The Nightmare I Can’t Wake Up From

Written by Debra Grund, Vice President.

It’s a nightmare I can’t wake up from. It’s been 5 years and I still worry, 9 more to go. I’m grateful he’s alive and meeting the everyday challenges life in prison creates. Probation, Parole, Sex Offense Registry, all this is coming his way the day he walks out after successfully meeting all the requirements levied by the judicial system. Next they will put on his shoulders, around his ankle and tucked into his pocket life time oppression and lifetime stigma. Gone is the young man with an honor roll status in high school. Gone is the young man with an honor-roll status at college

Debs Son Graduation

Who would have thought that the power of words and the manipulation of an undercover detective/professional groomer could levy so much damage to a young man’s life? He had big plans; nurse anesthetist, newer car, bigger apartment and maybe a warmer climate. The registry will dictate where he will live. He will have to ask permission to move to another state. The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, SORNA, will determine that he has to register in the county where he resides in and again in the county where he works in. I’ve heard so many stories from others who are living with this nightmare after their release from prison. Some have violated their registration requirements because it’s easier to live in prison than to fight the stigma on the outside. Some have told of getting pulled over for a traffic violation and then asked to produce their cell phone (so the officer could check for pictures and question their appropriateness, even though the pictures may be of your own children); and yet others who needed a hospital escort to visit their sick child in the ICU. Nothing you do will ever be private, personal or without explanation. The free world is not free for someone on the registry.

So for now, I give my son the love and support he needs through visits, phone calls and post cards. I am on a mission to change the laws before he serves all of his time. I have been heartbroken listening to grown men and women cry in pain and frustration because of the Sex Offender Registry. Many have been on the registry since they were 18 years old, more than half their lives. The registry is a result, and a symptom of fear and ignorance. It is unjustly ruining lives after “time served.” Now is the time for common sense laws and fiscal responsibility. I hope you will join me; I’m just somebody’s mom trying to right a very wrong system.

4 thoughts on “The Nightmare I Can’t Wake Up From

  1. Rebecca

    So many good people are affected by this. Almost five years ago our family was flipped upside down by a similar situation. My husband is a good person who made one mistake and now his life is forever changed. Once he comes home, the registry will give a stigma that some will judge without knowing the story. He can not go back to the profession he once had. He probably won’t be able to see his son graduate from high school down the road all because of the registry. My son and I miss my husband so much. I just hope that by sharing his story and what we have learned about this offense, we can show others there needs to be change. Thank you for what you are doing.

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  2. Rebecca

    It is just that, a nightmare. Almost five years ago our family was flipped upside down in a similar situation. We are both college educated; him in business and I am a teacher. My husband was never in trouble, he never even had a speeding ticket, and yet here we are. The system has given him this stigma for one mistake that was non-violent in nature. Prior to this we had conversations about how he worried his job would take time away from our son. Now we long for him to be home and my son talks about missing him on a regular basis. Because of the offense, my husband will live with this for the rest of his life; we will do everything we can to not let this define him or our family. This harsh punishment was not just given to him, it was also given to my son and I who can not fill the void that exists in our current “new normal”. My husband is a good person who simply made one mistake. Thank you for what you are doing.

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  3. Judy

    I can relate sooo much. But I was 51 years old when I was convicted for sending an inappropriate voice mail to a 16 year old. Yes, jail, Lifetime Registration, hiding from neighbors, not being able to get a job or getting one and then getting fired when I was found out. Trying to explain everything to my husband, daughter and my mom what happened and trying to figure out how “They” can hand down such harsh punishment,
    even after serving my probation and never reoffending.
    Crying every single day…
    It just doesn’t make sense. So many of every age, gender and race get caught up….alot through the deceit of Law Enforcement we all trusted. So many youngsters who didn’t understand the ramifications of looking at internet pictures or hooking up with someone who lied about their age.
    It just doesn’t make ANY SENSE.

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  4. Sandra Zuehlke

    I know this young man. This was a travesty. He had never been in troubled until he was catfished by a us marshal. He cooperated fully not really understanding what had really done wrong. Then it was 14 yrs of his life gone and a stigma he will never escape. ‘This “umbrella “ of sex offender must stop! There are more like him. Non violent guys who just made a mistake. Had a younger girlfriend or urinated in an alley and was seen. Now there lives are ruined. Please don’t judge an SO without knowing the story.

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