As summer comes to an end, we are waiting for justice. We are waiting for a judge’s decision in our challenge to the International Megan’s Law. We are waiting for cities to eliminate residency restrictions. We are waiting for a tiered registry bill to be introduced in the California state legislature.
Why does it take so long? Why can’t judges, city officials and state legislators stop the punishment of registered citizens NOW?
Perhaps it’s due to habit. For many people, including judges and elected officials, have adopted the habit of viewing registered citizens as “monsters” who always re-offend and cannot be cured. Their habit is based upon myth and supported by the media rather than empirical evidence such as the CDCR report which states that the rate of re-offense for registrants on parole is less than 1 percent.
Perhaps it’s due to complacency. For many people, including judges and elected officials, are complacent because their personal lives have not been directly affected by the punishment that continues to be levied against registrants and their families. What else can explain their lack of compassion when a registrant cannot find a decent job or adequate housing? What else can explain their lack of understanding when a registrant and his family can no longer live together due to residency restrictions passed decades after his offense occurred?
Perhaps it’s due to fear. For many people, especially judges and elected officials, fear that they will lose the next election if they are viewed by the public as friendly to registrants. Their fear is so deep that they are willing to violate the state and federal Constitutions despite an oath they swore to uphold them.
To the many people described above, we have the following message: Stop your habits! Snap out of your complacency! Move through your fear! Do what is right, not what is popular.
The time is NOW to view registrants as who they truly are – human beings who deserve a second chance – and not lepers of society. The time is NOW not just to allow, but to support, registrants as they re-enter society so that they can live with their families and contribute their skills and talents to society.
This is the future we see. And we will support those, including judges and elected officials, who share our vision when we vote in November.