I was joined by fellow advocates for change Gail Colletta, of the Florida Action Committee, and "Once Fallen" blogger, Derek Logue, on HuffPost Live on Tuesday evening, June 4th, to discuss the posting of large red lawn signs in front of the homes of certain people required to register by the Sheriff of Bradford County, Florida.
This act of public shaming is but the latest example of politically driven actions that will do nothing to protect the community, but will undoubtedly subject registrants and their families to harassment and potential vigilantism.
Although these signs are being placed in front of the homes of those designated as "violent predators", we pointed out that under the sex offender registry law, many offenders designated as violent, in fact have no history of violence - and that this new tactic is just another hurdle for law abiding former offenders to endure as they attempt to rebuild their lives with their families.
As always, the myth of high sex offender recidivism was exposed and we urged for an end to the painting off all registrants with the broad brush of the worst offenders.
HuffPost Live deserves much credit for bringing this important issue to the forefront of civil conversation on their channel.
I and other advocates do our part by putting ourselves out there publicly on behalf of law abiding registrants and their families.
Can you do your part by making a DONATION to support USA FAIR and our media outreach efforts?
You can view the HuffPost interview HERE.
Thank you to all of our supporters!
Last week, I and several other founders of USA FAIR attended the New York State ATSA Conference in Albany, NY. ATSA stands for Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, and their members include sex offender and victim treatment providers, other mental health professionals, sex offender policy researchers and those involved in sex offender management.
Our reception could not have been better, with many conference attendees stating that we are an important voice that has been missing from this debate for too long. It was heartening to learn that many people were familiar with USA FAIR and had visited our website. We also had an opportunity to meet some of the leading researchers whose work we quote everyday and started a dialog with the state’s registry office about a common concern: lack of sufficient public education on the issue.
CNY Central, central New York State's leading news media outlet, has profiled USA FAIR and our Executive Director Shana Rowan's efforts to combat the prevailing myth of high sex offender recidivism and the folly of treating all former offenders the same.
In the story, Rowan says many of the laws regarding the thousands of sex offenders are not based on reality. "I can understand where the fear comes from because... it keeps being pumped into us by some media outlets and legislators that these are people we need to fear. That is not accurate. That is not true, save for a small minority."
We know that we face a long road to change these false perceptions that all former sex offenders present a danger to the community, but we can only wage this fight one interview at a time. USA FAIR will continue to tell the story of law abiding former offenders and the unjust impact that the registry has on their family members to any news organization that is willing to be fair and report the whole story.
You can read the full online article and watch the video HERE.
USA FAIR Executive Director Shana Rowan and more than 8 volunteers will be staffing an exhibit table at the 18th Annual Conference of the New York Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, the state chapter of the nation's leading association of treatment and sex offender management professionals. The conference begins today, May 20th and will run through Wednesday, May 22nd and is being held at the Albany Hilton.
We will bring the voices of family members of registered sex offenders and law abiding registrants to this important conference. ATSA is a research-based organization that knows full well that many of the common public perceptions about former sex offenders are myths, such as "recidivism rates are high" and "treatment does not work."
Today, The Times of Trenton published an Op-Ed article I wrote in response to a news article on April 15th about proposals by Megan Kanka's parents to reform the sex offender registry as Megan's Law approaches its 20th Anniversary in 2014.
USA FAIR agrees with the Kankas that such a milestone offers an opportunity to assess not only the public notification aspects of Megan's Law, but the entirety of the sex offender registry. We support some of the proposals made by the Kankas, but oppose others because they contradict what we have learned since 1994.
There is a tremendous amount of research and experiential data that exists today that did not exist two decades ago that can better inform our decisions. Most importantly, the myth of high sex offender recidivism is no longer sustainable in the face of volumes of studies conducted in states from coast to coast. Some sex offenders present a future risk to the community - but most don't.
Let's use that data to reform our laws and create a more intelligent registry that targets the truly dangerous, but allows the vast majority of law abiding former offenders and their family members a more supportive path to rebuild their lives.
You can read the full Op-Ed HERE.
USA FAIR has been in communication with Kidslivesafe.com about helping to debunk the myths of high sex offender recidivism. Kidslivesafe.com is a private sex offender registry site. Through a dialog with USA FAIR Executive Director Shana Rowan, the site agreed to post an article by Shana on Sex Offender Myths and Facts in their Everyday Safety Tips section.
This is part of our ongoing "Facts Matter" project to get websites that focus on the sex offender registry to present accurate information - particularly about low sex offender recidivism rates. As with all of our efforts, we list the source for every statistic that we quote.
We would like to thank Kidslivesafe.com for taking a fact-based objective approach to this important issue in allowing USA FAIR to participate in its public education.
You can read Shana Rowan's artice on Kidslivesafe.com by clicking HERE.
Shana Rowan is continuing USA FAIR's efforts to speak out against the City of Los Angeles building pocket parks as punitive measures to evict law abiding former offenders from their homes.
Unnecessary and ineffective residency restrictions imposed on people required to register have prevented them from living within 2,000 feet of schools and parks have resulted in limited housing choices.
Now LA is building pocket parks to push registrants further into the fringes of society - revealing these laws for what they shamefully are - the return of the Colonial Era punishment of banishment.
You can see Shana on KABC 7 HERE.
USA FAIR Executive Director Shana Rowan appeared on a HuffPost Live panel discussion regarding the controversial policy by the City of Los Angeles to build pocket parks for the purpose of evicting registered sex offenders form their homes. Under California law registrants can't live within 2,000 feet of a park.
Also on the panel was Dr. Robin Wilson, President of the Florida Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, and Councilman Joe Buscaino, a proponent of building a new park to break up the concentration of former offenders living in his district - a concentration created by the misguided residency restrictions created under the so-called Jessica's Law.
You can view the segment by clicking HERE.
USA FAIR Executive Director Shana Rowan was recently profiled in the Lewisboro Ledger. Shana grew up in the Town of Lewisboro in Westchester County, New York.
Although a small town publication, it is the kind of reporting that the big media outlets need to do more of. It was reasoned and fact based with highly knowledgeable sources.
In addition to interviewing Shana, reporter Reece Alvarez interviewed Dr. Jill Levenson, one of the leading academic researchers who studies sexual offenders, Joan Tabachnik, co-chair of the Prevention Committee for the Association for Treatment of Sexual Abusers and an expert in the field of sexual abuse prevention, and Risa Sugarman, Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.
USA FAIR was disappointed with Ms. Sugarman’s statement that to her knowledge there are no complaints of negative consequences from the sex offender registry. This reveals that she has certainly not been engaging in a conversation with the spouses, children, parents and other family members of registrants. Those of us who live in New York are her constituents too and we have sent her a letter to open a dialog. You can read the letter HERE.
You can read the full article HERE.
USA FAIR Executive Director Shana Rowan had a letter published in Newsday as part of our opposition to the sole-source awarding of a sex offender monitoring contract to Parents for Megan's Law, an organization with no experience in sex offender management.
We believe that such policing work should be performed by professional law enforcement personnel and not by a victims advocacy organization that has long demonized the very people they will now be charged with monitoring.
You can read the letter HERE.
Newsday is the leading newspaper covering Long Island, New York. With a circulation of over 370,000, it is the 11th highest circulating daily newspaper in the United States.
USA FAIR will continue to work to bring the voices of law abiding former offenders and their family members to the entire range of issues that impact registrants.