According to Merriam and Webster, a tipping point is the critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place.
Maybe overload point would be a better descriptor.
In Chicago, a sort of tipping point seems to have been reached at the Chicago Police Department where registrants must renew their registration every year. They must also report any changes to this office within three days--changes like an address, a job--losing one or getting one--or enrollment in any school.
They start lining up before 6 a.m. in the well-below freezing weather, in the dark, pre-dawn hours of an Illinois winter. They wait for hours. Some make it in; some don't. Some are in violation because their three-day window closed during the days they stood there, unable to get in. The line is "cut" at noon, which means anyone still in line will not be processed, no matter how long they have been there. The office says it is open until three. A reporter who has monitored the situation for two weeks has observed the doors being locked before one in spite of the advertised hours of business being 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.
The doors are locked, a spokesman says, when they have more people inside than they can process by closing time.
Frustrated, angry, and hopeless men walk away, fearful men, because some of them are now in violation. They could be arrested for non-compliance, for failure to keep their registration current. It won't matter that they tried, that they stood in a line, cold and fearful, for hours, day after day, only to have the door locked yet another day.
Is this a tipping point, a point at which the once-believed helpful concept of registering those deemed to be a danger to society has become so all-encompassing, so comprehensive, that the entities charged with facilitating the process are overwhelmed and, rather than fixing the problem within the organization, are instead shutting it off, locking it out, and refusing to deal with it?
What has caused this deplorable situation?-- for deplorable it is. It is not like advocates for a more fact-based system have not been warning for years of these consequences. Requiring registration for some of the petty and misdemeanor offenses that in no way put anyone at risk of harm is the first of many errors. Keeping law-abiding citizens on the registry for years after they have completed all court-ordered punishment for a single offense doubles them. Having such a short window for updating change of address, etc., adds to the errors. Mismanaging the registration center to such a high degree compounds them to an almost incalculable degree. And being willing to incur the expense of re-incarcerating men who are trying their best to be compliant rather than using the money to fix the problem is criminal.
Why do not the citizens of Illinois protest en masse at the inefficiency and the ridiculous waste of their tax dollars? Why are not attorneys standing by, lined up with the registrants, waiting to file suit when a man is arrested for non-compliance under these circumstances?
Or--and here's a radical thought--why do the powers that be not open their minds to what experts and research studies and empirical evidence have been telling us for years--that the system is broken, that it was flawed from the beginning, that it goes against what everything tells us makes for a safer and healthier society, that it needs a major overhaul?
Will it take what is happening in Chicago to repeat itself at every registration center in every city and town in every state in the union?