N.C. press release: “Outrageous” to ban state’s registered citizens from state fair

Raleigh, North Carolina . . . It’s time for the North Carolina State Fair, but thousands of North Carolina’s citizens are prohibited from attending it. Free citizens!

Some of these citizens are fathers and mothers with children who will likely miss out on the opportunity to visit livestock and poultry exhibitions with their parents—serving as a painful reminder that their dad or mom is still treated as second-class citizens even years after serving time in prison and/or being removed from probation.

After suffering a setback to its first effort at regulating where registered sex offenders are permitted to go (Does v. Cooper, 2016), the North Carolina General Assembly revised and enacted a new premises statute in 2017 that goes even further by resurrecting portions of the previous statute declared unconstitutional and adding a statewide ban on sex offenders attending agricultural fairs.

Consequently, registered people who have completed their criminal sentences and fulfilled all their probation or post-release supervision obligations—individuals whose civil rights are otherwise restored—are banned from being “on the State Fairgrounds during the period of time each year that the State Fair is conducted.” (N.C.G.S. § 14-208.18(a)(4)).

“The premises law simply goes too far. It’s egregious and outrageous. It’s overkill,” said Robin Vander Wall, president of North Carolina RSOL. “This is a matter of fundamental fairness and equal protection under both the state and federal constitutions.”

“And we’re not asking for anything crazy or out-of-the-ordinary. There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of North Carolinians with violent felony records who have been welcomed to attend the state fair for decades. They have a right to be there because they are citizens of North Carolina who have completely satisfied their criminal sentences,” said Vander Wall.

“Registered sex offenders (with lower repeat offense rates than any category of offender except murderers, see #1 below) who are no longer under any form of supervision and who have been released from probation should have the same right to attend the state fair as anybody else,” Vander Wall concluded.

# # #

North Carolina RSOL, an affiliate of NARSOL, was organized and incorporated in 2016 when several registrants and their supporters formed to create a more visible presence throughout the state after being urged on by reports of resurgent legislative efforts to enact tougher laws against North Carolina’s more than 22,000 registrants and their families.

  1. North Carolina’s sex offender population has the lowest recidivism rate among all categories of offenders. (Source: https://ncrsol.org/2016/05/nc-recidivism-report-sex-offender-recidivism-lower-than-other-offenders/)
  2. The most exhaustive law enforcement study existing cites a re-conviction rate of just 3.5% after three years. (Source: https://narsol.org/resources/s-o-myths/)
  3. Nine-out-of-ten sexual assaults are committed by someone well known to the victim (Source: https://bjs.ojp.gov/nibrs/reports/sarble/sarble19)
  4. More than 95% of new sex crimes are committed by people who are not listed on any sex offender registries. (Source: https://narsol.org/resources/s-o-myths/)


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5 Thoughts to “N.C. press release: “Outrageous” to ban state’s registered citizens from state fair”

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  1. H n H

    I see the emphasis on “those no longer under supervision” quite a bit here. The problem with that being that parole can be for life. Even if the sentence isn’t even 2 yrs, you fought the charges, they trumped everything up, blowing everything out of proportion in hopes of securing a conviction. You continue to fight everything as everyone laughs. Meanwhile the system has you in their sights and you just marginally fall into that little sliver of the convicted that are now wards of the state for life. The registry is moot at this point because parole is even worse. I don’t see how prohibiting someone on parole or probation is any doing any more good than those on the registry. Courts have a strong love affair with lifetime parole. Go murder someone and your life will be better off in the long run than if you are caught up in something sex related. Lifetime parole should be illegal, along with the registry and all the witch hunts that go along with them.

  2. Tim in WI

    Robin so your statement means NC Congress has no respect for what was judged wrong by the court. Is that any different from what has occurred already n Michigan State v. Rankin? No!
    SCOTUS had to opportunity to regulate Congress in Alaska( Smith) V Doh. By neglecting SCOTUS’s own obligation to the people to reject the use of prospective language upon crimes in statutes by congressional actors they surrendered their solemn authority to compel. Is it any wonder why we see an unregulated Congress who’s unresponsive to judicial determination.

    1. Oswaldo

      State fair attendance is also not allowed for sex offenders in Oklahoma. I’m 64, and I don’t remember a single case of a child being abducted or molested at the fair. But I have heard about sex offender arrests just for being at the fair.

  3. Roger Kincade

    The importance of using person-first language as we communicate with others cannot be over-emphasized.

  4. A Mistake They Made

    Thank you for your efforts Robin!