Raleigh, North Carolina . . . The National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws (NARSOL) and its North Carolina affiliate, NCRSOL, have filed a federal civil rights action challenging the state’s amendments and enhancements to sex offender registration requirements going back more than a decade.
Emboldened by a recent decision of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that set aside similar amendments and enhancements imposed by the state of Michigan, NARSOL and NCRSOL are joined by individual plaintiffs who seek to set aside legislative enactments since 2006 that have incrementally expanded the scope of restrictions imposed upon citizens required to register as sex offenders.
For more than a decade, the North Carolina Legislature has continued to add increasingly burdensome restrictions on its registrant population as evidenced by its recent passage of a revised premises statute (§ 14-208.18) even despite significant push back from the federal courts.
Such restrictions include prohibitions on where registrants may live and work, go to school, dine, recreate, attend sporting events, or even worship. Registered sex offenders are forbidden to change their names, access a wide variety of social media websites, and are generally restricted from being within 300 feet of any location where children frequently congregate including libraries, shopping malls, and many restaurants.
“The time has come to confront these laws more aggressively. They simply do not protect the public. The research is clear that laws such as North Carolina’s actually increase the danger to the public by preventing people from effectively reintegrating into society. At the same time, too many people are being denied basic constitutional rights under the guise of public safety. Nobody disputes the state’s compelling interest in protecting children and adults from sexual abuse. But no American citizen should have to give up fundamental, guaranteed, First Amendment freedoms in the name of a policy that simply doesn’t work,” said Robin Vanderwall, president of NCRSOL.
NARSOL’s executive director, Brenda V. Jones, had this to say: “Nothing is more important than the prevention of sexual abuse. But, study after study has shown that registration laws like those enacted in North Carolina are doing absolutely nothing to prevent such abuse. What’s worse is that adding so many restrictions violates the Constitution’s strict prohibition against retroactively punishing a person once his court-ordered sentence is complete. He has already paid his price!”
Paul Dubbeling, a Chapel Hill attorney who was successful in a previous challenge to the state’s defunct premises statute, filed the new complaint in federal district court on Monday. When asked about this new suit, Dubbeling stated: “This is ultimately about public safety. The North Carolina registry law simply fails to actually protect the public while at the same time unnecessarily denying basic constitutional rights to tens of thousands of citizens. To protect both the public and the Constitution, we need to return the power to decide who is dangerous and who isn’t to those best able to judge – the judges themselves.”
27 Thoughts to “NARSOL, NCRSOL file suit challenging North Carolina’s sex offender registry”
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Awesome job Robin! You and some others have done a unbelievable job getting the right lawyer, data, studies, and court decisions together for this landmark challenge. I think it’s about time we take the fight back to those that have created this mess.
Yay! Now to move from state to state!
Thank you Robin
Please keep fighting until all states change these ridiculous registers. They only cause more harm, create anger and hurt so many families! Thanks for all you do!
I used to live there and was unaware of how strict the laws were there. I registered my son at school(I am an SO that had nothing to do with kids) and was told by my police report that I had committed a felony by doing so. Also that my work was too close to a church. I said I had nothing to do with kids but his response was as follows, “This is the bible belt. You should have known better then to move here.” He gave me a choice and said leave the state and never come back or go to jail. So I left within 2 days of him saying that and didn’t look back. So having thier laws changed would be great, but it pretty much is too little to late. I had a great job with a company that understood my situation but archaic laws of a backwards thinking state messed that up. Keep up the good fight for SO’s that don’t have a voice and are afraid to speak up.
Then if it is the Bible belt, then he (or they) understands about forgiveness and redemption through the good book while moving forward in life…or does he (or they)? Does not sound like it.
Alas! they still live in the Old Testament. They like to talk about Jesus Christ, but their heart is far away from Love.
Yes, they certainly do Rajendra and it is sad to see it there in NC or anywhere.
That is precisely the spiritual struggle we are seeing happening right before our eyes with all these laws. We can only pray for those in power.
Funny thing, the reference to the “Bible Belt”. In the story of Jesus and the Wild Man. After Jesus exorcised the demons from the Wild Man, they entered a herd of 1,000 pigs, which fled into a river and drowned. The town people were angry to Jesus, about the loss of the pigs, instead of being thankful for the redemption of one man. To get the Legislators to give up about 8 million in federal grant money for the creation and maintenance of the registry, will yield a similar response. They know Jesus not.
Thank you so much Robin, Brenda, Paul and everyone else behind the scene. I thank God that there are sensible, warm and caring people such as you all in this world ready to right the wrongs.
Thanks to you there may be changes elsewhere now.
I don’t live in NC and happy I don’t.
Please keep fighting until the entire registry is abolished!!!!
Are there similar challenges being made in other jurisdictions such as NY? If not…why not take this fight nationwide in order to institute change. 2006 was a bad year all around…extending registration periods…. limiting inter and intra state travel, etc. I did not bargain for this or anticipate it in 2004 when my case was adjudicated.
I just hope a sensible judge will throw out the registry itself as well as draconian laws.
Good Job and Congrats!
I have a question for the Michigan decision. The decision that the 2006 and 2011 ammendment constitutes punishment and can no longer be enforced…does that mean I don’t have to verify anymore(conviction 1991) or does it also mean I can be removed from the registry?
William I answered your question in the previous post at http://nationalrsol.org/transparent-accessible-narsol-board-fields-questions/
Fantastic job guys! Keep up the fight. I am glad to see that all of our donations went to proper use that will benefit ALL of society.
Just like what is happening right now against the executive order (to ban muslim refugees in the US), there has to be more and nationwide protest against the unconstitutional sex offense laws. Otherwise, it will be too little too late.
I’m so terribly sorry to have to disagree with you because I know how un-politically correct I am about to be but ummm…..no one is “banning muslims”. The ban is simply on specific countries where terrorism is at an all time high.
But….I know…. we feel more danger from someone’s penis than someone flying planes into buildings. I knoooooooooooooooow.
I hope the false high and frightening numbers used against RSO’s being espoused by others and used in SCOTUS decisions previously is shot down in this hearing because the continued use of them is wrong and disservice to the people of this country.
When I heard about the lawsuit on the news, I almost stood up and cheered!!
This is just one more of the “lets look tough” piece of legislation that make the uninformed citizen feel safer and the politicians a chance to stand up ( at election time) and say see what we have done for you.
To quote Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr, “This is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice.”
Not so fast people! Just finished taking a look at Mr. Trump’s SCOTUS pick, Mr. Neil Gorsuch’s record or rulings in cases involving RSOs while on the 10th Circuit: NEWS FLASH! If Mr. Gorsuch is confirmed, don’t look for any favors from this man on SO should Snyder, NC and TN make it to SCOTUS. While on the bench with the 10th Circuit, Mr. Gorsuch ruled AGAINST all petitioners attacking his/her state’s SO laws—EVERY CASE. Therefore, if SCOTUS grants the MI AG’s cert in Snyder, more than likely Mr. Gorsuch will be on the bench and more than likely he will rule in favor of overturning Snyder. But that’s just my analysis. Who knows, he may surprise me—NOT!
This case is in Nashville (6th Circus) RIGHT NOW! And my friends in “high places” tell me it’s a shoe-in for passage.
I too am being abused long after I paid my debt to society and haven’t been able to get a job in over 17 years! No health insurance, no food stamps or welfare for me! (I have too many assets). So I live on my savings and my wife works.
I was turned into a “violent” offender at the stroke of a politician’s pen. Going by my Alford Plea bargin I was to be registered for 10 years….and now it’s for life!
There’s really no point in living in a world where I have no 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, or 14th Amendment rights here in the “freeworld”.
Pray for all the families of RSO’s who suffer worse than we do; They did nothing wrong yet they pay the same price for these obviously ex post facto laws! They’re immoral and unConstitutional.