The Dobbs Wire: Enlightenment and a trigger warning in Connecticut

Enlightenment and a trigger warning in Connecticut:  A day-long event in Connecticut featuring a series of presentations about the sex offense registry proved enlightening and remarkable!  One highlight was the first speaker who gave an overview, taking some trouble to explain the important and little-discussed concept of “moral panic” and the big impact that phenomenon has had, and continues to have, on sex offense laws.  Drawn from research and professional experience, the remarks were even more resonant because the speaker is a jurist, Judge Mary Huffman of Ohio.  Complementing Huffman’s talk was the next presentation, by Eric Janus, a Minnesota law professor and director of the Sex Offense Litigation and Policy Resource Center, who vigorously urged a rethinking and reboot of current measures—because the overarching goal of preventing sexual harm has been forgotten amidst a push for emotion-driven laws.  Other personal, professional and political perspectives rounded out the day.  


In the audience of 150+ that filled a large room were a range of stakeholders— probation officers, public defenders, victims and victim advocates, judges, legislators, scholars, prosecutors, registered individuals, advocates for registrants.  Lead organizer of the Dec. 7th gathering was the Connecticut Sentencing Commission, an “independent state criminal justice agency,” with the support and help of the Connecticut Association  for the Treatment of Sexual Offenders (CATSO), National Institute of Corrections, Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy, and the University of Connecticut School of Law, which hosted the event.  Kudos to Sentencing Commission Chair Judge Robert Devlin and Executive Director Alex Tsarkov, Eileen Redden of CATSO and all those who made the event possible.


Below is a link to the archived video of the proceedings, along with the program, speakers list, and time marks for the presentations – have a look!  In his welcoming remarks Dean Timothy Fisher allowed that the law school’s hosting of the event was a “difficult decision” out of concern the session might “trigger further harm and fears” – an unexpected reminder of the prevailing high anxiety and moral panic that surrounds registration laws – even a discussion of this topic at a public law school.      


Related:  Responding to an official request from the Connecticut legislature, in late 2017 the Sentencing Commission issued a report on the state’s sex offense registry with recommendations and continues to press for legislative changes.    –Bill Dobbs, The Dobbs Wire




State of Connecticut Sentencing Commission

Symposium on Sex Offender Registration and Management:  Legal and Evidence-Based Practices

University of Connecticut Law School, Hartford, Connecticut, Dec. 7, 2018


Archived video:



A. Welcome and Opening Remarks (starts at 0:00:00)

Judge Robert Devlin – Chair, Connecticut Sentencing Commission 

Dean Timothy Fisher -University of Connecticut School of Law (starts at 0:04:00)


B. Sex Offender Registration:  A Judge’s Perspective (starts at 0:08:00) 

Judge Mary Huffman – Common Pleas Court, Ohio


C. Preventing Sexual Violence:  Designing Effective Policies and Laws (starts at 1:25:00)

Eric Janus –  Professor of Law, Mitchell Hamline School of Law, Director of Sex Offense Litigation and Policy Resource Center


D. Collateral Consequences of Sexual Offender Registration and Management: Family members of offenders affected the Sex Offender Registry (starts at 2:31:00) 

Moderator:  Eileen Redden – President, Connecticut Association for the Treatment of Sexual Offenders

Speakers:  Jennifer, Kyle


E. Lesson for Connecticut:  A National Perspective (starts at 3:31:00)

Dr. Robin J. Wilson – Wilson Psychology Service LLC


F. Conversation on Lessons Learned and the Path Ahead (starts at:  4:38:00)

Moderator:  Alex Tsarkov, Executive Director, Connecticut Sentencing Commission

Judge Robert Devlin – Chair, Connecticut Sentencing Commission

Laura Cordes – Executive Director, Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence

Connecticut State Senator John Kissel – Co-Chair Judiciary Committee, Chief Deputy Senate Republican Majority Leader

Connecticut State Representative Steve Stafstrom – Vice Chair Judiciary Committee


G. Final Remarks (starts at 5:34:00, ends 5:36:00)

Judge Robert Devlin – Chair, Connecticut Sentencing Commission

Leave a Reply

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