Doomed Initiative Idea of the Decade Re-Filed

A rethink of sex offender registry laws would be welcome but a simple total repeal proposal seems unlikely to prompt a productive discussion – or reach the ballot

One Thomas Madison of Salem has filed an initiative petition for the 2018 ballot that would abolish entirely all forms of sex offender registries maintained by the Oregon or its subdivisions. The text of proposed initiative 2018-3 is below:

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Be it enacted by the People of the State of Oregon, the complete repeal of Oregon’s sex offender registration laws in their entirety as it currently pertains to ORS requirements and processes of labeling, categorizing, tracking and registering “sex offenders” who have completed their criminal punishment sentence obligations of prison, parole and probation. This Oregon Initiative, if enacted, will significantly change Oregon Sex Offender Registration laws by modifying, eliminating, superseding or overriding numerous existing Oregon laws in any number of Oregon Statutes and any related Oregon regulatory laws as it currently applies towards present and future Oregon citizens classified as “sex offenders”.  Major provisions include:

  • The total and complete repeal of ORS 181.800 through 181.845 .
  • Nullifies any other Oregon laws that require registration of “sex offenders” residing, working or attending school in Oregon regardless of past, present and future sex crime convictions.
  • Effective date will be January is 2019.

Prior drafts of initiatives sex offender registry – Proposed initiative 2016-70 – Withdrawn

In October 2015, Madison filed a vague idea with a much more detailed preamble, supposedly aimed at the ballot for this November’s election (2016-70). The text of that proposal read as shown below. In January 2016, Madison withdrew that proposed initiative and replaced it with proposed initiative 2016-81 using the same very streamlined language shown above. 2016-81 was never formally withdrawn, but failed to obtain the 1,000 signatures needed to obtain a ballot title.

The goal of this initiative is to substantially reform the sex offender registration laws so that they will finally be tied to relevant facts and reasoning regarding the very basis of the SOR law itself. A reformed SOR law will lead to better public safety, based on facts, for all citizens including children and at the same time protecting the integrity of the United States and Oregon Constitutions with respect for the Due Process and Equality under the Law legal rights.
 
Definitions
 
SOR Law“: Sex Offender Registration Law in Oregon.
 
Registered/Registering“: Related to the legal requirements related to the registering of a convicted sex offender according to SOR Law.
 
Registered Citizens“: A formerly convicted sex offender who is required to register as a sex offender according to Oregon SOR Laws and has completed all related criminal justice obligations to the state including prison, parole and/or probation.
 
Registered Families“: Spouses, parents, children, related family members in general and other common address sharing people (i. e. roommates, renters, etc.) that share a common household address with an interest in the welfare of a Registered Citizen.
 
Registered Employers“: An employer (and as further defined by the Oregon SOR Law) where a Registered Citizen is employed and where the employers address has become registered under the sex offender  registration   law.
 
Registered Schools and Universities“: Educational facilities that have enrolled, among others, at least one Registered Citizen as a student.
 
Facts and Reasons to substantially reform the Sex Offender Registration laws
 
Very Low Recidivism. Whereas the SOR laws ignore the fact that recidivism (re­offense) rates are very low (from about 2% up to 3.5% in numerous three year state and federal studies) which is nearly the opposite of the often (and wrongfully) touted “high” rates of recidivism which unfortunately misdirects law enforcement resources and public safety funds into the wrong direction. See Recidivism Studies at bottom.
 
In the Family. Whereas the SOR laws ignore the fact that the vast number of child sex abuse cases are linked to family members and known acquaintances of the victim. Sadly, SOR laws have inadvertently misdirected parents’ attention towards strangers listed on the SOR list instead of educating parents as to the proper focus of preventing child sexual abuse. Government studies show that most child sex abuse is committed by members of the child’s family and other persons such as childhood friends, coaches, school teachers, priests, ministers and others.
 
First Time Offenders. Whereas the SOR laws ignore the fact that the vast majority of new sex crimes are committed by not-yet-convicted-first-time sex offenders (i.e. people who are not currently listed on the SOR list). Sadly, the SOR law is focused on the vast majority of law-abiding Registered Citizens instead. See “First Timers” references at the bottom.
 
Harms Rehabilitation. Whereas the SOR laws harm Registered Citizens in that these laws work against the concept of rehabilitation, a cornerstone of criminal justice, and the successful reintegration back into society as equal members participating as the law-abiding and productive citizens that they are and desire to be.
 
Stranger Danger Myth. Whereas the SOR laws wrongly focus on stranger danger instead of the source for the vast number of child sex abuse cases which are perpetrated by family members and acquaintances already known to the victim. This false assumption is one of the major pillars to holding up the SOR laws today.
 
Harm to Registered Families. Whereas Registered Families and Registered Citizens needlessly suffer social and psychological humiliation, ostracization, isolation and fears of vigilantism in the community due to public ignorance about the relevant facts regarding Registered Citizens and the real sources of new sex abuse cases instead of sex offender myths.
 
Discrimination. Whereas the SOR Laws harms innocent Registered Families and Registered Citizens due to employment and fair housing discrimination that gives rise to financial  harm and may lead to substandard  housing and /or homelessness.
 
Equality Under the Law Violated. Registered Citizens are treated as second-class citizens in that they are not treated equally under the law as compared to other categories of released prisoners.  SOR laws unfairly continuously label Registered Citizens as “sex offenders” regardless of rehabilitation and prison sentence completion. The requirement to register their addresses with law enforcement regardless of the fact that they have long since completed their prison, parole and/or probation requirements to the state brings up questions of Due Process violations as well. Non-sex offender former prisoners are not assigned a debilitating label “sex offender” and are not forced by law to register their personal addresses with law enforcement or the government in general.
 
Therefore, in view of the above stated opinions and facts that there is a need to substantially reform the Sex Offender Registration law in Oregon by removing this legal and social burden from the shoulders of Registered Citizens and for the better welfare of their Registered Family members and to the benefit or Oregon citizens generally.
 
This initiative proposes that:
 
• The requirement for sex offender registration should ONLY apply to individuals released to and under the control of the Department of Corrections (DOC) Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision for any current sex crime convictions.

• Previously convicted registered sex offenders who  have already completed their DOC criminal justice sentences as convicted sex offenders will no longer be required to register as sex offenders under Oregon sex offender registration laws.
 
• A state sponsored public education and awareness program will be established to inform parents and citizens generally:
 

  • That the vast numbers of sex offenses in Oregon are linked to the not-yet-registered-first-time sex offenders;
  • That the vast number of sex offenses in Oregon are linked to existing family members and their acquaintances;
  • And that registered sex offenders have very low rates of re-offending again.

 
• Proposed changes will significantly change Oregon Sex Offender Registration laws by modifying, eliminating or overriding numerous items listed in ORS 181.800 through 181.845.
 
• Effective Date of these mentioned reforms will take effect on January 1st 2017.
 
Benefits to Oregon Taxpayers and the Administration of Law
 
• Law enforcement offices will be greatly relieved of the responsibility to staff employees to perform the job of registering sex offenders thereby allow officers of the law to focus on crime and other duties.
 
• Taxpayers will benefit in that the cost of law enforcement administration of sex offender registration duties would be sharply reduced saving public tax dollars.
 
• Public funds currently used for administration and enforcement of sex offender registration laws will be reallocated toward public education efforts to overcome the misguided and unrealistic notions of stranger-danger fears. Instead, education will focus on the true sources of the vast majority of new sex abuse cases in Oregon by focusing on family members/acquaintances and not-yet-registered-first-time sex offenders.
 
References:
 
Recidivism studies
 
California study: Recidivism of Paroled Sex Offenders, 10 year study 1997 to 2007 (2008) California Sex Offender Management Board
 

  • Recidivism after 1year of release: 2.21%
  • Recidivism after 2 years of release: 2.94%
  • Recidivism after S years of release: 3.3%
  • Recidivism after 10 years of release: 3.38%

http://www.defenseforsvp.com/Resources/Cal_gov/CASOMB_RECIDIVISM_STUDY_10_YEAR_w-Graph.pdf
 
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, “Ten Year Recidivism Follow-up of 1989 Sex Offender Releases.”
 

  • 8% of sex offenders were recommitted in the 10-year period
  • 3% of sex offenders committed a sexually-related violation of probation/  parole  o   Half of recidivists re-offended within two years of   release
  • 2/3 of recidivists re-offended within 3 years of release
  • Treatment found to reduce recidivism (16.7% w/o treatment, 7% w/ treatment)

http://www.drc.state.oh.us/web/Reports/Ten_Year_Recidivism.pdf
 
Washington State: Recidivism Rates (5 year + 1 year for adjudication, based on conviction rates):

General SO Recidivism 13%;
Sex Offense Recidivism 2.7%;
among child victim offenders, 2.3%;
among rapists, 3.9%
 
 http://oncefallen.com/files/Washington_SO_Recid_2005.pdf
 
US Department of Justice, “Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released into the Community in 1994.”
 

  • Three-year follow-up period, 9,641 sex offenders released in 15 states
  • 262,420 non-sex offenders released in same 15 states in 1994
  • 517 sex offenders (5.3% of all sex offenders) were arrested for a sex crime within 3 years
  • 3,228 non-sex offenders (1.3% of all no-sex offenders) were arrested for a sex crime within the same three year period. 

http://www.oncefallen.com/files/RecidOfSOsReleasedFromPrison94.pdf
 
QUESTION: Who commits the vast number of sex crimes as a whole? The above study data shows that regardless of the relative percentages that are compared (5.3% v. 1.3%), the fact is that non-sex offender group committed six times more the number of sex crimes compared to that of the released sex offender group. Supporting math = 3,228 non-sex offenders / 517 sex offenders = 6.24.
 
First Timers Not Registrants. Who commits sex crimes? First time offenders commit 94% of all sex crimes and conversely 6% are committed by Registered Sex Offenders (RSOs).
 
“Sex offenders evoke little sympathy from the public and, as such, the popularity of registration and community notification laws is understandable. However, it is becoming increasingly clear from the growing body of research that registration and community notification laws are not an effective strategy for reducing sexual offenses. In fact, focusing attention and resources on the small number of known, registered sex offenders detracts attention from the more common types of sexual offenses that occur, leaving people vulnerable to sexual abuse and creating a false sense of security.”
 
Source Link. http://www.rethinking.org.nz/images/newsletter%20PDF/lssue%2078/C%2002%20watchedpot.pdf 

[Note link not found: Rethinking.org.nz now resolves to http://justspeak.org.nz/]

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Cited above: http://www.defenseforsvp.com/Resources/Cal_gov/CASOMB_RECIDIVISM_STUDY_10_YEAR_w-Graph.pdf

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CITED ABOVE: http://www.defenseforsvp.com/Resources/Cal_gov/CASOMB_RECIDIVISM_STUDY_10_YEAR_w-Graph.pdf

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CITED ABOVE: http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/01/living/juvenile-sex-offenders-rights/index.html

Another idea from the same petitioner:
Get Rid of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws

The same chief petitioner who proposes to abolish the sex offender registry also filed an initiative for 2016 (2016-76) that would abolish mandatory minimum sentences in Oregon, an idea that OregonPEN strongly supports (see OregonPEN Vol 2, No. 19 “Prison Sentencing as if Budgets Mattered). The text of Madison’s proposed initiative, which also never reached the ballot title phase.

Repeal Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws
Oregon – ORS 137.690 and 137.700 through 137.719
 
Oregon’s Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws Must Go. Any person accused of a crime deserves to have their case heard in a courtroom by a jury where witnesses can be cross-examined and where the facts of the case can be heard, evaluated and judged by those who are the accused person’s peers. The processes of criminal justice sentencing must not be allowed to continue where citizens’ constitutional due process rights are warped, bypassed and disposed of by government officials who seemingly focus on their careers and the quantity of justice delivered instead of the higher quality of justice to be served to Oregon  citizens.
 
Mandatory minimums are automatic prison terms decided by the legislature and prosecutors, not judges. These predetermined prison sentences based solely on the blanket assumptions of seriousness regardless of any extenuating details that might lesson the degree of the alleged crimes. The vast numbers of criminal justice cases are resolved by plea deals instead of trial by jury.
 
Mandatory minimums take power from judges and hands them over to government prosecutors who may and do have an incentive to ‘pile-on-the-charges’  (trump them up) in certain criminal cases in order to pressure  the defendant to consider a plea “deal” instead of having the facts of a case heard and evaluated by a jury. A plea deal Is a criminal procedure that is negotiated between the defendant’s attorney and the prosecutor where the defendant agrees to plead “guilty” for some crimes while having charges dismissed or reduced for the purpose of keeping the prosecutor’s trial docket clear and to keep the cost of criminal prosecutions low   for the purpose of keeping the cost of justice efficient and not a burden on taxpayers.
 
But plea deals in criminal prosecutions often result in the circumventing of the constitutional rights of people accused of (and especially) mandatory minimum sentencing crimes where trumped-up charges are used as a strategy to avoid a trial, whether intended or not, and therefore causing the defendant to be denied his constitutional rights of due process, trial by Jury, to cross examine witnesses against him and his equal rights under the law as every citizen should have.
 
The purpose of this Initiative is to repeal, void, or nullify the strangulating effects on our criminal justice system by promoting a healthy and vigorous system of criminal defense and prosecution where jurors and citizens alike are able to hear and judge the facts for themselves. Therefore we are asking Oregon citizens to repeal our heavy-handed mandatory minimum sentencing laws that return the power of justice to the judiciary and the US Constitution:  Let’s defend the Constitutional protections of Due Process and repeal and/or nullify these outrageous Oregon ORS statutes:
 
ORS 137.690 – Major felony sex crime
ORS 137.700 – Offenses requiring imposition of mandatory minimum sentences
ORS 137.705 – Definitions for ORS 137.705 and 137.707
ORS 137.707 – Adult prosecution of 15-, 16- or 17-year-old offenders
ORS 137.709 – Application of ORS 137.700 and 137.707
ORS 137.712 – Exceptions to ORS 137.700 and 137.707
ORS 137.717 – Presumptive sentences for certain property offenders
ORS 137.719 – Presumptive sentence for certain sex offenders
 
This Initiative, if approved by voters, would become law on January 15, 2017.