The Adam Walch act is such a waste of money and resources and this bill wants to waste even more!

UPDATE: The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act Reauthorization is legislation introduced again Feb 16, 2017 that will just make a failed system even more expensive and wasteful with no improvement to public safety. It will cause a decrease in public safety, and an increase in suffering to millions of children and family members. These children are already suffering because they have a parent or family member that can not earn a living because of the public registry of former sex offenders listing their home address. These children suffer because all of their potential friends know that they are off limits because school officials make sure that everyone knows that they have a parent on the public registry. These millions of children know all to well "The hateful and hurtful whispers of cruel former friends" (quoting Lauren Book). Even after they graduate from high school the stigma follows them they have great difficulty attending college due the the financial hardship and the stigma and hateful and hurtful whispers, etc, because of the family’s situation and even co-workers treat them differently because they know that their parent or family member is listed on that list of former sex offenders.. Across the United States with 844,000 citizens addresses listed on that public registry there is a loss of more than 20 billion dollars in income tax revenue because of their unemployability and a cost of more than 20 billion in public aid support of their family because their primary breadwinner can no longer find gainful employment. There are many millions of dollars spent on police efforts to keep the registries up to date and to harass the former offenders and to notify all of their neighbors every year and 4 times a year. Well over 40 billion dollars cost to taxpayers and after decades no decrease in the incidence of sex offences, no decrease on the rate of recidivism which has always been the lowest of any crime category at between 1% and 7% depending on which states were examined. And the extremely rare incidence of brutal rape and murder still remains constant at less than .001%, unaffected by the public listing of former sex offenders. With the current laws on the books it is more likely that your child will be put on the public list than that they would ever be touched by someone on the list. 95% of sex crimes are committed by first time offenders that are not on any list. Most likely, children will be sexualy offended by a close relative or by a public official such as a police officer or school teacher or other person who has been trusted. Of the 844,000 on the public registry, less than 5% will ever reoffend. These statistics are backed up by countless research reports from government agencies and scholars. A sample of those reports can be found herehere, and here

Please join the action to stop legislation in it's tracks that would make our nations children more at risk.  Stop the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act Reauthorization of 2017, that would waste another $86 million dollars each year with no benefit to anyone other than those whose pockets it lines.  

Oppose U S House bill  H.R. 1188   seen here

July 27th, 2016 did mark the 35th anniversary of Adam Walsh's abduction and lawmakers wanted to pass this bill before then but failed. Now they have introduced another version of it in 2017. Contact your representatives directly and educate them about how damaging the Adam Walsh Act is. Then do the same for your senators who will most likely see this bill very soon.

Don't accept lawmakers canned responses, demand their direct attention to this issue.

Another WIN for Florida


11th Circuit WIN today in Doe v Miami-Dade (Florida)

A win in the 11th Circuit today! Miami-Dade is infamous for encampments of homeless registrants, permanent housing is very scarce because of residency restrictions. 

Despite national media attention to bad laws that had people living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway--courts haven’t been much help. Now there’s an interesting development. 

A lawsuit filed in Oct 2014 in federal court challenging those residency restrictions had been dismissed. However, today a federal appeals court *reversed* that dismissal and sent it back to the original court for further proceedings. 

Below is the court’s ruling, also a 2014 Miami Herald story for background. 

Congrats to John Doe #1, John Doe #2, John Doe #3 and Florida Action Committee. In addition to the ACLU’s Florida affiliate, this lawsuit is getting help from the ACLU’s national criminal justice project based in NYC. –Bill Dobbs

Doe v Miami-Dade

US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, 1:15-cv-23933

Opinion and order filed Sept. 23, 2016

Miami Herald | Oct. 23, 2014

ACLU sues over rule on where sex offenders can live in Miami-Dade

After years of being shuttled from one homeless location to another, sexual offenders in Miami-Dade got support from the ACLU Thursday, when the agency filed a federal lawsuit arguing against the county’s restrictive rules.


Sex offenders gather in the Shorecrest area off 79th Street in 2012. They have since had to move because a park opened nearby. Walt Michot Miami Herald Staff


For five years, Miami-Dade County’s sex offender law has sparked national headlines, as homeless parolees have been forced to move from street corners to parking lots because of a law that prohibits them from squatting near public spaces where children gather.

Now, the dozens of homeless sex offenders — shuffled from under the Julia Tuttle Causeway to a Shorecrest street corner and finally to a parking lot near train tracks and warehouses just outside Hialeah — have a voice arguing on their behalf.

On Thursday, the national chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal court reasoning that Miami-Dade County and the state Department of Corrections have violated the offenders’ basic rights to personal safety, and to maintain a home.

The suit doesn’t name the ACLU’s clients, referring to them as John Doe 1, 2 and 3.

“It undermines public safety. It’s harder to find a job and maintain treatment. Housing stability is just as critical to these folks as to anyone else,” said Brandon Buskey, staff attorney for the Criminal Law Reform Project at the ACLU in New York City.

But the man behind the controversial county ordinance said no one has the right to demand where they live. Ron Book, the powerhouse state lobbyist and chair of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust, said the courts have upheld the residency restrictions, and the ACLU is simply regurgitating an issue that’s been dealt with.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has said they’re entitled to live places that don’t endanger the health, safety and welfare of law-abiding citizens of the U.S. But they’re entitled to take their $350 to the courthouse,” Book said of the ACLU. “I don’t support those with sexual deviant behavior living in close proximity to where kids are.”

The 22-page lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court’s Southern District, calls the county ordinance vague, says it doesn’t allow sex offenders their due process, and adds that it leaves them in a vulnerable position and unsafe.

“These individuals, who frequently subsist on meager incomes after being released from prison, are unable to locate stable, affordable housing in Miami-Dade County. This transience is primarily because the ordinance arbitrarily renders off-limits broad swaths of housing,” according to the complaint.

Assistant County Attorney Gerald Sanchez said the county won't comment on pending litigation.

At the center of the battle between the ACLU and Miami-Dade is a law approved in 2010 called the Lauren Book Safety Ordinance. Lauren Book, Ron Book’s daughter, was sexually molested by a trusted nanny for six years, starting when she was 11. Lauren Book-Lim, now married and 29, is an advocate for the sexually abused.

The 2010 ordinance was created after nearly 100 offenders were sent scrambling from squalid living conditions under the Julia Tuttle Causeway. The new law doesn’t allow offenders on parole within 2,500 feet of schools, parks, bus stops, or any other place children might congregate. Before the law, Miami-Dade followed a less restrictive state-created 1,000-foot law.

But the county ordinance had unintended consequences: It left sex offenders with few living options and almost immediately became a hot-button issue around the nation, even the world. There’s even a Wikipedia page about it.

Miami-Dade’s sexual offender homelessness issue first came to light in late 2009, when images of 92 homeless sex offenders living in plywood and cardboard sleeping quarters tucked under the Julia Tuttle Causeway at the height of the recession were splashed across TV.

At the time, the county was still following the 1,000-foot state law.

Though the homeless offenders had been living there for about three years, embarrassed officials put up “No Trespassing” signs under one of the main causeways linking Miami and Miami Beach, and tore down the rickety structures. A promise to spend $1 million to find housing for the offenders didn’t solve the problem.

The new, tougher, 2,500-foot ordinance was created mainly because of the Julia Tuttle fiasco.

By 2012, another group of a few dozen showed up at a street corner in Shorecrest, a tiny residential and commercial neighborhood in Miami’s northeast corner. They slept on sidewalks and a median just off busy 79th Street.

That was until Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff opened Little River Pocket Park a couple months later, on a piece of barren city-owned land between some homes that at the time was filled with rusted toys and a metal carport frame. The park was only a few hundred feet from where the offenders called home.

They had to leave again.

Then in the summer of 2013, 54 offenders were ushered out of a trailer park on the outskirts of Allapattah. This time they were living too close to a school for troubled kids called The Miami Bridge Youth and Family Services.

State correction officials said they were unaware the facility was even considered a school when they first ushered the offenders to the trailer park.

So off the offenders went again, this time to a Hialeah-area parking lot at Northwest 71st Street and 36th Court, surrounded by warehouses and train tracks.

There are no bathrooms and there is no electricity. Many sleep without a roof over their heads. Others sleep in cars or in makeshift tents, defecating in a field nearby.

Howard Simon, executive director of the Florida chapter of the ACLU said no entity should be allowed to strip anyone of their basic rights and force them into “dangerous and squalid conditions.”

“This is the second chapter of the same sad story,” he said. “The county provoked international outrage when it forced people to live under the Julia Tuttle bridge. Now it’s forcing people to live alongside railroad tracks.”

IML Action Alert

Forward From:



We are reaching out to all and affiliates to respond the recent State Department notice on implementation of the unique identifier provision of IML.


It was signed by: 

Bureau of Councilor Affairs   

Sen   Senior Advisor David T Donahue 6826     202-647-9584


We request emails, faxes, phone calls etc be sent to the attached individuals to protest this implementation


In ones own words, but the general talking points are as follows:


"I (we) protest the State Department's implementation of International Megans Law (IML) and the specific provision for a unique identifier on American Citizen's passports. The notification provisions and the Passport Identifier marking the passport holder as a registered sex offender puts the lives of American citizens and their families in danger when traveling to foreign countries. As such, those Americans will be designated (by their own government) as unworthy of the protections afforded U.S. Citizens and invite abuses at the hands of foreign governments. So too will their families who accompany them be subjected to mistreatment by foreign governments whose standards may fall below those of the U.S. Reports already confirm American citizens and families have been harassed, threatened, items stolen, and travel plans destroyed by the current Angel Watch alert system.


The passport mark will further identify the holder as a former offender to any who require passports in commerce, such as hotels and banks, who may also use this information as a means to extort or threaten the passport holder.


Neither the notification or the passport mark will serve any role in curbing or curtailing child sexual exploitation as has been noted by leading experts. Instead, it will stifle legitimate travel, split families apart and prevent lawful international business activities.


Statistics indicate, not only a low rate of re offense for former offenders, but that offenses are overwhelming committed by those not on sex offender registries."


Please send protest emails, fax and phone calls to :


U.S. Department of State, Office of Civil Rights (S/OCR)


Tel: (202) 647-9295 or (202) 647-9294  Fax: (202) 647-4969



Deputy Assistant Secretary for Passport Services (CA/PPT)

Deputy Assistant Secretary Brenda Sprague 6826  202-647-9584

Special Assistant Dan Pauly SA-17A 4th FL  202-485-6374

Staff Assistant Zlatko Pasalic SA-17A 4th FL  202-485-6387

Managing Director, Issuance Operations Florence G. Fultz SA-17A 4th FL  202-485-6379

Director, Office of Management Analysis and Coordination William Wood SA-17A 4th FL  202-485-6386

Senior Advisor for International Affairs R. Michael Holly SA-17A 4th FL  202-485-6377

Managing Director, Support Operations Barry J. Conway SA-17A 4th FL  202-485-6372

Director, Office of Program Management and Operational Support Aileen D Smith SA-17A 4th FL  202-485-6547

Acting Director, Office of Planning and Program Support Winnie Fuentes SA-17A 4th FL  202-485-6604

Director, Office of Adjudication Don Simpkins SA-17A 4th FL  202-485-6611

Director, Office of Passport Integrity and Internal Controls Kelly Ozolek-Cella SA-17A 4th FL  202-485-6649

Director, Office of Acceptance Facility Oversight Carmen Marrero SA-17A 4th FL  202-485-6515

Director, Office of Technical Operations Amanda Jones SA-17A  202-485-6511

Director, Office of Passport Legal Affairs and Law Enforcement Liaison Jonathan Rolbin SA-17A 4th FL  202-485-6590

Staff Assistant Sara E Phillips SA-17 4th Floor  202-485-6388

Staff Assistant Carlos M Santamaria SA-17 4th Floor  202-485-6389


Congressional Passport Supervisor Patience Tait SA-17A, Suite 3.200  202-485-8226

Director, Office of Passport Integrity and Internal Controls Kelly Ozolek-Cella SA-17A 4th FL  202-485-6649


Director, Office of Passport Legal Affairs and Law Enforcement Liaison Jonathan Rolbin SA-17A 4th FL


Bureau of Councilor Affairs   

Sen   Senior Advisor David T Donahue 6826     202-647-9584


Tweet John Kerry at @JohnKerry


Contact congress with this link:


State Department Phone Directory

Post-Release Regulations and Sex Offender Recidivism

portmanteau:   port·man·teau    ˌpôrtˈman(t)ō/    noun

Consisting of or combining two or more separable aspects or qualities.

Ascendant:   as·cend·ant   əˈsendənt   adjective

Rising in power or influence.


Portmanteau Ascendant: 

Post-Release Regulations and Sex Offender Recidivism

J.J. Prescott 

University of Michigan Law School

May 2016

Connecticut Law Review, Vol. 48, No. 4, 2016


The purported purpose of sex offender post-release regulations (e.g., community notification and residency restrictions) is the reduction of sex offender recidivism. On their face, these laws seem well-designed and likely to be effective. A simple economic framework of offender behavior can be used to formalize these basic intuitions: in essence, post-release regulations either increase the probability of detection or increase the immediate cost of engaging in the prohibited activity (or both), and so should reduce the likelihood of criminal behavior. These laws aim to incapacitate people outside of prison. Yet, empirical researchers to date have found essentially no reliable evidence that these laws work to reduce sex offender recidivism (despite years and years of effort), and some evidence (and plenty of expert sentiment) suggests that these laws may increase sex offender recidivism. In this Article, I develop a more comprehensive economic model of criminal behavior — or, rather, I present a simple, but complete model — that clarifies that these laws have at best a theoretically ambiguous effect on recidivism levels. First, I argue that the conditions that must hold for these laws to increase the legal and physical costs of returning to sex crime are difficult to satisfy. There are simply too many necessary conditions, some of which are at odds with others. Second, I contend that even when these conditions hold, our intuitions mislead us in this domain by ignoring a critical aspect of criminal deterrence: to be deterred, potential offenders must have something to lose. I conclude that post-release laws are much more likely to succeed if they are combined with robust reintegration efforts to give previously convicted sex offenders a stake in society, and therefore, in eschewing future criminal activity.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 44

Keywords: Sex Offender Laws, Deterrence, Recidivism, Registration, Notification, Portmanteau, Becker, Criminal Law, Residency Restrictions


Is Adam Walsh Still Alive?

On July 27, 1981, six-year old Adam Walsh vanished from a Hollywood, Florida shopping mall. His mother, Reve Walsh, left him unattended for several minutes, and when she returned, he was gone. Two weeks later, Adam’s severed head was found in a canal, and to this day, the rest of his body has never been recovered.

 John Walsh, Adam’s father, went on to champion unsolved crimes in his America’s Most Wanted television program, using his son’s loss as the impetus for his campaign. In 2008, Ottis Toole, a serial killer who died in 1996, was recognized as the man behind the grisly murder.

This is the story we know well, but, everything may not be what it seems. True-crime author Arthur Jay Harris has been following the Adam Walsh case almost since its inception, and he first challenged police’s official statements when he posited that Jeffrey Dahmer, and not Toole, was the likely culprit for the crime. Harris’ evidence included seven witnesses that saw Dahmer at the mall around the time of the disappearance, along with a police report that stated that the infamous killer was living and working a mere 20 minutes away from the Hollywood mall where Adam was abducted from.

Indeed, if you follow Harris’ work with ABC and The Miami Herald, you too may come to the conclusion that police fingered the wrong man. But, that’s not where Harris’ story and investigation ends. As Harris posits in The Unsolved Murder of Adam Walsh, which has turned into a two-book series, Adam Walsh may not have been murdered after all.

What was your conclusion after years of research into the Adam Walsh murder?

After shaking out what police and the medical examiners, and yes, the Walsh family, and the news media have put out about this case, there is only one takeaway that remains true: Adam Walsh disappeared. Everything else you think you know about this case is either absolutely untrue or is so unlikely that it’s essentially untrue.

In short, the evidence against Ottis Toole, who police blamed for Adam’s murder, is between poor and none. Another police suspect, who they dismissed with little inquiry — no less than Jeffrey Dahmer, who at the time was documented living no more than 20 minutes by vehicle from the mall, is a far more likely suspect. Dahmer: 11 severed heads. Adam: severed head. That and seven police witnesses who said they saw Dahmer at the mall at the time with or near Adam, plus Dahmer’s access to the same type and color of van reported by mall witnesses as the getaway vehicle, and a comparison including Dahmer’s mugshot to a police composite drawing from a stunningly similar attempted kidnapping of a child at a nearby location of the same chain store exactly two weeks earlier.

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But I made most of that case years ago, and my evidence was widely reported. What’s new in the case, and no less outrageous, is this: The dead child they said was Adam is overwhelmingly likely not him. And the only reason we could possibly know this is because when police closed the case investigation in 2008, 27 years after the murder, all the official agency case files finally became available, for the asking. Conclusive certainties in homicide cases are startlingly few and I don’t leap to them. But this is certain: In the now nearly 35 years since the homicide, there never could have been a trial, and never will be a trial, against any defendant for the murder of Adam Walsh. That’s not for lack of suspects; it’s because the identification of the found child as Adam can never be proven in court.

Does the lack of a provable ID suggest that Adam wasn’t murdered? Why wasn’t the murdered child verified as Adam?

The medical examiner who made the ID announced it quickly after the child was found, as if it wasn’t much of a disputed issue. It was based on a comparison of Adam’s dental chart, showing a molar with a filling on the cheek side, to the mouth of the found child. That and a visual ID at the morgue by a family friend of the Walshes. Remember, there was no torso so there were no fingerprints, and in 1981 forensic DNA matching wasn’t available. Here’s what should be in the medical examiner’s files: A copy of Adam’s dental chart; Adam’s dental X-rays and X-rays of the mouth of the found child; a forensic dental consultation report, affirming the ID; and a completed, signed autopsy report narrative, since an autopsy was performed. Here’s what’s in the Adam Walsh case medical examiner’s office files: None of that.

Nor is any of it in any other agency’s investigative files. I confirmed that by getting all the files through public records requests, interviews with or questions to heads of all the appropriate agencies, and then a written report of an investigation I requested from the Florida Medical Examiners Commission, a division of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Adam’s dentist didn’t keep any of Adam’s records, either.

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As it turns out, the X-rays, for comparison, are the most significant pieces of evidence missing. I found all the forensic dentists who were working in South Florida in 1981 and were available to do a consultation, or were already under contract with regional M.E.’s offices. All told me they hadn’t been asked, and until I spoke to them had no idea there might have been an issue with the Walsh ID. Both the found child and Adam had a filling in a lower left molar on the buccal, or cheek, side. But it turns out that’s one of the most common places for children to get cavities. Think of how a kid chews gum, or eats candy, and for a moment keeps from swallowing it by putting it between his teeth and cheek. Medical examiners I spoke to said that match was good enough for only a “presumptive ID,” not a “positive ID.” Dental chart matches more often work for adults, who generally have had lots of dental work. Adam only had that one filling, according to what the M.E. who made the ID wrote.

Rather, dental X-rays would have been definitive. A comparison would look at the size, shape, and placement of the filling. But there is no note in the files that Adam’s dental X-rays were even requested. When I asked pediatric dentists whether a 6-year-old, especially who had a filling, would have had X-rays in his file, they said most likely yes.

What about the autopsy report? Why isn’t that there?

State law requires one to be written within 90 days of the autopsy, unless the M.E. is waiting for something like an outside lab report. A cover sheet in the Walsh file shows that an autopsy was done, by whom, when, and where. But, what’s not in the file are the narrative findings — the guts of the report, including a signature.  Did maybe that M.E., Dr. Wright, keep his own copy? It was only the biggest murder case in the county’s history. When I reached him, as soon as I said why I was calling, he hung up on me, nor did he pick up when I called him back or emailed him. Later, when I was working on the story with a reporter from The Miami Herald, I had him call. Here’s the quote we got: “Hmmmm.” That’s it.

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But, I later figured out how to get him on the record. I made another public records request to the Broward M.E. Since the autopsy report had become a public record and they hadn’t been able to supply it to me, I quoted a state statute saying that upon request and if they could find it, they were obliged to restore the document to their file and then provide me a copy. Maybe Dr. Wright would respond to them?  The then-current Chief Broward M.E. wasn’t thrilled at this idea, but after he checked with the County Attorney, he emailed Dr. Wright, who did respond to him. This is what I got after another public records request to the Broward M.E.:

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The remains were found 125 miles north of Hollywood, and were brought to the nearest morgue, in Vero Beach. Vero Beach was still a small town in 1981: The morgue didn’t have a forensic pathologist, trained in autopsies, just a clinical pathologist trained in examining tissue. So when they needed to, the office had an arrangement to send cases to Fort Lauderdale, where Dr. Wright was a big city, well-experienced forensic pathologist. But while the Vero Beach M.E. still had the remains, he did an external examination and wrote about it in a document he titled “Preliminary Autopsy Examination.”

State law is clear on this: an autopsy is defined as a dissection. The Vero Beach M.E. did not cut the body; Dr. Wright did that. That is called an internal examination, and Wright reviewed his findings from that, verbally at least, with the lead detective in the Walsh case, whose notes of their conversation were in the police case file. In addition, the press reported that Dr. Wright performed the autopsy. The state Medical Examiners Commission published guidelines say that the pathologist who dissects the body is responsible for writing the autopsy report. When the MEC investigator agreed with me that there was no report in this case, he said it was too late to consider disciplining Dr. Wright because he was no longer a medical examiner’s office employee.

How did they lose the dental chart?

Adam’s dentist’s office gave it to a Hollywood Police lieutenant who brought it to the Vero Beach Medical Examiner (M.E.), who made and announced the ID. That M.E. told me he filed the document and sent a copy to the Broward M.E. But, the dental chart is missing from all three files. How accidental is that?

This is an outline of what I think may have happened: the Vero Beach M.E., a small-town pathologist not equipped to deal with a situation like this, who admitted to me he wasn’t a dental expert, was under tremendous pressure to make the ID. The found child was of similar age to Adam. All the police present who had seen the remains the evening before and overnight were saying they were something like 99 percent sure it was Adam. Of course, none of them had ever met Adam.

Adam had been missing two weeks, and the search for him had consumed the Hollywood Police Department, whose detectives had been working on it up to 90 hours a week. Plus the Walshes, desperately and effectively, had kept the story at the top of the news for all that time. The collateral damage was that the city got crazy over this, not improperly. So I categorize the Vero Beach M.E.’s positive identification as merely a royal screw-up. If there’s a cover-up, to include the loss of or non-gathering of all those usual identification documents and evidence, I think it came after, when somebody must have realized the positive ID was made too hastily. They might have publicly walked it back, but nobody did that.

The other part is, in my mind, at some early point, the full official records in this case were never intended to see the light of day. That would have been easy enough to maintain; under Florida public records law, all police records are public — unless a case is under “active investigation.” In 1994, a terrific reporter named Jay Grelen challenged Hollywood that the Walsh case, then 13 years without an arrest, wasn’t being actively investigated. (John Walsh did not express the same opinion of Grelen.) In 1996, a Broward County judge agreed with Grelen, by then as co-plaintiff with local news media, and ordered police to make public their case files to that point. But afterward, police continued to insist they were actively investigating the case and continually refused, to me at least, to make public their newer files in the case.

After the 1996 file dump, John Walsh went on a campaign to insist that Adam’s killer was Ottis Toole. He was all over TV and print.

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By 2002, I realized the more-likely connection to Dahmer. After years of reporting, I broke the Dahmer-Adam story at the end of 2006, and in the summer of 2007, ABC Primetime worked with me further on the story.

By the way, not only has John Walsh never spoken to me about my findings, he’s never spoken to anyone I’ve worked with on the story. After in 1997, I got a very loud cold shoulder from him for a magazine story I wrote, I’ve let my editors, producers, or co-reporters solicit comments from him, rather than me do it. In that way I’ve tried to keep a light footprint. Nor had he ever spoken to Jay Grelen, so I don’t think Walsh’s refusal was personal to me.

(ED. NOTE: Uproxx reached out to John Walsh for comment, but we didn’t receive a response.)

Isn’t it possible that the whole story of Adam is so awful that he and his family have simply tried to put it behind them?

I refer to the opening of each new episode of John Walsh’s latest show, The Hunt, in which he introduces himself as the parent of a murdered child. On its website is a promotional video in which a card reads, “In 1981, John Walsh’s 6-year-old son, Adam, was kidnapped and murdered.” I also refer to a story you wrote about him in December 2014 in which he said in public, first reported by The Hollywood Reporter, “People don’t know this, but [police] kept Adam’s severed head in the morgue for 27 years, saying you can’t bury your child because it’s an open capital murder.” By the way, that’s not exactly true. According to notes in the Broward M.E. file, the family apparently got the remains in 2007, a full year before Hollywood Police announced that they closed the case.

I say “apparently” because this is another problem in the Broward M.E. file. It’s morgue procedure to log out remains; usually if not always, the funeral home handling the body signs the log. But in the Adam Walsh case, there is no sign-out signature in either its case file or the office’s general sign-in/sign-out logbook. The current chief medical examiner himself checked that for me. And the remains are now gone, he said. I tried, through state offices in Florida and New York, and the two funeral homes cited in the case file notes, to find out what happened to the remains after they left the Broward M.E. I was not able to get any information. I don’t know where they are buried, (and) I don’t know if they were cremated.

Although the transference of the remains, long by then just a skull, had been in the works for a while, it happened around when a new chief of Hollywood Police took office, which was also just after the ABC Primetime story airing. The new chief reached out to Walsh soon after, according to a letter he wrote that I got in a public records request, and then about a year later came the press conference that officially closed the case on Toole, who was dead and couldn’t therefore be prosecuted. I was at that press conference, but decided just to watch it. In my mind the exercise was in part to dispel the Dahmer theory and to embarrass me, as well as do something that John Walsh would appreciate. But it was actually a huge unexpected favor to me because at last all of the case files were now completely available. Immediately I found there were not just two police witnesses who said they’d seen Dahmer in the mall with or near Adam, but six, and then later, a seventh.

But you also went to the Medical Examiner’s office file.

Until then it hadn’t been a public record, either. And as it turned out, the nucleus of the story was there, not in the police file. When I first got there, I realized the absence of the autopsy report narrative, Adam’s dental chart, and a forensic dental report. I later came to realize the importance of the X-rays. Also on later, close analysis and with the help of other documents, I came to doubt whether Adam’s tooth with the filling was exactly the same molar as in the found child, for whom I was able to get tooth photos of. But the most striking problem was that the found child had what I call a buck tooth.

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You’ll remember that Adam, in his famous and last photo, was especially endearing because he had neither of his top front teeth. At 6, that’s age-appropriate. But I had to determine when that picture had been taken compared to when he disappeared. In his book Tears of Rage, published in 1997, John Walsh wrote:

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First, the kid had two little missing teeth.

From the archive of the newspaper in Hollywood where I had worked long ago, I got a scan of the original photo of Adam that the Walshes had given them on the day he disappeared. The photo is also on the Internet, but the pixel quality from the original is much higher, so I could get a close up that looked this good:

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Researching it further, I came to doubt that the photo had been taken the week before: it was taken by a studio and maybe the Walshes had gotten their prints a week before. I think it might have been taken a month before. But I found the man who, when he was 9, had been best friends with Adam before he disappeared, and he told me that he’d last seen him a week or two before the disappearance, and he’d especially noticed that Adam still had neither top front tooth.

The best last-seen-alive description of Adam is in a teletype Hollywood police sent to another police agency. It reads that Adam’s top left front tooth is “partially grown in.”

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A week, or not much more, before he disappeared, Adam had no top front teeth. Sometime after that, his top left front tooth apparently erupted. Two weeks after his disappearance, the found child, who had been dead for at least some time (the Broward M.E. told the press that it was possibly all two weeks) had a top left front tooth that was in “almost all the way,” in the judgment of a University of Florida forensic anthropologist I spoke to who had taken his own photos of the head as a skull for Hollywood Police years later.

- picture -

Could that work? Could a 6-year-old grow in a top front tooth nearly all the way in a week or not much more than that? I wanted to be definitive. I asked pediatric and forensic dentists and parents of kids who had passed that age. All of them said, most bluntly by one forensic dentist in Hollywood, “There’s no way in hell.”

Didn’t the Walshes ever identify the found child?

In Tears of Rage, Walsh wrote that he had never seen the remains:

“My wife, Reve, and I did not make all of these sacrifices ourselves. There were others who helped carry the burden. We did not respond, for example, to the particular request that I am about to relate. We were spared little over the whole course of events. But we were saved from this, at least. The request was for someone close to us, a friend. A family member would have been ideal, but was judged, ultimately, to be unwise. And so a friend, one who knew us well, went instead.”

The Walshes certainly weren’t at the Vero Beach morgue when the ID was made. They were in New York, where they had just appeared on Good Morning America to ask a national audience for help in looking for their missing son.

It was in the overnight hours when police first called them, at their hotel, and said that a dead child had been found the evening before. They didn’t know it was Adam, but at least to themselves, they felt pretty sure. I spoke to the show producer who told me she immediately offered to return the couple to Florida on the first flight out, but John turned it down. I also spoke to the show host, David Hartman, who told me he’d later offered the same thing. Instead, they went on the show that morning; Mrs. Walsh looked catatonic and said nothing. On air, John said this:

“Well, amongst many sightings and reported possible clues on Adam they have found the remains of a young person in Florida that at this time they are trying to identify whether it is Adam or not. At this point they feel there is a good possibility it is not Adam. Therefore they felt we should come on and carry the word of Adam to the public because there is a good likelihood that he is still out there with his abductors.”

Three hours later came the word that it was. But John may have been right the whole time. Also in his book, Walsh wrote that his friend, John Monahan, who was at the morgue for them, did not immediately recognize the child as Adam. He made the ID only after he asked the M.E. to open the mouth and he saw a “small, emerging tooth.” This is elaborated on nowhere in the official files or in Walsh’s writing or interviews over the years.

Do you have any idea, then, who the dead child is?

No. None at all, and I searched through missing persons databases, but they aren’t very comprehensive for so long ago. Maybe this story will bring some leads. And maybe some hope for the family of that child. That will be hard, too, especially if there are leads to more than one child. And I want to say that I could be wrong that the child is not Adam. But I think the evidence shows I am much more than likely right.

If I’m right, the net result of all this is that an incredibly awful child killer got away with this murder unprosecuted and never blamed; some family has never had resolution for the death of their child; the local police have not been much interested in this; the trusting public has been misled; and, therefore, the disappearance of the child whose born name was Adam Walsh has never been resolved.

Do you have any reason to believe that Adam is actually alive?

Yes. But, here my already dark story risks going into Bizarroville. My Book Two of The Unsolved Murder of Adam Walsh is all about my attempt to check the claim of a man who approached me now six years ago who said he was Adam Walsh — under a different name, of course, and grown up with a different family.

After only a moment of pause, I felt compelled to speak to him. His story was beyond belief and I thought totally unprovable. To get rid of him with a clear conscience, and because it seemed easier, I tried to prove his story wrong. That’s when I went to the medical examiner’s office to check the specifics of the ID of the found child as Adam. I said that would prove him wrong. He said I would find a misidentification. What I discovered was there was no autopsy report or any of the other missing documentation. How could he have known there was a problem?

I realized then I would need to spend some time on this. I did everything I could think of. I had a fortunate connection elsewhere in the story to the man who had been Adam’s best friend. This man who said he was Adam knew all sorts of specific things that only old friends can know about each other — and that he could not have gotten from the Internet or elsewhere. I basically said, “Sheesh!”

Since you can’t say for sure he isn’t Adam, can you say for sure he is?

No. And I tried.

Has he ever spoken to the Walsh family?

No. And he tried. He did meet with Hollywood Police, for maybe an hour. They were polite to him, but did nothing, wrote no report, took no saliva swabs for DNA, no fingerprints.

Did you?

Yes. To compare to his, I got scans of latent fingerprints police had lifted from Adam’s bedroom in 1981, but their original quality wasn’t very good. And I had Mrs. Walsh’s 22-years-later mitochondrial DNA test results to compare to, which I also got from police. Yes, 22 years after the declaration that the child was Adam Walsh, which had never been at least publicly disputed, there was a DNA test in part to determine whether it was so, and that test had never been made public until the Miami Herald reporter I was then working with and I realized it existed and we asked for it.

The summary report said Mrs. Walsh’s sample results were “consistent with” DNA taken from a ground tooth from the found child. Except that, as the NFL refs say, upon further review, and with a lot of help from DNA experts, the call on the field needed to be overturned. Lab controls showed that those test results were contaminated and therefore had no comparative value whatsoever. In Book Two, I spent a whole chapter explaining all of that.

One last point was that the money for the test came not from any local police agency, although they assisted with the collection of evidence. It was paid for from federal funds given to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which was originally created as the Adam Walsh Center. One of their founding board members, and still sitting, is — Mrs. Walsh.

Now to you, personally. Why do this? Why spend so much effort on such an old case? The Walshes seem satisfied with the conclusion, even if flawed. Both Dahmer and Toole are dead and can’t be prosecuted.

Because ultimately it’s not about the Walsh family, or Jeffrey Dahmer or Ottis Toole. Or even a conviction. In all of my books and other crime journalism, I’m fascinated by seeing the process of how cases get resolved — or not. In the past few years, so much cellphone video of police shootings has tended to disagree with police-written narratives of the same events. Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but my books are a hundred thousand words, illustrating as large a picture as I can present from resources I can obtain.

All of my stories go deep, and they all reveal serious errors in police investigations. They’re easy to hide — who does the kind of work I do, not paid by any party to the case? I found in these cases that police come to early conclusions and despite later evidence, just don’t change their presumptions. As for me, I continually challenge what I thought I knew, to whatever point, and think, have I been wrong? Not to mention, how did I miss that until now? I can do that because I’m not paid to have cognitive dissonance, to make sure that all the evidence points in one direction and not another. I have no interest in forcing the evidence, just to collect all that I can.

I’m not anti-cop, pro-victim, pro-defense, any ideology like that. I just want to see resolutions that closely match the facts. I start with law enforcement’s facts, from their records, then I do my own investigation. I’m not former police, not an attorney, not a former crime victim, not even particularly a mystery reader fan, though my mom was. I’m just a pretty inquisitive journalist, and to me, these are the best stories to write about.

This story, as in all my others, kept leading in directions I couldn’t have anticipated. After a while you realize you’re following a path to something — when a story path speaks to you like this, you feel obliged to listen, to follow. It’s telling you where to go. It’s the rarest of all story experiences. You can’t just abandon the path before you’ve turned over every stone you can.

These stories also make me more empathetic. If that child isn’t Adam Walsh, can you imagine being the family that’s been looking for their small child since 1981 or before? And if that man is actually Adam Walsh, and I think he is, can you imagine what it’s like being him? Short of losing your life or consciousness, what’s worse than having your identity taken from you?

Like I said, I could be wrong about him. It should be easy to tell, with the cooperation of the police and the Walsh family. Maybe I’m full of shit and he’s not Adam. The Walshes don’t have to meet him before any comparison testing. But as someone in the story said to me, even if there’s a half of a half of a half a percent chance that he’s their son, wouldn’t any family want to know?



The original report at the following link includes all of the pictures and reference links that are missing in the above report.


Studies have found that 95% of all sex crimes are committed by people that have never been convicted of a former sex crime and so they are not on any registry. 

Government studies have found that the recidivism rates for former sex offenders is as low as 1% in some states and only as high as 7% in the other states. See Yet nearly 100% of the families living at registered addresses suffer inhumane treatment from the public.

Since the public registry went nationwide many more sex crimes go unreported than before.  No matter how bad the sexual abuse by a family member is to endure, no one wants the stigma to forever attach to their entire family that will happen if just one family member gets put on the public registry.

To put the frequency of occurrence of a child abduction/murder incident in perspective consider the following.


From saen:

According to the United States Census (2012 estimates), the U.S. population in 2012 was 313,800,000, of which 23.5% were under the age of 18, or approximately 74,000,000 children in the United States.

       Finkelhor, Hammer & Sedlak [Finkelhor, D., Hammer, H., & Sedlak, A. J. (2002). Nonfamily Abducted Children: Washington, DC:OJJDP-U.S. Dept. of Justice.], cited data from the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Run Away and Thrown Away Children in 1999, revealing that of the 800,000 children reported missing in 1999, only 115 cases (.014%) involved stranger child abductions. Of these 115, 57 children were murdered or not recovered. Sexual assault occurred in approximately half of these stranger child abductions.

       Based on this data, and given a U.S. Population of 74,000,000 children, the likelihood of a child being a victim of this type of crime is less than 1 in a million.

       By comparison, over 1,600 children a year die as a result of neglect and non-sexual abuse, at the hands of their caretakers (source:

       Additional findings by Sandler, Freeman & Socia [Sandler, J. C., Freeman, N. J., & Socia, K. M. (2008). Does a watched pot boil? A time-series analysis of New York State’s sex offender registration and notification law. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 14(4), 284–302. doi:10.1037/a0013881] show that only 5% of sex offenses are committed by a recidivist. When combined with the rate of stranger assaults being around 7%, the likelihood that any given sexual assault against a child was committed by a stranger recidivist is less than one half of 1 percent or (.35%). Applying that rate (.35%) to the number of abducted/raped/murdered children per year (57), the likelihood of a child being abducted, raped and murdered by a recidivist stranger is 1 in 200 million.

By the way, that is one child in the US every 5 years a victim to a stranger recidivist, compared to 8000 that die in the same period at the hands of  their caretakers that are not on any registry.

The registry has not reduced the occurrence of any of these incidences. 

I would feel that my kids are safer with someone on the registry for a one time offence, who has served their time and is trying to put their life back together than with someone trusted with their care at a daycare or school or police station or DCFS.  But I would never feel they are safe with an already repeat hands-on offender that there are very few living outside of prison.

It is like comparing elephants to flees, not apples to oranges.

The few hundred worst of the worst repeat sex offenders are nothing like the majority of the 880,000 on the registries of former sex offenders in the united states.

The claim "if it only protects one child it is worth the suffering of millions of children and family members of registrants" is the claim of the likes of Hitler in nazi Germany.  No one should want to be associated with him.

 P.S. Just in, see also:

Why the 'Pokémon Go' Ban on Sex Offenders Makes No Sense

Last last month, two state senators in New York—Jeffrey Klein and Diane Savino—issued a report laying out an apparently scary set of numbers. In New York City, Pokémon from Pokémon Go were spotted in front of the homes of 57 people on the state sex registry. Fifty-nine Poké gyms or Pokéstops and 73 other Pokémon items were within a half-block of a registrant's residence.

To be clear, there have been no reports of Pokémon-related sex crimes. The senators' document does cite the case of a man on Indiana's sex registry who was found playingPokémon Go near where a 16-year-old boy also was playing. In another case in Arizona, the game developers put a Pokéstop at a historic hotel that has since been turned into a halfway house for 43 men on the state registry.

That was convincing enough for New York governor Andrew Cuomo to issue an orderbanning sex offenders on parole from playing Pokémon Go this week. On Wednesday, Klein, Savino, and additional senators introduced state bills that, among other things, would ban game developers from putting "in-game objectives" within a hundred feet of the home of a registrant.

Why target those with a sex crime on their record? A spokesperson for Klein's office told VICE this is because of the "very high" recidivism rates of sex offenders compared with other criminals, citing data from a report that Klein co-authored last year. That document notes a re-arrest rate of 48 percent within eight years for those on New York's sex registry, based on 2007 state data.

But that re-arrest rate includes charges for any crime—not just sex offenses, the target of the legislation. And it confirms a fact that recidivism researchers have long known: When sex offenders do commit another crime, it's far more likely to be a non-sexual one.

If anything, the data indicates that sex offenders' re-offense rates for other crimes are likely lower, not higher. A 2010 New York State report found that the state's offenders for all crimes had a three-year reconviction rate (a recidivism standard that should produce much lower numbers) of 42 percent.

More important, state figures show that people on the sex-offense registry have relatively low rates of reoffending for sex crimes. A 2007 state government report—the latest data available—cites a new sex crime re-arrest rate among registrants of 11 percent. And on the federal level, it's even lower: In perhaps the largest recidivism study, the US Department of Justice reported a three-year sex offender reconviction rate of 3.5 percent.

In a statement to VICE, Klein's office responded to this by saying: "We are being proactive in taking legislative steps to protect even one child enjoying this game from being hurt by a pedophile." (Governor Cuomo's office didn't respond to a request for comment, and Savino's office referred requests to Klein.)

For one thing, committing a sex-related crime does not necessarily make someone a pedophile. In recent years, people have been put on sex-offender registries forconsensual sexstreaking, and public urination. But more notably, legislators' imperviousness to the data is part of the reason America's sex-offender laws have increasingly grown in number and complexity since the mid 90s.

In the run-up to passage of the 1996 Megan's Law, for example, Republican representative Jennifer Dunn asserted on the House floor that "the rate of recidivism for [child sex] crimes is astronomical because these people are compulsive." In the Senate, Texas senator Kay Bailey Hutchison asserted, "The repeat crime rate for sex offenders is estimated to be as much as ten times higher than the recidivism rate of other criminals."

And in a floor debate in 2005 over the Adam Walsh Act, Florida Republican representative Mark Foley (soon to resign for sending sexual messages to underage House pages) said, "There is a 90 percent likelihood of recidivism for sexual crimes against children. Ninety percent... that is their record."

None of those statements had any research basis. But those declarations and others have fueled the sex-crime policies that have come in since the mid 1990s—from sex registries to bans on offenders living near schools to laws prohibiting registrants from participating in Halloween. Since these restrictions were built on the faulty premise that sex offenders have high re-offense rates, it's unsurprising that they've done basically nothing to prevent new sex crimes.

For example, a meta-analysis of 20 years of research in the Journal of Crime and Justice noted that none of the six studies on registries conducted between 1995 and 2011 found that the registries lowered recidivism. Similarly, none of the eight studies between 2003 and 2012 of bans on where registrants can live found that they had any effect on sex crime rates or recidivism, according to a US Department of Justicesummary.

And a 2009 study of the impact of Halloween Laws on sex crimes found no increased rate of sex crimes on Halloween. "These findings raise questions about the wisdom of diverting law enforcement resources to attend to a problem that does not appear to exist," the researchers drily noted.

If the same is said someday about a new Poké law, there will be a good reason: The vast majority of sex crimes are committed by first-time offenders. In a 2007 study, the Minnesota Department of Corrections reported that about 98 percent of its 10,600 sex crimes between 1990 and 2005 were by people never before convicted.

So while there's no evidence of Poké-predator problem, even if there were, a gaming law couldn't deter most new sex crimes.

One expert on sexual violence expert says bills like New York's make a classic mistake. "This is another bill based on the concept of 'stranger danger,' which the research shows comprises a very small portion of sex crimes against children," said Katie Gotch, an Oregon-based sexual behavior treatment provider who is a national co-chair of theNational Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence, in an interview with VICE. "The majority of sexual abuse perpetrated against children is by someone the victim knows."

A Defender Office for Supreme Court Advocacy?

An “independent federal public defender office charged with representing poor defendants before the United States Supreme Court” is necessary to fill gaps in legal services to the poor and “better balance the scales of justice between the government and the defendants,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said earlier this month.

Booker introduced the Clarence Gideon Full Access to Justice Act, S. 3144, July 7, which would create the Defender Office for Supreme Court Advocacy. The office would monitor, file briefs in, and possibly argue on behalf of defendants in criminal cases at the high court, Booker said in introductory remarks.

The proposed office is largely modeled after the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office, which represents the federal government at the Supreme Court, Booker spokeswoman Monique Waters told Bloomberg BNA.

That creates a “structural imbalance” between the government and criminal defendants that the proposed Defender Office is intended to address, Waters said.

The government is represented by “a small cadre of lawyers from the Solicitor General’s Office dedicated solely to Supreme Court litigation,” Booker said in his introductory remarks.

But public defenders currently lack a similar office.

“Without counsel trained and experienced in Supreme Court advocacy, the likelihood that cases are decided against criminal defendants increases,” Booker said.

Justice Elena Kagan has spoken about the lack of Supreme Court experience among criminal defense attorneys.

“[C]ase in and case out, the category of litigant who is not getting great representation at the Supreme Court are criminal defendants,” Kagan said in 2013.

She blamed that, in part, on criminal defense attorneys refusing to hand over their cases to Supreme Court experts.

“Appellate advocacy is hard and it takes a lot of skill and a lot of experience.” Often criminal defendants are represented in the Supreme Court by whomever was the trial counsel, Kagan said.

Getting these cases instead into the hands of a Supreme Court specialist would be an “enormous help to the system,” she said.

The federal Defender Services currently has a program, the Supreme Court Advocacy Program, to attempt to address some of these problems.

The Defender Services partners with Sidley Austin LLP to provide federal defender staff and private appointed attorneys with “a range of services, such as arranging moots, performing legal research, providing substantive and strategic advice, or editing and writing drafts of merits briefs,” according to its website.

But Jeffrey T. Green, who runs the program at Sidley, told Bloomberg BNA in an e-mail that he agrees with Kagan.

One of the principal difficulties is that “attorneys don’t like to give up what they perceive to be a ‘golden opportunity,’ ” Green said.

Still, because “the Court works so hard to get questions right,” Green said he doesn’t “think the failure to turn over cases is outcome-determinative in all but a handful of cases.”

However, “because these cases have lots of collateral effects — the shape, tenor, and scope of the debate really matter.”

There “should be a defense counter-weight to the Solicitor General’s office in criminal cases before the Court,” Green said.

Many of the functions described in Booker’s bill “are now performed by volunteers who are spending nights and weekends trying to help out because it is the right thing to do,” Green said.

“Formalizing and funding those efforts would also be the right thing to do.”

But Green said he’s uncertain if the current structure of the Defender Office for Supreme Court Advocacy — modeled after the Solicitor General’s Office — is the best way to achieve the counter-weight.

Notably, the proposed Defender Office for Supreme Court Advocacy would be organized as a federal corporation rather than as part of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, like the federal Defender Services is.

Waters said that the organization of the new office was intentional.

“Like the Office of the Solicitor General (which is located in the executive branch of government), Sen. Booker wanted to create an office to advocate for criminal defendants that was independent of the judicial branch,” Waters said.

“That would help boost the credibility of the office to the Supreme Court,” she said.

“In contrast, by placing the Office in the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, which is located in the judicial branch, you lose some independence,” Waters said.

A spokesman for the AO said the office had “just learned of this legislation and is reviewing it.”

“Ultimately it would be up to the Judicial Conference, the federal judiciary’s policy-making body, to determine whether to take a position, and if so, what that position would be,” Charles W. Hall, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Washington, told Bloomberg BNA in an e-mail.

The Gideon Act — named after the landmark Supreme Court case that first recognized a Sixth Amendment right to counsel in a criminal case, Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963) — was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary on July 7.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at and Jeffrey D. Koelemay at

Registrants International Family Petitions Group

There is a new group forming especially for those registrants that have filed petitions with USCIS to bring a loved one to the united states.  Currently the policy of USCIS is to deny any petition that is filed by a registrant unless they can prove beyond a doubt that they are no risk to the beneficiary of the petition.  As it is impossible to prove that any person is of no risk, it is even more difficult for a former sex offender to prove it even if it is true.  Many have tried and failed and as I understand it a few have been successful. This is a discussion group for those registrants who are trying and for those that have had past success or failures, to talk about what works and what does not work.  I encourage registrants that are in or have been in this situation to please join this group by clicking the link below.

Registrants International Family Petitions Group 

Challenge to SORNA retroactivity reaches Pennsylvania Supreme Court

In the last few years, Pennsylvania’s courts have taken an active role in defining the propriety and scope of the state’s sex offender registration program. Following on the heels of a December 2014 decision striking down sex offender registration for juveniles, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently agreed to hear a sweeping challenge to the retroactive application of Pennsylvania’s adult sex offender registry. The new law, generally referred to as SORNA (Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act), took effect on December 20, 2012 as part of an effort to comply with the federal laws governing sex offenders. SORNA replaced a more lenient registration scheme where the majority of people convicted of sexual crimes had to register for only ten years. SORNA changed the paradigm and drastically increased the number of people included on the registry, the time periods for which they would have to register, and the number of things they have to report. Of the close to 19,500 people on the registry today, roughly three quarters have to register for the rest of their lives without any chance of removal.

In addition to making most offenders lifetime registrants, SORNA reclassified thousands of people who were ten year registrants under the old law and retroactively increased their terms of registration – in most instances to life. Hundreds of registrants sued, raising a number of different challenges to the law. Until now, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has refused to get involved.

On April 22, 2016, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court accepted review in, Commonwealth v. Muniz, Commonwealth v. Gilbert,and Commonwealth v. Reed. The cases raise both state and federal challenges. First among several of the most compelling claims, the appellants seek a ruling that SORNA is punitive, not civil, and therefore cannot be applied retroactively under the Ex Post Facto Clauses of the United States and Pennsylvania Constitution. The United States Supreme Court in a 2003 ruling, Smith v. Doe, 538 U.S. 84 (2003), held that Alaska’s registry was designed to protect public safety, and was not so burdensome so as to constitute punishment. Because the Ex Post Facto clause applies to punishment only, retroactively requiring people to register was therefore acceptable under the Federal Constitution. But many state supreme courts are reviewing registration laws under their own constitutions, often with different results. SORNA, like those laws truck down in Ohio, Indiana, Maryland, and elsewhere, is much broader and harsher than the Alaska law at issue in Smith. The appellants hope that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agrees and declares the law punitive thereby invalidating the retroactive increases in registration.

The appellants also raise intriguing procedural due process challenges, particularly under the Pennsylvania Constitution. Under another United States Supreme Court case, Connecticut Department of Public Safety v. Doe, 538 U.S. 1 (2003), the Court held that because Connecticut’s law sent no message beyond that registration attaches to particular convictions, the trial process itself afforded sufficient due process. That is not the case in Pennsylvania. SORNA, as specified by statute, declares that registrants are highly likely to recidivise sexually, and are therefore dangerous. However, not only do those convicted of sexual offenses tend to be one of the least likely populations to commit another offense generally, Pennsylvania does not allow a registrant to show he or she is a low risk for reoffending and that question is not at issue during a trial on the underlying offense. To make a public finding that an individual is dangerous, but failing to provide an opportunity to challenge that determination, the appellants believe the fundamental tenets of notice and opportunity to be heard are denied.

This due process concern is amplified in Pennsylvania because unlike the Federal Constitution, Pennsylvania’s Constitution includes reputation as a fundamental right. The appellants have latched onto the added protections of this clause and raised a version of due process called the irrebutable presumption doctrine. The doctrine provides that if a state denies a person or group a right based upon a particular presumption, the presumption must be universally true and there must be no reasonable alternatives available to determine the classification. In plain language, the appellants argue that SORNA denies a person their right to reputation by presuming that a conviction for an enumerated offense means they are likely to sexually recidivise. However, that presumption is not universally true because many offenders are not high risks to recidivise, and there are science based risk assessment tools that are capable of making these assessments, i.e., reasonable alternatives.

The court also accepted many other claims, so it obviously wants to put the issue to rest. On which side of the bed it ultimately settles is currently difficult to guess. A decision is likely expected sometime in early 2017.


compliance check survey

If you have experienced a compliance check then here is a survey to tell about your experience.  This survey is not being conducted by WAR.  It seems to be anonymous. 

New Proposed SORNA Supplemental Guideline re: Juvenile Registration

Hi, all—

After a tremendous amount of work over the last few years, including the publication of our SMART Summary: Prosecution, Transfer, and Prosecution of Serious Juvenile Sex Offenders last year, today we have posted and opened for comment a new Proposed SORNA Supplemental Guideline which addresses the registration of juvenile offenders. You can find the new proposed supplemental guideline here: Proposed Supplemental Guideline.

Put very briefly, this new proposed supplemental guideline, if adopted, would allow our office to look at the totality of a state’s system for handling serious sex offenders who are under the age of 18 at the time of the offense. In other words, having a discretionary—or otherwise fairly limited—registration system for juveniles will no longer necessarily result in a finding that a jurisdiction has not substantially implemented SORNA’s juvenile registration provisions.

I encourage you to review and circulate the proposed supplemental guideline, and to provide any comments that you wish through the official channels indicated. The link to submit electronic comments via has not yet gone live, but should do so within the next 24-48 hours. As someone who has been through this process multiple times over the years, I can assure you that we review every submitted comment, and they are reviewed by higher-ups in the Department, as well.

If you have any questions, please email me. As you can imagine, we expect that we might get a fairly high volume of folks contacting us this week, and half of our (already small) policy team is on travel this week. 

I will respond, as quickly as I am able. Thanks!

Lori McPherson

Senior Policy Advisor

SMART Office


post comments via begining 4/13/2016 if not sooner.

Illinois Law Requiring Sex Offenders To Report All Internet Activity Violates Free Speech Rights

With the goal of keeping tabs on sex offenders, the state of Illinois has veered way off course. Its offender registration statute requires individuals to report every nook and cranny of their online activities to law enforcement—or face jail time. Every Internet site they visit, every online retailer account they create, and every news story comment they post must be reported to police.

EFF and the ACLU of Illinois today asked the Illinois Supreme Court to strike down these onerous requirements of the state’s Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA). The rules violate free speech rights guaranteed to all people—even unpopular people—under the Constitution.

The law was challenged by a Normal, Illinois, man who served 12 months of probation for a misdemeanor offense he committed as a juvenile. Several years later he was arrested and charged with a felony punishable by a year in prison because he failed to report to police a Facebook account to which he uploaded a photo. An Illinois judge last year correctly ruled that the online speech requirements of SORA were overbroad and unconstitutional. He noted that SORA has absolutely no limitation on the type of speech or communication offenders are required to report, and disregards whether the speech being targeted “is in any way related to” the purpose of the statute—which is to deter sexual offenses. The state has appealed the decision.

No one, not even sex offenders, should be forced to report every aspect of his or her online life to law enforcement or be prevented from speaking anonymously on the Internet. Illinois’ law requires reporting of all email addresses, usernames, and websites used, and law enforcement must make that information available to the public. Participating in political discussion groups, banking online or posting a restaurant review has no nexus with police enforcement of sex offender laws. Compelling individuals to turn over this information imposes severe burdens on speech that go way beyond what’s needed for the state to ensure sex offenders don’t offend again. As Illinois Judge Robert Freitag said in his ruling last year (citing a court that struck down a Nebraska law very similar to Illinois’), such online speech reporting rules clearly chill offenders “from engaging in expressive activity that is otherwise perfectly proper.”

EFF and ACLU in 2012 successfully challenged a state ballot measure aimed at combating human trafficking that restricted the legal and constitutionally protected speech of all registered sex offenders in California. We argued that requiring registrants to turn over their online identifiers doesn't fight trafficking but rather creates a dangerous slippery slope, stoking law enforcement’s desire for accessing more and more personal data online. A district court ruling blocking enforcement of the measure was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and California chose not to appeal the case to the Supreme Court

In the Illinois case, state officials make the argument that no website is “unrelated” to the purpose of its sex offender registration law, and any physical location in which the public may encounter a sex offender is relevant to police investigations of those offenders. By that logic, sex offenders should be required to report their every move—when they take a bus, go to the post office, shop at the grocery store, or attend a meeting. The law doesn’t force offenders to report to police every place they come in contact with the public, nor should it force them to disclose everywhere they go online. That’s not just wrong, it’s unconstitutional.

ACLU of Illinois, EFF ask state supreme to strike down limits on free speech in cumbersome sex offender laws

CHICAGO – The ACLU of Illinois, joined by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, today asked the state supreme court to strike down the “incredibly broad scope” of limitations contained in the state’s sex offender registry laws. The amicus brief was filed in the case of Mark Minnis, a young man from downstate Normal who served a 12-month probation for a misdemeanor offense, which he completed. Though years have passed, Mr. Minnis still is forced to navigate a series of onerous and cumbersome requirements under the State’s Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA).

Mr. Minnis was targeted by law enforcement officials because he failed to provide the account information for a Facebook account to which he had uploaded a photograph. Mr. Minnis did provide the information for two personal email accounts. A state circuit court dismissed the charges, finding that the Illinois law “clearly chills offenders from engaging in expressive activity that is otherwise perfectly proper.”

“We encourage the state supreme court to take a close look not only at the facts in this case, but at the impact that these laws have on the legitimate free speech rights of many Illinois residents,” said Rebecca Glenberg, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Illinois. “Under the current law, Mr. Minnis and countless others who made bad decisions as teens sacrifice all freedom to anonymous speech on the internet.”

“The Illinois law is overbroad in the amount of speech that is regulated and the number of people who are regulated.”

The two civil liberties groups’ amicus brief filed today notes that such laws are not even justifiable as effective, since sex offenders are highly unlikely to commit a new offense using the internet, and that juvenile offenders (like Mr. Minnis) are particularly unlikely to re-offend since their offenses typically reflect the poor impulse control of an incompletely developed brain. Yet, the Illinois law burdens and limits many types of speech on the internet.

“Illinois’ SORA is an overbroad statute that imposes jail time on a sex offender who doesn’t report to law enforcement that he has written an online letter to the editor, posted a political comment, or researched health information. This infringement on speech and regulation of Internet expression far exceeds, and in fact has little to do with, the state’s interest in deterring sexual offenses,” said Sophia Cope, Staff Attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

For example, someone subjected to these rules could not engage in any anonymous speech on the internet, despite the fact that anonymous speech has played a critical role in political and societal discourse throughout our nation’s history. The rules also substantially burden religious speech and political speech of other types, even though these areas of discussion have no relevance to the State’s legitimate purpose of attempting to stop recidivism among sex offenders.

“These burdens on speech are just one of the myriad of challenges faced by someone convicted of a whole array of sex-related offenses – even as a youth,” added the ACLU’s Glenberg. “We have built a complex system that severely limits where people can live, where they can work and with whom they interact.”

“Courts around the country have found similar reporting requirements to be unconstitutional, as they severely burden virtually all online speech with only a tenuous connection to law enforcement’s interest in protecting the public from crime. We are joining the ACLU in urging the Illinois Supreme Court to come to the same conclusion about SORA,” said Adam Schwartz, EFF Senior Staff Attorney.

Unanimous Supreme Court sides with sex offender in registry dispute

Supreme Court sides with sex offender in registry dispute.

Make special note of the use of the word "punishment" in the courts order.

By Lydia Wheeler - 04/04/16 11:40 AM EDT

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday that registered sex offenders do not have to update their status on a state registry when they move out of the country.

In an 8-0 decision, the justices said a straightforward reading of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act did not require Lester Nichols to notify Kansas that he moved to the Philippines in November 2012.

The case, however, will have little impact since Congress recently passed legislation that requires sex offenders to notify the government when they leave the U.S.

“Our interpretation of the SORNA provisions at issue in this case in no way means that sex offenders will be able to escape punishment for leaving the United States without notifying the jurisdictions in which they lived while in this country,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the court’s opinion. “Congress has recently criminalized the 'knowing failure to provide information required by SORNA relating to intended travel in foreign commerce.'"

Alito wrote that federal law now requires registered sex offenders to report their anticipated dates and places of departure, arrival or return; their carrier and flight numbers for air travel; destination country and address or other contact information while there. 

“Both parties agree that the new law captures Nichols’s conduct,” he said.


The Failure to Speak Up Against the Nazis - history repeats itself

“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”

Martin Niemoeller

Today can it be rewritten?

First they came for the former sex offenders, but I was not a former sex offender so I did not speak out.  Then they came for the former arsonists but I was not a former arsonist so I did not speak out.  Then they came for the meth producers but I was not a meth producer so I did not speak out.  Then they came for the animal abusers but I was not an animal abuser so I did not speak out. Then they came for the financial thiefs, but I was not a financial thief so I did not speak out.  Then they came for the drunk drivers, but I was not a drunk driver so I did not speak out.  Then they came for thieves but I was not a thief so I did not speak out.  Then they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me."  

In addition to the 50 states that publicly shame sex offenders, five states including California require registration for arson. Minnesota, Illinois and six others maintain lists of methamphetamine producers. In Indiana, a public website lets visitors use Google Maps to find the location of homes that have been used as meth laboratories. Tennessee requires registration for animal abuse— something nine other state legislatures are debating. Florida law requires registration by anyone convicted of a felony of any kind for up to five years after completing the sentence.

And now Utah is publicly shaming financial thieves. Read more about it here.

International Megan’s Law: America’s Global Embarrassment

What sounds like a good law in a twenty-second sound bite sometimes turns out to be less clear when one digs below the surface. Such is the case with International Megan’s Law, which President Obama recently signed into law. International Megan’s Law requires those who committed a sex offense against a child to have a permanent stamp placed on their passport. While this may sound like a no-brainer if we consider the media’s portrayal of the sexual predator, reality is far more complicated.

International Megan’s Law means a teenager who was convicted of distributing child pornography for sexting with her boyfriend may not be allowed to do a semester abroad in college. A budding architect who plead no contest to child molestation for having sex with his freshman girlfriend when he was a high school senior may never be able to marvel at the Grand Pyramids. A father may not be permitted to cheer on his daughter as she competes for her country in the Olympics because he touched a 12-year-old boy over the clothes some thirty years ago and has remained law abiding ever since.

The stated rationale for International Megan’s Law is two fold: (1) Individuals who have offended against a child pose an extremely high risk of reoffending, and (2) Megan’s Law will stop them from doing so.

The first premise (dangerousness) is demonstrably false. Study after study has shown that sex offenders actually have a low recidivism rate. A 2003 Department of Justice study followed 9,691 sex offenders released from prison in 15 states across the country. It found just 5.3% were rearrested for a new sex crime within 3 years, and only 3.3% of child molesters were rearrested for a new sex crime against a child.(Source.) Juveniles pose even less of a risk. A 2009 study of 1,275 juvenile male sex offenders in South Carolina found just 7% were rearrested for a new sex crime within nine years of original offense.(Source.) Women pose the lowest threat. A 2010 meta-analysis of ten studies found only 1% to 3% of women recidivated sexually.(Source.) This premise also ignores that what counts as a sex offense against a child can include a high school senior having sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend, behavior that should be discouraged but which does not deserve the designation of international pariah.

The second premise (effectiveness) is wrong as well. Studies show that Megan’s Law has had little to no impact on the incidence of sex offending. Indeed a 2008 analysis by the Department of Corrections in New Jersey concluded, “Given the lack of demonstrated effect of Megan’s Law, the researchers are hard-pressed to determine that the escalating costs are justifiable.”(Source.)

Instead of crafting a law targeted at those who pose an actual danger, Congress treated sex offending as an immutable characteristic. It ignored research showing that treatment works. (Source.) It closed its eyes to studies demonstrating that sex offending drops with age, and the longer a person remains in the community offense free, the less likely he is to reoffend.(Source.) (Source.)

Despite the lack of empirical support, it’s not surprising that Congress passed International Megan’s Law.

When it comes to legislation controlling sex offenders, facts are beside the point. And so out of misguided hysteria, the United States has passed a law requiring sex offenders to have a permanent mark on their passport. And make no mistake — this is going to curtail their ability to travel outside the country, including to places like England and France, not exactly hotbeds for child sex tourism.

The most depressing thing about International Megan’s Law may be that President Obama, a second term president and a former constitutional law professor, signed it into law. A man who has experienced being judged by ignorance-grounded “facts.”

On March 30, Phyllis J. Hamilton, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, will hear a Motion for Preliminary Injunction to stop implementation of International Megan’s Law. Those challenging the law have an uphill path as judges often defer to legislative findings of fact even when they are ill founded, and the Supreme Court has generally failed to intervene on the dubious assumption that these types of laws do not constitute “punishment.”

Sometimes, though, it takes only one courageous judge to listen to what the science actually tells us.  Let us hope this is such a case.

Follow Tamara Rice Lave on Twitter:


Judge to rule on ex-wife's request for sex-offender boyfriend

A Macomb County judge said Monday he will issue an opinion this week on a woman’s attempt to allow her boyfriend to have contact with her children even though he is a sex offender.

Judge Matthew Switalski promised the opinion from the bench after listening to attorneys for the ex-husband and ex-wife argue the motion in Macomb County Circuit Court.

Rachael Lanni of Warren wants to be able to eventually marry Thomas P. Ireland who is on the Sex Offender Registry for a 1994 one-time sexual incident when he was an 18-year-old high school senior and the girl was 14.

The request is necessary because Rachael Lanni agreed last may in her divorce decree with Anthony Lannie of Sterling Heights; Mr Ireland could not be present with the children, both under age 10.

Mrs. Lanni’s attorney, Julie Gatti, said since the incident Ireland has had no contact with the law other than traffic tickets.

“This was 22 years ago,” Gatti, told the judge. “He (Ireland) is an upstanding citizen of Macomb County and the state of Michigan. Has he done anything since then that would show he is a danger? The answer is resoundingly no.

“There is no longer a need for this restriction in the judgment.”

She said when her client agreed to the one-sentence restriction, she was not represented by an attorney and her relationship with Ireland was “brand new.”

“She didn’t understand this would have such long-lasting impact,” Gatti said.

But Anthony Lanni’s attorney, Vince Manzella, said Rachael Lanni is “putting her needs above her children’s.” He said the children would suffer if Ireland resides with them.

He cited a 2009 study that by two university professors that indicate the “psychosocial consequences” on a child who has a parent on the sex offender registry. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said the child was treated differently at school, 78 percent said the child’s friendships were impacted, and 71 percent said the child had become “stigmatized.”

Other effects include anger, 80 percent; harassment by others, 47 percent; ridicule by others, 59 percent, depression 77 percent and suicidal tendencies, 13 percent.

But Gatti criticized the study’s format, noting the authors admit respondents were “self selected” and “recruited via several internet sites, list-servs, and blogs identified as advocacy and support resources for RSO’s (registered sex offenders) and their families.”

“The sample may be more likely to reflect opinions of those who are experiencing distress rather than those who are not,” the study said. That “creates a potential for biased results.”

Despite the study’s faults, Manzella insisted: “It (allowing contact) would have a more negative effect on the children.”

Ireland was convicted of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and was sentenced in 1995 to one year in the county jail.

He also performed 400 hours of community service that consisted of painting public structures in St. Clair Shores.

Ireland now operates a painting business.

Ireland must remain on the registry for 25 years, meaning he could be removed in four years.

Manzella conceded that in four years Rachael Lanni will have a stronger argument for removal of the restriction but said, “I don’t think the language becomes moot.”

The motion was initially heard earlier this month in front of Friend of Court Referee David Elias.

By Jameson Cook, The Macomb Daily POSTED: 03/21/16, 1:52 PM EDT


Predator panic preoccupies parents


A mom just bought a toy for her 2-year-old that signals to pedophiles that the girl is ready to be traded for sex.

Wait, what?

I’d repeat it, but it still wouldn’t make any sense. And yet, this modern-day myth has gone viral, showing up on Headline News, AOL, local media, and, of course, it is all over Facebook. One mom there lamented, “I did not know that pedophiles have their own insidious silent language that is infiltrating society through pretty pink images … which signal to other pedophiles the child can be traded.”

Do we really live in that kind of hell for kids?

The story — such as it is — involves a Florida mom who bought a pink plush truck for her daughter at a monster truck rally down there. Somehow (the original WFLA–TV reporter never tells us how), the mom came to believe that the “heart-within-a-heart” logo on the toy is a code pedophiles use.

I should mention that the “heart-within-a-heart” logo is also the logo you see on Good Humor ice cream bars. Oh, and it is also what you see when your barista has mastered the art of making a heart in your cappuccino foam.

And yet, using a garbled mishmash of horror and hysteria, the television reporter told viewers that because of that heart logo, the toy “held a sick secret; a disgusting calling card for creeps.” And now, “When a pedophile sees children with the heart symbol, it’s a code meaning that child is ready to be traded for sex.”

While presenting zero evidence that the world works like this, the reporter then interviewed the mom, who seemed as distraught as if her child had just narrowly escaped the clutches of Cropsey.

“I’m absolutely sick!” she cried. “This is pink! This is for little girls, especially at a predominantly male event.”

So does the mom think the “male event” deliberately stocked up on pink toys that so that unwitting parents would buy them? And that predators would see the symbol, and go, “Look! A heart on a toy. This mom must be willing to sell her child into sex slavery!”? And then what? Would she feel obligated to trade her kid for cash because that’s how the system works?

I can’t stop marveling at this “news” story, because it shows that we are so obsessed with the fear of predators — or at least news editors are so obsessed with feeding us these stories — that we never even stop to say, “Wait, what?”

For a dose of actual facts, I dropped a line to David Finkelhor, head of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.

“I can’t reassure you that there isn’t some lonely pedophile club somewhere that has decided to make a logo,” he wrote back. And it is true, in trying to find whether there was anything, anywhere, that could suggest even a scintilla of justification for the story, I learned there was one lone government file, written about 10 years ago (and played up in an episode of “Law & Order SVU,” of course), that suggested pedophiles might wear logos that indicated their leanings.

“But,” Finkelhor added, “what is certainly true is that pedophiles would not simply decide to pick a victim based on carrying an item with a logo. No one should worry about the logo being dangerous for their kids.”

But that is the problem.

We are worried all the time about this least likely of crimes: Stranger-danger. Christie Barnes, author of “The Paranoid Parents Guide,” found that the very top worry of parents is kidnappings. (and number four is “dangerous strangers”). This fear haunts us even though our crime rate is the lowest it has been in decades. It haunts us even though we know that when it comes to crimes against children, the vast majority are committed not by strangers, but trusted adults.

When stories like this fan the flames of predator panic, we get a population ever more obsessed with sex offenders, ever more demanding of police protection, and ever more convinced that their kids are in constant danger, even from a plush toy.

Here’s the real news: They’re not.

Lenore Skenazy is a keynote speaker and author and founder of the book and blog Free-Range Kids.

U.S. Department of Justice report shows that sex offender laws are ineffective and create more harms than producing any genuine good

The U.S. Department of Justice, July 2015, report shows that sex offender laws are ineffective and create more harms than producing any genuine good. 


Collateral Damage in America's War on Sex Crimes

Hello everyone: 

Public policies that heap ever-more-exacting humiliations on those who have committed sex crimes and misdeeds have at their root the idea that people are either all evil or all good, and for all time. 

But our current system just perpetuates the cycle of violence it purports to end, as a recent article points out. 

You can read my new post about it at

Comments/kudos/questions/complaints? Please add a comment. 

And if you have an idea for a post (or a post you'd like to write yourself), please let me know -- more voices are welcome in this space. Thanks as always for reading!

Steven Yoder

Steven Yoder

Argument analysis: Justices skeptical about government’s interpretation of sex-offender-registration law

In the early days of Monday Night Football, as soon as it became evident that the game was effectively over, color commentator “Dandy” Don Meredith would begin to croon, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over . . . .” During the government’s argument in Tuesday’s hearing in Nichols v. United States, the lights in the courtroom actually went out. And, if the Justices’ hostile questioning of the government’s lawyer provides any clue, the party may indeed be over.

After Daniel Hansmeier, the federal public defender representing petitioner Lester Ray Nichols, got through his argument fairly uneventfully, Assistant to the Solicitor General Curtis Gannon met with unfriendly fire from no fewer than five Justices. Their skepticism centered around the government’s principal contention in the case, which concerns the interpretation of a key provision in the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

Nichols was a registered sex offender living in Kansas. In November 2012, he moved to the Philippines. He did not notify Kansas authorities that he was leaving. A month later, as the result of collaborative efforts between federal law enforcement and Filipino officials, Nichols was arrested and brought back to Kansas to face charges that he failed to notify Kansas of his move, in violation of SORNA. He was convicted, and a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed.

The case turns on the wording of two SORNA provisions, 42 U.S.C. § 16913(a) and (c), which state (in pertinent part):

(a) A sex offender shall register, and keep the registration current, in each jurisdiction where the offender resides, where the offender is an employee, and where the offender is a student.

(c) A sex offender shall, not later than 3 business days after each change of name, residence, employment, or student status, appear in person in at least 1 jurisdiction involved pursuant to subsection (a) and inform that jurisdiction of all changes in the information required for that offender in the sex offender registry. That jurisdiction shall immediately provide that information to all other jurisdictions in which the offender is required to register.

Nichols argued that SORNA did not require him to notify Kansas when he changed his residence to the Philippines because, as soon as he left, Kansas was no longer his residence. Nor did he have to notify the Philippines, because foreign countries are not covered by SORNA.

Assistant to the Solicitor General Gannon argued that, although Kansas might no longer have been Nichols’s residence, it nonetheless remained a “jurisdiction involved pursuant to subsection (a)” so long as Nichols remained on its registration rolls. Gannon allowed that that interpretation might not be strictly compelled by the text, but he claimed it was supported by the statute’s underlying purpose of making sure that there are no gaps in sex offender registrations. Moreover, under subsection (a), Nichols was required to keep his registration current. Notifying Kansas that he was leaving was the only effective way to do that in this situation.

When Chief Justice John Roberts reminded Gannon that the duty to keep one’s registration current only applies in a jurisdiction where the offender resides, is an employee, or is a student, Gannon gave a little more ground. “[I]t is also the case here that he could have complied with that by giving the notice before he left Kansas,” Gannon said. At that point things began to unravel.

“Well, maybe he should have,” replied Roberts. “But he may also have thought, when it says at least one jurisdiction involved pursuant to subsection (a), and subsection (a) says where he resides, then maybe there’s no jurisdiction involved.”

“It does say where he resides,” Gannon acknowledged. “But it also says he has to keep the registration information current there.”

“Current where?” asked Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Gannon: “In the jurisdictions where he has been registered, where he is residing, and — ”

“But it is current,” interjected Justice Elena Kagan. “It is current at all the time in which he resides there.”

“That is true. I certainly take the point,” Gannon said. “But we think that Congress is using a more capacious phrase in subsection (c) when it says, ‘jurisdiction involved pursuant to subsection (a).’”

“Well, then, you’re just reading ‘pursuant to subsection (a)’ out of the statute,” said Kagan.

“No,” Gannon responded. “I’m reading it to mean something — ”

Kagan cut him off. “Excuse me, Mr. Gannon. It tells you exactly what it means to be a jurisdiction involved. It means a jurisdiction involved pursuant to a particular subsection which focuses only on his current residence. And all the time he was a current resident of Kansas, the registry was accurate.”

Justice Stephen Breyer also pursued the “jurisdiction involved” angle. After asking some exploratory questions, he made an attempt at recapitulating Gannon’s responses.

“All right. I’m trying to understand it,” Breyer said. “It is a jurisdiction that is involved in a special way. It is a jurisdiction that used to be a residence, and it is no longer a residence. And that creates an involvement even after they’re no longer a residence.” Pause. “You know, the more I explain it, the less I understand it.” Laughter.

If Chief Justice Roberts had some difficulty accepting the government’s “jurisdiction involved” interpretation, he had even more difficulty accepting that an ordinary person could be expected to anticipate it. “I understand your argument,” said Chief Justice Roberts, “but . . . what’s the maximum penalty for violating this provision?” Told it was 10 years, Roberts said, “That’s an awful lot to ask a layperson to parse at the penalty of ten years for being wrong. . . . For a registration violation.”

Justice Kagan made a similar point. “[W]hat you’re saying is that each of those offenders is supposed to recognize the underlying purpose of the law, which is to have accurate registries . . . . But the text of the law is something different. And if you look at the text of the law, there’s just no way that a reasonable reader reads that text and says it requires me to provide departure notification when I leave to another country.”

After Gannon had responded to a question by citing interpretive guidelines issued by the attorney general, Justice Sonia Sotomayor echoed the concern about ordinary people being able to understand the government’s “jurisdiction involved” interpretation. “So now a sex offender is supposed to understand what ‘involved’ means and read a directive to jurisdictions in your regulation and say, ah, that includes me, too,” she said.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pursued a different tack. “Why wasn’t the State violation pursued?” she asked Gannon. “So he’s in the Philippines, and he’s extradited . . . on the government’s reading of SORNA. But he did commit an offense, it’s conceded, under State law” when he failed to notify Kansas that he was leaving, she said.

“That’s true, Justice Ginsburg,” Gannon replied, “and that’s going to be true in virtually every single case of Section 2250 [of SORNA].”

“Why wasn’t the extradition sought under that which is clear and certain instead of a provision where there has to be a strained interpretation?” she asked. With that, she became the fifth Justice to suggest hostility to the government’s “jurisdiction involved” argument.

At another point, Ginsburg quizzed Gannon on H.R. 515, the “International Megan’s Law to Prevent Child Exploitation and Other Sexual Crimes Through Advanced Notification of Traveling Sex Offenders,” which was signed by President Barack Obama only three weeks ago, long after the Court had granted certiorari in this case. Among other things, this law creates a new statutory obligation for sex offenders to provide notice when they intend to travel outside the United States – exactly the situation that Nichols faced.

“You agree . . . that the problem has been cured, prospectively,” Justice Ginsburg asked Gannon. When he essentially answered yes, she continued, “So . . . who is left out under the new law that would be covered under your reading of the old law?”

“I don’t think any,” Gannon said. “My point is not that somebody is left out under the new law. My point is that the new law captures many more people.”

“Well, I’m trying to find out what is the effect . . . of ruling one way or another,” said Ginsburg. “It’s a relatively small category, and there is no problem, prospectively,” she added. In other words, she seemed to be suggesting, a decision for Nichols would create little effective precedent.

Finally, Justice Samuel Alito came to Gannon’s defense. Noting that the Philippines is among the countries to which “sex tourists” flock, he said, “Hasn’t Congress, by the enactment of the new statute and in other ways, evidenced a belief that the United States should not be exporting its pedophile problems to other countries?  Hasn’t Congress evidenced a concern about this both for the human rights aspects of the problem and, also, I would think, for relations with the government of the Philippines?”

Gannon had just barely gotten the words, “Absolutely, Justice Alito” out of his mouth when the lights went out. Laughter.

Chief Justice Roberts couldn’t resist. “I knew we should have paid that bill,” he deadpanned. Laughter.

“My red light on the bench is still working,” said Justice Kagan. Laughter. That was just the way it went.

Posted in Nichols v. U.S.AnalysisFeaturedMerits Cases

Recommended Citation: Evan Lee, Argument analysis: Justices skeptical about government’s interpretation of sex-offender-registration lawSCOTUSblog (Mar. 2, 2016, 10:59 AM),

See also:

Supreme Justices weigh whether sex offenders should be tracked worldwide - includes transcript

Members of the Supreme Court on Tuesday appeared skeptical of the federal government’s argument that a registered sex offender should be required to notify authorities when moving to another country.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was known as the court’s swing vote before the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last month, noted that the defendant in the case moved to a country not covered under the Sex Offender Registration and Notifications Act (SORNA). The law requires sex offenders to inform “at least one jurisdiction involved” of any change of address.

“The Philippines is not a jurisdiction under SORNA," Kennedy said.

The case, Nichols v. United States, focuses on Lester Nichols, a convicted sex offender who moved from Kansas to the Philippines in November 2012, eight months after he was released from prison. A month later, he was arrested and deported back to the U.S. for failing to update his sex offender registry.

Curtis Gannon, assistant to the solicitor general at the Department of Justice, argued on behalf of the government that Nichols was required to notify Kansas of his change of address within three business days of his move because Kansas was “an involved jurisdiction.”

Several of the justices, including Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Chief Justice John Roberts, grappled Tuesday with the language in the statute that defines an involved jurisdiction.

Roberts said the statute is an “awful lot to ask a layperson to parse” in order to avoid the maximum 10-year sentence for violating SORNA.

In trying to understand the statute, Breyer questioned whether Nichols would have had to notify Kansas if he had been living in the Philippines for 15 years and then moved to Thailand

“Why not Kansas?” he asked. “That was a jurisdiction that was involved.”

Gannon said Kansas would only remain involved if the national registry said Nichols still lived in Kansas.

Kagan wondered why the U.S. is even bothering to extradite sex offenders back to the U.S. from other countries if they are only required to say they are leaving the state, not where they are going in the world.

She said it seems like the attitude would be “good luck, good riddance.”

Justice Clarence Thomas, who asked questions for the first time in 10 years during a gun rights case on Monday, remained silent for Tuesday’s arguments.

See also:

Local copies of all public published case files for U.S. Supreme court case 15-5238 nichols-v-united-states


Nichols-Cert-Petition-Petition for a writ of certiorari and motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis.pdf

BIO-Brief of respondent United States in opposition.pdf

Petitioners-Reply-Brief-Reply of petitioner Lester Ray Nichols.pdf

15-5238_pet.authcheckdam-Dec-Brief of petitioner Lester Ray Nichols.pdf

15-5238_resp.authcheckdam-Jan-Brief of respondent United States.pdf

15-5238_supp_UnitedStates.authcheckdam-Supplemental brief of respondent United States.pdf

15-5238_rb_pet.authcheckdam-Reply of petitioner Lester Ray Nichols.pdf

Docket- Supreme Court of the United States.pdf


utahs recidivism rate in light of national trends.

Donald Trump says "if your a child molester, a sick puppy, there is no cure for that"

This goes to show how ignorant Donald Trump is regarding former sex offenders, and how likely he will be to make even worse laws for a group of people with less than a 5% recidivism rate.

Donald Trump video.mp4

L.A. After Man Built Dozens of Tiny Houses For the Homeless, The City is Taking Them Away

Help needed to fight Ohio HB 353

This post is meant to inform you of HB 353, a bill that has been proposed in Ohio to require that ALL registrants report ALL adults living in the home where the registrant resides so that the Sheriff's Department can then inform the adults that they are in fact residing with a sex offender. Full bill here:

Even if not living in Ohio, we could use your help with # 3 below...

Obviously, family members and roommates do not wish to have their names and information on yet another form of a government list, and we know of no other state that has proposed such a bill. We did have a 2 hr meeting with the bill's sponsor and our plea for squashing this idea and even our recommended amendments have went ignored.

We are currently seeking help in the way of

1) opponent testimony statements,

2) people willing to attend the opponent hearing when scheduled at the Statehouse in Columbus,

3) the ACLU has requested that we collect any written narratives about an instance of physical or emotional suffering caused to anyone residing in the home of a registrant. This help can be from other states.

Please contact if needing more information, or if wishing to receive help in writing a statement or traveling to the Statehouse.


21st Century Public Shaming

I Married a Sex Offender

Your child is more likely to end up on the sex offender registry than to ever be touched by someone on this list

"Your child is more likely to end up on the sex offender registry than to ever be touched by someone on this list". (14:24 to 14:34)

Utah's Lawmakers push for mercy on sex offender registry

Salt Lake City — (KUTV) There is some sympathy on Utah's Capitol Hill for sex offenders.

Some offenders, convicted of only minor crimes, are punished for a decade through the sex offender registry. Wednesday, a group of women spoke up for husbands and sons who are on the registry.

People on the sex offender registry don't usually get much sympathy and that is part of the problem.

"I was convicted of a misdemeanor of lewdness involving a child," said Mike, on the registry.

He said 10 years ago he fell into circumstances and bad judgement. He served his 90 days in jail but says the sex offender registry may have been worse.

"I lost a $100,000 plus job. I can't rent an apartment, can't go to my kids' school performances, can't go to public parks."

Utah has about 7,250 offenders on the sex registry. They must register for 10 years for lesser crimes and for life for more serious crimes.

Wednesday at the Capitol, a few women, all of them with husbands or sons on the registry, said it damages lives.

"Once they find out you are on the registry, you are fired," said a mother.

Vicki's son was caught with child pornography on his computer.

"I am simply saying those who have changed their lives and not re-offended should be able to ask a judge to come off after five years."

Rep. Jack Draxler sponsored bills to allow a judge to reduce time on the registry for a few lesser crimes. Mike agrees the law now is too harsh.

California sex offender management board speaks out against residence restrictions

California sex offender management board speaks out against residence restrictions in the following report.

UK government launches consultation for porn age-verification plan


Over 95% of all sexual offense arrests were committed by first-time sex offenders

Analyses also showed that over 95% of all sexual offense arrests were committed by first-time sex offenders, casting doubt on the ability of laws that target repeat offenders to meaningfully reduce sexual offending.

Amendment to Lower Time on Sex Offender Registry on House Floor

Families stunned that towns repealed sex offender laws

Are We All Sex Offenders? | Galen Baughman | TEDxCUNY

Whether 42 U.S.C. § 16913(a) requires a sex offender who resides in a foreign country to update his registration in the jurisdiction where he formerly resided

The Supreme Court’s Crucial Mistake About Sex Crime Statistics

‘The Family’ Panel On Andrew McCarthy’s Return To Acting – TCA

Utah Legislature Considering How Some Can Get Off Sex Offender Registry

Mass court decision allows for sex offenders to challenge classification

MO bill would consider sex between lawmakers and lobbyists a 'gift'

Justice Department Issues Changes to Largest Criminal Justice Grant

Charged with sex crimes, McAllister is suspended by colleagues

Bayside Queens high school custodian allegedly sold student semen at sperm bank

Groups push for limits on access to abuse victim videos

Let me begin by saying I appreciate Bar President Bergmanis speaking up for the rights, what few are left, of registrants which echos down to their families. Before my next statement I will say that as the President of a nationwide organization, Women Against Registry, we do not condone any type of child abuse sexual or physical, but the victim's rights group in Missouri specifically has pretty much succeeded in taking the rights of the accused off the table only to be replaced by the heavy hand of the prosecutor in the form of a plea deal offer after threats of intolerable sentences if a child has to testify.  I have  talked with legislators from all over the nation and victims rights groups. The legislators have recognized the need for a better balance. and many victim's rights groups want legislators to stop wasting budgets on folks with a minuscule recidivism rate. 

Allow the victim their rights AND the accused their right to due process without politics and advocate posturing. Let's begin to deal in truths and facts. 

Here is a suggestion, how about our state legislators; Senator Dixon and Representative Haefner sponsor bills to dial back some of the budgeting mentioned above and propose it be spend to mandate Child Sexual Abuse Training Programs, such as Stop it Now to teach children, teens AND parents to recognize and act appropriately on warning signs. That is if the Missouri legislature truly want to protect children from experiencing this in the first place. 

Vicki Henry,

Women Against Registry 

Catherine Carpenter New Law Review Article

Catherine Carpenter has a new law review article.  It is entitled Throwaway Children: The Tragic Consequences of a False Narrative.  It examines the deeply flawed practice of requiring children as young as ten years old to register as sex offenders for life.  It is posted on SSRN and is available for public review.

Howell Bill Aims to Remove Employer Name, Address from Sex Offender Registry


Bruns. Co. Officials: Sex offender, rehabilitation court program works

Failure to Register is Not a Separate and Distinct Sex Offense

Springfield man acquitted of sex crimes involving 3 young girls

The Online–Sex Predator Panic Laws Against Online Luring Harm Children

Law Enforcement Perspectives on Sex Offender Registration and Notification Systems - NIJ Publications and Multimedia Update

Smith v. Doe

The Supreme Court may be revisiting Smith v. Doe (the sex offender registry case from 12 years ago that relied on false studies on the danger of recidivism).

This is the petition for cert. currently pending:

Firm Is Awarded $4.9 Million in Malicious Prosecution Case

Ex-Spurs player Robertson exonerated of all charges

850 convicted sex offenders eligible to petition to get off state's criminal offenders registry in NH

Criminally Yours: Sex In Vegas

Criminally Yours: Sex In Vegas

I spent the weekend in Las Vegas not having fun, but taking a CLE on how to defend sex assault cases, particularly those involving Internet child porn.

Lawyers came from all over the country, even states with populations as small as Wyoming, where there are more cows than people.

Why? Because Internet porn is the latest bugaboo of local and federal enforcement agencies, especially in remote areas where the Internet is the only game in town. Money is being pumped into these investigations and arrests, and excuses like I didn’t know it was on my computer, or I was hacked, or I never looked at it, even if these excuses may be true, will not save the target from humiliation, expense, and likely jail.

And beware, even if it’s just your 14-year-old kid fooling around on peer-to-peer sites in his “experimentation” phase — he’s liable, and could be marked a sex offender for life.

I’m not defending child porn or sex crimes (although I do defend people accused of these crimes), but try to get a fair jury in one of these cases and then a fair sentence if the person is found guilty — it’s almost impossible. Of all the crimes to pull, this is the one that taints the most.

In the good ol’ days, film director Roman Polanski could be offered a sentence of probation for unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor (the alleged victim was 13!). Nowadays, he’d not only be denied a plea offer, but he’d be doing 40 to life in prison.

Here’s the other thing I learned at the conference — it’s not only the jail sentence that punishes the defendant, it’s the very real repercussions of sex registration that, for many, last for life, and that stigmatizes not only the accused, but his entire family. The new Scarlet Letter.

Take the case of Josh. He was accused of having child pornography on his computer while in the military. He didn’t produce it, distribute it, or have illegal sex with anyone. It’s what we call in the business a non-contact, non-violent computer offense. He was 18 at the time.

Although he had a defense, he chose not to assert it in fear of the much harsher sentence he’d receive if he were to be found guilty after trial.

The conditions of his plea required four years in jail and that he register as a sex offender for life. Sex registry is complicated. There are federal, state, and even local rules that the registrant must comply with and they change from locale to locale. Even if the ex-sex offender is on the lowest registrant level (there are three levels), a lot of restrictions trail him. He must alert the local police department regarding his address and with whom he lives. Often he can’t live in neighborhoods within a certain distance of schools, churches, day care centers, and sometimes even public parks. He’s forbidden from taking certain jobs; he’s not allowed in any elementary through high school (this sometimes includes universities), even to attend his own child’s graduation; and of course his face, name, and address are known to the public.

A lawyer from Brattleboro, Vermont, told me her small town has a tent city mostly made up of ex-sex offenders because they can’t find housing elsewhere. These people could be on the registry for crimes such as having had consensual sex with a 15-year-old when they were 19. Because the registry lists the employment of the ex-sex offenders, people on witch hunts often target that person’s business as well. 

No business wants that kind of notoriety.

A group of women at the conference (mostly moms) started a nationwide group called, Women Against Registry (WAR). They aim to publicize the continuing stigma that follows anyone (and his family) on a sexual offender registry. They regaled me with stories I thought could only be fiction. (Check out John Grisham’s latest book, Rogue Lawyer.) One couple spoke of SWAT teams bursting into their home to seize all computers because police believed they contained child porn. Others spoke of slaughtered pigs being left on their driveways and houses being burnt down — vigilante stuff that should have no place in modern society.

One of the organizers of WAR, Vicki Henry, the mother of Josh, told me he has finally regained some balance in his life, now 13 years following his conviction. He found a job and was involved in a serious relationship where both wanted to marry. Unfortunately, because the woman has children, they’ve been told if they live together, child protection agencies could take the woman’s children from her.

I represented a very talented dancer who taught children ballet. In helping them find the right posture for the class, he was accused of touching a child’s chest — a misdemeanor, but none the less one that carried years of sexual registry. He chose to leave the country rather than face the stigma.

The other thing I learned in the conference is that sex offenders can be treated and helped. Research shows a very low level of recidivism among sex-offenders, particularly those convicted of only minor offenses. According to statistics from the Bureau of Justice Statistics cited in materials published by WAR, only 5.3% of people imprisoned for sex crimes were rearrested for a subsequent sex offense. 

The rearrest rate dropped to 3.3% where a child was involved, and the sexual reoffense rate was 2.2% when the initial offense involved adults.

Research also shows that rather than stranger danger, people should be most wary of friend danger — the neighbor who always wants to babysit the children, the over-attentive coach, the weird uncle. So rather than torment the guy down the street who is listed on a sex-offender registry for a crime he committed (or pleaded guilty to) 15 years ago, watch out for people much nearer and dearer.

Sex registry is important, but it’s far too blunt an instrument to deal with alerting and protecting the public from former offenders. It condemns many people and their families to a lifetime of living on the periphery based largely on prejudice and misinformation about the likelihood of recidivism.

(For more information on the movement for sexual registry reform go to:,, and

Toni Messina has been practicing criminal defense law since 1990, although during law school she spent one summer as an intern in a large Boston law firm and realized quickly it wasn’t for her. Prior to attending law school, she worked as a journalist from Rome, Italy, reporting stories of international interest for CBS News and NPR. She keeps sane by balancing her law practice with a family of three children, playing in a BossaNova band, and dancing flamenco. She can be reached at or

Comments can be read/made here: 

Court Expands Eligibility for Certificates of Rehabilitation

Secret Service Officer Arrested in Child Sex Sting

State of Ohio v. Travis Blankenship Case Number 2014-0363 Slip Opinion No. 2015-Ohio-4624

The Ohio supreme court has provided it's opinion against Travis's appeal with 2 dissenting judges that recognize this is cruel and unusual punishment.

It was a 4 to 2 split decision.

Why could only 2 judges see the truth of the issue?

You can read:  Ohio v. Travis Blankenship Slip Opinion No. 2015-Ohio-4624



[Until this opinion appears in the Ohio Official Reports advance sheets, it 

may be cited as State v. Blankenship, Slip Opinion No. 2015-Ohio-4624.] 

Criminal law―Sex offenders―R.C. Chapter 2950―Registration and address-

verification requirements for Tier II sex offenders do not constitute cruel 

and unusual punishment in violation of either Eighth Amendment to U.S.

Constitution or Article I, Section 9 of Ohio Constitution.

(No. 2014-0363—Submitted March 10, 2015—Decided November 12, 2015.) 

APPEAL from the Court of Appeals for Clark County, No. 2012-CA-74, 



{¶ 1} Appellant, Travis Blankenship, challenges as cruel and unusual punishment the sex-offender-registration and address-verification requirements imposed upon him as part of his sentence for violating R.C. 2907.04 by engaging in unlawful sexual conduct with M.H., a 15-year-old, when he was 21. Because SUPREME COURT OF OHIO 2 we hold that the Tier II registration requirements imposed upon him are not so extreme as to be grossly disproportionate to the crime or shocking to a reasonable person and to the community’s sense of justice, we affirm the judgment of the court of appeals. 

*** portions deleted, click link above to read entire opinion.***

{¶ 30} Yet we also note that while registration provisions such as the one at issue have been criticized by some as unjustified, the penological grounds for imposing such requirements are still accepted in many quarters and are justified in part based upon the perceived high rate of recidivism and resistance to treatment among sex offenders. Proponents consider registration to be a more economical method of monitoring and preventing recidivism than the costly alternative of imprisonment. Wilkes, Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Laws: Will These Laws Survive?, 37 U.Rich.L.Rev. 1245, 1251-1252 (2003). We cannot say that the requirements of semiannual address registration and verification are so unjustified as to constitute cruel and unusual punishment. 

** portions deleted, click link above to read entire opinion.***

III. Conclusion 

{¶ 38} We hold that the registration and address-verification requirements for Tier II offenders under R.C. Chapter 2950 do not constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of either the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution or Article I, Section 9 of the Ohio Constitution. The Tier II registration requirements do not meet the high burden of being so extreme as to be grossly disproportionate to the crime or shocking to a reasonable person. We therefore affirm the judgment of the court of appeals. 

Judgment affirmed. O’CONNOR, C.J., and FRENCH, J., concur.

 O’DONNELL and KENNEDY, JJ., concur in judgment only. 

** portions deleted, click link above to read entire opinion.***

PFEIFER and O’NEILL, JJ., dissent. 

PFEIFER, J., dissenting. 

{¶ 74} The framework within which an issue is presented can unduly influence the outcome. For example, if you ask a stadium full of people whether requiring a Tier II sex offender to comply with certain reporting requirements shocks their sense of justice, you are unlikely to receive a single affirmative response. But, as more information is provided, the likely response can be expected to change. 

{¶ 75} Assume the same question but add that the offender was an adult male who had sex with a 15-year-old girl. Requiring registration and address verification will still seem reasonable, unlikely to shock a community’s sense of justice. Even so, some might ask about the age of the offender and the specifics of the reporting requirements. 

{¶ 76} Assume the same question as above but add that the offender was a 21-year-old male, that the 15-year-old girl consented, and that the registration and address-verification requirements must be complied with every six months for 25 years, and now we are at the threshold. Many will see the consent as a mitigating factor, many will see the relatively modest age difference as a mitigating factor, and many will see the 25-year time period as unnecessarily long. As the majority notes, and I acknowledge, these potentially mitigating factors are not statutorily relevant, but they are nevertheless constitutionally relevant. 

{¶ 77} Assume further that the offender has been determined by a psychologist to have none of the characteristics of a sex offender and to have a low risk of reoffending. There would be many who would be shocked at the severity and length of the punishment, i.e., the reporting requirements. 

{¶ 78} Assume all of the above and add that the offender could have received a sentence of up to 18 months, see R.C. 2929.14(A)(4), that he was sentenced to six months in prison (the shortest term possible), and that a judge released him after he had served a mere 12 days. Now the community’s sense of justice has been violated. Few would deem it appropriate to require a person who committed a crime that warranted a 12-day sentence to comply with reporting requirements every six months for the next 25 years. 

{¶ 79} The touchstone of federal cruel-and-unusual-punishment analysis is that the punishment must be proportional to the crime. Weems v. United States, 217 U.S. 349, 367, 30 S.Ct. 544, 54 L.Ed. 793 (1910). The case before us fails this standard. The current statutory scheme does not allow discretion on the part of the sentencing judge. Instead, all similarly situated offenders (meaning those with a similar age differential and no prior record as a sex offender) are punished according to a one-size-fits-all standard. There is no proportionality. The sentencing judge has discretion as to imposing a prison term, but not as to the registration and address-verification requirements. Offenders warranting a 12-day sentence have the same reporting requirements as those warranting an 18-month sentence. Offenders considered at low risk of reoffending have the same reporting requirements as those considered at high risk of reoffending. This lack of proportionality is constitutionally flawed. 

{¶ 80} Ohio’s constitutional standard is somewhat different: a punishment is cruel and unusual when it “would be considered shocking to any reasonable person.” McDougle v. Maxwell, 1 Ohio St.2d 68, 70, 203 N.E.2d 334 (1964). It is clear to me that reasonable people would consider it shocking to require a person whose crime warranted a 12-day sentence to submit to twice-a-year reporting requirements for a 25-year period. 

{¶ 81} This court has determined that the registration and addressverification requirements for Tier II sex offenders are punitive. State v. Williams, 129 Ohio St.3d 3474, 2011-Ohio-3374, 952 N.E.2d 1108, ¶ 16. Today we should declare that in certain circumstances, the 25-year reporting requirements are onerous enough to constitute cruel and unusual punishment. I do not believe that the registration and address-verification requirements at issue in this case are cruel and unusual with respect to all Tier II sex offenders. But as applied to Blankenship, who was deemed to warrant a prison sentence of only 12 days, who has a low risk of reoffending, and who possesses none of the characteristics of a sex offender, the requirement to register and verify his address every six months for the next 25 years “would be considered shocking to any reasonable person.” McDougle at 70. 

{¶ 82} I would reverse the judgment of the court of appeals.  I dissent. O’NEILL, J., concurs in the foregoing opinion. 

You can read the entire opinion at the following URL.

Ohio v. Travis Blankenship Slip Opinion No. 2015-Ohio-4624

Constitution 101

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Molly Shattuck sentenced to 48 weekends in jail in Del. rape case

ACLU Challenges Law Prohibiting Sex Offenders from Voting in Schools

Lawmakers Weigh Changes to Juvenile Sex Offender Laws

Student Wrongfully Expelled for Rape Triumphs in Court: Due Process Beats 'Yes Means Yes'

US government challenges Idaho ordinance that criminalizes sleeping in public by the homeless

Virginia Wesleyan College Demands Sexual History of Student Rape Victim. Don't Get Outraged Just Yet..

Senior Clinton State Department Employee Pleads Guilty To Stalking

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Sex Offenders Who Have Kids Put Schools in Awkward Spot

Neighborhood Controversy

New SOMAPI report released by US Department of Justice

Due process win: California judge rules campus kangaroo court 'unfair'

Judge: Illinois Sex offender rule unconstitutional

14CF1076 People v. Mark Minnis (Circuit Court Order) 

BLOOMINGTON, IL — A requirement that Illinois sex offenders report all Internet sites they use to police is unconstitutional because it violates the offenders’ free speech rights, according to a ruling by a McLean County judge.

Judge Robert Freitag agreed with arguments from the defense lawyer for Mark Minnis, 22, of Normal, that state law is overly broad in its mandate that all email addresses and sites a sex offender uses or plans to use, including Facebook, must be registered with police.

Minnis was charged with failure to register the address of his residence after he missed his annual registration deadline by three days in August. As part of that requirement, he disclosed two email addresses, but did not list a Facebook and Ebay account he uses, according to court records. 

States’s Attorney Jason Chambers said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office plans to ask the Illinois Supreme Court to review the decision. The high court's ruling will impact all future Illinois cases on the First Amendment issue in sex offender cases.

Defense lawyer Stephanie Wong said Thursday the Internet portion of the law “is not well-written and provides no guidance as to what the requirements are. The statute has to be more narrowly tailored.”

According to Wong, no other court decisions have been issued on the free speech aspect of the state’s Sex Offender Registration Act. In Wong’s opinion, the opinion issued Tuesday by Freitag bars authorities from enforcing the Internet requirement at this point.

In his order, Freitag cited a federal court decision challenging a similar mandate in Nebraska. The court there said ordering a sex offender to report all access to Internet sites “clearly chills offenders from engaging in expressive activity that is otherwise perfectly proper, and the statute is therefore insufficiently narrow.”

Freitag noted that he is not bound to follow the federal opinion, but found the reasoning in the case “to be persuasive and sound.”

Chambers said his office “takes sex offender cases very seriously.”

The conditions imposed on sex offenders living in the community “are not meant as a penalty, but for the safety of those living around them,”  he said.

The rules related to Internet access are one of many requirements for Illinois sex offenders. Restrictions on where offenders can live, work and visit puts them at risk for criminal charges and incarceration if not strictly followed.


See Also:

Original documents are in our Case Law and Case Documents pages.

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Drum roll please...we have new numbers from the NCMEC

Sex offenders sue, cite Indiana's religious objections law

Bodenweiser charged for refusing polygraph, therapy

WOW...just 68 years ago!

Wow...just 68 years ago the sex offender registry began in California to arrest, incarcerate and shame homosexuals. And just now, breaking news: SCOTUS states all LGBT have the right to marry through-out America. It is now the law of the land!

Being a Libertarian and registrant I feel all Americans have the right to live their lives in the manner they choose, as long as they cause no harm to others. So, I give this moment a double thumbs up! Think about this parallel...A law so cruel then as, the government/state pushed the myths and lies about LGBTs to the American people. Now the same government/states...yet a new type of media (Servant).. for the past two decades pushing the lies and myths about registrants and ruining their lives as well as those of their families.

LGBT has overcome, registrants will too. And I hope its in our lifetimes so we get to see it and feel the dome lifted off us and our families.

                                                                                  John (Sloan 44)

Opinion Piece from Sloan44

This is my opinion about the vast disparity surrounding the value of human lives across our nation by comparing two South Carolina hate crimes.

The hate crime carried out by this racist, the murder of the nine at the South Carolina church yesterday was terrible. How someone can just walk in a church and slaughter these people is horrible! I was on Twitter at the time and saw the tweet pop up regarding the incident. Within minutes of the incident it went from local news, the web, the White house, nation wide to world wide.

Within hours, the confederate flag was being blamed..that it promotes racism. How racist groups are to blame. The President, on a live broadcast, made a statement that firearms are to blame. Just this morning, in my email, was a petition to ban the confederate flag from being shown to prevent crimes of this nature. Broadcast, regarding this terrible crime, will continue for weeks. And then it hit me:

What about the other terrible hate crime by the racist in South Carolina that was carried out two years ago. A white supremacist husband and wife vigilante couple, Jeremy and Christine Moody slaughtered Charles and Gretchen Parker. Charles because he was a registrant and Gretchen.."Just because she was in the house"....the ultimate collateral damage.

It Didn't make world wide news, nor nation wide news, it didn't even make it state wide on the news; just local. It should have had the same broadcast bandwidth as the church shooting in S.C of yesterday with comparative statements by the media such as: "The registry is to blame for vigilantism and for this terrible crime!" But I guess the hate crime/racist crime on the Parker's was not news worthy.  


The Government controls the media, the media controls the people. W.A.R helps educate the people with the truth.


U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Florida rule prohibiting judges and judicial candidates from personally soliciting campaign contributions

Male Teen Has Consensual Sex with Female Teen. He Gets 25 Years as Sex Offender, Banned from Internet.

But Seriously Folks SORA is Punishment

Ruling Prohibits Blanket Ban on Internet Use for Parolees

RONALD R. ULLMANN, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 14-3148.

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.

June 9, 2015.

Tom Bartee, Assistant Federal Public Defender (Melody Brannon Evans, Federal Public Defender, with him on the briefs), Office of the Federal Public Defender, Kansas City, Kansas, for Defendant-Appellant.

James A. Brown, Assistant United States Attorney, Office of the United States Attorney, Topeka, Kansas (Barry R. Grissom, United States Attorney, and Carrie N. Capwell, Assistant United States Attorney, Office of the United States Attorney, Kansas City, Kansas, with him on the brief), for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Before LUCERO, MATHESON, and BACHARACH, Circuit Judges.

LUCERO, Circuit Judge.

We must decide the lawfulness of a condition of supervised release that imposes "restrictions and/or prohibitions related to: computer and Internet use." We conclude that this language, standing alone, would impermissibly impose a greater deprivation of liberty than reasonably necessary because it suggests the Probation Office may completely ban a means of communication that has become a necessary component of modern life. No extraordinary circumstances justify such a blanket ban in this case. This conflicts with our holding in United States v. White, 244 F.3d 1199, 1206 (10th Cir. 2001) ("White I"), and since White I was decided in 2001, Internet use has become even more central to participation in the civic and economic life of our society. However, the district court limited the condition at issue in an oral pronouncement, clarifying that it was restricting, rather than prohibiting, defendant Ronald Ullmann's use of the Internet and Internet-capable devices. Because this pronouncement saves the otherwise deficient condition, we exercise jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 and affirm.


Ullmann pled guilty to making a false statement in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001. The charge arose from sexually explicit written conversations between Ullmann and an undercover FBI agent posing online as a thirteen-year-old minor. Ullmann was sentenced to 60 months in prison and three years of supervised release. The district court imposed twelve conditions of supervised release which restricted Internet use.

On April 1, 2014, Ullmann was released from prison and became subject to the special conditions. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Probation Office filed a motion to modify the conditions of his supervised release, claiming technological advances necessitated the modifications. The modifications replaced the twelve conditions restricting Internet use with a single condition reading:

As directed by the U.S. Probation Officer, the defendant shall cooperate with and abide by the policies of the United States Probation Office's Computer and Internet Monitoring Program which includes restrictions and/or prohibitions related to: computer and Internet usage, possession and use of electronic, cellular, gaming, and Internet appliance devices; possession and use of computer hardware and software, encryption hardware or software, and accessing certain types of web sites to include: social networking, chat rooms, and those depicting sexually explicit conduct or pornographic material. The defendant will also be subject to computer monitoring, and will provide the United States Probation Office with a complete inventory of all electronic and Internet capable devices, user account information as well as password(s).

We are told that the U.S. Probation Office for the District of Kansas intends to impose this condition, a part of its new Computer and Internet Monitoring Program ("CIMP"), "as the standard sex offender supervision condition." Although the language of the modified condition states that it authorizes "restrictions and/or prohibitions" on the use of the Internet and Internet-capable devices, the Probation Office's manual acknowledges that "Tenth Circuit case law does not allow for an absolute restriction from computer access, except possibly in the most extreme case. . . . Offenders are permitted to use a computer and access the Internet, with the clear understanding that their computer activities are being monitored."

Ullmann has no objection to continued restrictions and monitoring. Instead, he narrowly objects to the "prohibitions" on his access to the Internet and use of the panoply of devices listed in the proposed condition. He also objects that some of the devices listed in the modified condition, such as "Internet appliance devices," are neither intended for nor capable of use for interpersonal communication. At the hearing on the proposed modification, the district court orally clarified that the "restrictions and/or prohibitions" language only restricted—and did not prohibit—use of various Internet-capable devices. Additionally, the court explained that the restrictions covered only certain Internet-capable devices by stating that Ullmann "has not been prohibited from using his computer, cell phone or any other electronic appliance with internet access. Rather, [Ullmann]'s use of these items may be restricted in order to monitor his post-release conduct." Further, the court clarified that, in ordering the modified condition, "[t]he court does not divest its judicial authority by ordering the defendant to comply with the United States Probation Office's Computer and Internet Monitoring Program. . . . [T]he court is retaining its decision-making authority and is merely asking that the probation office carry out the court's directives." In its subsequent written order, the district court repeated these conclusions verbatim, overruled Ullmann's objections, and imposed the modified condition. Ullmann timely appealed.



Ullmann argues that the modified condition imposes a greater deprivation of liberty than is reasonably necessary. We review the imposition of conditions of supervised release for abuse of discretion. United States v. Smith, 606 F.3d 1270, 1282 (10th Cir. 2010). Under 18 U.S.C. § 3583(d), conditions must:

(1) be reasonably related to the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of the defendant and (2) involve no greater deprivation of liberty than is reasonably necessary given the needs to afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct, to protect the public from further crimes of the defendant, and to provide the defendant with needed educational or vocational training, medical care, or other correctional treatment in the most effective manner.

United States v. Hahn, 551 F.3d 977, 983 (10th Cir. 2008) (quotation omitted).

In 2001, we held that an ambiguously-worded condition would impose a greater deprivation of liberty than is reasonably necessary if it were read to completely prohibit a defendant from accessing the Internet. White I, 244 F.3d at 1206. That same year, we recognized that the Internet is "one of the central means of information-gathering and communication in our culture." United States v. Walser, 275 F.3d 981, 988 (10th Cir. 2001). Because the condition at issue in Walser only limited, but did not completely prohibit, Internet use, we held that the district court did not plainly err in imposing it. Id. We nevertheless suggested it was "questionable whether the condition imposes no greater deprivation of liberty than is reasonably necessary." Id. (quotation omitted).

In the decade since we decided Walser and White I, the Internet has become more crucial to participation in employment, communication, and civic life. Internet use is necessary for many jobs, is essential to access information ranging from the local news to critical government documents, and is the encouraged medium for filing tax returns, registering to vote, and obtaining various permits and licenses.[1]Accordingly, we reaffirm White I and Walser, and hold that conditions imposing complete prohibitions on Internet use or use of Internet-capable devices will typically constitute greater deprivations of liberty than reasonably necessary, in violation of § 3583(d)(2).

The modified condition authorizes the Probation Office to impose "prohibitions related to: computer and Internet usage," and therefore, standing alone, is unnecessarily ambiguous. One could interpret the condition as either allowing the Probation Office to prohibit certain Internet or computer uses, or allowing the probation officer to prohibit any Internet or computer use. But even the Probation Office itself does not seem to advocate for the latter interpretation. Its CIMP manual clearly specifies that our precedent would forbid such an interpretation and that "[o]ffenders are permitted to use a computer and access the Internet." Likewise, the government does not attempt to defend a complete ban on Internet and computer use.[2] Instead, it argues that the text of the modified condition is limited by the district court's oral statement that Ullmann has not been prohibited from using Internet-capable devices.

"[A]n oral pronouncement of sentence from the bench controls over written language." United States v. Barwig, 568 F.3d 852, 855 (10th Cir. 2009) (quotation and alteration omitted). Accordingly, the controlling version of the modified condition is defined by the district court's unambiguous oral statement that Ullmann "has not been prohibited from using his computer, cell phone, or any other electronic appliance with internet access." Cf. United States v. Mike, 632 F.3d 686, 696 (10th Cir. 2011) (construing condition so as to render it legally sound). This oral statement also clarifies that restrictions may be imposed only on devices with Internet access. If Ullmann has a device, such as a gaming system, that lacks Internet access, the restrictions do not apply. Because the modified condition does not prohibit Ullmann from accessing the Internet or using Internet-capable devices, the district court did not abuse its discretion. The restrictions are related to Ullmann's attempted online solicitation of a minor, and deprive him of no greater amount of liberty than reasonably necessary to protect the public. SeeHahn, 551 F.3d at 983.

We conclude that the modified condition is lawful only because of the district court's oral statement. This conclusion does not detract from our concern regarding the ambiguity of the condition, which we are told the Probation Office intends to impose "as the standard sex offender supervision condition" as part of its CIMP policy. In future cases, the ambiguous language of the boilerplate condition at issue, unaccompanied by oral clarification, could reasonably be construed as prohibiting any Internet or computer use. We therefore caution that adjudicating further appeals because of the "restrictions and/or prohibitions" language is not a valuable use of our limited judicial resources.


Ullmann also argues that the modified condition is inconsistent with the Sentencing Guidelines. We review such claims for abuse of discretion. Smith, 606 F.3d at 1282. Under § 3583(d)(3), conditions must be "consistent with any pertinent policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission." Id. The Guidelines recommend that courts impose conditions on defendants "limiting the use of a computer or an interactive computer service" if they use such items to commit sex offenses. U.S.S.G. § 5D1.3(d)(7)(B). Section "3583(d)(3) mandates only that the conditions not directly conflict with policy statements." United States v. Bear, 769 F.3d 1221, 1230 (10th Cir. 2014). Because the modified condition restricts, rather than prohibits, Ullmann's use of the Internet and Internet-capable devices, it does not directly conflict with the recommendation of § 5D1.3(d)(7)(B).


Finally, Ullmann contends that the modified condition unconstitutionally delegates authority to perform a judicial function to the Probation Office. We review constitutional non-delegation challenges to conditions of supervised release de novo. United States v. Wayne, 591 F.3d 1326, 1336 (10th Cir. 2010). "Article III of the United States Constitution confers the authority to impose punishment on the judiciary, and the judiciary may not delegate that authority to a nonjudicial officer." United States v. White, 782 F.3d 1118, 1141 (10th Cir. 2015) ("White II").

To decide whether a condition of supervised release improperly delegates sentencing authority to a probation officer, we distinguish between permissible delegations that merely task the probation officer with performing ministerial acts or support services related to the punishment imposed and impermissible delegations that allow the officer to decide the nature or extent of the defendant's punishment.

Id. (quotations and alterations omitted).[3]

Ullmann's argument is premised on the modified condition authorizing his probation officer to "prohibit" his Internet use. But a district court's oral delegation to a probation officer controls over the written terms of a condition. See Wayne, 591 F.3d at 1336 (upholding a delegation to a probation officer based on oral statement of district court); accord White II, 782 F.3d at 1141-42 (holding that a condition did not improperly delegate authority because of a district court's extensive oral guidance). As limited by the district court, the modified condition does not improperly delegate to the Probation Office authority to determine the scope or nature of Ullmann's punishment. The court exercised its judicial authority by clarifying at the sentencing hearing that Ullmann would only have to comply with the CIMP restrictions related to Internet-capable devices, thereby deciding for itself the nature and extent of Ullmann's punishment.

Further, the district court specified that it retains decision-making authority and merely instructs the Probation Office to assist in carrying out the court's directives. Cf. White II, 782 F.3d at 1142 (concluding that delegation was proper because the district court "indicated it would remain involved in approving [defendant]'s contact with minors if future problems arose, and . . . has established guidelines and regularly consults with the probation office about approvals [to associate with minor family members]"). This statement confirms that the district court retains control over decisions affecting the scope of Ullmann's punishment, such as whether he can access the Internet, and delegates to the Probation Office only ministerial issues, such as the choice of monitoring software.[4]


The judgment of the district court is AFFIRMED.

[1] As a result, other circuits strictly limit conditions that prohibit Internet use. The Sixth Circuit remanded a case in which a condition prohibited Internet access, observing that "in 20 years, actually holding a job will in all likelihood require the usage of . . . Internet-based technology." United States v. Dotson, 715 F.3d 576, 586-87 (6th Cir. 2013). The First, Third, and Seventh Circuits have all overturned conditions banning Internet use and in so doing explained the importance of the Internet to filing tax returns, accessing government information, and conducting commerce. See United States v. Albertson, 645 F.3d 191, 200 (3d Cir. 2011)United States v. Perazza-Mercado, 553 F.3d 65, 73 (1st Cir. 2009)United States v. Holm, 326 F.3d 872, 877-78 (7th Cir. 2003).

[2] The government does, however, rely on an unpublished and nonbinding case to claim that a condition requiring approval of a probation officer to access the Internet would be permissible. SeeUnited States v. Vinson, 147 F. App'x 763 (10th Cir. 2005). But even in Vinson, we concluded that such a condition was acceptable only if properly implemented so as minimally intrude on Vinson's liberty, by, for example, filtering rather than prohibiting his Internet access. Id. at 774-75.

[3] The government, relying on our unpublished decision in United States v. Fivaz, 521 F. App'x 696 (10th Cir. 2013) (unpublished), contends that it is only impermissible to delegate probation officers authority to impose conditions that affect significant liberty interests. Id. at 701. Again, this reliance on our unpublished authority is misplaced. 

Our published precedent prohibits delegating the imposition of conditions that affect a significant liberty interest. 

See Mike, 632 F.3d at 695-96. No precedential authority supports the inverse proposition.

[4] As written, the modified condition states that Ullmann "shall cooperate with and abide by" the CIMP "[a]s directed by the U.S. Probation Officer." This could be interpreted in two ways. See United States v. Peterson, 248 F.3d 79, 84-85 (2d Cir. 2001) (recognizing similar language to have two possible meanings). One could interpret the phrase "shall cooperate with and abide by" as suggesting compliance with the CIMP is a mandatory condition imposed by the district court to be followed under the direction of the Probation Office. See id. at 85. Or, the phrase "[a]s directed by the U.S. Probation Officer" might be understood to give the Probation Office the discretion to require CIMP compliance. See id. The district court's oral modifications, however, cure any ambiguity and make clear that there was no impermissible delegation in this case.

5 things to know about sex offenders: Myth vs. reality

The Failure of Sex Offender Policy

Funke announces Senate passed sex offender bill

A felony for a sex offender to fail to appear at a court hearing to determine the offender's risk level.

Hord case cited in state audit

Abolish the sex offender registry - everyone please sign this petition now

Everyone reading this needs to click on the link and sign the petition and also ask all of your family and friends to do the same.  Lets get more than 800,000 to sign this.  There is no reason that any less than 4 million should sign this.  But it will require all affected family members to pass it on to everyone that knows and understands how inhuman the sex offender registry is and how cruel and unusual the punishment is that its associated restrictions inflict.  While this may have minimal effect on eliminating the registry compared to the much greater impact of the Class Action Lawsuits, everything that chips away at the registry is a good thing that deserves our support.

No Discretion for Indiscretions

Court Dismisses 1992 Sexual Assault Conviction of Austin Couple

Michigan sex offender registry laws under fire - Experts say such registries can be counterproductive; courts question constitutional fairness

It has been 10 years since Shaun Webb, a married father and caretaker at an Oakland County Catholic church, was convicted of groping a teenage girl over her sweater, a claim Webb vehemently denies.

Webb, then 37 with a clean criminal record, was convicted of misdemeanor sexual assault and sent to jail for seven months.

Though a misdemeanor, state law demanded Webb be listed on the same public sex offender registry as hard core rapists, pedophiles and other felons. It has meant a decade of poverty, unemployment, harassment, divorce and depression for him. Under the current law, he'll be on the list until 2031.

"It's destroyed my life," Webb said from his rural home in Arenac County, where he now lives alone with his dog Cody.

Webb is one of 43,000 Michigan residents required by law to be listed on the state's online sex offender registry, and one of about 800,000 nationwide on individual state registries. Each state has a digital registry that can be searched on the Internet that are monitored by parents, potential employers and cautious neighbors.

Webb can't find employers willing to hire him. He was harassed by neighbors who once put up flyers in his old neighborhood, and his wife left him after he got out of jail. A woman in Florida he has never met, a self-proclaimed vigilante, tracks his every move online, calling him names and taunting him as a child rapist.

To be sure, registries help track violent sexual offenders and pedophiles who prey on children, and they're also politically popular and get lots of traffic online. But Michigan's law and others have come under increased fire lately as overly broad and potentially unconstitutional.

For example, Michigan has the fourth highest per capita number of people on its registry and is one of only four states that requires some convicted of public urination to be on the list.

Research also suggests the lists do little to protect communities and often create ongoing misery for some who served their sentences and are unlikely to reoffend.

Even some early advocates have changed their minds, including Patty Wetterling, the mother of Jacob Wetterling, who went missing when he was 11 and was never found. Police suspected a pedophile living nearby abducted him. At the time, Wetterling lobbied passionately for a federal law authorizing registries and was at the White House in 1994 when President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law.

She now advocates revamping the laws, saying some juveniles and others who made mistakes are unnecessarily tarred for life. "Should they never be given a chance to turn their lives around," she asked in a published 2013 interview. "Instead, we let our anger drive us."

But legislators and law enforcement officials say the registries are useful because they help keep track of potentially dangerous people. They also dismiss the research, saying it's impossible to determine who might reoffend, and caution against narrowing the definition in Michigan of who should be listed.

"The problem I have is should we go back and say only pedophiles have to register?" said state Sen. Rick Jones, who helped draft some of Michigan's sex offender registry laws. "Do we want violent sex offenders on the school ground, do we want public masturbators on the school grounds? I'm not prepared to change the way the list operates."

Many parents say the registries makes them feel safer. Lori Petty, a legal secretary, has been logging on regularly over the years as she raised her two sons in Commerce Township.

"If they were going over to a friend's house to visit, I would look to see who lived nearby, if there was a high concentration," she said. "Not that there was anything I could do, but it helps to know."

Her sons are now 18 and 25, and she monitors the site less frequently, using it to see who may have moved close by, she said.

"I want to know who is living in my neighborhood."

Laws have expanded

In Michigan, most of those convicted of sex offenses are listed online and show up with just a few key strokes on a website managed by the Michigan State Police. Webb's face, address, conviction, physical description, birth date and job location pop up if you plug in his name, or the ZIP code where he lives. It does not give the circumstances of his arrest. The state's site gets about 227,000 hits a month.

Each state has a digital registry that can be searched on the Internet that are monitored by parents, potential employers and cautious neighbors. 

Sex offender registry laws were first passed in the 1990s following a string of horrific child murders. The registries were originally accessible only by police, allowing them to track the most dangerous offenders.

But lawmakers expanded the laws over the years — they are now public record and include teenagers who had consensual sex, people arrested for public urination, people who had convictions expunged at the request of their victims, and people like Webb, who have no felony convictions.

They also include people who are not predators. Earlier this month, a Florida couple was convicted of lewd behavior after having consensual sex on a public beach. They will have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.

While convicted sex offenders don't tend to generate much public sympathy, research in the last two decades shows such registries might not be very effective. And higher courts recently have called registries harsh and unconstitutional, including a ruling last month that says parts of Michigan's law are vague and unconstitutional, making it impossible in some instances for offenders to know if they are following the law.

For many, there is also a question of fundamental fairness when a 19-year-old is convicted of having sex with his underage girlfriend or somebody convicted of public urination is grouped on the same list as a serial rapist.

Despite the court rulings and the research, it's doubtful public sex offender registries are going away, although it seems apparent Michigan and other states are going to have to make some changes.

Is it fair?

A big question, though, is whether Michigan's expansive definition of who should be on the sex offender registry is fair to people like Webb. After losing his job at the church and serving his time, he found himself unable to resume a productive life.

"I don't bother people. I keep to myself. I can't get a job," he said, struggling to keep his composure during a recent interview. "I'm just trying to live my life as best I can."

He moved up to Arenac County from Oakland County a few years ago and has been writing thrillers and true crime books he self-publishes and sells at book fairs and on Amazon.

It doesn't pay the bills.

He gets by on food stamps and help from family members who pay his rent. He has sometimes considered suicide. He takes antidepressants. Under Michigan law, the now 47-year-old Webb has to stay on the registry until 2031. He has committed no new crimes.

The then-15-year-old girl who made the claims against Webb was a family member of a cleaning crew that worked at the church and school. Webb had reported earlier that he thought the crew had been stealing cleaning and school supplies. Weeks later, the girl claimed Webb had been molesting her in his office. He was charged with three counts and convicted of one.

The girl and her family are believed to have moved away. The Free Press was unable to locate her for this story.

Webb's ex-wife Nancy, a teacher at the church school, said she believes he was wrongly accused — and that his conviction and registration as an offender destroyed their marriage.

"I never believed the accusations and was amazed that such totally unsupported claims would even be considered," she said in an e-mail to the Free Press. "These people I knew and spoke to many times. I went through the trial confused and frightened but confident that justice would prevail. I was shocked by the conduct of the judge and the prosecutor. Conviction, not truth, was their primary motivation."

She stood by him but, she said, "Shaun returned from jail a changed person. He couldn't work due to his criminal record, even though it's listed as a misdemeanor, and his sex offender status. He sank into depression, anxiety and alcohol. Financially drained and emotionally spent, it destroyed our hope and our marriage."

Michigan ranks fourth

Nationally, there are about 800,000 people registered as sex offenders across the 50 states.

Michigan is particularly aggressive, ranking fourth in the nation with the number of offenders on the registry, following only California, Texas and Florida. It also ranks fourth per capita, with 417 registrants per 100,000 citizens. It is one of only 13 states that count public urination as a sex crime, although two convictions are required before registration.

And Michigan continues to require registration for consensual sex among teenagers if the age difference is greater than four years.

In April, a U.S District Court judge in Detroit found Michigan's sex offender law unconstitutional on several fronts, noting it is so vague — including a provision that offenders can't live, work or "loiter" within a thousand feet of a school — that it is almost impossible to comply.

The law "makes it difficult for a well-intentioned registrant to understand his or her obligations," Judge Robert Cleland wrote. The sex offender law "was not enacted as a trap for individuals who have committed sex offenses in the past and who have already served their sentences. Rather the goal is public safety and public safety would only be enhanced by the government ensuring that registrants be aware of their obligations."

Cleland, in making his ruling, relied in part on the testimony of the state's own expert on sex offenders, Dr. Janet Fay-Dumaine, a psychologist at the state's Center for Forensic psychology who assesses and treats sex offenders. Few, she testified, reoffend.

"It is extremely contrary to our cultural assumptions about sex offenders. It's hard for people to get their head around. Yes, there is a group of sex offenders that are a high risk of (offending again), but that's a very small number of sex offenders. Most do not (offend again). And this is a pretty robust finding in the literature."

Some legislators disagree

Michigan legislators are reviewing Cleland's ruling and considering reforming the laws to make them compliant. Some, though, think tougher laws are in order. And they dismiss critics who say the registries cause unnecessary misery to those who have already served their sentences.

"I say if you do the horrible rape, or if you have sex with a child, you deserve the consequences," said state Sen. Rick Jones, who helped draft some of Michigan's sex offender registry laws.

Jones questions the research that shows sex offenders are much less likely to reoffend and that the majority of those on the registry pose no threat.

"I have 31 years of experience in police work, and as a retired sheriff in Eaton County I formed some very strong opinions that the science is still not clear for pedophiles. I believe it is society's duty to keep pedophiles from children so that the temptation isn't there. So I say you need to stay a thousand feet from schools."

Jones also discounts the idea that offenders should be treated differently, depending on their likelihood of re-offending. Minnesota, for instance, places offenders on its registry based on extensive risk assessment and psychological testing, not the crimes they committed.

Registries can hamper

Jones' views are not supported by the facts, said Miriam Aukerman, an ACLU attorney who filed the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Michigan's law. She notes that the lawsuit includes a man forced to register after having consensual sex with his teenaged girl friend.

The pair are now together and have two children. Yet the man is prohibited from attending school functions for his children and has a hard time holding down a job.

"While many other states focus law enforcement resources on those who are actually a danger, Michigan's registry fails to separate those who are a risk from those who aren't. That's why it is one of the largest registries in the county," Aukerman said.

"Michigan's registry includes people like our client John Doe, who is on the registry for a relationship with the woman who is now the mother of his two children and whom he met at a club restricted to adults," she said. "None of us are safer when the police have to monitor people like him who don't need to be monitored, and then don't have the time to effectively monitor the people who should be monitored. If we want to be safe, we need to give the police the tools they need. And that means a registry that uses risk assessments to determine who needs to be monitored and who doesn't."

Even national advocacy groups for survivors of sexual assault say overly broad public registries can hamper, rather than help.

"Sex offender registration can be useful for law enforcement agencies in their tracking of convicted sex offenders," according to the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, a Washington-based advocacy group. "However, over-inclusive publication notification can actually be harmful to public safety by diluting the ability to identify the most dangerous offenders and by disrupting the stability of low-risk offenders in ways that increase their risk of reoffense."

A 1989 abduction

State and federal lawmakers have long grappled with how to keep children safe from predators, passing laws that, on first review, would appear to give police and parents tools to monitor the most reviled predators in the community.

Eleven-year-old Jacob Wetterling was abducted near his home in Minnesota in 1989 by what police came to believe was a pedophile living nearby. Jacob has never been found. In 1994, Congress created the Jacob Wetterling Crime Act, requiring that sex offenders register with local police and verify their current names and addresses. The public did not have access to the information.

Then, in May, 1996, the federal government demanded that those registries be made public, requiring states to list the names on the Internet. And in 2007, Congress passed the Adam Walsh Protection Act, expanding the reporting requirements of sex offenders, mandating that they also report where they work and attend school and increasing the length of time they stay on the registry. Some states, like Minnesota, refused to comply and were denied federal grant money.

While those laws may have helped parents rest easier, there is no evidence that they stopped sexual predators. And in some cases, offenders, ostracized and stigmatized, unable to rejoin society, turned to new, sometimes nonsexual crimes, research shows.

Patty Wetterling, Jacob's mother, is currently the board chair director for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and for many years supported the development of registries in all 50 states.

But in recent years, she has become a vocal critic of the registries, saying they are unnecessarily punitive and ineffective.

"People want a single solution, and that's been sold over the years ... but we've cast such a broad net that we're catching a lot of juveniles who did something stupid, and different types of offenders who just screwed up," Wetterling said in an interview, published in 2013. "Should they never be given a chance to turn their lives around? Instead we let our anger drive us."

What the science says

A 2010 study by the American Journal of Public Health, examining sex offender laws nationwide and the best way to reduce recidivism, noted: "Research to date indicates that after 15 years the laws have had little impact on recidivism rates and the incidence of sexually based crimes."

Instead, the study found, "The most significant impact of these laws seems only to be numerous collateral consequences for communities, registered sex offenders – including a potential increased risk for recidivism – and their family members."

J.J. Prescott, a law professor at the University of Michigan and a nationally recognized expert on sex offender registry laws, agrees. He has done statistical analysis of the impact the laws have on crime rates.

"I believe that if a sex offender really wants to commit a crime, these laws are not going to be particularly effective at stopping him," he said, noting that there is no evidence that residency restrictions or "school safety zones" have had any positive impact on the rate of sexual assault on children, according to studies nationwide.

"The primary concern driving the passage and expansion of these laws is what people refer to as 'stranger danger.' People are worried about someone they don't know attacking them or their kids," he said. "But most offenders are well known to victims. Plus, there are so many ways for people to wind up on the registry. These aren't all rapists or child molesters. Urinating in public can be enough. Many are crimes without violence."

The registries have had an important unintended consequence, he said. The public shaming of sex offenders makes it almost impossible to re-assimilate them into the community as a productive citizen, and as a result, "we've effectively reduced the threat of prison.

"For some of these people, prison is a better option than trying to survive on the outside… or at least not significantly worse. These laws destroy what's valuable about someone's freedom: You're a pariah virtually everywhere, you can't live in most neighborhoods, and nobody wants to date, marry, or socialize with you. You can't find a job because no one will hire a sex offender. All told, these laws take away their reasons for staying on the straight and narrow, for working hard to become a valuable member of a community. On balance, these laws may actually make it more attractive for convicted offenders to return to crime."

Prescott stops short of calling for an end to all sex offender registries, as some critics have. His research shows that limited registries open only to law enforcement "do work at reducing recidivism across all classes of offenders."

While his research also shows that the mere threat of having to publicly register may deter some potential offenders from committing their first crime, this effect is more than offset in states with large registries by higher levels of recidivism among those who have been convicted.

"Law reads like dog food"

KG, a Macomb County man who asked that his name not be made public because of his wife and children, has no criminal conviction on the record, but he is on the public registry.

Ten years ago, his stepchild accused KG, a mid-level manager working for a car company, of inappropriate groping. Faced with the possibility of a trial that would include family members testifying against each other, he took the advice of his lawyer, and pleaded to a misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. He did no jail time and was placed on probation.

"I thought it was in the best interest of my family," he said. "I didn't understand the ramifications."

His employer found out he was listed as a sex offender and fired him after 20 years. He got new jobs, but the registry caught up with him during background checks and he has mostly been unemployed over the last decade. Not long ago, he testified before the state's judiciary committee on the need for reform.

"I explained what happened to me," he said. "I'm not a predator, I'm not a pedophile."

A few months ago, he sought to have his criminal history cleared. The stepchild who made the allegations wrote the court, asking that his criminal conviction be expunged. A judge agreed and removed the conviction.

Yet he still remains on the sex offender registry. The law doesn't allow even those who have had their criminal histories cleared to be removed from the list.

"I see this all the time," said Shannon Smith, a Bloomfield Hills attorney who has built her practice representing people charged with sex offenses. She represented KG in having his record cleared.

"So often the people who come to me are involved in touching that was misinterpreted, or kids who were involved in something. It's total overkill. This man is not a risk."

Smith estimates she has represented 200 or so people charged with sex crimes and some already on the registry. Some were facing new penalties for not following the complicated reporting requirements, not for committing new offenses.

"The law reads like dog food," she said. "The decision to place somebody on the registry should be based on risk assessment and judges should have more discretion."

Jennifer Zoltowski, a licensed psychologist who specializes in sexual disorders, does risk assessments for courts, helping to determine the likelihood an offender might re-offend. She evaluated KG and determined that he posed no threat, submitting her findings to the court..

"People hear the words sex offender and they immediately think pedophile," said Zoltowski, who has done more than 600 assessments since 2001. Many were done while she worked at the Oakland County Court Psychology Clinic. "There are too many people I've seen who really don't belong on the registry."

Zoltowski also runs a private practice treating sexual problems and says studies consistently show that many respond well to therapy, particularly juveniles. "But there is such a stigma attached that a lot of them won't seek help, or they're worried that they'll be reported to police."

Both Smith and Zoltowski belong to Michigan's Coalition for a Useful Registry, a group that meets four times a year to discuss the laws and lobby legislators for reform. The group includes attorneys, probation officers, a retired judge, and family members of those on the registry.

"Its really very political," said Smith. "And the public has such a misconception of who these people are."

Many in law enforcement though, believe that it is impossible to predict who will re-offend and that it's better to monitor too much rather than not enough.

"We know from experience that a peeping tom can escalate to violent crime," said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, who drafted Michigan's first sex offender laws in the 1990s, when he was a state senator.

And regarding critics who say the laws are unnecessarily punitive and punish people who have already served their time, he said, "I don't care. In my mind some of these people should not have been released to begin with."

L.L. Brasier is a reporter for the Detroit Free Press.


Was justice served after teen's encounter with girl?

By Virginia Black South Bend Tribune Posted on May 18, 2015

When the Niles girl came down the stairs early one December evening all made up and her hair looking especially nice, her mother said, "Dang! Where are you going?"

The girl, who struggles with epilepsy, didn't answer. Her mother assumed she was merely heading down the street, so the mother decided to give her daughter space.

Outside the house, the girl climbed into a car with 19-year-old Zachery Anderson.

The two first met on the Facebook-hosted Hot or Not website, in the over-18 section. When they were communicating online and in text messages, she told him she was 17. They went to a nearby school and talked a while before having sex. 

Zach recalls dropping her back at home later, where he gave her a hug before he drove back to his parents' Elkhart home.

But the girl was only 14, on the cusp of 15.

After she had not quickly returned, her mother worried about her daughter missing a dose of her medicine and possibly having a seizure, so she called police. Officers were at the house when the girl returned, not even an hour after the girl left.

The next time the teens would see each other was in a Niles courtroom, where Zach would ultimately be ordered to spend 90 days in the county jail, five years on probation and 25 years on Michigan's sex offender registry. He would lose the work he'd completed toward a computer-related degree this semester and be forced to give up his field of study — and, as part of his sentence, even the use of a smartphone or being around anyone else with one.

A longtime Michigan law often applies in cases like Zach's, calling for lenient sentences and, perhaps more importantly, allowing first-time offenders to avoid the sex offender registry. The victim and her mother even pleaded for leniency. But the judge in Zach's case chose to not give the first offender a break, even after false information about the 19-year-old in a pre-sentence report was flagged. The judge's sentence came with a lecture about the dangers of the Internet.

And, critics say, cases like Zach's raise questions about sex-offender laws that are meant to protect the public but sometimes have unintended consequences.

'How old are you really?'

Zach Anderson is wearing dark green scrubs now, in a dorm of the Berrien County Jail in St. Joseph.

The girl was the first he met in person through Hot or Not, he said. The Tribune is not identifying the girl or her mother to protect the girl's identity as a sex crime victim.

Anderson doesn't remember which of them proposed sex, although he said he wasn't pressing the girl. She also had not mentioned having epilepsy, he said.

Shortly after their Dec. 19 meeting, he traveled with his family to Florida and, he said, the first he knew trouble was brewing was when the girl sent him a message saying "something like, 'Oh, we're in a lot of trouble.' "

Why, he asked?

"I asked, 'How old are you really?' and then she told me," Anderson said.

In early January, two detectives visited him while he was working as a lube tech at Auto Village Service Center in Goshen. He cooperated. They confiscated his phone.

He turned himself in Feb. 24, posted bond and was released on house arrest, living in his parents' home. Anderson began to work for their small business as he attended his first semester on scholarship at Ivy Tech Community College in Elkhart.

He was aiming for a computer-related degree, because "I've been building computers and stuff since I was 12," he said. "I'm a technology-type guy."

His defense attorney, John Gardiner, had advised that if he pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct 4th degree — a "high-court misdemeanor," according to Michigan law — he would be a suitable candidate for Holmes Youthful Trainee Act status. HYTA is meant for first-time offenders older than 17 but not yet 21. It allows a defendant to avoid harsher penalties and, in the case of more minor sex crimes, not be subject to a state-mandated 25-year listing on the sex offender registry.

But Berrien County District Court Judge Dennis Wiley decided against leniency.

'Out of whole cloth?'

At Anderson's original sentencing hearing on April 13, the girl and her mother pleaded with Wiley in his Niles courtroom.

"I feel that nothing should happen to Zach," the girl said, according to transcripts of the hearing.

Her mother elaborated, telling the judge the girl's emotional state over her epilepsy "plays a role in what she has done, and she feels guilty about what happened and she says, 'Why can't I be in trouble for what happened?' ... I hope you'll really consider the fact of just dropping the case."

Gardiner took issue in open court with the pre-sentence investigation, which a document a judge considers when issuing a sentence. Gardiner pointed out what he called incorrect information that was not attributed to any source.

The April 7 report describes, for instance, a police investigation about a suspect named Zach who had been targeting underage girls on the site.

"Zach was asking victims sexual questions, asking if they were virgins, asking for them to show him pictures of their private parts and indicating to them if they don't play his games or show him naked pictures of themselves, he will send naked pictures of them to all of his contacts," wrote the pre-sentence investigator, Joseph Tourangeau, recommending against HYTA consideration. "This information strongly suggests that this defendant has engaged in pre-offense, predatory conduct."

Police later said they determined Zach Anderson was not that perpetrator.

Tourangeau also wrote that Anderson had mental health and substance abuse problems and recommended a long list of suggested sentencing conditions "to punish the defendant, deter others from committing like offenses and for the protection of the community."

When Gardiner, the defense attorney, challenged the accuracy of the report on April 13, Wiley responded, "You mean what you're saying is that Mr. Tourangeau created this out of whole cloth?"

The investigator was summoned to the courtroom, and, according to the transcript of the hearing, Wiley postponed the sentencing "until we get additional information."

On April 27, Tourangeau did not attend the rescheduled hearing, nor had Gardiner or Assistant Prosecutor Jerry Vigansky received a new or amended report.

"Apparently the DOC (Department of Corrections) is not prepared to meet that challenge, so it'll be stricken," Wiley said, according to a video recording of the hearing. "Apparently there was some report somewhere that (the investigator) received, but apparently it has disappeared from the face of the earth, so ..." The judge did not finish the thought.

Vigansky clarified during the hearing that police told him Anderson was not a suspect in any other crimes.

Officials in Berrien County's probation office did not respond to requests for comment last week, but DOC spokesman Chris Gautz acknowledged a section of the pre-sentence report — particularly the part about Zach Anderson having a history of seeking out 10- to 14-year-olds and threatening them — came from an incorrect reference to another case in a police report.

Gautz said a regional administrator will meet with the judge as soon as Monday, to see what, if anything, a corrected pre-sentence report would have on his decisions in the case.

The DOC spokesman also said he was told the information in the report was "upheld by the prosecutor and the judge" during the April 27 hearing. Yet the court recording of that hearing shows differently.

'No excuse for this, whatsoever'

Gardiner recommended the judge grant his client "youthful training" status under HYTA, citing Anderson's clean record, the fact the girl had lied about her age and even that the girl and her mother had asked for leniency. The young man had cooperated with authorities and had been engaging in weekly counseling with a pastor of Granger Community Church, where the family attends.

Gardiner pointed out the 4th degree offense to which he pleaded guilty is not eligible for expungement should the court deny his recommendation for leniency.

Vigansky did not recommend against using HYTA but reminded the judge of other cases just this year with the same factors in play, and that Anderson's sentence should be similar.

Those "two or three" other cases, Vigansky told a reporter later, also involved men between 17 and 21 who met younger girls who had lied about their ages on Hot or Not, also had sex with them and and also had previously clean records.

"I apologize sincerely and this won't happen again," Anderson told the judge. "In the last couple of months, I've changed a lot."

But Wiley, without giving a reason, said, "I'm not going to place you on Holmes Youthful Training status...And Mr. Gardiner, contrary to your belief, it is an expungeable conviction..So we shall see how he does."

But the judge was apparently wrong. Michigan lawmakers recently passed legislation that, as of Jan. 12, now includes Anderson's offense among those that are never expungeable.

The judge did not respond to a request for comment.

"The Internet's wonderful, thank you, Al Gore. But it also is a danger," Wiley told Anderson, according to the recording of the sentencing. "You went online, to use a fisherman's expression, trolling for women to meet and have sex with. That seems to be part of our culture now: meet, hook up, have sex, sayonara. Totally inappropriate behavior. There is no excuse for this, whatsoever."

Then the judge, despite having thrown out the earlier pre-sentence report, read his sentencing conditions, which appeared to be the same as those recommended by the pre-sentence investigator.

Despite Gardiner's appeal, Wiley refused to reconsider the ban on computer usage. Anderson was two weeks away from finals for his semester's classwork at Ivy Tech, but the judge ordered him to serve his 90 days immediately.

As deputies escorted Anderson out of the courtroom, the girl wiped tears from her eyes, and her mother gasped and was so overcome with emotion she left the courtroom.

'I don't think they're pedophiles'

Anderson's parents say they will appeal the case.

"I can't think of a better case for (HYTA) than Zach's," Gardiner, the defense attorney, said last week. "He will forever in current Michigan law have this on his record, the rest of his life."

The attorney said most pre-sentence reports he has seen include a victim impact statement or information from an interview with a victim, and refer to specific police reports.

And Gardiner is still puzzled by some of the terms, such as forcing Anderson to change his college major: "What did happen was the punishment so grossly outweighed the crime."

Miriam Aukerman, an attorney with ACLU Michigan, said legislators have reacted out of "fear and not facts" when it comes to sex-offender laws. She is involved with a case where a federal judge recently ruled that many of the stringent requirements for those on the state's sex offender registry are unconstitutional.

"Whenever we make legislation in response to horrible crimes, we run the risk of making bad law," Aukerman said of increasing requirements for listing offenders on the registry, which is now the fourth-largest in the country and includes nearly 42,000 offenders. "We don't think about all of the other people who are caught up in these laws."

That includes cases like Zach Anderson's, she said.

"HYTA recognizes you don't want to tar somebody for life because of the stupid things we do at that age," Aukerman said.

Legislators have argued that stringent sex-offender laws and registries are meant to protect children and the community. After the recent ruling on Michigan's sex offender registry, State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was quoted in the Detroit Free Press last month saying, "This is one judge's ruling and the law will soon be changed." He told the newspaper he is already drafting a legislative fix to "protect our children from sex predators."

Vigansky, the assistant prosecutor, was involved in all three recent Berrien County cases involving young men meeting underage girls on Hot or Not. He said HYTA was not invoked in any of them, all plea agreements, although he did not recommend one way or the other.

He wouldn't comment specifically on the cases or the judge's decision, although when pressed a bit, he acknowledged, "I don't think they're pedophiles."

'It's hurt our families greatly'

Zach's parents, Lester and Amanda Anderson, acknowledge their son made a mistake. They recalled always teaching their four boys that sex is for marriage.

"But he's only been on earth 19 years, and his punishment is longer than he's been alive," his father said.

Amanda called the judge's comments in court "vicious."

" 'Learn from it' — that's what he should have said. Is the law supposed to cripple people, or is it supposed to correct people and rehabilitate their lives?" she said. 

"This really did no justice to anybody."

The girl's mother is still distraught over the ruling and says her whole family has sought counseling.

Anderson, the mother has learned, is "very nice. He's concerned about you. He's just different. He's not a jerk."

She's still outraged that neither the prosecutor nor judge took into account her daughter's wishes in pressing forward with the case. "It's hurt our families greatly," she said.

Meanwhile, Anderson is spending his time in jail sleeping, playing cards or watching TV. He's hoping for a successful appeal.

He says he's grown closer to God in the last few months and is grateful for his family's support.

"I wouldn't use any of those different apps at all," he would tell other young people. "They're not safe."

Virginia Black: 574-235-6321


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FAC Submits Formal Complaint to UN Human Rights Council Regarding Treatment of Sex Offenders

LAKE MONROE, FLORIDA – May 11, 2015 - Last week the Florida Action Committee, a Florida-based non-profit advocacy organization, filed a complaint to the United Nations Human Rights Council. The complaint concerns the treatment of over one hundred seventy (170) registrants living homeless along the railroad tracks along Northwest 71st Street and 36th Court in Miami, Florida.

Most are living at that location because of harsh residency restrictions that prevent them from living in most of Miami-Dade County. Many were sent to live there by their probation officers or were evicted from a nearby trailer park because it was said there was a school within 2500 feet. All are living without shelter, sanitation, running water, access to electricity or other basic necessities. Studies have consistently concluded that residency restrictions are an ineffective sex offender management tool.

The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights affords certain rights to all human beings. Among those rights are the right to life, liberty and security of person. The rights further provide that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

FAC's complaint requests the United Nations Human Rights Council investigate what is taking place not only in Miami-Dade, but throughout the State of Florida and in States and Communities throughout the United States.
For More Information:
Gail Colletta, President Florida Action Committee




Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.


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Article 1.

  • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

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Article 2.

  • Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

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Article 3.

  • Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

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Article 4.

  • No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

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Article 5.

  • No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

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Article 6.

  • Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

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Article 7.

  • All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

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Article 8.

  • Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

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Article 9.

  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

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Article 10.

  • Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

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Article 11.

  • (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
  • (2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

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Article 12.

  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

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Article 13.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
  • (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

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Article 14.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
  • (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

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Article 15.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
  • (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

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Article 16.

  • (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
  • (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
  • (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

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Article 17.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
  • (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

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Article 18.

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

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Article 19.

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

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Article 20.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
  • (2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

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Article 21.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
  • (2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
  • (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

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Article 22.

  • Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

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Article 23.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  • (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
  • (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
  • (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

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Article 24.

  • Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

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Article 25.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
  • (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

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Article 26.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
  • (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
  • (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

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Article 27.

  • (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
  • (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

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Article 28.

  • Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

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Article 29.

  • (1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
  • (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
  • (3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

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Article 30.

  • Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.



Source: United Nations Universal Declaration Of Human Rights

Facing the system: Former UB student struggles as Level 2 sex offender

Larry Lampke just had heart surgery and was lying on a mattress set up in his living room when officers from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security brought his son Daniel through the front door.

His damaged heart raced.

What had happened to his shy, socially awkward son? Had he done something or had something been done to him?

Daniel had always kept to himself and seemed clenched up and wrapped inward.

Lampke never imagined that his son’s quirkiness and his mental condition – which he only recently learned is a very mild form of autism – would, in part, propel Daniel through the New York court system and land him on a list of high-level sex offenders.

Sex offender.

Just the words are menacing and off-putting.

Some people assume Daniel is a rapist.

He is not.

Lampke remembers the shock that set in when officers told him his son had child pornography on his laptop. Officers found the laptop when Daniel was crossing the Canadian-American border in the summer of 2013, shortly before he began his freshman year at UB.

Daniel, now 22, had five images of children between 11 and 16 years old and one short video on the computer, according to his lawyer.

Daniel is articulate when it comes to complex subjects like chemistry and linguistics. But he struggles to talk about himself and to explain why he downloaded the illegal images. He says he was lonely and curious, but admits he’s not sure why he did it. His lawyer suggests people with autism can be emotionally younger than their actual years.

On March 21, 2014, Daniel pleaded guilty to attempted possession of child pornography.

And on July 30, 2014 – after Daniel had already spent two full semesters at UB as a linguistics major and found his first girlfriend – the state labeled him a Level 2 sex offender.

“It's something I wish I had never done. I definitely acknowledge that I broke the law.”

A judge gave Daniel the label after he was run through a point system that ranks an offender’s risk of reoffending.

Because the court deemed Daniel “psychologically abnormal,” the judge – Kenneth Case of Erie County – bumped his level up a notch higher than his original Level 1 score.

Now, the Level 2 label could remain with Daniel for life.

This label has already forced Daniel to leave his UB on-campus housing – where he had spent almost eight uneventful months after his arrest, but prior to his conviction. It’s also prevented him from getting a job or attending classes at UB.

Who would want to house or hire or even befriend a sex offender?

Because Daniel was denied housing on UB’s campus, the university determined he could not be in any on-campus dorms. In August of 2014, he was caught in his girlfriend’s dorm room and arrested.

Last Wednesday, he got his punishment: He’s not allowed on campus for a year.

The punishment doesn’t matter to Daniel.

He dropped out of school at the end of the fall semester, ending his hopes of becoming a linguistics researcher. It was too hard to be a sex offender and a student.

After his Level 2 listing, he couldn’t find a place to live. At times during the fall semester, when his parents couldn’t drive him the 45-minutes from his Evans home, he slept in the library. According to the rules of his probation, Daniel is not even allowed to access a computer or go on the Internet until 2020.

“It’s something I wish I had never done,” Daniel said of downloading the images. “I definitely acknowledge that I broke the law. I’m not saying that I didn’t – it just doesn’t seem like it fits. I realize I have to have some kind of punishment because I broke the law but it just doesn’t seem to fit.”

On Aug. 25, Daniel became the most talked-about topic on campus.

At about 5 p.m., UB sent a campus-wide email to the nearly 40,000 students, faculty, staff and alumni with a email address alerting them that Daniel Lampke, a Level 2 sex offender and registered student, was taking classes. 

The email included a link to a color photo of Daniel and a description of his crime. 

The photo is the one that appears on the New York State sex offender registry and – like a mug shot – shows an unsmiling, slightly scruffy-faced Daniel, his big rectangular glasses overwhelming his pale face and wide eyes.

The message went out on the first day of Daniel’s second year at UB. It left him shocked, afraid and embarrassed.

Such an email, said UB Spokesman John Della Contrada, is protocol, based on a SUNY policy in accordance with Megan’s Law, which requires UB to notify the campus when a Level 2 or 3 sex offender is enrolled or working on campus. It made no difference – nor did the UB email state – that Daniel had already been on campus and taking classes the entire year before without incident. It did say he was not a threat to anyone on campus and warned students that anyone who harassed him would get in trouble.

It was the first time UB sent out such an email because it was the first time a Level 2 offender was registered at UB, Della Contrada said.

SUNY’s policy doesn’t require UB to look into the charges before issuing the alert.

Had officials probed into Daniel’s case, they may have learned Daniel, who was never accused of touching anyone in any way, has a higher level sex offender ranking than some offenders who have molested children. They may have learned that Daniel’s ranking was upped from a Level 1 – which would have required no public notification – to a Level 2. Daniel’s lawyer, Rodney Personius, said the court saw his autism as an aggravating factor, rather than a mitigating one.

Personius said he thinks the judge may not have made Daniel a Level 2 if he knew it would mean a massive email notification across campus because he didn’t want to cause Daniel any harm.

But no one at UB asked questions. And even if anyone had, it wouldn’t have made a difference. The law treats sex offenders harsher than most criminals.

According to New York State statistics, Daniel, like the 467 other Level 2 offenders in Erie County, has a “moderate risk” of reoffending.

That risk dictates his life.

“This punishment for what he had on his computer … just for that alone for the punishment he has, and for his life before as far as being law abiding and being in school, being smart, having aspirations … it’s just terribly, terribly unfair,” his father said.

Daniel’s story calls into question the way judges decide sex offenders’ levels and the trickle down effect of that label, especially in the university setting. Despite the good intentions of the law, the label has ruined a young man’s life.

He’s lost his sense of purpose, his friends, his hope for the future. Once people know he’s a sex offender, they recoil from him as if he were toxic. He spends his days watching TV, reading and applying to jobs for which he won’t be hired.

One of the last bits of his former life he could still hold onto was his girlfriend – part of his main support system throughout the last year. She asked her name not be used in this piece for a “variety of personal reasons.” By May of this year, she could no longer stand the pressure of dating a Level 2 sex offender and the couple, who met at their freshman orientation, broke up.

Daniel’s optimism has waned over the course of the last seven months, as he navigates life as a sex offender.

Daniel Lampke stands outside the Academic Spine on one of his last days as a UB student. / Sara DiNatale

Daniel’s story

Daniel’s life shifted irrevocably when UB sent out that warning email.

“It seemed like everything changed after that, like everybody knew my face,” Daniel said. “It seemed like everybody was looking at me. I didn’t know how to react.”

Daniel said his “mild autism” already made it hard to talk to people. The email just amplified it. He constantly wondered if people were talking behind his back.

That day, as he walked through a campus that now recognized his face, he probably looked like he usually does. Daniel sticks out, according to his dad. He keeps himself coiled up in a way – his arms always snug and tense against his chest.

His dad pushes him to relax because he worries people make the wrong assumptions based just on his posture.

Daniel acknowledges his crime. He goes to court-mandated therapy that has helped him understand why it’s not OK to have images of children being abused. He now knows it’s a form of abuse and why it’s illegal.

He wishes he never did it. He says he’s sorry, but still can’t explain why he broke the law.

“It’s very difficult to explain what actually happened – my thought process,” Daniel said. “I guess the main thing is just, I grew up so lonely I had to develop ways to cope that some of them were not healthy. It’s a mistake. It’s a mistake I made. It’s not the fact that I like children, that I want to touch children – that’s not the case. It’s the fact I was looking for ways to cope with my loneliness and my lack of experience with just about everything.”

Daniel admits he never had a “true relationship” before meeting his girlfriend. He was ignorant – sexually and otherwise. He made a lot of Internet friends because it was easier to talk online than face-to-face.

When he spoke to The Spectrum for the first time in October, his now ex-girlfriend held his hand. She helped Daniel with every part of his life post-conviction. Seven months ago, Daniel said he wasn’t “sure he’d still be here without her.”

“As I’ve come to understand it,” his girlfriend said at that first meeting, “he was sort of in a place mentally because of his autism that he was sort of disillusioned to the world, and I think that he struggled to make the connection between images of children and child abuse.”

Daniel was never charged federally because his case was moved from federal to local court in Evans. His original charges were higher than what he currently carries, but they were lowered when Daniel pleaded guilty.

Kicked out of campus housing

Daniel got six years of probation and – unless his level status gets changed – will be on New York State’s sex offender registry for life. Daniel can bring his case back to Judge Case once every year to potentially have his level lowered. His father worries his court-mandated therapist, however, won’t back Daniel if he goes before the judge again soon.

In the summer of 2014, Daniel, his family, his lawyer and then-girlfriend, all expected – and pushed for – him to receive a Level 1 label.

Level 1 would mean he’d have a low risk of reoffending. Nearly 42 percent of the county’s 1,365 registered sex offenders are Level 1. The levels dictate what information is shared with the public. Daniel, as a Level 2, has his exact address listed on the public registry.

If Daniel had a Level 1 label, UB never would have made its campus-wide announcement. Level 1 offenders also aren’t listed on the searchable public registry. Lampke wonders if UB would have considered letting his son stay on campus in his own room if he was a Level 1. UB doesn’t have an answer to that question.

“It is difficult to say if any one level might result in a greater or lesser likelihood of a particular outcome decision in a student’s case,” said Senior Director of Campus Living Brian Haggerty, in an email.

Haggerty said he couldn’t comment on a student’s specific case and therefore wouldn’t say why Daniel was denied housing.

Daniel appealed the decision and was denied again. His father said UB didn’t base the decision on complaints from students, but on the fact Daniel was convicted of a sex crime.

Being a Level 1 could mean he’d have an easier time finding an off-campus apartment – but even then, all the levels carry a stigma.

At the very least, if he was a Level 1, he’d know after 20 years without incident, his name would be removed from New York’s list of registered sex offenders.

Today, Daniel lives with his family in Evans. He can’t find housing elsewhere and has no money or a job. He quit UB at the end of the fall semester, largely because he had nowhere to sleep. At one point, he spent several weeks sleeping in Capen Hall’s library.

Larry Lampke has taken an active role in helping his son take on his legal battles. / Courtesy of Larry Lampke

The punishment

Daniel didn’t know it, but the moment he downloaded those images, he became part of a growing scourge – online pedophilia.

The rise of the Internet in the 1990s virtually destroyed the progress law enforcement officials say they had made in eliminating child porn trafficking. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, by the 1980s the problem was almost eradicated in the United States.

Today, producing and collecting images of sexually abused children has never been easier, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Between 2005 and 2009, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s Child Victim Identification Program had a 432 percent increase in child pornography movies and files submitted by law enforcement to the organization for identification.

The federal government considers it a growing problem.

And the punishments are severe.

Once sex offenders are convicted, they’re all treated mostly the same by the system and the public.

Sex offenders of all varieties get clumped together, said Buffalo lawyer John Nuchereno, who’s practiced law for 37 years and regularly handles sex offense cases.

“It’s not to say some sex offenders shouldn’t be confined forever, but it’s the cases of the person when it’s a one-time thing and they’re not going to be a menace in the future but are treated the same way,” Nuchereno said. “For those who you want to punish, [the system] works; for those who are unique, it doesn’t work at all.”

Daniel’s father believes the system has inappropriately punished and stigmatized his son.

“I truly believe he would never do it again,” Lampke said.

Daniel agrees, insisting it was a mistake he’s learned from.

The court doesn’t agree – at least not yet. Daniel has yet to try to have his level modified.

An accredited doctor assessed Daniel’s mental health and said Daniel’s mental state “decreases the Defendant’s ability to control impulsive sexual behavior,” according to court documentation.

Daniel and his father don’t agree with that assessment, but Daniel has been trying to better himself through therapy for months.

“Some of the things that Dan had told [the doctor] as far as what he thinks is OK and what might not be OK are disturbing,” Lampke said. “But at the same time, they are thoughts, and it never means he’s going to act upon them.”

When a defendant is deemed “psychologically abnormal” like Daniel was,he or she is automatically assessed as a Level 3 sex offender.

But judges have discretion. Judge Case bumped Daniel to a Level 2 and not 3 – a Level 3 ranking would’ve been even harsher on Daniel.

Various court employees said the judges who decide leveling typically strive to be fair and impartial. The judges are expected to handle their flexibility with the legislation correctly. Ultimately, it’s judges – not solely the Sex Offender Risk Assessment guidelines – that decide the fate and level of the offenders. The goal, employees said, is to keep the public safe but also allow those who deserve rehabilitation the chance to have it.

But some defense attorneys still question the point system used for risk assessment. And Daniel struggles to realize how he can rehabilitate himself when he can’t even get a job in the backroom of a Walmart.

“When they came out with this assessment they really weren’t thinking about images,” Nuchereno said. “It doesn’t fit, it really doesn’t. It’s very inaccurate.”

Personius said the guidelines, as written, are “very concerning.”

“It has an element of randomness to it,” Personius said.

People who work for the state and regularly with these cases say those concerns are why there is a hearing to determine an offender’s level. At that time, the defense can argue against the state’s recommended level assignment. The framework of the law requires the assessment to happen, but judges can veer from it – whether up or down – as long as they put a legitimate reason on the record.

What exactly is the point system?

There are 15 factors that help determine a sex offender’s risk assessment. The Sex Offender Registration Act took effect in 1996. The act requires New York’s Board of Examiners of Sex Offenders to “develop guidelines and procedures to assess the risk of a repeat offense by a sex offender and the threat posed to the public safety,” according to Correction Law §168-1(5).

Offenders get varying numbers of points based on things like their age when they committed the offense, if a weapon was involved and the ages of the victim – the younger the victim, the higher the point value. When an offender hits more than 70 points, he or she is leveled a Level 1 offense – more than 110, Level 2. 
Daniel scored 70 points. He got 20 points because there were two victims within the images and another 10 because he was 20 at the time of his arrest, for example.

The guidelines were updated in 2006, but still don’t specify between what Nuchereno calls “in-the-flesh” acts and child pornography crimes.

Nuchereno takes issue with how the children in the photos are assigned ages, because unless the child is identified, there may not be definitive proof of how old they are, which affects the points doled out. He worries this can lead to inflated leveling.

“... it just seems like no one is willing to let me be a normal person because it’s too much of a risk.”

But in 2012, the Board of Examiners released a position statement on the scoring of child pornography cases and the nuances they can pose, stating: “The Board remains concerned about child pornography offenders, and in the majority of cases, believes they have a sexually deviant interest in children which poses significant risk to public safety; however, recognizes that each person convicted of child pornography poses risks that are unique to that individual. These images are in essence crime scene photos of children being sexually abused, and the increased demand for these images result in further sexual victimization of children.”

And the way the points add up and what a judge sees fit can mean variation among offenders. Some people, such as Daniel, who have never touched a child can be rated higher than someone who has had sexual contact with a child, based on the court’s determination if that person is likely to act again.

That bothers Daniel’s father. He’s kept any eye on other cases, collecting newspaper clippings. He has about 20 stacked up and sitting on his kitchen table. He’s seen other offenders who have touched children get rated the same or less than Daniel.

There’s one clipping in his ever-growing packet that he points to as the most disturbing.

“I hope it was a misprint,” he says about the short article published in The Buffalo News in October 2014.

A 71-year-old man, Mikhail Kusluk, was rated a Level 1 sex offender after sexually abusing a 6-year-old girl by the same judge who decided Daniel’s level.

“He was classified as a Level 1 and he had sexual contact with a 6-year-old girl,” Lampke said, struggling to believe Daniel was considered more dangerous than a man who admitted touching a child. “You would think more contact would be the higher [level].”

The Spectrum contacted Judge Case’s chambers and his court could not comment on Daniel’s case because of the potential for Daniel, pursuant to the corrections law, to come in before the judge and ask for modification, which he can do annually.

Life after conviction

Daniel knows the state views him as a potential danger.

“I just want to be a normal person again and it just seems like no one is willing to let me be a normal person because it’s too much of a risk,” he said.

And with that risk also comes a decently hefty price tag. Being a sex offender isn’t cheap. He has to pay a probation fee of $35 a month, which will total $2,520 after his six years of probation are up. If his probation officer wants him to get a drug test, that’s $50. His weekly court ordered-therapy is $60 per session and he got a $1,500 fine for his crime.

Unable to find a job, Daniel is overwhelmed. He’s can’t work in the fast food industry because someone under 18 might work at those establishments, too. He can’t work anywhere with minors.

Daniel never served jail time and was charged with a misdemeanor. But being on probation as a sex offender is like being on house arrest in a lot of ways – especially for Daniel, who has an aversion to driving.

He describes his life today as a husk of what it once was. Daniel now spends his days shuffling between meetings with his probation officer and his court-mandated group therapy. He carries what he calls a “dumb phone” – a flip phone that can’t connect to the Internet or take photos as part of his probation restrictions. He spends a lot of time playing video games and searching manually for jobs.

On New Year’s Eve 2014, Daniel could have seen his grandfather, who lived in Pennsylvania, for one last time. But the paperwork required for a sex offender to travel out of state is too complicated, Lampke said, and Daniel’s probation officer said it wasn’t possible.

“He missed out on the opportunity and the next opportunity he got was to be carrying his [grandfather’s] casket,” Lampke said.

Daniel’s father and mother have both been supportive during the ongoing struggle.

“We both love him unconditionally,” his father said. 

But Lampke has taken a more active role in his son’s legal situation. He was at home on the mend and out of work dealing with his heart – which wound up requiring three surgeries – when Daniel was first facing his charges.

He’s become involved in a way he wishes he had sooner.

Daniel had been an Internet junkie since high school, Lampke said. He’d go in chat rooms and make online friends. Lampke questioned the influence they had on his son. He wanted to limit his computer time, but was never successful.

“I had to bite my tongue a lot but I knew something like this was the kind of thing that could possibly happen and it did,” Lampke said, fighting back his emotions.

He continues to collect his news clippings, following legislation that would affect sex offenders closely and other people’s decisions. He hopes maybe they’ll help one day in court when Daniel tries to modify his level.

But he worries about his son’s lost potential. He says if UB let Daniel stay living on campus, he’d at least have had a chance at getting his education.

There aren’t any other high-level sex offenders pursuing an education at UB right now, though there is one Level 1 offender registered as a part-time student, according to UB Chief of Police Gerald Schoenle.

But sex offenders rarely get a higher education, according to Derek Logue, a registered sex offender in Ohio who was convicted of sexual contact with a minor 22 years ago.

In that time, he’s become a sex offender rights activist and author and says he’s seen how difficult it is for sex offenders to stay enrolled in college.

“It’s not very often sex offenders go to college,” Logue said. “Most of us are racked with fear from the treatment we’ve gotten on the inside and from the community.”

And right now, college prospects are not Daniel’s focus.

He says he hopes he can at least get a factory job.

Sara DiNatale can be reached at


Women seek to dissolve sex offender registry

Just in time for the all-important May sweeps period, a local television anchor somewhere is bound to open a newscast with a question specifically designed to simultaneously titillate and scare the crap out of you. "Does a pedophile live on your block?" the menacing voice will intone. "Are your children safe?"

The answer, invariably, is "probably" and "probably not." If you tune in, you'll confront a terrifying graphic that the station's self-glorifying "investigative reporter" has cooked up showing a map crowded with dots. Each one, you'll be told, represents a registered sex offender just waiting to snatch and rape your kids.

Here's the problem: Those sex offender registries that are sensationalistic catnip to news producers are a technological and inaccurate mess that nobody in the media or public should trust. Law enforcement officials, sex-crimes researchers and politicians all know this, and several admitted as much to me for an actual piece of investigative reporting that took nearly a year to finish and   went live last week at

"I kept asking how much money we were spending to make these mistakes," said former California state Sen. Tom Ammiano, who was term-limited out of office last year after years of failing to advance reforms. "I hated being an accomplice to these inaccuracies. But nobody in politics wants to be seen as being soft on sex offenders."

Turns out, what we all think of as "the sex offender registry" is actually hundreds of individual databases -- every state, most cities and large counties and many individual police departments all have their own -- that almost never speak to one another. Jurisdictions routinely declare offenders as "non-compliant" without checking if they are properly registered elsewhere, incarcerated somewhere or dead. It's stunningly easy to spot listings with conflicting physical descriptions for the same people -- different heights, eye colors and tattoos are commonplace -- and with incorrect charges or mugshots. Doing so has become a full-time avocation for one childhood sexual abuse survivor, Tim Fisher of Las Vegas, who contacts police with fixes for inaccuracies he's able to find largely through assiduous Googling. Yet his one-case-at-a-time efforts are modest balms to a wreck of a "system" with more than 800,000 entries.

What's more dismaying is the indifference shown by the Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART) office at the U.S. Department of Justice, which oversees the National Sex Offender Public Website. Despite their name, the SMART office declaimed responsibility for ensuring the accuracy of the information found through the NSOPW. The site, says a SMART executive who refused to be named, is just "a pointer system to all of the jurisdictions' public websites. ... It's not a database. It's not a registry. It's simply a search engine that allows you to search on all the different public websites with one search."

It's impossible from the outside to know just how screwed up the registries are because almost nobody publishes any assessments. One exception is Vermont, where the Legislature has prohibited the listing of addresses on its sex offender registry until, per language of the law, a "positive audit" of their database's accuracy. Audits conducted in 2011 and 2014 both came up dreadfully short; reviewers found "critical errors" in more than 10 percent of the entries.

Perhaps the easiest way to explain this is to show it. Mike Tyson is the nation's most famous convicted rapist. He went to prison in Indiana. And yet, this:

These mistakes create a myriad of real-world problems. Sex abuse victims who visit these sites, sometimes decades after the crime, can be re-traumatized to learn their attacker is "non-compliant" -- Is he on the run? Is he coming for me? -- or to run into multiple, confusing listings. Offenders who try to remain current can and have been arrested for non-compliance. Innocent people who live at addresses where sex offenders are mistakenly said to live or actually once did live have been targets of epithets and vigilante violence by the unnerved neighbors and others. And, of course, the extent of mistakes make these registries effectively useless -- or, worse, misleading -- to parents who think knowledge of nearby rapists will protect their families.

Fisher, who for my piece allowed me to follow him as he went to confront the man convicted in 1984 of molesting him, believes the registries could be worthwhile. Attorney Patrick Morrissey, who has filed several lawsuits after Chicago police turned away hundreds of sex offenders trying to register because the police didn't have enough clerks to process them, thinks there's too many ways for the information to go bad for this to exist without a dramatic overhaul. "It's almost a system created to re-incarcerate people," he said.

Until that overhaul -- which SMART officials seemed entirely uninterested in pursuing -- what's on these registries ought to be taken with great skepticism. Yet the folks most responsible for publicizing their existence and their content, the local TV newsmedia, have largely found caution and fact-checking too inconvenient. They lazily hide behind the fact that the registries and their nifty, scary maps come gift-wrapped from police sources and, thus, it can be used without question.

The standards should be higher. There are many other, better ways to help parents protect their children from stranger danger. Scaring the crap out of them with faulty information may be good TV business and great politics, but it's lousy both as journalism and public policy.


Woman Leaves Children With Sex Offender Faces Two Years (Can Comment Here)

Advocates Fight for Sex Offender Rights With Lawsuit

Registered Citizens Trapped in U.S.

Registered citizens are being trapped in the U.S. by the federal government. They are not allowed to travel overseas for business reasons, to visit family members, or just to relax on vacation.

The reason given for this entrapment is to prevent the international sex trafficking of children. We do not support international sex trafficking of children which is a heinous crime. However, the U.S. government is overreaching in the methods it uses to address this real and dangerous problem. That is, the U.S. government is targeting virtually all registered citizens who attempt to travel abroad. It matters not that their offense did not involve a child or occurred decades ago and hasn't been repeated.

The U.S. government is preventing registered citizens from traveling overseas in a number of ways, including reviewing the manifests for international flights. If a registered citizen is found on such a flight manifest, U.S. government officials provide a written warning to the country into which they are traveling. The receiving country, in turn, does not allow entry into that country and in fact immediately deports the registered citizen.

This all happens with no prior notice to the registered citizen and/or those who are traveling with him/her. Deportation of a registered citizens is embarrassing and expensive at the least and a violation of his/her constitutional rights at the worst.

Where is the due process guaranteed for all citizens by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? If a registered citizen is not allowed to travel outside the U.S., then the U.S. government must provide that citizen with a hearing during which he/she can provide evidence that he/she is not involved and has never been involved in international sex trafficking.

In the absence of such hearings, registered citizens have already been denied entry into may countries, including but not limited to, Mexico, Canada, Japan, Brazil, Argentina, the United Arab Emirates and the Philippines.

In one such case, a registered citizen is being denied re-entry to the Philippines where he moved 10 years ago and subsequently married, started a family, initiated a business and purchased a home. He left the Philippines a year ago for what he thought was a 30-day business trip to the U.S.

Several decades ago U.S. citizens, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas and author Arthur Miller, were prohibited from traveling abroad because the U.S. government determined their overseas travel was "not in the interests of the United States". Fortunately, the U.S. government corrected that problem long ago.

It is now time for the U.S. government to correct the problem it has created by preventing overseas travel by registered citizens. The U.S. government must either allow registered citizens to travel overseas or conduct hearings that provide registered citizens with their due process rights.

- Janice Bellucci

Read all of Janice's Journal

Panel examines sex crimes laws, registry

School safety zones unconstitutionally barred sex offenders from half of Grand Rapids

By John Agar -

GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- A restriction prohibiting sex offenders from living or working within 1,000 feet of schools made a patchwork path of nearly half of Grand Rapids off-limits to people on a statewide registry, an ACLU attorney said.

Now, a federal judge in Detroit has ruled that "geographic exclusion zones" are unconstitutional, one of multiple provisions of the law, which was so confusing that lawyers had trouble advising clients how to steer clear of violations that were struck down last month.

"SORA (Sex Offender Registry Act) imposes myriad restrictions and reporting requirements that affect many aspects of registrants' lives," U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland wrote.

The law's ambiguity and lengthy provisions "make it difficult for a well-intentioned registrant to understand all of his or her obligations," he said.

"SORA was not enacted as a trap for individuals who have committed sex offenses in the past (and who already have served their sentences). Rather, the goal is public safety, and public safety would only be enhanced by the government ensuring that registrants are aware of their obligations."

Miriam Aukerman, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan who represented plaintiffs in the Detroit case, said: "We can't be punishing people for not understanding a law that is so unclear."

Aukerman, who works in Grand Rapids, said sex offenders have enough trouble finding a place to live or work. She said courts are recognizing problems with the sex-offender registry. Earlier, a federal judge ruled that homeless Grand Rapids sex offenders could legally stay at homeless shelters, despite all of the centers being within a school safety zone.

Aukerman said additional changes are needed. She said risk assessments should be done to determine if someone belongs on the registry, rather than simply a conviction for certain crimes.

One of her clients in the Detroit case met a teenager who slipped into a night club. She was 16. The woman and the client now have two children, but he's required to be on the registry. With so many included, the "registry doesn't actually protect the public," Aukerman said.

"We need to take a common-sense approach to the registry. The laws don't make us safer. People tend to think everybody on the registry is dangerous. There's no risk assessment."

She said that Michigan has the fourth-largest sex offender registry in the country because everyone convicted of certain offenses is put on the list. Other states do risk assessments.

"We have no idea how many people on the registry are truly dangerous and who are not," Aukerman said. "The registry may make us feel safer, but actually this doesn't make people safer."

The ruling that struck down certain provisions of the registry came in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of five John Does and a Jane Doe against Gov. Rick Snyder and state police Director Col. Kirste Etue.

State police spokeswoman Shanon Banner emailed: "We have reviewed the ruling with the Attorney General's office to determine its immediate impact on our practices, and we are currently working to make necessary changes to come into compliance. We will also be working with the Legislature to clarify portions of the Act that need addressing."

Aukerman said that the U.S. Department of Justice does not recommend exclusion zones.

She cited a report by the Department of Justice's Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking.

"Restrictions that prevent convicted sex offenders from living near schools, daycare centers and other places where children congregate have generally had no deterrent effect on sexual reoffending, particularly against children. In fact, studies have revealed that proximity to schools and other places where children congregate had little relation to where offenders met child victims," the report said.

Aukerman said that an expert determined that nearly half of Grand Rapids is off-limits to sex offenders.

John Agar covers crime for MLive/Grand Rapids Press E-mail John Agar: and follow him on Twitter at


Judge: Parts of state's sex offender law unconstitutional

By L.L. Brasier, Detroit Free Press

Michigan's Sex Offender Registry law is so vague that parts of it are unconstitutional, including the requirement that offenders stay at least 1,000 feet from schools, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland, in a 72-page ruling, struck down several reporting requirements of the 1994 law, which has been amended several times by state lawmakers to make requirements stricter.

Regarding the 1,000-foot school safety zone, he said offenders are left to guess where the zones were and are not provided with enough information from the state to abide by the restriction.

And he struck down several other requirements, including a mandate that offenders report in person new e-mail and instant messaging addresses and notify authorities of all telephone numbers "routinely used by the individual."

The vagueness of the law "leaves law enforcement without adequate guidance to enforce the law and leaves registrants of ordinary intelligence unable to determine when the reporting requirements are triggered," Cleland wrote in his ruling.

The lawsuit was filed in 2012 by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan against Gov. Rick Snyder and Michigan State Police Director Kriste Etue, on behalf of six Michigan residents who are convicted sex offenders required to register. The University of Michigan Clinical Law Program also participated.

The residents argued that the law, and its many amendments, are impossible to follow. Regarding the 1,000-foot rule, they said, "the zones are not physically marked and registrants are not provided with maps demarking the boundaries."

"Is it point to point or property line to property line ... as the crow files or as people actually travel?" the suit asked.

Some of those suing are parents and grandparents and say the rule, including the restriction that they not loiter near a school, prevents them from participating in their children's education. They are afraid to attend parent-teacher conferences or school plays.

The judge found that part of the law unclear as well, noting that the law's "present definition of 'loiter' is sufficiently vague as to prevent ordinary people using common sense from being able to determine whether plaintiffs are, in fact, prohibited from engaging in the conduct from which plaintiffs have refrained."

Law enforcement officials were reviewing the order.

"We are aware of the ruling," said Shanon Banner, a spokesperson for the Michigan State Police, in an e-mail. "We have reviewed it with the Attorney General's office to determine its immediate impact on our practices, and we are currently working to make necessary changes to come into compliance. We will also be working with the Legislature to clarify portions of the Act that need addressing."

Andrea Bitely, spokeswoman for Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, said the office was also studying the ruling.

It's not clear what, if any, immediate impact the judge's ruling will have on the 41,600 Michigan residents on the state's registry.

The judge limited some of his rulings, including the school safety zone, to the specific plaintiffs in the lawsuit, although as a practical matter others on the registry could point to the ruling for relief from the safety zone requirement.

ACLU attorney Miriam Aukerman, who worked on the case, said the judge was sending a strong message that the law was not working properly and the Legislature needs to consider an overhaul. Most have to follow dozens of restrictions regarding reporting and where they live and work.

"The law is so confusing that even a well-intentioned registrant can't follow it," Aukerman said. "We found that even the police don't know what the law is."

Many of those on the registry are not considered dangerous. One of the plaintiffs in the suit, identified only as John Doe #4, was 23 when he met a woman at an adult nightclub in 2006. She was under 16 and became pregnant. He was prosecuted and placed on the offender registry. He completed probation, and now the couple have two children.

In another case, from 1996, a man was 18 when he had sex with his girlfriend, age 14. He was prosecuted and sentenced under the state's Holmes Youthful Training Act, which seals his file and eventually clears his record. He completed probation and has committed no new crimes, but still is required to register as a sex offender.

"We need to look at this as a public safety issue," Aukerman said. "This law is not keeping us safe. We need to take a hard look at the sex offender registry and base it on facts, not fear. Are these the people we want to monitor? We should do what other states have done, by identifying the offenders who are dangerous, rather than take this broad brush approach."

In addition to the safety zones, the judge also ruled as unconstitutional the requirement that offenders report the license plate, registration and description of any motor vehicle, aircraft or vessel "regularly operated by the individual," and a requirement that offenders report "all electronic mail addresses routinely used by the individual."


California's Sane New Approach to Sex Offenders and Why No One is Following

By Leon Neyfakh

Last week, California officials announced that the state would allow some sex offenders to live within 2,000 feet of schools and parks for the first time since 2006, making it easier for them to find housing. High-risk sex offenders and those whose crimes involved children under the age of 14 will still be subject to the residency restrictions, which were introduced as part of a voter-initiative known as as Jessica's Law -- but all others will be granted exemptions on a case-by-case basis.

The new policy, passed by California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, will help combat a growing problem of homelessness among sex offenders out on parole, who have had a difficult time finding places to live because Jessica's Law has made so much of the state off-limits to them. According to the Orange County Register, the number of paroled sex offenders living on the street jumped from 88, when the residency restrictions were passed, to almost 2,000 five years later.

The new rule, which comes on the heels of a decision from the California Supreme Court that found the Jessica's Law residency restrictions unconstitutional as applied in San Diego County, stands out as one of the only policy changes in memory that makes life for sex offenders in the United States easier rather than harder. To put the move in perspective, I called Emily Horowitz, a criminologist at St. Francis College in Brooklyn and the author of the new book, Protecting Our Kids?: How Sex Offender Laws Are Failing Us.

How often does it happen that states become more lenient toward sex offenders rather than more punitive?

Never, that I can think of. This is really significant. I just wrote this book on it, and I can't think of any other example -- except for small little triumphs, like in Orange, California, where they defeated a proposed law where registered sex offenders would have had to put a sign on their front doors that said "Sex offender at this residence, no candy or treats allowed." That ordinance was successfully fought back.

Why is it significant?

They said they're going to look at sex offenders individually, and see who actually would pose a threat to children. And that's what anybody who advocates for sex offenders has always said makes sense. So it seems pretty radical. Obviously, everyone wants to protect children, and no one wants dangerous sex offenders who are at high risk to reoffend to be in communities near children. But there are very, very few of those people.

Is it part of any broader shift in thinking on sex offender laws that you've noticed?

Not really. There has been a little bit of rationality about it in the last year. But it's been mostly in academia and in the legal community. There have been a lot of law review articles that challenge it.

Why did you write a book about the sex offender registry?

When I saw the research on the registry I was really shocked at how pointless it is. And it was shocking because usually, when you research something, there's ambiguity--there are some good things and there are some bad things. But with the registry, there's really no research that shows it's effective at all.

You previously had believed the registry was doing something worthwhile?

As a kid I'd heard about Etan Patz and Adam Walsh and so, when I first heard about sex offender laws I thought, oh, well these makes sense -- you'll have a registry and kids will be safer. And I had the sense that stranger danger was this profound problem. But then I found out that, statistically, it was a completely insignificant problem -- that these cases were really anomalous -- and that the registry really didn't protect kids at all.

How do the studies you read show the registry's effectiveness, or lack thereof?

If the registry was effective, you'd want to see that, after 1996, when Megan's Law was implemented, there was a big drop in sex offense cases. But the rates didn't change, or they'd already started going down before Megan's Law was implemented. Rates of sexual abuse neither increased nor decreased as a result of the registry.


Because more than 90 percent of child sexual abuse cases -- some say 96 percent -- involve the family. And the registry only targets stranger danger. It prohibits people from going to parks and malls -- whereas most child sexual abuse takes place in the home. Also, most people on the registry have adult victims. It's just all the rhetoric around the registry is about children.

So what does the registry accomplish?

It's just a form of public, permanent shaming to make us feel better. ... I mean, I think a lot of these people deserve to go to prison. They're sex offenders who do things that are against the law, and they should go to prison and they should be on parole and they should get treatment. But I don't think they should be publicly branded for life.

If there's all this research showing that the sex offender registry doesn't drive down rates of sexual abuse, why has it survived all these years?

Because it's politically really popular. And because it's political suicide to say you don't want the registry.

What did the people you talked to for your book say about how being on the sex offender registry affects their lives?

I talked to a lot of people on the registry but I also talked to a lot of wives and mothers, because a lot of times the people on the registry are so traumatized that they don't even want to talk about it. Basically they all talk about this constant fear. Because, you know, a lot of times your address is on the Internet so people look you up -- and everyone knows. The ones who have jobs just wait for the day that people they work with find out. And they worry that somebody's going to come and throw eggs at their house or throw beer cans at them or scream and yell at them. Some people have kids, and so they dread the other parents finding out. They just all talk about this constant dread and fear and always looking over their shoulder.

Do you think there will be more policy action on making registry laws more lenient or forgiving, along the lines of what we've just seen in California?

I think there's going to be some success on fighting back for people who were juveniles when they were added to the registry. I think people are sympathetic to that. Some people go on the registry at like, 10 or 12. Very young. But then they're in their 30s and they're still on it because they're subject to lifetime registration.

In Missouri there was some hope that they were going to get juveniles off the registry, but then at the last minute the governor, I believe, was like "forget it."


Lox, bagels, juice and sex offenders: Why I invited two pariahs into my home

The Other Face of “Lauren’s Kids”–Interview with Vicki Henry

Countdown to the Rally in Tally April 22nd


When Lauren Book, 29-year-old founder of the sexual-abuse prevention group Lauren's Kids, crosses the finish line of her organization's 1500-mile "Walk in My Shoes" charity event in Tallahassee, Florida on April 22, the crowd will applaud her, call her an angel and cry real tears of support for Book's outspoken activism to protect children from sexual abuse - 95% of which could, as Book's organization teaches, be prevented by education and vigilance.

Thus the presence of a 'peaceful protest' at that same finish line is likely to shock some and confound others.


"We have great respect for the educational aims of Lauren's Kids," Vicki Henry, president of Women Against Registry (WAR) and spokesperson for the ad-hoc coalition of sex-law reform organizations who have members participating in the protest, explained. "Really, in this regard we would like to be walking with them, showing support."

In response to a recent statement by Book, that she wished critics "would speak directly to me so I can show them the amazing work we are doing on behalf of children," Henry has attempted to reach-out to Book and her organization's Executive Director, Ms. Van Susteren, in hopes of meeting to discuss the annihilating effect that Florida's “Scorched Earth Policy” -- which is supported by Book -- has on the children of registrant families.


Realistically, Henry sees this expression of solidarity as unlikely to happen because many of the groups that she represents have members, supporters and organizational leaders who are former offenders and are listed on the sex offender registry.

"But these folks are also mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, children and parents who, at some time in their life, did something stupid or immoral but never hurt anyone and yet ended branded with a sex-crime," Henry continued. "Also because some of our constituents did commit acts which violate sensibility, were rightly convicted of a repugnant crime, served years in prison and more on probation, got therapy, earned family and community support, and continue to work diligently every day to undo all harm done.

"All of whom, we hope and pray, should be welcome supporters of the skyrocketing call to educate legislators, the media, and the general public about 'how to' prevent child sexual abuse. But," Henry summarized, "because of the broad-brush which errantly portrays all who are registered citizens as incurable, evil beings, our constituents, their husbands and wives, sons and daughters, fathers, mothers and friends, are scorned, shunned and even have cause to fear for their lives when attending any public event.

"And this deadly stigma is fueled by the 'scorched earth' sex-offender laws and regulations that have been enacted by Florida legislators since the Book's began her advocacy campaign six years ago... laws that are supposed to protect everyone... are actually damaging everyone, making all of us less safe.

"Yes... about 5% of those on the sex offender registry are predatory, repeat offenders who must be kept under close observation and possibly segregated from free society for the rest of their lives," Henry affirmed. "But the other 95% of those on the registry are, respectfully, FORMER sexual offenders who are struggling just like the rest of us to find a place of acceptance in our community and fill a role that brings value to our family and friends.

"This is why we stand in solidarity with all those who support laws that do actually protect children by and through the proactive education of adults about how to prevent sexual abuse. But we are duty bound to protest these laws of which so many seem so proud of, that are, according to a growing majority of notable law enforcement and psychology experts nationwide, wasting millions upon millions of dollars in public resource to enforce laws that make society a much more dangerous place and fail to protect any child from harm."

For more information, contact Vicki Henry, President, 202-630-0345 or visit


SCOTUS grants review for sex offender ordered to wear tracker for life

LA Times Editorial: State laws on sex offenders should not be crafted by emotion.

By THE TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD contact the reporter

A group of convicted sex offenders gathered on March 7 at Carson's city hall for a march to demand equal rights to visit fast-food restaurants, parks, libraries and other public areas from which they were banned. (Los Angeles Times).

California's Supreme Court was right to drop Jessica's Law, @latimes editorial board says

Jessica's Law — California's version of it, anyway — was a mess from the beginning. Voters here adopted it (as Proposition 83) in 2006 because they mistakenly believed they were cracking down on horrific crimes against children. They were urged on by nightly harangues from national TV commentators who campaigned on-air for swift action following the rape and murder of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford in Florida, a crime that touched an especially sensitive nerve here because the circumstances nearly mirrored the nightmarish killing of Polly Klaas in California a decade earlier. But emotional outpourings of fear, revulsion and collective guilt too often translate poorly into policy and law, and that was surely the case with Proposition 83.

The latest reminder of the law's failure came last week, when state parole officials announced that they would no longer enforce the measure's blanket ban on paroled sex offenders living within 2,000 feet of a school or park where children regularly gather.

That decision follows a state Supreme Court ruling this month invalidating the ban as it applied in San Diego County.

Californians have every right to protect their children from child molesters, so it would be understandable if they were perplexed by the actions of the court and corrections officials — until they realize that the residency restriction did nothing of the sort.

In fact, it likely undermined public safety for everyone, children included, by pushing paroled sex offenders from their homes and compelling them to live homeless or as transients, leaving the public in the dark as to their whereabouts and making parolees harder for agents to find.

Besides, it is important to remember that the law did not single out child molesters. It did not distinguish parolees at high risk to commit new crimes, or those more likely to target children, from any of the other 6,000 parolees required to register as sex offenders — or indeed any of the approximately 80,000 Californians not on parole but with a sex offense on their record.

Proposition 83 had such broad appeal in part because it ignored those kinds of distinctions. Little thinking was required. A person was either required to register as a sex offender or not. And if he or she was, it was a simple jump to conclude that any "sex offender" was a "child molester" — and from there, a "pedophile," a "sexual predator," a "sexually violent predator" or a "mentally disordered sex offender." Commentators and campaigners readily conflated those terms and engaged in a kind of definition creep that allowed, even encouraged, voters to believe that everyone on the sex offender registry was necessarily violent, targeted children and was more likely than other criminals to re-offend. None of that is true.

That misperception is a problem, and not just because of concern for the rights of sex offenders. Californians can be forgiven if they keep their safety and that of their children foremost in their minds, ahead of justice for criminals. But it's a problem as well because it leads us to believe we are properly, effectively and efficiently expending public safety resources when we are not. Just as societal concern about rampant drug abuse led to laws that filled prisons with drug users, strained budgets and deflected attention from more violent crimes, the unfocused application of sex offender laws hurts rather than enhances public safety.

It's important to remember that California has had a sex offender registry since 1947, and that its purpose is to safeguard the innocent from people who are deemed to pose a particular, continuing risk even after their sentences have been served and their parole has been completed.

But behavioral science and criminal justice research have come a long way since the 1940s. It was once thought that people convicted of crimes involving sex suffered from disorders that made them constant threats to re-offend; or at least that it was impossible to distinguish between those who did pose such a risk and those who did not.

In fact, long-term studies of the general population of sex offenders show recidivism rates much lower than for the population of all criminals. But for particular subgroups, the risk of re-offending is much higher.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation determines whether an inmate soon to be released on parole is at high risk of committing another offense and, if so, that parolee may not live within a half-mile of a school. That properly tailored law was in effect before Proposition 83's blanket residency restrictions on anyone on the offender registry and properly remains in effect today even after the court ruling and the decision by the parole department to change its enforcement strategy.

Also, special restrictions will continue to apply to sexually violent predators — people who have been convicted of sexually victimizing another person and who have diagnosed mental conditions that make them likely to engage in additional sexually violent crimes. Even after such people are released from prison, they can be committed by the Department of State Hospitals until they are deemed to no longer pose a threat.

It makes sense to craft laws to protect the public based not on some sweeping designation of "sex offender" but rather on the risks posed by each subgroup and, when possible, by the particularized risk of each offender. The court ruling and the parole decision move California in that direction.

But there is pushback, and it is cause for concern. Public officials and commentators freely label any sex offender as a "predator," implying that each such person poses an equal risk to the public and thus must be equally restricted and supervised. Clearer thinking, based on data rather than emotion or demagoguery, would serve California better.

The Reentry of Adults Convicted of Sexual Offenses: A National Survey of Reentry Professionals

New Hampshire Sex Offender Policy: Registries, Residency Restrictions, And Beyond

Dozens of Va. teacher lost licenses over sex crimes

Rutland Volunteers Help Sex Offenders Re-enter Community

Testimony before the Illinois Legislature against SB31

I am Vicki Henry and I am the President of a nationwide organization, Women Against Registry. We exhibit at National Legislative Summits each year as well as at NACDL National Conferences, conduct workshops at Annual Public Defender Conferences to educate on the impact a public registry has on our families. We also speak at events held by other like-minded advocacy groups.

We advocate against a public sex offender registry due to the collateral consequences experienced by our registrant family members, many on a regular basis. According to the NCMEC map, there are 819, 218 men, women and children registered across the nation. That impacts approximately 3 million individual family members. The numbers of registrants is increasing by 2,600 a month so we will be at 1,000,000 within seven years.

Something seldom considered regarding publicly listing a registrant’s employer and/or address is the potential for a person to see that and go there with or without a child and then accuse the registrant of some inappropriate action. Please don’t think that would never happen because there are cases of females who have done just that.

There are cases where one female has successfully gotten several males convicted and placed on a registry. One I am familiar with involved a military base, a girl and lying.

Please consider the long-term effects on a registrant when, due to their inability to be gainfully employed there is no insurance. Who pays for any care they receive? Also, when they have no 401K or pension for retirement? Again, who will they look to for help? Our families are being annihilated by these laws and restrictions and the irony is they are the population that wants to work and provide for their families.

(No Easy Answers – Human Rights Watch, page 83 & 84)
Parole officers supervising former sex offenders also testify to the difficulty
registrants have in finding work. An officer in Michigan told Human Rights Watch that “most employers, whether they are required by law or not, refuse to employ sex offenders, even if the crime the individual committed was not violent. They say it’s bad for business. So now, I have a hard time lining up work for my sex offender parolees, so my parolees are stuck in halfway homes, unable to meet the full conditions of their parole.”282 An Arizona parole officer expressed similar concerns: “I have found it near impossible to find an employer willing to take a chance on a convicted sex offender.”283 As a parole officer in Florida told Human Rights Watch, “We have to find ways to find appropriate jobs for sex offenders, in a way that will both protect the public and also help sex offenders successfully reintegrate into society.”

When a registrant has to go another state the charge codes don’t always transfer to the secondary state’s code leaving the staff in a quandary.

AWA and Title 1 (SORNA) – only 17 states are “substantially” compliant and the state of Nevada is currently considering a bill which would take them out of compliance. There are also rumblings of Nebraska making some changes.

When the employer information is listed on a public registry and that profile is printed by a co-worker and passed around the workplace there is the potential for some who don’t understand the terms used on a profile to embellish and further endanger a registrant from vigilante actions.

Let’s not forget about the ‘rag mag’ publications that try to extort money from registrants who ask that their information be corrected or removed if no longer required to register.

Some employees may be in a union and if fired because of their past offense the union can file a grievance about the discharge and push it to arbitration.

Internet publication of an employer name and address is one of the consequences of registration most likely to destabilize an offender socially and psychologically. The risk of consigning an offender to a lifetime of unemployment may also be a factor in deterring some family reporting.

During the closing speech at the 2013 ATSA Annual Conference, Patty Wetterling openly stated that the registry has been “hijacked!” Based on research from sources too numerous to mention here I would say the legislative bodies are faced with a dilemma. Do the right thing by the people of your state and protect them from sexual harm by developing and implementing a risk assessment protocol therefore losing the Byrne Fund Grant money altogether, which, by the way is not adequate compensation for the expenditure Illinois will face OR choose to stay with the poorly designed and non-funded act for which there was NO mandated annual recidivism study directive.

Per the Bureau of Justice Statistics:
The Hate Crime Statistics Act (28 U.S.C. § 534) defines hate crimes as “crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, gender or gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.” The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) measures crimes perceived by victims to be motivated by an offender’s bias against them for belonging to or being associated with a group largely identified by these characteristics. For a crime to be classified as a hate crime in the NCVS, the victim must report at least one of three types of evidence that the act was motivated by hate: the offender used hate language, the offender left behind hate symbols, or police investigators confirmed that the incident was hate crime. If our families continue to be attacked by vigilantes we will pursue legislation accordingly.

Women Against Registry has a Support Line that is manned by our members who want to help others struggling to live. This service is operational from 10 AM to 10 PM seven days a week. We place the calls under one of five categories; H=housing, J=job, S=someone to listen, G=a group to allow them to learn about advocacy and L=legal help which we have none. Here is a small synopsis of our calls where someone was needing help finding work:

Rob called to tell the volunteer who helped him find a job that he was fired after 3 days.

Mom of registrant called needing help finding housing and a job for her son.

Sean has been fired from 31 jobs due to registry status.

Billy - Sheriff shows up at new job to make sure employer knows he is a registrant and he gets fired.

Dennis - Released on Friday. He needs help finding housing and job. Most of the IL folks are held through eligible parole time due to inability to find approved housing because of restrictions.

Theron - Works as a chef and can’t keep a job because sheriff’s deputy calls new employer to make sure they know he is on the registry.

Andrew - Needed job, housing and support group to affiliate with.

Academics and researchers have clearly stated, for successful re-integration into society folks need three things; a job, a home and a “positive” support system.
Please consider the information provided and help our Illinois families by voting NO on SB31.

Virginia Area Woman Convicted for Harassing Sex Offender

Caution: Your GPS Ankle Bracelet Is Listening

Are Mandatory Sex-Offender Classifications Unconstitutional in Certain Cases?

Travis Blankenship v. State of Ohio, Case no. 2014-0363

Second District Court of Appeals (Clark County)

ISSUE: Do the mandatory sex-offender classifications in Ohio law constitute cruel and unusual punishment if the classification is grossly disproportionate to the nature of the offense and the character of the offender?

Travis Blankenship, 21, and a 15-year-old girl first met through a web site for sharing user-created content. Blankenship told the girl his age, and she informed him she was 15. In 2011, they began a sexual relationship, and the teen later reported that the sex was consensual.

In May 2012, Blankenship pled guilty to unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, a fourth-degree felony.

As part of an investigation before Blankenship’s sentencing, he was evaluated by a psychologist. The psychologist concluded that while Blankenship had committed a sexually-oriented offense, he wasn’t a sex offender. The doctor cautioned the court about labeling Blankenship that way, and he recommended psychotherapy but not sex-offender therapy.

On September 28, 2012, the court sentenced Blankenship to five years of community control and six months injail. Blankenship requested early release, which was granted by the court, and he served a total of 12 days. Based on state law, the court also classified him as a tier II sex offender.

With this classification, Blankenship must register in person with the county sheriff where he lives and where he attends school and/or works. He must verify his residential address and his place of employment and/or education every 180 days for 25 years.

Blankenship appealed the classification and registration requirements to the Second District Court of Appeals, which affirmed the trial court’s decision. He then filed an appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case.

The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

Attorneys for Blankenship note that a punishment must be proportionate to the crime. In challenges like this one alleging an Eighth Amendment violation, they maintain that the nature of the crime and the offender’s characteristics must be examined. In this case, the psychologist determined that Blankenship wasn’t a sex offender, was unlikely to commit another sex offense, and didn’t need sex-offender therapy, they assert. They contend that the punishment imposing a sex-offender classification and registration requirements was disproportionate to Blankenship’s offense and his nature.

In their briefs to the court, attorneys for Blankenship and for the state frequently cite to In re C.P., a 2012 Ohio Supreme Court decision that concluded it’s cruel and unusual punishment to impose automatic, lifelong sex-offender classification and notification requirements on juvenile sex offenders.

Attorneys from the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office argue the punishment in that case was found unconstitutionally disproportionate when applied to juveniles, not to adults such as Blankenship. They add that Blankenship also doesn’t identify a distinct group to which he belongs for the court to create a rule that those in that category can’t be subjected to sex-offender registration requirements.

U.S. Supreme Court’s Two-Part Test
Both sides also walk through a U.S. Supreme Court two-step analysis for reviewing Eighth Amendment cases – whether there is a national consensus against the sentencing practice at issue and whether, in its own independent judgment, the court concludes that a punishment violates the Constitution. A court’s independent judgment in these cases takes into account an offender’s culpability, the severity of the punishment, and penological justifications.

National Consensus Against Sex-Offender Classification?
Blankenship’s attorneys explain that Congress has passed several laws since the mid-1990s requiring states to implement sex-offender registries and community notification procedures with varying specificity and strictness. After Congress enacted the Adam Walsh Act in 2006, states had to pass similar laws or risk losing certain federal grant money. Ohio’s laws complying with the federal enactment were effective Jan. 1, 2008.

Blankenship’s attorneys point out that only 17 states have “substantially implemented” the federal law’s requirements. However, they admit that no national consensus against mandatory sex-offender classification exists.

Clark County’s attorneys point to a 2014 Gallup poll showing that 94 percent of Americans favor laws mandating registration for people convicted of child molestation. They conclude that there is substantial support across the country for sex-offender registries, and this support diminishes Blankenship’s Eighth Amendment claim.

Offender’s Culpability
Blankenship’s attorneys contend that Blankenship is part of a category of individuals who have committed sexually oriented offenses but aren’t sex offenders. While they state that those in this category are culpable for the sexually oriented offenses and should be punished for those crimes, they claim these individuals don’t deserve classification as sex offenders.

They argue the U.S. Supreme Court has relied on scientific studies in recent juvenile cases that found the brain is still developing into a person’s mid-20s. They assert that Blankenship has lesser culpability than older adults because he was 21, was less mature, and was involved in a consensual relationship.

Clark County’s attorneys view the category defined by Blankenship as a “slippery slope.” They counter that the legal meaning of “sex offender” is a person who is convicted of or pleads guilty to committing a sexually oriented offense, so Blankenship is a sex offender under Ohio law. They note that Blankenship improperly contacted the girl while his criminal case was pending and lied about it. Having sex with a young, impressionable girl and violating a court order to refrain from contact show a higher degree of culpability, they assert.

Severity of Punishment
Blankenship’s attorneys state that In re C.P. noted that registration and notification requirements involve stigmatization. They contend that this stigma will create 25 years of difficulties for Blankenship every time he seeks education, housing, and employment. Blankenship’s punishment is disproportionate to his crime, they argue.

The state’s attorneys stress that Blankenship faced a maximum prison sentence of 18 months, but served only 12 days in jail. They argue that his sentence, including sex-offender registration, isn’t so severe that it infringes on his Eighth Amendment rights.

Penological Justifications
The Ohio sex-offender classification and registration law’s purpose is to protect the public. Blankenship’s attorneys assert that the public doesn’t need protection from Blankenship, who isn’t a threat to society. They also cite research indicating that these registration and notification laws do little to protect the public generally. They argue his punishment can’t be justified as retribution or rehabilitation, and incapacitation doesn’t apply.

Clark County’s attorneys believe Blankenship’s sentence reflects an appropriate punishment in terms of the societal purposes of retribution and deterrence in sentencing.

Ohio Constitution
Again citing In re C.P., Blankenship’s attorneys contend that a punishment that “shock[s] the sense of justice of the community” is considered cruel and unusual punishment. It’s shocking to a reasonable person, they argue, to ask individuals who’ve committed sexually oriented crimes but who’ve been determined by a psychologist not to be sex offenders to classify them as sex offenders and require registration for decades. They maintain that Blankenship’s risk of reoffending was low, he had no prior felony record, and he didn’t pose a threat to the community – all of which demonstrate the disproportionality of his sentence to his crime.

The state’s attorneys don’t find Blankenship’s punishment shocking. Such classifications and notification requirements provide consolation and comfort to families and victims of sexual offenses, and this punishment wouldn’t be seen by reasonable Ohioans as shocking, they argue. Blankenship’s sentence doesn’t constitute cruel and unusual punishment, they conclude.

Friend-of-the-Court Briefs
Amicus curiae briefs supporting the State of Ohio’s position have been submitted by the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office and the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association.

- Kathleen Maloney

Docket entries, memoranda, briefs (including amicus briefs), and other information about this case may be accessed through the case docket.

Representing Travis Blankenship: Katherine Ross-Kinzie, 614.466.5394

Representing the State of Ohio from the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office: Ryan Saunders, 937.521.1770

See also:

State of Ohio v. Travis Blankenship in Ohio Supreme Court Tuesday, March 10, 2015 with recorded oral arguments

State of Ohio v. Travis Blankenship

ISSUE: Do the mandatory sex-offender classifications in Ohio law constitute cruel and unusual punishment if the classification is grossly disproportionate to the nature of the offense and the character of the offender?


Tuesday, March 10

Oral argument before the Ohio Supreme Court can be viewed by clicking here


Columbus, Ohio--the hearing was open to the public

Ohio Supreme Court

65 Front Street

Columbus, OH




Watch the recording of the oral arguments

Note:  the video is archived and available for later viewing.



Case file is online here—briefs, memorandums, etc.:

State of Ohio v. Travis Blankenship

Case Number 2014-0363

See also:

State of Ohio v. Blankenship, Slip Opinion No. 2015-Ohio-4624

Sheriff bans sex offenders from church

Sex offender restrictions unconstitutional, state high court says

Bill would repeal Adam Walsh sex-offender act in Nevada


After years of languishing in Nevada courts, legislators are reconsidering sex-offender laws affecting juveniles and the way criminals are ranked

and registered.

State Sen. Richard “Tick” Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, and Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas, introduced Senate Bill 99 in February to repeal the state’s version of the federal Adam Walsh Act. Critics have said the law disenfranchises juveniles who could be reformed, and many think the way the law categorizes offenders — based on the crimes committed rather than risk of re-offending — might not really serve the public interest.

The law has been challenged in Clark County courts, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Nevada Supreme Court, which placed an emergency injunction against the law in October, the day before it was supposed to finally be enacted.

The Nevada Legislature passed Assembly Bill 579 in 2007 to make the state compliant with the Walsh Act, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2006. The law was named after Adam Walsh, the 6-year-old son of TV personality John Walsh, who was abducted and murdered in Hollywood, Fla., on July 27, 1981.

Las Vegas attorney Maggie McLetchie has been litigating the issue since 2008. She said the Legislature was wrong to think that the federal government could compel Nevada to follow its guidelines.

McLetchie was scheduled to challenge the law in the state’s high court in early February, but oral arguments were canceled to give the Legislature another chance to work on it.


One problem with the Walsh Act is that community notification and lifetime registration applies to youths convicted of sex crimes as long as they’re over 14. But opponents of the law say juveniles should be treated differently than adult offenders.

Las Vegas attorney Donna Coleman has been serving on a committee evaluating the Walsh Act for the state attorney general’s office. She said she would testify in favor of the bill to repeal it.

The fragile minds of juveniles might not be able to cope with the pressures of community notification and appearing in online sex offender registries, Coleman said.

“We are at a very high suicide rate for juveniles,” she said. “We don’t want to push them over the edge.”

A 2014 study by the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission found that most juveniles convicted of a sexual offense were not motivated by “deviant sexual arousal or a focused intent to harm others,” which would indicate a risk of future sexual offenses. Youths usually commit sexual crimes due to developmental or social issues, or because they were abused themselves.

Most juveniles respond well to therapy, the report said, so they will not become adult sex offenders.

The proposed law would ensure that juveniles would not be subjected to community notification, though schools would continue to get the information. When youths reach age 21, a court hearing would assess whether they were a risk to the public, Coleman said.

Juveniles who commit particularly heinous sexual crimes likely would be tried as an adult and thus be subjected to adult registration rules, she added.

Sgt. Brian Zana with the Nevada Division of Parole and Probation’s sex offender unit compared publishing youth offenders on the public register to branding them with a “Scarlet Letter.” He said the division supports the idea of holding hearings when a juvenile offender turns 21.

“You have to remember children make mistakes,” he said.
Treatment of juvenile sex offenders was addressed in the first Walsh Act case to reach the Nevada Supreme Court. Justices upheld a lower court ruling that said the law did not violate the state constitution. But in an opinion penned by Justice Michael L. Douglas, the court acknowledges problems with the law.

“We share the juvenile court’s concerns regarding the wisdom of this legislation. Nevertheless, we are bound to follow the law,” the opinion reads. “Of utmost concern, it does not appear from the legislative history that the Nevada Legislature ever considered the impact of this bill on juveniles or public safety.”

Another problem is that the statute applies to offenders retroactively, and some people could end up on Internet sex offender registries for crimes that happened as long ago as 1956. In a worst-case scenario, the law could even be applied to people convicted long ago under Nevada’s voided and unconstitutional criminalization of consensual homosexual acts, McLetchie said. SB 99 would not repeal that, too.


The old sex offender law was pretty simple: Offenders individually were rated by specially trained mental health professionals from low to high according to their risk of re-offending. But how long people have to register as sex offenders is not based on this risk rating under the Walsh Act.

The current law categorizes offenders into tiers based on the crime they committed and might not truly be in the public’s interest, according to a 2012 multi-state study sponsored by the National Institute of Justice. Researchers found that many with the highest risk of re-offending often ended up on lower tiers with shorter registration terms under the Walsh Act.

“It’s not that cut and dry,” Zana said of categorizing offenders based on convictions.

Many first-time offenders automatically would be rated on the lowest tier under the Walsh Act but would be ranked higher if considered individually based on their risk of re-offending. This includes crimes such as lewdness with a child under 14 and incest, he said.

Under Walsh Act standards, the lowest registration tier is assigned to those convicted of a crime against a child or a sexual crime. Offenders have to register for 15 years.

Tier II offenders committed a sexual crime or one involving a child if it is punishable by imprisonment for more than a year. Those who re-offend after being assigned Tier I graduate to this level and have to register for 25 years. Tier II crimes include felony luring of a child, sexual abuse against children, sex trafficking and child pornography.

Those in the highest tier, which applies to people convicted of crimes including kidnapping and sexual abuse against a minor under 13, must register for life. Top-level crimes also include sexual assaults and murders involving rape.
All of the tiers also include attempts or conspiracies to commit those crimes and similar convictions from other states.

The Legislature said during the 2008 special session that more than 2,000 parolees would move from a low-risk rating under the old law to the highest tier under the Walsh Act.

“You get a needle-in-the-haystack problem,” McLetchie said.
Zana said he has been studying the proposed repeal for a couple weeks, and that while it’s not perfect, he said it’s heading in the right direction.

He said the current law is confusing and a handful of sexual offenses aren’t included, such as peeping and taking secret “up-skirt” photos. “Those are entry-level sex offenses,” Zana said.

Like so-called gateway drugs, Zana said people committing these offenses often get bored and move on to worse crimes.

Nevada was one of the first states to pass the Walsh Act, Segerblom said, adding that the Legislature rushed to comply with federal guidelines out of fear of losing criminal justice grants.

But the cost to implement it — estimated at $4 million in 2009 — far exceeds the less than $200,000 Nevada would have lost. To Segerblom’s knowledge, the state never has received federal funds to help with implementation of the Walsh Act.

Assemblyman Phillip O’Neill, R-Carson City, requested a separate bill draft to change laws about the lifetime monitoring of offenders and the system for dealing with violations. For the proposed changes, O’Neill has been working with the Nevada Department of Parole and Probation, which has been trying to change lifetime registration laws for years with no success.

The complexity of the legislation is one reason it hasn’t gained momentum in the past, according to parole department Lt. David Helgerman. Many hesitate because on the surface the bill seems to remove lifetime supervision altogether, but Helger­man said the department is actually trying to replace it with an extended probation period.

“We would not recommend something we thought would be a detriment to public safety,” Helgerman said.

Currently, lifetime registration begins for sex offenders after they have finished parole. And to punish violations would require an offender to be charged with an additional felony in the jurisdiction in which they were first charged. If they have moved to another city, officers must scramble to meet the 72-hour deadline to get the violator to court, where they could then be released on bail.

“There’s a long list of problems,” he said about the law.

O’Neill’s bill would replace lifetime registration by extending the maximum probation terms and giving courts more deference in sentencing sex offenders. Rather than new charges, violators would face a parole hearing. The proposed changes also would make it easier to hold hearings for violators in other jurisdictions and would make it easier to transfer probationers and parolees out of state, Helgerman said.

Helgerman said the majority of the sex crimes an ex-convict would have to register for come with life sentences in prison, so lifetime supervision requirements are “redundant.” The four charges that don’t carry maximum sentences of life in prison right now — battery to commit sexual assault, child pornography, incest and exploiting people with mental illnesses — would all get extended prison sentences under the new bill.

O’Neill’s bill also would prevent sex offenders from being released on bail after violating the terms of their registration.

Helgerman said the state has 783 offenders on lifetime supervision.
“This bill would give our current law more teeth,” Helgerman said.


Segerblom said that the current law unnecessarily “lumps everyone together” and burdens local law enforcement agencies. Nine years after the federal Walsh Act passed, most states have rejected it. Only 17 states have enacted it, and the count might include other states, like Nevada, where the law was approved but not fully enforced because of lawsuits.

“We had a really good sex offender law before the Adam Walsh Act,” Segerblom said. “Sometimes you just need to say, ‘I’m sorry.’ A bad law is a bad law.”

SB 99 addresses some of what opponents point to as the Walsh Act’s problems. The current draft of the bill gives offenders a way to appeal tier designations and lifetime monitoring after 15 years, and it calls for individual assessments of juveniles based on their risk of reoffending. The bill also would give juvenile courts the ability to exempt youths from community notification and registration.

The state attorney general’s office has defended the Walsh Act through every legal challenge, and Attorney General Adam Laxalt plans to continue to do so. When asked if Laxalt would support efforts to repeal the Walsh Act, Assistant Attorney General Brett Kandt said there’s no reason for the attorney general’s office to change course “unless and until the Legislature says so.”

Kandt said that he hasn’t seen any studies about problems with the Walsh Act, and the attorney general only engages with the Legislature on bills that would affect public safety, which he did earlier this session. Laxalt’s office sent a memo in January urging lawmakers to support Assembly Bill 45, which would allow the Department of Corrections to give sex offenders risk ratings of moderate-low and moderate-high in addition to low,

This risk ratings system would have no effect on the length of time an offender has to register under Walsh Act standards.

Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office did not return repeated calls to ask whether he would sign a bill to repeal Nevada’s version of the Walsh Act.

Contact Wesley Juhl at and 702-383-0391. Follow @WesJuhl on Twitter.



1994 - The Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act, part of the Omnibus Crime Bill of 1994, established guidelines for states to track sex offenders and required states to track sex offenders for 10 years after their release or for the rest of their lives if convicted of a violent sex crime.

1996 - Megan’s Law provided for the public dissemination of information from states’ sex offender registries. Most states passed a similar law in the mid-90s, which required state and local law enforcement agencies to release relevant information necessary to protect the public about persons registered for any purpose permitted under a state law.

1996 - The Pam Lychner Sex Offender Tracking and Identification Act of 1996 established the National Sex Offender Registry, or ‘NSOR’, for the FBI to track certain sex offenders. The law required offenders living in a state with insufficient registry programs to register with the FBI and allowed for the dissemination of FBI information to federal, state and local officials and for the notification of state agencies when certain sex offenders moved to another state.

1997 - The Jacob Wetterling Improvements Act, part of the Appropriations Act of 1998, changed the way state courts determine whether a convicted sex offender should be considered sexually violent. The law also gave states the responsibilities of notification, registration, and FBI notification to a state agency other than law.

The law required each state to set up procedures for registering out-of-state offenders, federal offenders, offenders sentenced by court martial, and non-resident offenders crossing the border to work or attend school and gave states the discretion to register individuals who committed offenses beyond the Wetterling Act’s definition of registerable offenses.

The law also required the Bureau of Prisons to notify state agencies of released or paroled federal offenders, and required the secretary of defense to track and ensure registration compliance of offenders with certain convictions from military courts.

1998 - The Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act directed the Bureau of Justice Assistance to carry out the Sex Offender Management Assistance (SOMA) program to help eligible states comply with registration requirements. The law also revoked federal funding for programs that gave federal prisoners unsupervised access to the Internet.

2000 - The Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act, passed as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, required anybody in a state’s sex offender registry to notify an institution of higher education at which the sex offender worked or was a student of their status as a sex offender and amended the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require institutions to provide notice of how information concerning registered sex offenders could be obtained.

2003 - The Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to end the Exploitation of Children Today (PROTECT) Act required states to maintain a website containing registry information, and required the Department of Justice to maintain a web site with links to each state website. The law also authorized appropriations to help with state costs for compliance with new sex offender registration provisions.

2006 - The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act created new sex offender registration and notification and created the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART Office) within the Department of Justice to administer the standards for sex offender notification and registration, administer the grant programs authorized by the Adam Walsh Act, and coordinate related training and technical assistance. The same year the Department of Justice passed a federal regulation to specify that Walsh Act registration requirements are retroactive.

2008 - The Keeping the Internet Devoid of Predators Act (KIDS Act) required registered sex offenders to also register their Internet identifiers, such as emails and screen names, with the DOJ. The law exempted the identifiers from public disclosure on registry websites.


1985 - Assembly Bill 286 increased the penalty for possession of pornography involving children and required people convicted of certain crimes to register as sex offenders.

1987 - Assembly Bill 405 started a pilot program to study the use of a type of birth control on certain offenders in state prisons.

1989 - Assembly Bill 165 required convicted sex offenders to submit to testing of their blood and saliva and required the central repository for Nevada criminal records to collect, maintain and arrange the results of those tests.

1993 - Senate Bill 192 required institutions that release or discharge a sex offender to ensure the registration of the offender and provided for the release of registration data.

1995 - Assembly Bill 312 expanded the definition of "employees" to include volunteers and prospective volunteers for provisions regarding the prior sexual offenses of employees.

1995 - Senate Bill 192 increased the penalty for certain crimes related to sex, gave guidelines for lifetime supervision of certain sex offenders, expanded the definition of sexual offense for the purpose of blood and saliva tests and required the attorney general to adopt guidelines for notifications about the release of sex offenders.

1997 - Assembly Bill 280 increased the penalty for certain sexual offenses committed against a child younger than 14 years and required the state board of parole commissioners to impose certain conditions of parole on people who commit such offenses.

1997 - Senate Bill 325 established a statewide registry of sex offenders and those convicted of certain crimes against children and a program to provide the public with access to the registry. The law revised the provisions governing community notification, including certain juvenile sex offenders, and required that movie theaters and other businesses that primarily have children as customers be notified about certain sex offenders. It introduced new conditions of probation and parole for certain sex offenders and prohibited the sealing of criminal records in certain circumstances.

1997 - Senate Bill 5 required certification by a panel or mental health professional before offenders convicted of certain crimes may be released on parole or probation.

1997 - Senate Bill 99 required that the presentence investigation of certain sex offenders include a psychosexual evaluation.
1997 - Senate Bill 102 required school officials to be notified about juvenile sex offenders and prohibited those juveniles from attending the same school as a victim.

1999 - Senate Bill 515 modified registration requirements and allowed for a website and the monitoring of nonresident offenders
2001 – Senate Bill 551 required an Internet service provider to provide access to certain information, established a penalty for committing the crime of stalking with the use of the Internet or electronic mail and prohibited the use of a computer to lure children, providing that such an offense constitutes a sexual offense.

2001 – Senate Bill 412 revised the provisions regarding the registration, community notification and conditions of probation and parole for sex offenders. It added restrictions against sex offenders’ accessing the Internet or going to businesses of a sexual nature. The law gave the state oversight of offenders’ prescription medications.

2003 – Assembly Bill 78 revised the penalties for sexual assault against a child under the age of 16 and lewdness with a child. The law also prohibited the suspension of sentence or granting of probation to a person convicted of lewdness with a child and changed provisions about access to information in the statewide sex offender registry.

2003 – Senate Bill 218 revised provisions relating to the program that provides the public with access to certain information in the statewide sex offender.

2003 – Senate Bill 397 required sex offenders and offenders convicted of a crime against a child who are enrolled in or work at institutions of higher education to register with local law enforcement, which must to notify campus police.

2005 – Senate Bill 341 authorized unrestricted searches of an offender’s property, expanded procedures for disseminating registration information to employers, established civil liability for misuse of info from state registry, expanded charges for failing to maintain registration, expanded guidelines for dealing with juvenile offenders, sentencing and offenders who become gaming employees. The law also restricted the DMV from granting licenses without permission from officials based on an applicant’s registration compliance.

2007 – Assembly Bill 579 adopted standards to make Nevada compliant with the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.

2007 – Senate Bill 471 required incarcerated sex offenders and offenders convicted of a crime against a child to register with a local law enforcement agency before being released from prison. The law also required sex offenders to provide a biological specimen at the time of registration with a local law enforcement agency and increased minimum sentences for sexual offenses committed against a child.


H.R.515, International Megan's Law, Misguided legislation that won't protect children

Delaware Voice: Chrysanthi Leon 6:02 p.m. EST February 26, 2015

This week, my graduate seminar at the University of Delaware hosted several scholars who study sex trafficking, both trafficking laws and the people they affect. Together, this group of scholars and activists from around the world share some common concerns about what happens when well-meaning policymakers use the wrong tools to address problems. Sen. Chris Coons has the opportunity to address one aspect of this with the bill pending now in the Senate Foreign Relations committee, H.R.515, International Megan's Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking.

While the proposed law would like to end exploitation of children, the approach it proposes will not help.

The law focuses on people listed in sex offender registries (or Megan’s law databases). The core problem with this approach is that empirical research has established that people on the registry are not the ones who will commit new sex crimes.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s own 2002 study shows this: New sex offenses are much more likely to be committed by people not already caught or registered as sex offenders. When the concern is sex trafficking, this is even more misguided, since no connection has ever been made between the two groups. Despite our fears of sex offenders, there is no empirical reason to expect registered sex offenders to be the ones exploiting children abroad.

Beyond this basic mistake in the target of the bill, it would create more unneeded bureaucracy: The U.S. Marshals Service already notifies receiving countries of registered sex offender travel.

Finally, in addition to not helping children, my own research shows how restrictions like these actually harm them. The family members of people on the registry experience many of the same restrictions. Just this week I spoke with someone who was not be able to have her brother walk her down the aisle, because he is registered for “sexting” six years ago. Even though his local and state law enforcement offices had approved his travel, when he changed planes in California he was prevented from leaving the country. On top of missing the wedding, he lost the $2,000 ticket.

Rather than add to the stigmas and other burdens that affect the families of sex offenders (who are also often the victims, since much sexual violence occurs within families).

I urge Sen. Coons to oppose H.R.515, in the interest of fairness, small government and the recognition of what will actually work to protect children.

Chrysanthi Leon is associate professor of sociology and criminal justice and women and gender studies at the University of Delaware.


Arrest made after 2nd fire destroys sex offender future home

National Reentry Resource Center Newsletter

Future Wisconsin home of former sex offender destroyed in arson fire twice; $ reward offered 1-800-362-3005

Future Wisconsin home of former sex offender destroyed in arson fire twice; 

$ reward offered 1-800-362-3005


Story By Pete Zervakis UPDATE (WKOW) -- A home in Cottage Grove that was supposed to house a convicted sex offender is a total loss after a second fire Sunday night.

The Dane County Sheriff's Office says it's now offering a reward for tips that lead to an arrest. They're calling the home at 4721 Gaston Circle an arson.

This is the second time this home has gone up in flames, since the community was notified a convicted child sex offender, Howard Nyberg, was going to move in. The first fire caused about $90,000 in damage. The sheriff says the house had recently been repaired, but this fire destroyed the home.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation is helping the Dane County Sheriff's Office in its investigation. Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call the state's arson hotline at 1 (800) 362-3005.

COTTAGE GROVE (WKOW) – Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said his department is treating a fire at a home in the 4700 block of Gaston Circle, in the Town of Cottage Grove, as arson.

The home, which was also damaged in a fire in December, was expected to soon house a convicted sex offender.

Howard Nyberg, 40, was scheduled to move in before the end of the month. Nyberg was convicted on two counts of sexual assault of a child in 1994. The neighborhood was originally told he would be moving in, after being released from a secure treatment facility, shortly before the first fire.

Mahoney said “clear evidence” indicated the first fire at the home, in December, was arson.

“We'll handle this investigation tonight like it was an arson,” Mahoney said of Sunday's fire. “But we won't know for sure until we can get into the residence and begin investigating.”

“We have talked to neighbors and there are some leads that have come forward from individuals in the neighborhood and we'll be moving swiftly on those to try and bring an end to this,” Mahoney said.

Mahoney and other officials from the Dane County Sheriff's Department joined the Town of Cottage Grove Police Department at the scene of Sunday's fire.

Fire Departments from Cottage Grove, McFarland, Deerfield, Blooming Grove and Sun Prairie were among those that responded.

The fire broke out around 7:15 p.m. and smoke could be seen still emanating from the home well past 10 p.m.

Mahoney said he did not believe there were any injuries.

“What I'm most concerned about is the neighbors,” Mahoney said. “We have homes in close proximity.”

The Department of Corrections leases the home at 4721 Gaston Circle from a private citizen. Mahoney said he did not believe the DOC should alter its plans to move Nyberg into the home. He said that would set a bad precedent.

“We have not only all of our investigators here, we have state arson investigators joining us today and, depending on the direction it goes, we may even bring federal investigators in,” Mahoney said.

Neighbors in the area are lobbying the Town of Cottage Grove's common council to pass an ordinance preventing other homes in the town from being leased to the DOC for the purpose of housing sex offenders, or to sex offenders directly.

A neighbor Sunday night said the group still plans to advocate for that ordinance.


COTTAGE GROVE (WKOW) -- Dane County sheriff's officials confirm they are headed to a fire on Gaston Circle in Cottage Grove.

Dane County Communications tells 27 News a call came in around 7:15 p.m. Sunday night. Cottage Grove, Blooming Grove, Deerfield, Sun Prairie, Marshall, and McFarland fire departments were all called to the home at 4721 Gaston Circle.

This is the same home where Dane County authorities are investigating a suspected arson case in December. A registered sex offender is set to move into the home before the end of the month.

Stay with 27 News and for the latest on this developing story.

Is Lauren Book's Charity Being Used for Political Gain?

Rally in Tally!!


Advocates of sex offender registry reform will gather in a peaceful protest at the Florida State House in Tallahassee FL on April 22, 2015 during the annual Lauren Book's 'Walk In My Shoes' event. The Rally in Tally is a joint collaboration among civil rights activists; we seek to raise awareness of the sex offender law reform movement, provide educational material, and garner attention to our plights at a high-profile event that brings politicians, celebrity advocates, and the news media together.

The intent of the Rally in Tally is not to attack, dispute, or criticize the efforts of Lauren's Kids as it relates to raising awareness and the prevention of sexual abuse in America. However, we are taking a stand against the policies of the Lauren's Kids foundation in its efforts to promote and lobby for Florida's "scorched Earth" policies. Lauren Book and her powerful lobbyist father, Ron Book, have pushed a number of harmful policies under the Lauren's Kids banner, including tough residency restrictions that forced registered citizens in Miami-Dade County to sleep under bridges, in abandoned parking lots, and even along train tracks and warehouses. In the past year Lauren's Kids supported a law marking the state-issued ID cards of some registrants with a scarlet letter, creating "pocket parks" to expand exclusion zones against registrants, and is currently supporting a lifetime GPS bill for all registered persons. In addition, Lauren Book has
referred to all registered citizens as "monsters," "incurable," a "clear and imminent danger," and "ticking time bombs."

We cannot make the Rally in Tally a success without you, our fellow activists. We need people willing to travel to Tallahassee to present the Book family, Florida Legislature and ill-informed public with a visual representation of the unconsidered consequences of hastily-devised legislation. Registered citizens, civil rights activist and registrant families are strongly encouraged to attend. Our hope is that anyone reading this will realize each person is needed at this rally to stand publicly for our rights. If you cannot attend the event, then we encourage you to support the rally movement by making a donation to assist in paying for supplies or sponsor someone who otherwise would not be able to participate.

Please send us an email at for more information and to receive periodic updates about this exciting event!

Ruling quashes Monroe County sex offender bill

B.C. man wins right to sue rape-accuser for defamation after he was cleared of charge

Researchers Win $1 Million Grant for Sex Offender Registration and Tracking Study

Teen sex a crime? Ky high court to hear case

Some States Are Closing Prisons And Turning Them Into Homeless Shelters, Reentry Centers

In Thursday's Sentinel: A local lawmaker sponsors bills to protect convicted sex offenders

Posted: Wednesday, January 21, 2015 5:32 pm

A local lawmaker has sponsored several bills in the N.H. House of Representatives that would increase protections for people on the state's registry of sex offenders.

Rep. Timothy N. Robertson, D-Keene, said he was motivated by information about two recent local attacks that he said may have been committed by someone who targeted people listed on the registry.

Robertson said he believes this is a common problem in the state.
"They have been found guilty, and they have served their time," Robertson said. ""They don’t deserve to be targeted for the rest of their lives."

One of the four bills he's introduced would "(prohibit) the use of sex offender registry information for the purpose of harassing, intimidating, or threatening a registered sexual offender or offender against children, or any family member, employer or landlord of such person."

A representative from the Concord organization Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform, Chris Dornin, encouraged Robertson to sponsor that bill after he investigated the homicide of 48-year-old David E. Wheelock of Keene and an attack on a Westmoreland man that Dornin believes are connected.

Wheelock was killed in December 2013 at his house on Pearl Street in Keene.
He had been convicted of 28 counts of child pornography in October 2005, and those convictions are listed on the N.H. Department of Safety’s sex offender registry.

Authorities have not identified a suspect or a motive in the murder, but Assistant N.H. Attorney General Benjamin J. Agati said last month that they are considering a theory that Wheelock’s sexual offender status made him a target.

Dornin said the possibility that Wheelock was targeted for being on the registry indicated a threat to other registered sex offenders.

"It underscores how punitive the registry is, and the unfairness of charging someone (just to make them) a shaming and violence target," he said.

Dornin cited another case in which he believes an attacker mistook a Westmoreland man on the sex offender registry for his neighbor.

The victim, Walter Field, was attacked last year outside his house, and police said at the time that the assailant had been looking for another person.

The assault left Field with fractures to his face and damage to his left eye, according to N.H. State Police Sgt. Shawn M. Skahan, who investigated the crime.

During the attack, one of Field’s brothers overheard the assailant make statements that led police to conclude Field’s neighbor was the intended target of the attack.

Police did not release the neighbor’s name, citing safety concerns, but Dornin said he has spoken to the man, who he said is a registered sex offender.


Judge Required to Revisit Sex Offender Registry Lawsuit

   JAN 13, 2015

PORTLAND, Maine - A Maine judge must give further consideration to whether a man's rights were violated by legislative action requiring him to be placed on the state sex offender registry retroactively.

The state supreme court ruled Tuesday in the case of a man who served 72 hours in jail in 2003 after pleading guilty to possession of sexually explicit materials.

At the time, the conviction didn't require him to be on the sex offender registry. But that changed later that year when lawmakers updated the list of crimes mandating placement on the registry.

On Tuesday, the supreme court vacated a judge's decision that rejected Doe's lawsuit. Justices said more information is needed to reach a conclusion on his stand-alone claim that lawmakers illegally circumvented the judicial process to impose extra punishment.



University of Illinois to offer free course on wrongful convictions

By The Associated Press
Posted Dec. 11, 2014 @ 9:00 am

SPRINGFIELD: The University of Illinois Springfield plans to offer a free online class examining the issues surrounding wrongful convictions.

The university said Wednesday that online registration is underway for the six-week course, which begins in February and is open to the public. Participants need not be enrolled at the university.

It will examine the scope and causes of wrongful convictions and the difficulties in trying to free innocent people after they have been convicted. It also will consider strategies to prevent future wrongful convictions.

The course will be taught by Assistant Professor Gwen Jordan, who also is a staff attorney for the Illinois Innocence Project.

Scores of inmates in Illinois and elsewhere have been freed from prison after serving years for crimes they did not commit.

Read more:

Court throws out child sex-offender registration

Pennsylvania Supreme Court rules against provision of Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act that applies to serious offenses by older juveniles

Read more:

Sex offender registry not the answer

Let’s get real folks! Ariel Castro (Ohio), Jerry Sandusky (PA) and many others we hear and read about were not on any public registry and that is exactly the point. The public has been groomed to believe all they have to do is check a registry and be aware of “those on it” and their family will be safe. The truth of the matter is that according to credible studies the recidivism rate for another “sexual” offense is 3.5 percent and those who are beginning to educate families are advising the other 93-95 percent of sexual offenses come from within the victim’s family, friends and those having access to the children and those never get reported.

There are over 774,600 men, women and children (as young as 6, 8 and 10 in some states) required to register and the "crimes" range from urinating in public (indecent exposure), sexting, incest, mooning, exposure, false accusations by a soon-to-be ex-wife, angry girlfriend, or spiteful student, viewing abusive or suggestive images of anyone 18 years old or younger, playing doctor, prostitution, solicitation, Romeo and Juliet consensual sexual dating relationships, rape, endangering the welfare of a child and many others.

If you multiply the number on the registry by two or three family members you can clearly see there are well over three million wives, children, moms, aunts, girlfriends, grandmothers and other family members who experience the collateral damage of being harassed, threatened, children beaten, have signs placed in their yards, homes set on fire, vehicles damaged, asked to leave their churches and other organizations, children passed over for educational opportunities, have flyers distributed around their neighborhood, wives lose their jobs when someone learns they are married to a registrant....all these things occur when these people try to hold their family together and provide the three things that professionals state are needed for successful re-integration; a job, a place to live, and a good support system.

Education is the key. We need to set up Child Sexual Abuse Prevention training programs to empower kids and teens to protect themselves as much as possible and to speak up if someone makes them uncomfortable or oversteps their bounds. Programs like radKIDs and others are great tools. Parents cannot be everywhere.

Residency restrictions push former offenders away from the supervision, treatment, stability, and supportive networks they may need to build and maintain successful, law-abiding lives. As one Iowa sheriff said, "We are less safe as a community now than we were before the residency restrictions."

Throughout the United States, courts have found residency laws unconstitutional because they are punitive or against the Ex Post Facto laws.

Many child safety and rape prevention advocates would like to see more money spent on prevention, education, and awareness programs for children and adults, counseling for victims of sexual violence, and programs that facilitate treatment and the transition back to society for convicted sex offenders.

Vicki Henry, President

Women Against Registry


Ban on Life Sentences for Juveniles Gets Fresh Look in High Court

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday said it would decide whether its 2012 decision prohibiting mandatory sentences of life without parole for juvenile murderers under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes is retroactive.
After turning away a number of cases raising the retroactivity question since its decision in Miller v. Alabama, the justices agreed to hear arguments by George Toca, who was 17 in 1984 when he accidently shot his best friend, Eric Batiste, during a botched armed robbery.
Toca's counsel, Emily Maw of the Innocence Project New Orleans, told the court in her petition that most state and federal courts have recognized that Miller created a new substantive rule that applies retroactively to youths whose sentences became final before it was announced.
"But courts in a handful of statesundefinedincluding Louisiana, which has a large population of juveniles automatically sentenced to die in prisonundefinedhave misconstrued what this court mandated in Miller and concluded the rule it announced is not retroactive," she wrote.
Hundreds of prisoners, she added, are entitled to new sentencing hearings under Miller but are blocked from relief in the minority of states that have refused to recognize Miller's retroactivity.
Louisiana argued against review, contending that Miller did not meet the court's requirements for retroactive application. The state contended that Miller did not announce a substantive new rule of law, only a change in sentencing proceedings, and its holding was not a "watershed development" in criminal procedure implicating the fundamental fairness and accuracy of the proceeding.
The justices also added two bankruptcy cases to its decision docket this termundefinedBullard v. Hyde Park Savings Bank, and Harris v. Viegelahnundefinedand a patent challenge, Kimble v. Marvel Enterprises.

Contact Marcia Coyle at On Twitter: @MarciaCoyle
Read Source: Here

See referenced case law: Miller v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455 - Supreme Court 2012

IT’S NOW ILLEGAL IN ILLINOIS TO FILM COPS Or any government officials, for that matter


An amendment to a Senate bill in Illinois has been overwhelmingly passed to ensure that recording police officers and government officials is now a felony.

The Amendment to Senate Bill 1342 was stealthily introduced on the back of an unrelated piece of legislation last week. It essentially reestablishes a completely unconstitutional eavesdropping law that was previously overturned by The Supreme Court in March for being too draconian.

The amendment has stripped away safeguards to free speech rights from the original legislation and instituted a blanket ban on recording officials in public. It was passed by both the Illinois House and the Senate, with huge majorities, within two days of its introduction.

A post at watchdog website notes that the bill is designed to prevent people from documenting interactions with cops on their cell phones by making it a class 3 felony to “eavesdrop” on city and state officials including police officers, police, an attorney general, an assistant attorney general, a state’s attorney, an assistant state’s attorney or a judge.

The new amendment legislates its way around the ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ standard in law by refraining from defining it, and merely states that recording any “oral communication between 2 or more persons” is now illegal.

A class 3 felony is punishable by a prison sentence of two to four years. The bill also outlines that it is now a class 4 felony to record a private citizen in such circumstances. The crime is punishable by one to three years in prison.

The vaguely worded legislation states:

(a) Eavesdropping, for a first offense, is a Class 4 felony (from Ch. 38, par. 14-4) and, for a second or subsequent offense, is a Class 3 felony.

(b) The eavesdropping of an oral conversation or an electronic communication of any
law enforcement officer, State’s Attorney, Assistant State’s Attorney, the Attorney General, Assistant Attorney General, or a judge, while in the performance of his or her official duties, if not authorized by this Article or proper court order, is a Class 3 felony, and for a second or subsequent offenses, is a Class 2 felony

Jacob Huebert, Senior Attorney at Liberty Justice Center, notes “There’s only one apparent reason for imposing a higher penalty on people who record police in particular: to make people especially afraid to record police.”

Huebert also notes that the legislation could impact the widely proposed move to implement body cameras for all police officers

“Police may argue that using body cameras to record encounters with citizens outside of “public” places would violate the law, as citizens have not consented to being recorded.” he writes.

In its previous overturning of the bill, The Supreme Court justices noted that the eavesdropping ban

"criminalizes a wide range of innocent conduct," including "the recording of conversations that cannot be deemed private: a loud argument on the street, a political debate on a college quad, yelling fans at an athletic event, or any conversation loud enough that the speakers should expect to be heard by others. None of these examples implicate privacy interests, yet the statute makes it a felony to audio record each one. Judged in terms of the legislative purpose of protecting conversational privacy, the statute’s scope is simply too broad."

Activists are calling for citizens to pressure Illinois governor, 

Pat Quinn   (email here to veto the amendment.


People who commit homicides or sex offenses have extremely low re-offense rates overall and almost never return to prison for committing a new crime of the same type

Click to see the full report here 

Click here to see other recidivism reports

Source: CAPPS.pdf 

a failure to register under SORNA is not a "sex offense" Consequently, we vacate the supervised release portion of Collins's sentence

12-9-2014 West Virginia:

USA -v- Collins

Dwaine Allen Collins was convicted of knowingly failing to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). The district court sentenced Collins to 30 months' imprisonment and ten years of supervised release. On this direct appeal, Collins contests his conviction primarily on the grounds that the government failed to prove an essential element of a SORNA violation: that he knew he had an obligation to register.

In support, he points to comments made by a state court judge in a separate proceeding, which in Collins's view suggest that his obligation to register had expired. We agree with the district court, however, that the state judge appeared to be giving advice rather than a binding legal opinion. Moreover, there is substantial evidence in the record to support the district court's conclusion that Collins knowingly avoided an obligation to register as a sex offender. We thus find Collins’s claim unpersuasive and affirm his conviction.

Collins also appeals his sentence. We find his 30-month term of imprisonment, which is within the applicable Guidelines range, to be reasonable and thus affirm the district court's sentence in that respect. As to the term of supervised release, however, the United States Sentencing Commission recently issued a clarifying amendment stating that a failure to register under SORNA is not a "sex offense" for the purposes of the Guidelines. Consequently, we vacate the supervised release portion of Collins's sentence and remand for further proceedings.

... ... ... ...

For the reasons provided above, we affirm Collins's conviction and his term of imprisonment, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion as to his term of supervised release.


See also: US v. Collins 14-4019

Missouri high court to hear felon gun-rights case

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A new constitutional amendment enhancing Missouri's gun rights is being put to the test by a felon who is citing it as a reason why he shouldn't be disqualified from carrying guns.

The Missouri Supreme Court is to hear arguments Wednesday on whether the provision subjecting gun-control laws to strict legal scrutiny means that Missouri can no longer bar nonviolent felons from possessing firearms.

Voters approved the amendment in August with greater than 60 percent support.

The court is considering whether a man convicted of a federal drug distribution felony in 1986 can face new charges under a state law barring felons from possessing firearms.

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, who sponsored the constitutional amendment, has filed a court brief saying it wasn't meant to invalidate the felon gun-possession ban.


Global Institute of Forensic Research - Research Bulletin December 2014

Cities and Towns Scaling Back Limits on Sex Offenders


podcast: Ashby Jones tells WSJ's Hank Weisbecker why cities are scaling back on these restrictions 

When Palm Beach County, Fla., was sued earlier this year over its housing restrictions for registered sex offenders, its attorneys took an unusual approach: They suggested the county relax its law.

The county’s commissioner's prompted largely by the lawsuit brought by a sex offender who claimed the limits rendered him homeless,  voted in July to let such offenders legally live closer to schools, day-care centers and other places with concentrations of children.

“We realized the law was costing the taxpayers money [for services for the homeless] and was causing more problems than it was solving,” said county attorney Denise Nieman.

In the mid-1990s, states and cities began barring sex offenders from living within certain distances of schools, playgrounds and parks. The rationale: to prevent the horrible crimes sometimes committed by offenders after their release. In October, for instance, officials charged sex offender Darren Deon Vann with murdering two women in Indiana. Mr. Vann, who is suspected of killing several others, pleaded not guilty.

Now, a growing number of communities are rejecting or scaling back such limits out of concern that they don’t prevent repeat offenses, and, in some instances, may make sex offenders harder to track.

Before Palm Beach County shrunk its buffer zones, only small pockets of the county were open to sex offenders, said Mark Jolly, the head of the unit at the county sheriff’s office charged with tracking sex offenders. “They’d either just become homeless or they’d tell us they were homeless, then would move into housing within a restricted zone,” he said. “It became a nightmare to track these guys.”

Mike Rodriguez, the executive director of the county’s criminal justice commission, estimates that the change in the law increased the area in which sex offenders could live by about 70%.

In August, the Dallas City Council considered a proposal to adopt residency restrictions for Dallas’s nearly 4,000 sex offenders. Jerry Allen, a council member, said he “looked for research” to support the idea, but came up empty. So Mr. Allen persuaded the council to shelve the proposal.

A 2013 Justice Department study that examined Michigan’s and Missouri’s statewide restrictions showed they “had little effect on recidivism.” Other studies have found the vast majority of sex-offense cases involving children are committed not by strangers but by family members or others with established connections to the victims, such as coaches or teachers.

About 30 states and thousands of cities and towns have laws restricting where sex offenders can live, while others are adding them. In March, a 1,000-foot buffer from parks took effect in San Antonio. In July, Milwaukee passed a law banning sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a variety of places where children gather.

In October, the City Council in Elkhorn, Wis., population 10,000, passed an ordinance requiring offenders who move into town to live at least 2,000 feet from places such as schools and parks. The move was prompted by an influx of sex offenders released from the nearby county jail, many of whom had begun to congregate in the town’s business district, said Mayor Brian Olson. After the vote, he said he got several calls and letters from residents thanking him. “I think people were afraid to speak up on the issue, and that there was a bit of a sigh of relief,” Mr. Olson said. We’re just trying to keep our kids safe, and just did what a lot of other communities around the state have done,” he said.

Critics, however, say such moves do little more than score lawmakers political points and give an area’s residents a false sense of security. Some argue they can make communities less safe, by making it hard for offenders to find stable housing.

David Prater, district attorney of the county that encompasses Oklahoma City, said he and other state prosecutors have tried to get the state to relax its 2,000-foot buffer, to no avail. “No politician wants to be labeled the guy who lessens restrictions on sex offenders,” he said.

The police chief in Greeley, Colo., Jerry Garner, said he started having doubts about the restrictions when, a few years ago, Greeley officers discovered a registered sex offender living in his car, partly, recalls Mr. Garner, because he was “boxed out” of so much of the city. “Because of the restrictions, he was basically living as close to children as he wanted to,” said Mr. Garner. At his urging, in February Greeley slashed the size of the restricted areas for its 265 registered sex offenders from 1,000 feet around places like schools to 300 feet.

In October, three residents of a Miami outdoor encampment sued Miami-Dade County in federal court, claiming that sex-offender residency restrictions in the county rendered them “unable to locate stable, affordable housing,” thereby forcing them and “hundreds” of others into homelessness.

A Miami-Dade County spokeswoman declined to comment on the suit.

Miami-Dade County has come under fire for its residency restrictions before. In 2006, an encampment that ultimately grew to include more than 100 homeless sex offenders developed under a Miami freeway, largely as a result of the county’s residency restrictions. Four years later, to alleviate the problem the county eliminated some of its 2,500-foot buffer zones for sex offenders.

Some smaller towns are chucking restrictions, partly in the name of public safety. De Pere, Wis., a town of 23,000 south of Green Bay, tossed out its 500-foot buffer last year after reviewing data on its effectiveness, said several council members. The issue was reopened by some townspeople several months ago ,when a convicted sex offender moved across the street from a school for children with special needs. But the council didn’t budge.

“You track where they live, you check in on them, but you let them live at home, where they’re comfortable and stable,” said Scott Crevier, a DePere city councilman. “I feel we’re actually safer than a lot of other towns in the state that have them.”

Write to Ashby Jones at


National City repeals sex offender ordinance

Sex ed conference for students goes way too far



Shhhhh - Top Obama bundler accused of child rape: Column

Lane County grand jury indicts prominent gay rights activist Terrence Bean in 2013 case involving a 15-year-old boy

Portland gay rights leader arrested in sex case

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) -- A founder of the country’s leading gay rights organization was arrested Wednesday on charges related to an incident with a 15-year-old boy last year.

The Portland Police Bureau’s Sex Crimes Unit took Terrence Bean into custody at his home in Southwest Portland following a Lane County Grand Jury indictment.

Bean, 66, was on the ground floor of the Human Rights Campaign, according to, and is listed as an HRC board member and Portland’s sole representation in the group’s leadership on

Bean’s lawyer, Kristen Winemiller, said in a statement Wednesday that it is Bean who has been victimized, and “look[s] forward to the opportunity to clear his name.”

“Over the course of several months in 2013-2014 Terry was the victim of an extortion ring led by several men known to law enforcement,” Winemiller said.

Winemiller said the arrest is connected to an ongoing investigation of a case Bean fully cooperated with. Still, sources familiar with the investigation told KOIN 6 News they believe there may be more victims in the case, part of an overarching investigation, and others may face charges.

“No allegations against Terry Bean should be taken at face value,” Winemiller said.

Amid the allegations, dozens of supporters took to social media defending Bean, including celebrated LGBT advocate and benefactor Bill Dickey.

In a Facebook post Nov. 19, Bill Dickey defended Terry Bean. (Facebook/ Bill Dickey)

Dickey’s post had more than 20 comments echoing his sentiments.

But Jeff Warila, a longtime neighbor of Bean’s Hayden Island residence, said he saw Bean bring younger-looking men to the condo and said he is not surprised by the charges. Warila said he saw Bean engaged in sexual acts with young-looking men through his kitchen window.

“The young men that come here, they seem happy, no one looks like they’re here under duress,” Warila noted.

Terry Bean was booked into the Multnomah County Jail, where he was released after posting bail. He faces a pending court date in Lane County, where Portland Police Bureau Sgt. Pete Simpson said the crimes occurred.


U.S. appeals court ruled California can't enforce rules tracking sex offenders online

By Karen Gullo, Bloomberg News
November 16, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO -- California can't enforce a law to combat sex trafficking because it tramples on free speech rights of sex offenders by requiring them to report online activities, such as their Twitter, e-mail and chatroom accounts, a U.S. appeals court ruled.


The San Francisco-based court Tuesday upheld a judge's decision to block enforcement of a voter-approved law that was backed by former Facebook Inc. executive Chris Kelly and garnered support from more than 80 percent of California voters in 2012.


The measure, known as Proposition 35, isn't clear about what accounts or Internet service providers offenders are required to report and targets online speech that could include blogging about politics and posting comments on news articles, the appeals court's three-judge panel said Tuesday.


The law also harms sex offenders' ability to engage in anonymous speech because it allegedly allows police to disclose their online identities to the public, the court said. Failure to report on Internet activity can lead to criminal sanctions.


A requirement that registered sex-offenders notify police within 24 hours of using a new Internet identity chills activity protected by the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment, U.S. Circuit Judge Jay S. Bybee wrote in the unanimous ruling.


Attorneys for the law's backers had argued it doesn't regulate the speech of sex offenders and would give police a head start to investigate when a parent reports that a child has been communicating with a stranger online and was going to meet that person.


While the state has a legitimate interest in preventing sexual exploitation and human trafficking, California officials didn't show that blocking the law would seriously hamper the ability of law enforcement to investigate online sex offenses because there are other methods to do so, the court said.


"There will be some hardship on the state," the court said. "Nevertheless, the balance of equities favors" the sex offenders who sued to overturn Proposition 35, "whose First Amendment rights are being chilled."


David Beltran, a spokesman for California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who defended the law, didn't immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the ruling. A call to Harris's press office wasn't immediately returned.


Two unidentified California sex offenders and the American Civil Liberties Union filed named Harris and Kelly as defendants in their 2012 challenge to provisions of the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act.



See also: DOE V. HARRIS 13-15263

wrongly convicted sex offender exonerated after 12 years in prison and another 12 on sex offender registry

By Jason Morris, CNN July 31, 2014
Dallas (CNN) -- Michael Phillips has been spending most of his time these days living in a tiny room in a no-frills northeast Dallas nursing home.
Until recently, he had a roommate who slept in a bed 2 feet away, and staff brought him three square meals a day.

Only a few hours passed each day in which he didn't think about his burden of four decades: being a convicted sex offender.

That was before Friday, when Phillips was officially exonerated by Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins' Conviction Integrity Unit, which determined via DNA testing that he was falsely convicted. The state will now pay him handsomely for its mistake.

Man exonerated after decades in jail Exonerated man makes music

It was a first-of-its-kind exoneration in that Phillips wasn't clamoring for vindication. As was the case when he accepted a plea deal in 1990, he felt that his race would preclude him from getting a fair shake in the justice system, so he just accepted his plight.

After entering his plea, Phillips, a 57-year-old African-American who grew up in New Orleans, served 12 years in a Texas prison for the rape of a 16-year-old white girl at a Dallas motel where he'd worked as a maintenance man.
Confined to a wheelchair due to his battle with sickle cell anemia, Phillips has been out of jail since 2002. He has been living in nursing homes the past few years as his health has spiraled downward.

Though he's been out of prison for 12 years, he considers his life one long sentence, as he was forced to wear the branding of a convicted sex offender.
In his first week as a free man, Phillips is overjoyed and struggles to put his emotions into words, instead pointing to the spirituality that helped him cope all these years.

"A-W-E doesn't describe the feeling. I don't know if they got a word that describes how I feel. To have a leash taken off my neck and off my ankle, I know how my ancestors felt when they got free," he said.

Falsely Accused

According to the Dallas Police Department report from September 28, 1990, the victim was awakened by a man wearing a black and white ski mask.

While struggling with the man and biting his hand several times, the victim told police, she pulled up her assailant's mask and recognized him as Phillips, a man she had seen living at the motel.

The following month, detectives showed the victim a six-picture lineup, and she again identified Phillips as the man who raped her.

(The Dallas Police Department no longer presents photos side by side, because the district attorney's office says it suggests that the perpetrator must be present and compels the victim to pick one.)

It didn't help that Phillips had a record. In an interview with CNN, Phillips acknowledged committing a home burglary when he was 19.

"Being young and foolish, there were things you do that were juvenile," he said.
But at 32, he was trying to make an honest living and was shocked to hear that he was being charged with a rape that he hadn't committed. He feels that the prior burglary conviction and a "broken criminal justice system" were to blame for the bad advice he got next.

"The first paid public defender came in there and said, 'Mr. Phillips, the DA went back and saw that you just got out of prison a couple of years ago, so they want to lock you up for 99 years.' He thought he was doing me a favor. He said, 'You could get life, so you are going to take this 99 years.' "
Eventually, another public defender convinced him to cut a deal and plead guilty in exchange for 12 years behind bars, rather than risk a trial. Fearing that a jury would not side with him after a white girl picked him out of a photo lineup, he took the deal, he said.

He recalled distinctly the words of one public defender.

"You are a black man. This is a young white girl who has been assaulted. You have an X on your back already. What do you think the chances are if you go before an all-white jury?" the defense lawyer asked.

"Aren't you supposed to get a jury of your peers?" Phillips replied.
"Yeah, but it's not going to happen."
Phillips wonders today how many poor folks or people of color were denied a chance at justice in Dallas.

"(The system) is really broke down so bad. It's like I'm going to stab you and cut you from the neck down to your navel, and all I do is put a Band-Aid across it and tell you that you are going to be all right," he said. "That's how the justice system is, because all of them young black men that are getting arrested, they are doomed once the police slap the handcuffs on them and put them in the back of a police car."

A living hell

The youngest of nine children, Phillips is close with his family. Two of his older siblings are still alive, and he is tight with his oldest sister's children, who live in Dallas.

After his release from prison, Phillips tried to stay with his sister, but once people in the neighborhood found out his history, they put signs on her door and front yard.

"It's hard to have people look at you sideways and upside-down and cross-eyed and roll their eyes at you," Phillips said.

His niece and nephew, Karen Collins and Keith Wilkerson, concede that they didn't know for sure he was innocent. Phillips was embarrassed by the past and didn't bring it up, they said.

"He never talked about it, and I can say that it's not like him to do something like that, but him not talking about it gave me doubt," Collins said.

After he got out of prison, they said, Phillips struggled to make ends meet, picking up odd jobs as a handyman to pay rent on small apartments. He was forced to move around a lot, and he always had a hard time finding new places to live.

"He just took what life gave him. He was a passive person, not a fighter, which makes it ironic that he was charged with a violent crime," Collins said. "And the sentence didn't stop when he was out. It just made it more visible to the outside world because he was a sex offender.

"He had to deal with the discrimination of being limited to where he could live and work. Where can you get a job?" the niece said.

Last year, Phillips was booted from a nursing home because the staff found out he carried sex offender status, Wilkerson said.

Phillips said he felt helpless: "I didn't have any say in any of my life. You have that label. You have that sticker on your front and back. Bad enough you have to do 12 years for something you didn't do. Now you have to do something for the rest of your life. You have to report."

Now exonerated, Phillips says he's going to focus on dealing with his other sentence: sickle cell anemia.

"It's a war. The older I get, the worse this disease gets. I'm fighting a war with my body," he said.

Even with this battle at hand, his niece and nephew say they are excited to see him take it on without the burden of his conviction.

"His entire life has been held down and limited. The sky is the limit now," Collins said.

Conviction integrity?

Phillips' case is the 34th exoneration by the Dallas District Attorney's Office since the 2007 advent of the Conviction Integrity Unit.
The unit is a long-term project that screens untested rape kits by reviewing DNA databases that are preserved by the Southwest Institute of Forensic Sciences.
It is essentially using DNA testing to conduct an audit of all convictions in Dallas County for which testing may prove the guilt or innocence of a defendant.
So far, they have tackled only sexual assault convictions from 1990 that meet the following criteria:

• There was biological evidence available that included seminal fluid.
• There was only one rapist (cases with biological samples from more than one person are much harder to work with).
• The attacker's identity was in dispute at the time of the conviction.

According to the district attorney, Phillips is the first DNA exoneration in the United States that was identified by a systematic search of old criminal convictions, as opposed to a challenge by a defendant or any other party.
"Mr. Phillips is very lucky that we tested rape kits from the year in which the heinous crime took place," Watkins said in a written statement. "DNA tells the truth, so this was another case of eyewitness misidentification where one individual's life was wrongfully snatched and a violent criminal was allowed to go free.

"We apologize to Michael Phillips for a criminal justice system that failed him."
The semen found in the rape kit was put into the FBI's combined DNA Index System. It matched the sample of another man who also lived at the motel where the rape took place, the district attorney's office said, but that person can't be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has expired.
Assistant District Attorney Russell Wilson, who heads the Conviction Integrity Unit, had the task of driving out of state to tell the victim Phillips was the not the man who raped her.

Phillips plans to move out of his nursing home now.

"She was very distraught and cried quite a bit. She said she couldn't believe she picked the wrong person out of the photo lineup and felt horrible about that. The victim also said she never got over the sexual assault and had seven dogs because she always feared someone was going to kick down her door like the night of the rape at the motel," Wilson said.
"She broke down again upon learning we cannot prosecute the real perpetrator due to the statute of limitations."
Phillips does not hold a grudge against the woman who was responsible for his fate. Like him, she was a victim whose life was turned upside-down, he said.
"I pray for her, I forgive her, and I bless her."
'Huge racial disproportion'
Samuel Gross, a University of Michigan law professor and editor of the National Registry of Exonerations, says he persuaded Watkins' office to start this project several years ago and has worked as an adviser on the legal team ever since.
A 2012 National Registry of Exonerations study found that among rape exonerations with eyewitness misidentifications, most involved a white victim and African-American assailant.
"That's huge racial disproportion," Gross said. "In most rapes, the attacker and the victim are of the same race. Rapes with white victims and black rapists are less than 10% of the total. So why do they make up a majority of rape cases in which innocent defendants are exonerated? I think the most powerful reason is the difficulty identifying strangers of a different race."
Psychological experiments bear this out, Gross said, "and in the United States, the biggest problem is Caucasians have a much harder time identifying African-Americans than identifying members of our own race."
Gross hopes the successes in Dallas create a road map to reproduce similar results in other jurisdictions, he said.
"We should do it, to the extent possible, because there may be a lot of innocent defendants who were convicted of terrible crimes who we could identify but who have just given up or moved on as best they can. Also, this sort of project might teach us lessons about the causes of wrongful convictions that we would never learn from other exonerations," Gross said.
Phillips is pleased Watkins and his unit are trying to help the many innocent men he met while incarcerated. Watkins and his team say they will continue fighting to free them.
"On one hand, this was like finding a needle in a haystack, because Michael Phillips had given up on pressing his claim of innocence, but on the other hand, this was a methodical approach that can be replicated nationwide," Watkins said. "Untested rape kits should not just sit on a shelf and collect dust. The exoneration continues to expose the past weakness in our criminal justice system."
Newly minted millionaire
Last week's exoneration not only clears Phillips' name and his credit report, it will also make him a wealthy man.
Texas law awards an exoneree $80,000 for each year of wrongful incarceration, so Phillips will get a lump sum of $960,000 and then $80,000 a year for as long as he lives.
Texas also offers exonerees state-run health insurance and a free education, if they choose.
His family is planning to throw a big party for him this weekend, complete with barbecue, music and lots of joyous embraces.
Beyond that, all Phillips knows for sure about the future is that he is going to move out of his nursing home, buy a new vehicle and go to the dentist.
"The first thing I am going to do is get a Ford pickup truck and a house. Or I might just hit the road. You got 50 states. I might just hit the road and visit the rest of the country. I dreamed of going to China and walking on the Great Wall of China," he said.
Phillips has contemplated these possibilities for some time, never thinking that it was possible that his "crazy daydreams" could one day become reality.
But before he's done with his interview, he goes back to his original message. Leaning on an old Dorothy Love Coates gospel tune, he wants to make sure we know what he is really thankful for.
"Hang on to your faith. The Father works in his own time, and like the good song says: He may not come when you want to, but He's always on time."


Officers accused of bending rules on sex sting arrests

Noah Pransky, WTSP-TV, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla. August 8, 2014

An investigation uncovers questionable tactics used by police officers to put alleged sexual offenders behind bars. VPC

BARTOW, Fla.;  In the decade since Dateline NBC's To Catch a Predator segments popularized Internet sex stings, more than 1,200 men in Florida have been arrested, accused of preying on underage teens and children for sex. 
But as the stings put more and more men behind bars, detectives are working harder and harder to keep up their arrest numbers. And the tactics they're using to put alleged sexual offenders in jail are sweeping up large numbers of law-abiding men, too.

Many of the men whose mugshots sheriffs have been paraded in made-for-TV press conferences were not seeking to meet children online, according to a yearlong WTSP-TV investigation. Instead, they were looking for other adults when detectives started to persuade them to break the law.

Detectives used to post ads suggesting that an underage teen or child was available for sex but now routinely post more innocuous personal ads of adults on traditional dating sites.

When men, many of them younger than 25 with no criminal history, respond, officers switch the bait and typically indicate their age is really 14 or 15 years old. However, sometimes the storyline isn't switched until the men, who were looking for legal love, already start falling for an undercover agent.

Officers also now are responding to men's ads on dating sites like After the men start online chats with people they think are adults, agents change the age they claim to be but try to persuade the men to continue the conversation anyway.

Other examples include undercover officers showing interest in a man then later introducing the idea of having sex with the agent's "child." If the men indicate they aren't interested, many still were arrested for talking to the adult.  Critics of the stings say the operations make for better press conferences than crime fighting. Many of the men charged with sexual-predator crimes see little jail time but a lifetime on the sex offender registry. 

But when Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd was asked about overly aggressive detectives, he went on the offensive.

"The concern (I have) is that you inflate your investigative reporting to make it glitzy," he said.

Judges also have been critical of some tactics used in the stings, which violate Internet Crimes Against Children guidelines. Among the judges' comments in recent entrapment decisions:

It was the agent who repeatedly steered the conversation back to sexual activity with a minor.
The government made a concerted effort to lure him into committing a crime.
The undercover officer failed to follow the procedures.
The law does not tolerate government action to provoke a law-abiding citizen to commit a crime.

The judge in one dismissed case criticized the undercover officer for failing to follow procedures, saying "the officer controlled the tone, pace and subject matter of online conversation, pushing toward a discussion of sexual activity."

Defense lawyer Anthony Ryan, who has a practice in Sarasota, Fla., just got a 23-year-old client's case dismissed in Manatee, Fla. A judge ruled that deputies entrapped his client, writing that their tactics had "no place in modern day law enforcement."

"They are really good at subtly turning conversations and normal statements into sexual innuendo; whether or not the other side intended that," Ryan said.

The blurring of legal and ethical lines has led many agencies such as the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and others in south Florida to focus their cybercrime resources in other areas such as child porn and sex trafficking.

Hillsborough and Pasco county detectives say those investigations yield better conviction rates and longer prison terms. They also provide law enforcement with additional leads.

"Any way you can take a sexual predator off the street is tremendous, especially those that are online looking at child pornography," said Sheriff Chris Nocco of Pasco County. "They may do something physically against a young little kid."

But predator stings are still alive in central Florida, operating under Judd, who is head of the Florida Sheriff's Task Force on Internet crimes against children.

Predator hunting is one sheriff's 'favorite topic'

Sheriff of Polk County since 2005, Judd has made it clear that targeting sexual predators is his top priority.

He called hunting predators his favorite topic at a recent press conference, and he has invited national media outlets along for some of the operations. His office's predator stings have been featured in three MSNBC specials as well as a recent CNN series.

But Judd has been much less forthcoming on how detectives lure targets and whether innocent men are getting swept up.

Judd has failed to provide information on the following issues, which are considered public records under Florida's Sunshine law:

An overwhelming majority of men who communicate with detectives either end communication or report the undercover officer's activities to authorities, Judd said.

Judd maintains that the records are exempt from state open-records laws because all of the men are still under investigation because they may surface in future stings. However, that response indicates that Judd and other law-enforcement leaders who have used the same exemption to withhold requested records have investigations open on hundreds, maybe thousands, of men who legally communicated with adults on legal websites.

Judd also showed little concern for due process during a Tuesday press conference to tout arrests since March in predator-style stings. He pointed to 132 mugshots on a giant posterboard and called the men "sexual predators."

Some of the men already have been cleared of charges, he called them "fair game"

"We have a very liberal, a very forgiving, criminal justice system," Judd said.

The other victims of sheriffs' stings

Men who victimize children or look for underage victims online can't be excused.

However, it's easier to make a case for men swept up in stings when they were looking for adults online.

"(My son) was stalked by law enforcement for three days," said the mother of a 22-year-old arrested in one of the stings who asked not to be identified because of the stigma that the arrest has brought.

Her son was on Craiglist's personals pages looking to meet other adults. He responded to a no-strings-attached ad for a 26-year-old woman.

The story from the woman, really an undercover agent, changed a few times, including a claim that she was only 13, but he said he was skeptical.

He spoke on the phone to her and she sent a photo in which she was wearing a wedding ring. He said he was sure she was an adult "she was" so he made plans to meet her. When he arrived, he was arrested.

He later was sentenced to two years of house arrest and a lifetime as a registered sex offender.

"He had a life of promise. He had an education," his mother said. "That's all been shot."

Internet Crimes Against Children stings typically cost tens of thousands of dollars (sometimes close to $100,000) and that doesn't include prosecuting and incarcerating defendants.

Light sentences sometimes are offered because suspects aren't considered dangerous offenders, contrary to Judd's claims.

Defense attorney Ryan adds that officers are pushing the boundaries to keep their arrest numbers up and keep federal grants flowing. And responding to legal ads on legal dating sites crosses the line.

"Once the low-hanging fruit is sort of gone, taken off the tree, there's still pressure from high above to justify these actions," he said.

Tampa-area authorities refused to turn over the federal government's guidelines for Internet Crimes Against Children investigations, saying they are confidential investigative material. However, a list of the following targets was part of public record in one court case:

1. A child at immediate risk of victimization.

2. A child vulnerable to victimization by a known offender.

3. A known suspect aggressively soliciting a child or children.

4. A manufacturer, distributor or possessor with images that appear to be home (pornography) photography with children.

5. Aggressive, high-volume child pornography manufacturers or distributors who either are commercial distributors, repeat offenders, or specialize in sadistic images.

6. Manufacturers, distributors or solicitors involved in high-volume trafficking or who belong to an organized child-pornography ring that operates as a criminal conspiracy.

7. Distributors, solicitors and possessors of images of child pornography.

8. Any other form of child victimization.

Source: Florida court records


Former judge says sex offender registry gives 'false sense' of security and lawmakers weigh in.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WWMT NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Does the sex offender registry really keep you safe?

A former West Michigan judge says it's giving you a false sense of security.

Newschannel 3 looked into those claims, taking our search across state lines to see how sex offenders are tracked in other areas.

You can search for them by your address or your entire city, finding their home address, and even where they work.

But does knowing where a sex offender lives keep your family safe? At least one former judge doesn't think so.

"People have a false sense of being protected. And it's not," said retired Van Buren Co. Judge William Buhl. "In my opinion it's not protecting people."

"It's not risk based, it's conviction based," he said. "So nobody looks at the individuals and asks the question, should we really be afraid of this person?"

Take Robert Keith for example.

In December of 2013, he was charged with three counts of criminal sexual conduct in Kalamazoo County.

The 61-year-old was giving karate lessons at his home, and court documents show he was accused of inappropriately touching three teenage boys between 2009 and 2013 at his dojo on Nazareth Road.

Keith was already on the sex offender registry in Florida.

He was even designated as a predator, after being convicted in 1997 of three sex crimes on a victim under 12.

In Florida, he would have been held to higher standards, but in Michigan, Keith was only required to check in four times a year with police--which is the national standard.

"While he was on supervision and parole in Michigan, he couldn't have contact," Buhl said. "Once he was off parole, that was the end of it; he could do whatever he wanted, and he did and has new victims with the same modus operandi. That should never happen."

Keith killed himself before he could stand trial.

His case is just one of the many across the country that has people calling for more restrictions beyond the registry.

Every state is required to publish the sex offender registry, and to make offenders on the highest tier level check in four times a year, but that's the end of the federal law.

Some states do go beyond though.

Illinois has a sex offender management board to evaluate and give treatment. Florida has a designated predator title for those they believe could offend again. In Pennsylvania, they also have a sexual offender assessment board--or SOAB--to determine if an offender might break the law again.

"It's comprised of, in Pennsylvania, is law enforcement officials, psychologists, things of that nature where this individual gets assessed by SOAB, and SOAB will then recommend whether or not this person should be a sexually violent predator," explained Lieutenant Todd Harman, the Megan's Law commander for the Pennsylvania State Police.

The public can then see who has been given that distinction.

"It means that they are more likely to repeat the offense and therefor are a bigger danger to the public," Lt. Harman said.

In Pennsylvania, 1,151 sex offenders are considered violent predators.

Once out of prison, they are required to attend monthly counseling, on top of their check ins with police.

In Michigan, we follow all the federal guidelines for monitoring sex offenders. But State Police tell us that law doesn't assess them.

"It's important to realize while this law is required to keep track of these people, it's not necessarily saying that they are going to re-offend," said Lieutenant Dale Hinz, with the Michigan State Police.

Buhl says he believes only about 15 percent of our more than 40,000 registered sex offenders are dangerous and likely to repeat their crimes.

"Those people you need to work with them because they don't go away," he said.

He tells us effective monitoring and treatment of offenders would go a long way to keep situations like what is believed to have happened in Keith's dojo from happening again.

Here in Michigan, most judges do order treatment while an offender is behind bars.

Changes to the registry here in Michigan, above the federal law, would have to come from Lansing.

We are taking this information to our local lawmakers to see what they think.

First video report:

(NEWSCHANNEL 3) - We have an update now to a special report we brought you Wednesday night.
At 11:00 we looked into Michigan's Sex Offender Registry after a retired judge told us the state needs to do more to assess and monitor potential dangerous offenders.
Jessica Wheeler took that information to local lawmakers and has their reaction to our special report Predator Alert in the video report above.

Follow up video report:

FCC Reverses Administrative Law Judge's 2010 Decision, Revokes Convicted Sex Offender's Amateur Radio License


March 11, 2010  Amateur Radio Enforcement

FCC fails in attempt revoke ham license 

At issue was question of licensee's character

The FCC wanted to revoke the General Class amateur radio license of David Titus (Seattle, Wash.) on grounds that he was not fit to be a Commission licensee. Titus has held KB7ILD for more than twenty years. He also operates a radio repeater on 444.375 MHz. His license expired on June 8, 2009, but his timely filed renewal was held up by the FCC's Enforcement Bureau due to questions about his character. 

There was no complaint about Titus' radio knowledge, ability or competency ...only his character qualifications and his past history of convictions on sex crimes against minors that occurred between 1986 and 1993. The FCC felt this should disqualify him from holding an Amateur Radio station license. 

On January 30, 2007, the Enforcement Bureau issued a "Show Cause Order" that began a proceeding to revoke Titus' Amateur Radio license. The burden of proof was assigned to the Bureau and hearings were conducted in mid 2008 and early 2009. 


Testimony determined that Titus grew up with an abusive father, was raped by a babysitter at age 6 and became aware that he was gay at age 13. He became interested in CB and ham radio and was first licensed as a Novice (with the call sign KB7ILD) at age 14 (1988). 

At age 11, (1985) Titus was found guilty of indecency with an 8-year-old boy which resulted in his confinement. Between the ages 13 and 14, he was assigned to a youth facility for one-year for treatment as a sex offender. A year later, Titus pled guilty to taking indecent liberties with a 12-year-old boy. At age 18, as an adult, Mr. Titus pled guilty to one felony count of communication with an 11-year-old boy for immoral purposes. He was sentenced to 25 months. 

Titus fulfilled all his sentences and paid all fines and penalties and has not been accused or charged with any other sex offense since he was 18, he is now age 40. In 1995, at age 20, the Seattle police classified Mr. Titus as a Level 2 sex offender -- meaning he was only a "moderate risk" to re-offend -- and was required to register as a sex offender. His classification was later raised to Level 3 "high risk." But no rational explanation was shown for assigning a higher classification to Titus. 

Appearance before Administrative Law Judge 

A psychologist's expert opinion concluded that Titus had demonstrated the past 15 years that his former predispositions towards young boys were in remission, was not in need of treatment for sexual deviancy and that he is not likely to re-offend. Titus, now 35, testified that he has not had sexual contact with any minor since he was charged with felony child abuse in 1993 at the age of 18 and that he is no longer sexually attracted to children. 

Ten character witnesses complimented Mr. Titus' character, including: a clergyman, a police officer, a corrections officer, a school counselor, a government contractor, a Red Cross worker, a lab engineer, and Mr. Titus' mother. Each presented written testimony on his behalf. Several of the witnesses are active in Amateur Radio and approved of his on-the-air conduct. 

One radio club, the Lake Washington Ham Club, however, was concerned since ham radio is an activity in which youths participate through such organizations as the Boy Scouts and community and school radio clubs. LWHC said that a convicted sex offender, who is licensed, could use his Amateur Radio to contact children for immoral purposes. Their concern was heightened by the fact that Titus also operates a wide area "repeater" station. But there was no evidence of Titus ever mentoring a minor or communicating with a minor through Amateur Radio or on his repeater frequency. 

Conclusions of law 

The Administrative Law Judge agreed that a licensee's character is relevant in determining qualifications for continuing to hold an FCC license. "In determining character, prior felony convictions must be considered." Titus' misconduct consists of two felony child molestation judgements as a juvenile (ages 11 and 15), and one adult (age 18) felony conviction for communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. "Evidence of all felonies must be considered in evaluating character." 

Willfully taking advantage of a child for sexual purposes, by anyone 18 years of age or older, is an act that the Presiding Judge considered to be "shockingly evil." However, under the laws of the United States, including the Administrative Procedure Act and the Communications Act, the government must prove by a preponderance of evidence that a person convicted of conduct that occurred 18 years ago probably cannot be rehabilitated. 

Judge Sippel said "The Bureau has failed to prove that any conduct of Titus from the time of his release from prison in 1995 to the present shows any prognostication that is based on substantial evidence of probable recidivism." 

"To the contrary, Mr. Titus presented expert psychologist testimony that he now has no attraction to minors and there is no probability of his repeating his past misconduct in the future. This constitutes convincing proof of rehabilitation. The Bureau, however, failed to offer opposing proof of a qualified expert. So while Mr. Titus has satisfactorily proven his rehabilitation, the Bureau has not met its burden to prove non-rehabilitation by a preponderance of evidence." 

One recognized mitigating factor is a substantial lapse of time since the violation. In this case, the crimes in question were committed 18 years ago when Titus was 11, 15 and 18 years of age. "The evidence supports the conclusion that Mr. Titus is now attracted to adults and is no longer attracted to minors. Substantial credible evidence shows Titus to be rehabilitated. He now is a 35-year-old adult whose last conviction was adjudicated while he was only 18 years old. The fact that he has lived in the community for 15 years without being charged with a crime is substantial and reliable evidence of his rehabilitation." 

"An overall record of compliance with Commission rules and policies is relevant in assessing character. Mr. Titus has held an Amateur Radio license for 20 years, and there is no credible or reliable evidence even suggesting that he ever has used or ever would dare to use ham radio communication as a means to contact minors for illicit purposes." Judge Sippel wrote in his opinion. 

In an Order released March 9, 2010, FCC Chief Administrative Law Judge Richard L Sippel ruled that, based on the evidence, "... the Enforcement Bureau failed to carry its burden of proof" and "ordered that the Amateur Radio Operator License of Amateur Radio Station KB7ILD held by Mr. David L. Titus shall not be revoked."




 11/10/2014 update:

FCC Reverses ALJ’s Decision, Revokes Convicted Sex Offender’s Amateur Radio License

The FCC has reversed the decision of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who ruled in 2010 that David Titus, KB7ILD, of Seattle, Washington, could keep his Amateur Radio license in the wake of his conviction for a sex-related crime 17 years earlier. In his March 9, 2010, Initial Decision, ALJ Richard L. Sippel determined that Titus “has been a law-abiding member of his community for many years” and, based on evidence that Titus and witnesses on his behalf had presented, ordered that Titus’s amateur license not be revoked. Sippel also ruled that the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau had failed to meet the burden of proof necessary for revocation. He determined that Titus had shown remorse and been rehabilitated, and that the Enforcement Bureau had presented no credible evidence to indicate that Titus should be categorized as a high-risk sex offender. In a November 5 Decision in the proceeding (EB Docket 07-13), the FCC reversed Sippel’s decision.

“We find that the ALJ erred in holding that the Enforcement Bureau failed to meet its burden of demonstrating that Titus is currently unqualified to remain a Commission licensee,” the Decision said, “inasmuch as the ALJ failed to consider relevant convictions for sex offenses and failed to give appropriate deference to the judgment of local law enforcement authorities that Titus is a convicted sex offender who poses a high risk to the safety of the community.”

In January 2007 the FCC issued a show-cause Order and designated for hearing the issue of whether Titus was qualified to remain a licensee in light of a 1993 felony conviction for “communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.” TheCommunications Act provides that the FCC may revoke any license, if conditions come to its attention that would have warranted a denial of the licensee’s original application. The Commission has said in the past that felony convictions, “especially those involving sexual offenses involving children,” raise questions regarding a licensee’s character qualifications.

Titus’s General class license expired in 2009, and the FCC had deferred action on his renewal application while the revocation proceeding was still in play. The FCC also dismissed Titus’s 2010 reply to the Enforcement Bureau’s exceptions in the matter, because they were filed 5 days late. The FCC said Sippel should have given more weight to incidents in 2002 and 2004 that, while not resulting in conviction, “prompted the Seattle Police Department to raise Titus’s assessed risk level from moderate to high.”

“After a review of the record and the relevant case law, we find that the ALJ committed several errors in reaching his ultimate finding that [the Enforcement Bureau] did not meet its burden of proving that Titus lacks the requisite character qualifications to be an FCC license,” the Commission concluded. “In particular, we hold that the ALJ erred in failing to consider Titus’s two juvenile convictions and failed to give adequate weight to the State of Washington’s determination that Titus is a high-risk sex offender.” The FCC pointed out that Titus was confined for more than 1 year for each of his juvenile offenses, and they demonstrate that Titus’s “single adult felony conviction was not an isolated offense and is therefore all the more egregious and disqualifying.”

The FCC said that given “known risks of Amateur Radios in the hands of sex offenders, such misconduct is prima facie disqualifying, and has resulted in the loss of licenses in past cases.”

“In focusing on the impact of Titus’s misconduct on his qualifications to hold an Amateur Radio license,” the FCC concluded, “we would be remiss in our responsibilities as a licensing authority if we continue to authorize Titus to hold an Amateur Radio license that could be used to put him in contact with children.”


See also:  FCC-14-177A1.pdf


College president: Women lie about rape when sex doesn't "turn out the way they wanted"

For $1.4 million, Dallas sex offender registration doesn't buy much

Lawsuit Says Rental Complex in Queens Excludes Ex-Offenders

The "Sex Offender" Regime is Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Arizona jury finds teacher not guilty in sex offenses

When Halloween fun is against the law

Legally Kidnapped Child Protective Services Whistleblower, Carlos Morales, exposes the dangerous tactics and overt corruption that he witnessed as a CPS investigator.

Halloween & Sex Crime: Myth vs. Reality

Florida ACLU Filed Lawsuit

John Grisham Says Sentences Often Too Harsh for Child Porn Watchers

Randy Ankeney Suit That Could Free Thousands of Prisoners Headed to State Supreme Court

Sex Crimes Convict says Registration has Ruined his Career & Endangered his Life

Pott family is calling passage of Audrie's Law a 'huge victory'

Pretrial-detention is overused worldwide

Justice Department Announces $17.6 Million in Awards to Support Sex Offender Registration, Intervention and Treatment

Sex Offenders Defy Order to Leave Home

CA Sex Offender Management Board Considering New Tiered Registry Bill

California Sex Offender Management Board

California Tiered Registry Report

It's That Time of Year...Halloween and Time for The Media Fear Mongering

Former Google Employees Launch a Porn Search Engine

Hopefully they won't plant CP as others have been known to do...

New Jersey Supreme Court - SOs Who Served Their Time Can't Face Penalties Under New Laws

The Supreme Court Renders Antoher Decision Interpreting the ex-post-facto clause

Prison and Crime: A Complex Link

Women make up small percentage of sex offenders

Pew Applauds Kentucky on Adoption of Juvenile Justice Reforms

Sex Offender Laws Have Gone Too Far

Lawyers Who Lead by Example New York Law Journal 

How Police Can Reduce Wrongful Convictions

ACLU Steps Up in Alabama!

ATSA Speaks Out on Residency Restrictions

Study: Soliciting sex from minor results in little prison time Sorry, this link seems broken.

ICCSD Trying to Place Student Sex Offender

New Jersey Adopts Ban the Box Law

On August 11, 2014, New Jersey joined a growing number of “ban the box” states when Governor Chris Christie signed into law the Opportunity to Compete Act.

Unfunded mandates: State tasks counties, but offers little or no compensation

Over the years, the Florida Legislature has required county sheriffs to more closely monitor sexual offenders and predators.

But here’s the problem: the state creates the law, yet places the responsibility on county law enforcement.

“These offenders will report to the local Sheriff, and the local Sheriff shall...” Sheriff Susan Benton quoted the law. “But at no time did the sheriffs receive any funding.”

- See more at:

Over the years, the Florida Legislature has required county sheriffs to more closely monitor sexual offenders and predators.

But here’s the problem: the state creates the law, yet places the responsibility on county law enforcement.

“These offenders will report to the local Sheriff, and the local Sheriff shall...” Sheriff Susan Benton quoted the law. “But at no time did the sheriffs receive any funding.”

- See more at:

undefined Over the years, the Florida Legislature has required county sheriffs to more closely monitor sexual offenders and predators.

But here’s the problem: the state creates the law, yet places the responsibility on county law enforcement.

“These offenders will report to the local Sheriff, and the local Sheriff shall...” Sheriff Susan Benton quoted the law. “But at no time did the sheriffs receive any funding.”

- See more at:

Over the years, the Florida Legislature has required county sheriffs to more closely monitor sexual offenders and predators.

But here’s the problem: the state creates the law, yet places the responsibility on county law enforcement. 

Kindergartner is a sex offender? Really?

It seems a five-year-old Surprise boy was on the playground last spring when suddenly he pulled his pants down. The kid was hauled to the office and forced to sign a form that essentially labeled him a budding sex fiend.

Who's Lying, Who's Self-Justifying?

The Woody Allen sex scandal of 2013 triggered a national conversation on who to believe, with people lining up on each side as if they knew what really happened. Based on recent research on how people navigate the often tricky waters of sexual negotiation, Dr. Carol Tavris shows that it is entirely possible in some sexual assault cases neither side is lying, but instead both sides feel justified in their positions. This talk was considered one of the best ever given at The Amazing Meeting.

Michigan's Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative

Michigan's Prisoner Re-entry Initiative has been heralded as one of Michigan's crowning achievements in the state's justice system. The Michigan Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative (MPRI) promotes public safety by increasing the success rates of prisoners transitioning from prison to the community.

Just the Facts:

February 21, 2014 A City and Law Enforcement Quick Guide to Sex Registrant Residence Restrictions: Evidence-based vs. Emotion-based public policy making, Or "Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should"

Mom arrested after letting 7-year-old son go to park alone

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - A mom faces a charge of child neglect after she allowed her son to go to a nearby park alone. She says he's old enough but Port St. Lucie Police disagree. Now she's fighting back. "I'm totally dumbfounded by this whole situation," says Nicole Gainey. It began last Saturday afternoon when Gainey gave her son Dominic permission to walk from their house to Sportsman's Park. "Honestly didn't think I was doing anything wrong," says Gainey, "I was letting him go play. It's a half mile from their Port St. Lucie home. Dominic says it only takes him about 10 to 15 minutes to get there. During the walk, the 7-year-old passed a public pool. Someone there asked him where his mom was.

Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act: Jurisdictions Face Challenges to Implementing the Act, and Stakeholders Report Positive and Negative Effects

What GAO Found

The Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART Office) within the Department of Justice (DOJ) has determined that 19 of the 37 jurisdictions that have submitted packages for review have substantially implemented the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). Although the SMART Office has determined that 17 of the jurisdictions that submitted packages have not yet substantially implemented SORNA, the office concluded that 15 of these 17 jurisdictions have implemented at least half of the SORNA requirements; the office has not yet made a determination for 1 jurisdiction that submitted a package. A majority of nonimplemented jurisdictions reported that generating the political will to incorporate the necessary changes to their state laws and related policies or reconciling legal conflicts are among the greatest challenges to implementation. For example, officials from 27 nonimplemented jurisdictions reported reconciling conflicts between SORNA and state laws--such as which offenses should require registration--as a challenge to implementing SORNA. Officials from 5 of 18 jurisdictions that responded to a survey question asking how DOJ could help address these challenges reported that the SMART Office could provide greater flexibilities; however, SMART Office officials said they have offered as many flexibilities as possible and further changes would take legislative action.

ABA Journal - Sex offender living in hotel room may challenge towns residency restriction

A registered sex offender and family members who had to live in a one-bedroom motel room to comply with a Dallas town's residency restrictions have standing to challenge the ordinance, an appeals court has ruled.

Sex offender law passes after CBS 58 Investigation

CBS 58's Investigative Reporter Sarah Barwacz brought the issue to lawmakers back in May after finding child predators living next to schools, daycare centers, and parks. It was legal for child predators to live next to schools and parks because there was no law against it. Some council members we spoke with felt Milwaukee had become overrun with offenders. After several months of working with lawmakers Tuesday we got a law passed.

New Teen Custody Rules Would Widen Feds' Oversight of Juvenile Justice

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is preparing to impose new requirements on states for confining juveniles suspected of crimes. The rules could require state and local officials to spend significantly more money at a time when federal aid for juvenile justice is declining.


Chafee signs law restricting employment of sex offenders

PROVIDENCE, R.I. undefined Carnivals, arcades, movie theaters, public libraries, beaches and pools are among the facilities banned from hiring registered sex offenders as employees under a new law signed by Governor Chafee on Wednesday. The bill groups those facilities and a number of others into a category called “child-safe zones.” Any entity falling into that category cannot hire any individual who is a registered sex offender or should have registered as a sex offender. The law applies to offenders from any state whose victims were minors. Chafee signed the legislation, but urged the General Assembly to consider future revisions to the law he described as vague and overly broad. 

In 'sexting' case Manassas City police want to photograph teen in sexually explicit manner, lawyers say

UPDATE, 7 p.m.: The Manassas City police have released a statement tonight defending their actions. It is hereORIGINAL POST: A Manassas City teenager accused of "sexting" a video to his girlfriend is now facing a search warrant in which Manassas City police and Prince William County prosecutors want to take a photo of his erect penis, possibly forcing the teen to become erect by taking him to a hospital and giving him an injection, the teen's lawyers said. A Prince William County judge allowed the 17-year-old to leave the area without the warrant being served or the pictures being taken - yet.

REGION: County to repeal sex-offender ordinance

They’re killing sex offenders, by Chris Dornin

I was pleased to see a recent Sentinel editorial declaring the Internet sex offender roster punitive. My nonprofit group Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform filed an amicus brief in December supporting John Doe, a former sex offender challenging the New Hampshire sex offender shaming list as an unconstitutional ex-post-facto punishment.  (NOTE:  WAR participated in the Amicus Brief)

Chicago Police easing registration requirements

Illinois legislators love to pass laws to punish sex offenders. But those laws always increase restrictions. No legislator wants to decrease restrictions on sex offenders, because that would not look good on a mailer by an opponent in the next election.

NACDL – Collateral Damage: America’s Failure to Forgive or Forget in the War on Crime – A Roadmap to Restore Rights and Status After Arrest or Conviction.

Since 2012, NACDL’s Task Force on Restoration of Rights and Status After Conviction has embarked on a study of relief mechanisms available to those with a conviction on their record on the local, state and federal level. At an event on May 29 at the Open Society Foundations in Washington, DC, NACDL released a major new report – Collateral Damage: America’s Failure to Forgive or Forget in the War on Crime – A Roadmap to Restore Rights and Status After Arrest or Conviction. The report is a comprehensive exploration of the stigma and policies relegating tens of millions of people in America to second-class status because of an arrest or conviction. In addition, the report lays out ten recommendations to ensure that the values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are within reach of all, regardless of past mistakes.

SJC finds lifetime parole for sex offenders unconstitutional

The state’s highest court today ruled that lifetime parole for sex offenders violates the Constitution because it gives the state Parole Board powers of the judiciary to hand down jail terms — a decision, the court acknowledged, that will allow hundreds of predators to file to vacate their parole sentences. Justice Ralph D. Gants — who was confirmed by the Governor’s Council today as chief of the Supreme Judicial Court — wrote the majority opinion for the 6-1 ruling, which noted only judges have the power to sentence offenders, not the Parole Board, which is part of the executive branch.

WAR was published again!!

Is Our Approach to Sex Offender Policy on the Mark?


Is Our Approach to Sex Offender Risk and Policy on the Mark?

By on May 23, 2014 in Law Enforcement, Legislation, Policies, Public Safety Issues

By Michelle Beshears, professor of criminal justice at American Military University

Sex offender registration laws and policies appear to have been based on popular misconceptions regarding sex offenders. That is, law and policy were based on the premise that ALL sex offenders are a danger to society, a danger to children, strangers to their victims, and likely to reoffend (Levenson & D’Amora, 2007).

However, this is not the case.

In some states where laws have been applied retroactively, persons who have been charged with indecent exposure (such as urinating in public) have been required to register as a sex offender (Freeman-Longo, 2001). Additionally, several teenagers have been found guilty of the recent trend of “sexting” and must now register as sex offenders. The problem is, not all sexual offenders have committed sexual crimes against children, yet the majority of the laws are focused on protecting children from sex offenders.

The Need for Better Risk Assessment Strategies
Most policy initiatives have not incorporated risk assessment strategies into their programs. Instead, they are applied broadly to all sex offenders. This flaw has been acknowledged and risk assessment has been included in more recent studies (Parent, Guay, & Knight, 2011). Additionally, the percentage of recidivism rates of sex offenders have been relatively low, as only a small percentage of convicted sex offenders have returned to prison because of committing additional sex crimes (Bonnar-Kidd, 2010; Galeste, Fradella, & Vogel, 2012).

In a three-year follow-up study of sex offenders in 15 states, the rate of recidivism was about 5.3% (Galeste et al., 2012). This has been compared to recidivism rates over a three-year study of other crimes; offenders who committed burglary recidivated 74%, larceny 75%, and theft 70% (Galeste et al., 2012).

Increased Restrictions Foster Unanticipated Issues
Despite these findings, restrictions for sex offenders have expanded even further since the implementation of the first sex registration and notification laws. Many states have now enacted housing restriction statutes and zoning ordinances (Schiavone & Jeglic, 2009). These statutes have prohibited sex offenders from living in areas that are within a specific proximity of children (Schiavone & Jeglic, 2009). State laws have specified that sex offenders are forbidden to live in areas where children congregate, such as schools, daycare centers, parks, and school bus stops (Schiavone & Jeglic, 2009). This has prevented sex offenders from living in many areas.

Some states have imposed such severe restrictions that it has left a large number of sex offenders homeless (Bonnar-Kidd, 2010). For example, Proposition 83 is a law passed in California that prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park (Bonnar-Kidd, 2010). The reason for the passing of Proposition 83 was because California was reported to have the greatest population of repeat sex offenders (RSOs) and subsequently, this proposition would allow for improved tracking and apprehension of them (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 2010). Subsequently, approximately 2,700 sex offenders were forced to move, and many ended up homeless (Bonnar-Kidd, 2010).

Enhanced Legislation Increases Number of Offenders, But is it Fair and Accurate?
The result of increased legislation has had an impact on the number of sex offenders in the national and state registries. The number of sex offenders living in the United States has increased greatly over the past few years. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children survey of sex offenders for 2012 showed that there were approximately 747,408 RSOs living in the U.S. Those numbers increased from the 2011 survey, which indicated an estimated 739,853 living in the U.S. (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, News and Events, 2012).

The numbers have continued to rise each year, but an even more disturbing issue is the number of unaccounted sex offenders (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, News and Events, 2012). In 2007, there were approximately 100,000 RSOs who were unaccounted for or noncompliant in terms of registering and as of January 2012, there were more than 31,000 noncompliant or fugitive sex offenders (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, News and Events, 2012).

While these numbers may be a cause for concern, what is more concerning is the number of offenders who should probably not even be on the registry to begin with. Another consideration is the lives that may have been unjustly affected in a negative way as a result of this policy. Lastly, the mandate is costly and man-hour intensive, so researchers are calling for an examination of more evidence-based practices with regard to the treatment of sex offenders.

About the Author: Michelle L. Beshears earned her baccalaureate degrees in social psychology and criminal justice and graduate degrees in human resource development and criminology from Indiana State University. Beshears served in the U.S. Army for 11 years. She obtained the rank of Staff Sergeant prior to attending Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia where she earned her commission. As a commissioned officer Beshears has led numerous criminal investigations and worked with several external agencies as well. As a civilian she has worked with the local sheriff’s department, state drug task force and FBI. Michelle is currently pursuing her Doctorate degree in Criminal Justice. Beshears resides with her husband Michael, their son Hunter, and daughter Malia near Norfork and Bull Shoals Lakes, in Clarkridge, Arkansas. Michelle is currently an assistant professor of criminal justice at American Military University & American Public University and is full-time faculty in the School of Public Service & Health. You can contact her at michelle.beshears(at)


Bonnar-Kidd, K., (2010). Sexual offender laws and prevention of sexual violence recidivism. American Journal of Public Health, 100(3), 412-419. doi:10.2105/ AJPH.2008.153254

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. (2010). Jessica’s Law. Retrieved from jessicas_law.html

Freeman-Longo, R. E. (2001). Revisiting Megan’s Law and sex offender registration: Prevention or problem. Retrieved from appa/pubs/RML.pdf

Galeste, M. A., Fradella, H. F., & Vogel, B. (2012). Sex offender myths in print media: Separating fact from fiction in U.S. newspapers. Western Criminology Review, 13(2), 4-24. Retieved from

Levenson, J. S., & D’Amora, D.A. (2007). Social policies to prevent sexual violence: The emperor’s new clothes? Criminal Justice Policy Review, 18,168-199. doi:10.1177/ 0887403406295309

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. (2012). News and events: Number of registered sex offenders in the US nears three-quarters of a million. Retrieved from

Parent, G., Guay, J., & Knight, R. A. (2011). An assessment of long-term risk of recidivism by adult sex offenders: One size doesn’t fit all. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 38(2), 188-209. doi:10.1177/0093854810388238

Schiavone, S. K., & Jeglic, E. L. (2009). Public perception of sex offender social policies and the impact on sex offenders. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 53(6), 679-695. 0306624X08323454


Texas Sees Rise in Overturned Sex Cases

Being accused of a crime you haven't committed can be devastating. Unfortunately, several wrongly convicted individuals are just now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel after years behind bars. Falsified claims are a serious threat and this issue is quickly becoming recognized by mainstream media. In particular, false allegations involving child sexual abuse or child abuse can wreak havoc to family relations and cause lingering stress. Recently thousands of untested DNA rape and sexual abuse kits were sent to a third party crime lab for testing after decades collecting dust in Harris County evidence rooms. Fortunately, a few cases have already been turned over after DNA evidence proved their innocence. 

A false allegation of child sexual abuse rarely originates with the child. Many studies show that false allegations originate with an adult filing accusations on behalf of the child, and a large majority often occur in the context of divorce or child custody battles. A lot of these allegations are perpetrated for a number of reasons; revenge, rejection, cover ups, etc. False reports that occur in custody disputes involve one adult coercively questioning a child, believing that abuse has occurred if if the child maintains they were not abused. 
Take the case of Daryl Kelly Sr., for example. Accused in 1997 on charges of child sexual abuse by his daughter, he was charged with multiple counts of rape solely on the word of his accuser despite no physical evidence. Fifteen years later, his daughter admitted that she had been coerced by her mother to lie against her father. Too young to understand her actions, she was forced to claim that her father raped her under the threat of punishment from her mother. Daryl Kelly Sr, a Navy veteran with a reputation of being honest and hardworking, refused a plea deal and denied the allegations, was sentenced to 20 to 40 years. The false accusation sent him to prison where he still remains. Now, his daughter is fighting to get him released, but every appeal has been denied. 
A similar case of false allegation came up last year, when Cassandra Kelly admitted that she had falsely accused her father of child sexual abuse because she was upset about her parents' divorce. Her father was sent to prison in 2001 and was finally exonerated earlier this year. Cassandra Kelly decided to reveal the truth that sent her father to jail because her guilt prompted her.
Another such case is Sheldon Mosley, a 29-year-old man accused of sexually molesting his 4-year-old daughter. Mosley was at the time battling with his mother-in-law for custody rights over the girl. Physical examination of the girl did not substantiate the sexual assault claims, all tests were negative. However, the girl responded positively to all suggestive questions and a counselor assigned to her believed that Mosley had sexually assaulted the girl. Mosley was sentenced to 60 years in prison. Mosley's lawyer was later found to have been inadequate but the judge ruled that this had no bearing on the outcome of the case. Finally, after years of appeals and petitions, the then 21-year-old victim recanted her statement that she had been molested. She admitted that her grandmother had coerced her into accusing her father with promises of rewards and trips. 
These cases represent a few examples of false conviction with very little to no corroborating evidence. There may be untold numbers of innocent people who are currently imprisoned due to false allegations. Numerous cases have been overturned due to latent DNA testing. 
After a conviction, an individual can file an appeal post-conviction. A post-conviction writ of habeas corpus is a wrongly convicted person's chance to dispute the finding of their trial because of improper evidence handling, legal misconduct, and new evidence the court has not yet seen. 
Just earlier this year in Houston, Texas, a backlog of previously untested DNA evidence have identified offenders in at least a third of the cases. The backlog includes 6,600 sexual assault kits that have been residing in a back room in the the Houston Police Department that have been handed over to two respected forensic laboratories. The new DNA testing helped in solving numerous cases and vindicating victims, and may one day exonerate others. 
According to the National Registry of Exonerations there are many factors that contribute to false imprisonment. These factors include mistaken witness identification, perjury or false accusation, false confession, false forensic evidence and official misconduct. The chart below includes data for 305 wrongful convictions, which represents a small fraction of all wrongful convictions. The pie-graph focuses on wrongful convictions that were exonerated because of false accusations. Unfortunately, child sex abuse wrongful conviction due to false accusation stands at the top.
Once convicted of child sexual abuse, it can many times take years to get exonerated even if the victim recants. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, the vast majority of false convictions never result in exoneration. 
Therefore, the most important thing one can do if they are falsely accused of sexual crime, especially against a child, is to seek experienced legal counsel. The fallout of a false conviction can take years, even decades to reverse, and only with latent DNA testing or recantation.
Source: Hill Law Firm 

Operation Push Back in Michigan

NEWS RELEASE: Michigan Law Promotes Child Abuse.

"The root of the problem is public hysteria," said Vicki Henry, president of Women Against Registry, Inc. (WAR). "Children are being socially maimed, bullied, and shunned because lawmakers have chosen to ignore reality."

A national organization of mothers, wives, sisters,  and extended family members who have a loved one on the sex offender registry have united to speak out about the harmful effects that laws meant to protect children are having on an estimated 500,000 children nationwide, with an estimated 30,000 in the state of Michigan.

"We demand that all children be protected by our laws," Henry elaborated. "We want happy-healthy family relationships for everyone."And according to Henry, laws written since the inception of the Wetterling Act and Adam Walsh Act actually increase the risk of child abuse.

"People want a quick-fix, an easy solution to a complex problem. That's how the registry started, with all of the best intentions in the world," Henry summarized; emphasizing that “mounting evidence provided by top national scholars concludes that the true impact of these laws impedes the personal rehabilitation and family/community restoration of those convicted of an offense.

“Worse yet”, Henry explains, “These laws do real harm to thousands of innocent children and put them at greater risk for societal failure.”

"Our lawmakers should be addressing the means that would protect all of our children," said Kimberly DuBina, director of WAR, citing a long list of vigilante crimes directed towards registrants and their families." Victims are vandalized, they and their children are threatened, terrorized with nasty graffiti, shunned and banned from public places and even murdered, all because we are mishandling the problem." DuBina adds, “registrant family addresses being on a pubic registry makes the children prey for vigilantes and this is simply unacceptable!”

Women Against Registry, Inc, advocates for laws which are focused on protecting all children with a proactive focus on prevention, education and familial reunification.  For more information, contact Vicki Henry, President, Women Against Registry, 636-208-5949 or visit https:/


Extortion Websites Fined 3.4 Million Dollars

Sex offender websites' victims awarded $3.4M


PHOENIX -- Victims targeted for harassment on sex-offender websites pleaded with a Maricopa County jury to financially punish the owner and take away his ability to continue operating.

On Wednesday, the jury listened.

In a unanimous verdict, jurors hit Phoenix-area businessman Charles "Chuck" Rodrick with a $3.4 million judgment on behalf of three people profiled on websites such as, SORArchives and

Rodrick is accused of running an Internet extortion racket that used public records maintained by law enforcement to demand money from sex offenders, harassing those who complained.

The jury awarded victims almost $500,000 in actual damages and $2.9 million in punitive damages, agreeing Rodrick defamed them, invaded their privacy, put them in a false light and abused the court system by filing lawsuits against them as a form of retaliation.

The decision came after the court last week declared Rodrick the defendant in defamation lawsuits he filed more than a year ago against those who publicly decried the websites, including his ex-wife, her boyfriend, a convicted sex offender from Washington and the offender's mother.

Superior Court Judge Douglas Gerlach also allowed several of the victims' counterclaims against Rodrick to go forward, reversing the roles of the defendants and making them plaintiffs. The move effectively put Rodrick in the position of defending himself in his own case.

Rodrick, 52, of Cave Creek appeared unperturbed by the separate verdicts. The court clerk had barely finished reading the judgments when Rodrick leaned sideways in his chair and called out to the opposing parties with a promise to appeal.

"Well, gentleman. You know the drill," he said in a loud, mirthful voice.

Rodrick, who for more than a year has refused to discuss his websites, declined comment after court Wednesday.

His victims said they were elated by the decision.

"I am super glad justice has been served," Phoenix resident David Ellis said following the trial. "I did ask (the jury) to make their verdict significant enough to keep him from ever climbing out of his hole, and they did."

Ellis said he was targeted after he began dating Rodrick's ex-wife while the couple were going through an acrimonious divorce. Court records show Rodrick posted information on several websites suggesting Ellis, a decorated combat veteran with no criminal record, was a child molester.

"It's kind of a shame. I fought for people's civil rights," Ellis said. "Then this guy, he used the First Amendment to attack me."

Rodrick's ex-wife, Lois Flynn of Chandler, said she felt vindicated. Rodrick's websites accused her of having an adulterous relationship, being an alcoholic and working with child molesters who sought to discredit the websites.

Flynn said the Internet postings damaged her reputation and affected her relationships at church, where she once worked with kids.

Rodrick's sites mined data compiled by law-enforcement agencies across the country and used it to collect money from sex offenders. Operators did not always take down profiles after payments were made, and they launched online harassment campaigns against those who balked at financial demands or filed complaints.

The websites listed individuals as sex offenders who no longer were required to register or whose names had been removed from sex-offender databases. The sites included names and personal information of people who had never been arrested or convicted of a sex crime.

Rodrick, who represented himself in court, painted himself as a victim.

"It's not easy to be a defendant when you were the plaintiff," he said in a rambling closing argument Wednesday in which he denied ownership of the websites, argued about the amount of money they generated and complained about various court rulings.


Link to Article:

W.A.R. Has Been Published Again

My Son, the Sex Offender: One Mother's Mission to Fight the Law

Justice Center Webinar - Sex Offender Re Entry

Excellent statistics and information in this webinar.


An Overview of Sex Offender Reentry: Building a Foundation for Professionals

The challenges associated with reentry after incarceration are intensified for individuals who have been convicted of sex offenses. Research reveals that upon return to the community, sex offenders are more likely to be rearrested for a non-sex crime than a new sex crime, and that supervision violation rates are high. The field struggles with developing effective comprehensive reentry strategies that respond to the myriad general and specialized needs of sex offenders. This webinar is the first in a series designed for professionals working to prepare individuals convicted of a sexual offense to return to the community. The webinar presents criminal justice professionals and practitioners with an overview of statistics and understandings about the sex offender population, the barriers and challenges to reentry faced by this population, and a framework for professionals responsible for assisting sex offenders with transitioning back into the community.


To listen and watch a PDF presentation: 

WAR Pushes Back in Connecticut

Contact: Vicki Henry, President
Women Against Registry




Women Against Registry Pushes Back on Laws Detrimental to Children


Two point five million family members depend on Women Against Registry, a national organization to advocate for them. These families are under a constant barrage of attacks because they are related to or friends with one of the 769,402 men, women and children convicted of a sexual offense. We have begun “Pushing Back” on laws and restrictions which are annihilating the family units.

Evidence provided by some of our nation’s top scholars suggests,” Sex offender registration and notification (SORN) laws can impede community reintegration efforts of RSOs and potentially contribute to recidivism,” states research by Jill Levenson, Ph.D., and Richard Tewksbury, Ph.D..

Sex offender laws are based on numerous misperceptions about sex offenders and sex offender risk factors, public fear, and the pressure for policy makers to “do something” about this social problem.” This is from a recent study that attempts to reconcile the facts of sex offender science against the views of lawmakers. (The Sponsors of Sex Offender Bills Speak Up – Policy Makers’ Perception of Sex Offenders, Sex Crimes and Sex Offender Legislation, Michelle Meloy, Jessica Boatwright & Kristin Curtis On behalf of: International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology).

Women Against Registry is asking Connecticut lawmakers to refrain from passing legislation filed this year and to rely on empirical evidence for future legislation. We ask that alternatives such as pre-trial diversion programs be considered for first time offenses. "Legislators cite the news media and the views of their constituents -- not researched evidence -- as their primary sources of information about sex offenses and offenders," said Amy Borror spokeswoman for the Ohio Public Defender's Office.


As the end of Child Abuse Awareness month draws near we want to encourage everyone to support this each year. W.A.R. has marched with other organizations to emphasize how necessitous this program is to protect children.  Vicki Henry, President of Women Against Registry says, “We advocate for the safety and protection of all children and the Victim’s Rights Groups have done an awesome job of advocating for the child victims we also advocate for the children of those who have been adjudicated, debt paid and living law-abiding lives” she goes on to say “They are shunned, beaten up, not allowed to attend Christian schools, not allowed to have their registrant parent attend award ceremonies and many other events on a growing list that inhibits healthy parent-child relationships!”   


We are asking the Connecticut senators and representatives to take a hard look at each and every proposed piece of legislation that comes before them regarding a sexual crime law or restriction and evaluate it based on empirical evidence, long term effects on all the families and manageability. The scientific research will tell the story.  Also, research indicates, the three basic factors to impact successful re-entry are; safe and affordable housing, adequate employment and support from family members and the community.


We are “Pushing Back” against laws that were written out of fear and the unfortunate loss of a few well publicized national cases. “Clearly, registered citizens and their families would fare better among communities if allowed to live happy, healthy and law abiding lives without fear of harassment and public scrutiny,” said Kimberly DuBina board member.


Alaska Supreme Court Overturns 2006 Conviction

Guide to Getting Off the Registry


W.A.R. does not endorse this document. Any comments or questions should be directed to Dennis Sobin. Please consult with an attorney for specific legal advice before acting on any information contained in this document. Any action taken is the sole responsibility of the individual. 

How robbing a pot dealer puts you on the sex offender list

Personalisation in the criminal justice system: what is the potential?

Let the Burden Fit the Crime: Extending Proportionality Review to Sex Offenders

Click here to read "Let the Burden Fit the Crime: Extending Proportionality Review to Sex Offenders"

W.A.R. Published Again! We are Pushing Back!

  Once again, a news channel tried to put scare tactics out to the public.  This time, W.A.R. was there with a rebuttal!  Our comments were published at the end of this article.

W.A.R. has vowed to "Push Back" and WE are not going to back down!

If you have news articles or trailers on a show that will be airing in your community, please let us know by forwarding us a link.  We will respond! It's time WE take a stand!

W.A.R. Admin Team.

WIN!!!! Doe Vs. Massachusetts


Another New Book! Gov and His Bird, SORNA

Anyone purchasing this booklet will be helping WAR.  WAR will receive a 10% kickback from the funds raised on the purchase!

Here's the link:

A WAR Member has a Book!

Good News in Vermont!

W.A.R. wants to congratulate Tim on his hard work and efforts in the state of Vermont!  Tim has worked hard at legislative issues this year. Because of his hard work, Tim has managed to get some good news!  Here is his summation:


The S.80 story, by Tim Burgess:
In the 2013 biennium freshman Senator John Rodgers from the Essex/Orleans district and his Senate seat mate introduced S.80.  The stated purpose of this bill according to the legislative website is to "This bill proposes to require community notification when a registered sex offender, whose information must be posted on the Internet, establishes residence in Vermont, registers an address change, or is released from confinement or supervision."  As a registrant, and advocate in Vermont I think that bills like these are not only discriminatory in nature, but have the potential to encourage vigilantism.  

I followed the Senate action taken on the bill and saw that it was assigned to the Senate Judiciary committee.  The bill was taken up a number of times for discussion in committee.  I sat in on most, if not all of the testimony.  I sat down with Senator Rodgers, and explained how this bill would be detrimental to registered citizens in our State.  I spoke with the chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, and discussed that I thought that the bill could pose a risk to registrants in Vermont.  Senator Sears, assured me that the bill would not move for the 2013 session due to a hang up with the Auditor of Accounts office.  I then spoke to them to find out that based on an audit from 2009, there were a "significant" amount of issues with the Vermont registry, and that until those problems were resolved the legislature could not move forward.  I spoke to the director of the Vermont ACLU, Alan Gilbert, who opposed the legislation and testified to that fact.  In 2013, the legislation didn't move.

2014 Session brought the subject around again.  Again, I inquired from Senator Sears (Chair of Senate Judiciary), as to the possibility of movement.  Senator Sears indicated that it was not a priority, as the Auditors office had not made enough progress on the matter.  I followed up with the Auditors office and was informed that it would be June of 2014, before they had the required information.  I then emailed Senator Starr, senior senator from the district, who informed me that the bill would most likely fail to make the crossover deadline, and would most likely "be dead".

Victory for Indiana Juveniles

From one of our legal beagles.............
His Summary:
This says that you can't force a kid into a treatment facility and force him to talk about his other offenses and take polygraphs and then use that information against him. Here, the boy revealed that he had molested two (2) other children, but it was admitted during the course of treatment that he had to comply with. The prosecutor used that information as the basis to file additional charges and the court said, "not so fast."
This is the argument I have been using for years about adult sex offender treatment. People have been charged with talking about their other victims to try to get help and ended up getting charged with new crimes. They have also been violated on probation/parole for admitting to having relapses. Instead of being able to get help for, say, buying or view porn or driving by a school with temptations, they were instead violated.
Kids have special protection under the juvenile mental health act, but adults don't. So, that makes treatment very ineffective when one has to constantly think if what they say may land them with more charges.
One Step Forward people!  One step at a time!
Together, WE can make a difference!

W.A.R. takes to the Air Waves!

"It Could Be You", a talk-radio program on Little Rock, Arkansas, station KABF 88.3 FM ("The Voice of the People") airs Wednesdays 2:00--3:00 PM Central Time.  "It Could Be You" is a forum through which social justice organizations, criminal justice reform organizations, community activists, and persons and organizations providing help to those in need can discuss their work, their goals, and how the public can contact them, offer their assistance, or more effectively reach out to the underserved in the community, the state, or across the nation.  This program welcomes guests who work to increase knowledge of and/or advocate reforms in fields including but not limited to social services, ensuring public safety, homelessness, ex-felons' re-entry into society, and the problems and controversies surrounding sex offender laws and issues.  Guests and topics that currently or will in any way touch on situations, problems, and the need for social justice and reforms within the KABF listening area are especially welcome.

On Wednesday, March 12, 2014, "It Could Be You" welcomes Vicki Henry and Kimberly DuBina, who are vital driving forces for Women Against the Registry (WAR).  Arkansas Time After Time (ATAT) executive director and Arkansas WAR "go-to person" Carla Swanson will join program host John S. in-studio to discuss what WAR is all about, the work WAR does, and how WAR raises public awareness about the seriously flawed laws concerning sex offenders and the impacts such laws have on registrant families.

Anyone outside the KABF broadcast area can access "It Could Be You" by visiting and clicking on the live streaming link. 

Editorial was published and aired two nights on News Channel 14

Taking a Stand: Women Against Registry responds to our 14 News investigation

Posted: Feb 21, 2014 4:22 PM Updated: Feb 21, 2014 4:54 PM
By Nick Ulmer - email
Posted by Audra Levy - bio | email
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In this week's Taking a Stand, Vicki Henry with Women Against Registry has a response to our 14 News investigation of sex offenders and school bus stops.

The Women Against Registry is based out of Washington, D.C., but she e-mailed her response to us; Vicki wrote the following:

If we think about registered sex offenders at all, most of us fear them as monsters who have committed terrible sexual crimes against innocent children and are people who need to be carefully watched when released to make sure our children aren't hurt again.

Nobody wants to protect children more than the members of Women Against Registry. Women Against Registry, or WAR, is the voice of millions of innocent women and children who are wrongly and unfairly punished because we have a family member who has completed their debt to society but now must face a life of unemployment, homelessness, and despair. As registered sex offenders they are targeted for harassment and abuse, can't get a job, and many cases, can't even rejoin their own homes. Too many of our husbands, fathers and sons are getting caught up in this registration hysteria even if the offense they committed was minor and years ago.

As the president of WAR, Vicki Henry, says, "In the vast majority of registration cases we're talking about dumb childish mistakes-offenses like public urination, teen age consensual sex, sexting, lewd behavior, taking pictures of your own children in the bath tub, and clicking on the wrong link on a website.  Less than two percent of violent sexual offenses are committed by perfect strangers. It is time to stop acting hysterically in the name of protecting children; it's time stop public registration of sex offenders and to start treating this serious problem rationally."

Copyright 2014 WFIE. All rights reserved.


Taking a Stand: Women Against Registry responds to our 14 News investigation

Posted: Feb 21, 2014 4:22 PM Updated: Feb 21, 2014 4:54 PM

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In this week's Taking a Stand, Vicki Henry with Women Against Registry has a response to our 14 News investigation of sex offenders and school bus stops.

The Women Against Registry is based out of Washington, D.C., but she e-mailed her response to us; Vicki wrote the following:

If we think about registered sex offenders at all, most of us fear them as monsters who have committed terrible sexual crimes against innocent children and are people who need to be carefully watched when released to make sure our children aren't hurt again.

Nobody wants to protect children more than the members of Women Against Registry. Women Against Registry, or WAR, is the voice of millions of innocent women and children who are wrongly and unfairly punished because we have a family member who has completed their debt to society but now must face a life of unemployment, homelessness, and despair. As registered sex offenders they are targeted for harassment and abuse, can't get a job, and many cases, can't even rejoin their own homes. Too many of our husbands, fathers and sons are getting caught up in this registration hysteria even if the offense they committed was minor and years ago.

As the president of WAR, Vicki Henry, says, "In the vast majority of registration cases we're talking about dumb childish mistakes-offenses like public urination, teen age consensual sex, sexting, lewd behavior, taking pictures of your own children in the bath tub, and clicking on the wrong link on a website.  Less than two percent of violent sexual offenses are committed by perfect strangers. It is time to stop acting hysterically in the name of protecting children; it's time stop public registration of sex offenders and to start treating this serious problem rationally."

Copyright 2014 WFIE. All rights reserved.



Edtorial: Stopping Near Sex Offenders

W.A.R. was asked by the general manager of Channel 14 news to write an editorial on the story that was aired Monday evening,” Stopping Near Sex Offenders.”
Below is the editorial that will be read on the air either tonight or tomorrow night. 



In response to the February 17, 2014 article, “Stopping Near Sex Offenders.”


If we think about registered sex offenders at all, most of us fear them as monsters who have committed terrible sexual crimes against innocent children and are people who need to be carefully watched when released to make sure our children aren’t hurt again.


Nobody wants to protect children more than the members of Women Against Registry. Women Against Registry, or WAR, is the voice of millions of innocent women and children who are wrongly and unfairly punished because we have a family member who has completed their debt to society but now must face a life of unemployment, homelessness, and despair. As registered sex offenders they are targeted for harassment and abuse, can’t get a job, and many cases, can’t even rejoin their own homes. Too many of our husbands, fathers and sons are getting caught up in this registration hysteria even if the offense they committed was minor and years ago.


As the president of WAR, Vicki Henry, says, “In the vast majority of registration cases we’re talking about dumb childish mistakesundefinedoffenses like public urination, teen age consensual sex, sexting, lewd behavior, taking pictures of your own children in the bath tub, and clicking on the wrong link on a website.  Less than two percent of violent sexual offenses are committed by perfect strangers. It is time to stop acting hysterically in the name of protecting children; it’s time stop public registration of sex offenders and to start treating this serious problem rationally.”

Sex Offender Registry Misguided

Sex-offender registry misguided thinking

By Guy Hamilton-Smith

February 10, 2014 


Guy Hamilton-Smith has appealed the ruling denying him access to the bar exam.

                        I am a sex offender.

I know well the tremendous power of those words. In 2007, I pled guilty to possession of child pornography.

Nothing here is meant to defend what I did or to minimize the gravity of my actions. I had a major problem with pornography, and I was far too deep in denial and too scared to reach out to anyone.

Help eventually came when my girlfriend discovered child porn on my computer and went to the police. I was then and remain grateful to her for taking that step.

As I went through the legal process after my arrest, I developed a keen interest in the law, and a sincere desire to advocate on the behalf of those who are hated, who are lost, and who are forgotten. With luck, I managed to win acceptance to law school despite my conviction. I worked harder than I'd ever worked in my life, because I knew I'd have a lot to do to overcome my past. I did well in school, graduated, secured a job at a law firm after disclosing my past, and applied to take the bar exam.


To continue reading:

Read more here:

Tennessee Operation Push Back

Fighting the Destruction of Families

Contact: Vicki Henry, President
Women Against Registry

Women Against Registry is a national organization comprised of mothers, wives, girlfriends and other family members of those convicted of a sexual offense. We have begun “Pushing Back” on laws and restrictions which are annihilating and prohibiting healthy family units. Vicki Henry, President of Women Against Registry says, “Let me clearly state that we are as concerned as the rest of society about protecting not only children but any human being from sexual abuse. She goes on to say that the truth needs to come out!”  State legislatures can pass 100 new bills targeted at known sex offenders and think that is all that is required to keep society safe but that is misleading.  There are currently 769,000 registrants and more are being added at record-breaking rates which only make the jobs of law enforcement impossible. The recidivism rate is at 5% but the reality is the remaining 95% of sexual offenses occurs within the family, their friends or those having access to the children which will never be reported.

Evidence provided by some of our nation’s top scholars suggests,” Sex offender registration and notification (SORN) laws can impede community reintegration efforts of RSOs and potentially contribute to recidivism.” (Jill Levenson, Ph.D., and Richard Tewksbury, Ph.D., titled Collateral Damage: Family Members of Registered Sex Offenders) “Sex offender laws are based on numerous misperceptions about sex offenders and sex offender risk factors, public fear, and the pressure for policy makers to “do something” about this social problem. Also, from a recent study that attempts to reconcile the facts of sex offender science against the views of lawmakers.” (Michelle Meloy, Jessica Boatwright & Kristin Curtis (The Sponsors of Sex Offender Bills Speak Up: Policy Makers' Perceptions of Sex Offenders, Sex Crimes, and Sex Offender Legislation, page 445. Published by: On behalf of: International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology)

Women Against Registry is asking the Tennessee lawmakers to refrain from passing legislation filed this year (i.e., community notification, registering for life and 3-strike legislation on indecent exposure) and resolve to depend on empirical evidence for future legislation. We ask that alternatives such as pre-trial dispositions be considered for first time offenses. "Legislators cite the news media and the views of their constituents -- not research evidence -- as their primary sources of information about sex offenses and offenders," said Amy Borror spokeswoman for the Ohio Public Defender's Office. (

Further, we ask that all legislation be based on the Tennessee Constitution, Article 1, Section 11, “That laws made for the punishment of acts committed previous to the existence of such laws, and by them only declared criminal, are contrary to the principles of a free government; wherefore no ex post facto law shall be made.” Legislators also need to take advice from other states that have experienced the legal repercussions due to further compliancy of SORNA regulations. For example; The courts state of Ohio were inundated with hundreds of lawsuits due to their ex post facto application of sex offender registration laws, thus accruing tens of millions of dollars in state generated legal costs.

We are calling on our trusted leaders to become familiar with the current scientific research before moving forward with legislation. We are “Pushing Back” against laws that were written out of fear and the unfortunate loss of a few well publicized national cases. Clearly, the familial victim–offender relationship is a more difficult situation to rectify through legislative means. Is this why it is missing from the public discourse?

A member shared a story regarding a church camping trip where she and her husband of 10 years were one of several chaperone couples. A few months later a 14 year old girl accused her husband of child molestation. Her now registered husband has maintained his innocence and has passed 4 polygraph tests. During the time he was incarcerated, the victim’s mother asked the now-registrant’s wife for financial help in which she declined. Out of spite, the mother called the mortgage company and advised them he was incarcerated for a sexual offense. Even though the wife continued to make the payments at the advice of her attorney, the mortgage company rejected them saying,” he was a detriment and they could not continue the loan.” The wife had to move out of their home while he was incarcerated. All of the equity they had accrued over the ten years on the mortgage was lost.


Women Against Registry asks that all families be considered in future legislation and that empirical evidence is the guiding force.


Dr. Phil: Child Molester or Innocent Soldier Accused?

Child Molester or Innocent Soldier Accused?
In 2012, Amanda accused her ex-husband, George, a U.S. Army veteran, of molesting her then 7-year-old daughter, and he was recently sentenced to life in prison for the crime. George’s parents, Harold and Cindy, believe their son was wrongfully convicted, and they want to set the record straight in an effort to have him released. Emotions run high when the parents confront Amanda on Dr. Phil’s stage and accuse her of coercing her daughter into making false allegations against George. How does Amanda respond? Dr. Phil sorts through the details of the case in search of answers. How does George respond to the allegations? Tune in, and weigh in: Has a child molester been taken off the streets, or is an innocent man paying for a crime he didn’t commit?

Audit Criticizes CO Sex Offender Treatment Programs

Audit criticizes Colorado's program for monitoring sex offenders

By David Olinger
The Denver Post

Colorado is overtreating many low-risk sex offenders in the mistaken belief that they cannot be cured, an independent consultant has found.

As a result, the state's Sex Offender Management Board is wasting significant amounts of public money on supervision in the community, according to a report from Central Coast Clinical and Forensic Psychology Services.

The report, released earlier this month, also concluded that Colorado's system for classifying some offenders as sexually violent predators is hopelessly flawed and in urgent need of replacement. That means Colorado could be classifying the wrong people as sexually violent predators.

Read more: Audit criticizes Colorado's program for monitoring sex offenders - The Denver Post
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Read more: Audit criticizes Colorado's program for monitoring sex offenders - The Denver Post
Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content:
Follow us: @Denverpost on Twitter | Denverpost on Facebook

Win in Washington DC!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sex offender can continue to post photos, judge says

By Justin Moyer,

A D.C. Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday that a convicted sex offender can distribute and post photos of court employees online to protest the city’s sex offender registry.

Dennis Sobin, a former pornographer who served more than a decade in prison for a sexual performance using a minor, posted the photos of employees from D.C.’s Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) on saying that sex-offender registries are unfair. A court employee filed for a civil protection order, accused him of stalking and asked the court to have Sobin to remove her photo.    

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But Judge Todd E. Edelman said that Sobin’s actions were protected by the First Amendment.

“Mr. Sobin’s conduct could be criticized,” said Edelman. “I think it’s unlikely to be effective. I think that criticizing lower-level court employees is puzzling. But that’s not my place to say.”

The unusual case garnered the attention of the ACLU, which filed a brief on Sobin’s behalf. Tuesday’s hearing also drew interest from other sex offenders and anti-registry activists.

“I’m very happy the judge understood and abided by the U.S. Constitution that gives citizens the right to protest, even in a personal sort of way,” Sobin said.

Sobin, 70, thought the decision could inspire similar protests elsewhere.

“The judge’s opinion will be used as ammunition around the country,” he said.

Stephanie Gray, the CSOSA employee who sought the protection order, and her attorneys declined comment.

Vicki L. Henry, president of Women Against Registry, welcomed the decision, saying people are not aware how much sex offender registries damage families.

“There’s no empirical evidence supporting these registries,” said Henry, whose son is a sex offender, outside the courtroom. “We need to promote prevention.”

Derek W. Logue, a sex offender from Ohio who was there to support Sobin, said that registries prevent criminals from moving forward.

“I’m 37,” Logue said. “They’re still judging me on what I did when I was 22.” s-judge-says/2014/01/28/4687f63a-8861-11e3-a5bd-844629433ba3_story.html

W.A.R. is Going to Washington D.C.!!!!

You read the header correctly!  W.A.R. is going to Washington D.C.! 
In light of the recent upcoming hearing of Dennis Sobin and his Idiot registry, W.A.R. thought it imperative to present and show support.  Although we do NOT agree with any form of public registries, we DO agree with Mr. Sobin's right to teach his audience (the public and lawmakers) that registries are punitive and do cause harm to those who are on them.  Additionally, Dennis Sobin is being represented by the ACLU. W.A.R. has been told numerous times that we must connect and affiliate with the ACLU on civil rights issues....this IS our connection!
 W.A.R. board member, Vicki Henri and several D.C. members will be in attendance at the Washington DC Superior Courthouse with our banners and information on Tuesday, January 28th, 2014. (The scheduled time for the actual hearing is at 2:30 pm.)
To read more about the hearing and Dennis' story here is a link to the article:
As always, W.A.R. can not make these events and be present without your monetary donations.  In order to have representatives from the Admin team attend the D.C. hearing  and other upcoming venues, we have to rely on your generous contributions to help pay for flight and travel expenses.  Please help us help you! Every penny helps! To make a donation, please visit the W.A.R. website and click on the "donate" button.
If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact us!
As Always, Thank you in advance for your support!
Vicki and Kim

Sex Offender Fights Registry by Registering his Register

Sex offender fights registry by registering his registerers

By Justin Moyer,

If nothing else, Dennis Sobin is not your typical ex-con.

At first glance, he looks like the model returning citizen: After serving more than a decade in prison, Sobin, 70, returned to the District, started a gallery for prison art and ran for mayor.

His nonprofit organizations have received grants from George Soros’s Open Society Institute and the National Endowment for the Arts and, in 2010, he appeared on the cover of the Washington City Paper .

But Sobin is also sex offender. A former pornographer who’s appeared on “The Sally Jesse Raphael Show” and “Geraldo,” Sobin was convicted of sexual performance using a minor in 1992 in Florida.

So, every 90 days, Sobin must report to D.C.’s Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA), and his photo appears on D.C.’s public registry.

Sobin thinks it’s unfair. So, for his latest act, Sobin has decided to protest his treatment by creating his own online data base and registering the people who monitor him at the sex offender registry.

Now, in an unusual case that will be heard on Jan. 24, a D.C. Superior Court judge will decide whether a court employee can file a civil protection order to prevent Sobin from posting her photo on his anti-registry registry, , and distributing Gray’s photograph on fliers.

“Here at you will find the names of politicians and public figures who have encouraged the creation of, or have refused to denounce, government registration websites that target citizens for harassment,” Sobin’s site reads. “In the tradition of Nazi registration of Jews and Gypsies and the Salem lists of alleged witches, modern government registries are unfair and un-American.”

Stephanie Gray, who works for CSOSA, is asking the court to force Sobin to remove her picture from the site.

Sobin, who was under Gray’s supervision until she got another position at the agency, did not mince words when criticizing Gray.

“Face of Evil: ‘Registry Specialist’ Stephanie Gray shoots icy stare,” Sobin posted under a photo of Gray. “Gray requested and received a transfer due to the guilt she felt in her loathsome job.”

Sobin said his action was inspired by Supreme Court rulings which hold that sex offender registries are not punitive and do not constitute double jeopardy.

“If it’s not punishment to be on a list, we thought we’d put the people who do the registering on a list,” he said.

Gray took another view.

“He writes derogatory information about me,” Gray wrote in her request for a protection order. “I have been move[d] from the Sex Offender Registry and he continues to trash the bldg. where I am with pictures he has taken of me without me knowing.”

Should Sobin prevail,“It would send a message to all sex offenders in the District of Columbia,” according to a petition filed by Gray’s attorneys which accused Sobin of stalking. “Convicted criminals required to report to CSOSA could harass them with impunity under the guise of protected political speech.” Gray, through her attorneys, declined comment, as did CSOSA.

Sobin has found an ally: the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed an amicus brief on his behalf.

“We think there are some significant First Amendment issues,” said Art Spitzer, legal director of ACLU’s D.C. office, who pointed out that Gray is not alleging physical harm. “Domestic violence laws are supposed to protect people from crimes, but not hurt feelings. . . . People are allowed to embarrass each other and make each other feel bad when making a political point.”

Though Sobin’s legal strategy is new, sex offender registries have been around for a long time.

Though California became the first state to establish a sex offender registry in 1947, many states followed suit after Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old living in New Jersey, was murdered by her neighbor, a serial sex offender, in 1994. D.C. created its registry in 1999.

Experts in the field said Sobin’s approach was unusual.

Katie Gotch, a spokesperson for the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, estimated that there are 700,000 sex offenders on registries in America, but wasn’t aware of any who had mounted protests like Sobin’s.

“That’s actually very novel,” said Gotch. “I have not heard of that and I’m not surprised he’s getting sued.”

Should Sobin win, Gray’s civil protection request will be denied, but D.C.’s sex offender registry will not be affected.

But, Sobin said, he’ll have struck a blow for free speech and shown the flawed logic behind the registry undefined even if there’s collateral damage.

“Ms. Gray happens to be a very sensitive, compassionate individual who is on the registration list,” Sobin said. “It’s a war. . . . They’re involved in this registration thing and unless they move themselves out, we’re going to oppose them.”



Vermont Legislative Update from Tim (POC)

I was at the State house on 1/15/2014, and met with the Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott and Commissioner of Corrections Andrew Pallito. Both meetings went very well.
Lieutenant Governor - I laid out the reason that I was at the State house, and that as the State POC, I would be monitoring legislation that impacted registrants or their families.  I explained that while our name included "Against the Registry" that in fact we were opposed to a public registry.  The Lt. Gov was open and welcoming and expressed only one genuine concern, and that was if we have to register as lobbyists.  Other then then that, He listened to the message and took the information that I gave him. He was interested in the support line, and told me that he would have his assistant follow up with me to get out more information.  The meeting was maybe 20 minutes all told.
Commissioner -  laid out the reason that I was at the State house, and that as the State POC, I would be monitoring legislation that impacted registrants or their families.  I explained that while our name included "Against the Registry" that in fact we were opposed to a public registry.  I have sent him an email, at his request, with the brochures.  The Commissioner was open to our message, and said that he wanted to read more about what the group was about, and he would be in touch. the meeting was between 10 and 15 minutes.

Lobbyists -  If there are any questions on this subject, I will gladly talk with the Secretary of States office (, and feel free to check out the Vermont Statute on the requirements (

Operation Push Back in New York

Contact: Vicki Henry, President
Women Against Registry

2014 Women Against Registry’s Operation Push Back

As Director of Women Against Registry, I am contacting your agency on behalf of over two million women, family members and those affected by the public sex offender registry.  We have grown tired of the continued penalties registrants and their FAMILY members increasingly face. We have begun “Pushing Back” on legislation driven by sensationalized media representations. For too long we have heard heart-breaking stories from families being destroyed, registrant families being turned away at Disney Parks, turned away when visiting a foreign country on Christmas vacation, children passed over for higher education opportunities, family homes/property damaged, members asked to leave their church, and many other scenarios which continue as punishment for a loved one’s sexual offense but has progressed to the annihilation of family units.  We ask that you take a few minutes to become informed of the ever increasing problems surrounding individuals convicted of a sex offense as we have provided evidenced-based resources for your convenience. 

One New York family’s story…

My son, who at the age of 17 had a consensual sexual relationship with his 14 year old girlfriend, is now on the registry for life as a “violent offender and most likely to reoffend!”  As the mother of a now registrant I experience heartbreak at watching my son deteriorate from a once ambitious, happy young man into a lonely and very depressed recluse. He often expresses thoughts of suicide and we have to encourage him to keep moving forward even though we know if the laws aren’t changed, his real hopes for a happy life is always going to be limited.  I cry a lot of tears while at the same time my mind and soul are enraged at what is being done to him. I cried and anguished over the very explicit questions he was asked during offender counseling. I am infuriated at how this system is so out of control and destroys everything in its path. We lost a daughter-in-law and contact with our two grand-daughters because she could not deal with the things the family was subjected to on a constant basis.  That was very devastating.  Our family has been through his being beaten, harassed and ridiculed….all for what?  I ask, all for what?


Women Against Registry often cites a research study by Jill Levenson, Ph.D., and Richard Tewksbury, Ph.D., Professor entitled  Collateral Damage:Family Members of Registered Sex Offenders. “Researchers have identified ways in which sex offender registration and notification (SORN) laws can impede community reintegration efforts of RSOs and potentially contribute to recidivism. The purpose of this study is to explore the impact of SORN laws on the family members of registered sex offenders.” Noted in the report; out of 446 interviewed 87% of families suffered hardships due to the registrant finding and sustaining employment. Out of 437 interviewed 44% have been threatened or harassed; out of 441 interviewed 30% have suffered bodily harm or property damages due to Meagan’s Law Notification.

From a recent study by: Michelle Meloy & Jessica Boatwright & Kristin Curtis (The Sponsors of Sex Offender Bills Speak Up: Policy Makers' Perceptions of Sex Offenders, Sex Crimes, and Sex Offender Legislation page 445. Published by: On behalf of: International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology)

Sex offenders are among today’s most hated and feared criminals. The contemporary response to this has resulted in specialized laws, referred to as “sex offender legislation.” Although legislation targeting sex offenders is not new to the United States, or elsewhere, the policy makers involved in today’s “third wave” of sex offender laws (Terry, 2005) are the focus of this current investigation. This wave of U.S. sex offender laws is based on numerous misperceptions about sex offenders and sex offender risk factors, public fear, and the pressure for policy makers to “do something” about this social problem. Thus, this research attempts to reconcile the facts of sex offender science against the views of lawmakers. Is there a total disconnect between empiricism and policy maker perceptions? 

61 legislators where interviewed, at least one from each state, 65% admitted to “policy being written due to high profile cases” some not even within the jurisdiction of their own state. Most of the legislation was written from a few high profile cases. 44% of the policy makers interviewed saw overly broad sex offender laws as a problem. Influential elected officials have a host of ideas and perceptions about this type of crime and offender, but these views are often not based on science. Research such as this could help transform “shoot-from-the-hip” policy making into “informed policy making” by integrating scientific outcomes into legal responses.

Patty Wetterling, Mother of Jacob Wetterling in which a law was named after, has said as recently as March 2013, “...that the registry is doing more harm than good.”

Cost to New York vs. Credible Research

Per the NCMEC, there are 751,538 men, women and children on national registries with 36,603 of those registered in New York. When you consider the registerable offenses, the law enforcement and office staff expenses associated with monitoring and tracking, as well as the length of time the state of New York has committed, one has to wonder what empirical evidence supports this valiant effort. There is none!  However, there is credible research advising low recidivism rates. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Justice, 5.3% of American sex offenders are rearrested for a new sex crime within three years with only 3.5% being convicted. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2003).

Other things impacting costs are Probation & Parole as well as incarceration and went on to say the U.S. is 5% of the world’s population AND 25% of the world’s incarcerated.

"Sometimes federal mandates and state laws get passed without a real sense of what the lingering costs are," says Suzanne Brown-McBride, deputy director of the Council of State Governments Justice Center.

Recommendations that will Accomplish the Desired End Result - Prevention of Sexual Abuse:     

·         Design or create policy with the primary goal of prevention of sexual abuse violence thus reducing the sexual deviancy rates. (A Reasoned Approach: Reshaping Sex Offender Policy to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse By Joan Tabachnick and Alisa Klein) of The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers.

·         Implement pre and post-trial diversion programs into the judicial process for sexual offenses much like those available for drug and other offenses hence cutting down on prosecutors forcing plea deals based on little evidence and laws sparing victims from testifying.

With the publications of numerous studies and empirical research, Women Against Registry is calling for New York legislators to stop enacting additional laws as they are doing more harm than good. We are calling on our trusted leaders to become familiar with the current scientific research before writing legislation. We are “Pushing Back” against laws that were written out of fear and the unfortunate loss of a few well publicized national cases which are called “Apostrophe Laws.” For example the projected cost of Chelsey’s Law in California was presented as: “State officials have warned that the cost of implementing Chelsea's Law will be high as the lengthier sentences play out. An analysis by the state corrections department found the law would cost $1 million in 2015 but $54 million by 2030. Per The California Legislative Analyst's Office, says “costs will run much higher, at least a few tens of millions of dollars annually within the next decade and hundreds of millions annually in decades to come.” Chelsea’s Law propelled the legislator’s career yet remains unfunded.  Policy makers and the public need to be educated on the science of sexual deviancy and offending. For instance, one seldom-disputed fact is that most sex crimesundefinedespecially against childrenundefined occur between individuals who know one another, reside together, is an acquaintance or have access to the children. Yet policy makers and the public tend to view strangers as posing the greatest risk of sexual violence. Clearly, the familial victim–offender relationship is a more difficult situation to rectify through legislative means. Is this why it is missing from the public discourse?


Unreliable Evidence Cost Man 25 Years and Chicago $6.3 Million

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According to the Chicago Sun-Times (here), the City of Chicago has agreed to pay $6.3 million to Larry Gillard to settle a federal lawsuit alleging that the Chicago police crime lab distorted evidence, which contributed to his wrongful conviction of a 1981 rape.  Gillard served 25 years in prison before DNA proved his innocence.

Two pieces of unreliable evidence conspired to convict Gillard. A Chicago Police Crime Laboratory analyst testified that Gillard was among 4.4 percent of African  Americans who could have committed the crime. The crime lab was later shut down when it was discovered in an audit that it did not comply with standards. The suit alleged that the lab misrepresented the results in Gillard’s case.

The rape victim also provided compelling evidence when she identified Gillard in a photo lineup. However, in a landmark FBI study of 8,000 cases in which victims had identified a stranger rapist, DNA proved that in about 25% of the cases the victims’ identifications were incorrect.

The Exoneration Project of the University of Chicago Law accepted and worked on Gillard’s case. DNA testing not only proved he was not the rapist but also identified the actual perpetrator.

According to the case report on The National Registry of Exonerations (here):

“Gillard’s conviction was dismissed and he was released on May 26, 2009.

On August 27, 2009, Judge Paul Biebel, Jr., presiding judge of the Criminal Division of the Cook County Circuit Court, granted Gillard a certificate of innocence, qualifying him for $170,000 in compensation for his wrongful conviction.”

Gillard’s attorney, Jon Loevy of Loevy & Loevy, said that if the police crime lab had reported the results of their testing accurately, Gillard “never would have been convicted.”

It was this alleged misrepresentation of the forensic evidence that enabled the lawsuit and the recovery.

This tragic stumbling of justice demonstrates the impact of unreliable evidence. With the victim’s (mistaken) identification and (inaccurate) forensic testimony, the jury took less than an hour to convict Gillard.

This case and countless others also illustrate a post-DNA-era truth: Prosecutors cannot simply present evidence, and then “let the jury decide.” They must first do all possible to assure that the evidence presented is truthful and reliable.

A single piece of unreliable evidence, such as a misidentification, can easily trump an alibi and other exculpatory evidence and convict an innocent person. A combination of two or more pieces of unreliable evidence is frighteningly effective in convicting the innocent. Until we implement reforms and recommendations that will preserve the integrity of evidence, juries will be mislead, innocent people will be convicted, and actual criminal perpetrators will continue to victimize.


Appeals court rules against Orange County on sex offender law

January 10, 2014, 7:10 p.m.

A panel of California appeals court judges found Friday that state law trumps Orange County's regulations on sex offenders that ban them from parks and beaches.

The fourth appellate district decision reverses the conviction of Hugo Godinez, a registered sex offender who was convicted of a misdemeanor for violating the county ordinance after he went to a company picnic at Mile Square Regional Park in Fountain Valley in 2011. Godinez had been convicted of misdemeanor sexual battery in 2010.

The county's restrictions on sex offenders, passed in 2011, were among the most aggressive in the state.

A number of cities within Orange County adopted versions of the law at the urging of the district attorney's office, and many of them also faced court challenges.

An Orange County Superior Court appeals panel overturned Godinez's conviction in 2012. In response, the Orange County Sheriff's Department stopped enforcing the law, and the Lake Forest City Council voted to repeal its ban.

The county appeals panel said the sex offender law appeared to be illegal and asked the 4th District Court of Appeal to hear the case.

"Godinez argues state law preempts the county ordinance and therefore his conviction is void. We agree," the appeals court ruling said.

The state Legislature has already enacted a "comprehensive statutory scheme regulating the daily life of sex offenders," and the Orange County law conflicts with it, the panel found.

Orange County's law allows sex offenders to go to parks with written permission from the county sheriff. The appeals court found that requirement amounts to a "de facto registration requirement" that conflicts with the state's existing sex offender registration requirements.

Representatives of the Orange County district attorney's office could not immediately be reached for comment.,0,3986218.story#ixzz2q6FrHgSe

NYS Council on Community Re-Entry and Reintegration

From The Fortune Society:

Yesterday, we were very excited to hear Governor Cuomo’s announcement in his 2014 State of the State address that he will establish the NYS Council on Community Re-Entry and Reintegration, which will bring leadership from a wide array of agencies together to maximize the effectiveness of New York’s efforts to promote successful reentry from prison and to ensure that State policies regarding the broad spectrum of issues that impact formerly incarcerated individuals are aligned with federal and local efforts.  We at The Fortune Society recognize the urgency of the situation, as we see more than 4,000 formerly incarcerated individuals each year walking through our doors in need of assistance and conduct advocacy on behalf of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers with criminal histories who are struggling to reintegrate into society upon release from prison or jail.  While the State has made many strides in this area, in partnership with federal and local government, we still have a long way to go in eliminating discrimination directed at formerly incarcerated individuals and ensuring that they have access to opportunities, so that they can establish a positive and productive life for themselves and their families.  We are eager to hear more about the launch of this new Council and will actively seek out the opportunity to participate in its work and ensure that it lives up to its mission.
We also applaud Governor Cuomo’s announcement to establish the Commission on Youth, Public Safety & Justice to provide recommendations related to youth in New York’s criminal and juvenile justice systems.  The fact that New York is one of only two States in the country that treats 16-year-olds as adults in the criminal justice system is a travesty.  We should not accept such a harmful punishment imposed on young people who are still in the middle stages of their development as adolescents.  The damage done by the adult criminal justice system to these young people – many of whom have already suffered from the combined impacts of poverty, abuse/neglect, homelessness, and inadequate education – can last a lifetime and seriously hinder them from ever becoming successful adults.  We commend the Governor for tasking this new Commission with the responsibility of developing a plan to raise the age of criminal responsibility and creating a roadmap to promote youth success and ensure public safety so that all young people have the opportunity to become productive, successful adults.
The Fortune Society is eager to work with Governor Cuomo to ensure that this new Council and Commission work aggressively to ensure that both youth and adults who have been involved in the criminal justice system have access to housing, employment, education, health care, substance abuse and mental health treatment, family reunification assistance, public benefits, and other supportive services they need to thrive and live successful lives in the community.

JoAnne Page
President and CEO

Websites will no longer bill to remove mug shots

TOLEDO, Ohio – Two Internet sites that make money by posting millions of mug shots of people who’ve been arrested have agreed to stop charging them to take down their photos as part of a settlement in a federal lawsuit.

The lawsuit came about after a number of complaints from people who said the websites were charging hundreds of dollars to remove the mug shots even if the cases against those arrested had been dropped.

The settlement in U.S. District Court in Toledo doesn’t apply to all of the mug shot sites that can be found online, just two – and

Link to Read More of the Article:

National Women's Organization Opposes HB 14

NEWS RELEASE: National women's organization opposes Alabama’s proposed HB 14.

The question we are asking is an obvious one; “do laws such as this truly PROTECT children?”

Alabama Representative Steve Hurst seems to think so. His previous years’ and newly introduced legislation, if enacted, would mandate the Department of Corrections to surgically castrate any person over the age of 21 who has been convicted of a sexual crime against a minor under the age of 12 years.

But a national women's organization is challenging the usefulness of such a law, asserting that it does nothing to increase community safety but seriously infringes upon the rights of registrants and those who are maintaining their innocence of any crime. If the intention is to have sexual offenders not be able to commit another crime against a child, then this legislation is a waste of time and tax payer’s dollars.

Empirical evidence proves that a person willing to offend sexually can and will do so, without the use of body parts. Further, many states’ ACLU organizations have fought and won court cases regarding castration of any means as a violation to the Constitution’s eighth amendment under Cruel and Unusual Punishment.  Additionally, a quote taken from the ACLU states, "The United States penal system effective or not is designed to protect society from harmful members and to rehabilitate those who can eventually rejoin society. Chemical castration does not make sex offenders ready to face society."

In an article published, "Thoughts on Castration for Sex Offenders." The Curvature. March 12th, 2009, states “The idea that it would stop the castrated rapists from raping again, as a general rule? I can believe that. But it won’t stop rape. Not even close. And in the process of stopping a few rapes while failing to stop the vast majority of them, a false sense of what rape is about is heavily stitched onto the public’s consciousness."

As a nationwide organization of wives, mothers, daughters, sisters and other family members, W.A.R. advocates for the rights of the families.  The public registry has evolved into a public ‘hit list” and there is no direct statement indicting “any person or group of persons who bring harm to a registrant OR any member of their family will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.  Aren’t all of us, as citizens, entitled to protection under the Constitution?

In a decision from the Supreme Court of the United States,( Skinner v. State of Okl. ex rel. Williamson, 316 U.S. 535, 541, 62 S. Ct. 1110, 1113, 86 L. Ed. 1655 (1942)), But the instant legislation runs afoul of the equal protection clause, though we give Oklahoma that large deference which the rule of the foregoing cases requires. We are dealing here with legislation which involves one of the basic civil rights of man. Marriage and procreation are fundamental to the very existence and survival of the race. The power to sterilize, if exercised, may have subtle, far reaching and devastating effects. In evil or reckless hands it can cause races or types which are inimical to the dominant group to wither and disappear. There is no redemption for the individual whom the law touches. Any experiment which the State conducts is to his irreparable injury. He is forever deprived of a basic liberty. We mention these matters not to reexamine the scope of the police power of the States. We advert to them merely in emphasis of our view that strict scrutiny of the classification which a State makes in a sterilization law is essential, lest unwittingly or otherwise invidious discriminations are made against groups or types of individuals in violation of the constitutional guaranty of just and equal laws. The guaranty of ‘equal protection of the laws is a pledge of the protection of equal laws.” 

Women Against Registry supports the findings and statements of the ACLU in regards to castration of anyone convicted of a sexual crime. “W.A.R. will stand beside the ACLU, The United States Supreme Court and any other organization to back any legal cases to protect the rights of all citizens in the United States, including those who are convicted of sexual offenses,” states Vicki Henry, President. “The effect is just the polar opposite in that it exposes registrants to discrimination and further imposes punitive punishments where our judicial system has failed to rehabilitate our citizens and prepare them for re-entry,” Ms. Henry adds.

"House Bill 14 unjustifiably discriminates against the rights of those convicted of sexual crimes as well as promotes a new type of public discrimination" says Kimberly DuBina, also of W.A.R..

As a matter of policy the organization and its members vigorously oppose any legislation that prohibits those convicted of sexual crimes in maintaining the same rights as any other citizen who have been sentenced and served their time for a crime.

Proponent D. R. Madison concluded, "We oppose any legislation that humiliates and places individuals as well as their families in harm’s way or punishes individuals for longer than their sentence requirements given by the courts."

For more information, visit,
contact@womenagainstregistry.comOR contact
Vicki Henry at 202-630-0345.


Irish to House Sex Offenders

Ireland has it right!


Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent – 30 December 2013

SEX offenders should be given homes by local authorities on their release from prison, according to a report being considered by Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

The plan, which relates to the Dublin region, is designed to assist sex offenders who have just left prison or returned from abroad.

The state agencies, which include An Garda Siochana, the Irish Prison Service and the HSE, recommended the setting up of "placement committees" who will decide where sex offenders should live.

According to the plan, the following steps will take place:

* Offenders will undergo a risk assessment prior to their release from prison, categorising them as low risk, medium risk, high risk or very high risk.

* They will liaise with an official local authority staff member prior to their release.

* A placement committee will decide what "suitable" estate or apartment complex the offender should reside in. This committee will meet at least every two months.

The "implementation plan", seen by the Irish Independent, has been brought to the attention of the Justice Minister.

However, a spokeswoman for the minister insisted that work on the plan is "ongoing".

According to the report, councils would be obliged to take part in an "exchange" programme involving the transfer of sex offenders "due to victim and offender protection issues".

It states that "wherever possible, sex offenders on release from prison should be accommodated in housing services rather than in emergency homeless accommodation".


The report added: "Local authorities will have a responsibility to consider the move on accommodation requirements of all sex offenders including those placed in the proposed supported temporary accommodation unit for very high-risk offenders."

If implemented, the radical measures will shift the onus of housing responsibility on to local authorities.

The report added: "It is currently difficult to place offenders who've been convicted of a sex offence into emergency, transitional or long-term social housing due to concerns regarding public protection, the risk of reoffending and the potential reaction of local communities."

Serious concern has been raised about the current system, which leaves sex offenders staying for weeks and months on end in hostels and temporary accommodation when they leave prison.

Irish Independent


El Dorado CA SO Ordinance Repealed

PLACERVILLE - The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors is expected to repeal a 2-year-old sex offender ordinance Tuesday to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit.


The 2012 ordinance was inspired by Phillip and Nancy Garrido, the county's most notorious sex offenders, who were convicted the year before of kidnapping Jaycee Dugard and holding her for 18 years.


The measure forbids registered sex offenders from coming within 300 feet of parks, schools, libraries, public pools and other places where children congregate.

"The ordinance that's on the books today is, in fact, unconstitutional," said attorney Janice Bellucci, who represents a 48-year-old sex offender from Pollock Pines who sued El Dorado County in federal court last summer.


"Phil Garrido is an extreme case and an extreme situation and unfortunately the ordinance that was passed by the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors is just too broad," Bellucci said.


The final item on Tuesday's agenda calls for county supervisors to repeal the ordinance as a condition of Bellucci dropping the lawsuit.


The repeal would become effective 30 days later.

Bellucci said she would begin discussions with the cities of Placerville and South Lake Tahoe, which followed the county's lead and enacted similar ordinances.


El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson said he would help draft a new ordinance in the coming weeks, using recent court decisions as guidance, to craft a measure that will withstand another challenge.


"You go into it trying to be as careful as you can in terms of the drafting of it, but you can never anticipate everything that can come up," he said.

by George Warren,




The Bitter Legacy of Adam Walsh

We can all become angry and frustrated with life.  Some of us have been known to express that frustration in ways that later, upon reflection, seem foolish or even tragically self-destructive.  John Walsh, with the help of a public that cannot have rational conversation about how to intelligently manage sexual criminality, has succeeded in turning his son’s memory into a curse on a nation.


Adam Walsh was abducted from a Sears department store in Hollywood, Florida, on July 27, 1981, and was later found to have been murdered and decapitated.   Walsh’s father, John Walsh, became an advocate for victims of violent crimes and the host of the television program America’s Most Wanted.  Convicted serial killer Ottis Toole eventually confessed to the boy’s murder but was never tried for the crime due to loss of evidence.  [Toole] claimed [his motive was] that he wanted to make Walsh his adopted son…   The police investigation of Walsh’s abduction was extremely inept, and they lost the bloodstained carpet from Toole’s Cadillac, the machete used to decapitate Walsh, and eventually, the car itself.


The Adam Walsh Child Act was signed into law by U.S. President George W. Bush on July 27, 2006.  The Walsh Act organizes sex offenders into three tiers and mandates that Tier 3 offenders (the most serious tier) update their whereabouts every three months with lifetime registration requirements.  Tier 2 offenders must update their whereabouts every six months with 25 years of registration, and Tier 1 offenders must update their whereabouts every year with 15 years of registration.  Failure to register and update information is a felony under the law.


To summarize, John Walsh took the horrible murder of his young son and turned it into a legacy that would have done NOTHING to have prevented the crime against his son.  The inflamed passions around this subject have, however, resulted in legislation that has SEVERELY impacted the half million Americans convicted of sex crimes and their families including…their own children.  The AWA has never seen any supportive research or a study of any kind.  It never will.  This is because the AWA classifies offenders solely based on the name of the crime of which they were convicted.  A person’s likelihood of reoffending is not even considered.  What the what?  Yes, Tier 3 is “the most serious,” but what does “most serious” mean?  It does NOT mean that the person is likely to reoffend.  Offenders with crimes similar to John Walsh’s own history (see video above) have become Tier 1 or 2.

weeping+man+lightenedConsider Bill, a 45-year-old husband, father and grandfather who lives in Nevada where the AWA has recently become law.  When Bill was 19 years old he had a 16-year-old girlfriend–26 years ago.  The records clearly show the correct age of the victim; but the crime was charged under a law that has in its name the phrase, “…under the age of 14 years.”  These sorts of legal fictions and mistakes in paperwork are common in plea bargaining.  Bill was recently informed that he is now, per the AWA, a Tier 3 whose neighbors will be informed at their front doors of his crime from decades ago.  They (and Bill’s employer) will also see his name in their newspapers and on TV news.  The fact that assessments based on, get this, science, show he has no greater risk than any other member of the community–this too is irrelevant.  He was fired upon showing up at work for being a Tier 3–as were three other men.  How does keeping felons from getting or holding a job promote community safety?

Millions of dollars in precious resources squandered, police staff misdirected, millions of family members punished unjustly, unthinkingly.  Adam Walsh deserves better from his father.  We all do.  Come, reason with us.


Link to Article:


There is a Video also embedded on the link above.  Comments to this article is accepted also.

Self-Serving Politicians Behind Legislation

Self-Serving Politicians Behind Legislation

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To protect our children, It’s an emergency, if the passage of this law saves just one child then it has served its purpose. We have all heard these type of comments from our legislators. Friedrich August von Hayek once wisely said,

‘Emergencies’ have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded.”

Such is the case with many of these ‘protect the children’ laws. But what if the passage of such a law were to actually put a child in jeopardy of being harassed, threatened, bullied, beaten up or possibly even leading to the child’s suicide. Well this is exactly the sort of collateral damage that has occurred recently as a result of laws created by our nations legislatures. So who is responsible for this damage to the hundreds of thousands of children whose parents are affected by these laws. Ultimately it goes back to those legislators who ignored statistics and data showing that the people whom they targeted with these laws as a disfavored group do not have the high recidivism rates often used to justify the laws. Those legislators who for their own personal gain allowed the disfavored group to have unconstitutional laws passed against them. Laws that have taken away the Constitutionally protected rights of American citizens so that those legislators could look tough on crime, and thereby guaranteeing they remain in their positions of power.

Think about it, are these the type of legislators that you want representing you. Legislators who with total disregard for the Constitution that they are sworn to uphold in many cases without so much as even reading the bills that they pass into law, or even bothering to do research on the reasons behind the supposed need for the bills, instead choose to listen to industrial lobbying groups and pass the laws regardless of what sound research says. These lobby groups and the legislators they pander to care only about their own personal agendas and the all mighty dollar. They do not care if they destroy the individual rights of the citizens of the United States in the process. Shouldn’t those lobbyists be held accountable for the false information that they provide to the law makers, shouldn’t all participating in an unconstitutional law be held accountable for the damage that their discriminatory laws cause. It is not uncommon for the legislature to pass a law without knowing or caring if it is constitutional or not and simply saying that it will be decided in the courts afterward. Yet when it is found unconstitutional by the courts later on, the people that introduce and pass the bill will not take responsibility nor be held accountable for the direct or collateral damage to the citizens of the United States which their unconstitutional laws have effected.

The Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights were formed to protect  individual, and I repeat that word Individual rights, not to allow the government to control every facet of our lives. In fact, the framers of our Constitution found government control repugnant! With that in mind I would like to present you with a bit of extensive reading that best expresses just how repugnant our forefathers and high courts found governmental control, corruption, and the erosion of Constitutional rights and protections. Consider the following opinions of Alexander Hamilton in his, ‘History of the Republic of the United States‘:

“The advocates of the bill pretend to appeal to the spirit of Whigism, while they endeavored to put in motion all the furious and dark passions of the human mind. The spirit of Whigism is generous, humane, beneficent, and just. These men inculcate revenge, cruelty, persecution, and perfidy. The spirit of whigism cherishes legal liberty, holds the rights of every individual sacred, condemns or punishes no man without regular trial, and conviction of some crime declared by antecedent laws, reprobates equally the punishment of the citizen by arbitrary acts of the legislature, as by the lawless combinations of unauthorized individuals ; while these men are the advocates for expelling a large number of their fellow-citizens unheard, untried ; or, if they cannot effect this, are for disfranchising them in the face of the constitution, without the judgment of their peers, and contrary to the law of the land.”. . . . “Nothing is more common, than for a free people in times of heat and violence to gratify momentary passions by letting into the government principles and precedents which afterward prove fatal to themselves. Of this kind is the doctrine of disqualification, disfranchisement, and banishment by acts of the legislature. The dangerous consequences of this power are manifest. If the legislature can disfranchise any number of citizens at pleasure by general descriptions, it may soon confine all the votes to a small number of partisans, and establish an aristocracy or an oligarchy ; if it may banish at discretion all those whom particular circumstances render obnoxious, without hearing or trial, no man can be safe, nor know when he may be the innocent victim of a prevailing faction. The name of liberty applied to such a government, would be a mockery of common sense”. . . . . “The people at large are sure to be the losers in the event, whenever they suffer a departure from the rules of general and equal justice, or from the true principles of universal liberty.”….

“There is a bigotry in polities as well as in religion, equally pernicious to both. The zealots of either description are ignorant of the advantage of a spirit of toleration. It is remarkable, though not extraordinary, that those characters throughout the States who have been principally instrumental in the Revolution are the most opposed to persecuting measures. Were it proper, I might trace the truth of these remarks from that character who has been THE FIRST in conspicuousness, through the several gradations of those, with very few exceptions, who either in the civil or military line, have borne a distinguished part in the war.”

The landmark US Supreme Court case, Cummings versus the state of Missouri (71 U.S. 277), shares much of Alexander Hamilton’s sentiment in regards to the deprivation of rights and further elaborates on this topic.

“The disabilities created by the Constitution of Missouri must be regarded as penalties undefined they constitute punishment. We do not agree with the counsel of Missouri that “to punish one is to deprive him of life, liberty, or property, and that to take from him anything less than these is no punishment at all.” The learned counsel does not use these terms undefined life, liberty, and property undefined as comprehending every right known to the law. He does not include under liberty freedom from outrage on the feelings as well as restraints on the person. He does not include under property those estates which one may acquire in professions, though they are often the source of the highest emoluments and honors. The deprivation of any rights, civil or political, previously enjoyed may be punishment, the circumstances attending and the causes of the deprivation determining this fact. Disqualification from office many be punishment, as in cases of conviction upon impeachment. Disqualification from the pursuits of a lawful avocation, or from positions of trust, or from the privilege of appearing in the courts, or acting as an executor, administrator, or guardian, may also, and often has been, imposed as punishment. By statute 9 and 10

William III, chap. 32, if any person educated in or having made a profession of the Christian religion did, “by writing, printing, teaching, or advised speaking,” deny the truth of the religion, or the divine authority of the Scriptures, he was for the first offence rendered incapably to hold any office or place of trust, and for the second he was rendered incapable of bringing any action, being guardian, executor, legatee, or purchaser of lands, besides being subjected to three years’ imprisonment without bail.

By statute 1 George I, chap. 13, contempts against the King’s title arising from refusing or neglecting to take certain prescribed oaths and yet acting in an office or place of trust for which they were required were punished by incapacity to hold any public office, to prosecute any suit, to be guardian or executor, to take any legacy or deed of gift, and to vote at any election for members of Parliament, and the offender was also subject to a forfeiture of five hundred pounds to anyone who would sue for the same.

“Some punishments,” says Blackstone, “consist in exile or banishment, by abjuration of the realm or transportation; others in loss of liberty by perpetual or temporary imprisonment. Some extend to confiscation by forfeiture of lands or movables, or both, or of the profits of lands for life; others induce a disability of holding offices or employments, being heirs, executors, and the like.”

In France, deprivation or suspension of civil rights, or of some of them, and among these of the right of voting, of eligibility to office, of taking part in family councils, of being guardian or trustee, of bearing arms, and of teaching or being employed in a school or seminary of learning, are punishments prescribed by her code.

The theory upon which our political institutions rest is, that all men have certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and that, in the pursuit of happiness, all avocations, all honors, all positions are alike open to everyone, and that in the protection of these rights all are equal before the law. Any deprivation or suspension of any of these rights for past conduct is punishment, and can be in no other wise defined.

Punishment not being, therefore, restricted, as contended by counsel, to the deprivation of life, liberty, or property, but also embracing deprivation or suspension of political or civil rights, and the disabilities prescribed by the provisions of the Missouri Constitution being in effect punishment, we proceed to consider whether there is any inhibition in the Constitution of the United States against their enforcement.

The counsel for Missouri closed his argument in this case by presenting a striking picture of the struggle for ascendency in that State during the recent Rebellion between the friends and the enemies of the Union, and of the fierce passions which that struggle aroused. It was in the midst of the struggle that the present constitution was framed, although it was not adopted by the people until the war had closed. It would have been strange, therefore, had it not exhibited in its provisions some traces of the excitement amidst which the convention held its deliberations.

It was against the excited action of the States, under such influences as these, that the framers of the Federal Constitution intended to guard. In Fletcher v. Peck, Mr. Chief Justice Marshall, speaking of such action, uses this language:

“Whatever respect might have been felt for the State sovereignties, it is not to be disguised that the framers of the Constitution viewed with some apprehension the violent acts which might grow out of the feelings of the moment, and that the people of the United States, in adopting that instrument, have manifested a determination to shield themselves and their property from the effects of those sudden and strong passions to which men are exposed. The restrictions on the legislative power of the States are obviously founded in this sentiment, and the Constitution of the United States contains what may be deemed a bill of rights for the people of each State. “

“No State shall pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts.”

A bill of attainder is a legislative act which inflicts punishment without a judicial trial.

If the punishment be less than death, the act is termed a bill of pains and penalties. Within the meaning of the Constitution, bills of attainder include bills of pains and penalties. In these cases, the legislative body, in addition to its legitimate functions, exercises the powers and office of judge; it assumes, in the language of the textbooks, judicial magistracy; it pronounces upon the guilt of the party without any of the forms or safeguards of trial; it determines the sufficiency of the proofs produced, whether conformable to the rules of evidence or otherwise; and it fixes the degree of punishment in accordance with its own nations of the enormity of the offence.

“Bills of this sort,” says Mr. Justice Story,

“have been most usually passed in England in times of rebellion, or gross subserviency to the Crown, or of violent political excitements undefined periods in which all nations are most liable (as well the free as the enslaved) to forget their duties and to trample upon the rights and liberties of others.”

These bills are generally directed against individuals by name, but they may be directed against a whole class. The bill against the Earl of Kildare and others, passed in the reign of Henry VIII, enacted that “all such persons which be or heretofore have been comforters, abettors, partakers, confederates, or adherents unto the said” late earl, and certain other parties, who were named, “in his or their false and traitorous acts and purposes, shall in likewise stand, and be attainted, adjudged, and convicted of high treason,” and that, “the same attainder, judgment, and conviction against the said comforters, abettors, partakers, confederates, and adherents, shall be as strong and effectual in the law against them, and every of them, as though they and every of them had been specially, singularly, and particularly named by their proper names and surnames in the said act.”

These bills may inflict punishment absolutely or may inflict it conditionally.

The bill against the Earl of Clarendon, passed in the reign of Charles the Second, enacted that the earl should suffer perpetual exile, and be forever banished from the realm; and that, if he returned, or was found in England, or in any other of the King’s dominions, after the first of February, 1667, he should suffer the pains and penalties of treason, with the proviso, however, that if be surrendered himself before the said first day of February for trial, the penalties and disabilities declared should be void and of no effect.

“A British act of Parliament,” to cite the language of the Supreme Court of Kentucky,

“might declare, that if certain individuals, or a class of individuals, failed to do a given act by a named day, they should be deemed to be, and treated as convicted felons or traitors. Such an act comes precisely within the definition of a bill of attainder, and the English courts would enforce it without indictment or trial by jury.”

If the clauses of the second article of the Constitution of Missouri to which we have referred had in terms declared that Mr. Cummings was guilty, or should be held guilty, of having been in armed hostility to the United States, or of having entered that State to avoid being enrolled or drafted into the military service of the United States, and, therefore, should be deprived of the right to preach as a priest of the Catholic Church, or to teach in any institution of learning, there could be no question that the clauses would constitute a bill of attainder within the meaning of the Federal Constitution. If these clauses, instead of mentioning his name, had declared that all priests and clergymen within the State of Missouri were guilty of these acts, or should be held guilty of them, and hence be subjected to the like deprivation, the clauses would be equally open to objection. And further, if these clauses had declared that all such priests and clergymen should be so held guilty, and be thus deprived, provided they did not, by a day designated, do certain specified acts, they would be no less within the inhibition of the Federal Constitution.

In all these cases, there would be the legislative enactment creating the deprivation without any of the ordinary forms and guards provided for the security of the citizen in the administration of justice by the established tribunals.

The results which would follow from clauses of the character mentioned do follow from the clauses actually adopted. The difference between the last case supposed and the case actually presented is one of form only, and not of substance. The existing clauses presume the guilt of the priests and clergymen, and adjudge the deprivation of their right to preach or teach unless the presumption be first removed by their expurgatory oath undefined in other words, they assume the guilt and adjudge the punishment conditionally. The clauses supposed differ only in that they declare the guilt instead of assuming it. The deprivation is effected with equal certainty in the one case as it would be in the other, but not with equal directness. The purpose of the lawmaker in the case supposed would be openly avowed; in the case existing, it is only disguised. The legal result must be the same, for what cannot be done directly cannot be done indirectly. The Constitution deals with substance, not shadows. Its inhibition was leveled at the thing, not the name. It intended that the rights of the citizen should be secure against deprivation for past conduct by legislative enactment, under any form, however disguised. If the inhibition can be evaded by the form of the enactment, its insertion in the fundamental law was a vain and futile proceeding.”

Given that the legislatures are slowly eroding our individual freedoms that were promised to us by the Constitution and Bill of Rights. If people don’t start standing up for each others rights, including the rights of what many of you may consider a disfavored group, you must realize that there will be no one to save you when the ax swings the other way and you find yourself the target of the same sort of laws that a paranoid and power hungry government have used to silence & strip unpopular groups of their Constitutional rights.

Link To Article:

W.A.R.- Our Year at a Glance

The directors of W.A.R. would like to recap the organization’s accomplishment in 2013 and share some 2014 projects with you.

2013 Year at a Glance

As you know, due to your memberships and donations we were able to attend three BIG national events. We shared the plight of our registrant families, offering credible study materials and forged relationships after their initial shock of seeing an organization advocating for registrants and families which was fun to be a part of.  In February we attended and had an exhibit at the Prisoner’s Family Conference in Houston. Then in August we had distinct pleasure of being part of the exhibit floor of the Legislative Summit at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia where we talked to many legislators as they browsed our display. One Pennsylvania legislator wanted a picture of Vicki at the booth with our W.A.R. banner so she could blog about it and then hugged Vicki before leaving the exhibit.  It was there that we were told we were brave for doing this. Then in September the National Association of Defense Attorneys Seminar in Savannah, Georgia was specifically for topics relating to sexual crimes. Our friend and advocate Attorney Norm Pattis was a presenter and we were invited to be part of a task force where we will be afforded the opportunity to talk about the challenges of our families.  

In addition to the above W.A.R. was represented at:

1.      The Child Abuse Prevention March in St. Louis where Vicki participated with others to promote awareness of child physical and sexual abuse as part of a month long nationwide initiative.

2.      Kim DuBina attended the Indiana Department of Justice regional conference to represent W.A.R. with DOC officials and Governors who attended from other states.

3.      The New York ATSA Conference in New York City

4.      RSOL National Conference in California

We have also accomplished many tasks this year:

1.      Establishing a Registrants and Families Hotline, equipped with trained volunteers to answer phones on a daily basis. Additionally creating a database of all calls and emails of contacts made through the hotline which can be used for future grant and donations to W.A.R..

2.      Contributed to a national lawsuit to stop online exploitation of those listed on the registry

3.      W.A.R.’s name and contact information has been listed with the National United Way 211 assistance hotline.

4.      A National Database of all newspaper and television contacts for each state.

5.      A Mass Mailer to Public Defenders offices throughout the United States with W.A.R. information and contacts

6.      Made contacts with two major media personalities to start projects for television attention to our cause

7.      Began collaborating with a National organization to further develop a solid and attainable society geared toward “prevention” rather than mass incarcerations after children have been harmed.

8.      Started work on a National Database for housing and employment within each state to be used in conjunction with the assistance requested by folks contacting the hotline.

9.      The necessary steps are under way to become a 501c4 not for profit organization!

We can’t thank you enough for the support and help each one of you have given and in many cases W.A.R.. Without you, we could not have been involved and accomplished all that we have this past year!

Women Against Registry Goals for 2014

As our movement grows we have set our goals even higher for next year!

1.      Attend the three conferences listed above, as we believe our presence is needed to get our voices heard.

2.      Continue providing the hotline service to those in need and working to engage them in advocacy for their family and others.

3.      Complete the process of obtaining our 501c4 status

4.      Work with the state POC’s to educate and encourage their members in helping to bring about awareness to the collateral damage experienced on a daily basis by communicating with legislators, church leadership, media and the community.

5.      Continue our affiliation with the National organization to work on “prevention” and to provide solutions to legislators to reduce registry laws and restrictions.

6.      Continue our outreach to state and local shelters and ministry leaders to obtain housing and employment to be given out to support line callers and shared on our website.

What you can give………

1.      Your time and attention

2.      Your monetary donations

3.      Reach out to others who are facing similar hardships with these laws and restrictions

4.      Consider becoming the possibility of your becoming a state point of contact (POC) for W.A.R.

5.      Assist in projects as needed

6.      Attend local events with legislators, city councils, town hall meetings, school organizations to represent W.A.R.

7.      Pass out our brochures to churches, schools, football games or other social venues

If you can, please consider a financial contribution to help with current and future endeavors which will benefit all of us. As we stated before, we could NOT have done this without every penny that was donated and for which we will gladly be held accountable to all paying members and donors! It’s time we all stand up and do all we can to stop the destruction of our families!

We look forward to working along-side  all of you in 2014!

Happy Holidays!

Vicki, Kim, Georgina and Dolley

Vermont: Bills aim to stop wrongful arrests, convictions

Lawmakers in Vermont are working to implement policy reforms they say will help stop wrongful arrests and convictions within the state.

Sen. Dick Sears (D-Bennington) is co-sponsoring two bills in the 2013-2014 Legislative Session, S.184 and S.297, which seek to standardize statewide practices of dealing with alleged offenders.

If passed, the first would require all law enforcement agencies to adopt a model eyewitness identification policy on how to administer live or photo-lineups; the second would require the recording of interrogations in homicide and sexual assault cases.

"Taping interviews -- that's pretty much supported by most people in law enforcement, including the states' attorneys and the federal attorneys," said Sears. "They feel like anything they have that makes it easier and better to hear testimony, helps. The major hold-up on that one is the idea of how do you pay for it for the smaller departments."

While many of the larger departments already have equipment in place to record interviews, Sears said the bill is written in a way that would specifically provide ways of looking at how to help the underfunded law enforcement agencies in the state.

"Obviously it's to everyone's benefit to [record interviews] on all [crimes], but given the cost and given the difficulty sometimes, we thought we'd at least start with some of the more serious crimes," said Sears, of the decision to promote the recording of interrogations in violent crime cases only.

"What these reforms would really accomplish, especially from the eyewitness front, is ensuring that all law enforcement agencies are operating on the same page and carrying out procedures consistently," said Rebecca Brown, nationwide director of state policy reform for The Innocence Project.

"We're very hopeful that there will be uniformity across the state," said Brown, of New York, who works on the state level in collaboration with lawmakers around the country on behalf of the nonprofit, which seeks to exonerate those wrongfully convicted and sentenced for crimes they did not commit through DNA testing.

Law enforcement officials at the local level are already receiving training to eliminate human error from taking place as much as possible when dealing with both victims of crimes and potential suspects.

They learn communication tools necessary to interact with witnesses of crimes without asking leading questions, as well as how to properly handle cases of eyewitness identification and misidentification.

"The feedback we've gotten from some of the officers is very positive -- they see it as having value in terms of how well they do their job," said Rick Gauthier, executive director of the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council, and who largely supports the proposed legislation.


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Many Failed Efforts to Count Nation's Federal Criminal Laws

WASHINGTON For decades, the task of counting the total number of federal criminal laws has bedeviled lawyers, academics and government officials.

"You will have died and resurrected three times," and still be trying to figure out the answer, said Ronald Gainer, a retired Justice Department official.


In 1982, while at the Justice Department, Mr. Gainer oversaw what still stands as the most comprehensive attempt to tote up a number. The effort came as part of a long and ultimately failed campaign to persuade Congress to revise the criminal code, which by the 1980s was scattered among 50 titles and 23,000 pages of federal law.

Justice Department lawyers undertook "the laborious counting" of the scattered statutes "for the express purpose of exposing the idiocy" of the system, said Mr. Gainer, now 76 years old.

It can often be very difficult to make a call whether or not something counts as a single crime or many. That task fell to one lawyer, Mr. Gainer says, who read the statutes and ultimately used her judgment to decide: If a particular act fell under multiple crime categories undefined such as forms of fraud that could also be counted as theft undefined she had to determine whether it could be prosecuted under each. If an offense could be counted in either of two sections, she counted them separately, Mr. Gainer said.

The project stretched two years. In the end, it produced only an educated estimate: about 3,000 criminal offenses. Since then, no one has tried anything nearly as extensive.

The Drug Abuse Prevention and Control section of the code undefined Title 21 undefined provides a window into the difficulties of counting. More than 130 pages in length, it essentially pivots around two basic crimes, trafficking and possession. But it also delves into the specifics of hundreds of drugs and chemicals.

Scholars debate whether the section comprises two offenses or hundreds. Reading it requires toggling between the historical footnotes, judicial opinions and other sections in the same title. It has also been amended 17 times.

In 1998, the American Bar Association performed a computer search of the federal codes looking for the words "fine" and "imprison," as well as variations. The ABA study concluded the number of crimes was by then likely much higher than 3,000, but didn't give a specific estimate.

"We concluded that the hunt to say, 'Here is an exact number of federal crimes,' is likely to prove futile and inaccurate," says James Strazzella, who drafted the ABA report. The ABA felt "it was enough to picture the vast increase in federal crimes and identify certain important areas of overlap with state crimes," he said.

None of these studies broached the separate undefined and equally complex undefined question of crimes that stem from federal regulations, such as, for example, the rules written by a federal agency to enforce a given act of Congress. These rules can carry the force of federal criminal law. Estimates of the number of regulations range from 10,000 to 300,000. None of the legal groups who have studied the code have a firm number.

"There is no one in the United States over the age of 18 who cannot be indicted for some federal crime," said John Baker, a retired Louisiana State University law professor who has also tried counting the number of new federal crimes created in recent years. "That is not an exaggeration."

Write to Gary Fields at and John R. Emshwiller at

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Pa. Supreme Court throws out parts of Megan's Law

By MARK SCOLFORO Associated Press
Posted:   12/16/2013 05:29:58 PM EST
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out portions of the state's sex-offender registration law on Monday, telling lawmakers they violated the constitution's requirement that bills that become law must be confined to a single subject.

The justices ruled that a set of changes made to Megan's Law in 2004 was not constitutional, noting that the legislation also included such measures as a two-year statute of limitations on asbestos actions, the jurisdictional parameters of park police, and revisions to real estate law.

The court then put its decision on hold for three months to allow the Legislature to find a remedy.

"We will stay our decision, as we have done under similar circumstances, in order to provide a reasonable amount of time for the General Assembly to consider appropriate remedial remedies, and to allow for a smooth transition period," wrote Justice Debra Todd for the five-justice majority.

As revised in 2004, Megan's law created a searchable online database of offenders, set new punishments for offenders who did not register, and added luring and institutional sexual assault to the list of offenses that require 10-year registration.

It also set notification rules for out-of-state offenders who move to Pennsylvania, altered duties of the Sexual Offenders Assessment Board, and established community notification about sexually violent offenders.

Todd said the single-subject rule, which dates to 1864 and has recently been a factor in several high-profile cases, gives people confidence they can weigh in before a bill is passed, and helps lawmakers know what they are voting on ahead of time.

"When an act of the Legislature violates the single-subject rule, all of its provisions are equally repugnant to the constitution, and, thus, equally void," Todd said.

Chief Justice Ronald Castille filed a lone dissent, saying it was a close question but that he would have upheld the law.

"Any law passing through the enactment process is the result of salutary legislative compromise and the single-subject rule is not intended to completely discourage such compromise," Castille wrote.

Continue reading:

Sex-Offender Porn Ban Passes First Legislative Hurdle

Lakeland Republican Senator Kelli Stargel petitioned her colleagues in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee to broaden an existing ban on pornography. The law already prohibits sex-offenders from viewing or possessing pornography related to their conviction. Florida Action Committee President Gail Colletta agreed reforms to sex offender statutes are needed but questioned the senator’s approach.

“Why is that if we’re trying to change the behaviors and we want these individuals to act more mainstream and more normal and have more normal sexual interests, are we going to prohibit them from having access to materials that are considered mainstream and normal?” Colletta said in a phone interview Monday.

Colletta became involved with sex offender issues after her son was convicted on child pornography charges in 2010. She said lawmakers should be focused on treatment, not penalties. But, Florida State University Political Scientist Lance Dehaven-Smith pointed out that even if Stargel’s method isn’t proven to be effective, it’s popular nonetheless.

“I mean I think there’s a clearly constitutional issue at stake and this may be overreaching. But, by the same token, unless somebody comes forward to defend a very unpopular category of individuals it’s likely to move forward,” Dehaven-Smith explained.

And move forward it did, passing the Senate Criminal Justice Committee unanimously. The bill’s next review will be in the Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee. Stargel filed the ban shortly after a recently released sex offender murdered an 8-year old girl in Jacksonville.


Ruling may have vast effect on sex-offender registry, attorney says

Appeals court decision involving an Orange County case could impact thousands seeking to have their names removed from the ‘Megan’s Law’ list.




SANTA ANA – A court ruling involving an Orange County case could result in hearings for thousands of California sex offenders seeking to have their names removed from the “Megan’s Law” registry, says an attorney who represents a sex offender.

California’s 4th District Court of Appeal found unconstitutional a state law that allows some sex offenders to have hearings for certificates of rehabilitation while denying that right to others.


Link to the Article:

New Study Sheds Light On Prevalence Of Child Pornography

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – You may think of child pornography as something that could never hit close to home, or some uncommon perversion. Now a new study is shedding light on the prevalence of child pornography in the United States.

The findings are unsettling.

The study focused on just one file-sharing program, Gnutella, over the course of one year. They found that just under 250,000 computers in the US were sharing and receiving images of child pornography.

“What it tells me is there are people you would not suspect involved in this,” said Chris Newlin, Executive Director of the National Children’s Advocacy Center.

For more perspective, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has collected more than 60 million images of child pornography from the internet. They have identified less than one percent of the victims.

Newlin points to a lack of resources available to national and local law enforcement agencies to address, and track down people disseminating images depicting sexual abuse of children.

He stresses the need is great and urgent. For every person who would claim to just ‘look’ at the images, Newlin suggests a much graver reality.

“If someone has this stuff on their computer, there’s a very high likelihood they have abused children. Not just a child. Children.”

This is why Newlin urges people who know someone who is looking at images of child pornography to turn them in.


'Apostrophe laws' named for kid victims on the wane

When Amanda Moore concluded that her daughter's killer was a drug addict wrongly paroled and wrongly allowed to remain free, she did like many parents before her: she proposed legislation to spare others the same fate. She named it for her child: Amelia's Law.

For the past two decades, parents who've lost children in horrible ways have tried to memorialize them in law, and Americans usually have honored their wishes.

Dozens of state and federal statutes are named for children who died too soon: Megan's Law and Jessica's Law, the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. There's Kendra's Law, Leandra's Law and Lauren's Law, three Jacob's Laws and at least three Laura's Laws.

But, as Amanda Moore has discovered, support for many of these child victim memorials, or "apostrophe laws," is waning.

Few such bills now before lawmakers promise to have anything like the impact of a Megan's Law, which gives the public access to information about sex offenders.And some probably won't become law at all:

In Tennessee, a tight state budget has blocked Amelia's Law, which would make parole tougher for serious offenders, and Dustin's Law, which would honor a son killed in a collision with an intoxicated driver by imposing stiffer DUI penalties.

In South Carolina, Emma's Law and Jaidon's Law both are stalled. The first, which would require ignition locks for some first-time DUI offenders, faces objections that it's too harsh; the second, to weaken child custody rights of drug-addicted parents, runs against a state policy favoring family reunification.

In Indiana, Sheena's Law — named for a daughter killed by a neighbor in an apartment complex and designed to allow renters who've been crime victims to break their leases — has been thwarted by landlords who say it could be abused by tenants to get out of leases.

For grieving parents seeking to redeem their loss, such rejection is agonizing. "I just wanted to do something positive," says Deborah Kiska, who backed Sheena's Law. "People needed to know that my daughter stood on this earth."


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The Wrongfully Convicted Sex Offender

The Wrongfully Convicted Sex Offender

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(Editorial Note:  In no way do I want to minimize the issue of violence against women or children.  Rape is clearly a crime of violence, and must be dealt with appropriately.  Pedophile predation is abhorrant, and must also be dealt with sternly and appropriately.  But I think the issue has become – what actually is appropriate for dealing with the range of sex offenses, and in some cases, have we gone too far; and what does this mean for the wrongfully convicted?  It begs the age old question – does the punishment fit the crime?)

Woe be to the wrongfully convicted sex offender, because you’re not just a wrongfully convicted ‘felon.’  You’re a wrongfully convicted ‘sex offender,’ and the state makes sure you get some extra special attention.  Note that I’m careful to use the qualifier “wrongfully convicted” here, because in the case of sex offenders, when the justice system “gets it wrong,” the injustice gets amplified.  I’m not saying we should let actually guilty sex offenders off the hook, but the punitive measures have become so severe, that when someone is wrongfully convicted of a sex offense, the consequences they are forced to endure magnify the injustice.

To understand why a wrongful conviction in a sex offender case is such a travesty, you need to know a little about the sex offender laws and the mandatory, so-called “rehabilitation” methods.  (This will be a little bit lengthy.)

Over the last few decades, states have been steadily rewriting their sex offense laws to become more and more draconian.  I judge that this has been caused by something akin the to wave of hysteria that swept the US in the 80′s over preschool child sex abuse.  The primary driver for this was the McMartin preschool case in which accusations were made in 1983.  All charges were dropped in 1990, after the lives of all defendants involved were completely ruined.  Because sex crimes, particularly those involving children, scrape a particularly sensitive region in the human psyche, it makes a great issue for politicians to campaign on.  My opinion is that much of today’s sex offender legislation has had little, if any, basis in research, and is an all-too-typical legislative knee jerk to high profile cases that have created something of a bully pulpit for affected victims and families.  You can’t blame the victims and families.  Your heart has to go out to the them.  They have suffered unspeakable tragedy.  They want “justice,” but in the case of a wrongful conviction, that justice is visited upon the wrong person.  Sadly, the legislative responses have proven to be the classically inefficient and expediency-driven political solutions that treat the symptom and not the disease.  The key here is lack of research and the absence of statistically valid data.  A classic example of this is “Megan’s Law,” which established the original sex offender registry.  This law was enacted by the New Jersey General Assembly in 1994 in response to the rape and murder of seven year old Megan Kanka.  Since then, the law has been enacted in some form by every state, and has also resulted in a federal FBI sex offender registry.  However, a 2008 federally funded study conducted in New Jersey, where Megan’s Law was first enacted, found that it failed to reduce sex crimes or repeat offenders.  Read that story here.  If you’re interested in plodding through a 50 state survey of sex offender legislation, you can read the one done by the National Institute of Corrections and the Washington College of Law here.

Sentencing is just one area in which the sex offender laws have become more harsh.  Here’s one recent example – the case of former NY Yankees outfielder, Chad Curtis, who has just been convicted of “inappropriately touching” three teenage girls in Michigan at a high school where he served as a volunteer weight room coach.  He’s facing 15 years in prison.  I do not know the details of the reported “inappropriate touching,” … but 15 years?  For touching?  Does that punishment fit that crime?  Let me emphasize again that I do not want to be dismissive of the issues involving sexual aggressors and violence against women,  but it just seems to this old brain that an act that a generation or so ago would have effectively been dealt with by some other means can now turn you into a convicted (and registered) sex offender.  My observation has been that “zero tolerance” policies, while well meaning,  always run afoul of the complexities of reality.

There are as many different versions of the sex offender laws as there are states, but one thing that has become a common denominator is the sex offender registry.  Once released from confinement, a convicted sex offender must register with the state’s sex offender registry.  The requirements for frequency of registration and duration of the registration period are tied to sex offender classification levels, which are intended to reflect the measure of risk to the public.  The level for any individual offender is determined by the court in some states, and by an administrative board in others.  Here are examples of the sex offender classifications from New York and Ohio:

NY Sex Offender Levels

Ohio Sex Offender Levels

You may wonder, “How can someone be wrongfully convicted of a sex offense?”  It’s actually easier than you might think.  The National Registry of Exonerations has reported on it’s data for the period 1989-2012, which includes data for 305 wrongful sex offender convictions, and please keep in mind this represents only a small fraction of the wrongful convictions that actually occur.  The table below has the data for sex crimes highlighted, and it shows the contributing factors to the wrongful convictions.  Note the percentages shown for each of the categories of crime add to greater than 100%, because any wrongful conviction can have more than one contributing factor.

Wrongful Sex Convictions

The major contributing cause to wrongful convictions for sexual assault ismistaken eye witness identification.  It’s been well documented that eye witness identification is very unreliable.  But how could an assault victim mistakenly identify her attacker?  It happens frequently, and if you don’t believe it, I strongly recommend you read the book “Picking Cotton” by Ronald Cotton and Jennifer Thompson Canino.  The major contributing factor for child sex abuse isperjury or false accusation.  One scenario here, although clearly not the only one, would be when a vindictive ex-spouse coaches her children into making false accusations against their father.  Another way wrongful sex offender convictions can happen is when a vindictive ex-partner makes false claims about sexual assault.  This is an offense which is, among adults, almost exclusively male-on-female in nature.  Cases of female perpetrated forcible rape are rare indeed. Consequently, this is an area where it’s so often an issue of “He said.  She said.”  The wrongful conviction of Brian Banks, extensively reported on this blog, is a perfect example.

So what does happen when a sex offender is released from confinement, either through completion of sentence or parole?  Just as with sex offender laws, the requirements vary by state, but it is universally required that the sex offender undergo a mandatory “rehabilitation” program, the details of which also vary by state.  An example would be Rules for Sex Offenders in the Community from the state of Washington Department of Corrections.  There are, however, some common threads that tend to run through these programs, and typical requirements would include:

1)  You must register as a convicted sex offender.  Your name and address will appear in a searchable online database of registered sex offenders.  In most states, if the offense is anything more than minor, you can be required to register as a sex offender for 15 years, 25 years, or life.

2)  Restrictions on where you can live.  It is common for localities to pass ordinances that prohibit a convicted sex offender from living in certain areas; for example, within some specified distance from schools and parks.

3)  Your place of residence may be marked by a public sign.  Please refer to the graphic at the beginning of this article.

4)  Mandatory therapy sessions.  A key component of rehabilitation is considered to be therapy and counseling.  It’s taken as a given, that for therapy to be successful, the subject must admit guilt and express remorse.   In fact, the US Appellate Court Third Circuit, in a 2010 decision that has been classified as “precedential,” ruled that it is legitimate to require admission of guilt from sex offenders before being placed in rehabilitation programs, which is a requirement of their parole.  If a defendant fails to admit guilt, he can be denied parole, or if he is in “rehabilitation,” he can be sent back to confinement.

5)  Polygraph evaluation.  There has been much written on this blog about the questionability of the polygraph.  Mary D. Devoy is an activist in Virginia who has been pressing for data driven reform to the Virginia sex offender registry.  She maintains a blog titled, It’s Time to Reduce, Reconstruct, Reclassify, Rethink and Reform the Virginia Sex Offender Registry.  She also has much to say about the use of the polygraph in sex offender rehabilitation.  After reading the article on this blog The ‘Catch 22′ of Parole for the Wrongfully Convicted, she sent me a “letter,” which she has consented that I share.  Please read it here:  Devoy Letter.

6)  Plethysmograph evaluation.  What’s that?  The plethysmograph is a cousin to the polygraph.  A mercury filled rubber ring or metal band with a strain gauge (or sometimes an air filled cuff) is placed around the shaft of the subject’s penis, and measures “penile tumescence.”


The subject is then exposed to photographs, audio, and video of sexually charged situations, and his erectile response is measured.  This is supposed to be a gauge of how well he can control his urges.  The state of Colorado was an early adopter of this practice (Colorado Sex Offender Manual).  However, there is no statistically valid data that shows correlation with any ability of this practice to predict future behavior, with the possible exception of the use of images of children with pedophiles, which has a marginal (32%) accuracy as determined by studies.  The most definitive statement I have found concerning this practice comes from Robert M. Stein, Ph.D. from the Center for Neurobehavioral Health, Ltd., Lancaster, PA, who, from 1982-1988, was the Director of the Psychophysiological lab at the Sexual Behavior Clinic in New York City.  He personally (not through a technician) assessed and treated over 700 adolescent and adult sex offenders. His comments (abbreviated):

.          a.  Plethysmograph data is totally useless for determining guilt or innocence regarding deviant sexual acts. It would be like using a personality test to convict someone of burglary.

.          b.  Plethysmographic data have no diagnostic value of any kind.

.          c.  About one-third of offenders show no arousal in the lab.

7)  You may be required to wear a GPS tracking ankle bracelet, as was the case with Brian Banks.


A rape victim has mistakenly identified you as her attacker.  She testifies in court, and points you out to the jury.  You are wrongfully convicted of sexual assault.  After serving many years in prison, you’ll do anything to get out, and are willing to admit guilt and express remorse – even though you didn’t do it, and after several attempts, you are granted parole.  Upon release, you have to register as a sex offender, and continue doing so for the rest of your life.  You have to enter a rehabilitation program run by the department of corrections.  Local ordinances force you to live in a rural area.  The only job you can get is flipping burgers.  You have to wear a GPS tracking ankle bracelet.  The Sheriff puts a sign outside your residence stating that you are a convicted sex offender, and this is where you live.  You have to attend therapy sessions in which youhave to talk about the rape (you didn’t do).  You are periodically subjected to arbitrary polygraph examinations.  You are periodically subjected to degrading plethysmograph evaluations.  And  ….  you didn’t do it.



By Norm Pattis (blog 4/20/10)

I'm a battle-hardened criminal defense lawyer, so it always surprises me how weak in the knees I get when a policeman pulls me over. The urge to confess runs rampant, even if I haven't done anything. I assume the authorities must have a reason for wanting to talk to me. What have I done?

Police prey upon our tendency to trust them. Yet confusing the sort of soul-cleansing confession one might give to a priest with the Earth-bound variety police officers ask for is playing with Hell fire. Many a man and woman sits now in a prison cell, convicted by their own words.

I pass along some general observations about cooperating with the police in the hope that it may spare you the sorrow that comes of an improvident confession to a lawman. Mind you, nothing I am writing here is meant to encourage folks to commit a crime. I am simply reminding you that however much confession may benefit the soul in some spiritual sense, the corporeal consequences of a confession could well land you in prison. And prison is not good for the soul.

So here are some common myths and misconceptions about what you must do when the police come calling.

1. The police can order me down to the station to give a statement, correct?

Wrong. The police cannot order you to come down and see them. The Fourth Amendment gives them the power to arrest if they develop probable cause to believe you have committed a crime, and they might have the authority to engage you in a brief investigatory detention. But no case stands for the proposition that you are required to come to the station for a chat. Period.

But fear undermines many folk's sense of self-interest. So does a misplaced sense of hope.

An officer may call and say he needs you to come to the station to tell your side of the story. (He may not tell you just what story that is. My favorite investigative technique? Officers show up at your door and ask: "Why do you think we want to talk to you?") The officer may say that if you don't come to the station he will seek an arrest warrant for you.

News flash: The officer is almost certainly going to seek the warrant anyhow once things have gotten to that point. What he is looking for here is a confession, to bolster the warrant and make a conviction all but a foregone conclusion.

The law does not require police officers to get your side of the story before arresting you. In rare cases only does discussing your case with the police benefit you. The only way to make an intelligent assessment of whether you should cooperate is by consulting a lawyer before you talk to the police. There are no exceptions to this rule. Don't accept the invitation for coffee and donuts at the station.

2. When the police show up at my house, I have to talk to them right?

Wrong again. The normal conventions of polite society do not apply here. The police have not come to your home to trade notes on how your respective fantasy sports teams are doing. They are investigating a crime, and you may well be a suspect. It takes perishingly little to convict of certain crimes. Minor details you give them may be used as a means of corroborating a far-fetched story told about you by others.

This is common in child sex-abuse cases. Suppose your niece or nephew now claims you abused them a decade ago. You are rattled. Shocked. The police want to ask you about the relationship. Where you saw the child. What sorts of things you did together. Why you think the child is saying these things. All of these investigative leads can be turned against you to corroborate the fact that you did, indeed, have contact with the child at certain family events. Your assessment of the child's motives will be transformed into claims that you were deceptive. 
Evidence that might truly assist you, e.g., the fact that the child has made similar false or exaggerated claims, background on family conflicts that provide the child with powerful motives to lie to assure that mommy and daddy remain together, united in crisis, and other such information can be provided to the police by your lawyer.

3. If the police don't read me my rights, they can't use anything I say, right?

Wrong, unless you are in custody. The so-called Miranda warnings have become part of American folklore. Unfortunately, many people get it wrong, thanks in no small measure to television. Police are only required to advise you of your right to remain silent if you are in custody. If you appear at the station voluntarily and they tell you that you are free to leave, you almost certainly are not in custody. In these cases, courts will regard your statement as voluntary, and, Mirandized or not, you will eat your own words at trial.

If you are unsure whether you are in custody or not, and believe me, figuring that out is no easy task, simply refuse to speak to the police. Once again, don't resort to normal, polite conversational gambits. "Maybe I should talk to a lawyer" is not clear enough to satisfy a court that you were serious about wanting a lawyer present. State the following: "I DO NOT WANT TO SPEAK TO YOU WITHOUT A LAWYER PRESENT." Print it out on a three-by-five card. If you really want to short the officer's circuits, ask him to sign the card, signifying that he gets it. (He won't sign.)

This may sound cynical, but it is a conclusion I've reached after many years of head-banging: the courts are increasingly reluctant to meaningfully enforce the rights of the accused. Ask any criminal lawyer about the serious crime exception to the Bill of Rights. Don't become a victim. Call a lawyer.

Police officers are trained in the art of deception. They know how to prey on fear and uncertainty. Whether you have committed a crime or not, odds are you will be putty in their hands. There are ways to get the information important to your defense into the hands of the police, but you are not equipped to do it without a lawyer. 
I have said this to folks hundreds of times. Sadly, each week I get another call from someone who has given away some significant portion of their future by talking about things they would have been better served keeping to themselves.

I Have A Dream

By Janice Bellucci

Sorry for the all caps, but this is how it was typed and we do not have time to go through and fix everything.













































Vicki and Larry at National Conference of State Legislatures

I was waiting for Larry to return to our booth at the close of the summit as I had packed up everything. The gentleman who was in the booth to our left and who I personally had not talked with said bye and have a nice day but there was a WOW in his voice and demeanor which to me indicated the three of us had done what he would have found challenging! I noticed him standing near-by several times when we were talking to legislators and could tell he was listening. 


Feel like committing a Hate Crime?

Feel like committing a Hate Crime? It’s open season. According to easily accessible White Supremacist web sites, all that is necessary is to pick a name from the National Sex Offender Registry and have at it. There are approximately 750,000 names on the National Sex Offender Registry and pick is apparently just what Jeremy Moody did when he killed the family of Charles Parker.

According to the New York Times article,(www.nytimesDouble Murder Seen as Part of a Man’s Quest to Kill Sex Offenders, dated 7/30/2013, Mr. Moody told Charley Parker just before he pulled the trigger, “I’m not here to rob you. I‘m here to kill you because you are a sex offender.” Fair enough, you say? Maybe you would not personally kill. But what if you, too, are infected with the same virus, the same prejudice that makes hate crimes like the murder of Charley Parker and his family increasingly familiar? 

One report, /2010/12/killed-by-laws-former-sex-ffenders.html, examines the deaths of registered sex offenders and those related to them. It also reports of people directly or substantially made vulnerable to hate crimes. As of July 1, 2012, a total of 38 deaths occurred directly or substantially due to laws passed against adjudicated sex offenders. Deaths occurred in California (12); Michigan (6); Washington (4); Maine (3); Wisconsin(3) and Florida (2). In New York the report notes (2); in Georgia (1); Delaware (1); Missouri (1); Ohio (1) and Texas (2). As of July 1, 2012, when the death count was last updated, North Carolina had only one (1) hate crime substantially related to sex offender laws but with the July 2013 death of Charles Parker and his wife in Jonesville, S.C., add another two deaths to the Carolina hate crimes total. Perhaps you remember more hate crimes recently committed in your state. 

As the July 30, 2013, New York Times article by reporter James Swift points out, “Mr. Moody is not the first person accused of targeting sex offenders. As recently as last month (6/2013), a California jury convicted a 36-year-old man of killing a neighbor who was a sex offender, and a Washington State man was sentenced to life in prison for a pair of similar killings.” 

So why shouldn’t all these adjudicated sex offenders and their families be declared fair game? Are all registrants to be despised equally? No, because once a person has been adjudicated, paid their price to society and living a law-abiding life they should be allowed to re-integrate into society. On the other hand, there are some who should be viewable to law enforcement only and that would be after a process including assessment and a judge. We are a nation of laws, not lynch mobs. As citizens we believe in the Constitution and their crimes were judged as NOT worthy of death by hanging or lethal injection. 

The home addresses of family members merely associated with any registrant, male or female, assigned to the public national registry are put on the internet for all to see and harass. Did the Parker family deserve to be murdered merely because they happened to be on a “hit list” for members of a group known to seek-out people at which to spew their venom? Although the commission of these type crimes is not officially classified as a “hate” crime it should be even though it would not win a legislator any new election votes to say so. Vigilante justice may be popular on the internet but remember it could be directed at you someday by someone who places themselves above the law.

As citizens we are not innocent bystanders. Our taxes allow all these names and address to be made available to anyone trolling for victims. Access to the Sex Offender Registry should be limited to Law Enforcement. 

Let’s not support and thereby encourage these crimes.

New Documentary 'Untouchable' Is Tribeca Film Fest Standout

Why would a law mandate that ex-convicts be homeless and virtually unemployable? And what sort of government imposes such rules?

That’s the question of David Feige’s startling new documentary “Untouchable,” a Tribeca Film Festival award winner.

I must note here that I am not completely objective about this film. I have known Feige for many years and was briefly a collaborator with him on a TV pilot project. At the same time I watched the movie with certain prejudices and experiences which made me instinctively hostile and resistant to its message.

Feige’s subject is America’s present set of policies with respect to convicted sex offenders. But, while the film is broadly arguing for a wholesale reassessment of these mechanisms of control, the director has great sympathy for the families of those victimized by sex offenders and for their desire for retribution.

In fact, that’s where his story starts: with powerful Florida lobbyist Ron Book and his daughter Lauren and their account of how she was molested and tortured by an immigrant housekeeper. Then Feige travels around Tampa with Judy Cornett, a working class mother whose son was kidnapped and raped by a local pedophile.

Cornett has organized a patrol that seeks to protect neighborhood kids. Feige is an avuncular personality, and he wins his subjects’ trust and his remarkable interviews offer us a deeply affecting view of their heartbreak.

Yet through the course of this many-layered and beautifully photographed film we see the impracticality and unreasonableness of many of the policies that have been adopted around the country in response to the problem.

In Florida, this has produced legislation — shepherded through the Miami City Council and the state legislature by Book — which requires registered sex offenders to live more than 2500 feet from places where children congregate. Since released offenders must return to their prior place of residence and many locales have few residential areas at such a remove from schools and playgrounds, this has forced released offenders to sell their homes and to move to homeless encampments.

Some wind up sleeping under bridges. When these are closed off to them, they end up spending their nights in cars or in tents in designated sections of parking lots. Even worse, their placement on offender registries, which are public, makes finding work nearly impossible for them.

Feige’s film further points out that the term “sex offender” is a catch-all, encompassing a wide range of people who have committed very different offenses with very different propensities for recidivism. Thus, the third story that Feige examines in his film is that of Shawna Baldwin. Thrown out of her home in adolescence by a puritanical mother, Baldwin had a one-night stand with a teen-age boy. While that might sound relatively innocuous, because Baldwin was of the age of consent at the time and her lover was not, she wound up being charged with statutory rape and is now on a lifetime federal registry as a sex offender. This has led to her being fired from jobs. It has cost her tens of thousands in fees. It makes it difficult for her to move. It prevents her from ever taking her young children to local parks and zoos.

We also gain a window into the problem of familial sex offenders through a man who touched his step-daughter’s private parts. Heinous though this may be, we see how he has been treated like Jean Valjean by Inspector Javert. Because he showed up eight minutes late to meet his parole officer one day (after first calling ahead to say that his bus was half an hour late), he was sent back to prison for an additional four years. He has been prevented from seeing his biological children, and he now lives in a tent in a Miami parking lot. He has lost a home he owned and must travel for hours each day to work at a low-paying job. We eventually learn as well that he was a victim of molestation and that he is genuinely contrite about his crime.

If there is any weakness to this remarkable and very important film that left the audience I saw it with moved and somewhat stunned, it is its reference to studies showing extremely low rates of recidivism for sex offenses. Quoting research from several states, the film indicates that the typical rate of re-offense for sex offenders is below 3%. This data is based on a three year period from release and upon rates of re-apprehension. It also includes the whole category of “sex offender,” rather than the more narrow and stereotypical category of male offenders who rape women or children they do not know.

It is to Feige’s immense credit that he includes a lengthy interview with one male pedophile with such obvious inclinations. While he is much more sad than scary, we get some sense of how deeply-rooted these impulses can be.

My suspicion of the statistics the film quotes is awakened by personal experience and some independent research. Many years ago a former roommate of mine was attacked by a convicted rapist who had only been released from prison months before. I also worked as a teacher with an active pedophile who had to be removed from the classroom, one who had been previously thrown out of another school because of his interest in young girls. Those experiences prompted me to look critically into the data “Untouchable” makes use of, research which appears to somewhat overstate its argument. Other survey research focusing on longer time periods and upon men who abduct and assault adult women show far higher rates of re-offense. Further, these men tend to be prone to violent crime and to re-arrest per se.

Nonetheless, it is clear that many of those now categorized as sex offenders are extremely unlikely to re-offend. This includes nearly all women who have been convicted of sex offenses and those charged with statutory rape who are near in age to their lovers. Further, there is little evidence that residency requirements imposed upon released offenders effectively deter offenses or that making sex offender registries public justifies the harassment and suffering that results from them.

Feige’s film seeks to provoke honest discussion and new and better thinking. It deals with the ruined lives of hundreds of thousands of people, and it does so with great power. Rightly, it has won him the Festival’s Albert Maysles Best New Documentary Director award. We can only hope that more Americans will get a chance to watch this exceptional and important film, one of the most impressive documentaries I have ever seen.

Watch Trailer: