Thursday, August 9, 2012

Why I "chose" to be an activist

What you are looking at is my very first post on a forum about sex offender topics. The day I found this website, I had been homeless for about three months, and decided to Google the topic of finding employment and housing for someone forced to register as a sex offender. I had stumbled across this particular website back on April 15, 2004 and I found this poll asking what we should do with homeless sex offenders. Some of the individuals there were in favor of indefinite incarceration, and one even suggested castrating homeless offenders simply for being homeless. It sickens me to see how heartless individuals could be.

My comment: "How CAN you punish someone who is trying to comply with registration laws but can't because he has no place to live? I am speaking from experience. I did all my time, got out and I'm homeless. Every day I go out looking for a job in vain, I'm not allowed to stay in shelters, and I'm supposed to be able to find a place to live without assistance. So am I supposed to go to jail because circumstances are beyond my control?"

The first responder to my question was a probation officer from FloriDUH using the screen name DP1. I felt her response was very condescending. She expected me to understand that the laws more important than the pain I was experiencing from being homeless and jobless. From that moment on, I began researching the impact of these laws. This website I had stumbled upon had a decent amount of information, and I learned over the Internet how difficult it was truly going to be to be given a second chance in an unforgiving society.

About two months later, I finally got a job and a place to stay. While neither job nor residence was ideal, it was better than nothing. Slowly, I moved away from the online community, kept to myself, and continued working. I was doing everything that society expects of a person who has served his time, and in return I expected to be left alone.

Society had other ideas. The county had reclassified me for no reason at all, then they determined I was living to close to a place where people can go get a GED, and soon they were going to force me to move. I had nowhere to turn for help. My girlfriend at the time got scared and broke up with me. Not long after, I lost my job. I had done everything right, yet society chose to ruin my life on a whim.

Eventually I was forced out of my home. Luckily, I had found a new residence, but no sooner than I had moved in, the city of Cincinnati decided they were going to increase their local residency restrictions, putting my new home in jeopardy. Again, I was faced with homelessness, so I went to City Hall and fought back. As a result, I was able to keep my apartment.

From that moment on, I dedicated my life to fighting Megan's law and other oppressive sex offender laws. And it all began with a simple question that received a heartless answer. I never really chose to be an activist; I was forced into it. But if we don't fight back, who will do it for us?

On April 1, 2013, I will celebrate my 10th year of my release from prison, however, I never proclaim it my 10th year of freedom, because I am not truly free. I was not allowed a second chance. Rather than wither and die, I choose to fight back. a fellow registrant I've known for years but is not an activist asked me why I put myself in harms way. I asked him why he didn't. He didn't want to make waves or be targeted. Like me, he wanted to be left alone. He was also homeless. Still, our local TV station targeted him in an exposé about homeless sex offenders, and claimed he was not homeless but was circumventing the law. He asked me when all this would end. My response was it would end when enough of us takes a stand against all the abuse and oppression we face on a daily basis. 

I still live in the apartment I fought for. My friend is still homeless. When I feel like I'm fighting an uphill battle, I just look around at my apartment, and I remind myself how far I have come since that April day when I found a random poll on a long forgotten website.


 Feel free to read the other answers that people left on that very same question. If you have a heart, you'll be as angry as the hate as I was that day.