Advocates for sex offenders will convene in Los Angeles for the 5th Annual National Reform Sex Offender Laws conference from August 29 through September 1. The focus of the conference is the reform of existing sex offender laws throughout the nation that deny the civil rights of more than 750,000 sex offenders and members of their families and the necessity for sexual offense laws that are rooted in facts and backed by evidence-based research.
Reform Sex Offense Laws, Inc., is a national civil rights organization with contacts and affiliated groups in forty states, D.C., and the Philippines. Organized officially in 2007, RSOL has had a national conference each of the past four years. This year’s conference, the fifth, is being held in Los Angeles, California, August 29-Sept. 1. Early bird activities begin on the 29th with the official opening keynote speech Friday morning, August 30.
“Justice for All: A Conference to Reform Sexual Offense Laws,” will include individual speakers and panels of experts on topics such as residency restrictions, meeting with legislators, and the retroactive application of laws to individuals convicted 50 years or more ago. There are more than 100,000 registered sex offenders in the state of California, including more than 11,000 in Los Angeles County.
“An important topic to be discussed at the conference will be a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that ruled that registration of sex offenders is not punishment, but merely an administrative requirement,” stated Janice Bellucci, President of California RSOL. “Subsequent to that decision, there is overwhelming evidence to prove that public registration is not a simple administrative requirement but indeed punishment. Registration of sex offenders has resulted in unemployment, homelessness, and even vigilante violence. This decision must be overturned.”
The conference will officially begin on Friday, August 30, with a presentation by keynote speaker Alex Landon, a prominent criminal defense attorney. Landon is co-author of the book A Parallel Universe, which analyzes sex offender issues from both legal and human perspectives. Landon is also former president of California Attorneys for Criminal Justice and is a current board member of the California Reform Sex Offender Laws (CA RSOL) organization. In his presentation, “Finding the Answers,” he will ask and answer the difficult questions that are at the heart of RSOL’s advocacy.
“This is an excellent opportunity for registrants and family members of registrants to learn about the laws and policies that affect their daily lives,” stated Brenda Jones, Executive Director of the national RSOL organization. Past national conferences have been held in Boston, Washington, D.C., St. Louis, and Albuquerque.
Additional featured speakers are:
- Catherine Carpenter, criminal defense attorney and professor of law at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles; Doctor
- Suzonne Kline, former administrator of Florida’s Sexually Violent Predator Program; and
- Doctor Clare Ann Ruth-Heffelbower, Founding Program Director of Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) at the Center for Peacemaking and Conflict Studies at Fresno Pacific University.
Carpenter’s primary focus of scholarship is on issues pertaining to sex offender registration laws and sex crimes. Her presentation is “Sexual Offense Laws and Constitutionality” and will explore the spiraling nature of sexual offense laws and the lack of constitutional foundations underpinning them.
Dr. Kline is currently in private practice specializing in forensic evaluation, risk assessment, sexual offenders, and the provision of expert testimony regarding effective sexual offender management. She will foc_us on developing effective sex offender management practices using risk-based assessment to make risk-based decisions regarding public safety in her presentation, “Public Policy and Risk-Based Assessment.”
Ruth-Heffelbower is a former minister and has been involved in restorative justice work for more than 30 years. She helped to found the COSA program in 2007 with a start-up grant from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Her presentation, “Restorative Justice and Sexual Offenders,” will give an overview of restorative justice principles with a focus on Circles of Support and Accountability.
Workshops and presentations for the three days of the conference cover the full gamut of topics centered around a fact-based advocacy.
Online registration for the conference is available here. The cost to register is $100 per person, with an early bird discount available through July 31. Additional information about the conference, including hotel accommodations and presentation overviews, can be found here and at California Reform Sex Offender Laws.