If someone was thinking about filing a Michigan-style lawsuit against the the state of Nebraska, that person might file away this fact:
During the novel coronavirus crisis, the state of Nebraska and local sheriff’s offices demanded that people on the sex-offender registry risk their health and lives by doing in-person check-ins.
This population is singled out and is forced to go to a public place and risk health and life despite warnings from public health authorities that doing so is dangerous. People not on the registry are not asked to put themselves at risk. If that is not punishment, what is?
So here is a call to action:
Readers of this blog should write to our elected officials and:
- ask for suspension of in-person reporting for the sex offender registry, and
- ask for compassionate action to reduce the spread of the virus inside prisons.
While Governor Ricketts has asked the whole state to engage in social distancing and to reduce the number of people in public gatherings, people listed on the Nebraska sex offense registry (SOR) are still required to leave home and work to go to the local sheriff’s office to register. It sounds simple enough but every time we have contact with another person or another place, we have opened the door to spreading the COVID-19 virus. Every registrant that goes in to register might be leaving the virus behind or taking it back to co-workers or family.
A recent news story told of a man in South Dakota who unknowingly had the virus and by the time he was tested, had already spread it liberally among his family. One woman in the family has died. This is an illustration of how easily the virus spreads and how lethal that spread can be.
I am sure some of you have already done this but we all need to contact Governor Ricketts and demand that he suspend in-person reporting so that the registry community is not under additional risk.
Phone calls are the best way to do this. The Governor’s contact page says, “Due to the volume of emails, if this request is of an immediate nature, please call our office at 402-471-2244″. I would say that anything related to the virus is of an immediate nature.To repeat: 402-471-2244
You can also go to this webpage, https://governor.nebraska.gov/contact-form, and send an email from there.
Points you can use in your communication:
- Suspension of in-person reporting protects the whole community, including law enforcement officers and their families.
- Every visit to another location, any time we talk to another person, can spread the virus.
- Sheriff’s staff are no more immune to the virus than registrants are.
- Information gathered during in-person reporting can be reported over the phone as well.
Other states, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Virginia have temporarily suspended in-person reporting for people on the registry. Other jurisdictions (counties, cities) have also done so; National Association for Rational Sex Offense Laws tracks those decisions here: https://narsol.org/2020/03/governmental-responses-to-health-crisis-for-registrants-some-good-some-bad/
The squeaky wheel gets the grease, as they say, so speak up for the registrant community. Speak up loud; speak up often. Call or write the governor; call or write your state senator.
If the governor is serious about slowing the spread of COVID-19, this is an easy step for him to take. Demand that he do this to protect your families.
Do not forget our friends and family in the Nebraska prisons! Let the governor and your state senators know how important it is to reduce the number of people in the prisons in order to slow the spread of the virus there. The governor needs to know that people on the outside care deeply about what happens to the people living in the prisons.
Any whiff of copied and pasted text will reduce our credibility with the governor or with state senators, so use your own words in these communications.
Thank you all. We showed up to the Judiciary Committee hearing September 27 and made an impact. We can make an impact now if you take time to contact your elected officials on any COVID-19 issues.