Monday, November 18, 2013

11 Questions the Douglas County Sheriff Has Not Answered

From Eddie Sidgeweck:

Registrants in Douglas County recently received a post card from the sheriff's office (reproduced here) whose stated purpose is to verify that the information provided when registrants go to the sheriff's office for "verification" is correct.

The post card raises some questions for the sheriff. They are enumerated below. Don't just scan these questions -- please read each one and think carefully about why it is so important to you that we get answers:

1. In view of the research that shows that most of the people on the Nebraska State Patrol Sex-Offender Registry website are not dangerous, why this extra-legal level of  "verification"?

2. Why are you wasting time and resources on this? 

3. Are you as hyper-vigilant regarding drunken drivers or oversight of the widely documented questionable operations of your own crime lab?

4. Is the post card retaliation for pushback you are getting from registrants you are mistreating?

5. Will this post card somehow give you some ginned-up "reoffense" numbers? (Research shows that registrants for the most part do not commit new sexual offenses. 6. So is the County using a complicated net of home invasions and "verifications" in hopes of building up the numbers of registrant offenses? Any "reoffense" numbers from Douglas County should themselves be verified before they can be trusted).

7. Because Douglas County refuses to provide registrants with documentation that they have complied with the verification visits required by law, why the extra expense of this post card? 

8. If you can send out thousands of post cards, how is providing documentation of a legal verification visit to your office such an impossibly complicated task?

The list goes on and on. We put some of them in a letter to the sheriff. An excerpt from the letter we sent on October 31, 2013:
This mailing states, in part, that because the recipient is on the Sex Offender Registry, they are, “subject to random in person compliance checks to assure the information you have provided is accurate and up to date.” In light of this, we would like to ask the following:
9.       Can you provide any legal justification for these checks? Are they provided for in Nebraska law? If so, please cite the statute. There seems to be a presumption of guilt that requires the attention of law enforcement resources for these checks. After all, if RSOs were presumed to be in compliance there would be no reason to “verify” that their information is accurate.
10.      Does Nebraska law require RSOs to comply with these random verification visits? Are they legally required to answer the door or interact with the deputy? If so, please cite the statute.
11.      For the purpose of reporting recidivism rates of RSOs, does your office include technical reporting violations as cases of recidivism even though they are not sexual in nature?
This mailing has created a great deal of distress and confusion among many Douglas County residents who are striving to comply conscientiously and thoroughly with a law that is burdensome, and often unclear and convoluted.  Your timely response is appreciated.
As of today, we have not heard anything from the sheriff in response.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Nebraska 'Social Refugee' Research Makes News in Arkansas

The ground-breaking University of Nebraska-Omaha research demonstrating the widespread harm caused by the Nebraska State Patrol sex offender website is making news in Arkansas.

Station KARK in Little Rock interviewed one of the researchers, Tusty ten Bensel of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, as well as other experts on the issue. Click here to see the story.

In Nebraska, news about the research is being covered exclusively by Nebraskans Unafraid. Preliminary findings show that Nebraska's LB 285 of 2009 causes unemployment and homelessness, hurts people who never violated a law, and has created a class of "social refugees" who have become adept at surviving state-sanctioned hatred.

The ongoing research is the largest qualitative study of its kind.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Phoenix TV Station Has a News Reporter Who Asked Real Questions and Did Actual Reporting on the Halloween Hoax

That's right: It is news when a TV news department does actual reporting on the Halloween Hoax.

Third in a Series by Eddie Sidgeweck

Congratulations to news reporter Jason Barry of KPHO-TV in Phoenix. Unlike the bubbleheads who robotically mouth lies on the air about former sex offenders each Halloween, Barry actually did some reporting.

The first four paragraphs of Barry's story:
PHOENIX (CBS5) - It's something you hear about every Halloween - to be on the lookout for convicted sex offenders preying on Valley children.

But CBS 5 News has learned that the Halloween sex offender scare may be just a myth.
CBS 5 News contacted law enforcement agencies in Phoenix, Mesa, Glendale, Peoria, Scottsdale and Surprise.
None of the police departments have reported any problems involving a sex offender and children on Halloween, over the past five years.
Barry went on to quote University of Delaware Professor Joel Best, who said that the sex offender scare on Halloween is completely unnecessary and there is no concrete evidence that Halloween sparks extra sex crimes.

"Halloween is supposed to be scary holiday, so what happens is, we've stopped believing in ghosts and goblins, but we believe in criminals," Best said. "You're imagining someone so crazy that he hurts kids at random, but he is so tightly wrapped up, that he only does it one night a year. It doesn't add up."
Recently in Nebraska, two university studies of the former sex-offender population have exploded the lie that former sex offenders require periodic home-invasive compliance checks. Are these home-invasive checks actually warranted? Or are they as stupid as the Halloween Hoax sex-offender patrols?
We're going to find out.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Research: Nebraska Sex-Offender Law Creates 'Social Refugees'

Registrants and non-registrants alike are harmed while public safety is not served.

Preliminary findings from the largest qualitative research study of its kind show that Nebraska's sex-offender law drives people from jobs and homes, harms families and damages people whose only "transgression" is living near a registrant.

"A neighborhood resident's custody of her children was threatened because she lived in an area in which a registrant resided," according to the preliminary report on the study by Lisa L. Sample, Ph.D., Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Click here to see the preliminary conclusions from Dr. Sample.

Dr. Sample, along with Tusty ten Bensel, Ph.D., University of Arkansas-Little Rock, and UNO graduate students Danielle Schultz, Robert Lytle and Rita Augustyn are conducting the study. Nebraskans Unafraid and FACTS aided in persuading Nebraska registrants and their family members to participate in interviews for the study. Dr. Sample reported that 266 individuals have come forward to be interviewed. So far, about 140 have been interviewed, including about 30 family members or friends of registrants.

The latest study, Desistance from Sex Offending and Consequences of Laws, is the second to scientifically examine Nebraska sex-offender statutes that were passed in a highly charged political/emotional atmosphere and which were found by a federal court to be harshly punitive. The study is separate from an earlier UNO study that found Nebraska's LB 285 of 2009 fails in its stated goal of making the community safer and might in fact make the state more dangerous.

"Based on our review of the literature, this has already become the
Lisa L. Sample, Ph.D.
largest qualitative study conducted with registered sex offenders," Dr. Sample said.

Among highlights in the preliminary findings:

  • Public notification -- placing every registrant's name, home address, family members' vehicles and schools on an online shaming website -- is cited as the most damaging aspect of Nebraska law.
  • Parents exposed to registry website shame are prevented by schools from participating in their childrens' school activities.
  • Among registrants interviewed, not one has committed a second sexual offense. But only two said that is because of the law. The vast majority of registrants say emotional and financial support are the most important factors in avoiding reoffense.
  • Friends and family members of registrants are reporting that they are harassed, fired from jobs, harassed by law enforcement during "compliance checks," and marginalized because of their relationships with registrants.
  • Mandatory reporting laws, which require certain professionals to report even the mere allegation of sexual misconduct, are preventing families from seeking counseling help for cases of sexual impropriety. And individuals who feel they need counseling help with sexual issues are not seeking out that help because they fear being arrested and jailed.
The research to date suggests that Nebraska's law has created a set of "social refugees," which includes not only registrants but many individuals who never violated any law in their lives.

"Community members not associated with registrants can be penalized simply by living near one. Sex offender laws have been used by ex-spouses/partners to manipulate women's lives post-separation. Laws beyond registration and notification are interfering with sex offenders', and their family members', ability to seek help when needed, create the attachments that help people control their behavior, and participate in child-rearing practices," Dr. Sample said.

The research is ongoing. We will continue to report results as they are developed.

Nebraskans Unafraid and FACTS fully endorse the work of Dr. Sample and her colleagues as they slowly bring sanity and a true interest in real community safety back into the Nebraska law and policy-making process.