FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (Released to Press on 1/6/14)
Contact: Vicki Henry, President
Women Against Registry202.firstname.lastname@example.org
2014 Women Against Registry’s Operation Push Back
Vicki Henry, President of W.A.R. says, “We hear heart-breaking stories from families being destroyed, children beaten, passed over for higher education opportunities, family homes damaged, members asked to leave their church and many other scenarios which began as punishment for a loved one’s sexual offense and progresses to annihilation of the family.”
One family’s story…My son was nineteen at the time of his arrest in 2010. The charge was child pornography. He was in college at the time and had never been in any trouble. We are an upper middle class family. I am a stay at home mom who is very involved in PTA and band boosters, and my husband works at a plant in our town. That call from our son, notifying us of the situation, opened our eyes to what can get you arrested for a sex crime (http://www.wcl.american.edu/endsilence/documents/FiftyStateSurveyofAdultSexOffenderRegistrationStatutes_November2010Update.pdf
I believe looking is different than touching. Both should be punished, but both also need help. You tell your kids, “Don’t do drugs,” and, “Stay out of trouble!” But who would have thought I should be telling my son, “When you look at pornography, make sure they are over the age of 18,” or, “When you download music or videos, make sure you delete the pornography that might be hidden in there,” and, “Don’t have sex with any girl as she might say you raped her.” It is not safe for a young man these days.
Forget about getting anyone to listen to you. There are days I want to stand on top of the highest mountain with a megaphone and yell just so someone might hear me and listen to what I have to say.
There are days I don’t want to get out of bed, but I do because today might be the day that someone does hear me, or I might have a great idea.
After a year of going to court, my son took a plea deal like so many others arrested for sexual offenses. Our lawyer kept telling us that we better take the plea as the prosecutor would show the pictures to the jury of all mothers. Our son was sentenced to 5 years in prison. That was a very hard day, to watch your son be taken away from you like that. You know in your heart and soul that what he did was not that bad and that he doesn’t need to put in prison but would be better off going to a treatment program. He is NOT a bad person, and he certainly does not deserve to be on “the list” for the rest of his life. Society does not need to fear him.
My son served 10 months of the 5-year sentence. He could not live at our house because we have Internet. We had to get him an RV trailer and park it on land owned by a member of our family. A few months later, he got a job at a supermarket, but he can’t go to college; they will not allow him there. He will have to go the Sheriff’s Office every 6 months and to an aftercare program once a month for a year.
After 3 years of dealing with all this, I have learned so much. I will keep fighting the laws as long as I can. I want my son and other like him to have a better life. Every day I wonder…“How long can you keep punishing someone before you forgive him?”
Collateral Damage: Family Members of Registered Sex Offenders – Jill Levenson
Cost to Arkansas vs. Credible Research
Per the NCMEC, of the 751,538 men women and children on registries across the nation 13,106 are in Arkansas. When you consider the registerable offenses, the law enforcement and office staff expense associated with monitoring and tracking as well as the length of time the state will do this to “attempt to keep children safe.” One has to wonder what empirical evidence supports this valiant effort. There are none! However, there is credible research advising low recidivism rates.
T. J. Madison, Member of W.A.R. talked about, “Other things impacting costs are Probation & Parole as well as incarceration and went on to say the U.S. is 5% of the world’s population AND 25% of the world’s incarcerated. Additionally, fewer plea deals and implementation of diversion programs should be incorporated such as those available for drug and other offenses.”
Per the Justice Research & Statistics Association (http://www.jrsa.org
), a study of recidivism rates for 2,493 sex offenders released from prison in 9 states in 2001, concludes in a 3-year follow-up study of recidivism rates; AK 3.4%, AZ 2.3%, DE 3.8%, IL 2.4%, IA 3.9%, NM 1.8%, SC 4%, TN 0%, UT 9%
According to a study by the U.S. Department of Justice, 5.3% of American sex offenders are rearrested for a new sex crime within three years (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2003).
In 2013 the manager of the Arkansas Sex Offender Registry indicated there were 11,268 registered sex offenders in the state of Arkansas: 10,944 men, 324 women. It is estimated three or four persons every day (between 800 and 1,000) names have been added yearly since the registry was established by the state legislature. There were 1,084 Level 1 “low risk” sex offenders, 3,839 Level 2 “moderate risk” 4,012 were Level 3 “high risk” offenders and 266 Level 4s “sexually violent predators.”
Sex offender laws are passed as a result of various myths such as: all sex offenders are “pedophiles who cannot be cured,” and who are likely to re-offend, or who will target strangers. The media helps propagate these myths and politicians rely on the media to pass the laws. Various studies have shown the opposite to be true, but are largely ignored. Lawmakers have justified sex offender laws by claiming such laws are regulatory/ civil, thus bypassing constitutional safeguards. However, such arguments are shaky at best, and there have been a number of successful legal challenges in lower courts in many states.
Options that will accomplish the desired end result- prevention of sexual abuse:
- Design or create policy with the primary goal of prevention of sexual abuse violence thus reducing the sexual deviancy rates. (A Reasoned Approach: Reshaping Sex Offender Policy to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse By Joan Tabachnick and Alisa Klein)