Janice’s Journal: Incrementalism: The Pros and the Cons

Incrementalism can be defined informally as taking one small step at a time.  Incrementalism can be defined formally as a method of change by which many small changes are enacted over time in order to create a larger change.

Regardless of the definition applied, incrementalism has both pros and cons.

Advocates of incrementalism believe that small changes can be used to form a solid foundation upon which larger changes can be based.  They argue that a solid foundation is necessary in order to survive expected future challenges.

Opponents of incrementalism believe that the status quo should only be challenged using maximum force.  They argue that the momentum of this force will prevent future challenges.

There is merit to both sides of this debate.  Having recognized that, however, it is important to disclose now that ACSOL believes in incrementalism and has followed that principle during a series of more than 100 lawsuits that have led to the end of residency restrictions, proximity restrictions and Halloween restrictions for those required to register, but not on parole or probation, in California. 

Because an incremental approach was used in those lawsuits, none of those restrictions have been reinstated.

ACSOL has also used an incremental approach in its legislative efforts, including creation of a Tiered Registry Law.  To be sure, ACSOL asked for a tiered registry based upon current risk of re-offense, but the legislature chose instead a tiered registry based upon the offense for which an individual was convicted.

Political compromises made during the legislature’s consideration of the tiered registry, in which ACSOL had no part, resulted in harm to many individuals.  For example, individuals convicted of possessing unlawful images are currently required to register for a lifetime and individuals convicted of a Tier 1 offense have been added to the Megan’s Law website.

ACSOL is aware of those and other harmful provisions within the Tiered Registry Law and is challenging some of those provisions in court.  In addition, ACSOL has lobbied and continues to lobby the state legislature to change many of the remaining harmful provisions of that law.

In fact, ACSOL is currently working with the California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) to fix three of those harmful provisions.  That effort began with a presentation to the board in January 2023 regarding seven proposed changes and continues with the ultimate goal of a recommendation from CASOMB, which was created by the legislature, to the legislature.  CASOMB has a loud and independent voice and will be heard by those unwilling to listen to ACSOL and its members.

ACSOL acknowledges that CASOMB is moving slowly and has not embraced all of the changes necessary to the Tiered Registry Law.  That is why ACSOL will continue its court challenges as well as its lobbying efforts. 

If you are an individual harmed by a provision of the Tiered Registry Law, ACSOL acknowledges that harm and asks that you be patient.  Your needs will be met using an incremental approach that will ultimately result not in a better registry, but in the elimination of the registry.

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Why is this only the case in America? Why do radical policies like denouncing the idea of a registry wholesale work in Germany but not here? Incrementalism is nonsense. The registry is unconstitutional so don’t settle for anything less.

It’s refreshing to see the term “unlawful images” in your article rather than pornography. It doesn’t have to be smut to be “unlawful”. Here’s something from Wikipedia on Dost Test: “As everything becomes (cp) in the eyes of the law—clothed children, coy children, children in settings where children are found—perhaps children themselves become pornographic” -Amy Adler NYU law professor.

Eric continued: In a perfect world the Tier system ought to take into account what was in the images. Is it something obscene involving sexual acts, or just something that might have been in any family photo album that made its way online. Such an invasion of a child’s privacy should unlawful, but lifetime registration?

After many years of following this thread, I’m confident Janice knows what she’s talking about because she’s tested the waters, consulted with experts, and knows the best approach to cause change. The biggest example is the Tiered Registry. But of course there’s always people who aren’t satisfied and complain. I’m not 100% satisfied either but I also realize how I got into this mess in the first place. Be humble and be patient.

As a physicist, I’m compelled to bring in Newton’s Third Law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In politics, it seems to be, “for every action, there’s a much larger reaction”. Janice seems to understand just the right force to make forward progress–an art based on many years of experience and wisdom.

The Tiered Registry is a significant improvement on the previous situation, but it’s not enough. Without the work that ACSOL does, legal abuse of sex offenders would be getting worse, not better. She holds back the tide of laws and regulations that would make our lives much worse, and makes progress on improving our situation. Eliminating the sex offender registry entirely in one-go might be a fantasy now, but could become a reality someday.

Look at marijuana laws: it’s taken over 50 years to claw back that idiocy, and it’s still a work in progress: marijuana possession is still a federal crime. First came “medical marijuana” in one state. Now, it’s fully legal in most states. That’s the incremental approach. It does work, but it can be frustratingly slow for those suffering under it. Thousands of people spent many years in jail for pot.
Eliminating the sex offender registry will be at least as hard as legalizing pot. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

-D

You gotta fight, you can’t just sit back and wait for (CASOMB) If you wanna get off the registry sooner you gotta take action, I had 3 more years left on the registry before I got my 17(b), After being told by 5 lawyers that I didn’t qualify for a 17(b) I still NEVER give up I kept fighting till I found A lawyer who was willing to help me.
Now I only have 11 months left, I’ve been on the registry since 2000

One of the most sickening result of the “incrementalist” approach is how it’s led to a “risk” based registry. A risk-based registry that relies entirely on pseudoscience: the Static-99 and Static-99R.

The Static test has destroyed hundreds, if not at least a thousand, of registrant lives ever since the Tiered Registry took effect.

This is despite the fact the Static is infected with at least a thousand flaws that should have shut it down as junk science a very long time ago.

I wish ACSOL would go after an easy one and get us equal rights to be compensated by the Victims of Crimes fund. No other group is excluded and these aren’t even taxpayers funds. The funds come from criminal court defendants. Since we are on a vigilante list, we need the right to get compensation for losses due to being a violent crime victim.

Incrementally, the PFRs life has been made easier to an extent given the low hanging fruit have been attacked and nipped and will continue to be as long as gov’ts think they can get away with it. Now, the slope increases in the fight and will be more difficult, but the first salvo has been fired with the PLF/ACSOL suit.

However, the incremental approach isn’t always the best approach. At times the more radical approach needs to grab the attention of those in power. How long did it take for the report to finally come out on cigarettes once the link become known that the manufacturers were doing what they were doing to increase addiction to them? The science was there, but buried. It took someone on the inside to expose it. The PFR science should not be ignored but increase the mass (importance of) and acceleration of it by the masses to make a force CASOMB cannot ignore and neither can those in the legislature. Be the friction to the registry CASOMB force that slows it to a stop.

Food for thought:

I often consider and compare the struggles of our community with that of the black community, and the LGBTQ community. Their struggles have lasted decades, as has ours, and no one has arrived at “the promised land” just yet, eliminating prejudice and ignorance. Certainly there are profound differences between our issues and theirs, which I recongnize and appreciate. But I believe there are some lessons to be gleened in their histories which may be of value to us in our battles,

I review, compare and contrast the approaches of these movements and their leaders, considering their strategies/tactics, with that employed by our community. Is there one approach or formula that is more effective, that we should consider in adopting in part or in whole, which would then result in greater “leaps forward”, and in the shorter amounts of time?

Let’s first consider the approach of MLK, Jr. who preached non-violent resistance; peaceful demonstrations and marches; making speeches and preaching in churches; lobbying politicians; bus boycotts, etc. Certainly this was was effective, to an extent. Contrast that with approaches then employed by Malcolm X in the 1960’s. His preaching of a more radical approach spoke to many black Americans who were not satisfied in the pace of change and progress. This then led to the Black Panther movement founded by Bobby Seale in the late 60’s/early 70’s.

The Stonewall Riot in 1969 brought attention to the plight of the LGBTQ community, leading to an active organized movement in the 1970’s and 80’s led by Harvey Milk in SF.

The approaches employed by these movements/leaders can be characterized as “radical activism”. While this approach was far more radical than those employed by MLK Jr., it did serve to ‘rapidly educate the American people as to the issues faced by these communities. As a result, many “average Americans” had to confront their own prejudices and attitudes. And importantly, the younger generations (my generation – the Boomers), for the most part, began to reject the antiquated and ignorant mind-sets of their parents. This was certainly true in my own family.

Is there a lesson to be learned by our community when considering this history? Absolutely. From my perspective, BOTH approaches were necessary, and the latter approach would not have succeeded without the former. One may say that the MLK Jr. Civil Rights Movement was a “shelling of the beaches”, while the latter approach of Malcolm X, et al, was a “storming of the beaches”. In military strategies, one must do both to succeed. It would not have worked with just one approach or the other.

And we have seemingly decided who is our “field general” and defer to Jancie Belucci and her advisors to determine what strategy to employ. By reading the comments in response to the CASOMB decisions of late, it seems that many in our community believe it is time for a change in strategy. It may or may not be the time. I am not in any position to make such a decision, But I understand and appreciate the desires of so many of us who seek to end the suffering heaped upon us by those who have stacked the deck against us.

Here’s an incremental case proposal: Have 1203.425’s explicit instructions that anyone who has earned any form of 1203.4 that once they have earned it that information/accusation shall only be disclosed to criminal agencies or the defendant be upheld for registrants. The registry is not a criminal agency, therefore the registry must recognize the defendant is no longer convicted and the accusation/info is private. The registry is not allowed to use the accusation nor info against the defendant with the passing of 1203.425 and it’s explicit instructions.

incrementalism – in our fight against these laws – is exclusively a “tit for tat” long game of chess. However, for lawmakers and so-called “safety advocates” and other various victim’s rights groups, it’s a zero sum game. Make no mistake, they take comfort in biting the closest hand. Their intentions is to see that the clock is run down on us while being made to register. In short, It’s weaponized hate.

You can’t compare convicted felons with groups of people who didn’t commit sex crimes but suffered anyway due to their skin color, religious beliefs, or sexual preference. They are a protected class. We are not. So it’s foolhardy to assume that we should be treated the same under the law like they are. And it’s not just any felony, it’s a sex crime. So any relief that registered citizens get whether by incremental or not is welcomed. Don’t forget that we are the worst of the worst and should not be entitled to any relief strictly speaking from the POV of the general populace. The only thing we should be entitled to and expect is what is guaranteed by the US Constitution. And Janice is an expert on the subject matter who has practical experience, specifically on SO laws. And she’s doing it without sending you a bill every month for attorney’s fees and costs.

Last edited 9 months ago by James

If we’re not considered private citizens, nor a “protected class” that is being directed to perform a “duty” to register then we’re unpaid, expendable slaves. Which is actually worse than an underling.

A thoughtful note. Thank you. This radioactive policy sphere almost certainly requires an incremental approach. Greatful for your efforts. Individual registrants can enact positive incremental change by joining civil society groups and being good citizens.

How come it says that ACSOL pushed for a risk based system, but they would no go for it? What about all those people who are Tier 3 based ON A risk assessment, and the useless and outdated Static 99-R on top of it? 10 questions that are (as the name says STATIC) decide a person’s fate and risk? Karl Hanson himself stated that his “tool” is not being used as it was intended since the dynamic and/ or offense free time HAS to be considered in the overall risk, yet the DOJ does not abide by this at all when only using a score that will never change in determining risk and placing people in the highest Tier? This can’t be accepted.

In addition to this incrementalism, and outside of ACSOL, I feel there needs to be a Direct Communication campaign that has an opportunity to reach a broader audience than a judges court room or a PLF press release. Anthony Weiner has a radio show now on 77 WABC. I would challenge him to speak on registry issues and the need to reform in an equitable way for RCs and victims. I would think his show is a good platform for a politician, or athlete or other celebrity to speak about judicial reform for RCs especially if they have first hand experience. Anthony and Assemblyman Scott Weiner could start a weekly show about judicial and registry reform based on empirical data, they could call the show, Weiner to Weiner, Two Weiners or if they really want to piss Buddy Fucker LT DeSantis off or Bi-Coastal Weiners, I don’t know talk among yourselves. They can have celebrity registered citizen Mike Tyson on the show. I wonder if Mr. Tyson realizes, like most laws, SO laws dis-proportionately impact black / African-Americans, wonder if Karen Bass knows that too. She’s one of them, she probably does realize this. Anyway, people with platforms that can increase awareness with politicians, especially the younger generation of politicians, like Ro Khana. I think Ro would be great if were seated between the two weiners on their show and would talk intelligently about SO laws and the impact on RCs whether I would agree with him or not, he is someone I would like to hear from, especially if there’s Weiners involved. So far Mike Tyson, Ro Khana (someone is getting some seriously free marketing ideas here …) and Huma Abedin, I would love to hear her honest opinion if she thinks Anthony needs to be on a registry for the rest of his life, if Frank should have been on a registry for 40 years… Watershed moment and time to accelerate the movement forward, outside of the courts, is now! IMHO 🙂

When viewing other states that proved the registry has grown beyond its initial means with Michigan and Pennsylvania, I wonder if incrementalism is what is holding CA back from doing the same.

With the incremental wins, the CA registry can simply make small amendments and keep the fact registry is good. But if CA were to compile all the incremental wins as one big suit against the registry, then we might have the same result as Michigan and PA in identifying the newer laws are punitive.

With SB 384, we get a tiered system that still gets muddied by legislators. There is no scientific reasoning behind the tier terms either. The registry continues to prolong without true checks and balances, but on the whim of legislators and CASOMB. I don’t even understand the point of CASOMB, who have found the recidivism rates for registrants are under 1% for years now.

Look how 1203.4’s value has eroded for registrants. 1203.4 used to get one off the registry, but now it’s useless under SB 384. That’s just crazy how our civil rights are not equal.

Sorry this is not good enough. Even if you’re eligible the judge is just gonna deny the request for removal from the registry. I’m not comfortable with anything where the judge is given discretion. They’ll abuse it.

Interesting points Derek. The 1965 decision you cite, I believe, was an 8-0 decision that struck down the “communist registry” essentially. Self-incrimination also plays a role in simply providing your address—if a registrant had failed to tell the state he had moved to a new residence, and, at a quarterly or annual “check-in” is required to show identification (presumably with the new address listed) he would be self-incriminating his failure to update the registry with his new address and face punishment for FTR. If he simply skips the regular check-in, he also faces a FTR charge; therefore, he is required to self-incriminate or face multiple counts of FTR. I have to read those old communist party registry SCOTUS decisions, but you might be on to something.

@Derek

Well articulated and written points. The counterpoint to this would be increased compliance checks for all and those off-paper would be subject to them more without suspicion of any wrong doing to warrant such initially. I would extend this argument you provide here to the travel notification situation given we have an essential right to travel in this country without fear of reprisal once off-paper.

ACSOL asked for a tiered registry based upon current risk of re-offense, but the legislature chose instead a tiered registry based upon the offense for which an individual was convicted.” So, how come some have been assigned Tier 3 based on risk?