Sunday, September 29, 2013

We Are Here to Make Them Stop: We Have to Have Each Others' Backs

Let's get reacquainted.

Families Affirming Community Safety Inc. (FACTS) and Nebraskans Unafraid (NU) have consolidated web resources. The organizations always have been linked, but this move is intended to help us make better use of our resources.

NU is the umbrella organization. FACTS is the outreach, communication and public education arm of NU. We enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship with the state's foremost expert on sexual offending, Lisa Sample, Ph.D., who is Reynolds Professor of Public Affairs and Community Service at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She is also the Masters Program Coordinator for the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.
Ours is the only coalition in Nebraska that advocates for and gives a voice to former sex offenders and their families. 
Politicians, law enforcement, school administrators and others simply will not stand up for you, and they will freely abuse your civil rights until they are made to stop. We are here to make them stop. If you wish to help, take a few minutes to review the new website.

We will push news and information through this site to you and we will endeavor to keep it fresh daily. The NebFACTS blog feed is on the front page. Look in the upper right-hand column for new Storify items at least several times a week.

The News Page includes links to the NU YouTube page, the national eAdvocate news feed, and Notes From the Handbasket, an excellent blog that provides a perspective from the former offender's family point of view.

The Research Data Page will be populated with the latest research on sexual offending. This is so important to you because there is a mountain of research evidence that refutes the fear-mongering myths and lies about reoffending, etc. Right now, the only information on that page is the recent UNO study. We want to focus on that for now. It proves that Nebraska's LB 285 is a failure and does not deliver any public safety benefit. You should share this research study with just about everyone you know.

Because Nebraska state law deprives you of jobs and housing and social networks -- all of the things you need to live responsibly - our Resources Page will carry links to information and organizations that might help. There are legal resources as well, which we all need because Nebraska's former sex offender laws can be enforced in extraordinarily strange and inconsistent ways. There are even a couple of sheriff's departments that choose to ignore sections of the law that protect you from false accusations about compliance. We have to have each other's backs on this -- no one else is going to do that.

And we have a For Families Page because the family members of former offenders are shunned and mistreated, frightened, alone and needing someone to talk to. Because we have been through it, we're in the best position to help. Right now, the page links to the NU Compassion Initiative, our first major programmatic effort. As we put in place more services for families, we will post links to them on this page.

Thank you for your interest and support. Never forget:

You Are Not Alone!

Open Letter to Alexandria, Neb.: Do You Have a Few Minutes for a Reality Check?

Open letter to the Village Fathers in Alexandria, Neb.: We hope that you will watch this. It will take a few minutes. If you don't feel like you have the time, we guarantee you: Some time in the future, you're going to wish that you had:

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Alexandria, Neb., Residency Restrictions Will Make That Town More Dangerous

With politicians in Alexandria, Neb., pursuing a residency restriction ordinance that basically targets one person, we recommend to everyone in Alexandria the following news item:

Florida is among states that have pursued aggressive residency restrictions. The Sunshine State now is dealing with the devastating effects of this initiative: The public is terrified. All research shows that residency restrictions do not work. Research shows that residency restrictions make your community more dangerous. 
"All of the research says that residency restrictions have no influence on safety," said Carey Haughwout, Palm Beach County public defender. 
Many sex offenders come out of prison penniless and abandoned by their families. Many others are stymied in their housing searches. The county has a 2,500-foot restriction, and cities can further restrict residency, leaving a hodgepodge of regulations and very few affordable housing options. 
Consequently, a colony of more than 100 sex offenders has emerged in an abandoned sugar-company town in western Palm Beach County near Pahokee called Miracle Village. "When we first moved there, they wanted to hang us," said Pat Powers, director of a ministry group there. "Now the mayor is saying we're an asset to the community." MORE

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Cop and a Scholar Expose Halloween SO Patrols as Waste of Taxpayer Dollars

A nationally recognized researcher and a law enforcement expert on sex offenders say those "sex-offender patrols" on Halloween are stupid. These patrols are great publicity stunts. But this researcher and this detective say they are lousy community safety practice.

LB285 and Prison Overcrowding

Nebraska's prison overcrowding issue is generating a lot of noise. Someone should take a hard look at how Nebraska's harsh new law on former sex-offenders is making things worse.

UNO research shows that most former sex offenders are not going to reoffend. But the new law, LB 285, creates a web of technical violations that are prosecuted as felonies. Example: A 22-year-old Lincoln mother spends a weekend a few blocks away from her registry address, gets handcuffed by big lawmen in front her toddler child and hauled off to jail. If convicted, she goes to prison. Wouldn't it make more sense for her spot in prison to be taken by someone who actually is dangerous?

Wouldn't it?

The News

Bookmark our news page to stay current with what's happening in Nebraska and around the nation.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Stupid Halloween Law Repealed in California

Reason and common sense score a victory in Orange, California, where a law requiring former offenders to put signs on their doors during Halloween is repealed. There is no evidence that kids out on Halloween are at risk from former offenders. Yet politicians still try to push dumb laws like this one. MORE

FACTS Blog Posts

FACTS blog posts keeping you informed about issues of concern to former sex offenders and their families are moving permanently to this location.

This is part of an effort to reinforce the identity of Nebraskans Unafraid (NU) and to streamline and consolidate the online resources used by FACTS and NU.

We welcome any comments you have on these changes. Thank you!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

News Media Asked to Include FACTS if Tempted to Treat Halloween Hoax Like News

Omaha-area TV stations are receiving this letter from Nebraskans Unafraid:
As we informed you last year,  non-family sex crimes against children on Halloween are virtually non-existent. Recent research in Nebraska shows that the reoffense rate of former sex offenders is extremely low.
Despite these facts, you probably will hear about Halloween “sex offender patrols” in the weeks ahead. In light of the facts, these patrols waste taxpayer dollars and distract law enforcement from its mission of protecting the public. Should you decide to treat a Halloween “sex offender patrol” as anything other than the hoax that it is, we urge you to report on the research results we cite. A study done by the University of Nebraska-Omaha School of Criminology and Criminal Justice shows that former sex offenders reoffend at a rate of less than 5 percent at the most, contrary to what you probably believe. Here is a link to the research report:
This report found that as tiny as the reoffense rate is, it still went up after Nebraska enacted a law that placed all former offenders no matter their risk to reoffend on the public shaming website. That likely is because Nebraska’s new law caused former offenders to lose jobs, homes and social networks. Research elsewhere has shown that when people’s lives are damaged in this way, they are more likely to turn to crime.
According to four respected researchers, there is no reason to waste law enforcement resources on publicity stunts like “Halloween sex-offender patrols.” The researchers are Mark Chaffin, University of Oklahoma; Jill Levenson, Lynn University; Elizabeth Letourneau, Medical University of South Carolina; and Paul Stern of Snohomish, Wash. Here is their conclusion:
“This study found no significant increase in risk for non-familial child sexual abuse on or around Halloween.” The study spanned nine years of data, 1997-2005. The researchers said that “Halloween” policies have no impact on crime.
Nebraska nonprofit group, Families Affirming Community Safety Inc. (FACTS), has asked the Douglas County Sheriff’s office to produce evidence that a registrant has ever harmed a child on Halloween in Douglas County – EVER. The sheriff could not produce any such evidence. He did cite Halloween-patrol arrests from another jurisdiction, but those arrests were NOT for crimes against kids. They were for technical violations of laws such as requiring registrants to shut off porch lights on Halloween.
Please contact Lisa L. Sample, Ph.D., a criminal justice expert (contact info below), so that you may provide accurate context for any Halloween registrant patrol stories.
Omaha-based Criminal Justice Expert Lisa L. Sample, Ph.D.
(402) 554-2610

Dr. Sample is Professor and Reynolds Professor of Public Affairs and Community Service, University of Nebraska-Omaha. She is also the Masters Program Coordinator for the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. She conducts research in juvenile and criminal justice sentencing disparities, drug control policies, prison reentry programs, and sex offender behavior and policies.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The FACTS Are Here

Families Affirming Community Safety (FACTS) exists to provide accurate information about and support resources to former sex offenders and their families.