Today we sit on top of a mountain. We take a short rest after an arduous journey up a steep path. We gather strength. We gather numbers. We prepare for what we believe will be the final legs of a journey for many who will reach freedom…..freedom from the tyranny of the sex offender registry.
Our journey began six years ago when a brave elected official, Tom Ammiano, introduced the first tiered registry bill. He saw the truth, that the requirement to register is not a mere administrative requirement, but instead is punishment.
Despite the efforts of that brave leader and our lobbying, the state legislature refused to see the truth and defeated the first tiered registry bill in 2012. The members of the state legislature continued to refuse to see the truth and did not allow a vote on the second tiered registry bill in 2013.
Not only did members of the state legislature defeat the first two tiered registry bills, they also introduced legislation during a six-year period that significantly harmed registrants and their families. Those bills were based upon the myth that registrants have a high rate of re-offense which has been discredited by empirical evidence.
The state legislature has an opportunity this year to correct its mistakes of the past by passing a new tiered registry bill (SB 421). This tiered registry bill is similar to past tiered registry bills because it would end the requirement for many registrants to register for a lifetime.
This tiered registry bill is different than past tiered registry bills because it has bipartisan authors (Democratic Senator Scott Wiener and Republican Senator Joel Anderson) and is supported by law enforcement and district attorneys. The bill is also supported by victims’ rights groups, the ACLU, Equality California and ACSOL.
Together, our coalition of supporters has succeeded in passage of the tiered registry bill in the Senate. However, our coalition of supporters now faces a great challenge in the Assembly where the bill will be considered by two committees and then face a floor vote.
The first of those hearings will be before the Public Safety Committee on July 11 at 9 a.m. in Room 126 of the State Capitol. It is the final opportunity we will have to publicly state our support for the tiered registry bill.
Therefore, it is time for us to move from the top of the mountain to the State Capitol for one of the final legs of the journey. It is time for your voice to be heard! For when you speak, you will help yourself and/or others to reach freedom…..freedom from the tyranny of the sex offender registry.
— by Janice Bellucci
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