From the Admin Team...Merry Christmas!!!
As we enter this season of joy and peace, we do so with the full knowledge that many of us have little joy and even less peace. Many of us and many of our loved ones are in situations that prohibit families from being together, and those situations encourage neither joy nor peace.
The Admin Team is working toward improving situations in several areas. Our legal committee is moving forward with important projects; a full report is below. The Communications Committee is experimenting with new sections in the Digest with the hopes that they may become permanent fixtures. One of these, “A Vision of Hope,” follows this report and solicits contributions from our readership, as does the “Potpourri” section. The Committee’s report closer to the bottom explains how you can submit items for consideration.
The Affiliate Development Committee report, below, explains its latest efforts, and the Conference Committee is making great strides in dealing with the many complexities that go into making a successful conference.
The Planning Committee, along with other Admin Team members, has worked many hours through many working meetings to finalize RSOL’s new statements of our vision, mission, goals, and beliefs. At our November meeting we voted to accept this as our vision and it is on the website:
RSOL envisions effective, fact-based sexual offense laws and policies which promote public safety, safeguard constitutional liberties, honor human dignity, and offer holistic prevention, healing, and restoration.
At the committee’s last working meeting, a finalized version of the mission statement was produced and will be voted on at the December AT meeting. Statements of goals and of beliefs are also nearing completion and acceptance by the AT; hopefully they will all be on our website soon and will be printed in the January Digest.
With a clear vision of the tasks ahead of us, RSOL will continue to work so that those with sexual offenses in their pasts do not continue to be defined by those offenses in their futures. This season then gives hope for renewed joy and peace for all of the Christmases to come.
A Vision of
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all.
In October, a federal judge has struck down parts of Nebraska's new sex offender laws, which would have made it a crime for some offenders to use social networking sites and require them all to notify the state whenever they post on the Internet.
In Semi Valley, California, federal judge Monday temporarily blocked enforcement of a key provision of Simi Valley's new Halloween sex offender law but left the rest of the ordinance intact.
U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson's ruling came days before the holiday on Wednesday.
Anderson temporarily blocked the city from requiring its several dozen convicted child sex offenders listed on the Megan's Law website to post signs on their front doors on Halloween saying: "No candy or treats at this residence."
Michigan Supreme Court Vacated in re TD – DiPiazza
DiPiazza is now good law and shows, under certain conditions (read DiPiazza
) the registry can be unconstitutional. There is no easy way to explain this because two cases are involved.
California registrants won a major victory today! Federal district court judge Thelton Henderson granted a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) late Wednesday that prevents enforcement of requirements in Proposition 35 that require registrants to identify their on-line identities and activities.
In Texas, the Innocence Project is fighting for four women who have spent years in prison due to a false accusation. At this point one has been released, but three of these women still spend their lives behind bars for something that never happened. A documentary is also in the works.
More good news comes from California where an appellate court has declared that the Orange County ordinance which prohibits all registrants from entering public parks, beaches, harbors, etc. violates the state constitution!
Update on the Beyond the Label Documentary
Derek W. Logue
Once Fallen Productions expresses its gratitude to all those who have donated to the Beyond the Label documentary, exceeding the $600 goal set for the two month raffle. The raffle will be held on December 5th, the five year anniversary of the Once Fallen website. Once Fallen Productions will travel to Port Angeles, WA, to wrap up filming during the week of December 10th. The Clallam County Prosecutor’s Office will be releasing more information on the Patrick Drum case, including Drum’s criminal records.
Many people in society heralded Patrick Drum, a career criminal, as a “hero” for killing two men the media called “child rapists.” Drum began his criminal career as a juvenile, with arrests for drugs, burglary, and assault before reaching adulthood. Between 1994 and 2012, Drum racked up 47 separate convictions from drug possession to witness tampering to burglary, finally leading to the murders of two men, Gary Blanton, Jr. and Jerry Ray.
While I am grateful these tragedies are rare, it remains a fear for those of us forced to register. Many of us are actively fighting these laws despite the ostracism, the harassment, and the occasional death threat.
However, neither Gary Blanton, Jr., nor Jerry Ray were activists. Gary was a kid who made some bad choices early in life and was caught in the web of the sex offender registry. Yet, despite facing the same social ostracism, discrimination, and harassment, Gary made a life for himself and his family. He fell in love, got married, and raised children. He worked his hands to the bone and still found the time to volunteer at the local soup kitchen. This is the part of the story that has been neglected by the media. Instead, the media called Gary a “child rapist.” In the eyes of many, that label made a "hero" out of a career criminal.
I want Beyond the Label to be a rallying cry for the nearly 750,000 people on the public registry and those who choose to stand by their loved ones on the list. Gary did everything society expected of him, and he was still targeted and killed for his label alone. This should be the motivation to fight back, to prevent more tragedies like the murders of Gary Blanton Jr., and Jerry Ray.
More than half of our states engage in some degree of Halloween restrictions against registrants. At least one also has punitive and restrictive measures in place regarding other holidays, including Christmas. Read about it here.
More and more professionals are seeing these laws for what they have become and are willing to speak out. This is an excellent article by a psychiatrist
explaining the flawed reasoning behind the sex offender laws.
On a personal level, some find writing a way to express their feelings. These verses were penned by a mother reflecting on her son's arrest and evoking in her memories of her own past.
I wake with anger, hurt and fear; I can’t let go of my excessive shame,
For this was a man I raised for years, the boy I happily named.
I lost my job, I lost my friends, but told no one the burden that the family had.
What good would that had really done? The pile of of tears was deep and bad.
The past brought shame and fear, and just like now, I had told no one,
But now most of all my past appeared reminding me what those men had done.
I carry it deep down inside and thought I would until I died,
But that was not what fate decided, and now I cry with fear provided.
Someday my family and I may heal; someday my family may know how I feel.
But for now my life is reeling with the destruction of family, life, and feeling.
I could not change the way it was, but they can change what it does.
They can look inside and find a life and a future better than mine.
RSOL won significant victories in two lawsuits that challenge a Halloween ordinance and a statewide proposition that would require all registrants to disclose their on-line identities. In the first case, we obtained a TRO from a federal district court judge that prevented the city of Simi Valley from requiring registrants to post a sign on the front door of their home for a 24-hour period. The judge subsequently granted a motion to protect the identities of the plaintiffs in that and denied the city's motion to dismiss the entire case. In the second case, a different federal district court judge issued a TRO that blocks the state's requirement to provide on-line identities. We are seeking further injunctive relief in that case in order to permanently block that requirement.
In addition to the two lawsuits, California RSOL continues its monthly meetings for registrants, family members and supporters in Los Angeles as well as a new location -- San Diego. We see great progress being made in California as we stop the pendulum of punishment from swinging in the same direction. There is much work to be done now to send that pendulum in the opposite direction. We shall overcome because we are showing up, standing up, and speaking up!
This is a very exciting time for the Legal Committee. We have unanimously recommended to the RSOL Admin Team that we support two cases. The laws to be challenged are:
SB 1183 in the state of Pennsylvania; and an overly-broad residency / proximity restriction in Lancaster California.
The first case involves a constitutional challenge to Senate Bill (SB) 1183. SB 1183 becomes effective on December 20, 2012, and will bring Pennsylvania into substantial compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act. There are numerous problems with SB 1183 including the fact that all 10-year registrants will have their terms on the registry increased to between 15 years and life, depending on their new tier designation. We are fortunate that a small group of individuals has already retained an attorney and began raising money for purpose of paying for legal services. We plan to teleconference with the attorney on December 4th to discuss the legal strategy he plans to pursue. If the Admin Team approves the committee’s plan, we will begin a media and fund-raising campaign throughout the state of Pennsylvania.
The second case involves a constitutional challenge to a Lancaster California ordinance. The ordinance is so overly-broad that no more than one registered person can reside in an apartment complex or multi-family dwelling. It is difficult to imagine that it is constitutional to prohibit a 200-unit apartment complex or hotel from renting to more than one registrant. In addition, registrants are prohibited from being within 300 feet of almost anyplace a minor could conceivably be present. RSOL is fortunate to have Janice Bellucci as the leader of our California affiliate. Ms. Bellucci also happens to be an attorney and she has already initiated number of challenges in that state. Ms. Bellucci needs financial support to fund the Lancaster challenge and to continue to these other costly battles. The committee hopes that RSOL can assist our California affiliate.
The committee plans to continue exploring ways to promote RSOL and partner with others within the legal community. Please go to our website here
and follow directions for making a contribution to our legal fund.
In news from Indiana, on November 27th, the Illinois 7th Circuit of Appeals heard oral arguments on the class action, social media challenge. During oral argument, the prosecutor failed to provide evidence as to how many children were affected by "solicitation" of minors on social media sites. The appellate attorney, with the Indiana ACLU, Ken Falk, provided multiple research studies from several sources providing a foundation of discrimination and punitive consequences that prohibited a "class" of persons from joining social networking sites. The panel of judges seemed to question whether a social network would also consider the use of telephones as such an outlet. Ken Falk also stated that there are already laws in the Indiana statute to prosecute persons who "solicit minors," and that the statute in question is too broad. The decision should be given within the next few weeks.
The Communications Committee
is working on informational press releases for the upcoming year. We have also been giving the Digest a fresher look and establishing some categories that we hope to use every month. We especially like our Visions of Hope category, and we hope that you will contribute by sending links and your written commentary to articles and video that deal with hopeful steps forward toward our goals. Email here
to send these as well as anything else you would like to be considered for the Digest, please put "For Digest" on the subject line. You may also mail to:
FOR THE DIGEST
PO BOX 400838,
Cambridge, MA 02140
Submissions that are mailed will take longer to process but will be considered equally with all others. All submissions are subject to editing.
This past August was the 15th year anniversary of Arkansas sex offenders being required to register. Arkansas law states that when you have been on the list for 15 years you can petition to get removed. We have heard it is fairly easy. We are very happy for John S., a member of ATAT, who will be submitting paperwork in December to get removed from the registry.
The members of the new Judiciary Committee have been announced. We have begun our letter writing campaign to let them know who we are and that we intend to Show Up - Stand Up - Speak Up! Arkansas Time After Time is hoping to make our legislators aware about the unreasonable laws as well as to stop new laws from being passed. We have some great members who are working hard on different aspects of sex offender issues which gives me renewed hope that ATAT can make a difference for all Arkansans!
Webmaster Mike Needs Help With a Special Project
I'd like to head up a team of Internet specialists for RSOL.
I'm looking for anyone who is proficient in gathering information on domain names, servers, DMCA requests, reverse IP address lookups, figuring out whois records, deep web searching for mentions and those types of things. If you understand the mechanics behind DoS, DDoS, slowloris, etc., and defenses against these, it would be a HUGE bonus but is not required. All of these are a wide range of skill sets; it is not necessary for any one person to have all of these skills. If you would like to be a part of this group, contact me here.
Utah is holding our first meeting on December 8th and are hoping for a good turn out. We will be incorporated by the time of the meeting, which is a huge accomplishment. We are calling ourselves Utah RSOL.
We will be launching a website soon, it's in a draft form and I have gotten a lot of good ideas from other RSOL websites. Our membership is growing.
KYCFR is now incorporated in the state of Kentucky. We have developed a steering committee working on developing our mission and goals, along with bylaws. We hope to launch a new website with a new membership drive around the first of 2013. We will be scheduling another teleconference for all members with an update soon.
I would like to give a special thank you to Gail in FL, Richard in NH, and Sandi in TX for serving on the Affiliate Development Committee. The task before us is to develop a better system to establish and support affiliate groups. So far, we have developed a survey that will help us match someone's interests with various jobs within RSOL, from organizing an affiliate to writing letters to legislators. We have also created job descriptions that give ideas of how someone can be involved, and we have revised the state organizer's guide. The plan is for those who inquire about or commit to being a state organizer will be vetted more closely, matched with their interests and skills, and mentored through the process of organizing an affiliate.