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Alaska is full of people who moved here to get away from their criminal pasts. I came to Alaska to escape what Kansas was putting me through after I got out of prison. This time, I was convicted and sentenced to a few years in a prison near Kansas City. When I got out, in the summer of , I knew I wanted to start over. I also knew that starting over would be difficult. Kansas requires many drug offenders to appear on a public registry.
After I was out, four times a year, I had to go and let them take pictures of my tattoos, so they could include descriptions on the registry. This registry also includes sex offenders. And people did miss it. Finding a job was no better. It was always fine at first, until someone found out I was listed online. I explained it to people over and over that my crime had to do with drugs.
It was exhausting. I felt like an outcast, and it affected almost every part of my life. I started dating a girl, and it went well for a while, but then she found out that if we were ever going to live together, her address would be listed online. We got into a fight, and we broke up. It was March I threw a dart at a map, and it landed on Alaska. I packed my things and flew to Fairbanks on a Saturday. I knew it was perfectly legal for me to leave Kansas, and yet I still felt nervous the whole way, expecting at any time to be stopped and arrested. The registry had conditioned me to be paranoid.
I thought, What fresh hell I have come to? But by Monday, I had a job at a rental car agency at the airport. They did a background check on me, but it was just for crimes committed in the state, so I came up clean. In Alaska, it feels like people judge you by your words and actions, how you represent yourself. It can be way below 0 degrees for months at a time, and if your power goes out, your family could die, so people are willing to lend help whenever you ask, because they know the stakes are high.
When I got tired of the rental car job, I looked for a new one. I was rejected from some jobs that did national background checks. But I made money leading tours, taking visitors to see the Northern Lights and the dog races. Then I found a uniform and linen supply company, where the guy in charge had been to prison—in Arizona—and had moved to Alaska for a fresh start, too.
We showed each other our tattoos. I had a son and a daughter back in Kansas. My mother has custody, and recently she came to visit and brought them. My year-old son could tell I had changed. He had once seen me in handcuffs. Learn more about the Kansas drug registry here. Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described who has custody of J. Perkins' children. They live with his mother. A nonprofit news organization covering the U. Life Inside. The Language Project. We Are Witnesses. Regional Reporting. Death Penalty. Juvenile Justice.
Mental Health. Politics and Reform. About Us. Illustration by Grace Helmer. Filed p. This article was published in collaboration with Vice. Perspectives from those who work and live in the criminal justice system. up to receive "Life Inside" ed to you every week. The latest on coronavirus and the justice system.Looking to Anchorage Alaska sex for vacation rental
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