Sign petition that affirms the rights of former offenders to participate in life

Poetry Magazine is a prestigious publication, well known in the literary world, and it recently published a special edition, one containing exclusively the works of those who have been incarcerated. Among the offerings was a poem by Kirk Nesset, a former English literature professor who was released from prison last year after a sexual offense conviction in 2014.

When readers protested the inclusion of Nesset’s work and a petition was started asking the magazine to remove the poem, the editors affirmed their decision to keep it, issuing this statement: “People in prison have been sentenced and are serving/have served those sentences; it is not our role to further judge or punish them as a result of their criminal convictions. As editors, our role is to read poems and facilitate conversations around contemporary poetry.”

In response to the situation and specifically to the petition, Dr. Ira Ellman, a retired Professor of Law and Psychology and a Distinguished Affiliated Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, started another petition in support of Poetry Magazine and its decision not to exclude Nesset’s poem. In his petition, Dr. Ellman wrote:

A just, humane, and effectively functioning society must have punishment, but it must also afford basic human dignity to those it punishes. That obligation includes allowing people to participate in civic society, and to pursue a positive and productive life, including people with sex-related convictions.

In contrast, the demand to impose one exclusion after another on people who have already been punished implicitly assumes our right to disappear them from society, based on our individual judgments. Such carceral thinking has led to unjust and damaging policies that have incarcerated millions, and now exclude people from housing, employment, and public spaces, for life.

NARSOL is extremely selective in using and supporting petitions. We wholeheartedly support this one and encourage everyone reading this who believes that a prior conviction for a crime must not prevent those convicted from forever participating in society and life to sign it.

Please sign this petition.

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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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    • #80492 Reply

      Patricia Rector

      Thanks for your patition !
      Count me 100% involved !
      Sincerely, Miss Rector

    • #80501 Reply


      This is yet another Symptom Presentation of what I call ‘Pharisee Law Syndrome’, does to people who have completed their Prison Sentences, have been or are currently under Supervision, or under SVP Mandates such as myself. So now they’re saying we can’t even write and publish books just to generate SOME kind of income when regular Jobs and Businesses keep Us out and won’t let Us work because of Our Past? This is yet another way of such people-and Lawmakers, Judges, District Attorneys, and Law Enforcement Advocates-to outright tell Us what Goldfinger told James Bond in the 007 Movie: ‘Goldfinger’:
      “No Mr. Bond. I WANT YOU TO DIE!” They’ll never come right out and say it, because if they do, then their Political Aspirations are shot down. That’s why they’re COWARDS!
      Nuff Said!

    • #80879 Reply

      mr. b&

      More political theatre.

    • #80985 Reply

      William Terry Sides

      Reply To: Sign petition that affirms the rights of former offenders to participate in life

      Please add my name to this petition, I support this cause 100%.
      I used to submit artwork to Black & Pink, and I know how it feels.

      Thank you

    • #81497 Reply


      Thankyou for all you do this is just another example of politicians select the a crime to get elected. The state of Illinois is just one state that sentences first time Sex Offenders to Life on the registry. As the wife of one such “Life” sentence I can tell you first hand the concerns one has as the offender ages. I asked the ACLU what the state would do if the Offender could no longer transport themself to required registration. The reply was “Forget about them?” Why are Politicians not held accountable for their “Sex Offenses before and after holding office? Example the previous US Speaker of the House of Representatives, the US Representative from Florida. Oh yes those in both the NSA and FBI that were not prosecuted for possession of Child Pornography? I would ask anyone to explain how it is not “Punitive” to tell Law enforcement if you will be out of your residence for more than 3 days and provide an itinerary. For 16 years I and my husband have had this scarlet letter with No chance for relief nor “Time off for good behavior.

    • #81603 Reply


      Sign me up

    • #82332 Reply

      Janice Saldana

      I support this cause. Not all of these people should even be on the registry. My son was caught in a Florida Sting and now has to register. It was in 2011, the judge should have dropped it as it was Entrapment As A Matter Of Law. However, as we know now that Florida Makes a Lot of Money doing these stings. When we went to court, the ICAC Officer had no fear in anything she said because she knew the state, court etc. would protect her. When she was on the stand under oath, the prosecutor asked her “are the police allowed to bend and break the rules and even violate the laws of the state of Florida to catch a criminal” the ICAC officer answered “yes”. My son was no criminal. The ICAC officer was the aggressor and provoker of the incident. This was ENTRAPMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW but Florida just turned their heads because it puts a lot of Money into the state, courts and anyone connected to it. The circle of Money keeps going.

Viewing 6 reply threads
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