Registrants receive mixed messages when trying to make sense of the registry’s Residency & Presence Regulations. If you haven’t already, try reading the updated (Sept. 2018) State & Territorial Registration Laws Concerning Visiting & Temporary Residence by Adults. Then read your individual state’s registry rules. It’s like trying to read the newspaper without reading glasses. While state boundary lines may be bold and clear, everything else is small print, blurred and causes a headache.
Every state is different. In some cases every town is different. There are states with no residency or presence regulations (kudos to those states for they have common sense). There are states that hold registrants to 1,000 ft. imaginary boundary lines that serve no credible purpose. Registrants can’t find employment or housing in “off-limit” areas. In those states without restrictions often one must first be off parole or probation before those “non- restriction” restrictions kick-in.
Registration requirements are triggered by the establishment of a “residence”, the dictionary’s meaning of residence is to “dwell for a considerable time, make one’s home, live.” But when registrant’s ask the question, “what’s a considerable time” they get conflicting answers from some authorities or the “just to be safe, it’s best to not stay anywhere over-night” answer from other authorities. Everyone’s interpretation of the written restrictions is different and many are afraid to admit that they don’t completely understand the rules either.
The registry forces adult registrants who are involved in adult relationships to be fearful of spending the night at a partner’s home because it might somehow be considered a “residence” after just one night.
Some state laws read that registrants can stay at another residence for “14 aggregate days” in the calendar year. At first glance, who amongst us understands what that is supposed to mean? I had to look it up, aggregate, it’s the sum total. As it reads, it would seem that one could stay at a residence other than your own for 14 out of 365 days. But then you read the fine print. What if your partner’s home is in an area that is off limits for a registrant? Does that mean you can’t visit during the day? Is that a presence violation? Would you never be able to spend the night? How many consecutive days can you spend at a partner’s residence before it’s considered a “secondary residence”? These “iffy” questions can put a strain on any relationship and you’re left to worry about whether any of these situations could possibly trigger a parole violation or a registry violation.
And yet, no one seems to have the answers to these questions. And “just to be safe, out of an abundance of caution, you probably shouldn’t go there and certainly not spend the night” just doesn’t seem like an appropriate answer to an adult registrant’s questions about residency & presence. It seems very condescending and dismissive.
Registrants are all too often left to figure out on their own the registry’s true meaning when it comes to residency and presence restrictions. Is it confusing “on purpose”, just to trip up registrants? There’s short & long term residency. There’s primary and secondary residency. If you go on vacation out of state there is absurd registry. A 14 day trip and you may not need to register but stay a 15th day then technically you should have registered within 72 hours of the 1st day of your vacation. How would that even be possible? It’s crazy. And yet, these are the way the rules are written for registrants to figure out.
To make matters worse, you are expected to understand not only the rules for the state you reside in, but for any state you may venture to or through, “just to be on the safe side”. The fact that many registrants on parole are prohibited from internet use makes this all the more ludicrous because they can’t research the very regulations they are expected to abide by.
Something is very wrong with our system.
When registrants are expected to abide by residency and presence rules and regulations, those rules and regulations should be clear cut and concise, there shouldn’t be any question as to their meanings and their interpretation should be easily understandable by any and all.
The onus of interpreting poorly written city, state and federal rules and regulations should not be placed on registrants.