Testimony
In support of LB 290 of 2015
Presented by
Jeanie Mezger, Nebraskans Unafraid, on behalf of Lisa Sample, PhD., Reynolds Professor, University of Nebraska-Omaha School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Before the Judiciary Committee of the Nebraska Legislature
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Ms. Mezger:
Mr. Chairperson and members of the Committee:
Thank you for this opportunity to speak in favor of LB 290.
I appear today as a representative of Nebraskans Unafraid, a group of Registered Citizens, their spouses and loved ones. I also appear on behalf of a member of Nebraskans Unafraid who is unable for medical reasons to be here today: Doctor Lisa Sample, Reynolds Professor at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
Doctor Sample and her team at UNO have conducted ground-breaking research that demonstrates the very low re-offense rates of Registered Citizens. Doctor Sample also is in the midst of research that reveals the negative outcomes of Nebraska law on family members of Registered Citizens concerning their social relationships, employment prospects, housing opportunities, and parenting abilities.
This damage is senseless, and it is made all the more so in light of her research findings that show current Nebraska law is not correlated with reductions in reoffending.
Nebraskans Unafraid endorses LB290 as a cost-efficient change to the law that will have no real impact on public safety. Those words – “no real impact on public safety” – come straight from Doctor Sample.
LB290 in its current form eliminates from Nebraska law the portions that were found unconstitutional more than two years ago by U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf. And while LB290 brings Nebraska law into conformance with the letter of Judge Kopf’s ruling, it falls short of the spirit of that ruling.
As you recall, Judge Kopf wrote that he struck down the illegal parts of your LB 285 of 2009, and of the remainder of the law, he said . . . quote . . .
“I upheld many portions of Nebraska’s new sex offender registration laws even though it was my firm personal view that those laws were both wrong-headed and counterproductive.”
. . . end quote.
Doctor Sample’s research is showing the wisdom of Judge Kopf’s personal view. She believes additional changes to the law are needed:
First, Doctor Sample says that empirical evidence has notfound reductions in sex offending based on the change from a risk-based notification system to the current offense-based notification system. Based on the difficulties with state compliance with the Adam Walsh Act, Doctor Sample would support legislation that returns us to a risk-based notification system, with only high-risk individuals subject to being listed on the state’s website.
Second, given the dynamic nature of social relationships, human maturation, and other factors that empirically correlate to sexual recidivism, Doctor Sample would suggest yearly risk assessment of all offenders on the public registry to increase public safety and address the changing dynamics of sex offenders’ lives while in the community, which could be done at one of their mandated registry information updates.
And third, in light of empirical evidence of data entry errors and lag times of information to public registries, Doctor Sample would suggest providing sex offenders with a receipt upon updating their registry information to reduce law enforcement time of arrest for registration violations, reduce litigation for false arrest/imprisonment for registration violations, and to provide sex offenders a way to prove their compliance with the law. Even though current Nebraska law requires sheriff’s offices to provide such hard-copy documentation, many of them refuse to do so, including Douglas County.
A final note from Doctor Sample:
The federal Center of Sex Offender Management has provided a $1 million grant to the University of Massachusetts – Lowell to determine the costs and benefits of the Adam Walsh Act. This in and of itself suggests there are questions about the practicality, cost efficiency, and public safety value of an offense-based notification system.
In the packet that I have provided to Committee members, there are some additional thoughts from Nebraskans Unafraid about how Nebraska sex-offender laws can be transformed into substantive solutions that truly make our communities safer places for all children and adults.
Thank you for your time and consideration of this issue.

Testimony
In support of LB 290 of 2015
Presented by
Danielle Bailey, doctoral candidate
University of Nebraska-Omaha School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Before the Judiciary Committee of the Nebraska Legislature
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Ms. Bailey:
Mr. Chairperson and members of the committee:
Thank you for this opportunity to speak in favor of LB 290.
Like previous speakers, I believe that the passing of LB 290 creates no additional danger to public safety.  Our studies at the University of Nebraska provide empirical evidence that the passing of LB 290 would actually increase public safety through the encouragement of online support networks.  
Criminal justice researchers have identified social support from spouses, family members, friends, and other acquaintances as a vital part of offender risk management.  Offenders of any type who receive social support are less likely to recidivate as they go through rehabilitation and reintegration into the community.  However, registered sex offenders face challenges obtaining social support due to the social stigma and social isolation that these offenders face in the community. 
In our research, we have identified online resources as a vital source of social support for registered sex offenders and their family members.  Online forums, Facebook, and other social groups allow for easier communication with long-distance family members and friends, reinforcing family bonds, as well as providing access to support networks specific to sex offenders and their families. 
Given the relative social isolation of registered offenders in the community, increasing access to this online community means that registered offenders will have opportunities to strengthen existing and create new social bonds.  Since increasing social bonds reduces recidivism risk and promotes offender desistance, passing LB 290 will therefore significantly increase community safety. 
Thank you for your time and consideration of this issue.

 

 

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