A sex offender’s story

Pub date December 5, 2006
SectionNews & OpinionSectionOpinion

OPINION I am a registered sex offender. I have lived in San Francisco since 1997. I moved here from the state of Minnesota. I am also an openly gay male.
At the time I committed my crime, I was 19, he was 13. I was attending college in Duluth, Minn. I was running a personal ad, he sent me a letter, and I arranged to meet with him. We engaged in intercourse.
It was one of many mistakes I’ve made over the years. I’m also HIV-positive, have a history of substance abuse, and have mental illness. I’ve sought and received treatment. I have access to the help that I need.
I go to a wonderful health clinic in the Mission District of San Francisco. I have friends here. I’m politically active. This is my home.
I’ve been in a variety of living arrangements. I’ve held a number of jobs. I have clerical skills. I’m integrated into the community and getting help and support.
I’m on Supplemental Security Income right now. The plan was for me to go back to school, then go back to work. Those plans are on hold. My hopes and dreams hang in the balance.
Proposition 83, a law that passed in November, bars registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park. That means it bars us from living in San Francisco. It affects my life and the lives of thousands of others. Some are guilty only of having been entrapped. Many are transient.
Most of us have received various degrees of help. Some of us are more functional than others. We can be, and have been, rehabilitated. We hold down jobs, rent apartments, buy homes, get married, go to church, have friends, have families.
I have lived here for more than nine years, all that time in San Francisco, all that time within 2,000 feet of a school or a playground. I have not reoffended. Most sex offenders who receive treatment do not reoffend.
Most sex crimes take place in the home. Most of the offenders know the victim. Prop. 83 will not work. It’s draconian, and it’s unconstitutional.
The courts are now considering whether the law can apply retroactively to people who have already served their sentence and paid for their crime. If that ruling goes the wrong way, many of us could be forced out of our communities, away from the help we need.
I have no trust in the legislature or the governor. I hope and pray the courts will rule wisely.
I could lose everything. So could 93,000 other human beings.<\!s>SFBG
XYZ is the pseudonym of a San Francisco community activist.