Tuesday, December 30, 2014

St. Louis-area Attorney on Defending Accused Sex Offenders

Another Perspective on the Offender Industry

David Jaffee, professor of sociology at the University of North Florida, delivers an incisive look at the nation's offender industry.

An excerpt from his Florida Times-Union guest column:
While business was being deregulated, the economically marginalized were being hyper-regulated, and incarcerated in record numbers, through the institutionalization of new drug and vagrancy laws, and the surveillance and monitoring of poor communities and minority populations by local police forces.
Full column.

Pennsylvania High Court Deals Another Blow to Registration Laws

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court throws out lifetime registration for juvenile sexual offenders.

In a 5-1 ruling on Monday, December 29, the court said the law is unconstitutional because it does not provide offenders the ability to challenge the assumption that they likely will re-offend.

This is a good precedent. Every public-shaming website, including the one in Nebraska, rests on the erroneous assumption that Registered Citizens likely will re-offend. That incorrect assumption, refuted by scientific research, actually is codified in Nebraska law.

If it's proven that something in your law is factually incorrect, do you do anything about it?

While you ponder that, here's a story on the ruling.

Federal Judge: Our Criminal Justice System Punishes Many Who Are Innocent

Jed S. Rakoff is a U.S. District Court Judge for the ­Southern District of New York.

In a recent piece in the The New York Review of Books, the judge takes a long look at why innocent people plead guilty to crimes they never committed.

It is a long but rewarding read, so we're sharing it here.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Psychotherapist Shines a Light on Dangerous 'Mandatory Reporting' Law

Those "mandatory reporting" laws (Nebraska has one) that require therapists to break confidentiality and report their patients to police prevent people from seeking the help they need.

Such laws are perfect examples of grandstanding legislation, i.e., laws enacted because they sound and feel good. Sometimes these laws are described charitably  as "well-meaning." I disagree with that nice sentiment because these laws do not truly address a problem. They are not designed to do so. They are designed to let politicians capitalize on voters' fears about a problem. That is not well-meaning. And (again) "mandatory reporting" is a prime example.

Such a law is about to go into effect in California. Here is what California psychotherapist Leslie Bell has to say about it in a Washington Post op-ed piece:
" . . . the law falls short on three fronts: First, it will not protect children from either the production or distribution of child pornography, which is its intent. Second, it violates therapist-patient confidentiality and decreases the likelihood that people will get the psychological help they need to stop accessing child pornography; if the goal is to undercut production by reducing demand, the law will likely have the opposite effect. And, third, it conflates desire with action.
There is little evidence to suggest that consuming child pornography causes individuals to commit sexual abuse."
Read the entire piece here.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Tot Drowns in Pond While Police Fiddle With List of Registered Citizens

Heartbreaking. Gut-witheringly heartbreaking.

A 4-year-old boy goes missing on Christmas Eve in Little River, S.C. Law enforcement springs into action, checking on the whereabouts of registered sex offenders. What!? They're doing what!?

The little boy's lifeless body is found in a pond. No signs of foul play, police say.

What if instead of checking on the whereabouts of mostly harmless Registered Citizens, every law enforcement resource available had gone into looking for that little boy?

He was autistic. How long did he wander around while police fiddled with a list of Registered Citizens? What if police decided they were going to find the kid before he came to harm? What if he had been located before he wandered into that pond and drowned, alone in the cold and dark?

There's a chance, maybe even a good chance, that little boy would be at home with his parents right now.

Hope the next politician who wants to fatten up the list of Registered Citizens will think through the damage that will be done and the lives that will be lost, especially the tiny lives, because they gave police this huge and useless distraction.


Specialized SO Court in Florida Will Be No More

The Tampa Bay Times in St. Petersburg, Florida, reports that a specialized "sex-offender court" -- where offenders often were subject to lengthy harangues and sentences -- will be disbanded.

So-called "boutique" courts allow specially assigned lawyers and judges to get steeped in the nuances of a specific area of law. Hillsborough County, Florida, has drug court, probation court, veterans court and animal court, among others. None has drawn attention like that of sex offender court -- particularly after the case of accused child pornographer Peter Barnhill. Read the full story.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Here's a Tool You Can Use to Help Reporters Get It Right

We frequently hear from you when you've seen, heard or read a news story that is riddled with all of the old generalizations, myths and outright untruths about Registered Citizens.

We're making available to you an easy-to-use tool that you can use to help educate reporters and others who need help understanding Registered Citizen issues. It is this web page: For Reporters: Get It Right.

It is true that there are some reporters with an agenda who will not want to hear from you. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault. They seem to have been born that way. Reach out to them anyway.

It also is true that there are reporters who are truly interested in rigorous honesty and accurate information even if it runs counter to their misconceptions.

Most news stories now include an email address or other means to contact the reporter. Send the link to our For Reporters page to those whose stories contain myth, untruth and flat-out errors of fact. If they are interested in accuracy and the basics of good journalism, they'll thank you.

Trouble Loading NebraskansUnafraid.org? Clear Your Cache and Try Again

If you are having trouble getting to NebraskansUnafraid.org, clear your browser's cache and try again That will get you to the updated web page.

Labeling Is Lazy; Precision Takes Intelligence

Many people wrongly apply the terms pedophile and/or predator to any person anywhere who is convicted of, charged with, suspected or accused of a sexual offense.

That's like labeling every woman a whore or every man a rapist or every reporter a liar or every cop a killer. It's so easy to turn labels into demonizing perjoratives.

Fred S. Berlin, MD, PhD, is Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. He's written a cogent and useful editorial for the The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law titled Pedophilia and DSM-5: The Importance of Clearly Defining the Nature of a Pedophilic Disorder.

Dr. Berlin's primary audience here is professional, and the journal involved is far from being a "popular" publication. But his piece includes a lot of common sense and we recommend it -- especially to those who think everyone on Nebraska's public-shaming website is a pedophile or a predator. Read it here.

Friday, December 26, 2014

More on the Offender Industry from a Pulitzer-Winning Journalist

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nick Chiles helps fill in the picture of the U.S. offender industry.

When there is money to be made on every incarcerated person, is it any wonder that politicians keep expanding the lists of sex offenses and fattening the registries?

Read Chiles' 10 Examples of How America Uses Prisons As a White Jobs Program and Profit Center by clicking here.

We're Offering to Help You Help Us: Let's Get Going

Nebraskans Unafraid wants your help in communicating with state senators and elected officials all across the state.

We're asking you to contact your state senator -- or any other elected official who needs good information -- and begin a conversation with her/him about the issues that are affecting your life. That's what every other citizen does. Why not you?

We're making it easy for you to educate state senators and, frankly, anyone else who needs educating on these issues. We have developed an online package of outreach materials and information on how to use them. Find the outreach package by clicking here.

Email us at nunafrd@gmail.com if you need help or other support.

Do it now. Let's get this party started. Thanks.

Six Simple Solutions



Every Nebraskan has a right to safety and security. Children, especially, should be safe and secure in their own homes.

This right extends to the children and family members of Registered Citizens. Current Nebraska law deprives these innocents of safety and security.

Research shows that current Nebraska law, in fact, makes Nebraska a more dangerous place than it need be. To cure the situation, Nebraskans Unafraid endorses six simple legislative solutions. Read about them here.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Peace


2014 in Review: Facts Are Facts, Even If You Try to Ignore Them

Last in a series reviewing some of the most popular NebraskaFACTS posts of 2014.

December 2014

Every time anyone looks at statistics and facts, it adds to the huge pile of evidence showing that sexual offenders have extremely low rates of re-offense. Why are politicians and Nebraska reporters so frightened by the numbers? One of the latest studies:


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The World That He Sees

2014 in Review: Refugees in Nebraska

Eleventh in a series reviewing some of the most popular NebraskaFACTS posts of 2014.

November 2014

Our series REFUGEES USA: Families Destroyed by the Registry is still garnering dozens of new pageviews every day. Part II was one of the best-read:

Monday, December 22, 2014

Peace to You and Yours


2014 in Review: Law Flunks Jury Test

Tenth in a series reviewing some of the most popular NebraskaFACTS posts of 2014.

October 2014

Failure to register is a phonied-up non-sex-offense designed to trap people into technical violations of overly complex laws in order to feed to the sex-offender industry. Or, as we put it:

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Woman Downloads Child Porn to Frame Her Estranged Husband

Guest Post courtesy of Notes from the Handbasket

by Marie

A Pennsylvania woman tried to frame her husband for child pornography possession by downloading the porn herself and turning the computer over to law enforcement. Her plan was exposed and now she faces up to two years in prison.
While the Pennsylvania Sexual Offenders Assessment Board determined Woods is not a sexually violent predator, she must register her address, workplaces and schools she attends for the next 15 years. 
Carrying out a plot to put an innocent man in prison is not predatory?

In a world where simple failure to register is considered a sex offense, deliberately downloading images in order to destroy a man's reputation, if not his very life, could be considered violent.

What this woman did is despicable, of course, but even people who do something despicable do not deserve to have to register for public shaming.

Abolish the sex offender registry.

2014 in Review: Another Dagger in the Heart of the Reoffense Myth

Ninth in a series reviewing some of the most popular NebraskaFACTS posts of 2014.

September 2014

When they looked at new offenses committed by people released earlier than they should have been from the Nebraska State Penitentiary, they found that the sex offenders did NOT commit new sex crimes. Five were convicted of failure to register, but that is not a sex crime, no matter how contorted an understanding of the law you might apply. However, we had to ask:



Saturday, December 20, 2014

North Carolina Is Into Solutions, Providing Housing for Former Offenders

The most-read post of 2014 on this blog is about University of Nebraska-Omaha research showing that the state's sex-offender laws and policies deprive people of their homes, jobs and family support systems.

Even though former sex offenders have an extremely low rate of reoffense, one of the best ways to increase the likelihood of reoffense is to have laws like those in Nebraska, which gratuitously disrupt former offenders' lives and compromise public safety.

Communities often rush headlong into passing residency restrictions for former offenders, thus making those community leaders a part of the problem.

In North Carolina, the state Department of Public safety has chosen instead to be part of the solution, taking action to ensure that former offenders coming out of prison have a place to live where they may begin stablizing their lives. Read about it here.

2014 in Review: The Most-Viewed Post of the Year

Eighth in a series reviewing some of the most popular NebraskaFACTS posts of 2014.

August 2014

This is the #1 best-read post of 2014, which continues to receive dozens of new pageviews every month, yet "reporters" in Nebraska appear unable to see it.
 

Friday, December 19, 2014

2014 in Review: Sex Offender, Murderer, Beloved of God

Seventh in a series reviewing some of the most popular NebraskaFACTS posts of 2014.

July 2014

Sometimes we lose the perspective that is necessary to help us emerge from shame. At such times, it's good to remember that

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Anything?


2014 in Review: Voters Reject Bruning and Pirsch

Fifth in a series looking back on some of the year's best-read posts.

May 2014

The architects of Nebraska's current "hammer and shame sex offenders" law -- Atty. Gen. Jon Bruning and State Sen. Pete Pirsch -- are kicked to the curb by voters, causing us to exclaim

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

If You're Not Yet on a Registry, You Probably Will Be Before Long

In California, one out of every 375 adults is a registered citizen.

This isn’t because Californians are especially sexually deviant. According to Chrysanthi S. Leon, a law professor and expert on sex crimes at the University of Delaware, it’s just because the Golden State set up its registry first, which means that pretty much every state in the union is heading towards this high density of officially stigmatized sexual criminals.

That these registries have no visible deterrent effect on sex crimes, according to one recent Department of Justice analysis (PDF), doesn’t seem to matter.

New York attorney Chase Madar wonders about The Overpolicing of American Sex.

2014 in Review: High Court Coming to Its Senses?

Fourth in a series looking back on some of the year's best-read posts.

April 2014

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling makes us ask:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Committee Places Blame for Corrections Mess Right Where It Belongs: In the Lap of the Governor

Gov. Dave Heineman is primarily responsible for the Nebraska Department of Corrections mess, according to the Legislature's Department of Correctional Services Special Investigative Committee.

“The things that happen in the Department of Corrections are right at the doorstep of the governor, and anybody in the military knows that the top dog is the commander,” said State Sen. Ernie Chambers after the committee released its report today.

Lincoln Journal Star on the Investigation

The investigative committee recommends firings: The panel said that the state should terminate the employment of record administrator Kyle Poppert, department psychologist Mark Weilage and assistant director Larry Wayne for the roles they played in the mismanagement of sentence calculations and Nikko Jenkins’ release without treatment.

Jenkins was released after he told prison officials he feared he would commit murder if he was let out. So they let him out, and four people in Omaha died.

The panel also recommends the firing Department of Correctional Services Director Mike Kenney.

Read the Committee Report

The investigative committee said that the passage of laws that increased penalties for many crimes brought more inmates into the corrections system. But the overcrowding problem was created by how the corrections department dealt with the influx, the panel said.

Nebraskans Unafraid congratulates the committee, chaired by State Sen. Steve Lathrop, for doing its job and not buying into the politically driven avoidance of responsibility that we have seen from the governor and others.

Members of the committee in addition to Lathrop and Chambers are Sens. Paul Schumacher of Columbus, Kate Bolz of Lincoln, Heath Mello and Bob Krist of Omaha and Les Seiler of Hastings.

Where Have We Heard This Before? Whip Up Hysterical Fear and Rake in the Tax Dollars (and Votes)

We're happy to be so not alone.

This blog has been diligent in exposing how profitable it is for certain groups to manufacture hysteria over sexual offending. There is in fact a burgeoning sex offender industry in our nation, and some of those who benefit are for-profit prison operators, makers of GPS bracelet technology, law enforcement hungry for money to become ever more militarized and the politicians who lick the boots of all of the above. And it's all funded by you, Mr./Mrs./Ms. Taxpayer.

USA Today weighs in today with an op-ed piece on the phony Rolling Stone campus rape story, using real research statistics, evidence and cool logic to break down what really is happening. (Not to brag, but it reads like a NebraskaFACTS post. Well, OK. That is bragging).

For instance, are you aware that according to the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, the rate of sexual assault for college students is lower than for non-students? And that 1-in-5 college rape number you keep hearing is just plain bogus?

Here is an excerpt:
This kind of hysteria may be ugly, but for campus activists and bureaucrats it's a source of power: If there's a "campus rape crisis," that means that we need new rules, bigger budgets, and expanded power and self-importance for all involved, with the added advantage of letting you call your political opponents (or anyone who threatens funding) "pro rape." If we focus on the truth, however — rapidly declining rape rates already, without any particular "crisis" programs in place — then voters, taxpayers, and university trustees will probably decide to invest resources elsewhere. So for politicians and activists, a phony crisis beats no crisis.
Read the entire thing.

2014 in Review: Confronting the Lie

Third in a series revisiting this year's most popular posts.

March 2014

In response to shoddy reporting on a local TV station, Nebraskans Unafraid interviewed a nationally recognized expert in sexual offending, Lisa Sample, Ph.D., from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. The result was a three-part YouTube series, Confronting the Lie:

Confronting the Lie, Part I

Confronting the Lie, Part II

Confronting the Lie, Part III

FEARLESS Christmas Tonight -- Please Join Us!


You deserve to participate in this time of joy, without fear. Please join us for a FEARLESS celebration at 7 p.m. TONIGHT -- December 15, 2014 -- at Saint Michael Lutheran Church, 13232 Blondo Street, Omaha. Park in the lot located on the east side of the building. Come in through the east entrance, which is just off that lot.

We will provide beverages and Christmas buffet foods. You may bring something to add to the buffet if you wish, but if all you bring is yourself, we'll be happy. More information.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Our Pageviews Push Higher

A few weeks ago we noted that the NebraskaFACTS blog surpassed 10,000 page views. It took about a year to get there. In the 18 days since that report, our pageviews have jumped by 20 percent -- now surpassing 12,000.

We suspect that this is due to the increasing national attention that is being given to our special series REFUGEES USA: Families Destroyed by the Registry.

Thank you for paying attention. Please share us with your friends, relatives, colleagues, neighbors and anyone else who needs good information.

2014 in Review: Assumptions as 'News'

Second in a series revisiting some of this year's most popular posts.

February 2014

When they're trying to push ratings up so they can justify what they charge for advertising, TV stations sometimes buy into law enforcement publicity stunts, which means

Assumptions Are 'News' at KETV-Channel 7

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Nebraska Suffers 15 Percent Increase in Rape Under New Sex-Offender Law


Koch Money Enters the Fray on the Side of the Falsely Accused

As the highly publicized Rolling Stone campus rape story falls apart, there is news that big money is entering the fight on the side of men who are falsely accused.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, backed financially by the Koch brothers, is representing students who say they have been falsely accused of sex crimes or “denied fair treatment under state or college judicial processes” in relation to sex crimes on campus.

There is no doubt that a campus rape problem exists, and it should be addressed, said Samantha Harris, director of policy research at the Foundation. But she adds that when "moral panic" prevails, due process is forgotten and false accusations harm innocent men.

Read more.

2014 in Review: Glancing Back at Our Most Popular Posts

Today we begin a month-by-month review of 2014. For the next 12 days, we'll revisit some of the most widely read posts that appeared here.

January 2014

Prison overcrowding is a front-burner issue for the Legislature, and we wondered

Will Nebraska Engage Real Reasons for Prison Overcrowding?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Some Indiana Politician Is Probably Writing a Law to Ban Sex Offenders From Cemeteries

Bizarre law-enforcement campaigns that leverage sex-offender hysteria are embarrassing and they demonstrate the unreliability of registries.

When you decide to put everyone and their cousin on the registry and shame them, you might just shame yourself, like they did in Marion County, Indiana. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshals and Crime Stoppers cooked up a scheme to put registered citizens on digital billboards.

Turns out they were alerting people to some dead registered citizens. Hope you Hoosiers feel safer now.

Full story.

Speaker Adams Wants to Avoid Emotion, Ideology and Politics

The Speaker of the Nebraska Legislature, Greg Adams, makes perfect sense when he says lawmakers must be objective as they address prison overcrowding.

Adams commented on a report from the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, which has spent six months working with state officials on a sensible method to better protect public safety and reduce prison populations. He said the CSG work gives lawmakers a tremendous advantage in crafting law and public policy.

"Without this we'd be tackling the problem through emotion, through ideology and through politics," Adams said.

That is good to know, because Nebraska sex-offender law is based on emotion, ideology and politics and it has to change. Because there are so many myths and lies that mainly go unchallenged, policymakers are afraid to speak publicly about why changing Nebraska sex-offender laws would help immensely with prison overcrowding. However, there is good information from CSG on this issue. Some of it is here.

Lincoln Journal Star on the Justice Reinvestment Group

Notably lacking from the CSG recommendations is any mention of changing Nebraska's "good-time" law. There are some knee-jerk ideas out there that the good-time law is the reason Nikko Jenkins killed four people in Omaha. Fact is, Jenkins told corrections officials and others not to release him, because he was afraid that he would commit murder. They didn't believe him and let him go anyway. "Good time" is not to blame for that. The people who poo-poohed Jenkins are to blame.

Blaming the good-time law in the Jenkins case is tackling the problem through emotion, ideology and politics and it's good the CSG working group seems to understand that.










Why Is 'Les Miserables' So Popular in the Nation With the Most Brutal Criminal Justice System in the World?

Frederic March as JeanValjean in 1935's Les Miserables
Victor Hugo's Les Miserables was published in 1862. The French historical novel about a system of law designed to break men, not protect society, has been hugely popular ever since.

A 1935 movie version was the first of many adaptations for both television and the big screen, and even the Broadway musical stage.

Here is the text that opens the 1935 movie:
So long as there exists in this world that we call civilized, a system whereby men and women, even after they have paid the penalty of the law and expiated their offenses in full, are hounded and persecuted wherever they go -- this story will not have been told in vain.
Is this story's staying power due to the fact that we as a society just fail to grasp its message and it will keep coming back until we do?

How can Les Miserables be so hugely successful in our nation, which maintains the most brutal criminal justice system in the world?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

You Deserve a FEARLESS Christmas: JOIN US!


We invite you to share a FEARLESS Christmas.

This is a call to people of all faiths and denominations who live in the dark shadow of misguided law and public policy:

You deserve to participate in this time of joy, without fear. Please join us for a FEARLESS celebration at 7 p.m. Monday, December 15, at Saint Michael Lutheran Church, 13232 Blondo Street, Omaha. Park in the lot located on the east side of the building. Come in through the east entrance, which is just off that lot. We hope you will join us, and we hope you will bring with you someone else who would benefit from being part of our network. FEARLESS is exclusively for registered citizens and family members or friends who wish to accompany them to our meeting. We do not permit law enforcement, therapists, probation/parole officers or other representatives of the sex-offender industry to attend.

We will provide beverages and Christmas buffet foods. You may bring something to add to the buffet if you wish, but if all you bring is yourself, we'll be happy.

We want to be somewhat less structured than we have previously at FEARLESS. But some topics we might put on the table include:
  • Despite a law designed to wreck my life, I am blessed with incredible gifts: My friends, the connections I've found through Nebraskans Unafraid, food, a place to sleep, useful work. I'm a registered citizen with many reasons to celebrate.
  • When our family is shattered by the incarceration of a loved one, putting up decorations and celebrating the season is so very difficult. But I will do it. It is important that we do this -- we might be shattered, but only temporarily. Maintaining a family celebration can feel like healing.
  • To thrive and survive in spite of the state, it is important for me to BE HERE NOW. Neither wallowing in regret for the past nor fearing the future will do me or anyone else any good.
  • FEARLESS is a family in the making: We are so fortunate to have found one another. That calls for a party!
Please join us on Monday, December 15.



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Michigan Study: 99.2 Percent of Former Sex Offenders DO NOT REOFFEND

A three-year study in Michigan finds that more than 99 percent of former sex offenders who were released from prison DID NOT REOFFEND.

The numbers: Of 4,109 people who had been serving time for a sex offense, just 32 (eight-tenths of 1 percent) returned to prison for  a new sex offense.

Read the full research report.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Other Collapsing Campus Rape Story

In addition to the one at Rolling Stone magazine, there is another campus rape story that is collapsing under the withering glare of fact-checking.

In this one, some experts are wondering if the accused might seek damages. Read about it here.

Other useful news and opinion on the Rolling Stone mess:

What Would Joseph Pulitzer Think of Rolling Stone?

Two key figures in UVa story: Rolling Stone didn’t talk to us

Rolling Stone Tries to Regroup

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Must-Read from Slate

Emily Yoffe's Slate post is long. If you stick with it to the end, you'll find a familiar theme: A genuine problem, irrational fear, government over-reaction, followed by the unwarranted destruction of lives based upon mostly untested accusations. Oh, yes: Any solution for the genuine problem is lost in the fevered hunt to obliterate the accused.

The College Rape Overcorrection

UVa Student: I Doubted the Story but I Was Afraid to Speak Up


Emily Irwin is a student at the University of Virginia who penned an opinion piece on the Rolling Stone mess for The College Fix, an online student-reported source of national campus news and commentary.

In expressing anger at the way her school and fellow students have been damaged by Rolling Stone, she writes:
I am mad … that people are afraid to speak their minds for fear of being labeled and attacked.
Although many of us readers, especially those at UVa, questioned certain aspects of the story, everyone seemed afraid to challenge it publicly at first.
In the back of our minds we asked ourselves: Why would this girl just make up this story? If I do speak out publicly asking for more evidence, will people accuse me of being pro-rape? What if people say I am ignoring the real problem at hand of sexual assault and rape and the way universities handle them by questioning the story’s reliability?
Irwin's full post.

Los Angeles Times Op-Ed Piece on U.S. Judicial Failure

We thought we were getting "tough on crime" here in the USA.

Instead, we've become the world's leader in just throwing people away because we don't like them.

The Los Angeles Times has published a powerful opinion piece on this topic by Robert Smith, assistant professor of law at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and G. Ben Cohen, an attorney with the Promise of Justice Initiative in New Orleans.

It is titled What Constitutes Cruel and Unusual Punishment? Here is an excerpt:
We live in a nation that incarcerates a larger percentage of its population than any other industrialized nation on Earth. We have emptied our public hospitals, mental health wards and drug treatment facilities, and filled up our prisons. We treat people who commit crimes with a brutality that would be incomprehensible if the people who suffered under the burden of this system were the loved ones of the people who make and enforce our laws. 
This is a judicial failure. If a punishment wouldn't be tolerated if applied regularly and evenly, then the power and responsibility to ensure that it is not imposed at all rests with the courts.
 Click here to read the full text.

Documentary About Registered Citizens is a Sundance 2015 Entry

Pervert Park, a documentary on the everyday lives of registered citizens in a Florida trailer park who struggle to reintegrate into our society, is one of the entries in the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

"Pervert Park is a sensitive and intimate film with a diabolic sense of not letting us off lightly when it comes to its inflamed topic," one reviewer wrote. Here is the trailer for the documentary produced and directed by Danish film makers Frida and Lasse Barkfors:

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Should Reporters Be Careful, Even When a Sexual Accusation is Made?

Some of them think so now, in the wake of the Rolling Stone blunder.


This happens a lot: There is a massive news media screw-up -- someone somewhere gets something incredibly wrong. This triggers pontificating op-ed pieces, most of them concluding that newsfolk need to be more careful.

Well . . . duh!

It happened when Dateline NBC rigged a fiery crash test of a pickup truck. It has happened several times with CBS News, most recently after a 60 Minutes report on Benghazi was shown to be inaccurate.

It does not happen often when news media get things terribly wrong about sexual accusations, like they did in the cases of  Tawana Brawley or the Duke University LaCrosse team. That's probably because newsfolk, along with many others, have a deeply rooted predetermined narrative about sexual accusations. They cherry-pick facts, and make stuff up, so their stories conform to their personal biased narratives.

This is exactly what took place in the Rolling Stone story about an alleged rape at the University of Virginia.

We hope that some of the pontificating around this screw-up will stick and news reporting on sexual accusations is reined in from the realm of reporters' fearful fantasies.

Truly tragic in this situation: It is a setback for the victims of sexual assault. There are those who cling to the delusion that all such accusations are made up. Of course that is not true, but Rolling Stone has handed those deluded folks a weapon.

Meanwhile, here is a sampling of some of the pontificating:

" . . . maybe we've reached a point where we hold stories about rape to a lower standard." -- Slate

"This disaster is the sole property of editors and a reporter." -- Washington Post

"We can’t afford to back off because of one big lie and some woefully inadequate journalism." -- Boston Globe

"This story should be a reminder of how difficult it is to accurately report on traumatic events." -- Vox

Expert on Child Protection: Some Porn Viewers Need Treatment, Not Prison

A law enforcement officer who specializes in child protection says that people who view child pornography should be treated by health services instead of being treated as criminals.

The officer is Norfolk, U.K., Chief Constable Simon Bailey, who is the Association of Chief Police Officers’ lead officer on child protection and abuse investigations. He says that his opinion is shaped by the fact that a large number of those who view child pornography simply will not go on to commit contact offenses.

Full story.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

So Much for 'News' at Rolling Stone Magazine

First, understand this: Under no circumstances should a crime victim be attacked or blamed.

In the emotionally volatile territory around sexual accusations, understand also that accusations are accusations until a court of law determines otherwise. Unfortunately, all but the most wildly improbable sexual accusations carry the weight (and often consequences) of conviction, even in newsrooms.

When amplified by the news media, sexual accusations will haunt the accused to the end of her/his life. You would think that alone is reason enough for news media to be as careful and responsible (like they say they are) when reporting such accusations.

But it's just not so.

Rolling Stone magazine, which carries a "news" influence that is far out of proportion with its "news" standards, is the latest egregious example. After whipping up a nationwide frenzy about rape on campus, Rolling Stone's riveting account of an incident at the University of Virginia is unraveling.

The good news is that another news media organization, the Washington Post, is responsible for letting the world know that there are some holes in the UVA accuser's story. Despite the fact that we do not yet know whether there is truth to the accusations, the university already has imposed sanctions, and the fraternity allegedly involved has been vilified. All fraternities have been smeared. Based on accusations that may or may not be true. Thus, as far as UVA is concerned, accusation = conviction.

The Washington Post on Rolling Stone's Story

Rolling Stone itself is backing away from the story, which is a good idea given what we know about the reporter's method and the editor-level decisions that were made. Among other fundamental blunders, Rolling Stone never attempted to contact or verify the existence of those who were accused.

Rolling Stone Backtracks

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is unhappy.

“It is deeply troubling that Rolling Stone magazine is now publicly walking away from its central storyline in its bombshell report on the University of Virginia without correcting what errors its editors believe were made,” Herring said in a statement. “Virginians are now left grasping for the truth, but we must not let that undermine our support for survivors of sexual assault or the momentum for solutions.''


Herring makes good sense. Good common sense. A good example for prosecutors and reporters who get their blood up whenever a sexual accusation is made, wherever, by whomever.

The Wall Street Journal echoes our view with an opinion piece that includes this bitingly true observation:
. . . Ms. Erdely (the Rolling Stone reporter) did not construct a story based on facts, but went looking for facts to fit her theory. She appears to have been looking for a story to fit the current popular liberal belief that sexual assault is pervasive and pervasively covered-up.
Complete WSJ Opinion 
 

Wall Street Journal on Failure of Residency Restrictions

The Wall Street Journal takes a long look at residency restrictions for registered citizens across the nation, and finds that they are useless. Residency restrictions do not protect the public, according to most of those interviewed by WSJ.

The laws are defended solely on the grounds that it is political suicide to oppose them. Loosely translated: Most politicians are cowards on this issue. More.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Law Enforcement, Motel Staff Outperform Homeless Shelter on Compassion Scale

The Salvation Army shelter turned away a homeless family on the coldest night of the year in Johnson City, Tennessee.

A father, his wife, their 16-year-old daughter and two sons, 15 and 5 years old, were denied shelter even though the space was available.

Why?

Boys between 12 and 16 are not allowed in the shelter because folks are afraid they might be sex perverts.

Really. I mean . . . really.

The story takes a nice turn, though, when law enforcement and staff at a motel see to it that this down-on-their-luck family got shelter and food on a night when the temperature dipped to 18 degrees. Full story here.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

We Can't Wait for Easter and the Scary TV Stories About Those Suspicious Easter-Egg Hunts

Acting like it actually was news, an Omaha TV station reported on a cab driver who -- like others during the holidays -- dressed up like Santa Claus.

He had lost his pet dog, during work hours, and was looking for it. He asked passersby for help.

This prompted the principal of a nearby school to send out a mass phone call scaring parents about a guy dressed up like Santa, saying he's looking for a lost dog.

Turned out it was, well, a guy dressed up as Santa who had lost his pet. Not at all a threat to kids, or anyone else. The story did not make even the tiniest squeak about how this was an unbelievable over-reaction by the principal.

If you're thinking it just makes sense to be safe, think again, about the boy who cried "wolf" too often.

This is news? Unreasoning fear -- firmly rooted in the newsroom.

Tragically, the Problem Is Never Addressed

Damage done by Nebraska's sex-offender laws is well documented, in particular by research conducted at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Is there any documentation that shows the laws do what they ostensibly are intended to do: protect the public? The answer is no. There is no documented case in which anyone was protected from harm by these laws. This is not to say that sexual crimes are not a problem. They are. Nebraskans Unafraid is saying that Nebraska sex-offender laws, as well as public policy and general attitudes in the state, not only do not address the problem -- they make it worse.

That is because sex crimes are a public health problem. We have never found a good solution to a public health problem by treating it exclusively as a crime problem. But we are trapped: We have this deep fear of and loathing for those who commit sex crimes. The fear and loathing are fed by a gullible news media that must report the horrific crime, because it is horrific. News media will not report that the horrific sex crime is rare, because to do so is boring. Politicians manipulate news media-fed fear by enacting draconian laws like those in place in Nebraska. And, tragically, the problem never is truly addressed, yet we think we have done so.

The research at UNO and elsewhere is consistent in condemning laws like those in place in Nebraska. Here is the abstract from a study titled Sexual Offender Laws and Prevention of Sexual Violence or Recidivism:
Sexual violence is a significant public health problem in the United States. In an effort to decrease the incidence of sexual assault, legislators have passed regulatory laws aimed at reducing recidivism among convicted sexual offenders. As a result, sex offenders living in the United States are bound by multiple policies, including registration, community notification, monitoring via a global positioning system, civil commitment, and residency, loitering, and Internet restrictions.
These policies have led to multiple collateral consequences, creating an ominous environment that inhibits successful reintegration and may contribute to an increasing risk for recidivism. In fact, evidence on the effectiveness of these laws suggests that they may not prevent recidivism or sexual violence and result in more harm than good.
Here is a link to more information on this study.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Save the Date: FEARLESS Christmas is December 15

Reserve 7 p.m. Monday. December 15, 2014 for a FEARLESS Christmas.

You have to show up, even if its just to see if anyone is fearless enough to wear the sweater shown here.

FEARLESS starts at 7 p.m. at Saint Michael Lutheran Church, 13232 Blondo Street, Omaha. Park in the lot located on the east side of the building. Come in through the east entrance, which is just off that lot. We hope you will join us, and we hope you will bring with you someone else who would benefit from being part of our network. FEARLESS is exclusively for registered citizens and family members or friends who wish to accompany them to our meeting. We do not permit law enforcement, therapists, probation/parole officers or other representatives of the sex-offender industry to attend.


December Newsletter from National RSOL Available Online

The latest monthly newsletter from the national Reform Sex Offender Laws (RSOL) organization has been published. Read it here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

REFUGEES USA Goes National

The NebraskaFACTS blog seven-part series titled REFUGEES USA: Families Destroyed by the Registry, has been picked up for distribution by the national Sex Offender Solutions & Education Network (SOSEN). See it here.

With No Physical Evidence, Prosecutors Want Allegations to Stick

Some prosecutors, it seems, pursue their own angry unreasoning agendas when sexual accusations are at stake, even when there is no evidence to support the allegations.

Consider the case of Dan and Fran Keller, former Texas day-care operators:

They were convicted and served 20 years in prison for crimes that they never committed. They were freed when it was found that the only physical evidence against them was a mistake. Now that they have been freed from prison, they would like to have their convictions thrown out.

Incredibly, prosecutors are fighting to keep the baseless convictions in place. Here's the story.


Raleigh News & Observer on a False Accusation

He was exonerated and his record was expunged.

No one cares.

A North Carolina man wrongly accused by law enforcement of various sexual offenses has lost his job, his home, his everything -- anyway.

Here is the Raleigh News & Observer story.

Monday, December 1, 2014

We Hear Your Voice When No One Else Will Listen

None of us wants to believe that law enforcement personnel, whose salaries are paid by our tax dollars, are capable of horrendously illegal acts. But reality tells us they are (just one example). 

All of us want to believe that “innocent until proven guilty” is a muscular feature of our criminal justice system. And absolutely none of us wants to believe that a victim is lying. But if you have been the target of a sexual accusation, you know that all it takes is an accusation to destroy your life; whether the accusation is true has little to do with it.

We provide below the broad outlines of what happened to one man in Nebraska. He’s now a registered citizen living in another state.

Admittedly, this is his side and his side only. Unfortunately, he never had an opportunity to have the facts of this case weighed by an impartial jury. His is a lonely voice in the wilderness that others refuse to hear. This is an abbreviated version of what happened to him:
When she was well over the age of 18, a woman accused him of having sex with her when she was as young as 11.
However, medical evidence showed that the allegations could not be true. The original charges were dismissed and replaced with other charges. The court-appointed attorney told the accused that everything could be made to “go away” for $30,000.
Of course, the accused didn’t have that kind of money. So he was pressured into a plea agreement. He was told that if he pled guilty to a misdemeanor, he would not have to register as a sex offender. That was one of a number of lies they fed him to obtain his plea.
When he realized he had been lied to, he attempted to tell his story to state and federal authorities, who refused to listen (presumably because a sexual accusation was at the center of the story).
He spent more than six months behind bars for something he did not do. He now lives in another state, but he continues to be harassed and hounded by law enforcement on the occasions when he visits Nebraska.
If you have a story that no one else will listen to because a sexual accusation was involved, and you want to share it, please email it to us.