6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Rules on Michigan SO Laws

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From the Detroit Free Press:

Court: Michigan’s toughened sex offender rules cannot be retroactive


The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed part of a lower-court ruling, saying the state could not impose harsher restrictions enacted in 2006 and 2011 on offenders who were convicted before the law was changed. The court said the revisions, which include restricting offenders’ movement near schools, penalize sex offenders as “moral lepers.”
Detroit Free Press Article

2 comments for “6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Rules on Michigan SO Laws

  1. Janet Mackie
    May 3, 2018 at 7:22 am

    Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW, has spent the past sixteen years studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy and is the author of three #1 New York Times bestsellers: The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and Rising Strong. Her TED talk—“The Power of Vulnerability”—is one of the top five most-viewed TED talks in the world, with more than thirty million views.
    Sexual Abuse: Journal of Research and treatment
    Person-first language: Establishing a culture that transcends labels

    By Gwenda Willis, PhD, Alissa Ackerman, PhD, & David Prescott, LICSW

    The joint MASOC/MATSA conference took place earlier this month in Marlborough, Massachusetts. In a presentation on establishing person-first language across the fields of sexual abuse treatment and prevention, we (Gwen and Alissa) began our session introducing ourselves by several of the labels we hold. Gwen introduced herself as New Zealander, wife, friend, colleague, researcher, clinical psychologist, ATSA member and advocate. Alissa followed with mother, wife, lesbian, friend, colleague, professor, ATSA member, public speaker, advocate, and survivor, among others.

    In this interactive presentation, we prompted attendees to explore the labels they use to describe themselves and the people they work with. Like us, attendees were spouses, parents, clinicians and advocates. Some were animal lovers and some were music lovers. All participants used positive labels to describe who they are. Next, we asked participants to describe who they work with and we explored which of these might not be self-selected by the very people we work with. Overwhelmingly, the labels we used to describe the individuals we work with were those that our clients might not use to describe themselves. Some of these labels included “victim”, “ex-prisoner”, “sexually violent person” and “offender”.

    Importantly, there was agreement that use of such labels in our field is widespread: beyond their use in everyday conversation, such language is rife in the names of treatment programs, agencies, professional organizations and academic publications. The American Psychological Association (APA), The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and most professional organizations even tangentially related to our field articulate the need for person-first language in their Codes of Ethics, and yet in our field, we tend not to honor this need. Do we have an ethical dilemma?

    As part of our presentation, we considered core ethical principles of helping professionals including respect for human dignity, professional integrity and beneficence and non-maleficence. We discussed how the “victim” and “survivor” labels might be self-selected by some people and not others, despite similar lived experiences. Similarly, we acknowledged that some individuals with pedophilic interests self-identify as “pedophiles” while other individuals with pedophilic interests would find the “pedophile” label repulsive.

    We cannot assume which labels people want to use to describe themselves and if we truly honor human dignity, we must call people by what they prefer to be called. It is a matter of basic respect. For example, in our introductions, Alissa used the label “lesbian” to describe herself, while Gwen did not, despite both of us being married to same-sex spouses.

    Discussion turned to the inaccuracies that normative labels such as “offender” and “abuser” portray – that anyone assigned such a label has the same (i.e., high) risk of reoffending. As professionals working to address misperceptions about sexual abuse we highlighted the importance of communicating accurately about individuals who have abused, in the hope that they will have opportunities to live safe, fulfilling and offense-free lives. We turned to labels with scientific validity, including “psychopath” and “pedophile”, and conversation returned to their potential to stigmatize and ostracise. Finally, we explored how labels might hinder the work we do to promote distance from offending as well as healing from sexual abuse: What messages do the “offender” and “victim” labels communicate? Possibly that this is how we see you. In the criminological literature, labeling theory suggests that the individuals internalize the labels we use to describe them and often live their lives accordingly.

    How might we transcend potentially stigmatizing labels? We introduced person-first language as an alternative to potentially stigmatizing language, which separates the person (e.g., man, woman, young person, individual, child) from a condition, disorder or behavior (e.g., individual adjudicated for a sexual offense, people who have committed crimes of a sexual nature).

    Labels are commonplace in every-day communication, and when self-selected they can aid communication. However, assigned to us, labels have potential to stigmatize and harm. As highlighted by Brene Brown (2017):

    “The sorting we do to ourselves and to one another is, at best, unintentional and reflexive. At worst, it is stereotyping that dehumanizes. The paradox is that we all love the ready-made filing system, so handy when we want to quickly categorize people, but we resent it when we’re the ones getting filed away” (p. 48)

    Person-first language avoids making assumptions about how someone wants to be labeled. Additional exploration of issues raised in this blog and guidance on person-first language can be found in the 6th edition of the APA Publication Manual (American Psychological Association, 2010) and in Willis (in press).

    In some quarters, the push towards person-first language has existed for years. It has occurred in other areas of psychology and human service (Willis, in press) as well as the field of treating adolescents who have sexually abused. Although it has long been known that adolescents can change dramatically over time, it is also worth remembering that adults can, and very often do, change as well. Further, the contexts in which they live their lives can change dramatically as well Now that our field knows what it does about building distance and managing risk, it is clear that the use of labels has now outlived its usefulness. Indeed, it can cause harm.

    References

    American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

    Brown, B. (2017). Braving the Wilderness. New York, NY: Random House.

    Willis, G. M. (in press). Why call someone by what we don’t want them to be? The ethics of labeling in forensic/correctional psychology. Psychology, Crime & Law doi: 10.1080/1068316X.2017.1421640

  2. Janet Mackie
    May 5, 2018 at 6:00 am

    Sex offender registry changes will impact Lyon County numbers
    Amy Alonzo, Mason Valley News Published 3:59 p.m. PT May 4, 2018 | Updated 4:01 p.m. PT May 4, 2018
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    (Photo: Lyon County Sheriff’s Office)

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    The number of Lyon County sex offenders registered on the Department of Public Safety’s website will increase with the implementation of a new statewide sex offender registration law.

    Nevada Legislature in 2007 approved AB579 to comply with the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act passed the year before. The law changes how sex offenders are classified and who must register with the DPS. The bill has been hung up in legislation for more than 10 years, but on April 27 the Nevada Supreme Court lifted the most recent stay on the legislation, clearing the way for its implementation.

    “It’s effective immediately,” said Julie Butler, administrator for DPS’ records, communications and compliance division.

    There are four tiers of sex offenders, Tier 3 (most serious) to Tier 0 (least serious.) Previously, only Tier 2 and Tier 3 offenders registered online. Under the new legislation, all offenders must register with DPS, and changes in the way offenders are classified raises the number of higher-tiered offenders. Under the legislation, an offender’s tier level is based strictly on his or her conviction and the age of the victim, without consideration of other circumstances. Prior to the changes all Nevada adult offenders and certain juvenile offenders were assessed by mental health workers and rated on their risk of re-offending.

    To paint a ballpark picture, Butler said under the old system there were about 300 Tier 3 offenders in the state. Under the new system, that number skyrockets roughly tenfold, to around 3,000, but the definition of who a Tier 3 offender is changes.

    “These are not just sexual predators anymore,” she said. “It just means in the crime they were convicted of, the victim was under age 13.”

    As of January 15, there were 7,022 active and 19,095 inactive registered offenders in the state, according to DPS, with an 84.1 percent compliance rate.

    There are 209 registered sex offenders in Lyon County, according to the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office. Currently, there are four Tier 3 offenders, 80 Tier 2 offenders, 64 Tier 1 offenders and 61 Tier 0 offenders.

    The number of registered offenders by community are:

    Dayton: 52
    Fernley: 69
    Stagecoach: 13
    Silver Springs: 46
    Yerington: 29
    Three of the four Tier 3 offenders reside in Silver Springs, and one resides in Yerington. More than half of the 80 Tier 2 offenders reside in the Dayton and Fernley areas.

    The changes to the state law will alter the number of higher-tiered offenders registered in Lyon County, McNeil said. In addition, Tier 3 offenders will now be required to register every 90 days and Tier 2 offenders will be required to register every six months. Lower-tiered offenders will still register annually.

    Nevada residents must register within 48 hours of arriving in a county, 48 hours of changing their address and 48 hours of moving into the state. Butler said local law enforcement agencies will be impacted because the new law requires offenders register in person at their local law enforcement agency, rather than directly through DPS. To research offenders near you, visit http://www.nvsexoffenders.gov/.

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