By Thomasi McDonald . . . The State Fair is on pace to draw more than a million people to the fairgrounds in Raleigh this year, but residents who are on the state’s sex offender registry risk arrest if they are among them.
A new law that went into effect Sept. 1 bans the more than 17,000 registered sex offenders at the 163-year-old event. Supporters of the law say it protects children attending the fair from harm.
“It’s a place where there’s a lot of children, a lot of children running around, without direct parental supervision, who may be at risk if predators are around,” said Sen. Buck Newton, a Johnston County Republican who sponsored the bill. “It made sense to me. I don’t remember anyone voting against it.”
But the head of a new group that advocates on behalf of the state’s registered sex offenders says the law deprives an entire class of people of their civil rights. Robin Vanderwall, who co-founded the North Carolina chapter of Reform Sex Offender Laws (NCRSOL), said the group intends to file a lawsuit in federal court before year’s end seeking to have the new law declared unconstitutional.
The bill was introduced at the urging of state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, who earlier this year said the state needs tougher laws to ban sex offenders from the fair. During the 2015 State Fair, Wake County sheriff’s deputies arrested four registered sex offenders at the fair, including someone who was initially charged with flying a drone over the event and a convicted child molester who was charged with posing as a state inspector to get into an area reserved for children’s rides.
Only one of the four was wearing an ankle bracelet that some sexual offenders are required to wear, said Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison. The bracelets are equipped with global positioning systems that enable probation and parole officials to monitor the wearer’s movements.
Harrison said his office is working with probation and post-supervision officers across the state to identify sex offenders who may try enter the fair. If a sex offender wearing an ankle bracelet gets within a certain distance of the event, someone will call the sheriff’s office, Harrison said.
“If the person is inside the fairgrounds, we will pass that individual’s picture out to our officers,” he said. “It’s a good game plan, and it’s evidently working. We haven’t had any arrests.”
State Fair spokesman Brian Long said the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services supported the bill and monitored its progress in the General Assembly, where it passed unanimously in both chambers and was signed by Gov. Pat McCrory on July 21.
“We wanted to make it clear because of the number of children who come here,” Long said. “It’s a child-oriented, family event. We wanted to keep it that way.”
But Vanderwall said it’s unfair to violate the civil rights of registered sex offenders who have served their criminal sentences and fulfilled all of their probation or post-release supervision obligations. He likened the new law to old Jim Crow laws.
“For the first time since 1891, thousands of North Carolina citizens and taxpayers are legally prohibited from attending the state fair,” Vanderwall said in a press release. “African Americans were officially ‘uninvited’ to attend in 1891 and remained ostracized from fair activities until the creation of so-called ‘Colored days’ in the early Twentieth Century.”
Vanderwall said that of the state’s more than 17,000 registered sex offenders, only 28 have been determined by the courts to be sexually violent predators. Vanderwall said the designation has to be declared by a judge who has reviewed expert testimony that shows an individual’s sexual predilections are untreatable and the person is mentally ill and likely to repeat the offense.
“I’m sure Donnie Harrison can flag 28 people to keep them out of the State Fair,” he said. “That’s easier than banning 17,000 people.”
Newton said state legislators who supported the law had “difficult decisions to make.”
“We have to respect the rights of people with a history [of sex offenses], against the legitimate work of trying to protect children against those who might commit future acts,” he said.
Source: The News & Observer
12 Thoughts to “N.C. RSOL affiliate to challenge premises statute, state fair ban”
You know they say timing is everything and I think its time for this registry to end or be cut down and reestablished in a different way. Now I have never met this Robin from the North Carolina Chapter, but she is an advocate and God Bless all those advocates that fight for those caught up in all this madness.
While a lot of us are being deceived its plain and simple that we are seem blind at times and are more intimidated in these laws than if these laws actually prevent a crime from happening. Take for example could we of prevented the world trade disaster? Could authorities prevented the kidnapping of the Lindburg baby?
Do we have to sue to get laws changed or do we have to speak up? Deception is Deception and preventing those of a group from participating in a State Fair just because the Government classifies them as the low of the lowest is a sin in itself. People, we all need to stand up. I don’t care if it’s your individual encounter or one is fighting for a group as this registry is only going to get worst. Now I don’t know if any of you all on here hold a biblical. I can’t force you on that but we still have one authority and that person is for Justice.
James, I’d be willing to bet my bank that Robin is actually a “he”.
And I’d be willing to bet my bank that rwvnral is a pseudonym for Robin Vanderwall, lol
Good to see these unconstitutional laws being challenged. For far too long these politicians have been making new laws unopposed and hence they have the audacity to make any kind of laws to “protect” children undermining the Supreme law of the land.
The whole of sex offender registry is unconstitutional. I hope the registry laws and related laws are abolished soon so people can be restored back with their families and into the society and be a good member. People make mistakes and most learn from their mistake, but when it comes to these sex offenses, the very first offense becomes life long sentence like slavery from which it is almost impossible to be restored back into the society.
Studies have shown that isolation is detrimental to ANY recovery, but when it comes to people who have been labeled as sex offenders, they have made laws that isolate these people from their families and the rest of the society, including social events like State Fair, and even participating in their own children’s school programs, and then they have the audacity to cite very old study data to justify their notion that the recidivism rate among sex offenders is very high, whereas in new studies after studies have proven that the recidivism rate for sex offenders is low compared to other offenses. But then the truth does not gain any vote while fear tactics and lies have worked like wonders for decades to keep them in office even to the point of driving their fellow citizens to be forced to live under a bridge not because they cannot afford a house, an apartment, or a motel, but because these upstanding members of a society want to sleep sound at night because a predator is caught and is not among them, and meanwhile soon after in the same society, they hear of a new news where another member of the society, a teacher or a senator perhaps, is caught with even more serious crime. These same people express their surprise and anger, and repeat their same feel good story that they tell to themselves, “we can all sleep sound tonight knowing that a predator is locked up behind bar.” One day, not too longer afterwards, the one saying this feel good line to oneself is seen in a news program, but instead of being interviewed about a neighbor being caught with a naked pic of an underage girl or something else, that same person is the subject of the news and is caught with something similar, and the person cannot believe that he is such a fool. Then the paradigm shift occurs in the person’s mindset as he cannot avoid his new reality. Whereas he was seeking blood for these “pedophiles” before, he is now seeking mercy from the society, but mercy he will not find from the society that seeks blood to these perverts that need to locked up and the key thrown away.
I quit gambling but I like the song ” Go Rock’n Robin” and more power to him. The main thing is to stand up for all those that are involved in this and make a difference to all this sex registry business.
Fair is fair and injustice is injustice. What if they had a law that no smokers could be allowed at the State Fair as it might endanger kids.
Actually in my state there is such a law regarding smokers, but smoking is not a civil right protected by the constitution.
On another note; James I am willing to bet the bank that you’ve exchanged words with this Robin a few times.
Wow it seems that the only way for justice in America is by lawsuits. Thats getting low when one has to take someone to court because politicians as a whole and not the American people don’t even know what goes on behind closed doors. If Government used some Ten Commandment values in America we wouldn’t see any of a lot of this sex offender registry.
Sure they can catch one with their pants down, entice one on internet endeavors, listen to that person say that my little girl told me that someone gropped me or touched me and their mother tells police and that becomes a police involvment. So were does it all end.
I believe in punishment, but a lifetime punishment for a sin debt that one has to pay is a bit overboard. I think there is one person that paid our sin debt for us on the cross. Is government today overshaddowing things because of their bias efforts to enslave those that have paid their punishments in prison or probation or are they punishing for a lifetime because of one mistake or error of judgement.
Who judges another man’s person and inflicts this sort of judgment or should we have Satan abound in all matters of this nature.
I think the NCRSOL is doing the right thing by steping up to the plate on this issue. Is America We the People or We the Government. I’m sure the common people don’t even know about the sufferings of those on the sex offender registry and they would enjoy the more spiciy things in life as this country is more of a filthy rag nation than a true law and justice nation. We need true justice more than devilish political justice not some five and dime justice to make America Great Again.
“It’s a place where there’s a lot of children, a lot of children running around, without direct parental supervision, who may be at risk if predators are around,” said Sen. Buck Newton…
I guess Sen. Buck Newton is among the typical American population that thinks RSO’s were born on the registry and can’t use his own common sense to realize that the RSO’s he’s so proudly keeping away from the fair had a time in their lives when they had NOT committed a criminal act. I guess he, like so many other brainwashed Americans, figures the people coming into the fair with no sexual criminal record WON’T be potential threats. Nah. Couldn’t be that. Nor would a teenager possibly try to ‘get it on’ with a young girl in some secluded spot behind a truck or trailer which is where all kids/teens try to go in fairs/carnivals to ‘get it on’. I did it when I was in high school. Lots of us did.
BUT….we weren’t on any registry so I guess our actions don’t count lol. What a sad country this is becoming.
And one more thing….. I’m not letting this one slip away….
-But Vanderwall said it’s unfair to violate the civil rights of registered sex offenders who have served their criminal sentences and fulfilled all of their probation or post-release supervision obligations-
Here we go again, leaning down to kiss the a** of the probation department. An unnecessary entity that doesn’t allow anyone to prove anything about being able to live life crime free. Nope! Just throw their commands around and intimidate the probationers.
Stop sticking up for probation. I don’t care if it’s “part of your sentence”, it’s unnecessary and just part of the money making machine. You’re put on probation to PROVE yourself (at least that’s what the original intent of probation was) so why wouldn’t a probation officer allow a SO to attend a fair? I think it’s less likely that the person on probation will do something stupid than if he/she waited until AFTER their probation.
No one actually uses common sense anymore. It’s becoming more and more uncommon.
I live in Florida so this law is not about me but I would like to throw my 2 cents in. Filing law suits is most likely not going to get anyone anywhere. Politicians and judges are more interested in getting reelected then changing S. O. Laws. It’s time people start using their heads in all these matters. What do you think would happen if 17,000 sex offenders showed up at the fair on the same day, at the same time. They can’t arrest everyone. They don’t have the room or man power to lock everyone up. They wouldn’t know what to do. And if the facts are true that only 10% of sex crimes are reported, then why is nobody making the argument that for every 10 known sex offenders that are not allowed to attend the fair, there are 90 unknown ones that could be attending that no one knows about. That’s more frightening don’t you think.
One of the enormous advantages of our federal courts is that judges do not face elections. They are appointed for life….or until such time as the take retirement status. Much of the hard work of civil rights occurs in the federal courts precisely because federal judges are generally unconcerned about the politics of the time.
Federal Judges may not face reelection, but they do have to face the media and public preasure. They can be removed from the bench if people feel they are not doing their job correctly, and no sitting Judge, wants the media and public camped on their door step wanting to know why they overturned a sex offender law.
Senator Buck Newton must be very uneducated. He probably has never even been to any of the Rehabilitation Programs that legislation has put in place that they supposedly support. They call them rehabilitation programs for a reason. They have a purpose. He and his counterparts also didn’t do their homework and find out that the recidivism rate for first time offenders to reoffend is between 3% and 6%, lower than most any other crimes across the nation, however they make Sex Offenders out to be the worst of all of them. Sex Offenders are the Cancer of all crimes, no matter how minor the sex offense the person is cast into the mold as a Predator. The system is not fair, they themselves are not educated and don’t even understand it because they choose not to understand it. They just make laws thinking they are protecting, just to satisfy and pacify society.