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When you are a registered sex offender in America, you lose the right to choose where you want to live. So they end up living out of their cars, under highway overpasses, or in the woods, like fearful animals, like homeless lepers. Sixty-one concrete bungalows on twenty-four acres, with 120 resident offenders at any given time, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of acres of sweet, sugary nothing.
They’ve got their own little colony out in the cane fields. Because they can’t live anywhere children assemble, etc.
You could say they’re lucky to be here, even if it is four miles from anything resembling a town, not much of a resemblance at that, and the "city" (really more of a village) being just a lonely former barracks built by U. A couple of dozen older Jamaicans still live here, too, but the sex offenders arrived six and a half years ago when Pat Powers, an offender himself, came and claimed the place in the name of Jesus Christ.
They live in this exile, of course, because there is nothing lower than their kind.
Rose smiles and says the sign was a Christmas present from a neighbor. That’s when a freshly showered Ted enters, chuckling in his smoky, affable way, to join me at the table. She’ll hit you with a parole violation for a hangnail.
Then she waits a beat and says how, when he gave it to her, she went, Am I supposed to put that in the kitchen or in the bedroom? "It’s very much just a regular community here," he says. Like, for instance, Rose has got a big soft spot for Winnie the Pooh, as I’ve already gleaned from the couple’s video collection.
They’ve even got one stay-at-home dad who’s a registered predator. Ted and Rose themselves got married three years ago, in September, just after Ted was re-released for a probation violation. Rose says how her probation officer, Officer Cox, wouldn’t let her go on a honeymoon. The man’s getting released from prison in a month, and he’ll need somewhere to live.Considering how welcoming they are, however, I’m inclined to resist the urge to assume the worst—and anyway, I don’t particularly want to know the specifics of any of their crimes.Society has already exacted its debt, is my thinking.Ted says they’ve got the vacancy now because of Earl, the current black eye on the village.Earl just got sent back to prison for twenty-three years for trying to contact his victim on Facebook. Ted tells me how he and Pat had gone to Earl’s hearings. That’s just a reminder The men are gathered around the kitchen table: Pat and their intake manager, Jerry, and Chad, a younger guy with peroxide bangs who’s rubbing his shoulders and moaning a bit from their football game yesterday.