They’re killing sex offenders

By Chris Dornin . . .

I was pleased to see a recent Sentinel editorial declaring the Internet sex offender roster punitive. My nonprofit group Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform filed an amicus brief in December supporting John Doe, a former sex offender challenging the New Hampshire sex offender shaming list as an unconstitutional ex-post-facto punishment.

At the oral arguments in May, all four justices asked questions suggesting they viewed the registry as an added criminal penalty applied retroactively. If Doe wins, he will blow some serious holes in the targeting registry. Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform is raising money to pay expert witnesses for a follow-up class-action suit that is ready for filing.

But your editorial should have gone further in its criticism of sex offender laws. Keene has lately become the New England epicenter of vigilantism against this demonized group. David Wheelock of Keene, a registrant and invalid, was shot dead at his front door last December. A front-door bludgeoning in October left Walter Field of Westmoreland with major head trauma. His attacker was looking for someone else, according to State Police. The next-door neighbor was a registrant.

It’s pretty easy to connect the dots here. But Keene and State Police have refused calls from Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform to take down the registry as a precaution, or even warn registrants they may be in grave danger. Worse, to my knowledge, the Keene police are the only ones in New Hampshire who post a user-friendly Internet map of sex offender registrants to help neighbors find them.

I must respectfully disagree with this part of your editorial:

“Given the recidivism rates involved in sexual assault cases, especially those victimizing children, there’s a lot to be said for keeping the public informed of legitimate threats. There does need to be some way for the public to be informed.”

That passage is bad advice and reinforces the dangerous myth that sex offenders have high recidivism rates. Former Assistant Safety Commissioner John Stephen urged the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2002 to post our registry online, saying only 16 of the 717 people who had been on the non-public registry to date had been arrested for new sex crimes, including three for indecent exposure and one for criminal restraint. Stephen assumed publishing the list would lower the rate even more.

Dozens of research articles confirm that sex offenders have the lowest same-crime recidivism rate of any ex-prisoners, a cumulative 1 to 5 percent in the first three years out of prison, depending on the state. The rate per year plummets after that.

There is also extensive research showing the public registry does nothing to lower recidivism, but makes registrants unemployable and homeless. The widespread vigilantism against them makes them even more likely to re-offend. It costs them wives and support systems. It keeps them on the run. It pressures landlords to drive them out.

Lawrence Trant repeatedly stabbed a Concord registrant in 2004 and tried to burn an apartment building with another seven registrants.

“I hope I’ve done a service to the community,” Trant told the Boston Globe. “These guys are sexual terrorists.”

A chanting Manchester mob burned a scarecrow on the wooden porch of registrant Gloria Huot in 2006. Huot was away, but her roommate watched from inside their home with her two young sons and a baby. That is life on the registry.

Victim advocates in Ohio see the problem. Rape crisis centers in Texas and Cleveland filed an amicus brief supporting the successful Williams vs. Ohio challenge to the Ohio public registry. Margie Slagle, the lawyer for the women, argued the shaming list perpetuates dangerous myths, creates a false sense of security, misuses police resources, harms and destabilizes former offenders and thus increases the risk of recidivism.

“Any argument,” Slagle wrote, “that Ohio’s (Adam Walsh Act) is simply a remedial law designed to protect children and the public from sexual abuse and sex crimes is seriously flawed. Ohio’s AWA is not based on empirical evidence or proven research, but on fear and misinformation.”

The Ohio law was similar to New Hampshire’s.

21 comments for “They’re killing sex offenders

  1. Iowa S.O.
    September 11, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    I can relate to a lot of these stories. When I was 22,I had a 15 year old lie about things that never happened. But because of the way the Iowa laws are set up, I was forced into a plea agreement.

    I had gotten into a fight with my now ex wife and ended up that night borrowing a truck drivers sleeper cab. I woke up in the middle of the night to oral sex, that I did not initiate or allow to take place. I kicked her out of the sleeper and went back to sleep. Come to find out, she was a 15 year old prostitute, pimped out by her uncle. She tried blackmailing me, and I tried to die. The county attorney was the only person that wanted to press charges. I am the 9th out of 13 guys that this young lady, term used loosely, that she has gotten in trouble.

    The county sheriff at the time even stepped into my cell when I was in county jail, and told me that in his opinion they had the wrong person in there. My lawyer said that this still was not enough evidence to help my case and that the plea agreement was still my best option. That was 6 years ago and I’m still suffering the consequences. I have lost my home, jobs I had and jobs that I only applied for, my wife, everything.

    Six years later, I have only been divorced for a little more than a year, my ex wife tried to tough it out, I am still on parole for misdemeanors that I did 47 months locked up for three years worth of charges. I am lucky to have a support system of people that know I’m not some pedophile/predator, and a fiance with two girls that call me “dad”. I’m honestly hoping that I will be able to put this all behind me someday, but there are days that there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

    My knuckles have been bloodied and my spirit broken. I have been humiliated and labeled, bruised and robbed of some of the moments in my life I will never see. But I will continue to fight for others that may not always be able to fight for themselves. I just sometimes wish I had the resources to do more. So if anyone ever needs support on here, I can share a fresh bit of sunlight.

    • Megan
      September 14, 2014 at 2:20 am

      I am sorry to hear your story. I feel so bad for you. I am still with my husband. I know he is innocent. It is hard day to day looking at my son and knowing that he has no idea why daddy isn’t home. Its not fair and I support you. People often say that sex offenders should be put to death. They don’t even know the story, but they dont care. My prayers are with you and your family.

  2. Cindy
    September 1, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    I am of the opinion that in most cases of those that have been charged and convicted with sexual assault , it is nothing more than “modern day slave trading” on the part of the system. Human life is bought and sold through the courts to justify the funding of new prisons, and job security in the states. And if there is a violation of probation rules, (which are arbitrary, per each PO Agent, and NOT written in stone by anyone or any department) then they are thrown in prison, not extended probation, or other appropriate sanctions, prison time!! Prison time even if their original sentence was jail time! Mind you, a violation, NOT another crime of any type, just a case of not following the loose rules. So now the offender has a hearing as to whether their probation will be revoked. (just this hearing alone has created many more jobs), and yes the administration law judges are the on the bank role of the Corrections, so they will NEVER rule for the offender, always in favor of the PO Agent, it is like the admin law judges prostitute themselves to the Department of Corrections. It is a crime what we do to our citizens and yet we go around the world and tell other counties about the abuse that they are committing amongst their citizens – the bureaucrats of this country that write these “slave trading” laws need to be replaced. Slavery was outlawed years ago!! Don’t fear some poor rag head living in a cave in a far off land, but be scared shitless of the suit and tie in Washington. (no offense to anyone when I use the analogy of “rag head”, just could not come up with something more meaningful in this scenario)

  3. Megan
    August 29, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    My husband was in the army, his lifetime dream. He is serving time at ft Leavenworth for something he never did. What I thought was a little girls crush turned into an infatuation with my husband.. they found no evidence proving anything happened. When she asked him to leave me and wait for her, he said no. And that she was only 13. I was pregnant with our son at the time she said this. He battles a TBI and ptsd. He attempted to take his own life twice. He rather die than never see his son. Icing on the cake, they came out on facebook about the lies. But because they had him take a plea for less time, they cant do anything. We need to stand up together against these laws because now they don’t need evidence. Even if the rape kit showed that she was still a virgin, all they need is the accusation. I am glad I found this site. I feel all of your pain. Its not fair to any of us. It is terrible to think so many innocent people, just reading this brings tears to my eyes. I am so sorry for you all. Please know that I support each and every family on here.

    • Cindy
      September 1, 2014 at 4:48 pm

      another group you might want to follow is – Welcome to Women Against Registry (W.A.R.) and please, pass on the web site to others that may need it

      https://www.womenagainstregistry.org/

      Good Luck,
      Cindy

    • Will Crump
      September 5, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      What happened to your husband is beyond a travesty of justice. I am so sorry that this has happened to your family. I know words are so hollow in situations like this.
      You are right about the non-existent burden of proof. All it takes is pointing a finger and the accused is guilty. End of story. Even if the accused has a lawyer like Perry Mason and Ben Matlock rolled into one and get cleared of the false charges, the public will still judge him guilty. They’ll chalk the not guilty verdict up to slick lawyering in stead of a just verdict.

      A common tactic is to scare the pants off of the accused by telling them how much time they COULD GET IF THEY TAKE THE CASE TO TRIAL. Since most know how these cases go, they take the plea so that they can see freedom again one day. It’s coercion and why judges let the practice stand I’ll never know.

      I wanted to advise you to prepare your son for an eventual cruel reality. When word gets out that your husband is in military prison for molesting a 13-year-old girl your son may become the victim of ruthless teasing and bullying. I don’t know how much time your husband has to serve, but once he’s out he’ll be on the registry. You need to start talking with your kids about this and prepare them for what lies ahead.

      May God bless you each and every one. I will be praying for you all.

      • Megan
        September 9, 2014 at 10:29 am

        Thank you. My son is only one and I cant tell him cause he wont understand. You are right, I am scared to death about my son being a target. The girl didnt realize exactly who she was harming. He is only serving 15 months. We have 11 to go. If it was actual molesting, he would be in there longer. But they charged him with sexual misconduct with a minor. Bc they didnt have proof for rape. So they made a story. It sucks and I battle it every day. I just try not to let it show. I still have a slight bit of hope that they find a mistake in the case. Thanks for giving me a little bit more faith that im not alone and someone will listen to me :)

  4. Donn
    August 19, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    Well for my part its a real mess-i live in california and am a single incident registrant of 23 years with no convictions,alligations or recidivist activity in that whole time. I’ve lost 3 rentals,3 jobs, wife I hadn’t met and a family I hadn’t even started when I was convicted,countless friends and opportunities. The system should allow a person to reclaim their life after so many years without an incident or complaint of any kind REGARDLESS of the original complaint or at least allow them to elect to be put down like a rabid animal by the state rather then live homeless/unemployed/threatened and with no security or opportunities for the rest of their lives.

    • Dram
      September 5, 2014 at 8:50 pm

      The Megan’s law website where all the voyeurs can go and look at the pervs makes it a crime if someone on that list goes there to see if the information is correct, what are they afraid of?

      That all of the people listed might get together and become a political force?

      or that facebook can say that only sex offenders are not allowed, murderers welcome.

      What absurd world this is becoming, has become

      Political Prostitutes, that’s our lawmakers. When they can’t think of anything that would good to do to earn their votes they can always preen their feathers for how their making the world a better place by killing the sex offender.

  5. A SC registrant
    August 14, 2014 at 10:42 am

    @Mary, I am sorry for what your son has went through. I too was a victim of false sex abuse allegation stemming from a 1999 divorce/child custody battle. Quite simply, my ex- wife separated from me taking our three children. She placed them in, I thought, a very harmful environment. I contacted child protective services in the county we resided in as a family. She moved to the adjoining county. After almost a year, a “founded” complain by me, and a treatment plan designed to the best interest of the children, my ex living at her parents decide to take matters into their own hands. They had a friend living in the county she now resided in working for CPS there. The case, 6 months after the separation and only 2-2 hour court appointed visits with my children, was transferred from my county to hers. The very next day, with the initial home visit, the case worker commented, “every thing seems in order” “I don’t see the neglect the father was referring to in his complaint with ______ county, however, I do have allegations that the father has inappropriately touched one of his daughters”. The nightmare began. With all the exculpatory evidence slid under the rug, a mother just doesn’t make these allegations, nor does a child lie about such a thing. When they moved out, my daughter in question was barely speaking. Most child victims disclose their abuse within 48 hours, this came some 5 months later and was not disclosed to my county’s CPS agent. That agent had numerous of times ask if the children had been physically, sexually or mentally abused. All times were reports in the negative. No traces, signs, behaviors or actions that would suggest any of those. Because I went to CPS being a concerned father, the mother, I find out after I am released from prison, only put the charge on me for two reasons; 1) to get me out of the picture and 2) because she believed I was trying to prove her an unfit mother so that I would win custody of the children. At that time I was working two jobs and running a newspaper route first thing 7 days a week. Where would I have found the time to tend to three children? Regardless, because of lack of evidence, the entire family (her mom, dad and brother and the ex-) was allowed to leave (I say flee) the state, quitting their jobs, cutting all ties, I sat in county jail for three years trying to go to trial to prove my innocence. Instead, after sitting in a jail cell on protective custody 23 hours a day for that 3 years, I plead guilty to an “attempting to commit a lewd act”. I was sentenced to the maximum and received 15 years under “non-violent” sentencing structures which meant I had to do 7 1/2 years for something I never done. I was told it was non-violent and I wouldn’t be exposed to the registry. Now I’m out and found out not only do I have to register, but have to do so for life. I can’t find work, I earned my paralegal certificate in prison and am currently in my senior year earning a BS in Legal Studies to further assist in my case. I have a civil suit in against all those involved and every lawyer for every defendant has done everything in their power to try to get my case dismissed. This is a current motion to dismiss now before the court of appeals simply because I didn’t redact personal information and then when I corrected that, I redacted too much, another motion to dismiss! I’ve been looking for work for almost three years now to no avail. The people I’ve encountered along the way, the laws I’ve read and the continuing consequences based on the registry laws imposed once you are released are unconstitutional. One saying I learned very well when behind the fence was “if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it must be a duck”. There are no protection for people like your son and I Mary, because it’s what they call being “caught up in the system”. It would seem to me though with the old saying “its better to let 10 guilty go to prevent 1 innocent from facing conviction”, then with 1 innocent in anything, 1 is far to great of risk to put people like your son and I in harms way, basically making them destitute and homeless the way we as a nation have allowed the government to do. I served in the U.S. Army and am receiving benefits for service connected disabilities (thank God for the VA) which is helping me in my schooling. My dad, a retired 32 year Army Vet and my oldest sister another 30 years of service in the Air Force. I didn’t know I signed the dotted line to fight for the injustice, lack of proper assistance of counsel, denied the right to a trial, and now facing the consequences of someone else’s actions. I look at it this way.. who is worse, someone who might commit a crime like this or someone who falsely accuses someone of the same. Regardless, no matter how you look at it, innocent or guilty, these laws are just wrong and are against everything I’ve ever believed that this country is supposed to be about! Thanks for sharing your stories and thanks for reading mine.

  6. Grace
    August 8, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    My son was convicted as a sex offender because the girl he met thru a friend, they both lied to him and conspired to lie to him about the girls age, He ask the girl how old she was, it was not ignorance of the age, because he ask, and it was backed up by anothers word whom he thought he could trust. Now he is labeled as a sex offender and all those conditions for sex offenders is so far out there it is unreal! When you do the time and you get out, You have paid your debt. There needs to be stipulations in most of the cases, because in Florida the conviction rate is 95 % because the law does not let you have a defense. This is the worst state in the union, I was born here and lived here all my life, was a police officer, and I will never understand the logic behind doing this to someone who has been labeled a sex offender and has done their time and gets out to start a new life, but can not due to the stipulations forced on them. THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS! NOT ALL ARE PREDATORS, THOSE WHO SEEK OUT CHILDREN …THEY SHOULD BE LABELED SEX OFFENDERS, Not those who do not. and especially when there is sworn statements to prove their innocents. IT MAKES ME WANT TO PULL MY HAIR OUT!!! I AM SO FRUSTRATED WITH THESE LAW MAKERS. I AM GOING TO FIGHT TO GET THIS CHANGED IF IT IS THE LAST THING I DO WHILE I AM ABLE TO DO SO… I WILL STAY ON IT TIL MY LAST BREATH! ANYONE WANTING TO JOIN FORCES TO GET THIS LAW CHANGED … I AM AVAILABLE TO WORK WITH YOU AND SPEAK OUT ON THIS HORRIBLE LAW. MY SON WILL BECOME A SOCIAL OUTCAST. LIKE SOMEONE WITH THE PLAGUE. IT IS NOT RIGHT, IT CAUSES OTHERS TO PREJUDGE THEM AND WANT TO DO HARM TO THEM…THEY DO NOT KNOW THE INDIVIDUAL CASE…AND EACH CASE I THINK SHOULD BE LOOKED AT CLOSELY…TO DETERMINE THE SEVERITY OF THE PERSON’S CASE… NOT ALL ARE BAD.. JUST CAUGHT UP IN A BAD LAW.

    • Michelle Toste
      August 28, 2014 at 11:14 pm

      Hi Grace,

      My son got out Aug. 11th, and is struggling as your son, is. I would love to hear from you, as I am frustrated too, and not sure where to go with this….

      Thank you for posting!

      Michelle Toste
      (Denver…but son is in NM)

    • Megan
      August 29, 2014 at 12:47 pm

      Grace, they dont need evidence. My husband was convicted of something he didnt do. They threatened him with 60 years in jail, but he is only serving 15 months because he read a piece of paper they wrote up for him. These laws need to change. And soon.

      • Sarah Jane
        August 30, 2014 at 2:02 pm

        ‘they dont need evidence’ – I’ll second that. My brother is admitting to crimes he never committed, solely because they are threatening to incarcerate him for the rest of his life if he “dares” to take it to trial.

        I cannot believe the way our legal system handles these cases and how offenders are treated after their release.

  7. Mark
    July 29, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    George

    Am so sorry for your loss. This is heat breaking that a life has been lost for just seeing something on the internet. I agree with most of these sex offenders laws if in fact a adult or child has be violated physically. But what happened to your son is just horrible.

    Your story is so very sad, I don’t know else to say to provide the comfort that you deserve.

    Am Sorry

  8. yusuf manning
    July 10, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Are there any case pending that challenge the Illinois sex offender law that places a ex sex offender back on the sex offender registry after they have completed the 10 yr registry and is put back on as a sexual predator for life after being convicted of a non sex offense felony

  9. George Schmidt
    July 10, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Concerning —-They’re Killing Sex Offenders—–

    In more ways than one:–. My son KILLED HIMSELF in prison just 39 days ago (May 4th) because of the CRUEL and UNUSUAL punishment of 37 years! and a life time! of probation ! after release, handed down to him by a 5th district Louisiana judge. Did my son murder someone in cold blood? Did he rape an adult female? Did he rape a child? Did he rape several children? Maybe he kidnapped and raped a child for 10 years! NONE OF THE ABOVE. He was a FIRST TIME, internet only (NO HANDS ON), Was not a producer. NO prior arrests, COOPERATED FULLY upon arrest, admitted guilt, was sorry, asked for leniency (in his child-like manner — he had aspergers syndrome) . But no matter. The judge gave him 37 years + lifetime probation! If you don’t believe me, look up Benet G. Schmidt, sentenced in the 5th district of Louisiana (April 5, 2013). The DA recommended the MANDATORY of 20-24 years. (Even that is way too high.) So you see, the SYSTEM killed my son. Ben was in mental agony for 3 years until he could stand it no longer. What kind of justice is this? First time, non violent ,internet only offenders should get 1-5 years as punishment and IMMEDIATE COUNSELING. My son got ZERO counseling in the almost 3 years of his incarceration. It’s as if the SYSTEM said: “We don’t care about you — we’re going to show the PUBLIC that we are TOUGH on crime.

    Further proof of my son’s very wrong sentence was that, on appeal (which was lost) one of the three-judge panel wrote a 4 page “decent” wondering why “Schmidt, a first time, non-hands on, internet only, with no previous record, was sorry, cooperated, why he would get such a harsh sentence.”

    Again, THE HARSH, “TO PLEASE THE PUBLIC”, PUNITIVE, SYSTEM, KILLED MY MENTALLY DEFICIENT SON — not some crazy vengeful citizen.

    George Schmidt

    • maggy
      July 13, 2014 at 10:41 am

      i am so sorry for your loss. My son spent many years in jail, for rape. that was 30 years ago. the laws need to be changed and only those of us who lose their children feel the ultimate depth of pain. my son did not kill him, yet. but he is constantly depressed your son did not deserve the time. I lost my daughter to drug abuse, she was in a dark place. i am concerned about my son. A parent knowing they cant keep the children safe is the worst hell on earth, and this goes for soooooo many family members of the registry. i have truly entertained the thought of going to Washington and blowing myself away as an opportunity to make them listen to what these laws are doing to loved ones. My heart goes out to you. i am a nurse, and stable minded, but the anger, resentment, and hate that sometimes comes out of nowhere is unbelievable. These are OUR children. i have never judged anyone and i think it is because some day i knew i would be put to the test. am a true Christian or not? i am. please contact me anytime.via here.. maggy

    • A NH Registrant
      July 29, 2014 at 2:33 am

      George, I am so very sorry to hear what happened to your family. That is just insane that a judge can be that cruel to someone with a clear mental illness.

      I, too, was sentenced for a hands-off crime of possession. I had no criminal record, not even a speeding ticket. They found a single file on my computer because someone reported me. I had a pornography addiction, so I downloaded a lot of it. To my knowledge, none of it was of children. I am not, nor have I ever been, a pedophile. So, the only way I can imagine the file got there is if someone planted it, or it was in a mass download, or a virus/hacker. The Prosecutor drew up a deal of 1 yr in County and 3 yrs probation. Then, the detective got wind of our deal SOMEHOW and stopped it by stating that he had more evidence. My attorney and I were stunned. We only were allotted 1 examination of the evidence against me (my hard drive) by a technical expert. The detective produced discs that he claimed were mine which were loaded with the most vile materials one could ever imagine. My attorney said there was nothing we could do to fight a cop (my atty was a public defender since I’m low income).

      So, I was given a choice: go to court and fight against a cop and lose via a technicality of NH CP Possession Law and get 20 years, or take a plea and get 7 yrs maximum. I had no choice. I was forced to take a plea. I couldn’t fight the cop AND the technicality. It was a WIN for the prosecution and the Prison Industry, and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. Now, I sit on this Registry (which I have to pay $50 a year for) for the rest of my natural life and have my picture and address on 3 WEBSITES which endangers my family as well as myself 3 possible times. And now, someone is going around killing Registrants in my area.

      The police don’t care.
      The state doesn’t care.
      The general public around here doesn’t care.
      And I get to live with this for the rest my life and my family’s lives.

      The Registry is a clear violation of Ex Post Facto (US Constitution), and also a violation of the Bill of Rights where it concerns CRUEL and UNUSUAL punishment. But, our mostly corporate-owned, FASCIST Supreme Court says that the Registry isn’t a punishment. The Registry puts my FAMILY in danger as well as myself for the one time I was convicted of a felony.

      What about murderers? Drug Dealers? Domestic Violence Felons? Drunk Drivers? Burglars? Thieves? Assaulters? Do any of them have to be on a public registry in 3 DIFFERENT PLACES and endanger THEIR families? Nope! That is reserved for US!

      It’s disgusting what our country done to the people they fear: African Americans, Italians/Germans/Asians locked in internment camps in World War II, and now US. Children are more in danger from ALL of those felons that I mentioned than ANY Registrant. They’re harmed more often by falling off bikes/skateboards, etc. than by ANYONE on the Registry. Only 5% or less are truly dangerous people. Why are the other 95% of us on the registry?

      Answer: Money, Votes, Promotions. It’s just sickening what we’ve become. Home of the Free, indeed!

    • August 5, 2014 at 7:07 pm

      My son has been forced to be on a sex offender registry; he was falsely accused by his ex-wife, and is innocent of the charge, but because he had past history of drug use he took an Alford plea. Now, living in Virginia with me, he is required to be on the sex offender registry FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE, with no line of distinction between him and predators of CH ILDREN! THIS IS ABSURD, DRACONIC, AND JUST PLAIN WRONG, and something must be done to change this ridiculous situation. I sympathize with your dilema, and add mine to it. What recourse do we have?
      Thank you,
      An Agonizing Mother

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