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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The Dobbs Wire: A live TV news story brought out the pitchforks

Battle Creek, Michigan:  A local man hoping to open a new business saw his plans destroyed this week, a victim of panic triggered by a TV news report.  The onscreen headline tells plenty, SEX OFFENDER PROPOSES STORE.  A new food business set to open in a city with a troubled downtown ought to be a welcome development.  Also, the soon-to-be shopkeeper, Reece Adkins, is striving to be a productive member of his community after having paid a price for past wrongdoing but who now must live with a scarlet letter, forced to sign the sex offense registry for life.  WWMT,…

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The Dobbs Wire: Still a scandal after all these years – Miami

Still a scandal:   Stories about people on the sex offense registry living under a Miami highway, the Julia Tuttle Causeway, became national and even international news.  Years later, after several moves, the encampment continues and the scandal remains.  Miami New Times has a fresh feature story which puts the blame squarely on local and state laws, so-called residency restrictions, that work to banish registrants from housing opportunities and push them into homelessness and squalor.  In the face of much criticism and bad press Florida lawmakers are, so far, shameless, let’s hope pending lawsuits meet with success.  That’s what it took…

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The Dobbs Wire: Life on the registry — an uncommon perspective

Uncommon perspective:  A woman writes about life on the sex offense registry.  Found on the internet, four interesting essays by Sonia Van den Broek – let’s hope she is well and thriving.  Have a look!   -Bill Dobbs, The Dobbs Wire       CounterPunch | July 27, 2012 The Self-Identity of a Sex Offender   By Sonia Van den Broek   Excerpts:  People are constantly changing their self-identities, either to project the desired image or to gain personal growth.  The men and women on sex offender probation have no choice about their identities. They are sex offenders, solely and clearly. Questions…

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The Dobbs Wire: Thowing garlic at the house – Scenes from a moral panic

Paul Shanley has been released from prison after serving 12 years; he’s now 86 years old and frail. Shanley had been a priest and was a central figure in Boston’s clerical sex abuse scandal.  The evidence that landed him in prison was scant and dubious – repressed memories.  Coverage by major media outlets including the Boston Globe and Boston Phoenix was notably biased and ugly, working to gum up the scales of justice.  If the conviction was questionable, Shanley nonetheless paid the price.  Now that he’s getting settled in an apartment, the Worcester Telegram couldn’t resist an opportunity to spotlight…

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