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CO: Should we stop labeling people ‘sex offender’?

KUSA – A state regulatory board debated Friday whether the label “sex offender” was too stigmatizing to people who committed sex crimes.

Colorado’s Sex Offender Management Board regulates treatment, rehabilitation, and monitoring of sex offenders. Friday’s board meeting included a vote whether to eliminate the word “sex offender” from the board’s official policies. Suggestions for replacement words included “clients,” “defendants” and “individuals.” Full Article

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  1. Ron

    As much as we all don’t like the SO term, I don’t think the public will be more accepting of us just because of a title change. Although I personally prefer the term Registered Citizen. Especially since not all RSO actually committed a sexual act.

  2. Pat

    You know what – The use of the “N” word it LAWSUIT material. So why don’t we declare
    “sex offender” just as offensive? Our voice has power. We need to start speaking up and also putting pen to paper. “The pen is mightier than the sword”

  3. Jo

    I personally never label myself with this horrible label. Why? Because I am NOT a sex offender. I am a dad, business owner, a person. I did commit a sex offense, 20 plus years ago, but I refuse to be defined by that offense. And I refuse to label myself that because the gov’t wants to label me. It is so counterproductive to rehabilitation. Its demoralizing. Its shameful. I am better than that, and you should not label yourself that either.

    • Timmr

      Right Jo. Sex offender is a label used to affix certain immutable character traits on a person. Language is important in drawing pictures in the mind. That’s why all groups seeking to liberate or oppress people, focus heavily on language. It’s a powerful way of getting control over the dialogue. No nigger for people of color, no retard for people with limited intelligent, no faggot for a homosexual or transgender person, no sex offender for someone who completed their time. I am spelling out the words, so you can see how emotionally charged they really are. I don’t think I will use registered citizen, either. I’ll call you Jo and you can call me Timmr or Tim.

  4. anonymously

    So long as this is not being used to justify denial of PC to incarcerated RSO’s, which is prison policy in Colorado last I heard.

  5. Nicholas Maietta

    It has always bugged me that the words “Sex Offender” is applied to anyone who’s been convicted of a sex crime. (or even crimes that have absolutely nothing to due with sex, such as kidnapping, or peeing in the brush on the side of a highway because there are no restrooms anywhere for a 100 miles)

    When you leave your past behind you and move forward in life at a good citizen, you should the “sex offender” term implies the person continually commits sex crimes.

    I make a point never to use that terminology and have opted to move to a far more accurate description of those persons who are required to register.

    That term is: Registered Citizen.

    Another term i use is “Reform Movement”, which i use to loosely describe the collection of groups and individuals who work at various levels to reform the bad laws through education, lobbying efforts, letter writing or any other activity that promotes a positive change relating to sex offender laws and legislation and the effects of those laws on Americans.

  6. ab

    Yes we should stop labeling people as sex offenders and don’t even get me started on “sex crimes” that don’t involve sex or are not hands on.

  7. David

    Looking a bit broader than just us RCs, one might bear in mind that there are, in truth, many “sex offenders” amongst the general population – we are just the ones who were convicted of an offense. The kid who went streaking when he or she is was a minor is a juvenile sex offender (unconvicted) or who played “doctor” with a friend: sex offender (unconvicted). The trucker who peed by the side of the road, but was not arrested: sex offender (unconvicted). And how about those others who actually did commit a sex crime but were never caught: the college fraternity member who raped a co-ed who passed out from drinking too much: sex offender (unconvicted). Etc.
    I think the public hysteria and mouth-foaming that is generated by the term “sex offender” is reason enough that it should be changed.
    AND, once the sentence is served, people should be allowed to rebuild and get on with their lives unhindered.
    If I am forced to use a label, mine is “ex-offender”.

    • Timmr

      Yah, you don’t earn the label until you are convicted, which makes sense on one level, because the public doesn’t really know someone is an offender unless convicted. On the other hand, people should feel safer once the offender is caught, but quite the contrary. This labeling also hinders people getting the help they might need, before things get way too out of hand. How many times has Jane Doe noticed that Uncle Doe (who has never been convicted of anything)is spending way too much time alone putting the nieces to bed with the door closed, or maybe worried that asking a question may lead to the dreaded sex offender label sticking to the family. It’s as if having the label is worse that having the offense, as long as it is hidden.

  8. USA

    I do have to agree with Colorado. Labeling someone as a sex offender sounds rather derogatory. In summary, it’s almost like once your labeled, your always a perpetrator and incapable of being rehabilitated. I think people need to realize that when people marry, obtain jobs, develop financial responsibilities and have children is really when people grow up and move forward with their lives. I can recall as a young man getting a hair cut at a barber shop/the owner was almost bragging that he had just fired another man who he found out had learned the trade in prison and just been released? Was he proud that the guy was trying to make a better life for himself? Did he believe in rehabilitation? If we continue to stigmatize people and continue to label them as bad people, what are we really saying about our society? I’ve never met someone who hasn’t made a mistake? We have a Superior Court Judge in OC who crashed his vehicle and was arrested for a DUI? He is still on the bench. Do we label him as a drunk? Or, was he have a bad day? Or, should we have held him at a higher standard? People make mistakes, but it’s when you continue to get arrested again and again when your deemed a threat to society. So, maybe I propose people should be labeled a ie: client/batterer/or 1st time offender

    Then: if they have another sexual issue, a sex offender. You have an initial chance. This is again why the tiered registry is needed in Ca. It’s presently one offense and your on for life

    • Timmr

      One kidnapping conviction and you are on the registry for life with the COSOMB tiered proposal.

  9. morgan

    If you call recall the case of fitroy barnaby, who slammed the brakes of his car and grabbed a girl’s arm ,well a teenage, not a toddler, and chastised her, of course fitzroy was 28 not a creepy old man, but he was forced to register as a “sex offender”
    based I guess on false imprisonment of a minor.

    If a non-parent temporarily detains somebody else besides their own children, even if its brief and no other malicious events take place and its not suspicious, they are forced into the “Adam walsh act lifetime mandate” as a “sex offender”.

    So if your nephew or niece misbehaves even if there are 17 years old and you try to restrain them , well good luck, however if you shoot them or do a violent act you are probably better off.

    Now of course if fitzroy had ran over the teenage girl he would be better of legally.

    Ironicly, conservative bloggers complain about government overreach, but the same bloggers and websites endorse folks like jindal and other right-wing conservatives and then attack the other site for being “soft on crime” and liberal and catering to “Sex offenders”, keep in mind that not all states have the same romeo and juliet laws so a teenager sleeping with another teenager consensually could be a sex offender.

    • Janice Bellucci

      Language is important. Therefore, it is time for a new word, phrase or acronym to describe a person who has been convicted of a sex offense even when that offense did not include physical touching of another. In the past, I have used “registered citizen” to emphasize that the individual is a citizen who is entitled to the protections of the U.S. Constitution. I have also used “registrant” because it is shorter but I think lacks the important message of his/her civil rights. Further, I have used “290” because it refers back to the Penal Code section that requires individuals to register. I would like to hear from others terms they have used or would be more comfortable hearing.

      • sérviam

        Whatever term is used to describe someone who is subjugated to these humiliating laws, “sex offender” is the universal “N” word. Don’t call us “niggers,” “crackers,” “whitey,” “chinks,” “japs,” “spicks,” “midgets,” or “sex offenders.” Society has finally fashioned a guilt-free lightning rod by which to channel all of their hate, and which crosses cultural, ethnic, political, and socioeconomic boundaries. If I have to be a “sex offender,” then other people should be have to be called “wife beaters,” “emotional neglecters,” “animal abusers,” “theives,” “liars,” “drunks,” “sluts,” “womanizers,” “family deserters,” “embezzlers,” “fraudsters,” and “academic cheaters.” The world is full of people who find people offensive. Why should I be singled out?

      • Timmr

        How about “clients”? Although in most cases your clients will be all 290’s, in some cases you may want to focus on the laws affecting juveniles or maybe loosening up laws for low level offenders. We are all different. Or maybe those completing their sentences should call ourselves reformed citizens. Imagine passing a park ban for “reformed citizens”.

      • td777

        Political pawns or political prisoners? Both work for me because that’s exactly what we are as long as this continues. We are imprisoned within this country, treated as pariahs with fewer rights than any other citizen in this country, to be used an exploited every time there is an election up for grabs.

      • Timmr

        I am trying to use the word “people” as much as possible.

      • Catch 22

        RC is a good usage “Registered Citizens” is something we might want to stay with .
        One idea I had was take the “S” off of Sex Offender and make it
        ” _ex Offender” . “Registered _ex Offender” REO instead of RSO .
        Ie I’m a Registered EX Offender (REO)
        Just a thought .

  10. anonymously

    Registrant or Registered Citizen are preferable over SO in my humble opinion. One problem with the term Registered Citizen is that registrants who are not US citizens would be left out. The people we hear about in the news, news conferences on such and such number of illegal alien sex offenders nabbed caught trying to enter the country. Assuming these people are originally from countries south of our border , Mexico and Central America, they would not be represented and may feel left out of movements to improve their situations, but on the other hand, when they get denied entry into the US and forced to go back to their country of origin, their country of origin does not subject them to draconian punishment masked as regulation. Until International Megans Law changes that, I envy those people being able to escape the tyranny of an over-reaching government.

  11. Timmr

    Registrant or Sex Offender, the terms really were not used that much before the 1990’s panic. The term goes hand in hand with the Megan’s laws and would fade away with these laws, if they are found unconstitutional or otherwise invalid. Maybe showing the term sex offender as what it is, a derogatory and arbitrarily applied term will help change the laws.

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