From the Admin Team
Last weekend, our Texas affiliate, Texas Voices for Reason and Justice, was held in the venue in Dallas, Texas, where our national conference will be held in July. Three members of the Admin Team were in attendance; one of those members is Jon, one of the co-chairs of the National Conference Committee, and additionally, another member of that committee was there.
Every one of us pronounced the venue an excellent choice for our conference. As happens every year around this time, excitement begins mounting, and being there where it will be happening and observing many of the same activities taking place--registration, whole-group meetings, speaker presentations, snacks and refreshments, smaller break-out sessions, display tables--gave a wonderful preview of what we will be experiencing beginning the evening of July 16.
We are inviting seasoned advocates, researchers, and professionals to present workshops and breakout sessions. Topics can encompass practical advocacy, research, laws, lobbying, and radical advocacy. Your proposal will be vetted by the full Conference Planning Committee, based on relevance to conference topics, presenter qualifications, clarity, and substance. Votes are submitted and ranked prior to discussion to maximize fairness. Check HERE
for more details and to propose a topic as well as to receive updates as they occur, including registration information.
Break out your cowboy boots and meet us in Dallas in July!
In the News
A Republican congressman in Georgia made news when he submitted a bill to eliminate restrictions on registrants whose sentences were complete that prohibited them from schools, parks, and other similar places. He was verbally attacked by a sheriff, who was then himself attacked for his hate-mongering speech and attitude. Casey Conat, our man on the ground in Utah, wrote him the following letter:
Sheriff Roger Garrison
I respect the office of the Sheriff where I live and anytime I see the police in my community. It is a tough job, dangerous, and takes a lot of dedication.
You sir, disappoint me. I read your response to Representative Sam Moore (R-Macedonia) and cannot believe you are such an Archie Bunker.
What you are spreading is "Hate Speech" towards sex offenders. It is unconstitutional and wrong.
That would be like the public lumping you and all police officers with "Crooked Cops." Are you crooked?
Do cops have the best drugs because they keep the good stuff they confiscate?
Well, I doubt that is you... or the majority of police officers.
So why would you take such a large segment of criminals, "sex offenders," and label them, ostracize them, treat ALL of them with prejudice and unconstitutionally when only 1-3% are what you labeled all of them as, "pedophiles."
You are a smart man and should know better than to generalize, profile, label and make prejudicial and discriminating comments without the facts. This is nothing short of what was done to the Blacks and then briefly those who had HIV or AIDS which, after the facts were examined, was determined by the judicial system to be Unconstitutional to label and discriminate against.
Please get your facts straight and learn about how costly and damaging these laws and the registration system are. This "Hate doctrine" is destroying a country. It is prejudice for people who are the "least likely to re-offend", and willing to be model, productive citizens when their parole, registration, etc., is over. But they are not given that chance due to the ignorance you were spouting. Please reconsider as an intelligent servant of the public that is doing a difficult and important job.
I think you for your time, your attention and your dedicated service.
The sheriff promptly sent a three sentence reply: "Your [sic] right I do hate sex offenders. I'm glad you don't live in Cherokee County. Stick to the issues in your community not mine!"
which prompted this response
by With Justice For All,
which Representative Moore read and sent a lovely email of appreciation to the blog writer.
And then, as an interesting side-note, Representative Moore made a public apology
for introducing legislation which might put children at risk of danger. He made it clear he was still concerned about constitutional issues but said that the bill as he wrote it was a "rookie mistake." Some advocates were angered; others saw him doing what he could to try to salvage his political career. As for this writer, the jury is still out. One thing is certain; he will not be able to accomplish anything positive if he is not returned to office in subsequent elections.
A Vision of Hope
I'm calling this one the Miracle Village story. It started with a phone call to RSOL Communications by a reporter, Guillaume Meyer, who works for an international wire service, AFP, headquartered in France. Mr. Meyer had seen some comments by Shelly Stow on some articles, which is what led him to RSOL. He and a camera crew were involved in a story about the sex offender camp in Florida called Miracle Village. We talked for about 15 minutes. The results are only a few sentences at the end of the article, but RSOL is very pleased to have been contacted for input on this issue and to be quoted in the story.
The video portion, which doesn't include the full story or our quotes, is here
The written story, with our quotes at the end, are here
Lenore Skenazy of "Free-Range Kids" continues to show her commitment to our issues. When a video came out about something called a kidnapping-a-child experiment, Shelly blogged about it, and Lenore then blogged about Shelly's blog, and she includes the video in her post. Incidentally, Lenore will be the keynote speaker at this year's RSOL conference the end of July. See the conference update in the first section.
This heartwarming story is about an innocent man who was
exonerated and finally succeeded in having his name removed from the registry.
"Our misguided child porn laws do little to protect children"
is a refreshing and honest look laws governing child pornography.
This article, "Sex offender restrictions ineffective,
" give an equally honest look at residency restrictions and quotes the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center in saying, "Because residency restrictions have been shown to be ineffective at preventing harm to children, and may indeed actually increase the risks to kids, the JWRC does not support residency restriction laws."
And finally, from SOSEN comes this poignant, first-person narrative
told through the eyes of the child that the author had been. It shows all too clearly the damaging and destructive nature of our current laws on families, especially children.
A very interesting story
evolved in Kentucky over the past few weeks.
A young man graduated from the University of Kentucky Law School in the top third of his class. Like the rest of his classmates, the next step would be taking the bar exam which, if passed, would grant him the right to practice law in the state of Kentucky. But for Guy Hamilton-Smith, an additional step was necessary. Guy had to receive permission to apply to take the exam, for Guy is a former sex offender and is on the registry.
It will come as no surprise to anyone reading this that his request for permission, which went all the way to the Kentucky State Supreme Court, was denied. He wrote this op/ed, not in his defense or even to protest the decision that denied him the right to sit for the bar. He wrote about the self-defeating policy of dangling, like a carrot, the goal and the hope of rehabilitation after punishment and then snatching it away when it has been accomplished.
It was at this point that Andrew Wolfson, a journalist with the Courier-Journal called RSOL Communications. He had seen a comment by "Shelly Stow" on the article about Guy, and he wanted an interview. His subsequent piece, which was picked up by USA Today, includes a small portion of that interview at the end of the article.
Guy will appeal the decision and continue trying. The Supreme Court decision does allow him to take the exam when his time on the registry is completed. That will be in 2027.
From Our States and Committee
—Coalition for Sexual Offense Restoration--is extremely busy building coalitions and writing and answering large numbers of e-mails from the "outside" and letters from the "inside." The CSOR website
is operational, and while still in process, has attracted quite a bit of attention. We look forward to the second quarterly meeting of our new group March 5, 2014. Plenty of hands-on and phone support continues to take place as well, as people re-enter society outside of prison walls.
Monday March 3, two different versions of Jessica's Law will be heard by the State Veterans and Military Affairs Committee of the Colorado Legislature. One bill hails from the Democratic side of the aisle; the other from the Republicans! The Republicans in our state have been trying to pass Jessica's Law for several years now. It has typically been sent to the above noted committee, which is known as the "kill" committee for bills not wanted by the majority party.
The Democratic version of the bill is a sentence enhancer, and does not look like the Florida bill. The Republican version looks very much like the bill that originated in Florida, where Jessica's Law originated. There will be plenty of people there to testify regarding the lack of need for another bill with a lifetime component for those with a sexual offense in the State of Colorado, including CSOR, Advocates for Change, the Public Defenders' Office, and the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar. In past years, there were groups supporting those who have been victimized that were also not in favor of passing Jessica's Law, because of Colorado's 1998 Lifetime Act, and an additional determinate option for sentencing that also exists. We continue to promote the findings of the Outside Evaluators' Report mandated by the Joint Budget Committee and released early this January. More to follow as this unfolds.
Action Committee (FAC) continues to press hard for changes on several bills that are being presented in the upcoming legislative session. The tragic 2012 abduction of Cherish Periwinkle by a registered sex offender is providing fuel for more laws impacting those on the registry. The victim was allowed by her mother to go off in a Wal Mart store with a stranger who was pretending to provide for them by purchasing back to school clothing. The offender had a background of several violations and offenses. As result the lawmakers are once again responding with multiple bills that will impact the over 60,000 registrants in our state. President Gail Colletta and Dr. Suzonne Kline are actively working hard on behalf of the FAC.
A face-to-face board meeting in late Dec. provided necessary revisions to the incorporation and developed a working outline for the year. Goals include not only legislative influence to prevent bills that will be ineffective and costly, but also a plan to increase membership as well as fund raising for lobbying expenses. President Colletta and Dr. Kline have been asked to serve as panelists on an SVP Smart Justice Summit in June, and Dr. Eric Imhof and President Gail Colletta have been asked to be panelists at a public discussion on residency restrictions in Miami, along with the ACLU and other community leaders who serve to educate and increase the influence of FAC.
Executive Director went to Texas for their conference. In addition to being informative, she got to meet members of Texas Voices and to hear what is going on in Texas. This is a fiscal year in Arkansas. We don’t have much going on but are keeping watch on the bills. One bill we are looking into is a proposal on building a new prison. ATAT is in contact with other advocacy groups to help with this.
, we have been monitoring HB224, which is intended to bring the state into compliance with the tiering structure for the Adam Walsh Act. At this point, the session is almost halfway complete, and there has been no action on this bill. Our contact within the legislature has been keeping watch on the bill and maintains that it will not gain traction in this session. Fortunately, no further legislation regarding the registry has been proposed in this session.
In the Dakotas,
SB 154 has passed in the Senate and the House; this bill establishes Jolene's Law which establishes a task force to study the impact of sexual abuse of children in this state and to make recommendations to the legislature on policies to effectively address the issue. The initial appointments shall be made no later than July 1, 2014, and shall serve until January 1, 2015, which shall be the end of the task force. I have volunteered to serve on this task force and will follow it very closely.
I finished compiling stories from “the abusers” and I am now requesting statements from “victims” and family members who would have liked to have a confidential “family intervention” with education, resources, and options available to keep the family together while addressing “changing” the behavior versus “punishing” the behavior-- PREVENTION VERSUS PROSECUTION to end the cycle of sexual abuse.
Please send your stories, ideas, or recommendations to:
Dakota RSOL State Affiliate Organizer
Lemmon SD 57638
FAIR (Maryland) has mainly focused on bills in the legislature this past month. Lawmakers have reintroduced a number that we fought in previous years, such as animal abuse registries, denial of custody, and Halloween restrictions. They're also looking to expand nursing home notifications. So that's kept us busy. We continue to negotiate with our favorite attorney to get our legal challenge launched, requesting that the state apply the recent Doe v DPSCS court decision to all similar registered citizens in the state of Maryland. We are beginning the process of locating plaintiffs for the challenge.
continues to try to organize and is seeking other concerned advocates to volunteer for various tasks. Several bills affecting RSO's need our attention as we continue to try to negotiate with legislators. A meeting in collaboration with Ohio CURE will be announced toward spring. If interested in Ohio registrant advocacy, please contact us at email@example.com
has been monitoring 2014 General Assembly legislation that affects registrants. Unfortunately, nearly every bill that has passed both houses has been with overwhelming support. The notable exception was HB 523 that would have required juveniles convicted of certain offenses to register. The bill was passed by a wide margin in the House but didn't make it out of the Senate committee due in large to the work of reform advocates including National RSOL.
We are following 13 separate bills, all with implications for registrants. These include HB 403, which would allow prior sexual offenses admissible as evidence in cases of a sexual offense against a child and SB 262, which would establish an Internet Crimes Against Children Fund to which registrants would be required to contribute. Regardless of the outcome in the General Assembly, our intent is to state our positions to the Governor's Office and the Secretary of Public Safety on the theory, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained"!
We are appreciative of our affiliation with Women Against Registry
who have assisted in relaying our positions to members of the General Assembly. For bill details, please visit http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?141+lst+ALL
We wrote a draft policy late last year for registrant attendance at one of our community colleges that prohibits any registrant from enrolling, but the board that will review it hasn't met yet. We will forward the draft to legal counsel for the Virginia Community College System for consideration statewide.
continues to make progress in its legal challenges against presence restrictions passed by cities during the month of February. Letters were sent to 72 cities informing them of two recent state appellate court decision which determined that similar presence restrictions are unenforceable because they are preempted by state law. The letters requested that the cities repeal their presence restrictions within 60 days or face a possible legal challenge in federal court. Shortly thereafter, the first city quickly repealed its ordinance and more cities are promising to do so "soon." Because not all cities are expected to act in accordance with this request, California RSOL expects to file a series of lawsuits against those cities. This expectation became a reality due to a generous donation from one family on behalf of their son who is currently incarcerated. California RSOL is also continuing its efforts to legislate and to educate by lobbying in the state capitol. California RSOL will return to the state capitol in March.
Colorado AFC has hit the ground running this legislative season. With the help of the external evaluation of the SOMB, we have much stronger talking points. The legislature paid for the external evaluation, and the report supported by research validates what we have been telling them for years. We have already spoken to several legislators and have appointments for others on the Judiciary and Joint Budget Committees. Since this year is an election year, there is not much in the way of an opportunity to get legislation passed. This year is one for helping legislators understand the report and its basis on risk-need-responsitivity principles and relevant literature with recommendations for improvements of the efficacy, cost-effectiveness, and public safety implications of the SOMB programs. Particular emphasis in the report was on the standards and guidelines for treating people with a sex offense; criteria for release from incarceration; reductions in supervision, discharge, and progress in treatment; and the applications and review for treatment providers, evaluators and polygraph examiners who provide services for adult sex offenders. The report also spells out other findings regarding opportunities for improvement.
The evaluation of the SOMB provides a good starting point for helping legislators know how earlier legislation has impacted offenders in the state of Colorado.