Reintegration, not registration, key to safer communities

By Bob Munsey . . . No matter how a person may have corrected his or her actions and paid for failures, in the state of Florida, it’s “once a felon, always a felon.” What is such a policy as this supposed to solve?

On a recent evening I listened in on a Reform Sex Offender Laws Inc. conference call about sex-offender registries, whose effectiveness increasingly is being called into question.

It has been proved that isolation and disenfranchisement only contributes to recidivism. And when evidence is not based on emotion but facts and statistics, sex offenders have the lowest recidivism rates of any felonies — despite efforts by legislators to keep them out of their homes, their families, their communities and the job market.

Don’t get me wrong: There are some offenders who are dangerous. If released to society, they need to be in a registry and monitored. But that applies only to about 10 percent of sex offenders.

Assignment to the registry should be based on the level of threat, and it should be a law-enforcement-only registry. Research shows that public notification does not have any validation; it doesn’t further public safety. In fact, the registry actually can have negative impacts, as support systems for offenders are removed.

The best defense to recidivism is reintegration into society as quickly as possible. To be a law-abiding citizen, people have to have a purpose. What purpose? Home. Family. A job. Voting rights. Freedom of movement. The consideration of constitutional rights. All of these work together to reintroduce a person back into society, to regain a purpose in life.

I am not one to “live in the shadows.” I am an ex-sex offender in a case that involved my daughter. It was more than 17 years ago, after my wife’s tragic death. I extremely regret the whole situation. It has been resolved, and she and I both have moved on with our lives.

I live in what we in the the military called a “straight-arrow life” as I contribute productively to my community, my church, and in my fellowship with my friends and neighbors — despite antiquated, ill-thought-out ordinances designed to make some politicians look “productive.”

Let’s start reviewing sex-offender laws and modify them based on facts, not emotion or “vote trolling.” After all, lawmakers represent all people.

Bob Munsey, a retired U.S. Navy captain, lives in Cocoa.

Source: The Orlando Sentinel

31 comments for “Reintegration, not registration, key to safer communities

  1. Chris
    September 28, 2016 at 11:57 pm

    I feel the need for bigger voice if indeed the current sex offender laws are based on hyped data, lies, fear, and paranoia, and if we want to see positive change in our lifetime.
    The way things are going like new and more draconian and restrictive laws are so easily being passed in local, state, or federal level, while even small change to revert a minute ordinance or law, which is obviously unconstitutional and inhumane, is met by fierce backlash and opposition from those in the government and the public (especially the government) and thus as a result lives of those in the registry is becoming only more difficult.
    I feel sad, impatient, and even losing hopes in this country. I had a decent job and life, and one mistake and now it’s all over? Who is so pure and sinless? Where is forgiveness?
    While I want to do good, help everyone, get back to my career, have a loving family, a home. Is it all over those in the registry? How long do we go on like this?

    • Rick
      September 29, 2016 at 2:23 am

      There is no constitutional basis for forgiveness. Toleration is all there is. But we have a lawful contract that says, “Slavery nor indentured servitude shall exist in the US except as a punishment for a crime duly convicted of”. A sora is both slavery and indentured servitude that is forced upon a person. It is also state sponsored terrorism. It yells fire when no fire is present. But essentially it is the governments way of reducing their liability, they were sick of lawsuits.

      How long do we go on, forever. There is no law against ignorance, hatred, anger, etc. With all sincerity I would hate a person who did serious harm to my family, even though I understand the causes, but I would not blame a whole class of persons whose acts are related in some way.

      Yea, im afraid to tell you your old life is over, but dont feel that bad, its over for millions of people in this country. Just think, you now have a chance to do all the things your other life made impossible. But your ability to associate with others is now substantially reduced. And now you will find out who really cares about you.

      Time and money will eventually end this nonsense one way or another. Its been a huge failure, but it wont change much for us. We will still be near the bottom of the barrel in terms of association.

      I wish I could tell you more positive things, but only you know the reality you live in. With or without a sora life will be different, only you can make life bearable. Good luck to you, at least you’re not in prison or dead.

      • LM
        September 29, 2016 at 4:23 pm

        “At least you’re not in prison or dead”

        ^You’re beginning to sound like them now.

        • Rick
          September 29, 2016 at 11:13 pm

          Well there is a reality in this life, sorry this isnt a fairy tale. People are as narrow minded as ever, thinking that old outdated values still work. Well they dont. Terms like law and order, 1950s style thinking, lock everybody up mentality.

  2. Matthew
    September 28, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    It’s a good editorial, but I don’t think a law-enforcement only registry should be the goal…complete abolition should be the ultimate goal. Having personal information in the hands of police agencies still leaves plenty of room for that information to be abused. A law-enforcement only registry should only be acceptable with stringent safeguards in place regarding who has access to the information and for what purposes.

    http://bigstory.ap.org/article/699236946e3140659fff8a2362e16f43/ap-across-us-police-officers-abuse-confidential-databases?utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=AP

    • rwvnral
      September 28, 2016 at 6:23 pm

      Practically speaking, there already is a “law enforcement only” sex offender registry and there always will be. Law enforcement has access to the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) which contains a registry of anyone wanted or convicted of a felony or “serious” level misdemeanor and anyone who has ever been fingerprinted by a government agency for whatever reason. http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/doj/fbi/is/ncic.htm

      • Matthew
        September 28, 2016 at 10:05 pm

        True. And I think if we were to go to a law-enforcement registry that would make it easier for politicians to take the step to get rid of the registry altogether. Removing public notification takes the legs out from under one of the main arguments made by registry proponents. And what is the point of having a formal registry when authorities know already who is causing problems and who they need to keep an eye on. Having a registry clogged with a bunch of people who are not causing trouble and are just trying to live their lives seems like it would be more trouble than it’s worth for everyone concerned, including law enforcement.

  3. Rick
    September 28, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    Now lets talk about this reintegration nonsense. First of all, its up to the individual to determine their future. Being in jail or prison does not change make you forget how to live, find a job, go on a date, etc. I guess what is meant by reintegration is to be self supportive and not bother anyone.

    Well if this was the case, then you wouldnt have laws that prevent people from getting jobs the way felonies and misdemeanors do. You wouldnt need to tell anyone about those convictions either. And you woudnt have laws excluding a person from nearly an entire state or city.

    You also would not be tortured and subjected to illegal treatment by soras that reminds you endlessly of your act. In fact, im certain any psychologist would tell you this is a form of torture and treatment. Especially when it has direct effects your family. I get so angry every time I have to go see corrupt cops it sickens me.

    The whole idea of rehabilitation and reintegration is a fallacy, nothing more. Its all set up for a person to fail, but even so, its up to each person to make this decision, and no law can change it. The only thing a person needs is to know why they did what they did, after that they must decide how not to let it happen again. Whether its a statutory offense or not.

    Because to tell you the truth, if after losing your family, wife, job, reputation, freedom, and being thought of as garbage isnt enough to change you, nothing ever will. Now does anyone think a sora really accomplishes anything at all after being convicted as a sex offender. Cause they sure as hell wont keep or make anyone safe

  4. Ron
    September 28, 2016 at 6:41 am

    I can see now, a hypothetical conversation with Elon Musk discussing the colony’s of convicts
    In Mars who have no rights to the choices of where they live who will be used as Guinea Pigs to test the survivability theory on a liveable planet other than earth. To live in a already unbearable environment I can see a sadistic twist on how a future of convicts and registrants would be part of this scheme to live elsewhere than citizens origin and planet of birth. Some entity would likely use this borrowed manpower and exploit its defenseless justification for doing so. This is an epiphany and premonition but I woke up to this strange profound thought.

  5. Ron
    September 28, 2016 at 6:25 am

    I wholeheartedly agree with you and Capt Munsey . Unfortunately my military retirement was snatched by the very same predatory politicians who are supposedly meant to represent ” all” people. Now for the first time In years I was able to laugh at the remotely markedly pointed fun @ being a sex offender from the earlier showing of : Rasing Hope “blue dots” ( TV.com › shows › blue-dots-1361421) , which was the funny/ not so funny sitcom discussing the trail of tears in light of the actual sufferance of the ones who live it everyday. Now Capt Munsey said it best that he is not one to hide in the shadows nor shall I because of my current fight in federal court to restorative justice of my retirement. It was unconstitutional and ill-thought out as a rush to appease a military appropriations committee who ransomed and extorted military services secretaries and pentagon associates to enact unpopular policies at the bequest of women’s rights and victim advocates. Any one on the other side of the stick understands the dictation that comes when the advocates search for target to revictimize. My case had nothing to do with a service member but just a non related civilian. My case was abruptly adjudicated and I was subsequently retained in the military post conviction and confinement. My case was mimic and construed as a court martial even though it was a civilian conviction. Fellow service members vandalize my car, stole military equipment and my money during my incarceration. I went on during my release and continue to serve in such places as Afghanistan and other locations within the pacific rim of Asia. I was also promoted numerous times and awarded multiple accolades. But woe says me came to fruition when It was discovered, during the end of my career that I was a sex offender amongst the ranks of my fellow service members. To point out the registry didn’t exist in certain areas in which I traveled or was stationed. At times, no one knew of my status and I lived virtually free from being noticed, but incrementally I suffered extreme harassment and discrimination upon the immediate discovery of my status among certain military communities. Some of these mob-like employees are just as bad or worst than the normal citizen. I luckily had a tremendous amount of superiors , co-workers and subordinates respect me as a person and shunned the very attachment of my status. You have to navigate the experience and tread the waters very carefully in this life. I disproved the theory that convicted felons can’t be trusted. I carried all types of weapons post conviction and sporadic all worked in law enforcement roles for literally months at a time all because I’ve
    Carried on as a non commissioned officer and strong leader. We do have a problem with sex assaults and false accusations profoundly among the ranks but this was mostly exacerbated by congress and by astounding-prone advocates. I have won part of my case in the interim but continue to wait and fight on in the third quarter of this process. It has been hell I’m not going to lie, but it is the sound of sweet serenity when proper justice is rendered and one should not be defined or conscripted to live a certain type of life because some other idiot says so. This is no dream for I feel my fears, this is no laugh because I can see my own tears. God bless ! goodnight and Amen.

  6. Maestro
    September 28, 2016 at 2:27 am

    “The best defense to recidivism is reintegration into society as quickly as possible. To be a law-abiding citizen, people have to have a purpose. What purpose? Home. Family. A job. Voting rights. Freedom of movement. The consideration of constitutional rights. All of these work together to reintroduce a person back into society, to regain a purpose in life.”

    If that’s what it takes then even before trying to get rid of the registry, maybe we should be fighting to get rid of PROBATION. No one here but myself ever talks about probation.
    When you step out of prison, the registry is the last thing you should be worried about because being on the registry doesn’t effect everyone the same way from one state to another in the country.
    In Connecticut, we do not have laws restricting us from where we can live. It’s the PROBATION officer/department that puts that restriction on you.
    I was homeless for a while because PROBATION would not allow me to live with my family due to the “kids in the neighborhood”. My offense didn’t happen with any of the precious kids in my neighborhood. It happened with an underage TEENAGER who lives 20 miles away from where I was living at the time.
    If I was interested in the “kids” in the neighborhood of where I once lived, I wouldn’t have driven 20 miles out of my way. This is the crap probation officers fabricate in their own minds by their own ignorance.
    Get rid of the probation department and that will be a step in the right direction.
    No one can ever replace the time spent in prison. So therefore, when the day comes that you walk out of prison, you should be walking out into starting over again. Probation doesn’t help anyone start over. They couldn’t care less.

    • Emil S
      September 28, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      Probation people are there to prove that recidivism rate on those in the registry is high by making their own laws about what you can or cannot do. They can so easily violate someone. For example, in the state of North Carolina, a person in the probation/supervision cannot go to any adult website, also no LinkedIn or dating website beside no no on Facebook, Twitter, etc. You have to get their permission if you want to travel out of the county (this is on top of traveling outside the state, and forget about the international travel as I was denied many times even for family emergency), And on top of that the state just passed new laws about where one cannot be including churches, etc.
      So yeah what you said resonates with many as states do not simply release a person who has to register, they are either released in parole, probation, or in supervised released, with are pretty much same as you have to pay monthly fee and you go visit your PO each month and they can come and search your place any time. Oh yeah I was threatened to be locked up for not being able to pay the monthly fee when I was not able to find an employment. it was tough and it’s not getting any better. God help us all.

      • Maestro
        September 30, 2016 at 10:11 pm

        And there’s a prime example as to why probation needs to be dismantled. They will violate you over not being able to pay!!!?? Luckily, in CT the courts wave probation fees. But what type of “recidivism” is it to be violated for being broke!? How do defense/rights attorneys just sit back and let this go on?
        Not to mention that IF and WHEN you’re lucky enough to find work, you need to take time off (working a 9 to 5) to go see a PO once a week or so. It’s not productive!

    • Jeremy Heady
      October 4, 2016 at 11:49 am

      I’ve replied to you before as to why I (and I assume many others) refuse to fight parole and probation. Parole and probation are PUNISHMENTS in lieu of prison or jail. It is not supposed to be pleasant. Parole and probation are designed to give a little more freedom than incarceration, but the fact remains that you are not considered free yet. They are not really designed with reintegration in mind other than a small caveat: They provide strict rules of life for a specific time period and the expectation is that if you can survive under that punishment, then you can handle full freedom. Every major crime has people who go under massive restrictions pertaining to probation and parole if and when they are released. All constitutional laws are followed when it comes to this form of punishment as well, so it’s not a fight most of us want to fight. The fact that you are able to post online means your restrictions are less than most states. I was not allowed to access the internet at all unless I was at the unemployment office and then only to search for jobs. Posting online would have been a violation. The rest of us are fighting for rights to be restored to people who have finished their sentences. A person on probation or parole has not finished their sentence.

  7. September 27, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    Wow talk about a truth and fiction version of Soylent Green. With this warped since of culture class people that are running the country and these outlandish laws that seem to go above the scope of justice, can we all say Justice is Blind. Yes I am for truth and justice but it takes We the people to let others know ” we are tired as hell, and not gonna take it anymore”
    Why do you think people have protests. They are just looking for justice. Yes the sex offender is a big deal but that seems to be the #1 on the totem pole as compaired to Soylent Green. Can our mixed up nation say they are bettter than the other person or do all lives matter?
    I know we all talk about the sex offender but justice is still justice and who is the bigger problem, authorities that have their common sense or the ones that turns a blind eye to their crystal ball demeanor about mankind. One should either reintegrate and not annihilate the sex offender as we all have rights.

  8. Deb
    September 27, 2016 at 11:10 pm

    Excellent point. Registry should be for law enforcement only. Law enforcement can notify land lords, employers if that is necessary based on offenders profile. Making the registry public helps no one. People get panicked for no substantial threat.

    When everyone caught in sex-offense is added to the list, there will be no place without sex-offender living next door. That will make people ignore the registry. In the end offenders will get punished with no added safety for general population.

    • No registery needed
      September 28, 2016 at 12:00 pm

      Landlords and employers have no need to know at the hands of anyone besides the individual. Law enforcement has no need to inform anyone. They already know who has been convicted and uses it in investigations; thus no need for a registry.

      Law enforcement is not a public relations outlet, but there to serve and protect (take that how you want). It is bad enough there is law enforcement auxiliaries who inform neighborhoods with flyers, door knocking, etc, when someone moves in, but does NOTHING to inform anyone when someone moves out. They leave the fear mongering lingering in the neighborhood despite no need to. They are culpable for the attitudes generated just as much as those who do it for profit or power.

  9. Rick
    September 27, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    Yea, there are a lot of reasons for offending, not least of which it is a part of our humanity. But there is no reasoning to justify registering human beings. We are not the property of any state or of the united states.

    Besides, it should have been a part of supervised release, since it has been established to monitor people after their release from prison. If supervised release is insufficient, then what is its purpose?

    I know the laws of this nation, backwards and forwards, and registering humans is the ultimate form of slavery. These laws are illegal in every way, and yet, they stand. Its not about fear either, or recidivism, its good old hatred, vengeance, and abuse of power.

    Its unimaginable, that a state can force its citizens to live under bridges, be homeless, lose their citizenship or be forced into prison. We think people are educated, but they are as ignorant as ever, even our current scrotus is worst than the one that passed the dred scot decision, legalizing slavery. You cant be a ctizen when you have to tell someone everything your doing or go to prison, can you?

    If you have to be on a registry, then supervised release should be eliminated, they are the same thing.

    • Maestro
      September 28, 2016 at 2:36 am

      “Besides, it should have been a part of supervised release, since it has been established to monitor people after their release from prison. If supervised release is insufficient, then what is its purpose?”

      Rick,
      “Supervised” release IS unnecessary in every way shape and form. Proof of that is simple – Do not agree to the plea deal from the prosecutor and request more prison time in order to come out of prison with NO PROBATION. That in itself proves that probation is NOT necessary. Also, people have purposely violated their probations when they realized what a bunch of crap it was to try to live by the “rules” the probation officers set down. Then they get out after a year or 2 and have no more probation.
      I left another comment in here regarding how probation doesn’t help anyone. No one NEEDS to be supervised. And if someone DOES need supervision, perhaps that person is the type of criminal that doesn’t need to be out in the free world at all.

      • Rick
        September 28, 2016 at 11:30 am

        First of all supervised release is unconstitutional, its a second period of slavery. Two, it happens to be a part of your sentence in some states whether you want it to be or not. Maybe in your state it isnt. It seems as if you have a problem of some kind with my posts, so I expect that maybe your laws are different, but in my state you dont plea deal away supervised release in any way shape or form. Probation is not supervised release, its entirely different. Im not making posts to contend with people, I only deal with solid facts. Thx

        • Maestro
          September 30, 2016 at 10:15 pm

          Not sure where you come up with this imaginary idea that I have a problem with your posts and that I’m trying to argue with you. I’m simply voicing my opinion about probation.
          And yes, you certainly can plea away probation by saying “Gimme the whole 10 yrs”. But they know that no one wants that. Being set free in 2 or 3 yrs seems VERY tempting.
          I’m sure there are informations your attorney or public defender isn’t telling you.

        • Rick
          October 1, 2016 at 6:53 am

          Lol, I don’t need an attorney to tell me anything about the law, i’m extremely knowledgeable in that regard. Look it up for yourself, nys penal law, supervised release is a part of the sentence automatically for certain offenses. Probation is not supervised release in nys. Sure I knew you can turn down probation long ago.

          My point in talking about supervised release was simple. If you get it after being released from prison to see how well you can reintegrate, and you are successful, whats the purpose of a sora that is essentially the same thing, just as is probation the same as supervised release.

          I don’t care if someone wants to turn down probation and do the time, usually they violate and do the time anyways. In that regard I agree with you. You said supervised release is unnecessary, not only that it’s a second punishment or term of slavery. But in some states you get it whether you want it or not.

        • Maestro
          October 4, 2016 at 8:00 pm

          I don’t live in NY, so when I hear the word “supervised release” to me that means “probation”.

  10. September 27, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    I could not have said it any better than that.

  11. Fair & Balanced
    September 27, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    I think SO laws were passed/designed to do just what they are doing: banish, disenfranchise, stigatize/Scarlett Letter, prevent or break-up a family and successful reintergration of those registrered. And done under the guise of “Public Safety”. I asked over and over again to no avail this question: Do not murderers, robbers, burglars, car thieves, home invaders & drug dealers pose a threat to the community? I think so. And these class of criminals have way higher recidivist rate then people who have committed sex offenses. I did 20 straight years in prison and personally knew/saw many, many guys come and go many many times—talk about a revolving door. I also saw people with murder cases make parole quicker than me. And the public knows this too so why the hell this schizoid paranoia behind people who has committed sex offenses? Why isn’t there a murderer’s registry, a robber’s registry, a burglar’s registry etc., because again, do not these people represent a “Clear and Present Danger” to the community too? I would love to ask state and federal legislators this question just to see the look on their face and watch their forky tongue at work.

    • Emil S
      September 28, 2016 at 1:20 am

      Sadly “protecting our children” sounds a whole lot sweeter in the ears of the voters, whether it really protects children or not.

      • Sounds better
        September 28, 2016 at 12:09 pm

        Protecting our children does sound better because the supposed parents can abdicate their parental role and blame someone else when they needed to be parenting in the first place….helicopter parenting is not required, but when you don’t do your parenting job first, then place blame on someone else

    • Maestro
      September 28, 2016 at 2:39 am

      The paranoia over sex in this country is due to this country still treating sex as such a taboo thing.
      I’m sure there are many, many goodie-two-shoes who wish babies DID come from the “stork”.
      Guns, knives, baseball bats, anything you can use as a weapon to harm another person is not as frowned upon as the mighty penis. How dare you use that thing!!

  12. JR
    September 27, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Well stated, seems like the whole country has a once a criminal always a criminal mentality. Lock em up and throw away the key. Don’t do the crime and don’t do the time. Let’s face it, once you’ve gone to jail, or simply been convicted, of anything in this country and your opportunities are cut in half (at the very least). Until it happens to someone close to you then attitudes change pretty quickly. Sad.

    • Emil S
      September 28, 2016 at 1:17 am

      This is especially true when it comes to renting an apartment, finding a decent job, etc. where they do the background check. Now those are the basic avenue to support oneself and ones family.

    • one and done in America
      September 28, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      It is true that is the prevailing attitude in this country. One and done…..heaven forbid you get back up and do better because it would be discovered, publicized and then ruined by the media

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