As I settle into my new role as the new CEO of SOSEN and learn my way around, I am simultaneously finding myself becoming more involved with a more localized group, the RSOL (Reform Sex Offender Laws) group for Arkansas called Arkansas Time after Time, (ATAT). This group encompasses my good friend Robert, whom I have written about before, my good friend Carla, a mom to a sex offender, my good friend Christine, another mom, and several other people. To be totally honest, I am genuinely amazed at this dynamic group. Here in the US, I know of just two strong RSOL groups, Illinois Voices and Texas Voices and I am quickly coming to the conclusion that we are fast becoming the third strongest state group out there.
I cannot get past the notion, the feeling, really, that God brought me to Arkansas not only to meet, fall in love with and marry the man of my dreams, but to also become part of something really big right here in this state.
People have asked me what I want for SOSEN, and really, number one, I want to carry on Mary's vision of abolishing the public sex offender registry. Some people find this stance alarming at first, but then I remind them that I am talking about the PUBLIC registry--not the registry completely. I feel that if there must be a registry that it must be confined to the hands of law enforcement so that they can do their job better without perverted-justice seeking vigilantes getting in their way and mucking up the mess. I see nothing wrong with law enforcement monitoring those that need it.
Another thing I feel is so vitally important to establish and implement changes to the sex offender laws in this country is to get out there and get physically involved. We at SOSEN, RSOL and other such sites have quite a large number of people spending precious many hours of their time posting and spreading the word online and that is SUCH a valuable and important step towards reform, but we also need people willing to get out there and show their faces, pound their fists and stand up for their rights in their own respective states. Of course, I feel, that if I want this to happen, I have to set an example, which is another reason I have become so involved with Arkansas Time After Time, (ATAT).
ATAT has been working toward obtaining a weekly radio show on a Little Rock radio station. We are in the progress of taking tutorials to run the program and we anticipate the first episode to air possibly sometime in August, after the upcoming RSOL conference in St. Louis.
The show will be called, "This Could Be You" and will feature interviews with people affected by these laws and professionals in law enforcement, lawyers and therapists. My good friend Robert will be the initial guest host and it looks like I will be featured as the first guest. The station broadcasts online and anyone using the net will be able to access it and listen to it. This is a huge project for ATAT and we are very excited about it.
Now, not to put you on the spot, dear Reader, but I ask you, what can YOU do in YOUR state? If you are worried for your family's safety, then may I suggest you assume an identity and wear wigs, sunglasses, hats, Hawaiian shirts, whatever you can to make your appearance different than your own (just no trench coats, OK?)
Hey, you think Lynn Gilmore is my real name? Hah!
We at SOSEN keep and maintain a list of RSOL representatives in each state and if you are interested in getting involved, then hey, drop me an email and I'll get you in contact with someone who can get you started. If you are "too busy" then all I can say is you aren't dedicated enough, plain and simple. I have absolutely not one minute of spare time to work on this, as my husband will tell you, and yet here I am. Somehow, if you are determined enough, you WILL find the time.
Yesterday, I attended an ATAT meeting at the Little Rock public library and came away feel very energized and empowered. It's a very exhilarating experience to meet other like-minded souls who are caught up in this mess and it can be very therapeutic. One woman who attended even admitted to not having "a dog in this fight", meaning she herself was in no way affected by the laws but wanted to learn more and see what she could do to help. We found her input extremely valuable and she had many questions for us. I gave her a copy of my book to hopefully help shed some light on some of the questions she had. We need more people like her, we all do. Those of us connected to a sex offender who complain about the laws are seen as "whiners", but the simple fact is that lawmakers will take people like this woman with no dog in this fight, more seriously.
Some time ago, Robert donated a copy of my book to the Little Rock library. While we we there, he checked on it using one of the library computers and proudly told me that it was currently checked out AND was already reserved for the next reader. Wow! I was so surprised and delighted about that. I think I might call the library to see if they need another copy.
This morning, I was even thinking about donating additional copies to more libraries, so here's an offer to you, Reader. The first ten people to email me the name and address of their local library will receive one copy of my book for their library. I can include the name of the person who requested the donation, if you so desire.
Before I go, I just wanted to post one more thing. Earlier this week, I posted the new SOSEN Newsletter and if you'd like to read it, visit: http://issuu.com/sosen/docs/v6i3color.
This is a special edition dedicated to my great friend Mary, whom I personally consider our own version of Martin Luther King, Jr. Mary will always be remembered as the pioneer who paved the way for us to change the sex offender laws and change the way America thinks about sex offenders.
God Bless you, Mary Duval...