Behind Closed Doors

The little commuter town 'Antioch', an hour east of San Francisco, made international headlines for all the wrong reasons: This small Californian City had been the home of Phillip Craig Garrido, the abductor of Jaycee Lee Dugard, who was kidnapped, kept "imprisoned" for 18 years in his back garden.

As the discovery of slowly unravelled it was also made public that the city with just over 90,000 inhabitants has been the residential home of 123 sex offenders, many of which were offenders against children.

Megan's Law is a website in the USA that names and shames all sex offenders to make it easier for parents to protect their children against people who have offended before. Using the Megan's Law's website I travelled to Antioch to photograph the houses of convicted sex offenders. The seemingly normal houses could be the neighbour houses of any suburban American City. The houses of Antioch give us a disturbing feeling that these sex offenders could be anyone's neighbours. No tell-tell signs or no obvious feeling of a ghetto, the middle-class suburban buildings are the shelters of men and women who have offended against children and who may or may not offend again. In some of the pictures one can even see the evidence of children nearby or in the houses, making this normal image seem even more chilling: The feeling one has about these houses have through the information given been turned from being idyllic homes of residents to fortresses or prisons meant to hold a secret and keep unwanted people out who may reveal their secret. A toy outside has turned from the innocent to an enticing toy. The blinds and shutters on the windows have turned from being something that keeps the bad out of a house to keep a bad secret inside the house.

To enhance the uncomfortable viewing of these images the captions read exactly how the offence is listed on Megan’s Law’s website.

(These images were photographed in 2009 and the residents of the properties may have moved on since then.)