The struggle to pass the most recent Tiered Registry Bill (Senate Bill 421) is over. The Assembly Appropriations Committee stopped the bill yesterday when it refused to release the bill from the committee’s Suspense File.
Because the bill was stopped, some registrants are breathing a sigh of relief. For if the bill had passed, they would have been identified as a registrant on the state Megan’s Law website for the first time.
Because the bill was stopped, some registrants are in shock, perhaps in tears or worse. For if the bill had passed, they would have been eligible to petition for removal from the registry and the Megan’s Law website.
The day after the Appropriations Committee’s decision, there is a lot we do not know. For example, we do not know why the author of the bill agreed to extensive amendments of that bill only a week ago.
From the perspective of registrants, the amendments weakened the bill considerably. For example, the automatic removal of those convicted more than 30 years ago was eliminated and the number of years for those convicted of possessing child pornography must register was doubled.
The fact is even the original version of the recent Tiered Registry Bill was built on a flawed foundation. Instead of empirical evidence, the bill was based upon myths such as the myth that registrants re-offend at a high rate.
The fact is that the original version of the Tiered Registry Bill was created by a group of law enforcement organizations and district attorneys. The group subsequently created a coalition when it obtained support for the bill from organizations representing a broad spectrum of views including victims’ rights organizations, Equality California and the ACLU.
Once formed, the coalition believed they had the political power to get the bill passed. The coalition warned off others that sought meaningful changes to the bill including changes that reflected the results of decades of research conducted by subject matter experts such as Karl Hanson, Jill Levenson and others.
In the end, the coalition did not achieve its goal of getting the Tiered Registry bill passed. As painful as that failure is, it provides registrants with an opportunity. An opportunity to create a new bill based upon a solid foundation — empirical evidence.
We have 16 months in which to do that. To draft a bill that can be introduced in the next legislative session set to begin in January 2019. To find a legislator brave enough to speak the truth about the registry and to fight for justice. To build a coalition of like-minded organizations.
We need YOUR help to do that! Please join us in that effort by Showing Up – Standing Up – Speaking Up at monthly meetings, conferences and protests. We are indeed all in this together.
— by Janice Bellucci
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