Once arrested on a sex charge, you can bet that---from that day on---your life will be hell.
The sad thing is, some of the people whom we so broadly label as sex offenders, may not even be sex offenders. It may have been as simple as foolishly urinating in an alley in the middle of the night, or it may have been a wrongful conviction as the result of malicious lies told by an ex-spouse. Makes no difference. From the day of that arrest, life is hell.
The cops treat them differently.
The Prosecutor’s office treats them differently.
The judge treats them differently.
Fellow inmates behind bars treat them differently.
Corrections officers treat them differently.
The Parole Board treats them differently.
The shameful treatment doesn’t end there. When these people get out, the state’s terribly unfair and inadequate sex offender registry brands them with a scarlet letter. Reentry is incredibly difficult. Some agencies don’t want to help them. Some, we are told, don’t even respond. Yes, even some of the so-called “faith-based” organizations. Housing is almost impossible to find. Employment is elusive.
Because of all this, these men and women, locked up as alleged sex offenders, get very paranoid and suspect that none of us will help.
For example, our office received a request from a convicted sex offender anticipating release in the near future, for financial assistance. He’s broke, and has been abandoned by friends and family alike. He’s going to be freed with only the clothes he’s wearing. No clothes. No belongings of any sort. No money. No job. No place to live. And now he’s annoyed with us. “Your literature says that you help prisoners with special needs,” he complains.
For those who know HFP, you know that our focus is strictly in assisting prisoners with personal, in-house issues, such as health care. There are other agencies who work in the field of re-entry. We collaborate with them, but we don’t try to duplicate their efforts.
Yet, because we didn’t immediately respond with all of these special re-entry requests, including money, the inmate grumbles that “you don’t want to help me because I’m a ‘sex offender.’”
I completely understand why he feels that way, but our position is clear: We’re here to help every prisoner. We don’t look at the charges or the alleged crimes. We try not to show favoritism. We promptly respond to every request for help. No one will ever claim that we fail to answer because we don’t like them. Our message to the guy complaining today, and to other sex offenders, as well as to our supporters, is based on the story of a genuine sex offender in the Bible. A bunch of pompous asses caught a woman in the act and brought her to the Master, suggesting that she should be stoned.
They quietly left shortly thereafter, though. Jesus replied that the one free of any guilt should toss the first rock.
Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” she said.
“No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I…”
Neither do we.