One parent just told me that when their juvenile son went to register this last time, on the form under "Alias" he wrote "born loser". This young boy had goals and ambitions (going into the service, getting a college education, getting his Eagle Scout) and he is giving up. He says to his parents, "What's the use of trying when I will never be allowed to do what I want to do in life?". His "offense" took place when he was 11. He is now 16 and looking at being put on the public registry when he turns 18, along with his picture. Under our new legislation he will not be allowed to petition to be released from his registration responsibilities, because he doesn't qualify. His parents have had him evaluated 4 times, by 4 different professionals and every single one has determined that he is a very, very LOW risk to re-offend. Doesn't matter...he will wear the label of sexual predator until he is at least 37 years old.
I am all for giving kids the opportunity to grow up with all of the help and support they need and deserve. Psychologists and educators have been promoting positive reinforcement, rather than negative reinforcement, for years. "Success breeds Success" is a rule of thumb in the business of educating. But now we are telling kids that "hey, even if you are successful
in completing your sentence and treatment you still have to wear this label."
We have juveniles and young people who do not have a conviction still having to register, and they are losing jobs, housing and educational opportunities ONLY because of the registry...not because of a conviction. We are creating a new class of homeless, jobless, uneducated individuals that we, as taxpayers, can help to support. Our system is killing these kids! If not literally, then they are certainly killing their spirit!
Citizens for Second Chances
PO Box 84
Grand Haven, MI 49417
Submitted October 17, 2004