Saturday, April 20, 2013

A letter to the Alabama House of Representatives from a ReFORM-AL reader

In my last post, I notified my readers that HB 85, the anti-clustering bill preventing registrants from living within 500 feet of each other and one per multi-family unit, has passed Judiciary and is nnow up for a full vote in the House of Representatives (CLICK HERE for more information on contacting your legislators).

Below is a letter sent to the House by a reader of this blog. I felt it was very well-written and worth sharing. Personal information has been blocked for their protection:

Dear Members of the Alabama House of Representatives,
As a resident of Alabama and a concerned citizen of the Commonwealth, I am writing to strongly urge you to revise HB 85 not to be an Alabama state wide law for several reasons as follows:

  • HB 85 will force evictions on a multitude of sex offenders (SOs), with legal residences, to simultaneously, widely scatter them inside new, unaffected neighborhoods and create a multitude of new homeless areas in each county across Alabama.   The legal living areas outside of neighborhoods that are available in counties such as Mobile are exacerbated or not open to SOs so the only alternative for SOs is to move inside more neighborhoods (or become homeless) due to the current 2,000 feet SO law restrictions (Statutes 15-20-25 and 15-20-26).  Also, the current 31* surveillance sex offender laws (all Class C felony punishments) are already overwhelmingly enough laws to force all former offenders into compliance and prevent crimes.  If HB 85 is passed the fallout will be spreading out a greater potential for more inflamed fears and worst situations into currently unaffected neighborhoods than ever before across Alabama.  Keeping former offenders together makes it as though they were fish in a barrel while infusing a reverential fear on each group of offenders by law enforcement with the current 31 surveillance laws.  Instead of a HB 85 state wide eviction law, let each county decide for themselves because they can best evaluate each group of sex offenders’ living areas, whether it’s safer for SOs to stay living outside of neighborhood areas or if they need to thin out and scatter SOs inside neighbors or to other neighborhoods (or become homeless).  Also, assigning a godly mentor for any particularly troubled group of SOs residence can help.  Hundreds of SOs that are living in their own communities where they received their sentencing will be evicted by the HB 85 forced displacement law across the state of Alabama.
  • Multitudes of law abiding community voters will be deeply ungrateful and angry with the supporters of HB 85, requiring a state wide sex offender’s population move.  HB 85 is a fear-mongering attempt to creating a state wide crisis by fanning panic and hysteria from an isolated halfway house situation in Chilton County.  There are no sex offender’s halfway houses in Mobile County or grouped residence that have 37 sex offenders as does the group housing situation in Sen. Kurt Wallace’s County (Chilton), in which a couple of neighbors started commenting on the Triumph Church ministry (halfway house offenders walking around areas and utilities problem, but no illegal actives or arrests).  A safer solution than a state wide HB 85 forced population move is to just make the nearby neighborhoods off limits to Triumph’s residences (not to congregate, bother or come onto other’s property without being invited) and make quicker utilities repairs instead of oppressing every county in Alabama with the HB 85 law.  The sponsors of HB 85 say they want safety, but another motivation is that they want to force the shut down all legal sex offenders group housing (including religious groups) without appearing to be prejudice against religious organizations (i.e. Triumph Church in Chilton County and Shiloni Transition Ministry in Jefferson County– where the first controversy started) and not to stir up protesters among religious voters in Alabama (by-the-way only Christian evangelists try to save the lost SOs).  As is with most other law proposals, the current 31 Alabama sex offender surveillance laws were quietly passed.  Counties in Alabama usually do not experience some of the new SO Laws’ fallout until sometime later, such as with the 2,000 feet sex offender law (statutes 15-20-25 and 15-20-26, passed in 2005) which forced multitudes of SOs to move outside of numerous neighborhoods and squeeze into about 3% legal areas to reside in.  The proposed HB 85 will do just the opposite and re-scatters SOs inside numerous unaffected neighborhoods across Alabama.  Mobile Police and Sheriff Departments are highly effective in keeping Mobile County’s grouped sex offenders under very high surveillance to prevent such concerns that occurred in Chilton County.  Denying SOs shelter is not the right thing to do and to simultaneously, widely scattering sex offenders inside more neighborhoods is an extremely, worst fallout (more oppressive situations) if the proposed HB 85 is passed state wide.  We want and desire for all families to be safe but HB 85 is similar to screaming fire when there is no fire kindling except the "fear selling" for HB 85.  My mother always said that “whosoever  rewards you evil for doing good or right, evil will not depart from their house Prov.17:13.”  The mandatory eviction and displacement of thousands of former offenders for doing right only destabilizes them from becoming a useful, rehabilitated tax payers, who labor to maintain housing, provide restitution payments to victims, and child/family support they need to fulfill.
  • Depriving former offenders the liberty to keep their residences will simultaneously force a huge number of offenders into becoming homelessness, state wide.  Homeless former offenders will have to scatter in search of food, clothing, medicines, health care, money, etc. and will over burden every community’s volunteer groups that help the needy because of HB 85.  Also, spreading out offenders into homelessness will only make them much harder to keep up with by surveillance officers (it oppresses law enforcement from being able to focusing time needed on current crimes happening in their community). If you do not yield some relieve for the least of these (former offenders) then you will only continue to create more fear-mongering situations in more communities, state wide and it is more freighting to entertain a non-safer law as HB 85 will become, if passed.  The safest objective is to godly reform all form sex offenders, and to help them repent from passed wrong behavior.  Even permanently stereotyping them with a “sex offender” label for life incites more fear-mongering and unchangeableness.  It a cursed way to continuously slander offenders and expect a change from criminal mindedness, unless you do not want a change for the better.  It’s beneficial to all communities to help mentor and change offenders for the better instead of abandoning them to failure.  Societies are only as strong as their weakest links.
  • HB 85 will cause offenders to lose their jobs due to lack of housing and/or transportation (inability to stay cleaned up enough to maintain employment or forced to move outside of transportation areas needed for jobs, required registrations/probation, mental health, addiction counseling, health care, etc.).
  • Hurts numerous victims’ families when offenders are not able to continue restitution and their child/family support payments.
  • Creates a simultaneous surplus of recidivism rates to overcrowd jails… why not make a Federal Law to outlaw all forms of adult pornography (crime roots) national which will stop most new sexual crimes, marriage or family problems, etc. from ever happening?  Going overboard with 31 sex offender surveillance laws only proves that laws are not the total answer to crime prevention.  A changing of a person’s mind must come first from their hearts’ understanding of what harms and wrongs others.  Knowing we are sinners in need of God’s daily help, renouncing sins and following godly principles and man’s laws will change a man’s ways.
  • Non-grouped sex offenders are much harder for Law Enforcement to monitoring even with increased officers.  In spite of speculations, groups of sex offenders do the opposite of wanting to cause each other to conspire or violate again.  Unlike heroin addicts and alcoholics that still think their partying is a highly acceptable and normal activity.  They pride themselves and look-up to others that want to continue partying with them.  Whereas a sex offenders that’s been incarcerated learns how perverted/grotesque/sinful they are and rejected/hated/malice by inmates, relatives, authorities, etc. and do not want to stay that way ever again.  Former offenders live each day in fear of retaliation (from other criminally minded people), malice and condemned like no others.  Actually the SOs that have been out awhile help encourage the newly released ones to remain law abiding, get a job, and get connected with a church and other good people.  Groups of SOs know that if any offender violates it will cause grave trouble for all SOs.  Do Kidnappers usually live isolated in single dwellings (as HB 85 will enforce) or do they usually live in grouped dwellings? The current 31 SO laws makes sure sex offenders stay under control and beat down enough to maintain permanent condemnation.
  • HB 85 will repay evil for an offenders’ continually following the laws.  Its prosecutions when you do wrong and punished, but its persecution or discrimination when you are doing right and then punished (My mother always told me, “Whoso rewards evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.”- Prov.17:13).   Offenders like everyone, need some positives reinforcements to keep walking uprightly, and not new persecuting punishments heaped on to those that have served their full sentences and are turning their life around for the better. 

Solutions that will stop most new sex crimes from ever happening are the following:

  • Attack the roots-- pass a Federal Law to forbid all forms of adult pornography (sold or produced) nationally.  The problem is that too many people want adult pornography to remain legal because they do not see how it harms others (sex crimes, marriage and family problems, etc.).  At least start educating the public/schools about the problems with keep adult pornography legalized.
  • Mandate school curriculum’s to teach kids that even touching another person’s privates is actually having sex and is wrong outside of marriage (in some situations punishable by law for life).  Abstain from having sex until they are an adult with only another consenting adult or marriage partner.  Adult and child sexual touching or incest is the most perverted/grotesque/sinful crimes with the most condemning punishments.  And teach them the 31 sex offender laws and punishments to prevent our next generation from falling into this demonic sin (former Pres. Bill Clinton taught Americans that touching another person sexually is not having sex and was re-elected).
  • Mail out to every mail box in Alabama a copy of the 31* sex offender laws which only a small fraction of the population know.  Then send out a copy every four years to keep the crime rates declining.

Also, I ask for an exemptions granted to my legal living residence.  I live at an ideal group SO location and I only have to walk directly across the street from my residences to my employment *** (about 350 feet from my room) for the past three years as noted below:

  • ****** at *****************, AL *****.
  • My  residence *** at ***************, AL *****. 

If HB 85 passes, I will be force to relocate.  The ****** has been an ideal legal grouped sex offender’s location in Mobile for many years for the following reasons:

  • It’s surrounded by commercial business properties on all four sides,
  • Outside of and away from all neighborhood areas,
  • Within 1,200 ft. are three Alabama Departments of Public Safety Offices (State ***, AL Bureau *** , and ********e), 
  • Has a four lane highway  connected directly in front of it (makes it easily and constancy monitored by law enforcement multiple times, daily),
  • Public Transportation Buses stops in front of ****** so no offenders have to walk through neighborhoods looking for transportation, etc.
  • Has no sidewalk so the public does not walk near this location.
  • No school bus stops anywhere on this route,
  • The manager monitors all residences closely and keeps all the utilities working properly.

I am one of three law obeying sex offenders (A.K., L.M., and myself-M.P.) that committed our crime in Mobile (not drifters), completed our full sentences, and we have become Christians seeking to be a blessing and not a curse.  We have lived more than three years at the ****** location (no complains, etc.).  Our families live here in Mobile County, we need their fellowship reinforcement, and we work at our jobs to help support them, too.  There are a few other offenders that temporarily stay here.  If HB 85 passes I will be one of the state wide thousands of offenders that will be force to relocate from living outside of a neighborhood area and then forced to live inside a neighborhood area or become homeless/jobless (unable to locate a legally available residence).
The ****** is another legal group sex offender’s location in Mobile to live at for many years.  It’s an ideal location with most of the same benefits as the C**** with one difference as follows:
The Mobile Police Headquarters and is only 1,500 ft. away from the group residence of offenders at ********, located at **** Mobile, AL
 HB 85 would be devastating to thousands of former offenders and to their families, too.
I urge you and the legislature to not pass HB 85 state wide, but instead to help the Triumph Church situation in place of scattering thousands of offenders into other unaffected neighborhoods and creating a worst situation for our voters, state wide.  I would appreciate a written reply that states where you currently stand on this issue.
Thank you for your time and consideration and look forward to hearing from you.


*Alabama Sex Offender Registration And Community Notification Statutes: 13A-11-200, 13A-11-201, 13A-11-202, 15-20-20, 15-20-20.1, 15-20-21, 15-20-22, 15-20-23, 15-20-23.1, 15-20-24, 15-20-25, 15-20-25.1, 15-20-25.2, 15-20-25.3, 15-20-26, 15-20-26.1, 15-20-26.2, 15-20-27, 15-20-28, 15-20-29, 15-20-30, 15-20-31, 15-20-32, 15-20-33, 15-20-34, 15-20-35, 15-20-36, 15-20-37, 15-20-38,  PDF Version of Final Guidelines, etc.

Monday, April 15, 2013

UPDATE: HB 85 passes the Judiciary Committee. Emails for the full house

Note: I am on the ARC Talk Radio on 4/17/13 to discuss HB 85, the anti-clustering bill. CLICK HERE to access the show. The show is archived for your listening pleasure.

I was just informed by phone today that HB 85, the anti-clustering law, has passed the Judiciary and will soon go before the entire House. Why it isn't noted on the legislative website, I'll never know, but now we need to address the entire state legislature.

In the coming days I hope to have more information on this latest development.

In the meantime, if you want to email all House Members, here is the list of those with an email address:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Today I wrote an email to them:

Members of the Alabama House of Representatives,

I was dismayed to hear that HB 85, the sex offender anti-clustering law, has passed the Judiciary Committee, despite my warnings of the dangers of such a bill, and now goes before a full house vote. I am writing you today to implore you to reject this terrible piece of legislation.

The purpose of the bill is to increase the already stringent residency restriction law, which is already 2000 feet from schools, daycare centers, and colleges, while local ordinances may further restrict where registered citizens can live. The law does not consider the fact few people will rent to registered persons, partially out of fear but mostly out of hatred for those on the public registry.

Consider the following statement:

“The Ordinance appears to attempt to ensure public safety, in certain parts of Allegheny County, by isolating all Megan’s Law registrants in localized penal colonies of sorts, without any consideration of the General Assembly’s policies of rehabilitation and reintegration.” -- Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice CJ Castille, Fross et al. v. County of Allegheny, No. 17 WAP 2010

Residency restrictions create clusters of sex offenders. It is the one and only cause of clustering. If you make 98% of available housing off-limits to a group of people, a reasonable person would conclude the vast majority of those impacted by this law will move into the 2% of the remaining available housing. Passing HB 85 will eliminate much of that 2% of remaining housing. That is a very dangerous proposition.

You only need to look at the state of Iowa to understand the implications of passing a new, tighter restriction.

In 2005, Iowa passed what was at the time the most restrictive residency law in the country. Those forced to register as sex offenders could not reside within 2000 feet of any place children congregate. The impact of the law was immediate. Rural motels and trailer parks were filled with registrants as they flock to the few places left in the state where they could legally reside. One hotel with 24 rooms had 26 registered citizens at the address. Other registrants were left homeless and sleeping out of the back of their cars and trucks. Authorities reported three times as many registrants missing in the year after the residency law began than the year before (from 140 to 400). The city of Dubuque reported 90% of the city was off-limits. Another sheriff claimed that he used to know where 90% of the registrants in his county resided, but after the residency law took effect, he barely knows where half reside. By 2007, about 700 of the states 6000 registrants moved out of state or fled the country, while there was an increase of arrests of registrants for giving false addresses.

The 2007 Iowa monitoring report found that the number of sex crime convictions actually increased in the two years following the enactment of the 2000 foot residency restriction. In the year prior to the enactment of the law ending August 2005, there were 913 sex crime charges filed, with 433 ending and conviction. In the year following enactment of the law, between September 2005 and August 2006, there were 928 sex abuse charges filed, and 445 were convicted. Between September 2006 and August 2007, there were 1095 charges filed, and 490 convictions. The residency restriction laws had no positive impact on reducing sex crimes in the state. The number of failure to register convictions increased from 258 the year before the residency restriction was enacted to 442 the year after, in addition to 137 convictions for violating residency restriction laws. (See for the references)

A number of studies have failed to find any correlation between where a person sleeps and whether a person re-offends. A 2003 study by the Colorado Dept. of Public Safety (which was inspired over fears of clustering, the premise of AL-HB85) found no correlation between residence and recidivism. In fact, those with stable housing and a POSITIVE support environment are less likely to re-offend. While much of the testimony before the Judiciary Committee involved transitional housing/ "halfway houses" (called "Shared Living Arrangements" in the study) the study also included those registrants living in a stable home environment. By contrast, those living where there was NO support or NEGATIVE support correlated with higher recidivism. This study dispels the claim Sen. Kurt Wallace has made that clusters of registered persons living in close proximity to each other are more likely to re-offend. (Link to Colorado study:

Senator Kurt Wallace has made his intentions clear. He is passing a statewide law so he may shut down transitional housing in his county. Both Senators Ball and Wallace have been quoted in media reports they intend to close transitional housing in their home counties. I am dismayed the law is being used for what sounds on the surface to be little more than NIMBY-ism ("Not In My Back Yard"). But Senator Wallace's invited "expert" on the issue, Chilton County DA CJ Robinson, admitted before the Judiciary Committee that in three years, there have been no recidivists among the group of 33 Senator Wallace wishes to disband.

A number of victim rights groups and law enforcement officials have long criticized residency restrictions as counterproductive. The Iowa County Attorneys Association (of Prosecuting Attorneys) have spoken out against residency laws. (reference:

The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center (formerly the Jacob Wetterling Foundation) opposes residency restrictions because they cause more harm than good. "The problem is these laws may do more harm than good, if they work at all. In spite of good intentions, these laws have unintended consequences that can actually make it harder to track sex offenders." (see

“When you propose a law restricting sex offenders to 1,000 feet from any bus stop, that’s just not going to work,” said Laura A. Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan’s Law and the Crime Victims Center, who lives on Long Island. “You have to be reasonable.”

Residency restrictions in general already have caused a number of unconsidered consequences, including homelessness, vigilantism, and absconding. (see:

HB 85 will increase failure to register charges, an increase in recidivism, and adverse consequences for registrants and their families as they are pushed even further to the fringes of society. (It must be noted, however, that those who "Fail To Register" are no more likely to re-offend. See

A commonsense approach would be to abolish residency restrictions rather than increase them further by passing HB 85. Iowa repealed residence restrictions for all except those considered the highest risk offenders. Alabama could do the same. Instead, the state should consider commitment to an evidence-based program that stresses a positive rehabilitative environment. Recidivism rates for "sex offenders" is already low (between 2%-10% in virtually all US studies). Faith-based initiatives and positive programs like Circles Of Support and Accountability (COSA) have been shown to reduce that low rate even further. A 2005 study on COSA found the program reduced recidivism by 70%. (See: for references)

There are effective treatment programs out there but they must stress healing for both offender and victim and allow registrants the opportunity to become productive citizens. HB 85 is not the way to do this.