FACTS / NU wants to do a better job of engaging the readers of this blog and our other materials. To that end, we have assembled a number of registrants or registrants’ family members who will contribute under pen names. Over the next few days, we will introduce a couple of our new post-writers. Here’s the first:
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My name is Gus. Well, not really, but I’m a huge fan of Los Pollos Hermano’s founder so, for the purposes of this blog, I’ll be Gus. This is a blog about issues affecting registered sex offenders in Nebraska. Since I happen to BE a registered sex offender in Nebraska, I’ll be keeping my identity concealed.
While it would be nice to write all my blog posts out in the open, being a sex offender (especially one who speaks openly against the registry) makes me a target for vandalism, harassment, or worse. To avoid more of this unpleasantness, you won’t know who I am.
That said, a little about me: I’m a dad. Yep, I live with and raise kids. Shudder at the thought? Don’t. There are a lot of us in Nebraska who quietly try to move past their offense and raise good ol’ corn-fed, free-range kids.
I work for myself. I could probably get a job if I looked long and hard enough. However, constantly explaining to new people that I’m not a crazy dangerous pedophile-rapist, just a normal guy who made a very stupid decision, gets old. So I don’t do it. I like coming up with ideas, partnering with friends, launching, and moving on. I guess you could say I’m a serial entrepreneur.
Finally, I’m a bona fide expert on the Nebraska Sex Offender Registration Act. I’ve read every word of the law multiple times. I encourage all registrants to dive into the law and read it for themselves, but for those who don’t, I’ll be a resource for tips and tricks to navigating the registry.
Topics I’ll be writing about: parenting tips, travel as a registrants, legal issues affecting registrants, and dealing with law enforcement. If I feel a story is important, I’ll write on that, too, even if it doesn’t fit nicely into one of those categories. Talk to you soon.
(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.
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.