The Dobbs Wire: Banishment! Patty Wetterling, Jill Levenson and more

The Dobbs Wire:  Banishment!  In the 21st century many localities in the United States use an ancient means to get rid of people who have been stigmatized and are despised, banishment.  More formally and politely known as “residency restrictions,” the desired result of such laws is to drive individuals who are blacklisted — required to sign the sex offense registry — out of their houses and even out of town altogether.  The most infamous example of these awful laws is the encampment of homeless registered persons that sprung up under the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Florida.   In the last several years over 90 cities and towns in Minnesota have enacted banishment laws.  A class action lawsuit began to expose the unconstitutionality of a state-run facility in which hundreds of registrants were locked up indefinitely in so-called civil commitment, with no real hope of getting out.  While the case was pending just the idea that anyone might be released from the facility, to breathe fresh air and go about their life, touched off so much fear that public officials with little ability to resist stupid ideas passed a wave of ‘get out of town’ laws.  Residency restrictions certainly need a lot more public discussion. 


Law students at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota rose to the occasion, put on a symposium with presenters including Patty Wetterling and Jill Levenson and drew an audience of several hundred.  Kudos to the organizers–the law student staff of the Journal of Public Law and Policy, and the event’s sponsors.  The video has just been posted, have a look!  -Bill Dobbs, The Dobbs Wire



Video 1

National Overview of the Impact of Sex Offender Residence Restrictions on Housing Availability

Jill Levenson – Professor of Social Work, Barry University; internationally recognized expert in trauma-informed care and sexual abuse in clinical, correctional, and forensic settings


Video 2

Issues in Minnesota:  What are the effects of residential restrictions on reintegration, and how do they affect public policy in Minnesota? 


Mark Bliven – Director, Risk Assessment and Community Notification, Minnesota Department of Corrections

Robin Benson – Deputy General Counsel, Minnesota Department of Human Services

Amy Lawler – Assistant State Public Defender, Minnesota Office of the Appellate Public Defender

Riki Kravitz – Outpatient Program Coordinator and New Client Facilitator, Alpha Human Services

Moderator: Joanna Woolman – Associate Professor, Executive Director, Institute for Children, Families, and Communities, Mitchell Hamline School of Law


Video 3

Keynote Speaker:  Patty Wetterling – Advocate for Children’s Safety and Past Chair of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children


Video 4

What are we going to do?  Suggestions for effective and wise comprehensive treatment and management of sex offenders who have been released from prison and Minnesota Sex Offender Program


Alison Feigh – Director, Jacob Wetterling Resource Center, a program of the Zero Abuse Project

Jon Brandt – Founder and Director, Mapletree

Brad Colbert – Assistant State Public Defender, Minnesota State Public Defender’s Office

Sarah Walker – Deputy Commissioner, Community Services, Minnesota Department of Corrections

Moderator: Eric Janus  – 2018 ACLU Minnesota Earl Larson Award recipient; Professor of Law, Director, Sex Offense and Policy Resource Center, Mitchell Hamline School of Law


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *