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General News

Kat’s Blog: To Compete In Today’s World, Registrants Need Computer Access

Making it out of prison alive is a success in itself.

Making a success of your life once you are out of prison is often a whole different story.

Registrants who are prohibited from using smartphones and computers, often those on probation, may find it a struggle trying to reintegrate into today’s fast paced techno- world without the proper tools. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to succeed in society without having access to computer technology that’s the norm for most men, women and children. For registrants, every day there’s some new challenge which requires the use of a computer that they can’t use.

Here’s just a few “for-instances”-

Job-hunting. Job classified ads in most newspapers are a thing of the past. Jobs are listed on the internet. Applications are on the internet. Sending resumes requires uploading, downloading, scanning, forwarding and so on. Responses to job inquiries arrive in the form of emails. Your chance to find a job, it’s all there on the web only you can’t access it. Instead, you may need to spend gas money you don’t have to travel to out-of-the way career centers that your P.O. designates as OK places to use monitored computers. There you can spend an hour looking for a job and tomorrow and the next day and the next, you can do it all over again. You don’t even have a job yet, but you’re spending gas money every day. The career centers are closed most weekends. If there’s a new job listed on the weekend, you’re just out of luck till Monday.

When you do find a job, chances are that your company benefits, paystubs, work schedule, emails and any company perks you are offered are all online. Being considered for a promotion? The need for a smartphone and internet access is no longer a suggestion, at many places it’s a work requirement.

House-hunting. For those who do still read newspapers, the Real-Estate section is short, very short. Listings for rooms, apartments and houses are all on the internet. When searching for housing, time is of the essence. Listings are snapped up in moments online. There’s time constraints when putting in applications and bids on housing. Emails and paperwork need to fly back and forth between you, your realtor and your mortgage lender. If you can’t get online how can you possibly compete with those who can?

Registry offices are closed weekends and holidays, even their weekday hours may be limited. Try finding a house or apartment when you must first call the registry office to check if the address is in a “registrant appropriate” zone. (There are zone maps that you could look at to find this information for yourself, however, those maps are located, where else, on the internet.)

Healthcare. Access to healthcare is online. Having the ability to research health insurance providers, different healthcare plans, doctors, it’s all online. Those big benefit booklets we all used to receive are a thing of the past, now you look up your benefits, claims and EOB’s online. Access to patient portals and your healthcare information is online. Scheduling and cancelling Dr.’s appointments, paying bills, completing new patient paperwork, all online. Tele-medicine chats which can save you midnight trips to the ER by having face-time with a Dr. via your smartphone, is out of your reach. You are denied equal access to this healthcare option and your trip to the ER will undoubtedly cost you more than a tele-medicine call would have.

Research. How do you know what’s going on with registry laws if you can’t research anything? Unless you have friends or family to keep you apprised of changes in rules, laws and proposals, you have no way of knowing anything. You can’t educate yourself. There’s no handbook for registrants that covers everything you need to know, there’s nothing that provides you with answers to all the questions you may have. The internet has a wealth of information and yet, it seems that registrants, especially new registrants that are on probation, are intentionally kept in the dark, denied access to the very knowledge that they should have.

There are so many other things that come up each day, little things like not having a phone book to look up numbers. Not being able to complete your own taxes on line. Not being able to check your own emails. Not being able to do your banking or pay your bills online. Hundreds of things that are done so routinely that most people can no longer imagine their lives without internet access.

As technology speeds ahead, many registrants are being left further and further behind because they are denied access to what has become part of everyday life, computers and the internet. If registrants are to succeed, they need to be given a level playing field and the same chance to fully participate in life as everyone else, any less is not acceptable.

Join the discussion

  1. Dram

    This is probably the best subject for RC business development that could be publicly promoted without the location liability being involved. If someone with business development talent could chime in and then move it over to SOSEN for more active engagement, this could fly. Call it The Redemption Trail or some such name.
    With employment being so difficult it seems the thing to do is begin a business incubator.

  2. Dustin

    The first PO I had told me I wasn’t allowed internet access until I installed some remote monitor which a) I couldn’t afford, b) doesn’t work on Chromebook, and c) has serious security issues. I flat out ignored everything she said and was willing to go to court over it – she wouldn’t put it in writing. That lady has a history of bullying and abusing authority. Fortunately for me, they promoted her to assistant chief PO and she’s pretty much out of my face. Never discussed it directly with my new one. I just told her my phone and laptop are synched and she (of course) can look through it whenever she wants. Don’t have the wifi password; laptop is set up to hook up automatically and can only access it with my Google id.

    Back to topic, modern life is simply impossible without internet access and restricting registrants from accessing it essentially renders them homeless or imposes impossible terms. Depending on the extremes a PO wants to take it, a registrant could be in violation for using an ATM card or watching tv. Everything is digital (i.e. runs on the internet) these days.

  3. RegistrantNotAnOffender

    Took me two months to get internet access. Every visit my PO said “When are you going to get a job”.

    How can I get a job without internet?

    “Oh yeah thats tough. Better ask your therapist”

  4. FinallyOffTheReg

    So, I feel qualified to weigh in here.

    Though I am off the Reg, I am still under Federal Supervised Release.

    My computer and everything I do is MONITORED. I can participate fully and conduct all research I need or wish, can function as a Digital Citizen, participate in any role as a Legal Digital Citizen, send the emails I need to for Business and Personal, etc. No Facebook, never had it never ever wanted it, etc. Besides, even after US V. Packingham, Facebook blocked registered folks and that was their Prerogative as it’s not an open platform (In my understanding).

    I have been under this schema for the past almost three years. I keep my digital footprint “light”, am mindful of sites which could be “seen” as “red flags” and keep what I see as a “privilege” and not a “Right” as just that. I am grateful to be able to access, and as there has never been an issue with any content. Moreover, the Monitoring has been proven to be effective in terms of many positives in how I am treated by Supervision via my compliance with the RULES.

    Look, I screwed up and now I pay that price. I can PROVE irrevocably, legally, factually and measurably that as a Monitored Digital Citizen, that all of my travels have been “legal” .

    I don’t have to like it. I don’t sit there and “*itch” about it. It is what it is. Yes, it’s a price in terms of monthly monitoring I must pay. I have a choice: Agree or Don’t Agree and Have NO Access”.

    The proof of my compliance has been in the results of the Monitoring. These are the rules. This is the landscape of the rules as set forth by my Supervising Officer, the Court and what is required. Now, I know by now what is monitored. It is every single thing I do through my computer. These are the rules. This is the landscape.

    As such, it has allowed me to participate and be part of growing a Company in ways I could have never imagined. To be an integral part of an Executive Team and the decisions which need to be made in “real-time” and access to a computer and the Internet have been the sole reasons why this has happened.

    Being able to communicate on Skype, being able to get quotes and emails and keep to the modern business pace of access to Digital Tools to enable such. Being able to design appropriate sales materials, reach out to overseas vendors, engage in real time Video Conferences and Shepard my success has been immeasurable.

    It’s my duty to be compliant with my Probation. If there is a tool, ANY tool that can prove that on a moment to moment basis, it’s the monitoring of my Digital activities. Its a tool of verification that’s not just my proffering of adherence to the rules.

    So, I measure the trade-off against the results and the success. Without my privilege of access to Technology I would be “dead in the water”. My ensuing success and re-integration back into a strong business community has been directly from my Supervising PO granting me monitored access and use of a Computer through my home office. REALLY? Just what the hell should I “*itch” about? NOTHING.

    Just some thoughts.

    • RegistrantNotAnOffender

      Truly written like someone being monitored. I am sure they will love your post 😉

    • Dustin

      @ FinallyOffTheReg:

      Your own words (Without my privilege of access to Technology I would be “dead in the water”) prove the point Kat was making – modern life is simply not possible without internet access, and completely blocking registrants is basically setting them up for failure of parole/probation terms (deliberately, in many cases).

    • Facts should matter

      I see as a “privilege” and not a “Right” as just that.

      “It is what it is.”

      I find it disturbing and sad how all this has been normalized as routine in your mind. Sorry, but freedom without privacy is slavery and oppression !

      This is EXACTLY what they want. For you to play nice and live with it.

      • Notorious D.I.K. / Kennerly

        Yes, it is sad and just as sad is the way the whole “privilege-and-not-a-right” false-narrative seems to have swept through society to strangle the individual. A testament to the undying power of driver’s ed teachers and their words of wisdom (“driving is a privilege and not a right”).

  5. RegistrantNotAnOffender

    I am glad the civil rights activist didn’t settle for “at least im not a slave anymore.”

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