From the Admin Team
Nearing Conference time; "Justice for All" in Los Angeles, CA
RSOL is pleased to announce that we are now taking registrations for our fifth annual conference: Justice for All: A Conference to Reform Sex Offense Laws. It will be held from Thursday evening, August 29 through Sunday noon on September 1, in Los Angeles, California.
Our keynote speaker is Alex Landon, J.D., co-author of the book, A Parallel Universe, which focuses on sex offender issues. Our three featured speakers are Catherine Carpenter, Irving D. and Florence Rosenberg Professor of Law at Southwestern Law School, whose primary focus of scholarship is on issues pertaining to sex offender registration laws and sex crimes; Doctor Suzonne M. Kline, former administrator of Florida’s Sexually Violent Predator Program (SVPP), who has been actively involved in workgroups focusing on dispelling myths regarding offender populations and currently specializes in forensic evaluation, risk assessment, and sexual offenders; and Doctor Clare Ann Ruth-Heffelbower, founding Program Director of Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) at the Center for Peacemaking and Conflict Studies of Fresno Pacific University, which has formed Circles for more than 45 sex offenders reentering the community.
"We Are The 5000" off to good start
Conference cost this year will be $100, with a $10 early bird discount. Our hotel group rate is just $90 per night, and the hotel is very close to LAX. You can get more information by visiting the conference web site: rsolconference.org
. To register, choose "register" from the menu.
On April 17, the National RSOL Admin Team launched a campaign to encourage donations for our Legal Project. Advocates were challenged to become part of 5000 supporters to give a donation to the legal fund. A page
was created on the website listing the first name or nickname and state of each contributor. Donations were brisk the first day and have remained steady since. Keep them coming!
If you aren't participating yet, you can find a description of the project and the instructions here
. The 5000
information is on the bottom half of the page. Please join The 5000
; help us help you and your loved ones.
With these funds we will support legal action taken in our various states that has the potential for favorable outcomes for a significant number of registrants and registered families. We are already involved in the lawsuit initiated in CA against Offendex and other similar websites. We are already involved in pending action in Pennsylvania against the retroactive aspect of SORNA.
Our legal committee is constantly on the lookout for legislation that could be a springboard for our involvement. Every penny of "We Are The 5000" money donated will go to just such efforts.
Your Admin Team at work
Our mailing address for all financial enterprises is now RSOL, PO Box 534, Mansfield, OH 44901.
This year's electoral committee organization is underway and, now that legislative sessions are winding down, will become more active. The committee needs to fill 2 seats on the Admin Team for the next term. Deadlines for completing the selections and the elections have been extended a month to allow for legislative business to complete.
A membership plan for National RSOL is underway; details will be announced as they are finalized.
Our next meeting is Tuesday, May 7th, at 7 pm Eastern time. Affiliates and state contacts may contact any Admin Team member for the call-in number; send any item you wish placed on the agenda to an Admin Team member no later than 3 days before the meeting.
This is a reader contribution section. Anyone who wishes to submit a piece for consideration should select an article that has been in the news concerning our issues within the past month and write commentary on the article. It may be commentary that you have submitted to the publication in response to the article, or it may be commentary that you have written just for the Digest. One submission a month will be chosen. All submissions are subject to editing; include a link to the article.
This month's piece is written by Robin.
I disagree with the journalist's portrayal of James Tracy as "nutty," nor do I agree with others who have suggested that he doesn't even know what he is doing with his rhetoric. He knows exactly what he’s doing....he’s fanning the flames of conspiratorial elements. I believe that what is most important to take away from this is the FACT that a fairly large population of Americans are now more-or-less convinced that our national government is patently incapable of speaking or acting in truth on just about any subject of import.
I am afraid that our government has made this too easy by the policies it adopted post 9/11. We had two options: 1) attack the enemy or 2) attack our first principles. We decided to do both....and this was a MAJOR mistake. We continue to suffer from it. And, in a very real sense, 9/11 has become, more-or-less, a victory for the terrorists because it has virtually destroyed that aspect of Americanism which came to define us the world over: a tenacious and determined commitment to the liberties of our people.
Our liberties are under attack at every turn, and this attack is conveniently and expeditiously veiled in the cloak of “protecting ourselves from terrorists” in much the same way as the policies aimed at sex offenders are veiled in the cloak of “protecting the children.” So, while I do not agree in any sense with the positions this professor is taking, it’s unfortunate that I am constrained to concede that he has an audience ready-made to receive his missives.....and I can only blame the federal government for creating the basis that makes that possible.
Sooner or later, we have got to decide what it is we are attempting to do here. Are we trying to 1) make the world safe for the sake of safety? Or 2) make the principles of liberty as sacrosanct and inviolable as the framers obviously felt them to be. We cannot have it both ways. We cannot make the world safe for a people who claim FREEDOM as the most important value of existence. Freedom requires, by its very nature, an abdication of strict security.
Have a comment on this commentary? Email it here; it may be printed next month.
A Vision of Hope
In spite of the title, this is an excellent article
. It features a prominent child advocacy organization talking about child abuse and giving parents tips and advice about protecting their children. Not once do the words "sex offender registry," "residency restrictions," or "registered offender" appear.
The remainder of this month's Vision of Hope column is submitted by one of our readers and reflects his personal decision to choose understanding over prejudice, love over hatred, and hope over despair.
"The sex-offender registry has been around for a long time, and the research that's out there says that it has no positive impact on the public safety." (Ohio Public Defender's Office) Read the full article.
Choice or Consequence; We Have the Power
As a nation, we, the citizen of this entity, are bound together for better or worse, no matter what religion, political party, or other cultural organizations we create and join. We are in the greatest mix of civilization this world has experienced since its inception, and we lose sight of this every day as we struggle to survive. Work, relationships, and all of our constructs of survival are taking a devastating toll on life. We are creating more rules to manage problems that are created by the loss of our humanity towards each other.
The evidence is clear. We hear talk of bullies picking on one or another sub-class, and then a victim takes his own life while people ignore the torment. We hear of horrendous acts of murder, mass and otherwise, and feel helpless. Sexual assaults are photographed, bragged about, laughed at, and then instantaneously passed to the masses through our newest artifact, social media.
Maybe we never had any compassion for ourselves in the first place and our attempts to contain a violent nature are going to fail. However, I think that is not the case at all as we have survived this long by using a rationale that recognizes the good and virtuous parts of humankind as well as the not-so-good parts. This distinction allows us to strive for better lives for our loved ones and ourselves.
What happens when there are roadblocks at achieving the desire to create this life of happiness and virtue? There is stress, followed by fight or flight instinctive reactions, and we make it worse with our biases towards those who seem different from ourselves. This takes a toll on everyone. Our perceptions of others, however they may have been influenced, are perhaps causing misguided beliefs, and we should remind ourselves of our common desire of achieving a balanced and happy life, even if my means are different from yours. Our ends are the same. I realize that one individual's view of a happy life can be construed by another as not virtuous, but we need to start and proceed from the common ground of our shared humanity.
My goal is to strive for the good, the balanced, and the happy existence. I recognize the need for my fellow humans to strive for the same goals. I see that sometimes I need help and hope that I might have the courage to lend an empathetic hand to someone else struggling. Our compassion towards another is learned through our own pain. Our losses can become motivators for doing better each and every day or for making war and enemies. What shall we choose today? Let us vow to make the better choice and become an example for a better world.
From one of our devoted incarcerated readers:
It's been two years since I arrived at XXXXX. I'd like to say that time really has flown, but it hasn't. But it has passed, and I really appreciate your support for helping me get through prison to this point. And it will eventually ALL be in the "rear-view mirror."
I've told folks that I'm here because of what I did; I'll make it through partly because of what you do. I see guys here who never get visits or letters and can't afford to write or call. So I know that I'm blessed to have visits, emails, letters, and financial support. So if I haven't said it before (or enough), I really appreciate it.
So have a great weekend and continue to be amazing in everything you do.
A new blog:
One of our members has started a blog that deals primarily with sex offender issues. We are aware of several members and fellow advocates who have blogs relating to our advocacy issues and will list here the ones of which we are aware. If you would like yours to be included in future Digests, send to the editor
With Justice For All
National and State News - eAdvocate
(others are available in the top menu)
Life on the Mountain
From Our States and Committees
Another California city -- Lancaster -- repealed its sex offender ordinance on March 26 after being sued by California RSOL. The Lancaster ordinance included both residency and presence restrictions which prohibited all registrants from living near parks and schools as well as visiting public places such as libraries, museums, and swimming pools and private places such as movie theaters and bowling alleys. Lancaster is the third city to repeal its sex offender ordinance, and the City of Palmdale is expected to be the fourth as it takes its first steps towards repeal on the first of May.
California RSOL returned to the state capitol of Sacramento on April 16 and 17 to lobby in support of a tiered registry bill. Following testimony by California RSOL, ACLLU, California Coalition for Sexual Assault and others, the bill was approved by the Public Safety Committee in the Assembly. The bill will face even tougher opposition in May when it is considered by the Appropriations Committee.
In addition to litigation and legislation, California RSOL continues to educate its registrants and family members in public meetings including meetings held in San Diego on April 13 and in L.A. on May 18.
Texas has been super busy supporting and opposing bills in the Texas House and Senate. We have had some successes and are facing some real challenges. Legislative session will end at the end of May at which time we will have a full report.
The Legal Action Project, along with PA No More Labels are hosting a telephone conference for those in PA affected by the new SORNA laws. It will be on May 3rd beginning at 7 p.m. eastern time. The call in number is 530.881.1400 and the access code is 957605#. If you or a loved one or friend are affected, please join us on the call.
Ohio has a short and simple report:
Ohio is seeking volunteer advocates; please email us at email@example.com
One of the Communications Committee's long-range goals is to distribute an informational/educational release once a month. The April release deals with the accusations that every advocate in our cause hears frequently: "How can you put the rights of sex offenders ahead of the safety of children?" Public perception must change; what is best for former offenders and what is best for public safety are not opposites but rather the same.
If you missed the January, February, or March releases, they can be accessed through the links at the top of the April one. If a reader would like to suggest a topic for possible future releases, please send your idea to the communications committee.
Pennsylvania is finally seeing a strong, organized movement of interest in reformation. I have been working to build a network of contacts that will be able to assist in the goals of providing effective reintegration for ex-offenders coming back into the community. The major hurdles seem to be both housing and employment. I am working to develop programs that will address both of these needs in the commonwealth and am beginning to make contacts with the county and state correctional facilities and probation/parole offices to begin the long task of attempting to implement these programs.
As I have several years of experience involving the marketing and fund-raising operations of non-profit organizations, I am working to put together a comprehensive marketing and fund-raising package that I will be making available in the upcoming month (hopefully) in eBook format for any interested affiliate organizations.
I have also made a connection with an organization that is looking to provide the funding for housing units for offenders. This will be a HUGE advancement if the fine details can be ironed out with the financial backers, and I hope to have more information on this in the upcoming weeks from Pennsylvania's No More Labels.
Florida Action Committee's Public Service Announcement regarding the serious of child pornography sites and accessing of same is ready to go, and we will share with everyone at Conference; when presented to legislators in Tallahassee, it was well received. We have the cooperation of a senator and a representative to help us find support to distribute. We are seeking a national campaign for prevention of child pornography viewing. We will be seeking grants to fund the effort for public education and prevention. We all want the same thing-- “NO MORE VICTIMS." It is time we partner for the ultimate goal and work towards solutions for everyone with evidence based policies which support rehabilitation and prevention.
Stay tuned… we are also beginning to meet with law enforcement and trying to find areas in which we can work together and hopefully find solutions to former offender management we can both support.
The Bradford County situation where signs are being placed in the yards of some who are on the sexual predator list is on our radar, and we are waiting for the end of our session to gain the assistance of the elected representative for that county to meet with the Sheriff and hopefully come to a resolution and get the signs removed.
With a new helper on board, RSOL - Utah is now ready to start building our website. It will have many great features including a blog.
With the advent of our own website, we can get greater participation and responses from our registrants, registered families, and supporters in Utah. We also hope to become a resource to the RSOL-Utah movement and hopefully nationally.
One of our members was in news/journalism/media and is doing a documentary on our issues, and I am attempting to format a few ideas that I hope we can pursue locally and nationally as a movement.
Our first newsletter should be out within a few days of our website debut.
This has been a very difficult period for Colorado AFC. On March 19, 2013. the Director of Prisons, Tom Clements, was shot and killed in the doorway of his home. Tom Clements was a wonderful director who cared deeply for both his staff and the inmates. He was committed to evidence-based practices to improve safety in the prison and successful outcomes with offender release.
Most of the DoC senior staff is retiring. So, in effect, we are somewhat leaderless for present. Roger Werholtz, who was pulled from retirement and was most recently Secretary of Corrections for the state of Kansas began his term as interim director and will serve until the end of July, as the search for a permanent director gets underway.
On a positive note, the risk assessments using combined Static 99 and SOTIPS evaluations as recommended by the Outside Evaluator's Report are beginning, and this could lead to a true risk assessment allowing low risk offenders to be released from prison to have treatment in the community. The evaluations are to leave behind the One Size Fits All philosophy. For those required to have treatment in prison, the treatment providers will have up-to-date training to provide therapy that has proven and constructive outcomes.
Another positive happening in Colorado is that the legislature has authorized funding for another study. This one will be a study of the SOMB and could lead to changes in the rigid mindset of some of the board members who hold to their guiding principle of "No Known Cure." The evaluation team will be selected by a combined panel that will include the Public Defender's office. The selection process should be completed in late summer and the study results will probably be presented to the Legislature in February 2014.
The Affiliate Development Committee is happy to announce some new contacts. In New Mexico, Rick is assisting Lloyd with RSOL-NM. Todd is now on board in Georgia helping with Georgia Rising. In Pennsylvania David has jumped in with both feet and, in addition to organizing Pennsylvania, is assisting our Legal Action Project there. He even has a Digest report this month! After years of trying to establish a contact in Idaho, we now have one. Sherry is taking on the task. As there is no organization there, she is starting from scratch. If you are in Idaho, or know anyone in Idaho, please contact Sherry and offer whatever help you can. We heartily welcome Rick, Todd, David, and Sherry.
This year we have, in addition to New Mexico, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Idaho, added new contacts in Colorado, Maine, Nevada, Utah, and Virginia. Together we stand strong!
Indiana is pleased to announce that all of the bills we were fighting have been tabled this year. The two bills we were supporting, juvenile sentencing diversion bill 1108 and HB 1053, have both passed both houses. HB 1053 will mandate DOC to remove registrants from the registry when a registrant’s registration requirements have been met. In years past, Indiana Voices has fought DOC from sponsoring bills that would require all registrants to register for life. We have won each time, with this year forcing them to remove names!
Additionally, Indiana Voices has been making contact with registry compliance offices, parole offices, and probation offices to gain support in our efforts of law reform. We have received great feedback from these offices and have also gained support as well.
Lastly, Indiana Voices has started a cooperative in working with re-entry officials from DOC to build a database of affordable and compliant housing for registrants and their families. We believe this will further our alliances with these organizations.
Last month Maryland reported the important decision from Doe v. DPSCS, in which our state's highest court declared our current registration scheme to be punitive. We celebrated this momentous occasion on April 20 at a special state-wide meeting, with the attorney for the case, Nancy Forster, presenting. Her report was rather sobering, however.
We expected the state to interpret the decision as narrowly as possible: well, they announced shortly before our meeting that while a number of different registrants could ASK to get off, they intended to look at the federal SORNA guidelines and if SORNA wanted them listed, they would stay on the registry. We also found out that "Mister Doe" himself had asked to get off, and been denied!
Paperwork has already been filed and more is yet to come. This absolutely WILL NOT stand. FAIR is mobilizing as it has never mobilized before, with the goal of forcing our state to recognize that they cannot ignore a clear state court decision by hiding behind a federal GUIDELINE. Stay tuned! You'll certainly be hearing more about this in the future!