Usually I am supportive of what I read on the NARSOL (National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws) website. It seems like a good organization, very informative and supportive, however….
Their most recent idea, a project called “Registered Humans” gives me cause for concern.
The idea behind the project is to put a name,a face and a story to the sex offender/registrant label, to show John Q. Public that all registrants aren’t “creepy monsters” like they’ve been led to believe, that these are normal human beings with flaws, just like you and I. Maybe if we can just get the public to put a name to a face and read stories of how people have turned their lives around, show that they’ve contributed to society, raised families, have hopes and dreams just like the rest of us, maybe, surely, society will accept them again.
Ah, I don’t think this is the way to go.
First of all, to meet criteria for the Registered Humans Project registrants are required to be “offense free” for 1 year or more, then they are asked to send in a brief written “snapshot of their life”, along with a “true” full or partial name and a photograph of themselves.
Hmmm, isn’t that kind of like what the registry requires? Name, photo, snapshot of your offense?
How many registrants want to “re-subject” themselves to harrassment or violence by putting their name, picture and a “snapshot” of their former and current life and how they’ve overcome adversity, on yet another website? It’s because of the registry and this kind of info being easily available to John Q. Public that registrants can’t find jobs and housing and are already subjected to ill treatment by the public, violence, family and job harrassment, etc.
Why would an organization like NARSOL ask registrants to do this?
Currently there are two “snapshot life stories” with names and pictures on NARSOL’s “Registered Humans” project website. I read the stories, I looked at the pictures, happy, smiling registrants yet I couldn’t help being reminded of those ASPCA ads on TV that I can’t bear to watch, the heartbreaking stories of abused animals, complete with sad pictures, urging me to donate money to a good cause. It seems to me that NARSOL is turning registrants into a print ad to gain public sympathy? Why would they do that?
Writing a short encouraging, up-lifting story to show how someone’s overcome the challenges of life on the registry “might” be a good thing. We all like to hear that it’s possible to rebuild a life in spite of the registry. But a website where registrants are made to share their name and photo if they want to share their story, seems like a recipe for disaster.
When I thought it couldn’t get much worse, I read that NARSOL plans a Part 2 Registered Humans video project to be used as public service announcements. I can only imagine faces of registrants showing up on the TV screen, “Does this look like the face of a sex offender?” “How about this one?” Is this really the direction that helping educate the public should be going in?
Now, I am by no means suggesting that registrants should be ashamed of themselves and hide from public view, I just don’t think being forced to submit your name, partial or otherwise and a photograph, should be part of the criteria for being part of this project. There’s plenty of folks out there that would love to tell their stories but we all know that the current public arena is not always welcoming and alot of people just aren’t willing to risk more ridicule than they already must endure because of the registry by “putting a name to a face”.
NARSOL, we are better than this. I don’t believe registrants want or need public sympathy. I think registrants want the public to hear true facts regarding the registry. I think they’d be happy to tell their stories in a safe, sane way to educate the public and to also encourage others who are traveling the registry road.
We just don’t need to make registrants into public “poster children” for the sake of obtaining saner sex offender laws.
This approach just seems so wrong in so many ways!.