It’s well known, nothing is clear cut when it comes to the registry. The rules and regulations may vary slightly from state to state, but the vagueness with which these regulations were conceived and are enforced, is the same all over.
Take Halloween for instance.
In my neck of the woods, every year registrants were given letters by their P.O.’s or sent letters from the registry office outlining the do’s and don’ts of Halloween. Some years there were curfews and restrictions on outside Fall Decorations. There were warnings to keep outside lights off, don’t answer the door to trick or treaters, don’t wear any costumes.
This year, nothing.
None of the registrants I know were given any instructions on how to precede this Halloween. There were no flyers handed out, no letters in the mail. It was left up to registrants to somehow figure out if this year’s regulations had been increased, decreased or completely done away with. (The latter is not likely, but I’m always hopeful!)
Was the vagueness intentional?
Was it a trap, a set-up for unsuspecting registrants who were somehow supposed to guess at this year’s latest regulatory ridiculousness?
Our town had a little thing called Operation Blackout going on during the 10 days preceding the holiday. (The only way I even knew about this was by going to the state government website.) According to the Dept. of Corrections, they visited thousands of homes of “high-risk-sex offenders” in order to increase the safety of trick or treaters. Maybe it was only those at high-risk, of what I’m not certain, that got a head’s up as to what to do on Halloween. As for everyone else, you were on your own to figure it out and I bet claiming “nobody told me the rules” wouldn’t help you should you have ended up in court.
I think “vagueness” is what may ultimately do the registry in. You really can’t have rules and regulations that are so vague that those who are in charge of enforcing them A) can’t explain them and B) admit that they don’t really understand them themselves.
A few examples of things the registry folks can’t explain:
Why registrants can’t use the boat launch at the marina. Yes, the marina has the same name as the park across the street from it, but it’s not “in” the park, it’s on the river. So, is the river off limits?
Why are registrants permitted to attend and even work at a “family fun recreational venue” in town, the sort of place that has indoor rock-climbing, an arcade, bowling, etc., even though it’s within 1000 ft of a church daycare center? (We checked twice with the registry folks on this one and both times it was a “yes”.)
How often is the town map of where registrants can live and work “updated”? Is it only updated when new day-cares spring up? How about when old ones close down? Do the boundary lines account for that?
Why is it that registrants can dine at a restaurant adjacent to a greenway but can’t work in that same restaurant because, it’s adjacent to a greenway?
You get my point, this whole registry situation, it’s all very vague, the rules aren’t clear even to those who are charged with enforcing them.
And it’s this vagueness, this uncertainness of the very rules upon which it is based that I think may bring about its downfall, especially now that registrants are coming out of the shadows, getting themselves lawyers and stepping up to reclaim not only their constitutional rights but their dignity as well.
No longer are registrants willing to abide by rules and regulations that are not clearly understood, recognized or stated.
Laws that are too vague to be understood have no place in our justice system.