Monday, November 12, 2012

RSOL creates legal fund

Original Article

In response to the recent murders of Gary Blanton and Jerry Ray (Video), and the overwhelming outcry from you, RSOL has created a legal fund. The leadership of RSOL considers this situation to be a crisis and that we cannot wait any longer for other organizations to step forward and save us.

We listen to you, and the message we consistently hear from all across the country is: “I’m just one person. What can I do?” Individually there isn’t a great deal you can do, but if we pool our resources, we can be powerful. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there are more than 700,000 persons listed on sex offender registries nationwide. If only 10% of the total RSO population were to make a one-time donation of $5.00, we would have $350,000.00 for this legal fund.

A fund in that amount would provide RSOL the flexibility to support litigation efforts already underway or to selectively initiate new challenges against the various registration statutes around the country. Many have suggested that a lawsuit against Washington State should be initiated. Due to the number of deaths that have occurred there at the hands of vigilantes, that idea certainly has merit. However, the selection and prioritization process will involve input from both legal professionals and state affiliates with priority given to litigation that would provide benefit to the greatest number of registrants.

RSOL’s Executive Director Brenda Jones points out that this is hardly the first incident where a person’s name being listed on Washington's sex offender registry has led to his death. 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)

At that time, Washington State expressed concern, but what has the state done in the intervening years to prevent this from happening again? More importantly, 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? Gary Blanton's recent murder in Washington State left his young wife Leslie (Video) 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. ***

In a recent court hearing, self-proclaimed vigilante Patrick Drum (Video) told investigators that he “planned to keep killing sex offenders until he was stopped.”

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.”

Please make your one-time donation to the legal fund now. If you want to support RSOL’s ongoing work, consider making a $5.00 monthly donation. Together we can make a difference.

Again, please understand that 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.

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