By Sandy . . . NARSOL and its affiliates make a special effort to keep abreast of trends as they pop up in various parts of the country and to evaluate them for the effects they will have on registered citizens. Not many states, for example, have actual state laws mandating Halloween restrictions for registrants, yet this past legislative session in Arkansas saw such legislation being passed in spite of our Arkansas affiliate’s best efforts to thwart it. Which state or states will try this next?
In like manner, not too many states have actual state law restricting the movement and presence of those on the registry in public places. This sort of ban, if it is successfully upheld in North Carolina, could sweep like wildfire into other states, affecting registered men, women, and children from shore to shore.
In 2017, North Carolina lawmakers passed legislation making it illegal for any person on a sexual offense register to attend county or state fairs in North Carolina.
In 2018 North Carolinians for Rational Sexual Offense Laws (NCRSOL) with attorney Paul Dubbeling filed a suit against the state seeking declaratory relief and a permanent injunction against it enforcing this law. NCRSOL v. Stein is presently before U.S. District Court Judge William L. Osteen, Middle District of North Carolina, where it recently withstood, in most part, the state’s Motion to Dismiss. The matter is set for trial on a schedule to be determined at a pre-trial conference set for October 23.
NCRSOL’s press release announcing these actions was released in early October, and requests for statements and interviews from local media came pouring in to NCRSOL’s president and founder – and NARSOL’s board member and vice-chair – Robin Vander Wall.
One point that Robin makes in his interviews is that a legitimate safety concern exists that should be demanding the attention and resources over and above concern for the presence of registered citizens, a concern that has no factual basis in reality.
North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services has reported that 124 cases of Legionnaires disease and Pontiac fever were contracted at the Mountain State Fair and are likely linked to a hot tub exhibit at the event. Public safety resources addressing this very real danger are instead being wasted by monitoring the presence of registered persons, says Vander Wall.
“Feel-good” laws like those restricting the presence of registrants in public places do nothing but make the lives of those who have finished their sentences more difficult.
The bottom line is that those who have committed crimes and paid their debts to society can best serve the public good and safety by becoming law-abiding, integrated, contributing societal members, and the perpetual shame of being on the registry, the “scarlet letter” that those on the registry bear, does not promote, encourage, or oftentimes even allow this goal to be reached.
This is a list of the relevant interviews and media exposure, including those linked above.
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.