Reply To: The Sex Offender Registry: A Gorilla on the Basketball Court

Deb Mrugala

I so agree with this article on many levels – the government it seems are the only ones without question see the “gorilla” and refuses not to see the person who is trying to get their life back in order once their sentenced is satisfied (well at least as far as the “bars” are concerned) such as what my son is going through. He was arrested over 10 years ago for child pornography, served I believe seven years, stayed six months at a half-way residency where after that he moved into his brother’s home which met all criterias, that was in 2016 and in May 2018 he was able to (with the help from us) he was able to take on a mortgage on a house that once again checked all the correct boxes, so we, the parents, felt we were on the road of positive and that he wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize his good fortune – here he was with a house, a car, a full time job, attending school at night and being able to build a safe social life – well that’s what we thought anyway. A few weeks after he had moved to his house a friend of his gave him a used desk top that had been “cleaned” because this friend knew of my son’s past and didn’t want anything of question on it that could possibly get him into trouble. When my son moved from his brother’s house to his own it met he left one jurisdiction for another which meant a new parole officer – when he made the transfer the new PO was on medical leave and he never met her for at least a month and a half. Before my son took the desk top he went to his original PO seeking his permission and all he got was I can’t tell you since you are no longer in my care and not knowing when his new PO would return he took the computer. The one thing he did not do was connect to the internet because he knew that was not allowed so all he was using it for was for the word doc placing such things on it as his budget, his resume, letters of resumes and a list of who he sent to along with school work. Finally his second PO made a house call, she noticed the computer (he had it in the living room never hidden) and questioned him about it – he told her what he was using it for, showed her that and also the fact that there was no internet connection – she left without saying anything. About six weeks later another house visit was made and this time she told him that he had to either get rid of the system or get internet where they could then place the monitoring program on it – he truly didn’t want to do that because he knew that both expenses would come out of his pocket and making a bit over minimum wage that would be an expense that he didn’t want to take on but not wanting to lose the system he reluctantly did as requested, that was in September 2017 and then February 2018 the world fell apart – a very early house call was made and this time the PO was not alone, she brought two police officers and the three of them went through his house and when they left the computer went also. Fast forward to end of May 2018 and my son was ambushed – he had a scheduled meeting with his PO and when he walked into her office he was arrested for what they said was a parole violation – what that was they never said other than it was a violation. Two weeks later I called up his PO questioning this and also questioning if anything had come about from the forensic search on his computer – was told no (remember the system was taken in February and now this was June when I inquired). Another week went by and I then contacted his lawyer asking what was going on and again inquiring about the computer – he replied that he had nothing to tell me because he didn’t have any results either which I found rather strange but I felt there was nothing I could do. Now it’s mid July and my husband and I were finally able to meet with our son’s attorney and we were shown what was allowed of what “violations” was placed against our son, I will say that the “violations” surprised us yet at the same time it was something that could have been prevented and this is what my husband and I are trying to get action on. My son, was given a set of “rules” when he initially met with his original PO, that he had to follow, one of them that he was not to view or have in his possession anything that was sexual in content whether it be with minors or an adult video – nothing – period. They did find that he had down loaded videos with that type of content and that’s what got him in this jam. When we read this, we knew if we had been made aware of what the “rules” were there could have been a good possibility we could have prevented it – my husband is a computer geek so he knows his way around a computer so our son couldn’t have kept this hidden. We proposed that if we could work in tandem with his counselors and PO many problems could possibly have been avoided – my thoughts are that anyone with an addiction (and I consider what he got himself into an addiction) tend not to tell the truth when confronted and that’s what my son was doing, he was telling us one thing, telling the same story to the counselor or PO but changing parts of it to fit what he wanted, but if the group of us had an open avenue of conversation he soon would have learned that there was no where to hide and that telling the truth and facing the issue was the only avenue he had. We would like to see parents get involved, especially if they are very willing to do so, after all once the offender leaves the counselor or PO office it’s the parents that are dealing with the offender almost on a 24/7 basis and if they were able to have a connection without fear of getting their loved on in trouble, if they were to see or feel something was not sitting right they could possibly prevent it from happening – sometimes a quick intervention is all it takes and waiting to see the counselor could possibly be too late. It can’t just be the counselor or PO to make a positive it also needs the help of the family, especially the parents. What my son did was “possibly” wrong but he did no harm to anyone, none of the videos were of what I consider true minors (under the age of 14 or 15), they were videos that any adult male would have viewed but because he’s not to have any sexual anything they arrested them but if we, his parents, had been able to talk to his counselors if there were any concerns on either side we would have been more aware of his surroundings and would have question but that was taken out of our hands. I’m hoping my story makes sense to you out there and I’m also hoping I get some sort of reply to what I wrote. We, as parents, can’t afford to just sit on the side line taking the word of the counselor and parole officer as the truth and learning what we did, certainly can’t take the words our son speaks as the truth either but with all working together we can come to the point where he won’t be afraid to speak knowing there will be someone there to help him along to the road of positive.