Monday, May 27, 2013


If you haven't been following the exchange between Sabrina Fitzgerald-Ruiz and me over in the comments section of my post "Facts Matter", please take a few moments to look.

As I said there, the point of looking up her information wasn't to terrorize her or make her afraid, but to get her to understand just what it's like for families like mine and the 750,000+ registrants in the United States. It took me all of 15 minutes of slightly motivated searching to dig up all of that information, and it didn't cost me a dime. Every bit of what I gleaned was publicly shared, albeit over widely disconnected sources - nothing like the "one stop shopping" of the registry.

Ever since the murder of Gary Blanton, my wife has lived in fear of someone knocking on our door and killing me, or of a drive-by shooting of our house. Because I am forced to work for myself doing odd jobs and selling things on Craigslist, she worries every time I leave the house to meet a customer - is it legitimate, or is this the time that it turns out to be a trap designed to lure me so I can be killed?

This is not a way to live. This is not living. This is not being a productive member of society. And yet, this is the life we force registrants into, and when they fail and fall back on crime (theft, robbery, drug dealing) just to survive, they become the worst of the worst, the serial criminal who cannot be reformed. It is a system set up to fail.

After I brought all of Sabrina's information to light, she immediately locked down her Facebook and other profiles, and changed her cover photo on Facebook, most likely as a commentary on our exchange and the realization of just how exposed she really is.

I would disagree, Sabrina. You are not a bad example. You are human.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Today, two stories broke that caught my interest. The first made headlines across the internet and rallied celebrities to its cause.

Predictably, and quite understandably, this is being portrayed as a LGBT rights issue - but the truth is, she is but the most visible of the thousands of young people charged with a Romeo & Juliet crime every year, whose lives are made infinitely more difficult by being forced to register as a sex offender.

If you support the petition (link to petition), consider this: you can't support dropping the prosecution of Kaitlyn without also supporting the dropping of prosecution and removal from the registry of the thousands who found themselves in statutory situations. Either love is right all the time, or it's wrong. Sadly, there's no passionate celebrity contributions or calls for clemency in their cases - just prosecution and a life on the registry. If you speak up for Kaitlyn (and I hope you do), won't you also speak up for those others?

The other story (story link) involved a 911 operator telling a woman who was about to be sexually assaulted in her own apartment by an ex-boyfriend who was in the process of breaking in that she didn't have any officers available to send to help her due to budget cuts.


On the one hand (and on one side of the country) we have the manpower and resources to prosecute a teenager for having a relationship with a younger teenager. On the other hand (and on the other side of the country), we don't have enough police officers to prevent an actual sexual assault (that could have quickly escalated to murder) from happening.

This is the priorities of the law enforcement system. They're not interested in preventing crime, because that doesn't make any money. No, they're more interested in putting someone on the registry after the crime (and for nonsensical reasons), because that's where the money is - state funding, federal funding, and that oh-so-precious extortion from the registrant.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Today, I got a comment on a two-month-old post that was a laughable legal threat - you can read it in the comments to (this post). Small hint: public speech isn't protected by copyright, and public hate speech is even less so.

This, of course, led me to visit one of my favorite places on Facebook, the psycho-Disneyland that is No Peace For Predators. I admit, I haven't been there in a while, mostly because I don't have enough alcohol to combat the stupid endemic in the comments, but I made an exception today. So, what's our favorite "non-violent" vigilante group been up to? For starters, they've been busy putting out warning flyers for various zip codes, listing names, addresses and pictures of sex offenders living in that area - but only so you're aware of who lives in what area. They wouldn't advocate violence against those people, no sir. Breaking into someone's house? That would be wrong.

In my post "The Hit List", I wondered what would happen if someone decided that sacrificing their life to take out one of the "monsters" was an equitable trade. I fear we are getting closer and closer to that time. Some, like the widow of Gary Blanton, would argue that it's already begun.

Constant violent imagery and statements show NPFP's true intentions, and while they themselves may never follow through, their rhetoric may stir the passions and inflame the anger of less well-balanced followers.

This may be free speech, but with the right comes the responsibility - you can't yell "fire" in a crowded movie theater for a reason. Neither can you constantly advocate death for a class of people without bearing some responsibility for what happens when someone inspired by your words takes action.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


As a registered sex offender, you've got your own cheering squad - the only problem is, they're not cheering for you to succeed. Everyone is looking over your shoulder, just waiting for you to fail, so they can hold you up to the media as the perfect example of just why sex offender laws need to be so tough.

It doesn't get easier if you don't fail, though. They just keep looking over your shoulder, looking for that one little flaw. And if you don't present one, if you do everything just right, then your reward is rejections for employment, reminders of just how badly you screwed up, and further isolation and exclusion.

This is the daily grind for a registered sex offender. It's a never ending cycle that you can't get away from.

I admit that I've felt like giving up. Cashing it all in. Dancing at the end of a rope, going to sleep in my car in the garage, or practicing my swan dive off of a bridge somewhere. Today was one of those days. Then I looked into the eyes of my wife, and saw the love and adoration in her face. I guess I'm one of the lucky ones, because while I have a chorus line rooting against me, they just can't compete with the one person who means the world to me.

And that gives me the strength to go back out there for another round.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Hit List

Recently, the Bradford County, Florida Sherrif's Department started installing signs like this in front of the homes of registrants:

Of course, that picture is little better than Lynndie England posing with naked prisoners in Iraq.

The stated purpose of these signs is to inform the public of where registrants live, a function already served by the online registry. The registry, of course, is nothing more than a "shopping list" for vigilantes looking for targets - the murder of Gary Blanton (news article link) comes to mind. In that case, a whole fan club grew up in support of the murderer, even going so far as to call him a "hero". It was sickening and frightening.

Now, others are looking at implementing a similar signage program, and even want it to be nationally required.

While this can seem like a good idea on its face, it can have all sorts of unintended consequences. Just try selling a house that's down the street or next door to a house bearing such a sign. And then there's this:

That's an actual comment on the post by Kids Live Safe (link to Facebook post) - such signs are little more than targets painted on the houses of registrants. How quickly we forget our history.

It's no secret that there's vigilante groups out there that want to kill anyone listed on the sex offender registry. Just look at this post from the "non-violent" No Peace For Predators.

"If it were legal." "Not for lack of want." "Open Predator Season." Comparing living, breathing people to animals, and suggesting that a hunting license should be issued. If the only thing stopping you is the fear of the legal repercussions, what happens when you decide that sacrificing your life and freedom to take out a few of the "monsters" is an equitable trade?

These examples alone should be enough for anyone to see that while the registry might be a useful tool (debatable), having it in the hands of the general public is akin to giving a child a loaded gun and telling them to go play - it's dangerous and irresponsible.