What would you do if you answered a knock at your door and were greeted by eight police officers and a television camera crew at your front doorstep? Chances are, it’s not an occurrence that you would characterize as “routine,” even less so if you happen to be someone who is listed on a sexual offense registry.
It’s the sort of thing that happens on a regular basis every day, in practically every county and state in the country. This week, it’s happening to the 88 registrants and their families living in Mayes County, Oklahoma and being reported on in the local news media.
Imagine being a registrant who opens his front door to a large gaggle of police officers and TV cameras.
Imagine being the innocent parent, spouse, or child of a registrant who finds himself in those circumstances.
Imagine trying to explain to your six-year old child why something like this is happening.
The palpable fear of being arrested for a small, unintentional infraction is ever-present. The mere thought that a clerical error or misunderstanding could turn your life upside-down is terrifying. Seeing the fear and concern in your family member’s faces is heartbreaking. Unfortunately, these are not the unintended consequences of harsh registry enforcement. They are premeditated and intentional, designed to keep registrants and their families in a perpetual state of fear. As software coders are known to say, “It’s a feature, not a bug.”
How many actual crimes could be solved, how many actual taxpayer dollars could be saved, if the same sort of herculean effort was made to tackle the backlog of criminal cases that remain unresolved? Sending a posse of deputies all over the county fishing for technical violations that may or may not be happening is a quest in search of low-hanging fruit and positive media attention.
It’s all about the “optics” and that is a temptation that is difficult for local law enforcement agencies to resist. It creates the illusion of progress and efficacy, diverts attention from their internal problems, and let’s face it – it’s just more fun to go looking for new crimes instead of solving the ones you already know about.
Major Rod Howell, Mayes County Sheriff’s Office told Oklahoma’s NewsOn6, “Some of them change their address and forget and obviously, that’s a violation.” He goes on to say that “surprisingly few” of the registrants visited were in violation of any laws.
Forgetting to update one’s address may indeed be a technical a violation of the law, but the Mayes County Sheriff Department’s unwarranted intimidation tactics against registrants and their family members are an obvious violation of common sense and constitutional rights.
Excellent article. So much time and so many resources wasted . Unless you are on the registry or know someone, who is, it’s hard to believe that these kinds of “hunts” take place in a modern society. The whole family suffers for sure!
I lived in my neighborhood for over seventeen years. I was convicted for molesting an under aged child over thirty years ago. I served my time and completed a sex offender treatment program. I have never been a problem to anyone here or their kids. I’m actually considered a good neighbor. I have never committed another crime. But twice the police have come to my home for failure to register, but I showed them my copies of registration.
It is a scary situation to open one’s door to see police officers standing there with pistols partially drawn from their holsters, and threatening to haul me off to jail. Think of how fear and hatred treated people in history: “witches”, “homosexuals”, “drunkards”, “Jews”, “drug addicts”, etc. And now it’s the “Sex Offenders”. Personally I don’t wear that label. I’m a registered citizen of the U.S.
My wife and I work, pay taxes, obey the laws, and live as normal a life as possible under oppressive sex offender laws and restrictions.
I just now read this article and Im in shock. At least they didn’t show his face. Okay, I did 60 mos in prison and all what that entails as a sex offender. Now im on probation and will be for years. I go to weekly group counseling. I register and take polygraphs every 6 mos. All my information is online. Because of my crime, I have to renew my drivers license yearly. My living conditions are less then desirable because of the living restrictions. Ive had credit companies and banks cancel my memberships because of the crime. Not the felony,” the crime”. Talk about draconian.
The police have no right to harass and bully law abiding, tax paying citizens who have already paid their debt to society.
They are interrogating US citizens under threat of criminal sanction!