Thursday, March 28, 2013

Why I Have Hope

The Evolution of Unconstitutionality in
Sex Offender Registration Laws
Catherine L. Carpenter* and Amy E. Beverlin** 

    More is not always better. Consider sex offender registration laws. Initially anchored by rational basis, registration schemes have spiraled out of control because legislators, eager to please a fearful public, have been given unfettered freedom by a deferential
   This Article does not challenge the state’s legislative power to enact sex offender registration laws. Instead, this Article posits that, even if sex offender registration schemes initially were constitutional, serially amended sex offender registration schemes—what
this Article dubs super-registration schemes—are not. Their emergence demands reexamination of the traditionally held assumptions that defined original registration laws as civil regulations.
   Two intertwined causes are responsible for the schemes’ constitutional downfall. The first is a legislative body eager to draft in creasingly harsh registration and notification schemes to please an electorate that subsists on a steady diet of fear. When combined
with the second cause, a Supreme Court that has yet to signal much-needed boundaries, the ensuing consequence is runaway legislation that is no longer rationally connected to its regulatory purpose. Ultimately, this Article is a cautionary tale of legislation that has
become unmoored from its constitutional grounding because of its punitive effect and excessive reach.
* Professor of Law, Southwestern Law School. The authors wish to thank Dean Bryant Garth
and Vice Dean Austen Parrish of Southwestern Law School for their support of this scholarship. We
are also grateful for the valuable feedback we received from Professor Alexandra D’Italia and for the
research assistance of Tannaz Hashemi and Michael Morse.
** J.D. Candidate, Southwestern Law School,
. I would also like to thank Professor
Carpenter for the opportunity to collaborate with her on this piece and for her guidance throughout
the writing process.

Commentary: First let me thank the writers of this very well researched article, but it is exactly this type of article that gives me hope for the future. It appears to me that the hope for the reformation of sex offender laws across the United States lays in the courts.
   Why do articles such as this give me so much hope? It's because it's published in a law journal and is by far not the first such article I have seen circulating within the law community; and where do our appellate judges come from? They come from within the law community.
   Here is the real question; when will some of these courts begin deciding appeals on arguments that matter? I see so many cases that are raising constitutional questions, but are being decided in the plaintiff's favor on non precedence settings grounds without ever reaching the more important constitutional questions. Is it a question of judicial cowardice? It seems to be in my eyes, becoming the 1200 lb. gorilla in the room that can't be ignored much longer.
   What we are in real need of in this country is for some of these appellate judges to start manning/womaning up to stop passing the buck and begin making the tough decisions based upon the constitutional questions within these cases so that they can proceed to the Supreme Court of the United States if necessary where they can make the final constitutional determination. However, up unto this point, not even the SCOTUS has been willing to accept a case that will put a dagger into the heart of many of these pile on laws that appear to be patently unconstitutional. 
   There is a little hope I think with the pending United States v. Kebodeaux case. I know it's not going to be the be all end all, but if  the SCOTUS upholds the U.S. 5th Circuit's ruling, it will help to put a fallacy to sex offender registries as a whole, because of how many people will be removed from the registries, which will mean they are no longer serving (not that they ever were) their intended purpose of protecting the public.
   Maybe Kebodeaux will be the case that starts the ball in the direction it needs to roll to begin to put an end to many of these laws that are damaging the lives of so many people, in many cases, needlessly.
   All this aside, it is within the courts that I see progress being made in the curbing of these onerous and unconstitutional laws which lawmakers of both parties seem to be all too willing to continue to pass so that they can appear to be tough on crime as part of the vicious circle of the press, public outrage and lawmakers which seems to just continue to rotate like a gyroscope with no end. I'm here to tell you, it's time for someone to stop the gyroscope and bring some sanity to the table; that someone needs to be the courts.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Sin of Fear

The Sin of Fear

During my incarceration I was able to maintain my Christian faith; I went to as many Protestant Christian services as I could go to and at times led a Bible reading group in my dorm.
Since my release from incarceration and parole I have resumed an active church life; prior to my beginning to attend Sunday services, I met with the pastor and informed him of my wish to begin attending services there and of my convicted sex offender past.
Also since my release from parole stipulations, I have become an outspoken activist on sex offender/registry issues. If you had known me in my old life, you would understand what a leap this putting myself so blatantly out into the public eye for scrutiny and possible risk is.
I understand the fear of being an advocate for something that so many despise and fear to the point of violence, but the truth is; nothing is ever going to change unless we make it change by overcoming these fears and becoming engaged to educate the public to the truth about sex offenses, sex offenders, their families and the effects of the registries.
I understand the fear that comes with having your house or computer searched just because somebody in law enforcement decides it needs to be done; even when you know you’re doing no wrong.
I know the fear of worrying about your kids at school just because they’re your kids and you’re on the registry, because nobody can be crueler than another kid who thinks they have something to hold over you.
I know the fear of being one of the first to exercise the newfound social networking freedom granted in Indiana by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals just a couple short months ago.
I understand the fear of enrolling in the local community college when the registry laws require that a registrant report their address, place of employment and place of study so all can be posted on the internet for all to see, including your classmates
I know the fear of doing all of this while still being on probation with time still hanging over your head.
I understand not wanting to draw attention to you and your family, but I refuse to let fear rule over me and dictate my actions. I can make a very long list of why I should crawl in a hole and hide, but I refuse.
While I was incarcerated, I wrote a sermon titled:

The Sin of Fear

My NIV Study Bible lists 14 different things people feared, as in being afraid of, there is:

The fear of seeing God
Fear of a vision of angels
Fear of the unknown
Fear of the punishment of sin
Fear of danger
Fear of being killed
Fear of losing one’s life
Fear of losing one’s loved ones
Fear of bringing unpleasant news
Fear of an enemy
Fear of a person in authority
Fear of what another person might do
Fear of what another person might say
and Fear of the future

There might be more things in life for us to be afraid of, but if we don’t learn to conquer our fears and are afraid, we can scare ourselves from doing basic things we need to do for ourselves and our families. We can even scare ourselves and let our fears prevent us from enjoying the full life God has intended for each of us.
We are not to be afraid or scared. Do you know? The NIV Bible tells us in the forms:

“Do not be afraid”
“Do not be alarmed”
“Do not fear”
and “Do not be frightened”, at least 138 times

We are not to live our lives in fear.

      In Genesis 15:1, God commands Abram:
                  “Do not be afraid Abram, I am your shield,
                  your very great reward.”
      In Joshua 1:9, God commands Joshua:
                  “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and
                  courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged,
                  for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
      Psalm 27:1 says:
                  “ The Lord is my light and my salvation-
                        of whom shall I be afraid?”
      Psalm 91 says:
                  “ Whoever dwells in the shelter of the
                        Most High
                  will rest in the shadow of the
                  I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my
                        refuge and my fortress,
                  My God in whom I trust.’
                  Surely He will save you
                        from the fowler’s snare
                        and from the deadly pestilence.
                  He will cover you with his feathers,
                        and under his wings you will find
                  His faithfulness will be your shield
                        And rampart.
                  You will not fear the terror of night,
                        nor the arrow that flies by day,
                  nor the pestilence that stalks in the
                  nor the plague that destroys at
                  A thousand may fall at your side,
                        ten thousand at your right hand,
                        but it will not come near you.
                  You will only observe with your eyes
                        and see the punishment of the
                  If you say, ‘The Lord is my refuge,’
                        and you make the Most High your
                  no harm will overtake you,
                        No disaster will come near your tent.
                  For He will command his angels
                        concerning you-
                  to guard you in all your ways;
                  they will lift you up in their hands,
                              so that you will not strike your foot
                              against a stone
                  you will tread on the great lion and
                              The serpent.
                  ‘Because he loves me,’ says the Lord,
                        ‘I will rescue him;
                        I will protect him, for he
                        acknowledges my name.
                  he will call on me, and I will answer
                        I will be with him in trouble,
                              I will deliver him and honor him
                        with long life I will satisfy him
                              and show him my salvation.

In 2 Chronicles Chapter 32, King Hezekiah is preparing to defend Jerusalem against Sennacherib, king of Assyria and his army.

      Versus 6-8 say:   ‘He appointed military officers over the people
                                 and assembled them before him in the square
                                 at the city gate and encouraged them with
                                 these words: ‘Be strong and courageous. Do
                                 not be afraid or discouraged because of
                                 the king of Assyria and the vast army
                                 with him, for there is a greater power
                                 with us than with him. With him is only the
                                 arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our
                                 God to help us fight our battles.’

Matthew 8:23-27:    ‘Then he (Jesus) got into the boat and his disciples
                                 followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up
                                 on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat.
                                 But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and
                                 woke him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to
                                 drown!’ He replied, ‘You of so little faith, why are
                                 you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the
                                 winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
                                 The men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of
                                 man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey
Jesus is telling us, we have the ability to calm our own fears, our storms and troubles, if we have true faith and do not doubt God, because God is all powerful and he loves us. Faith, belief and prayer are the keys.

      Above all, remember; 1 John 4:18-19 says:
                                 ‘There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out
                                 fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one
                                 who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because
                                 He first loved us.’

In Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus tells us, the two greatest commandments are:

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’

We are to have no fear in any circumstances, for God loves us, and if we “dwell in” and “Love the Lord your God,” he tells us:

‘Because he loves me’ says the Lord,
         ‘I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he
         acknowledges my name.’
                        Psalm 91:14

I hate to go here, but since God made them I guess it’ll be OK and I’m sure he’ll forgive me if it’s not, but now you know why I say, “I’ve got balls big as an elephant's”, it's because I know that no matter where I go, God will be there with me and you too if you let him.