Sunday, July 23, 2017

PA ruling raises questions about registry's future

A recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that changes made to the state's sex offender registration laws in 2012 could not be applied retroactively -- along with the court's finding that the registry is punitive -- raises questions about the future of the state's registry.
Ryan Tarkowski, a spokesman for the state police, which run the Megan’s Law website, said the court’s decision may result in the removal from the registry of sex-crime offenders who committed their crimes before the new version of the law took effect five years ago.
He called the ruling “a complex decision” that will “undoubtedly impact” mnagement of the registry.
Read more about the potential impacts of the decision here.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Seeking to challenge Omaha residency restriction ordinance

Nebraskans Unafraid needs your help as we seek to challenge Omaha’s sex offender residency restriction ordinance.
If we do not challenge Omaha residency restrictions, a disabled Vietnam veteran will be removed from his rent-supported home. He is far from alone. Many other registrants are told where they may and may not live because of residency restrictions in Omaha and other cities.
Attorney Janice Bellucci, nationally known for her tenacious fight against residency restriction laws, has defeated over twenty-four municipal residency restriction ordinances in California. She is willing to help challenge these laws here in Nebraska for a reasonable fee of $5,000 plus $100 per hour for all additional time needed after the preliminary filing.
We need your help to fund this legal challenge in the next week. We already have $1,000 pledged and need everyone’s help in raising the rest.  Whether it is $1,000, $500, $100 or even $20, any gift is important and greatly appreciated.
Please send your gift to Nebraskans Unafraid in the next week so we can support Janice’s legal challenge. We must overturn onerous laws which do not improve public safety.
Bring your gift to our Fearless meeting on Monday, July 24, or send your donation to Nebraskans Unafraid, P.O. Box 6705, Omaha, NE 68106. We also accept donations through our website at
Your donation to Nebraskans Unafraid will help you or someone you know have a better chance at housing and chip away at the punitive laws that don’t enhance public safety.
Kenneth Ackerman

402 500-0312

(Remember...residency restrictions...Do. Not. Work. And are counterproductive. And may be unconstitutional.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Op-ed: America steals votes from felons

Writing for the Guardian former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold says that millions of American citizens are prevented from voting by discriminatory state laws that disenfranchise people with a felony conviction.
The right to vote is the most fundamental right of any democracy, granting it legitimacy as a means of government by instilling power in the people and not in politicians. It ensures “consent of the governed” and holds government accountable to the people: not law-abiding people, or moral people, or any other qualifier, but the people.
This most fundamental right is not and never has been about rewarding good citizens or even law-abiding citizens. It is not a luxury or a reward, handed out by the government as it sees fit. It is a right, and should not be conditioned on anything more than citizenship, and being of voting age.
With approximately 6.1 million Americans affected by felon disenfranchisement laws, some states are reconsidering their laws.

The Nebraska Legislature passed a bill this year that would have restored felon voting rights immediately after they complete their sentence, but Gov.Pete Ricketts vetoed the bill.

PA Supreme Court finds state sex offender registration law punitive

Another court ruling goes against a state sex offender registration law...this one from the highest court in the Keystone state.
In a big opinion today, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided its state's sex offender registration law, though civil in design, was punitive in practice and thus cannot be applied retroactively.
Read more here.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Should landlords be allowed to discriminate against former prisoners?

Registered citizens know how difficult it can be for those with a criminal record to find adequate housing. The Seattle City Council is considering a bill that would prohibit landlords from automatically banning ex-felons from housing complexes. According to a report in Seattle  Weekly, the council is also considering prohibiting landlords from using criminal background checks altogether.
“Why should we have a law that allows landlords to extrajudiciously punish somebody?” said Councilmember Lisa Herbold. “That’s what our criminal justice system is for, so why should somebody be able to withhold housing from somebody, to continue their sentence, when the courts have determined that their sentence has already been served and they’ve paid the price of their crime?” 
Would landlords also be prohibited from excluding people on the sex offender registry?

Read the full article here.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Upcoming Fearless meetings

The Omaha Fearless meeting, normally held the third Monday each month, will
be held a week later than usual in July. We'll meet at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, July 24, at St. Michael's Lutheran Church, 13232 Blondo St., in Omaha.

The next Lincoln Fearless meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, August 1, at Calvary United Methodist Church, 1610 S. 11th Street in Lincoln.

Fearless is open to registered citizens, their families, friends, and invited guests. Join us in Omaha and/or Lincoln.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Registrant takes aim at Alabama restrictions

Sex offender registry laws in several states are under legal scrutiny. Add Alabama to that list, as a registrant there has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state's laws.  

The Aniston Star reports on the case involving Michael McGuire.
McGuire was convicted of sexual assault in Colorado more than 30 years ago, before many of the modern punishments around sexual crimes were enacted into law, and his argument hinges on constitutional protections against punishments created after a crime is committed. 
After serving three years in prison and another on parole, he was released in 1989. He did not find himself in trouble with the law again until 2010, when he moved back to his native Montgomery to be closer to his mother and family. 
Upon returning to Alabama, McGuire went to a Montgomery police station to confirm if, as a convicted felon, he was in breach of any state laws. It was at the station he learned he had to register as a sex offender.
He couldn’t live with his wife, mother or brother in Montgomery, because the state required him to stay away from kids, schools and daycares. Soon he was jobless and living under a bridge, with “Criminal Sex Offender” stamped in red letters on his driver’s license. 
He feels like he’s in prison again, a prison without bars,”  said Phil Telfeyan, McGuire’s lawyer. “He is restricted where he can live, where he can take jobs. It’s like being a permanent prisoner.”
Read the full story here.