Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Update: international Megan's law (HR 515) passed the House, goes to Obama

http://www.oncefallen.com/internationalmeganslaw.html

Read my article on International Megan's Law to better understand it. Below is a summary o what IML means to you:

Specifically, Smith’s legislation will:

Authorize and expand the Angel Watch Center, an office within the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and authorize it to notify destination countries of intended travel by registered sex offenders;

Coordinate the work of the Angel Watch Center with the Sex Offender Targeting Center of the US Marshals Service so that the best information is getting to the right people in the shortest amount of time;

Make it a crime, for the first time, for a sex offender to travel abroad without giving 21 days advance notice so that law enforcement has adequate time to vet the traveler and warn the destination country, if needed;

Mandate that the State Department, in consultation with the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, establish, within 90 days, a program for placing a unique passport identifier on the passport of a traveling sex offender with an offense against a child and current duty to register, thereby preventing circumvention of the notification system by travelers who misreport which countries they will visit;

Collect notification response data to understand which countries are working with the U.S. on preventing re-offense by child predators;

Provide the authority for both the Angel Watch Center and the US Marshals Service to receive information from other countries about pedophiles intending to travel to the U.S.;

Clarify the receipt and sharing within U.S. law enforcement of incoming notifications on known sex offenders traveling to the U.S.; and

Direct the Secretary of State, in coordination with the Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security, to seek agreements and use technical assistance with other countries so that the United States is notified in advance of incoming foreign sex offenders.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

ACTION ALERT! International Megan's Law is due up for suspension of the rules 2/1/16 @ 6:30pm!

ACTION ALERT! If you have a passport, you have just one day to oppose International Megan's Law (HR 515). If passed, you WILL be required to turn in your passports and have a new one marked with a "unique identifier" marking you as a registered sex offender. I shouldn't even have to mention how heinous that provision will be for us. This is a FEDERAL law, NOT a state law.

Paul Rigney of the Registrant Travel Action Group (a subsidiary of Narional RSOL), urgently requests that everyone please help with the following:

1. Everyone, call and have others call The Speakers office THIS Monday morning. 202-225-600, 202-225-3031.

David: We need to tell them that they must not vote on H.R. 515 under RULES OF SUSPENSION because the bill received an amendment from the Senate that is SUBSTANTIVE and HISTORIC. (U.S. passports have never been branded with criminal convictions of citizens before)

I would like to see 500 phone calls. Please put this up on Affiliates websites. Lets leave hundreds of messages on 202-225-0600 for them to sort through Monday morning
(202) 225-0600
(202) 225-0600
(202) 225-0600
(202) 225-0600
(202) 225-0600
(202) 225-0600
(202) 225-0600

2. Spread Josh Graven’s petition that should go directly to their representative.


(This site will look up your Congressman for you! How convenient, right?)

3. Sign the Change.org petition at: 


For those with Twitter accounts, tweet this , “Are you familiar with International Megan’s #Law, or IML? http://ow.ly/WITZv” sends to David Post’s article. Also, please TWEET the following image and message which can be found here (simply right-click and save the image to your hard drive and then insert it, along with the text message, into new Tweets):


Also, you could help further by re-tweeting Tweets already sent to House members which have been sent from that Twitter account.

5. Continue to call and email congressional members.

Use the banner at the top of the screen. 
__________________________________________________________________
Below is my letter to Congress. You can use it as a template if you want.

On 2/1/16, the CONTROVERSIAL International Megan's Law is up for "suspension of the rules." This must not pass! IML as written will place a "unique identifier" on the passports of ALL registered citizens and will establish a new bureaucracy for expanded government control.

International Megan’s Law is an attempt at imposing the American way of thinking on the rest of the world, an act of arrogance that will lead to disastrous results if implemented. IML will attempt to force other nations to create a registry and raise the age of consent to conform to the American standards. This is a blatant violation of international law and a show of contempt for the governments of all nations who do not maintain close ties to the US.

Victim industry advocates have tried to justify International Megan’s Law using anecdotal examples, assumptions, unsourced statistics and non sequiturs to attempt to justify this bad piece of legislation. In reality, various government agencies have reported they have found very few examples of actual sex tourism, and even fewer examples of sex tourism from a registered citizen. It is estimated only about 10 convictions a year occur from Americans engaging in sex tourism annually. The GAO, the US Dept. of Justice, ICE, and the now defunct NDIC have all stated they have found few, if any, examples of Americans traveling abroad specifically to engage in sex tourism or sex trafficking. Key researchers studying sex crimes have repeatedly warned their own research or the research of others have been misinterpreted or distorted by those trying to promote human sex trafficking as America’s next social panic.

International Megan’s Law will be a costly and ineffective measure. It will cost millions just to establish a new bureaucratic agency and to revise the passports of registered citizens. It will cost millions more to enforce the various proposed changes to passports proposed by Congress. Passport limits run afoul of international law, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), by interfering with the free movement of citizens. The ICCPR was signed, ratified, and enforced by the US. In addition, 22 U.S. Code § 217a has been narrowly tailored to limit passports only to those registrants convicted in a court of law for sex tourism, thus nullifying the perceived need to pass IML passport provisions. As previously noted, very few cases of sex tourism/ trafficking are confirmed by government agencies, so the cost of investigating and prosecuting a mere handful of cases do not justify the need for a new bureaucracy, especially if the SMART office is passing IML notification provisions without the authorization of Congress.

The proposal to mark the passports of registered citizens is unprecedented in American history and is offensive enough that even mass media have made parallels between International Megan’s Law and Nazi law. In 1938, the Nazi government required all Jews to surrender their passports and have new passports issued with a scarlet “J” stamped on them. If IML passes, registered citizens will be forced to surrender their passports and have new passports issued with a “unique identifier” on them. In addition to the obvious parallel to Nazi law, this practice will obviously lead to travel impediments and denials of entry across the globe for all registrants regardless of offense. This mark of infamy could potentially lead to travel problems domestically as states struggle to fall into compliance with the so-called “REAL ID” system and thus requiring passports to fly within the boundaries of the US. Furthermore, IML could have an effect described as “humiliating” and “devastating” for individuals whose passports may be falsely marked as belonging to a registered citizen and would lead to costly litigation.

While certain provisions of IML imply that these provisions would be limited to “high risk/ interest” registrants, the harsh reality is this law will be applied to every registered citizen regardless of offense, even teens who engaged in consensual relations with other teens. The law is especially difficult for juveniles on the registry, who are assumed to be less likely to reoffend, more amenable to rehabilitation, and far less likely to become a “sex tourist.”

Finally, International Megan’s Law violates a number of constitutional safeguards, including the 1st (freedom of association) and 14th (Due process) Amendments, as well as the Ex Post Facto clause. In addition, protecting the reputation of American travels and their privacy is of great governmental interest, especially given the attitude of much of the world regarding American tourists. Unconsidered in this report was the potential chilling effect IML could have on ALL American tourists as the US gains a reputation for being a country full of “sex traffickers.” International Megan’s Law will ultimately do far more harm than good, not just in regard to registered citizens, but for the reputation of this nation as well.

For the full report and references for my assertions, go to http://www.oncefallen.com/internationalmeganslaw

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Truth-Out's interview with the Free Alabama Movement

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/33974-challenging-the-prisons-an-interview-with-the-free-alabama-movement

Challenging Prisons: An Interview With the Free Alabama Movement
Saturday, 12 December 2015 00:00
By Devon Douglas-Bowers, The Hampton Institute | Interview

Click the link above to read the article.

Monday, December 28, 2015

ACTION ALERT: Stop International Megan's Law NOW!!!!

This isn't an Alabama issue, but if you travel internationally, this is of key interest. This is a copy of a letter on International Megan's Law (HR 515), which is on the fast track to passage. This is an ACTION ALERT and we need action NOW! CLICK HERE TO FIND YOUR CONGRESSMAN!

On Dec. 18, the U.S. Senate amended and unanimously passed HR 515, which would also include placing unique passport identifiers on passports issued to sex offenders.  The House had previously passed HR 515.  It is very likely this will go to the President to sign in January.

See the bill here: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr515

CONTACT YOUR U.S. REPRESENTATIVE BEFORE JANUARY 4, 2016

HERE ARE THE TALKING POINTS YOU SHOULD INCLUDE IN YOUR LETTER:

The Senate passed HR 515 formerly known as "International Megan's Law" with another NEW title "International Megan's Law to Prevent Child Exploitation and Other Sexual Crimes Through Advanced Notification of Traveling Sex Offenders" and added a section about passports.

Essentially, all current passports for folks CONVICTED of a sex offense/s MUST be reissued, with the words "SEX OFFENDER" prominently displayed on the passport. And all new passports for folks convicted of sex offenses will be issued with same wording.
The Senate also added a section for appropriating funding ($6,000,000) for each of these years (2017-2019) to implement International Megan's Law.

Advocates and their families and others need to immediately contact their U.S. House Representatives and object to the entire IML bill (and concept), and any other similar bills that may arise.
The FULL bill may be found HERE and the Senate Amendments HERE (The Corker amendment [Sen Bob Corker R-TN] in the Federal Register).

Here's why we should oppose the legislation.

1.  The bill is yet another fear-based, punitive proposal that is absolutely void of empirical evidence that it will promote public safety or reduce child sex trafficking.

2.  The threat to children is proved to be largely (93% according to Department of Justice) from someone they know - a parent, relative or friend – neither a registered sex offender nor a stranger.  Placing travel restrictions on convicted sex offenders 1) does nothing to protect society, 2) adds more restrictions on a group of already-marginalized citizens who have paid their debt to society, and 3) adds another punitive requirement in federal law that is valueless.  According to Bureau of Justice Statistics, “... sex offenders are more likely to be rearrested for nonsexual crimes than sex offenses.”

3.  Citizens across this country have been convicted of single offenses involving someone known to them, have otherwise unblemished records, but are categorized for life as violent offenders.  This punitive proposal targets all convicted offenders.  They currently live and move freely in society without incident, yet somehow they are presumed by this flawed legislation to present a threat in international travel.  Last year, only 18 other countries had enacted any sex offender registration laws, yet Congress is proposing to label its citizens with a past conviction without providing any public safety risk assessment.

4.  Many countries, such as Mexico, don't even have sex offender registries.  Still, U.S. registrants holding valid U.S.passports are routinely being denied entry to Mexico because the U.S. government shares its citizens' criminal histories with other countries.  This punitive bill restricts registrant travel further, causing more collateral damage for family and friends traveling with registrants.

5.  The Angel Watch Center described in the bill is a cute name for more government intrusion into citizens’ lives for absolutely no research-based public safety purpose.  A small minority of states comply with the heavily-referenced Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 and for good reason.  It is another failed memorial policy based on a single tragic event involving one child, not on evidence of improved public safety.

6.  Like its numerous predecessors, this bill is doomed to failure as described by Dr. Richard Wright's book, Sex Offender Laws: Failed Policies, New Directions.  He states,
...American policy responses to prevent or address sexual offending, particularly those enacted within the last twenty years have largely failed.  They have not reduced sex offenders recidivism rates, not provided safety, healing, or support for victims, not reflected the scientific research on sexual victimization, offending, and risk, or not provided successful strategies for prevention. ... these policies have failed by choice.  Policymakers choose to focus on the most heinous sex offenders while ignoring the most common sexual threats that people face.

7.  It’s time for Congress to write laws based on empirical evidence and stop dredging up decades-old memorial laws that have proved themselves to be equally flawed.

As RSOL puts it -

IML will violate the travel rights and due process rights of traveling Americans, may have dangerous collateral consequences for affected citizens, and is not supported by any evidence that it will achieve a reduction in international sex trafficking. There exist proven methods of combating international sex trafficking that are worthy of support by the United States Congress. The International Megan’s Law is not among them. We strongly urge this legislation not be enacted into law.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

ACTION ALERT: For those with Facebook, WBRC Fox 6 wants to know how you feel about posting signs in the yards

WBRC asks a loaded question of sorts in regards to a Texas town posting signs in the front yards of registered citizens:

"What do you think of this law just passed in Texas? COMMENT if you'd like to see something like this required in your hometown."

https://www.facebook.com/WBRCnews/posts/10156290512090293

Feel free to let them know why signs in the yards of registered citizens is a terrible idea.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Take Once Fallen's Job & Welfare survey

https://eSurv.org?s=LMJONK_69a07f7b

ACTION ALERT: Please take Once Fallen's survey of registrant employment and welfare assistance survey

This is a survey I devised to help better understand how registered citizens find work or financial support. Please fill it out.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Alex City Outlook still plods forth with Sex Offender article, but adds quotes from ReFORM-AL

Last week, ReFORM-AL sent out an action alert regarding the announcement from the Alex City Outlook, which planned on publishing the names of all registered citizens in the county. Response has been overwhelming. I believe this rural paper was shocked there was so much opposition to this story. Friday evening, ReFORM-AL founder Derek Logue was approached for an interview by the paper to offer a balance to the article.

We may not have stopped the article from being published, but at least some of the facts were published. It is also encouraging to know that the majority of the Outlook's rural Alabama readers have never looked at the registry.

Thanks to everyone who contacted the Outlook with their questions and concerns. It is encouraging knowing that people do indeed respond to our action alerts!

http://www.alexcityoutlook.com/2015/09/14/sex-offenders-do-you-have-one-living-near-you/

SEX OFFENDERS: Do you have one living near you
Published 8:07am Monday, September 14, 2015
Email     Comments

There are 152 registered sex offenders in Tallapoosa County, according to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. That means that one in 270 residents in our county is a sex offender.

To view the entire registry click this link ********

Even though the number on the list maintained by the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Office is smaller at 126, no one would argue that the number living here is high by any standards.

Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett said that while the numbers are high, he said that anyone looking at the registry should understand all the details surrounding the crimes. Those are available on the website.

Because of the way the law is, they must appear on the same list with pedophiles, serial rapists and must register quarterly with his office.

“Our registry is one that was put together to be very user friendly,” Abbett said. “You are able to tailor a search so that you can track an offender or be alerted when there is any change or when an offender locates in your immediate area. It is updated immediately and what you see there is the latest information available.

“That’s what the law requires. Now is the law fair? I think most would agree that when you sit down and look exactly at what happened in each case, they may change their opinion on whether they think what happen is really a sex crime.

“But on the other hand, most of the people who are on the registry are people you would want to be aware of, particularly if they are living in a place where you or your family may come in contact with them. So until things change, we are doing what we can to comply with the law and present the information in a way where it is easy to use for anyone who wants to access it.”

While the names are available online in a searchable format, 72 percent of the people surveyed in an informal Outlook poll said they have never been to the site to check to see if they had any offenders living near them.

The website www.city-data.com reports that 1 in 343 people in Alexander City is a registered sex offender, while 1 in 23 people in Kellyton have the same status. Other municipalities show ratios like 1 in 54 in Jacksons Gap, 1 in 106 in Daviston, 1 in 139 in Dadeville and 1 in 200 in Camp Hill.

In Alabama, 1 in 505 people is a registered offender.

Some may get lost in the numbers. But here are some things to consider.

Keep in mind that a sex offender does not have to register until they are released from custody. So readers may look for a name of an offender who has been recently arrested and not find the name.

The discrepancy in the numbers – 152 recorded by the state, 126 by the sheriff’s department and 98 pictures – exists for multiple reasons. Some offenders may have committed an offense that predates the registry, so for tracking purposes they are in the database at the sheriff’s department, but they are not on the electronic registry. Other offenders may be under the age of 18, so the names of those offenders are not published.

Ohio resident Derek Logue is a reform advocate who heads an outreach called REFORM ALABAMA and the website www.oncefallen.com. He is working to end the registries nationwide because he says they creates an atmosphere of hate, vigilantism, unemployment and homelessness.

He said Alabama has the most demanding reporting law in the nation. In his words: “tough isn’t always smart.”

He said that being on a registry makes it almost impossible to find or keep a job or even find a place to live. Logue said a search that is this easy prompts many potential employers to shut down a registered applicant rather than asking questions about why the person appears on the list.

“These registries have proven to not be effective in any way,” Logue said.  “The registry, residency laws and community notification no impact on reducing recidivism.

“The truth is that most of the people on registry are not trenchcoat-wearing pedophiles. They are people who made a one-time mistake and they are paying for it well behind their sentences. In essence, it is a life sentence because of the registry.

Regardless of whether you ever offend or do anything else wrong, your name is always there. You may be outside the bars, but you are still in prison.”

So if all the information is available online, why is it published here in The Outlook today? It is to create awareness and because here in Tallapoosa County, many do not have daily access to the Internet.

Tallapoosa County has a connectivity rate of 62 percent. If you take away the 12.2 percent who say their only access to Internet is through public access from libraries, schools, kiosks and mobile devices, that means that less than 50 percent of our residents have Internet access at home.

“Awareness is a good thing,” Abbett said. “There are a lot of efforts to reform the law and dismiss what the registry is designed to do. But if this information can be used as it is intended, for awareness, then it has done its job.”

Do you want more information?

Go to the county website, ****.

Select “Sex Offenders” in the list on the left side of the page.

Click the “Sex Offender Watch” link in the new page.

At this point the user will be redirected to ******.

Here there are various criteria to use for a search that is organized by tabs into area, name, city and compliance status.

After having chosen one of these options and after having entered the information into the search field, select search.

The results will appear in a scroll down list, and depending on their number, could appear across multiple pages.

For example, a quick search of Alexander City generates 42 results of individuals and their profiles, with the details of their recent and past charges and current location.

The site is updated continuously so that any new registry will immediately appear in the results of a search.

However, for anyone that does not have access to this website, these records can also be viewed at the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Office.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Not-So-Sweet-Home Alabama by Steven Yoder

This article was originally published on July 16, 2015 at lifeonthelist.org

The Constitution’s ex post facto clause prohibits passing a law that retroactively increases the punishment for a criminal act that an offender committed before the law was passed. But in an ingenious 2003 Supreme Court ruling, a 6-3 conservative majority held that retroactive placement on a state sex offender registry–being put on a registry that was created after an offender committed his crime–doesn’t violate ex post facto because registration isn’t punishment.

Daily life for those on state sex offender registries makes that claim hard to square with reality. Nowhere is that more true than in Alabama–registrants in that state are subject to a regime every bit as grinding as that of Cold-War Soviet Russia.

Take the case of 60-year-old Michael McGuire. In 2010, after several decades as a hair stylist and jazz musician in Washington D.C., he decided to move back to his hometown of Montgomery to be with his aging mother and extended family.

He’d committed a serious crime 25 years earlier–he’d raped and assaulted his 30-year-old girlfriend, who he’d been with for five years. He was convicted of sexual assault in a Colorado court and served his full jail term, spending three years locked up and a fourth on parole.

After leaving prison, he got his life back together and had no subsequent arrests or convictions.

When in 2010 he arrived in Montgomery, he took the advice of his brother, a local attorney–he visited the police department to confirm that he wouldn’t be subject to the state’s sex offender laws. His crime, after all, happened 26 years before the state’s passage of its most recent 2011 sex offender law, and he’d never been on a registry in any of the states where he’d lived.

What police told him has sent his life into a tailspin. He’s indeed required to be on the state registry–today his photo, name, and address are on the state website. He can’t live within 2000 feet of schools, parks, or playgrounds, which puts nearly all of the city off limits to him. He pays rent on his and his wife’s apartment but can’t live there because it’s in a banned zone. The same is true for the homes of his other relatives since their apartments and homes are too close to those places where children congregate. He can’t live in a home with children, even though his crime didn’t involve a child.

No one will hire him, and he can’t take music gigs because the law also bans offenders from working within 2000 feet of places where children congregate–all of the venues that have offered him work are in banned zones. In fact, 85 percent of jobs in the city are off limits to registrants. Half of Alabama’s registrants are unemployed, eight times the statewide average.

To travel outside the city, he needs a travel permit, which he can get only by applying in person at the police department.

And as is true for all of the state’s registrants, his driver’s license includes the words CRIMINAL SEX OFFENDER in big red letters.

Today he’s homeless, living under a Montgomery bridge. He’s required to show up in person twice a week at the police department to register by filling out a three-page form. If he misses one appointment, it’s a felony. Alabama’s law requires lifetime registration, and there’s no provision allowing registrants to be removed.

Around the country, thousands like McGuire are on sex offender registries for crimes they committed years before passage of the state laws that created those registries.

In oral arguments during the 2003 Supreme Court ruling, then-lawyer John Roberts (yes, that John Roberts) argued that Alaska’s ex post facto application of its sex offender law should be preserved. Registering with the police four times a year, he said, is much like filling out an application to join Price Club.*

The John Robertses of the world may wish to believe that registration involves just a bit of paperwork. But beliefs aside, the sky really isn’t green, it’s blue. Price Club is to sex offender registration what a hotel room is to a jail cell, what a job interview is to interrogation at a CIA black site, what a conference nametag is to the yellow Star of David badge.

Courts are starting to listen–lawyers and their clients have won cases in state courts in Ohio and Maryland in the last few years. And one day, that 2003 decision, much like Plessy v. Ferguson and Dred Scott v. Sandford, will be upended, standing as a testament to judges’ ability to reach decisions they’re comfortable with, rather than those that fit the facts.

*At another point, Solicitor General Ted Olson defended the law by telling the Justices that the reoffense rate among sex offenders is higher than for other crimes–in fact, the opposite is true.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized on July 16, 2015 by admin.

Monday, September 7, 2015

ACTION ALERT-- Coming this Saturday to the Alexander City Outlook-- Naming, shaming, and intimidating Registered Citizens

UPDATE: Derek Logue, founder of ReFORM-AL, was interviewed by the Alex City Outlook and may be in an article accompanying the article announced below. As of 9/13/15 we are awaiting the release of the paper.

I am adding the contact info below so you can voice your concerns to the Alexander City Outlook, who plans on publishing the names of every Registered Citizen in the area in its Saturday paper. You know this disgusting act will lead to more violence and discrimination about registered persons and their loved ones. 

http://www.alexcityoutlook.com/2015/09/07/coming-saturday-does-a-sex-offender-live-near-you/

COMING SATURDAY: Does a sex offender live near you?
Published 7:10am Monday, September 7, 2015
Does a sex offender live near you?

It seems like a question that we should all know the answer to. But despite some of the toughest reporting laws in the country and easy access to sex-offender data via the Internet, most people simply don’t take the time to check.

The state feels so strongly, that it requires offenders to register every 90 days.

An informal survey conducted by The Outlook showed that more people had looked at the names of those listed as Ashley Madison users than had visited the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Department Sex Offender Registry.

There are 152 registered sex offenders in Tallapoosa County, according to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. That means that one in 270 residents in our county is a sex offender. Looking at the numbers city-by-city, the numbers are even more staggering.

To help raise awareness, The Outlook will publish the names and photos of all the sex offenders in next weekend’s paper.

If you want to be aware, pick up a copy of the Sept. 12 Outlook.

Here is the contact info for the Alex City Outlook. Feel free to let them know what you thunk.

Phone:
(256) 234-4281

Fax:
(256) 234-6550

Address:
548 Cherokee Road, Alexander City, AL 35010

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 999, Alexander City, AL 35011

Kenneth Boone
Publisher
kenneth.boone@alexcityoutlook.com

Mitch Sneed
Managing Editor
mitch.sneed@alexcityoutlook.com

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Courthouse News Service: Alabama Sex Offender Law Challenged

Another challenge to Alabama's SO laws has been filed.

http://www.courthousenews.com/2015/08/26/alabama-sex-offender-law-challenged.htm

Alabama Sex Offender Law Challenged
By JOHN BRACKIN 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015Last Update: 4:57 AM PT

     MONTGOMERY, Ala. (CN) - Sex offenders in Alabama must comply with debilitating restrictions that encompass "virtually every facet of their lives," eight men claim in a class action.
     Eight John Doe plaintiffs sued General Luther Strange III and Secretary of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency John Richardson in Federal Court.
     The Aug. 20 complaint seeks court relief to prevent application of the Alabama Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Act, or ASORCNA, claiming the law is unconstitutional.
     The lawsuit argues that the act violates due process by denying sex offender registrants certain fundamental rights. It also claims that the law is vague and should be declared void.
     "The plaintiffs ask this court to recognize what other courts across the country have increasingly found: that the nature of sex offender registration has fundamentally changed since 2003, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a registration scheme that imposed registration and Internet notification only with effects that were 'minor and indirect' restraints on registrants," the complaint states.
     Alabama first passed a sex offender registration law in 1967, according to the complaint. The law at the time called for a one-time registration with the sheriff of the offender's home county, and the registration information was only available to law enforcement.
     The state passed its Community Notification Act in 1996, which "was not retroactively applied, and required only written notification upon an offenders change in address," as opposed to in-person registration, the complaint states.
     And in 2011, Alabama passed the current version of its sex offender law, which is retroactively applied to all adult sex offenders in the state and requires quarterly, in-person registration.
     The law places restrictions on where registered sex offenders are allowed to live and work and "requires the distribution of community-notification flyers to those living near a registrant's residence," according to the complaint. It also requires registrants to carry a driver's license or ID card that "enables law enforcement officers to identify the licensee as a sex offender."
     In addition, registered sex offenders are required to report their travel plans whenever they intend to be away from their home county for three or more consecutive days, the lawsuit states.
     "ASORCNA violates the plaintiffs' fundamental rights to travel, to work, to speak and to be free from arbitrary and oppressive laws without being lawfully tailored in a manner to meet Alabama's interest," the complaint states.
     The law's provisions are applied "for life and without regard to the nature of the offense, the age of the victim, or the passage of time since the underlying sex offense," according to the complaint.
     The anonymous plaintiffs claim Alabama imposes an unprecedented number of "obligations, disabilities, and restraints" on registered sex offenders, making its law the most restrictive of its kind in the country.
     "ASORCNA severely limits registrants' ability to: maintain intimate associations with family; find housing and employment; travel; engage in free speech activities or refrain from speaking; be free from shame, embarrassment, humiliation and stigma; and understand what is required of them under the statute," the complaint states.
     The lawsuit seeks a declaration that Alabama's current sex offender law is unconstitutional and void. The eight plaintiffs are represented by J. Mitch McGuire in Montgomery, Ala.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

2015 Legislative Roundup

The 2015 Legislative Season has come to an end, so here is the final results for the bills ReFORM-AL was watching this year:

HB316: Sex Offenders, registration and community notification, technical revisions and citations update various sections, petition for relief from employment, residency living restriction, civil division of circuit courts, absconding without registering, penalty, Secs. 12-15-107, 12-15-116, 13A-5-2, 13A-5-6, 14-9-41, 15-18-8, 15-19-7, 15-20A-4 to 15-20A-9, incl., 15-20A-11, 15-20A-12, 15-20A-14, 15-20A-15, 15-20A-16, 15-20A-18, 15-20A-21 to 15-20A-29, incl., 15-20A-32, 15-20A-34, 15-20A-35, 15-20A-37, 15-20A-38, 15-20A-39, 15-20A-40, 15-20A-42, 15-20A-43, 15-20A-44, 15-20A-45, 15-20A-46, 15-22-27.3, 32-6-49.24, 36-18-24, 36-18-25, 38-13-2, 38-13-4 am'd.

Status: Enrolled (passed into law) -- This will benefit a few registrants to petition for relief under certain conditions.
__________________________________________

SB 272: Sex crimes, sexual misconduct, lack of consent required, crimes of rape in the 3rd degree, sodomy in the 3rd degree and sexual abuse in 3rd degree created to address circumstances where both parties are below age of consent, Secs. 13A-6-65, 13A-6-70, 15-20A-5, 15-20A-6 am'd.

Status: Never left committee. Good.
__________________________________________

These laws all pretty much read the same way; all referred to residency restriction extensions to "camps" used by children.

HB654: Sex offenders, residency, prohibited within 2,000 feet of camp facility used by children, Sec. 15-20A-11 am'd.

Status: Died in committee.

HB680: Sex offenders, residency requirements, prohibit residence within 2,000 feet of a camp facility used by children, Sec. 15-20A-11 am'd.

Status: Died in committee

SB489: Sex offenders, residency requirements, prohibit residence within 2,000 feet of a camp facility used by children, Sec. 15-20A-11 am'd.

Status: Died in committee

I'd like to point out that these bills simply did not advance due to time restraints. I expect we will see these bills introduced early next year.
___________________________________________

SB67: Corrections reform, criminal penalties and sentencing revised, alternative community corrections programs required, specified treatment and supervision practices by Board of Pardons and Paroles required, criteria for release required, sanctions for violations by parolees and probationers, mandatory supervision periods for inmates, Secs. 13A-8-3.1, 13A-8-4.1, 13A-8-8.1, 13A-8-18.1, 13A-8-24, 13A-9-3.1, 13A-9-6.1, 15-22-26.1, 15-22-36.3, 15-22-57 added; Secs. 12-25-32, 12-25-33, 13A-5-3, 13A-5-6, 13A-5-9, 13A-5-11, 13A-5-13, 13A-7-7, 13A-8-3, 13A-8-4, 13A-8-5, 13A-8-8, 13A-8-9, 13A-8-10.2, 13A-8-10.3, 13A-8-18, 13A-8-19, 13A-9-3, 13A-9-4, 13A-9-6, 13A-9-7, 13A-9-14, 13A-12-211, 13A-12-212, 13A-12-213, 13A-12-291, 14-14-5, 15-8-8, 15-18-171, 15-18-172, 15-18-174, 15-18-176, 15-18-180, 15-18-182, 15-22-24, 15-22-26, 15-22-28, 15-22-29, 15-22-31, 15-22-32, 15-22-33, 15-22-36, 15-22-36.2, 15-22-51, 15-22-52, 15-22-53, 15-22-54, 29-2-20, 36-18-25 am'd.

Status: Enrolled (Passed into law)

SB 67 is going to require the state to settle on an "actuarial" risk assessment test for "certain offenders;" I'm sure this means sex offenders, of course. Alabama currently lacks a standard for risk assessment. Also, this seems only to apply to juvenile offenders.

SB 67 introduced a "Class D felony" with a maximum 5 year sentence and a maximum $7500 fine, half the penalty of a class C. It seems sex offenses are not given class D felon status, however.

SB 67 extends the time by which alleged victims are notified of a registrant's release or pardon or parole review from 30 days to 45 days.
___________________________________________

HB 68: Statute of limitations, commencement of civil actions based on sexual abuse, tolled until final adjudication of related criminal case

HB 68 changes the time that an alleged victim can sue for damages from two years after the act to two years after the alleged perpetrator is convicted.

Status: Died in committee. Good.
__________________________________________

HB8: Websites containing personal information of persons convicted of crimes, required to remove information at no charge upon request, civil penalties, presumption of defamation

This bill would require the operator of a website containing an arrest photograph and personal information of a person charged with a crime to remove, at no charge, the photograph and information within a specified period after notice that the person was acquitted, the charges were dropped, or the charges were otherwise resolved without conviction. This bill would also provide that the failure to remove the photograph and personal information upon request is a deceptive trade practice and that an aggrieved individual is entitled to all rights and remedies under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Status: Died in committee. THIS BILL SHOULD HAVE PASSED!!!
__________________________________________

Overall, this session has made few laws that harm registered citizens as a whole. Expect to see that residency restriction bill reintroduced next year. Hopefully, 2016 will be as quiet as this year was for registered citizens and their families.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

UPDATE: HB 316 now in the Senate, and more bad provisions added

Alabama already has lots of employment restrictions, but the version of HB316 that passed the House has new additions that clarify existing restrictions and possibly added new restrictions. Now the bill sits in the Senate.

When reading a legislative bill, always look for underlined sentences or marked through words. THAT is where changes have been made.

Below is the section on work restrictions. I'm not sure what has actually changed but it is worth reviewing because changes in employment restrictions could be detrimental to your job and freedom.

See pgs. 47-48 of the engrossed bill:
"§15-20A-13.
"(a) No adult sex offender shall apply for, accept, or maintain employment or vocation or volunteer at any school, childcare facility, mobile vending business that provides services primarily to children, or any other business or organization that provides services primarily to children.
"(b) No adult sex offender shall apply for, accept, or maintain employment or volunteer for any employment or vocation within 2,000 feet of the property on which a school or childcare facility is located unless otherwise exempted pursuant to Sections 15-20A-24 and 15-20A-25.
"(c) No adult sex offender, after having been convicted of a sex offense involving a child, shall apply for accept, or maintain employment or vocation or volunteer for  any employment or vocation within 500 feet of a playground, park, athletic field or facility, or any other business or facility having a principal purpose of caring for, educating, or entertaining minors.
"(d) Changes to property within 2,000 feet of an adult sex offender's place of employment which occur after an adult sex offender accepts employment shall not form the basis for finding that an adult sex offender is in violation of this section.
"(e) It shall be unlawful for the owner or operator of any childcare facility or any other organization that provides services primarily to children to knowingly employ or accept volunteer services from an adult sex offender.
"(f) For purposes of this section, the 2,000-foot measurement shall be taken in a straight line from nearest  property line to nearest property line.
(g) Any person who knowingly violates this section shall be guilty of a Class C felony.

WARNING: Alabama looking to add "resident camp facilities" to the growing list of restricted zones

It is a little late in the legislative season but both legislative sects have their own versions of this new bill-- HB654, HB680, and SB489. Why the House has two versions of the bill is beyond me, other than noting HB 654 lacks the sentence defining "resident camp facilities" and the word "knowingly" in the sentence stating whoever violates this law is guilty of a class C felony.

No matter the case, these laws are bad news. The definition is very confusing. Are they referring to treatment programs or summer camp?

There is no time to waste. Call your legislators today and stop these bad bills.

Synopsis: Under existing law, an adult sex offender may not establish or maintain a residence or other living accommodation within 2,000 feet of property on which a school or childcare facility is located.

This bill would prohibit an adult sex offender from establishing or maintaining a residence or other living accommodation within 2,000 feet of a resident camp facility for minors.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA:

Section 1. Section 15-20A-11, Code of Alabama 1975, is amended to read as follows:
§15-20A-11.

"(a) No adult sex offender shall establish a residence, maintain a residence after release or conviction, or establish any other living accommodation within 2,000 feet of the property on which any school, or childcare facility, or resident camp facility is located unless otherwise exempted pursuant to Sections 15-20A-23 and 15-20A-24. For the purposes of this section, a resident camp facility includes any place, area, parcel, or tract of land which contains permanent or semi-permanent facilities for sleeping owned by a business, church, or nonprofit organization used primarily for the educational, recreational, or religious purposes for minors and the location of the resident camp has been provided to local law enforcement. Resident camp does not include a private residence, farm, hunting, or fishing camp.

"(h) Any person who knowingly violates this section shall be guilty of a Class C felony."

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Is Alabama's sex offender registry necessary or 'pointless'?

The OpEd features a statement from Derek Logue of www.oncefallen.com and this very website:

http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/04/are_sex_offender_registries_ef.html

Is Alabama's sex offender registry necessary or 'pointless'?

 shaskins@al.com By Shelly Haskins | shaskins@al.com 

on April 07, 2015 at 1:22 PM, updated April 08, 2015 at 10:38 AM


Two weeks ago, California became among the first states to relax rules about where registered sex offenders can live in relation to schools and parks, according to a recent article on Slate.com.

In the Slate piece, criminologist Emily Horowitz of St. Francis College in Brooklyn and author of "Protecting Our Kids?: How Sex Offender Laws Are Failing Us," says that sex offender registries, once thought to be a strong front-line protection against sex crimes against children, are largely "pointless."


"When I saw the research on the registry I was really shocked at how pointless it is. And it was shocking because usually, when you research something, there's ambiguity--there are some good things and there are some bad things. But with the registry, there's really no research that shows it's effective at all," Horowitz told Slate.


Over the past two decades, since Megan's Law ushered in sex offender registries in every state, Horowitz said experts have determined that strangers are not really the problem in child sexual abuse cases. More often than not, sex offenders are under the same roof with the victim, either a family member or family friend.


Opinions about the usefulness of sex-offender registries differ, though. Here are some to consider:


Chris Newlin, executive director of the National Children's Advocacy Center in Huntsville, agreed that sex offender registries haven't really proven to be effective in fighting child sexual abuse:


"All reasonable people would like to see policies and practices in place which create a safer environment for our children, especially regarding those who sexually abuse children.  The National Children's Advocacy Center and its partners - law enforcement, prosecutors, social services, medical professionals, mental health professionals and victim advocates - are working daily to make our community, state, and nation a safer place for our children.  In the age when "Stranger Danger" was the prevailing understanding of child abuse, the utilization of sex offender registries made a bit more sense - let's identify the dangerous people and make our community aware of their presence.  However, over the past twenty years, we have learned on primary sobering fact - most sexual abuse is committed by individuals known to the child, including about 35 percent of all sexual offenses being committed by juveniles.  Further, most individuals who commit sexual offenses have no past criminal record for past sexual offending.  Thus, the real impact of sex offender registries have been to provide a false sense of security with no significant demonstrated positive impact. Those who have been caught are not the people I worry about the most. The people I worry about the most are those who have been so manipulative and secretive with their behavior to have avoided detection while continuing their sexual offending behavior.  This group of individuals are the ones who will be committing a vast majority of the sexual offenses over the next days, weeks, and months. "


Madison County Chief Deputy Dave Jernigan, a former FBI agent, said the sex offender registry is useful not only as a law-enforcement tool, but for the peace-of-mind of citizens and sex-crime victims.


"The state views convicted sex offenders as a threat to society and that's why we have a registry in place. If you are at 100 Main Street, then the people around you are going to get a postcard in the mail that you are a sex offender and you will be living at this particular address."


The Madison County Sheriff's office's website offers "Offender Watch" software, that allows citizens to keep track of sex offenders beyond just their residence. The software is frequently updated with sex offenders' changes in residence, job, school attendance, Internet identifiers and other information they must disclose to law enforcement, Jernigan said.


"If you are the parents of a victim, you can track the sex offender. If you are moving to a new neighborhood, you can track where there are sex offenders living in that neighborhood. This registry is really the only thing that law enforcement has to track the offender and it makes them accountable."


Derek Logue operates a website called Once Fallen.com and advocates for reforms of laws that limit where sex offenders can live and work. Logue, who was convicted of a sex crime in Franklin County in 2001, supports punishment for sex crimes but says punishment should not continue after an offender has served his time.


Logue said he plans to lobby against Senate Bill 272, introduced by Sen. Larry Stutts, R-Sheffield, which would create the crimes of third-degree rape, sodomy and sexual abuse to apply when the victim is under 16 and the victim less than 12. Those crimes would be added to the list of crimes covered by the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which he said would potentially add young children to those on the sex offender registry. The bill is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.


"The registry doesn't work because it promotes "stranger-danger;" however, a child is far more likely to be abused at home by an acquaintance or family member, and 95% of people arrested for sex crimes have no prior record. The registry fails to differentiate between an 18-year-old who had consensual relations with his 15-year-old girlfriend and an 18-year-old who violently raped a 15-year-old. The registry implies everyone on the list will re-offend because they "can't be cured," but dozens of long-term studies have confirmed re-offense rates are in the single digits, and that number is further reduced by programs like Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA). The registry promotes vigilante violence, discrimination and isolation, which are factors that increase the likelihood of re-offense. The registry is a placebo that feels good but does nothing to prevent sexual abuse."


What do you think? Are sex offender registries necessary or "pointless?"


(Updated on 4/8 to clarify the content of SB 272)


Friday, April 3, 2015

How many agencies does it take to track a single registrant? Why Bill Adair is full of hot air

Apparently it takes at least two agencies to keep up with the 162 Registered Citizens in Walker County, ESPECIALLY if you have the mindset of a Bill Adair. There is a reason why the terms "district attorney" and "dumb ass" have the same initials!

Adair needs to do his research. Registered Citizens do NOT have a high reoffense rate! Most who are arrested are arrested over technicalities by overzealous criminal justice agents. It seems that Adair is more concerned about buying a new computer than doing anything about corruption in his county.

http://www.mountaineagle.com/newsx/item/3250-district-attorney-secures-grant-for-new-software-to-track-sex-offenders

District attorney secures grant for new software to track sex offenders
Featured 03 Apr 2015 Written by  Rachel Davis

The Jasper Police Department received a new computer system to assist with tracking sex offenders in the city, thanks to a grant secured for them by District Attorney Bill Adair.


Adair became aware of the grant offered through the Alabama Office of Prosecution Services and Alabama District Attorneys Association, as part of their commitment to protecting children and communities from sexual predators.


Adair applied for the grant and received one computer system for use in his area. Adair said the Walker County Sheriff’s Office and Jasper Police Department are the only two reporting agencies in the county and the sheriff’s office already has a system to track registered sex offenders.


The associations offering the grant discussed the need, based on the increasing number of sex offenders as well as the high recidivism rate among sexual offenders.


“I am very proud to be presently serving on the executive board for the District Attorney’s Association,” Adair said. “Not only is it an honor to have the respect of District Attorneys around the state to serve in that capacity, but it also allows me to find out about these grant opportunities and bring tangible assets back to our community to aid law enforcement and victims.”


Adair knows better than anyone how high the rate of sex offenses against children is in Walker County.


That was the reason he pushed for the creation of the Walker County Children’s Advocacy Center, located across the street from the Jasper Police Department.


He said programs like this one add another layer of protection to the county-wide efforts to bring sex offenders to justice and prevent more victims.


Jasper Police Chief J.C. Poe said he was grateful for the working relationship JPD has with the district attorney’s office and said the new software would be a great asset to the department, specifically to Detective Betty Smith, who handles most of the agency’s sex crimes investigations.


“She does a great job with handling those cases and all the responsibilities that go along with it,” Poe said. “This will be a great help to her.”


Smith said the software would help her be able to keep a closer eye on the registered sex offenders, ensure they are complying with the required notifications and communicate directly with the state to ensure all sex offenders in the area are registered.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Bill Alerts for March 27, 2015 -- ACTION NEEDED!

A couple of new bills to watch out for in the current legislative session:

  • This bill would make technical revisions to the Alabama Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Act, would change certain references from the Department of Public Safety to the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency, and would update internal citations in various sections of the Code of Alabama 1975 to reflect the appropriate section under current law.
  • This bill would clarify that a petition for relief from registration, employment, or living restrictions must be filed in the civil division of the circuit court.
  • The bill would provide a penalty for a sex offender who absconds and fails to register in the county where the sex offender declared intent to reside.
  • This bill would require a sex offender to provide to law enforcement a list of all Internet providers used by the sex offender.
ANAYSIS: Most of the bill is merely administrative changes (such as changing "criminal" sex offense to "felony sex offense" and 'Dept of Public Safety" to "State Law Enforcement Agency" in places), but the part that bothers me is proposed requirement of providing a list of Internet identifiers. 

Apparently, this law will also add confusion as registrants living inside a municipality will be required to check in with the city police rather than the county sheriff, yet to get a travel permit, the registrant must go to the sheriff's office. 

On the upside, this bill will provide the means by which a person can petition the court to obtain relief from residency law requirements AND the requirements to stay away from the alleged victim under specific conditions:
  1. The person was convicted under 13A-6-62, 13A-6-64, 13A-6-65, or 13A-6-67 (Second degree rape, sodomy, sexual misconduct, or sexual abuse, or a similar conviction in another state. That means the alleged victim has to be at least age 12)
  2. The victim is now over 19 years old and appears in court at the time of the hearing and requests the exemption in writing.
  3. The prosecuting attorney in the original case gets a notice of the hearing. 
On the downside, it requires public posting of where a homeless registrant is planning to sleep. 

It is also good a registrant in need to assistant care can also petition for residency law relief. 

VERDICT: This bill is a mixed bag of the good and the bad. I'd like to see the Internet Provider part and the homeless notice removed. But the provision allowing some registrants to seek relief from Residency laws and the victim bans is a good thing. I'd say the good outweighs the bad.

  • Under existing law, sodomy in the second degree requires both lack of consent due to mental defect and that the perpetrator be more than 16 and the victim be under 16 years of age, but older than 12 years of age. Under existing law, sodomy in the first degree requires forcible compulsion or that the victim possess a mental defect or be physically helpless, or the perpetrator be more than 16 years of age and the victim less than 12 years of age. Under existing law, a person under age 16 is incapable of consent.
  • Under existing law, one circumstance in which a person commits the crime of sexual misconduct is when he or she engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another person under circumstances not covered by sodomy in the first degree or sodomy in the second degree, and consent is not a defense to prosecution under this circumstance regardless of the age of either party. This provision of the existing sexual misconduct law was declared unconstitutional by the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals in Williams v. Dallas County.
  • This bill would revise the sexual misconduct law to require lack of consent or obtaining consent through the use of fraud or artifice.
  •  This bill also would create the crimes of rape in the third degree, sodomy in the third degree, and sexual abuse in the third degree to apply to circumstances where the perpetrator of the crime is less than 16 years of age and the victim less than 12.
  • This bill would also add rape in the third degree, sodomy in the third degree, and sexual abuse in the third degree to the list of offenses defined by the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act as sex offenses.
ANALYSIS: This law is is horrible! This bill allows for teens under age 16 to land on the public registry. The state is creating a new "Third Degree" level of crimes which are misdemeanor offenses and applies to juveniles under age 16, and this bill will add these Third Degree crime to the registry. This bill needs to be stopped.

VERDICT: SB 272 must be stopped!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bill Alerts for March 10, 2015

SENATE BILL 67

SB 67 is a very long bill, so I won't post the whole bill here. Nor is this bill exclusively about sex offenders. I am merely going to highlight some of the key facts to watch. 

http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/alison/searchableinstruments/2015rs/bills/SB67.htm

It seems SB 67 is going to require the state to settle on an "actuarial" risk assessment test for "certain offenders;" I'm sure this means sex offenders, of course. Alabama currently lacks a standard for risk assessment. Also, this seems only to apply to juvenile offenders. 

SB 67 introduced a "Class D felony" with a maximum 5 year sentence and a maximum $7500 fine, half the penalty of a class C. It seems sex offenses are not given class D felon status, however. 

SB 67 extends the time by which alleged victims are notified of a registrant's release or pardon or parole review from 30 days to 45 days. 

HOUSE BILL 68

HB 68 changes the time that an alleged victim can sue for damages from two years after the act to two years after the alleged perpetrator is convicted. 


VERDICT

ReFORM-AL opposes SB 67's extension of alleged victim notification from 30 days to 45 days, and opposes HB 68. However, neither bill has that much of an impact on the lives of Registered Citizens and is considered low priority. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

McGuire v. Strange, Case No. 2:11-CV-1027-WKW(WO), (US Dist. Ct, MD AL, Northern Div, 2 Feb. 2015)

A recent decision in US District Court has declared portions of the state's registry law unconstitutional when applied retroactively. Specifically, it declared two requirements of the state registry unconstitutional as applied in the following two situations:

(1) in-town homeless registrants to register (or check-in) on a weekly basis with two separate law-enforcement jurisdictions as provided by § 15-20A-12(b) in conjunction with § 15-20A-4(13) and
(2) all in-town registrants to complete travel permit applications with two separate law-enforcement jurisdictions as provided by § 15-20A-15 in conjunction with § 15-20A-4(13).

Unfortunately, the court still regards registration, residency restrictions, employment proximity restrictions, and the imposition of fees "nonpunitive" taken individually; however, the Court's decision leaves open the possibility that given the proper argument and evidence, the Court could indeed determine Alabama's sex offender registry law, taken as a whole, could be declared punitive. It simply was not the case this time.

Here is a brief summary of the recent decision, courtesy of eAdvocate:

http://sexoffender-decisions.blogspot.com/2015/02/mcguire-v-strange.html

If you want to read the entire case, click here:

https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=4891458576553237023&hl=en&lr=lang_en&as_sdt=800006&as_vis=1&oi=scholaralrt

MICHAEL A. McGUIRE, Plaintiff,
v.
LUTHER STRANGE, in his official capacity, et al., Defendants.

Case No. 2:11-CV-1027-WKW(WO).
United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division.

February 5, 2015.

The section of most interest to us is Secion IV (findings of law) subsection f. Whether, in Their Necessary Operation, ASORCNA's Provisions are Excessive with Respect to the Provisions' Nonpunitive Purposes

But ASORCNA does not stop there. Rather, it supplements in-person registration, registration fees, residency and employment restrictions, and community-notification measures with additional provisions creating a scheme that regulates sex offenders far beyond the scheme in any other state. For example, excluding legislation aimed at sexually violent predators, no other state has a scheme whereby sex offenders are retroactively regulated for life through residency, employment, and travel restrictions. In fact, only one other state — Tennessee — employs residency, employment, and out-of-county travel restrictions, and it tempers the effects of these provisions, providing for partial retroactivity and allowing offenders who have successfully complied with the act for ten years to petition for termination of participation in the registration program. T.C.A. § 40-39-207. No other state requires dual registration or dual travel permits for in-town sex offenders, instead allowing registrants to report to any single local law enforcement agency -- whether municipal or county. See, e.g., Colo. Rev. Stat. § 16-22-102(4.5); 739 Ill. Comp. Stat. 150/1 § 2(d); Kan. Stat. Ann. § 22-4902(m). Only five other states -- Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, and South Carolina — join Alabama in applying sex-offender regulations retroactively for the entirety of a registrant's life, but not one of those five states imposes travel restrictions, and only one of the five imposes residency and employment restrictions. See Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-3821 et seq.; Del. Code Ann. § 4120 et seq.; Haw. Rev. Stat. § 846E-1 et seq.; Idaho Code Ann. § 18-8301 et seq.; S.C. Code. Ann. §23-3-400 et seq.

ASORCNA is the nation's most comprehensive sex offender regulatory scheme; it is designed to enhance public safety, prevent recidivism, and to protect vulnerable populations. Such a regulatory scheme, by its nature, will have a greater effect in its sum than when each of the scheme's individual components is examined in isolation, but that in and of itself does not make the scheme's cumulative effects unreasonable. That is not to say, however, that the features that overlay the entire scheme &mdash: no risk assessment, lifetime application, retroactive application for all-time, felony enforcement by the gross, border-to-border (rather than parcel-to-parcel), Ala. Code § 15-20A-11(g), residential and employment restrictions, and the chosen method of printing "SEX OFFENDER" in red lettering on the face of driver's licenses &mdash: are entirely nonpunitive and non-retributive. These provisions are, especially when considered in toto, in excess of every other scheme operating across the country, and such a stark comparison highlights areas where ASORCNA's effects have a very real potential to exceed their nonpunitive benefits. But that is not enough -- Mr. McGuire bears the burden of showing by the clearest proof that ASORCNA's provisions are excessive with respect to the Legislature's stated nonpunitive purposes, and Mr. McGuire has failed to carry that heavy burden, with two important exceptions.

First, Mr. McGuire has shown that the provision requiring double, weekly registration for in-town homeless offenders -- totaling up to 112 registrations in-person a year -- is excessive. No credible reason was given in support of this requirement. The argument that such a provision increases contact with law enforcement begs the question and falls into the State's misplaced view of unlimited effects being constitutional: If weekly double registration is good, then daily double registration would be sevenfold better? Considering the additional burdens of felony enforcement for violations, lifetime residential and employment restrictions, and lifetime travel restrictions (with yet more double-registration requirements), the weekly double-registration feature of the scheme for in-town homeless offenders is clearly excessive in relation to ASORCNA's stated nonpunitive purposes. Requiring a homeless individual to travel to two different law enforcement agencies to complete a substantially identical check-in process every week is so excessive in effect as to be punitive, especially in view of the combined weight of the other features on a homeless offender. And as established in Section C.II.c, infra, this requirement is a direct, affirmative disability or restraint.

Second, Mr. McGuire has shown that the provision requiring the completion of two identical travel permit applications prior to any three-day or more trip outside an in-town registrant's county of residence is excessive. Again, no credible reason was given in support of this duplicative procedure. While the State could again point to increased communication with law enforcement, as was discussed above, this is an instance of highly diminished returns coupled with substantially increased burdens. Additionally, § 15-20A-15(e) already requires the sheriff in the registrant's county of residence (not the municipal jurisdiction) to "immediately notify local law enforcement in the county or the jurisdiction to which the" registrant will be traveling, so it would be logical to conclude that the sheriff could also inform any applicable municipal law enforcement entity of the impending travel once a singular permit is completed. Ala. Code § 15-20A-15(e). When considering the double travel permit requirement in light of the other burdens borne by those subject to ASORCNA and the absence of any increase in benefit to ASORCNA's state nonpunitive purpose, the requirement is excessive to the point of being punitive.

As to all other of ASORCNA's provisions, Mr. McGuire has not shown that the Legislature's chosen regulatory means, individually or cumulatively, are clearly excessive in relation to the statute's nonpunitive purposes, and this factor does not point to a finding that ASORCNA as a whole is so punitive in purpose or effect as to negate the Legislature's stated intent. This finding is entered with serious reservations as to some features (especially the red-lettered branding of the face of required identification), but is consistent with the court's understanding of deference due to the judgment of the Alabama Legislature in regulating sex offenders in Alabama, and the State's discretion in implementing the various provisions of the scheme.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Vann Thomas Motel in Anniston closed, registered citizens forced out

When a stable home for Registered persons closed, why are people surprised that the result is homelessness? Are people really so stupid to believe that residency laws don't negatively impact their precious registry? No home means no monitoring. I'm sure that "building code" crap was a convenient excuse for shutting down the hotel. 


Vann Thomas Motel closed, registered sex offenders forced out
Posted: Thursday, February 5, 2015 6:48 pm | Updated: 8:41 pm, Thu Feb 5, 2015.
by Eddie Burkhalter

The state Fire Marshal's Office has forced the closure of the Vann Thomas Motel in Anniston, according to the owner’s son.
That means the registered sex offenders who had lived there are now scattered across the area, said Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson.
Amerson said as of Thursday afternoon 11 registered sex offenders who had lived at the motel, located at 3002 McClellan Blvd., had reported to the Sheriff's Office that they would have to move. Registered sex offenders are required by law to report when they relocate.
“The issue for us is, they don’t have a place to go, and so we’re going to have a group who are essential homeless at least for a short term,” Amerson said.
Asked what the offenders will be required to do by law after leaving the motel, Amerson said the law allows for them to be homeless, but they must check in each week and report where they are living, whether that be under a bridge or elsewhere, he said.
Bill Wilkens Jr., standing outside his father’s motel Thursday, said an inspector from the state Fire Marshal's Office came to the motel Jan. 29 and informed him the business would have three days to close.
“The building wasn’t up to code,” Wilkens said was the reason the state inspector gave him for the closure. Wilkens said it was an old building, adding, “Of course it’s not going to be up to code.”
Attempts to reach the state Fire Marshal’s Office Thursday were unsuccessful.
Wilkens said 26 people who were staying at the hotel had to leave. Most had done so by Thursday, but one couple loaded garbage bags of belongings into a Ford truck as Wilkens talked to a reporter outside the motel. Most had already left, he said.
A sheriff’s deputy who is responsible for helping keep track of the county’s registered sex offenders came to the motel Thursday to ask Wilkens where the offenders who had lived there had moved, and Wilkens said he told the deputy “I don’t know.”
“The police department used to bring people up here, because they’d know where they are,” Wilkens said. “We’ve got some good managers here and they know who’s who and what they’ve done. They’ll report a problem.”
“This isn’t the Hilton,” Wilkens said. “But it serves a need. Now you’ve got people that are homeless. Have no place to go. One guy told me he was going to be living in his truck."