Just what is Vivante Espero and what does it do?

By Larry . . . We recently received a letter written by  a  prisoner  asking  specifics on what the Vivante Espero  Foundation  does. The  writer  suggested  that  he  would  consider  supporting  us  if  we  addressed  his  concerns. We view the letter as an opportunity to help our readers who are  incarcerated  better  understand  what  we do since most incarcerated individuals  are  not  able  to  stay  fully  connected  due  to  the  constraints  of  the  penal  system.  Our Digest newsletter/magazine  is  the  best means of connection for those incarcerated.

First, he asked what Vivante Espero  is. Vivante Espero is the education and  program arm of NARSOL, and it has  been granted 501 (c)(3) status by the  Internal Revenue Service. This is consistent  with  how  other  organizations  are structured. For instance, the ACLU  has a foundation which permits them  flexibility to separate their day to day  operations  from  their  core  mission.  Donations made to Vivante are tax deductible.

Second, the writer observed that we  have  some  nice  brochures  and  questioned if that is the best utilization of  our  resources.  We  have  learned  that  this is a no-­win situation, and we are  criticized regardless of what we do. If  we print black and white brochures in-house, we are criticized as being unprofessional.  If  we  have  nicer  brochures  and  letterhead,  some  feel  we  are  wasting  resources.  We  have  concluded  that  quality  materials  enhance the image of the organization,  and we purchase  printed  material  at  very  favorable  prices.

The  most  significant  point  the  writer  noted  was  that  our  brochure  mentions  conferences,  lobbying,  strategic  planning  and  litigation, and he wanted more details. NARSOL has held a national  conference each year since 2009.  Unfortunately, our 2020 national  conference  which  was  scheduled  to be held in Raleigh in June will  be  conducted  electronically  because  of  the  pandemic.  National  conferences consist of 2 ½ days of  fantastic speakers and workshops which  assist  those  advocating  for  reform.

NARSOL is involved in a number of  legal cases around the United States.  For  example,  we  have  filed  amicus  briefs in some important cases, including  Millard  v.  Rankin  in  the  United  States Court of Appeals for the Tenth  Circuit. This is the case in which a Colorado federal judge found various aspects  of  their  registration  law  to  be  unconstitutional.  NARSOL  also  has  initiated  litigation.  We  initiated  two  cases  in  Georgia  challenging  rogue  sheriffs who decided to unilaterally impose a requirement forcing registrants  to erect signs on Halloween. Due to extremely  limited  resources,  NARSOL  only supports impact litigation, which  means cases that have the potential to  have far reaching ramifications.

The lobbying that NARSOL does is  facilitated by our affiliates and advocates at the state level. This is because each  state  has  its  own  registration  scheme, which means the battle must  be fought at the state level. If Congress  were to repeal the SORNA component  of the Adam Walsh Act, there would  still be 50 registration schemes operating, and they would not go away. This  does not mean we do not think it’s important  to  lobby  at  the  federal  level.  We are hoping for the day that additional resources will materialize which  will permit us to have a presence in the  U.S. Capitol.

In  addition  to  the  things  listed  above, NARSOL conducts training and  holds  regular  conference  calls  which  are  well  attended.  Those  conference  calls  review  important  cases  and  feature attorneys and other prominent  leaders who help our stakeholders in  professional development. The Vivante  Foundation  publishes  the  newsletter  six  times  each  year  which  is  distributed  in  printed  form  to  approximately  1,000,  to  more  than  5,000  to  those  receiving  it  electronically, and to over 1,000 in the  Federal Prison System. NARSOL and  Vivante  send  representatives  to  important conferences each year such  as  the  National  Association  of  Criminal  Defense  Lawyers  (NACDL)  and the Association for the Treatment  of Sexual Abusers (ATSA). It manages  and supports Humans on the Registry  and Fearless support groups.

The Vivante Espero foundation is a  vital  and  important  component  in  NARSOL’s fight for equal rights of all  people and in accomplishing our goal  of eliminating the shaming public sexual offense registry.

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Larry Neely

Larry serves as NARSOL'S treasurer, publisher of the Digest, and co-chair of the conference planning committee. He also hosts the "NARSOL in Action" and "Can They Do That?" webinars and is a regular on the "Registry Matters" podcasts.

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