By Mike W . . . At our core we cherish opportunity and equality as key American values. They define us. They make us who we are. Any obstacle that inhibits opportunity and equality is not only a major barrier; it is discrimination when it limits people unnecessarily. When discrimination is a barrier to opportunity, we have a responsibility to eliminate it. We must not tolerate discrimination in any form.
One of these barriers to opportunity and equality is the sex offender registry. The registry is a double whammy to those trying to be effective citizens. One is the conviction, then on a published list outlining the offence – some that are decades old. Larry Hill, 34, of Mt. Pleasant, MI, knows this process too well. In 12 weeks’ time he applied to 62 different companies trying to get a position as a truck driver. Larry completed several months in jail, time on probation, and therapy which presented the tools needed to ensure the likelihood of re-offense is greatly reduced. None of the 62 companies have given him a second chance after seeing he was listed on the registry. “It’s hard, ya know? I’ve been clean and sober for over 5 years, and paid my debt, made my amends. You think that would count for something.”
In fact, putting people on a registry eliminates opportunity and equality in that it:
Focuses on the worst moments of people’s lives rather than the present;
Fails to account for what rehabilitation was completed;
Neglects to explain how those injured were compensated;
Lacks any accounting of what positive actions were taken post-offence;
Discounts any improvements made such as getting an education, supporting a family, participating in the community, etc.;