Should we push candidates to reform the Sex Offense Registry?

Blank & Pink sent out a “2020 Election Survey” in vol. 9 issue 6 of their newsletter (p.25) One of 4 questions solicited opinions from members of the Black & Pink family living behind the walls on whether sex-related offense policy should be a focus of their political advocacy during this presidential election cycle.  YES, and here is why:  

Registration laws deeply impact the Black & Pink community a significant portion of B & P members are people living on the registry.  Laws targeting persons with [a] historical sex-related conviction has become a core incarnation of the prison industrial complex and represents some of the most draconian and least evidence-based policy’s in the criminal legal system.  The monstrous figure of the “sex offender” is used to fuel excessively punitive and openly Orwellian laws condemning many queer people to life on the margins of society as permanent pariahs. The sex offense legal regime also disproportionately impacts communities of color.  Trevor Hoppe (2016) has shown that nearly 1 percent of black men [are] living on the registry in the U.S. — 1 in 119 black men versus 1 in 430 white men.  

Any movement seeking prison abolition must squarely address the issue that is routinely leveraged to justify and expand government control of marginalized (and vulnerable) communities under the banners of “protection” “safety” and (increasingly) “treatment.”  

If anyone believes in freeing people from dehumanizing labels it’s the Black & Pink family.  The “sex offender” label has become the most powerful way to other someone in our society. Let other criminal justice reform advocates focus on the lowest hanging fruit while throwing everyone else under the bus.  Slogans like “low-level, non-violent, first-time drug offenders” aren’t going to dismantle the prison industrial complex — in reality they merely help make the current system of oppression more sustainable and harder to attack.  Black & Pink should be the voice standing up for “all of us or none.”

 

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