We have spoken! We have been heard! We will return!
Those three statements were uttered this week by 36 registrants, family members and supporters who met with elected officials and staffers in the State Capitol in Sacramento.
It was the largest group EVER to lobby in support of registrant issues. It was the largest group EVER to describe the challenges faced by registrants and their families.
They spoke about how hard it is to find a place to live. Landlords don’t want to rent an apartment to a family because their son is on the registry.
They spoke about how hard it is to find a job. Employers don’t want to hire a young registrant with a master’s degree in engineering and suggested instead that he work at a fast food restaurant.
They spoke about their inability to participate in their children’s education. Their school district adopted a “zero tolerance policy” that prohibits all registrants, even parents, from visiting a school campus for any reason.
They spoke about the need for a tiered registry. A tiered registry, similar to those found in 46 states, that would end California’s 70 year requirement that everyone convicted of a sex offense must continue to register for a lifetime.
And when they spoke, they were heard. By elected officials and by staffers assigned to public safety issues.
Not all of the elected officials and staffers agreed with what they heard. But some of them did including some who had never listened to a registrant before.
Not all of the elected officials and staffers reacted emotionally when tears were shed by a family member as she explained why she is afraid to have children. But some of them did.
During this week’s lobbying efforts, those who lobbied gained a lot. They gained strength and they felt empowered. They also created new bonds with others who face similar challenges.
It is no wonder then that the 36 registrants and family members who lobbied are now asking when they can return to the State Capitol. The answer is that day will come soon…..as soon as the bills that could profoundly affect the lives of registrants and their families move through the legislative process. The next step for those bills is consideration by one or more committees, a step that is likely to occur during the next 30 days.
The 36 people who lobbied this week will participate in those committee hearings and invite YOU to join them so that YOU, too, can gain strength and feel empowered. They hope to see you in Sacramento!