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Gozarks goes to New Mexico
pictorial report by Christine Beems
2012 conference photos courtesy of RSOL

National Conference
Sex Offender Issues
Sept. 6-9, 2012, Albuquerque, NM

Gozarks MEET THE PRESS program well received.

McSorley"I am sick and damn tired of politicians who won't take a stand on controversial issues," Senator Cisco A. McSorley (pictured at right), public servant of the people of New Mexico's 16th District since 1997 and preceding that, from 1984 through 1996, as a Congressman in the New Mexico State House of Representatives, garnered a standing ovation from the podium of the 4th annual Reform Sex Offender Laws, Inc. (RSOL) National Conference, held at the Ramada Inn Conference Center in Albuquerque.

McSorley, a Democratic who serves on the New Mexico Senate Judiciary Committee, has a long-standing reputation for taking on tough issues with a bent to finding solutions. Back in May, for example, legislation he sponsored took a bite out of public corruption, mandating the repayment of salaries and forfeiture of state pension benefits by elected officials found guilty of corruption while at the same time resolving a contentious funding issue with the state's medical marijuana program.

As a keynote speaker on the closing day of the RSOL "Catch the Dream of Reform" conference, hosted this year by RSOL New Mexico, McSorley -- who has also gone to bat for collective bargaining and domestic partnerships, is a vocal advocate of women's rights, and opposes corporate personhood -- dug in his heels on sex offender regulations which, he asserted, are in desperate need of overhaul.

McSorley's proactive comments summarized a chorus of high-profile experts who filled all three Conference Center meeting rooms with two-dozen presentations over the course of the three-day event, all calling for sanity and science to allay public paranoia on the controversial and emotionally charged sex-offender subject.

Repeated assertions by high-caliber professionals made a strong case that current sex offender registration laws are at best an expensive boondoggle which wastes millions of tax dollars on monitoring systems that fail to protect anyone from harm.

At worst, these restrictions inflict unjustifiable hardship and cause real injury to the registrants, their spouses and their children who are being held hostage and tortured by restrictions-run-amok which stigmatize, dehumanize, ostracize, and extract unjustifiable and ever-increasing pounds of flesh.

Among those endorsing and advocating for well-reasoned reform:

<> Dr. George Geysen, a clinical and forensic psychologist recognized by the Connecticut legal system as an expert in the assessment and treatment of persons charged with or convicted of sexual offenses;

<> Dr. Tamara Rice Lave, Ph.D., Associate Professor at the University of Miami School of Law and author of "Constructing and Controlling the Sexually Violent Predator: An American Obsession;"

<> Dr. Erin Comartin, Ph.D., faculty member of Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, with a specialty in the impacts that public registration has on family members of sex offenders;

<> Dr. Eric A. Imhof, Psy.D., President/Clinical Director of Specialized Treatment and Assessment Resources, P. A. in Weston, Florida which specializes in the general clinical and forensic evaluation of both adolescent and adult sex-offenders and is considered an expert on Internet Child Pornography Offenders;

<> Amy Borror, Legislative and Media Liaison for the Office of the Ohio Public Defender who is an expert on the unintended ramifications of the Adam Walsh Act, and;

<> Norm Pattis, New England based trial lawyer with a national reputation for civil rights advocacy and passion to level the playing field for people who have been "burned by a legal system that deprives too many folks of effective representation of counsel."

Pattis (pictured at left) made a September 12 appearance on the Dr. Phil TV-show as defense council for Anna Gristina, aka: the New York Soccer Mom Madam, who is accused of running a multimillion dollar prostitution empire out of an Upper East Side apartment.

"Charge a person with a crime. Arrest them. Repeat the allegations in open court. Then let the press do the rest. The presumption of innocence rarely protects a person from the damning effects of press reports. The prosecutor lays out his case in open court; the accusing finger is pointed. The fatal whispering then begins." Pattis asserted in his August 16 entry on www.pattisblog.com

Back in April, Pattis took on the eviction of Occupiers from The Green, a public space in beautiful New Haven Connecticut. Though he won a stay of eviction (to allow time for the constitutional merits of the case to be decided), the Occupy encampment was obliterated by a mayor who, it could be said, defied due process in service of a personal political agenda. Pattis, in his blog, accused the mayor of being a "press-fleshing ward-heeler with the moral compass of a three-legged donkey."

Like a microcosmic diorama of the detrimental consequences spawned by the regulations these experts seek to redress, the very convening of the conference itself generated fear-mongering controversy.

Without belaboring details and purposefully declining to mention by name a small but vocal group of detractors, suffice it to say that spurious, derogatory and defaming accusations were lobbed at public officials and conference venue management. This cascaded into a haze of mis-information being bandied about the airwaves (see newsclips, below) provoking some degree of confounded consternation among all involved. (cont. above, right)

2012 was Gozarks second year to attend an annual RSOL National Conference. In 2011, I attended as a member of the Arkansas Time After Time delegation, and you can read that story by clicking here or on the image, below.

ATAT directors and supporters at the RSOL Natiuonal Conference.

This year, though my term of volunteer service with ATAT ended in July, I went to the 2012 conference as a presenter.

MEET THE PRESS: Essentials of Effective Communication with MediaMy topic (as usual) was Media & Marketing Management. My presentation was based on my recently released 'how to' manual, MEET THE PRESS: Essentials of Effective Communication with Media, pictured at right.

It was (dare I say) an excellent and highly interactive program which participants said they found useful, enlightening and worthwhile.

However, mine was a small star in a galaxy of super-novas. Aside from the impeccably credentialed presenters (listed at left), the conference convened with a Native American Blessing ceremony.

The Festive Banquet on Saturday night featured an old-timers 'jug band', magic show and fundraiser auction, all of which infused the whole gathering with a warm-natured  homespun charm.

And yes, that's me, second from the right (or third from the left <smile>) in the pic below. FYI: We all look like we are having a very good time because we were...!!! It always feels good to accomplish something worthwhile.

Pictured above, left to right: Robert Kim Combs, Arkansas Time After Time founder and emeritus executive director and chair of the 2012 RSOL National Conference Planning Committee; Vicki Henry, Women Against the Registry (WAR) co-founder and executive director; Christine Louise Beems, gozarks.com Media & Marketing Management; Brenda Jones, Reform Sex Offender Laws, Inc., executive director.

--------------------------

GOZARKS GOES TO NEW MEXICO
(continued from below, left)

At one point, less than two weeks out from the conference date, serious concerns about the potential for vigilantism and public protest during the conference raised the possibility of the whole event being shut down.

Cool heads, mutual respect and sanity did ultimately prevail, however, and the multi-day program came together without a hitch.

In total, and in addition to a long list of media representatives, featured speakers and a dozen-or-so folks who showed-up on the last day and were admitted free of charge, 153 people representing advocacy groups from 23 states (see list below) registered for and participated in conference proceedings.

The conference was hailed by both organizers and attendees as an outstanding success. Plans are already in the works for RSOL's 5th annual National Conference, slated for late summer or early autumn of 2013 in Los Angeles with the California RSOL affiliate serving as host. Visit www.reformsexoffenderlaws.org for more info.

RSOL Conference Attendee Demographics

AL-1, AR-5, CA-7, CO-7, FL-7, GA-1, IL-1, KY- 2, KS-2, MA-2, MD-5, MI-1, MO-5, NC-2, NJ-1, NM-76, NY-4, OH-5, OK-4, OR-1, SD-1, TX-12, UT-1

23 states represented = 46% of total number of U.S. states
 

Enjoy this article? You may also find this 2006 (yet still timely) feature report on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Breyer worthwhile reading. (((hugs))) ~Christine 

RED, YELLOW AND GRAY BALLOONS?

Why, one might ask, are the faces of the people in the above photo (taken at the Festive Banquet held during the 4th annual RSOL National Conference) covered with gray balloons...? Well, in my nimble Great Gozarkian manner, I am communicating a graphic message. The folks pictured above have no reason to hide. They are regular people, just like you and me. Yet if their employers or neighbors or others in the community where they live found out that they had attended a 'sex offender law reform conference', they could be socially ostracized, have their children harassed, be forced to move and lose their jobs. Shame on those of us who permit or enable such unconscionable bullying. Learn the facts. Get involved. Stand up for sanity, justice and regulations that actually do make communities safer for everyone.

Links to various newsclips on the 2012 RSOL National Conference:


~ celebrating professionalism in service ~

 

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)