I was approached by someone on the registry in another state who would like to share his story while remaining anonymous. It’s not long, but he talks about the difficulties in finding a decent place to live, supportive friends who don’t know how to help, and judgmental family. Can anyone relate?
Words of Anonymous:
“My brother who lives in Pennsylvania is doubtful that I might find a rental property there. My son is equally unsure about my finding decent housing anywhere in the Northeast. Or the Southeast. Or the Midwest. Or South west. Northwest.
It’s a frightening problem, as I must leave my current home by the end of November.
You see, I’m a sex-offender. Registered. You can look me up. Get my address, see my charge stated.
I’m 79 years old. When I was 74, I got caught in a sting. There was never a victim. I was stupid and engaged in fantasy but no one was harmed. And outside of a single speeding ticket, it was my only offense. Now I am a threat.
So, as I am renting a condo from an international owner, the HOA for my apartment complex has ordered that I be out of my place. By November. Not so long from now.
None of my searches and applications and interactions has proven fruitful. All they have to do is type my name into Google and there I am. My mug shot included for identification.
On July third, one of the Sheriff’s men paid me a visit. I have to register every six months and it seems that the last time I did, the young man taking my information has made a mistake with my address. It turns out that this mistake was not his fault. It was my responsibility to correct it. Otherwise I could go back to prison for not doing so. The Deputy was kind. He gave me until four o’clock to correct it. It was noon. I got there, got it corrected and was told by the woman behind the counter that I needn’t have come back so quickly.
What does she know?
My brother sided with the state. Mistakes are possible he reasoned and so I should have to look out for them. We are talking about mistakes so casual as to be invisible (I did not see the error) yet powerful enough to send me back.
Thirteen months in prison. Six on probation. Must report to the Sheriff every six months. And with the registry working, my chances of finding a decent place are nearly non-existent.
I’m on a fixed income but, in the right location I could manage well on my own. As I have been since my release. I can walk to the grocery store. Get a haircut and when I have to, I can have laundry picked up or groceries delivered. It’s that kind of neighborhood I left behind when I was sentenced. I came back and now I must leave.
The registry is inescapable and highly effective. It is the Scarlet Letter times ten thousand – eight hundred thousand actually. For my foolishness, I am now classified with Jeffery Epstein and Bill Cosby and thousands of rapists and child abusers.
Some live quite well. Many are homeless. It is to this latter category I fear the registry is forcing me. Round and round until finally I rest under a bridge somewhere.
By that time, I will be over eighty years old. Unable to help myself.
Perhaps you think this is justified. That this is the only way a nation can protect itself from the dangers of sexual predators. The statistics don’t support that conclusion but why consider statistics?
I find no one to turn to. And even the good friends who have been with me since this all began have no way to help me.
What do I do? I read rental ads. I check with friends in this and other states. I look for sympathetic landlords.
And I dream terrible dreams about bridges and derelict automobiles.
For one mistake. Paid for.”