Twenty-eight people who were registered sex offenders, or the wife, mother, father, brother or counselor of sex offenders, lined up to give testimony to the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee on Friday, asking for changes to the Nebraska registry law.
The Judiciary Committee embarked on a study of the sex offender registry law over the interim to determine if changes are needed and, if so, what they should be.
The registered offenders told the committee about how the registry created life-altering situations in which they couldn’t get jobs, or only the lowest-paying jobs, or were denied housing. Spouses and children were punished along with them, and in some cases their inclusion on the registry led to divorce because of the limitations it placed on their lives.
One man said he had been shot in the back because of his presence on the registry.
“Almost 6,000 Nebraska families live under discrimination and paranoia created by the registry,” said Deborah Whitt.
Families are deeply and negatively affected by the unintended burdens of this law, she said. It is unjust, and does not protect people, but rather creates in communities climates of suspicion, anxiety, hate, bullying and fear.
If offenders have served their sentences, done all the programming and therapy, why continue to discriminate against them, Whitt asked.