Every election cycle may see the creation of a legislative bill aimed directly at people on the sex offender registry. Regardless of what the bill is titled, there will always be an argument without supporting facts or evidence the bill “will keep children safe”.
It has been only a month into a new political cycle. We are once again witnessing a national legislative agenda filled with residency restrictions, senior assisted living, exclusionary benefit schemes, parental rights, and other bills directly aimed at people on the sex offender registry.
However, only a few short months ago, we heard manifestos of politicians exclaim criminal justice reforms and a return to compassion for human life. However, the same elected people that we count on to make that change and live up to their word are often the very people that alienate their agenda, returning to fear-laced propaganda and divorcing rational thought.
If you were to take any of the current sex offense bills and remove the title “sex offender” and replace it with African-American, Jewish, Gay or Lesbian, or Latino, there would certainly be an outcry of discrimination. But that is what politicians do when creating law. The United States has been down that road before with Jim Crow-styled laws and loud politicized rhetoric that always seems to mention protections without any supporting facts or evidence. The truth is that historically once such laws if and when have been rescinded, there are years of apologies, compensation programs, and reeducation policies to heal all the decades of wrongdoing to ordinary human beings.
It is all a more incredible lesson of what Nazi soldiers said after the war about witnessing atrocities and the rounding up of human beings they were told to treat as criminals. In their defense, Nazi soldiers would say, “I had no choice” or “it was my duty”. Nazi leaders would tout, “this is the protection of the fatherland”. Similar arguments are continually argued about the U.S. Civil War reconstruction era, the Hopewell Native American treaty, the Civil Rights Selma to Montgomery marches, to the Stonewall riots. However, the lesson learned moments are striking similarities that lawmakers and people haven’t learned much from history and continue to spew rhetoric to incite fear without data or evidence citing it is for America’s safety.
As Americans, we ought to be striving for opportunities to educate and facilitate best practices towards confronting our worst fears by creating a fair policy for all. Instead, we continue to live in a world guided by Jim Crow laws with a McCarthy-styled methodology that everyone could be an offender or sympathizer. We shouldn’t want to live in a nation where fear drives us?
Our leaders have a moral obligation to do the right thing for all people. While politicians lay claim to following a spiritual path, they too often stray, leaving behind moral thought and embracing corruption by saying, “I had no choice”. Thus history ultimately repeats itself, causing morality to be stuck in the mud.
Perhaps the best medicine for our history is to become stewards of what is right and fair for all. But such action requires people to become active voices in pushing back. Never assume that others are doing the work for you. While people sat idly by and witnessed Nazi atrocities, civil, gay, or Muslim rights being egregiously violated, what are you doing to back up the voices that represent your concerns? Pick up the phone and call your legislative representative to voice your opposition to a bill. Invest in memberships to organizations that support your cause. Show up in person to your legislature, allowing your lawmakers to see advocacy no longer afraid.
Dr. Judith Levine researched in 2016, African Americans account for 22 percent of publicly listed registered sex offenders nationally; they make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population. However, that number is staggeringly growing by the day. During this period of Black History Month, we ought to take a moment to reflect on how far we may have come but how far we have to go. We have a moral duty to get things right moving forward.
Sex offender registries were created as a free and public educational tool; however, is that assessment entirely correct? Since 2006 when states were mandated with implementing registries, society has watched the registry, and all its strange collection of information become stale and flat. In fact, to seek out the educational benefit of the registry are quickly identifying major flaws where education is hugely lacking or not relevant at all.
Logging on to the North Carolina’s sex offense registry allows the public to access such features as offender statistics. However, the only statistical data available to the public is the census data per all 100 North Carolina counties – nothing more. If a visitor or researcher to the website wants to search a basic account of racial, gender, origin, misdemeanor versus felon, high risk, repeat offenders, out of state but relocated or other simple information, it cannot be quickly or accurately assessed. However, the state website has been in production since 2006 without any updates. That’s right! Despite the hundreds of legislative bills, laws, and changes within the law, and a pouring of federal and state dollars to “educate the public,” the highest law enforcement in the state has failed to educate with relevant and updated information beneficial to the State of North Carolina.
Some may argue, “why make the registry better?” I would counter by saying, “if the subject matter isn’t of any relevant or current use, then let’s cancel or eliminate the materials altogether.” Why on earth would the state try to hide how many African Americans, Hispanics, or gender on the sex offender registry? Perhaps those that crafted the registry intended on a “lump sum” design so that anyone listed is indeed publically shamed or assumed to be the worst of the worst. But perhaps another issue is that the best academic scholars are unable to rely on a registry that is supposed to be the most accurate system available to the public? Masking critical data that may best-identified trends and analysis has not been readily available. The omission of essential data presents severe questions and scrutiny of potentially and often being false or highly misleading.
Facts remain that the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry is a profitable enterprise business scheme rather than an actual educational tool. Police and sheriff agencies that enter facial recognition data from the website to port into such services as Amazon with use at fair events just the cusp of problems that lay ahead of the registry’s usefulness. It is a state-mandated marketing tool to comply with federal law and guidelines but used for other testing means to pry and inch its way into being a relevant topic matter with no instructor, no course materials, no test, and naturally no real results.
Nearly all of the 24,000 North Carolina registrants have committed a crime well over twenty plus years ago. Yet this is the best solution to monitor a specific crime using ex post facto methodologies? The registry is clinging on to a poorly designed process with an even more horrible process under the guise of safety and security. The only people secure with the sex offender website are those with business connectivity with prison, software, and lobbying contracts to keep it alive. It is millions of dollars of taxpayers wasted money that has collateral consequences of creating the most harm in the way we educate, rehabilitate, and reintegrate those that commit certain crimes.
The registry is way out of date and no longer a need for the people of the United States and the people of North Carolina. Let’s agree its time to move on with this trainwreck experimental program. It is time to end the registry before it comes to collateral damage morphing into drug, DUI, or other crimes with no pathway of redemption or something that occurred decades ago. Just like justice reforms are a hot topic of change across our nation, so should educational reforms be an integral part of that discussion. The sex registry, in general, isn’t an educational or justice tool. It is, after all, nothing more than a poorly designed marketing tool that must be ended before it inevitably ends democracy and freedoms as we know it.
If you have been cyberstalked, cyberbullied, or fallen prey to the donation scams in the “name of advocacy”, I encourage you to contact your local law enforcement
Ever since the inception of the sex offender registry personal information of whereabouts, vehicles, jobs, schools, and other sensitive information is for the public to use at a cost that could leave registrants and family members vulnerable towards predatory behaviors by those that choose to use the registry as a cyberstalking tool. Recently I encountered trolling that quickly developed into a criminal cyberstalking incident that authorities alerted my family and me. Because it was a personal matter, there was no need to involve organizations or others. However, local deputies and authorities from other states suddenly changed that narrative as it came to my attention that organizations had been contacted with threats of intimidation made – and continues today. I brushed most of the noise off and went back to business as usual. But it was my family, my university, and my friends that saw significant safety concerns and decided to escalate the issue much further by contacting police to file a formal complaint.
Ethical Standards. Principles that when followed, promote values such as trust, good behavior, fairness, and/or kindness. There is not one consistent set of standards that all companies follow, but each company has the right to develop the standards that are meaningful for their organization.
Local law enforcement authorities sat me down and began asking lots of questions about my memberships with various registry organizations. It was then I started to take notice that something wasn’t quite right. I felt as if the mood was shifting that the very organizations I choose to represent may have aggressive or perhaps criminal behaviors associated with them? My complaint was quickly handed over to federal agents that peppered me with questions. I felt as if my association with advocacy had taken a wrong turn to become involved with a criminal organization meant to harm individuals. At least that was the perception I was presented. The information, evidence, and pages upon pages of graphic details dating back almost a decade were enough to make me think critically that perhaps some within advocacy wish to intimidate both externally and internally. Unlicensed, unregistered, fake company names with many pseudo names changed over the years to cyberstalk, cyberbully, and disruption of organizations. But it didn’t stop there. The same tactics were and are being used to target advocates from within the organization. If federal authorities were presenting this as a warning along with internet protocol addresses with locations, then the information provided by other organizations, people and a university was eye-opening as well into the criminal behaviors and practices that tarnish the reputation of law-abiding advocacy organizations and its membership. It was a very sad moment to learn a consistant pattern of cyberstalking and cyberbullying actions from within the registry community bringing an agenda of harm and harrassment fellow registry advocates.
Cyber-bullying is when a person is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen, or teen using interactive and digital technologies, such as the Internet or through phones. It has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor. Once adults become involved, it becomes cyber-harassment or cyberstalking
Companies and organizations have a responsibility for maintaining a code of ethical and responsible behavior both for its officers but also its membership. If a person claims to be a member but hasnt ever maintained membership then isnt it the responsibulity of that organization to halt bad behaviors or fraudulent claims of being an active member? It is an open-ended question but presents a candid discussion as to membership criteria and perhaps separating a cult-like establishment branding. But when personal actions skirt a fine line between organizational and individual requirements, then it becomes a liability to the organization for not pushing back to protect its corporate integrity guidelines and active members. Organizations that fail to address improper or unethical behaviors are accepting the burden of the association not by membership, but by the actions of its members that perhaps sends the wrong message that illegal practices are acceptable – as long as we don’t know about it, or pretend not to acknowledge it. When law enforcement agencies paint a picture that some within registry advocacy borderlines hate speech can support it with documentation, facts, and evidence, then it creates a thin wedge “am I on the right side of advocacy?” It presents a surreal moment that perhaps questions why there are many divisions, factions, groups, posing under differing names but mainly under one or more umbrellas? To be on the right side of advocacy organisations must embrace member standards and conduct. Without such standards organizations cannot produce a standard to be reasonably heard or visible and allows leadership to become tainted by outside influence. I may be a member of the ACLU or other organizations, but I dont overstep my bounds by speaking on their behalf. Instead, I allow credible appointed professionals to do that leg of the work so that the message is consistant and reflects a good image upon the organization. I don’t belong to advocacy to press one-sided issue or to become a part of a cult-like experience. I belong and commit to advocacy so that both sides have equal representation of compromise and the best possible solution for all.
For now, I am allowing local and federal investigators to do their job and determine the next steps which appear to be rapidly moving. Naturally, law enforcement always has my support because of my faith in democracy as a nation of laws where we follow them. My biggest fear and concern is that there will be unintentional victims that are associated with select individuals. However, people choose to follow whomever they wish – but perhaps at a significant cost by association. Additionally, as a retired Army veteran, I support and defend our constitution, which includes free speech. But when that speech is impaired to mask or inflict cowardly harm or discourse, then it is safe to deem such predators as organizational terror cells intent on not standing up for justice, but hiding behind aliases similar to the mentally disturbed or radicalized individuals. If your message is more about the person rather than the cause, then perhaps you are in the wrong advocacy program? Lastly, I am not a John Doe and have mentioned for the sake of advocacy that I do not wish to be an anonymous figure. I do not have alias accounts or screen names – and never have. I do understand the need for privacy for those still living in shame, guilt, or vulnerable circumstances for the protection of self, family, and loved ones. Typically, it is these people that deserve our best foot forward ensuring that we are providing them a credible voice by the restoration of good ethical behaviors by working in their best interests to make their lives better – not worse by micromanaging every word or quote seeking to control their speech or particular advocacy.
Radicalization is a process by which an individual, or group comes to adopt increasingly extreme political, social, or religious ideals and aspirations that reject or undermine the status quo or contemporary ideas and expressions of the nation.
I believe in our nation and believe that our system, despite its flaws, has the best intentions of being protecting all Americans. I do not perform acts to desecrate our nation’s flag by referring to it as a “rag.” I don’t apply women in derogatory misogynistic methods just because I don’t get my way. I refuse to enlist others to support a one-sided conversation. I have a political compass that is personal and not introduced in my day-to-day professional routines. Lobbying may have its political leanings, but advocacy takes no firm stance on political ideology. Therefore I treat all my professional encounters equally. I am an LGBT member and take a personal stance on ensuring my and the rights of others are not hindered. As a person with ADHD, I am cognitive of mental health and social issues and believe that many registrants with such diagnosis are widely overlooked and not a recognizable introduction of motive or other circumstances. Therefore, I also advocate for ADHD among autism based organizations but only in a supportive, non-professional, role. I converse in a respectful tone even when I disagree, and I certainly don’t abuse a system for my benefit. I am a Christian but recognize others for their beliefs and respect their choices. I wont stoop to lows such as support for methods of cyberbullying or cyberstalking of opponents or allies. Those on the sex registry are not at war with our country. Instead, registrants should choose to become active participants in civic duties by contacting legislators, the press, religious, and other civic causes to have an amplified voice of diplomacy, discourse, and recognition. But to become credible, we must be trustworthy too. The childlike behaviors of fake screen names, fraudulent companies, false banking methods, fake charities, maybe false disability claims, and sometimes phony victimization won’t help causes if we allow select people to ruin the standard of advocacy by setting a higher standard. There have been too many past lawsuits levied to individuals not playing by the simple rule of discourse within the sex offender advocacy mission. Until national and local groups can clean up its act and tackle the stain by specific individuals, advocacy won’t have a viable voice among society because it embraces the wrongs rather than the pursuit of the right. Nobody ever claimed advocacy would be easy. But the art of public policy and support must be met with civility, patience, and respect. I would expect such poor displays of behavior from middle or high schoolers; not professional advocacy organization members? So much for people acting their age?
In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain, or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law, a criminal law, or it may cause no loss of money, property or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong.
I will maintain cautious advocacy towards lawful and transparent legislation. The current climate of various political criticisms has polarized our nation, municipalities, and organizational framework. However, I am an individual that may occasionally expect profound discourse from opponents. But at no point would I ever expect personal attacks and the lack of parliamentary professionalism from within advocacy work? Perhaps it is time for advocacy organizations to implement and hold accountable individuals that pose more harm to others than protecting them? Sooner or later the toll that one bad actor brings upon an organization which will eventually leak into to the mainstream media may be a setback for advocacy without the hope of recovery because it is deemed as criminals continuing to support criminal behaviors. Registrants certainly would never allow authorities to abuse the voice, liberty, and rights? Why on earth would registrants be fearful or live in fear from one of their supposed allies? That seems to be the standard dilemma organizations must directly address for the sake of growth, expansion, and a safe-space of getting the message out. It is not a perfect system, but it seems to be filled with imperfections that are stifling others by hate-filled anger laced tactic that must immediately stop before someone gets hurt. It is this instablity local and national advocacy MUST address – and soon. Otherwise, I forecast that national advocacy organizations will be be burned from both ends without a care in the world because it would leave only one person remaining to carry on his/her personal agenda at the cost of so many affected by the registry. As police and other advocates have suggested, it is the perfect “gaslighting” strategy which is especially sad because police do rely upon advocacy groups as support mechanisms within communities. (yes, police can be helpful even if laws they are sworn to uphold are unpopular among registrants)
There are nearly one million individuals listed on sex offender registries. But less than micro percent of registrants belong to or support advocacy groups to meet their needs or concerns. Perhaps one reason is that registrants are uncomfortable at being vulnerable, exposed, publically shamed, cyberbullied, or cyberstalked by others within the organizational framework.
If we are to be advocates of helping to craft sound public policy and rational laws, then it might be helpful if we practice what we preach? Otherwise, recidivism rates will venture towards another arena that will maintain the stigma of predatory behaviors and make restrictions worse for those that DO obey and respect laws, people, and boundaries.
Footnote: I have a very supportive and large family, a robust network of good reliable lifelong friends, a wonderful university department that has been beyond supportive, and a partner of over seven years active that has always been there for me. It is these pillars of support that have introduced and advocated for myself to stamp out cyberbullying and predatory behaviors by others. It is also these support pillars that are the ones that assist in helping about a specific individual that targets, harasses, and uses the internet as a predatory tool rather than a resource for good. But some people cannot be rehabilitated and perhaps the best solution is for them to be placed in lifetime civil commitments for their own protection and for the good of society? It is these pillars of support that will do all means not only to protect myself from harm but others by civilly and criminally charging those that skillfully commit wrongful conduct but play out the victim card. My family and support system are more insightful and eager to handle the bad elements of society using it for personal gain and exploiting others for entertainment purposes. Personally, I appreciate all the offline concerns and support to stamp out this self-proclaimed-self-absorbed “Beetlejuice” government abuser and facilitator of misogynistichatred under the guise of sex offender advocacy. If you have been cyberstalked, cyberbullied, or fallen prey to the donation scams in the “name of advocacy”, I encourage you to contact your local law enforcement authorities to file a formal complaint or charges. Allow law enforcement to work for you for a changeand stop this criminal behavior.
When it comes to sex offender restrictions, some legislatures have taken unusual steps to either ban registrants entirely from the internet or restrict access to various social platforms. Convicted sex offenders aren’t allowed to use Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat as per terms of service. As Facebook acquires, monopolizes, and removes registrants from its platform, it will have attributed a significant increase in national unemployment numbers of registrants and their families by millions. Denying a right to social media is equal to not providing the tools in a modern age required for industry or the resources of livelihood to pay bills or other online needs. If that isn’t bad enough, some registrants are listed for a lifetime depending on the crime. Some may argue that “removal from the registry will restore accesses to social media because requirements are no longer applicable.” However, Facebook and other company policies that align with banning sex registrants from its platforms are permanent and not subject to state or federal laws and guidelines. This argument extends to juveniles released from sex offender requirements and those pardoned, expunged, or sealed by judicial systems. Facebook and other companies policies are vividly clear that a news article is enough incrimination to remove an individual.
The war on sex offenders and compliance requirements is an easy sell by politicians, victim organizations, and community groups. When it comes to crime legislation, there will be a contemptuous and unfactual way to identify sex registrants in neighborhoods and suburbs as the most deviant and scheming to harm children. Police resources are no longer able to target meth labs, organized crime networks, or child victims of disturbing home abuses. Its officer priorities are socially motivated and influenced by media and civic crazed panic. There will always be highly charged rhetoric about stopping opioid, recreational drugs, guns, heroin, and meth creeping into neighborhoods accessible to youth and destroying families. But registrants are falsely portrayed as a threat to communities, social media, and public spaces are the modern day monster story with dishonest messages that raise unnecessary alarms.
The State of North Carolina recently passed Senate Bill 199 named Child Sex Abuse/Strengthen Laws. The bill passed the Senate overwhelmingly with bipartisan support. However, the bill criminalizes citizens and organizations that fail to immediately report a suspicion that a juvenile is or could be abused. (§ 14-318.6) Listed in the bill directs any person that suspects or witnesses an act where a child could be at risk for physical injury to be notified and identified by law enforcement immediately. That’s right. There are no anonymity provisions for those that initiate reporting to authorities. Witnesses are required to provide full name, address, and telephone number. Therefore, if at a local big box store an individual witnesses a spanking of a child then it’s either the responsibility of the store or witness to contact law enforcement immediately because of the suspicion rule mentioned in the bill. While the bill is attempting to target dangerous conditions, its ambiguous wording allows an opening for many scenarios to be weaponized either by law enforcement or people. Essentially the bill, if it becomes law, will arm businesses and people to act on suspicion or it may criminalize those that fail to become involved if discovered during an ongoing investigation. It creates an attack on the Good Faith law and muliplies situations similar to “BBQ Becky” reportings.
In part three of the bill, (§ 15-1) it increases the statutes of limitations from two years to ten years for misdemeanor crimes against children. This is where the law while intended to target serious offenses becomes diluted to include adults that feel or believe they were physically abused or felt in danger as a child. This will lead to prosecution of family members, coaches, educators, bullies, former friends, or anyone accused of abuse. This portion of the bill generates a possibility by the defense exploiting an emotionally filled victim impact statement whereas defendants are unable to recognize or contribute plausible evidence. The amendment provision appears to be driven by social media and external influencers to align with the popularity of timetable expansions for statutes of limitations in an ex post facto manner. There is no proof or data to suggest an urgency to amend this part of the law by citizens of North Carolina. It facilitates an avenue to further clog the legal system with frivolous actions of child disciplining by parents viewed as criminal behavior.
Part Four, (§ 14-202.5) bizarrely named Protecting Children Online From High-Risk Sex Offenders is perhaps the most negligently researched bill introduced in the history of North Carolina legislative cataloging. The bill mentions High-Risk sex offenders who are not a classification to be found within North Carolina law. (§ 14-208.6 Definitions of Offender Types). That implies the state must introduce a new tier rating system to separate high-risk from low-risk. But with this law, it would eliminate the tier system by classifying all registrants as high-risk without any due process. According to the bill, a High-Risk offender is those found guilty of sex with anyone under the age of 18 or other sexual offenses requiring registration. Should the bill become law it would include nearly 92% of the 17,840 or more registrants listed on the North Carolina registry.
Let’s be crystal clear that the bill is a sleight-of-hand tactic to eventually deem anyone on the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry as a High-Risk offender.
Part Four also includes provisions that would prohibit high-risk offenders from contact with a person believed to be under the age of 16. There are several dilemmas about that particular part of the bill in direct conflict with current North Carolina law. First, there are several laws on the books covering contact with a minor for exploitative purposes. (§ 14-190.13) However, those particular laws clearly state that a minor is anyone under the age of 18. Additionally, it says, “Mistake of age is not a defense to a prosecution under this section.” For example, a 17-year-old having sex with a 15-year-old would not constitute grounds for criminal prosecution under North Carolina’s statutory rape laws because the state’s Romeo and Juliet clause pertaining to sex between consenting minors. But sexting is another issue vigorously pursued by law enforcement. But any communication by a juvenile registrant could be charged with a felony for contacting someone his/her own age. There are no statutes of limitations for any felony committed in North Carolina. “The internet is forever” chat logs with allegations twenty years later by a victim will keep not only registrants but the public afraid to use the internet or phone for fear of unintended reprisal.
Current Facebook policy requires its members to be at least 13 years of age. However, other native mobile apps require enrollment age at 18 based with little to no verification processes. Some apps are sexually suggestive in nature and are accessed by youth for reasons of curiosity or an aura of imaginary maturity. The uncertain risk that youth undertake with electronic devices isn’t the same as attempts to purchase alcohol, cigarettes, or other age restricted materials. It’s more serious and states do very little to address the issue. Society has quickly evolved in an online world where all facets of daily life surround around technology and electronic communications. While there are current laws that prohibit the manufacturing of fictitious identification (§ 18B-302(e)), there are equally laws with provisions that prohibit accessing a computer by false or fraudulent pretenses. (§ 14-454(a)(2)). It appears that lawmakers are adding confusion by creating choices for law enforcement and bargaining chips for prosecutor plea deals.
If a person under the age of 16 engages on the internet, application, or smart device with someone that happens to be a registered offender, regardless of age, there are no laws that require that individual to identify themselves as a registrant. Just as there are no laws requiring a person to state his/her age. However, if the parties engaged are in communications without voluntarily disclosing age, it becomes a vague statute. An example, highly likely to occur, could be where a parent or concerned individual intercepts a device of a young person. That individual discovers nothing illicit but learns the other person is a registrant and notifies authorities. During a preliminary investigation, all relevant age information is visible on another restricted or banned website registrants are unable to access to determine age verification. Is the registrant in violation because he/she believed the other person was of age with no way to verify it? It leaves many open-ended questions and serious concerns for anyone subject to this particular portion of the law. If the state lays claim to protect children and strengthen laws, then why not create a provision where online businesses must confirm and verify birthdate data? This is no differently than physical businesses that require ID for cigarettes, alcohol or other age-restricted materials? This is an attempt by lawmakers to intimidate registrants from being on the internet.
Finally, part 4 of the bill section will criminally charge a felony to any high-risk offender that uses a website where its policy specifically bans sex offenders. Let’s go back to the drawing board for this one. Who on earth reads the fine print of a service agreement when accessing an account? Not many. It is usually a quick click through. However, what will occur if a popular website or application determines that those on the registry are no longer welcome and updates silently its user agreement? How will registrants be notified? Better yet; will registrants be hauled in by police without knowledge of either the law, existing policy or future policy and its consequences? This isn’t an attempt to protect children. This is a blatant action by the state to reclaim its stinging loss in the United State Supreme Court case Packingham v. North Carolina. It is nothing more than creating a constructive action against registrants creating confusion and intimidation tactics.
Part 4 Section 4(c) of the bill may become confusing to some and disturbing to any business, corporation, or educational institution. It requires all internet protocol (IP) address by residence or employer within three days. Additionally, Section 4(e) requires all IP addresses for registrants attending a college or university within three days. It should be essential to mention that failing to do so in three days will result in felony charges against the registrant. Here are several problems with this particular part of the bill. First, what average person understands how to capture an IP address? Is the information requirement an IPv4 address or IPv6 address? Second, most subscribers have high-speed internet services which use a DHCP process. That means an internet IP address called dynamic IP addressing is commonly used. Therefore, if a registrant using, let’s say Spectrum Internet, reports to his/her local sheriff a particular IP address it won’t be the same when they return home. That is because dynamic IP addressing can change or often changes. The only way to capture a correct and valid reportable IP address is to purchase a static IP address from a service provider. Not many people can afford, in addition to Internet Service Providers (ISP) sometimes do not offer static IP addresses. It will be a nightmare for both law enforcement and registrants to maintain information that doesnt offer stability or simple methods to report accurately with often will raise a Forth Amendment challenge to probable cause. Once more, there are no instructions provided to registrants in how IP addressing or online identifyers are supposed to be reported. Each of the 100 county sheriffs in the state has their own “homemade form” often creating a forced signature of complance statement and violation of Fifth Amendment rights. (see form below)
Current North Carolina law directs law enforcement that anyone listed on the sex offender registry is required to physically verify the home and workplace address of a registrant bi-annually. What is currently deemed by law as a Sexually Violent Predator are verified every ninety days. Some Sherrif Departments in North Carolina responsible for the registrants living in their county increase the number of required visits from monthly to when as necessary depending on how that department utilizes and budgets its resources. It is terrible enough for registrants to endure embarrassing situations where a deputy repeatedly arrives in a neighborhood to knock on the door of a home to physically check if a registrant lives there. Neighbors often are curious if something additional has occurred. But when a deputy checks a business, then a majority of employees are equally interested in why deputies arrived at a workplace to ask questions about a fellow employee. This law will create not only another embarrassing way but add an additional check to verify IP internet addresses every six months or more. This isn’t a model where deputies confirm with human resources, coworker, or neighbor. These are physical checks by deputies in full uniform on a premise where no crime has been committed. It presents a method of extended guilt of past, current and future criminal activities of any registrant utilizing costly and unnecessary law enforcement resources.
If you know nothing about Virtual Private Networks (VPN), then you may be in for a quick education. VPN’s are widely accessible and allow individuals to mask IP addressing for cybersecurity reasons. The premise for VPN is to enable employees to telecommute while the network “thinks” the computer resides at the company or organization. Additionally, VPN’s are easy to install and highly encouraged by cybersecurity professionals. If a business or family use a VPN then the IP information may show the user in Germany, California, Istanbul, or anywhere the VPN continuously relocates to avoiding hacking detection. Does that imply that if authorities stumble upon an investigation of a registrant that they are out of compliance for being in a country without notifying movement but never left home? VPN data is often top secret and proprietary by companies. Relinquishing VPN based IP data will eventually harm businesses that rely upon its secrecy of where cloud servers are maintained and located in various nations. Businesses will ultumately not allow this information to be shared with governments. Will companies, because of North Carolina IP rules, begin banning sex offenders or other crimes from hiring opportunties down the road? The law provides a certain opening for that to occur.
There is also a little wording in the bill that says, “law only applies to registrants with an ISP account in their name.” That is very important because it may relieve families from having to disclose IP addresses. But don’t count on it. Law enforcement will find an interpretive way to intimidate families or roommates into submitting information they don’t have to provide. Why the double standard that businesses must provide IP data when registrants don’t pay for company internet services? To add more complications what if a registrant lives in a metropolitan area that offers free-wifi because he/she due to unemployability cannot afford internet services? Does this law suggest that registrants go to the city IT department and suddenly begin asking for municiple IP addresses? It may sound like a stretch of the imagination. But these are the very requirements that law enforcement will weaponize to discourage registrants from the internet. Law enforcement has a long-standing practice to disregard the spirit of the law to frighten and control others, mainly registrants, with jail or prison. It is wrong, but often nobody listens to the families of sex offenders.
If you are a business, hold on to your hats. Giving up your business IP addresses isn’t as simple as you may think? For example, if a registrant works as a network server technician, then count on a minimum of 20 or so typed pages of IP addresses – for that particular day only. It gets more complicated for registrants that work in the telephony field. If they work with optical carriers, then deputies will surely be angry when they see a stack of papers with 400 or more pages of IP addresses per page – front and back. It may sound like a far fetched theory, but it is highly possible. Imagine a deputy in a small county with limited resources entering IP data from a handwritten form filled with IP addresses to enter one by one? Whoever wrote this bill, couldn’t have had any input from law enforcement or knowledge about how internet protocols work? Perhaps there was an influence on lawmakers by a state agency that wants a backdoor opening to target the poor? All this part of the bill does it target the poor and those without technical knowledge to navigate basic computing.
But what happens to those massive amounts of IP data stored about people and businesses? What are the liabilities the state is willing to assume if those IP addresses are compromised because of a law it drafted without protections? What if a business identifies a threat, but it is the state attempting to peek into a computer without a warrant? If the company alerts The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) which is under Homeland Security? Naturally, there will be many lawyers and legal filings for breach of networks without authorization not to mention men in dark suits with federal badges and guns asking state agents lots of questions. Or is there a constructive method allowing human resources employees conveniently discharging anyone convicted of a sex crime because it would be a burden to report IP requirements continually to law enforcement? What implications are businesses responsible for allowing sensitive IP addresses to a government agency for a registrant not on probation and where a company refuses to relinquish saying, “no warrant, no search?” It puts the registrant in the crosshairs of potentially severe felony charges; not the business. Many scholars suggest that North Carolina asking for business cybersecurity information may violate the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Addionally, it may be violating a significant amount of laws both state and federal.
Overall, this is a bad bill and an awfully confusing law for many. It does nothing to protect children. Instead, it harms families, businesses, employment opportunities, and job statistics. Harming 17,000+ registrants from the internet also suggests 85,000+ or more families could be impacted by this carelessly written and crudely researched law. If passed, it will ultimately return to the courts and rendered far overreaching as it was once before. It creates new legal challenges from cybersecurity providers, businesses, municipalities, AT&T, Verizon, Spectrum, satellite companies, router manufacturers, computing companies, and perhaps Google, Apple, and Microsoft. This bill, if passed, could cost the taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees also a significant impact on the future of attracting and retaining businesses to the state. Essentially, companies can exclaim they are the ones being molested without consent!
Lastly, this bill harms law enforcement and the people of North Carolina. Additionally, it demonstrates a significant injustice for an inconsequential offense that may have occurred decades ago where both sides have agreed to move on. This law serves just the beginning as a threat to the future justice reforms legislation. If sex offenders are the target today, who will be added as time progresses? While it may have good intentions to protect children, it didn’t provide a data-proven comparitive analysis that it works. Instead, the bill was introduced from external influencers and outside fear based organizations blackmailing politicians rather than listening the people of North Carolina. If passed into law, this will undoubtedly create hostilities for businesses, citizens, and law enforcement to engage together. Its vague language establishes a police state where people are mandated to report under the face of being hauled to jail for not relaying his/her suspicions. It is bad enough that citizens fail to engage in civic duties. This law ensures they stay far away from it or other situations.
For general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice
The debate about sex offenders seems to have taken adrift from criminal reforms to possibly a new form of sexual fascism.
Let’s be crystal clear that sex offender laws are created with fear-based rhetoric and political trepidation from both sides of the political spectrum. The recent opinion column, Damaging justice to make a point about rape highlights the potential failures of judicial independence and underlying rationale. Dr. Klein strikes a perpetual chord that sex offender registries AND people that support such registries are equally villainous and culpable.
Sex offender registries were initially created with the intention of notifying the general public about potential violent sexual offenders being released from incarceration. Today’s registries display a hodgepodge protuberance from public urination to sexually motivated murderers. Registries no longer serve the purpose to separate based upon tier status. Instead, registries serve only a goal of humiliation and opprobrium patterned behaviors. Public defenders, law enforcement, politicians, and the general public insist on labeling convicted sexual offenders as predators, aggravated, pedophiles, or recidivists. Citizens rush to judgment by inaccurately identifying all on the registry as predators and/or pedophiles. To add insult to injury, many registrants are listed for life allowing community leaders to exclaim or assert a need to do more to segregate registered offenders from public view.
There are a sprinkling of message boards on the internet that advocates positively for sex offender reform. But the question remains, “why is advocacy for registries shunned or free from the civil discussion?” The answer may possibly be that fascism and martial styled government tactics are the reason. It may sound like harsh words, but aren’t the same tactics used to loosely describe sex offenders in general? Creating a new level of indentured servants with annual registration fees on a registry free to the general public poses another issue of conformity. Not allowing registered offenders to live near or access to schools, daycare, public parks, bus stops, shopping malls, churches, and sometimes jobs are another form of authoritarianism in a nation built upon freedoms and human rights. When there cannot be a rational discussion or an alternative viewpoint, then there is no real privilege or opportunity to exercise free speech or equitable and fair dialogue.
Candidly speaking I personally find law enforcement leaders that reach far and beyond what the law allows to be labeled as predators. They seek to groom the general public about false safeties, securities, and protections no differently than a seasoned pedophile. Sometimes the general public can be labeled as social-recidivists because they may share inaccurate and anti-social styled patterns. These social-recidivists use offender registries not to educate self or others. Instead, they use registries to instill disengagement and separation as a weapon. I would argue that those that support registries are somewhat equal to predators, pedophiles, recidivists, and fascists. An individual doesn’t have to be convicted to be guilty. That individual can show all the signs and symptoms of criminal behavior but hasn’t been caught.
Martin Niemöller was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps. He wrote the following:
First, they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Dr. Klein is right to assert the time for sex offender bullying, and overlegislation must end. It can be challenging for any registered offender to find the strength to advocate for themselves and perhaps others that share his/her similar situation. However, “when will you speak for yourselves or other registered offenders?” There are a few advocates to start the campaign to end unjust laws and a horribly constructed sex offender registry. When will YOU begin to notice the real offenders of reform and fairness under the law are those in power acting in a role similar to predators, pedophiles, and recidivists? I encourage you to share your stories about how laws and the registry have done more harm than good. Your voice is powerful and will be heard.