum.

    • #66308 Reply
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      Ray C

      S.O.R.A./S.O.R.N.A. is part of the SILENT WEAPONS PROGRAM used to attack and destroy the lives of many citizens who are considered to be expendable: by shaming them into exile, ostracizing them into obscurity, stripping them of any means to educate, defend and provide for themselves, stripping them of their inalienable rights in accordance with our U. S. Constitution making it impossible to prove their innocence; especially those who have been coerced by any/all methods to plead out to, or falsely confess to such crimes; feeling compelled to wrongfully incriminating themselves; also by unlawfully extending lengths of registration in blatant violation and disregard for the 5th Amendment; as well as approximately 30 other of the Amendments under the Bill of Rights and U.S. Constitution. Currently S.O.R.A./S.O.R.N.A. stands in violation of all of our rights under the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights; Articles 2-9, 11-13, 16-18, 21-23, 25-30. Thusly it is imperatively long overdue for these facts and improprieties to be exposed by every forum of the media, and for all of us directly or collaterally effected by these unlawful practices to stand bravely together in loud, insistent, yet peacefully productive protest before Washington D.C. and in front of the rest of the world, not only to bring the necessary attention to this matter, but to make S.O.R.A./S.O.R.N.A. as well as its authoritative supporters in the political arena aware that WE THE PEOPLE: the residents/native citizens of America will not only no longer tolerate these illegal atrocities, but that we will no longer participate in the S.O.R.A./S.O.R.N.A. Registry Program, or any similar/replacement program of its kind effective immediately. Lets all stand together and be heard and resolved NOW! Please forward and share this post. Thank you all, The Kindred Spirit.

    • #66315 Reply
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      JEV

      JAIL SHELTER (Florida)

      I can only address this problem by relating the same here in Florida. In accordance to our Sex Offender Statutes no sex offender is allowed in any emergency shelter during possible catastrophic events such as Hurricanes and most Homeless shelters won’t accept a RSO as well.

      After exhausted research and pleading with shelters and lawmakers to consider revisions I have decided upon the following drastic measure:

      The alternative is being offered by Law Enforcement here in Florida. If you are being evacuated or don’t feel safe in your home during a possible catastrophic event you can call the police to pick you up.

      -What happens is that you have taken voluntary action to be safe.

      You are not arrested or being held in detention. You are taken to your nearest jail (not prison). There you can receive blankets, water, 3 hot meals a day and shelter. You have access to vending machines ATM’s and cots to sleep on.

      You are not put into a cell.

      Okey, I know this sounds radical but most jails are built to withstand Hurricane force winds and damage. Plus you are with others sharing the same plight. This is only in Florida.

      I figure it this way, to be compliant you must follow the laws of the state you are in. And private organizations such as churches and missions can turn away anyone they pretty much please to do. You can argue all day about the ethics of this but missions not government run have this right.

      So I say at least here in Florida call the cops and have them pick you up. It sounds crazy but if you can’t go to a shelter in your time of desperate need then I believe turning to law enforcement is your best bet to stay safe.

      JEV – True Confessions

    • #66313 Reply
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      Steve

      The biggest issue in Clarksburg is drugs. There is a boat load of homeless addicts everywhere. Residents in the area have reported endless robberies and the town is fed up and needs a target. The voters have moved in cleanup politicians to get the town cleaned up and SO’s are an easy target. There is no evidence SO’s are the problem. The residents are just tired of the local McDonald’s being used as a needle exchange facility.

    • #66312 Reply
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      Tim

      Ray C,
      I am attempting to do just that in an FTR here in Rock County WI. I’ve filed a motion for discovery about the process that was used which state officials effected the original registry. Connecticut DPS expressed a lack of procedural due process, but did not ask for discovery of the process that was the undertaken.

    • #66321 Reply
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      Alfonso

      The Clarksburg Mission is a very irresistible organization that needs to be shut down or moved. This is just one of its many problems. Because shelters are scarce in this area Clarksburg has become a dumping ground for every homeless person in about a 100+ mile radius. We the people are fed up. Thank God for the election of Gary Kieth and 2 other new council people who are standing up to the mission. Keep up the good work, shut it down.

    • #66330 Reply
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      Tony Lesko

      Two weeks ago, I had received a message from Royal Caribbean about my upcoming cruise that my wife, her sister and her husband, along with my son, were preparing for a cruise. I was given a false attempt to get approval to go on the cruise. They claimed that my name came up on their background check, what was frustrating is that nothing was said when our application to travel was received. I had to even send some medical documentation, showing my physical condition. Which, was for a person to have a special room for someone who is disabled. Nothing was said to us about their stance on sex offenders on their cruiseline, Then we had the final payment for the cruise due by September 2019, payment was made in time and again nothing was said about my family and I would be traveling on 20 December to the bahamas. Amazingly, a month away from cruise launch date, I get this message about my status as a sex offender. Despite our providing information about who would be traveling in this party, and my own physical condition, that I am a paraplegic and mode of travel is in a wheelchair and I was initially granted one of their ADA compliant room’s. So despite the fact that the only way that I can get around is in a wheelchair, that I was denied the entrance to their ship and a refund of my money, at first, they were not going to refund the money paid by my wife and son, along with my wife’s sister and husband, but finally the relented and refunded their money. I had read on the internet, after this situation, that Carnival Cruiseline and Royal Caribbean, have an open policy now to reject anyone from riding on their cruises, who are on the registry. This appears to me as discriminatory to one type of felon. Curious about people’s thoughts regarding this. I notified law enforcement and they did not have a problem with me taking a cruise.

    • #66334 Reply
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      WC_TN

      Alfonso, people like you are the problem here; not the ones who are doing all they can to put their lives back together. The sad part is you probably go to church on Sunday and would swear up and down that you’re a “God-fearin’ and law-abidin’ citizen”. God shuns no one who truly wants to turn their lives around and how dare you look down your long, condescending nose and presume to judge who is and isn’t worthy of having a fulfilling enjoyable life. You show yourself to be a narrow-minded, judgmental and cruel individual by the comments you made. It’s your kind who are the problem here; not those trying to rebuild a decent, fulfilling law-abiding life. So get off your high horse. I, for one, don’t want to hear your sniveling, condescending criticisms. Why don’t you show some REAL GUTS and get to know these people before writing them off as human trash? Are you TOO SCARED AND COWARDLY?

    • #66335 Reply
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      WC_TN

      And furthermore, you dare to sit there and call that mission a “dumping ground” as if so much rubbish fit for the landfill is inhabiting it? You sir, are one more cruel, judgmental, and holier-than-thou individual and I find your outlook wholly contemptible.

    • #66365 Reply
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      James

      Alfonso

      It should not need reminding that “we the people” include those you intend to remove from your community. I was one of those individuals in need of assistance at one time, and thanks to the support of those who had genuine hearts of compassion, I have been able to rebuild a life that is having a positive impact in my community.

      If people spent less time complaining and instead got their hands a little dirty doing the work of helping these individuals, I believe our communities would experience a turning point on so many public safety and social issues.

      If you are willing to accept some feedback, I suggest you, and those who are like-minded, to read a NY Times bestseller that does an excellent job of presenting the humanity behind the faces of the homeless, and one woman’s passionate journey toward building the better city God gave her the vision to see. It’s called, “Same Kind of Different As Me”.

      ~How we treat the lowest of our neighbors is more of a reflection on us than on them. ~

    • #66372 Reply
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      Zan

      These citizens have a right to expect fairness, public safety, privacy, and equal rights under the law. Ensuring these basics are provided to all citizens is the job of our governments, federal, state, and municipal. All across the country, registrants are being evicted and excluded from housing, exposed to threats and violence (including outright murder) by having their personal info published, and they are being persecuted by the very people who should be responsible for guaranteeing their rights.

      Enough, Mr. Keith. Scapegoating unpopular segments of society is a cheap political trick, best exemplified by the National Socialist German Workers’ Party in the 1930’s. The Clarksville controversy is a national disgrace. . . just one more, from the same folks who brought you Jim Crow, Donald Trump, and the KKK.

    • #66384 Reply
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      GeorgeS

      Herr in NYS most of the places will accept SOs and this one time I was talking to this woman whos is a coordinator at the Rescue Mission that has residential housing for those that need it and therre is a fair amounts eof SOs there and one time I asked her, since the time you been working here (think around 3 years) how many of the sex offenders living here has gone back to prison for new sex crimes and shes said none and I said exactly! I would be more worried about the drug dealers and users, who are there in these shelters then the sex offenders!

    • #66415 Reply
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      Phil

      Crimes against humanity are certain acts that are deliberately committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian or an identifiable part of a civilian population.

      crimes against humanity can be committed during peace or war. They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy (although the perpetrators need not identify themselves with this policy) or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority.

      human rights abuses may reach the threshold of crimes against humanity if they are part of a widespread or systematic practice.

      Nuremberg Principle IV:

      The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.

    • #66545 Reply
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      James

      It’s sad to see discrimination like this, especially in settings like nursing homes. When my wife worked in nursing homes, the staff were required to tell her about and to keep an eye on the registrants in those facilities. Paradoxically, the registered folks never gave her trouble, but she had been treated and touched inappropriately many times by non registrants in those facilities. Yet no one ever warned her about the behavior of these residents.

      An enterprising person would see this as a great business opportunity. If being a registrant is not a protected status, then being a non registrant would also be considered the same. If I had resources, I would open up nursing homes just for registrants and give them the compassionate care that they deserve.

    • #66568 Reply
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      Anon

      ” If I had resources, I would open up nursing homes just for registrants and give them the compassionate care that they deserve.”

      Yeah, but you see that’s entire point. YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TO.

      If Megan’s Law didn’t exist, society wouldn’t be less safer.

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