The Nightmare I Can’t Wake Up From
Written by Debra Grund, Vice President
It’s a nightmare I can’t wake up from. It’s been 5 years and I still worry, 9 more to go. I’m grateful he’s alive and meeting the everyday challenges life in prison creates. Probation, Parole, Sex Offense Registry, all this is coming his way the day he walks out after successfully meeting all the requirements levied by the judicial system. Next they will put on his shoulders, around his ankle and tucked into his pocket life time oppression and lifetime stigma. Gone is the young man with an honor roll status in high school. Gone is the young man with an honor-roll status at college.
Who would have thought that the power of words and the manipulation of an undercover detective/professional groomer could levy so much damage to a young man’s life? He had big plans; nurse anesthetist, newer car, bigger apartment and maybe a warmer climate. The registry will dictate where he will live. He will have to ask permission to move to another state. The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, SORNA, will determine that he has to register in the county where he resides in and again in the county where he works in. I’ve heard so many stories from others who are living with this nightmare after their release from prison. Some have violated their registration requirements because it’s easier to live in prison than to fight the stigma on the outside. Some have told of getting pulled over for a traffic violation and then asked to produce their cell phone (so the officer could check for pictures and question their appropriateness, even though the pictures may be of your own children); and yet others who needed a hospital escort to visit their sick child in the ICU. Nothing you do will ever be private, personal or without explanation. The free world is not free for someone on the registry.
So for now, I give my son the love and support he needs through visits, phone calls and post cards. I am on a mission to change the laws before he serves all of his time. I have been heartbroken listening to grown men and women cry in pain and frustration because of the Sex Offender Registry. Many have been on the registry since they were 18 years old, more than half their lives. The registry is a result, and a symptom of fear and ignorance. It is unjustly ruining lives after “time served.” Now is the time for common sense laws and fiscal responsibility. I hope you will join me; I’m just somebody’s mom trying to right a very wrong system.