Reply To: African Americans disproportionately represented on sex offender registries

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Jay

For everyone on here disagreeing, allow me to provide a bit of clarity on this matter. I was 22 when I received my charge for “Sexual Assault of a Minor” ( a 15 year old). My attorney told me several times, though I wanted to fight it in court, that I would lose simply because I was black . Let me reiterate. He said that even if he believed me, and the jury did, it would not matter, because a black man in the city I am from does not walk away not-guilty. I was told that if I did not accept deal, I would be raped in prison “because I am a handsome young black male”. This is my lawyer, the person supposedly defending me.

Fast forward to Sex offender Counselling groups. I found that many of the young men in my class had the EXACT same story as I did. Slightly younger girl wanted to be promiscuous, guy gets caught, threatened, takes a plea deal. In fact, it was scary how similar all of our cases were, except for one interesting differentiating factor…

Nearly every case involving a white individual had had their judgments lessened considerably, and each had less years than the blacks in the class. One of the most astounding and a great example, was one individual who started with aggravated sexual assault, dropped all the way down to indecency. The other black men in class however had an average of 3 extra years than that of the average white individual for the exact same crimes.

Yes, attorneys matter, but please take note that my charge received more years than the white young man who had a much worse case yet had the same lawyer I did.

So in your world, race may not matter, but understand that everyone doesn’t live in your world. I know you all have it hard, no one else knows more than I do. But you know, I was treated bad long before I ever made it on a list. Honestly, it’s not that much worse being on the Registry than being black. If nothing else, it provides a window into how some in society live every day, and the need for change.

Since I got my charge I finished therapy, graduated with my undergrad in college, and even got a masters in business with full honors. I’ve taken my LSAT, and am going to law school in order to fight this system in any way that I can (hopefully as a defense attorney). So again, I understand the plight of being on the list, it makes you angry, it makes you bitter. Perhaps you don’t deserve to be on it, and maybe you do. But you know what else that makes you? The perfect people able to understand what some races go through on a daily basis.

Some of us never got the chance to feel what it was like to not be label free. So while this sucks (and it truly does), take solace in the fact that you’re not a black man on the list, as most people think we’re criminals long before they do a background check.