I am putting this down, because I think there are injustices in the system that need to be looked at and addressed. I turned myself in and was sentenced to three years in prison for my crimes. After prison, I was lucky enough to be able to get back to work. That was primarily because, in Oregon at that time, you did not have to register or have community notification if you were still on post prison supervision. I was able to work my way back up into my field and, in a short amount of time, ended up as a plant manager for a major local printing company; a situation that wouldn't have happened if I would've been on community notification. Later, after completing post prison supervision, I moved to another State to take care of my 85 year old father.
About 6 years after my release from prison I remarried. When the community was notified, my stepchildren and wife received harassment and threats, and lost many of their friends. We also had our property vandalized. After I moved, finding jobs became more difficult. I ended up taking low-paying jobs to support my family. I have since lost two jobs because of the community notification. Although we were not forced to move because of community notification, per se, we did move a number of times simply because we were not accepted by the community or because of threats coming from the community. We tried to make it work for about eight years but, because of the stress and all the problems, I am now separated from my wife and step kids. I am living alone with basically no friends and no community contacts. Even the local church wants nothing to do with me. I am ostracized and rejected from society.
During the time that I was in prison, I involved myself in a number of different programs. I completed more than 2,500 hours of voluntary programming to try to make myself into a better person. I completed Breaking Barriers, Breaking Barriers Facilitator training, Pathfinders (a 6 month, 8hrs a day, 5 days a week program), Franklin Reality, New Horizons, S.T.E.P. Program, Patenting 1 and 2, S.T.O.P. orientation, correction treatment services, Relapse prevention program for sex offenders, and Sex Offender Day Treatment Program lasting 5 ½ days a week, 8 hrs a day, for 6 months. At different points during that time, I came in contact with other inmates within the programs. In the pathfinders program we were encouraged to talk about our offenses and the effects they had on us and others. When we discussed the victims, I felt mine was the most serious crime because it involved my children and because they would forever carry the scars of my stupid misconduct.
Others told me that mine was not the worst, but that theirs were. One inmate told me that while burglarizing a home he found out that the entire family was home. He tied up the mother and father, and then he tied up the children (I don't remember how many children). He told them that if they ever reported his crime or pointed him out that he or someone affiliated with him would come back and kill them. He kept them tied up in their laundry room all day long and, at different times, made threats on their lives until after it got dark so he could leave. During that time, to make his point, he killed their family dog and cut off its head in front of them. He told me that he felt that his crime was much worse. Even though he never touched any of the victims other than to tie them up, he felt that they would be traumatized for the rest of their lives.
Another inmate told me of how he had gotten in a fight outside of a bar. The other person that he was fighting was half drunk and he was not. He beat the person down and, because he was angry, he broke a beer bottle and cut up the man's face and took out his left eye with the jagged edges. His point was that that man will never be able to see and his family will be traumatized because of what had been done to him. They will see it every time that they look at him. He felt his crime was much worse than mine.
Another inmate was involved in a car accident while drinking and driving. A mother of three in the other car was paralyzed for life, two children were severely injured by flying glass cutting their faces, and the third child almost had their hand severed. This child will probably never be able to use it. His point was that he thought that he had done more damage—physically, mentally and emotionally—to that family than I had ever done to mine.
Their reasoning was that even though I had committed a terrible crime against my children, I had not done it to them because I did not care what happen to them, out of anger, or to threaten or scare them. One of the inmates asked me if I had ever beaten my children, or burned them with cigarettes, or threatened to kill them. To this I honestly answered, “No.” Another asked me if I had ever degraded my children by telling them that they were stupid or worthless. To this I had to answer, “No,” also. They asked me if I ever let my children go hungry, without necessities, or refuse to take them to the doctor so that I might have things that I wanted. Again, answered, “No.” My children's needs came before mine, except for my sexual needs. Both my wife and I did without many things that we wanted so that the children could have new clothes, presents for birthdays and Christmases, and proper things for school . They repeated to me what they had said before, that my crime was not as bad as their’s and that I had been trying to be a good parent but had made terrible mistakes.
I am not writing this to justify my actions, because I still feel that my crime against my children was horrendous. I'm absolutely sure it is devastating to all of them. I hope that at no time in their lives will they ever feel that they let me down.
Because of the therapy that they were in while I was in prison, they sent me a letter signed by each of them asking me to never to have any contact with them again. Even though it has been the hardest thing that I have ever done, I have honored their requests for the last 19 years to this day. They were the most wonderful family that a person could have and I'm the one that screwed it up.
I never for one day felt any of them were at fault for my situation. I have never stopped being ashamed of my actions. I know in my heart that I will never see or get to talk to them again, but that hasn't stopped me loving or caring about them.
After my time in prison, I came in contact with two of those inmates. In both cases they were released from prison after me and had longer post prison times then I did. They only did about one quarter of their post prison time and were released from it early, while I did my full post prison sentence. Each of my former inmate friends have been allowed to get on with their lives, while I have community notification that has made it hard for me to make friends, become involved in the community, find work or housing, or have a stable life with my family.
Community notification serves no purpose other than to shame the offenders, their families, and their friends; making their lives more difficult. People who say community notification makes the community safer need to stop and consider that in 99% of cases of children being emotionally or physically harmed by individuals it is by a member of their family or a close friend (people not on the registry) That means only 1% of cases are committed by those on the registry.
They think nothing of allowing their children to get into cars with people that have been convicted drinking and driving, or even using drugs. They have knowledge of neighbors who are involved in domestic violence, and yet they allow their children to go over to those homes.
Quite honestly, it would appear that people are more looking for a scapegoat than out of any true concern for children’s safety; someone that they can point to and say what a terrible person, and the people that associate with him must be terrible people also.
--Author's name withheld by request