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.