“From good to better to stupendous!” That was Lloyd Swartz, president of Reform Sex Offender Law’s New Mexico affiliate, describing the national organization’s fourth annual 3-day conference that closed Sunday at the Ramada Conference Center in Albuquerque.
RSOL’s Executive Director Brenda Jones opened the official meeting by emphasizing the RSOL Vision—“Sexual offense laws that are based on equal justice and respect for the dignity of all people; protection from – and reversal of – retroactively applied restrictions resulting from public registration; and viable, effective policies that will protect our communities”—as well as action statements and beliefs that set the tone and the focus for activities in the upcoming year.
Originally hoping that conference attendance would reach 100, conference organizers expressed pleasure and then delight when paid attendance reached 153, not including media, children, and a few unexpected local attendees who were given complimentary attendance badges.
This year’s conference objective, according to their promotional materials, was to bring together workshop leaders who would “provide for a well organized educational program with one objective: to empower citizen-driven law reform groups to better understand the complexity of current thinking on sex offender registration issues and find workable options for change,” along with “distinguished speakers who will launch a collaborative think-tank of proven ideas and best approaches to making all communities safe and abuse-free.”
“And we got exactly that,” remarked Jones. This year’s committee chairperson, Robert Combs, agreed wholeheartedly. “It would be difficult to say that anything was the biggest success,” he said. “Everything was well received. Parents were especially pleased with the day-care facilities. The local entertainment at our opening ceremony and that at the banquet were both excellent. The many and varied workshops and presentations could not have been better,” he concluded.
Jones felt that the closing presentation by New Mexico Senator Cisco McSorley was, in many ways, the highlight of the conference, and Paul Shannon, RSOL Board Chairman, agreed. “When Senator McSorley began with, ‘I am sick and tired of politicians being cowards,’ I knew we were going to hear a presentation worth listening to.” When asked by a reporter why he was an advocate for changing the current registration policy, Sen. McSorley replied, “I’m not an advocate. I’m a policy maker, and registration is a failed policy seriously in need of reform. I intend to be part of that reform.”
Plans are already underway for next year’s fifth annual conference, which will take place in Los Angeles, CA, in the late summer or early fall.