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CaliforniaJanice's Journal

Janice’s Journal: The Stage is Set

The stage is set. The Governor has signed the tiered registry bill into law, a law that opens a wide gap in the dam of California’s “Lifetime Registry for All”.  A dam that was in place for 70 years.  It is now our job to widen that gap.

The Tiered Registry will take effect in January 2021, about 3 ½ years from now.  While it is truly unfortunate that those who will benefit from the “new” tiered registry will have to wait so long, the lengthy gestation period for the “new” tiered registry could provide us with opportunities to address that registry through both legislation and litigation.

First, legislation could and should be pursued during the next legislative session (2019-2020) which improves the tiered registry by broadening its benefits, especially to those convicted of non-production child pornography (CP) offenses.  For there is no logical reason for, and no empirical evidence to support, the “new” tiered registry’s requirement for people convicted of non-production offenses to register for the rest of their lives.

There are additional problems with the “new” tiered registry that also need to be corrected such as the addition of people to the state’s Megan’s Law website due to a “high” score on the Static-99R at the time of their release.  The Static-99R is a controversial testing instrument that produces flawed results such as scoring all gay men under the age of 25 as high risk.  And even if the results of that testing instrument were considered valid, a score that is 10 years old or older is irrelevant because it does not reflect the results of post-conviction rehabilitation.

In addition, the “new” tiered registry requires a judge, when considering whether to approve a person’s petition for removal of the registry, to consider both pre- and post-conviction factors that are sure to result in prejudice against the petitioner.  For example, the judge must consider pre-conviction factors such as whether the victim was a stranger and post-conviction factors such as noncriminal behavior.  As written, this could mean that a judge must consider a ticket for jay walking and/or the late return of books to the public library.  These factors must be modified or removed.

Second, litigation could and should be pursued to challenge the need for, and value of, a public registry in California.  There are Constitutional issues, recent court decisions and empirical evidence to support such a challenge.

For example, the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution could be the basis for a challenge to why those convicted of a non-contact, non-violent offense such as possession of CP should be required to register for a lifetime similar to those convicted of multiple violent contact offenses against multiple children.

Another example is the ex post facto clause of the U.S. Constitution which prohibits governments from retroactively applying new laws that punish.  There is a growing number of court decisions, including Does v. Snyder in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which recognize that the requirement to register as well as its collateral consequences are punishment and therefore cannot be applied to individuals convicted decades ago.

Finally, there is empirical evidence to support the fact that public registries do not increase public safety.  In fact, there is even evidence that public registries may decrease public safety.   There is also empirical evidence to support the fact that the rate of re-offense for those convicted of a sex offense is very low especially when they have lived outside of jail or prison for 17 years or more without re-offending.

The stage is set.  There is much to do.  Please join us by Standing Up – Showing Up- Speaking Up at monthly meetings, annual conferences, legislative hearings and more.

— by Janice Bellucci

Join the discussion

  1. Sexercise

    I think the Static 99 test is both accurate and very fair! No test will accurately determine anyone’s risk level, yet some form of evaluation must be done! You gave one example ie: Gardner, but that’s only one person.

    If you rate high, you must have an extensive history?

    • AlexO

      You should take an actual look at Static-99. It doesn’t sound like you have based on your comments. You in no way need to have an extensive history to be rated high.

      An 18-34 year old person can easily score high without having so much as a traffic ticket before all this. +1 for being younger than 35, +1 for NOT having been in a romantic live-in relationship for 2+ years, +1 for the victim not being related to you, +1 for the victim being a stranger, +1 if the victim was male, +1 if you did NOT touch the victim. There you go. There’s 6 points right there, placing you automatically into tier 3.

      Age is by far the largest factor as the older you get, that first score can actually go negative. A 65+ year old person actually starts off at a -3. So a grandfather who rapped his granddaughter for 10 years could actually score a negative score as his risk factor. He starts off at -3. Then he scores zero on everything else I outlined above.

      • concerned registrant

        Good points Alex. Also, just to note, a Static score is based off of “age at release.” Current age is not taken into account with regard to the Static-99R. Neither is offense-free years in the community. Current age and offense-free years are the most significant risk factors in determining whether one will reoffend. Yet the Static-99R scam does not have any of those two factors in its scoring system.

    • concerned registrant

      Judging from their usernames, “Sexercise” and “HotCock” might be trolling. I don’t know how anyone who is informed can defend the Static-99R. Even IF the Static-99R was accurate (which it is not), the tiered law would still be blatantly misusing the Static-99R because, according to the Coding Rules, a Static score is only valid for two years. Further, “risk” is halved after five-years that a person has been offense-free in the community. So even if someone is initially scored “high” risk fresh from incarceration, that person will probably not have “norms” that are comparative to the “high” risk category after he has been offense-free in the community for five-years.

      So even if you overlook the literally hundreds of flaws to the Static-99R’s methodology, even the Static-99R’s very own Coding Rules specifically imply that using it to place people into Tier 3 is completely illegal (as legislation states that the state must comply with the “Coding Rules”).

      Refer to page 13 of the newest Coding Rules:

      “The longer an offender has been free of detected sexual offending since his release to the community from their index sex offence, the lower their risk of recidivism. Our research has found that, in general, for every five years the offender is in the community without a new sex offence, their risk for recidivism roughly halves (Hanson, Harris, Helmus, & Thornton, 2014). Consequently, we recommend that for offenders with two years or more sex offence free in the community since release from the index offence, the time they have been sex offence free in the community should be considered in the overall evaluation of risk. Static risk assessments estimate the likelihood of recidivism at the time of release and we expect they would be valid for approximately two years.”

      http://static99.org/pdfdocs/Coding_manual_2016_InPRESS.pdf

      • AlexO

        That’s the really frustrating part. The legislature seems to love how easy Static-99 makes it for them to evaluate people without actually needing to evaluate the individual, but choose (and it is very much a choice) to ignore the other part of the exact same tool that says they’re doing it wrong.

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