Why Doesn’t NARSOL just move the conference from Texas?

We have received a number of inquires asking why we don’t cancel the conference in Houston and move it somewhere else in another state. Due to the fact that several messages have been received, we feel it’s important to respond. The consternation is due to a recent abortion restriction and other controversial laws that are now in effect in Texas. Since NARSOL is a non-partisan organization, our policy is that we refrain from taking a position on laws outside of our advocacy, which is criminal justice reform, and our focus, which is individuals and families harmed and marginalized by the sexual offense registry and sexual offense laws that are contrary to rehabilitation incentives.

It is impractical for us to move or cancel this event for a number of reasons. First, it is very difficult to find a venue that is affordable and also welcomes a group which is comprised of persons advocating for those on a sexual offense registry, a group which also includes those with a past sexual criminal conviction. Second, at this late date, it would be almost impossible to secure an alternate location that would so well accommodate us. Third, the hotel would impose a penalty on NARSOL which would be 90 percent of projected room revenue plus the minimum food and beverage tab, which is $5000.00. The combined amount we would owe would be more than $22,000.00. NARSOL does not believe our donors would be thrilled if we were so cavalier as to nonchalantly throw away more than $20,000.00 of their contributions.

NARSOL does not have the resources of the National Basketball Association (NBA) or the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to be able to exert any significant influence on the state of Texas. We are aware that multiple Fortune 500 companies threatened to punish the state of Georgia when their legislature enacted a bathroom bill a few years ago. The pressure resulted in a veto of that bill by former governor Nathan Deal. A small organization such as NARSOL does not have anything approximating the leverage that the group of Fortune 500 companies brought to bear on the state of Georgia.

NARSOL believes it is important to focus on the positive attributes of our current venue. As with our first Houston conference in 2019, we have received a letter from the mayor of Houston welcoming us, along with positive comments about the work we do. He says that the city of Houston is “. . . welcoming and inclusive and supportive of efforts to reintegrate citizens who have paid their debts to society,” and he commends our “. . . restorative justice efforts on behalf of marginalized citizens.”

Additionally, the Marriott Hotel has been very gracious and accommodating to NARSOL, despite knowing the constituency we serve. They are undertaking some public relations risks by permitting us to use their venue for our conference. We have found that hotels that are as welcoming to us are few and far between.

While Texas may be seen as a state hostile to our advocacy, NARSOL’s first and one of our very strongest affiliated organizations, Texas Voices, is here. The advantages to having a conference in a state with a strong, active affiliate are too many to enumerate.

The most important reason for us to continue with the event is that we do not support the concept of collective punishment. It is not fair or reasonable to hold the entire state of Texas responsible for a law that by all accounts is not supported by the majority of the state’s residents. Most of the employees whose jobs involve serving us probably are as disappointed as anyone else that this decision made by a few is causing so much adverse publicity to them as well as threatening their livelihoods. They too have families who they are trying to support, and to punish them for something that is not of their doing is not consistent with NARSOL’s values.

Registration numbers for the conference are very strong. In fact, this may be a record setting attendance for us, despite the pandemic and concerns about the virus. NARSOL hopes that you will take everything into consideration and join us in Houston October 8-10.

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Source: https://narsol.org/2021/09/why-doesnt-narsol-just-move-the-conference-from-texas/

Ex-South Carolina teacher guilty in Georgia child sex case

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — A former teacher in South Carolina has admitted to contacting a Georgia girl who was under 18 with the intention of engaging in sexual activity, federal prosecutors said.

Jonathan Eugene Grantham, of Graniteville, South Carolina, pleaded guilty Wednesday to coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity, federal prosecutors said in a news release. When he was arrested in February, he was a teacher at Ridge Spring-Monetta High School in Ridge Spring, S.C. He has since been fired.

“It’s sickening to contemplate the fact that while Jonathan Grantham was serving as a high-school teacher, he was surreptitiously participating in the depraved sex trafficking of a child,” Acting U.S. Attorney David Estes said in the release. “This plea will hold him accountable for his crimes, while our diligent law enforcement partners continue their outstanding work to protect our most vulnerable citizens from such predation.”

During a sex trafficking investigation into other people, FBI agents discovered that Grantham, 45, had traveled from South Carolina to Columbia County, Georgia, in July 2019 to engage in sexual activity with the girl after contacting her online, prosecutors said.

Grantham faces a sentence of at least 10 years and up to life in prison, as well as substantial financial penalties and restitution, the release says. He also must register as a sex offender and serve at least five years of supervised release once he’s out of prison.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Source: https://thebrunswicknews.com/news/state_news/ex-south-carolina-teacher-guilty-in-georgia-child-sex-case/article_83947cad-1e90-5fe2-abb5-f684d9e8677e.html

Bulloch County Man Pleads Guilty to Coercing Children to Provide Sexual Images

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia, a Bulloch County man faces substantial time in federal prison after admitting he persuaded children to send him sexual images and photos.

Jasiri Hutchison, 20, of Statesboro, is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court to Production of Child Pornography and Possession of Child Pornography. The plea consolidates charges brought in both the Southern District of Georgia and the Middle District of Georgia. The plea agreement subjects Hutchison to minimum 15-year prison term, up to 30 years, along with substantial financial penalties and restitution, followed by up to a life term of supervised release and registration as a sex offender.

There is no parole in the federal system.

“Jasiri Hutchison’s predatory behavior represents a nightmarish victimization of innocent children,” said Acting U.S. Attorney David H. Estes. “Through the persistence of our law enforcement partners in Homeland Security Investigations, he now will be held accountable for his crimes.”

As described in court documents and testimony, as early as April 2019 through December 2020, Hutchison typically portrayed himself as a young girl in online interactions with children via various messaging applications, at first persuading them to send innocuous photos of themselves and later threatening to share those photos with their friends unless the victim sent increasingly sexualized images or videos of themselves and/or siblings. In his plea, Hutchison admitted possessing more than 600 sexually explicit images of children.

“The Internet provides a wealth of information and endless entertainment, but it also offers predators the anonymity they need to victimize innocent children with their perverse schemes. We all must be constantly aware of what our children do online as well as who they interact with because you never truly know who is lurking in the shadows,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “HSI and its law enforcement partners will relentlessly pursue, arrest and prosecute those looking to exploit our children.”

Anyone with information on suspected child sexual exploitation can contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 800-843-5678, or https://report.cybertip.org/.

The case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer J. Kirkland and Project Safe Childhood Coordinator Tara M. Lyons.

AllOnGeorgia

Source: https://allongeorgia.com/bulloch-public-safety/bulloch-county-man-pleads-guilty-to-coercing-children-to-provide-sexual-images/

Alabama inmate, wanted in Georgia, released from jail early

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A man who was mistakenly released from an Alabama jail by posing as another inmate has turned himself in, authorities said.

Authorities are investigating how 31-year-old Darren Jermaine Chipman was released in Madison County, Al.com reported. He turned himself in Sunday, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office reported.

The Huntsville man was released prematurely — on Saturday — while he was awaiting extradition to Georgia for a robbery offense and failure to register as a sex offender, authorities said.

The sheriff’s office says that Chipman posed as another inmate and used that person’s information to get released.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Schell & Hogan LLP, a leading accounting firm in Brunswick, has its beginnings 65 years ago in Jacksonville, Florida, when it began as a branch of Smoak, Davis and Nixon LLP. In 1967, J. Powell Schell and Terry D. Hogan, already partners in the firm, acquired it to operate it independent…

The Brunswick News won the Georgia Press Association’s prestigious 2021 General Excellence Award on Friday at the association’s annual convention on Jekyll Island.

In the wake of Friday night’s completion of the cut to separate Section 6 from the shipwrecked Golden Ray, oil hemorrhaged from the half-submerged steel hull and fouled beaches along the southern shoreline of St. Simons Island.

With breakthrough attained Friday night on the next-to-last section of the shipwrecked Golden Ray, a flotilla of pollution control teams spent Saturday fighting to contain the anticipated oil discharge into the St. Simons Sound, according to Unified Command.

With breakthrough attained Friday night on the next-to-last section of the shipwrecked Golden Ray, a flotilla of pollution control teams spent Saturday fighting to contain the anticipated oil discharge into the St. Simons Sound, according to Unified Command.

People tend to toss the word “crisis” around too much, but starting Monday and likely throughout August Brunswick could have a surge of people evicted from their homes as the moratorium on the procedures ends.

Source: https://thebrunswicknews.com/news/state_news/alabama-inmate-wanted-in-georgia-released-from-jail-early/article_7b75e22b-eac6-5b46-99e3-aefb96b49623.html

‘I’m tired of crying’ | Family speaks after remains identified in Henry County as missing woman

‘i’m-tired-of-crying’-|-family-speaks-after-remains-identified-in-henry-county-as-missing-woman

Cocoa McCoy said that she kept trying to tell police the name of the man who might have taken her daughter – the same man now suspected of killing the first woman.

HENRY COUNTY, Ga. — A grief-stricken mother has heard the news she had feared, for months.

Police told her that they identified her missing daughter’s remains – the remains found last week in some woods in Henry County along with the remains of another woman.

They identified her daughter, Conteshia McCoy, 19, through DNA and dental records.

Cocoa McCoy said Wednesday that she kept trying to tell police the name of the man who might have taken her daughter –  the same man now suspected of killing the first woman.

And now, Cocoa is drained. Numb.

“I know at this point I’m tired of crying. I am. Last night I cried myself to sleep,” she said.

Cocoa McCoy’s voice faded, her eyes looking down, as she spoke in her Locust Grove home along with her husband Antonio.

Conteshia’s remains were found next to the remains of 23-year-old Mirsha Victor.

Victor was murdered earlier this month, police say, by a 41-year-old man named Dennis Lane, a convicted sex offender who lives nearby those woods.

Lane is now in jail.

Police have not yet charged anyone in Conteshia’s disappearance and death.

Cocoa McCoy says Lane is the same man who had been stalking Conteshia for weeks, claiming he wanted to marry her, just before she disappeared this past February.

But in the past five months leading up to Mirsha Victor’s death, Locust Grove Police, Cocoa said, never pursued the leads that she gave them – that Lane might be responsible for her daughter’s disappearance.

“And I hate it for the Victor family, that they had to endure that. You know, all this could have been avoided if you (police) would have just went to his house like we kept telling you to do. If you just would have went – you couldn’t save my daughter but you could have saved somebody else child,” she said.

11Alive will work to reach Locust Grove Police for comment.

Conteshia, Cocoa said, was funny, always sending her videos to make her laugh, taking good care of her younger siblings.

She was working to become a hairdresser.

Now, Cocoa knows, she is gone.

But she can’t believe it.

“I just thought she was going to walk through that door,” she said. “And I’ll never see my baby again.”

Source: http://rssfeeds.11alive.com/~/660192690/0/wxia-local~Im-tired-of-crying-Family-speaks-after-remains-identified-in-Henry-County-as-missing-woman

What we know | Second set of human remains found in Henry County identified as Locust Grove woman

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Here’s what we know about the case so far.

HENRY COUNTY, Ga. — The Henry County coroner has identified another set of human remains found July 19 as Conteshia McCoy from Locust Grove.

Last week, The Henry County Medical Examiner said one of the two human remains they found on July 19 are that of 23-year-old Mirsha Victor, who was reported missing earlier this month.

The day after Victor was reported missing, a police report reveals they found blood inside the home of one of the suspects charged with murder in connection to her disappearance.

What we know about human remains found in Henry County

Henry County Police say they have discovered two sets of human remains.

They were discovered in the area of Hudson Bridge Road and Oakwood Manor on July 19. Henry County Police and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation carefully recovered the remains and gathered evidence in the woods next to the Spivey Junction shopping plaza.

Henry County officials were working with the GBI using DNA and dental records to positively identify the bodies.

On the afternoon of July 22, the Henry County authorities confirmed Mirsha Victor’s human remains were one of the sets found.

On July 28, Henry County Coroner Donald Cleveland identified one of the victims as a Locust Grove woman named Conteshia McCoy. She was reported missing in February. Officials have not shared any further information about her case at this time. No one has been charged in her death.

Captain Randy Lee of Henry County Police previously told 11Alive they may find more bodies.

“We have some leads of additional, potential victims that we’re following up on at this time,” Lee said.

What we know about Mirsha Victor’s disappearance

A missing person incident report from the DeKalb County Police department reveals Victor’s roommate reported her disappearance on July 8. 

DeKalb Police responded to the Creekside Apartments to meet with Victor’s roommate and mother just after midnight. Her roommate told law enforcement Victor left their apartment around midnight the previous evening and hadn’t been seen since.

She told police Victor did not specify where she was headed, but she did say she “was going to meet a guy.” 

According to the report, Victor’s roommate told police she couldn’t reach her cellphone and decided to check and see if the missing 23-year-old was at Kabobs on North Lake Drive in Lake City, where Victor works, but a manager told Victor’s roommate she never showed up.

An account from the Henry County Police Department states officers were dispatched to a Walmart located at 1400 Hudson Bridge Terrace to meet with a DeKalb County detective about a missing person case the day after Victor’s reported disappearance.

Police said an officer advised the detective that he needed help getting connected with the homeowner of Victor’s last known location.

According to a police report, they were able to ping the 23-year-old’s phone at two locations — Kabobs and a location on Hudson Bridge Terrace. 

Lake City Police officers found her phone inside a trash can at her workplace while investigating, detectives said.

PHOTOS: 23-year-old Mirsha Victor

What we know about the suspects in Victor’s case

Three people have been booked into the Henry County jail in connection with Victor’s case. Dennis Lane, Cleounsee Fisher, and Ronisha Preckwinkle are all facing a murder charge. 

After police found Victor’s phone on July 9, Lane called it, asking to speak with Victor’s mother in person at his house. When the victim’s mother met with Lane on Hudson Bridge Terrace, police say they overheard him tell her “he was not a bad guy” and that “everyone was blaming him” for her disappearance. 

Police say they tried to talk to Lane about Victor’s disappearance, explaining to him that his statements “didn’t add up.”

They escorted him to the back of a patrol car and continued the investigation, later discovering a white mattress laying on top of the dumpster across from Lane’s residence that appeared to have blood stains.

Authorities say they noticed blood on the floor, in the bathroom, and a missing mattress while executing a search warrant.

Lane is listed on the GBI’s Sex Offender Registry because of a conviction in Illinois for predatory criminal sexual assault.

New details in arrest warrants for the suspects obtained by 11Alive reveal Lane took video of himself on a cellphone at the scene. It’s part of the evidence police say they have supporting their case against him.

Arrest warrants said Lane then, with the help of Prekwinkle and his brother Fisher, disposed of her body in some woods nearby along with other evidence. 

The warrants now indicate that Victor was killed in Lane’s apartment off Hudson Bridge Road, some 20 miles from Victor’s apartment within about two hours after she left her apartment.

Victor’s family says they have since learned that Lane also worked at that Kabobs, and that Victor and Lane knew each other from work. They believe that after Victor was killed, Lane took her phone to work, and put it in the trashcan.

The warrants state authorities found additional physical evidence of Victor’s murder, and other possible murders, inside the residence on Hudson Bridge Terrace. Henry County Police Captain Randy Lee said investigators may find more bodies.

“We have some leads of additional, potential victims that we’re following up on at this time,” Lee said on July 21.

What we know about Conteshia McCoy’s disappearance

A missing person report from Locust Grove Police shows a man accused of murdering  23-year-old Victor in his apartment last month was listed as a friend of Conteshia McCoy. He faces no charges in the McCoy case. 

The incident report said officers met with McCoy’s mother at the police station on Feb. 26. She said her daughter, who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and wasn’t taking her medication, left in an Uber on Feb. 23 and hadn’t been seen in days.

Her mother told police McCoy’s phone was off and there was no activity on her bank accounts or CashApp. Her iCloud account was also disabled, the report said. 

McCoy’s step father told police March 2 she worked at a Walmart and after contacting friends and family, he only knew she left in a gray car and didn’t take a bag with her. Managers at the Walmart pulled surveillance video for officials, showing McCoy walk out of the store on Feb. 11 and getting inside a dark sedan. The report said McCoy told one manager an ex-boyfriend was stalking her.

What we don’t know

It’s unclear at this time how McCoy died. No one is charged in her death at this time.

11Alive is working to gather more information about the investigation.

Source: http://rssfeeds.11alive.com/~/658996362/0/wxia-local~What-we-know-Second-set-of-human-remains-found-in-Henry-County-identified-as-Locust-Grove-woman

Is the Tide Turning Against Public Sex Offender Registries?

On June 8, the American Law Institute, arguably the most prestigious non-governmental law reform organization in the country, concluded its national meeting.

One of its agenda items was to have its thousands of elected members—top federal appeals judges among them, who enjoy lifetime appointments after being confirmed by the United States Senate—vote on a draft of the revised chapter of the Model Penal Code for sex crimes. The Model Penal Code, first codified in 1962, helps guide legislation as well as interpretative decisions by courts.

ALI’s membership voted to approve the most recent draft, which included seismic proposed changes to state sex offender registries.

Perhaps most importantly, the approved draft states that these registries should be limited to law enforcement access for law enforcement purposes, as is the case in virtually every other country besides the US.

Currently, the identities of people registered as having committed sex crimes can be searched on public online databases, along with a slew of other data including their home addresses. The rationale for this has been that it enables parents to make informed decisions about who their children can interact with. But it also means that exileextortion and vigilante violence are often perpetrated against people with such convictions, and even their family members.

Today, Supreme Court jurisprudence still holds that public registries of this kind are not “punishment,” though lower courts are growing more skeptical.

ALI’s proposed changes would match the recommendations of the academic literature, which shows that people convicted of sex offenses have low reoffense rates and that public registration hinders rehabilitation and reintegration into society. Studies show that beyond rehabilitation, public registration is already such a thoroughly soul-crushing punishment that it disincentivizes following the law for people subject to it. Nonetheless, politically speaking, this change to state registries would be an almost impossible endeavor.

Several traditional victims’ rights organizations and one major prosecutor organization, the National District Attorneys Association, previously pleaded with ALI membership to reject the draft of the revised chapter. The NDAA represents elected top local prosecutors nationwide. On June 4, these groups sent a letter questioning sentencing ranges for certain crimes, which crimes qualify a person for the registry, and other items.

Influential groups on both sides of the debate have shifted.

What is actually surprising is what they left out.

The letter states that the suggestion that the registry be restricted to law enforcement access is problematic because there is “no exception for organizations conducting background checks for employment or volunteer positions which involve interaction with or care of children.”

This is a reasonable point of debate. The United Kingdom, for example, allows these types of organizations to inquire about its national registry on a need-to-know basis.

But the letter makes no following argument that registries should be public for all purposes for anyone who wants to know. This omission is essentially a tacit concession that there is no legitimate public safety argument to be made in favor of a public registry—that any marginal gains of parents being able to search online registries are outweighed by the well-documented harms of such public exposure.

So while the international outlier status of the US on this issue isn’t about to end, influential groups on both sides of the debate have shifted in that direction.

We should remember that some people are placed on sex offender registries for relatively innocuous reasons, such as close-in-age sexual relationships or public urination. Others have committed egregious crimes. Regardless, there is, as you’d expect, little public sympathy for anyone on the register.

That does not make it acceptable to treat people, even those who have done terrible things, as less than human. There has to be a way back into society, and the chance of a rebuilt life, for people who have been convicted or incarcerated.

Reasonable public protection measures, as we see elsewhere in the world, are warranted. But it is not justifiable that our official government policy is to put these people on a hit list for permanent shaming, ostracization and vigilante targeting. Nor should their loved ones be dismissed as collateral damage, like they are today.

Source: https://filtermag.org/public-sex-offender-registry/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=filter

Bill Cosby’s sex assault conviction overturned by court

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned Bill Cosby’s sex assault conviction Wednesday after finding an agreement with a previous prosecutor prevented him from being charged in the case.

Cosby has served more than two years of a three- to 10-year sentence at a state prison near Philadelphia. He had vowed to serve all 10 years rather than acknowledge any remorse over the 2004 encounter with accuser Andrea Constand.

He was charged in late 2015, when a prosecutor armed with newly unsealed evidence — Cosby’s damaging deposition from her lawsuit — arrested him days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired.

The court said that District Attorney Kevin Steele, who made the decision to arrest Cosby, was obligated to stand by his predecessor’s promise not to charge Cosby when he later gave potentially incriminating testimony in Constand’s civil suit. There was no evidence that promise was ever put in writing.

Justice David Wecht, writing for a split court, said Cosby had relied on the former prosecutor’s decision not to charge him when he later gave potentially incriminating testimony in the Constand’s civil suit.

They said that overturning the conviction, and barring any further prosecution, “is the only remedy that comports with society’s reasonable expectations of its elected prosecutors and our criminal justice system.”

The 83-year-old Cosby, who was once beloved as “America’s Dad,” was convicted of drugging and molesting the Temple University employee at his suburban estate.

The trial judge had allowed just one other accuser to testify at Cosby’s first trial, when the jury deadlocked. However, he then allowed five other accusers to testify at the retrial about their experiences with Cosby in the 1980s.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said that testimony tainted the trial, even though a lower appeals court had found it appropriate to show a signature pattern of drugging and molesting women.

Cosby was the first celebrity tried and convicted in the #MeToo era, so the reversal could make prosecutors wary of calling other accusers in similar cases. The law on prior bad act testimony varies by state, though, and the ruling only holds sway in Pennsylvania.

The justices voiced concern not just about sex assault cases, but what they saw as the judiciary’s increasing tendency to allow testimony that crosses the line into character attacks. The law allows the testimony only in limited cases, including to show a crime pattern so specific it serves to identify the perpetrator.

In New York, the judge presiding over last year’s trial of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, whose case had sparked the explosion of the #MeToo movement in 2017, let four other accusers testify. Weinstein was convicted and sentenced to 23 years in prison. He is now facing separate charges in California.

In Cosby’s case, one of his appellate lawyers said prosecutors put on vague evidence about the uncharged conduct, including Cosby’s own recollections in his deposition about giving women alcohol or quaaludes before sexual encounters.

“The presumption of innocence just didn’t exist for him,” Jennifer Bonjean, the lawyer, argued to the court in December.

In May, Cosby was denied paroled after refusing to participate in sex offender programs during his nearly three years in state prison. He has long said he would resist the treatment programs and refuse to acknowledge wrongdoing even if it means serving the full 10-year sentence.

This is the first year he was eligible for parole under the three- to 10-year sentence handed down after his 2018 conviction.

Cosby spokesperson Andrew Wyatt called the parole board decision “appalling.”

Prosecutors said Cosby repeatedly used his fame and “family man” persona to manipulate young women, holding himself out as a mentor before betraying them.

Cosby, a groundbreaking Black actor who grew up in public housing in Philadelphia, made a fortune estimated at $400 million during his 50 years in the entertainment industry. His trademark clean comedy and homespun wisdom fueled popular TV shows, books and standup acts.

He fell from favor in his later years as he lectured the Black community about family values, but was attempting a comeback when he was arrested.

“There was a built-in level of trust because of his status in the entertainment industry and because he held himself out as a public moralist,” Assistant District Attorney Adrienne Jappe, of suburban Montgomery County, argued to the justices.

Cosby had invited Constand to an estate he owns in Pennsylvania the night she said he drugged and sexually assaulted her.

Constand, a former professional basketball player who worked at his alma mater, went to police a year later. The other accusers knew Cosby through the entertainment industry and did not go to police.

The AP does not typically identify sexual assault victims without their permission, which Constand has granted.

___

Follow Maryclaire Dale on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Maryclairedale

Source: https://www.unionrecorder.com/news/bill-cosbys-sex-assault-conviction-overturned-by-court/article_6cff643a-d9c4-11eb-8dea-1b8f6aa4a276.html

American Law Institute recommends sweeping changes to registry

On June 8, 2021 the membership of the American Law Institute gave its final approval to a revision of the Model Penal Code’s chapter on Sexual Assault and Related Offenses. This project was initially authorized by the ALI Council in 2012.  The appointed Reporters, Professors Stephen Schulhofer and Erin Murphy of the New York University School of Law, began work immediately, preparing drafts for discussion with the appointed project Advisors and the Members’ Consultative Group. As is normal with ALI projects, these groups included practicing attorneys, judges, and scholars who are experts in the subject. Portions of the project were presented to the full membership at the annual meetings in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. The ALI Council agreed on January 22 to recommend the membership’s final approval of the completed project. Tentative Draft Number 5 was then considered and approved by the Membership at the 2021 annual meeting held on June 8. The Reporters will now prepare the final published version reflecting the discussion at the Annual Meeting as well as editorial improvements.

The complete Tentative Draft, 600 pages long, addresses the substance of the full range of sexual assault crimes. It contains the Blackletter provisions setting forth the code’s statutory language for each section, official Comments interpreting and explaining each section, and Reporter’s Notes providing background and citations to sources relied upon by the Reporters in the draft. The original version of the Model Penal Code was published by the ALI in 1962. It was and remains highly influential. According to Wikipedia more than half the states enacted criminal codes that borrowed heavily from the MPC, and even courts in non-adopting states have been influenced by its provisions. It was a forward looking document. One important and influential contribution of the 1962 MPC was the removal of noncommercial sexual acts between consenting adults, such as sodomy, adultery and fornication, from the criminal law. In 2001, however, the Institute concluded that revision of some portions of the 50-year-old MPC had become necessary. This project, revising the portions of the MPC addressing sexual assault, is one of three separate revision projects on different portions of the code. The original MPC contained no provisions on a sexual offense registry; the inclusion of that topic in the MPC is among the most significant revisions to it now approved by the Institute.

The MPC’s registry provisions are contained in 11 sections. Including an official comment providing an Executive Summary, they are set forth in the final 120 pages of Tentative Draft No. 5. While the MPC adopts something called a registry, its substance departs significantly from existing registry laws, federal and state, as the Comments acknowledge. Key differences are:

  1. Many sexual offenses that are registrable in the federal and most state laws are not registerable under the MPC provisions, which provide that no offense is subject to registration other than those it specifies as registerable. Only these five offenses (as defined by other sections of the MPC) trigger a registration obligation:
  • Sexual Assault by Aggravated Physical Force or Restraint
  • Sexual Assault by Physical Force, but only when committed after the offender had previously been convicted of a felony sex offense
  • Sexual Assault of an Incapacitated Person, but only when committed after the offender had previously been convicted of a felony sex offense
  • Sexual Assault of a Minor, but only when the minor is younger than 12 and the actor is 21 years old or older
  • Incestuous Sexual Assault of a Minor, but only when the minor is younger than 16
  1. There is no public notification that individuals are on the registry, whether through a public website or any other means. Access to the registry is limited to law enforcement personnel. The knowing or reckless disclosure of registry information to others is a felony.
  2. The maximum registration period for the small group who remain on the registry is 15 years, but those who do not re-offend, and comply with parole, probation, or supervised release conditions, are removed after ten years. Failure to register cannot be the basis of parole or probation revocation; it is punishable only as a misdemeanor offense.
  1. General rules that required location monitoring of persons convicted of a sexual offense are barred, as are most restrictions on residency, access to schools or the internet. Judges could impose such restrictions in particular cases, but only on persons currently required to register, and only upon an evidentiary showing that there are special circumstances in that particular case that justify it, and only for a limited period of time. In no case may a judge require public notification. Mandatory restrictions on employment applicable primarily to persons convicted of a sexual offense that are created by other state laws are not repealed by the MPC, but anyone subject to them may petition a court for relief from the employment bar.

The American Law Institute, established in 1923, is the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and otherwise improve the law. The current Council of the ALI includes 7 members of the United States Courts of Appeal as well as Justices on the highest courts of California, Arizona, Texas, and New Jersey. The recommendations of the ALI Council become the official position of the Institute when (as with these revisions to the MPC contained in T.D. 5) they are adopted by the members, which consists of leading attorneys, law professors, and judges who have been nominated and elected to membership.

Source: https://narsol.org/2021/06/prestigious-american-law-institute-recommends-sweeping-changes-to-registry-including-no-public-dissemination/

Lifetime placement on sex offender list unconstitutional, SC Supreme Court rules

COLUMBIA — The S.C. Supreme Court has unanimously ruled the state’s lifetime sex offender registration requirement is unconstitutional and people who demonstrate a low risk of reoffending should be able to petition a judge to have their names purged.

The June 9 order demands the General Assembly change the law to bring South Carolina in line with other states that provide offenders a path off of similar Megan’s Law-type registries.

The law is named for a 7-year-old in New Jersey who was sexually assaulted and murdered by a neighbor, prompting states around the country in the 1990s to tighten their laws around sex offenders.

Offenders may only be removed if their conviction was reversed, they are acquitted through a retrial or if granted a pardon based on a finding that the subject was not guilty of their crimes.

Otherwise, unlike other states, South Carolina provides prior offenders no recourse to seek relief from a judge.

That now is in line for change based on the high court decision.

The system is the “most stringent in the country,” and deprives offenders of their rights to due process, Chief Justice Donald Beatty wrote in the 13-page ruling.

Because the state does not track which individuals have a low risk of reoffending, the state’s registry “dilutes its utility by creating an ever-growing list of registrants that is less effective at protecting the public and meeting the needs of law enforcement,” Beatty wrote.

The justices did reject an argument that publishing the registry online violates state law, allowing the database to continue to be displayed on the Internet.

The ruling mandates that offenders be offered hearings in circuit court, where they may argue they no longer pose a risk to their communities. Because that change will require an act of the Legislature, the ruling does not take effect until June 2022.

The high court’s decision is already sparking reactions from the law enforcement community and nonprofit organizations that work to support sexual assault and human trafficking victims.

Brooke Burris, who founded and co-chairs the Tri-County Human Trafficking Task Force, said she understands the need to reexamine the registry and provide some offenders a pathway off of it.

But she was concerned justices didn’t mention victims in their June 9 ruling.

“The effects on a victim are for their lifetime,” Burris said.

She hopes the General Assembly takes victims and their needs into consideration as they amend the state’s registration rules.

Rebecca Lorick, executive director of Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands, echoed those concerns.

“It should be totally victim-centered,” Lorick said. “It’s so important to have their voices heard.”

Jarrod Bruder, executive director of the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association, said the state’s sheriffs welcome the opportunity to work with lawmakers to improve the law.

But, he said, “We must implement a solution that upholds a careful balance between public safety and an individual’s right to due process.”

Jonathan Ozmint, director of the S.C. Department of Corrections from 2003 to 2011, said lawmakers should adopt the system crafted by federal officials and used by other states.

Under this more common process, the lowest-level offenders are automatically purged from registries after 10 years, and most or all nonviolent offenders have a path off the lists.

 

Read the decision here: https://www.sccourts.org/opinions/HTMLFiles/SC/28033.pdf

Source: https://www.postandcourier.com/politics/lifetime-placement-on-sex-offender-list-unconstitutional-sc-supreme-court-rules/article_897733b0-c932-11eb-b5f1-6348f734d73e.html

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