What it feels Like to Register

In preparation for writing this article I asked other RFSO’s how going in to register made them feel.  Since I also register I thought I already knew.  But what I found surprised me.  For each person the experience is quite different.  Oh there are similarities, but there are also many differences.

While researching this, another group asked to be heard and this group was very different from the above group.  This group does not go in to register.  They have not broken any laws.  They in fact are innocent bystanders and yet profoundly affected by the registry.  These people are the family members of RFSO’s.

Let me first express my feeling of how it feels when I must register and then I will share how others feel in this regard.

Two weeks before I must go in to register I start to watch the calendar, every day I become more worried that I might miss my registration date.  I await the letter that the State Highway Patrol sends to me every 90 days.  I worry that it may be lost in the mail since it is sent without confirmation.  If I do not receive it and take it in and have it signed by the local registration officer, it could mean ten years in federal prison for me.

The last week before I must register my family notices that I am irritable and tend to snap at them a lot.   I lose interest in most everything and do not eat very much.  I look at the date as many as twenty times a day.  I can’t be late.  I get sick often and I don’t sleep.  Depression set in and I find it hard to concentrate.

About two days before I have to register I start playing the what if game.  What if the law has changed and I didn’t know it?  What if they change it to a strict 90 days and not the three month calendar date?  What if they arrest me for something I don’t know about?

The morning of the day I must register is trying.  The minutes tick by.  I must be there at 1 PM, no sooner and no later.   What if my truck breaks down on the way?

The same scenario plays out every time.  I take my wife into my office.  I make sure she has all my internet passwords and accounts.  I make sure she has our lawyer’s phone number close at hand.  I make sure she has my SOSEN information, just in case something happens she can get in touch with those most likely to be able to help my lawyer.

It is now a solemn time. I go to my son and daughters rooms.  I spend a few minutes with them and assure them that everything will be fine, though I never feel that that is true.  My daughter always cries.  My son is somehow indifferent; he has seen how the system works and feels that we are all doomed.

I have no trust of the law or the system.  I was falsely accused, prosecuted and imprisoned and I know it can easily happen again.  I pace around my office watching the clock.  I know it takes twelve minuets to drive from my home to the  Sheriff’s department, but I leave a half an hour early.  Better to sit and wait than miss my registration date.

Now I drive the three mile to the Sheriff’s office.  Once there I go to a steel door on the lower level.  I usually wait until no one is around before I walk up.  There is a button next to the door.  I push it.  It makes a buzzing sound.

I hear a voice, but can’t see anyone as the person speaking is on the top floor. What do you need?

As quietly as I can, I say. Registration.

OK you will have to wait, take a seat on the bench where I can see you.
I sit on a wooden bench under a camera.  If I move the loud speaker will demand, Where I am going?

Sometimes others will come to the door as this is the place where those who are bonded out of jail are released.   I usually dress in a suit so the question is.  Are you a lawyer?  That is better than, What are you here for.

I really want to say, Sex Offender Mam, please stay back 500 feet.  But it is not a time for jokes.
Usually they call for me within a half an hour.  When they do a jailer come to the door and the lock buzzes and the door pops open.  I then enter the belly of the beast.
Tension is high and I feel the muscles in my neck tighten.

I am lead to another locked door.  We wait until it buzzes open and then we move through it.  It clicks shut behind us.

My chest tightens and I feel a little pain.

I am now locked behind two steel doors.  I find it hard to breath and the anxiety is growing.  I make small talk to try take my mind off of my surroundings.

Now there is another door, but first I must sign in.  I hear the buzz and drop the pencil.  We now enter an eight by ten room and the door behind me closes and locks.

I feel light headed.
A door to my left buzzes and we enter the booking room.

As I enter I see two silver stools with shackles at the base of each.   I am told to stand next to one of the stools and wait.

While the jailer retrieves my paperwork I look around the room.  Concrete block walls, brown in color.  It is cool around 65 degrees.  There are three holding cells behind me and a shower in the open to my left.  On more than one occasion I have been there when a prisoner was stripped and showered by force, once it was a woman.  I felt so badly for her.  She cried as they removed he cloths showered her and threw her into a holding cell.  The jailers, one man and two women laughed and made comments about her body.  I was sickened by it and ask myself, Who are the sex offenders?

Now the jailer comes back and my thoughts return to the present.
Drivers License.  Any Changes?   I hand it to him and answer, No sir.
Job.  I reply, Same job for 28 years
I have to ask.  I reply, I know.  It’s just a job.
Letter.  I hand it to him and he signs it.

Your NCIC is clear. How many copies do you need?  I answer, Just one of everything.

It takes about ten minutes to register if there is no one else in booking and then I am led back through each locking door.  On the way out I sign out and breathe a sigh of relief.

As soon as I get to my truck I call my wife.  I put my head on the steering wheel and thank God that it is over.
Now here are some of the feeling of others regarding registration.   I will let them explain how they feel in their own words.

A mother;
Every 90 days when my child is forced to register as a high risk, violent predator, for consensual sex at age 16, I feel a fire burn through my veins at how callously his life has been destroyed not only by the ignorance of the politicians but the citizens of this country who are under the myth that registries protect children. As a mother, parent and citizen I realize I have a responsibility to educate others with the truth on these laws and find ways to truly prevent child sexual abuse by using facts, statistics and education and treatment

A Former Serviceman
Having to the duty to register, and the other restrictions that come with it, makes you feel as if you are a man without rights.  You served your time as set down by a court of law, paid your debt, and are “freed” into the community.  But you are not free; you are a walking prisoner with laws as your invisible bars, a non-citizen, whom society has deemed without any constitutional rights.

A Mother;
I feel the deepest humiliation and betrayal by my country to the core of my being.  This is a country I believed in, I proudly took an oath to uphold the Constitution of this country and was shamed and derided for wearing this country’s uniform.  I regard my son, registering as sex offender, the same as when my husband registering for the draft in 1969 and was forced into a situation not of his choosing – something countless unfortunate sons are forced to do by the government of this country.

A Family man.
I look forward to it each year with dread.  I go to a PROBATION office and am interviewed as if I am on Parole, like a common criminal.  Fingerprinted and photographed pointlessly.  It feels like I have no rights, my country is waging war against me and my family, and nothing I have done in 23 years counts for anything.  I feel like I have no respect, and my self-esteem is hurt, at least for a few days.

A Loving Wife.
Because my husband’s birthday falls over the Christmas holidays, he goes in to a seasonal funk starting around Thanksgiving.  I don’t really find much joy in the holiday season and he doesn’t find much joy in anything.  It pains me to see him this way, knowing that he continues to be punished long after his time on paper ended and even longer after the crime was committed.  As he gets older, he slips further and further away from feeling like he’ll ever find any kind of redemption on this earth.  He’s also distanced himself more and more from his family because they’ve given him little opportunity for redemption.  It’s very difficult to watch on a daily basis.

A Man Whose Constitutional Rights Have been Violated.
Well, today is the time I have to Register. I have to call in and make an appointment, which means leave a message. I then have to wait for a return call to set up the date and the time. In the mean time I’m attached to the phone waiting for the call. I feel like I am under house arrest, or phone arrest, because they call my home not my cell phone. I cannot travel during these 90 day periods, for if a miss, I go on another trip. I feel like I am on some worse than probation, for on probation I had NO restriction what so ever. I just had to report to my PO every 2 weeks.  Today because of the registry I am restricted in just about everything. Tell me again, this is not “Pun***” right!

A Former Military Man.
I served 19 Years of Honorable military service in the Army and Navy.  I screwed up making the wrong decisions in 1997.  I lost my Military retirement, was given a Dishonorable discharge, and am required to register in Georgia for life.  I must give my user names and passwords.  I’m embarrassed to walk in the sheriff’s office to register.  Telling people that I don’t know about my offense, makes me feel about three feet tall and everybody stops and looks at me.

There are currently around 850,000 people on the national sex offender registry.  For each registered person there is a story, and for each registered person there are family member; mothers, fathers, wives and even children who have stories about the registration of humans in our society.

17 comments for “What it feels Like to Register

  1. Paul
    January 27, 2016 at 9:20 am

    Thank you. Thank you for the reassurance that we who have to endure this unspeakable misery are not alone in our feelings of dread and humiliation. I myself have a lot of anticipatory anxiety about walking in to a station and saying “registration”…(I don’t say “I’m here to register because I’m a sex offender. I just say “registration”) As soon as you say the word “registration”, you’re treated with utter contempt. I’ve frequently said I would easily prefer a root canal compared to the two hours it takes me to register.

  2. January 28, 2016 at 5:42 am

    As an added insult to injury, Ohio’s AG calls us when it is time to register, and we get to hear an automated message reminding us of our duty to register and failure to comply will result in a warrant issued for our arrest.

    • Paul
      January 28, 2016 at 2:40 pm

      We get notified by mail. I love the fact that my mailman sees an envelope marked “Sex Offender Registry”. Sure, he could know by other means, but I mean, that’s lovely. A phone call would be annoying, though!

  3. David Skro
    January 28, 2016 at 9:57 am

    Yesterday, I had to go register I can relate to these feelings. ITS SUCKS

  4. Chris Farr
    January 28, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    I know and understand these feelings to the extent that they apply to me. I am a Georgia RSO. It has become routine for me, twice a year, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I earned my place on the registry and am dealing with it as best I can. It helps that I am alone… single, no dependents, and no family (state-raised since 1978). Since I was released in 2008, I have met several people who in one way or another have and are helping me get my life back on track. The hardest things for me so far have been to find steady employment and a permanent place to live. It helps that I have experience in computer service/repair/recycling and general labor and so earn a bit that way, though it’s still not nearly enough. I am doing the best I can to move on with my life, day by day. It’s not easy but it’s not impossible. As long as I’m moving forward, not backward or stuck, and not re-offending, I count it as success.

  5. Charles the Polymath
    January 28, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    A sentiment I have tried very hard to impart on various blogs for the past (4) years is just how the SO registry/registration robs a man of his manhood, down right emasculates him or “debones” him like a fish I perfer to say. This peripheral dynamic of SO laws is, unfortunatley, not on anyones radar screen. Could it be that this is just what proponents of SO laws actually want? A legal component that turns a man into a shell of himself? A social ghost? Banished to the dark corners of society? Here is a question for the female spouses of SOs: How can your husband or man friend be head of house hold when he has to answer to another man, i.e., a parole officer (PO) when he needs to make decisions that affect your house? Example 1. You would like romantic second honey moon on the River Walk in San Antoino but your SO husband has to get permission from his PO first and naturally that request will be denied because an SO’s ability to travel has been taken away from them. Example 2: You would like to move into a nicer home and in a nicer neighborhood with goods schools. But here we go again, your SO husband has residency restrictions, he can’t move within so many feet of schools, parks, daycares, etc., etc., Example 3: Your sister (or brother) has small children. Everyone on your side of the family knows his case. What do you about birthdays, holidays, socail gatherings? need I say more? So yes, male SOs are an emasculated group.

    • Paul
      January 30, 2016 at 1:44 pm

      Symbolic castration. Sorry to be crude, but that’s what it is. When you walk into that sheriff’s office each time, you are being symbolically castrated. We are all. I think your word “emasculated” also hits the nail on the head.

    • anonymous
      January 31, 2016 at 7:09 am

      Charles the Polymath: You are wrong, male SO’s are not an emasculated group! That is a lie straight from hell, don’t fall for that one!

      Also, the legal system has no conscience, no guilt and no compassion and parole agents are part of that group. We are talking about the Devil himself in the flesh so why would any of us try to reason with the Devil or ask for favors or pity or compassion? It is simply not possible to deal with black hearts. Most of the general public are playing to the Devil who is their pied piper so they’re no help either.

      All SO’s should be finding ways to be stronger and claiming emasculation is NOT going to make anyone strong.

      Wives stay with their husbands because they want to and when they do they do everything that they possibly can to make the situation better which means shoring up their husband, in fact it means working together to be a stronger unit. Marriage used to be a head of the household situation but for as long as I can remember the idea has always been for husbands and wives to share the responsibilities, to work together. There hasn’t been the male power issues since before WW2, OK, maybe the 1950’s, I have literally known thousands and thousands of married people and they don’t do the male head of the household thing anymore, they believe in working together.

      I don’t know about girlfriends or live-in’s but if someone stays with a SO/RSO, they’re doing it because they want to and if they stay they’re going to do everything they can to make the situation stronger.

      Ladies, your thoughts here??

      • Paul
        January 31, 2016 at 2:18 pm

        Why is Charles wrong? Malcolm X stated that the white man had enslaved people for 400 years. That was factual. That we are being emasculated is also factual. Only when we recognize what is being done to us can we begin to do something about it. I don’t see what is so controversial about what he said.

    • Fred
      March 2, 2016 at 11:22 pm

      My ex wife left me, moved to Florida and started an affair with another man. Her complaint against me was I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything or hold down a job. I was always anxious and never in social settings. It was rough.

      The registry destroys families. It does not protect anyone.

  6. David Skro
    January 28, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    Its not like going to Costco…I’m I Right…

    • Gini
      January 30, 2016 at 11:54 am

      Yes David you are VERY correct! Thank you for that comment, I personally am not a registered citizen but have many friends that are. When I got my Costco membership I had no where near the pain and humiliation my friends are required to go through, by law, on a regular basis.

  7. Registering Sucks
    January 28, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    So you can understand a bit more why SO’s have the right to feel what they fell when it comes time to register, here is a pretty straight forward admission in a recent article by a US Senator what the legal system is about when it comes to SO’s. In the recent article, the US Senator states,

    ‘The legal system is…”about depriving someone of their liberty, putting them in prison, labeling them a sex offender for the rest of their life,” she said’ (https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/11/05/more-students-punished-over-sexual-assault-are-winning-lawsuits-against-colleges).

    Looking at that, you will see there is no way to a better life once the time for the crime has been served according to her. The politics of the underlying issue will always be served by those who don’t everyone to move forth positively once the time has been served, even if she does consider the accused at the end of the article.

  8. Anynomous
    February 2, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    Paul, If you want to believe something and when you claim it to be true, then it becomes truth to you. When it becomes truth to you then you will believe that truth in your deepest of subconscious and will act on it without even knowing it. That is the power of thought.

    The question is, do you want to be strong? If you do then start believing it. If you believe that you are weakened then you are.

    Also, I think that the respect of women, lovers and loved ones is underestimated in Charles post.

    I don’t want to argue but you asked me why I think that Charles is wrong.

  9. Mil
    February 12, 2016 at 8:07 am

    Sad stories, but thank you for sharing. Those of us that are not registered, even when we have a relative in the registry, cannot fully understand the pain. We may see it and may share part of it, but not fully. Reading your stories helps us to understand what you go through. Too much unnecessary pain. Why so much punishment after you have already paid your debt to society?

  10. Scott
    April 9, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    Here’s a thought, Think about how much information is devulged on your Facebook account or any other social media website. If someone googles your name you can get a persons address by looking up the name on whitepages matching the name and age group and the city they live in. Trust me nobody is really safe from being vulnerable to privacy. Someone always knows something about someone.

    Registering at a police station or sheriffs office is like being re arrested for the same crime over and over again. Imagine what jesus would have felt like being crucified over and over again……How do we make old habits die hard??

  11. Michael
    April 15, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    I first had to register in South Carolina when I was released on Probation from Prison after serving 3 years. I did not know what to expect, First I had to go to Probation and after putting an electronic monitor on me, which by the way in South Carolina is for Life. It made me more aware of my restrictions than anything. The Probation officer was firm and I could only be out between 8am and 5pm. Period, no exceptions. That relaxed in time but the monitor was a constant reminder of who I had become. I then went to register at the Sheriff department and was relieved to find a very nice young lady that went over the paper work with me. She was very cordial and over time she told me everyone makes mistakes and she does not see me as a bad person. The registration process became a non issue, just an inconvenience.

    I had an opportunity to move to live close to my brother in another state, one by the way does not use electronic monitoring and I am still settling in. The probation was firm but nice, no problems except she goes by the letter of the law, not the intent of the law. For instance no contact with minor means no contact Period! At Church in mid service we have the sharing of the peace, where you go around and shake others hands and say peace be with you. I have to exit the service during this time because if I come upon anyone under 18 I cant shake their hand because that contact. If I am in Walmart and going down an isle and a child is at the other end, I am told to turn around and go the other way. Its scary, where can you go where there are no children?

    When I went to register with the Sheriffs department, I was met by a SVU detective that was straight out of Law and Order SVU! He hounded me, interrogated me and ask me to fess up to the charge and then preceded to tell me that I was not going to like it here and that his job was to arrest me and that if I violated anything he would wait until Friday evening to arrest me so I would have to spend the weekend in jail. He literally scared the living shit out of me! Because of this I started having panic attacks and seldom left my home. Its gotten better but I am still always on alert and watch for the police. I even had to go to mental health counseling to cope with it. Registration should be just that, update information and move on, not get the third degree every time you register. Hopefully this will pass with time. But until then I am always nervous when I am around the Probation officer or the Police.

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