In the span of just one week, three courts have issued decisions that significantly harm registrants. Those decisions affect registrants’ marriages, homes and overseas travel.
It’s a lot to absorb in a short amount of time. It’s too much to fight at this time. But fight we must in the near future.
In the first of those decisions, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals validated a provision of the Adam Walsh Act that makes it difficult, if not impossible, for an individual convicted of a sex offense to sponsor his spouse for U.S. citizenship. That is because the individual must prove that he poses “no risk” to the safety of his spouse.
In the second of those decisions, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld residency restrictions adopted by the State of Illinois. In doing so, the Court relied upon the myth that there is a high risk of recidivism for anyone convicted of a sex offense as well as the wrongly decided case Smith v. Doe in which the U.S. Supreme Court determined that the requirement to register as a sex offender is not punishment.
In the third of those decisions, a U.S. District Court decided that the State Department did not issue improper regulations regarding the International Megan’s Law even though the scope of the regulations exceeded that law. In doing so, the court relied upon another myth – that individuals convicted of a sex offense involving a minor are likely to engage in child sex tourism or child sex trafficking.
What do these three court decisions have in common? Each of the decisions is based upon the myth that an individual convicted of a sex offense, regardless of the nature of the offense or when it occurred, poses a current danger. In addition, at least part of each decision applies to individuals convicted of a sex offense involving a minor even if the individual is no longer required to register as a sex offender.
These decisions speak to us clearly. The message? We must continue to educate everyone – individuals, elected officials, and judges – about the actual low rate of re-offense and that individuals convicted of a sex offense are unlikely to engage in child sex tourism and child sex trafficking. In order for our messages to be heard, however, we need to learn how to communicate in a different way by “framing our message”.
We learned about the importance of “framing our message” at this year’s conference. The members of the board will be taught how to frame our message at its annual face-to-face meeting later this year. And once the board learns this important lesson, we will be able to teach that important lesson to others.
In the meantime, we will prepare to fight harmful decisions such as the three decisions issued this week. We will fight in state and federal courtrooms. We will fight in state capitols. We will even fight in Washington, D.C.
Please stay tuned to this website for details of those fights so that you can prepare to join us!