Recently I wrote a piece on Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s denying and then limiting a father who also happens to be a registrant, access to visit his ill child in the hospital. A father who was doing right by his child, being responsible, being there to comfort his ailing son.
This week I read another article about Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital/South St. Louis who is denying a father who also happens to be a registrant, (his offense was in 2004) further visitation with his premature son in NICU. The hospital apparently has a “by hospital escort only” visiting policy for registrants and while the father was fine with that, he needed to go outside to make a phone call and was advised by hospital staff to “just go, you don’t need an escort for that”. Due to staff’s apparent lack of understanding on exactly how this “by hospital escort only” policy is supposed to be applied to registrants, the father went outside but upon his return inside the hospital, security checked the father’s ID, determined “Ahah, here is a registrant “sans” escort”, and his visitation rights were promptly terminated.
Now there’s a father in Raleigh, N. Carolina who has been arrested for “being seen near the Raleigh elementary school that his child attends and also on the grounds of a day care center”. Darious Alphonso Douglas was charged with 2 felony counts of being a registered sex offender on “children’s premises” whatever that is, I wasn’t aware children had “premises”. He was carted off to jail and held under $30,000 bail. According to the warrant, the offenses occurred during the period of Oct. 26, 2017 and March 21, 2018.
The original news article is sketchy and a little disjointed if you ask me. It’s hard to understand “exactly” what the facts are and what the crime is.
Yes, Mr. Douglas was on school grounds. Yes, this is currently, in most places, a registry violation for a registrant.
But if you’re a parent and don’t take your child to school or pick up them up, isn’t that the bigger crime?
According to the school’s principal, Mr. Douglas had enrolled his child in Washington Elementary School. He had also signed his child up for the before-school program. And, Mr. Douglas had picked his child up from carpool. All things that responsible parents do. Just like visiting your ill child in the hospital.
“Mr. Douglas had never checked in at the front-office and there was no indication that he ever went any further than the cafeteria entryway when dropping off his child” said Principal Grant. Was this a good thing or a bad thing? Is the school’s policy that everyone check in at the front-office or just registrants? Is there some policy that Mr. Douglas wasn’t aware of when it comes to him being able to drop-off and pick-up his child from school. It’s hard to tell from the article.
But then I also wonder why Principal Grant felt the need to send a recorded message to the families of the entire school body regarding the incident, and what did that message say? “Beware, a sex offender has been in our midst?”, “Stranger-Danger?” “Sex Offender On Premises?”. Did he name names? What kind of hysteria driven message did he feel the need to tell all of the school children’s parents?
Did it ever occur to him that he was setting Mr. Douglas’ child up for a whole lot of bullying by announcing this child’s father’s registry status to the entire school?
Nothing had happened that I can tell from the article except Mr. Douglas had been picking-up his child from school for several months when maybe he shouldn’t have. But then, how are registrants supposed to get their children to and from school? Are they supposed to drop them off a 1,000 ft, 2,500 ft away from the school and tell them to walk the rest of the way by themselves? Don’t registrant’s children have the right to be dropped off and picked-up at the school front door just like anyone else’s children? Don’t they have the same right to that “children’s safety” that the registry has everyone so worried about?
Mr. Douglas’ crime was in 2008, a conviction of second-degree kidnapping of a minor and sexual battery. He was sentenced to 4 months in prison and 36 months probation. He did his time.
That was 10 years ago.
N. Carolina state law forbids registered sex offenders from being any place that is intended primarily for the use, care and supervision of minors, including schools, children’s museums, childcare centers and playgrounds.
Children are born into this world, which if you use the registry’s own logic, could be considered a place intended primarily for the use, care and supervision of minors. The entire world. Children are everywhere.
If you follow “registry logic”, registrants would be restricted from existing. Period. Maybe that’s what they want, but it’s not gonna happen. Not on our watch.
With all the school shootings going on in the world today, I would worry more about parents or students with guns showing up at a school or hospital more than I’d worry about a parent with a 10 year old sex offense conviction. The sex offender, they’ve already done time for their crime, they don’t want to go back to prison. They’re just trying to be good parents, taking their child to and from school, visiting their sick children in hospitals.
Where are the school and hospital policies for parents with drug and DUI convictions ? How about parents with murder or theft convictions? Where are the policies for them being on “children’s premises”? Why is it just sex offenses that require “special policies”?
From what I’ve read, some schools allow registrants on campus if they check in at the office, if they call first, if there’s some kind of plan already in place. I don’t know all the circumstances in this case, like I said, the information is a bit sketchy. If rules dictated that Mr. Douglas should have had a plan in place, well, maybe he should have. If it’s a school where under no circumstances could he be on campus, then how is his child supposed to get to and from school. (The registry in their infinite wisdom didn’t consider these hiccups, now did they?) Just the fact that he enrolled his child in a before-school program makes me want to believe that Mr. Douglas had a job he needed to get to every morning, like any responsible parent.
Maybe he’s supposed to hire a chauffeur to bring his children to school. You know, because registrants can all find such well-paying jobs that they could afford such a thing!
What those writers of Registry Rules don’t want anyone to know is that many registrants are excellent parents, they were before their offense and are afterwards.
They should be allowed the right to be loving, caring, responsible parents without registry restrictions and without having to jump through hoops for ridiculous school and hospital policies that do nothing more than give a false sense of security to society.