Wednesday, April 8, 2015

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

The OpEd features a statement from Derek Logue of and this very website:

Is Alabama's sex offender registry necessary or 'pointless'? By Shelly Haskins | 

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

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 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.

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.