The opinions expressed within posts and comments are solely those of each author, and are not necessarily those of Women Against Registry.
One of the hazards of aging is memory lapses.
If we’re fortunate enough to make it into our 50’s,60’s and beyond, we may start noticing that we forget little things, where you left the car keys, where you put your eyeglasses, people’s names. It happens, minor forgetfulness, it’s considered a normal part of aging.
But what if you’re a registrant and you “forget” to register.
As we speak, the fall-out of “forgetfulness” is happening to a 57 yr. old registrant in Kansas.
Last year “John Doe” simply “forgot” to register. He just plum-out, forgot. Registering, it’s something he’d been doing every year for 25 years. Last April, it just slipped his mind. At 57, it happens.
The unfortunate consequences for that minor “senior moment, brain-fog or brain-fart” as memory lapses are fondly known by many of us over 50, may land “John Doe” behind bars.
This week he will go to court for a FTR, “failure-to-register” charge. He is facing a 3 year jail/prison sentence for this small lapse of memory. His public defender had advised him to plead guilty.
Is this right?
It’s no more “right” than another case of an 80 yr old registrant in the early stages of dementia who faced similar charges for his “forgetfulness”.
Thanks to SORNA, jurisdictions require a failure to register statute, a criminal penalty that includes a maximum term of imprisonment of greater than one year for failure to comply with SORNA requirements.
Federal failure to register offenses can be up to 10 years of imprisonment for sex offenders under SORNA who “knowingly” fail to register or update their registration.
To any rationally thinking person, “knowingly” should be the key factor in the court’s decision on cases like these.
Did John Doe or the elderly fellow in the early stages of dementia “knowingly” not register? Or did they simply “forget”?
And if they simply “forgot” due to nothing more than an age related “brain-fog”, do they deserve what would be tantamount to a “prison sentence for aging?”
We are all aging.
Humans are not infallible.
Aging often brings with it many minor to major inconvienences, the need for reading glasses, dentures, titanium hips and total knee replacements. It brings hearing loss and loss of dexterity. And it brings memory lapses. Short term, long term memory lapses. This is a normal part of the aging process that simply put, has no cure. It just happens and there’s nothing any of us can do about it.
Are we going to put people who have spent a lifetime registering every year without fail in jail or prison because as they aged, they simply “forgot” to register? Will the courts really twist these cases and try to make those involved seem like people who “knowingly” failed to register, rather than just older folks who didn’t keep up with their “things to do” list on their calendar?
I wonder where our humanity has gone?
There used to be a time when if you didn’t show up for work, your employer would call you at home to see if you were OK and if they couldn’t reach you, they called your next of kin. They cared enough to check on you if you did something totally out of the ordinary like not showing up for work.
Maybe the registry should care more, maybe they should show a little humanity. Maybe if someone who has been registering every year without fail, fails to show up to register when they’re supposed to, maybe the registry should simply make a phone call or text them.
RU OK? U 4got to Register.
Is that asking too much?
Wouldn’t that be more humane and a whole lot easier, not to mention less costly, than court proceedings that throw older registrants back in prison because their memory failed them and they “forgot” to register?
Or, maybe the real problem is that when one fails to register, the almighty registration fee doesn’t get paid and the state can’t exact it’s “blood-money” from the registrant.
Maybe that’s what this really boils down to, money.
It’s sure not about the state’s concern for aging registrants.
And like it or not, the registrant population is rapidly aging.
Where does it end?