Friday, April 20, 2018

NC lawsuit moves forward in twice delayed hearing on motion to dismiss

From the NARSOL website, Robin Vander Wall gives an update on a federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina's sex offender registry law.
At a hearing in federal court (Middle District, NC) on Monday, April 16, 2018, NARSOL,NCRSOL, and two John Doe plaintiffs were represented by Attorney Paul Dubbeling to defend against the state of North Carolina’s Motion to Dismiss a lawsuit filed in January, 2017 seeking declaratory and injunctive relief under section 1983 of Title 42 of the U.S. Code (Civil Action for deprivation of rights). Forty six named defendants were represented by Attorney Lauren Clemmons of the N.C. Attorney General’s office. 
At issue in this case are a variety of grievances presented by the complainants about the N.C. Sex Offender Registry and the prohibitions and restrictions that flowfrom them. Chief among them is that the registry laws are punitive and violate the federal constitution’s prohibition against the ex post facto effect of civil regulatory schemes that are burdensome and deprive citizens of liberty interests in accordance with an analysis first articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez, 372 U.S. 144 (1963) and applied by that Court in the seminal registry case of Smith v. Doe, 538 U.S. 84 (2003).
Read more at the NARSOL website.

Read the original complaint here.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The sex trafficking panic is based on myths

In a compelling article, BuzzFeed contributors Jenny Heineman and Brooke Wagner deconstruct the myths about sex trafficking in the United States. 
Good data is hard to come by in an industry kept largely in the shadows. That’s why, from 2012 to 2014, we spent nine months walking a stretch of road in Las Vegas well known as a gathering point for sex workers and their customers. We were part of a team who tailed along with those sex workers as they plied their trade, ducking into cars and alleyways to sell their services. We handed out condoms and other harm-reduction material, and we had a definite purpose — we were researchers, paid through an Obama-era grant from the US Department of Justice. 
Our goal was to collect the data needed to provide an accurate estimate of the extent of sexual human trafficking in the United States. The primary investigator, Ric Curtis, designed the study based on his experience collecting data from other “hard to reach” populations, like intravenous drug users in Atlantic City. His method offered a guide for researchers to collect data, without relying on law enforcement, on young and underage people engaged in what we defined as survival sex (trading sex on the street for something else of value like money, shelter, food, and clothing). The study had several teams collecting data in major cities across the US that had been dubbed as “hubs of sex trafficking.” 
What the study revealed, after interviewing 949 people across 6 cities — 171 of them in Las Vegas — was that many of the assumptions that inform government policy on sex workers are merely myths. And those myths are easily disproved once you bother to get the data, which we did.
Read the full article at BuzzFeed.


Registered father prohibited from seeing son in NICU

Another story of a father prevented from visiting his young child in the hospital because the father is a registered sex offender. This story is from St. Louis, Missouri.
The man was 19-years-old when the offense happened in 2004. The victim of the aggravated criminal sexual abuse was 13. 
14 years later, he is a husband and a father. 
His son was recently born about a month early and was rushed to the hospital after he stopped breathing. 
The dad said he showed up to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital and his I.D. was checked, which is hospital policy. 
“They called security and explained because I was a registered sex offender I had to have an escort to go anywhere,” he said.
Recall the recent case of a Wisconsin man, and registered citizen, who sued a Milwaukee hospital after he was prohibited from being with his son.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Pennsylvania Megan's Law "legislative fix" no fix at all

Pennsylvania lawmakers thought they fixed problems with their state's sex offender registry that led the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to declare portions of the law unconstitutional. Not surprisingly, they likely didn't fix anything.
Pennsylvania lawmakers insist they have fixed problems with Megan’s Law that threatened to allow thousands of sex offenders to avoid having to register with the state. 
Not so fast, say defense attorneys. 
Just eight weeks have passed since Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill aimed to address court rulings that declared key provisions of the sex offender registry as unconstitutional. But already, lawyers are filing legal challenges to the new law.
Read the full story here.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

OnceFallen: The forgotten victims of National Crime Week

Derek Logue of OnceFallen.com writes about some notable victims who don't get mentioned during a week set aside to remember crime victims -- registered sex offenders who are victims of vigilantes and government policy.
The week of April 8th to April 14th of 2018 has been declared “Nation Crime Victim’s Rights Week,” and while discussions about crime victims are commonplace, this recognized memorial week provides a greater platform for the victims’ rights group to promote their advocacy. There is, however, a narrative that has been neglected this week—the victimization of registered citizens and their loved ones by virtue of the public registry and the laws they inspire. 
Read more here.

In the age of #MeToo, can there be forgiveness, second chances?

An Associated Press article explores the possibility of forgiveness in the age of #MeToo.
If a man abuses his co-workers and apologizes, should he be forgiven? What about a man who sexually assaults a stranger asleep in bed? Is redemption possible? 
Last week, Tom Ashbrook, who was fired as host of the popular National Public Radio program “On Point,” asked in a column in The Boston Globe if there was a way back after being fired in February for creating an “abusive work environment.” Investigators for his employer, Boston radio station WBUR, cleared him of sexual misconduct allegations. 
“My behavior was offensive and overbearing to some,” Ashbrook wrote, going on to ask: “Is there room for redemption and rebirth, in our time of Google trails and hashtag headlines?” 
There should be, say many experts who study issues surrounding sexual abuse. Forgiveness must be possible if society wants to reduce instances of sexual misconduct, but experts say, it will take work and willingness to change from both the perpetrators and society at large.
Read the full article here.



Saturday, April 14, 2018

Iowa court rules two men can't be held in civil commitment

The Iowa Supreme Court struck a blow against Iowa's civil commitment program, ruling that the state couldn't hold two men indefinitely past their court-mandated sentences.

Here are a couple key quotes from the Associated Press article.
"Preventive detention is very limited in American law because it is seen as antithetical to fundamental liberty interests and the presumption of innocence," wrote Justice Brent Appel in the Iowa Supreme Court's majority opinion Friday... 
He said sexually violent predator statutes "threaten to deprive individuals of what from time immemorial has been the weightiest of interests — the interest in individual liberty." He said the vague and flexible standards of the statutes allows, if not encourages, "a better-safe-than-sorry approach" of locking up sex crime violators indefinitely.
Read more here.

Read the court rulings here and here.