Anyone who’s been recently released, is already registered, an ally, an advocate, or a family member has heard this phrase uttered and a door promptly shut in their face or a dial tone in their ear. Although, it probably wasn’t registrant they heard, but “sex offender.” Reentry programs frequently cite this when turning registrants away from their services. Politicians slide the phrase into their policies to further their goals. Criminal legal reformers advocate it to push their own agendas. The only time registrants are included is when the conversation shifts to discuss the politics of punishment with the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Roy Moore. Attention spotlights the offense and those causing harm without creating space for repairing harm and restoring lives.
It’s not that challenging sexual violence isn’t crucial, it’s that registration and notification for sex crimes isn’t effective at doing so. Not only is registration a complex tangle of rules and regulations, but registrants are systematically denied access to housing, jobs, and social support. Families of registrants feel shame, discrimination, and stigma; their children are bullied, alienated, and experience higher suicide rates. More to the point, they are not provided the tools to successfully reenter and reintegrate with their communities. We, at the Sex Law and Policy Center, seek to change that.
Over the past year, we’ve diligently worked to draft a reentry guidebook specifically for people on the registry and the people that love and support them as they navigate the ins and outs of registration and reentry. There is a discussion about the varying pieces of federal legislation requiring registration for sex offenses. One section details constitutional protections, while another section outlines what to expect from registration. Community supervision and how to successfully complete it is covered later on, as is the reentry process and sex offender treatment. This guide explains a registrant’s rights to sexual expression and what to do if they feel their rights are being violated. There is an additional section specifically for women and juveniles on the registry. This guide also helps your loved ones understand what to expect from loving and supporting someone on the registry. In short, it helps registrants, and those they love, understand their rights as someone on the registry.
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