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The modern Leper: Sex Offender Law reform

Everyone who is reasonable admits (nowadays) that homosexuality is not a disease, nor should the LGBTQIA+ community be treated as irredeemable. However, there is a growing population of people, starting as low as age 7, that the law and society have decided to treat the way it used to treat the LGBT folks: “Sex Offenders.”

The Sex Offender Registry (SOR) laws are one of the last bastions of righteous indignation and medieval bigotry. It seems that, despite studies and statistics to the contrary, SOR folks are thought to be highly dangerous and at high-risk for recidivism. They are forced into highly dangerous housing situations (due to distance restrictions); they are subject to severe employment restrictions; they are subject to forced public exposure of their identities — often leading to increased exposure to assault and murder. They are subject to arrest simply for walking, unaware, through a restricted area, and when arrested, subject to revocation of what limited personal freedoms they do have because their probations are cancelled.

Even if they survive to the end of their registration period, they must jump through labyrinthine hoops in the court systems to be released — if it is even allowed in a given state. Furthermore, the DAs can demand all sorts of extraneous requirements and paperwork, delaying any action and, thus, denying any justice. Full Article

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  1. w

    When reading this article and reviewing the comments, I’m reminded once again of how useless a broad term such as sex offender is and yet people are content to argue apples and oranges at length.

    • Joe123

      After reading the comments you realize why the Founding Fathers didn’t trust citizens to directly vote on laws and instead have representatives, “they aren’t educated enough”. There are too many emotions running around and very little logic with the ‘common folk’. The comments section is a prime example of it.

      • Will Allen

        It would be nice if people added some sensible comments but people who are listed on the Registries don’t seem to care to do that much.

        • norman

          @Will Allen

          Lets see, at the last meeting about a few weeks ago in West Sacramento with Janice and company I estimate about 50 people attended.

          There are 2,277 registered citizens in Sacramento.

          I will be doing my part to try and get that number up to a hundred at the next meeting.

          How about you?

        • mike r

          I used to, seems pointless after a while. The sheeple are just to conditioned for stupidity and to let others think for them. They are all followers without individual thought anymore and only know or believe what others in the mainstream tell them to believe or know. The movie Idiocracy (for those that do not know, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiocracy) is reality in the making. Have any of you been to a college class lately. 98% of professors have one view and they preach that view every chance they get. It is so bad I am about to go to the dean, except for I have to take these professors in future classes in many situations and really do not need the headaches from their ire. And the younger generation is buying it hook line and sinker and believe every word they say and everything the read on the net, which is being filtered thru the Google propaganda machine…

        • Tim Moore

          How does one get in to comment?

      • Timothy D.A. Lawver

        @joe123,
        That is just the reality of any society, few are knowledgeable because human sexuality is Ill defined cross culturally. “Norms” are culturally defined so” legality” becomes irrelevant for prevention. Law will never prevent violence, but those who depend on “law” to remain relevant MUST insist they do effect abstinence from violence. Murder runs amuck in America Today! The offenders will be punished, if identified, but never prevented by law nor regulation. SOR was about the database and uses legal thereof by government agents, a civil duty. Scapegoats for Surveillance Saints. See PROJECT ANGEL WATCH.
        Angels remember only look after children…. Right?

      • R M

        The “representatives” aren’t educated enough either or we wouldn’t be in this mess.

        • Dustin

          The “representatives” are perfectly educated enough and have the data. It’s called pandering – they’ll keep writing and supporting idiocy as long as they believe it’s what the voters want and there is someone to slip them something under the table to keep it coming.

        • R M

          @Dustin: you are correct but how do you know they really know the truth?

  2. CR

    That opinion piece could have been better written. A reader could be left with some incorrect impressions that I attribute simply to poor writing.

    For example, the article implies that there is an end to the registration period, when in fact there is not for a large percentage of registrants. Also it implies that everyone on a SOR is on probation, when in fact, the majority have already completed their sentence.

    Finally, politicizing the opinion piece with references to the “pseudo-president” only serves to detract from the primary issue, which is the SOR, and is practically guaranteed to attract trolls. Not smart.

    • Tim Moore

      Daily KOS is a purely Democratic Party mouthpiece, so criticizing the president is probably the only thing the author did that would gain general approval. I like, though, that people are questioning the registry from within their own party or belief system. We are not going to change much by just turning to the libertarians. They are not in power. If you’re a Republican, work on the Republicans, Democrat, work on the Democrats, Green, Green, Christian, Christian, Jew, Jew, Atheist, Atheist and so on to change the dialogue that has infected them all.

  3. Aman

    I read a lot of comments about who is “educated” enough, or how not enough people attend meetings…..in California. This problem is nation wide, and needs to be addressed from across the country. The current SO laws in our nation are wrong, and even a very good lawyer with thousands of clients and years of experience is still only one voice.
    Real change only begins when the people speak out about what is wrong and why. Lawyers are the second step in a legal process for change, step one starts with the people….us, WE are the people. The reason our Law makers and the general public at large are not educated enough rests squarely on OUR shoulders. Who knows more than us about how we are all subject to laws and “punishment” that violate not only the constitution of the United States, but our basic human rights……no one. We are the most educated, we know the truth and we, all of us need speak out.
    Right now we are just a scattered group with a lawyer here and there and who knows how many years to wait for something to change. We are all over the country, and we all need the same thing…..laws that put an end to the mistreatment of a group of American citizens and their families. Right now our loved ones are even being punished and kept part from us simply because they dared to love a good person who has been branded a sex offender for life under our laws.
    We need someone with the knowledge, compassion, strength and courage to step up and lead us all as an organization dedicated to bringing the truth to light. The women’s rights movement, the LGBTQ community and now the “me too” movement have all called for change by organizing and making their voices heard. All of the groups that ever had success had one thing in common…..a leader, an organizer who called their people together and taught them how to speak out the right way with one huge voice.
    I know there is someone out there who can be the one to say the five words that will start something that is long overdue. Is it you….. then please say it….say “yes…..I can do this”. I promise we will follow, we must. It’s time for our voice to be heard, peacefully, lawfully and with steadfast determination. Real change only begins when the people speak out against what is wrong and why….and WE are the people.

    • Chris f (@aman)

      @aman
      Well stated. The difference between our cause and the other movements are that we really did something wrong. Many don’t want to draw more attention and cant afford any costs or exposure and may still be under supervision and restrictions.

      I am afraid our only hope for a good representative, is if a victim of a sexual assault comes forward where their assault was due to an unknown offender that got away with it over and over because previous victims wouldnt come forward due to the sex offender stigma hurting their family member or friend.

      Once people realize sex offender laws cause more harm than good in society and actually influence more assaults we might have a shot. Draconian laws lead to cover ups for families and when they fail at fixing the offender themselves it leads to more victims. Sometimes the stigma of being labelled a sex offender is so great that plee bargains wont be reached and perps go free when someone wont testify. Sometimes plee bargains are too lenient to avoide registration at request of the victim and the offender may not get the help they need.

      I just dont think the standard methods of drawing attention to a picked on group will work in our case. It’s been over 15 years since Smith v doe and 850000 registrants and still very slow progress and its only been in courts and not public opinion. I wish there was a quick fix but I dont see it.

      • Aman

        @ Chris f
        Thank you for your comment. Yes I agree, the stigma of the label “sex offender” can be overpowering, but much of that power we heap upon ourselves. We are all called sex offenders for what we did years, even decades ago, but what we are called or thought of by others is far less important than what we truly believe about ourselves.
        Before we can do anything we must first learn to stop accepting the label, and the fear that goes with it. It’s true that many of us still have restrictions both financial and legal, but the biggest restrictions we face are self-imposed. We limit ourselves with our own fear and self-doubt. As long as we continue to think of ourselves as “sex offenders” no matter how we have changed over the years, then that is as far as we will go. I am registered, but I stopped being a sex offender over twenty years ago, and this is what we all need to start believing in our hearts. We all know who we were then, but that was the past, and for a great many of us, those “offenders” have changed into good hard working people that deserve every opportunity to rejoin society with their families.
        Yes we did wrong in the past, but that is not the point. The present laws do no more than appease outrage from the voting public and do nothing to actually stem the problem of sex trafficking and offense. We cannot just rely on the few lawyers out there that are trying to fight against the abuses of registrants and their families.
        I do understand that many registrants have a limited income because jobs for us can be hard to secure, but we cannot expect anything to happen if we rely on somebody else to pay our way. “You pays your money and you takes your chances” as Boggie said in The African Queen, and he was right. We have to be willing to reach into our own pockets, how ever little we can afford, and take our chances to try and build something. I don’t know what we can do just yet, but I do know that if we do nothing, we get nothing.
        I think we should speak more on this. I look forward to your reply.

        • Chris f (@aman)

          I agree those with the label need to not give in and let the label define them. But I personally know about 20 from group therapy and that isnt really an issue. They had to adapt to the restrictions and stay under the radar as long as possible to maintain jobs and living arrangements as long as possible.

          There is another discussion on the general chat about our need to stand up and rally for our rights like blacks and gays had to do. I don’t think that is the proper way because there is a huge difference. Gays and blacks were born that way and they had to fight to prove there is nothing wrong with it. We made a mistake to get into our situation.

          Our fight has to be carefully tailored. We need to educate others but not in any attempt for sympathy. We need to point out that when a hated group is carved out and doesnt receive the constitutional protections of everyone else that it hurts more than it helps.

          The precidents set by judges approval of unconstitional sex offender laws is already a green light for the same treatment to animal abusers and drunk drivers in a few small areas that could expand.

          By making sex offence penalties so harsh beyond necessity, it can lead to victims being forced to testify because a plea bargain cant be reached, victims being killed, crimes being covered up by family resulting in more victims, orison overcrowding, loss of productivity, wasted funds for courts and prisons, and lots more unnecessary drains on society.

          I think change will take a combined effort of educating judges and strong lawsuits. I think a big win in a court is the only way to legitimize our fight and force a real debate with the public based on facts. If people won’t come around to understand the bad domino effect that occurs by setting the logic behind the constitution aside just to “save the children” then our fight will never be won.

        • Notorious DIK (said to be Kennerly)

          Chris, regarding “The difference between our cause and the other movements are that we really did something wrong.” I have to take issue with that. Not everyone on the Registry HAS done something wrong and, amongst the “wrong” that they may have done there are huge differences. Some “wrongs” are no wrong at all. Societal overreaction and measured, temperate responses to crime should be part of this debate and we must not forfeit our opportunity to include it. But the idea that we have, somehow, lost our right to public protest or forfeited all our credibility is something I must push back against. I’m inclined to say that those here who insist on issuing declarations about others’ guilt should speak for themselves. They, themselves are not familiar with the past actions and circumstances of other Registrants and should really stop painting them with such a broad brush. I’m amazed that there are several very articulate people here who cannot imagine public protest as an accessible tool for our cause. It is because the public is also not an amorphous, undifferentiated mass that responds uniformly that we have the opportunity to shift the preconceived opinions of some, maybe just enough. If we’re insistent upon society making more sophisticated distinctions between behaviors then we must also do so ourselves.

        • Will Allen

          I think we should overwhelm public commenting forums quoth a 100% anti-Registry message. Forget recidivism rates and similar crap. Just say the Registries are useless and un-American over and over and over again. No facts are needed.

          People will see public comments. They don’t see discussions here. They don’t see meetings of Registrants.

  4. R M

    @Chris f: You said ” I don’t think that is the proper way because there is a huge difference. Gays and blacks were born that way and they had to fight to prove there is nothing wrong with it.”.

    You are correct in the general sense but don’t forget that pedophilia is a mental issue people are born with. I don’t see that as “wrong” either as they were born that way.

    “…educating judges…” Yeah ok.

    The “judges” are mostly elected officials and want to stay that way.

    Don’t get me wrong; I do agree with most of what you said such about having the public informed/educated and lawsuits but how do we do that if they already have their minds made up regardless to the facts? See this article:

    https://all4consolaws.org/2018/11/one-criminal-defense-attorneys-lament-scott-greenfield-argues-that-innocents-are-being-sacrificed-in-the-name-of-utopian-causes/

    and my comment there.

    • Chris f

      Pedophilia didnt get someone on the registry. Breaking the law did. I would suspect a great deal of registrants arent even pedophiles since any sex offence can get you on it and even some non sexual ones.

      As for changing their made up minds, that wont be done until a high profile scotus case releases a lot of people from the registry and they are forced to join the discussion on the facts that lead to that decision. That is the only way to speed up discussion and in that way it is similar to the forced discussions after scotus decisions on integrating blacks into schools and rights for gays to marry.

    • Aman

      @Chris f
      Yes, I also know people from group that have the right attitude about who they are but must also bend to the restrictions placed upon them in order to maintain their living and working conditions. The problem is that as long as we just bend a knee and stay off the radar nothing much will change. Strong lawsuits have been tried and tried again with little to no results. I believe that the judges are indeed educated, as are many of our lawmakers, but as long as the general public continues to cry out because of what they “think” is true about us, then good lawyers such as Janice will be stuck trying to knock down a brick wall with a handful of pebbles.
      The court of public opinion IS the court system now. Social media, TV shows and nightly news broadcasts that continue to vilify our group carry the most weight, and what elected official would dare stand against all that and risk political suicide. It’s the people themselves we must reach. There are many people in this country who have never known a victim, or even a friend-of-a-friend of a victim, and those people would be the most likely to have a more open mind and be more receptive to hearing the facts.
      Let’s say we did gather and march on Washington for change in how we and our families are being mistreated under the present system of law…..what could they do…..kill us??? Look at how we are forced to live. We are being “marked”, and cannot travel now without fear of reprisal and imprisonment just to start with. Many of us are relighted to living under bridges, overpasses and in substandard housing units that the ASPCA would not kennel a dog in (I have seen it in my city). Our wives, husbands and fiancé’s are kept apart from us for what seem right now like the rest of our lives, and the USCIS keeps holding the carrot just out of our reach. As for keeping a god job, (if we can even find one), at any time any employee that feels “uncomfortable” with a sex offender present can have that registrant fired with no recourse available. Kill us……they already have. We are being forced into a corner that gets smaller every day, and they have taken EVERYTHING from us except our own sense of human dignity.
      There is no place here for anger, but we need to start something together to help the Janices out there who work so hard for us with just that handful of pebbles, and the hope that one day justice will find its way to our little corner.

  5. Tim Moore

    Well, you really don’t have to make people feel sorry for you. Many people are just not aware of what these laws are or how counter productive they are. They think everyone is a raving sex maniac and the laws are constitutional, that we don’t have families or friends, a moral code, and we can’t feel empathy. When they find out these laws are junk legislation and props to get politicians elected, that we are actually humans, and the laws are actually making things worse, doing collateral damage to children, the smart people will listen, maybe not to agree at first, but smart people are attracted to problem solving. You have to get the smart people to listen, the ones who are able to bat for you. You have to get their attention first in a controlled fashion. Our lives are a sinking ship. Do you think the passengers on the Titanic met after the ice berg hit to discuss how they were going to sue the ships owners? Get out the life boats. How are you going to get people to listen unless you get noticed? But don’t respond to the lead heads. They just waste your time. You have to gain the smart people’s attention somehow and do it in an urgent, but dignified way. They are already occupied with other issues. Sure, hate groups parade and terrorists tweet. They have done, do bad things. The difference between them and us would be their message is one of chaos and violence. That is what they are trying to achieve. Ours will be rehabilitation and deliverance. We are striving for peace. People will say “what, sex offenders? peace? rehabilitation? No registry? No more abuse? That would seem like a contradiction, a conundrum to them, but it would occupy their minds because of that. They will try to resolve the contradiction, because that is what minds try to do when faced with two opposing views, and if you just remain silent or hidden the Valigators and Books of the world will resolve it for you, not to our benefit. So that is when you talk about facts, right after you get their attention. You have to get there, get in the lifeboats so to speak, before the next child murderer gets in the news or you’re simply trying to bail out the water from the gaping gash through the slow, tedious court process. After these tragic events the best thing is to just condemn the acts or remain silent. No win situation if you wait ’til that happens. We’re sunk. Again.

    • Aman

      @ Tim Moore

      “When they find out” is my entire point. Without a unified voice that speaks to the masses about the truths of this issue “they” will never find out. I read so many posts about SCOTUS and judges that need to be educated, but who will educate them….? You hit on a good point that smart people (ordinary citizens with open minds and good standing in the community) are indeed some of the best allies to go to bat for us, and you are right. Public opinion is the engine that drives our justice system in the direction it calls for, right or wrong that’s the way it is, and if we really want to change the present course that create laws that do far more harm than they could ever do good then we have to start changing public opinion. I have no pie-in-the-sky answer here. It took several years and many horrible acts from some of the worst humans alive to create the atmosphere of hate and ignorance that allowed the very Constitution of this nation to be completely ignored because of the belief that “we are all the same”, and it will no doubt take time to break down that belief.
      My question to all is this: What are we willing to do to bring the truth out in the open for all the smart people to see? Right now we complain a lot, a few of us post on websites such as this and attend meetings in California, but what changes…… pretty much nothing! I hear Janice talk about how the courts will not listen to the arguments made on our behalf, and how she wonders if she has to bring in a dead body to make her point (Spoken at the last phone conference Nov. 17th). We must be willing to do more than just complain about our situation. There is no reward without a certain amount of risk, and it is to our own shame if we just let the lawyers take it on the chin for us. Folks, we have to help…..somehow, some way.
      The engine, the people need to know what is really happening here, because they don’t. It is up to us to help find a way to make sure there is a time “when they find out” that the laws concerning our group are indeed junk legislation, borne of ignorance and misguided hatred.
      As I stated earlier, I have no concrete answers here, and anything I may have ever suggested as action is ONLY meant as ideas to consider in the most non-violent and lawful way. This is not about making people feel sorry for us, this is all about showing them that a great wrong is being committed against citizens and their families for all the wrong reasons with no benefit to society as currently believed.
      Being on “the registry” does not erase a persons knowledge and talent. There are people out there, registrants out there with a great number of valuable skills. I only wish that more of us would climb out of there shells and share some of those skills. Protesting in the streets is not our only option folks, there are many other ways to gain attention without causing potential harm to ourselves or others. I am not the answer man here, but I am looking…….

  6. Chris f (@Kennerly)

    @d k

    David, my opinions on the lack of effectiveness on our group protesting comes from lots of reading of books, historical articles, and talking with people. I wont say it could never work or help, but the things that have to fall into place to make that happen are a long shot. You would need the group to be composed of mostly low level or sympathetic causes, because the press or public will focus on the worst cases. You would need those sympathetic cases to join the protest, and those mostly may be the least likely to join as they may have gained enougg support and sympathy to maintain family or a job and not want to risk it.

    The exception would be a monumental protest that draws enough attention that real facts can get out, but I don’t see that happening. Look at how few registered citizens even have the motivation to post on forums like this out of over 800,000 and out of those that do, how many are willing to do research and understand the issues or contribute to the cause?

    My remarks of how we committed a crime to get on the list wasnt meant to villify those whose crimes were minor, shouldnt be a crime, or actually didnt do what they were accused of. It was meant in the context of the discussion to show the only way the outside will perceive us as a whole if we try to protest. The public doesnt know or care if a few non deserving people are mixed in if the overall group is made up of people they think deserve what they get.

    I dont want to diacourage anyone from doing what they can. I also would prefer our scant resources and short list of vocal advocates focus on the most likely methods of making progress.

    While I prefer the methods remain non violent, I will not be surprised if there are more instances where people give up and do desperate things.

    • Chris f

      Let me add that I dont mean to discourage the California protests and those that show up to support Janice’s efforts. If you can talk with people and change some minds that is great. I tend to speak based on facts and what I really think and don’t exagerate or sugar coat things to influence people.

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