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.


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.