Nation’s top cops curry favor with voters over safe policies for children

Published 1/10/22 in The Tennessean with a first paragraph adapted to Tennessee. 

By Sandy . . . The attorneys general of 35 of the United States and two territories have signed a letter condemning recent revisions to the American Law Institute’s (ALI) Model Penal Code on sexual crimes. This is contrary to what evidence shows would improve public safety.

Early in 2021 ALI, an influential body comprised of attorneys, judges, and scholars in various fields of research (currently including seven members of the United States Courts of Appeal and Justices on the highest courts of several states), published its recommendations for revising laws dealing with sexual offenses. Being the first update to this section in fifty years, this is long overdue as the body of evidence and documented research around this topic has exploded in the past several decades.

At the heart of any change to the implementation of sexual crime legislation is the desire within us all to keep our children safe from sexual harm. This desire is reflected in the goals of the National Assc. for Rational Sexual Offense Laws (NARSOL) as well as in the ALI updates, all of which are evidence based and reflect several decades of research showing the most effective strategies and best practices in this arena.

Unfortunately, criticism also followed on the heels of ALI’s new recommendations. It came from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, from some law enforcement agencies, and now from the attorneys general in two-thirds of our states. It is worth noting that, in addition to wishing to keep children safe, all of these entities benefit, either financially, politically, or both, from maintaining the status quo. Also worth mentioning is that not once in its five and a half pages does the letter signed by the attorneys general cite any source or even make reference to any evidence that the current laws have proved to be effective in their desired outcomes. Sweeping statements such as, “The proposed changes to the [ALI] model penal code relaxing the sex offender registry would pose a significant risk to the public – especially children,” are made with no evidence whatsoever supporting them.

The changes recommended by ALI revolve around four areas: limiting registerable offenses to the more dangerous ones, providing registry access to law enforcement only, modifying registration terms and abolishing lifetime registration, and abolishing blanket restrictions that curtail all registrants’ rights and freedoms.

The registry as we know it today was designed in the wake of a few, horrific situations where children were abducted and murdered, and it is for such as these that the registry was intended. The similarity between the perpetrators of those crimes and the nearly million people who are listed on sexual offense registries today is non-existent, with children themselves being registered as young as nine for childish, inappropriate behavior. In many states, consensual teenage sexual activity, even teenage “sexting,” are registerable offenses. Law enforcement cannot focus on the few who warrant closer monitoring when the registry is so diluted.

The original registries also were accessible only to law enforcement. This position is in keeping with what research, experts in the field, and clinicians support as best practice in the treatment, management, and prevention of sexual offending. Cases of vigilante action targeting those on the registry, including murder for no reason other than that the individual was a registrant, are directly traceable to the online availability of sexual offense registries. The negative collateral consequences to children of registered parents are many and serious.

Every state has a lifetime registration requirement for some offenses, and for a few states, lifetime is the only option. Sixteen states have no path by which registrants may petition for or be granted early release from registration duty. The policies of the remaining states vary widely from clear and doable to there might as well be none. With a significant number on the registry for life with no path to exit, a considerable number of whom have not reoffended since the initial offense twenty, thirty, or – with retroactive registration applicable – fifty years ago, ALI’s recommendations to remedy this situation are crucial.

Depending on the state or the jurisdiction, those on sexual offense registries are subject to a variety of restrictions. Some of the most common are where they can live, work, and be; the exclusions are generally within so many feet, as high as 3,000, of places such as schools, daycare facilities, and parks. Some statutes include the phrase, “Any place frequented by a minor.” Restriction from any activity connected with Halloween is fairly recent, and it is based on a totally fabricated construct linking sexual harm to children with Halloween. Where they are law, these mandates are enforced as blanket restrictions against all on the registry, even when they are not under community supervision, even when their offense of conviction was not related to a child or minor, and even when there has been no reoffense. This is an incredible waste of resources.

Dr. Gene Katz is Doctor of Management in Criminal Justice, an ABS board-certified sex therapist, and an Associate Professor, College of Security Studies, Colorado Technical University. He has extensive experience working with and treating individuals who have committed sexual crimes. Concerning physical restrictions for registrants, Dr. Katz says, “Quite often, residency restrictions banish registrants from populated areas, forcing them to live far from their homes and families and limiting potential work sites willing to employ them, thereby defeating the goals of probation and parole and other desired rehabilitative outcomes. In addition, proponents of these stark measures cannot provide any credible evidence of public safety benefits; in other words, there are no scientific findings that support these draconian approaches imposed upon those who have been convicted of sexually-based offenses.”

“The American Law Institute,” according to Prof. Ira Ellman, Distinguished Affiliated Scholar,
Center for the Study of Law and Society, University of California, Berkeley, “is the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and otherwise improve the law.”

These recommendations made by them are evidence-based and will improve the law in regard to crimes of a sexual nature and those who commit them. They should be supported by the attorneys general in our states and territories. It is especially ill-fitting that the chief officers in legal matters in their respective states should set themselves against recommendations to laws designed to enhance public safety for all.

NARSOL’s CT affiliate hosts restorative justice webinar

Connecticut’s One Standard of Justice is hosting a webinar on the topic of restorative justice. Titled “A Different Approach to Sex Crimes: The Case for Survivor-Centered Restorative Justice,” the webinar will air January 25 starting at 7 p.m. eastern time until 8:30 p.m.

Webinar presenters are Alissa Ackerman, Ph.D., Lara Bazelon, Seema Gajwani, and Nuri Nusrat. The program is moderated  by Danielle Cooper, Ph.D., CPP.

Restorative justice is a process which provides not only accountability from those who have caused harm but also offers healing to all the parties involved. It is embraced by many as offering what is so sadly lacking in the criminal justice system today.

The webinar offers insight to those in many different fields, including faith based organizations, therapeutic communities, dispute resolution centers, youth/young adult advocates, sexual offense registry personnel, reentry workers, judicial and court support services, criminal defense attorneys, public defenders, state attorneys, attorneys general, the law enforcement community, criminal justice reform advocates in general,  survivors of harm who don’t believe the current system is taking care of their needs, and just anyone who feels the current system has flaws or who wants more information about the restorative justice process.

NARSOL takes great pride in what is being done in Connecticut by One Standard of Justice. This organization stands as a beacon in the New England area for the work that NARSOL does.

No matter who you are, if you have an interest in the issue of sexual offending, you do not want to miss this important and informative webinar. To register or to get more information, use this link.

From Acorn to Oak; Join Us in Raleigh June 16-19

Raleigh Conference 2022

If you left the NARSOL National Conference in Houston last October thinking, “Gosh, that was amazing! I can’t wait a whole year for the next one,” then you’re in luck! You won’t have to! Hot on the heels of NARSOL’s most successful national conference ever, our 2022 conference is coming to Raleigh, North Carolina on June 16-19, 2022!

Our theme for this year’s conference is “From Acorn to Oak,” which exemplifies how small, seemingly inconsequential personal efforts can sometimes transform into something glorious and formidable. To that end, we’ve assembled a slate of incredible speakers which includes recognized scholars and academics in the fields of sociology and criminal justice, notable advocates for criminal justice reform, and fearless attorneys litigating against unconstitutional registries everywhere. In addition to our Plenary Speakers, we’ve scheduled over a dozen workshops and training sessions designed to help you to attain your personal, professional, or advocacy goals.

Our Plenary Speakers include:

Ira Ellman

Ira M. Ellman is a Distinguished Affiliated Scholar, Center for the Study of Law and Society, at the University of California, Berkeley, and Affiliated Faculty of the Berkeley Center for Child and Youth Policy. He serves on the Editorial Board of the journal “Psychology, Public Policy, and Law.” He recently served on the American Law Institute’s Members’ Consultative Group for the Institute’s revision of the sexual assault provisions of the Model Penal Code. In 2015, he wrote the widely acclaimed piece, “Frightening and High”: The Supreme Court’s Crucial Mistake About Sex Crime Statistics.”

Glen Martin
Glen Martin

Glenn E. Martin is a successful real estate investment entrepreneur and criminal justice reform advocate. He is the founder of JustLeadershipUSA, an organization dedicated to cutting the U.S. correctional population in half by the year 2030. He has also served as the Vice President of The Fortune Society, where he founded and led the David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy. He has served as the Co-Director of the National HIRE Network at the Legal Action Center and co-founded the Education from the Inside Out Coalition.

Kristan Russell
Kristan Russell

Kristan N. Russell is an Assistant Professor of Justice Studies in the College of Juvenile Justice and a Research Scientist in the Texas Juvenile Crime Prevention Center at Prairie View A&M University, Texas. She earned her PhD in Interdisciplinary Social Psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2020 and conducts research to help inform and improve public policies that involve sexual offenses. Her work has been published in journals such as the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Feminist Criminology, and Qualitative Criminology.

Chrysanthi Leon
Chrysanthi Leon

Chrysanthi Leon is the Deputy Dean of the Honors College, Associate Professor of Sociology & Criminal Justice, Women & Gender Studies, and Legal Studies, and founding member of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Gender-based Violence at the University of Delaware. She is an interdisciplinary scholar in penology, law and society whose research and teaching address sex crime and punishment, sex work, and the prison system. She is the author of “Sex Fiends, Perverts and Pedophiles: Understanding Sex Crime Policy in America.”

Paul Dubbeling
Paul Dubbeling

Paul Dubbeling is a former U.S. Army ranger and infantry officer who served as a JAG attorney for six years, including two tours in Afghanistan. After leaving the army, Paul clerked for Judge Neil M. Gorsuch (now a Justice of the United States Supreme Court) before earning his MBA from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and going into private practice. Since then, he successfully litigated Does v. Cooper, a federal lawsuit which struck down many of North Carolina’s residency restrictions and has worked on many other landmark registry-related cases. Paul currently serves as NARSOL’s general legal counsel.

Paul Shannon
Paul Shannon

Paul Shannon has been active in advocacy and organizing for over 40 years. In the 1990s, he helped organize a broad coalition of people and organizations to oppose the original sex offender registry and lifetime civil commitment legislation in Massachusetts. In 2007 he was a founder of the original Reform Sex Offender Laws (RSOL). Paul is the former chair of the NARSOL Board of Directors and has been actively involved in organizing the Sex Offender Policy Reform Initiative (SOPRI) in the greater Boston area. In 2021, Paul was recognized for his distinguished loyalty and service with the first annual NARSOL Lifetime Achievement Award which now bears his name.

We’ll be releasing more information and highlighting these exciting speakers individually in the months to come, along with the details of the many workshops that will be offered at the conference. Almost as exciting as the speakers and workshops will be the wonderful social events and opportunities to network with others in this advocacy arena. You definitely won’t want to miss a single moment of the conference.

Start making plans to attend this incredible event now! If you act quickly, you can still qualify for the Full Weekend Early Bird Special, which includes all plenary speakers, workshops, socials, and the Saturday evening awards banquet meal for just $229. NARSOL members in good standing are eligible to receive an additional $50 off the full weekend price and should receive a discount code via email. Hotel and travel (not included) should be reserved as early as possible in order to lock in the attractive group rate that we have negotiated with the venue hotel.

We look forward to seeing you in Raleigh!

Sign up for the conference

Reserve your hotel room

Learn more





How the media fans the flames of hatred for people on sex offense registries

By Sandy . . . Fox News, a self-proclaimed conservative media outlet, had distributed this story out of Austin, Texas. While its overt message is that “defunding the police” puts the public in danger, the very strong subtext is that anyone with a sexual crime conviction is evil, dangerous, and only held in check from constant reoffense by a strong, diligent police department.

“Defunding the police” is a term utilized not by those who call for more responsible managing of our tax coffers but as a weapon intended to stir the flames of dissent and anger. In this one, short article, starting with its inclusion in the title, the phrase is used eight times. Those who are blamed for “defunding the police” want to do no such thing. They want, rather, that money allotted to law enforcement be used in evidence-based initiatives shown to be required for public safety.

Running police sting operations are not among these. Nor is constant monitoring of approximately 90% of any jurisdiction’s sexual offense registry. Those who have not reoffended would be as well left alone, reoffending at an average rate of approximately 5%, and, even if some are non-compliant with a few of the many and onerous rules and regulations, they are at no significantly greater risk of reoffense than their totally compliant brothers and sisters.

Will someone occasionally go against the odds and commit a reoffense? Of course. But so will any given member of the community at large. In fact, the risk of a non-registered individual committing a sexual crime is well over 90% higher than the risk of a registrant doing so. Would law enforcement register and monitor the entire community if they had the funds?

To bolster their agenda and support their arguments, Fox uses a series of totally unsupported rhetoric and phrases. In fact, some are so vague as to be laughable.

“[C]ivilian monitors lack arrest authority and some question whether they are able to keep up.” Some who? The people who hired them to do the job of keeping up with records? Surely when an arrest is needed, one of the police officers can do that. If the needed arrests of registrants are so high that the abilities of four actual officers are strained, why wasn’t the number given? That is a fact that could – and should — have been included: since this change in personnel, how many arrests of persons on the registry have been required?

“[T]he staffing shortage has had dire consequences and is potentially responsible for a recent high-profile incident.” Dire consequences? Potentially responsible? The high-profile incident referred to is an alleged reoffense, and if I said that it most likely would have occurred regardless, I would be criticized for a vague unsupported opinion, and rightly so. But “dire” and “potentially” are no less vague and unsupported than “most likely” and no less of an opinion.

Still referring to the same incident, Fox reports, “They took those officers back and those officers were tasked with field visits, sex offender compliance checks, things that could have prevented things like this from happening.”

 Could have prevented – another way of saying potentially. And who is the “they” that “took the officers back”? Would those in command of officer assignments in the Austin Police Department have truly removed officers from positions known to be crucial for public safety?

Not satisfied with “dire,” this decision has also had “a devastating impact on the lives of the citizens” and has “. . . created an unsafe environment.” And just as with “dire,” the reader is left wondering what the “devastating impact” and the “unsafe environment” are. No evidence is offered of either.

None of these, however, are the worst of Fox News’ blunders in the reporting of this piece, for near the end we are told, “The Austin Police Department told Fox News that it did not have a specific estimate of the number of cases handed over to civilians at this time, but a source tells Fox that it’s about 650 cases.”

And just like that, we are back to vague, unsupported, unidentifiable entities: a source. And, to compound the injury, it is a source who seems to have intimate knowledge of the Austin Police Department’s information that even they do not have since they lacked even an “estimate,” for is a “specific estimate” any more definitive than a non-specific estimate? An estimate is an estimate, and the APD did not have one. But the mysterious source did.

Responsible use of law enforcement resources requires initiatives empirically shown to be needed for public safety.

Responsible journalism saves emotionally charged language and unsupported rhetoric for opinion pieces and does not present them, as it has done here, as news.

Austin sees hundreds of sex offender cases removed from police officer supervision due to defunding

A source tells Fox News that one of the sex offenders moved to civilian supervision sexually assaulted an autistic teenager Hundreds of convicted sex offenders are no longer being monitored by sworn police officers in Austin, Texas due to the city’s move to defund the police and cut police academy classes.  As

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Repeat Child Sex Offenders To Be Sent To Penal Colonies In The Arctic For Life

Russia will begin to change child sex laws later this month by sending repeat child sex offenders to penal colonies in the Artic — for life. Parliamentary speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, said, “Those convicted for such crimes should serve life sentences in the harshest conditions — in the extreme north (of Russia) or

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Sex Offender Registration and Monitoring Triennial Review – 2021 is out!

The Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) studied the effectiveness of Florida’s sex offender registration process and public notification provisions and prepared their triennial report for 2021. Below is a link to the complete report, which we encourage you to read. We will update this post shortly with bullets from their findings.

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Sex offender freed after appeal

A man previously convicted of sexually abusing two children is free after the Idaho Supreme Court ruled that he was deprived of his right to a fair trial. A jury convicted 39-year-old Robert J. Farrell-Quigle in 2018 of two counts of lewd conduct with a minor under the age […]

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It’s 2022 and these gay men are still on the sex offender registry for consensual sex

A lawsuit filed last month revealed that at least 19 people are still required to register as sex offenders due to past convictions under South Carolina’s “buggery” law for having consensual gay sex. The SC law, along with other states’ anti-sodomy laws, were made invalid in 2003, when the U.S. Supreme Court […]

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Homeless offenders in Brevard County struggle to find resources and shelter

Jason is sitting in Brevard County Jail waiting to appear before a judge on a charge of violating parole. He’d rather be anywhere else, but the reality is he’s not wanted many other places. A charge against him made in 1998 at 15 years old, of which he was convicted in 2000, […]

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