Sunday, March 29, 2015

March Ninety-Five%: Helping the Wives of Registered Citizens Connect

The March 2015 issue of Ninety-Five%, the monthly newsletter for friends and donors of Nebraskans Unafraid (NU), is out. In this issue: We want to help the wives of Registered Citizens connect with one another.

Ninety-Five% goes out monthly to individuals who donate at least $5 per month to NU.  If you're interested in giving, click here.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Salon Profiles Registry Foe

Salon has a great piece about parenting expert Lenore Skenazy, who says sex-offender registries serve no good public purpose and should be abolished. Read it here.

Is It Time to Ban Air Travel and Destroy All Airplanes?

A recent post on the blog With Justice for All opens with this paragraph:
It has happened again. An airplane has crashed, killing everyone on board, including quite a few children. This has happened too many times in the past and must not be allowed to continue. Clearly it is time to ban all air flights and destroy all airplanes. Appropriate legislation will need to be proposed and passed, but if it saves one child, it will be worth it.
Click here to read the full post.

Friday, March 27, 2015

March 2015 in Review

In case you missed something along the way, or if you're interested in a reprise, here are some highlights from the month of March 2015 at Nebraskans Unafraid (NU):

OUTREACH: The Nebraskans Unafraid (NU) monthly FEARLESS group establishing a social network for Registered Citizens and their friends and families continues to grow. About half of the 17 individuals who attended in March were new. This includes one intrepid individual who drives two hours one way to be with us, and a second individual from neighboring Iowa who also drives about two hours one way to be at our meeting. We are in discussions with our Hawkeye State friend about expanding FEARLESS into Iowa. We also have initiated plans to provide a retreat for wives of Registered Citizens. These women find that connecting with one another is powerful, empowering and hope-inspiring. We think that's good, and we want to help make it happen. Click here
 to see a brief video promo for FEARLESS. Click here for thoughts on the FEARLESS SPIRIT. And click here to read a report on our March meeting.
 
COMMUNICATION: Just FYI, we have set up a special "For Reporters" page on our web site. It has been visited, sometimes multiple times, by at least a dozen newspaper and broadcast journalists in the state. Click here to see the page.
 
LEGISLATURE: The bill that repeals the criminalization of internet use by Registered Citizens won unanimous support in the Judiciary Committee and has been advanced to General File for the full consideration of the Legislature. NU and others testified in favor of this bill (click here
) last month. We view this as a first step in burning down the Adam Walsh Act in Nebraska.
 
LEGAL CHALLENGES: We know that most people cannot afford to hire attorneys to battle the registry. Neither can we. We are looking at the "Ohio model" of facilitating hundreds of local pro se actions against the Nebraska version of the Adam Walsh Act. We have a couple of very competent folks researching how we might accomplish this, but if anyone reading this has some guidance to offer it would be welcome. Email us at nunafrd@gmail.com.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Your Local Politician Will See to It That Some Day, You're on a Registry

We'll say it again: Sooner or later, you or someone you know and love will be on one of the state-sanctioned hit-lists for crazies that they call registries. Politicians know that the coolest and easiest way to seem to be doing something about a problem (without ever really doing anything about it) is to pass a law that creates a registry.

The governor of Utah has signed into law a measure to create a registry of people who committed a white-collar crime. Several years ago, Nebraska started putting people on a public-shaming registry because they're behind on their taxes.

These registries purport to "protect the public," which is among the biggest of the lies foisted on the public in our Big Lie culture.

Responding to the latest Utah registry, Walter A. Pavlo Jr., a blogger for Forbes convicted of a white-collar offense years ago: “The government would further tag you beyond the debt you’ve already paid,” he said. “It’s frightening.”

During the debate over the registry, Utah Representative LaVar Christensen recalled that the state’s Legislature passed a law a decade ago to monitor pornographic websites. “Can you imagine going home every night and saying that your full-time, state-paid job was to look at pornography?” Mr. Christensen, a Republican, asked his fellow lawmakers. The pornography registry was created after every state in the country built a sex offender registry. And according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, several states have formed drug-offender registries and even a database of arsonists.

None of the registries makes one whit of difference in terms of protecting the public. Politicians know this, and they know that most people who vote either don't know or don't care that registries only make things worse for the public they purport to protect.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

N.H. Public Radio on Useless Registries and Residency Restrictions

New Hampshire Public Radio this week broadcast a 50-minute discussion that shines a light on just how useless it is to impose increasingly harsh punishments upon former sex offenders.

To read more and listen to the podcast, click here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Of Churches and the Law . . . and Journalism

First, the Daily Beast publishes a story about a church in Oregon that welcomes former sex offenders. Then someone takes the story down. But by then the story has been picked up by the Oregonian (click here).

Now, the author of the story -- Tod Kelly -- tells the back story about the story. It seems the Daily Beast now has published his story in a version closer to the one he originally wrote. His discussion about what he found out about cruel and stupid sex-offender laws along the way is illuminating. Click here for the back story.

Here's something we've known for years that Tod Kelly just discovered:
Adam Walsh, the murdered child whose memory pundits and legislators rallied around and for who the law was named? He was murdered by a serial killer who had not previously been a suspect in any of his murders. The Adam Walsh Act — which specifically addresses sex offenders who are released from incarceration — would not have mattered a tinker’s cuss to Adam Walsh had it been passed years before his birth.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Now, THAT'S News: Christian Church Follows Example of Christ

The Daily Beast served up a worthwhile read about a church in Oregon that opens its doors to Registered Citizens. Then someone decided they didn't like the story and deleted it. Fortunately, the Daily Oregonian picked the story up, and you can read it by clicking here.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

They're Not Waiting for Someone Else to Get Things Done

A Registered Citizen and an attorney in Texas have done enough homework to develop a legitimate court challenge to one city's residency restriction ordinance. They're now looking for other Texas cities to target with lawsuits. Read about it by clicking here.

In California, Janice Bellucci and compatriots are dismantling residency restrictions, community by community:



Just two inspiring examples of people who have had it with sex-offender registries and who are not waiting around for someone else to do something about it.

If you want to be part of a similar movement, we would like you to contact Nebraskans Unafraid (NU) by emailing us at nunafrd@gmail.com. Please respond only if you are willing to devote time and hard work to the task. Use "Fire Weather" as your subject line and include verifiable contact information so that we may get back to you.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Residency Restrictions: A Distraction from the Uncomfortable Truth

Research, some sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Justice, shows that children are at highest risk of sexual assault in their own homes, with family members or close family friends most likely to be the perpetrators.

So we ought to be asking ourselves if it is worth all of the time, energy and other resources that we pour into restricting where Registered Citizens sleep. Residency restrictions are a huge distraction. They conveniently allow us to ignore a fact that none of us wants to admit: The biggest threats to children come from people they love, know and trust -- often their own family members. Politicians simply do not ever acknowledge this truth.

The far-reaching consequences of residency restrictions trigger disdain for those who support and enact them. Click here and take a few moments to read Housing the Unwanted from the New York World.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Court Challenge in Indiana

Good story about a court challenge by an Indiana father who wants to be a part of his daughter's life. Pay close attention to the comments from law enforcement and researchers. Click here for the story.

FEARLESS Presentation: A Detailed Look at SORN in all 50 States

Patterns that emerge from a close examination of sex-offender laws in all 50 states:
  • It appears that the laws result from media-driven public panics that are not grounded in fact.
  • It appears that lawmakers pay little to no attention to the growing mountain of evidence showing that very few sex offenders are dangerous. Politicians are fee to make stuff up as they go along, and they freely indulge that freedom when it comes to sexual offending.
  • The most promising route for attacking sex-offender laws appears to be through the courts and not through politicians. That's because courts are more likely to pay attention to facts. Assembling a fact-based argument that most sex-offender laws are unconstitutional in one way or another is easy. Overcoming media-driven public panic is not. Politicians feed on public panic.
Those are just a few highlights and commentary on research conducted over the last year and a half by University of Nebraska-Omaha criminal justice doctoral candidate Bob Lytle. His dissertation involves a diligent detailed look at the content of sex offender registration and notification (SORN) laws across the nation. Lytle presented an overview of his work for a packed house on Monday, March 16, at FEARLESS.

Here are six things that are cool about FEARLESS:
  1. You meet people like Lytle -- folks on the front lines of the struggle to impose effective fact-based solutions in the emotionally charged climate around sexual offending.
  2. You're surrounded by people who have been where you are, who know how to survive and thrive in spite of laws designed to destroy you.
  3. You connect with a powerful network of resistance fighters. That's right -- opposing unconstitutional sex-offender laws and the sex-offender industry is a nationwide legal resistance movement. There's no good reason for you not to be a part of it.
  4. FEARLESS is exclusively for Registered Citizens, their families and their invited guests -- no law enforcement, probation officers, therapists unless they're invited and carefully vetted.
  5. It is free.
  6. It has chocolate-chip cookies.
Please join us for the next FEARLESS: 7 p.m. on Monday, April 20, at Saint Michael Lutheran Church, 13232 Blondo Street, Omaha. Park in the east lot and come in through the east entrance.

Monday, March 16, 2015

TOGETHER WE ARE FEARLESS

Join us tonight. You don't have to live like a refugee.




Sunday, March 15, 2015

How About a Registry of Harebrained Politicians?

If someone does not stop them, politicians some day will have managed to put everyone except themselves on shaming registries.

Utah politicians are setting up a registry to shame and re-punish white-collar former offenders. Click here to read about it.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

FEARLESS Takes Responsibility Where Our Politicians Will Not

FEARLESS on Monday, March 16, will feature more new information on the research coming out of the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

FEARLESS is a collaboration of Nebraskans Unafraid and UNO that counteracts dangerous Nebraska law. Research has shown that isolating Registered Citizens, depriving them of jobs and homes, increases the chances that they will reoffend. Current Nebraska law does exactly that. We live in a state where (research has shown that) sex-offender law makes communities more dangerous.

FEARLESS provides an opportunity for Registered Citizens and their loved ones to connect and learn from one another and support one another. Establishing such social networks reduces the likelihood of reoffense. Even though the reoffense rates for sex offenders are extremely low to start with, there is no excuse for grandstanding politicians who make the state more dangerous with their showboating laws.

FEARLESS takes responsibility where our politicians will not. Please join us at 7 p.m. Monday, March 16, at Saint Michael Lutheran Church, 13232 Blondo Street, Omaha. Park in the east lot and come in through the east entrance.

FEARLESS is exclusively for Registered Citizens and their invited guests.

Parenting Expert on the Case in Ohio

Parenting expert Lenore Skenazy has some sensible (as usual) things to say about the registry case being decided by the Ohio Supreme Court. Click here to see the short read.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Registry on Trial: Video of Ohio Arguments

Below you will find video of the March 10, 2015 Ohio Supreme Court oral arguments in State of Ohio v. Travis Blankenship.

An affair between a 15-year-old and a 21-year-old somehow turned into a criminal matter.  Now the older one is set to get his life seriously damaged far into the future with imposition of a modern-day scarlet letter -- unless the court takes action.  The pair’s mutually agreeable relations have already turned the young man into a felon; in Ohio the minimum legal age for consensual sex is 16.   That felony conviction brought jail time of several weeks.

The State of Ohio is not finished with him, though; in the eyes of the law he’s a “sex offender.” Under threat of more incarceration the State of Ohio wants his whereabouts and picture plastered on a public online sex offender registry for 25 years. Every six months he must re-register with the sheriff. Any way out? Move to another state but they’ve all got some variety of this same scarlet letter scheme -- now almost 800,000 people on public sex offender registries. A listing there is unlikely to produce job offers or dates. Registered individuals have found themselves targets of vigilantes; there are documented cases of fatal attacks.

Will this young man escape a terrible fate? Watch this video and see a fine Ohio public defender, Katherine Ross-Kinzie, make the case that putting a scarlet letter on her client – and potentially others – is cruel and unusual punishment. Midway through, at the 17 and a half minute mark, Ryan Saunders, a young lawyer representing the Buckeye State, argues this is just what Travis Blankenship deserves and it’s no big deal to be on that registry. Many of the judges jump in, too, with surprising questions.



Click here for the Columbus Dispatch backgrounder on the case.

Click here for the entire case file.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Be FEARLESS on Monday, March 16



FEARLESS meets on Monday, March 16. Join us.

What is The Most Effective Means of Preventing Repeat Offenses?

A long but rewarding read: The Outcast at the Gate from Pacific Standard.

This heavily researched piece describes the most effective means of preventing repeated sexual offending: Welcome the offender back into the community.

Here is an excerpt:

. . . according to a major 2014 report on sex offender management commissioned by the U.S. Department of Justice, registries have “mixed” results. And while residency restrictions offer communities a sense of security, they don’t appear to have much effect. In 2008, Iowa’s Department of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning declared that the state’s residency restrictions had served little purpose. The 2014 national report recommended against the use of such restrictions. “They don’t work in protecting children or preventing recidivism,” says Jill Levenson, a former Child Protective Services investigator who researches sex offender legislation at Barry University, near Miami. “All the laws really do is regulate where somebody sleeps at night, but they really don’t regulate where a sex offender might go during the day.”

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Registry as Cruel and Unusual Punishment Before Ohio High Court

Oral arguments are today in the State of Ohio v. Travis Blankenship before the Ohio Supreme Court. At issue: Do the mandatory sex-offender classifications in Ohio law constitute cruel and unusual punishment if the classification is grossly disproportionate to the nature of the offense and the character of the offender?

The court session begins at 9:00 a.m. but there is no exact time when the Blankenship case will be heard. Each side has 15 minutes to argue their case, so the hearing is expected to last about half an hour. You can watch the live stream by clicking this link. The video also will be archived and available for later viewing.

For our readers in Columbus, Ohio: The hearing is open to the public at this street address: Ohio Supreme Court, 65 Front Street, Columbus, Ohio.

Finally, the case file is online -- briefs, memorandums, etc. Click here.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Sex Offender Protest in Carson City, California

If You Want Change, You have to Stop Hiding

If you want things to stay the way they are, then keep your head down and your mouth shut. If you think things need to change and you want to help, then you have to stop hiding and speak up. Click here for some more thoughts on this.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Protesters Highlight Stupid Carson, California Law That Protects No One

Registered Citizens and their loved ones march in Carson (Janice Bellucci photo)
California RSOL led a peaceful protest in the City of Carson, California, on Saturday, March 7, to highlight the harm done by the city’s sex offender ordinance.  That ordinance bans Registered Citizens from being present in or within 300 feet of public places including the library, parks and swimming pools as well as private places including fast food restaurants that have a children’s playground.

The event included a march to Carson's John D. Calas Sr. Park. The current city law prohibits Registered Citizens from visiting this park. However, family members and supporters are welcome there.  Registered Citizens were served lunch at a distance outside the 300-foot limit. Water was delivered to the Registered Citizens by a mom and her 7-year-old daughter pulling a wagon.

The marchers included people of all ages and represented the diversity of California — Asians, African Americans, Hispanics and Caucasians.

“This is a unique opportunity for Registered Citizens and those who support them to show up, stand up and speak up,” stated California RSOL vice president Chance Oberstein.

In addition to harming the families of Registered Citizens, laws like those in Carson are stupid and do not address any problems. The U.S. Department of Justice says that the vast majority of sexual assaults on children take place in the victim's own home, not in the places listed in the Carson law.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

More Reasons to Do Away With Registries

The Florida counterpart to Nebraskans Unafraid, the Florida Action Committee, has shared with us a doctoral dissertation that takes a close look at sex-offender registries and the people who populate them.

Here is a quote:
A number of independently conducted studies involving interviews with a cross-section of  socioeconomic groups representing college students, law enforcement personnel, probation and parole officers, undergraduate and graduate students, health care professionals and state legislators all concluded that the highly entrenched negative beliefs associated with adult male registered sex offenders are not supported by empirical research.
You can read the full dissertation by clicking here.

Friday, March 6, 2015

More on How Nebraska Law Endangers the Public

We recently reported on new research showing that the Adam Walsh Act tier system (used in Nebraska) probably endangers the public. (Click here if you need a reminder.)

Now there's an interesting Q&A with one of the study's co-authors. Read it here.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Politician Who Only Gets it Part Right is Still Just a Stupid, Stupid Politician

Here's a politician who sadly only gets it part right. Paul Heroux, in a HuffPost piece, starts out with a perfectly rational explanation of why sex-offender registries do not work, cause more harm than anything else, and make no sense. Then -- just like a politician -- he says we should keep them around because people want them. Stupid, stupid, stupid politician. Well, polls show us that people hate politicians. Should we do away with all the politicians because of that? Read more.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Cali High Court Strikes Down Residency Restrictions

State law restricting where Registered Citizens can live is unconstitutional, the California Supreme Court ruled on Monday, March 2, 2015.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by four former sex offenders in San Diego. A quote from the ruling:

Blanket enforcement of the residency restrictions against these parolees has severely restricted their ability to find housing in compliance with the statute, greatly increased the incidence of homelessness among them, and hindered their access to medical treatment, drug and alcohol dependency services, psychological counseling and other rehabilitative social services available to all parolees, while further hampering the efforts of parole authorities and law enforcement officials to monitor, supervise, and rehabilitate them in the interests of public safety. It thus has infringed their liberty and privacy interests, however limited, while bearing no rational relationship to advancing the state's legitimate goal of protecting children from sexual predators, and has violated their basic constitutional right to be free of unreasonable, arbitrary, and oppressive official action.
Here's a news story on the ruling.

Here's the ruling itself.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

'Tough on Crime': Aim at Your Foot and Pull the Trigger

The New York Times takes a look at damage done to our economy by misguided get-tough-on-crime laws and policies. Read about it here.

Good Sense Taking Hold in Nevada

Lawmakers in Nevada have had it with the Adam Walsh Act. They've introduced a bill that would repeal it in their state. Click here to read about it.