Guest Post: Deserving a Chance for a Pardon

by Marie at Notes from the Handbasket

A 25-year-old registered sex offender has been granted a hearing before the Nebraska Board of Pardons. This is excellent news for this young man because if he is pardoned, he will regain his civil rights and he will no longer be on the sex offender registry. 

According to the Omaha World-Herald article, it is unusual for a sex offender to be granted a hearing because

[t]he Pardons Board rarely considers the applications of sex offenders. But board members said they are willing to listen to this one because Weich has lived an exemplary life except for one crime committed as a 14-year-old.

An exemplary life should be rewarded. 

He didn’t rape, fondle or even touch anyone. In 2003 he and two other teenage boys made a secret video of two or three female classmates using a shower at his mother’s house in Pierce, Neb. The incident involved a game of truth-or-dare and the camera also caught one of the girls using the toilet, according to documents in his Pardons Board application.

A non-contact crime committed as a 14-year-old, not repeated. He was charged as an adult because the crime was not discovered until he was 18.

This man has gained some powerful allies. A state trooper for one and Nebraska’s Attorney General, Jon Bruning, for another.

Other factors in [this man’s] favor include pre-sentence psychological evaluations that found he is not a sexual predator and showed he was a minimal risk to reoffend. He completed all of his probation requirements, which included more than 20 sessions with Dr. Kevin Piske, a Norfolk psychologist who specialized in treating sex offenders.

Not a sexual predator, unlikely to reoffend, got through probation with no trouble. Saw a psychologist for awhile. This man is a success story.

The psychologist was one of 93 people who submitted letters in support of [the man], which likely represents a record number, said Sonya Fauver, the board’s administrator.

Ninety-three letters of support! Many friends in his corner. 

[His] status forced him to give up on his dream of playing football for a major college program. He had been invited to walk on at Kansas State University, but he was told the school couldn’t take a chance on a sex offender. He also had to leave the dorms. 

Although it was difficult, he found off-campus housing and finished his second semester at Kansas State.

Later, he was offered a football scholarship and began playing at Wayne State College in Nebraska. Again, he wasn’t allowed to live on campus. He got his degree in business management in 2012.

The registry still haunts [him], especially when it comes to finding employment and housing. He said he has held some temporary jobs but hasn’t been able to get an offer related to his major when employers learn he is a registered sex offender.

Recently, he had the opportunity to show the National Football League his punting skills. One of his college coaches called him “the best punter he has seen in his 30 years as a coach” so it seems this young man may have a chance at a position in the NFL.

“How many people do you know in the world who would even have a chance to make it in the NFL?” [one of his supporters] asked. “But he can’t because of this. It just doesn’t seem fair.”

No, it doesn’t seem fair to have lived an exemplary life and yet be held back because he is a registered sex offender. 

Among the 93 letters is a letter from 

…retired District Judge Patrick Rogers, who presided over [the man’s] trial. 

“I commend him for all of his accomplishments since 2007, even while carrying the burden of his offense,” Rogers wrote. “He could have easily given up, as I believe so many others do.”

But do so many others give up? 

Statistics show that, like this man, very few registered sex offenders commit another sex crime. 

Like this man, most registered sex offender are first-time offenders.

Like this man, most are deemed at low risk to reoffend.

Like this man, most are not considered sexual predators.

Those are not signs of people who gave up. Those are signs of people who arevery much like this Nebraska man.

Like him, they have trouble finding employment. Like him, they have trouble finding a place to live. 

Like him, they have hopes and dreams for the future that have been stymied by their status as a sex offender.

This young man who lives an exemplary life deserves every chance at his hopes and dreams, just as other law abiding citizens do. 

Just as every other law abiding sex offender does.

This young man is not the exception. He is the rule.

Published by nufearless

Nebraskans Unafraid is committed to making our communities safer by ensuring that lawmakers and policymakers do not support laws that cause homelessness, joblessness and damage to families.

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