NARSOL’s Shannon, Jones, Molnar and WAR’s Henry quoted in new book

By Judith Levine and Erica R. Meiners . . .  “What is your relationship to feminism?” Judith asks Vicki Henry, head of Women Against Registry, or WAR.

Her reply: “I hate it.”

It is a sentiment that, in our experience, is not uncommon among the members of WAR, a small group launched in 2007 at the first national conference of the organization Reform Sex Offense Laws. The convention was convened with the aim of pulling together the fledgling grassroots mutual aid and advocacy groups of registrants and their supporters that had sprung up around the country. Henry, the mother of a Marine convicted of child pornography possession, had proven herself as an able leader in Missouri. So RSOL organizer Paul Shannon asked her to head up a national women’s subgroup of RSOL. “There was a need for “a place where wives, daughters, girlfriends would have an outlet for their anger and energy,” says Shannon, now chair of the renamed National Association for Rational Sex Offense Laws (NARSOL). Henry accepted eagerly.

Tactical and personal differences have since divided Henry and Shannon, and she has taken WAR independent. But there is one thing on which the two agree: feminism. Like most of the registered citizens and their friends we have met, both perceive feminists as political insiders, almost as responsible for the SO’s plight as the state is. “Part of the reason we are where we are is because the feminist movement created this, and now it’s got this landslide effect,” says Henry. Shannon concurs: WAR was conceived “to oppose the feminist assault on sex offenders,” he says. . . .

In much criminal justice reform activism, women—specifically, white mothers—are the instigators, the spokespeople, and the foot soldiers. So it has been with the sex offense legal regime. . . . After Etan Patz’s disappearance in 1979, his mother Julie lobbied for the establishment of a national clearing-house of missing children, which was established in 1984 as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. To this day, NCMEC’s fear-inducing statistics continue to ratify the creation of more and more “child protective” sex laws.

Patty Wetterling—mother of eleven-year-old Jacob, snatched and murdered in 1989 in St. Joseph, Minnesota, while riding his bike—lobbied for sex offender registries, first in her state and then nationally, resulting in the federal Jacob Wetterling Act of 1994. While still an advocate for missing children—she is chair of NCMEC—Wetterling has become one of the most vocal opponents of sex offender registries, arguing that they ruin lives while failing to protect children. . . .

Just as mothers, and white motherhood—that spotless badge of devotion and courage—played a significant role in the institution and extension of registries and community notification laws, white women are also proving instrumental in the move to challenge the registries. The sex offense legal regime was built in the name of protecting children. Similarly, these women’s ferocity in fighting the regime rises in their children’s defense.

Women run most of the state organizations; the current executive director of NARSOL is a woman, Brenda Jones, although leadership of the national organization is heavily male. These women gain valuable political experience—in public speaking, lobbying, organization-building—as they advocate for their sons and husbands and challenge this facet of the prison nation. They are public figures and community leaders. . .

Tonia Maloney founded Illinois Voices for Reform when her nineteen-year-old son was convicted of criminal sexual abuse and child pornography for his relationship with his sixteen-year-old girlfriend. On an early, now removed, website for the organization Maloney described the actions for which he is now on the registry as “his indiscretions.” Mary Sue Molnar of Texas Voices was mobilized to action when her then-twenty-two-year-old son, as she put it, “made some really bad choices” and was convicted of a sex offense for a relationship with a sixteen-year-old female. “I think that every parent, especially those with sons, should be deeply concerned about the current laws, because their sons could be on the registry in the blink of an eye,” she said on a local TV report. . . .

Women like Henry, Jones, and Molnar have achieved national and statewide visibility for issues facing people with sex offense convictions, particularly by challenging the placement of juveniles on sex offender registries. They have educated countless policy- makers and law enforcers, prevented passage of bad laws, kept their members up to date on political and legal developments, and provided support for a severely demoralized group of people. Their work is crucial and commendable, and it falls within a long tradition of women’s activism.

Read the full piece here at versobooks.com

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  • This topic has 7 replies, 1 voice, and was last updated 2 months, 1 week ago by AvatarThe devil and the deep blue sea.
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    • #74077 Reply
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      TS Rohnevarg

      Here’s a winning campaign strategy for you: since it’s large ‘white’ women pushing this agenda, simply assert that Sex Offender Laws are Racist and that Offender Registries support White Supremacy. Basically, the irrational fear endemic in SOL and SOR regimes is an expression of white fear that their ‘purity’ is threatened by these individuals. The same hysteria that viewed all ‘black’ men as sexually crazed beasts preying on pure ‘white’ girls is an equally powerful motivator among these Karens of Concupiscence. When you are battling Satan, when you are warring against demons, one must call them out for what they are. “What is your name?” Jesus asked. “Legion, for we are many.” It is righteous to ‘demonize’ the demonic.

    • #74084 Reply
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      Maestro

      This made me think of something:

      “While still an advocate for missing children—she is chair of NCMEC—Wetterling has become one of the most vocal opponents of sex offender registries.”

      This is very similar to child support. When a woman files for child support against the father of the child (children), they cannot later decide they no longer want the child support. I knew a couple who broke up (not a marriage just live in relationship), she went after him got child support, they got back together and moved back in together, but the state REFUSED to stop taking child support payments from him even though they lived in the same house and his income was OBVIOUSLY supporting the household. This was Connecticut. But I’m sure this type of issue applies everywhere.
      So the state will jump to the woman’s side when they want child support but when the same woman says “I don’t want it anymore. Leave him alone”, the state says “no”.
      Wetterling pushes for these laws and now that the state sees money to be made, they’re ignoring her opposition to the laws she helped push.
      Why do states listen when you want to push for something but basically tell you to “kick rocks” when you decide to change your mind?

    • #74092 Reply
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      Perry

      I’m with it, and hope they keep on Steamrolling Forward. It’s going to take White Women to Counter this thing as much as any other Ethnic Group, because let’s face it. Politicians DO LISTEN MORE, to them than any other. It’s like Jack Webb’s Character on the Old TV Show ‘Dragnet’.
      “Just The Facts Ma’am!”
      Done.

    • #74100 Reply
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      The Criminalized Man

      Maestro, I think the answer is worth repeating even though we all know it. The state thrives on continuity of funding. It loves “doing things for people” since that justifies the continuing budget support of the managers and workers employed to do those things. Once the people who asked the state to provide that “service” realize they’ve given up their own rights in the process, it’s too late.

    • #74102 Reply
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      Micah

      Amazing. This was the conclusion I came to as well…..that the SOR and the sex offense punishments have been largely perpetuated by white women, and seems to have an institutionally racist tone. I am a white male, married to a black woman who was raped and abused by her father for years. Despite the horrible acts that she was forced into, she would never want her dad exposed to the types of laws that are in play now. Her dad is dead, and my wife was right by his side. She had long since forgiven him, and has said that he couldn’t forgive himself. She is a big advocate of mental health and restorative therapies. She once did some essays on her views while attending some college classes. Needless to say, the white women that attended the class with her couldn’t believe the supportive nature of her essay. I think the sentiment is largely the same in the Hispanic community as well. It is well known that communities of color have a history of not reporting because the laws are highly destructive and do nothing to restore families, or allow any sort of healing.

    • #74108 Reply
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      Tim in WI

      @Maestro,
      Naturally Ms. Wetterling acknowledged her realization that ” none of these men killed my son” in her second thoughts about the USE of her son’s name to institutionalize the plain indenture of human to machine database. She recognizes that she’s been preyed upon by profiteers. Mission creep has uncovered the real intent of the infrastructure USE. Clearly the stated” legitimate alternative purpose” was the primary focus from the beginning. If a state can indenture(use), without prior public knowledge; what limit has the far more powerful fed have? Unfettered use. Naturally free men are paid to maintain property. Some prefer it otherwise.

    • #74595 Reply
      Avatar
      The devil and the deep blue sea

      I also agree that all the people that became The figure heads for the enactment of the registry and sorna and the Adam Walsh act were infact all white people.
      The system in endemically racist and and inflexible on all accounts
      I think it should be challenged from a perspective of racism and
      Everyday more sex offenders are created by these laws
      What’s interesting is there no more count on just how many sex offender there are
      Since the creation of the laws and registry …..I surmise it more than likely would show the registry don’t work at all as a deterrent ….
      But everyone here knows that ……
      At least Neal gorsesuch was apt to rule against sorna in the Herman gundy
      Case.

    • #75284 Reply
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      John Q Citizen

      Good idea! Will use that. I will make a note to self to find some race stats on the registry if they exist (a lot of race statistics have been wiped from the books, or no longer collected because “it’s racist”).

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