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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
USA FAIR has condemned the contract awarded to Parents for Megan’s Law by the County Board of Legislators in Suffolk County, New York to provide monitoring services over the more than 1,000 registered former offenders residing in the county.
USA FAIR had an important Op-ed column published in the Boston Globe today.
Following the arrest of a Level 1 registrant in Massachusetts who was charged with molesting 13 children at his wife's daycare facility, the Governor and Attorney General called for the adoption of AWA in their state and to list all registrants, including Level 1's, on the public registry.
This is the all too familiar pattern of seeking tougher sanctions against the entire population of law-abiding registrants in response to headlines about a high-profile heinous crime allegedly committed by one individual. USA FAIR responded by issuing a press release that was published in numerous media outlets including Cape Cod Today and Beacon Hill Patch - and submitted the Op-ed column that was published today in the Globe.
Posted by Leslie Blanton · November 15, 2012 10:20 AM
Being listed on the sex offender registry shouldn’t mean a death sentence, but that is tragically what it meant for my husband Gary Blanton.
Gary and another registrant were shot and killed by the same man who told police that he was going to keep on killing sex offenders until he was caught. This sick individual thought of himself as a hero and while that was devastatingly painful to hear in the wake of such a loss, what truly shocked me was how many people in our community supported this murderer for killing “these monsters.”
My husband was 28 years old. He was on the registry for an offense he committed as a juvenile and he was working hard at being a good husband and father to our two young boys. He was no monster, but a true monster did show up in our lives and took Gary from us forever.
USA FAIR has launched with great excitement and hope. Yet, I imagine some of you are asking, “Do we really need another sex offender advocacy organization?”
As a veteran of the reform movement, I say enthusiastically, yes, we do!
Not just any new organization… but a group with the media focus of USA FAIR is exactly what this movement has been missing. If we can change how the press covers this issue through education and accountability then we can change how the public perceives law abiding former offenders. And if we can change how the public perceives former offenders then we can change how legislators address registry laws.
Many legislators know the facts about low recidivism, just as they know that many of the laws they pass are “feel good” laws that don’t really protect the community. Yet, they pass them anyway because the public sentiment is so one-sided that they are afraid not to.