Vice-chair interviewed for NC State Fair piece; heavily edited

By Michael Hyland . . . RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – With the North Carolina State Fair underway, law enforcement officers are aiming to keep sex offenders off the premises.

“They put a perimeter around the fairgrounds, a quarter of a mile. And, when a person comes through that perimeter with an ankle bracelet on or whatever they have, it sets off an alarm,” said Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison.

A new law took effect last year barring many of the state’s roughly 17,000 registered sex offenders from being on the fairgrounds during the State Fair.

“We just feel like it’s patently unfair,” said Robin Vanderwall, who is a registered sex offender in Wake County and with the organization North Carolinians for Rational Sexual Offense Laws.

He said the law unfairly targets some people who’ve served their criminal sentences and fulfilled their probation obligations. His group is seeking to have the law overturned.

“We understand people’s concern for safety,” he said. “We believe there’s probably a better solution to addressing that concern.”

Read the full article by clicking here.

Robin’s comments:

While I can’t say I’m terribly disappointed by the final news story, I am disheartened that most of what I felt were the very best clips didn’t make it into the cut. For example, when asked what I believe people most misunderstood about registered citizens in North Carolina, I pointed to low recidivism rates and made glowing claims about the more recent scientific data that backs that up. When asked why I thought it was unfair that registered citizens couldn’t attend the fair, I responded that there would be thousands of ex-felons at the fair on opening day and throughout the following week, but that only one particular sub-class of citizens are categorically denied admission. I suggested that the more appropriate concern of law enforcement regarding the state fair was the potential for a domestic terrorism incident much like what we witnessed in Las Vegas.

I wrote Michael, the reporter, an email after the story aired and politely chided him for allowing Sheriff Harrison to paint the image that all sex offenders are wearing ankle bracelets when the reality is that very few individuals in North Carolina actually do. The policy restricting access by individuals wearing ankle bracelets has been in place for quite a long time and there is nothing about a complete ban on all registered citizens that changes it or even improves law enforcement’s capacity to monitor anyone who is NOT wearing an ankle bracelet. Sheriff Harrison merely took advantage of the interview to perpetuate the myth that all sex offenders are equally–and highly–dangerous to the public. We know that is certainly not the case.

It’s important to note that this press opportunity was not solicited by NARSOL or NCRSOL. Instead, Michael reached out to NARSOL and was referred to me as someone local enough to do an on-air interview.

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    • #24003 Reply
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      Dave

      Is that not a 4th amendment violation this perimeter that does an illegal search for ankle bracelets? Go back to the constitution or this country will fail idiots!

      • #24073 Reply
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        Chris

        If I remember correctly, SCOTUS ruled in 2015 that NC’s ankle monitoring program was indeed a search as defined by the 4th Amendment. The court did not rule, however, on whether the “search” was “reasonable” or not because the point was not broached as part of the filing.

        It’s a moot point, really. When you are put on GPS monitoring you have to sign a form that essentially says that the state is authorized to execute this unwarranted search 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I was erroneously put on the monitoring program after my release. Fortunately I was able to get it off but it took over a year.

    • #24005 Reply
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      Lovecraft

      Thank you Robin for keeping up the good fight.

    • #24048 Reply
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      Saddles

      Solicited or not one has to speak their mind. Lately I have been getting a bit paranoid and I don’t know why. I had a comment for another article on here and ask them to cancel it as I feel most in government seem to go above their carnal nature. Sure we all want relief from this sex registry stuff. I don’t see why some can’t take their family to a fair or social event. Heck I still go on with my life with its ups and downs and actually I said a few years ago I’m gonna be around kids the rest of my life. One goes shopping or to a grocery story and their is kids and mom’s. I wonder if they serve liquor at state fairs or beer. I agree with robin about the Las Vegas thing as that is what they should watch out after. In the end pride goeth before the fall. So what’s next on the governments list banning gay’s from the state fair or hippy time in USA.

    • #24049 Reply
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      Facts Facts Facts

      Thank you NARSOL!! Patience, Persistence & Facts!!!

    • #24056 Reply
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      Joe

      Hey Robin, sorry that your good work in reaching out with correct information fell short of making it through the editors drive for juicy drama stories to drive the ad revenue. But as a side idea, did you ever think of researching the record to find out just exactly how many arrests were necessitated in the past due to a registered sex offender being at the fair? If it came up as “never” boy wouldn’t that put a twist in the Sherrif’s panties, not to mention his credibility? Hell maybe even a civil rights suit. Of course that would have a slim chance of being won, but the Sheriff would have to spend money to defend it.

    • #24057 Reply
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      Joe

      Sorry I failed to add, the two arrests noted in the article had to do with a sex crime how? A ride inspector may have just been a ride inspector. Fairs hire local help all the time and an offender might be able to get a job like anyone else would have. As to flying a drone, is there a law that says an SO can’t be into general photography? When I asked about how many arrests were necessitated I was asking as in sexual assaults.

    • #24061 Reply
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      Maestro

      This is one of the reasons why going to any form of news media, no matter if it’s TV, newspaper or radio show, they’re going to EDIT anything that doesn’t fit into their “fear” narrative.
      So at the end of the day, what was the point in wasting your time? All you did was help them make the registered person that much more scary to them and their listeners. And that’s exactly what they wanted.

      Perhaps a book would be the better route to go.
      Or, one of those docu-films being shown on a network that EVERYONE gets on their cable provider and not something most people don’t bother paying for anymore like HBO, Showtime, etc.

      • #24072 Reply
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        Brian

        @Meastro
        Unfortunately I don’t think anyone reads books anymore it’s all online so someone would have to come up with some kind of online book or something to that effect.
        Like these telemarketing callers always calling people phones ,maybe someone should come up with something that sends a message that recidivism is not what these politicians and the press want it to be. Their not doing anything to stop those telemarketing phone calls so I think that’s a grand idea and no one can edit the information , but that’s not anything I know how to do though.

    • #24091 Reply
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      Show the tape

      Can you upload or provide a link to where Robin’s FULL interview can be viewed? Would be interesting to see it.

      • #24096 Reply
        Sandy Rozek
        Sandy Rozek
        Admin

        No, I’m sorry, we can’t because it doesn’t exist. It was just between Robin and the reporter, and whatever he didn’t use he almost certainly deleted. At any rate, he didn’t post it anywhere.

    • #24122 Reply
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      Saddles

      While people have a lot to say about fairgrounds and attendance it does surprise about who they can consider dangerous. If that’s the case anyone could go off at a state fair. I guess puking at a state fair would be a form of abuse ( I knew you would like that maestro) if one tried to wipe. I’m getting as bad as Brian.
      No but considering the sex offender and his or her rights these law’s and government go a above and beyond what is necessary. The internet sex scheme is enough. When physical abuse of a sexual nature is done to another than that should be questioned. These ankle things are a bit much. I guess its like implanting a chip in one’s brain. I think I saw a science fiction movie about that. If that’s the case than they could put a chip in a car and have license plate ran and a little fine in the mail come to one’s door saying your car went over the speed limit from what the computer chip alert said and here’s your find.
      I honestly see no reason that dope dealers or any other criminal can go to a state fair but one that is on the sex registry. What about the one’s off probation. This sex offender ordeal is off base and discriminates those on the registry. Common sense right is right and wrong is wrong. Playing the devil’s advocate is no good. Protecting and serving is better when one needs protecting… Over protecting is a bit much as it smothers one to death.

      • #24139 Reply
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        Tim L

        Will the NC legislature ever learn??

        The fact is the courts have consistently overturned laws that BAN sexually oriented offenders from legal behavior. Packingham case recently should have made that clear. Maybe that WRAL article should be sent to each and every NC state Congress person. While we are at it we can send them copies of the he US constitution along with voucher for a refresher freshman civics class. What we are dealing with here is willful ignorance or what I have heard others call intellectual dishonesty.

    • #24159 Reply
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      Saddles

      Tim I like that refresher course thing. Actually I have had three probation officers as I recall. Two of them didn’t know where I was coming from and one took over after the other’s passed me down to him. See they can’t trump the word of the lord and I hit them with it and they really don’t understand themselves. All they are interested in I think is getting their job done as they have so many that they don’t want any guff from them.
      So in other words who’s caught with their pants down. Its so funny some of these sex registry ordeals that human behavior is just as bad in police circles. Even government branches can’t seem to agree on things. Are we still, We the people” or did we elect those to run amuck and press their own agenda on society whether “We the People” agree on it or not.
      Yes government will get a rude awaking. I believe a lot of us human’s know how to act but getting caught up in a snare by those that suppose to protect and serve isn’t the best way to protect. One doesn’t give an opportunity and than says its for protection regardless in we bait to come down or not we can still pressure you into it. And like the detective told me, if you weren’t gonna come down here, we were gonna come and get you. Law enforcement are n it to win no matter if you ask to back out or not, they seem to have their little ways around it and the person in the ordeal at the time is intimidated all the while.

    • #24161 Reply
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      Brian

      Well it’s not their money being thrown around fighting and overturning laws, it’s the tax payers so they spend it unwisely, but learning is a process and I think once these people hit certain ages but only politicians and the ones who pass these laws, they just fall down the dumb tree and hit every stupid branch on the way dawn, I remember going to the state fair when I was a kid and I’m sure there were tons of registred citizens around and no one was rapped or any such thing, I mean there were rival gang fights that broke out and blood all over, but their worried about us, When we all die and go up or down we’re all going to have to answer to God or whoever you pray to every night, I believe God will banish all these people they are punishing on the registry I do believe this.

    • #24197 Reply
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      Brian

      Saw this on msn this morning, although this is a sad story they discriminate only SO’s everyone else can commit any crime and get praise for it. If this guy were an SO they would have been tormenting him instead of fallowing his story, they would have showed up at his home , job and any place he was to point and laugh and torment.

      LEBANON, Conn. — Rob Sullivan still remembers the gun and the sound of his mother’s high-pitched pleas. Two thieves had burst into his parents’ Hartford home. Demanding his father’s dope stash, one of the men placed a gun to Rob’s right temple. “Just give it to them,” his mother begged his father.
      He was six years old.
      Sign Up For the Morning Briefing Newsletter
      The incident, charred in his memory, was an early trauma among many he recalls from his childhood. He watched his father beat his mother for not having dinner ready on time or for not cleaning the house, he said. Often, she fought back. Sometimes when he got home, his parents were too drunk or high to let him in. Truancy charges landed him in juvenile detention in his early teens.
      “Chaotic — there is no other way to describe my childhood,” he said. “I always felt alone.”
      Given his history, it perhaps comes as no surprise that he has spent as much of his adult life in prison and in drug rehab as he has spent out.
      Rob Sullivan on the grounds of a rehab center in Lebanon, Conn., where he checked himself in for treatment earlier this year.© Christopher Capozziello for The New York Times Rob Sullivan on the grounds of a rehab center in Lebanon, Conn., where he checked himself in for treatment earlier this year.
      Mr. Sullivan acknowledges that he has “made my own trouble” and “done stupid things.” But in a justice system built upon the idea of choice and personal responsibility, experts say the path to trouble may begin long before an individual has any say in the matter. What happens to people in childhood can make a difference in whether they end up in a prison cell, or whether they are even wired to make rational decisions.
      “Childhood trauma is a huge factor within the criminal justice system,” said Christopher Wildeman, a sociologist at Cornell University and co-director of the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect. “It is among the most important things that shapes addictive and criminal behavior in adulthood.”
      Mr. Sullivan was one of 10 newly released prisoners in Connecticut whom the PBS series “Frontline” and The New York Times followed for more than a year. The state is working to reduce its prison population and improve former prisoners’ chances of successfully rejoining society. But those convicted of crimes often have complex problems that date back to childhood. More than half, including Mr. Sullivan, went back inside.
      A look at their histories showed that long before they were perpetrators, many of them were victims. Seven completed a questionnaire intended to quantify childhood trauma on a scale of one to 10, including the experience of or exposure to physical and sexual abuse, drug and alcohol abuse or mental illness in the home. High scores predict a wide variety of negative outcomes. All but one of them scored four or more, indicating a substantially elevated risk of chronic disease, depression, suicide attempts, substance abuse and violence.
      Mr. Sullivan scored a nine.
      _____
      Raeann Sullivan at the house in Manchester, Conn., where she lives with her mother.© Kassie Bracken/The New York Times Raeann Sullivan at the house in Manchester, Conn., where she lives with her mother.
      Bald with blue eyes, wearing his mother’s silver cross around his neck, Mr. Sullivan, 43, has two tears tattooed under his right eye, an intimate reminder of death. One is for his mother, who died of a heroin overdose when he was 21; the second is for a cousin, as close as a sister, who overdosed four years later.
      What Mr. Sullivan saw, he eventually imitated. During one of Mr. Sullivan’s many trips to jail, he said, he passed his father, a fellow inmate, in the hallway.
      His mother was unpredictable. “I remember her sleeping all the time, nodding out and burning holes in the floor,” he said. At first, this seemed normal. “I used to wonder why I couldn’t have a friend sleep over,” he said. “Then it was, I didn’t want to have a friend sleep over.”
      He took his first sip of beer at 12 or 13 years old. By the time he was 19 — three years after quitting high school — he was, by his own estimation, a full-blown alcoholic, guzzling a 12-pack of Budweiser daily.
      For the longest time, he resisted the temptation to try heroin. But so many of his friends were using. “I fell in love with the feeling of it,” he said. “It was calming and numbing and soothing, like a warm embrace.”
      Mr. Sullivan has survived almost two decades of drug and alcohol use, cycling among short-term jobs, arrests and rehab. But the pattern has taken a toll: his relationship with his three oldest children — ages 23, 21 and 17 — is tumultuous, mostly because he was an absent father. He owes about $100,000 in child support.
      With Raeann, the youngest, he wanted things to be different. Though jail often kept them apart, Mr. Sullivan doted on his daughter and tried to shield her from his habits and temper. He called her “Chewy” and “Peanut,” drew her elaborate pictures and texted her every day from the halfway house where he went after his release from prison.
      But he hated the restrictions of life there, with his whereabouts and spending closely monitored. Finally he walked out, even though he knew it would mean a return to prison.
      Before he turned himself in, he took his last paycheck and treated Raeann to the pair of silver high-tops with fuchsia laces that she wanted for her first basketball game.
      “The sneakers were important to both of us,” he said. “And I wanted to see her play.”
      Outside the store, there was a tearful goodbye. “You know you can tell me anything,” he said.
      But Raeann was getting older. More mature. More perceptive.
      When Mr. Sullivan missed her 10th birthday because he was locked up, she was forgiving. When she turned 11, he was out of jail, and the family had a birthday party. One year later, as her 12th birthday neared, Raeann finally got a good, hard look at her father’s other side.
      _____
      In the mid-1990s, Dr. Vincent Felitti, the chief of Kaiser Permanente’s obesity clinic, and Dr. Robert Anda, a medical epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control developed 10 questions to assess cumulative childhood stress called the Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACE, survey. The higher the ACE score, the higher the risk of negative outcomes: Among those who scored at least four, there was a 1,220 percent increase in suicide attempts over those who scored zero.
      “This clearly showed children’s adverse experiences are a public health problem,” Dr. Anda said. “What we now know is that childhood adversity and stress can chemically change the way our brains work.”
      The changes can affect impulse control, decision making and executive functions. From there, it can be a short hop to breaking the law.
      But treatment can be complicated, and patients often resist it. Scientists have been testing the theory that higher levels of childhood trauma make recovery from addiction more difficult. They are developing approaches that capitalize on the brain’s ability to rewire itself.
      Some schools, hospitals and jails have incorporated this emerging understanding of trauma, shifting the question from “What is wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”
      In Connecticut, the Department of Correction offers a program to help inmates understand how trauma changes the normal stress response and how to control triggers (the program is still small, and Mr. Sullivan was not a participant). Studies show that childhood trauma increases the likelihood of arrest and that inmates report much higher rates of trauma than other adults.
      “It is safe to assume that the people I deal with have experienced some kind of horrible trauma as children and adults, so for me, that is a starting point,” said Katherine Montoya, a 10-year veteran parole officer in Connecticut who works with women.
      For one parolee who had been the victim of sex trafficking, Ms. Montoya worked to avoid triggering the woman’s trauma by making sure she came in contact only with women officers.
      _____
      In May 2016, after serving his time following the halfway house incident, Mr. Sullivan walked out of the Enfield Correctional Institution. For about nine months, he did well, living with Raeann and her mother, Kelly Shepard, 44, whom he has known since middle school. (While it was not possible to independently verify some of Mr. Sullivan’s accounts of his childhood, Ms. Shepard said they were consistent with what he had told her.)
      He found work with a construction company, and managed to shield Raeann from the worst of his temper.
      But in February, there came a bad blowup. He called Raeann and Ms. Shepard nasty names. He smashed Ms. Shepard’s cellphone.
      Raeann stopped speaking to her father.
      “She idolizes him. But she finally saw the other side of him, when he drinks, and she is really angry now,” said Ms. Shepard, who keeps a close watch on her daughter and makes sure she is in counseling. “He adores her, but he can’t get himself together long enough to maintain the relationship.”
      Mr. Sullivan checked himself into Lebanon Pines, a rural 56-acre residential rehab facility for men. Six years before, he had been required to come to Lebanon Pines as a condition of probation. This time was voluntary. He received therapy and daily doses of methadone.
      But he refused to talk in depth about his childhood trauma. And he struggles to explain why. “I just haven’t wanted to go there,” he said. “It’s painful.”
      Mr. Sullivan had two decades on many fellow patients at Lebanon Pines. He was banking on his age and the high cost of street life being enough to finally break the generational cycle. Still, about six weeks before his release date, he was worried that he might not make it.
      “I have never followed through on anything in my life,” he said, tears in his eyes. “It’s hard. I know if I end up back in the streets I will end up drinking and using again.”
      Mr. Sullivan was right. He did not finish the program.
      Matthew O’Neill, Kassie Bracken and Jeff Arak contributed reporting from Connecticut and New York City.

    • #24396 Reply
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      Brian

      To everyone, I just want to apologize for taking up that much page space. Dint think it would be that much.

    • #24440 Reply
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      Tony From Long Island

      So how exactly can they claim that the last was “effective” last year?

      Also, how many jurisdictions require people who have fully completed their sentence to wear an ankle bracelet?? That certainly does not happen in New York.

      • #24552 Reply
        Robin Vander Wall
        Robin Vander Wall
        Admin

        If there has ever been an incident of sexual offense at the NC State Fair, we’re not able to find a record of it. So, when the sheriff says that it worked last year, that’s a tautological claim. Sort of like calling the rain wet.

    • #24978 Reply
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      Saddles

      Perimeter is that like saying anyone with a fake tattoo isn’t allowed to a state fair because its the state sponsoring the show? This perimeter sounds like a force field or could one say “go to jail and no get out of jail free card”.
      Robin I don’t know much about your offense because each is different. Lets say they had an ordinance or a decree to bow down for the president. Would any of us bow down before the president or lets say one was pressured by undue influence into some type of situation. Does that mean we should all be duped? Law enforcement know that these internet sex sting operation’s are pre-arranged and its like premeditation if one looks at it that way.
      Robin I believe this interview was a wake up call for all to understand how wrong a lot of this sex offender stuff is. I know you made a good point and they sort of black balled you in this round about interview as “We” as sex offenders getting caught up are stepping stones for one to trample on.
      Robin I can somewhat understand how pissed you are as I’m sure a lot of us would be if we were in your shoes. But the thing that puzzles me is that you all look for data of something that happened in America or this nation but a lot of you all don’t look at biblical facts and truths at times and the police are no different. Just think if we didn’t have the bible or something to hold on to were would we all be. Stand up for justice folks!

    • #25241 Reply
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      Tim L

      “The law was effective.”
      Effectively banning a man is quite different effectively preventing an assault. It presumes too much!
      NCRSOL will prevail in the courts on this one. When will NC learn banishment is unconstitutional PERIOD!
      Keep pointing out how unconstitutional our country is behaving, we just may save it.

    • #26449 Reply
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      Jerry P.

      As of last night my local news station is still reporting on the gentleman who was arrested with his family at the NC state fair this year…. I hate that they’re making it sound like he was there to harm children…

    • #26541 Reply
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      Jeremy from Indiana

      So, if this law is allowed to stand, what’s next? Department stores? Malls? Grocery stores? Are we going to be forced to have to do all of our shopping online? Oh, that’s right, they are trying to restrict that medium too.

      Why is it that North Carolina seems to be the ones constantly in the news for pushing our rights more and more?

      Although I think this is rather unlikely, there may be a hidden agenda here in our favor. North Carolina may be trying to push for laws so restrictive they end up in the court system. It’s going to take a major case to get rid of these laws. The problem is that we need a severe violation of rights bill to be passed to get this major case.

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