Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Report from NARSOL National Conference

The National Association for Rational Sex Offense Laws (NARSOL) held its annual conference June 2-4, 2017, in Atlanta, Georgia.

NARSOL’s ninth conference: Building a Foundation for Effective Advocacy 
A recap from Sandy, NARSOL Communications Director 

The National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws (NARSOL) Conference guests enthusiastically received information and current legal perspectives from four leading attorneys who are currently engaged in litigations at the federal level that pose immediate or pending outcomes which will directly impact the status of registration requirements in all or many states in the nation. 

Attorneys Phil Telfeyan and Miriam Aukerman teamed together on Friday morning to present Protecting Constitutional Rights in the Federal Courts. Drawing from their recent experiences with important Circuit-level cases (Telfeyan in McGuire v. Strange, Alabama; Aukerman in Does v. Snyder, Michigan), attendees were provided specific insight into the way these cases were developed from the start and how the current approach to sex offender registry challenges are evolving as a consequence. 

On Friday afternoon, the main speaker was Dr. Melissa Hamilton, an attorney and criminologist who shared how to handle the junk science that drives the concern about sex offender risk.  

The conference felt as though it had moved to North Carolina on Saturday as guests were thrilled by two separate feature presentations from attorneys who have met with remarkable success representing clients in the Tarheel state challenging conditions of its sex offender registry. 

Attorney and current Chief Appellate Defender for the state of North Carolina Glenn Gerding’s presentation entitled Beating Back Banishment and Big Brother was surprising in that it focused less on Packingham v. North Carolinaand more on his extensive involvement in registration issues going back to his days as a court-appointed attorney handling indigent cases in Superior courts. Gerding encouraged NARSOL’s members and supporters to continue organizing and expanding the growing network of associated attorneys and legal resources to press the fight against unconstitutional civil rights violations imposed by sex offender laws. 

On Saturday afternoon, Attorney Paul Dubbeling captured his audience with a passionate, articulate plea for attacking the presumption of false facts that district attorneys and state attorneys general have relied upon for more than a decade by focusing on the more than twenty years of data already available in every state providing positive proof of low recidivist rates among their registered populations. Dubbeling presented A Matter of Fact: Recidivism Rates, Current Jurisprudence, and the Need for Fact-based Litigation which envisions a legal strategy of forcing states to rethink their reliance on dubious facts and pressing judges at the state and federal level to stop relying on studies from one party or another but to focus, instead, on the relevant data already available through a statistical assessment of a state’s very own sex offender registry–data that overwhelmingly represents rates of recidivism that are low and unremarkable. “These ARE the facts. Now let’s discuss what they mean,” repeated Dubbeling several times throughout.  

Interspersed and inserted throughout the five feature presentations were 31 hours’ worth of nuts and bolts workshops on topics ranging from how to start an affiliate organization to how to keep from going completely insane while doing it. By Sunday afternoon the conference was over and attendees from states throughout the nation had embarked on their journeys back home. 

Notes from Nebraskans Unafraid members in attendance: 

In addition there were many breakout sessions: 

Storytelling to get change. Often a true story about you or someone else makes the point far better than just quoting statistics. We heard true stories woven to demonstrate various facts. 

Building relationships in the Legislature.   

Building an effective organization. Both Texas Voices and Illinois Voices gave presentations on how to increase our impact on the legislative process and help each other through Fearless. 

Use low hanging fruit challenges to make small changes that build over time. 
Sunday morning the last breakout was a worship service “Finding a place to worship”. After the service, we listened to stories of men restricted or banned from their church, with the bottom line given, if your church is not able to accept you “MOVE ON” – there are plenty of churches that follow Jesus’s teaching and minister to those in need not those who have everything all together. 

All the sessions have been recorded and will be available to listen with a NARSOL membership.  If you cannot get them on your computer, call Nebraskans Unafraid (402-403-9250) to find a place to watch. We recommend the recording of Paul Dabbling’s presentation, “Need for fact based Litigation”.  He so organized, listing the bullet points and explaining in laymen’s terms many of the lawyer’s terms. 

As we left the conference we were so encouraged. There are so many advocates working tirelessly on many avenues to get the overreaching and onerous registry abolished.  

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