A mother in Maryland has a change.org petition which seeks to overhaul Maryland state guidelines/Bill 320 for “sex offenders” by requiring lifetime supervision. (The full article can be read on the ACSOL website.) The impetus for her zealous petition appears to be a child- abuse situation within her own family, a spouse who allegedly abused one of her children. In reading her petition, she provides an overview of the emotional drama going on within her particular situation, the financial costs of sexual abuse to her family and her request for information or resources that could help her in her cause.
The problem with passing this petition, as I see it, is that her individual issue, her anger towards the abuser in her situation, is being misdirected at all registrants. While her petition is focused on her own situation, the public and lawmakers are misled when reading it to believe that a majority of registrants are like the registrant she describes in her petition, a child abuser who should require lifetime supervision.
This petition just promotes another bill insinuating all registrants are the same, all a danger to children, all child molesters and predators who need to be supervised forever. It bothers me that her petition contains words like “pedophile” and “predators”. We, the petition readers, don’t know if the abuser in her situation was diagnosed as a pedophile, and if he was, that’s his personal medical business, not something that should be posted on a social media petition.
It reads like a “revenge-posting”. It’s maddening.
I don’t begrudge anyone the right to tell their story or to solicit emotional or financial support or any other resources for their cause. What really ticks me off though is the blatant misrepresentation of an entire group of people, registrants. “Registrant” is not a one-size-fits-all label and bills being brought before our courts which affect registrants, shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all either.
Certainly, as in other offenses, there are those offenders that may require lifetime supervision. With regard to registrants, those are in the minority. Petitions like this are extremely harmful as these are “blanket” bills, once passed, individual cases don’t get taken into consideration, they blanket everyone, and before you know it, they blanket other states as well.
When you’ve served your time, completed your probation/parole, you deserve the right to live without the never-ending interference of “do-gooder” bills designed by people who think they know you because of a label that’s been placed on you. They assume, and want everyone else to also assume that you will “re-offend” and therefore must be watched carefully, forever. They use catchy phrases like “keep our babies safe” or “save the children” in order to garner support.
This mother’s story sounds as though she’s been through a tough time and truly wants to do something to change what she perceives as unfair laws. We can all understand that. We want unfair laws changed too.
But, positive changes to society aren’t made by intentionally misrepresenting and sacrificing an entire group of people in order to further your own agenda. Laws need to be fair, for everyone.
Last year, this petitioner presented an even more restrictive Maryland bill which thankfully never made it to the floor for a vote, hopefully the requested overhaul of Bill 320 will die a quick death as well.