Dear Members and Advocates,
We are in between returning from the National Association for Rational Sex Offense Laws (NARSOL) conference last week and leaving for the Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws (ACSOL) conference in a few days. There will be time for a comprehensive “what we learned” next week, but in the meantime there’s something that we should start thinking about that will not only improve the way people think of us, but the way we think of ourselves. We need to get rid of this “sex offender” label.
I am guilty. I often use the term “sex offender” in posts on FAC or when speaking to people about our advocacy because it’s easy. It’s the term that people have gotten used to calling us, so I thought it would be simpler when communicating (instead of spending time explaining what “person required to register…” means), but it’s a really bad thing to do. It creates a pre-conceived notion that’s harder to overcome as I start a letter or conversation.
As Guy Hamilton-Smith, one of the presenters at NARSOL, said at the beginning of his presentation, “we are not sex offenders”. To paraphrase his explanation; “sex offender” isn’t a job title. It’s not like we wake up in the morning, get dressed and go out to sexually offend. Once I let that thought sink in I actually felt better about myself. Yes, there was this day a long time ago that I was one, but thankfully I have not been a sex offender in nearly 20 years!
Over the years I’ve learned about “person first” messaging and thought I was using it to influence how the other person felt about me. It was only after I digested what Guy had to say that I felt better about myself. No, I’m not a sex offender!
We need to make another adjustment to the terms used in our movement. We need to incorporate our families, neighbors, employers and friends into our fight. We are not the only ones impacted by the registry. Our spouses, children, parents, roommates, bosses and everyone whose lives we are a part of is harmed by the registry. People might not sympathize with someone who had offended, but what about their children? In a recent post I made reference to the term “Registered Family” because that’s who we truly need to be advocating for.
Finally, one other obvious change we should make before next year’s conferences is that more of us need to become involved. For a state that has 73,000 people on it’s registry (granted, less than half are actually here), we should be better represented out there. I understand that it’s expensive and inconvenient to travel, but I’m not only referring to these conferences. There are ACLU chapters and other civil rights organizations throughout our state which hold regular events and meetings. There are professional organizations for criminal defense lawyers and treatment providers in each state, which have their own conferences. Local civic organizations and city commissions meet at least monthly. Even your local condo association or religious congregation holds meetings where you can network, speak, ask questions or even wear a button or leave brochures.
FAC is here to arm you with the research, studies, statistics, talking points and even prepared statements that you can use to go out there and start advocating for change. Read our posts and join our member calls to educate yourselves, but it is all of our responsibilities to educate others. It’s time to do something with that information. If you don’t like public speaking, make phone calls or write letters. Most importantly, if you are afraid or ashamed, STOP! Don’t be. We are not sex offenders!
The Florida Action Committee
- New Member Orientation Call Thursday Jun 13 at 8pm. Dial 319-527-3487 to participate. All members are welcome to call in to learn more about the organization, volunteer opportunities, resources or just to meet other FAC members by phone.
- Meet and Greet in Lakeland on Thursday Jun 27th from 6-8pm. Doors open at 5pm for mingle and meals before the meeting.
- Family Support session in Broward County Sat Jul 20th from 11am-1pm, facilitated by Dr. Jill Levenson and Shelly Kavanagh.
- Due to July 4th Holiday, the next Monthly Membership call will be on Thursday July 11.
For more information on events, email [email protected] or call 904-452-8322.
SOME HEADLINES FROM THE WEEK
In a comment on another post someone used the term “Registered Family” and I thought it was very appropriate. We are not just persons required to register, we are families required to register! If you share a home with someone on the registry, the police regularly…
Alabama’s governor signed into law legislation that requires some sexual offenders to be chemically castrated before being released on parole. Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bill Monday, which applies to sex offenders convicted of crimes involving children under 13 and who…
There are no homes at 2700 N. Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale. Although the only buildings standing are a McDonald’s and a Chick-fil-A, 110 people have registered it as an address. All of them are convicted sex offenders. This hotspot for sexual criminals is one of…
How the Use of Improper Statistics and Unverified Data Corrupts the Judicial Process in Sex Offender Cases
The following report appeared in the Case Western Reserve Law Review. Here is an excerpt from the conclusion: “[C]ourts around the country continue to remain stagnant, clinging to misinformation and refusing to depart from prejudicial viewpoints that are pretextual…