I was at the registration office and due to COVID was told to sit outdoors, a ways back from where the glass intake door is. You cannot hear what is going on there, but you can see as you sit and wait in line. As I waited, I saw that the man that was registering was escorted inside the glass door and placed in handcuffs. And I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness. I felt as if a brother in our cause was being imprisoned… again. So much so that I turned to the other person waiting and said, “Did you see that?”
He nodded and said it will probably happen to him, too. I asked why and he said he missed his registration by one day, that he does not have a car and so arrived late when the office was already closed. By then it was my turn and I went up and as I sat the detective asked that man what was he was here for, because it was close to lunch, and she needed to know. The man said he missed his registration day and asked was he going to be arrested? The detective answered not sure and told him to remain where he was and then turned to me and asked the reason I was there. I told her and then asked her, in a low voice so the other man would not hear, whether the prior person arrested was for missing registration day and whether this other man would be arrested as well. She nodded yes.
And tears came to my eyes. I could not understand why? I did not know either of these men. For all I knew they were willfully reckless for not registering on time. And then it hit me why. Years ago, I would buy a wall calendar for the next year in December and would write all the birthdays, anniversaries etc., including the reporting dates. As the months arrived I would glance at my calendar to see what needed to be done. As the year progressed and I got to month nine and saw I had written something, but because I had written it when the calendar was on the wall, the combination of the bad angle and my lousy handwriting resulted in gibberish I could not read. Further, since I had written it 9 months ago, I could not offhand remember what it was about. I thought to myself “it will come to me”. But it never did. I never remembered that it was my reminder to report.
Months passed and one night, around 11 PM, I hear very, very loud pounding on my door. Five officers in uniform were there and arrested me for not reporting. I still get anxiety every time there is a knock on my door.
But now I understood the source of my tears. They were for me. It was a PTSD reaction to my being arrested not for something I willfully did, but for something I inadvertently and with no malice mistakenly did not. I was arrested for my mistake. An event that planted a seed of anxiety in me that has me worried about inadvertently violating any one of the myriad of registered citizen laws that engulf us.
But I now see there was also another reason for my sadness. It is because two men and I have been arrested and we and our families had to relive the trauma of incarceration, to not be able to get off the registry having committed another “Sex Offense”. And why? Because of punitive, ineffective laws drafted out of fear, emotions, and political maneuvering. A truly sad commentary on our judicial and social construct.