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Sex Offender Registries Don’t Keep Kids Safe, But Politicians Keep Expanding Them Anyway

The first time ____ ____ got evicted was in 2015. He was living with his wife and two sons in suburban Nashville when his probation officer called his landlord and informed him that Winters was a registered sex offender.

The previous year, when he was 24 years old, ____ had been arrested for downloading a three-minute porn clip. The file description said the girl in the video was 16; the prosecutor said she was 14. He was charged with attempted sexual exploitation of a minor and, because he had used file-sharing software to download the video, attempted distribution of child pornography.

Winters had no criminal record, no history of contact with children and no other illegal files on his computer. Facing an eight-year prison sentence, he had taken a plea deal that gave him six years’ probation and 15 years on Tennessee’s sex offender registry.

The day after his landlord found all this out, ____ found a letter on his porch giving him and his family 72 hours to move out. He ended up in one homeless shelter, his wife and sons in another.

He had no idea that it would be the last time he would ever live in a home. He has been sleeping in shelters, halfway houses and parked cars ever since. Full Article

Join the discussion

  1. Bill

    1. Easy votes for useless morons who want to keep their political seats.
    2. Easy for news media to fan the flames because it means ratings.
    3. Fear mongers who have a lot to hide about themselves.

  2. jw

    Good article in general.

    I’d like to see some studies further delve into recidivism, specifically around those registered for misdemeanors or who did not go to prison or jail. This article implies that all registrants have gone to prison – I’d like to know the stats on this.

  3. Tim in WI

    It was never about kids it was about potential database machines use by g-men.

    If indenture is humanly acceptable then the sky is the limit with respect to GOV USE OF the machines.THE SCAPEGOAT FOR ELECTRONIC DOMESTIC SURVEILLANCE SAINTS AND MASS COLLECTION OF CITIZENRY BIOMETRIC DATA. Still is working for that undisclosed purpose, retribution AND affirmative disability and restraint.

  4. Eric

    Human sexuality is a difficult drive for most people. It is the rare person who finds their childhood sweetheart, marries them and lives happily ever after enjoying a lifetime of intimacy with their loved one. For most humans, their sexuality is a journey of trying to balance a compelling intrinsic drive with social norms. It is inevitable that people are going to make mistakes and show poor judgment in this area. I made a very poor choice many years ago, it was a non-contact offense. Prior to that I was regarded as a respectable member of society and modestly successful. But I was out of a relationship, lonely, feeling depressed, and it was in the early age of the internet. I jumped into this technological marvel and soon found myself venturing into areas I knew were not appropriate, but before I could come to terms with my own impulses I had a visit from the feds. I paid a price that was literally inconceivable. But in the past fifteen years I have been a model citizen and met every condition imposed on me. But the scarlet letter of the registry makes it impossible to lead a normal life.

    I think most people who do sex offenses are like me. They were fundamentally good people that made a poor choice behind their sexual drive, and deeply regret the situation. Were I to get a chance to do it again, I would surely make different choices. We see everyday politicians and everyone else make poor life choices, and then hope for and expect forgiveness. But not so with the human that errs with their human sexuality. All the good I did for 45 years is null and void. That I have been a model person for the 15 years after my offense is on no consequence. No, the fact that I perused and area of the internet that was off limits is an unforgivable sin. If I were thinking more clearly I would have done a more socially acceptable crime like dog fighting, selling drugs to children, or robbing a store. Then I would have gotten a lighter sentence, no registration, and I would have long since regained my place in society. But no, I, like those others on the registry, are forever scorned and banned form society. It matters not that our collective recidivism rate is among the lowest. It matters not that I took full responsibility for my error. It matters not my deep regret and my wish to move on. Politicians can vote to send people to war for faulty causes, The media can prematurely accuse someone and destroy their life, and all is forgiven and forgotten, but those same people will point the finger and hold us in contempt till eternity passes. Welcome to the land of second chances–for some.

    • NotEasilyOffended

      I could have written the same 2 paragraphs!

      • Eric

        NoteasilyOffended…that is the tragedy of it, there are thousands of us with the same story.

    • Mp

      Eric, Very well said. It was like reading a story that drew me in immediately. Short and poignant and honest. Might you consider posting this in response to news articles. Or sending to the editor of the news organization. Or let me plagiarize it – ish 🙂 ( “ish” because not quite as my own as I am future registered family for now) As I learn how to communicate about this issue your post gives me insight.

      Something that gets to me and on a further point of yours, is the power of the computer. It is so ignored by so many of how it lures you in and you do things you would never have thought to do or new existed even. But it is right there, in front of you… a fake world and when you are battling your own demons at the time….well… we know the rest for many. I don’t think most would go out to some back ally seeking the photos or seeking to hook up with a child. Maybe I am foolish, but I just don’t think so. But a click….that’s easy.

      • Eric

        @ MP thank you for the compliment. Feel free to use it as you will. We are all in this together.

    • Laura

      Eric – I hear you. Unfortunately as most of us who scroll through the ACSOL website now know either after yourself or your loved one made this mistake how horrendous the registrant and the family that supports the registrant lives have become. But let us remember that some states are pushing to expand new registries that will include people who have been convicted with animal cruelty… So dog fighting may not be a crime that will keep one off a registry. (hee,hee) However, I highly doubt (and hope) that the Animal Cruelty registry will not become like what our Registrants are suffering through. What I know from my own family’s journey is that there are many other means of correcting, redeeming and rehabilitating those or which society sees as unworthy. And one day maybe most of our politicians will understand that before someone they love is made to register.

      • James I

        Listen Eric, everyone knows that what is happening and has happened to you has been a Crime…perpetrated against you as a person and against the people you love and that love you.

        It is a Crime, cruel and unrelenting….

        Sigh, but there is nothing I can do for you, as wrong as the wrong you are suffering is, I am made helpless and this makes me angry also.

        I’m sorry.

        I wish the United States were a different place…but it isn’t.

        Good luck…in life, (and in containing your rage…I myself am having trouble with this having read your story….Damn.)

        Best Wishes, James I

        • Eric

          @ James and Anonymous…this year we will be over one million people on the registry, that plus all our family and friends that know we are good people. This is a considerable political power. We just have to keep pushing against this thing and I believe it will happen. Janice and ACSOL have had huge victories in California, and I see many victories across the country. Stay strong and united.

      • Eric

        @Laura, well said, keep speaking out.

      • Eric

        @Laura…I was being deeply sarcastic with the dog fighting comment. I am a lifetime animal lover and would never conceive of such a thing. I was just mocking the justice system and looking for a little emotional reaction.

      • Tim

        WI had a drink driver registry. Cops use it as probable cause and I’ve heard of few DUI cases arise from FB posts. It is proof enough LEO on every level has a presence on FB, but registrants are denied by TOS which couldn’t be done ” by law. ” That alone shows the importance the ” database” is ” to assist law enforcement ” in their own marketing efforts. Meanwhile, other citizens, those who might implicate system corruption are nullified. That was the big data brothers plan in the first case., But how to sell it to the folks? THE SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY REGIME.

        What rancher or farmer or producer intelligently advertises the least ( or worst) of his flock via the world wide web?
        None! And with good reason.

  5. Anonymous

    @Eric, I can’t believe that your story is my story!!! Holy crap. There is a difference in that while I will always & forever feel Extreme shame & guilt, and I did tarnish my family name that my children must now live with because of internet cp, most of my friends and family stood by me. Wrote tons of letters to the judge and have given me work and dropped of cloths for my children and have paid bills anonymously. I did go to jail for a year while my 3 babies & wife were home crying.
    Afterword, Probation was so pissed that I wasn’t completely beaten down, homeless, penniless and at
    their mercy. I am so grateful and lucky. With help from friends and family, And Prayer, i have rebuilt myself in every way. But I am on that ridiculous registry!!

  6. NorthEastPENN

    A direct quote from the article states –

    “Another common element of sex offender registries is public notification. Every state requires offenders to notify their employers, landlords and neighbors of their status.”

    This is totally incorrect and false information. There are different forms of public notification in some states but a blanket statement such as this is totally inaccurate!

    • CR

      I noticed that too. Reporters seldom get everything right. In this case, though, I would not be inclined to correct him. Overall, it was an excellent article. We need more reporting like this.

      • NorthEastPENN

        Its not so much that I wanted to correct “him” but more so just me stating that it is statements like this that confuse or mislead the community overall including the cops.

        Example: My neighbor called the cops on me this winter. Cops pull up and threaten to arrest me. Why? Because my neighbor called and told the cops I was not allowed around minors because I am a registered S$x offender. I had a guy I know helping me shovel my driveway as I am disabled. He is 21 years old. So my neighbor just assumed (since he looked young) that this was a minor and decided to cause trouble for me.

        One of the three cops admitted that he did not even know what the laws were for someone like me. He also told me I have a$$holes for neighbors. Once it was verified that the guy was 21 the cops were embarrassed and apologized to me. I guess my neighbor did not get his jollies not seeing me hauled off in cuffs.

        Luckily I knew the laws and told the cops “With all due respect you will not be arresting me as I have not committed any crimes. There is no law in Penn that prevents “me” from being around minors (not even a court order)”. The younger less seasoned cop said “well, we will just see about that – and if you are lying to us we will be arresting you”.

        So it goes to show that not even the cops know what the laws are and set themselves up for embarrassment. The same cop received a call again weeks later. My housemate was working on his car during the day and was revving his engine. Same (we think) neighbor called the cops and said it was too noisy. Cop shows up and politely asks my housemate the tone the noise down a bit and tells my housemate he was here on the first call and that we should move away from these idiotic neighbors who are just pestering us for no reason.

        Sorry, I went off on a tangent a bit in this reply but I was just trying to emphasize that making corrections in the “comments” sections sometimes does help others to learn more about what is true and what is false.

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