Labeled for life: Part 3 - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Labeled for life: Part 3

By Kevin Wheeler - bio | email Twitter

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - There are 15 definitions of a sex offense under Mississippi state law. Rape and assault, sexual battery, touching of a child for lustful purposes, unnatural intercourse, are all considered offenses.

 As we visited the community of one offender and spoke with neighbors we stopped at one last home the man who answered the door gave both my photographer and I a surprise response.

 "Have you seen this guy?” I said.

 I showed him a picture of his neighbor who was convicted of statutory rape in 2004 and asked did that concern him.

 He replied, “No not really because I was convicted too.”

 His name is Clarence Goodson. He was convicted of forcible rape in 1988 in Louisiana. Goodson agreed to speak with us more when we explained our story. 

 Goodson said he never committed the crime and he is fed up with having to register as an offender.

 "I think after I have done my time and my parole I shouldn’t have to do none of that,” said Goodson. I'm going to be 62 years old before I get rid of this stuff and get this black cloud off me.”

 As we continued to talk, Goodson became passionate and told us people should not judge.

 "You’ve got to know the person,” Goodson said. “A lot of people in prison today are innocent; they are convicted for the wrong thing.”

 Goodson then he told us how the title of a sex offender has really affected his life.

 “There are certain places I have to live,” Goodson said. “It’s gotten to where you can't live anymore. “It's hard to find jobs, when they do a criminal background check on you that's it.”

 Jones County Sheriff Alex Hodge said he understands registered offenders’ frustrations, but he said the law is something offenders have to deal with.

 “This is not one of the areas that I think you can tell too much,” said Hodge. “I think that people who live in the community or neighborhood need to know as much as they possibly can about their neighbors."

 Sheriff Hodge said people need to be aware of where an offender lives, but he said that is no reason to treat them bad.

 "I don't want to see anybody mistreated because they are a sex offender because I think that people can change and I think that people do change, but this is just a consequence of their earlier actions."

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