Monday, November 28, 2016

Website provides information on sex offender research

A new website highlights research about the complex web of sex offender laws in the United States.

The Sex Offender Research Information Center is the website of sociologist and author Emily Horowitz.

Check it out here.

SORA: The human cost of junk science

This is from New York, but could apply to nearly any state in the nation. How reliable are risk assessments?
Of the nearly 40,000 persons on New York’s sex offender registry, 9,679 are displayed on its public website as Level 3, a warning that he or she presents the maximum risk of committing a sex crime of maximum seriousness. 14,087 persons are displayed as Level 2, meaning they’re moderately likely to commit a moderately serious sex crime.
With so many Frankensteins at large, it’s a wonder anyone dares leave the house.
 Full article here.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Op-ed: Sex Offender Registries Discourage Rehabilitation

Writing in the Washington Exainer, Sandy Rozek says the decision by a Connecticut YMCA to prohibit a registered sex offender from running in a race is another black eye for the very concept of the sex offender registry.

The man had run the race for several years without incident, but was flagged this year because he had registered for the race in advance.
With no empirical evidence showing public notification of any safety benefit to society, it serves one purpose: To impede the law-abiding registered citizen from moving forward with his life. It allows entities such as the YMCA to exclude those for whom there is no reason to exclude.
It serves only to tell those like Jeffrey that no matter what you do, it will never be good enough. It removes the goal of rehabilitation from the justice system, leaving its only goal punishment.
Read the full article here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Challenges for elderly sex offenders

As registered sex offenders grow older, many find it difficult to find adequate assisted living or nursing home care in states with strict residency restrictions. 

Reporter Nicki Gorny reports in the Ocala (Florida) Star-Banner about the challenges many of these people face.
By the time deputies arrested Thomas Bernard Brown for failing to register as a sexual predator, he had built up a 10-year record of consistent registration in Marion County.That’s 42 check-ins, as his attorneys and his friends pointed out at a sentencing hearing in June. When it came to No. 43, Brown, 72, who has since been diagnosed with early stages of dementia, says that he simply forgot.“My only crime, your honor, is that I have become old and forgetful,” he told Circuit Judge Robert Hodges that day.
Full story here.

Related: An elderly registrant faces eviction from a Florida hospice because it's too close to a pre-school. Story here

Friday, November 18, 2016

Be FEARLESS this Monday

The November Fearless gathering will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, November 21, at St. Michael's Lutheran Church, 13232 Blondo Street, in Omaha. Fearless is a place for registered citizens, their families and friends to connect, offer support, and share their experience of life on the registry.

This month we'll discuss ways registered citizens can avoid isolation. Join us this Monday evening for lively conversation and refreshments!

Molly Ivins: How we hurt ourselves when scared to death

Thursday, November 17, 2016

New evidence that registries, residency restrictions, increase re-offense rates

From the Life on the List blog, a California study finds evidence that residency restrictions lead to higher recidivism rates.
An innocuous study done by the state of California this July set out to test the predictive validity of the Static-99R, one of the more widely used instruments in assessing the recidivism risk of those who have committed sex offenses. The researchers sliced and diced the population of offenders to understand which groups were highest risk.
One discovery they made was nothing short of shocking–homeless registrants on probation or parole were six times more likely to reoffend than those who weren’t homeless. “Collectively, transient status seems to be associated with higher sexual recidivism rates,” the researchers concluded.
Read the full blog post here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Are sex offenders human?

That is not a trick question.

Judith Levine and Erica Meiners pose that question as they consider a few recent documentaries, and other films, that attempt to, with varying degrees of success, humanize sex offenders.
Asking whether the sex offender is human only legitimizes the question and reinforces the doubt it arises from: if you have to ask, maybe the answer is no. And if one category of people can be less than fully human for their (real or imagined) bad acts, so can others—just ask the legions of young black men tarred as “superpredators” in the 1990s. As Trump takes office having risen to power by dehumanizing, criminalizing, and promising to seize the rights of broadening categories of Others, humanizing remains a necessary political step. But it’s not an end in itself. A movement for justice must start from the fundamental truth that everyone born in a human body is endowed with all human qualities and also with inalienable human rights—and move forward from there.
 Read the full piece here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Watch Catherine Carpenter's presentation from 2016 RSOL Conference

One of the speakers at the 2016 RSOL National Conference was Southwestern Law School Professor Catherine Carpenter.

She spoke about children who are forced to register as sex offenders, and tied that into adult sex offender registration.

Watch the hour-long presentation here.

Michigan asks Supreme Court to stop Does v. Snyder ruling

As expected, the state of Michigan has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the 6th Circuit Court's ruling that found the state's sex offender registry laws to be unconstitutional.

The state's request was referred to Justice Elena Kagan for consideration.

Story here

Update: The Supreme Court has turned down Michigan's request to stay the lower court's ruling.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Ohio to consider changes to sex offender registry

An Ohio legislative committee will consider changes to the state's sex offender registry, as reported in the Dayton Daily News.
The proposals include going from an offense-based classification system, in which offenders are assigned to a tier and given registration requirements based on the criminal offense they committed, to a more risk-based system in which judges would have more discretion. 
The proposed changes would also allow sex offenders the ability to petition for a change of status after years of good behavior or due to a change in their risk level due to advanced age or illness.
Other proposed changes include reducing the number of crimes that would qualify for Tier III registration, give judges more discretion, and give people a chance to petition a court to deregister or move down a tier.

Bar Wright, with the Ohio RSOL chapter, told the paper the organization likes the changes.
“I think in some areas it does not go far enough and we’ve expressed our concerns,” Wright said. 
She’d like to see more retroactive applications so that someone recently convicted under the current law would have recourse to get their registration status changed. 
Another recommendation of the committee is to remove all residency restrictions, such as barring sex offenders from living near schools. 
Full article here.

Friday, November 11, 2016

YMCA bans registered sex offender from road race

A YMCA in Connecticut is being taken to task after it prohibited a registered sex offender from running in a local race.
The man, Jeffrey Roy, had run in previous editions of the race but this year when he preregistered for the race, his name was flagged as being on the registry for his role, along with two other men, in the 2006 sexual assault of an intoxicated 14-year-old girl at his mother’s home in Mystic.
The YMCA’s decision to ban him led his father, Jim, a well-known local runner who headed the successful effort to erect the John Kelley statue on West Main Street, to cancel his membership at the YMCA and criticize YMCA officials for their decision. Other runners and friends sent letters and emails to YMCA officials asking them to reverse their decision before last Sunday's race.
The YMCA did not reverse its decision, citing safety concerns, which apparently apply only to those who pre-register for the race.
In past years, the younger Roy had registered just before the start of the race. This year, his father signed him up early, which allowed the YMCA to discover he was on the registry.
Full story here.

Must watch: Patty Wetterling speaks at Birchwood (MN) city council meeting

Patty Wetterling shared her wisdom with residents of Birchwood, Minnesota during a recent city council meeting. The town has considered a sex offender residency restriction ordinance, and Wetterling speaks with compassion for both offenders and victims and tries to dispel fear.
“It's fear that tears people apart,” she said at a meeting in Birchwood, a community divided over a sex offender issue over the last year. “I know fear. I know how destructive and harmful it can be. Hope and information are empowering.”
Read more here.

Watch the remarkable video here.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Lawsuit filed against Tennessee sex offender registry

A lawsuit has been filed against retroactive enforcement of another state's sex offender registry, this time in Tennessee. The lawsuit mirrors a successful challenge to provisions of Michigan's sex offender registry.
The case, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Nashville, argues that Tennessee's registration laws are illegally applied retroactively. It notes that the laws and restrictions on those offenders have become significantly more burdensome since the laws were first enacted in 1994.
Read more in the Tennessean.

Read the text of lawsuit.

Monday, November 7, 2016

International "Sex Offender" Registries Expand

The Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws reports on the latest government report on the proliferation of sex offender registries around the world.
There are now 24 nations that have existing “sex offender” registries as well as an additional 16 nations that have considered or are considering the creation of “sex offender” registries.
The 24 nations that currently have registries are Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Maldives, Malta, New Zealand, Nigeria, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Trinidad & Tobago, United Kingdom, and the United States.
The 16 nations that have considered or are considering registries are Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Cayman Islands, Fiji, Finland, Hong Kong, Israel, Malaysia, Poland, Samoa, St. Lucia, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe.
The federal government report was recently issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART).
Read the SMART Office report.

Judge concerned over FBI tactics in child porn sting

A federal judge says he has "ethical and legal" concerns about the FBI's tactics in a massive internet child porn sting operation.

Judge Robert Bryan expressed his concern during a hearing in the trial of three Washington state men arrested as a result of what was dubbed "Operation Pacifier" -- in which the FBI seized the server of a dark web child porn site and continued operating the site for two weeks while hacking into the computers of site users.
During the hearing, the deputy director of the DOJ’s New York-based Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Keith Becker, argued that allowing the site to remain active was an “investigative necessity.”“The government itself did not post or create child pornography,” Becker told the court.Bryan interrupted him.“Y’all were doing just exactly what the people who were in charge of that website were doing before you arrested them,” he said.At another point, as Becker was describing the “huge social costs” that would result if the court were to exclude evidence in these cases, Bryan stopped him again.“You talk about social costs? There are huge social costs in constitutional violations, too,” the judge said.
Read the full story from the Seattle Times here.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

New play about Florida sex offender village

A new play, set to be staged in the spring of 2017, tells the story of Miracle Village, a community of registered sex offenders near Pahokee, Florida.

"America is Hard to See" is based on interviews with residents of residents of Miracle Village and Pahokee.

Read about the show here and here.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Rethinking Nebraska's Sex Offender Registry

Omaha television station WOWT asks whether everyone listed on Nebraska's Sex Offender Registry should be on the list. 

Reporter John Chapman talks with a young man who is on the registry for having sex with an underage girl he thought was 19 years old.
For that mistake (Jeromy) Wilson was charged with first degree sexual assault of a child. He plead no contest to third degree sexual assault and went to prison for a year.“I wasn’t denying the fact that I made a mistake, but I was also trying to savor the fact that she had falsified her information to me,” Wilson explained, “And I’m still trying to maintain some of my dignity.”Now Wilson has a lifetime spot in the Nebraska Sex Offender Registry. He says people are using the registry to harass him, to call his clients to prevent him from working. 
The report also includes comments from UNO's Dr. Lisa Sample.

Read and watch the report here.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

More registries, but do they work?

More states are tracking more people on more online registries. They include sex offender registries, and registries for various crimes from murder to arson, among others. An Associated Press article in the Jacksonville (IL) Journal-Courier asks whether all these registries actually make us safer.
Backers say helping people know more about their neighbors will make them safer. Yet studies have shown offender registries do little to reduce crime.
Anti-domestic violence groups in states that have considered expanded registries suggest that money spent to maintain them would be better used on programs to stop violence before it happens. Keeping sex offender lists updated alone costs well over $1 million each year for many states, a price partially covered by fees offenders must pay.
Some researchers contend the lists, searchable online, can prevent offenders from finding jobs and homes, making it more likely they’ll offend again.
Read more here.