Banished

Daily life is a titanic struggle for people who are homeless and listed on the sex offense registry in Miami-Dade County. They’re up against banishment laws (‘residency restrictions’) that make just about every place with a roof off-limits, fear-mongering politicians, police with guns, and Ron Book, Florida’s most powerful lobbyist, and his daughter Lauren who is a state senator. It’s plain that the mighty are intent on crushing those who have little. Good luck to all those fighting for their rights and dignity, and to their legal eagles, Val Jonas, Brandon Buskey, and Jeffrey Hearne. The Marshall Project has a…

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For some sex offenders, their deal with the state wasn’t really a deal

Piling on more punishment–will they get away with it? Texas, like many states, has amended its sex offense registry law multiple times, making it harsher. When they made changes lawmakers took pains to include individuals with past offenses, those who have already been sentenced. Piling on more punishment after-the-fact (“ex post facto”) is a constitutional no-no so legislators claim the registry is NOT punishment, merely a tracking scheme. Unfortunately courts often go along with this fiction and uphold registration laws. The registry is no slight matter, many of those living with a scarlet letter have been driven into poverty and…

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Housing Restrictions Keep Sex Offenders in Prison Beyond Release Dates

Last week the prestigious New York City Bar Association hosted an important live panel discussion, “Banished from New York City.” A packed house heard about New York’s draconian sex laws including one with the innocent sounding name of SARA that has people in prison held past their release dates. Kudos to Christina Wong and the panel organizers and everybody at the NYC Bar Association for bringing attention to this issue. Here’s more information about the event and a link to the archived audio – have a listen! Also below is a news story for background. –Bill Dobbs, The Dobbs Wire…

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Human Rights Defense Center: We Oppose Amendment 4!

Voting rights: In Florida, individuals with a felony on their record lose the right to vote; that’s how a large number of people, many of color, have been disenfranchised. Change on the horizon? If a proposal (Amendment 4) on the November ballot passes, the Florida constitution will be amended to automatically restore their voting rights. This is big, an estimated 1.5 million people would be affected. Now comes the Human Rights Defense Center with critical questions about the proposal: “The restoration of voting rights for people with prior felony convictions is long overdue—but we must ask: why are some people…

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Steppenwolf’s new drama ‘Downstate’ explores the lives of sex offenders

Redemption: Is redemption possible or are wrongdoers forever condemned? Chicago’s renowned Steppenwolf Theater Company tackles that issue with “Downstate,” a new play by Pulitzer and Tony Award-winner Bruce Norris premiering in Chicago on Sept. 20 and running through Nov. 11, 2018; the play is already slated for a London production in spring 2019. Downstate comes to the stage as the U.S. criminal justice system is under increasing scrutiny and questions grow louder about draconian laws for sexual wrongdoing—measures that create scarce benefit to public safety while making a human and constitutional rights nightmare for many. Over 900,0000 are listed on…

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Homeless Sex Offenders Are Getting Kicked Out of Their South Florida Encampment. Now What?

Heartless: A homeless encampment under the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Florida became a national and international news story nearly a decade ago. The camp formed because banishment laws had pushed individuals on the sex offense registry into homelessness. More politely known as “residency restrictions,” such laws do nothing to improve public safety while creating a human rights mess. Forced to relocate over the years, once again authorities are demanding that homeless registrants move. Where? There’s “almost nowhere to go.” Arrests are threatened. Will this awfulness ever stop? Solidarity to those fighting to survive on the streets, their allies at Florida…

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Homeless sex offenders living in tents outside Hialeah say they have nowhere to go

Heartless: A homeless encampment under the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Florida became a national and international news story nearly a decade ago. The camp formed because banishment laws had pushed individuals on the sex offense registry into homelessness. More politely known as “residency restrictions,” such laws do nothing to improve public safety while creating a human rights mess. Forced to relocate over the years, once again authorities are demanding that homeless registrants move. Where? There’s “almost nowhere to go.” Arrests are threatened. Will this awfulness ever stop? Solidarity to those fighting to survive on the streets, their allies at Florida…

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A Jury Rejected the Charges, but He Still Has to Register As a Sex Offender for Life New York’s highest court says accusations can be considered for registration purposes even when the defendant was acquitted.

Fear and loathing: New York’s top court comes up with a crazy decision. Could the fact that this case involves a sex offense explain the ruling? Have a look at Jacob Sullum’s incisive report for Reason. Appellate Squawk, an erudite appellate defender whose identity is kept a closely guarded secret, has a short, pungent post on the case as well. -Bill Dobbs, The Dobbs Wire April 30th, 2018 In New York a defendant can be forced to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life based on accusations a jury rejected. So the state’s highest court ruled…

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The Court of Appeals believes the victim (even when the jury doesn’t)

Fear and loathing: New York’s top court comes up with a crazy decision. Could the fact that this case involves a sex offense explain the ruling? Have a look at Jacob Sullum’s incisive report for Reason. Appellate Squawk, an erudite appellate defender whose identity is kept a closely guarded secret, has a short, pungent post on the case as well. -Bill Dobbs, The Dobbs Wire April 30th, 2018 Comes now New York’s highest court with the holding that an accuser’s trial testimony constitutes clear and convincing evidence of the truth of her accusations, even though the jury found her not…

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Writing Sex Offender Laws Based on Fake Recidivism Numbers Is Rational, Court Says The Illinois Supreme Court unanimously upholds a law banning sex offenders from public parks.

Fake recidivism numbers: Illinois has a law banishing individuals on the sex offense registry from public parks. In 2017 an Illinois appeals court struck down the statute, saying “it bears no reasonable relationship to protecting the public.” Now comes the Illinois Supreme Court with a unanimous ruling upholding the park ban. Fake recidivism numbers don’t seem to bother the court much as fear and spinelessness triumph over reason! Kudos to Marc Pepitone and his legal eagle Katherine Strohl for waging this fight. Stay tuned, one of the claims has been sent to a lower court and the litigation is expected…

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