ACTION ALERT! If you have a passport, you have just one day to oppose International Megan's Law (HR 515). If passed, you WILL be required to turn in your passports and have a new one marked with a "unique identifier" marking you as a registered sex offender. I shouldn't even have to mention how heinous that provision will be for us. This is a FEDERAL law, NOT a state law.
Paul Rigney of the Registrant Travel Action Group (a subsidiary of Narional RSOL), urgently requests that everyone please help with the following:
1. Everyone, call and have others call The Speakers office THIS Monday morning. 202-225-600, 202-225-3031.
David: We need to tell them that they must not vote on H.R. 515 under RULES OF SUSPENSION because the bill received an amendment from the Senate that is SUBSTANTIVE and HISTORIC. (U.S. passports have never been branded with criminal convictions of citizens before)
I would like to see 500 phone calls. Please put this up on Affiliates websites. Lets leave hundreds of messages on 202-225-0600 for them to sort through Monday morning
2. Spread Josh Graven’s petition that should go directly to their representative.
(This site will look up your Congressman for you! How convenient, right?)
3. Sign the Change.org petition at:
For those with Twitter accounts, tweet this , “Are you familiar with International Megan’s #Law, or IML? http://ow.ly/WITZv” sends to David Post’s article. Also, please TWEET the following image and message which can be found here (simply right-click and save the image to your hard drive and then insert it, along with the text message, into new Tweets):
Also, you could help further by re-tweeting Tweets already sent to House members which have been sent from that Twitter account.
5. Continue to call and email congressional members.
Use the banner at the top of the screen.
Below is my letter to Congress. You can use it as a template if you want.
On 2/1/16, the CONTROVERSIAL International Megan's Law is up for "suspension of the rules." This must not pass! IML as written will place a "unique identifier" on the passports of ALL registered citizens and will establish a new bureaucracy for expanded government control.
International Megan’s Law is an attempt at imposing the American way of thinking on the rest of the world, an act of arrogance that will lead to disastrous results if implemented. IML will attempt to force other nations to create a registry and raise the age of consent to conform to the American standards. This is a blatant violation of international law and a show of contempt for the governments of all nations who do not maintain close ties to the US.
Victim industry advocates have tried to justify International Megan’s Law using anecdotal examples, assumptions, unsourced statistics and non sequiturs to attempt to justify this bad piece of legislation. In reality, various government agencies have reported they have found very few examples of actual sex tourism, and even fewer examples of sex tourism from a registered citizen. It is estimated only about 10 convictions a year occur from Americans engaging in sex tourism annually. The GAO, the US Dept. of Justice, ICE, and the now defunct NDIC have all stated they have found few, if any, examples of Americans traveling abroad specifically to engage in sex tourism or sex trafficking. Key researchers studying sex crimes have repeatedly warned their own research or the research of others have been misinterpreted or distorted by those trying to promote human sex trafficking as America’s next social panic.
International Megan’s Law will be a costly and ineffective measure. It will cost millions just to establish a new bureaucratic agency and to revise the passports of registered citizens. It will cost millions more to enforce the various proposed changes to passports proposed by Congress. Passport limits run afoul of international law, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), by interfering with the free movement of citizens. The ICCPR was signed, ratified, and enforced by the US. In addition, 22 U.S. Code § 217a has been narrowly tailored to limit passports only to those registrants convicted in a court of law for sex tourism, thus nullifying the perceived need to pass IML passport provisions. As previously noted, very few cases of sex tourism/ trafficking are confirmed by government agencies, so the cost of investigating and prosecuting a mere handful of cases do not justify the need for a new bureaucracy, especially if the SMART office is passing IML notification provisions without the authorization of Congress.
The proposal to mark the passports of registered citizens is unprecedented in American history and is offensive enough that even mass media have made parallels between International Megan’s Law and Nazi law. In 1938, the Nazi government required all Jews to surrender their passports and have new passports issued with a scarlet “J” stamped on them. If IML passes, registered citizens will be forced to surrender their passports and have new passports issued with a “unique identifier” on them. In addition to the obvious parallel to Nazi law, this practice will obviously lead to travel impediments and denials of entry across the globe for all registrants regardless of offense. This mark of infamy could potentially lead to travel problems domestically as states struggle to fall into compliance with the so-called “REAL ID” system and thus requiring passports to fly within the boundaries of the US. Furthermore, IML could have an effect described as “humiliating” and “devastating” for individuals whose passports may be falsely marked as belonging to a registered citizen and would lead to costly litigation.
While certain provisions of IML imply that these provisions would be limited to “high risk/ interest” registrants, the harsh reality is this law will be applied to every registered citizen regardless of offense, even teens who engaged in consensual relations with other teens. The law is especially difficult for juveniles on the registry, who are assumed to be less likely to reoffend, more amenable to rehabilitation, and far less likely to become a “sex tourist.”
Finally, International Megan’s Law violates a number of constitutional safeguards, including the 1st (freedom of association) and 14th (Due process) Amendments, as well as the Ex Post Facto clause. In addition, protecting the reputation of American travels and their privacy is of great governmental interest, especially given the attitude of much of the world regarding American tourists. Unconsidered in this report was the potential chilling effect IML could have on ALL American tourists as the US gains a reputation for being a country full of “sex traffickers.” International Megan’s Law will ultimately do far more harm than good, not just in regard to registered citizens, but for the reputation of this nation as well.
For the full report and references for my assertions, go to http://www.oncefallen.com/internationalmeganslaw
Sunday, January 31, 2016
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Some of you may not know this, but the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio is a significant place to the Anti-Registry Movement. It was the location of the first successful public demonstration against the Adam Walsh Act in December 2007, known as the "Silent No More" rally. However, I haven't been to Columbus since that time. Thankfully, Ohio hasn't been a hotbed for bad legislation, with only a few bad laws making it into legislation. But this year, Ohio wanted to remind us they are still willing to make asinine bills by introducing HB 353, a bill that will require registered citizens to turn over information on all adults living in their households to the registry office.
Yesterday's House Judiciary Committee meeting was the second hearing on this bill, and it was only for "proponent testimony" (i.e., testimony from those in favor of the bill). The good news is there was only one proponent testifying in person. Nancy Tapocsi is the mother of a woman dating a registered citizen who was convicted of "importuning" (trying to meet a 15-year-old online who was really an undercover agent). There isn't really much to say about her testimony-- she says the registrant lied to her about why he went to prison and he's a "child predator." At the end of her spiel, she ends adds, "I am praying that House Bill 353 passes. The safety of children should come before the privacy of registered sex offenders. Everyone who lives with a sexual predator deserves to know it. Criminals are notoriously good at lying. If this bill saves just one child from being molested, it will be worth it."
According to the House Judiciary page, there is also a written statement in favor of this bill from Melissa Litteral, President of the Ohio Chief Probation Officers Association. It is a brief, one page statement which claims registrants aren't telling people living with them or people they are dating they are on the registry.
I was more concerned with the statements in support of HB 405, which will increase penalties for "importuning." Here, the sex offender myth rhetoric was thick. After hearing this, I am convinced we need to establish our position on every bill that impacts "sex offender" issues, no matter how mundane, because the same tired myths (they all reoffend, can't be cured, etc) continue to be bandied about. Legislators must be exposed to the facts.
We need as many folks as possible to oppose HB 353, in person if possible. We don't have a time limit for speeches, though they encourage us to keep it brief. I have covered many basic facts in a one-page position paper (see statement below) but maybe some of you might think of things I haven't considered. We need emotional impact statements as well. You don't have to be a great orator (I never claim to be a great speaker), just make your voice heard. I will know who all sends opposition statements because they will be published on the Ohio legislative website, so if you are afraid to put your name out there, use an alias or your initials or maybe just your first name and last initial. Send your opposition statements or sign up to oppose in person to Jim Butler's aide Jeff.Dillon@ohiohouse.gov
Here is an opposition statement I took to Rep. Butler's office before yesterday's hearing:
ReFORM-OHIO STRONGLY OPPOSES OHIO HB 353
Anti-Registry Movement activists often use the expression, "When someone is forced to register, the entire family registers," but it seems Ohio is taking this expression too literally with the introduction of HB 353.
Why we oppose HB 353:
1. Invasion of privacy: HB 353 requires registrants to give private information of people not required to register as sex offenders to government agents. This includes a spouse or live-in lover, adult children of the registrant, and even unrelated individuals, (like a roommate). The right to privacy is a fundamental right, protected by the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 9th, & 14th Amendments to the US Constitution. (See http://www.livescience.com/37398-right-to-privacy.html)
2. Personal info is at risk: In November 2011, Watch Systems, the private corporation Ohio pays to maintain the state’s registry at a cost of half a million dollars a year, mistakenly added DOZENS of names to the state sex offender registry. It was the result of “human error.” It took them two weeks to identify and correct the problem. (See http://www.10tv.com/content/stories/2011/11/02/columbus-sex-offender-registry-mistake.html) If Watch Systems, a private for-profit corporation, cannot be trusted with publishing the right information of registered citizens, it is only a matter of time until “human error” publishes the personal information of non-registrants?
3. Personal lives are at risk: In a 2005 study by University of Louisville criminologist Richard Tewksbury in the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 47 percent of 121 sex offenders reported they'd been harassed as a result of being on a state registry, and 16 percent said that they'd been assaulted; among nearly 600 immediate family members of offenders that Tewksbury and Lynn University researcher Jill Levenson surveyed, 44 percent said they'd been threatened or harassed by neighbors as a result of their relative's sex-offender status, 27 percent that their property had been damaged, and 7 percent that they'd been physically assaulted or injured. A 2005 study in the same journal by Levenson and Leo Cotter, who directs a Florida sex-offender outpatient program, reported that 21 percent of 183 offenders had their property damaged by a person who found out about their status. (see http://prospect.org/article/life-list).
4. Ohio WILL be sued: When Florida mistakenly labeled a man a “sex offender,” he sued. (See http://jacksonville.com/news/crime/2013-12-26/story/mistaken-id-sex-offender-brings-lawsuit). This bill WILL cost the state millions in litigation alone, in addition to the added costs of sending letters to folks who are likely to chunk the letter in the trash.
5. Assumes non-registrants are stupid: It is asinine to assume adults living with a registered citizen are so stupid as to not know he or she is living with a registered citizen. There are numerous disruptions in the lives of registered citizens and their families as the result of the CONTROVERSIAL Adam Walsh Act, a bill rejected by two-thirds of US states.
We strongly urge the legislature to REJECT HB 353!
Derek W. Logue
On behalf of ReFORM-OHIO
Friday, January 22, 2016
It appears that HB 353, the bill that will ""amend sections 2950.04, 2950.041, and 2950.99 of the Revised Code to require a sheriff to mail a notice to every adult member of a household where a person who is required to register as a sex offender resides informing those household members that the person has committed a sexually oriented offense or a child-victim oriented offense," is set for a hearing on Tuesday, January 26, at 3:30pm.
What this means is the state will expect Registered Citizens to register the names of every adult living in the household with the Sheriff's Office.
It seems this meeting of the House Judiciary Committee is only for proponent testimony (i.e., those in favor of it), but even so, anyone who can attend should attend.
Apparently, they're taking testimony by electronic submission as well.
Please submit an electronic copy of oral and/or written testimony and all amendments to JudiciaryCommittee@ohiohouse.gov by no later than 5:00 p.m. on Monday, January 25th.
See ReFORM-Ohio's earlier analysis on HB 353 to see what this means for Ohio registrants.
See ReFORM-Ohio's earlier analysis on HB 353 to see what this means for Ohio registrants.