Saturday, October 5, 2019

“They are absolutely allowed their voice, but they are not allowed to use our platform for that voice.”

Years ago, there was a website called Examiner.com, a site for freelance writers to try to earn money by writing news reports. They no longer exist, but at the time I tried to write for them. I wrote this article about them years ago on NARSOL's "Tales From the Registry" project but since the NARSOL "Marketing Director" is censoring my work, I'm posting this article here before this is removed from the website. This is an important story that must be shared.

“They are absolutely allowed their voice, but they are not allowed to use our platform for that voice.”
By Derek W. Logue of OnceFallen.com
February 29, 2016

If you are a registered citizen and you have ever conducted a job search, chances are you have at least one job search horror story. My first job interview after my stint in prison was with OfficeTeam, a “temp-to-hire” company. I had lots of clerical experience, had easily passed their aptitude tests, and was invited to come in to fill out the final paperwork to be added to the jolly crew of office mercenaries. Just as I was about to sign the papers, a woman I had never seen before barged into the room, screaming at me that she told me that they don’t hire people like me. I was never told that, and had been honest on my application, so no one had mentioned it before that moment. She threatened to call the police on me and had me escorted out of the building before I was even able to recover from the shock of this woman’s venomous rant against me. I had expected to experience a lot of disappointment and frustration at trying to find a job with this virtual mark of infamy, but it did not make experiencing the discrimination firsthand any easier to absorb.

If you are a registered citizen, you also realize that your right to express your frustration through social media is also limited; not only do states attempt to limit (if not outright ban) registered citizens from social media like Facebook, social media sites like Facebook also bans registered citizens from their services. The story I wish to tell you today is a melding of these two obstacles (jobs and social media) because it concerns my brief life as a contributor to an online news service.

There are a number of online “independent media” platforms, such as AlterNet or the Huffington Post. Many of these websites allow “citizen journalists” to write for the platform; regular folks like you and I can write for them, and the more people who read what you write, the more you get paid. (Granted, you have to have tens of thousands of readers to make a decent amount of money, but making a few extra bucks to do what you are already doing is not a bad gig.) In February, 2012, I filled out an application with Examiner (Examiner.com), which included a sample of my writing, and within a week, I was approved to write for the Examiner. After living off of public assistance (SSI and SNAP) since April 2006, I was hoping to use my experience writing for Examiner.com to establish myself as a decent researcher and writer.

Even today, Examiner.com does not mention the exclusion of registered citizens (much less anyone with a criminal record) from the qualifications, according to their about us page. (see http://www.examiner.com/About_Examiner) They only ask you to be “credible, passionate, & knowledgeable,” be accurate, contribute regularly, be able to offer a “local” point of view, and be open to feedback. That’s it. The fine print reads, “Examiners must be 18 years of age or older and U.S. or Canadian residents. Each Examiner is required to sign an independent contractor agreement prior to activation.” Not even the contract asks about a criminal record. If it did, I would not have bothered signing up to write for them.

Over the course of six weeks, I published four articles for Examiner.com, until my account was abruptly suspended. Curious, I contacted Examiner.com on March 24, 2012. My email read, “I am wondering why my account was deleted without warning or notification. I have done nothing wrong and all my articles have references.”

Three days later, I received a reply from “Kevin Staunton,” who was listed as the Director of Northeast & Mid-Atlantic Regions Kevin replied, “Derek, Hoping this is temporary, but we’re performing a background check to ensure you’re in compliance with our terms of use. We should have the results shortly and we’ll reach out with next steps at that time. In the meantime, access to your account has been suspended.”

Having never seen anything about background checks in any of the Examiner terms of service, I asked, “What do you mean by ‘background check?’ Do you prohibit certain people from writing for you or something?”

Kevin replied, “Hey Derek, That’s correct; there are certain offenses that would preclude a person from contributing to the site. We have a third party company that performs these background checks on our behalf, and they’re essentially looking at felony crimes and specific offender registries. They do not contact previous/current employers, nor do they perform credit checks. Hope to have this completed shortly.”

“Specific offender registries” was an obvious euphemism for the sex offender registry. Some states do have other registries of people convicted of other types of crimes, but if you mention “THE registry,” pretty much everyone knows you are discussing the public sex offender registry. So I asked Kevin, “So having a felony record or being on the public sex offender registry bans qualified people from contributing? That sounds like discrimination. Are they not allowed a voice? What is the harm in it?”

Kevin’s final reply—“They are absolutely allowed their voice, but they are not allowed to use our platform for that voice.”

The next day, I was sent an email with a PDF attachment that read, “As part of the Examiner.com Examiner screening process, you have been randomly selected to complete a background check. Attached, please find the appropriate disclosure and authorization forms. Although it is your choice whether or not to complete these forms, please know that should you fail to complete the forms (or fail to pass the background check), your Examiner status review will be deemed incomplete, and you will no longer be eligible to participate as an Examiner for Examiner.com. If you do wish to remain an Examiner, you must complete the disclosure and authorization forms in their entirety, and return them to me within 7 days… Please take this request seriously… if you fail to return the forms within 7 days, we reserve the right to suspend or terminate your Examiner account immediately, without notice.”

I have a hard time believing I was “randomly selected” for a background check. Not coincidentally, this “random” suspension came just days after I had written an article about Ron Book and the ongoing homeless registrant issue in Miami. (You can find this article, “The sequel no one wanted: Bookville II, return of the Miami sex offender camp”, at http://once-fallen.blogspot.com/2012/04/sequel-no-one-wanted-bookville-ii.html, republished from Examiner.) It is possible that a representative from the Book family targeted me for this story. It may even have been possible the work of one of the various “online vigilante” groups targeting registered citizens on the internet. After all, one recent comment directed at me was, “In the unlikely event that you ever achieve anything remotely resembling any kind of significance, you can be sure that a relatively small number of phone calls and emails will be more than enough to completely ruin you and any delusional hopes you might have had of changing the current hell of your miserable existence [smiley face]. Ironically, individuals complaining about me collecting government assistance are also eager to state that if I try to get a job to benefit myself, “a relatively small number of phone calls and emails” will ruin that for me, so ultimately, why bother looking for a job?

No matter who decided to complain about me to Examiner, the bottom line is I’m no longer writing for Examiner.

It never ceases to amaze me how ignorant people can be about the difficulties registered citizens face in seeking gainful employment. Even among others within the anti-registry movement, I have been given advice from people who seem to be ignorant of the difficulties of finding a job as a registered citizen. Registered citizens tend to be more highly educated than other people convicted of criminal offenses, yet many of us languish in stressful, low-paying dead-end jobs with little to no upward mobility, assuming jobs even exist.

My experience with Examiner was only one of many job difficulties I have faced since my release in 2003. I have been approached by some good paying jobs over the years, only to be denied because of my status alone. After years of rejection, I have reached a point of having no desire to find traditional employment. I have suffered my own share of anxiety and depression over the years. These days, “jobs” and “work” are four-letter words to me, both literally and figuratively.

The preliminary results from the job and welfare survey I have recently conducted confirm many of the difficulties we all face while carrying this mark of infamy. Some of us carrying this label have found a way to succeed and make decent wages, but not all of us are enterprising or entrepreneurial. Not all of us are good at creating and maintaining businesses with a profit motive. I just so happen to be one of the many people lacking the proficiency to create a successful business. I am grateful that I receive SSI and SNAP (food stamps), because these are the only two programs keeping me from experiencing another bout of homelessness. I will likely remain on these programs until the day I die, unless the general public changes their overall attitude about employing people forced to register as a “sex offender.”

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

VINDICATION Part 1: Lauren Book's bogus restraining order tossed out by Florida Appeals Court! Eat Crow, Haters!!!

Shockingly, people found the notion of registered persons stating they are human beings "controversial"

Lauren Book tried to silence her largest critic, and for a time, she succeeded, but the appeals court concluded what we knew all along-- saying mean things about someone is not stalking. This would not be possible without a huge assist from Jamie Bemjamin and from Florida Action Committee.

For those who stood by me, many thanks, and to the trolls and critics who attacked me, especially those within this movement who tried to derail me, you only get this recipe for crow. Bon Appetit!

Read the appeals decision here:

https://floridaactioncommittee.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Logue-v.-Book.pdf

News story:

https://miami.cbslocal.com/2019/08/14/court-voids-stalking-injunction-involving-florida-senator-lauren-book/

Court Voids Stalking Injunction Involving Florida Senator Lauren Book
August 14, 2019 at 12:43 pm

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami/AP) — An appeals court has overturned a stalking injunction placed on a man who disagrees with a state senator’s view on sex offenders.

The 4th District Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday that the injunction violated Derek Logue’s free speech rights and did not meet other Florida legal requirements.

The injunction barred Logue from several forms of contact with or proximity to Democratic state Sen. Lauren Book, a well-known supporter of strict offender laws involving child sexual abuse.

Logue had protested Book’s appearance at a children’s march in Tallahassee. He also criticized her publicly at a New York film festival and through social media and blog posts.

A lower court granted the injunction, but the appeals judges found Logue’s conduct fell short of the legal definitions necessary for one.

Below is the "Offensive" song that Book claims is about her. LOL! (Oh, "Trigger Warning" for you with virgin ears)


People who now will owe me an apology and/or financial compensation:

Ronald Lee Book
Lauren Francis Book
Claire Van Susteren
Peter Schorsh of Florida Politics
Judge Andrew Kaplan
Dwayne Daughtry
Michael McKay
TNF_13

Sunday, July 14, 2019

ANNOUNCEMENT: Once Fallen formally condemns the actions of Michael McKay of Registry Report and Dwayne Daughtry of NCRSOL

If there is one thing I do not tolerate, it is people making false allegations about me. Since last weekend, three Twitter users, "Michael McKay" of Registry Report (who is listed o his Twitter page as NARSOL's "Marketing Director"), Dwayne Daughtry (who claims to be NC-RSOL's Executive Director on his Twitter page), and a self-proclaimed pedophile activist known only as TNF_13 attacked me and a couple of supporters of mine last weekend on social media. I personally don't care if someone disagrees with me or doesn't like my form of activism, since there are plenty of people I disagree with and do not follow, either. But these three people crossed the line by claiming that I'm doxxing them, harassing them, and calling the police on them, while they are doing some of the very things they have claimed that I have done. 

Thus, I have formally removed any links to the websites of McKay and Daughtry, as well as any organizations formally linked to them. Until they are deposed from those organizations, I will not promote them in any way. As TNF 13 is a pro-pedophilia activist I never supported him so I never had a link from his material on my site in the first place.

These two have taken to formally trying to silence my activism and have not relented, so I have posted this to my website as well.

Below are among the posts McKay has made. Daughtry posted my mugshot back in March. That kind of behavior is unethical.



Projection is the act of accusing others of engaging in the very same behaviors. At least one of my false accusers/ harassers  trying to use the false arrest I endured this year has been twice convicted of sexual offenses. Some people in this movement have not bothered to ask for proof of these dubious claims. I am more than willing to prove i am the victim, not the aggressive, in this targeted harassment campaign. Show us the proof!


Sunday, July 7, 2019

The need for accurate reporting of the facts extends to extend to registry reform activists

I have hosted the OnceFallen website since December 2007, and if there is one thing I take seriously, it is accuracy in reporting the facts. No one can dispute the accuracy of the statistics on my website because I link directly to the course and cite the stats verbatim as much as possible. I have covered the complex topic of recidivism extensively. Recidivism is the kind of issue in which citing a sole study with a single number is not a good way to estimate how often registered persons commit subsequent offenses. 

As an anti-registry activist, it is important to me to offer the most accurate portrayal of stats possible because I have an opinion that makes me unpopular, namely I want to #abolishtheregistry. That means my arguments are heavily scrutinized than, say, someone claiming to be a victim advocate. Thus, I take offense when I see people within the registry reform groups write intentionally misleading stats. I'm going to start by dissecting a misleading statistic from a meme created by registryreport.org. 

First off, I can't even figure out which study Registry Report is citing. None of the five year studies listed on my Recidivism Chart specifically state 3.5% either in rearrest and reconviction. If he is attempting to cite the 2003 DoJ study, it reported a 5.3%rearrest rate and a 3.5% reconviction rate after three years, not five. The DoJ did release a 5 year study on recidivism in which 5.6% of people convicted of rape/ sexual assault but did not post reconviction rate. Recently, the DoJ published a 9-year study that stated (inaccurately I may add) a 7.7% reoffense rate but stated only half led to a conviction. (Note: Elsewhere, they stated the 7.7% number were of people that were released for the sex crime in which they were currently incarcerated, but if you add in people previously convicted of sexual offenses but were released from incarceration for a different offense, the rearrest rates were 7.2% and by virtue of the statement only half of arrests led to conviction, then the reconviction rate was about 3.8% after 9 years.)

Admittedly, the recent DoJ study is a hot mess of a report, so if you don't want to crunch the numbers yourself, then I suggest you read my recent report on the "Unique Threat Myth."

That isn't the main problem with the stat although it cannot be contributed to any one study, since similar studies also find reoffense rates in the single digits no matter whether you are using rearrest rates or reconviction rates. The REAL problem is the comparison between people convicted of sexual offenses and other offenders is intentionally misleading.

To understand why that is an issue, you have to understand there are different types of recidivism. You have the sex crime-specific recidivism, sometimes referred to as reoffending. There is also a general recidivism rate, often just called recidivism, which means any subsequent arrest or conviction (or whatever other standard used by the study). Obviously, people are generally concerned about the levels in which a person convicted of a sex offense or other violent crime commits the same type of act. But just as the victim advocate groups misquote a stat to show that there is a unique threat by people convicted of sexual offenses, some advocates use the wrong stats by comparing sex-specific reoffense to general arrests of other offense types.

In the 2016 DoJ report covering a five year rearrests, Table 2, the rate in which a released prisoner was REARRESTED of a subsequent offense of the same type were:

  • Homicide: 2.1%
  • 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%
  • “Public Order Offenses”: 59.6%


It is no surprise that the less serious the offense, the more likely there was an arrest. But for the more violent offenses, the number is well below the 40%-80% claim made by Registry Report. Taking arrests of ANY crime type:

Homicide: 51.2%
Rape/ Sexual Assault: 60.1%
Public Order: 73.6%
Drug: 76.9%
Robbery: 77%
Fraud/ Forgery: 77%
Assault: 77.1%
Burglary: 81.8%
Larceny/ motor vehicle theft: 84.1%

This brings up an important issue in this complex topic of reporting recidivism--over the years, many groups cited the larger rearrest rate of 5.3% rather than the 3.5% reconviction rate in the 2003 DoJ three year study and simply stated that "sex offenders have a 5.3% recidivism rate." That was laziness on the part of those activists who penned that. We need to state when a stat is a rearrest rate, a reconviction rate, or some other rate because that matters. In the recently released nine-year study by the DoJ, half of arrests led to conviction. (It is noted in the "highlights" section on page 1.) Registry Report failed to do state what kind of rate he is using. 

It seems to me Registry Report is being intentionally misleading, and if anyone reads these studies, they'd figure out this stat is misrepresented. In turn, that makes the movement look bad because people already assume we have an agenda and are looking at any excuse to dismiss our claims. 

I should not have to fact check another activist group but the accurate portrayal of recidivism is a central theme. I don't like to espouse a particular number. I believe reconviction rates are superior to rearrest rates since at least there was some semblance of a standard of proof a crime indeed occurred. I think we should not settle on a single number from a single study; instead, I like to use an average annual rate as well as a statement proclaiming dozens of American studies have found a clear of consistent pattern of low reoffense rates. 

Accurate statistics matter. We should hold ourselves to the highest of standards. I can't vouch for any other group, only my own. And if other organizations cannot hold themselves to a higher standard, they should not be supported. 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

RAINN's claim that perpetrators of every 995 of every 1000 rapes walk free is a LIE

I was reading an article that was discussing the myth that rape and incest are primary reasons for getting abortions ("Just 1% of women obtain an abortion because they became pregnant through rape, and less than 0.5% do so because of incest, according to the Guttmacher Institute"). Despite your stance on the abortion issue, the fact remains that people use statistical manipulation all the time to promote a personal agenda. In this instance, pro-abortionists are using the rape/incest narrative even though the stats don't add up. 

Our society rarely questions stats. In the same article, the article discusses rape statistics, claiming, "research shows 3 out of every 4 sexual assaults are not reported, and out of every 1,000 rapes only five perpetrators are convicted." Wrong, and WRONG. 

These stats are based on the underreporting myth. (Incidentally, the subject of my latest full-length article on OnceFallen.) NO ONE questions it. After all, it came from RAINN, so it must be true because "RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization." Well, I hate to "RAINN" on their parade, but this stat is a prime example of statistical manipulation. 

  • Of 1000 rapes, only 230 are reported to police
  • Of 230 reports, 46 lead to arrest
  • Of 46 arrests, 9 are referred to prosecutors
  • Of 9 prosecutions, 5 lead to a felony conviction
  • Of the 5 convictions, 4.6 will go to prison
  • Therefore, 995 (or I suppose to be more precise, 995.4) will "go free"
The claim that only 230 of 1000 rapes are reported to the police are based from the National Crime Victimization Surveys (That's 23% of you prefer stats). RAINN claims that these numbers came from the years 2010-2016. But the NCVS stats have fluctuated between 50% and 76.8% in the years of 2010 to 2016, so they did not use an average of six years, they picked the one year out of six that had the highest number and ran with it. 

But the National Crime Victimization Surveys have been misrepresented by RAINN. The NCVS covers combines sexual assaults, rapes, AND ATTEMPTS. Sexual assault is defined as "A wide range of victimizations, separate from rape or attempted rape. These crimes include attacks or attempted attacks generally involving unwanted sexual contact between victim and offender. Sexual assaults may or may not involve force and include such things as grabbing or fondling. Sexual assault also includes verbal threats." Rape is defined as “Forced sexual intercourse including both psychological coercion and physical force. Forced sexual intercourse means vaginal, anal, or oral penetration by the offender(s). This category also includes incidents where the penetration is from a foreign object, such as a bottle. Includes attempted rape, male and female victims, and both heterosexual and same sex rape. Attempted rape includes verbal threats of rape.” Because the definition of attempt is not adequately defined by the NCVS, it is open to interpretation. We live in a culture where looking at a woman too long is "stare rape."

RAINN erroneously presents every unreported incident in the NCVS must be a bona fide rape (even though RAINN seems to understand elsewhere on their own website that not every incident in the NCVS is a rape). But that is simply untrue. Interestingly, large numbers of unreported events went unreported precisely because the event was not seen as serious enough to be reported. We don't know what this event entailed precisely because the incident was no reported. Also worth noting is the fact that despite being a very large survey spanning up to 100,000 households, the number of responses to the questions related to rapes/ sexual assaults are less than 100 in nearly every year of the annual surveys, and the reasons for failing to report are often represented by even smaller numbers. 

This is a disclaimer from the 2010 NCVS:


“While the change in the rape or sexual assault rate from 2009 to 2010 is significantly different at the 90%-confidence level, care should be taken in interpreting this change because the estimates of rape/sexual assault are based on a small number of cases reported to the survey. Therefore, small absolute changes and fluctuations in the rates of victimization can result in large year-to-year percentage change estimates. For 2010, the estimate of rape or sexual assault is based on 57 unweighted cases compared to 36 unweighted cases in 2009. The measurement of rape or sexual assault represents one of the most serious challenges in the field of victimization research.” In 2010, there were 57 'unreported cases' out of sample size of nearly 71000 people: In 2010, 40974 households and 73283 individuals age 12 and older were interviewed for the NCVS. Each household was interviewed twice during the year. The response rate was 92.3% of households and 87.5% of eligible individuals."

The problem isn't so much relying on the NCVS but on the interpretation of the data. RAINN presents every unreported incident in the NCVS as an unreported rape, and that's simply untrue. This also means the rest of the statistics in RAINN's progression chart is based on the same bias as the first, most important leg of this progression chart. As not every unreported incident is the result of a completed rape, this also means the discrepancies between the number of reported incidents, the number of prosecutions and number of imprisonments are the result of many other factors (like false allegations or incidents indeed not elevating to the level of a crime, like "stare rape".) If only between 2%-8% of sex crime reports are false, as feminist and victims rights' activists proclaim, why is that not taken into account on this chart?

Sure, RAINN adds a tiny disclaimer at the bottom of the page, "(This statistic combines information from several federal government reports. Because it combines data from studies with different methodologies, it is an approximation, not a scientific estimate. Please see the original sources for more detailed information. These statistics are updated annually and as new information is published.)" "Sexual violence is notoriously difficult to measure, and there is no single source of data that provides a complete picture of the crime."

If these numbers are not scientific, but mere estimations, why present it as settled fact? Almost no one reads the fine print. Almost no one is going to click onto a different page to read how these stats are interpreted by RAINN or by their original sources. Instead, RAINN misleads people, whether intentional or not. (I believe it is intentional.) After all, RAINN teaches this in the form of a meme, and memes don't cover the details. 

The belief that only 5 out of 1000 rapists end up in prison is UNTRUE. It is time for RAINN to stop lying to us. 


Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Registry is a Hydra: Why I believe we must #abolishtheregistry rather than reform it


In Greek mythology, the Lernaean Hydra was a mighty serpent with great regeneration powers -- cut off a single head and two grow back. It was only when all the heads were severed was the hydra truly defeated. 

I've stated this many time before in many places (and even discussed this on this very blog at least once before), but I want to emphasize my belief here the the mythical Lernaean Hydra is the perfect illustration of the sex offender registry. 

I do not believe the registry can be nearly reformed, and after years of butting heads with a number of other legal reformists for pretty much this entire decade, I don't believe that merely limiting the registry to Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) or advocating for Tiered Registries or limiting the registries to "high-risk offenders" will solve the problems caused by these registries. 

If we attempt to sever a single head by attempting to limit the registry for use by certain people or to those we merely consider "high risk," it will only take a couple of inevitable rare but tragic cases to regenerate that law and strengthen it. After all, the Jacob Wetterling Act was limited in scope, a non-public registry for use only by LEOs (though states had discretion, not the obligation, to allow public access), and within 2 years, it became public. We are also seeing laws that were once rejected make a comeback; Minnesota was among the first states to conclude residency restrictions were useless and counterproductive, yet has been a battleground for residency restrictions over the past couple of years. Where is the registry today?It is obviously far greater in scope than imagined by those who created it. 

States are moving away from assessing risk by way of actuarial testing and towards the offense-based classification scheme embedded within the federal Adam Walsh Act, but promoting a Tiered system is like getting to choose your own method of torture in a POW camp. I've watched those within the anti-registry movement make dubious claims about the efficacy of a Tiered system to promote the concept to a state lacking a Tiered system. In doing so, we have to decide who gets thrown under the bus, and in many case, I was among those thrown under the bus. 

My own life story is a testimony of the failure of a risk assessment system. Risk assessments are ultimately flawed because test-makers err on the side of caution. Risk assessments are completely arbitrary and subject to the whims of decision-makers. If you take a risk assessment and you score high risk, well that's proof you are a threat. However, if you score low on the risk assessment test, then the decision makers have the discretion to toss that out. How do I know this fact? I've lived with an erroneous assessment since 2005. 

What I'm experiencing in my personal life at this moment is why I cannot trust the registry to be limited to Law Enforcement Agents. The registry in ANY form can be weaponized against those on the list in many ways. Do you need to silence a political activist or protester? Do you want to push a registrant out of the community? Even in the hands of law enforcement, the registry can be used against us in many different way. 

No matter what happens to me in the near future, I won't rest while there is a registry in existence. The registry needs to be abolished, nit just "reformed." I don't need to write a whole book about why I feel that way. I have lived a never ending nightmare for almost 20 years. I'm still waking up to it daily. There are many reasons why I feel the registry should not exist, here are just 25 off the top of my head:
  1. It is ineffective
  2. Most sex crimes aren't committed by registered persons
  3. It makes the public believe everyone on the list will rape and kill your children
  4. Registrants struggle to find housing
  5. Registrants struggle to find employment
  6. Vigilantes use the registry to find their targets
  7. The registry promotes social ostracism 
  8. The registry justifies discrimination against RCs
  9. The registry can be used as a weapon to hurt you by anyone from family to jilted lovers and beyond
  10. Police can misuse registry info to trump up false charges on RCs
  11. Failure To Register can send a person to prison longer than an actual sex crime would in many cases
  12. The registry is costly to everyone involved
  13. The registry continues to expand
  14. The registry fuels new, more restrictive laws the longer it is allowed to exist
  15. Scammers are using the registry to collect sensitive data
  16. Registrants find it hard to get justice for crimes committed against them
  17. Registrants are finding it difficult to get assistance in natural disasters
  18. Registrants are increasingly expected to pay for the privilege of being on the government blacklist
  19. Registrants are used as cannon fodder by media and politicians
  20. Once you are on the registry, you are listed on private registry and extortion sites long after you're off the actual registry. 
  21. States like Florida routinely drag registrants to their states or force them to register just to visit in order to boost their numbers
  22. Anyone who is ever connected to registrants, be it a lover, family member, a roommate, or a neighbor, experience a number of the consequences I listed above
  23. Non-registrants who look like someone on the registry or live at the address connected to the registry have been harassed or attacked
  24. Many innocent people have accidentally been added to the registry or had a mark placed them by the government because they screwed up paperwork
  25. Incentives to actual reform of the laws are stymied or of fear of angry constituents and losing votes

Yes, reforming the registry is a step in the right direction but we should not make that the end game. In pushing for these steps, we should never compromise the message of abolition as the endgame for our efforts. A Tiered system might indeed be superior to a non-tiered system, and a limited access registry will always be superior to a fully public-accessed registry, having NO registry is far superior. 

Nothing anyone can say can change my mind. If I live to 100, I want to have that moment where I'm sitting on my deathbed and able to look back at my life and see a world without a registry. I don't think I can rest in peace any other way. 

Friday, March 1, 2019

Important Notice Regarding OnceFallen and the Fire

Official Notice and Update: Due to a recent fire, OnceFallen services will be extremely limited. Derek can take phone calls and answer emails but cannot accept letters (mail operations have been suspended, there's no mailbox). Those wanting to donate can only do so via Paypal at this time (you can send Paypal donations to iamthefallen1@yahoo.com). The OnceFallen website bill is due this month, but don't worry, it is covered.

This is the current situation: A fire burned down the apartment building Derek was staying in. Thankfully, he discovered the fire early, called 911, & got everyone out of the building. The fire was quickly contained. Nobody got hurt. Derek's quick action saved lives.

Unfortunately, Derek's living area was hardest hit. It wasn't the fire itself but the water that damaged property. Many possessions were destroyed. Thankfully, Derek's penchant for usage of rubber totes saved some items like clothes, basic necessities and work items, including most of the art from last year's Maine Event were spared. It wasn't a total loss but close to it.

Derek has an out-of-state property to move to but loose ends must be tied up first. Obvious, moving is difficult for a registered person. There will be a long transitional period, but Derek is committed to keeping as many services going as possible.

Monday, January 14, 2019

OnceFallen 2018 Annual Report: Website & Assistance Requests increase greatly, contributions remain steady

OnceFallen wrapped up its 11th year of operations in 2018. Much like last year, our website saw exponential growth in usage, and our prison newsletter (The ICoN) has also increased by leaps and bounds. 

FINANCES

OnceFallen had a few major expenses -- The Art Protest Project in Maine (the biggest & most expensive project of the year, about 60% of the total expenses), the appeals for the lawsuit in Florida, and a new laptop, annual website fees, and regular expenses for the prison ministry (stamps, paper, ink, etc.), and for the second year in a row, expenses exceeded contributions. For the first time since 2015, OnceFallen was operating with a deficit. (Thankfully, a few contributions following the new year has risen the OnceFallen balance into positive territory.) Contributions remained steady, raising a similar amount to 2017, which was a third below 2016. As a reminder, OnceFallen generally has a low overhead, so small contributions go far. This year, we expect to work on projects closer to home to keep costs extremely low and looking ahead to bigger things for 2020. 

WEBSITE

Website total visitors: 334,687 (228,275 in 2017, a 68.2% increase and a 150.7% increase from the 133,491 visitors in 2016). Visitors increased every month, peaking in August, and declining slowly as winter arrived. Media appearances and the unfortunate negative press from losing the Florida SLAPP suit (now in appeals) had little impact on website usage. 

CONTACTS
  • ICoN Users: 350 (+129 from 2017; 63% increase) 
  • Inmate Letters: 172 (-8 from 2017; 1% decrease)
  • Media Appearances: 9 (+1 from 2017)
  • Individual Contacts: 401 (-21 from 2017; 5% decrease)
  • States w/ one known contact: 43 & DC
  • States w/o known contact: HI, ME, ND, RI, SD, WY
  • Non-US known contact: UK (1), Brazil (1)
  • States from most to least known contact: 26 (OH); 25 (FL); 22 (CA); 21 (NY); 15 (IL); 13 (AL, PA, TX); 12 (CO); 10 (MI); 9 (AZ, GA, TN); 7 (KY, WA); 6 (NJ); 5 (MN, OK); 4 (MD, MO, NE, NH); 3 (AR, DE, KS, MA, MS, NM, NV, VA); 2 (CT, DC, IN, LA, MT, UT, WV); 1 (AK, IA, ID, NC, OR, SC, WI)
  • First Contacts by type: Email (160); Phone (113); Corrlinks (52); Letter (47); Text (22); Facebook (5); Twitter (2)
  • First Contacts By Month: Jan (42); Feb (60); Mar (34); Apr (26); May (29); June (32); July (30); Aug (21); Sept (40); Oct (32); Nov (33); Dec (37)

Individual new contacts and inmate letters (which are mainly info requests) decreased slightly in 2018, but the ICoN received huge increases in membership. 

PLANS FOR 2019

OnceFallen's plan for 2019 is to spend most of the year catching up on writing and finding ways to improve the website. There are not any planned protests, but we want to improve upon the campus awareness event we had in Maine. Most likely, any events similar to the Maine event in 2019 will take place close to home. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Unsung Heroes of the Anti-Registry Movement

Do you love football? I do. It is playoffs season. The NFL playoffs started this past weekend, and the NCAA college football championship is tonight. Chances are, even if you aren’t a big football fan, or even know much about the sport, you probably know that the quarterback is the flashiest, most well-known position on the football field. Even when you played backyard football going up growing up, you most likely wanted to be the quarterback. The quarterback gets the most attention, when’s the biggest awards, and usually makes the most money.

Even in the anti-registry movement, most folks want to be the quarterback. However, a football team needs more than a quarterback.

Have you thought about what it takes to make a football team successful? Obviously, you need more than a quarterback. There are 11 people on offense and defense. You need people who can catch the ball, you need running backs you can run the ball, you need people who can block, and you need people who can kick the ball. Then, there are the coaches; you have the head coach, assistant coaches, and coaches that work specifically on a position. For every level of football below the professional level, coaches work for the school, and it is up to the school to adequately raise the funds needed to field a successful team. It is really no different at the professional level, except that responsibility falls on the hands of a private owner rather than a school. Don’t forget the support personnel, from the cheerleaders to the water boy to the people working inside the medical tents. Every one of these positions on and off the field must click together to be successful.

Obviously, in our efforts to reform the registry, there are some people who received the most attention because they are the heads of various organizations. However, there are plenty of people working at various positions in this movement that don’t receive a lot of attention. Their positions aren’t the flashiest, and obviously they receive little attention. Some of them don’t even want their names to be listed publicly. That is very understandable. After all, we are a very unpopular team. However, we have plenty of fans who support our efforts, even if they don’t proudly sport the team colors.

Since this movement has settled into his current form in 2008, many people have come in to play various positions within the movement, and left for various reasons. Some have died, others left because of personal reasons, and if you may have left because they did not feel they receive the recognition they deserve. In football, teams are always dealing with personnel changes, as players retire, get injured, or transferred to another organization. Obviously, not everybody can be the quarterback. Even a fanatic of a particular sports team cannot name a journeyman utility player from five years ago. However, that player came in and performed in that position to help their team to success.

I wish there was a better way to recognize these people. Not everybody we have worked with over the years shared their identities with people nor have they wanted anyone to know who they really were. Many of us fear taking the field because if we get recognized, it may cause us to be attacked, harassed, or lose our jobs and homes. However, those of us who have fought hard for this team, our anti-registry team, should be recognized for our efforts.

In December 2016, I went to Miami to hand out underclothes and toiletries to the homeless camp. Even though I was the “QB” of this event, I did not work alone; a member of SOSEN and his wife had shown up to help me put together the care packages. They lived somewhere in the central part of Florida, and drove down to help. They had also helped me buying some of the clothing items and toiletries. There were over 250 people listed as living at the homeless camp, so even after raising $1000, that came to a mere four dollars per person. Everyone who donated also helped to make this event a success. That money was used to make small miracles happen in the lives of the homeless registrants. I even had enough money left over to buy them other supplies in need by a handful of registrants living at the camp. One of the men we had  met previously at the camp also helped me distribute the care packages. “Christmas at the Camp” 2016 was indeed a team effort.

I want to talk a little more about the couple who came down to help. The husband was someone who had actually showed up at my “Rally in Tally” 2015 protest against the Books, the people responsible for making that homeless camp in the first place. It was a longtime member of SOSEN. However, his wife had been afraid for him to show up at my rally, and for years was reluctant to help the cause out of fear. She was also not of great health. Yet, she wanted to help the people at the homeless camp. She came down and helped with putting together the care packages. I took them to lunch, a modest meal at KFC, and we stopped at the store to buy some last-minute supplies, and then they had to leave. (After all, it was a 4 Hour drive just to get to Miami.)

A couple of months later, I had learned that the SOSEN member’s wife had passed away due to health issues. However, there was comfort in knowing that before that day had come, she had taken the field to be part of the game after years of fearing even being in the stands. I was honored to have both of these people attend and help during Christmas at the Camp.

There are a many other people will come and gone in various ways. NARSOL has endured the deaths of a couple of their staff members over the years, and last year we lost eAdvocate. But not everybody who passed away is known to us. We are constantly faced with finding new recruits to help fill in the gaps, just as every football team has to draft new people to fill in injured, lost, or retired players.

I would like to recognize those who have contributed to this cause over the years. There are so many people behind the scenes helping to keep this team on the field, and, as imperfect as we are, we have made great strides in changing how people view the public “sex offender” registry. While we can’t all be quarterback, I believe we can give recognition to our punters, our defensive players, and even sure support to those whose only contribution is finding our efforts. It takes a collective effort from every position to make our team’s success, so while our quarterbacks might indeed lead our team to victory, we should not forget the rest of the team doing their part to help us in victory.

In another week, I will start voting for the annual Shiitake Awards. However, I also want to give recognition to the BEST of those that have helped to reform the registry. And to be honest, I cannot pick just one single person to offer this award to, so I’ll just pick a few people. I have named it the Duval Award in honor of Mary Duval, so it is fitting that I recognize the staff at SOSEN as my inaugural Duval Award winners. For years, SOSEN has offered an online forum for support and research for registered persons and their loved ones. SOSEN has provided these services free of charge. In the past year, SOSEN has also helped OnceFallen with projects like the ARM Art Protest in Maine (two SOSEN staffers helped in person at the event) and through the posting of various topics on the front pages of their forum. For years, I have offered SOSEN’s forums to those who contact me seeking a support network. Recently, SOSEN also suffered a death in their ranks, a long time behind-the-scenes advocate who had helped Mary Duval during her trip to Miami in 2009. Thus, I find it fitting that everyone at SOSEN should be recognized as the inaugural Duval Award.

I hope that in the future, I can recognize more people, and I want individuals throughout the year to share their stories of success, whether big or small. Again, not everybody has to be to quarterback, but everybody can do their part, no matter how big or how small, even if it is not much more than writing a letter to a legislator, comforting or assisting a fellow registrant, or simply donating to one of the various organizations out there (I suggest donating to OnceFallen, of course). Football games are not won by throwing for the touchdown every single play; sometimes it helps just to advance the ball to inches closer to the goal line. So please, do your part to make 2019 the most successful year for our anti-registry movement ever.

Monday, December 24, 2018

First Step Act of 2018 Final Report

FIRST STEP ACT FINAL REPORT

The First Step Act (S.756 - 115th Congress) was signed into law on 12/21/18 and now we have the clearest picture of what the First Step Act means for federal SO inmates. The short answer is that very few people, especially SOs, will benefit in any way from the First Step Act; the Act is aimed primarily at “low level drug offenders”. It is important to note that S.756 was originally a completely different bill called the “Save Our Seas Act,” but the text of that bill was replaced with the First Steps Act (which was originally S.3649) so people researching the bill progression on the congress.gov site or other bill tracking sites need to know this so they won’t get confused. Also, I’m only covering the parts relevant to SOs so I won’t be covering every provision in this Act.

The First Step Act contains 6 Titles: Title I covers “Recidivism Reduction,” creating various prison programs that certain inmates can take to earn credits towards early release, among other privileges. Title II is the BOP Secure Firearms Storage. Title III prohibits restraints on pregnant and post-partem women. Title IV covers sentencing reforms. Title V reauthorizes the Second Chance Act of 2007. Section VI covers miscellaneous criminal justice issues.

Title I, Section 101 creates a “Risk and Needs Assessment System” and will amend 18 USC 229. Under subsection 3632, the USAG will have 210 days to develop & publicly release a risk and needs assessment program. (Of course, it will likely take longer to actually implement the plan.) This plan will include incentives for program participation, such as phone and/or video conferencing privileges up to 30 min/day and 510min/mo., transfers to institutions closer to release residence, and optional incentives like increased commissary limits, more email privileges, consideration for transfer to preferred housing units, and other incentives.

Subsection 3632(d) covers rewards, and of particular interest is 3632(d)(4) which allows prisoners to earn 10 days good time for every 30 days of successful participation in prison programs, plus those deemed a minimum or low-risk of recidivism can earn an additional 5 days for every 30 days of successful participation (this does not apply to programs taken BEFORE this law is implemented). Time credits earned under this paragraph by prisoners who successfully participate in recidivism reduction programs or productive activities shall be applied toward time in prerelease custody or supervised release. These credits will NOT be retroactively applied to your participation in past programs.

Subsection 3632(d)(4)(D) is the list of inmates NOT eligible for the above-listed incentives. Again, I’m only covering SO-related offenses ineligible for the incentive programs: 18 USC 116 (Female Genital Mutilation), 18 USC 55 (kidnapping)18 USC 109A (sexual abuse), 18 USC 2250 (Failure To Register as SO), 18 USC 2251 (Sexual Exploitation of Children), 18 USC 2251A (Buying/ Selling Children), 18 USC 2252 (Certain activities relating to material involving the sexual exploitation of minors), 18 USC 2260 (Production of sexually explicit depictions of a minor for importation into the US), OR an offense described in section 3559(c)(2)(F), for which the offender was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of more than 1 year, if the offender has a previous conviction, for which the offender served a term of imprisonment of more than 1 year, for a Federal or State offense, by whatever designation and wherever committed, consisting of murder (18 USC 1111), voluntary manslaughter (as described in 18 USC 1112), assault with intent to commit murder (18 USC 113(a)), aggravated sexual abuse and sexual abuse (18 USC 2241 and 2242), abusive sexual contact (18 USC 2244(a)(1) and (a)(2)), kidnapping (18 USC 55), carjacking (18 USC 2119), arson (18 USC 844(f)(3), (h), or (i)), or terrorism (18 USC 113B). On a related note, if you’re subject to deportation after you complete your sentence, you are ineligible for this program.

[ADDENDUMS TO THIS FIRST STEP ACT REPORT: Another reader pointed out that I omitted one type of offense in that lengthy list of ineligible offenses under Title 1 of the First Step Act. “One of the ineligible offenses under Subsection 3632(d)(4)(D) is "(xxi) Any offense under chapter 77, relating to peonage, slavery, and trafficking in persons, except for section 1593 through 1596". Included in this chapter are sex offenses (1591, 1592, & 1594) used to prosecute "pimps, prostitutes, and Johns”. Also, it seems that when I copy-pasted the list of ineligible offenses, I omitted the fact that 18 USC 2252A, Certain activities relating to material constituting or containing child pornography, ARE ineligible for the Title 1 programs in the First Step Act.]

This is a lot of offenses to cover so if are unsure which statute you fall under, I can only suggest to consult the US Code to see if your specific offense is a part of this list. (Reminder: I only covered sex offenses; numerous other crimes were also excluded.)

Under Title I, Sec. 602, the AG has 180 days to implement the plan once the AG report mentioned in Sec. 601 is finalized, including assigning risk levels to prisoners. Thus, the Act gives the AG until 1/15/2020 (390 total days from 12/21/18) to implement this incentive program. Expect a request for an extension of that deadline.

Under Title I, Sec. 102, (b)(1)(A), 18 USC 3624 is amended in subsection (b)(1) -- (i) by striking “beyond the time served, of up to 54 days at the end of each year of the prisoner’s term of imprisonment, beginning at the end of the first year of the term,” and inserting “of up to 54 days for each year of the prisoner’s sentence imposed by the court,”; and (ii) by striking “credit for the last year or portion of a year of the term of imprisonment shall be prorated and credited within the last six weeks of the sentence” and inserting “credit for the last year of a term of imprisonment shall be credited on the first day of the last year of the term of imprisonment” and replacing it with a section discussing prerelease options for eligible prisoners.

In light of the amount of misinformation the prison “grapevine” tends to spread, I want to point out that the First Step Act DOES NOT increase good time from 47 days to 54 days. 18 USC 3624(b)(1) already offered UP TO 54 days a year, so the First Step Act didn’t really change good time. Since the law states the prisons can offer UP TO 54 days means that prisons can offer any number of days from none to 54 days. This does not mean any of you WILL earn 54 days a year.

Nothing in Title IV regarding sentencing reforms benefit anyone except non-violent drug offenders. Title V only covers reauthorizing existing programs under the Second Chance Act of 2007 and making a few semantic changes to the language of the bill.

Under Title VI, Sec. 603(a)(5), Section 231(g) of the Second Chance Act of 2007 (34 USC 60541(g)) is amended to create progrms for terminally ill patients in need of special care. However, eligibility for this program is defined as “serving a term of imprisonment based on conviction for an offense or offenses that do not include any crime of violence (18 USC 16 (a)), sex offense (sec. 111(5) of 34 USC 20911(5)), offense described in section 18 USC 2332b(g)(5)(B) or 18 USC 37.”

Finally, under Title VI, Sec. 609, administrative changes as listed below:

ENSURING SUPERVISION OF RELEASED SEXUALLY DANGEROUS PERSONS.
(a) Probation Officers.—Section 3603 of title 18, United States Code, is amended in paragraph (8)(A) by striking “or 4246” and inserting “, 4246, or 4248”.
(b) Pretrial Services Officers.—Section 3154 of title 18, United States Code, is amended in paragraph (12)(A) by striking “or 4246” and inserting “, 4246, or 4248”. This is merely an administrative change referring to record keeping. 4246 refers to 18 USC 4243 - Hospitalization of a person found not guilty only by reason of insanity, and 4248 refers to 18 USC 4246 - Hospitalization of a person due for release but suffering from mental disease or defect.

In sum, very few people will see any real benefit from the First Steps Act. If you do, consider yourself one of the lucky ones.

The Bill Text can be found at https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/756/text