Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Nebraska FEARLESS the subject of newly-published article

Nebraskans Unafraid's FEARLESS is the subject of a newly-published research paper. The paper, written by Lisa Sample, Brooke Cooley, and Tusty ten Bensel, looks at the creation of FEARLESS and how it helps registered citizens and their families.

Here is the abstract from the article.
The term sex offender carries expectations that include a continuous level of sexual criminal risk and untreatable mental health conditions that govern sex offending behaviors. These role expectations by the public can socially isolate individuals who have been convicted of a crime and the people who love them. This is likely to contribute to negative self-images that can result in loneliness, isolation, and depression, and, subsequently, contribute to discontinuing support for sex offender’s loved ones and reoffending. This article highlights the creation and maintenance of a peer-to-peer social support group for registered sex offenders and their family members that helps combat the effects of “sex offender” labels. This group differs from formal organized circles of support model and traditional self-help groups such as Alcohol (AA) or Narcotic (NA) Anonymous. We review this group’s creation, processes and procedures, and outcomes, including changes in cognition, mood, and affect over time for members in the group.
Click here for a link to the full article.

Two FEARLESS meetings are held in Nebraska:
--In Lincoln, at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of each month, at Calvary United Methodist Church, 1610 S. 11th Street.
--In Omaha, at 7:00 p.m. on the third Monday of each month, at St. Michael's Lutheran Church, 13232 Blondo Street.

Sunday, June 17, 2018


The June FEARLESS meets in Omaha this Monday evening.

FEARLESS meets at 7:00 p.m. the third Monday of each month, at St. Michael's Lutheran Church, 13232 Blondo Street in Omaha.

Registered citizens, their families, and friends are welcome to come and meet with and learn from others dealing with life on the registry.

Join the conversation Monday night!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Appeals court upholds $28 million judgment to Beatrice Six

A federal appeals court has upheld the $28 million judgment against Gage County, awarded to six people falsely accused of the 1985 rape and murder of a Beatrice woman. The six collectively spent more than 70 years in prison before they were exonerated nearly a decade ago.

The Omaha World-Herald reports on the court's decision.
In Monday’s decision, the three judges unanimously rejected all of the county’s arguments to erase the monetary damages and order a new civil trial. Judge Bobby Shepherd of El Dorado, Arkansas, noted in his opinion that the court has now rendered four rulings in the case, all in favor of the Beatrice Six. 
“We are asked here, in large part, to sweep the pieces off the board — to overturn our prior rulings — in order to vacate the jury’s verdict,” he wrote. “We decline to do so.”
Read the full story in the Omaha World-Herald.

Sex offender registries do more harm than good

In a column for the Canadian publication, the National Post, Marni Soupcoff writes that sex offender registries in both Canada and the United States (but especially the public registries in the USA) really don't make much sense. She uses a recent case from New Hampshire to illustrate her point.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld the felony conviction of a young man who, at age 18, went online and propositioned a 15-year-old girl (whom he knew) for sex. Because of the conviction, the computer sex crime law dictates that he’ll be on the state’s public sex-offender registry for life. If he’d actually had consensual sex with the underage girl, instead of propositioning her online, he’d have been charged with a misdemeanour and wouldn’t have been placed on the sex-offender registry at all.
Pretty silly indeed.  And Soupcoff points out other major flaws with registries, namely, they're costly to maintain and they don't prevent any crimes.
In a Vox article on the subject, writer Dara Lind points out that “(f)ew sex offenders go on to commit another crime,” and “most new sex crime convictions involve people who aren’t registered sex offenders.” Reoffending does happen, unfortunately, but it’s unclear that it would be happening to a much greater degree without registries, or, to put it the other way around, that registries are somehow keeping it in check. A 2009 article in the Economist cites a New Jersey Department of Corrections study that “found that the state’s system for registering sex offenders and warning their neighbours cost millions of dollars and had no discernible effect on the number of sex crimes.” And, as Lind notes, there’s evidence to suggest that registries may inhibit victims from reporting family members, knowing that doing so could impose not only a finite criminal sentence on the offender, but also a lifelong economic and social one, regardless of whether the person is able to rehabilitate himself or herself and turn things around.
Read more of Soupcoff's column at the National Post website.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Dobbs Wire: Registry increases by 3.3% in six months

Bill Dobbs provides the latest report on the number of registered sex offenders in the United States, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) just released its latest map which shows the latest figures for sex offense registries in all states. (NCMEC is a private organization that gets much of its funding from the federal government. Their map is updated twice a year; reliability of the numbers is uncertain.) 

One key indicator continues to increase, the total number listed on registries is now 900,202.  That’s a 3.3% (29,560) rise since the last count six months ago. 

Attached are three charts produced by The Dobbs Wire that will tell you more.   

Chart A   Registries across the country – the numbers
This chart shows the biggest (California) to the smallest (Washington, DC) registries.  A relatively small number of states have a large portion of the total registrants in the country -- the 10 biggest registries have more than half (56%), the 15 biggest have more than two-thirds (68%).    

Chart B  Registries – differences among the states
This chart shows that some states put more of their people on the registry.  One example is Michigan where the registry is 4th largest in the country but the state is only the 10thlargest by population.  Michigan’s registry has more people on it than New York’s, a state with twice the population.  Oregon is the 27th largest state by population while it has the 9thlargest registry. 

Chart C  Registries ranked by per capita registration rate and population
This chart shows wide variation in per capita registration rates around the country – from 120 (Maryland) to Oregon (679) per 100,000 population.  Of the 10 states with the highest registration rates, some are small or medium size in population (Delaware, South Dakota, Wyoming, Arkansas) while others are quite populous such as Florida and Michigan.

The latest figures show some states with notable increases in registration since Nov. 2017:
Texas              8%       (91,912 to 99,175)
Tennessee      3%       (23,262 to 29,123)
North Carolina 4%      (17,621 to 24,173)
Kentucky         3%       (11,299 to 14,123)
Vermont         62%      (1,333 to 2,166)
Rhode Island  23%      (2,600 to 3,207)

The latest figures show at least one state with a notable decrease in registration since Nov. 2017:
Washington     11%     (22,045 to 19,525)

According to this latest report, there are 5,541 registered sex offenders in Nebraska.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Treatment of sex offenders depends on whether they've challenged rules

Here's an interesting article from the Detroit Free Press about the confusion surrounding enforcement of Michigan's sex offender registry laws following a federal court ruling that provisions of the law were unconstitutional. Apparently, no one knows exactly what the law requires or how it is supposed to be enforced.
WASHINGTON — Eight months after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively upheld a decision saying parts of Michigan's sex offender registry law — one of the toughest in the nation — were unconstitutional, thousands of former sex offenders who thought they'd be off the registry by now, or facing less severe restrictions, have seen no changes. 
The law remains in place, unchanged, with the state defending it in more than three dozen lawsuits — many of which it has already lost. The controversy involves a ruling two years ago by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati that said provisions enacted in 2006 and 2011 and applied to offenders convicted before then violates constitutional protections against increasing punishments after-the-fact. Last October, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the state's challenge to that ruling, effectively upholding it. 
The rules prohibit offenders — many of whom have gone years if not decades without committing any crimes — from legally living, working or even standing within 1,000 feet of a school, a regulation that many say makes it hard for them to work, or to pick up or see their kids at school, and has forced some to give up jobs and homes. 
The rules also require offenders to immediately register email addresses or vehicles and report to police as often as four times a year, in some cases, for the rest of their lives. Because the appeals court decision came in civil cases and not class action lawsuits, the state has maintained those rulings apply only to the specific plaintiffs who brought them. 

And with the state Legislature failing to change the law, registrants find themselves in a legal morass, with the requirements they must comply with almost wholly contingent on whether the offender has successfully gone to court.
 You can read the full article and marvel at the morass in Michigan at the Detroit Free Press.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Deceptive headlines stoke sex offender hysteria

Using a much-hyped news story as a springboard, NARSOL has a reminder of the importance of reading beyond the headlines.
By Michael M. . . . The following headline appeared on Tuesday, June 5, 2018 at Fox News: “Virginia sex offender seen snatching 7-month-old from mother in photos released by police.”  It all seems pretty straightforward, at least until you read the accompanying article.
Read the full commentary online at NARSOL.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Guy Hamilton-Smith: Dear Gay

Many registrants will likely be able to easily relate to this moving essay and letter written by Guy Hamilton-Smith.
Ryan is the hardest part of my story to explain. 
We have never met, nor will we, and yet he radically changed the course of my life.The path that I’ve walked since law school was not one that I intended. I did not go to law school advocate for sex offenders. I went to hide. I went for lack of better ideas. I went because it interested me. I went because, while I was fortunate to have parents who put up money to retain counsel, I saw many who did not have adequate representation, nor families standing by their side. 
The day after my arrest, I told my professors at school what had happened. I withdrew from graduate school at the end of that semester, where I studied psychology. Law school had never been on my radar. I asked my own lawyer one day after a pre-trial hearing if you could go to law school with a felony conviction. 
And, so I went.
Read the full essay here.

Challenging the punitiveness of 'new-generation' SORN laws

Wayne A. Logan of the Florida State University College of Law has an article in the 21 New Law Review article worth checking out.

Here is the abstract:
Sex offender registration and notification (SORN) laws have been in effect nationwide since the 1990s, and publicly available registries today contain information on hundreds of thousands of individuals. To date, most courts, including the Supreme Court in 2003, have concluded that the laws are regulatory, not punitive, in nature, allowing them to be applied retroactively consistent with the Ex Post Facto Clause. Recently, however, several state supreme courts, as well as the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, addressing challenges lodged against new-generation SORN laws of a considerably more onerous and expansive character, have granted relief, concluding that the laws are punitive in effect. This symposium contribution examines these decisions, which are distinct not only for their results, but also for the courts’ decidedly more critical scrutiny of the justifications, purposes, and efficacy of SORN laws. The implications of the latter development in particular could well lay the groundwork for a broader challenge against the laws, including one sounding in substantive due process, which unlike ex post facto-based litigation would affect the viability of SORN vis-à-vis current and future potential registrants.
Read the full article here.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Australian report finds public sex offender registries do not work

A report from Australia essentially confirms what we already know...that public sex offender registries do not work.
Public sex offender registries designed to shutdown pedophiles and rapists will not stop recidivism, while a searchable database could see house prices in some neighbourhoods drop by up to 8 percent, claims a new report. 
The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), in its May 20-page report, will add further fuel to an already divisive and controversial policing method. 
Drawing battle lines over law and order, Victoria's opposition party in February signalled their intent to establish a public register for serious adult offenders should they oust premier Daniel Anderson from power in November's state election. 
Victoria's Leader of the Opposition Matthew Guy has said a public register will "protect Victorians from the worst of the worst”. 
However, the AIC study concluded that public sex offender registries "may have a small general deterrent effect on first time offenders [but] they do not reduce recidivism”.
Read the full story here.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Lincoln Fearless Monday

The June meeting of FEARLESS Lincoln is this Monday, June 4.

Registered citizens, their families, and friends are welcome to come and meet with, support, and learn from others dealing with life on the registry.

FEARLESS Lincoln meets at 7:00 p.m. the first Monday of every month at Calvary United Methodist Church, 1610 S. 11th Street, in Lincoln.

Join us this Monday night!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Sex offender registries: Common sense or nonsense?

In a comprehensive article for the June issue of Criminal Legal News, Christopher Zoukis knocks down many of the myths and lies used to justify sex offender registration and notification laws.
There is a laudable and virtually unassailable goal associated with sex-offender registration and restriction laws: protection of the public, especially children. Congress passed SORNA, for example, “[i]n order to protect the public from sex offenders and offenses against children. . . .” 34 U.S.C. § 20901. 
But the “protections” provided by sex offender registration and restriction laws are based on faulty information and more than one false premise. In passing registry laws, legislators frequently cite the high rates of recidivism among sex offenders. Judges do the same. In the 2002 opinion McKune v. Lile, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy cited a “frightening and high” sex-offender recidivism rate of up to 80 percent. 
If it were true, that would, indeed, be “frightening and high.” However, that figure is flat-out wrong. Justice Kennedy based that assertion on an unverified claim in a 1986 Psychology Today article written by a therapist who has since repudiated it. In fact, the therapist has stated that the 80 percent figure is “absolutely incorrect” and that he is appalled that it is still being used to influence public policy and judges.
Over the course of the lengthy article, Zoukis manages to confront most of the false assumptions used to justify sex offender registry laws.

Read the full article online at Criminal Legal News.