“Keeping fear at a low boil” — homelessness and failure to register

By Steve Yoder . . . The Oklahoma City Police Department pulled off a social media coup on July 7. “Meet the top 10 most wanted individuals being sought by our Sex Offender Registration Unit,” the department posted on its Facebook page. “It’s important we keep tabs on these guys (and gal), so help us find them.” The post engaged a huge number of readers, receiving 1,500 shares and nearly 500 comments.

Told dangerous people were loose on city streets, readers responded. “[She] works at [a local store] I’m fucking sick!” posted one. Shadowproof is withholding this individual’s name and place of work to protect them from retaliation.

Others had their own solutions: “If I spot any I’ll send you the parts.” “Should just chalk these guys up as losses. Let the people deal some justice.” “Take them out back and shoot them.”

The department hasn’t clearly explained how it chose its top 10. At least six were convicted of a sexual crime that happened 10 or more years ago and haven’t been convicted of a new one, according to state information. Their names are published in the state’s sex-offense registry, alongside their photos, personal and workplace addresses, and other information.

No one on the “top 10 most wanted” list was accused of a repeat sexual crime, it appears. Instead, the department had warrants out for them because they had failed to show up in person to update their information on the registry . . .

It is not uncommon for police departments around the country to conduct registry sweeps like this one, looking for registrants whose paperwork is out of compliance. . . .

The logic behind these operations is simple: registrants who don’t update their information pose an imminent threat. But there’s no evidence to support that logic, and law enforcement may have other purposes in mind.

All but one of those targeted in the Oklahoma City sweep appears to have been homeless at the time of the social media post. Four are listed on the state’s registry as “transient.” Five others have addresses in commercial or industrial zones where there are no homes, according to the address data on the department’s Facebook post and the registry. The tenth is listed as “address unknown.” . . .

State policy may well have forced them into homelessness. In 2006, Oklahoma enacted a law barring registrants from living within 2,000 feet of a school or daycare. As a result, 84 percent of the city’s housing was off limits, with the little that remained located in industrial areas with no homes, according to a 2007 Human Rights Watch report. . . .

Filling jails and prisons with people for failing to do paperwork seems like a particularly bad move as more than 242,000 people behind bars have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 1,400 inmates and corrections officers have died, according to the New York Times. 

Those include sixty-year-old New Yorker Hector Rodriguez, a homeless ex-offender sent to Rikers Island on March 4 for failing to register. He died of COVID-19 on June 21. His crime dated to 1979.

In Colorado in early March, 78-year-old Charlie Peterson was arrested for failing to register and was subsequently incarcerated in the Weld County Jail. He died three weeks later of health complications apparently caused by COVID-19.

In January, 51-year-old Charles Hobbs was arrested in Florida for failing to register. He was held in the Miami-Dade jail and died of the coronavirus at the end of April, becoming the first in the jail to die of the illness and likely infecting others.

None of that has deterred cops from continuing to lock up registrants around the country for missing registration deadlines. Stories of those arrests spill across local news sites every week.

There’s almost no evidence the interlocking policies that led Oklahoma City cops to arrest homeless people make anyone safer. Studies in three states between 2009 and 2012, “failed to find any significant differences in recidivism between registration-compliant and noncompliant sex offenders,” notes a 2017 report from the U.S. Department of Justice summarizing the research on those convicted of past sexual crimes. . . .

The data on residency restrictions like Oklahoma’s 2,000-foot ban are even more conclusive. The DOJ examined the impact of residency bans since 2004.

“In summary, there is no empirical support for the effectiveness of residence restrictions,” the report concluded.

If anything, the restrictions make communities more dangerous: “In fact, a number of negative unintended consequences have been empirically identified, including loss of housing, loss of support systems and financial hardship that may aggravate rather than mitigate offender risk,” according to the report.

But all of this might miss the point of these roundups. . . .

Keeping fear at a low boil helps gin up more support for cops, and not many registrants push back.

Most registrants are just trying to stay off the radar since vigilantes regularly target them and their families.

“Registrants, like victims, don’t feel they have much of a voice, so very few have the courage to speak up and tell their stories,” writes Jeff Miller, a Utah registrant who was one of the targets of a similar compliance sweep in 2017, by email.

Back in Oklahoma, David says that “sex offenders are an easy pick-on because they don’t fight back.”

It helps that mainstream media often serve as willing partners in framing registration violations as imminent threats. In September, NPR ran a story about law enforcement “losing track of sex offenders” during the pandemic.

“When authorities don’t aggressively pursue sex offenders who flee, they often move undetected, sometimes across state lines, and commit additional sex crimes,” the reporter noted, offering no data to support the claim. . . .

Law enforcement might not get a pass on compliance sweeps for much longer. A few grassroots groups pushed back on Oklahoma City’s social media post. Lori Hamilton, a private investigator who coordinates the group OK Voices, put up a number of comments on the page to correct misinformation.

The National Association for Rational Sex Offender Laws, a nonprofit advocacy group, issued a press release that argued the post “incites mob rule and vigilantism” and demanded it be taken down.

In a 2010 study, a group of top experts on sexual recidivism confirmed what other research was showing: failure to register didn’t predict recidivism.

Those results led them to recommend a reform that would not waste taxpayer dollars.

“In light of the data indicating that a relatively small number of sex offenders fail to comply with registration, and those who do are not apt to reoffend sexually, we suggest that resources might be better allocated to helping sex offenders reintegrate successfully,”  they wrote. “Provisions for stable and meaningful employment, housing, and family support, rather than the dominant model of punitive and surveillance-based supervision, might contribute more beneficially to public safety.”

Read the full piece here at Shadowproof.

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  • This topic has 9 replies, 1 voice, and was last updated 2 months ago by Avatarw.
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    • #77819 Reply
      Jim Simpson

      Well researched article. Good read, excellent points. Makes me sick to see so many registrants and their families suffer from such poor legislation.

    • #77822 Reply

      Here’s an idea: Find out who those NPR Idiots that WILLINGLY report nothing but False and Misinformed Data about Us; and place THEIR NAMES on The Registry. Then alert every Vigilante Group about where they live. That’s pretty much what Every State legislature is doing TO Us anyway. Right? When one or more of Them get Attacked, then Maybe…just maybe, they’ll see for themselves what it’s like to REALLY live in Fear…assuming they survive the initial Attack. Fight Fire, With Fire!

    • #77850 Reply

      It’s really sad to see how legislation of simple straight forwarded intent morphs into the blood sucking beast that it is today. The majority of S/O’s that are on the registry are there for sleeping with a underage girl. Back in the day, this kind of wrongdoing was legally rectified by shotgun wedding. The only reason it was illegal in the first place was because states didn’t want to pay out welfare to young, unwed girls taken advantage of by a older man. This is totally understandable to me. But then opinions shift and laws merge and physicians with their psychobabble talking about how psychologically damaging that kind of stuff is gets what once was a 2 year max crime up to the 10 to life offence that it is today. Now this law designed to save the state money is now costing it even more money. Dhs benefits are 10-15 grand a year if you’re lucky. It costs up to 50 grand a year to lock up a inmate in prison. It just goes to show how a law of humble origins is blown out of proportion and it’s intended purpose is defeated. That’s America for ya.

      • #78086 Reply

        They are working to get government officials cops info private in the height of the riots and violence lately

    • #77855 Reply
      H n H

      I must say, being in the registry has left me completely isolated from society in a way I’d never thought was even possible. I’ve come to accept that Noone will ever date me, but not being allowed to go out of state to visit elderly relatives is pushing things a bit far. I’m not given any help in wanting to go out of state for a couple days. Instead I’m told I have to “deregistering” in my state then go to the next state and “follow their laws” concerning registration. And I’m forced to provide an address of where I’m going before I leave this state. I know full well that the clowns will be watching my every move while I’m traveling and just wait for a certain amount of time between reporting, etc and BAM away I go. I don’t know how else to say it, but this life is ABSOLUTELY NOT worth living on the registry. I’m afraid of every person I get to know finding out about me and instantly judging me. It’s happened twice already, and once led an entire staff of a store to blatantly stare at me in disgust making it clear I wasn’t welcome. I have Noone, and Noone is stupid enough to be associated with a sex offender. So…. I just need another 50 yrs to go by then I can be free of all this, though my body will be in the ground. With all the isolation, I am certain more people would celebrate my death than would mourn me. Lol.

      BTW, it has been shown to me through a spiritual experience that what put me on the registry is not going to be looked at much as I fear when I look back over my entire life.

    • #77870 Reply

      “Registrants, like victims, don’t feel they have much of a voice, so very few have the courage to speak up and tell their stories,” writes Jeff Miller, a Utah registrant who was one of the targets of a similar compliance sweep in 2017, by email.

      I think this is the very reason for the registry’s existence. Think about it: Those who have victimized young children targeted a helpless victim who had no way to fight back or defend themselves in any way. Enter the registry. The public sees the registry doing to us what those who molested children did to their victims and their message is loud and clear. “How does it feel to get f****d with an not be able to do anything about it?”

      The mantra of victim advocates since the mid-1980s has been, “Child molestation ruins a person for life. They live with the emotional scars forever. Why should the abuser get off with just a few years in prison and then be able to get out and go back to their lives like nothing ever happened?”

      That’s how I see this. It seems to me that actions like those of this police department should be entered into the record to show the punitive intent of the registry; how it is abused to inflame the public.

    • #77887 Reply
      Tim in WI

      Steve Yoder,

      Federal lawsuits are not always the proper choice. Better to train registrants HOW TO DEFEND YOURSELVES IN FTR SCENARIOS. Filing motions to compel records pretrial and so forth. All the tactics necessary to actually get a fair jury. Every Judge must acknowledge that difficulty. Wherefore ” special consideration ” motion for vior can be justified. This adds value to the defense.

      When in mass FTR trials are burning U.S. court calendars things will change rapidly.
      Naturally Rock County hates to see me on the docket. I spend 4 sessions explaining why I do not need a lawyer. Fist them if they do not like it.

    • #77941 Reply
      The Bull

      The scathing flagrant hypocrisy of this “society” has me in a rage!!! I am so angry at people as they sat back a let of people in government who are associated with actual sexual predators, Satanists, destroy liberty and trainwreck us financially.
      Even with all what the government has done, they still won’t stand up!!!!!!! HnH’s story has me so angry at the American people!!!!!!! I could not go through that and stay sane.
      People in this country are self-absorbed, self-righteous, sadistic, avaracious, murderous,
      churlish, fearful, treacherous, monstrous, uncaring, callous, coldhearted f****ng monsters!!!
      Its not even the politicians and judges at this point, it is the goddamned people who refuse to wake up, because they have such an addiction and affinity with schadenfreude. Not realizing that the powers that be are using them and manipulating that low vibrational sinister energy to foment more hatred and destruction. The public cannot continue in such willful, continuous callous disregard for truth and righteousness and not suffer severe karmic consequences. The truth is out there, the American people should know way better by now. They should have woke up at minimum 8-12 yrs ago.

      A House divided against itself cannot stand. The American People will reap they have sown in the midst of their vindictive double-standards, flagrant hypocrisy, avarice, malignancy, bloodlust, evil hatred, and apathy.

    • #78098 Reply

      The sex offender experiment is overdone, the supporters of it are just vindictive idiots on a power trip enabled by the public opinion they helped build. It may just be time for the bill to come due on the whole facade. They’re always looking to cut corners somewhere, but when it comes to the sex offender debacle they just keep throwing money at it since it ain’t theirs.

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