I am an offender. That's who I am now, an offender. I am not unique or special, I am just another offender. My mother and father gave me a name at birth, but that name was taken from me and I was reissued the name Offender, by the state of Idaho in 2002. It may not seem like a big deal to you and maybe it isn't a big deal at all. But Offender is more than a name and it serves several purposes. The first purpose it serves is to remind me that I have offended the good people of the State of Idaho. In that regard, it has more than served its purpose. I very well know who I am and what I have done. Who I am has been changed from a little blond-headed boy who smiles a lot so now I am defined and known by the offense that I committed. Humans have names, sub-humans do not. They have descriptive nouns like the offender. Even animals have names, I've known dogs named Ralph and Bob and Mitchell. But I am an offender.
The powers that be were kind enough to give me a number as well, so they wouldn't confuse me with other offenders. My full name is offender #69192.
Another purpose the named offender serves is to remind people who have to work around me that I am closer to an animal and therefore very unpredictable. Some people that work around offenders are the kind of people that may, on occasion mistake an offender for a person. When these people begin their careers working around offenders, they are told things like, "These are the games offenders play, so watch out." Or. "Offenders act like animals so we have to treat them as such." These poor people begin to believe this after a while. I sometimes pretend that I am not an offender. I walk around smiling, I am as pleasant, polite, and helpful as I can be. Every once in awhile, one of the people who have to work around offenders makes a mistake and treats me like a person and I do the best impersonation of a real person that I can, I smile and say something about the weather. This is just make-believe, but it makes me feel good for a minute.
I read a scientific study that said "Offenders, often return to offending, apparently finding it difficult to acclimate back into their respective communities. Offenders often report that they do not feel as though they belong or are invested in their communities and therefore reoffend out of feelings of desperation and alienation." Offenders report that offending is, many times, all that they know. The report goes on to say, that this is one of the reasons most often given by offenders for why they offended and is most likely just an excuse that offenders use to avoid accepting responsibility for their offenses.
I think everyone agrees, that you cannot have offenders dictating what they'll be called or how they are punished. I don't like being an offender, but I gave up the right to be called a person when I offended. I obviously do not know what is good for me.
Another purpose the name Offender serves is if I am ever released and I start thinking that I'm moving on in the right direction and maybe getting a little too uppity for my own good, I can be easily reminded, by whomever, that I am indeed an offender. That'll show me.
But until that time comes, my name will be Offender.
That's my name, don't wear it out.