When I was released from an Alabama state prison 17 years ago, I found a program out-of-state.

Ten years ago, I watched as vigilantes and local politicians pressured Shady Court to shut down a transitional program for registered persons.

Last year, efforts to open another inmate post-release program at another former motel were also stymied by local political rabble-rousers.

Now, Rep. Andrew Sorrell is attempting to pass a bill (named after a child, of course) to force those desiring to help former offenders to pay fees and get approval from the county commission to operate, and we all know that the commission would never allow such a program to exist.

Here are a few facts:

• Most sex crimes occur at home by someone known to the victim.

• Most sex crime arrests are of those with no prior sex offense arrests.

• People convicted of sex offenses have annual re-offense rates of less than 1%, which can be lowered further with stable housing provided by transitional programs, particularly in the first months following release, when re-offense risk is the highest.

By contrast, people convicted of theft, drug or other violent crimes have a significantly higher re-offense rate, yet they aren’t on a public registry, or given the same level of scrutiny in Sorrell’s bill. Apparently, gangbangers and dope boys are welcome but not a registered person.

As a former Colbert County resident, I’m appalled by the continued incompetence of local politicians. The registry should be abolished, and pols like Sorrell should be deposed.

Derek Logue

Tobias, Nebraska

(31) comments

JJ Underwood

The real reason sex offender reoffense rate is so low is because more than half of the people on it were never guilty to begin with. You all would be singing a different tune if you spent 8 years in prison for a crime that never even happened. And the main irony? I was molested for 9 years as a child and the state knew all about it but that man was never even charged! The Sex Offender Registry is a big joke, plain and simple.

Terri Townes

Anyone on here defending the rights of a sex offender to abolish the registry clearly has not been a victim or knows anyone who has been a victim, or have their head on straight. That is what is wrong with parts of society....always looking for the protection of a felon. It is not true at all that they do not repeat the offense. My employer did not do a back ground check on a 65 year old man, and come to find out he raped a 13 year when he was in his mid 40’s. He served 5 years only after aggravated sexual assault. He was sexually harassing myself, and every woman at work. Women and children need to know who they live next to and who they work with, period. Anyone who feels different is a disgrace to the world!

Oncefallen Dotcom

No matter how much the haters try, be it making veiled threats and insults or vowing to "end" me, I have not stopped educating the public with the facts.

I was only allowed a mere 250 words on this letter but I sent the Colbert County Commission a far lengthier and more in-depth critiue of this bill and of the registry in general.

My name is Derek Logue, and I am a registered citizen, a civil rights activist, and a nationally recognized expert on sex offense legislation with appearances in the Times Daily and AL.com and on HLN, CNN, HuffPost, and Russia Today, to name a few. I am also a former resident of Colbert County as a Northwest-Shoals Community College alumnus. It is where I received my Associate’s in Criminal Justice in 1996 before getting my Bachelor’s in Justice Studies from Athens State University in 1999.

While serving time for a sexual offense, I had written over 60 transitional programs before finding one willing to take me in in another state. Transitional housing is integral for public safety because stable housing, employment, and support networks reduce re-offense. I’ve been offense-free for the 17 years since my release DESPITE the hardships I’ve faced, not because of the laws. I hate to say this, but if someone is going to reoffend, no residency restriction, registration law, no fee, or no vigilante group would stop that person. If we are that concerned about public safety, then we’d want to engage in activities that are proven to actually work, not what just makes us feel good.

Thankfully, those convicted of sexual offenses rarely reoffend (See http://www.oncefallen.com/recidivismchart.html for dozens of studies showing an annual average rate of only 1%), but that number could be lowered dramatically by post-release stable transitional housing. For example, the Circles of Support and Accountability has been extremely successful and is used in Canada, the UK, Minnesota, Massachusetts, California, Vermont, Oregon, and the “liberal” state of North Carolina. COSA has proven highly successful:

"The recidivism results compiled in evaluating the COSA pilot project are very encouraging. Sexual recidivism by COSA Core Members is 70% lower than that of the matched comparison sample, and is less than one-quarter of the actuarial sexual recidivism rates projected by the Hanson and Thornton STATIC-99 survival curves - a statistically significant result. While recidivism of any sort is tragic and regrettable, the harm reduction effect observed in those unfortunate instances where a Core Member did recidivate sexually was also particularly encouraging." (Robin J. Wilson, Janice E. Picheca & Michelle Prinzo. "Circles of Support & Accountability: An Evaluation of the Pilot Project in South-Central Ontario." Correctional Service of Canada, May 2005)

The first couple of years following release are the most critical. Ohio’s 10 year study on the registry found that “Sex offenders who returned for a new sex related offense did so within a few years of release. Of all the sex offenders who came back to an Ohio prison for a new sex offense, one half did so within two years, and two-thirds within three years. Paroled Sex offenders completing basic sex offender programming (level 1) while incarcerated appeared to have a somewhat lower recidivism rate than those who did not have programming. This was true both for recidivism of any type (33.9% with programming recidivated compared with 55.3% without programming) and sex-related recidivism (7.1% with programming recidivated compared with 16.5% without programming). (See “Ten Year Recidivism Follow-up of 1989 Sex Offender Releases.” Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. April 2001.)

The question is this – do you want to make communities truly safer, or do you just want to appease the ignorant masses while decreasing public safety?

Experts agree that allowing registered citizens the opportunity to become productive members of society reduces recidivism, while social ostracism has the opposite effect. “As former offenders are denied opportunities to reintegrate into society and stigmatized, they lose hope. Stigmatized offenders are more likely to recidivate than reintegrated offenders, as the resistance to recidivate diminishes among offenders who are ostracized. On the other hand, a ‘pro-social identity,’ including concrete recognition of their reform, is integral to reducing recidivism” (Hollida Wakefield, “The Vilification of Sex Offenders: Do Laws Targeting Sex Offenders Increase Recidivism and Sexual Violence?” Journal of Sex Offender Civil Commitment: Science and the Law, 2006, p. 141-149)

“Employment problems experienced by the RSO, and subsequent financial hardships, emerged as the most pressing issue identified by family members. The likelihood of housing disruption was correlated with residential restriction laws; larger buffer distances led to increased frequencies of housing crisis. Family members living with an RSO were more likely to experience threats and harassment by neighbors. Children of RSOs reportedly experienced adverse consequences including stigmatization and differential treatment by teachers and classmates. More than half had experienced ridicule, teasing, depression, anxiety, fear, or anger. Unintended consequences can impact family members’ ability to support RSOs in their efforts to avoid recidivism and successfully reintegrate.” -- Levenson, J. S., & Tewksbury, R. (2009). Collateral damage: Family members of registered sex offenders. American Journal of Criminal Justice.

Alabama as a whole, and especially Colbert County, has a sordid history of not placing any value on reducing recidivism. I moved back to Colbert County in 2009. A year later, I discovered through a positive Times Daily Article about a program for registered persons at the old Shady Court hotel. It was a good and useful program, but within weeks, public outrage encouraged by local vigilante websites like Shoalanda Speaks and others led to the shuttering of the program. One of the requirements for living at Shady Court was attending treatment, so those living there simply moved to places where there was no requirement to take accountability classes. (See http://reformalabama.blogspot.com/2010/12/empty-building-reflects-empty-hearts.html)

I moved to Ohio in 2011, leaving all this nonsense behind. Ten years later, I see nothing has changed. NIMBYism is alive and well in Colbert County. There are still vigilante groups like Shoalanda Speaks but now there is Edward Bowman and his Facebook group, “Problems with Faith Based Reentry Programs: Sexual Predators.” (Bowman also runs a group called “Colbert County Corruption”, which labels most of you as crooked politicians, I might add.) I have been a favorite target of both “Shoalanda Speaks” and more recently of Edward Bowman. While Shoalanda has posted slander about me for years, it was her posting of my ex-wife on her blog that caused her to experience harassment. (See http://shoalandaspeaks.blogspot.com/2010/05/sheffield-sexual-preditor-central.html).

Edward Bowman has posted statements that show he is willing to harass registered citizens. (See https://www.facebook.com/edward.bowman.79827/posts/3229420647070272) where he stated he planned on contacting my registration office because he’s mad I’m legally allowed to have a business page on social media as well as get published in the Times Daily. These individuals are trying to create outrage by intimidation of politicians and registered persons alike, and they should be brought to heel. The state’s registry warns that people (like Bowman or Shoalanda) using the registry to engage in criminal activity is subject to criminal prosecution, yet these bullies are allowed to harass legislator and registration alike with impunity.

Let’s call Alabama HB 393 what it is—an attempt to circumvent the court rulings that anti-clustering laws are unconstitutional. But it won’t work. Over the years, both state and federal courts have ruled against Alabama’s draconian legislation. Chilton County’s local anti-clustering ordinance was stricken, then the scarlet letter ID card marks were struck down, and the state’s policy of keeping registrants locked up beyond their sentences was also deemed unconstitutional. There is one key problem with this law, namely, you have no justification for singling out one group of offenders. Virtually every crime type reoffend at a higher rate than those convicted of sex offenses. A five year study of all felony types found that of those who committed the same offense type, Homicide offenders reoffended at 2.1% after 5 years; Rape/ Sexual assault: 5.6%; Robbery: 13.1%; Burglary: 23.2%; Fraud/ Forgery: 29.7%; Assault: 34.4%; Larceny/ Motor Vehicle Theft: 41.4%; Drug Offenders: 51.2%; and “Public Order Offenses”: 59.6% (“Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010: Supplemental Tables: Most serious commitment offense and types of post-release arrest charges of prisoners released in 30 states in 2005.” BJS.gov. Dec 2016. Accessed 9 June 2019 at https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/rprts05p0510_st.pdf). But HB 393 does NOT cover gangbangers, killers, robbers, burglars, and dope boys, so they must not be a problem for this commission, eh?

If your intent is really promoting public safety, then focusing on ostracizing registered persons is misguided effort. Here are a few key facts to consider:

1. Most Sex Crimes occur at home (See “SEXUAL ASSAULT.” 2011 Crime in Texas. Chapter 7. Accessed 17 June 2019 at http://www.dps.texas.gov/crimereports/11/citCh7.pdf; See also Howard N. Snyder, Ph.D., "Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim, Incident, and Offender Characteristics." National Center for Juvenile Justice, July 2000. Accessed 17 June 2019 at https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/saycrle.pdf ; in both cases, sex crimes occurred in the home of perpetrator or victim in roughly 70% of cases)

2. Most often, the perpetrator is someone the victim knows; generally, in about 93% of CSA cases. (See “Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2014 NATIONAL REPORT.” National Center for Juvenile Justice. Dec. 2014. Accessed 18 June 2019 at https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/nr2014/downloads/NR2014.pdf , page 46; Myths and Facts About Sex Offenders.” Center For Sex Offender Management. Aug. 2000. Accessed 18 June 2019 at https://ccoso.org/sites/default/files/import/mythsfacts.pdf; eAdvocate. “Department of Justice: Victim Offender Relationship Chart.” Sex Offender Reports and Charts. 2015. Accessed 18 June 2019 at http://sexoffender-reports.blogspot.com/2015/02/department-of-justice-victim-offender.html , see also http://www.oocities.org/voicism/index-charts.html#chta)

3. About 95% of sex crime arrests are of people with no prior record. (See Sandler, Jeffrey & J. Freeman, Naomi & Socia, Kelly. (2008). Does a Watched Pot Boil? A Time-Series Analysis of New York State's Sex Offender Registration and Notification Law. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law. 14. 284-302. 10.1037/a0013881.)

4. Throughout the United States, children as young as nine years old who are adjudicated delinquent may be subject to sex offender registration laws. For example, in Delaware in 2011, there were approximately 639 children on the sex offender registry, 55 of whom were under the age of 12. In 2010, Michigan counted a total of 3,563 youth offenders adjudicated delinquent on its registry, a figure that does not include Michigan’s youth offenders convicted in adult court. In 2010, Michigan’s youngest registered sex offenders were nine years old. (https://www.hrw.org/report/2013/05/01/raised-registry/irreparable-harm-placing-children-sex-offender-registries-us). Alabama, as an Adam Walsh Act state, also allows for children to be placed on the registry.

5. Proponents of the registry use the derogatory terms “pedophile” and “sex offender” interchangeably as an appeal to emotion. Ken Lanning, former FBI forensic profiler, on behalf of NCMEC, explains, “In my experience, many child molesters are not pedophiles… they are not necessarily one and the same. Often it may be unclear whether the term is being applied with its diagnostic or some other definition. Most investigators are not qualified to apply the term with its diagnostic meaning. In addition labeling all child molesters as pedophiles is potentially confusing and counterproductive.” (Ken Lanning. “Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis for Professional Investigating the Sexual Exploitation of Children.” National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. 2010. Accessed on 10 July 2019 at http://www.missingkids.com/content/dam/missingkids/pdfs/publications/nc70.pdf, pgs. 19-20, 29-30). Okami and Goldberg’s 1992 study writes, “Only a small portion of convicted sex offenders against minors are actually preferentially attracted to children. In spite of this fact, studies typically use the word ‘pedophile’ interchangeably with terms such as ‘child molester,’ ‘sex offender,’ ‘abuser,’ and ‘rapist.’”( Okami, P. & Goldberg, A., “Personality Correlates of Pedophilia: Are They Reliable Indicators?”, Journal of Sex Research, Vol. 29, No. 3, 1992, pp. 297-328.)

The evidence is overwhelming here. HB 393 is nothing more than NIMBYism that will actually decrease public safety.

I do not miss living in the so-called “Bible Belt” because all I saw was hypocrisy from folks who attend Church on Sunday, singing and “loving Jesus” but harming others the other six days of the week. Christ did not promote vigilante violence. The only time Jesus was truly driven to anger was when he drove the corrupt money-changers from the temple. Jesus warned us about how you treat people in Matthew 25:41-46 when he said, “Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, I was naked and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ And they too will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then the King will answer, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

A person forced to register on this spiteful government blacklist is indeed The Least of Us. But do you folks honestly believe that ostracism and turning a blind eye to vigilante actions, both by individuals like Bowman and “Shoalanda,” as well as by dubious state statutes, is going to motivate anyone to better themselves? You can’t prevent registered persons from living in your community, so the question is, do you want them to be productive members of society? Doing the right thing isn’t always easy. Just ask Jesus, he paid the price for standing up for an unpopular opinion.

Jacob Pasley

A quick google search will tell anyone who is reading this BS of a letter all they need to know.

The registry is not designed to rehabilitate a sex offender. It's primary purpose is to communicate a sex offenders presence that may live near you. Every person on this registry has done so voluntarily the moment they willed themselves to commit such an act. Just as the damage to countless victims will be present their entire lives, so will the registry of those who have caused such pain and anguish.

There is no reasonable argument for abolishing the registry, complaining about being on one does not count.

Sandy Rozek

You are correct; the registry does not rehabilitate. It interferes with rehabilitation. That is one reason to abolish it. The others are that it does not deter first-time offenders; it does not deter repeat offenders; it does not reduce the rate of child sexual abuse; it does not make society safer.

Some offenses were committed before the registry existed; people had served their punishment, gotten their lives together, and were productive, law-abiding citizens until the registry swept them up and in many cases destroyed all of that. Some were children, as young as ten, when they committed a childish offense. Some were horny teens, many who have gone on to marry each other and have families in spite of the hardships of being on the registry.

Did you know that telling the victim of a crime, any crime, that they are damaged for life and will never be the same is the worst thing they can be told? Countless victims of these crimes focused on recovery and living a full life, not on remaining victims. I know some victims suffered horrible consequences -- I know some such -- but they were determined not to let their abusers continue to make them victims.

Jacob Pasley

There are no people on the registry that commits crimes as children. That is just a big ol' lie. You keep on apologizing for how bad sex offenders are treated, I'll stay on the right side of this argument and support the victims.

Sandy Rozek

ttps://www.hrw.org/report/2013/05/01/raised-registry/irreparable-harm-placing-children-sex-offender-registries-us

https://reason.com/2018/04/09/there-are-too-many-kids-on-the/

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/05/sex-offender-registries-children-1994-crime-bill/

Oncefallen Dotcom

That's merely a matter of opinion.

I've covered the myth that the registry "increases awareness" here:

http://www.oncefallen.com/awareness_myth.html

This registry is not being used in the way you claim it is. People use the registry for salacious reasons more than due to safety reasons.

The 2013 YouGov poll has shown that Southerners especially are prone to the "shock value," but it offers up nothing else. A number of studies have found similar results, with more people looking at the registry for entertainment value or 'curiosity" than for safety reasons.

Your little area of the country abuses the registry quite a lot. Vigilante groups like the one run by Edward Bowman use the registry for nefarious purposes. They are arrogant because they know law enforcement has been slow to respond to threats. Bowman's fellow trolls have tried in vain to intimidate me, and two local vigilante groups vowed to "end me" in an attempt to silence me. "Shoalanda" and "Pen N Sword" have posted pictures of me and my ex-wife and my current girlfriend along with veiled threats. So yes, without a doubt the registry is not used to merely "educate" the public-- it is a tool for thugs like the vigilantes I mentioned.

That alone is a reasonable argument for abolishing the registry. We are closing America down over a virus that killed handful Americans, whereas the registry has led to threats, assaults, property damage, and murder of registrants, loved ones of registrants, and even those merely confused for a registered person. The registry, therefore, has no civilized place in society.

The facts are not in your favor, "Jacob." That isn't even your real name, but just another person who made up an alias to spew hate. If your opinion is the correct one, why hide your identity?

Terri Townes

Absolutely!!!!

Jacob Pasley

Right on cue, the worst of our society defends these vile creatures with "statistics". I'll stick with Mark Twain on that subject.

Oncefallen Dotcom

If you want to see the worst of society, just look in any mirror.

Jacob Pasley

If I did it would be due to you standing beside me. Sex offender registries aren't going anywhere, the vast majority of Americans are for it. End of story.

Oncefallen Dotcom

That's your best comeback? I'd never stand beside you. If we met you wouldn't be left standing at all.

Jacob Pasley

Yes, I'm sure your stink would cause me to pass out.

Sandy Rozek

Jacob, we advocate for that which is shown to make society safer. If we are in defense of anything, it is improved public safety coupled with reduced incidences of sexual assault. We fail to see why you have a problem with that. Please don't confuse defending crime or criminal acts -- which we don't -- with defending the constitutional rights of all people and asking that laws be based on facts, not myth or hysteria. Would you have them based on something other than fact?

Will Crump

Sandy, you're wasting your breath with haters like this man. His mind is made up and no matter what you say, you're not going to change his mind. The only thing that will change his view is when one of his own ends up on the registry. Then and only then will hateful idiots like this man see the light.

Will Crump

Hateful, self-righteous holier-than-everyone else in the world people like YOU is why this nation is a democratic republic and not a direct democracy. Maybe one day someone YOU LOVE will end up on the registry and I would love to be there to see it because I KNOW YOU WILL BE THE FIRST ONE CRYING LIKE A LITTLE GIRL OVER HOW UNJUST AND CRUEL IT IS!

Jacob Pasley

So you are for a sex offender registry in the end. If all it took was a fantasy of someone I know to end up on it to make it happen, then good for you!

Sarcasm aside, y'all do understand being on the registry is a choice? Instead of advocating for the predators, how about showing some compassion for the victims.

Sandy Rozek

Jacob, I do not wish that someone you love ends up on the registry. I do hope that IF that should happen, he or she has someone to help support them who is capable of greater compassion that that of which you seem capable.

Not always a choice: some registrants committed their offenses before the registry existed; some were children and minors who had most likely never heard of it. You seem to have a vision of everyone on the registry being a person who committed a heinous act, probably to a child. That does not begin to describe so many who are registered.

Sandy Rozek

And furthermore, there is a national organization, NARSOL, that advocates for laws based on facts and evidence and for policies that support the successful rehabilitation, restoration, and reintegration of law abiding, former sexual offenders into society as the path to a safer society. We are a national organization with an interest in both federal and state legislation related to our interests. The information posited in Mr. Logue's LTE is accurate. People forget that the criminal justice system has two goals: punishment AND rehabilitation. If people really want to minimize the already very low reoffense rate, they will support the efforts at rehabilitation in every way possible.

Oncefallen Dotcom

It is hard to show references with a 250 word limit, so if anyone dares to question my stats, I have more than enough stats to prove my point over at oncefallen.com

Jacob Pasley

When you molest or assault a child you deserve zero sympathy. The actions a molester takes are his/her own and whatever consequences they face are appropriate, especially that they knew the risk beforehand. Nothing lower in life than a sex predator, I cannot image how low you'd have to be to defend one.

Oncefallen Dotcom

Geez. This is why I'm glad I don't live in the area any more. I see Reading Comprehension is still a failure of the Alabama Education System.

The point is not about sympathy but about reality. Here's a cold hard fact for you, Jacob -- most people convicted of any crime, including s*x offenses, WILL be released into the community. There's NOTHING you can do about that. The question is do YOU want them to go out and do it again? I hope even someone of limited intelligence would say NO.

Here's a second fact for you, while reoffense is extremely low among those convicted of s*x offenses, having a community support network is critical to reducing reoffending, since most of the few reoffenders will do so within the first three years of release. The longer someone is in the community successfully, the lower the reoffense rate. The more someone is socially ostracized and discriminated against, the less inclined that person will be to want to obey the law.

To put in the simplest you terms, if you treat people like monsters, don't be surprised when they respond in kind.

Paul Kersey

Any person that molested a child should be imprisoned for LIFE.

Vicki Henry

Jacob, you might have another surprise in store! There is a nationwide group of WOMEN who advocate AGAINST the REGISTRY.. Unbelievable, right? There are over 912,000 citizens required to register and some are women some are men some teens and some are children 6, 8 and 10 years of age. There are numerous studies that validate the need to get rid of it. Professor Emily Horowitz debated another professor about 3 years ago in NYC. You can watch that on our Women Against Registry home page. Vicki Henry

Jacob Pasley

There are over 200 million who are for the registry, and I'm sure that's a lowball number. Unbelievable, not!

Oncefallen Dotcom

This is the same country that voted a TV actor to run this country. I don't put much faith in what the majority wants, especially those in backwater Alabama,.

Paul Kersey

Vicki and Oncefallen are probly the same person. They always post together. The only way to make the world safe from pdeo people is to remove them from the planet.

Oncefallen Dotcom

Paul Kersey is even dumber than Jacob Pasley. hat a joke.

Jacob Pasley

Yes Paul, all these for sex offenders are from the same group. Even the author of the letter is posting on here as oncefallen dotcom. They've been at this for over a decade with zero influence on any laws. Not many will feel sorry for those who prey on our most vulnerable.

Larry Lynch

And don't worry about oncefallen's insults or threats of violence and legal action. He's phony tough and has zero resources for an attorney. Facing charges of arson in Ohio and grand theft in Florida, you think he would keep a low profile. But he thrives on attention. Been playing the "poor me" card since he fell out the cradle.

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