Sunday, December 24, 2017

Corey's Goal aims to educate schools on disciplinary issues

The parents of an Illinois teenager who committed suicide in January are taking steps to turn the grief over their son's death in a positive direction. They have created a charity that could benefit young people across the country in years to come.
Nearly a year after their son's meeting with Naperville North High School officials, which led to his suicide, Corey Walgren's family is taking action to prevent it from happening to another student. 
The Walgren family recently created Corey's Goal, a charity aimed at helping raise awareness and educating schools, students and parents about the handling of serious school disciplinary matters. The Corey's Goal website is full of useful information about what a student's constitutional rights are, how schools can help better support the emotional well-being of students, and risks parents should know about.
 Read more here and here.

Corey's goal website

CA: Federal Court Limits Residency Restrictions to Parolees

From ACSOL, word of a positive decision from a Federal Court in California:
A federal district court ruled on Dec. 22 that residency restrictions adopted by cities and counties may only be applied to registrants while on parole.  
“This is a significant victory for registrants and their families,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci.  “The Court’s decision dramatically reduces the ability of a city or a county to restrict where a registrant may live.” 
According to the court’s decision, the general rule is that local governments are preempted by state law from adopting laws that restrict the daily lives of registrants because state law “fully occupies” the field of restrictions on a registrant’s daily life.  The decision also stated that although Jessica’s Law created an exception to that general rule, the exception is limited to registrants on parole due to the statutory context of that law.  
The court added that its decision is consistent with state court decisions which have determined that different provisions in Jessica’s Law are also limited to parolees.  The Dec. 22 decision is the first judicial determination regarding the authority granted to cities and counties by that law.  
In its decision, the court noted that the City of Adelanto conducted a public City Council Workshop during which the Mayor, City Attorney and Councilmembers made several derogatory comments regarding registrants including the following: sex offenders need to “get the heck out of town”, should be forced to relocate to a “leper colony”, and the City should hang “neon sign[s] in [the] windows” of registrants’ homes as well as “paint the street red in front of their house[s].” 
The court ruling is the result of a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by a registrant in the case which challenges residency restrictions in the City of Adelanto.  According to the lawsuit, registrants are prohibited from living in most of the city.  The case was filed in U.S. District Court, Central District of California in December 2016. 
After the court’s Dec. 22 ruling, the case will continue in order to address claims that the city’s residency restrictions violate the 14th Amendment and the ex post facto clause of the U.S. Constitution.
 Read the decision here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Registering with Dignity: A Practical Guide to Reentry and Life on the Registry

The Sex Law and Policy Center has compiled a useful and informative guide for people forced to register as sex offenders and their loved ones.

From the SLAP website:
Over the past year, we’ve diligently worked to draft a reentry guidebook specifically for people on the registry and the people that love and support them as they navigate the ins and outs of registration and reentry. There is a discussion about the varying pieces of federal legislation requiring registration for sex offenses. One section details constitutional protections, while another section outlines what to expect from registration. Community supervision and how to successfully complete it is covered later on, as is the reentry process and sex offender treatment. This guide explains a registrant’s rights to sexual expression and what to do if they feel their rights are being violated. There is an additional section specifically for women and juveniles on the registry. This guide also helps your loved ones understand what to expect from loving and supporting someone on the registry. In short, it helps registrants, and those they love, understand their rights as someone on the registry.
Find more information and a link to the  85-page guide here.

Friday, December 15, 2017

CT Sentencing Commission approves changes to sex offender registry

The Connecticut Sentencing Commission approved proposed changes to the state's sex offender registry, which could allow some people to petition to be removed from the registry. The changes were among several proposals the commission approved this week, and they will be sent to the governor and legislature for their upcoming session.
On the sex registry proposal, it would give those on the registry an opportunity to petition to shorten their registration period or apply for removal from the public registry. In order to do so the registrant would have to show that they have reduced their risk to the community. 
Under the recommendation a person could be on the registry for shorter periods than under the current system, and others would be on for longer periods. 
In order to petition the registrant would have to show that they have reduced their risk to the community. Under the new system a person could be on the registry for shorter periods than under the current system, and others would be on for longer periods. 
Thomas Ullman, a former public defender from New Haven, said it was a “good proposal.” 
This can only help people who are stuck on the registry who we all believe should not be on,” Ullman said. He said being on the registry affects those on the registry’s “ability to get housing, jobs — it leads to criminality. 
Judge Robert Devlin, co-chair of the Sentencing Commission, acknowledged that “anything involved with sex crimes is controversial.” 
However, Devlin added, the proposed changes are good because it pushes the sex offender registry from an “offense-based system to a risk-based system.” 
Robert Farr, co-chair of the Sentencing Commission and a former lawmaker, said the changes proposed are fair for everyone. 
It’s not a tougher on crime or easier on crime legislation,” Farr said. “It’s a smarter on crime.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Let's have a Fearless Christmas party!

Help us celebrate the holidays at Fearless Monday, December 18.
We meet at 7:00 p.m., at St. Michael's Lutheran Church, 13232 Blondo Street in Omaha.

You can bring treats to share, but that is not required.

Join us for a Fearless Christmas Party Monday night!


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Judge overturns Vermont town's residency restrictions

Another town has seen its sex offender residency restriction struck down in court. A judge has declared the restriction in Rutland, Vermont unconstitutional. The judge, Samuel Hoar, Jr., had strong words about the town's ordinance.
"What the city has done here is effectively to declare an entire class of persons to be a public nuisance, by simple virtue of their physical existence," Hoar wrote in a 13-page decision issued December 8. "Plaintiffs have been convicted and punished; the city cannot now say to them, anymore than they could to any other citizen, 'We don’t want your type in our town.' The boldness and breadth of this assertion is virtually without precedent."
Full story here.

Lawsuit says Indiana sex offender law is harsher on new residents

A lawsuit filed against the Indiana Department of Corrections claims the state's sex offender laws are harsher for people who move into the state than for Indiana residents. The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of three men, claiming the law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, according to the Indianapolis Star.
The suit cites Wallace v. State, in which the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that Richard P. Wallace, also a convicted sex offender whose conviction occurred prior to the act's enforcement, was not subject to certain statutes of the Sex Offender Registration Act. 
In that case, the court ruled that imposing the statutes of the act against Wallace violated the Indiana Constitution by "(imposing) burdens that have the effect of adding punishment beyond that which could have been imposed when his crime was committed."
Interestingly, a federal judge had already issued a preliminary injunction against the law, in a similar case earlier this year. That case involved three men who were sentenced before Indiana's sex offender registry laws were implemented.
"When the plaintiffs arrived in Indiana they were not afforded the same status as persons who had resided in Indiana all along," Judge Richard L. Young wrote in his injunction. "As a result of the DOC's policies, long-term Indiana residents who have never traveled out of state are treated differently than new Indiana residents. This differential treatment offends the fundamental right to travel." 
 The ACLU says Indiana continues to enforce the law despite the injunction.





Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Sex offender registries as modern day witch hunts

In an essay at In Justice Today, Guy Hamilton Smith writes that 21st Century American sex offender registries are akin to modern-day witch hunts. He says sex offender registries should get much more attention from advocates of criminal justice reform than they now do. 

An excerpt:
Even as we find ourselves in a new era marked by bipartisan acknowledgement of the need for criminal justice reform, in some areas we continue to be influenced by this same appeal to boogeymen, even if their shape and form changes. Instead of “super” predators, we’re now faced with “sexually violent” ones. 
As with witches, the modern-day sex offender largely a creature of our own creation, acting as a sort of repository for many of our collective moral anxiety around sex. While a baked-in ick factor often turns many erstwhile warriors into silent observers, awareness and informed response is badly needed from those within the criminal justice community.
Read the full essay at In Justice Today.

NARSOL Christmas Special

NARSOL is planning to host a special conference call from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. (eastern time) on Christmas Eve.

From the NARSOL web site:
If there is sufficient interest, NARSOL is holding a special Christmas program to hear from those restricted from participating in Holiday events or anyone alone wishing to be in the company of friends. We plan to invite calls regarding what you consider to be unreasonable restrictions imposed by supervising authorities or any statutory schemes that impede your holiday activities. We plan to open phone lines for the entire program to hear from you and offer our support.
Click here to learn more and register for the Christmas Eve conference call.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Connecticut considers downsizing sex offender registry

Another state is considering changes to its sex offender registry. The changes Connecticut is considering would reduce the number of people on the public registry.
Under the plan, a Sex Offender Registry Board would decide who has to register and for how long. Low-level offenders would for the first time be able to petition to be removed or placed on a list unavailable to the public. At least seven other states have rolled back existing sex offender registries so far.
Read more here.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Children on Sex Offender Registries at Greater Risk for Suicide Attempts

A new study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health finds that children required to register as sex offenders are harmed as a result of being listed on the registry.
The most troubling findings, the authors say, pertained to suicidal intent and victimization experiences. The study found that registered children were four times as likely to report a recent suicide attempt in the last 30 days, compared to nonregistered children. Registered children were nearly twice as likely to have experienced a sexual assault and were five times as likely to have been approached by an adult for sex in the past year. Registered children also reported higher rates of other mental health problems, more peer relationship problems, more experiences with peer violence and a lower sense of safety.
Read more about this study here.

Monday, December 4, 2017

A new scarlet letter for harassment charges

In a tongue-in-cheek column in the Gainesville (Fla.) Times, Ron Martz writes that we need a registry for men accused of "sexual misconduct," similar to sex offender registries.
It doesn’t matter if it’s Matt Lauer, Al Franken, Roy Moore, Bill Clinton, Georgia H.W. Bush, Charlie Rose or John Conyers doing the touchy-feely thing or some other form of sexual harassment or misconduct. Unwanted touching or misconduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual battery and/or assault (laws differ from state to state) and deserve to be punished in the same manner as all other sex offenses. 
To that end, I am proposing that each state be required to create a Sexual Harassment/Misconduct Registry modeled on the existing sex offender registries.
None of these famous men is likely to end up on a sex offender registry. And they shouldn't. Neither should anybody else.
Sex offenses, real or concocted, constitute the one class of crimes that require no hard evidence beyond the mere allegation. There is no presumption of innocence with sex crimes; there’s only the assumption of guilt. 
Repentant murderers can find public sympathy and redemption. So too can drug and alcohol abusers. 
Not so for accused sex offenders. Once tarred, forever scarred. 
Read the Martz's full column here.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Lincoln Fearless to meet Monday

The December Lincoln Fearless meeting will be held Monday, December 4, at the Calvary United Methodist Church, 1610 S. 11th St. in Lincoln, beginning at 7:00 p.m.

Fearless Lincoln meets the first Monday of each month. Registered citizens, their families and friends are invited to provide support to others dealing with life on the registry.

Join us Monday in Lincoln!

Former Minnesota sex offender challenges residency restrictions

From the minnlawyer.com website, a case to watch in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Nebraska. A man is challenging residence restrictions in West St. Paul, Minnesota.

On Oct. 2, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for certiorari in Snyder v Doe, a decision from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said that Michigan’s sex offender registration law violated the Ex Post Facto Clause’s ban on retroactive punishment. The law restricted where former sex offenders could live. 
The 6th Circuit is at odds with many other opinions that have rejected constitutional challenges to sex offender laws, but that didn’t convince the Supreme Court to take the case. The court invited the Solicitor General to file a brief, but he declined, saying the case was correctly decided. 
Some observers say that Snyder could persuade other courts to take a hard look at sex offender restrictions, particularly since the court expressly recognized scientific studies showing that sex offenders as a group do not pose a significant recidivism risk. 
Thomas Evenstad, now a resident of West St. Paul, is asking the Minnesota District Court to do that very thing. He is suing the city of West St. Paul over its ordinance that prevents him from living within 1,200 feet of a school, child care facility or group home. 
 Read more on the case here.


ACLU: Nebraska counties charge excessive fees for inmate phone calls

A report from the ACLU of Nebraska says counties are charging excessive fees, and profiting, from phone calls made by inmates in county jails, as reported in the Omaha World-Herald.
While an inmate in a state prison can make a 15-minute call for $1.50, those detained in the state’s county jails can expect to pay much more, from $7 to up to $19 for the same call, the report said.  
Jails contract with for-profit telephone services that handle collect and paid calls by inmates. The contractors then share a portion of the profits with the local county, a practice that the ACLU compared to the “for-profit debtors prison” of the Victorian era. 
“Most county jails in Nebraska use private, for-profit companies that literally have pictures of sheriffs swimming in piles of money in their advertising,” said Amy Miller, an attorney with the ACLU of Nebraska.
Read the full article at the Omaha World-Herald online

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Study: When a Sex Offender Comes to Visit

A new study, by University of Louisville doctoral student Shawn M. Rolfe, looks at registration requirements in each state for non-resident sex offenders. Not surprisingly, the requirements vary state to state.

From the abstract:
The findings indicate that registration requirements and residence restrictions vary significantly by state for nonresident registrants. While not surprising given that numerous studies have highlighted that sex offender policies produce unique and severe challenges for all sex offenders in the United States. This study, however, suggests that nonresident sex offender policies are potentially another collateral consequences for registrants. Most notably, there is significant variation in the number of days a registered sex offender has to register in any given state when they come to visit for any occasion. Depending on the state or jurisdiction that the registrant is visiting, residence restrictions may also be applicable. As a result of these laws, registrants may feel stymied from visiting another state, which may further delineate prosocial opportunities, including gatherings with family and friends or fulfilling employment obligations. 
Read the study here.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Do sex offenders deserve special mistreatment in prison?

Shelly Stow's latest post at her With Justice for All blog hits close to home.
Closing our eyes to prisoner abuse must stop.
Prisons are not supposed to be fun or pleasant. They are designed for restrictions and punishment intended to bring about rehabilitation.
They are not intended to facilitate, even encourage, vigilante activities against those whom other prisoners choose to mistreat.
Men in prison for convictions involving sexual offenses are often considered “fair game” for mistreatment and violence, and all too often prison personnel appear to turn a blind eye to this.
This is something that those in charge of Nebraska prisons should well know. The state is still facing repercussions from the 2015 Mother's Day riot at the Tecumseh State Prison -- during which two sex offenders were murdered. A former inmate, who says he saved a third inmate from being killed durong the riot, is now suing the state over the riot.
Timothy Schrader's attorney, Joy Shiffermiller, says he risked his own safety saving a third inmate from being beaten to death May 10, 2015, at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution. 
She said Schrader, a 44-year-old who was released in July, and other protective-custody inmates were left to fend for themselves when other inmates set off on a violent, destructive riot.
Two and a half years later, no charges have been filed in the deaths of Shon Collins and Donald Peacock, who were found beaten to death when prison staff regained control the next morning. 
Read more about the lawsuit at the Lincoln Journal-Star online. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Call Your Attorney If Someone Leaves a Piece of Orange Paper on Your Door, Then Tell Us About It

Someone is going around Omaha (and possibly other communities) and leaving orange pieces of paper on the doors of the residences of Registered Citizens. The paper claims to come from the Nebraska State Patrol, and the printing on it says you "must" call in response to the piece of paper.

I A N A L


Nebraskans Unafraid is checking to find out if anyone is legally required to respond to these pieces of paper. We are checking with attorneys, and we have one response so far. That attorney said it is likely that if you are not on probation or parole, you probably are not legally required to respond.

We are seeking guidance from other attorneys and legal experts, and we will report here what they tell us. Watch this space.
We have one report of a hate crime prompted by one of these pieces of paper. A neighbor saw the orange paper on the door, then defaced the door with hate speech. If this happens to you, report the crime to law enforcement. It is against the law for anyone to use your registry status to harm you.
If you get one of these pieces of paper on your door and you happen to see it before it is blown away or stolen (who knows what can happen to a piece of paper that is carelessly left behind?), do not mindlessly call the number on the paper. We don't really know who is on the other end. Call your attorney first, and get guidance from her or him before you do anything else. 

Then tell us your story. Email us here. We are going to pursue this harmful trend and report on this blog what we find out.

If this is a law enforcement initiative, it is NOT aimed at making our community safer. (As the hate crime report above illustrates, it makes our community more dangerous). Some law enforcement agencies engage in these so-called "compliance checks" so they can pad some numbers that they put into grant applications. So it basically is about law enforcement trying to grab a piece of the pork-barrel pie. These are your tax dollars. Do you want them used this way?

Meanwhile, blessings on you and your family.



Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Wymore man gets 30 months probation for vehicle registration snafu

If you are a registered sex offender in Nebraska, you can be punished if someone mistakenly puts your name on a car registration, as a southeast Nebraska man learned.
BEATRICE – A conviction for an attempted sex offender registry violation has resulted in a probation term for a Wymore man. 
46-year-old ______ _______ will serve a 30-month probation sentence for the conviction in Gage County District Court. 
The probation term was a joint recommendation in a plea agreement between the state and defense.   _______'s attorney says the case involved a violation of the law regarding a vehicle ________ had purchased for his wife.
Full story here.

When and where can sex offenders participate in the community?

That is the question of an article from Homer, Alaska, where a man on the sex offender registry has applied for booth space at a craft fair, held at the local high school.
Erik Larson, a Homer man that was convicted of sexually abusing two teenage girls while he was a teacher in 2006, was applying to sell pottery. This raised concerns for Arts Council staff and board members, posing the question of whether or not Larson should be allowed to participate in the popular community event....Larson didn’t want to comment for this story because he fears people in the community may lash out at his family. He said only that he wants “to be treated like everyone else” and have the same opportunity as other artists.
Read the full article here.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Overextending the definition of sexual assault is also harmful

Ruth Ann Dailey writes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the recent spate of sexual misconduct allegations.
We are going to need some new words. 
As allegations of sexual misconduct continue to flood our mass media, the term “sexual misconduct” won’t suffice. Neither will “sexual assault” or “harassment.” 
“Misconduct” is a handy catchall when we are not sure which actions under discussion are criminal and which are merely disgusting, but the legal terms of assault and harassment are surprisingly and unhelpfully broad. 
Since the incidents recently revealed range from lewd remarks to forcible kissing to self-exposure to groping to rape, it’s clear we need new terminology and some careful redefinitions.
Read more of Dailey's column online at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Neighbors concerned about sex offender at Plattsmouth care facility

Some Plattsmouth residents recently told the city council they are concerned about a registered sex offender living at the Hope Cooperative Care facility. 
Three neighbors to the north Fifth Street facility appeared at the Plattsmouth City Council meeting in October saying they do not feel their neighborhood is safe because of the man. 
The state registry shows 22 registered sex offenders within a two-mile radius of the care center, including the 25-year-old who was convicted of a crime against a minor in Sarpy County in 2016. 
Administrator Paula Mallory said Hope Cooperative Care opened this summer with the mission of providing an assisted living facility that specializes in people dealing with mental health issues. 
She said center founder Dave Campbell made the decision to admit the 25-year-old because of the non-violent and consensual nature of the crime, and because of his diagnosis of a developmental disability. 
Concerned neighbors should know there is little risk in having a registered citizen living in the neighborhood, and having a safe, stable, place to live likely reduces the chance he will commit another crime.

Read the full,story here.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Omaha Fearless meets Monday


The next Omaha FEARLESS meeting is at 7:00 p.m., Monday, November 20, at St. Michael's Lutheran Church, 13232 Blondo Street.

FEARLESS is a chance for registered citizens to meet with and learn from others dealing with life on the registry. Join FEARLESS Monday evening.





Thursday, November 16, 2017

When does a Watershed become a Sex Panic?

Masha Gessen writes a column for the New Yorker about the policing of sex in America, in light of recent allegations of "sexual misconduct" levied against several famous men.
Over the last three decades, as American society has apparently accepted more open expression of different kinds of sexuality, it has also invented new ways and reasons to police sex. David Halperin, a historian and gender theorist at the University of Michigan, has called this “the war on sex.” In the introduction to a new essay collection with that title, which he co-edited, he describes some of the weapons in this war, including the sex-offender registry, which extends punishment indefinitely, and civil commitment, which amounts to preventive custody. In her contribution to the book, the lawyer and journalist Laura Mansnerus writes that about five thousand people are currently confined in twenty states, “involuntarily and indefinitely,” under so-called sexually violent predator acts, without a jail sentence or after having served jail time. “These men,” she writes, “are confined because of what they might do someday, exactly the kind of preventive detention that seems like an obvious constitutional problem. 
Read the full column here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Boulder, Colorado says no to residency restrictions

The city council in Boulder, Colorado, recently had a chance to approve an ordinance restricting where people deemed"sexual predators" can live in the city. Instead, they considered the evidence and voted against such a move.
The City Council was nearly unanimous in its agreement with the consensus of experts on the issue, who say that housing restrictions for sex offenders do not in fact improve public safety. Councilman Bob Yates was the only one interested in restrictions. 
Council members moved instead to form a working group, comprising experts and citizens, and task that group with offering recommendations for possible action in the future. 
Read more here.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Some Illinois sex offenders remain in prison years after their sentences end

Residence restrictions make it difficult for many registered sex offenders to find safe, adequate, and affordable housing. That's under the best of circumstances. In Illinois, laws force many people who can't find housing to remain in prison long after their sentences end.

The situation has prompted a class action lawsuit against the state, and even one former lawmaker acknowledges the situation is unjust.
The suit alleges the housing restrictions create a disproportionate burden for poor families. Nekritz, the state representative who retired in September, said she saw that burden firsthand during her 15 years in office. 
“I have been contacted by a number of families who are just looking for some relief and some stability so they can move on with their lives, and it’s hard to give them hope,” Nekritz said. “To my mind, the law is completely unjust when it comes to impacts on those families.” 
She said she recalls how quickly lawmakers would rally behind increased “enhancements” to sex offender laws. 
“They would just sail through, because there was no objection to them,” Nekritz said. “But as it turns out, as I’ve now learned, many of (the laws) are conflicting with each other. They’re cumbersome and almost impossible for someone who is on the sex offender registry to comply with.
Contradictory, cumbersome laws that are almost impossible to comply with is a fair description of sex offender laws in many states.

Read more, and listen to a report, from Chicago public radio station WBEZ.


Understanding sex offenders, the untold story (updated)

Reporter Julie Cornell interviewed several Nebraska registered citizens for a report on Omaha television station KETV, "Understanding sex offenders."
I’ve made people’s stories my life’s work. I’m a person who talks to people sitting next to me on airplanes. I engage people at grocery stores, and even while sitting in those flimsy robes in the hospital, waiting for a mammogram. I generally like people. And I constantly “interview” them, even when I’m not working. I consider myself open-minded. I’d rather ask questions than answer. I try not to judge.But one fall day last year, a random call to the newsroom caught me off guard: A co-worker shouted across the newsroom that a sex offender wanted to talk to me. Everyone looked at me. My first inclination was to bolt. Not only did I not want to talk to a sex offender, I certainly didn’t want him to have my phone number or know my name. I was slightly unnerved.
Full story here.

Update: Part 3 of Julie Cornell's series, "Sex offender support group reaches out to former offenders" (video)

Friday, November 10, 2017

Why marking sex offender passports won't curb sex trafficking

In an essay for In Justice Today, Guy Hamilton-Smith explains why the "unique identifier" the U.S. government will be putting on the passports of certain registered sex offenders will do nothing to stop sex trafficking.

The State Department announced the identifier, required by the International Megan's Law, last month.
Ostensibly, the rationale underlying IML and policies like it, such as its namesake, Megan’s Law — the legal and pseudo-colloquial term for the sex offender registry — is this: those on the registry have a high rate of reoffending therefore their international movements ought to be tracked and destination counties put on notice when those on the registry travel abroad. Indeed, in the text of the pre-amble to IML, it is stated that “known child-sex offenders are traveling internationally,” implying a connection between those on the sex offender registry and sex tourism, even though this connection is unsupported by evidence. 
Read the full essay online at In Justice Today.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

PA's "sexually violent predator" process ruled unconstitutional

More changes could be coming to Pennsylvania's sex offender registry laws after an appellate court ruled the state's process to declare a sex offender as a "sexually violent predator" unconstitutional. 
The Superior Court decision in a Butler County case found that the process — the designation carries lifetime registry and counseling under the state’s Megan’s Law — should not be undertaken post-conviction. The current practice of a review by the state’s Sexual Offender Assessment Board and a subsequent hearing with a trial court judge ruling on the board's assessment is not legal, the court found.The decision could spur a series of appeals by sex offenders previously deemed “sexually violent” and may force state legislators to rewrite the state’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). 
Naturally, the decision has caused some to become rather apoplectic. Read more here.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Finding housing in child exclusion zones...there's an app for that

Do you, or someone you know, need help finding housing compliant with residency restrictions? There is now an app that may help with that, as reported by the Sex Law and Policy Center.
A relatively recent Google Play app, CSZfree, seeks to aid registrants in need of housing but bound by residency restrictions. These laws limiting where people on the registry can lawfully reside have been an increasingly popular measure to punish registrants. Over the past decade a number of states and localities passed legislation banning registrants from living near parks, swimming pools, day cares, schools, and other such places where children frequently congregate. The specified distance from such places varies from 500 to 2,500 feet depending on the jurisdiction. 
Read more here.

Link to the CSZfree app

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Texas towns committed to useless ordinances

Eric Dexheimer, writing in the Austin American-Statesman, explains how small towns in the Lone Star State continue to bow to public hysteria and implement sex offender residency restrictions. 

Dexheimer cites a Nebraska study to explain why these ordinances are passed, despite evidence they don't work and court rulings striking down restrictions in some places.
Yet the fear of child sex predators persists, and many citizens support residency restrictions — the wider the better. In a 2015 study, researchers from Nebraska asked residents their opinion of the state law prohibiting sex offenders from living within 500 feet of schools and day care facilities.Sixty percent said 500 feet was too close. Half of those thought the buffer should be at least a mile; more than 10 percent simply said registered offenders should be forced to live “somewhere far away.”
Read the full article online at the Austin American-Statesman.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Lincoln Fearless meets Monday

Registered citizens, families, and friends are invited to the November Lincoln Fearless meeting. Lincoln Fearless meets at 7:00 p.m. at Calvary United Methodist Church, 1610 S. 11th Street in Lincoln.

Be Fearless in Lincoln Monday night!




Thursday, November 2, 2017

Scarlet-letter passports unjust and irrational

Jacob Sullum writes for Reason that the unique identifier to be added to sex offender passports is lousy policy and merely stigmatizes people who are not dangerous.
The notice, which will appear on the second-to-last page of U.S. passports, is officially known as an "endorsement," but it is more like a badge of shame. "The bearer was convicted of a sex offense against a minor," it says, "and is a covered sex offender pursuant to 22 United States Code Section 212b(c)(l)."The scary notation, which was revealed this week, is the State Department's response to a 2016 law requiring that the passports of certain registered sex offenders include a "unique identifier" to help maintain their status as pariahs wherever they travel. Although the warning is supposedly aimed at stopping sexual predators from abusing children in other countries, it will mark the passports of many people who pose no such threat. 
Read more online at Reason.

Douglas County Deputy ignorant of the law

In 2012, a federal judge ruled it unconstitutional for Nebraska law enforcement to collect online information from registered citizens. Just this year, in the Packingham case, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously struck down North Carolina's law prohibiting registrants from accessing social media sites.

Despite these rulings, it seems the Douglas County, Nebraska, sheriff's office is making things up as it goes along. Although it is illegal for the sheriff to collect this information, Douglas County Sheriff's Deputy Woodward asked a registrant for his email address during the registrant's regular check-in on Thursday, November 2, 2017.

The registrant informed the deputy that he is not permitted to gather that information.

Deputy Woodward shouted to a colleague, asking if he can ask for email addresses and "Facebook, or stuff like that."

Deputy Woodward then asked if there were "any changes." The registrant said "no." Despite that, Deputy Woodward continued to ask a series of questions which might or might not have pertained to the information he is legally entitled to record.

The registrant reports that each time he checks in, he is asked for slightly different information. This is the second time the sheriff's office has attempted to gather email and other information to which law enforcement is not legally entitled.

NEBRASKA registrants should know that they are not required to give their sheriff's office any information about their email addresses or any other internet use.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Passports and International Megan's Law

The State Department has released more information about the unique identifiers that will be affixed to the passports of covered sex offenders.

The IML prohibits the Department of State from issuing a passport to a covered sex offender without a unique identifier, and it allows for the revocation of passports previously issued to these individuals that do not contain the identifier (22 USC 212b).The identifier is a passport endorsement, currently printed inside the back cover of the passport book, which reads: “The bearer was convicted of a sex offense against a minor, and is a covered sex offender pursuant to 22 United States Code Section 212b(c)(l).”  Since endorsements cannot be printed on passport cards, covered sex offenders cannot be issued passport cards.Only the DHS/ICE Angel Watch Center (AWC) can certify an individual as a “covered sex offender.” Therefore, any questions by the applicant about such status must be directed to and resolved by AWC. Applicants who have questions for AWC regarding their status or believe they have been wrongly identified as a covered sex offender as defined in Title 22 United States Code 212b(c)(1) should contact AWC at DHSintermeganslaw@ice.dhs.gov.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Sex offender registries endanger lives they're meant to protect

Miriam Aukerman is a senior attorney for the ACLU of Michigan, involved in litigating the Does v. Snyder case. She writes an op-ed for The Hill, explaining why sex offender registries should be not just reformed, but done away with. She says Michigan will have a chance to do that after a federal court ruled against its registry law.
Michigan will have now have to rewrite its unconstitutional registration law. The only moral and logical thing for Michigan - and other states - to do is to abolish the sex offender registry.
Read Aukerman's op-ed here.

Registry leaves female registrants open to abuse

In a report for Vice, Serena Solomon writes about how being listed on the sex offender registry can leave female registrants open to various forms of abuse and harassment.
"Many people tend to think most women on the registry are like Debra Lafave"—a sex offender who made headlines because of her looks as well as her crime—"and most men are uncontrollable pedophiles," said Derek Logue, a registered sex offender who also advocates for the rights of sex offenders. The stereotypes are "just not true," he added. Logue said he has never known any male sex offender to attract the type of attention described by the six female registrants I interviewed for this piece. The online comments on news stories about female teachers having sex with students, and articles like the Houston Press's "The 10 Hottest Women on the Texas Sex Offenders List" give an idea of the infatuation some men have with these women.
Read the full article online at Vice.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Nebraska spends more than $50 million annually for civil commitment

That total is from a Nebraska Legislative Fiscal Office memo, sent in response to a request for information on the costs to maintain the civil commitment programs at the Lincoln Regional Center and Norfolk Regional Center. The total costs amount to nearly $37 million at the LRC and more than $13.6 million in Norfolk, and breaks down to a cost $464 per patient patient per day in Lincoln and $463 in Norfolk.

More than 80 percent of the cost goes to salaries and benefits, with another 10 percent for operating expenses, including facility and medical costs. The rest of the expenses goes for drugs and food, with only approximately $8 per patient per day spent on food.

The memo is dated August 30, 2017 and was sent to Nebraskans Unafraid by a resident at the Lincoln Regional Center. The memo does not say how many people are civilly committed in Nebraska, or how many of those who are actually need to be.


Monday, October 23, 2017

Another state considering changes to sex offender registry

A Connecticut committee is proposing changes to the state's sex offender registry.
Parents who check the state sex offender registry prior to allowing their children to knock on strangers' doors and ask for candy this Halloween may be under the misconception that every person listed on the registry poses a grave danger to public safety. 
That's not true, according to members of the Connecticut Sentencing Commission, who say a one-size-fits-all approach to registration of sex offenders is not in the best interest of public safety. The registry, which contains the names and addresses of more than 5,000 people convicted of everything from consensual sex among teenagers to serial child rapists, would shrink significantly under a proposal that could be presented to lawmakers in 2018.
Read more here.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Kentucky judge strikes sex offender social media ban

On the heels of the Supreme Court's Packinhham decision, a Kentucky judge has ruled that state's social media ban for registered sex offenders is unconstitutional.
Ruling in a lawsuit brought by a Lexington child pornography defendant identified only as “John Doe,” U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove struck down Kentucky’s sweeping restrictions on internet access for registered sex offenders...One law prohibited sex offenders from using social networking websites or instant messaging or chat rooms that potentially could be “accessible” to children — which is to say, much of the internet. The other law required sex offenders to keep their probation or parole officers updated on all of their email addresses and various online identities.
Read the decision here.

Iowa court rules sex offenders must register despite appeals

The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that people convicted of sex crimes must register as sex offenders, even if they appeal their conviction. 

As reported by Iowa Public Radio:
The case centers on the appeal of Brian James Maxwell, who was hired as a youth coordinator for two churches in the Winterset area in March 2014. That month he inappropriately touched a 16-year-old girl who he met through this job.The next year Maxwell was convicted of lascivious conduct with a minor and sentenced to a year incarceration. Maxwell appealed and was released on bail. At this time he also petitioned the Iowa Department of Public Safety, saying he shouldn’t have to register as a sex offender while the appeal was pending. Maxwell argued that registering as a sex offender “is a severe collateral consequence” that he shouldn’t have to endure since the appeal process exists to “weed out error".The DPS says that if convicted, sex offenders are allowed to delay registering their status until their appeals are resolved, then this would allow them to live at large without alerting the community. The state’s high court unanimously sided with DPS, saying that Iowa code requires people to register when “convicted” of sex offenses. 
Read the court's decision here.
 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Indiana SO treatment class ruled unconstitutional

A federal judge has ruled that Indiana's sex offender class violates the constitutional rights of inmates who did not admit guilt, as reported in the Indianapolis Star.
The plaintiffs, all convicted of sex crimes, argued that since they pleaded not guilty to the crimes they were convicted of, they should not be forced to attend the SOMM program.  
The program, instituted by the Indiana Department of Correction in 1999, forces participants to confess guilt in the crimes for which they are charged, give written consent to disclosure of confession and submit to a polygraph test. 
Specifically, the program requires participants to disclose the details of the crimes for which they were convicted and confess to any past acts of sexual violence.  
Jeff Cardella, a criminal law professor at Indiana University's Robert H. McKinney School of Law, says the requirement to confess other crimes for which they were not adjudicated or convicted is a clear violation of the Fifth Amendment. 
Indiana plans to appeal the ruling.