OPINION: Press Release
Cambridge, MA -- Reform Sex Offender Laws (RSOL) Spurred on by the June 3 murders of two registered sex offenders, RSOL has created a legal fund dedicated to challenging the ever increasing restrictions imposed by legislatures throughout the United States. RSOL’s top priority will be attacking the expanding reach of sex offender registries because it is clear that these Internet websites have contributed to a steadily increasing number of murders of persons registered on that list.
RSOL’s Executive Director Brenda Jones pointed out that this is not the first incident where a person’s name being listed on Washington's sex offender registry has led to his murder. In 2005, two men on that registry were shot and killed in Bellingham by a vigilante who gained access to their home by posing as a law enforcement officer. Authorities investigating that shooting called it “one of the nation's most serious cases of vigilantism aimed at sex offenders.” (Seattle Times, August 30, 2005)
“Washington State expressed concern in 2005,” says Jones. “But what has the state done in the intervening years to prevent this from happening again? And what will they do now that two more registrants have been murdered at the hands of a vigilante using the sex offender registry as a tool?”
Clallam County prosecutor Deborah Kelly said in a recent court hearing that Patrick Drum, the self-proclaimed vigilante in the June 3 incident, had told investigators that he “planned to keep killing sex offenders until he was stopped.”
Gary Blanton's recent murder in Washington State left his young wife Leslie alone to raise their sons Gary, Jr. and Skylar, both under the age of three. The murder of Jerry Ray left his aging father alone with no assistance. News accounts have come in from as far as Maine showing that murders and other acts of vigilantism against registrants have occurred and are increasing. ***
“People on the registry are citizens, too,” Jones says. “The majority have completed serving their sentences. Their children, like Skylar and Gary Jr., are entitled to the same protection as any other citizen. They certainly do not deserve to have their parents marked as helpless targets for vigilantes.”
According to Jones, there is scant evidence that sex offender registries enhance public safety. “In fact, there is considerable evidence to the contrary. Public registration provides little more than a taxpayer-financed tool for vigilantes wishing to commit horrendous acts of vigilantism against registrants and places their innocent children in danger.”
RSOL believes that the full home address of registrants should be available only to law enforcement, not the general public. RSOL calls on Governor Gregoire to immediately issue an emergency order removing street addresses from the sex offender website. In addition, the Sex Offender Policy Board must commit itself to assuring the safety and well being not only of the men and women on its sex offender registry, but also the innocent family members of those registrants.
Reform Sex Offender Laws (www.reformsexoffenderlaws.org) is a national organization with affiliates in 39 states. RSOL advocates for the civil, constitutional, and human rights of roughly 750,000 registrants on the public sexual offender registry, not to mention millions of their family members-- including their children.
Any legal case RSOL undertakes must deal with registration itself and potentially impact a significant number of similarly situated persons. With its limited resources, RSOL cannot undertake any case where an individual simply wishes to challenge his/her conviction.
Contact: Brenda Jones, Executive Director
Reform Sex Offender Laws