Dear family member of a sex offender,
I’m a journalist who is working on a larger project,
I’m working on a book proposal whose working title is Families in the Cross-Hairs: Collateral Damage from America’s 20-Year War on Sex Offenders. It’s designed to tell the stories of sex offenders’ loved ones (wives, sons, daughters, parents)—the discrimination, abuse, and worse that many have suffered as a result of living with someone on the sex offender registry (documented in Levenson and Tewksbury’s study of this issue in 2009, which I’m sure you’re aware of). It also will share stories about how family members have become active in the fight to reform sex offender laws (through organizations like USAFAIR, RSOL, and WAR) and the small victories they’ve achieved to date.
I’m contacting you because I’m putting together the lead chapter for the book and am looking for family members willing to share their stories about what it’s like to live in a home with someone who’s on the registry. I well know the risks that these folks live with--so while it would be great to speak with people who are willing to use their real names, I understand and can include the stories of people who cannot do so.
Below this email, I’ve included sample questions of the type that I’d be seeking answers to in talking with people, though obviously my follow up questions would change depending on the specifics of each family’s circumstances.
And again about me: I'm a magazine reporter who has written stories on sex offender laws for The American Prospect (http://prospect.org/article/life-list), Good (http://www.good.is/post/a-new-way-to-treat-sex-offenders/), and The Crime Report (http://www.thecrimereport.org/archive/standoff-over-sex-offenders/). More of my writing on criminal justice topics appears at http://www.stevenyoder.net/journalism/criminal-justice/.
I was hoping that RSOL might be able to post an announcement asking prospective families to contact me in whatever way is comfortable for them. If so, just let me know how you’d like to proceed—I’m happy to write this up in the form of an announcement if that’s helpful.
- What has it been like for you to live with someone who is listed on the sex offender registry?
- Have you or other immediate family members experienced any of the following as a result of your loved one’s being on the registry?
- Financial hardships?
- Changes in your housing, or difficulties obtaining housing?
- Teasing, ridicule, social isolation, or exclusion?
- Property damage?
- Harassment, verbal abuse, or assault?
- How have your experiences affected your views of current sex offender laws?
- Has that led you to be involved in efforts to change those laws, if at all?
Thanks so much.
Steven Yoder [firstname.lastname@example.org]