Home-Invasive Verification Visits: Illegal Tricks, Sad Stunts

First in a Series by Eddie Sidgeweck

About those random home-invasive visits to registrants’ homes, undertaken here and there by various law agencies but not required by any state law in Nebraska.

In fact, Nebraska’s current state laws supposedly provide law enforcement with the monitoring tools they need, including multiple in-person reports. However, we have documented a number of extra-legal activities. Officers sometimes just show up at the door. We know of some registrants who are required to report in person to the sheriff’s office as many as 12 times a year, despite the fact that Nebraska law at most requires four visits a year.

Where these invasive practices have been challenged in court, they have been snuffed: In Doe v LaDue, 514 F. Supp. 2nd 1131 (D. Minn. 2007), for example. The court found that the home-invasive practices — done without probable cause or reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing — were violations of the U.S. Constitution. 

In Nebraska, we have fresh research evidence that registrants are not likely to reoffend. Ryan Spohn, Ph.D., of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, found that registrant reoffense rates are extraordinarily low. Other research has found that law enforcement practices aimed at disrupting the lives of registrants can increase the chance of reoffense. We know that people convicted of DUI are far more dangerous than registrants but you don’t see law enforcement knocking themselves out to monitor those folks. (I wonder: Is that because too many politicians have DUI offenses? Probably not. But I wonder).

So, the question is why would a law enforcement agency continue a practice that protects no one and in fact probably makes the community more dangerous?

We’re not concluding that it happens here, but in other places, law agencies do these checks so that they can beef up the reoffense statistics for registrants. That’s right — if you can catch enough people in technical violation of laws that are unreasonably restrictive, then you can push the reoffense numbers higher. Problem is, registrants snared in this way are not committing new sex crimes. They’re just easy targets for lazy law enforcement.

It can be a publicity stunt: You go around and find out that your own records were incorrect about an address, or that a registrant had to be at a hospital with his dying mom for four days, and you can nail them with violations and then announce to a gullible news media that you’re keeping people safe. It is a sorry performance, but people do fall for it.

The home-invasive visits also help law agencies attract grant funding (your tax dollars going to waste). Problem is, more tax dollars are wasted chasing the grant dollars, and people who are truly dangerous to the community escape notice while law enforcement is busy knocking on your door.

About that knock on the door: There is no law that requires you to answer your door, especially when the people trying to get in do not have a warrant.

More soon . . .

Laws Aimed at ‘Protecting’ Children Drive 15-Year-Old to Suicide

Third of Three from Gus:

Recently I wrote on parenting, and how nobody within school administration has any sense of humor or proportionality in punishment anymore.

Both of those articles stemmed from of story of Christian Ademek out of Alabama that brought those issues and the emotions involved to the forefront of my mind. This article comes out of Harvest, Alabama and is so sad, it could make any parent cry.

Fifteen-year-old Christian became a school legend overnight when he went streaking across his school football field during a game. A video of the prank was posted on YouTube and later Twitter exploded with tweets, many giving the student accolades regarding the stunt.

Sparkman High School staff, however, didn’t see the situation as light-heartedly as the students did. In fashion typical of today’s academic administrators, they reacted swiftly and harshly. He was reportedly facing expulsion, and criminal charges for indecent exposure which, in Alabama, lands you on the Sex Offender Registry.

Instead of facing expulsion from school, and possibly being listed as a sex offender, he chose to hang himself. He didn’t succeed right away. It took two days to die from his injuries.

From the article:

Sparkman High Principal Michael Campbell told WHNT a day before the suicide attempt that the teen could face major repercussions because of his actions.

“There’s the legal complications,” Campbell said. “Public lewdness and court consequences outside of school with the legal system, as well as the school consequences that the school system has set up.” In Alabama, indecent exposure is linked to the state’s sex offender laws, meaning that he could have found himself on the sex offenders register due to the streaking.

Campbell added that that the incident was not just a prank and needed to be treated seriously. Sparkman High administrators even recommended that Adamek face a hearing in the Madison County court system to determine if formal charges would be filed, WHNT reported.

Adamek had also been disciplined by the school district but the details had not been made public. The day before the suicide attempt, the principal had confirmed that Adamek was not at school and the teenager’s sister suggested on Twitter that Adamek faced expulsion.

There is no common sense represented by Sparkman High School staff, or the school district administration here. A stern ass-chewing, detention, and maybe a public apology to his fellow students would have sent a clear message to the rest of the student body that these actions wouldn’t be tolerated by the school. 

However, the punishment was so harsh that this popular student and beloved son/brother killed himself rather than face a law that was first enacted, ostensibly, to protect him.

If you’re confused and outraged about this, you’re not alone.

Parenting for the Real World

Second of three from Gus:
I parent this way: I’d rather teach knife safety than pretend that knives don’t exist and admonish my son from ever touching one. Same would go for firearms, if I could own any. Teaching proper safety keeps kids safe. Pretending dangers don’t exist, or forbidding kids from touching something that might be dangerous only piques the curiosity of many.
Boys like dangerous things, and love to play war with fake knives and fake guns. Its not a far leap to the real thing if they’re around. This is partly how you get kids shooting each other by accident. They are playing with something that isn’t a toy because they were never taught how to respect the danger of dangerous things.
Not in this house.
Same goes for alcohol. I think parents that hide their wine and liquor bottles only make it a fun game for the kids to find it. And when they do, many times they try it for themselves, because it’s forbidden. Unless a parent is a recovering alcoholic, or the kiddos are genetically predisposed to alcoholism (from family history, etc.), having alcohol in the house is pretty common. Hiding things from the kids only breeds curiosity and secret behavior that will fester and cause trouble later.
I’m not afraid to have a beer on the 4th of July in front of the kids. No, they can’t have a sip, but I don’t pretend like adult life doesn’t involve beer, either.
I face danger and harsh realities head on with the kids, because the real world isn’t made of cotton and foam. We don’t use knives for fun because knives are dangerous. However, even in my kitchen, my son hands me a cutting knife handle-first (his palm covering the blade) so I don’t cut myself or an unseen, playful little sister doesn’t accidentally run into it.
Makes me proud every time he does it.
Next: Laws Aimed at ‘Protecting Children’ Drive 15-Year-Old to Suicide