Dear Members and Advocates,
A few days ago I had a conversation with a friend and fellow advocate that made me completely re-think my identity. For the longest time I’ve always considered myself an advocate for “reform” and our movement as the “registry reform movement”. Truth is, I’m not advocating to reform the registry. Unless the “reform” in mind is to eliminate the registry entirely, I’m not into it. The reality is I’m advocating to abolish the registry because I don’t think it needs to exist in any form.
As a member of a marginalized group, I suppose I’ve become so conditioned to the damnation, that anything less torturous seems like a gift. I need to stop thinking that way. It’s as if I’m getting punched in the face every day, so if I were only getting punched in the face every other day, that would be a win, right? NO! Why am I getting punched in the face at all? The registry in any form is ineffective. So we should work towards abolishing the registry and not “reforming” it.
Over the years I’ve participated in workshops that advocated for different reform ideas. One was seeking a “law enforcement only” registry – where people would still need to register, but the database would be available to law enforcement only. Why? Law enforcement already has our information. If we forget something trivial by a day we’re still exposed to five years in prison, so a law enforcement only registry is a punch in the face 5 days a week instead of 7. There’s also the concept that the registry should only be for “predators” and not “offenders”. NO! There are so many dynamic factors that go into calculating risk that those labels are essentially meaningless when it comes to risk evaluation. Besides, if we’re going to be advocates for “othering” a particular group, we have no right to complain when the ACLU felt it was perfectly alright to exclude murderers and sex offenders from restoration of voting rights. It’s not alright!
A few years ago, when an individual challenged the Oklahoma law that branded people’s driver’s licenses with the words “Sex Offender”, some reform advocates suggested a code or other less obvious mark might be a “reasonable alternative”. Why is that? In Florida we have a statute printed on our licenses (for offenders, predators actually have the words) and I don’t think its “reasonable” that I have to show my drivers license to my bank or store clerk or order a drink at a bar and get dirty looks because everybody knows what that code means. If law enforcement needs to know I’m on the registry they can scan my license. The cashier at Target does not need to know and anyone intent on recidivating is not stopping to say, “here, let me show you my ID before I sexually assault you.” These practices need to be abolished, not reformed.
During the nineteenth century, African Americans were fighting for the abolition of slavery, not to modify its terms. During the sixties, women were fighting for equal rights and as recently as this past decade same sex couples were fighting for marriage equality. That’s equality, not just ‘somewhat less discrimination than we are currently used to and we’ll be content’. I’m not equating our population to those of a protected class, but I’m suggesting that in the absence of any empirical evidence as to the effectiveness of the registry and having served our sentences and repaid our debt to society, as long as we are fighting, why are we not more clear in our messaging and making it understood that we are looking to abolish the registry?
I get the theory that many in our movement think we will be more successful at chipping away at the registry rather than detonating it and I’ve employed that theory myself in many instances. But at the same time, others might see the “reform” position as our agreement that there is a justification for the registry in some form, it just needs to be fixed. I have to accept there is legitimacy in both approaches and whether you are attacking the registry with a chisel or with a nuclear bomb, I appreciate the effort you are making towards the common goal… to ultimately ABOLISH the registry.
The Florida Action Committee
Nov 19 – Thursday – New Fearless Group is starting – evening time is tbd (registered citizens support).
Nov 21 – Saturday – 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.- Zoom session for family and loved ones only (no registered citizens) . RSVP for details to [email protected] or text name to 904-452-8322.
Regional Conference Calls at 8:00pm ET / 7pm CT – phone 319-527-3487 – Discuss issues and action needs in your county. Learn more about the FAC organization, resources, and volunteer opportunities in your area or sign up for County Coordinator training. All members are welcome to call. If unable to connect, text “Call Me” to 319-527-3487. You will receive a call-back and be connected to the meeting.
Nov 19 Thursday for Region 5 – Seminole, Orange, Osceola, Lake, Sumter, Marion, Polk, Hardee, and Highlands counties.
Nov 23 Monday for Region 8 –Charlotte, Glades, Hendry, Lee, and Collier counties.
Dec 3 Thursday at 8:00pm ET / 7pm CT – Monthly Membership Call – phone 319-527-3487
Dec 5 Saturday from 1:00-5:00 pm – Apopka (Orange County) Holiday Lunch and Entertainment. RSVP for details to [email protected] or text name to 904-452-8322.
Dec 10 Thursday at 8:00pm ET / 7pm CT – New Member Orientation Call – phone 319-527-3487
Dec 12 – Saturday – 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.- Zoom session for family and loved ones only (no registered citizens) . RSVP for details to [email protected] or text name to 904-452-8322.
SOME HEADLINES FROM THE WEEK
Officer James Freeman of Greenbrier, AR was doing a sex offender compliance check on private property when the homeowner’s dog barked at him. So Freeman shot the dog. The event would be an example of how mean some of the officers doing compliance checks can be to…
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, in part, the complaint of an individual civilly committed in the Florida civil commitment center. The plaintiff, who remains confined despite completing his sentence, sued Geo group (contracted by the state to provide…
A group of registered sex offenders in Western North Carolina say the sheriff forced them to check in with local law enforcement or face arrest on Halloween night in 2019. Now they’re suing. At least 11 men and the nonprofit group North Carolinians for Rational Sex…
A member alerted us to a possible new misuse of registrant data to falsify identity and obtain opioids or other identity theft. He wrote, “Hello. I’m on the registry in Florida, Leon county. Today a cop showed up at more door. I thought it was a registry check. I went…