Cancel Culture Nothing New to Those on Sexual Offense Registries

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Also published in the July edition of Criminal Legal News.

By Sandy . . . For those not tuned in to current trends or social media, cancel culture is most likely new, even unheard of, although according to Merriam-Webster, its first known usage was in 2016.

The basic definition is “the practice or tendency of engaging in mass canceling as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure.” The targets of such “cancelling” were public figures and celebrities who had earned the displeasure of their fans or supporters, who then showed that displeasure by either ignoring their existence on social media or by mass shaming.

The idea was to cancel their worth, to erase what they had been before and remove them, figuratively, from their community or society.

Persons who are required to register on a sexual offense registry have been the targets and victims of cancel culture long before the term existed.

They are excluded in many states and cities from living or even being in a large number of places, independent of what they did, when they did it, and even if they did it, long after all court-ordered punishment has been served. Even after years of living exemplary, productive, law-abiding lives, they are not to exist in many places; they are not deemed worthy. Their presence is erased, canceled, and not just theirs but anyone who chooses to live with them and give them support.

Their children do not deserve to live in neighborhoods close to their schools. Their wives and husbands have been denied jobs due to the status of their registered spouses. As a family, they are denied access to many parks, churches, school events, and, in some places, participation in Halloween and other holidays. As a family, they are canceled.

The wife of one registrant described it as “slow motion asphyxiation.”

Access to some social media is denied. Facebook will not allow anyone on the registry to hold an account. I had to really hunt to find this in their written policy, but it is there, far down in their terms of service: “We try to make Facebook broadly available to everyone, but you cannot use Facebook if . . . you are a convicted sex offender.” To the Facebook community, not only those on the registry but also those with any sexual offense conviction, no matter how trivial, do not exist. They are canceled

And now NextDoor, a virtual neighborhood group available anywhere in the United States and even beyond, has gone a step further. Their member agreement, which everyone who joins is required to indicate they have read, states this in the eligibility section: “You may not use our Services if: (1) you are a resident of the United States and are under 13 years old … (2) you are a registered sex offender or share a household with one.” [Emphasis added.]

So on a site designed to help neighbors know what is going on in their neighborhoods—if there has been a rash of robberies, when the open-air concert is, who the next football game will be against, if anyone is having a yard sale—not only cancels out persons on the registry from availing themselves of information about these and other community issues but also cancels out their spouses and their teenage children, their moms and dads and brothers and sisters, their roommates, and the sojourners within their gates. They have sinned by association and must be banished. Jennifer, whose dad is on the registry for consensual teenage sex with her under-age mother before they were married and long before she was born, must explain to her circle of high school friends why she cannot participate in their NextDoor group.

This is a policy born out of ignorance, out of inflated and invalid fear, even out of hatred. One registrant expressed it this way: “[These policies punish] those who have broken no law. Society not only hates [those on the registry] but anyone who would dare love them, befriend them, or help them in any way.”

All valid sources agree that, regarding persons on the sexual offense registry, best practice includes initiatives that offer ample opportunities for housing, employment, social services, family connectedness, community involvement, and acceptance. This not only drives down the already remarkably low re-offense rates but also helps to remove the feelings of isolation, stress, and low self-worth that quite possibly contributed to the offending behavior in the first place.

According to government figures, the total number of people on the registry is approaching a million. With spouses, children, parents, siblings, and friends, the number of individuals affected by laws and policies that are not only ineffective but also cruel numbers in the many millions.

An incorrectly informed public, a sensation-driven media, and a political system that forces our representatives to keep an eye on the next election rather than on what would best serve those they serve create a perfect storm of condemnation, exclusion, and cancel culture when it comes to those who have a conviction for a sexual crime in their pasts.

Changing this is critical before our nation collapses from the weight of cancelled, hated, bitter registrants and those who choose to do what research shows works best for all concerned: support and love them.

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23 Thoughts to “Cancel Culture Nothing New to Those on Sexual Offense Registries”

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  1. Christian

    Great article!
    I think you’ve touched on everything so there isn’t much to add.
    Living a secret life is what got so many of us in trouble to begin with. Policies by companies like Facebook and Next Door are only further pushing people back into the darkness and it has exactly the opposite affect of whatever they are hoping to achieve.
    A judge sentenced me for my crimes. I don’t recall lifetime banishment from society as being part of that sentence.

    1. Maestro

      “ A judge sentenced me for my crimes. I don’t recall lifetime banishment from society as being part of that sentence.”

      Perfect argument for any attorneys fighting against the registry.

      1. Tim in WI

        Better to use the original judgment document is he court copied and sent to you he county sheriff. It is the very document that makes a commitment to DOC\DPS ” lawful”. It is also by law(WI) the very document justifying putting you in custody to those institutions. The sheriff’s deliver people by court order. Anyway there are other parts and info on the judgment document that is germane to the duty registration. This document describes sentence structures. It is also marked if the standard waiver in possession of state, or not. These judgements are filed by date in the clerk of courts. Of much importance is the clerk’s stamp affixed to most of it. It is also this unique stamp that makes DOC commitment with formal documented process. ALL of this evidence is in play in FTR context. No argument needed.

        Can we convict a man of prison escape, abscounding, or parole violations if the is none of the prerequisite record from a court delivering a prison sentence, probation period in the first place. Preposterous!

  2. H n H

    Excellent article, however I’d add that blanket parole restrictions are lumped onto sex offenders with absolutely no way to ever get off either. Kinda funny, the suicide rates aren’t really spoken of too much, guess Noone cares if a person forced to register is dead. That got me to thinking, if I died tomorrow, they wouldn’t say “body of Mr Smith found” it would be registered sex offender found dead. That is my definition now, and there’s no end to it, other than a grave.

  3. Carol (LRIDD)

    This article is awesome. I wish it could somehow make it into public reading sources. Those citizens forced to register and their whole families are being cancelled out from society and life

  4. Bob

    So. Does facebook ban drug dealers, gang members, domestic violence offenders, murderers out on parole, and other criminals? Probably not. As for Jennifer who’s father was convicted of having sex with his wife before they were married and she was underage didn’t John Walsh admit to having sex with his wife before they were married and she was underage? Is he and his wife and family banned from facebook and next door? Probably not

  5. LD

    I love the way you write, Sandy! You express these injustices so well. Thank you for continuing to inform us and pointing out to others to what extent the ridiculous, brutal, dehumanizing, and unjust the lifetime label “sex offender” really is.

  6. mut

    a million people. wow. no wonder they dont want to pay registrants the fair market value of their civil service.

    1. mut

      i wonder if facebook could be sued for vigilantism — the infliction of punishment for crime without lawful authority?

  7. mut

    elect me DA and i will indict them. ha!

  8. Perry Pickens

    Obviously, my first Post was not acceptable. So I shall endeavor to be more On Point and not so Controversial. The Article is an excellent one. I hope that one day, we will see an Impact that will favor those of Us on The Registry, such that we can have Our Lives back…for the rest of them.
    Nuff Said!

  9. Lh

    I also was denied connection to Nextdoor. Actually when we moved into our neighborhood, in 2011, I joined Nextdoor without any problem. Then our son was convicted in 2013 Spent 5 yrs in prison and When released placed on the registry. When I tried to log on to Nextdoor, I was denied and told why.

    1. MarkB

      Sounds like society just does not want to admit that as a whole, ignorance is rampant and misunderstanding accepted. Go bang bang bang and hit some bystander and you are deemed OK. Go click click click with a mouse and you are automatically more dangerous that the habitual drug dealer selling drugs to kids.

  10. WC_TN

    Once we committed the act, especially against a child, the lone fact that one did it is justification in most of society’s eyes to write him or her as irredeemably depraved and worthy of being hated and despised for the rest of their lives

  11. James Mayfield

    The United States is pretty pitiful at the moment. Matthew chapter 18 vs 21-22 states to forgive someone 7 times 70. America is suffering for this country no longer truly forgives anyone especially those with a sexual offense.

  12. d

    They wont let sex offenders on Nextdoor so they can all talk about you, and scheduled the constant neighborhood watch on your house.

  13. William A. Gratchic

    Excellent article. In the 8 years that I have been on the registry, the climate has not changed. One has to live below “the radar screen” to function. It’s a terrible way to live.

  14. Tiggeronmv at SOSEN BOD

    Sandy,

    I truly believe this is the best article written about the registry and the collateral consequences since Mary Duvall wrote one nearly twelve rears ago about how her son had been entrapped into the registry.

    Vertpy, very good article. I would be willing to see it posted on the front page of SOSEN if that would be approved by you and The Criminal Release News.

  15. Anonymous

    There is one thing you could add to this article if not added. Isolation of rehabilitated sex offenders I think increases the risks of reoffending. I’ve think I’ve read a couple of articles suggesting that isolation of many sex offenders increases the risk of reoffending.

    1. Jim Bob

      “Rehabilitated sex offenders”? I don’t think there is such a thing. Now if you are speaking of kids who are 18 or 19 and “dating” a 17 year old, or some such actions, now THAT is worth changing the registry process.

      1. Sandy

        Jim Bob, I guess it depends on what you mean by rehabilitated. I work with many, many people, many who are on the registry. Most have a single offense, and many go back 20 years or more. I have been doing this for around 15 years, and in all of that time, I know of one person who committed additional crimes for which he was arrested and re-incarcerated.

        Some of these individuals committed an offense of a serious nature, not the Romeo and Juliet scenario you describe. They have not reoffended, many, as I said, after 20 or more years. Many have families, children, are wonderful parents, good citizens, contributors to their society. They are the fortunate ones.

        Many others have not reoffended, but the registry and its horrific consequences have made assimilating into society more difficult, sometimes impossible. They themselves would tell you that they are more at risk of reoffending than the ones who were able to overcome the barriers and achieve something amounting to a normal life. In spite of this, they are determined not to reoffend, and, except for the one, have not. Empirical evidence supports this; isolation, non-inclusion, shaming, low self-esteem — all of the things the registry creates — are the factors that almost always lead to sexual offenses. It’s like trying to keep your child from sun burning at the beach by setting him on fire before he goes there.

        If this isn’t rehabilitation, what would you call it? And they are not rehabilitated because of the registry; they are rehabilitated in spite of it.

  16. LynnMarie Erickson

    Exposing injustice in its glory, well written and inspires thinking for ones self, a voice of reason, excellent.
    I may only be able to use my voice by puttiing this information out for others to read, but I use my voice because silence is not the answer.