Though this blog is was originally intended as a resource for offenders in Massachusetts, much of what I write about is applicable to sex offenders in every other state and many countries around the world, especially in Western Europe. Even other non-sex offenders trying to navigate prison, probation and parole, or employment and education opportunities can glean relevant information from this blog and apply it to help overcome their own struggles.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Alive, just been busy busy

Just another quick post that things are well, just settled into a new life down here in the Keystone State with all the positives and negatives that come with.  How's everyone doing?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - Awesome Resource and Compelling Writing by Marhsall Burns, Ph.D.

No sure how I missed this website before but do check out  Of special interest to me is Dr. Burns' report Riding the Registry: My Tour of Broken Lives 
Sex offender. The words strike fear in the heart and soul like no others. But who is it that wears this label? I wanted to know. So I set out to drive around the United States to meet people on the registry and hear their stories. My purpose was to gain an understanding of what it means to be a registered person in 21st-Century America. In this report, I share some of what I saw and learned on the trip.
Contents in the report include:

     • Introduction
     • The Interviews
          • People on the Registry and Family Members
          • Hearing from the Victims
          • No Longer Impartial
          • Confidentiality
     • Observations
          • Communities
          • Child Sex Criminals
               • What is wrong with this picture?
          • Branding
          • Homelessness and Prosperity
          • Activism
               • New Mexico
               • Texas
               • National Conference in DC
               • Michigan
          • An Advocate for Harsher Laws
     • Some Notes on the Trip
          • A Tale of Two States
          • This Beautiful Country
          • The Challenge of Routing
          • Statistics
     • Conclusion
          • Summary
          • Personal Reflections
          • So, What Now?
          • Thanks and Apologies

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Bars For Life: LGBTQs and sex offender registries by Yasmin Nair

Part of a Windy City Times Special Investigative Series, author Yasmin Nair explores the history of the LGBTQ community and sex offender registries (SOR) and how homosexuality and SOR's have intersected for decades.  Nair also profiles several current LGBTQ individuals and their experiences as registered sex offenders, why The Community should be concerned about SOR's, and why current day activists want to abolish all registries.

Click here to read Bars For Life: LGBTQs and sex offender registries

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Some Thoughts On The Human Rights Watch Report: "Raised On the Registry: The Irreparable Harm of Placing Children on Sex Offender Registries in the US"

Read the HRW Press Release
Read the HRW Report

I usually try to avoid unnecessary opinion on this blog since information is more important to my readers, but of all the  criticisms I have of my being on a sex offender registry and how it has affected my life and that of my family and loved ones I have always thought having children forced to register as sex offenders - no, not 17-year-olds, I mean 11 and 12-year-olds -  as completely bizarre and especially barbaric.  Putting aside the issue of adult SO's, RSO's and the SO registry, when I look at how children this young are arrested, tried in criminal court, place in child prisons, placed on probation/parole, forced to undergo treatment, etc..., it's impossible to see how this approach is something Americans can sit back and say, 'yeah this is the right thing to do and it's working'.  Also, how does a boy (pretty much all boys we are talking about here) navigate and understand all the rules of restrictions placed upon him while attempting to have friends, go to school, plan for college and his future, play sports, hang out at the know, just be a kid?  Incidentally, many of these kids can't go to a park or mall because they are not allowed to be present in a place where 'children congregate'.  How crazy is that, almost like if I had to avoid places where adults congregate?!

No, I am not discounting the victim or the impact of the offense at all, but rather addressing a bad and punitive policy that has gotten out of hand, ensnaring many kids and their families.  Adults struggle to deal with the impact being on a sex offender registry - surely there is a better way to address juveniles who offend sexually/experiment/act out their own abuse and offer them appropriate assistance rather than denying them hope and opportunity for the future, which seems to be a central tenet of sex offender registries.

In addressing this madness, Human Rights Watch just released the report Raised On the Registry: The Irreparable Harm of Placing Children on Sex Offender Registries in the US.  The 111-page report...
...details the harm public registration laws cause for youth sex offenders. The laws, which can apply for decades or even a lifetime and are layered on top of time in prison or juvenile detention, require placing offenders’ personal information on online registries, often making them targets for harassment, humiliation, and even violence. The laws also severely restrict where, and with whom, youth sex offenders may live, work, attend school, or even spend time.
At the very least, watch the HRW video and scan through the report to get a sense what's going on with these kids.  The press release is below and the link to the HRW report is up top.  I am appreciative to HRW for having the courage to investigate.

Press Release

(Washington, DC) – Harsh public registration laws often punish youth sex offenders for life and do little to protect public safety, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. A web of federal and state laws apply to people under 18 who have committed any of a wide range of sex offenses, from the very serious, like rape, to the relatively innocuous, such as public nudity.
The 111-page report, “Raised on the Registry: The Irreparable Harm of Placing Children on Sex Offender Registries in the US,” [2] details the harm public registration laws cause for youth sex offenders. The laws, which can apply for decades or even a lifetime and are layered on top of time in prison or juvenile detention, require placing offenders’ personal information on online registries, often making them targets for harassment, humiliation, and even violence. The laws also severely restrict where, and with whom, youth sex offenders may live, work, attend school, or even spend time.
"Of course anyone responsible for a sexual assault should be held accountable [3],” said Nicole Pittman, Soros Senior Justice Advocacy Fellow at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “But punishment should fit both the offense and the offender, and placing children who commit sex offenses on a public registry – often for life – can cause more harm than good.”
States and the federal government should exempt people who commit sex offenses when they are under age 18 from public registration laws because the laws violate youth offenders’ basic rights. Available research indicates that youth sex offenders are among the least likely to reoffend.
During 16 months of investigation, Human Rights Watch interviewed 281 youth sex offenders, whose median age at offense was 15, across 20 states, as well as hundreds of offenders’ family members, defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges, law enforcement officials, experts on the topic, and victims of child-on-child sexual assault.
“I'm a ghost,” said “Dominic G.,” of San Antonio, Texas, who was required to register for an offense he committed when he was 13. “I can’t put my name on a lease, I never receive mail. No one cares if I am alive. In fact, I think they would prefer me dead.”
Throughout the United States [4], youth sex offenders must comply with a complex array of legal requirements that permeate virtually every aspect of their lives. Under registration laws, they must register with law enforcement, providing their name, home address, place of employment, school address, a current photograph, and other personal information. Under community notification laws, the police make this information accessible to the public, typically via the Internet.
And under residency restriction laws, youth sex offenders are prohibited from living within a designated distance – typically 500 to 2,500 feet – of places where children gather, such as schools, playgrounds, parks, and even bus stops.
There are no comprehensive statistics for the number of people under 18 in the US who are subject to these registration laws, because the national statistics generally do not separate youth sex offenders from others. Each state, US territory, and federally recognized Indian Tribe has its own set of sex offender laws, which can vary considerably, and a number of federal laws also contain requirements affecting youth sex offenders.
In 2011, the last year for which there are complete statistics, the total number of sex offenders nationally was 747,000.
The majority of youth sex offenders interviewed by Human Rights Watch were placed on a registry between 2007 and 2011, but since some state registration laws have been in place for nearly two decades, large numbers of people in the US who began registering as children are now well into adulthood. Their offenses can range from heinous crimes like rape, to consensual sex between children, to relatively innocuous actions like public nudity.
“Many people assume that anyone listed on the sex offender registry must be a rapist or a pedophile,” Pittman said. “But most states spread the net much more widely.”
The report documents the numerous ways in which youth sex offenders are harmed by registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws. Youth sex offenders are stigmatized and publicly humiliated, often causing them to become depressed and even suicidal. They may become targets of harassment and vigilante violence.
Barred from spending time near a school, much less in one, they often struggle to continue their education. Many have a hard time finding – and keeping – a job, or a home. And if they miss a deadline to register, youth sex offenders can find themselves in prison, often for lengthy terms.
Sex offender laws are designed to protect communities from sex offenses by helping police monitor past offenders. But including youth sex offenders on registries assumes that they are highly likely to reoffend, which is not the case. Numerous studies estimate the recidivism rate among children who commit sexual offenses to be between 4 and 10 percent, compared with a 13 percent rate for adult sex offenders and a national rate of 45 percent for all crimes.
The laws further assume that children are essentially younger versions of adults. However, psychological and neuroscientific research confirms that children, including teenagers, act more irrationally and immaturely than adults and should not be held to the same standard of culpability. Likewise, research indicates that children are more likely to respond to rehabilitation and treatment.
Furthermore, requiring a wide range of sex offenders to register overburdens law enforcement with large numbers of people to monitor, undifferentiated by the public safety threat they pose.
States and the federal government should exempt youth sex offenders from both registration and community notification requirements. Short of a full exemption, states should remove all youth sex offenders from registration schemes that are not specifically tailored to take account of the nature of their offense, the risk they pose – if any – to public safety, their particular developmental and cognitive characteristics, their needs for treatment, and their potential for rehabilitation.
“Painting all sex offenders with the same broad brush stymies law enforcement’s attempts to focus on the most dangerous offenders and defeats what every parent knows about how children act and how they mature,” Pittman said. “Exempting youth from harsh registration laws would both respect their rights and ability to change and improve public safety.”

The following are quotes from youth sex offenders and others interviewed by Human Rights Watch or contained in documents Human Rights Watch reviewed. Names of registered youth sex offenders and their family members have been abbreviated or replaced with pseudonyms to protect their privacy.  

“I live in a general sense of hopelessness, and combat suicidal thoughts almost daily due to the life sentence [registration] and punishment of being a registrant. The stigma and shame will never fully go away, people will always remember.”
– Christian W., who was required to register as a sex offender for an offense committed at age 14. Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“Under the law at the time, he was looking at being put on the public registry when he turned 18. His picture, address and information on the Web.... He just couldn’t bear it.”
– Julia L., mother of Nathan L., who was convicted of a sex offense at 12 and committed suicide at 17. Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“Everyone in the community knew he was on the sex offender registry, it didn’t matter to them that he was removed.... [T]he damage was already done. You can’t un-ring the bell.”
– Elizabeth M., mother of Noah M., who was convicted of a sex offense at 12 and committed suicide at 17, after being removed from the registry in Michigan. Flint, Michigan.

“Suicide [among children placed on sex offender registries] is a possibility ... even predictable.”
– David S. Prescott, a social worker and expert on treatment strategies for youth sex offenders.

“A member of the community made flyers that said ‘Beware - Sex Offender in the Neighborhood.’ The flyers, with my grade school picture, offense, and address, were posted all over the place.”
– Nicholas T., placed on the registry at age 16. Portland, Oregon.

“A few months after [Max] went on the registry the local newspaper ran a Halloween story entitled ‘Know where the Monsters are Hiding,’ warning families to beware of the registered sex offenders in the neighborhood when taking their little ones out to go trick-or-treating. The article listed all the sex offenders in our town. Max’s name and address was listed.”
– Bruce W., father of a youth sex offender who started registering at 10. Weatherford, Texas.

“The police always expect you are the worst of the worst sex offenders and so they treat you that way. Most of them look down on you as if you are the scum of the earth.”
– Elijah B., placed on the registry at age 16. Houston, Texas.

“My son’s life was ruined before he even turned 18 years old. Due to the burden of registration my son dropped out of school, he is afraid to leave the house, and he cannot get a job interview. He has not committed any new crimes yet this is holding him back from becoming a good member of society.”
– Tony K., father of a child placed on the registry at 17. Kansas City, Missouri.

“Once while attempting to register my address, a police officer refused to give me the paperwork and instead stated, ‘We’re just taking your kind out back and shooting them.’”
– Maya R., placed on the registry for an offense committed at age 10. Howell, Michigan.

“It makes people very angry. My brother, who looks like me, was once harassed and nearly beaten to death by a drunk neighbor who thought he was me.”
– Isaac E., who started registering at 12. Spokane, Washington.

“One time a man from one of those cars yelled ‘child molester’ at me.” A week later several bullets were fired from a car driving by. “The bullets went through the living room window as my family and me watched T.V.”
– Camilo F., registrant since age 14. Gainesville, Florida.

“I was in the [school] parking lot and this truck drove by and started throwing beer bottles at me. I had to run inside. They yelled, ‘Get out of our school, you child molester! I wish I could kill you!’”
– Joshua G., placed on the registry for an offense committed at age 12. Dallas, Texas.

“Neighbors harassed our family. We later found out that one of the neighbors shot our family dog.”
– Jasmine A., mother of Zachary S., who has been on the registry since age 11. Dallas, Texas.

“For sex offenders, our mistake is forever available to the world to see. There is no redemption, no forgiveness. You are never done serving your time. There is never a chance for a fresh start. You are finished. I wish I was executed, because my life is basically over.”
– Austin S., who started registering at age 14. Denham Springs, Louisiana.

“My ten years of registration was supposed to end on September 27, 2012. It is now 2013 and I am still on the state website and all those other registration sites. I feel like it will never end.”
– Diego G., placed on the registry at age 10. Houston, Texas.

“Because of sex offender restrictions my family had to be divided up. I could not live with children. My father stayed in our house with my younger brother. My mother and me moved in with my grandparents two hours away.”
– Sebastian S., youth sex offender who started registering at age 10. Laredo, Texas.

“I worry about my two little children, ages 4 and 2, having to live in a publicly identified house and having to pay this lifelong price for something that happened years before they were born. I want to be involved in their lives but I also want them to be able to live free to be who they are without having to carry such a burden.”
– Jerry M., who started registering at 11. Wilmington, Delaware.

“With parents often the targets of blame for the sins of their children, parents of sex offenders can experience just as much fear, shame, and paranoia as their children.
– David Prescott, a social worker and expert on treatment strategies for youth sex offenders.

“I have found a few places to rent but as soon as we move in the police and neighbors harass us until we get evicted. They keep us homeless. I am banned from living in a homeless shelter.”
– Aaron I., Florida registrant since age 15. Palm Beach, Florida.

“I get hired and fired from so many jobs. I can usually keep a job for a few weeks until the employer’s name and address goes up on the sex offender registry [because registrants must provide this information]. Employers say it’s ‘bad for business’ to keep me on.”
– Elijah B., placed on the registry at 16. Houston, Texas.

“Employment is difficult. I have to support my wife and kids. I estimate that between January to April 2012 I have applied for 250 positions.”
– Joshua G., placed on the registry for an offense committed at age 12. Dallas, Texas.

“I have to look at a map before I walk anywhere. I can be arrested if I am walking anywhere near a school or park.”
– Blake G., a registrant for an offense committed at age 15. Citrus, Florida.

“These fees are associated with the registrant wherever he goes for the rest of his life. They are forever a tax on his life.”
– Ethan Ashley, attorney for James O., a youth sex offender.

“The most recent laws dilute the effectiveness of the registry as a public safety tool, by flooding it with thousands of low risk offenders like children, the vast majority of whom will never commit another sex offense.”
– Detective Bob Shilling, a former chief detective in charge of the Seattle Sex Crimes Unit responsible for making home visits to registered sex offenders.

“We cast the net widely to make sure we got all the sex offenders ... it turns out that really only a small percentage of people convicted of sex offenses pose a true danger to the public.”
– Ray Allen, a former Texas legislator and former chairman of the Texas House Corrections Committee– who once helped push tougher sex offender registration bills into law – admitting that he and his colleagues went too far.

“[O]n many state sex-offender web sites, you can find juveniles’ photos, names and addresses, and in some cases their birth dates and maps to their homes, alongside those of pedophiles and adult rapists.”
– Brenda V. Smith, a law professor and the director of the National Institute of Corrections Project on Addressing Prison Rape at American University’s Washington College of Law.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Westford (MA) rep's sex-offender bill gets boost: Calls for online posting of Level 2 or above

The man whose actions spurred this legislative proposal was a Level 1 offender working at his wife's illegal daycare.  Neither is specifically addressed in Rep. Arciero's proposal, but rather "...the discussion of Level 1 offenders is not thrown out the window." 

BOSTON -- The House of Representatives took a major step toward making information about Level 2 sex offenders available online Wednesday when the Ways and Means Committee added a provision that would do so to the 2014 budget bill.

Rep. James Arciero, D-Westford, has been leading the push to make information about Level 2 offenders available online for several years now. Last year a bill he filed to do so was reported favorably out of the Judiciary Committee.

That bill was never voted on, though, since the legislative session ended two days after the Judiciary Committee approved it.

Passing a standalone bill may not be necessary now since the provision was added to the budget with support from Speaker Robert DeLeo.

The overall budget bill will now be subject to amendments before a final vote in the House, so the provision could still be removed, though it appears to have broad support in the House. Arciero's standalone bill had 36 co-sponsors.

It was not immediately clear how much support the proposal has in the Senate, though Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, has expressed support for the idea.

Information about Level 3 sex offenders is available online, but information about Level 2 offenders is only available to those who visit their local police departments. Information about Level 1 offenders is available only to police and a few other government agencies.

Rep. Stephen DiNatale, D-Fitchburg, is one of the co-sponsors of Arciero's bill, and he said the move by the Ways and Means Committee puts the proposal on a solid path to become law.
"I think this has great potential to go all the way and have the governor sign it," DiNatale said.
Gov. Deval Patrick has already expressed support for making information about Level 2 sex offenders available online.

Such a move would bring the state closer to compliance with the federal "Adam Walsh Act," or Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which calls for information on all levels of sex offenders to be public.

If the provision passes and such information is posted online, the state could become eligible for about $600,000 per year in federal grant funding, according to Arciero and Laurie Myers, of Chelmsford, who has supported the idea. Myers is the president of Community Voices, a victim's rights organization.

Myers and Arciero also support making information about Level 1 sex offenders available online, but that proposal has not been the subject of public hearings or the amount of debate as the proposal for Level 2 offenders.

Arciero and Myers said that proposal is still on their agenda.
"The discussion about Level ones is not thrown out the window," Arciero said. "We still need to have that discussion."

Myers applauded both Arciero and the Ways and Means Committee for moving forward with the proposal.

"This is great news," she said. "The Massachusetts House of Representatives is to be commended on recognizing the dangers posed by sex offenders to the citizens of Massachusetts and the rights of law-abiding citizens to know who is living their vicinity and the potential dangerousness of these individuals to individuals and family, and especially to children."

Friday, April 12, 2013

"Society's Lepers" via CommonWealth Magazine (2012 article)

Interesting and informative article by Bruce Mohl and Christina Prignano on the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board, the process of classification, and an interview with the chair of SORB Saundra Edwards.  Click the link to read the full article:

Boston Based - Supporting LGBTQ Prisoners, Probationers, The Court-Involved, and The Policed

A friend of mine shared with me the work of Black and Pink, whose mission statement is as follows:
Black & Pink is an open family of LGBTQ prisoners and “free world” allies who support each other. Our work toward the abolition of the prison industrial complex is rooted in the experience of currently and formerly incarcerated people. We are outraged by the specific violence of the prison industrial complex against LGBTQ people, and respond through advocacy, education, direct service, and organizing.
The founder of Black and Pink, Jason Lydon, is a 30-year-old Unitarian minister who became galvanized by his own arrest for leading an antiwar demonstration at a military base a few years ago.  He served six months in federal prison.  This inspired him to found Black and Pink, which is dedicated to support for LGBT prisoners and the eventual erasure of the American prison system as we know it. 

In Boston on Saturday April 27th from 10a-5p will be "The Summit", a gathering of formerly incarcerated, convicted, policed, and court-involved LGBTQ in New England.  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

USA FAIR, Inc. Families Advocating Intelligent Registry

This is a great resource and community advocating for the families and loved ones of people required to register as a RSO.
Please check out this website, become a member, and spread the word.

About USA FAIR, Inc.

USA-FAIR-reform-sex-offender-laws.jpgUSA FAIR, Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to educating the public on issues related to the sex offender registry.
Family members of people required to register founded USA FAIR and our membership includes registrants who are leading law-abiding lives, as well as our allies in the legal, social justice and treatment communities.
Our mission is to educate the public about the myth of high sex offender recidivism and to advocate for registry reform that is based on facts and evidence.
Sex offenders have one of the lowest recidivism rates of all offender groups in the criminal justice system.  Yet, the whole premise of the sex offender registry is based on the mistaken belief that former sex offenders have a high rate of recidivism and therefore need additional life-long monitoring and sanctions not imposed on any other offender group.
Studies conducted by law enforcement agencies and treatment professionals have all confirmed low recidivism.  Further, additional studies have shown that many of the sanctions imposed on registrants do nothing to protect the community and can in fact be counter-productive and a waste of taxpayer dollars.  You can access these studies through links in the Studies section of our website.
Many organizations have formed in states across the country to reform the registry.  We are not looking to duplicate their good efforts.  At USA FAIR our focus will be on the national news media by being a reliable contact for journalists to reach people who can speak to this issue from the perspective of living with the impacts of the registry every day - and to hold them accountable for inaccurate coverage.
The facts are on our side.  What has been missing from this debate has been our place at the table... and our stories.
We are here to communicate the thousands of success stories of former offenders who are busy rebuilding their lives by being good citizens and providers for their families.
And we are here to tell the darker stories of how the sex offender registry, in its current form, is destroying families.  The loved-ones of registrants have become the unintended victims of the registry, whether it is the loss of employment of a breadwinner, harassment of children at school, homelessness brough about by residency restrictions, or the targeting of registrants by vigilantes - which in a growing number of cases has tragically resulted in the murder of sons, husbands and fathers.
We are not against the sex offender registry.  We just want a “smart-on-crime” registry that is evidence-based and targets the truly dangerous.  You can read what that means to us by visiting the Mission page of this site.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Legislators Propose Overhaul To Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry

via @wbur

BOSTON — A month after the arrest of a Wakefield man on more than 100 charges of molesting young children, some state lawmakers from that area are calling for an overhaul of the system of that lets the public know about the presence of convicted sex offenders in their neighborhoods.
John Burbine was previously convicted of indecent assault and battery on a child, but a state board characterized his as a Level 1 sex offender, which prevented release of information about his criminal history.
The lawmakers who’ve filed a bill to reform the state’s sex offender registry all represent Wakefield, including state Sen. Katherine Clark, who joined WBUR’s Morning Edition to discuss the proposal.