Folks, it’s Lenore from Free-Range Kids, back here because I just got this email and it points very clearly to the path we must take: CHANGE THE SEX OFFENDER LAWS which are, as this “offender” himself notes, harsher than those we mete out for murder — even when what we’re talking about is CONSENSUAL SEX between two teens. – L.
I am a registered sex offender. My convictions were CSC 4th degree (statutory rape) and CSC 3rd degree. Both occurred in the State of Michigan, my first when I was 17. I was involved with my FIRST girlfriend, who was just about to turn 16 at the time of the offense (we started seeing each other when I was 16 and she was just about to turn 14 and headed into her freshman year of HS.) My second conviction came almost a year later to the day. I was on probation, admittedly not following orders as I was already listed on the sex offender registry, had been expelled from HS 3 months before graduating due to the conviction and convinced my life was pretty much over as I knew it. I ended up in a situation where a young woman lied to me about her age (15 when she was really 13) and I engaged in some sexual activity with her. Cops found out a couple of days later and after being told she was claiming forced rape, I told them what really happened and was given the good ole boy “we knew she was lying” routine, but even if it was not forced it did not matter I knew I was in big trouble because I found out then that she was only 13 and I was now 18.
I was looked at as predator because I was increasing in age and my “victims” were decreasing in age and sentenced to prison for a period of 1 1/2 years to 22 1/2 years.
Now i want to make a few of things perfectly clear. 1) Prison probably saved my life, I was a good kid way in way over his head with partying and living recklessly. 2) For my first conviction I was sentenced to 30 days in jail, 2 years probation and sex offender treatment, along with the mandatory 25 years on the Sex Offender Registry. 3) I was not a Leave-It-to-Beaver kid by any means. I did have issues with sex addiction and low self esteem but had no idea where or who to turn to in order to work on those issues 4) I was never put into treatment of any kind during my probation, my PO kept saying we would get to it eventually, which I did not understand because according the them I was some monster who needed to be tracked and monitored.
That being said, putting a non-violent statutory rapist in the same prison (my prison was actually a sex offender “compound” there was only about a 12 % segment of the population who were not sex offenders) as pedophiles, violent rapists, and true predators can create some very warped views and mindsets.
Eventually I was released and put on 2 years of parole, and after a very bumpy 2 years and a very understanding parole officer who knew I was inherently not a bad person, I was able to get off of parole.
Fast forward almost 7 years later and I am now 31, in college for the first time and doing quite well, but it took a LOT of false starts to get to where I am at. I deal with the registry because I have to, since I committed two sex offenses I am now on it for the rest of my life.
I am a level-three sex offender according to Arizona, the state in which I now reside, and that will also probably never change.
While I can see how my actions led to my incarceration and accept that there must be some punishment for breaking the law, I fail to see how having the stigma of being a “sex offender” hanging over my head for the rest of my life does myself or society any good.
The young man who was convicted of sex crimes at the age of 17 and 18 has finally grown up and I am in no way of the same mindset as I was back then. It’s a process we know as maturing. But I will forever be judged and seen by those actions of my past.
The system is not fair, and justice very rarely can be assigned to more than one party, especially if they are on opposing sides. But at one point can guys (and women) like me, who have served their time and are doing everything they follow the law and become useful members of society, get some sort of relief?
Sex offenders in today’s society face many obstacles, many of them crippling to say the least. With housing options limited, job opportunities almost nil (hope you like working in restaurants or telemarketing), and a legal system designed to induce failure rather than facilitate success, the pathway to become a useful member of society is littered with sinkholes and quicksand. I could have killed someone and have gotten a lighter maximum sentence, no registry and probably better employment opportunities than I have come across thus far.
I do not cry myself to sleep at night, nor am I hopeless. But I know the cards are stacked against me. My career options are limited to say the least and given the state of the nation these days, even with my college degree in hand down the road, my future is somewhat uncertain.
I am not a danger to society, I am not some monster who you need to be warned about. I am someone’s son, brother, mentor, and a friend to many. I am not a hardened career criminal, I am not going to peek in your blinds or steal your baby. I was a young man who made a series of very poor decisions and will pay for them for the rest of his life. And worse of all? I am not unique, I am not alone. There are many more like me, and they may not have the courage or means to speak up, so I am speaking up for them.