“Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”

Article 13(2), Universal Declaration of Human Rights. United Nations. Dec 10th, 1948

In the United States, as well as in some other countries, former inmates are not allowed to pay their debt to society… It’s never fully paid and Instead, they are forever branded and viewed as second or third class citizens. Emigration is a valid solution to this problem! It is a difficult choice for anyone to make and it should be allowed, respected and supported by the government.

In the United States, it is almost impossible for people on supervised release (probation/parole) to emigrate or even travel freely within their own country. Hundreds of thousands of people listed on sex offense registries are in this situation – some temporarily, some forever. This fact flies in the face of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Seemingly, the United States does not care.

Norman’s Story

Allow me, if you will, to discuss the case of a friend from the state of Missouri. He has a son that we’ll call “Norman” for the sake of privacy. Norman is 31 years old and has been in prison for five and a half years. He was arrested in an FBI sting operation (otherwise known as an entrapment). It was his first offense and it was a non-contact, non-violent crime. There wasn’t even a victim in this case.

Norman was raised to be honest and to respect the authority of law enforcement personnel. After speaking openly and honestly with them, his case was open-and-shut. He never stood a chance. His case was pushed through an unjust system and he was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison, followed by LIFETIME supervision and LIFETIME registration. The seasoned FBI agents think they pulled a dangerous person off the streets, but in reality they don’t know anything about Norman or the countless others they are trained to dupe into these false crimes. Norman’s father thinks THEY committed a crime that ruined the life of a smart, handsome, respectful, wonderful young man and in the process, seriously damaged the lives of his parents and siblings.

When I heard this story for the first time, I nearly fell out of my chair. We are talking about a probation that will never end. This young man will never be allowed to travel, which denies his fundamental right to emigrate; there is no argument that could convince me otherwise. I am offended and absolutely furious that this could be allowed to occur.

I tried to weigh the pros and cons of this issue and I really did give it a fair and balanced review. But I cannot, despite my best efforts, find one credible argument on the “pro” side; only “cons.” The principle of lifetime supervision is abhorrent. The principle of registration for any length of time is just wrong on so many levels. These judicial over-reactions are an absurd waste of time and public funds, not to mention that they are ruining lives, not saving them. The United States have proven without any doubt that they can’t prevent crime with their tough approach.

A Case For Emigration

Voluntary emigration by those who have already paid their dues to society with prison time should not only be facilitated, but funded. This practice would save taxpayers huge sums of money and allow these formerly incarcerated citizens to begin rebuilding their lives in a place that would welcome them; rather than punishing them endlessly.

Emigration in this context is often misinterpreted as “escape” but that is far from the truth. In fact, emigration is more likely to be the desperate last resort of a person who, because of governmental mistreatment, feels as though they have no other choice. This is a difficult decision because there are almost always aspects of one’s country that they cherish. But when the government acts to issue extreme punishment with impunity, then these individuals should be given the right to emigrate to a country that will accept and welcome them.

There’s unbearable suffering hidden in the decision to leave one’s own country. This is not a choice that is ever made lightly. Police and therapists harassed my son several times over his plan to emigrate to Germany, and they should be ashamed. It was none of their business.

We can’t really have a discussion about the emigration of those who have been convicted of committing a sex crime without talking about two separate issues:

  1. The so-called crimes that constitute a “sex offense” and therefore mandate inclusion in a registry. These crimes are so wide ranging and divergent as to be ludicrous. Yes, they include heinous crimes. But they also include the entrapment-like sting operations that I spoke of above. They include “Romeo and Juliet” romances. They even include public urination. And believe it or not, I saw a case where a woman and her husband were arrested in relation to a picture where the woman was breastfeeding her baby. (Read Article) And now they both have to register as sex offenders. I’m so glad these two perverts are off the streets. The judicial approach to so-called sex offenders is wildly out of control.
  2. Recidivism rates for the “sex offender” category are lower than any other crime category except murder. So why on God’s green earth are these offenders treated like pariahs? Why are they not allowed a second chance in life? Why has every aspect of society shunned them? The reasons are fear and ignorance. These factors, and others, create a persuasive argument to allow emigration by these citizens after their term of incarceration.

In a fair and just society, a punishment should fit the crime. Some countries in the world have this right. The United States has it wrong. My friend from Missouri thinks that, if the FBI (or state or local police) are going to conduct sting operations, they should sentence the perpetrators to 30 days in jail (shock time) and impose a healthy fine (maybe in the neighborhood of $1000-$5000). He believes that this form of education was all his son required to absolutely learn the errors of his ways. He believes that would have been the end of it.

Again, let me repeat myself: emigration is a fundamental human right as per the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the case of post-incarcerated individuals seeking permission to leave the country, emigration is a punishment that forever clears the debt between the individual and his or her home nation. But it also is an opportunity to rebuild a productive life; because a life forever in debt, is not a good life to live.