Friday, March 13, 2009

Video of the March 10th 2009 AWA Committee Meeting

The previous video has moved to a new location.
Click the link below to watch it from the House of
Representatives Judiciary Committee site.

Monday, March 2, 2009

As An Offender

I found this while going through my old files. I'm not sure who the author is, but I felt it worth of a post...

As An Offender

My crime, though not a child rapist/murderer, has landed me on the Sex Offender Registry. Throughout the process of my court trials, I attempted to maintain my integrity and the other views instilled in me as a child. Never once did I deny my crime. Never once did I shirk my responsibility to my victim.

Treatment was ordered, as well as a few other things. In my treatment, I learned about something called the "Abuse Cycle." It taught me to recognize what situations and feelings "triggered" me into my cycle. It also taught me the different stages of the cycle. As I gained a greater understanding of myself, I was soon taught about a Relapse Prevention Plan. This teaches you how to use a support network to keep yourself out of those situations that raise your risk to reoffend.

After gaining a strong understanding of that and a good time worth of demonstrating it, my treatment provider felt I was ready to venture back into society.

Boy what a rude awakening I had coming to me. The skills that I had learned as a young man prior to my incarceration were no longer good enough to get me a job.

My real barrier: The Sex Offender Registry. No one wanted to hire me. Finally, I found some jobs that were under the table. I was able to scrape up enough money get get a small hole in the wall apartment. I was also able to find a cheap car that I could drive around in. But that life that seemed to come so easy to others, was far beyond my grasp.

Eventually, people started to find out who I was as the Registry Laws changed. Even though my conviction was prior to these new laws, they were deemed "regulatory" and therefore acceptable by the Courts.

As more and more people saw my face on the Registry, my ability to find work stopped all together. I was kicked out of the apartment I had been living in trouble free for 4 years. Threats were made against me as I held my head down while walking the streets. I even had someone come across the street and threaten to hit me with a large stick as I was walking from a job interview. And using my relapse prevention plan was getting harder to do as my support network was drying up.

After a while, I discovered what was wrong with this picture.

I learned that there was an acceptable amount of harassment proscribed to me by the general public.

Knowing my responsibility for my crime, and the responsibility to my victim to never attempted to diminish my guilt for my crime.

So I learned to:
  • Duck my head when confronted
  • Walk on the other side of the street (no matter which side that had to be)
  • Learn to keep myself from any situation that I might be accused of something
  • Stay to myself
  • Take the harassment and abuse of those who didn't know my crime

But, what I also realized was what I had not given up when I was sentenced:

  • The right to live
  • The right to breathe
  • The right to warmth
  • The right to see
  • The right to think
  • The right to question
  • The right to be around friends
  • The right to believe in God
  • The right to property
  • The right to defend my home
  • The right to be heard in Court
  • The right to be Innocent until proven Guilty
  • The right to seek forgiveness

I learned that in our Constitution, All Men were Created Equal. If you committed a crime, even a heinous one like a sex offense, you were still free when your sentence was up. I learned of a word called Liberty.

Liberty taught me to hold my head up as I walked down the street. Liberty taught me to look people in the eyes. Liberty taught me that I am not an animal!

As I write my thoughts down, I humbly pray that anyone who may read this later, will think. Sex Offenders, albeit the "scum of the Earth" in the eyes of the public, still have rights within the Constitution.

The Courts may try to take that away, but everything comes full circle. One day, people will see that the laws are becoming increasingly more "punitive." One day, someone will stand up and make a difference. I hope I'm around to see that day.

I hope I don't end up like some of the offenders on the Registry, dead!

May God speed this to those that can use it for good. May God have mercy on my Soul.