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SPECIAL REPORT ~ September 1, 2011
by Christine Louise Beems, aka: The Great Gozarkian and author of
MEET THE PRESS: Essentials of Effective Communication with Media

Arkansas Delegation Attends National Sex Offender Law Reform Conference
ATAT directors and supporters at the RSOL Natiuonal Conference.
Above: the Arkansas Time After Time info-table at the 2011 RSOL National conference held August 12-14 in St. Louis, Missouri. Pictured, left to right, are the Arkansas group: Lynn Gilmore, SOSEN CEO and ATAT Lobbying Director, Christine Beems, ATAT Communications Director, Marjorie LeClair, Registered Nurse and Lt. Col. with the U.S. Army (retired), Robert Kimball 'Kim' Combs, Executive Director ATAT, Richard Swanson and Carla Swanson, who serves ATAT as Correspondence Director.

It's a task as thankless as the work of Mother Teresa, and as scorned as the lepers she in humility served. Advocating for 'sex offenders' can get you branded with the same scarlet letter borne by those who commit the most heinous crimes. Yet the facts, according to the wealth of experts in attendance at the 3rd Annual Reform Sex Offender Laws (RSOL) National Conference, held August 12-14 in St. Louis. Missouri, are more shocking than Mr. & Mrs. John Q. Public may realize.

One of the strongest advocates for the reform of a criminal justice system which, some say, has become completely out of touch with reality, Amy Borror (pictured at right), Legislative & Media Liaison, Office of the Ohio Public Defender, gave a detailed overview of the ramifications and status of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, signed into law by President Bush on July 27, 2006.

Borror explained the far-reaching and unintended ramifications of this legislation which had, she summarized, turned the Ohio sex-offender interdiction system “on its head.”

Resulting in legal challenges and confusion nationwide, Borror strongly asserted that it is time for the laws pertaining to
sex-offenders to be closely reviewed and substantively changed.

One issue at the heart of the 'legalized injustice', according to Lloyd Swartz, head of the New Mexico affiliate of the national RSOL organization, is that former sex offenders who have paid their debt to society, regained health and stability through therapeutic treatments and are determined to be productive citizens, are prohibited from doing so because of regulations that mandate segregation and discrimination in housing and the workplace.

<<< Brenda Jones and Paul Shannon, two of the organizers of the national conference.

Still, Swartz emphasized, the overarching purpose and mission of his organization and all those he is affiliated with is to “improve public safety.”

“Most lawmakers are well-intentioned and think they are promoting community safety while in reality their bills are filled with unintended consequences and based on faulty assumptions,” said Robert 'Kim' Combs, Executive Director of Arkansas Time After Time. As a member of the conference's opening panel discussion, Combs addressed what have been described as 'draconian' consequences for 96% of the people now mandated by law to be classified as a sex-offender but who, according to statistics published by the U. S. Department of Justice, are unlikely to ever re-offend.

ATAT Executive Director Robert 'Kim' Combs appeared with Tonia Maloney of the Illnoise RSOL and other organizers on the opening panel discussion. >>>>>

“If we can get factual information to our lawmakers, the press and the general public, our communities will become safer since our law enforcement resources can then concentrate on the truly dangerous predators,” Combs, who was one of six Arkansans attending the conference, summarized.

Lynn Gilmore (seated, center, at left), CEO of Sex Offender Solutions and Education Network and author of “Consensual Consequences: A true story of life with a registered sex offender,“ also serves as ATAT Lobbying Director and reflected on how remarkable it felt to be immersed in such a large group of people who 'get it' (ie: comprehend the complexity of the social and legal conundrum called 'sex crime').

Gilmore said that seeing so many people, from so many different walks of life, backgrounds and careers, all together in one place discussing important legal and human-rights issues “strengthened her hopes” for a just outcome for everyone.

Carla Swanson (seated, far right, above), who serves ATAT as Correspondence Director, credited the conference with delivering much excellent information and gave special kudos to Missouri State Representative David Day who, according to Swanson, “told it like it is” about how advocates should and must approach legislators in order to get their concerns about this public policy heard.

Swanson (standing, at right, participating in a conference workshop) also announced that Arkansas Time After Time will host a Meet & Greet 'open house' during the group's October 16 meeting, scheduled for 2pm to 4pm in the West Room on the first floor of the Little Rock Public Library. Swanson encouraged all who have questions to attend, and to visit the group's website www.ArkansasTimeAfterTime.org to learn more about this complex issue.

~ ~ ~

Scroll down for more conference photos.

 

Vicki Henry, at left, was acknowledged by all who attended for her organizational and conference coordination skill and efficiency.
The ATAT Delegation at a breakfast meeting, at right and below, being interviewed by Erin Comartin, a Wayne (Michigan) University grad-student, pursuing her PhD.

 

That you may be filled with strength and power, rooted and grounded in love that surpasses all knowledge: Be kind to one another; live with compassion, producing every kind of goodness; stand firm and hold your ground in truth, righteousness and peace; be courageous; embrace faith which is perfect trust in justice. ~Ephesians 3-6 (condensed)