This is the twenty-sixth in a series of articles about Auburn-area homeless people, written by local attorney, author, and Sierra College Instructor, Bob Litchfield
A few days after I interviewed LaRaine Olson, I ran into the young man who offered her some of his groceries while we were talking.
(For more information about LaRaine, see article number twenty-one, called, “From Hells Angel to Homeless Angel.”)
The young man looks to be about twenty years old. But it turns out that he is actually 28. He has been homeless for about two years. Since he is a 290 registered sex offender, we will not use his real name. Instead, we’ll call him Sam.
Young Sam can’t get a job, he is homeless, he wears a GPS ankle monitor, and he is basically ruined for life because of his registry as a sex offender.
I look at him, and I realize that he is about the same age as my own children.
I ask him about his sex offense.
“I’m not a rapist. And I never abducted a child,” he says. “I did something really stupid, back when I was eighteen years old. Now, I can’t get a job, and I can’t find a place to live.”
Sam will almost certainly be on the registered sex offender list for the rest of his life. Once you get on that list, you’re not getting off without a miracle or a governor’s pardon.
Sam says, “So, here I am, camping where ever I can find a place to hide out and camp... until I get discovered camping there, and the police come and run me off."
“I am forced to violate the terms of my probation all the time, because every day, I have to sneak around and find a place to plug in my ankle monitor to re-charge the battery."
“It’s illegal for me to live in a house or an apartment that is anywhere near a school, or a park. And yet, it’s perfectly legal for me to be camped out in the woods near a school or a park. Now...if I was a dangerous sexual predator, (which I am not) where would you rather have me, in a house where you can find me, or camped out somewhere in the woods?”
Sam’s theory as to why he is being kept on the registered sex offender list is that the parole officer’s union is a very powerful California Labor Union, and that as long as there are an abundance of registered sex offenders for the parole officers to monitor, then all of the California parole officers have good job security.
If Sam had a magic wand, and could do or be anything, what would he do? He would go back to when he was just eighteen years old, and undo his crime, so that he wasn’t a registered sex offender any more.
If Sam had a message for the world, what would it be?
“Take people as individuals, and take the time to see who they really are. People are not numbers. People are not statistics.”
Sam has bi-polar disease. He is on medication for his bi-polar disease. But he says that the medication isn’t working very well.
Most of the time, Sam is a pretty cheerful guy, and when he comes around the other homeless people, he makes them laugh, and he brings a lot of happiness.
But on some days, Sam gets pretty depressed about his situation.
I can’t say that I blame him.
At the age of 28, his life is ruined beyond repair.
- I disagree, it can be fixed if the California government repeal the draconian laws forcing many people into the same situation as this man.
His lifetime registry as a sex offender is a life sentence to social and economic death.
He is not a rapist, and he is not a child abductor. That means that he is on the list for some lesser, sex-related offense. But that doesn’t stop the general public from lumping him in with the general assumption that everyone on the sex offender registry is a rapist or a child abductor.
Well, they’re not. In fact, if someone would make a count, I’d wager that most of the people on the registered sex offender list are NOT rapists, and are NOT child abductors.
So, what’s wrong with this picture?
Sam, like many other people on the registered sex offender list, is just another notch on the gun of some politically-ambitious deputy district attorney, who is anxious to show a high conviction rate, and hoping one day to be promoted to full District Attorney, or Judge.
- Well, the recidivism rate is not high, and hasn't been for a very long time. If you include technicalities from violating the draconian laws and not just sex crimes, then the re-conviction rate is probably high.
If you young deputy district attorneys out there want to know how it works out for you, spiritually, to pursue your ambitions by putting people on a list that ruins their lives, regardless of whether they are true sexual predators or not, check out Judge Deck Diver, up in Nevada County. The Nevada County voters are trying to recall her because they are tired of waiting for her to come back from rehab.
But... on the other hand, given the number of drunken judges that we’ve had on the Nevada and Placer County benches during the past few years, maybe Judge Deck Diver, as the one judge in our area who finally had the courage to check herself into rehab, ought to be given a medal.
- Why not put all DUI offenders, or all felons on an equally punishing online shaming hit-list? If a draconian registry is okay for one group, then it's okay for all, right? Or are we not doing it because these DUI offenders don't want to be ruined along with their careers?
My recent experiences with homeless registered sex offenders reminds me of a time when I was a young attorney, doing collection work for banks.
The bankers explained to me that there was a no good, crooked, lying, cheating local business owner who had failed to make his payments. They wanted me to go to court to get the man’s business shut down, and to seize all of the man’s assets.
I filed the necessary court papers to shut down the evil, wicked, mean, bad, and nasty man’s business, and to seize his assets.
Then, I met the man whose life I was helping the bankers to ruin.
The man was NOT evil, wicked, mean, bad, and nasty. In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth about who that man really was.
The man was the owner of “The Little Puffer Billy” Toy Store. He was the sweetest, kindest, most innocent little man I ever met. He was as honest as the day is long. He had probably never cheated anyone in his entire life.
He was simply unable to pay his loan payments because he was the victim of the bad economy of the early eighties and the twenty-one-percent interest rates that came with it.
So, where was the disconnect between the reality of who the toy store owner really was, and the evil man that the bankers had described?
The answer was simple: as human beings, with consciences (yes, even bankers occasionally have consciences), the bankers found it necessary to dehumanize the man, before they could bear the idea of putting the man out of business and seizing all of his assets.
We dehumanize our enemies in war, in order to make it all right for us to kill them. That is why we did not kill Germans, we killed Krauts, Huns, or Heinies. We did not kill Japanese, we killed the Japs. We did not kill Vietnamese, we killed Charlie, or the Cong. We do not kill Iraqis or Afghans, we kill the Towel Heads, or the Sand Niggers, or the Terrorists.
This is what we do to make it all right for us to kill, torment, or torture our fellow human beings. We tell ourselves that those people are not really human beings like us. Then, it’s all right for us to beat them, enslave them, lynch them, torture them, or otherwise torment them.
Wouldn’t it be nice if one day, we became awake enough so that it was no longer acceptable for us to dehumanize our fellow human beings?
If we had to recognize everyone as a human being, war and killing and beatings and torture and injustice might have to come to an end.
But in the mean time, we have created a new sub-culture of sub-human beings whom we call “registered sex offenders.”
According to popular belief, registered sex offenders are evil, mean, bad, and nasty sub-humans, because they have done something sexual, like touching their own private parts... something that none of the rest of us have ever done. (In an age where fully fifty percent of all adult males who attend Christian Churches are, according to Dr. James Dobson, addicted to internet pornography.)
Let’s separate this sub-culture of sub-human beings from the rest of us good people by putting them on a bad-people list for the rest of their lives.
|The Scarlet Letter|
As a jobless, homeless, separately-marked sub-culture of presumed-to-be sub-humans, the registered sex offenders are, after all, our new American sub-culture of Jews.
Which makes those of us who separated them out and marked them as sub-human the new Nazis.
You may be indignant, at this point, saying to yourself that registered sex offenders are nothing at all like the Jews in Nazi Germany. You argue that the Jews were innocent victims of religious prejudice, while the registered sex offenders are convicted criminals. You say that’s a huge difference. You say that it’s necessary for us to separate the registered sex offenders from our children, in order to protect our children.
You may be right.
If you believe that it is all right to dehumanize, separate, and mark for like anyone who has ever committed any kind of sex-related crime, then I invite you to go back and review some of the World War II era Nazi propaganda films about why the Jews must be separated from the rest of the German population. According to those films, Jews are dirty, immoral people, who have such unsanitary personal hygiene habits that they have rats running around in their kitchens. According to those films, we must protect our children from being exposed to the filthy habits of the Jews by separating them from the general population.
Not long after the negative propaganda about the Jews began, the roving bands of Nazi vigilante thugs began the random beatings. At first, they only beat up the Jews. But later, they beat up anyone who spoke out against the Nazi political agenda.
Soon, the German people became afraid to speak out against anything, and the rest is ugly history.
So right now, here in Auburn, we have roving bands of vigilante thugs who are beating up registered sex offenders.
Maybe next, the cry will be, “Let’s gather them all up into a single camp.”
Or, “Let’s just gas them all.”
It’s all right. So far, it’s only registered sex offenders who are getting beaten up. And they aren’t really human beings, are they?
Don’t you understand that when we, as a society, make it all right to do this kind of cruelty to anyone in our society, we make it all right to do cruelty to all of us?
If that is true, then I can’t help wondering whether or not some of these same law enforcement officers are the ones who assumed that it would be all right to pull one of our local attorneys off of the front porch of his own home, throw him to the ground in front of his terrified wife and children, handcuff him and arrest him.
What were this highly-respected lawyer’s crimes?
First, he was such a devout Christian that he had chosen to home school his children.
This decision created an inconvenience for county employees, who then chose to harass his family repeatedly.
Second, when county officials and law enforcement officers showed up at his home to “inspect” one of his children, the lawyer stood in the doorway of his own home and had the audacity to insist upon his Constitution rights, and asked the law enforcement officers to obtain a warrant before coming into his home.
For these crimes, one of the most highly-respected Christian lawyers in our community was thrown to the ground in front of his family, handcuffed and arrested, and was later prosecuted by our courts for felony interference with the duties of a law enforcement officer.
The poor lawyer had to take the matter all the way up to the Court of Appeals before he was able to find a judge who had any understanding of our Constitution.
But it’s okay. Because that particular lawyer was different from the rest of us.
If he has chosen to keep his children out of the public schools where our insane legislature has just recently decided that we can best protect our children from sexual abuse not just by segregating sex offenders from schools, but also by requiring that all of our children should be taught in school about the wonderfulness of sodomizers who have made great contributions throughout history, well then, that lawyer is so different from the rest of us that he probably isn’t really a human being anyway, is he?
Here are two items that tend to prove my assertion:
First, the legislators say that we must keep our children safe from sexual deviance by separating out all of the sex offenders, and keeping them far away from schools and parks and children. But the same legislators also pass a law that says that we must teach our children in our public schools about the wonderfulness of homosexuals throughout history.
What happens in that classroom, when the first little Johnny or Sally raises his or her hand and asks the teacher, “But...what is a homosexual?”
What happens is that the teacher ends up being forced to teach our children and our grandchildren in the public schools the details of homosexuality.
And then our children, who experiment with every new thing that they learn about as they are growing up, all have a new toy.
Wow. That’ll protect them.
That’s legislative insanity number one.
Here’s insanity number two: I call it the Jack Black, va-poo-rizor delusion.
A few years ago, comedians Jack Black and Ben Stiller starred in a movie called, “Envy.” In that movie, Jack Black’s character becomes a millionaire when he invents a wonderful new spray that causes dog poop to simply disappear, so that dog owners no longer have to clean up after their dogs. He calls his new invention “va-poo-rizer.”
The only problem with va-poo-rizer is that we discover later in the movie that all of the tons and tons of dog poop that has been “disappeared” by spraying it hasn’t really disappeared at all.
No, no. Dog poop doesn’t just disappear.
As it turns out, all of those tons of dog poop that were sprayed with va-poo-rizer were actually transported to some other place. And that poor place is getting bombarded and buried in tons and tons of dog poop.
What has that got to do with our State Legislators? Well, our legislators seem to believe that if we just spray the words “registered sex offender” on anyone who commits any crime that is even remotely related to human sexuality, then those people will be separated from our general population, and they will just disappear... like spraying those people with the sex offender’s version of va-poo-rizer.
Well, guess what? Registered sex offenders don’t just disappear.
They have to end up somewhere, jobless and homeless and branded for life.
Right now, it appears that an extraordinarily large number of them are ending up being dumped here in Auburn.
So, if homeless registered sex offenders are the new American version of the Jews, it appears that Auburn is the new Polish Ghetto.
We have so many homeless registered sex offenders here in the Auburn area that it is even worrisome to the other local homeless people.
The local homeless people have at least three different theories as to why there are so many registered sex offenders in the Auburn area.
The first theory is that in Placer County, there used to be two different parole offices, with one parole office down in Roseville, and the other parole office here in Auburn. But now, because of budget cut-backs, the Roseville parole office has been closed.
So, all of the convicted criminals who used to get paroled in Roseville are now getting paroled in Auburn. That includes all of the registered sex offenders from the much larger City of Roseville.
There appears to be some truth to that rumor.
The second rumor is that because of the new law which requires a registered sex offender to be paroled a minimum number of miles away from his or her victim, registered sex offenders from all of the major metropolitan areas have to be paroled some place other than the big cities where they were arrested.
So, where are all of these big city sex offenders getting sent? Some of them are getting sent here.
Is there any truth to this rumor? Well, the registered sex offender that I called Ernie in two of my earlier articles was arrested and convicted of his sex crime in Modesto. But he was paroled here in Auburn. According to one source, we are paroling registered sex offenders here in Auburn who are from as far away as Arizona.
I have not been able to ascertain whether or not there is any truth to that rumor.
But I do think that the people of Auburn would like to know how much truth there is to any and all three of these rumors.
Maybe instead of forming roving bands of vigilantes, and beating people up, some of you ought to write letters to your elected officials, during this election year, and ask a few very specific questions about why there are so many homeless registered sex offenders here in the Auburn area.
You might want to send some of those letters to the elected Placer County officials who live in big, expensive houses down in Granite Bay.
I have a not-very-funny, tongue-in-cheek theory of my own to add to the list. We have known for quite some time now that our neighboring county, Nevada County, has the highest per capital number of registered sex offenders in the State. Maybe now, Nevada County is full up, and having dumped as many registered sex offenders as the State can possibly dump into Nevada County, they’ve simply started dumping them into Placer County.
It makes sense to our State Legislature.
No one at the State Legislature will ever ask for my opinion with regard to the registered sex offender list, but here are my two suggestions for making the list more humane:
First, let’s change to law so that the list is limited to no one other than actual rapists and actual child abductors.
Second, since being placed on the registered sex offender list is tantamount to being given a life sentence of social and economic death, let’s treat registry on that list somewhat similar to the way that we treat death sentences in this State.
Every time that a court in this State enters a death sentence, there is an automatic appeal. This is done to ensure that we do not execute any innocent man or woman.
Let’s change the sex offender registry process so that every time someone is put onto that list, that person gets an automatic appeal, so that some higher court or some higher authority makes a determination that this person really is a threat to the safety of others, and ought to be included on this list. That way, we register the real sexual predators, but we do it for reasons that truly protect the public, and not just to put another notch on the gun of some politically-ambitious deputy district attorney.
You say that you don’t want to spend that much for the State’s money on expensive court appeals? Fine. Then instead of having the automatic appeal go to a higher court, lets have the appeal go to a panel of appointed citizens whose only job is to determine whether or not each person who has been placed on this social and economic death list is a real danger to society or not.
For every homeless person in the State of California, it costs the California tax payer about $40,000 a year in all of the services required to care for, to police, and to clean up after the homeless. That’s 29,500 people whom we have artificially created as homeless, at $40,000 per person. Which means that just in the homelessness costs, the California registered sex offender list is costing us $1,180,000,000 per year.
I don’t mind paying over a billion dollars a year to keep our children safe from real sexual predators. But I’m not quite that excited about paying over a billion dollars a year to keep my children safe from assorted flashers, Utah Congressmen, and Secret Service Agents. (And of the latter, anybody want to take any bets as to how many of them will actually make it onto the list?)