A battle for all of us

By Brenda . . . Today I cancelled a membership for a state member, at his request. Cancellations happen, and we don’t question, grateful for whatever they have been able to give. But this time, we got a little note along with the request.

[Your] actions have never been in accordance with my goals, which is freedom from the burden of lifetime registration. I hope the burden on lifetime registrants will one day come to an end, but since there are no organizations fighting for this cause, there is no need for me to support any organizations.

He’s entitled to his opinion, of course. But this message floored me. He really thinks that our organization, or any affiliates of NARSOL … or indeed any of the many other organizations battling against these insane laws … are not fighting for an end to lifetime registration?

Words failed me for a few days. I got over it.

What I think is really going on is that our erstwhile friend has not heard us constantly shouting about his particular issue. He gave us some money, and he has still not been removed from his registry burden. In other words, he has no concern for anyone but himself. And for that, I can only pity him.

What our friend has clearly missed is the monumental task before us. For lifetime registration to come to an end, there must be a number of deep, systemic changes: changes that begin within each person’s heart and mind. Minds and hearts are changed through a clear, impactful message that reaches beyond those of us “in the choir.” Those changes continue through ACTION in the halls of town and county councils and state and national governments and through a steady barrage of litigation that pushes back against excesses at every level.

It’s NOT all about “ME”

This is a war – arguably one of the largest civil rights battles ever. Indeed, almost certainly rolled into this war are racial and LGBTQ+ disparities that have been fought throughout the entirety of United States history. The groups fighting those issues have become aware of how sexual offense laws are impacting their communities and are beginning to apply some resources to the fight.

Whether on the front lines or waiting at home, in wartime we must all move beyond our personal struggles and focus on the larger goal. For NARSOL, and likely every other advocacy group in our movement, that larger goal is to end public shaming registries. Period. Reaching that goal will require huge efforts by many people: people on the front lines in courtrooms and legislators’ offices, people sending letters and making phone calls demanding change, people “back home” talking to neighbors and offering encouragement and support. The battles we fight may result in small wins or large defeats, but we push forward in the hope that collectively we are moving closer to victory.

We must change hearts and minds

The message that all of us in this movement must constantly present to our neighbors, friends, and family is that persons forced to register are HUMAN BEINGS. They and their families and friends deserve the same opportunities for happiness, love, and success as any other human being. Sometimes a human being is broken or sick, and that person needs to be under more careful supervision. But registries do NOT provide any protection for either the public or for the registered human.

If we stay hidden, our friends, family, and neighbors will never come to see that persons forced to register are human beings. And if we sit around (as our friend did) just hoping for our situation to change… it won’t.

ACTION takes many forms, and it takes TIME

There are many different battle fronts. In addition to humanizing, of course there are many civil rights battles to fight. Some are smaller, such as when law enforcement overreaches in a community or when a town council institutes a distance restriction on all registrants. We can show up at meetings to make a case, speak privately to those in power and encourage change, or respond to inaccurate and misleading news reports and blog posts with facts and a HUMANIZING story.

Sometimes it’s a solitary advocate standing before a legislative committee or town council that will change hearts and prevent a new, worse law. Other times, a legal action in progress results in a change to existing law and a better understanding of the problems with public registration.

Though our erstwhile friend might wish it otherwise, there is no single action that is going to fix everything, nor one single action that can even fix ONE thing (such as lifetime registration). Our big goal of no more public shaming registries will come through hundreds of smaller and larger victories – most simply taking out a piece here, or correcting an excess there. Legal challenges are also accumulating at local and state levels and will continue until sufficient case law is built up to force change at the national level.

It is our hope at NARSOL, echoed I am sure through the entire movement, that someday the war will be won and public shaming registries will be no more. And at that time, we will focus on preventing them from ever returning – because humans always look for a boogeyman to fear. I hope you’ll stay with us.

Help us reach more people by Sharing or Liking this post.

Brenda Jones

Brenda is NARSOL's executive director. She is also the layout editor for the Digest, serves as affiliate coordinator for our affiliates, contacts, and advocates, and oversees special projects such as Fearless, the state WIKI, and Humans on the Registry.

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    • #71332 Reply
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      Tim in WI

      Brenda,
      I’m not a member nor have I donated but I agree this is the largest civil rights right ever in the history of man. This fight no matter how you slice it is about the gov use of the registry database machine. These state machines are property and registration is plain indenture repackaged. The machine registries must be maintained and resistance by the offender is futile. The
      The futility, I think, is the main hurdle advocates face in organizing the troops. I often wonder when the calls for public protest will come from this group. Other civil rights groups have found it necessary and follow through with them, like as in Brown V Board of Ed.

    • #71357 Reply
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      Marian A Penev

      In 2005 I was charged with a crime of sexual nature in the state of NY and January of 2006 I was charged in federal court also with a crime of ” enticing a minor using a computer ” stemming from the state charges. I pleaded guilty in both courts in 2007 and 2008 if I remember correctly.
      After I served a lengthy sentence I moved to Michigan and I am now subjected to the draconian sex offenders registration even though the offense took place prior some laws that are applied retroactively to me.

    • #71365 Reply
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      CJ

      Registries in general, and SO registries in particular are a tremendous civil rights issue, both in the US and in other countries which are following our example. As we know, it is entirely based on xenophobia; that is, fear of “the other,” and “the other” can be defined in a thousand different ways. Some countries recognize this to some degree and take steps to avoid it, some with more success than others. Unfortunately the spirit of the times around the globe now is swinging back in the direction that led us to the Second World War. I hope we are able to avoid that outcome.

      Bottom line, I believe, is that we must all contribute as we are able. I contribute to NARSOL monthly, as well as to ACLU, HRW and several other organizations, local, national and international. All of these issues are critical, vital civil rights and just plain basic human rights issues, and the struggle is long-term. But every small victory is important. To quote a TV program from the seventies (50 bonus points if you can name the program!!), “To fight injustice anywhere is to fight it everywhere.”

    • #71367 Reply
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      Dan

      Brenda,
      Thank you again for another great article. 5 yrs ago I may have had the same attitude as your Non-member.
      I was in the darkest time in my life. But I have very dear friend that helped me get through it. And NARSOL was
      also there to help me with much needed information to help pick me up and start my fight for removal.
      I even wrote an article on” Tales from the Registry-Don’t Go to Florida”. NARSOL helped me see the reality
      of what I had to do to fight the system. After waiting over 3 yrs to get an answer from the Registry Board in my
      state, I have been excused from my obligation to register, and all my information removed.
      But this is just half the battle.I must now go to Florida to petition their courts for removal there. And once again
      NARSOL gave me much needed information thru their site and links to others, that will help me in this
      process. In my Article on “Tales from the registry” I said that I didn’t do my homework, But thanks to NARSOL
      and the wealth of info I have learned from their organization and the people that care about RSO’s like myself,
      I have done my homework and will continue the fight for freedom.

    • #71371 Reply
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      Crash

      Good post. Though the war that NARSOL is fighting is a whole other type of war, as compared to the ones fought over slavery, Jim Crow laws, segregation, so-called LGBT rights, and the so-called “woman’s right to choose,” or abortion. The dehumanization of SOs, is ingrained in the minds and hearts of most Americans. For many of them, that societal conditioning is not something that would ever go away. Popular videos on YouTube with words such as “pred*tor,” and certain other words in their titles, with content showing men getting caught after chatting with the youtuber who made a fake online profile, are among the many things that keep cycle of fear, ignorance, bitterness, hatred, and dehumanization towards SOs, going. Nevertheless, NARSOL should keep up the good work and continue to make a difference. The only way some people could even get it, is if they’re own sixteen year old son became an SO. And not because of a relationship with a girl close to his age either.

      Every nation has had some group of people to be judged and persecuted by the majority. I remember clearly, the morning when some crooked detective and his assistant had worked relentlessly to have me metaphorically beheaded under a guillotine, for my very 1st offense, and after having been influenced by a porn industry that they, along with most other society shrug their shoulders, shut their damned mouths and allow to thrive. There were a large number of law enforcement who just stood by, in front of my home and allowed the crooked detective and his assistant to do the evil that they did to me that morning. Some even listened in, as he viciously mocked and defamed me at the precinct, with words such as “Crash is a dumb***!,” “He’s stupid,” “Look….he’s so scared,” “So I asked him…Ares…and he told me yeah.” I overheard those words, the person didn’t say them to me. He also spoke in an eerie, cold, and dead tone.

      Something in the back of my mind tells me that the detective, his assistant, and the law enforcement that were in front of my home and at the precinct had represented the “majority.” Basically they were the law makers, the prosecutors, the EMTs, the firefighters, teachers, therapists, and whathaveyou!

    • #71378 Reply
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      Phys Ed

      I have been a member ever since leaving prison over five years ago. NARSOL has been at the center of the national fight. I have contributed to the Esperanto fund as well as sent in a membership fee and I will continue to do both. Illinois Voices is also part and parcel of the NARSOL agenda and our legal cases won here in Illinois have contributed to big changes in the 7th circuit. We here, some still on LIFETIME Supervised release-for a nonviolent/non-contact offense yet- have recently won the right to be on social media sites, Facebook however STILL has a policy that precludes a membership for people like me. They don’t ban us outright, they just give us unlimited runarounds to solve our individual problem of how to log on to our site already created. It’s a de-facto solution for Zuckerberg and that crowd. Congress and courts can have their say, but company policy has not changed. I suspect it’s also true for other social media sites. If they get wind of somebody’s conviction or registration…that’s it. You’re gone from that site. It may still be there…but you’re not and never will be until the company policy changes…

    • #71408 Reply
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      CJB

      I believe that The Purpose of NARSOL is based on a Collective Effort to Remove the Registries for EVER…..everyone of us has a personal struggle…all of our struggles are unique and not mutually exclusive….Therefore, it is NARSOL’s modus operandi to ‘cut the jugular vein’ and anything that falls below this does not matter as the MORASS has been put to sleep for ever.

      Everyone Stay Safe and Healthy!

    • #71501 Reply
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      Brenda Jones

      Thanks to everyone who commented with their support of NARSOL. Glad to know you are all out there!

    • #71539 Reply
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      Mary Roberts

      Hello Brenda, I completely understand what you are saying. I know that the public has to be educated and I am taking what I think is an interesting approach to reach one person at a time in the hopes that they talk about it to people they know. I receive all kinds of junk mail that has return envelopes included. Instead of sending a donation or a response that they are expecting, I am sending a letter that explains why I cannot afford to do what they are asking of me. I tell my son’s story of being involved in a sex sting even though he was on an adult site looking for an adult date. Law enforcement took advantage of his vulnerable state, being extremely lonely and depressed ( he lives in a very desolate area of MI), and created a crime where there was none. He was clearly speaking to an adult on the phone had no chance to see who it was he was meeting – they tackled him and arrested him before he had a chance to see the person and decide to leave. Had they left him alone, he would have gone on to meet the adult he intended and then he would have gone home with no issues.

      Someone opening the envelope I am sending back is going to expect to see something other than my letter and I’m hoping they find it unusual enough to talk about it.

    • #71553 Reply
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      JJJJ

      Brenda, thank you for this clear and reasonably article.

      Please everybody, take a few minutes every time you see an opportunity to respond to a tweet, a newspaper article, a radio program, a tv news show.
      Take a few minutes and reply with a clear and simple statement.
      We must constantly insert ourselves into the daily conversation. We must never lose an opportunity to speak! (Because most people are decent and not haters. We simply must remind them.)
      Here’s an example of what I do on an almost daily basis:

      Letter to SAMANTHA J. GROSS Miami Herald on 4/25/2020
      Hello:
      Every time inmates are released for compassionate reasons, those who have formerly committed sex crimes are excepted from our compassion.
      In fact, though, those criminals who have committed sex crimes are statistically the least likely to reoffend! (As they age, their likelihood of reoffense all but disappears.) This is not widely known to the public, but has consistently been shown to be true in numerous, state, university and federal studies done of recidivism.
      When we refuse to extend compassion to those prisoners who have the best chance at reform, we turn our backs on science, reason, justice and mercy. Instead, we succumb to hate and fear.
      Keeping former sex offenders locked up during this global pandemic is akin to a genocide!

      Please join me every … single … day! Never let an opportunity get past you!

    • #71581 Reply
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      Jeffrey Harrison

      I was recently releived of my duty to register on the Wyoming sex offender registry. But The State, for some reason did not show up for the hearing and the Judge that releived me from regestaring retired. The new Judge after the new hearing with the State placed me back on the registry. Hear in Wyoming the Law Changed in 2007 For regestaring on the list. My incident witch was Alcohol related, not an excuse, Was Sexual Assault in the fourth Degree. That Statute no longer exist, so element of my incedent fell under the statue for sexual assault in third degree. This Incedent happend in 1993 I was not ordered to register till 2009 have been on the registar for 11 years so now they want me to wait another 14 years to appeal the court again I am 52 years old now I will be 66 years old when I can reappeal the court. I have appealed the lastest decision now it will go to supream Court. I Have Three beautiful, Smart Daughters that have suffered through this and still maintaining there grades I have One daughter who in College that is studying to become a Lawyer to help me with this, she told me that she could not for a better Father and that I don’t deserve what they are doing doing to me. My lawyer is frustrated as well.

    • #71693 Reply
      Robin Vander Wall
      Robin Vander Wall
      Admin

      Thank you, Brenda. This was well-written and measured. So often we find ourselves targets of individuals who are in this for themselves and couldn’t give a simple hell for anyone else as long as they get the relief they are looking for. Sooner or later, folks will “get it.” We are all rising and falling according to the same tide. There are no easy solutions and there will be no simple fixes. This is a generational battle for those who have the stomach and temerity to wage it. To everyone else, get used to being the whipping post OR roll up your damned sleeves and join the fight to the bitter end!

    • #72537 Reply
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      freedom ring

      I dont know about you guys, but its time to fight back. If politicians are going to use children as political tools to advance their agenda to get richer, mainstream media to still call people predators without filter OR the registry to be used for hunting people who are actually trying to be better. I think its time to fight back!! I know its going to be a long fight but what if we were to use youtube as a fighting platform? lets educate people on youtube.

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