Amplified Voices

Tammy - I’m More Than The Worst Thing I’ve Ever Done -Episode 9

September 13, 2020 Amber & Jason - Criminal Legal Reform Advocates with Lived Experience Season 1 Episode 9
Amplified Voices
Tammy - I’m More Than The Worst Thing I’ve Ever Done -Episode 9
Show Notes Transcript

Tammy shares her journey from being a young mother to serving in the military and being the victim of military sexual trauma.  After becoming a teacher, committing an offense and being impacted by the criminal legal system, she learns to cope with the collateral consequences of a conviction. Her message is one of growth, change and hope as she outlines how she has become an advocate for change. 

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Tammy Bond - Transcript

Intro: [00:00:00] Everyone has a voice; a story to tell. Some are marginalized and muted. 

What if there were a way to amplify those stories; to have conversations with real people in real communities; a way to help them step into the power of their lived experience. 

Welcome to amplified voices, a podcast, lifting the experiences of people and families impacted by the Criminal Legal System.

Together, we can create positive change - for everyone.

Jason: [00:00:34] Hello, and welcome to another episode of Amplified Voices. I'm your host, Jason, with my  co-host Amber. Good morning, Amber.

Amber: [00:00:41] Good morning, Jason.

Jason: [00:00:43] And today we have a special guest. We have Tammy Bond. Hello, Tammy.

Tammy: [00:00:49] Hi, Jason, Amber and everyone else listening to the podcast.

Jason: [00:00:54] It's great to have you here. We had an opportunity to actually virtually meet you. Both Amber and I met you when we did a webinar about the book that came out from Judith Levine and Erica Meiners, when you were one of our guests. Their book was called the Feminist and the Sex Offender: Confronting Sexual Harm, Ending State Violence.

Amber: [00:01:17] We really enjoyed meeting you then, and we're so compelled by your story, and we're really excited to be chatting with you today.

Tammy: [00:01:25] Thank you.

Jason: [00:01:26] So, Tammy, we'd like to start by just having you tell us a little about who you are, where your life story begins, up to the point where you got involved with the Criminal Legal System.

Tammy: [00:01:38] All right. I'll just start with the fact that  - I am not the worst thing that I've ever done. That is not who I am. 

Who I am is a mother, a sister, a friend, and an ear to listen and shoulder to lean on. I'm an advocate for all things, criminal justice that will make it more effective. I'm from central Illinois, born and raised. I'm a veteran -  was in the Army for six and a half years.

Jason: [00:02:11] So what was life like in the Army?

Tammy: [00:02:13] I loved being in the Army, one, I went right out of high school, so it was very adventurous for me cause it was my first time out on my own and I love to travel. So I got to see different parts of the world and just enjoyed it.

Amber: [00:02:30] Wow, so I just want to draw some connections here and Tammy, I think, you know, this. I'm also a Veteran. And I can really relate to your idea of going straight out of high school, which I also did into the Marine Corps and, and being in a whole new world. So sometimes when I hear you talk and I've been talking to you, I'm like, wow, we have so much in common.

Tammy: [00:02:54] Yes. So, um, was there anything else you needed me to expound on?

Jason: [00:03:00] You had your child while you were serving?

Tammy: [00:03:02] No, I had my daughter when I was 16 years old, sophomore in high school. 

My daughter, which I just recently learned, she's been diagnosed with Asperger's as an adult - didn't know that as a child. And she had some difficulties relating to moving and getting to know people, so she had social problems. And at the time I knew nothing about Autism and Asperger's.

Jason: [00:03:33] You became a mother at 16. Okay, so you're a mother, before you even go into the military.

Tammy: [00:03:39] Yes.

Jason: [00:03:40] Were you in a loving relationship?

Tammy: [00:03:43] Unfortunately, it wasn't. I was green. My mom was in the era where sex was taboo, so she didn't really talk about it. So I wasn't in a relationship, but there was a boy at school that I liked and I was kind of coaxed into it. And lucky me, first tries a charm. 

And so yes, but my mom had me when she was 16. So even though she was disappointed, she was very helpful. She was there for me and did support me and take care of me and my daughter until I could take care of us on my own. So that was great.

Amber: [00:04:28] That's awesome.

Jason: [00:04:30] You serve the country. Thank you very much for doing that. You honored the country, you did what any parent would be proud.

Tammy: [00:04:37] Yes.

Jason: [00:04:38] You get out. Now, what's next?

Tammy: [00:04:40] Well, before I go on to that, I want to say that I was involved in military sexual trauma. I was raped by a fellow service member, believe it or not, while I was stationed in Korea. That kind of started the downfall for my love of the military life. 

At that point, I didn't get much help or assistance. There wasn't much to be given, actually, at the time. And like I said, I was in Korea.

Jason: [00:05:14] Can you give an example of a time when you went for help and how you felt that you were turned away or not listened to.

Tammy: [00:05:22] There are several examples of that. The worst one that I can think of right now is: I was trying to get information about what happened to the person that raped me. Because, the night he raped me, the next morning he was on a flight back to the States, because he was transferring to another duty station.

So, I went to get information about, you know, what's going on. Where are we at? What's the status? And no one could tell me. The people that had interviewed me when I went forth; they had moved to different areas. And the person that was in charge there by this time could not even find a file that had any type of information regarding my rape. None whatsoever. So I never got any closure as to the outcome of that. 

And then another one was: my battalion commander had said that they would do everything they could to assist with helping to get to the bottom of what had happened and make sure, you know, this didn't happen to anybody else - which it didn't while I was there - but they did not help in the form of trying to get answers to what happened to this guy. You know, they didn't try to get it now come for me either, even though he promised they would look into it and help me in any way they could. So that was disappointing.

Amber: [00:07:10] And Tammy, what timeframe was this? What year was it?

Tammy: [00:07:13] This was in 1990. I had just got in-country maybe three days prior to that happening. So I was not familiar yet with people, where things were located, where I could even go to let somebody know that I had been raped. I didn't know who to talk to. I didn't know who to go to. 

So, finally, it was probably a day or two after the rape that I finally went to my supervisor on the advice of a fellow worker, because they realized there was something wrong with me and asked me what the issue is. And, and that was a point where I just broke down because I couldn't hold it in anymore. 

And you know, when Korea, men outnumber women about nine to one. So I worked in an office full of men. Um, my supervisor was the only woman, so he was like, go to her. Let her know what happened. And she was actually the one that took me to the criminal investigation division to report it.

Jason: [00:08:23] So I'm hearing they listened a little bit, but they didn't take it quite as far as you'd want it to go.

Tammy: [00:08:32] No, they didn't take it seriously and for some reason back then, it was the kind of feeling that I did something to instigate it. The night before - or the night it did happen, actually - I had gone to a party and believe it or not, it was a party for him and a couple of other soldiers that were going back to the States.

And so, I do drink, but I didn't get drunk. I wasn't dressed provocatively, not that that makes a difference, but do you know if they ask me those things?

Amber: [00:09:10] Yeah. So, I'm finding this, this conversation very difficult because I've had very similar experiences. 

So, as Tammy's kind of describing some of this part of the story; It is very common in the military, because it is very male dominated, for this idea that a woman has invited some sort of advances; or it's just going to happen; or it's just part of the culture.

So I wanna unpack that a little bit and just make it clear that -  at the time when you're going through something like this, especially in such a male dominated workplace - it's very difficult to know where to turn and who to talk to. And there are so many instances where, you know, you're just supposed to suck it up. Or, um, you know, in my case, you know, certain things weren't believed. Then you start to get a reputation that, you know, you are something that you're not. And it's really a very difficult situation. 

I will say that, you know, the military has made some advances since the time that, you know, Tammy was in and, you know, I was in. So, since those times, things have kind of advanced. But there's a long way to go.

Tammy: [00:10:33] Yes, there is.

Jason: [00:10:35] The way people perceived you at the time; that's all part of the story, right?

Tammy: [00:10:39] Yes. Yes, it is.

Jason: [00:10:42] And it's tough. Obviously, you still carry that to the point where you almost felt like you went into defensive mode just now.

Tammy: [00:10:49] Yes. Yes.

Jason: [00:10:51] So, you're there. You seek some help. You didn't really get the help you wanted in the forum you wanted it. You probably were feeling very much alone. The military that you really love was part of your identity. Now it's something that you're not loving so much?

Tammy: [00:11:09] Pretty much. I was very untrusting after that. I felt that anything I went to a superior about would not be taken seriously. And any type, I won't say reprimand, but any kind of constructive criticism, I took it as offensive.

Jason: [00:11:30] While you were in Korea, was your daughter with you, or was she back here?

Tammy: [00:11:33] No, she was home with my mom. And I actually did not share this information with my family because I was overseas and I didn't want them to worry.

Jason: [00:11:44] How old was your daughter at the time?

Tammy: [00:11:46] At the time she would have been six years old.

Jason: [00:11:52] When you would call home and you would talk, did you like just burst into tears or were you able to compartmentalize or?

Tammy: [00:11:58] Yeah, I was compartmentalizing because I just wanted them to know that I was okay. And I felt that if I said anything about it, they were not gonna be okay. And, actually, I did not share that with my family until after I got out the military, which was two years later.

Jason: [00:12:19] Yeah, that's a huge thing to carry around.

Tammy: [00:12:21] Yes.

Jason: [00:12:23] So, two years later you're leaving the military and you get to the next phase of your life.

Tammy: [00:12:27] I actually got out and went to school. I have two bachelor's degree and a master's. The second bachelor degree is in education, which is where my story starts. 

I love children. And I just enjoy working with them and I wanted to work with the ones that I thought I could impact most. So, I became a special education teacher and I enjoyed it. I love teaching and I liked the style of teaching that they had at the high school I worked at because it was, at the time right now, instead of separating students with special needs and the other students, they were integrating. So, I was able to co-teach. I taught students with learning disabilities.

So the students with learning disabilities were brought in class with students that didn't require services. They were all integrated and I assisted where needed. And so in that aspect, I not only assisted my students, but also the ones that didn't have special needs because they were able to be supported by some of the techniques and adaptations and accommodations I made with my students. So I was helping all the way around.

Jason: [00:13:53] So you have three degrees. You're in Illinois. You're teaching. You're reunited with your daughter at this point.

Tammy: [00:13:58] Yes.

Jason: [00:14:00] What else is going on? Do you have hobbies? Are you dating? What's happening?

Tammy: [00:14:03] Oh, okay. I skipped over a whole bunch, didn't I. 

I did marry in 2002, which was the year my daughter graduated high school. And I feel like I kind of jumped into that because I saw myself getting ready to enter the empty nest. Because I was also thinking about what my daughter's going off to school. Maybe I'll just move down to Missouri.

So, yeah, I was dating someone at the time and he did ask me to marry him. But, I had some reluctance, but I did it anyway. 

And by the way, my daughter got a full scholarship to University of Missouri, playing basketball. So she's a great basketball player.

Amber: [00:14:50] Wow. That's exciting.

Tammy: [00:14:52] Yeah. She was drafted to the WMBA in 2006. She played a couple of years before she started her track onto a career. She's like her mom, she's tried all kinds of different stuff before she found her niche. 

But yeah, so, um, I was married. Five years later I was divorced. Infidelity. And that was during the time I was getting my teaching degree. So that was hurtful because just a little while after I learned that my husband was having an affair, my mom passed away.

She had MS. And she waited a very long time, even years, before she even went to get checked. She doesn't like doctors and she was trying to diagnose herself. But she finally went and got tested, cause it really started to get bad, and she was diagnosed immediately.

Jason: [00:15:52] Your mother passes away. Your daughter has gone off into the world. And you're feeling betrayed because your chosen life partner has cheated on you. And so all these things are happening at the same time and you have this unresolved trauma from your past. All this is going on.

Tammy: [00:16:11] Yes, all that is going on and I still feel like I don't have anybody to talk to, to lean on. Even though I was still going through counseling, PTSD therapy - I don't know - it just didn't seem like things weren't getting into my head.

Jason: [00:16:33] Now the VA offers some services. Were they not helpful?

Tammy: [00:16:38] It's not that they weren't helpful. I didn't know how to absorb what they were trying to give me, to teach me, so to speak. Like I went through counseling and I talked about what happened to me and they were going through cognitive therapy and all that. And I just wasn't taking it in. It wasn't working for me 

Now I did go to a military sexual trauma women's group and I loved that group. I really did. And I thought it was beginning to be helpful, but there wasn't enough participation, so they dropped it. So then I went back to therapy and the same thing over and over again; the same techniques and it just was not catching on with me.

Amber: [00:17:27] So what you're kind of referring to is, at that point, the fit for the program that you were working with, really wasn't working for what you needed at the time. 

Tammy: [00:17:39] Exactly.

Amber: [00:17:41] And, you know, just so I know I'm hearing you correctly; you referred to the group. And so, some of that again, is, you know, really knowing you're not alone.

Tammy: [00:17:53] Exactly. That is exactly what that was. 

So, and I could understand what other women were going through because I was like surprised at the different emotions and feelings. Because one of the things that I learned about myself when I was there: it seemed like all the other women in the room were having problems with sex again. That part of their relationship. 

Well, I was having problems with bad relationships, but I found myself being more promiscuous. And so I thought something was wrong with me. And I explained to the facilitator, I was like, and the reason I felt that way is that was my way of taking the power back. If I allow myself to have sex, then I'm in control of this, not you. I'm allowing you to have sex with me. 

That's how I felt, which was not really true.  But that's what made me comfortable. You're not taking this from me. I'm, I'm allowing you, even if I didn't want to do it. But yeah, I became more promiscuous in a sense.

Amber: [00:19:18] And I think it's important to note: everybody deals with trauma and sexual trauma in different ways. And there's no, right way, wrong way. I mean, we want to explore those kinds of themes in terms of why harm occurs, why even self harm occurs, and this is all kind of part of the journey. 

Tammy: [00:19:40] Yes.

Amber: [00:19:41] Again, everybody responds in different ways and it's part of that human complexity.

So, I really want to thank you for sharing; for being so vulnerable. Um, this is not an easy thing to do.

Tammy: [00:19:56] No, it's not.

Amber: [00:19:57] And we're really happy that you're willing to do that. 

So, moving forward, you're at this point in your life. You have all of these things going on. You're still trying to resolve this trauma. Other things are happening in your life that are causing additional traumas that you're trying to deal with. 

And then what happens?

Tammy: [00:20:20] Okay, so on teaching and I'm thinking, this is the greatest part of my life. Teaching, I mean, absolutely loved it. I know I was a great teacher. All my evaluations for the next five years were exceptional. I just couldn't think of a better career choice for myself. 

So my fifth year, which was the year I've attained tenure, I became involved with a student.

Jason: [00:20:50] In what year are we in now?

Tammy: [00:20:52] We're in 2013. 

So anyway, it went on. It did develop into a sexual relationship. 

When I realized how far I had gone, which was too late, I was trying to get out of it.

Amber: [00:21:10] So now you're at a point where you're like, what do I do now? I understand that this is not something that should be happening. I would like to move on. So let's talk about what happens next.

Tammy: [00:21:22] Well, again, like I found myself in the military, not having anyone to talk to. I didn't know who to talk to in this situation. I can't go to my supervisor, my evaluator, my principal, and say, "Look, I've been having this relationship with my student. I want to stop because I know what's wrong", you know. So, I didn't have anyone to go to. 

But with it being so late in the school year, I said, "I'm gonna get through this when the summer comes, then everything will be broken off."

So that's what I was waiting for. And, three weeks before school ended, he didn't go home for a weekend. And so his mom thought he was with me, which he wasn't. So she went to the police to say he hadn't come home all weekend and that she believed that he was with me. 

And so the police came up to the school. I was called down to the office. And to be honest, when the principal came up to my classroom and asked me to come down to the office; when he said, "bring all your things with you", I immediately knew what was going on. 

So, I went down, talked to the police. I finally just admitted what I done and took responsibility for it at that point. It was very difficult. I cried and giving my testimony. And the police really had me under the impression that they could help me if I would just cooperate. And so I did, that's what I did. I cooperated. And little did I know that it would all be turned against me and they were not very helpful.

Jason: [00:23:14] So you were arrested. Did you have a bail situation? Were you able to be released?

Tammy: [00:23:20] I was not arrested at school. They let me go because, I guess they had to go to the state's attorney with all the evidence they had before they could arrest me. So I wasn't arrested until a couple of days later. 

I had never had any type of criminal background; by this time I was 45 years old. So I didn't know what I was up against.

I was in jail. I did have a $50,000 bond, which I had to pay 5,000 to get out. I didn't have $5,000 anywhere, but I have very, very good friends. And I realized at this point, how great my friends and my pastor are. And they raised $5,000 in two days to get me out of jail.

Jason: [00:24:11] That was helpful. Were you in the newspaper?

Tammy: [00:24:15] I was in the newspaper. I was on the news. The news people were outside my house. 

Fortunately for me, I don't know how I was so protected. I never saw the news programs. I never saw all the bad things they were saying on social media. My sister was very protective of me. She kept the media away from the house, so I never saw the bad side of what everybody was thinking. And like I said, I had so many friends that knew me aside from that, that I did. And they uplifted me. So I just surrounded myself with the good people and the people who encourage me and support me. 

I did end up getting a private attorney who didn't know very much about sex offense laws, but he was one of the better attorneys in our area.

Jason: [00:25:15] Right, and you've also talked about the fact that when they evaluate you, they only have tests that work more effectively, they say, on men. Because they just don't have the science behind women.

Tammy: [00:25:31] Exactly. So everyone in my County who has a sex offense charge has to be evaluated for a Risk Assessment. Um, in part of the risk, the evaluator runs a battery of different kinds of tests. And like I said, he mentioned to me that he kinda had to analyze the data differently, because all the tests were geared towards me and they didn't have any tests specific to women because there wasn't much research and studies for women, so there was not a test. And doing that, he mentioned to me that if you didn't have this specific charge right now, I could put you at no risk. But because you have this one charge against you right now, I have to put you in a risk level. So the risk level he put me was, low to moderate. And I thought, okay, you know; that'll be good in my defense.

Well, the assessment was basically just something, I guess, for bureaucracy, because even though it was part of my discovery, I don't think anybody read it. I really don't.

Jason: [00:26:48] Did you go to a prison?

Tammy: [00:26:50] I did not go to prison. I think that was due to not having a criminal background, having a private attorney, and the friends and colleagues. Believe it or not, I had colleagues write reference letters to the judge to let him know what type of character I really had.

Jason: [00:27:13] So, were on probation and you were put on the registry for life?

Tammy: [00:27:18] Life. That was one of the things I was going to mention about my attorney. 

He did his best. I really believe he did. But he told me during the sentencing, "You'll only have to be on the registry for 10 years. That's it." Well, when I started probation, I went to the probation officer and I saw him check a box on my paper that said a sexual predator. And I'm like, "Wait a minute, wait a minute. I think you're checking the wrong box." And he was like, "no", he said, "Did your attorney tell you you're only gonna be on the registry for 10 years?" And I was like, "yes". He said, "I hate when attorneys do that. Because whenever it's a minor, that's involved, you're on the registry for life and your branded sexual predator."

So that's what happened to me. I spent 90 days in the county jail. Four years of probation. I had to do mandatory sex offense therapy, which I found helpful. I really did. I learned so much about myself. Boundaries. Just things that I did not even pick up from the military sexual trauma therapy. So I learned so much more about myself during that time of assistance than I had ever before.

Jason: [00:28:44] So from 2013 to now you've become an advocate.

Tammy: [00:28:48] I have.

Jason: [00:28:49] And you've testified a number of times. You have granted interviews. You've at least had one line written about you in a book. 

Where do you feel you are in terms of recovery? Do you think that this was an isolated thing and that you're now in a good place and you can handle life stressors? Or, do you think you still have work to do?

Tammy: [00:29:12] Actually, as far as this incident, I feel like I'm in a good place. I really do. 

As far as learning more about myself; I'm continuing therapy. I have a very great therapist that I enjoy speaking to on a weekly basis now. 

I did lose my home, which was devastating to me. 2013 I did, um, try suicide, the day before my birthday. I'll never forget it, December 13. Because my probation officer came to my house to tell me I had to move because there was a daycare center that I did not even know - I've been living there for three years. Didn't know there was a daycare center near me, um, but there was. And I'm like, but I own this house, I bought this house. I have to move? He said you have to move. 

And so that broke me. That was the straw that broke me. And I tried to commit suicide. As God would have it, I lived. I spent some time in the hospital, but I have moved past that also. 

Yes, it's difficult living life on the registry with all the restrictions. I love the park .Park was like my haven to meditate. I can't go to the park, even though my charge had nothing to do with any kind of offense taken a place in a park or with young children. It's just some of the restrictions that I have an issue with. And not being able to have access to remove myself from the label of sexual predator and off the registry period.

After six years, I'm coping with it.

Jason: [00:31:04] There've been so many collateral consequences for you. We talked privately. You talked about the fact that getting a job is so difficult right now. And you have these degrees, they're in education, but you have so many skills that you've picked up along the way, and you can't get a job. And even when you do get a job, somebody uses this as an excuse to cut it short. 

You know, if you want to put a plug out there for a job, like tell people what you're looking for, so maybe someone a hire you.

Tammy: [00:31:32] Okay. Well, I haven't been able to find any employment for almost a year now. But I've worked mostly in the clerical arena, so I'm very good at editing, typing; those types of things. I could do those remotely if needed. 

But teaching was my most favorite thing to do. I won't lie about that. But, I did do some tutoring. The parents who allow me to tutor their students - I can't do it unsupervised - but they know me and they know me as a good teacher and they're fine with me tutoring their kids. And they're really close, cause I am very aware of not violating any of my restrictions. 

So there are still people out there that trust me. Like I said, I have a big network of friends. And I think the thing that really has gotten me through to this point, where I can be content to some extent and go on.

The student that I sexually abused - I'll go ahead and call it what it is. His mom saw me in the store one day and she was coming toward me and I was like, Oh my gosh, she's getting ready to cause a big scene. And she comes over to me and she said, "I forgive you. I forgive you. And if I had known what they were gonna do to you, I wouldn't have gone to the police."

Jason: [00:33:12] Wow!

Amber: [00:33:12] That's what I was thinking. Wow!

Tammy: [00:33:16] Exactly. That was the greatest weight lifted off of me.

Jason: [00:33:21] Were you in tears? I mean, you must've just stood there.

Tammy: [00:33:24] I was. I was just, I didn't know what to do and then I asked her, I was like, "Can I hug you? Do you mind if I hug you?" And right there in the store, we hugged.

Jason: [00:33:35] I'm tearing up and I don't tear up.

Tammy: [00:33:38] Yeah, I know. And, and like I said, that's really what has gotten me to move on; to continue going.

Amber: [00:33:47] So Tammy, I'm sure that you're familiar with restorative justice. 

Tammy: [00:33:52] Yes.

Amber: [00:33:53] Do you feel that, had something like that been available in this situation, that it would have been a better fit for this particular situation?

Tammy: [00:34:04] I really do. And I didn't learn about restorative justice until the year later when the school district decided to do it with the students that were having issues with each other. There's was more like a, a mediation, but it was like restorative justice. 

And I really do think that would help, but I don't think it would've helped immediately. Because the mom was really, really upset. And she needed to be at a point where she could accept the mediation, which she had gotten to by the time she had seen me again for the first time. 

So I do believe in restorative justice. I just think that it needs to happen at the right time.

Amber: [00:34:53] I really appreciate that you shared that with things being the right time. Because, there's a lot of conversations about restorative justice and different things, you know, being an alternate to the judicial system. And, you know, some of the arguments around that have to do with: who wouldn't do it if it was an alternative. It's like go to jail or do this. 

Tammy: [00:35:17] Exactly.

Amber: [00:35:18] So I think that there's a lot of work out there in exploring restorative justice and what that looks like; and how we kind of rethink the different systems, whether they're adversarial, whether they're restorative; and how we make that all work in the context of our current systems. 

So I think there's a lot more work to be done and in that area. But it definitely is a promising prospect in terms of figuring out, like, what does justice mean? Does justice mean that somebody is punished for the rest of their life because we have an aversion to the idea of what they've done?

So these are some of the themes that we're gonna be exploring through the podcast. And a lot of the work that all of us are doing, we're looking at. So, I really think that your story, as complex as it is, is a really important one.

Jason: [00:36:16] As we start to wrap up; is there anything that you wish you could tell that you haven't explored yet? Or is there anything else that you want to talk about that you want to put in a plug? You know, like any legislation in Illinois that you want to see happen? You know, anything that you want to talk about? You've got a few minutes to do that.

Tammy: [00:36:36] Okay. Um, one of the things we were able to get through the House and Senate a couple years ago, was a bill that allowed for a sex offense task-force to look at the different sex offense, laws, and restrictions, and see how they could make them more effective and helpful for people on the registry. 

And we were very excited about that. It brought all the stakeholders to the table, including victims of sexual violence; who, a lot of them are against the registry because it doesn't help to prevent sexual abuse - it's a reactive thing instead of proactive. 

But anyhow, all the stakeholders were at the table and they did this task force for a year. Came up with recommendations. They were great recommendations; the same thing, um, that we felt needed to be done - that the research shows. They had researchers, doctors, all kinds of people on this panel. 

So we thought we were in a good place to start some legislation for us. However, no legislator wants to touch lessening punishment for sex offenses.

Jason: [00:38:01] Illinois seems to be pretty awful. I mean, we're aware the Chicago 400, which is a group that deals with homelessness and registrants. And we've gotten to see, we actually met, some of the people from the Chicago 400 and they're an amazing group - really a human rights group. 

Tammy: [00:38:16] Yes.

Jason: [00:38:18] It's Bad enough if you have a home, but the registry has created homelessness based on, you know, even the story you talked about. And then once you're homeless, you have to check in once a week. It's horrible. 

So, and then you, if you want to travel as a registrant into Illinois, you have three days before you're put on the registry there and they can't guarantee they would ever take the person off. So, if you're going somewhere, you can fly in, spend the day and fly out, and that's pretty much it.

So, it's pretty awful. So, hopefully there's change and we see that change pretty soon.

Amber: [00:38:52] I did want to make a comment about some of the work that you were referring to, in terms of the studies, and the task force ,and so on and so forth. Because I think that there's been a lot of that kind of going on around the country, because people are starting to say, "This is really harmful." You know, "This is clearly not working. This is clearly an ineffective system. There's some human rights violations going on." So, people are starting to say, "Okay, well, you know, it's really, really hard to push policies through. So let's study it. Let's gather this information." 

This is something that there was a huge push to do in Connecticut, where Jason and I are from, as well. And all of the information was gathered. It was put together in some wonderful report, like so much work with so many stakeholders. And then you come to this place. 

So what we really want to encourage anyone who's listening to do, is really get involved in that process, whether you're a member of the public, whether you're a member of a group, or you're a legislator that is just saying, "You know what I know behind closed doors, that this is wrong, and this has to change. We have all this information at our fingertips. How can we all move forward in terms of changing these things?" Because again, and you know, people are going to hear me say this again and again and again - they're going to get tired of it - but what we're really working towards is several things. 

We're working towards making people and communities whole again. And we can't do that with piling harm, upon harm, upon harm. 

So, the framing is really important, especially for legislators. And we, as people with lived experience, really have to give legislators the tools to support them in the thinking that they have behind closed doors, so that they can translate that into public action and not be completely decimated for it.

Tammy: [00:40:52] Yes, that's what we need. 

Because I know the legislators in my district; they're all for it. They understand. Even the Senator in my district was formerly a state's attorney who has had to deal with people that committed sex offenses. So he understood after he heard my story - cause I went in and talked to him about - and then he was like, "Yeah, that needs to be changed. I'm sorry to hear that happen to you." 

But again, it's trying to get other people on board. And they called it political suicide or whatever. Because if they tried to do anything, they felt that they were gonna loose constituents and votes, and that's what it came down to.

Amber: [00:41:43] So, if you could give someone who's living with sexual trauma - as you've lived with - and who also may be experiencing the harms of the registry, one piece of advice; what would that be?

Tammy: [00:41:58] For me, what's helped me - first of all -  is my network. That's not so easy for some people. But if you can just get a network of people that encourage you and support you and surround you with love; that makes a great big difference. 

The part about dealing with, with both sides of the issue are very conflicting with me because as I said, my case went unresolved. I have no idea where that person is, if he's committed more offenses.

And then being on the registry -  like I said, a network of encouraging and supportive people have really been my foundation to keep me going.

Jason: [00:42:48] Tammy, thank you so much for being so open; sharing your story; being so brave. I know, you know, before we started this, you were a little bit nervous. 

There's so much to you and so much to your story. You're an amazing human being. Thank you. 

If we were in the same room, I'd ask if I could give you a hug.

Tammy: [00:43:09] Ahhh. And I would take it too. I'm gonna call my sister after this so she can come give me one.

Amber: [00:43:17] We're giving you virtual hugs.

Tammy: [00:43:19] Yes, virtual hugs. 

I was going to say, if there's anyone out there that would like to help me write my book, I am trying to write a book about all of this. It's hard for me because so many emotions come up, because I'm starting from childhood. So if there's any book writers out there that can give me pointers, assistance, whatever, I'm open to it.

Amber: [00:43:43] You heard it here first.

Jason: [00:43:47] So, anymore questions?

Amber: [00:43:49] I think that's a wrap.

Jason: [00:43:51] Alright. 

Thank you again, Tammy.

Tammy: [00:43:54] No problem. And I'll be glad to come back.

Jason: [00:43:57] All right

Amber: [00:43:58] Wonderful.

Jason: [00:44:00] Until next time, Amber.

Amber: [00:44:02] See you next time, Jason.

Outro: [00:44:12] You've been listening to Amplified Voices; a podcast, lifting the experiences of people and families impacted by the Criminal Legal System. 

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