Abolish Pre-crime in Minnesota

Pre-crime is dystopian science fiction. No one should be imprisoned for imaginary future crimes. But right now, Minnesota is warehousing 731 individuals in a prison masquerading as a treatment facility — for what they might do in the future.

Hopelessness pervades this system, where men are detained indefinitely, outside the traditional protections of the criminal law, with little prospect of release. Legal scholars have likened Minnesota’s system of pre-crime preventative detention to a “domestic Guantanamo Bay.” The British High Court has called it a “flagrant denial” of human rights. These shadow prisoners are 8 times more likely to leave in a body bag than to ever be set free.

The price tag to taxpayers is $110 million per year. The cost in terms of human lives is unspeakably tragic. And the threat to American values of liberty and due process is real.

Continue reading

Should we push candidates to reform the Sex Offense Registry?

Blank & Pink sent out a “2020 Election Survey” in vol. 9 issue 6 of their newsletter (p.25) One of 4 questions solicited opinions from members of the Black & Pink family living behind the walls on whether sex-related offense policy should be a focus of their political advocacy during this presidential election cycle.  YES, and here is why: 

Continue reading

Patrick Hope column: Virginia’s sexually violent predator laws have gone too far

By: Patrick Hope Sept 29, 2019 The “lock ’em up and throw away the key” era of criminal justice is over. Virginians have reassessed their views on criminal justice to better address mass incarceration weighed against costs and the likelihood to reoffend. Policies ripe for reform include: resentencing prisoners who were convicted as youth; repealing mandatory minimums; legalizing marijuana; abolishing the death penalty; ending solitary; reinstating parole; ending cash bail; and creating alternatives to incarceration. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has a strong track record of criminal justice reform. But there’s one enforcement aspect his office needs to re-examine: the…

Continue reading

Letter to the editor in WaPo on reentry for people living on the registry

Persons with sex-related convictions are often deliberately excluded from the reentry picture.  This LTE points that out to the Washington Post and argues that everyone is entitled to a just future.  Kudos to Kirsten Darby for using this important advocacy tool to register her perspective as a member of the community, with the newspaper’s editor. I read with great interest the September 3 article [in the Washington Post] by Tracy Jan documenting the legal hurdles of those formerly incarcerated. I’ve led a faith based prison pen pal ministry for many years and have seen first hand the struggles these men…

Continue reading

Are We All Sex Offenders? | TEDx CUNY 2015

Galen Baughman was the first person living on the registry to tell his story on the TED stage. We have included the text from his talk here along with the video.  Are We All Sex Offenders? Galen Baughman | NYC 2015 Capture the audience… Three and a half years ago, I was sitting alone in a cell in Arlington, VA waiting for a trail that would determine whether I would spend the rest of my life in prison. Unlike most trials, this one didn’t come at the beginning of my encounter with our legal system, but at the very end….

Continue reading

Questionable Commitments | Cato Institute

Civil commitment is the legal practice of holding individuals who suffer from severe mental illness so that they may receive treatment. Even within its traditional bounds, civil commitment was problematic enough. But in recent years, civil commitment has expanded significantly. Now, young people who commit a sexual offense early in their lives stand to be stigmatized, and detained, indefinitely. Crucially this is not because they have violated a law with a particularly harsh penalty attached. It’s because the state believes that they might break the law again. In this essay, Galen Baughman challenges the practice of civil commitment, and particularly its extension to sex offenders, as an unwarranted de facto extension of our criminal justice system – one with far too few protections for the accused.

Continue reading