I didn’t know it was possible to be as excited about multiple two-connection plane flights in four days as I am right now. In less than two weeks, I will be traveling the thousand-mile plus trek from central New York to Albequerque, New Mexico, for my first RSOL conference. My last column raised some questions and hurt among fellow advocates in the way that I explained my decision to form a new group apart from RSOL. I hope that my attendance at the conference and anticipation at meeting fellow hard-working activists demonstrates my continued commitment to work with all reform groups from around the country.
It may be a bit of a cliché, but it’s true - united we stand, divided we fall - which is why I would like to make it very clear – again – that I value each and every advocate we have in this fight. We need everyone’s talents, abilities and dedication if we want to have a shot at restoring dignity and basic fairness to our and our loved ones’ lives. Those of us in this quest may have strategic differences, but we have a unity of purpose – to fight for reasoned evidence-based laws.
A news piece that aired yesterday referred to the conference as an attempt to “weaken sex offender laws” (watch the video and leave comments here: http://www.koat.com/news/new-mexico/albuquerque/Sex-offender-convention/-/9153728/16404830/-/m19lds/-/index.html.) Unfortunately, this is not accurate and while New Mexico RSOL’s spokesperson did an excellent job explaining the true objectives of the conference, the news station decided to ask random members of the public if they agree with “weakening sex offender laws” and of course they don’t. Who would? We are not fighting for weaker laws. We are fighting for better laws that work and that will do a better job of truly protecting the community. That will only come from education and a key component of public education on this issue must come from the families of registrants. The research and statistics are on our side. We have a unique opportunity to bring faces and personal narratives to those statistics.
We are the best spokespeople to tell the many success stories of the vast majority of law abiding former offenders who have rebuilt their lives and are now good and decent providers to their families. And, sadly, we can also bear witness and tell the stories of how family members have become the victims of the collateral damage of the registry.
I firmly believe that families will be the catalyst we need to infiltrate the news cycle and combat the myths and misinformation we all know so well. Let this conference be a testament to how strong the bond of family is in the face of ignorance and injustice.