Blog Description and Introduction

Ok, here it is..the unadulterated truth. What I say here will no doubt cause great disagreement by many people. Good. If they disagree, that means they read it. Those are the very people who need to see this information! Education is not necessarily about being comfortable. Learning involves change, and not too many like change. Especially the well-to-do. They have a vested interest in keeping things the way they are.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Unjust Treatment in the Name of Justice

Foreword:  This is a copy, by permission, of a letter this author received following a discussion of a TV news report.  The report had reduced her to tears, and she followed up with this write-up, explaining her outburst.
All names (including the name of the author of this letter), have been changed, and specifics have been omitted or altered to protect the innocent and those associated with them.

By  S.W. Garletta

        I want to see Megan’s Law repealed.  Shocked?  Don’t be.  If you consider yourself a fair, open-minded person, you will keep reading.  If you refuse to read further, you are one of those who are part of the problem.

            The majority of this piece simply points out the facts and fictions about this law, and uses imaginary examples, or those culled from news broadcasts.  However, there is a part of this essay that involves a personal and true story.  As with many such true stories, in which there are living persons whose privacy needs to remain protected, the names, locations, and exact circumstances have been altered.  The central facts, however, are absolutely true.  I know them to be true, because my own husband is one of the unfortunates caught up in this web of lies and fear mongering woven by our government!!  I have read the files, and know I am right.
            On the surface of it, the so-called Megan’s Law seems to be a good idea:  warn those with children when a sexual offender lives in or moves into their neighborhood.   In practice, the law is horribly flawed.  It simply does not work as intended.   However, it is important to keep in mind that what happened to poor little Megan was not  a sexual assault alone—she was murdered!  Therefore, to place sexual-only attacks in the same category is just plain wrong. 
           Do not misunderstand:  I make no excuses or justifications for those who have inappropriate sexual encounters with young children, and I do not deny that such events are horribly traumatic for the child and the family.  However, with therapy, recovery is possible. There is no therapy or recovery from murder, however, and that is why  Megan’s case should not be the basis for these unjust laws.

            The first and most terrible flaw is that it has been ruled unconstitutional in just about every single state or jurisdiction, which has such laws.  The government does not care.  The politicians push these laws to gain votes in election years in order to appear “tough on crime.”  They do not give a rat’s ass about either the victims or the perpetrators.  All they care about is gaining votes to keep them in office.  Personal gain is their sole motivation.

           (Personally, I’d be more concerned if a convicted murderer moved into the area;  and this does happen.)  Murderers, however, are not required to report their locations or register with a state or county agency on a yearly basis.  Where are they?  No one knows.

            This is not to suggest that I want a database established for these, or any other person who has duly served their time and been released back into society.  I do not.  Such laws, in addition to being unconstitutional, are highly discriminatory and counter-productive. 

            Part of the reason "Megan's Law" is unconstitutional is because the people required to register on these lists are in fact, continuing to be punished, and ‘serve time’ despite the fact that they have served their time and have been released from prison.  Even after they have completed their parole period with no infractions, still they must register.  It is, in effect, a life sentence. 
           For this reason, it can also be seen as double jeopardy, remaining accused for a lifetime for the same ‘crime’ for which they already served, and in the majority of cases, been "rehabilitated." I put that word in quotes because in many, many cases, the law was incorrectly applied, and they were not, in fact, guilty of the charges putting them into this category, so "rehabilitation" was not even needed!!
           For example, if something happens within a family setting, while it is certainly not "the right thing to do," there is a different set of laws to be applied, and the person is not supposed to be classified as  'stranger-predator.'  No one cares!  People in such circumstances still get caught in the same trap, all because some D.A. wants to "look tough on crime."

            The law is applied illegally most of the time.  People such as my husband, (I’ll call him "Timothy"), are placed on this list in direct violation of the Department of Justice (DOJ) rules when the circumstances in their situation are spelled out in the DOJ rules as being exempt from registration and internet publication. This is the case, (and there are a couple of other situations as well)  if whatever it was happened within a family unit, rather than a so-called ‘stranger predetation.’)  The DOJ does not care.  Everyone even charged with anything remotely and ridiculously classified as a ‘sexual offense’ gets caught in this web.

 Do not scoff!  It can happen to you!  Have you ever been on a long drive, and “had to go” but there were no rest stops, small towns, big cities, or any other stopping place with any ‘facilities’ anywhere near?  What do most folks do in this situation?  Correct!  Pull off the side of the road, hunker down as best as possible beside the car, and relieve themselves.  Ooops!  Get caught, and get slapped with a ‘sexual offender’ charge.  Ridiculous?  Unjust? Incorrect?  You bet!  But it happens, and more often than you would think.

            Equally scary is the devastation of the lives of young people by this kind of unfair, unconstitutional laws.  Regardless of anyone’s opinion about whether or not teenagers should simply ‘abstain’ from sexual activity, the fact is, they do not.  We humans are sexual animals, (yes, animals—look up the dictionary definition of ‘mammal’ -- we are among them), and face it--sex feels good. Despite the wishful-thinking of the extreme right-wing "moralists," We are not designed for abstinence.  Need proof?  Just look at all the scandals involving priests! 

            Now, if the teenagers involved are both under 18, there is no real problem with the law.  There may be plenty of other problems, but I will not go into that here.  This article is strictly about the Megan’s Law snafus. 
            Let’s take an imaginary couple of kids, I’ll call them  “Grace” and “Billy.”  Suppose they have known each other all their lives, and actually have a deep and caring relationship.  We’ll put "Grace" at just a month shy of her 18th birthday, and "Billy" at having just turned 18.  Grace will be graduating from high school, and the two plan to get married. 

            Now, let’s examine how Megan’s Law will come into play to totally foul up their plans for the rest of their lives.  We’ll say they had relations, and somehow, someone else found out.  Technically, under the law, "Grace" is still a ‘minor child,’ and "Billy" is technically now an adult.  Guess what happens?  "Billy" gets slapped with a sexual offender charge, and there is no allowable defense as the law currently stands.  He may go to jail for several years.  So much for their impending marriage!  The law simply dumps every single case into the same basket, and refuses to take individual circumstances, or non-predatory situations  into consideration. 

Once "Billy" gets out of jail, he’ll now have to register as a “sex offender” for the rest of his life!!!   Guess what that does to his chances to find work?  It’s going to show up on background checks, and he will be denied any kind of reasonable job, even though he did not hurt anyone, was not a predator, and was simply with the girl he loved and planned to marry. 
Regardless of laws prohibiting discrimination; regardless of laws encouraging employers to hire ex-cons to give them a fresh start, this unfair denial of employment still happens.  Naturally, the employer will cover their backside by giving some other bogus reason, but the truth is, they are ‘spooked’ by the ‘sex offender’ stigma, and will deny employment in far too many cases.

            Maybe he is lucky, and "Grace" waited for him and stuck by him.  Maybe they do finally get to marry.  Now, given that his name is on the offender registry for any member of the public to find, not only will he have trouble finding a decent job to support any family they may have, but by association, "Grace" will also be judged and ostracized. 
           They will have trouble finding friends.  People will talk about them behind their backs and point fingers.  All for no good reason.  Neither of them hurt anyone, but the both of them have been irreparably hurt for the rest of their lives, simply because they loved each other, and the government saw fit to stick its nose into someone’s private bedroom!

            A very recent story on the news, in fact, involved a 17-year-old male who became involved with, and had relations with a 20-year-old school employee.  Anyone with a head on their shoulders and two brain cells inside knows very well the interests and hormonal levels of a 17-year-old male!  There is not a single doubt in my mind that this was a consensual affair, and not a “molestation” by the female school employee.   I will not disagree that it was inappropriate, but it can in no way be classified as a molestation or rape.

 There had to be mutual consent.  How do I know?  A young man of that age has plenty of strength to fend off any female not armed with a weapon.  No weapons were involved in the case.  The next thing that most people are aware of about males of that age, is an irresistible urge to boast about ‘conquests.’  No doubt it came to light and they got caught because the kid could not keep his mouth shut.  If the school employee has to register as a ‘sex offender’ for the balance of her life, it will be a grave injustice for having a single lapse in good judgment.

            Most people are cowards of the first water.  Upon seeing someone’s name on this list, especially that of a neighbor, they will immediately assume  that the person is a horrible monster, and will have nothing to do with that person. 
(Remember what ASSUME spells: it makes an Ass out of U and Me!)
Worse, they will probably blab their “findings” all over the place to anyone who will listen.  It is the rare person who will actually approach the listed individual themselves and ask for their side of the story.  That has happened only once with my "Timothy."

            The Megan’s Law list is so full of inaccuracies and illegal listings as to be worse than useless.  There are duplicate listings, making it appear as if there are far more so-called ‘predators’ on the loose than is the case.  There are countless inclusions of people placed on the list illegally, as with "Timothy," whose personal circumstances specifically exempt him from being on that list as spelled out in the DOJ’s own rules.  Those rules are routinely ignored.  Once someone is on that list, it is next to impossible to be removed, even if they are listed illegally.  Why?  Well, the ‘simple form’ that a person can fill out to verify their circumstances and ask for removal will come back with a denial, based on some obscure excuse not even listed on the original form.

            There are entire law firms basing their business around getting people off this list if they have been unjustly placed there.  However, this costs a lot of money, and as we have seen, people caught in this web are very likely to be in dead-end low-paying jobs without the resources to hire legal help.  In this country, you get all the justice you can afford to buy!  (Remember O.J. Simpson?)

What happened with my "Timothy" was especially unjust, because when he began serving time, there was no such law.  It was implemented after he had been incarcerated for a few years.  He should not have been jailed in the first place.  Why was he?  Because he is an ethical, chivalrous person, and took the rap to protect the person actually responsible for what happened, that being his ex-wife.  It is not a made-up excuse or lie he tells.  He believes in the truth.  As I said, I have seen the files, and know the facts of the matter.

            The media is in large part to blame for this widespread injustice.  They just love to sensationalize and blow things way out of proportion to the truth.  “If it bleeds, it leads” is a guiding principle in modern journalism.  Never mind the facts—those are boring.  Another thing to keep in mind:  it is possible to report facts and still cast a false light on any subject with the lie of omission.  By simply neglecting to include other important points, the news reports put a spin that will sell advertising time for them.  They are not too concerned with the full facts.

            Rarely, an in-depth news show will offer more balanced coverage.  This was the case with a 20/20 episode, which aired a few years back, exposing the problems with the Megan’s Law registry and all the errors.  Unfortunately, 20/20 is not a news show watched by ‘the mainstream audience’ to which regular network news is targeted, so there is not a wide base of people aware of the problems.

            Another problem with these statistics, as was pointed out in the 20/20 segment:  The vast majority of so-called ‘child abduction’ cases are actually family custody disputes of one sort or another, yet they are lumped in with the ‘stranger predation’ cases just the same.  The mainstream media and politicians would have their viewers and constituents quaking in fear of a predator waiting behind every bush.  This is simply not the case—far from it!! 
            The main factor which people seem to be totally blind to is this:  the people on that registry are not the ones to be afraid of!!!  They are doing as required by this foolish law, in spite of how horribly it affects their personal lives and the lives of those close to them.  No, indeed.  The people the public should be concerned about do not appear on any of these lists.  Why?  Because the lists only account for those who actually go through with the registration! This law is nothing more than a "feel-good" prescription for the public, and does nothing at all to deter the actual dangerous true predators, (who are very rare anyhow).  Why?  Because:
 The truly dangerous ones are not in compliance, do not register, and no one knows where they are at any given time!  
  A far better strategy than having these cumbersome, illegal, unconstitutional and problem-causing registries is to simply use some common sense.  Do not fall for the fear mongering tactics.  It is with laws such as these that our freedoms become eroded.  If the powers-that-be can get away with revoking constitutionally guaranteed rights from one group of people on some trumped-up excuse, they will gradually take more and more rights away from everyone. 

            We may not like that there are some rotten, evil people out there in the world, but ‘twas ever thus: they have always existed.  To try and live in some kind of bubble, or put people in lifetime classifications and cages simply does not work.   Making use of our own inner strengths, learning self-defense, and teaching our youngsters self-defense as well is more useful and far less expensive and less draining on limited resources, especially in an ailing economy.  If physical education classes in school incorporated self-defense techniques, it would serve a two-fold purpose.  First, kids would be far less vulnerable to the (very rare) predators that exist; the secondary benefit is that it would end bullying by other kids, because the bully types would know that everyone knows how to defend against an attack, thereby rendering the bullies powerless.

            Let’s stop the madness, stop the injustice, stop the fear mongering, stop the erosion of our freedoms, and get these registry laws repealed!  They do far more harm than good.

            The denial of anyone’s rights is the denial of all our rights.