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.”

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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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