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

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.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Be FEARLESS tonight

The October FEARLESS meeting is tonight, Monday, October 16, at St. Michael's Lutheran Church, 13232 Blondo Street in Omaha.

FEARLESS is a place for registered citizens, their family and friends to connect and support one another.

Join FEARLESS at 7:00 p.m. tonight. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Ethics and Religion Talk: Should congregations welcome sex offenders?

Rabbi David J.B. Krishef asked a mix of faith leaders in Grand Rapids, Michigan their views on whether churches should welcome registered sex offenders.

Read their thoughtful responses to the question here.

Rabbi Krishef's response:
First of all, my response is based on my own personal understanding of a Jewish attitude towards a communities obligation towards offenders (sexual or otherwise). It does not necessary reflect the policies of my congregation. 
I have written previously in this column that I believe that as it is currently written, the law creating a sex offender registry is unethical. Leviticus 19:16 say, “You are not to traffic in slander among your kinspeople.” Jewish ethics cautions us not to share even verifiably true information which might damage someone's reputation unless we have a compelling reason to do so.
The Sex Offender Registry might be ethical if it only listed individuals who have been determined by a professional to constitute a high risk to society. Only a small percentage on the list (pedophiles) have a high recidivism rate. The vast majority, however, have a recidivism rate comparable to or less than that or other crimes. 
The Sex Offender Registry, as currently constituted, lumps all sex offenders together as if they all pose the same risk. In this Internet era, the reputation of a person on the registry, even one who has served his time, properly repented, and poses no risk, will be forever smirched. 
A congregation ought to welcome a sexual offender with supervision appropriate to the level of risk he (or she) poses.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

How $40 can land you in prison and on the sex offender registry

In a thought-provoking piece for Truth-out, Victoria Law details the harsh punishment meted out to those caught in the draconian web of U.S. sex trafficking laws.
The danger of sex trafficking has become a rallying cry for law enforcement, prosecutors and politicians. Furthermore, sex work and sex trafficking are often conflated, aided by inflated (and wrong) statistics and sensationalized stories, and reflected in laws that fail to distinguish sex work from trafficking. When minors are involved, prosecutors and courts come down especially hard. But in the rush to "save" people, little attention is paid to sex workers swept into the dragnet of these laws -- and then subject to prison and a lifetime of punishment.
Read the full article at Truth-out.

California will soon end lifetime registration for some sex offenders

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law that will allow some people to petition to come off the state's bloated sex offender registry.
The new law signed by the governor creates a tiered registry, with high-risk offenders on the registry for life and others able to petition to be removed after either 10 or 20 years without re-offending, depending on the offense. 
Offenses for which registrants can be removed from the list after 20 years include include rape by deception and lewd and lascivious behavior with a child under 14. 
Offenders who petition for removal after 10 or 20 years will be assessed by a judge — with input from the local district attorney — who can grant or deny the petition.  
Read more here.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Op-ed: Get rid of the registry

Jack Lessenberry, in a commentary for Michigan Public Radio, suggests the state should get rid of its sex offender registry.
First of all, I don’t know how, under our Constitution, you can go on punishing people who have served their sentence, no matter what the crime. That’s what they did in the old Soviet Union. You got sentenced to your term in the Gulag, and if you survived it, they frequently announced you were banned from living in certain cities.
Read and listen here.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Supreme Court won't hear challenge to Minnesota sex offender case

The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear a challenge to Minnesota's sex offender civil commitment program. The decision leaves open the question whether Minnesota politicians will make needed, and promised reforms to the program. 
While state leaders vowed to continue making changes to the program, others noted that pressure from the court to do so is now gone. 
"In the absence of compulsion by the federal court, it seems unlikely that they are going to make any changes (to the program) because the political leadership in this state wants these folks locked up," said Dan Gustafson, an attorney for the residents. 
Gustafson said he's disappointed in the decision, but also disappointed for the "administration of justice, because that suffered a setback today."
Read more here.

Michigan must rewrite its sex offender registry law

After the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the 6th Circuit Court's decision in Does v. Snyder, the state of Michigan will have to redo its sex offender registry laws. Pity the poor Michigan
Sen. Rick Jones, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he’ll invite the ACLU, state police and prosecutors to discuss the next steps. 
“We’ll work together to bring (Michigan) into compliance,” he said. “What we’ve done is what a majority of Michiganders want. They want children to be protected from sex offenders.
Sen. Jones should know that unconstitutional laws, like Michigan's sex offender registry, do nothing to protect children, or anyone.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Lincoln FEARLESS Monday

The October Lincoln FEARLESS meeting will be held Monday, October 2, at Calvary United Methodist Church, 1610 S. 11th Street, in Lincoln. 

Registered citizens, families, and friends, are invited to join the conversation from 7:00 till 8:30 Monday evening.