Registrants face stark choices as coronavirus risks grow

By Dawn R. Wolfe . . .

A patchwork approach to the nation’s sex offense registry laws is leaving many of the 900,000 people on the country’s registries with a stark choice as COVID-19 sweeps the country: risk their lives or risk their freedom.

This week, a California man had to decide between putting his and his 65-year-old parents’ health at risk or potentially going to prison. Another is already in violation of his state’s law because he spent more than three days in the hospital with his pregnant spouse without first appearing at his local police department to report that he would be away from home. If he had left the hospital to try to report, he wouldn’t have been allowed to return because of the risk of spreading coronavirus. In Rochester, New York, a man on a registry called his local police department to tell them he had symptoms of COVID-19. He was told to report in person anyway.

While many of the country’s law enforcement agencies are finding ways to modify how they administer their sex offense registry laws, others are defying public health directives by forcing people to crowd into police stations in close contact with each other, members of the public, and law enforcement officials.

A survey by The Appeal of actions being taken by states and agencies across the country found what Mary Sue Molnar, an advocate for reform of Texas’s registry laws, called a “patchwork of registering requirements” that, in many cases, are leaving people with past sex offense convictions in a dangerous legal limbo.

The Oregon State Police have suspended in-person registrations and now require phone registration. In Texas, according to Molnar, executive director of Texas Voices for Reason and Justice, “there is no statewide policy regarding in-person registration and individual registering offices are conducting registration as they see fit.” Some law enforcement agencies are moving to phone or email reporting while others are still requiring registrants to appear in person.

Per its website, Douglas County, Nebraska, still required people to report in person as of March 27, while in Washington State, Snohomish County was suspending “services” to people on the registry until April 6. Sioux City, Iowa, Jackson County, Missouri, and the Virginia State Police were also telling registrants and would-be registrants to get in touch by phone or online. Defense attorneys in St. Louis and Pittsburgh told The Appeal that both St. Louis and the Pennsylvania State Police have suspended in-person reporting.

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    • #70619 Reply
      H n H

      This is a period of testing for the beloved registry. I honestly don’t know if NARSOL will ever win a fight against repealing the registry. Hatred is too easy of an emotion for people of power to ride into making laws, even if they’re blatantly wrong. Now, you take a test of financial stress upon the “system”, and there may be a way to eliminate this thing. The States simply won’t have enough tax dollars coming in to keep enforcing these laws. The feds have shoved the registry down every-ones throats, while threatening to take away funding for state law enforcement if they aren’t implemented. Well, what happens when the feds can’t deliver on that additional funding anyway?

      And another thing…. don’t ever tell me the registry is “ok” for those on parole, as States continue to just blanket every single sex conviction resulting in prison with LIFE parole. There isn’t a chance to even fight charges levied against one as doing so likely results in prison time. Unfortunately for my personal future I fought my charges resulting in more payment than I can list here, BUT!…. Fortunately doing so cleared my name with the family when the truth came out and honestly, (the system be damned) the family knowing the truth of what happened was more important to me personally to clear my own conscience than anything the state could do to me. However judges and DA’s have an agenda, and as my judge stated (verbatim I might add) “I just don’t see how what happened qualifies under any of the statutes of law, but… umm.. I think I’m gonna go ahead and find him involved in the situation”, and away I went.

      Parole is painful, it’s worse than prison. You’re not locked up, but the restrictions in place to report ANY relationship, kissing, fondling of a lover or anything regarding masturbation or arousal to your PO is downright monstrous, and exceptionally abhorrent in its application and administration. It takes away any motivation to live or thrive. The restrictions are a life sentence to remain at home, on social lock-down. And no, this isn’t a pity party, it’s a matter of fact that going through all this has given me more dignity than to ever drag a woman into a parole office to discuss our private sex life and intimate romance with a damn parole officer just so she can date me. It’s a psychological trauma and invasion into my personal life that I will never get over just to be “intimate” with anyone. Frankly, my love life is absolutely none of his damn business and has nothing to do with protecting some little kid. It’s sick, beyond sick, repulsive. And these clowns have the temerity to sit back and say they’re serving the community. Give me a break.. There are no words, and it’s for life. So…. let the stupid virus have its fun and I’ll sit back and watch the hornets swarm and if it gets me, I’ll go quietly and willingly into that peaceful beyond. I really don’t care.

    • #70685 Reply

      My local sheriffs department is not only
      judgmental, but, by living in the South, these red neck hillbillies are so untrusting that they assume everyone with a sex offense charge (mine from 35!years ago) is actively deceiving them actively molesting children if one appears in public at all!

      Here’s what I’m wondering, and I’d like some advice please:
      I have to report in this state — for life, every 3 months. They send a signature-required certified letter (which I have to ro to the post office in person and pick up, and then report in person at the sheriffs department. So basically. I have 2 public chances to contact someone (or a piece of mail) infected with coronavirus. To make matters worse, by law, if I DONT receive the certified letter, I’m required to report anyway. I’m tempted to try to call AND SEE IF they are allowing call-in reporting, but the sheriffs registration office never picks up the phone AND never returns messages. PLUS, anytime I ask an in-person question, they think I’m trying to be manipulative. There’s no chance of not reporting in person, and if I show up in mask and gloves (I’m an elder person with pre-existing conditions, so MOST susceptible to the virus) at the sheriffs office, I can imagine they’ll have me wrestled down on the floor in cuffs before I say a word.

      What should I do? I haven’t received the certified letter this month, so I’m required to report in person. They’ll give me a stapled packet of 20 sheets that I have to initial at the bottom of each outage AND write the list of all my online identifiers, all of which takes me 45-60+ minutes in their public lobby, including time waiting for them to shore up once I announce my arrival.

      Should I just jump off a tall cliff now, and avoid the pain?

    • #70968 Reply

      This is an opportune time to have communications with the governors and BOP regarding the 3 tiers of sex offenders. It’s ludicrous that the state and federal prisons are giving SO’s the “blanket treatment” without regard to what their actual crime was. No SO’s can be released despite what their crime or sentencing is? It’s complete and utter BS. If they were not a violent offender, they should be in consideration for early release amid the COVID-19 pandemic (if early release is being offered).

      The Erie Community Correction Center, a halfway house in Erie, PA, allowed most of their re-entrants to move temporarily to their “homes” among the pandemic; however, convicted sex offenders were not permitted to go to temporary or permanent housing simply because they were a sex offender. The SO’s have been forced to stay at the CCC during the pandemic. There is young man with Asperger’s Syndrome at that facility that has a non-violent sex offense conviction. Even though he has a permanent home, they will not allow him to go home due to his SO status. When he asked for a counselor (due to his Asperger’s), he was told, “Sounds like a personal problem,” by the staff.


    • #71096 Reply

      My friend…I’m with you. I was convicted in AL and via an Interstate Compact moved my probation to GA (where my family resided) to complete my 5 years of probation. Upon entering GA I was suddenly slapped with having to attend Post-Conviction Sex Offender Treatment…which includes weekly classes that I must pay for…their own set of rules…mandatory Polygraphs every 6 months…until no clear goal of “graduating” the class. One either miraculously graduates within 3 years or so OR until their probation/parole is up. Who knows…? It’s a grey fog.

      However, I too had to “gain permission” to date a woman two years younger than me (34). I had to have her meet with my PO who read to her the original “Police Report”…not convictions…and then had to have her meet my therapist…who bluntly asked her, “Why would a normal person date a sex offender?” I sat there…silent…

      Luckily, and being the strong woman she is…we’re still together. But, my God…this has to be just wrong.

    • #71208 Reply

      H n H – Part of making sure you are not in a position, mentally or otherwise, to commit another offense is taking responsibility. I hear some minimization in your post when it comes to discussing your ‘situation’. Also, if you actually understood the ‘why’ of the policies that are in place from Probation and Parole concerning relationships and sex, you’d understand why it is so important to them. It is the job of The Department to protect the community first and foremost, and community supervision in lieu of being in prison is a privilege. You may not think it does any good to pry into your ‘love life’, but depending on your risk factors, static or otherwise, it may very well be the best thing for you as you adjust to life post-incarceration/post-offense. Just because you cannot realize the truth of the matter does not mean that you should not be subject to the whims of your Agent.

    • #71210 Reply

      Kensi – Are you saying ‘non-touch’ offenses aren’t bad? A CP crime only exists because a child was abused simply because there is a market for it, and a CP viewer IS that market. Because there is a market for it, a crime was committed against a vulnerable person for illicit profit/gain of another… not counting the simple immorality of wanting to see kids naked for sexual gratification purposes. Traveling across state lines to meet a minor and getting caught before hand or before an act can occur? Still not a victimless crime. There are no victimless sex crimes and the terror the victims go through in even non-touch cases is very real.

      The bringing up of Asperger’s in the case you site seems like a justification for special treatment for this individual… but if there was a ‘mental disease or defect’ justification for his crime, he likely would be considered more dangerous due to his mental state having a direct correlation to his crime, and not able to be just ‘sent home’ anyway without the DHS being involved or aware. In any case… what is happening to offenders is the result of their own actions.

      BTW, I am a former offender/prisoner/parolee for a sex offense.

    • #71256 Reply


      In your response to Kensi, you were correct. Though, the law/justice system is used against people, not just SOs, unfairly, every single day. Through manipulated and false police reports, perjury, and the like. Also, there are people who were falsely accused of an SO crime, and were either run over by a jury or forced to take a deal.

    • #71255 Reply


      Wow. Who would have thought, that they would go that far? I’m talking about the deal about law enforcement and others, who would often work to strain the relationships that an SO already has or to prevent an SO from establishing new ones. Though we shouldn’t be surprised at this sort of thing. Can POs just make up rules as they go along?

      Society has already ordained, or established that an SO lives in a similar way in which he did while locked up. Which means a lot of SOs are cut off from a number of things that most ‘‘law-abiding’’ citizens enjoy and take for granted. Things which include a home, a job or career, food, water, and even relationships with a romantic partner. In many cases, an SO who truly desires change and redemption, is bound to not have a family of his own, which is very significant in the spiritual sense of things but I’m not going to get into that.

      Isn’t it funny, that an over sexualized nation (one of the most over sexualized in the world, at that), which has a deep and inherent hatred for SO crimes (involving minors and women) and the men who committed them, would not only allow minors to have ‘‘adult’’ relations they cannot consent to with each other, but allows a diabolical and insidious porn industry that turns many people into sick, sexual deviants, with a number of them having got hooked on the poison (which has content involving so-called ‘‘barely-legal teens,’’ schoolgirls, women pretending to be minors, and made-up incest or step-relative sex) from said industry from when they were the very minors that society has a deep/special value or concern for, and some number of those sexually-deviated people end up committing the crimes most citizens of this nation hate the most, which are the sexual ones? Right? It would also allow minors to take hormones and live as though they’re the other gender, or a group of three being parents.

      I hope what I wrote made sense. As dead as the discussion and moderation on this site is, I want to make some sort of point.

      By the way, my lawyer, upon me asking him whether there was a possibility that I could get married and end up having a family, bulged his eyes out, then got this worried look on his face, and implied that that was very unlikely in the us, then coldly told me ‘‘Whose gonna wanna be with a s** o**end**?.’’ He then got this look on his face, which expressed something like ‘‘ew’’ or ‘‘yeesh,’’ then moved his body to the left as if to get away from me. I asked him that, because a really good outcome to the case had just occurred and I assumed the mood was light-hearted. On his website or the firm’s website, SOs are drawn or lured into the firm, because of well meaning words and the reviews, ratings, and awards he’s achieved. But they have no idea what he had told me.

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