Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sex offender speaks out against Alabama bill that would regulate sex offender clusters

ReFORM-AL was not specifically mentioned in the article, but I was gratuitously mentioned in this article. Mike Cason wrote a very good article, and brought up many good questions.

Sex offender speaks out against Alabama bill that would regulate sex offender clusters
By Mike Cason | 
on October 28, 2013 at 11:33 AM
To Fight HB 21

MONTGOMERY, Alabama --- A registered sex offender is doing what he says few other offenders will do, speaking out against a bill that would further restrict where they can live.

Derek Logue opposes a bill that would make it illegal for sex offenders to live at the same residence without a live-in monitor and a license from the sheriff. Legislators and a prosecutor in Autauga and Chilton counties say the licensing and monitoring are needed to protect the public from having large numbers of offenders in one place.

Logue says it’s already hard enough for them to rejoin society after leaving prison. They can’t live or work within 2,000 feet of a school or daycare.

“There’s not a lot of hope for us,” Logue said. “But transitional housing at least gives people some stability. What you want is to have a chance to reintegrate back into society.”

Logue said they need stability during the first couple of years after prison and said that's when they are more likely to commit another crime. He said the bill would effectively block halfway houses and group homes that could help offenders and reduce recidivism.

Officials in Chilton and Autauga counties say their priority is public safety.

C.J. Robinson, chief deputy district attorney for Autauga, Elmore and Chilton counties, said 49 sex offenders have lived at the same Chilton County address since 2010. An average of about 10 live there on most days, Sheriff Kevin Davis said. They live in trailers behind a small church. It’s not in a dense neighborhood, but there are houses scattered along the two-lane highway near Triumph Church, which is outside Clanton.

Robinson said nothing in state law prohibits such a concentration of sex offenders. Laws pertaining only to Birmingham and Jefferson County restrict sex offenders from living together there.

Robinson compiled his numbers from notices the district attorney's office receives when a registered sex offender moves into the county. He points out that only two of the 49 men committed their crimes in Chilton County.  

More than half of the 49 were convicted of rape. Most of their victims were minors, including many who were children.

Sheriff Davis said the men have not caused a problem. Robinson said he doesn’t want to wait until they do.

“I don't have the luxury to morally sit and wait until we have a child or a woman victimized by one of these men,” Robinson said in an email. “They have no ties to Chilton County and I would like to see them return to from where they came. We will take our troubled souls back, other counties should tend to their own as well. This community wants to send a message that we are not a landfill for the rest of the state to dump their sexual predators on.”

Ricky Martin, pastor of Triumph Church, declined an interview request from
Logue said he doesn't know Martin or know about the program, but says the fact that the men haven't caused a problem seems noteworthy.

"Despite how they may feel about this group of people, it seems like the program is pretty successful," Logue said.

Bill pre-filed for January

Reps. Kurt Wallace, R-Maplesville and Paul Beckman, R-Prattville, are sponsoring House Bill 21, pre-filed for the legislative session that starts in January. It would define a lot where two or more unrelated sex offenders live as a “residential sex offender cluster.” It would make it illegal for a sex offender to live in a cluster that was not licensed by the sheriff. It would make it illegal for a person to own or operate an unlicensed cluster.

In addition to the place in Chilton County, Beckman said multiple sex offenders live in trailers on a piece of land in Autauga County.

“We’re right now trying to protect the public,” Beckman said. “And the public is saying to us right now in Chilton County and in Autauga County, ‘We don’t want to take care of other people’s sex offenders.’”
Wallace proposed a similar bill during this year’s legislative session, but it failed.

Logue spoke against that bill at a public hearing. He plans to return to speak against the new bill next year. “Most registered citizens are too afraid to speak out,” Logue said. “Somebody has to be a voice because so few of us are willing to speak out.”

Logue operates a website called Once and advocates for reforms of laws that limit where sex offenders can live and work. He supports punishment for sex crimes but says punishment should not continue after an offender has served his time.

Proponents of HB21 say sex offenders living together could negatively influence each other and make it more likely they will commit another crime.

"I don't like the idea that like minds are all together," Beckman said.

Logue takes issue with that and says sex offenders are not a homogenous group.
“We’re not all pedophiles,” Logue said. “We’re not all rapists.”

Proponents of HB21 say they would not oppose sex offenders living in facilities  that effectively counsel or treat them, although they say they know of no such program. The bill would authorize the Alabama Department of Mental Health to promulgate rules for residential sex offender clusters.

David Jackson, chief operating officer for the department, said it does not certify treatment programs for sex offenders.

Concern about unintended consequences

A lawyer for a nonprofit organization that advocates for criminal justice reforms said there could be unintended consequences of restrictive laws that make it hard for sex offenders to find homes and jobs.

“First and foremost, I don’t think anyone disagrees that our first priority as a society should be to protect our children,” said Ateeyah Hollie, who works for the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta. “While I appreciate the lawmakers attempt at doing so, my main concern is that they do so in a practical manner that won’t further endanger our community.

"The more restrictive we get with these residency and employment restrictions, the more likely we’re going to increase recidivism, which I don’t think is the lawmakers’ intent.” Hollie said instability in residency and employment are key factors in recidivism. Hollie spoke against the bill Wallace proposed during this year’s legislative session. She has not read the new bill.

Registration and residency restrictions on sex offenders gained national attention in the 1990s. Congress and states passed what were called Megan's Law, named after a 7-year-old New Jersey girl who was assaulted and murdered by a neighbor who was a convicted sex offender.

A 2012 report funded by the National Institute of Justice, "Sex Offenders: Recidivism and Collateral Consequences," examined the effect of sex offender registration and notification laws on recidivism.
The researchers found that the laws had limited effect on recidivism. The report said sex offenders have an overall low rate of recidivism but that some are high-risk, and that laws would be more effective if they targeted the high-risk offenders instead of all sex offenders.

Logue said some of the restrictions on residency and work amount to continual punishment after a prison sentence ends.

“When a person has served his time and they get out they should be given an opportunity to become a productive member of society,” Logue said. “We don’t treat murderers the same way. We don’t say murderers can’t live within 2,000 feet of another human being. That would be silly.”

Logue said there are effective rehabilitation programs.

"If we're really serious about trying to prevent reoffending, we should be doing things that we know work," Logue said. "Rehabilitation is not popular, but it's the right thing to do."

Wallace and Beckman said their bill would allow Alabama counties flexibility on how to handle sex offender clusters because it would be up to sheriffs to decide whether to license them.

"Until somebody comes up with a program that can be sanctioned by the state that proves we can improve the frequency of these guys reoffending, I'm just going with what I say is common sense," Wallace said.

© 2013 All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Russell County plans to round up sex offenders on Halloween night (again)

For more on Halloween laws in general, visit my Halloween Laws page AT ONCEFALLEN.COM

Halloween laws are pointless. First off, who lets their kids go out alone? Even when I was growing up, there was supervision, so the chances of a child getting snatched by a killer is virtually nil. I guess the Levenson study that found no unique increase in sex crimes around Halloween. Also, this is only mandatory for those on supervision. The rest of the registrants can stell Sheriff Buford T Justice to stick it.

This is a bad Halloween sequel that does not deserve a series.

Russell County plans to round up sex offenders on Halloween night

The Associated Press 
on October 27, 2011 at 11:49 AM, updated October 27, 2011 at 11:57 AM

PHENIX CITY, Alabama — A southeast Alabama county is trying to round up all its convicted sex offenders on Halloween night to make sure they can't come in contact with children who are out trick-or-treating.

The Russell County Sheriff's Department is requiring about 35 sex offenders who are on probation or parole to come to the county courthouse in Phenix City on Monday night for a mandatory meeting.

The county's 115 other registered sex offenders are being asked to come to the meeting voluntarily.

An aide to Sheriff Heath Thomas says offenders will get an update on the latest registration requirements. She says they might also get to watch a movie since the training won't take very long.

The sheriff's department says parents can locate registered sex offenders through its website.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Welcome to recycled failed law theater starring Steve Hurst and Kurt Wallace

The Alabama 2014 session is still about three months away but I'm already seeing the rehash of previous bills that failed to pass. I am environmentally conscious and recycle regularly, but some things should never be recycled, such as bad laws that have had multiple defeats.

HB 14: Sex Offender Castration Bill

HB 14: Hurst Crimes and Offenses H Pending Committee Action in House of Origin Judiciary 10/2/2013
Criminal sex offenders over age 21, sex offenses against child 12 years of age or younger, surgical castration required prior to release from custody of Corrections Department

House Bill 14 is very straightforward, of course. Below is the Sponsor's information:

State House: Room 627-C
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
(334) 353-9215
District: 155 Quail Run Road
Munford, AL 36268
Home Phone: (256) 761-1935

VERDICT: It should go without saying ReFORM-AL strongly opposes this bill. 

HB 21: Revised Anti-Cluster Bill

Senator Wallace's recycled "anti-clustering" bill, now known as HB 21, on the other hand, is far more complex. I'd like to think the vastly modified anti-clustering law was at least partially the result of the efforts of ReFORM-AL. This bill is about 12 pages long so I will just summarize the bill:

1. The bill defines a "sex offender cluster" as any property, including a hotel, apartment building, or multi-family unit; and it still bars two or more unrelated registrants from living in the same unit. (Unlike last year's law, the 500 foot residency restriction from other registrants is not in this provision).
2. This bill sets guidelines for the creation and regulation of "large residential sex offender clusters." No registrant or felon can run a facility; the Mental Health Dept. establishes guidelines for facilities, but the sheriff decides who gets licenses; cannot house more than 30 registrants in any one location; the facility must pay a $100 licensing fee + $20 per registrant fee.
3. Repeals the Jefferson County anti-clustering law passed in 2010

VERDICT: Wallace is still motivated by shutting down the facility in his county, and this latest attempt at getting what he wants. His loftier speech is not fooling me. There are a few parts of the bill I can agree with, such as repealing the Jefferson Co. anti-cluster law and some of the standards adoptions are good, but this bill is still a cluster of bad laws. As written, this bill is still bad and this, ReFORM-AL opposes.

Below is the contact info.


State House: Room 427-J
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
(334) 242-7772
Home Address:  24 Maple Drive
Maplesville, AL.  36750
Work Phone: (334) 366-4211


State House: Room 427-D
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
(334) 242-7499

District Address:

1803 Tara Drive
Prattville, AL. 36066

P.O. Box 680155
Prattville, AL.  36068

Home: (334) 361-0977
Work: (334) 834-4808
District: (334) 323-5918
Cell: (334) 300-1780
Fax: (334) 834-4801

A visual representation on Alabama's 2014 Legislative Session
Because I want awareness of these laws, I want to keep theis post at the top, so I will include media links to coverage of this bill here: on Kurt Wallace's anti-cluster law:

Clanton Advertiser on Wallace's bill:

The Drs TV show discusses the castration law:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The sex offender registry is worse than death, based on the actions of one accused of sex crime

"We've all seen escape artists risk death before, but tonight, I'm going to risk something even worse. Becoming a registered sex offender for life." -- TV Reality star/ Comedian Nathan Fielder performing a stunt on his show"Nathan For You," that, if failed, would cause him to expose himself to an audience of children and thus be charged with indecent exposure
Is the sex offender registry worse than death? The words of Nathan Fielder echoes in my mind as I read this article about the suicide of a 15 year old boy facing indecent exposure charges for streaking during a football game. 

Streaking has come a long way from the days of the infamous Ray Stevens song. What was once a silly (but bold) thing to do will now place you in danger of having to register as a sex offender. It was apparent this teen was facing legal charges, but only the UK Daily Mail dared admit the charges would have landed him on the registry.

If anyone doubts the state would have prosecuted the kid, I'd like to mention that the feds prosecuted a 10 year old kid for sex crimes on a military base. Assistant US Attorney Bruce M. Ferg stated this about that case: "My opinion is this is the best thing that could've happened to the kid..."It is not vague to say, 'If you do this kind of activity, we don't care what age you are, you are liable for prosecution.' ""

If you are a Facebook user, an associate of mine has made an unofficial memorial page for the suicide victim, Christian Adamek.

We should really reevaluate these laws.

Boy, 15, kills himself after 'facing expulsion and being put on sex offender registry' for streaking prank at high school football game

Christian Adamek hanged himself on October 2 and died from his injuries two days later - a week after he streaked at his high school football game
He was arrested and school district recommended he face a court hearing
If convicted of indecent exposure, he'd have gone on sex offenders list
By Lydia Warren

PUBLISHED: 10:40 EST, 10 October 2013 | UPDATED: 15:00 EST, 10 October 2013

A popular 15-year-old student has committed suicide after he reportedly faced expulsion and could have been placed on the sex offenders' register simply for streaking at a high school football game.

Christian Adamek, from Huntsville, Alabama, hanged himself on October 2, a week after he was arrested for running naked across the Sparkman High football field during a game.

The teenager died two days later from his injuries and on Wednesday, friends and family gathered at a memorial service as they struggled to comprehend the beloved student's death.

A video of Adamek streaking during a game against a rival team was posted on YouTube hours after the event and students took to Twitter to call him a 'legend'.

'Sparkman's new slogan is gonna be "Welcome to Sparkman High School, Home of Christian Adamek",' one student wrote.

But school staff did not treat the situation so lightly.

Sparkman High Principal Michael Campbell told WHNT a day before the suicide attempt that the teen could face major repercussions because of his actions.

'There's the legal complications,' Campbell said. 'Public lewdness and court consequences outside of school with the legal system, as well as the school consequences that the school system has set up.'

In Alabama, indecent exposure is linked to the state's sex offender laws, meaning that he could have found himself on the sex offenders register due to the streaking.

Campbell added that that the incident was not just a prank and needed to be treated seriously.

Sparkman High administrators even recommended that Adamek face a hearing in the Madison County court system to determine if formal charges would be filed, WHNT reported.

Adamek had also been disciplined by the school district but the details had not been made public.

The day before the suicide attempt, the principal had confirmed that Adamek was not at school and the teenager's sister suggested on Twitter that Adamek faced expulsion, reported.

Campbell declined to comment on Adamek's death but the Madison County school district issued a statement saying it had 'received word that a Sparkman High School student has passed away'.

'Our prayers and thoughts are with the family during this time of bereavement,' the statement read.

The messages on Twitter have now turned from congratulatory to somber.

'Praying for the Adamek family. Christian was so funny and nice. He will be missed by so many,' one girl wrote.

The family - Adamek leaves behind his mother, Angela, and a sister and a brother - shared photos and memories online of the fun-loving teen, who was pictured posing and grinning at the camera.

At Wednesday's memorial service, his Boy Scout Troop master, David Silvernail, said Adamek was a popular teenager who always had a smile on his face.

'There are two kinds of people in the world; ones that brighten the room when they walk in and those that don't,' he said.

'He was one that brightened the room when he walked in. That's what I'll always remember about Christian.'

His mother, Angela, thanked her son's friends and said they could learn from his life, reported.

'Remember to smile, don't be afraid to do something goofy and remember the consequences of those actions, ask for help when you need it, ask for help if you think your friends need it if you don't know what to do, be quirky, be happy, be smart,' she said.