Monday, August 29, 2016

New Study on Post-Release Regulations and Sex Offender Recidivism

A new study in the Connecticut Law Review looks at the effectiveness of post-release regulations in reducing sex offender recidivism. The report is authored by University of Michigan Law Professor J.J. Prescott.
Abstract:  The purported purpose of sex offender post-release regulations (e.g., community notification and residency restrictions) is the reduction of sex offender recidivism. On their face, these laws seem well-designed and likely to be effective. A simple economic framework of offender behavior can be used to formalize these basic intuitions: in essence, post-release regulations either increase the probability of detection or increase the immediate cost of engaging in the prohibited activity (or both), and so should reduce the likelihood of criminal behavior. These laws aim to incapacitate people outside of prison. Yet, empirical researchers to date have found essentially no reliable evidence that these laws work to reduce sex offender recidivism (despite years and years of effort), and some evidence (and plenty of expert sentiment) suggests that these laws may increase sex offender recidivism. In this Article, I develop a more comprehensive economic model of criminal behavior — or, rather, I present a simple, but complete model — that clarifies that these laws have at best a theoretically ambiguous effect on recidivism levels. First, I argue that the conditions that must hold for these laws to increase the legal and physical costs of returning to sex crime are difficult to satisfy. There are simply too many necessary conditions, some of which are at odds with others. Second, I contend that even when these conditions hold, our intuitions mislead us in this domain by ignoring a critical aspect of criminal deterrence: to be deterred, potential offenders must have something to lose. I conclude that post-release laws are much more likely to succeed if they are combined with robust reintegration efforts to give previously convicted sex offenders a stake in society, and therefore, in eschewing future criminal activity.

Read the full report here.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Cruise line travel info for registrants from RTAG

We can give definitive information as to Registrant travel as it pertains to cruise lines. 

RCL:  To date, Royal Caribbean uses a "Security team" to review passenger data to determine who maybe a registrant.   When discovered,  the resistant
and their family are sent a letter requesting, 1.) Confirmation that the registrant has informed their reporting agency of intended travel, 2.) Detailed description
of charges and nature of registration, and  3.) Discussion as to plans while on cruise.

So far, RCL has approved the plans of several registrants and their families.

CARNIVAL.  To date, Carnival cancels all cruises of Registrants when they become aware of registrant's status.   Many registrants have traveled with Carnival without issue.  However, that is apparently true only for registrants whose status is not apparent to Carnival.   Carnival has also parceled out their security to a third vendor.  Once registrant status is determined, Carnival will black list that individual.

This maybe an avenue for a lawsuit but that will be worked later.

So far no problems with other cruise lines.

We will add this to the Travel Matix.

Please feel free to call 24/7

Paul Rigney
Registrant Travel Action Group, Inc

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Court rules Michigan's SORA is punitive; retroactive application unconstitutional

Calling a spade a spade, a federal appeals court has ruled that amendments to Michigan's Sex Offender Registration Act are punitive and cannot be applied retroactively.

From the Sixth Circuit Court's ruling:

So, is SORA’s actual effect punitive?  Many states confronting similar laws have said “yes.”  See, e.g., Doe v. State, 111 A.3d 1077, 1100 (N.H. 2015); State v. Letalien, 985 A.2d 4, 26 (Me. 2009); Starkey v. Oklahoma Dep’t of Corr., 305 P.3d 1004 (Okla. 2013);Commonwealth v. Baker, 295 S.W.3d 437 (Ky. 2009); Doe v. State, 189 P.3d 999, 1017 (Alaska 2008).  And we agree.  In reaching this conclusion, we are mindful that, as Smith makes clear, states are free to pass retroactive sex-offender registry laws and that those challenging an ostensibly non-punitive civil law must show by the “clearest proof” that the statute in fact inflicts punishment.  But difficult is not the same as impossible.  Nor should Smith be understood as writing a blank check to states to do whatever they please in this arena.
A regulatory regime that severely restricts where people can live, work, and “loiter,” that categorizes them into tiers ostensibly corresponding to present dangerousness without any individualized assessment thereof, and that requires time-consuming and cumbersome in-person reporting, all supported by — at best — scant evidence that such restrictions serve the professed purpose of keeping Michigan communities safe, is something altogether different from and more troubling than Alaska’s first-generation registry law.  SORA brands registrants as moral lepers solely on the basis of a prior conviction.  It consigns them to years, if not a lifetime, of existence on the margins, not only of society, but often, as the record in this case makes painfully evident, from their own families, with whom, due to school zone restrictions, they may not even live.  It directly regulates where registrants may go in their daily lives and compels them to interrupt those lives with great frequency in order to appear in person before law enforcement to report even minor changes to their information.
We conclude that Michigan’s SORA imposes punishment.  And while many (certainly not all) sex offenses involve abominable, almost unspeakable, conduct that deserves severe legal penalties, punishment may never be retroactively imposed or increased.  Indeed, the fact that sex offenders are so widely feared and disdained by the general public implicates the core countermajoritarian principle embodied in the Ex Post Facto clause.  As the founders rightly perceived, as dangerous as it may be not to punish someone, it is far more dangerous to permit the government under guise of civil regulation to punish people without prior notice.  Such lawmaking has “been, in all ages, [a] favorite and most formidable instrument[] of tyranny.” The Federalist No. 84, supra at 444 (Alexander Hamilton).  It is, as Justice Chase argued, incompatible with both the words of the Constitution and the underlying first principles of “our free republican governments.” Calder, 3 U.S. at 388–89; accord The Federalist No. 44, supra at 232 (James Madison) (“[E]x post facto laws . . . are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation.”). The retroactive application of SORA’s 2006 and 2011 amendments to Plaintiffs is unconstitutional, and it must therefore cease .
Read the full text of the court's decision.

More on the decision here and here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

This is unacceptable

From the Florida Action Committee:
The shame of Miami-Dade has reached a new level. The encampment of homeless sex offenders living alongside the railroad tracks on the street corner in a warehouse district in Miami-Dade county has reached two hundred fifty people.
Full article here.

Court finds compelled, incriminating, polygraphs unconstitutional

A federal appeals court in Colorado ruled earlier this year that sex offenders cannot be required to answer incriminating questions on polygraph tests s a condition of supervised release. The decision came in the case of Brian Von Behren, who was required by his sex offender treatment provider to undergo a sexual history polygraph.
The polygraph included four potentially incriminating questions concerning prior sexual conduct: 1) After the age of 18, did you engage in sexual activity with anyone under the age of 15? 2) Have you had sexual contact with a family member or relative? 3) Have you ever physically forced or threatened anyone to engage in sexual contact with you? and 4) Have you ever had sexual contact with someone who was physically asleep or unconscious? Behren could refuse to answer only one of the four questions.
He filed objections with the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, arguing the questions violated his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. On August 26, 2014 the district court sided with Behren, ordering that his conditions of supervised release be modified to “exclude any requirement that he admit to a criminal offense other than his offense of conviction.”   
Read more about the decision, and potential impacts for sex offenders nationwide, in this story from Prison Legal News.

Monday, August 22, 2016

RTAG Travel Matrix now Online

The Registrant Travel Action Group (RTAG) Travel Matrix is now online. The matrix is a list of countries, with information about how they handle the entrance of registrants and their families.

The matrix is constantly evolving, and registrants are encouraged to share their stories and experiences about traveling internationally.

You can find the Travel Matrix and information about RTAG here.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Missouri man pardoned after decades on registry

A Missouri man, who has been on that state's sex offender registry for more than 20 years, is one of seven people granted pardons by Gov. Jay Nixon. Earnest Leap was convicted of molesting his son in 1989. Earnest Leap was subsequently required to register as a sex offender even though his son, now 32, says the abuse never happened and has been fighting to clear his dad's name.

Read the story here.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Study: Juvenile sexual recidivism less than 3%

A new report confirms what is previously known - that the recidivism rate for juvenile sex offenders is very low. Research by Michael Caldwell of the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that rate to likely be less than three percent.
In the Online First Publication of “Quantifying the Decline in Juvenile Sexual Recidivism Rates,” (Psychology, Public Policy, and Law; July 18, 2016), Dr. Caldwell reviews 106 international recidivism studies involving more than 33,000 juveniles who have sexually offended.  After transparently controlling for variations between studies, Caldwell determined that the mean five-year sexual recidivism rate for offenses committed over the last 30 years is less than 5%.  Looking at the most recent 33 studies, since 2000, Caldwell determined “a mean sexual recidivism rate of 2.75%.  This suggests that the most current sexual recidivism rate is likely to be below 3%.”  Longer follow-up periods, up to 36 months, revealed more sexual recidivism; but thereafter, follow-up times did not significantly increase recidivism rates.
Read more about the report here.

Neb. Supreme Court rules registered sex offender can stay in home with stepdaughters

The Nebraska Supreme Court has upheld a lower court decision that allows a registered sex offender to remain in a home with his two stepdaughters.

The decision is reported in the Omaha World-Herald.
The majority opinion upholds a ruling by the district court and the Nebraska Court of Appeals that says the teenage girls should remain in the household of a man who served four years in prison for the attempted sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl. 
Phelps County District Judge Terri Harder, who originally ruled on the case, relied heavily on the opinion of the girls’ mental health therapist, who said the children were not at "significant risk" from their stepfather. 
State law does not require the automatic removal of children from homes shared by a sex offender if the courts find that there is no significant risk of harm.
Read the full story here

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Hebephilia flunks Frye test

Dr. Karen Franklin writes about a New York judge's rejection of the state's diagnosis of hebephilia in the case of a 72-year-old registered sex offender.
In a strongly worded rejection of hebephilia, a New York judge has ruledthat the controversial diagnosis cannot be used in legal proceedings because of “overwhelming opposition” to its validity among the psychiatric community.
Judge Daniel Conviser heard testimony from six experts (including this blogger) and reviewed more than 100 scholarly articles before issuing along-awaited opinion this week in the case of “Ralph P.,” a 72-year-old man convicted in 2001 of a sex offense against a 14-year-old boy. The state of New York is seeking to civilly detain Ralph P. on the basis of alleged future dangerousness.
Read more here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Pennsylvania Court Ruling will Reduce Number of Lifetime Sex Offenders

A decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court means that people who commit certain sex crimes cannot be placed on the sex offender registry for life unless they commit a subsequent offense.

The decision was reported at
The majority decision means sex offenders convicted of "Tier 1" crimes including kidnapping of minors, child luring, institutional sexual assault, indecent assault, prostitution involving minors, possessing child porn and unlawful contact with a minor won't be required to register for life on their first offense, no matter how many charges their first convictions entail. They will still have to register with police for 10 years.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Impact of Sex Offender Registration on Families

Utah-based filmmaker, and registered citizen, Matt Duhamel presents information about the impact of sex offender registration on families to the Utah Prisoner Action Network.

Read and watch more here.

Be FEARLESS Monday Night

FEARLESS, the place for registered citizens, their family, friends, and invited guests, meets at 7:00 p.m. Monday night, at St. Michael's Lutheran Church, 13232 Blondo Street, Omaha.

Come, share your story, and learn how others are dealing with life on the registry, and help celebrate the second anniversary of FEARLESS.
Mercy and truth have met together. Righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another. Man, in his weakness and shortsightedness, believes he must make choices in this life. He trembles at the risks he takes. We do know fear. But no. Our choice is of no importance. There comes a time when your eyes are opened. And we come to realize that mercy is infinite.We need only await it with confidence, and receive it with gratitude. Mercy imposes no conditions. And, lo! Everything we have chosen has been granted to us, and everything we have rejected has also been granted. Yes, we even get back what we rejected. For mercy and truth are met together; and righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another.”  -The General's speech, from "Babette's Feast"

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Report: Crime Victims Favor Rehabilitation Over Longer Prison Sentences

The next time you hear a politician brag about being "tough on crime," remind them of this survey, which finds a majority of victims of violent crime favor rehabilitation to longer prison sentences. The results of the survey, conducted by the Alliance for Safety and Justice, were reported in the Washington Post.

"Perhaps to the surprise of some, the National Survey on Victims’ Views found that the overwhelming majority of crime victims believe that the criminal justice system relies too heavily on incarceration, and strongly prefer investments in treatment and prevention to more spending on prisons and jails," according to the report.
By two-to-one, victims said the criminal justice system should focus more on rehabilitating people who commit crimes, as opposed to punishing them. By similar margins, the victims preferred shorter prison sentences over keeping criminals incarcerated "as long as possible."
According to the Post, more than half the respondents said prison increased the likelihood someone would commit another crime, and less than 20 percent said prison helped to rehabilitate a person.
You can read the full report here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Watch film of IML Protest

Dozens of registered citizens and supporters protested International Megan's Law outside a federal courthouse in Oakland, California on July 27. The protest followed a hearing on the government's motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the law.

Take time to watch a short video of the protest, produced by Metamora Films.

Watch the video here and here.