Why Doesn’t NARSOL just move the conference from Texas?

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We have received a number of inquires asking why we don’t cancel the conference in Houston and move it somewhere else in another state. Due to the fact that several messages have been received, we feel it’s important to respond. The consternation is due to a recent abortion restriction and other controversial laws that are now in effect in Texas. Since NARSOL is a non-partisan organization, our policy is that we refrain from taking a position on laws outside of our advocacy, which is criminal justice reform, and our focus, which is individuals and families harmed and marginalized by the sexual offense registry and sexual offense laws that are contrary to rehabilitation incentives.

It is impractical for us to move or cancel this event for a number of reasons. First, it is very difficult to find a venue that is affordable and also welcomes a group which is comprised of persons advocating for those on a sexual offense registry, a group which also includes those with a past sexual criminal conviction. Second, at this late date, it would be almost impossible to secure an alternate location that would so well accommodate us. Third, the hotel would impose a penalty on NARSOL which would be 90 percent of projected room revenue plus the minimum food and beverage tab, which is $5000.00. The combined amount we would owe would be more than $22,000.00. NARSOL does not believe our donors would be thrilled if we were so cavalier as to nonchalantly throw away more than $20,000.00 of their contributions.

NARSOL does not have the resources of the National Basketball Association (NBA) or the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to be able to exert any significant influence on the state of Texas. We are aware that multiple Fortune 500 companies threatened to punish the state of Georgia when their legislature enacted a bathroom bill a few years ago. The pressure resulted in a veto of that bill by former governor Nathan Deal. A small organization such as NARSOL does not have anything approximating the leverage that the group of Fortune 500 companies brought to bear on the state of Georgia.

NARSOL believes it is important to focus on the positive attributes of our current venue. As with our first Houston conference in 2019, we have received a letter from the mayor of Houston welcoming us, along with positive comments about the work we do. He says that the city of Houston is “. . . welcoming and inclusive and supportive of efforts to reintegrate citizens who have paid their debts to society,” and he commends our “. . . restorative justice efforts on behalf of marginalized citizens.”

Additionally, the Marriott Hotel has been very gracious and accommodating to NARSOL, despite knowing the constituency we serve. They are undertaking some public relations risks by permitting us to use their venue for our conference. We have found that hotels that are as welcoming to us are few and far between.

While Texas may be seen as a state hostile to our advocacy, NARSOL’s first and one of our very strongest affiliated organizations, Texas Voices, is here. The advantages to having a conference in a state with a strong, active affiliate are too many to enumerate.

The most important reason for us to continue with the event is that we do not support the concept of collective punishment. It is not fair or reasonable to hold the entire state of Texas responsible for a law that by all accounts is not supported by the majority of the state’s residents. Most of the employees whose jobs involve serving us probably are as disappointed as anyone else that this decision made by a few is causing so much adverse publicity to them as well as threatening their livelihoods. They too have families who they are trying to support, and to punish them for something that is not of their doing is not consistent with NARSOL’s values.

Registration numbers for the conference are very strong. In fact, this may be a record setting attendance for us, despite the pandemic and concerns about the virus. NARSOL hopes that you will take everything into consideration and join us in Houston October 8-10.

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24 Thoughts to “Why Doesn’t NARSOL just move the conference from Texas?”

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  1. Pamela S Cooper

    I would be more concerned with the huge numbers of COVID cases in the state. For that reason I would not attend this conference.

    1. Will Mingus, PhD

      I am surprised at the number of comments here arguing that the Texas issue is unrelated to NARSOL’s mission. Ultimately, we would love to see the Supreme Court reverse its 2003 decision and rule that the registry is, in fact, punishment. Or better yet, rule that the registry is unconstitutional. But what does it matter if the Supreme Court makes such a ruling if any state that disagrees can simply circumvent that ruling by deputizing its citizens incentivized by a cash bounty? Imagine what would happen if we gave anyone a bounty just for seeing a “sex offender” do something they perceived as nefarious. I’m not suggesting that NARSOL should move the conference, as their response laid out very solid reasons why it would not be feasible. I do suggest, however, that as a movement, we begin to recognize the interconnectedness of a host of other laws and issues as they relate to our core mission of eliminating the registry.

      I also take great exception to calling people “Yahoos” or “Karens” simply because they raised an issue you disagree with. This polarized response is exactly why it is nearly impossible to engage in meaningful discourse around social issues in this country. To most people not directly impacted by the registry, WE are the “Yahoos” and “Karens” because we have the temerity to suggest registration laws are bad.

      1. Tim in WI

        I’m not a member, just an interested party. Raising concern is fine. But addressing it publicly is another choice completely!
        Those who concern themselves irrationally have personal motives that can not be related to mission. It is one thing to have a concern and another to seek coalition. That is how we ended up with a registry DATBASE, in the first place. Exponentially far more crime has enabled via the database driven infrastructure than has been circumvented by its use. The prophylactic use the registry was supposed to be was purely a Madison avenue marketing move to sell the publics unfettered use of the machines. The publicity surrounding the early registry was about building blind trust in it and its unregulated use. Who would benefit most from indenture of human to database machine maintenance for life & the commoditization of personal information? Surely not the actual general welfare of the people.
        To be sure abortion itself is a necessary evil and so is sex offender registration. To be sure each topic attaches to negative liberty in a significant way. To be sure NARSOL needs allies too as you put it to realize the interconnectedness, but far more of that aspect rests too in the perception of big data purveyors. Control the messaging control the politicians and people.
        BTW yahoos and karens use subterfuge to advance the presumptive cause. Calling the cops on black bird watchers is seeking coalition and subterfuge which results in delay of perfectly lawful behaviors. It is possible NARSOL has been infiltrated. There is a lot of money at stake. The paramount thing to remember about human slavery is precisely the fact that some of the people literally fogtht to the death to defend it’s utility! History will repeat.

    2. Sue K

      Texas is a repugnant state for many reasons—the attacks on voting rights, on women, and the awful response to COVID. I feel I can say this because I lived there for over 30;years and have watched it become something different from what it was. Nonetheless,, I would like to attend the conference. I do understand the reasons why it can’t be moved. What I would like to know is how the conference and hotel plan to keep people as safe as possible given the TX COVID situation.

  2. no hope

    I am glad to see the response to the fact some want it moved, and all i would add is that some of the members of NARSOL agree with the laws now in Effect in Texas. So despite the fact NARSOL only works with things associated with sex offender laws not all members are in agreement it should be moved.

  3. A Mistake They Made

    If we are to win it will be because we show the unconstitutionality of the registry to a political party that actually believes in the constitution, and follows it. Texas is the right place for this fight.

    1. Tim in WI

      I believe you are correct as it will be the evangelical right who’ll be first reject human subservience to the database.. However, Wisconsin is the most vulnerable from constitutional attack. Mainly because of the relevant laws in place at the time of its creation cerca1993-5. That is bolstered by the choice made by leadership to make DOC the administration. Prior to 1993 all DOC commitment came by WIDOJ doc -10: Notice of judgment of conviction.

  4. Tim in WI

    According to what I read here some folks are not content with this conference being held in Texas, because of Abortion restrictions and other laws being implemented. Which other law\policies are they contemplating? Exactly how many messages constitutes ” a number of ”
    NARSOL? Clearly, Abortion rights are irrelevant, as per the scope of your mission. So what kinda “Yahoos” or ” Karens” would even bother asking NARSOL about their thoughts and the misplaced prescription? It is in no way helpful for either concern- abortion & SOR- for NARSOL to change venue. In fact, I’m more concerned NARSOL would even bother to respond publicly at all. Take this registrants’ advice NARSOL, STOP! playing defense.

  5. DMC

    Stay on point. Right or wrong, this is not the focus our fight. I find it interesting that some of the most persecuted, maligned and mistreated group of people would choose to use the same tactics as those employed against us. Take a step back and a deep breath.

  6. Andrew Eisenhauer

    I strongly agree with NARSOL’s commitment to stay in Texas for the conference. If NARSOL is going to continue to grow and prosper in its mission it must focus on its singleness of purpose. Well done NARSOL.

  7. Tony

    I agree with NARSO, let’s keep our eye on our ball. Some people feel strongly about the Texas law but an equal number of people feel the opposite. We should focus on our mission and stay away from the extreme right and left war. Abortion is a personal issue, the Registry is persecution.

  8. JB

    I agree that NARSOL has taken the right position in this matter. It is far better for them to stay focused on the mission at hand rather than wander into a fray that is not theirs to argue. I would be very suspect of registrants who clamor for the correcting of their own injustices suffered, but discount the injustice committed against others.

  9. Justin

    I value the integrity of this response. Integrity in mission. Integrity in commitment and contract. Integrity towards gifts of money, and gifts of trust.

    This integrity bodes to good success.

  10. Marty

    Beautifully written statement re Texas. Judging an entire state by those who are judged by all the states makes no sense. We are welcome in Texas. Thank you, Mayor and the Marriott Hotel.

  11. Pam C

    Thank you for demonstrating through words, the integrity of this organization. I will not be able to attend the conference this year, but was present when it was previously in Houston. I hope the conference goes well and that participants have the opportunity to gain knowledge and establish networks. Please encourage folks to wear masks!

  12. Mike G

    I agree that NARSOL should stay where they are for the conference.
    I am a bit surprised, as I had heard that Marriott was one of the major hotel chains that would not allow registered persons to stay in their properties. I guess I was misinformed.

    1. Tim in WI

      The virus brought the industry to a crawl. Empty rooms meant zero capacity and no revenue. Any booking would’ve been a blessing. More likely to get covid on a plane then at a conference, but evidently some have not been vaccinated, but it’s not me. Uncle Sam stuck me 20 times at least. So why not? Problem is trust in big pharma! But they forget what doesn’t kill ya, makes ya stronger. Some just like to make excuses concerning what might happen. Flattening the curve btw doesn’t necessarily equate to less total cases. They shoulda put it out that the vax side effect was temporary arousal! They’d a come running for it.
      Yes, I do stand up.

  13. Robert

    Well-defended and reasonable. Far too late in the game to alter location, not to mention the expense involved. I’m not attending for different reasons: fear of the unpredictable COVID outlook. I am fairly convinced that this fall/winter will look much the same as last year.

  14. Paul

    Why do people feel it’s okay to pollute advocate groups with non related issues? No doubt someone will try and argue it is connected in some way. I have seen this type of thing destroy organizations. Next it will be a gun control issue or CRT or gender issues. I commend NARSOL in refusing to have the movement usurped by other interest.

  15. Svejk

    I think what’s important is that we refrain from joining the cancel culture and SJW movements that plague our society and stick with our organization’s stated goals. The real-world penalties which would be imposed on NARSOL truly preclude changes at this late stage.
    Having said all that, I am unable to attend due to a military reunion at the same time. Perhaps next year.

  16. Kenneth Ackerman

    Ellen and I, as conservatives, believe that we need both sides of the aisle to be able to make significant changes in the laws punishing former offenders of any sexual violations as well as those charged who may be innocent. We applauded the fact that we can approach the conservative senators in Nebraska who listen to us and support changes to these punitive results of the registry. Our pastor pointed out that if a blind man steps on your foot, you don’t hit him. Instead, you have compassion and inform him where you are standing.
    Ken and Ellen Ackerman

  17. Jeremy from Indiana

    Excellent response NARSOL! It seems the people writing you letters don’t have time to come on this post and comment either because the comments I see agree 100% with you. Stick to your mission and stay out of other political fights. Just as there is no “typical” registrant, there is also no “typical” party or political affiliation with residents. I am a conservative and although I’m unable to attend this conference due to financial reasons, I would be very upset with any other response from this organization. This would be the kind of thing that could very likely get support withdrawn from your members and supporters if they don’t agree with your political stance on unrelated issues. Good job punting!

  18. Shelby Strunk

    Is it possible the fortune 500 people have alot of power and hold NARSOL under scrutiny so much that NARSOL may organiztion not actually have the ability to influence the abolishment of the registry. As people are in power and the super rich they force their laws and beliefs and such on to the public by their wealth and power and not the law of the land? IE. Lobbyist, ECT.

  19. Tom H

    I am convinced that the one star on the Texas flag is it’s Yelp rating, lol’