“Excellent program; this gives me hope for the future”

“excellent-program;-this-gives-me-hope-for-the-future”

NARSOL’s Litigation Summit was a huge success and well received by over 220 viewers.

Thanks to the work of some extraordinary volunteers as well as the participation of our guests, NARSOL Live | Litigation Summit, NARSOL’s second major webcasting event, came off without a hitch. This was the first time NARSOL relied upon its in-house technology team to facilitate a virtual event from start to close. Much appreciation and gratitude are owed to Andy, Brendan, Craig, Fred, Michael, and Tammy for their assistance with technology and promotion.

NARSOL expresses gratitude for the outstanding presentations by a slate of attorneys throughout the nation: Mark Yurachek of Georgia, Erica Dubno of New York, Paul Reingold of Michigan, Adele Nicholas of Illinois, Aaron Marcus of Pennsylvania, as well as NARSOL’s general counsel and chief civil rights attorney, Paul Dubbeling of North Carolina.

The volunteer members of the Conference Operations Committee in cooperation with NARSOL’s Conference Planning Committee helped to plan and execute the live event which was emceed by our capable and gregarious host, Don Thurber, NARSOL’s state contact for South Carolina, along with appearances by NARSOL’s executive director, Brenda Jones,  the president of NARSOL’s foundation, Robin Vander Wall, and NARSOL board member Philip Kaso.

Thank you all! And thank everyone who signed-up to participate in NARSOL’s first litigation summit! Remember that you will have access to the program for 30 days in case you missed a session or want to see some again. You will be receiving information soon about accessing it. Judging from the initial responses of appreciation and adulation, it is very likely the first of many such webcasting events to come.

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Source: https://narsol.org/2020/11/excellent-program-this-gives-me-hope-for-the-future/

Halloween sign challenge suffers setback

halloween-sign-challenge-suffers-setback

By Larry . . . On September 24, 2019, NARSOL engaged an attorney and filed a lawsuit a suit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia challenging the Butts County Sheriff’s Office’s practice of placing warning signs at the residences of registered persons before Halloween. The court granted a request for a preliminary injunction which prevented the Butts County Sheriff’s Office from erecting signs on the property of the plaintiffs during the 2019 Halloween holiday. With Halloween 2020 rapidly approaching, NARSOL’s legal team moved for Summary Judgment (decision without a trial) to permanently enjoin the sheriff’s office from placing signs in front of their homes, or, in the alternative, a new preliminary injunction barring sign placement during 2020 Halloween. Unfortunately, the court denied our motion for summary judgment and resolved the case against us, denying the relief we had sought. In addition, most of the assertions raised in the complaint were dismissed with prejudice meaning they cannot be raised again.

Background

One of the registrants lives with his 6-year-old daughter and his parents, who own the home where they all reside. Shortly before Halloween 2018, two Butts County sheriff’s deputies appeared at his door to inform him that the sheriff’s office would be placing a sign in front of  their home. The sign conveyed a “community safety message” from the sheriff’s office “warning” that there could be no trick-or-treating at the home. The other plaintiffs had similar stories.

As amended, their complaint asserted three claims:

  • That the state compelled speech from the plaintiffs in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
  • That the state trespassed in violation of state law.
  • That the state committed an unlawful taking of the plaintiffs’ property in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

Explanation of Summary Judgment

“Summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is proper ‘if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.’ Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the burden of establishing that no genuine issues of material fact exist. All facts and all inferences to be drawn therefrom must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. The Court’s function at the point of summary judgment is limited to determining whether sufficient evidence has been presented to make the issue of fact a proper question for the factfinder. The Court does not weigh the evidence or determine the truth of the matter. Nor does the Court search the record ‘to establish that it is bereft of a genuine issue of material fact.’ Street v. J.C. Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1479- 80 (6th Cir. 1989). Thus, ‘the inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is a need for a trial-whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.’ ” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250.

The standards upon which a court evaluates motions for summary judgment do not change when, as here, both parties seek to resolve the case through the vehicle of cross-motions for summary judgment. “The fact that both parties have moved for summary judgment does not mean that the court must grant judgment as a matter of law for one side or the other; summary judgment in favor of either party is not proper if disputes remain as to material facts. Taft Broad. Co. v. United States, 929 F.2d 240, 248 (6th Cir. 1999) (citations omitted). Instead, “. . . the court must evaluate each party’s motion on its own merits, taking care in each instance to draw all reasonable inferences against the party whose motion is under consideration.” Id. For more details, see our article on Does v. Rausch in the August/September Digest.

What is Trespass?

The plaintiffs brought two claims alleging the signs intrude on their property rights.  It is undisputed that two of the plaintiffs did not own the property where each resided at the times the signs were placed. The defendants argue that as a result, neither of them had “standing to assert any claim that turns on a real property interest.” The defendants contended that a third party who is not a property owner cannot maintain a trespass action, and the Court agreed.   , 214 Ga. 149, 151, 103 S.E.2d 557 (1958) (“To maintain an action for trespass or injury to realty, it is essential that the plaintiff show either that he was the true owner or was in possession at the time of the trespass.”) The plaintiffs accused the defendants of “an inaccurate recitation of the law as addressed” and cited contrary ‘authority.’ That authority consisted of three cases.  The court stated, “None remotely supported their argument.” Order at 9.

Quoting from the Order the court stated, “Under Georgia law, “[t]respass is a wrongful interference with the right to the exclusive use and benefit of a property right.” Bishop Eddie Long Ministries, Inc. v. Dillard, 272 Ga. App. 894, 901, 613 S.E.2d 673, 682 (2005) (citing OCGA § 51-9-1). The plaintiffs argue, perplexingly, that “[t]he facts underlying Petitioners’ trespass claims are wholly undisputed by either party[.]” Doc. 50-1 at 29. Among those purportedly undisputed facts, they say, is that “Respondents were entering private property which was closed to the public[.]” Id. at 30.  But that critical issue is, in fact, hotly disputed: The defendants claim they placed the signs in the rights-of-way.  Doc. 51-1 ¶ 4. But as critical as that issue is, the parties have all been unable to find evidence establishing the location and extent of the rights-of-way, if any, on the plaintiffs’ properties.  Nor have they been able to find legal authority that resolves the relative rights of the general public, the abutting landowner, and the sheriff’s office in the rights-of-way. Order at 11-12.

The court stated, “There is no clearly established law that every temporary physical invasion of property constitutes a taking. Further, if even the parties’ counsel have not yet found law establishing the location of the rights-of-way and the relative rights of the parties in the rights-of-way, certainly a reasonable officer would not have known the placement of the signs interfered with the plaintiffs’ property interests. And again, the officers have adduced undisputed evidence that they at least attempted to place the signs in what they believed was the right-of-way. They are entitled to qualified immunity on the takings claim.” Order at 18-19.

Compelled Speech0

The First Amendment “forbids abridgement of the freedom of speech,” and “freedom of speech includes both the right to speak freely and the right to refrain from speaking at all.”  Now, the record is more developed, and there is evidence that the sheriff’s office does not now have a policy of prohibiting or the intention to prohibit competing speech. The plaintiffs dispute this, citing the sheriff’s testimony at the preliminary injunction hearing before last Halloween. They cite no further evidence showing such a policy or intention. On the issue of injunctive relief, the initial question, then, is whether the record provides evidence that the sheriff’s office intends to bar the plaintiffs from placing competing messages. It does not. Whatever the sheriff’s office planned to do in 2019, it is clear now it will not attempt to impinge the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights. The plaintiffs are free to offer speech competing with the Sheriff’s Office’s views and to disassociate themselves from those views. Order at 21-22.0

Is There Hope?

Yes, because the court was not able to resolve all issues, particularly the issue of whether the signs were on public right-of-way or private property. Quoting from the order, “The Court first makes clear what it is not concluding. The Sheriff’s Office believes it has the right to post the signs in front of the Plaintiffs’ homes as long as the signs are in yet to be defined rights-of-way and that it can prosecute anyone who moves the signs.  The Court doesn’t reach that issue, but as noted, the Defendants have scant authority to support either proposition.  And the Court certainly doesn’t conclude, given the facts here, that putting the signs in the Plaintiffs’ yards makes sense. Rather, the Court only concludes that, for the most part, the relief the Plaintiffs seek is not available.” Order at 28.

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Larry Neely

Larry serves as NARSOL’S treasurer, publisher of the Digest, and co-chair of the conference planning committee. He also hosts the “NARSOL in Action” and “Can They Do That?” webinars and is a regular on the “Registry Matters” podcasts.

Source: https://narsol.org/2020/11/halloween-sign-challenge-suffers-setback/

NARSOL’s litigation summit webcast; sign up now!

narsol’s-litigation-summit-webcast;-sign-up-now!
http://narsol.org/

Fresh on the heels of our record-setting summer NARSOL LIVE web event, the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws will soon be hosting a NARSOL LIVE Litigation Summit on November 19 & 21, 2020. This live virtual event will feature dynamic attorney presenters speaking on the hottest topics in registry litigation, giving us updates and insights to the key court cases recently decided or currently in play that could have electrifying implications for the future of the registry.  Members in good-standing are eligible for a 10% discount, and should have received an email with their special coupon code.    Register Now 

  • Paul Dubbeling, Civil Rights Attorney & NARSOL General Counsel
  • Our presenters include:Erica Dubno, Post-Conviction Counsel
  • Aaron Marcus, Civil Rights Attorney
  • Adele Nicholas, Civil Rights Attorney
  • Paul Reingold, Civil Rights Attorney & Law Professor Emeritus
  • Mark Yurachek, Post-Conviction & Appeals Attorney

Program schedule (all times EST):

Thursday: 

  • 6:30 PM opening
  • 6:45 Mark Yurachek – Georgia
  • 7:45 break
  • 8:00 Erica Dubno – Arizona
  • 9:00 closing

Saturday

  • 10:45 AM opening
  • 11:00 Paul Dubbeling
  • 12:00 Aaron Marcus
  • 1:00 Lunch
  • 1:45 Details
  • 2:00 Paul Rinegold
  • 3:00 Adele Nicholas
  • 5:15 closing

We look forward to providing you with this next installment in our series of World-Class Events to educate, energize, and empower our members and supporters nationwide. The path to registry reform/abolishment starts with knowledge, and we know you’ll find the NARSOL LIVE Litigation Summit a great way to provide you with the critical information you need to be better informed and a more effective advocate for criminal justice reform change.

For 30 days after the event, the recordings will be available for viewing, and access can be purchased after November 21 during the 30 days.

Watch the “electric” video trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZLUeN6QdUA

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Source: https://narsol.org/2020/10/https-youtu-be-c4ojnfpsm7g/

Reason agrees: No red dots marking those on sex offense registry at Halloween

reason-agrees:-no-red-dots-marking-those-on-sex-offense-registry-at-halloween

Originally published 10/1/2020 at Reason; reprinted in full here with permission.

By Jacob Sullum . . . Every year in the run-up to Halloween, Patch publishes maps showing the homes of “registered sex offenders” in various cities. Ostensibly, this information is aimed at helping parents who worry that their children might be molested while trick-or-treating. But research shows that such fears have no basis in reality, and these stories—like the warning signs and restrictions imposed by local police prior to Halloween—mainly serve to stigmatize people who have already completed their sentences, along with their spouses and children, who have committed no crimes at all. That stigma invites harassment, vandalism, and violence. Like much local journalism, the practice of publishing these maps is ill-informed sensationalism masquerading as a public service.

This fall a petition organized by the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws (NARSOL) is urging Patch and other outlets to cut it out. Noting the “total lack of evidence that the publication of these addresses at Halloween keeps children safe,” the petition asks news organizations to “cease a hurtful publication practice that has no positive effect at all on child protection or public safety.”

The irrationality of that practice is clear once you understand a few basic facts:

1. Sex offender registries include a wide range of people, many of whom were not convicted of crimes against children.

2. Sex offenders stay on the registry long after they have completed their official punishment, even though they are less likely to commit new offenses of the same type than people convicted of other crimes. According to a 2019 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), less than 8 percent of people who had served sentences for rape or sexual assault were rearrested for a similar crime within nine years after they were released. That report also shows that the annual risk of recidivism falls dramatically over time.

3. The vast majority of sexually abused minors—93 percent, according to a 2000 BJS report—are assaulted by relatives, family friends, or other people they already know.

4. The vast majority of convicted sex offenders—86 percent, according to another BJS report—have no prior convictions for this category of crime, so they would not show up in registries.

5. There is no evidence that children face a higher risk of sexual assault on Halloween than they do the rest of the year. A 2009 analysis of 67,000 cases, reported in the journal Sexual Abuse, found “no increased rate on or just before Halloween.”

The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) amplifies that last point: “A heightened risk of being sexually abused is NOT one of the dangers children face at Halloween. The simple fact is that there are no significant increases in sex crimes on or around Halloween. There is no ‘Halloween effect.’ There is no change in the rate of sexual crimes by non-family members during Halloween. That was true both before and after communities enacted laws to restrict the activities of registrants during Halloween.”

In light of this evidence, the NARSOL petition argues, pre-Halloween stories showing the homes of people on the sex offender registry are gratuitous, unethical, and reckless. NARSOL adds that the focus on a nonexistent threat distracts attention from the main perpetrators of sex offenses against children, which are rarely committed by strangers, and from the main danger that kids face on Halloween: traffic accidents. The Washington Post reports that “children are three times more likely to be fatally injured by a car on the holiday, and the risk grows to 10 times for kids 4 to 8.”

The 150 or so signatories include ATSA, activists and journalists (including Reason contributor Lenore Skenazy) who support reform of sex offense laws, and an impressive list of professionals and academics. Among them are Elizabeth Letourneau, director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse at Johns Hopkins University; Jill Levenson, a professor of social work at Barry University; Fred Berlin, director of the National Institute for the Study, Prevention, and Treatment of Sexual Trauma; Carleton University psychologist Karl Hanson; Arizona State law professor Ira Ellman; Southwestern Law School professor Catherine Carpenter; and University of Delaware sociologist Chrysanthi Leon.

Might these experts know more about this subject than the editors and writers who insist that parents should “find out where the registered sex offenders are living…before the kids go out trick-or-treating”? Perhaps Patch will consider the possibility.

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Source: https://narsol.org/2020/10/reason-agrees-no-red-dots-marking-those-on-sex-offense-registry-at-halloween/

Halloween, “Sex Offenders,” and Big Red Dots

NARSOL’s Halloween project this year, developed and implemented by NARSOL and Connecticut’s One Standard of Justice, is an open letter in the form of a press release asking for the end to “red-dotting” the homes or listing the names and addresses of those listed on sexual offense registries. This is an insidious practice that has developed over the past ten or so years, a practice that is totally contradicted by research. The open letter is signed by NARSOL, by all of our affiliate organizations and most individual contacts, and by a great many notable organizations and individuals.

The Patch websites are especially prolific in the publishing of these maps and articles. A copy of the open letter was sent to the president of Patch Publications with an appeal to him to engage in a dialogue with NARSOL and with One Standard of Justice. He chose not to respond.

You may  view the press release here, complete with all of the names who signed in support.

The truth behind virtually all child sex trafficking rings: there are no rings

the-truth-behind-virtually-all-child-sex-trafficking-rings:-there-are-no-rings
http://narsol.org/

By Michael Hobbes . . . Human trafficking has been having an eventful summer. In July, internet sleuths accused online retailer Wayfair of selling missing children in overpriced cabinets. In August, QAnon supporters (along with some well-meaning if ill-informed influencers) held nationwide “Save the Children” rallies.

And last week, there was the trailer story.

“U.S. Marshals Find 39 Missing Children in Georgia During ‘Operation Not Forgotten,’” proclaimed the government’s official press release. Federal agents and local law enforcement, it said, had rescued 26 children, “safely located” 13 more and arrested nine perpetrators, some of whom were charged with sex trafficking.

The facts of the operation weren’t clear (what does “safely located” mean, exactly?), but it didn’t stop media outlets from taking up the story. “Missing Children Rescued in Georgia Sex Trafficking Bust” wrote The Associated Press, a headline dutifully repeated in The New York Times. “39 Missing Children Located in Georgia Sex Trafficking Sting Operation” was People magazine’s version. Few media outlets contributed any original reporting; the vast majority of stories were little more than rewritten versions of the U.S. Marshals Service’s press release.

Within hours, social media users continued the game of telephone. “39 kids were just recovered from traffickers in Georgia,” Charlie Kirk, the founder of the right-wing student group Turning Point USA, wrote in a tweet. “Law enforcement officers saved their lives.

How is this not the biggest story in America right now?” . . .

Well, to answer a one-sentence question with a one-sentence answer, 39 kids being rescued from a trailer in Georgia is not the biggest news story in America because 39 kids were not rescued from a trailer in Georgia. 

“This is not the big trafficking bust everyone thinks it is,” said Erin Albright, a human trafficking and law enforcement consultant who works with cities to develop anti-trafficking strategies. “Any time a child is being harmed and is connected with meaningful support, that’s good. But at the same time, we have to recognize that these stories are not what they look like at first.” . . .

But What About All Those Kids They Found In The Trailer?

Yeah, there was no trailer.

Federal agents did not rescue a large number of children from a single location — or even a single jurisdiction. Kirby told HuffPost that only two children were recovered together. The other kids were found individually across 15 Georgia counties and six other states: South Carolina, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Florida, Kentucky and Michigan. The operation took place over two weeks, not one night.

In other words, the “sex trafficking sting” described in headlines and social media posts was neither a sex trafficking operation nor a sting. . . .

But At Least They Rescued A Bunch Of Kids From Traffickers, Right?

Nope again.

One of the greatest misconceptions about child sex trafficking is that it requires a trafficker. Legally speaking, every time a person under 18 trades sex for anything of value, they have been trafficked. The statutory definition does not require coercion, force or the involvement of a pimp.

In the majority of underage sex trafficking cases, Albright said, the child is homeless, has run away from foster care or has been kicked out by their parents, often due to being queer or transgender. Many of these kids end up trading sex for money, drugs or a place to sleep because it’s their only way to survive. . . .

You’re Not Implying That Child Sex Trafficking Is Fake, Are You? 

No, I’m not a monster. Child sex trafficking is real, and it’s important for America to do something about it.

It’s also important, however, to acknowledge that the actual drivers of underage sex work are far more complicated than airport posters and Liam Neeson movies would have you believe.

First of all, decades of social science research has found that the vast majority of children are abused by someone they know, usually their parents but sometimes other children or figures of authority they trust. “Stranger danger” kidnappings, on the other hand, are extremely rare — the latest estimate is 115 per year in the entire United States.

Read the full story here at the HuffPost.

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Source: https://narsol.org/2020/09/the-truth-behind-virtually-all-child-sex-trafficking-rings-there-are-no-rings/

Why NARSOL chose Halloween litigation

why-narsol-chose-halloween-litigation

By Larry . . . In the last few days NARSOL has received comments regarding our decision to litigate the Halloween signs required by some sheriffs in the state of Georgia. The writer raised some legitimate questions even though he could have conveyed them with a bit more tact and politeness.

NARSOL chose to litigate the Halloween signs for a number of reasons. First, compelled placement of the signs threatens the safety of all occupants in the residence because of the potential for violence. Second, the constitution of the United States prohibits compelled speech by the government. Third, there is no statutory authority to support the actions of the sheriffs in Butts and Spalding Counties. Fourth, for NARSOL to stand idly by while law enforcement invents requirements jeopardizes everyone because there is no end of creativity in the law enforcement community. What will they invent next, and should we just stand down and hope for the best while they do so?

The writer bitterly complained: (1) that the Georgia General Assembly will soon vote on HB 720. This legislation will permit Halloween signs to be posted in the front yard of all registrants; and (2) the vast majority of registrants in the state of Georgia were not subjected to Halloween signs. He concluded by saying, “Thanks to NARSOL, the rest of us are facing the same humiliation . . . ” The Georgia House of Representatives did vote to pass HB 720, and it is now in the Senate awaiting consideration. No hearing has been scheduled due to the suspension of the legislative session due to the pandemic and health concerns.

He even opined that the action by the state was easy to forecast. He is correct. NARSOL did anticipate that such a proposal would be introduced and likely enacted into law by the Georgia General Assembly. The problem with ignoring the renegade sheriffs in Georgia was that the cancer would have spread throughout the state had NARSOL not intervened. In fact, the action was recommended by the Georgia Sheriff’s Association, and other counties had announced similar intentions regarding mandatory placement of Halloween signs. Actually, the sheriff of Ben Hill County announced he would erect the signs this past Halloween, and NARSOL immediately sent a cease-and desist-letter. Beyond that, simply ignoring constitutional violations because it does not impact everyone is a misguided strategy. In fact, that is part of the reason we have marked passports. Several states chose to require that driver’s licenses actually bear the words “sexual offender”; if there had been even one successful challenge against this, case law would be in existence to aid in fighting marked passports. NARSOL felt that the Halloween sign requirement was likely to spread to all 159 counties in the state of Georgia.

NARSOL does anticipate that HB 720 has a good chance of passage once the session reconvenes. That said, we are prepared to challenge the constitutionality of the legislation once it is signed by Governor Kemp. The case law on compelled speech is favorable to our position, and we believe that our chances of victory are quite good. It is critically important that our constituents understand that each victory builds the body of case law which helps us in other challenges. If we had done nothing, there would not be the Does v. Snyder decision from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, nor would there be many other victories which have been won in recent years. NARSOL has stated on numerous occasions that all laws enjoy the presumption of constitutionality upon enactment, and that the challenging party bears the burden of showing by the clearest of proof that the challenged statute is invalid. That being said, this particular challenge is a very strong one in our opinion because the First Amendment of the United States Constitution is something that the courts have been consistent in protecting. This particular challenge enjoys the support of the Alliance of Constitutional Sex Offense Laws as well as NARSOL.

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Larry Neely

Larry serves as NARSOL’S treasurer, publisher of the Digest, and co-chair of the conference planning committee. He also hosts the “NARSOL in Action” and “Can They Do That?” webinars and is a regular on the “Registry Matters” podcasts.

Source: https://narsol.org/2020/03/why-narsol-chose-halloween-litigation/

Georgia lawmakers push bad bill in response to Halloween sign lawsuit

georgia-lawmakers-push-bad-bill-in-response-to-halloween-sign-lawsuit

By Fred . . . Last October, in a lawsuit that was initiated and financed by NARSOL, Federal Judge Marc T. Treadwell ruled against Sheriff Long and other officials of Butts County, Georgia, by granting a preliminary injunction to stop the placement of warning signs each Halloween on the property of those required to be on the sex offender registry. Sheriffs and county officials “. . . should be aware that the authority for their blanket sign posting is dubious at best and even more dubious if posted over the objection of registrants“, Judge Treadwell wrote in his order after agreeing that the practice violated the constitutional rights of registrants.

As he promised to do, Sheriff Long has appealed the decision to the 11th Circuit Court. NARSOL along with ACSOL submitted an amicus brief in support of the appellate challenge being led by Georgia attorneys Mark Yurachek and Mark Begnaud.  Last month, NARSOL’s executive director, Brenda Jones, said that NARSOL is confident Judge Treadwell’s decision will be affirmed by the Eleventh Circuit.

The grounds for initiating the lawsuit were in part based on the fact that there is nothing in the state or local law that requires signs to be placed in the yards of registrants. To remedy this lack of legislation, a bill sponsored by State Representatives Steven Sainz(R), Chuck Efstration(R), Barry Fleming(R), James Burchett(R), Martin MomTahan(R) and Marcus Wiedower(R) was introduced to the General Assembly with the aim of making the sign placement and other stipulations part of Georgia’s law. On Thursday HB 720 passed in the House with a vote of 98-63 and is now on its way to the Senate where it has a good chance of passing. The high number of votes in opposition were due, at least in part, to the hard work by NARSOL’s Georgia advocates and other groups in their tireless letter writing campaign.

According to our advocate in Georgia:

Concerned citizens are encouraged to contact Department of Community Supervision Commissioner Michael Nail urging him to publicly oppose HB 720 as it would create a burden on his agency and make our communities less safe.  The Senate Judiciary Committee will be responsible for what happens next.  Many advocacy groups came together in letter writing campaigns, which was instrumental in creating the the significant opposition.  This campaign will only grow stronger as the bill moves through the Senate.

NARSOL fully expected and anticipated this legislative action by the Georgia General Assembly in response to the pending lawsuit, and we understand the concerns that will arise from those affected. However, to sit back and do nothing in the face of a blatant violation to the rights of those on the registry is simply not an option. If one sheriff is allowed to overstep the boundaries of his authority, it would be only a matter of time before every sheriff in Georgia adopted the same policy and expanded its use past just Halloween. NARSOL is determined to not to let that happen for the well-being of all Georgia registrants and their families.

The lawsuit will continue on constitutional grounds, regardless of whether or not HB 720 becomes law. We are confident that we will prevail in court and that any unconstitutional laws passed in retaliation to our legal action will be challenged if they are not struck by the 11th Circuit Court’s decision in this case.

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Fred

Fred began volunteering with NARSOL as a gatekeeper and correspondent. Later he became involved with the tech committee to help with the development and maintenance of our many website projects. He devotes much of his time to helping the team ensure that NARSOL’s operations are running as smoothly as possible so that we can continue to grow and reach more people.

Source: https://narsol.org/2020/03/georgia-lawmakers-push-bad-bill-in-response-to-halloween-sign-lawsuit/

Georgia HB720 moves to floor for vote.

– From NARSOL’s Georgia advocate

Yesterday in Georgia, House Bill 720 moved out of Committee by a 6-3 vote and is headed to the floor for a vote.  THIS IS A TERRIBLE BILL for registered persons in Georgia.  The intent is to protect the vulnerable citizens of Georgia from roughly 400 Tier 3 registrants that are no longer required to wear an electronic monitoring device (ankle monitor) once they have completed their sentence.  Unfortunately the legislature has chosen to “fix” the issue by introducing legislation that would overwhelm the Department of Community Supervision and impose unnecessary burdens.  In a nutshell, the bill would restrict Judges from deviating from mandatory minimum sentencing, require that lifetime probation be implemented upon conviction of a second sexual offence, remove first offender eligibility for all sexual offenses (it is up to the court’s discretion today), and make it lawful for law enforcement agencies to place Halloween signs.

Rep. Sainz, who is the lead sponsor on this bill, incorrectly stated that “we know that a sexual offender is most likely to reoffend within a period of around five years.”

Here is what this BAD BILL would do:

  • Any person convicted of a sexual offense shall be sentenced to a split sentence which shall include the minimum term of imprisonment specified in the Code section applicable to such sexual offense.
  • No portion of the mandatory minimum sentence imposed shall be suspended, stayed, probated, deferred, or withheld by the court.
  • Any such sentence shall include, in addition to the mandatory term of imprisonment, an additional probated sentence of be followed by probation for at least one year
  • No person convicted of a sexual offense shall be sentenced as a first offender
  • For convictions that are felonies and that are for a second or subsequent conviction for a sexual offense arising out of events that are different from events of a previous conviction, such probation shall be for life.
  • Any law enforcement agency of competent jurisdiction may, on October 30 and 31 of each year, post a sign upon the front of the residence of any person on such probation, stating the following: ‘No candy or treats at this residence.’ Such signs shall further be in the form as provided for by the department.
  • When a probationer is on probation for life as provided for in Code 310 Section 17-10-6.2, The Department of Community Supervision (DCS) shall file a petition to terminate his or her probation if, after serving ten years on probation, the probationer has:
    • Paid all restitution owed
    • Not had his or her probation revoked during such period
    • Not been arrested for anything other than a nonserious traffic offense
  • If a petition for a probationer who is on probation for life as provided for in Code 323 Section 17-10-6.2 is not granted, a petition shall be filed every five years thereafter

We are encouraging everyone in Georgia to contact their State Representatives asking them to vote NO on HB 720.  If this bill crosses over next week, we will fight to stop it from being voted on in the Senate. You can find your State Representative by clicking here.

You can watch a recording of the committee meeting here (Starts at 50:42):

https://livestream.com/accounts/25225474/events/8737140/videos/202562368

Media coverage of this can be found here:

https://georgiarecorder.com/brief/house-committee-wants-to-restore-lengthy-gps-monitoring-for-sex-offenders/

Brendan Spaar

Georgia Advocate

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Source: https://narsol.org/2020/03/georgia-hb720-moves-to-floor-for-vote/

Sexual offense registries: “Somewhere along the line, we lost our way.”

sexual-offense-registries:-“somewhere-along-the-line,-we-lost-our-way.”

By Diane Diamond . . . Those who fight for a more equitable way to keep track of sexual predators won a big victory in Michigan last week. That is a state with some 44,000 names on its sexual offenders registry.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Cleland put his foot down and gave the Michigan legislature 60 days to rewrite its current “unconstitutional” registry statute. Last spring, Cleland set a 90-day deadline for lawmakers to rework the law, but he was ignored. This time, he’s serious.

Everyone agrees we need to keep track of career sex criminals after they are released from prison. Once they’ve been convicted of violent sex crimes, it’s possible they’ll reoffend. A public safety monitoring system makes sense.

But understand that these state registries — there is one in every state — are bloated beyond belief with many names that shouldn’t be there. Registries were mandated by federal law in the mid-’90s to keep watch over ex-convict pedophiles who sexually targeted children. Somewhere along the line, we lost our way.

Included in the registry over the years have been: a 10-year-old female caught “play-acting sex” and then branded with “criminal sexual conduct” charges; a 19-year-old boy caught with his 15-year-old girlfriend; drunks discovered urinating or streaking in public; average citizens unjustly accused of sex crimes during ugly divorces; and men duped into believing that an intimate partner was not a minor when she was. Many of these people, often caught up in a moment of normal human passion, have been forced to register as sex criminals —for the rest of their lives.

Read the rest of the piece here at creators.com.

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Source: https://narsol.org/2020/02/sexual-offense-registries-somewhere-along-the-line-we-lost-our-way/

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