This edition of the Digest is dedicated to all who have lost their lives in our common struggle.
RSOL Establishes Legal Fund
In response to the recent murders of Gary Blanton and Jerry Ray, and the overwhelming outcry from you, RSOL has created a legal fund. The leadership of RSOL considers this situation to be a crisis and that we cannot wait any longer for other organizations to step forward and save us.
We listen to you, and the message we consistently hear from all across the country is: “I’m just one person. What can I do?” Individually there isn’t a great deal you can do, but if we pool our resources, we can be powerful. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there are more than 700,000 persons listed on sex offender registries nationwide. If only 10% of the total RSO population were to make a one-time donation of $5.00, we would have $350,000.00 for this legal fund.
To donate, go to the RSOL homepage: reformsexoffenderlaws.org
. Scroll down and in the left sideboard, find "Donate." If you have a PayPal account, click on the drop-down menu, choose "legal fund," click the "donate" button, and you will be taken to PayPal. If you prefer to mail a check, the mailing address is given a little further down. Be sure you write "legal fund" on your check. Thank you so very much.
Shocked and incensed by the murders of Gary Blanton and Jerry Ray in Clallam County, WA, on June 3rd, the following press release was issued jointly by RSOL, SOSEN, and W.A.R.
NEWS RELEASE: Blanton and Ray murders emphasize need for policy change
Gary Blanton and Jerry Ray were ambushed and murdered on June 3 in Clallam County, Washington, by Patrick Drum. Having widowed Leslie Blanton and stolen a father from her two sons, the confessed killer said, "It had to be done," and that he had intended to kill even more persons he found on Washington's public sex offender registry.
"These two men were murdered in cold blood because they were required by law to mark themselves as targets for vigilantes," said Paul Shannon, Director of RSOL (Reform Sex Offender Laws). Vicki Henry, Director of W.A.R. (Women Against Registry) elaborated, "Drum's pathological hatred for 'registered sex offenders' has devastated the lives of Blanton's and Ray's families and friends and has sent chills of fear into the hearts of families and friends of another 750,000 registrants across this nation."
Meet Your New Admin Team
In early June the 2012 Committee of Electors completed their assigned task of completing the Admin Team with all nine members. In accordance with the Bylaws, the AT devoted the majority of their next two meetings to designating officers, committee members, and term lengths. We are pleased to share our results with you.
Brenda Jones Executive Director 3 year term
Paul Shannon Chairperson 2 year term
Sandy Rozek Secretary / Corresp. Comm. 1 year term
Dolly Madison Treasurer 3 year term
Robin van der Wall Legal Comm. 2 year term
Jennifer Van Waes Affiliate Coordinator 1 year term
Robert Combs Conference Comm. 1 year term
Jon Cordeiro Planning Comm. 2 year term
Mike Anderson Conference Comm. 3 year term
Our new executive director sends this message:
Dear Fellow Advocates in RSOL:
As mentioned above, I am honored to have been selected as Executive Director on June 19 by the other eight members of our new Admin Team. Three of these members just came on board, having been selected by an electoral committee comprised of affiliate organizers or their appointees, plus representatives from each special project. Each year going forward, three members of the Admin Team will complete their terms, and three more will be sought in their places. Two will be selected by the electoral committee (which ideally has no Admin Team members) and the third by Admin Team nomination. “Retiring” team members can nominate themselves for another 3-year term but would have to be voted in by one process or another.
And this has also been mentioned, but the other BIG decision our new Admin Team made was to launch a new Legal Fund and start raising money for a lawsuit! The exact case is yet to be determined, but the inspiration came from YOUR ideas regarding the double murders in Washington State.
That same meeting was the first open meeting of the Admin Team. We have been announcing the meetings, agendas, and minutes on RSOL’s leadership forum since last year’s conference, but now we’ve moved another step forward toward transparency. Announcements primarily go to organizers, but anyone is welcome to call in, announce him/herself, and listen to our discussions and decisions. If you have a concern or question, there will be opportunities to speak at the beginning and end, and sometimes in the middle!
A little about me: Like most of you, I am out “in the trenches” in this movement, having been Executive Director of Families Advocating Intelligent Registries (FAIR) in Maryland for a little over two years. We have been through two legislative sessions now with NO bad legislation passed and have even managed to get some small improvements through. Our organization has grown from a couple dozen people to over 600, with about 15-25% of that number paying dues, donating, or actively participating in some way.
I have been blessed with excellent advisers during these two years and intend to continue in that tradition in RSOL. Like everyone else in this movement, I am a volunteer leading volunteers. I have a full-time day job and am still lobbying in Maryland. I am going to need lots of help to take RSOL to the “next level.” So… if you have some hours to spare, please contact us at email@example.com and I’ll put you to work.
If you have no time but want to be a part of the new, activist RSOL, please contribute to our legal or general fund. Remember, you do not have to send huge amounts: if enough people give even a small amount, we will have enough funds to fight unconstitutional laws, assist state organizations, and maybe even hire some staff or lobby in DC!
So, let’s get cracking!
Have You Caught the Dream?
Have you registered yet for the RSOL 4th national convention being held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, September 6th - 9th? That is barely two months from now. If you haven't yet, now is a good time; a discounted early registration fee is available up to August 14th. Go to http://reformsexoffenderlaws.org/nc.php
, and everything can be done on-line in minutes. Hear wonderful speakers; attend dynamic and helpful workshops; enjoy the beauty of New Mexico. Join your fellow advocates from all over the country for this can't miss event.
We're Gonna Be on TV!!!
Mark your calendars for Tuesday, July 24, 10 p.m. Eastern Time, 9 Central, and tune in to the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). You can go to http://www.oprah.com/own-our-america-lisa-ling/our-america-blog.html
and use the channel finder for your zip code to determine which channel you should watch. Texas Voices members participated in a documentary filmed and produced by the Lisa Ling "Our America" show. Titled "Labeled for Life," this is a program that no advocate should miss.
Another exciting future film event is in the early planning stages. The filmmaker explains it in his own words:
"My name is Kevin Scott Foley; I am a 'sex offender' registrant, and a guy with a background in video production. I'm currently working on an ambitious project to make the world's first feature-length documentary on our cause for reforming sex offender laws. I'm having a two-week fundraiser on kickstarter.com to raise the money to begin filming. I need to get the message sent out to people who might be able to pledge some money. I believe the time is NOW for this message to be heard nationwide at film festivals and theaters across the country... and there are enough registrants out there now who are willing to put themselves out there and tell their stories."
From Our States
What ATAT can and can’t do.
I receive dozens of calls, letters and E-mails a month from folks that are asking what we can do for them. Many come from prisons throughout the state and around the country, and I am happy to do what I can but our resources are limited. The letters I enjoy the most are those that ask, “What can we do to support the goals of Arkansas Time After Time?” I have some suggestions listed in each of the sections below.
Legal Issues: We are not attorneys and we can not offer legal advice or legal services. However, on request, we can recommend attorneys who have successfully worked on sex offender cases. Our pool of recommendable attorneys is limited to Pulaski and Washington County. If you have had success with a local attorney outside of Little Rock and Fayetteville, please pass along the name and we will promote them as well. After diligent searches we haven’t found any criminal defense attorneys that do pro-bono work on sex offense cases. Nor have we had any luck with our local ACLU; they are overwhelmed and understaffed.
Housing: As you know by now, there is only one halfway house in the state that routinely accepts registered sex offenders on parole form the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Chance Sobriety in North Little Rock is it. Chance Sobriety, 12127 Gabriel Lane, North Little Rock, AR 72118, (501) 851-8484. I have recently identified another Little Rock Transitional Housing Facility that has agreed to consider accepting applications from level 1 and 2 registrants only. Please write me or call for their information.
Another challenge we all face is simple housing in the community. We are now working to develop a list of landlords that will rent to registrants and another list of housing options that are outside of the 2,000 foot exclusion zones for level 3 and 4 registrants. We are developing a plan whereby we work with renters to rent 3 bedroom homes and then sublet individual rooms at an affordable rate. If we can’t find enough housing, we should think outside the box and create it. If you can help us by doing the research in your local communities, we can build a network of sympathetic landlords, trailer parks, apartment complexes or houses that we can share with those who are searching for a simple place to live. Remember, there are registrants of all levels, all over the state that have found comfortable, affordable housing.
Employment: There is no accurate “list” of employers in Pulaski County that hire X-Offenders. If someone tells you they have one, be very, very skeptical. When I was first released to Pulaski County, my well meaning probation officer handed me a 5 page, single spaced list and I thought I’d hit the jackpot. That is until I began calling each number on the list; many had been disconnected because the list was years old; many others said that they used to hire felons in the 90s but not in many years. I realized that any such list was doomed if not updated regularly and they aren’t.
But there is hope. Lewis-Burnett Employment Finders. All they do is help X-Offenders find jobs in Pulaski County and they have been doing this for 25 years, best of all it’s FREE. They have had remarkable success with sex offenders of all levels. Lewis-Burnett Employment Finders Inc., Willie Hinton Resource Center, 3805 West 12th Street, Little Rock, AR 72204, Office: 501-379-1598, Fax: 501-246-8840, E-mail: Darlene here or here.
There are careers that are more accepting of registrants, for example, food service (particularly back of house services cooks dishwashers…) Construction, manufacturing and even call centers have been known to routinely hire registrants. One employer, here in Arkansas that is known to hire registrants is Tyson’s Foods.
Mental Health: Sex offender treatment, counseling and Sex Addiction groups make a big difference in preventing relapse and meeting state parole & probation requirements. There are a couple of first rate mental health providers in Arkansas. The best in Central AR is Art Chupik, 1920 North Main Street, Suite #223, North Little Rock, 72114, (254) 368-9699.
California RSOL was busy in the month of June. We testified before the City of Santa Ana in opposition to an ordinance that bans all registrants from parks as well as public libraries. The ordinance is based upon myths such as a high recidivism rate and stranger danger. We notified the City Council of the recent 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that library bans are a violation of the 1st Amendment and therefore unconstitutional,. Despite that notice, the Council passed the ordinance unanimously. California RSOL continued its monthly educational meetings of registrants and family members in Los Angeles on June 16. The organization will testify at a hearing conducted by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in San Francisco on July 27 and hold a monthly meeting in San Francisco on July 28.
Dakota RSOL has accomplished our goal for the month. Two hundred and fifty letters have been sent to registered sex offenders, and we now have 23 members and continue to grow daily. We are in the process of advertising for an attorney or attorneys to represent us pro-bono as we work on building our legal team. Baby steps are leading forward with progress to look back on.
Wanted: Attorney(s), compassionate, pro-bono for Dakota RSOL families to challenge Constitutional, Human, and Civil Rights violated by current SO Registry Laws. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 605-374-7219
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Georgia RSOL has been busy this month working on getting out our letters for the USSC comment period regarding CP sentencing guidelines.
We have gotten out well over 100 letters to hopefully make an impact on the commission when they meet to discuss possible changes. We also set up a donation drive for Leslie Blanton, wife of Gary Blanton Jr, an RSO who was murdered in Washington State this month along with another man, Jerry Ray, by a vigilante. To date, we have forwarded almost $200.00 to the Blanton family to assist with living expenses. More donations are expected to come in. We received many pledges from inmates at Oakdale FCI who coordinated their own fund-raiser to assist the family.
There are several topics I would like to fill you in on with what is going on with INRSOL and with RSOL National.
1) I have been working on building alliances with organizations to support efforts for registrants and their families to find jobs and housing.
Several people have stepped up and asked me to speak with them or to be a part of their initiatives.
a) I will be attending HHOOT(Indianapolis) re-entry monthly meetings
b) I am in talks with P.A.C.E. leaders for their assistance in re-entry (Indianapolis)
c) I am in communications with It's All Possible in Elkhart for assistance in the northern areas of Indiana
2) INRSOL has joined/affiliated with RESTORE. RESTORE is a support group in Indianapolis for registrants and adult family members. They have invited us to a cook out on July 7th from 5-7 pm. I have attended a couple of RESTORE's meetings, along with my husband. These members are wonderful people, and I encourage any of you seeking a support group to contact me with additional questions or directions/times/dates of the meetings. RESTORE prides itself on keeping anonymity for its members, so any inquiries please make to me.
MCR is preparing for the next legislative session. Even though this will not start until January, 2013, we are hard at work gathering information for the interim hearings which will take place before the session begins. We continue to reach out to those who are affected by the sex offender laws. We encourage them to get their family and friends involved. The task is big, and we need the help of all Missourians.
Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform (CCJR) in NH are currently working on multiple tasks. Because of some clever political positioning, the NH legislature has put the possibility of creating a prison system in NH that is managed and run by a third party corporation. In addition the decision will be made by the five member Governor's Executive Council and not the legislature.
At this point the state has already solicited bids for building and operating the NH prison system. CCJR, Led by Chris Dornin, has helped to build a coalition of 10 partner groups to work to defeat such an action by the Governor's Council.
As part of a new membership drive, the entire NH SO registry is in the process of being made aware of the NH CCJR. They will learn about the website, the mission of CCJR, and how they can help in criminal justice issues that effect them in NH.
In NH it has become apparent that those who have taken plea deals and are required to attend SO Treatment Programs in prison are not getting into treatment in a timely manner because the program is over crowded and has very long delays. Many are serving much longer than their minimum sentences. We are taking action to notify defense and prosecution attorneys that this problem exists. Any person taking a plea under the current system should consider the long term consequences of his or her plea, and we are working to help mitigate this issue through prison channels.
RSOLNM has been focused on two primary missions lately: helping RSOL National to move forward in their goal of becoming more diverse, open, and effective; and preparing for our hosting of the 2012 National Conference. With less than 3 months to go, preparations are kicking into over-drive. We hope to see EVERYONE at the 4h Annual Reform Sex Offender Laws conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, September 6-9!
Oregon Voices continues to be involved with other support groups within the state, specifically CURE, ROAR Alliance, and the Washington County Re-Entry Council (WCRC). Several of our members are making themselves available to attend these meetings, to provide support of our own growing membership, and to continue our outreach to others.
We are gearing up for another legislative session in September, and several of our members are sitting on an interim legislative work group, working for uniformity and fairness regarding registry legislation. We are working to prevent Internet posting of the registry from expanding to all offenders, including juveniles.
One of our top priorities is refining our ability to support new members. We have developed a call system for new members through which contact is made by support personnel with the intent of answering questions, providing resources, and, sometimes, just lending compassionate support. ~written by Amy~