The Dobbs Wire: Suzi is found, decades later

57 years ago a campus sex scandal made the news.  Mark Oppenheimer takes a long look back at what happened, tracking down those who were involved, and raising important questions about how sexual wrongdoing is handled in the internet age, with sex offense registries and far higher stakes.  Have a look!  -Bill Dobbs, The Dobbs Wire      The Tablet | Aug. 21, 2017   image001.png@01D337E9.FAD7CA30″ style=”width: 525px; height: 215px;”>   SUZI AT YALE A look back at the original American campus sex scandal, and whose lives it actually changed   By Mark Oppenheimer   Excerpts:  The girl was named Suzi….

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The Dobbs Wire: Major changes to California registry – governor signs reform bill

 Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 8:54 PM California:  Major changes are coming to the country’s largest (over 105,000 individuals) and oldest (1947) sex offense registry.  Anyone registered in California is listed for life; the state had become an outlier, one of just four states with such a harsh lifetime-registration law.  Soon California will have a so-called tiered sex offense registry, the same type of scarlet letter machinery used by nearly every other state.  Just signed by the governor, the new law comes after two reform efforts failed in recent years.  The 2017 bill had law enforcement backing and got much…

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The Dobbs Wire: Bittersweet!

Bittersweet news from the US Supreme Court:  The court was asked to review two sex offense-related rulings;  yesterday the court said no to both requests.     Here’s the bitter part:  the court refused to review a federal appeals court decision (8th Circuit) concerning Minnesota’s sex offense civil commitment program.  More than 700 individuals are held in locked facilities for ‘treatment’ – not for anything they did in the past but on a hunch about what they might do in the future.  While the program is wreathed with promises of hearings, due process, and treatment regimes, virtually no one has…

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The Dobbs Wire: News from the Supreme Court

News from the US Supreme Court:  There’s much interest in two cases the US Supreme Court has been asked to review – Doe v. Snyder which concerns Michigan’s sex offense registry law, and Karsjens v. Piper which concerns Minnesota’s sex offense civil commitment law.  This morning the court issued a list of cases it WILL review, *neither* of the sex offense cases made the list.  In the days ahead another list will be released, cases the court has decided it will NOT review and we’ll see if either sex offense case makes that list.  There’s another possibility –  sometimes the…

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The Dobbs Wire: TODAY at the US Supreme Court

Washington, DC:  Today the US Supreme Court will be talking about two important sex offense cases, the justices are back from summer break and will be meeting privately.  Any decisions made will be announced in the near future, possibly as soon as next week.  More below about Karsjens v. Piper and Does v. Snyder, have a look.   –Bill Dobbs, The Dobbs Wire   Karsjens v. Piper concerns so-called civil commitment for sex offenses in Minnesota.  About 20 states and the federal government have laws that allow putting people with a sex offense record into locked facilities, for the purpose of…

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The Dobbs Wire: Federal court ruling AFTERSHOCKS – Colorado

Colorado:  Three weeks after a federal judge, Richard Matsch, held that Colorado’s sex offense registry law is unconstitutional, aftershocks continue.  Matsch presided over the Oklahoma City bombing cases and that may have prepared him for dealing with the incendiary issue of sexual wrongdoing and this country’s crazy sex laws.  At first Colorado officials were blasé about the ruling and then two weeks later the state’s attorney general announced an appeal so stay tuned.  Meanwhile, check out the decision (Millard v. Rankin) which is linked below.  It’s a remarkable document that recounts many truths about life on the registry — the…

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The Dobbs Wire: Oldest and biggest registry in the country at a crossroads – now what?

California:   Holly McDede has put together a really strong story with many perspectives about the state’s sex offense registry, for San Francisco’s publicly-owned radio station.  California’s registry started in 1947, long before the wave of Megan’s Laws were enacted in the 1990s, making it the oldest in the country.  It is the biggest as well, more than 100,000 Californians live with a scarlet letter.  And  every one of those individuals is on the registry for *life*, only a handful of other states are so unforgiving.   Attempts at reform have been unsuccessful although each effort has been stronger than the last. …

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The Dobbs Wire: a CRASH course – what will the court do??

Public education:  The New York Times just published a commentary that offers its many readers a crash course in draconian punishments for sexual wrongdoing.  David Feige’s detailed essay spotlights the US Supreme Court’s role, how the court played fast and loose with key facts which were then used to justify extreme punishments such as the sex offense registry and civil commitment, among others.  The falsehood promoted by the court has infected an entire area of law and policy and led to a constitutional and human rights disaster – nearly a million people on the registry and over 5,000 held indefinitely…

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The Dobbs Wire: Colorado registry UNCONSTITUTIONAL – cruel and unusual PUNISHMENT, federal court rules

Win in Colorado:  A federal judge declared Colorado’s sex offense registry law unconstitutional!  The court ruled the law is *punishment* and went even farther, finding the law is such severe punishment (“cruel and unusual”) that it violates the 8th Amendment.  In addition the court found the law fails to deliver constitutionally mandated basic fairness (“due process”) and violates the 14th Amendment.  For multiple reasons, as applied, the law is unconstitutional.  Three individuals are immediately impacted (this was not a class action); the judge has stopped Colorado from enforcing the law against the trio and now they can move on with…

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The Dobbs Wire: what about the reporters?

Steven Yoder, a terrific journalist on criminal justice and other issues, takes on the media with a pair of strong essays addressed to reporters who write about sex offenses. This is surely an important topic because what news and entertainment media cover as well as how they cover it has a big impact on public opinion which, in turn, influences lawmakers and judges. Pushing for fair and accurate coverage is critical given the strong emotions that drive public policy resulting in draconian punishments for sex offenses.  Yoder’s Life On the List blog (which concerns the experiences of family members of…

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