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Family Members of Registered Sex Offenders Urge Massachusetts Not to Adopt Federal Adam Walsh Act

National advocacy group for family members of former sex offenders opposes MA politicians' calls for the state to come into compliance with the Adam Walsh Act

USA FAIR, Inc., a national advocacy organization formed by the family members of people required to register with the sex offender registry, today urged the Massachusetts State Legislature not to act on Governor Deval Patrick’s proposal to bring the state into compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act (AWA).

“Many enlightened states, including New York and California, have looked at AWA and rejected it on the basis of sound principles of sex offender management and Massachusetts should continue to do likewise,” said Shana Rowan, Executive Director of USA FAIR.

“USA FAIR is very concerned that in the wake of the heinous criminal charges recently brought against John Burbine that Massachusetts will allow emotion to trump reason and cause the state to adopt legislation that is not supported by volumes of research on sex offender recidivism.  The unfortunate history of sex offender legislation in the United States has been to react to rare high profile crimes, while ignoring the fact that sex offenders have one of the lowest recidivism rates in the entire criminal justice system,” said Rowan.

Rowan continued, “If Mr. Burbine is found guilty of these horrific crimes then the full force of the law should be brought down upon him. However, the thousands of law-abiding former offenders who live in Massachusetts and are just focusing on rebuilding their lives as good citizens and providers for their families should not be punished for his acts by having new sanctions imposed upon them.  Punish the offender, not the entire offender group.”

Rowan continued, “USA FAIR opposes states adopting the Adam Walsh Act for numerous reasons including its discarding of assigning risk levels based on scientific risk assessments in favor of a conviction based tier system.  It makes no sense assigning risks based on the conviction, because research has shown that the people who commit the same crime do not pose the same risk of reoffending.  The crime is only one of many offender and victim characteristics that need to be evaluated.  This is one of the major reasons why the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA), the nation’s largest association representing sex offender treatment professionals, also opposes AWA.” (http://www.atsa.com/pdfs/ppReasonedApproach.pdf)

 

Rowan cited a recently published November 2012 study conducted in four states (Florida, New Jersey, Minnesota and North Carolina) that found an overall sex crime recidivism rate of 10% after 10 years.  The study found that among those who committed a new sex crime, “Actuarial measures and existing state tiering systems both showed better predictive validity than AWA tiers.”  Referencing the Burbine case, Rowan added, “The state tiering system is working better than AWA.  You don’t scrap a system that works because a Level 1 offender committed heinous crimes.  Low risk was never meant to mean no risk.”  (https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/240099.pdf)

 

USA FAIR also strongly opposes Governor Patrick’s call to place more registrants on the public website.  “Listing on the public website can be a life-destroying event.  Experience has shown in other states that have expanded its public registry that many law abiding offenders who have lived offense-free in the community for years and even decades have lost jobs and even been forced to move following public disclosure.  Such actions not only impact former offenders, but their family members as well who suffer the collateral consequences of the registry.  Listing on the website should be reserved only for those who have been deemed truly dangerous.”

 

Rowan concluded, “We fully understand the emotional appeal of the “if it just saves one child” argument, but basing public policy on the rare heinous crime committed by one registered sex offender, while ignoring the extensive research of the entire former sex offender population, does not result in a fair and reasoned criminal justice system.  The Massachusetts Legislature should consider the Governor’s proposal in a deliberative manner and avoid rushing to judgement in a climate of sex offender panic.”

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Non Citizen December 12, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Instead of messing with that P.O.S. A.W.A., Massachusetts perhaps ought to explain why, if the panacea Registries are actually so glorious and useful, they did not create all of the rest of the Registries a decade ago. I, for one, would personally love to hear the excuses for the SEX OFFENDER Witch Hunt but no other meaningful Registries existing. Someone please tell us some of the excuses! Is the excuse "If it saves one child, it's not worth it"? Or, are people actually paying attention to experts who know that not only are the Registries only negligibly beneficial, they are much, much worse, including the fact that they are counterproductive? If we are going to have these panacea Registries, can we at least Register people who have shot someone? Or is that not dangerous enough? How about drunk drivers? People who want huge nanny governments to tell them who the bad guys are and harass them are simply people who cannot take care of themselves, mind their own business, and leave other people alone. They want to feel better about themselves. The worst of them are thieving terrorists.
John D December 12, 2012 at 07:43 PM
it sickens me that there is an organization lobbying for the rights of convicted sexual perverts. anyone convicted of a sexual offense of any kind needs to be on the register. as an employer I found out the hard way the damage that can be done when a level one gets arrested again. had this individual been on the registry two children who now have horrible memories for the rest of their lives would have never have been touched. perhaps Ms. Rowan will herd all of her disgusting deviates to an "enlightened" state such as California or New York and make it safer to be a child in Massachusetts.
Shana Rowan December 12, 2012 at 08:04 PM
John D's comment could not have more perfectly underlined why change is so desperately needed. BTW, no such thing as a "convicted sexual pervert." Re-read the article and try again.
Joseph December 12, 2012 at 08:51 PM
John D is right on the money. Non Citizen and Shana Rowan must be friends with the sick prick living on Medford Street. How anyone could be against this is laughable, unless of course, you are either a) a convicted sexual pervert (yes, there is such a thing Shana) or b) know someone who is and still refusing to believe that your relative is a sick and twisted individual. Non Citizen - you do have a point though. Drunk Drivers should be registered, including losing their license for a minimum of 1 year. No excuses to get behind the wheel with the ease of cabs or even a couch. Shana - Your article is vomit. People like you don't care about victims, you care more about getting your name out in the press. How you can protect those who prey after children is disgusting.
Shana Rowan December 12, 2012 at 09:08 PM
I would challenge anyone to find a single sentence in my article that indicates I don't care about victims, or that we protect those who prey on children. I would also ask why, if protecting children is of such importance to you, why you are so quick to discount overwhelming evidence that indicates our methods of doing so are little more than abysmal legislative failures. If you've got anything other than run-of-the-mill ad hominem attacks, I'm all ears. Till then I'm going to continue the fight to protect all families, speak out against feel-good laws that fail children, and combat the vile spewing of those who don't have the capacity to admit when they're wrong. Oh, and use your real names if you truly stand behind what you say. I'm just a phone call away - why not tell me your feelings directly?
Joseph December 12, 2012 at 09:10 PM
PS. Shana - Where do you get your facts? 10% repeat? Funny because when you read the stories about these sick pricks, there's usually a history behind their actions. For example: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view/20221212daycare_worker_to_remain_behind_bars_on_100_sex_abuse_charges/srvc=home&position=2 Check out Boston.com too....front and center.
Shana Rowan December 12, 2012 at 10:28 PM
John Burbine indeed had a previous history of sex abuse - yet he was assessed as a level 1. If you read the article in its entirety you would have seen that we fully support punishment of this individual as well as others who commit such acts. The 10% recidivism rate is from a November 2012 study on the risk assessment tools utilized by Adam Walsh Act (there's a link right in the article...scroll up.) This study found that AWA tier levels do a poor job at predicting recidivism. That's why we oppose AWA. Obviously, the media focuses on the relative few registrants who do re-offend, like Burbine. Historically, the US has reacted to these heinous but rare crimes by passing laws based on emotion - not research or facts. It's easy to talk about how horrible sex offenders are and say kids need to be protected. But actually DOING it means accepting some difficult truths. We aren't against the registry, nor do we condone sexual abuse. We believe the registry needs overhaul in order for it to be effective. What we want is a system that would have accurately assessed Burbine as the predator he is, kept him away from children, and have prevented his re-offense in the first place. Instead, we have an overloaded system that treats all offenders the same, even though they aren't. Better risk assessment means LESS victims, and peace for family members of those who have served their time and are rebuilding their lives. More recidivism studies: www.usafair.org/studies.
Jan Paulsen December 13, 2012 at 04:06 AM
II was going to write the same thing, but you said it for me, John. The person who attacked that young woman on Beacon Hill a couple of weeks ago was an ex convict who had served a long sentence for rape, then failed to register as a sex offender. We not only need this law, but we need to have it strictly enforced!
Bob December 13, 2012 at 08:43 AM
Shana, Just a quick note to let you know that your efforts are not going unnoticed. I have been subject by proxy to the living hell of knowing a sex offender for almost ten years now, following the laws, the changes in the laws, the new restrictions, the social reactions, all of it, and remember first seeing your Youtube videos a couple of years ago. You have been tirelessly fighting this horribly system day in and day out with such tenacity and it has really given my friend a lot of hope. Of course WE know how terribly unfair and daunting it is trying to go up against a system that plays so dirty (Read: The NEWS OUTLETS, the POLITICIANS and the POLICE all conflate the issue and lump everyone into the same category for the EXPRESS PURPOSE of getting people like JOSEPH and JOHN D all riled up against a boogeyman they can unite against). It pays their bills. You (and I) know that the truth is on your side, though. It's actually quite pathetic to see these trolls pull up straw man argument after straw man argument, after ignoring facts, after only believing what they want to believe and twisting your words and making it seem like you said something that you did not. Anyway I do not want to write a book here, but just know that it is powerfully obvious (thanks to sheer and blatant stupidity of people like John and Joseph) that you are doing the right thing. There are many people in your husband's shoes who wish they had someone so vocal as you. Best to you.
Joseph December 13, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Truth (and facts) Bob, if you don't touch children in an appropriate fashion, nor force yourself onto someone (women and men) in a sexual manner, you won't end up on this list! Keep everything in your pants or your pockets until you get home and you'll have no worries!! Right?
Non Citizen December 13, 2012 at 06:38 PM
John D: Yeah, just for discussion, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and pretend that I actually believe your story. Had your "individual been on the registry", if he/she wanted to molest someone then he she would have just done it, and just as easily as he/she supposedly did when not listed on the Registry. And further, since the Registries encourage and promote people committing sex offenses, it is likely it would have occurred much sooner and there would have been more victims. If you actually wanted to make a safer environment for children, you would have already listened to experts, learned some facts, and would not be messing with the worse-than-worthless Registries. But you are a lazy fraud. And thank you for not helping all of us understand why there are no other meaningful Registries. Until those Registries exist, people like you will continue to have zero credibility.
Non Citizen December 13, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Joseph: I do not know whomever lives on Medford Street or Shana Rowan. I am also certain that Ms. Rowan does not agree with what I think should be done to the lying, thieving, scumbag terrorists who have supported the Sex Offender Witch Hunt. I do know enough about Ms. Rowan to know that people like you will never be a fraction of what she is. People like her are actually serious about protecting children instead of just making themselves feel better. Lastly, pay for your huge, nanny, jobs-program governments. I am sick of carrying you people.
Non Citizen December 13, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Shana Rowan: I don't think there should be Registries for anyone, not even the most heinous. Anyone that needs to know a person's complete history needs to do a background check on the person. The Registries are not and never will be enough. Further, the Registries don't actually prevent any crimes. If a person who is listed on one wants to commit a crime, he/she can easily create whatever environment is needed for that. Additionally, the Registries exacerbate all the major factors that contribute to recidivism. The Registries are counterproductive. And there are absolutely no excuses that people think Sex Offender Registries are "needed" and other Registries are not. IF we followed the "logic" and pattern of the Sex Offender Registries, we would easily Register 5 million more Americans for all kinds of crimes that have harmed other people, including children of course. The fact that we have not is absolute proof that we know the Registries are not effective or the right way to accomplish anything (other than increasing crime and hatred). If we want to prevent recidivism for people who are not incarcerated, work on probation and parole. Hire experts who can work with released prisoners individually and very directly, which of course is exactly what probation and parole is. They can do whatever is needed. Registries and especially the stupidity that they have enabled and promoted, are nearly worthless. Negligibly beneficial.
Valerie Parkhurst December 14, 2012 at 01:20 AM
The love of Shana's life has a sexual crime against a 6 year old..she spins a good story on how that went down but none of it jives with the facts..he is an old highschool boyfriend who reached out to her after crap hit the fan and she fell for it..now she is the "poster child" for girlfriends who swear their pillow partner got a raw deal..No more no less..
Non Citizen December 16, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Valerie Parkhurst is a criminal terrorist. She will never be half the person Shana Rowan is. Parkhurst needs you get a life so she can feel better about herself and stop needing to harass other people. She also needs to pay some taxes.
Valerie Parkhurst December 16, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Valerie Parkhurst is someone who has no tolerance for those too stupid to keep their zippers up around those the Law specifies in no uncertain terms constitutes a sex crime in this country..If that makes me a terrorist? I'll Own it..which is more than you convicts ever do..
Non Citizen December 17, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Oh yes, thank you for reminding me that you are also a liar. Pay some taxes.
Valerie Parkhurst December 26, 2012 at 01:03 PM
Are "taxes" your new "hit" Non Citizen? Is it some sort of inference that I may "owe taxes" ..you convicts must be desperate.. you spend more time "inferring" crap on anti's than you do keeping your zippers up around kids..
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tara lamica January 10, 2013 at 11:54 PM
wow....i just read some hateful words from people. I need some education on sex offender rights. My loved one rather go to jail and finish his max sentence just so he doesnt need to be under he states watchful eye on probation. For 10 years he has been unable to live any kind of normal life and is restricted from being in his familys life. I need positive information on our rights as a family. If shawna or ayone could guide me i would appreciate it...
Valerie Parkhurst June 09, 2013 at 11:52 AM
Joseph you have Shana pegged. She doesnt give a damn about kids. She is a media whore who thrives on the spotlight under the guise of "fairness for freaks". Make no mistake, the guy she is banging "raped" a 6 year old. He didnt fondle her, didnt urinate in her presence, didnt accidently step out of the shower and expose himself, he raped her. Having sexual intercourse with a 6 year old is rape no matter how ya wanna slice it. Geoff Her fiance' is a deviate and should have had a needle stuck in his arm. He wasnt 12 when he committed this act he was an adult despite what Shana wants to BS too. All one has to do is look up his flyer, its there in black and white and much more disturbing than what little Shana wants to impart. He is a full fledged pedophile by every definition who uses porn and little kids to get off. Its just that simple and just that disturbing. But Shana being Shana doesnt like the repercussions of his status so she makes noise, lots of noise. Someone should ask Shana, "was surgery needed for this baby after her precious freak boyfriend was done"??
Valerie Parkhurst June 09, 2013 at 01:10 PM
Why dont you stroll over to Marc Klaas's website he knows you dont care about victim's in fact he takes it one step further in his assessment of you. He think's you "re-victimize" societies children with your ongoing "bloviating" about how over-prosecuted and unfairly treated your precious offenders are. Face it Shana, when parents of murdered children have you figured out and go to the trouble of discounting your views and stats your days as the "sex offender DIVA" are numbered.
Valerie Parkhurst June 15, 2013 at 12:08 PM
There is a good reason sex offenders shouldnt be able to live a normal life..they have already decimated someone else's normal life..How about this for guidance Tara, get out and take your kids with you. Women as yourself are most often the ones feeding these guys new victims under your noses while trying to gain your family rights.

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