This topic contains 19 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by James Mayfield IV 2 weeks, 1 day ago.
November 24, 2018 at 10:05 am #49184
By Rich A . . . What exactly is redemption? Many are familiar with the religious concept of redemption: the payment of a price, or ransom, to secure
[See the full post at: The denial of redemption]
November 24, 2018 at 12:59 pm #49186
Every day I thank God that I had secured a good retirement income before my conviction and that I have a secure place to live. Without these things I’m sure my life would be somewhere between difficult and rediculously challenging I scoff at anyone who calls this a Christian nation. There is no forgiveness for us,, no matter the specifics of our offenses or how long it has been.
November 24, 2018 at 12:59 pm #49188
Tammie Leigh Lawson
Rich as I sat and ready this tears filled my eyes. All the truths come to light in this article. We as society need to give every Offender the chance at a normal life. I can only pray and hope one day all the hard efforts will pay off.
November 24, 2018 at 4:15 pm #49200
Please help these registered citizen’s be able to live a normal life like people that commit other crimes do. I pray for these people everyday. I sincerely hope that day comes soon.
November 24, 2018 at 4:15 pm #49201
Rich, great article and I applaud your research and talent for writing. I agree with the majority of the points you made. However, redemption looks different for everyone! Also, the examples you gave of those who were convicted of other crimes than sex offenses, are they really redeemed? Maybe they don’t feel so, I don’t know. We are taking a narrow definition of redemption, our own, and making it fit on someone else.
Next, what are we doing about helping those who don’t feel redeemed? Are we just perpetuating the “I am a victim” mentality? I am on the Sex Offender registry and I am not a victim. I am on the registry because of poor choices and many other reasons that led to me making those poor choices. To me, being redeemed doesn’t mean that society accepts me because I am a registered citizen, or that I receive numerous awards or recognition for being successful in my field of study or employment. One definition of shame is believing that I am something, or for example, that I am a Sex Offender. That is only a label put on someone by another person and that label neither defines a person nor determines what they will do in the future.
Lastly, to me, redemption is between me and my Maker and the only kind of redemption that counts. Redemption for me, is being forgiven by those who are most important in my life. I don’t have as good a job as I did before I was arrested, but I have a job, I have a place to live, and I successfully go through each day trying to make better choices than the choices that placed me on a list. However, that is my definition of redemption and I don’t try and place that definition on anyone else.
I am not pointing fingers, I am not trying to start an argument, and I am certainly not trying to cause division within an organization that is trying to accomplish good for those who find themselves on the registry. My main point is what I pointed out earlier, “what are we doing to help those who don’t feel redeemed and how best can we help them?” I don’t believe the answer is found in “I am a victim.”
November 24, 2018 at 4:44 pm #49207
This response confuses me some. The article makes it clear that it is from the legal perspective and the societal perspective that redemption is being considered. Those who have committed virtually any type of crime other than sexual are by those standards redeemed. Those who have committed any sexual crime that places them on a sex offender registry are not — not legally, because, Supreme Court ruling aside, they are still being punished, and not in the eyes of society because they are unworthy to participate in activities as simple as visiting a dying child in the hospital, let alone being worthy to receive a free home. It isn’t talking about feeling redeemed or religious redemption — only societal redemption. And I really don’t understand the part about being a victim. I can’t see that anything in the article is perpetuating the “I am a victim” mentality. Am I missing something?
November 24, 2018 at 4:15 pm #49202
I am myself a Christian, raised in the faith, and convinced academically and experientially that it is truth. So, my moral fall that led me to prison and the registry was a source if tremendous guilt and shame. Yet, I believe in redemption, and a personal responsibility to repent and change from unacceptable behavior back to Godly standards. In prison, I used my time to study. I read every book on psychology, counseling, or self help available in the prison library. I subscribed to hundreds of correspondence lessons in Bible and faith, and spent 4 years contemplating why and how I had deviated from my core beliefs and character. Unlike so many of my peers, I actively engaged in all the available treatment programs the facility offered for sex offenders. It wasn’t nice, or easy, and at time times punitive and abusive. I had to sign away my right to contact my kids, which left me suicidal for weeks afterwards. I had to reveal my most intimate secrets and traumas, and share them with strangers. , I had to be willing to hear judgment and negative predictions that my one victim was either a lie, it that I would spend the rest of my life accumulating more, no matter how much treatment I received. I was told that I was incurably sick, and that I would always be, but still had the responsibility to work to be healthy. In these paradoxical messages, I chose to believe in God and redemption.
When I finally got home my work search was miserable. The one job that all inmates in our area knew they could land was to pick up trash that blew from the local dump on to the highway. But they turned me down. A sex offender wasnt even allowed to collect garbage. In the end, I was hired for one day per week at $8 per hour to do bookkeeping for a Christian lady my wife knew. I enrolled in school at a Christian university online, and finished my bachelor’s and then a master’s degree. Finally, I moved so I could attend that school on campus, and began a professional counseling degree. I felt that after 8 years of self-direfted study in psychology, and two degrees, I was ready to go forward and serve the community. Like most of my peers, I sought and won a graduate assistantship to help me survive financially. It paid $8.60 per hour, not too great for a 49 year old man. But I did my work, and was quickly seen as a powerful mber of the team, learning and achieving more, than they claimed, than any previous G.A. it felt good to be validated again.
The assistant director that hired me knew about my past. But, being more 10 years past my conviction date, I was not required to list it on my application. I told her anyway. After discussing it at length, she encouraged me to take the position, and assured me that as the preeminent Christian University, built on the principles of biblical forgiveness and Redemption, and that nobody was going to hold my past against me. So, I wrote the basic circumstances down on my background check authorization form and handed it to her. I mention this to help make this next portion of the story makes sense. As I said above, I had been working hard and producing well. The director told me that if my counseling career didn’t work out because of my felony, I was welcome in his department as a permanent salaried person. I remember walking to my car that afternoon, along the beautiful brick path, between magnificent brick buildings if the campus thanking God that he had so wonderfully restored me, giving me two paths towards success to choose from. I went home, told my family and slept with a profound peace.
But, the next week, the director said I needed to come to his office with him right away. As I sat down he said, “your background check came in today, and we have a problem.” He said, “you can’t work here. You must sign this paper, gather your things, and leave the building.” I was shocked, hurt, and confused. I read the paper and it said, “terminated for cause: lied on application paperwork.” I looked at him and asked why, that they were aware of my conviction. He told me that it wasn’t the conviction, it was the registry. I asked, but what’s this lie I was supposed to have said? You see, the question on the application was, have you been convicted of a felony in the last 10 years, or are you currently charged with a crime, or are you on parole or probation? So I had been honest when I answered NO. I looked the director in the eye and I said I did not lie about anything. His response was, “well, you kind of did because you are on the registry.” He then explained that as far as the registry is concerned, everybody knows that it’s basically the same thing as parole. That you are on the registry when you are dangerous and you stay on the registry until they decide you’re not. Since I was still on the registry I could not be allowed to work there. Of course I argued with him at that point that that’s not what the application asked and I did not lie. We finally agreed that we would strike out the language on the form and I wrote my version of what happened on the form. But I still had to sign the termination and leave.
The misinformation that is routinely handed to the public harms people who have no reason not to believe what they read. That was the first time in my life I’d ever been fired from a job. Of course since then I have been fired multiple times. All of the firings have been strictly due to the fact that I was on the registry.
I apologize for the length of this post. But I felt like the story had to be told in order to say this. Redemption is the foundation of the Christian faith. And I still believe that. And the article that we just read was about Redemption. The sad thing is I was working a major Christian University whose founder preaches redemption. But his university fired me because public policy says sex offenders are irredeemable, and that seems to override Christian faith in many people. This lie is so well ingrained in public thinking that major Christian organizations leave their convictions behind and join in throwing registered citizens under the bus. Some even requires supervision contracts from registrants before they are allowed to attend their Church. I think if every Christian stopped and remembered their faith they would have to conclude that if I can’t be redeemed, then their faith in the blood of Christ redeeming them is insufficient. As a counselor I know that no one is beyond redemption. That the only way to redeem someone is by offering a legitimate path forward. Redemption is just as much a public responsibility as it is an individual one.
November 25, 2018 at 7:46 am #49215
“Many pre-employment background checks are limited to a search of criminal records within the last seven years only. This allows the majority of ex-offenders with felony convictions to have a “clean” record for employment purposes within seven years.”
My job does the same thing. Now here’s a little bit of a flip side to that: The employment application for the restaurant I work for asked the same question about being convicted of a felony in the last 7 years. At the time of my application, it had been 8 yrs since my conviction so technically and honestly I answered “No”.
At my job, I not only worked inside the restaurant, but I was also the LEAD delivery person for large catering orders. Well, after a year of doing this, the company decided to change it’s rules for delivery drivers. Apparently there were some folks at our other restaurant locations that were driving unregistered vehicles or with suspended licenses. So now they require a full background check and automobile check on anyone who will do deliveries.
When this happened, my manager asked me what my status is regarding any criminal history since the application only asks for the last 7 years. I told him. He understood and said: “Don’t be the delivery driver anymore. Just work inside the restaurant. Because if you stay as a delivery driver, they WILL do a COMPLETE background check and when they find out what you’ve been convicted of, no matter how long ago it was, they WILL force me to terminate your employment here.”
Yeah. Some “redemption”, eh?
“when the law itself says that they are still “too dangerous” to be allowed near schools, parks, swimming pools, etc.?”
Not sure how each state handles this but to the best of my knowledge, at least in Connecticut, these places are only off limits while you’re on the registry. So, to some degree, it’s like they’re saying: “On the registry = DANGEROUS. Not on the registry anymore = CURED”. Since I am no longer on the registry, I will go to any and all such places (not like I didn’t while I was on it. So long as my state and the federal gov keep taking taxes from MY hard earned pay, I will go where I please. Period.)
BTW, does anyone know for sure if a former registrant would have to register all over again if they move to a different state? My current girlfriend lives in Florida (yeah, I know, the worst of the states to be a RSO but I’m not registered anymore) and she’s been up here a few times but wants to finish college in FL first before coming up here to attend Yale. If I move down there, will I have to re-register? Because if so, that is definitely grounds for a lawsuit for double jeopardy, isn’t it?
November 26, 2018 at 12:53 pm #49299
You might best asking the folks at the Florida Action Committee website of the same nature as this one. They can advise you on what you are seeking.
November 26, 2018 at 12:56 pm #49301
Florida Action Committee is a NARSOL affiliate. You can reach them by sending us an email at the link on the bottom of this page.
November 25, 2018 at 7:46 am #49210
Mallory’s response breaks my heart. The one place we should be able to find redemption is the church. Instead they all too often join in the eternal condemnation of those on the registry. I know this condemnation exists because I have been told by a large Presbyterian church in my city that I am not allowed in their church. Strange form of Christianity isn’t it.
November 25, 2018 at 11:54 am #49221
To Old Man and Mallory:
My heart joins yours in sorrow. If redemption is not found in the church, then where can we find it? I was an administrative associate pastor at my church, in close friendship with the lead pastor, teaching adult studies, developing the church growth planning, organizing the leadership, and serving to my best as a dedicated servant. My pastor-friend knew the details of my offense, which I disclosed before I joined the church. He knowingly hired me. One day, he panicked after a call of concern about me. I was fired and rejected. Here is an excerpt from an open letter to the church I prepared:
How Many Has Your Church Raised From The Dead Lately?
What about all those who are redeemed and regenerated, in right standing with God, who walk into the church with a past? A forgiven past, but a past none the less. In the Gospel of John, we see the raising of Lazarus. “The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go’” (John 11:44). This is a model of REDEMPTION-restoring what was once corrupt back into right standing with the community. If they come to your church, are they a Lazarus, raised from the dead, but still wearing the grave clothes of past corruption and shame? Are these grave clothes still there because our fellow Christians insist on them keeping them bound? Bound and unable to walk and live freely among you? Do you, as the church, reach out eagerly and release that bound but raised person? Or, do you gossip, consider the past as limitations on the ability to minister, lead, or participate? Do you rationalize these attitudes and actions with legal fears and culturally embedded values? Or, do you consider how Christ approached the recovered sinner?
Research has shown me:
In many states and many churches, there is a wave of rejection to those who have been placed on the sex offender registry. The lawyers and leaders in the church get into the conversation, warning of liability, risk management, and other concerns. Well-intending leaders place rules into the church to help welcome this unique sinner into the fellowship. Help such as requiring a current, well-established member to sponsor the offender to the fellowship. A companion to accompany the offender to church, sit in the sanctuary with them, and escort them to the bathroom if needed. An agreement is provided, with the rules and restrictions that the offender must sign to attend, including exclusion days and events to protect the kids. Oh, and the public announcement that there is a sex offender in the midst of the congregation that we should welcome. Jumping all these hurdles, the sex offender can attend the church. This is about as welcoming and empowering as leaving Lazarus in his death clothes and sending him back into the community.
Worse still, I also discovered that a friendly report out of concern by a member could land many in legal trouble, even charged with a case of trespass, endangering children, etc. just because a Christian who was once a sinner and now wants to fellowship dared to enter a church. Some churches or members to call the police and report that a known sex offender was attending their church and they are concerned because there are children present. The assumption being the sex offender is a predator that would naturally snatch up a child and run off with it.
The current obsession with social vigilantism has infected the church with the stench of condemnation that forces the former sinner, now brother or sister in Christ back into a tomb where rot and decay belong. Now a misinformed society has managed to remove Christian grace and fellowship from sex offenders. This is the latest restriction being placed on former offenders. The sex offender has become the modern Jew in Nazi Germany, metaphorically speaking. If there is any trigger for reoffending, it would seem that the withholding of redemption would be it. The conclusion in my thinking is, the registry is more likely to increase, not decrease, the risk to society.
I have been looking for a new church home now for 5 years now. My question before I consider joining again will be, “How many people has your church raised from the dead recently?
November 25, 2018 at 3:58 pm #49229
I understand and share your feelings. Redemption is found in some churches today for those on the registry. I am blessed to belong to one such. Unfortunately, it is not found in all who call themselves Christian, and therefore our heartbreak.
That aside, I believe the pieces posted here should be taken as they are and not critiqued for what the authors chose not to include. He is not exploring the concept of true redemption or even redemption as evidenced by acceptance in a church or any faith community but only redemption as evidenced by acceptance in a secular society. I think Maestro put it well, and I may be paraphrasing a little. “If you are on a sex offender registry, you are dangerous; if you are not on one, you are safe.” We all know how blatantly false that is, for none of us, when we committed our first offenses — which for almost all of us were our only offenses — were on a registry.
November 25, 2018 at 5:01 pm #49235
Hi Mallory, I agree. Please don’t miss my point. Society is soggy with misinformation. Reference was made to redemption. My point is, even in the place where redemption is the core business, the false messaging of the registry proponents is overiding deep core values. This is a powerful and ingrained new-culture phenomenon which I liken to the equivalent of inviting Lazarous to join society, but not to remove the clothes of death and decay. If we imagine the stench, then we can metaphorically see how a registered citizen is viewed as forever disgusting and eschewed, because they can never she’d the label, the jacket, or whatever ones choice if verbage is used to describe stigma assingnations. If those of us in the redemption business are so easily deceived, then the fight is much harder than I believe the average person realizes.
December 3, 2018 at 2:12 pm #49626
Wow you summed up my feelings perfectly. I signed this long document to go to church again and it hurts knowing if I had killed someone or robbed a church/bank I wouldn’t have to jump through all these hoops. I was thinking the church was being supportive but I realize I am a big risk to them rather than a welcome congregant.
November 25, 2018 at 11:12 pm #49256
I’m not a robot
Excellent article and comments!
November 25, 2018 at 11:12 pm #49257
I feel for everyone on here and denial of redemption by man is a times a hard debt to pay. While we are on this registry list it seem’s a bit out of character. Sure one can do their time, probation, or whatever it takes to prove one’s debt worth, but redemption by man almost seems iimpossible as men wants to overthrow one in many ways with this sex offender registry curse under one’s head, but were theirs a will their’s also hope.
Sure we can all be thankful that a lot of our situations didn’t go to far as most that are entangled up in all this but than again denial of redemption is a bit out of character by those that seek to justify one. Yes redemption is the act of atoning for a mistake, sin or guilt fault when we have paid our penalty. We could even say forgiveness in many ways. The deniel today is with man himself and an injustice system that is so far out of checks and balances that it fails to see the human side. Being denied redemption or the denial of is like showing a lack of character in the cheifest of sinners. We all make mistakes in thought, mind, or dead or do actions speak louder than words.
Sure we all suffer in many ways and we all have redemptive values but being in denial of redemption is not true
understand of man’s character. Sure we can all take this to a higher authority but as it is now one can’t even get due process today it seems. Its like the sex offender their is no redemption or any chance to lead a somewhat normal life with this pressure around us all but cheer up as for every dark cloud there is a rainbow so we all shouldn’t look at ourselves’ down in the mouth.
November 26, 2018 at 12:33 am #49269
Hi Saddles, yes, redemption is scarce from outside. The best way to experience it is to accept ones mistakes, learn from them, do the best possible to make up for them somehow, and then to refuse to live the remainder of life as if you are unredeemable. It might royally offend many naysayers out there, but we do have the right to live freely from shame, having paid the price meeted out by a lawful court. I for one am learning day by day not to be the leper, regardless of the rules. I obey the rules, but I refuse to shout out “unclean” as I approach people. I’m not my crime.
November 27, 2018 at 4:45 pm #49376
Thank you for this article. It was wonderfully written, and I love your use of the check mark and X mark, it proves your points very succinctly.
As a registrant I have experienced first hand the blatant discrimination against me because I’m on the registry. I have been denied internships for that reason alone when I knew they had space for me.
What people have to do is to continue to push through and not let rejection keep them from achieving their goals and dreams. Yes, we have many more hurdles to overcome than average ex-felons, but if a woman who was convicted of murdering her own child can become a PhD candidate at NYU, there’s hope for the rest of us too. We also need to have the courage to speak out (as NARSOL does and as this article is an example of). We have to encourage our friends and family members to speak out too, and to try and educate their friends when the issue of the registry comes up in conversation. We need to contact our representatives when new harmful bills are put up for consideration. We have to do these things knowing we’re on the right side and we have the Constitution on our side as well.
December 2, 2018 at 2:10 am #49604
James Mayfield IV
Deciphering your own personal riddle is paramount to turning your life around. I have experienced prejudice from a certain department at work and lost 6000 dollars a year and sent back to manual labor by my coworkers. I am so surprised that the fallacy of those with a sex offense in their background can never resolve their issues and will just do something stupid. Issues can be resolved with self examination subjective and objective help also. We as human beings are constantly learning and growing, the ignorance of these laws is quite sad. I pray to God that my wife and I will remain safe for the remainder of our lives and continue to prosper, yes still prospering even though i was relegated to a lower paying job at work.
December 6, 2018 at 11:29 am #49736
This deniel of redemption is an interestiing topic. After reading all you guys comments also the one I posted there is still something missing. I believe Malllory came the closes to the truth understanding and Charlie gave a church view of his denial we still should ponder on this more. Rich you have a very good article but where is the proof or is it in the hands of others that deny one today or in the system itself.
Don’t get me wrong but redemption is good but so is respect. Like James said are we deciphering our own riddle. Are not we all suppose to show respect when respect is due? Is todays payola how many internet sex offenders one can round up with this false or fake gimmick of enticement by sex with a fake teenage person and when one is lead astray. Who is the laugh on and where is the respect or redemptive value in that. Sure one can weld the sword but also one can break commendants also. I wonder what Government is true and what one is corrupt in its redemptive values today or is government breaking their vainglory for some justicifiable standard? Are we all getting a denial of our rights or a respect of rights?
I wonder who is in denial today. Sure I’ll tell anyone that ask if I’m a sinner if they really want to know but who’s looking in the mirror at oneselve. Sure we all have had our ups and downs and I’m sure we are all mad at a lot of this offender situation but redemption by those that show their lack of respect to others is not redemption. Sure we can all harp about discrimination or living with teenagers or not taking action but one has to thank NARSOL is pressing to action with the help of you all writing letters to senators, government, and helping in all this effort is this is a big issue or should we say We are all sex offeners.