Should the Sheriff Abide by the Law?

(Reprinted from Ninety-Five%, the Nebraskans Unafraid donor newsletter)
Should county law enforcement abide by state law?
The answer, of course, is “yes.”
Dunning with an American flag
Except in Nebraska, where the correct answer might be something like, “Well, it depends on who you ask.”
In Douglas and Lancaster counties, sheriffs do not allow registrants to sign verification forms when they fulfill their reporting requirements under LB285 (2009). Instead, the entire process is electronic and the registrant does not sign anything. This effectively forces registrants to be in a state of noncompliance with the law which specifically states:
“The verification form shall be signed by the person required to register under the act and state whether the address last reported to the division is still correct” (NE.Rev.Stat §29-4006 (7)).
Bruning with an American flag
Registrants are justifiably worried because they have no way to document that they have reported as the law requires. Douglas County says that it has video of everything that happens. But for everyone’s protection, it would be good for registrants to keep their own copies of documentation. It’s too easy for just one copy of a record to be lost.
Nebraskans Unafraid (NU) and FACTS followed up on registrant concerns by contacting the Nebraska State Patrol. The Patrol agreed that the law requires a signature on a form, and said it expects sheriff’s offices to implement systems allowing signatures on forms.
Wagner with an American flag
Douglas County Sheriff Tim Dunning disagrees and says the signature problem is all the state’s fault.
“They created the website that we use, and the fact that they forgot to put in some sort of receipt, is a fault of their agency, not ours,” Dunning wrote in response to our inquiry. “There is nothing in state statute that says the sheriff s offices are required to do a signature page. We would certainly do one for you or any of your members, if we had the ability to do so from the NE State Patrol website”
Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner responded by saying simply that his office operates in accord with state law. While we were very happy to learn that, we sent a second latter asking Wagner to specify whether registrants use ink pens to sign paper copies of their verification forms.
We also forwarded all of the correspondence to the state attorney general’s office, asking if he thinks that the sheriffs ought to abide by state law. That was months ago. We haven’t heard back.

Guidelines for Using the Nebraska Sex Offender Registry Website

Several years ago, FACTS published a list of guidelines for using the Nebraska Sex Offender Registry Website. The Guidelines are now validated by research that shows that most of the people on the Nebraska State Patrol sex offender registry website are not dangerous.

Please share this link to the guidelines as widely as you possibly can. It is especially important for your friends and neighbors to be aware of these guidelines. This is information everyone should keep in mind whenever and wherever the sex offender website is discussed.

for Nebraska FACTS

We Are Here to Make Them Stop: We Have to Have Each Others’ Backs

Let’s get reacquainted.

Families Affirming Community Safety Inc. (FACTS) and Nebraskans Unafraid (NU) have consolidated web resources. The organizations always have been linked, but this move is intended to help us make better use of our resources.

NU is the umbrella organization. FACTS is the outreach, communication and public education arm of NU. We enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship with the state’s foremost expert on sexual offending, Lisa Sample, Ph.D., who is Reynolds Professor of Public Affairs and Community Service at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She is also the Masters Program Coordinator for the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

Ours is the only coalition in Nebraska that advocates for and gives a voice to former sex offenders and their families. 

Politicians, law enforcement, school administrators and others simply will not stand up for you, and they will freely abuse your civil rights until they are made to stop. We are here to make them stop. If you wish to help, take a few minutes to review the new website.

We will push news and information through this site to you and we will endeavor to keep it fresh daily. The NebFACTS blog feed is on the front page. Look in the upper right-hand column for new Storify items at least several times a week.

The News Page includes links to the NU YouTube page, the national eAdvocate news feed, and Notes From the Handbasket, an excellent blog that provides a perspective from the former offender’s family point of view.

The Research Data Page will be populated with the latest research on sexual offending. This is so important to you because there is a mountain of research evidence that refutes the fear-mongering myths and lies about reoffending, etc. Right now, the only information on that page is the recent UNO study. We want to focus on that for now. It proves that Nebraska’s LB 285 is a failure and does not deliver any public safety benefit. You should share this research study with just about everyone you know.

Because Nebraska state law deprives you of jobs and housing and social networks — all of the things you need to live responsibly – our Resources Page will carry links to information and organizations that might help. There are legal resources as well, which we all need because Nebraska’s former sex offender laws can be enforced in extraordinarily strange and inconsistent ways. There are even a couple of sheriff’s departments that choose to ignore sections of the law that protect you from false accusations about compliance. We have to have each other’s backs on this — no one else is going to do that.

And we have a For Families Page because the family members of former offenders are shunned and mistreated, frightened, alone and needing someone to talk to. Because we have been through it, we’re in the best position to help. Right now, the page links to the NU Compassion Initiative, our first major programmatic effort. As we put in place more services for families, we will post links to them on this page.

Thank you for your interest and support. Never forget:

You Are Not Alone!