Riders of the Storm: Registrants in the wake of natural disasters.

Tropical storms and hurricanes are a part of life living in coastal states. The US has been fortunate in recent years with few destructive storms making landfall, but we just endured Hurricane Harvey in Texas, while Hurricane Irma could make landfall in Florida or further up the Atlantic Coast. People are expected to make adequate preparations for these storms, but as registered citizens, we are expected to make different kinds of preparations.

In the past, SOs were forced to separate from loved ones during 2008’s Hurricane Gustav. Shelters in the process of being built for the purpose of housing SOs were destroyed by Gustav. In 2005, Sheriff David Gee (Hillsborough Co FL) warned registrants to make their own plans during a hurricane, because none would be allowed into a shelter. Texas instituted “Operation Safe Shelter” around 2008 to help ID registered persons seeking shelter, which would have presumably prevented SOs from obtaining shelter. (However, I have found no recent info on this program, and it is no longer listed on TX’s AG website.) Last year, Florida dodged a major bullet when Hurricane Matthew merely grazed the coast, sparing Miami and the homeless registrant camp from a direct hit. I remember talking on the phone for a couple of hours with one of the homeless camp residents, who rode out the storm in his van. As I recall, they were given the option to seek refuge in the local jail, but most took their chances with Matthew.

Louisiana passed a law years ago (Louisiana RS §15:543.2, still on the books) requiring registered persons to notify shelters of their registry status: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, during a declaration of emergency, any person who has been required to register as a sex offender as provided for in this Section who enters an emergency shelter shall, within the first twenty-four hours of admittance, notify the management of the facility, the chief of police of the municipality, if the shelter is located in a municipality, and the sheriff of the parish in which the shelter is located of their sex offender status. The sex offender shall provide his full name, date of birth, social security number, and last address of registration prior to the declaration of emergency. Within seventy-two hours of receiving the notification required by the provisions of this Paragraph, the chief of police and the sheriff shall forward that information to the Louisiana Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information… The manager or director of the emergency shelter shall make a reasonable effort to notify the chief law enforcement officer of the parish or municipality in which the shelter is located of the presence of the sex offender in the emergency shelter.”

The 2017 “Louisiana Unified Shelter Plan” states, “The RS 29.726 E (14) 9c (i) requires that registered sex offenders that seek public sheltering must be housed separate and apart from the general population. DCFS in coordination with the Department of Corrections will provide sheltering in a facility exclusively for registered sex offenders. The State of Louisiana operates one Sex Offender Shelter [p.A-7].” It states the Department of Children and Family Services maintains a separate report of “Sex Offender Shelters” (SOS) but no current reports can be found at the DCFS website. Appendix 2 of the The Caddo Parish Emergency Operations Plan from 2016 mentions that “The Sex Offender Shelter would be located in Claiborne Parish at the Wade Correctional Center in Homer with a capacity of 120.” As of May 2017, The NCMEC reports there are 9,537 registered citizens throughout the state of Louisiana. That means only 1.25% of Louisiana’s registrant population could seek shelter in 2016.

As Harvey hammered the Texas coast, I wondered how registrants would be impacted by the storm. KXAN of Austin, TX reported a screening process was in place to weed out registered persons, adding they would be placed in “appropriate shelters” without elaborating further. KSLA reported shelters open in Louisiana were also going to screen for “sex offenders.” [http://www.ksla.com/story/36242501/red-cross-opens-harvey-evacuee-shelter-in-shreveport-18-total-checked-in]. So, I asked for thoughts on the hurricane evacuation issue from members of Safer Louisiana [https://www.saferlouisiana.org].

One member told me that the last time Louisiana faced a hurricane, he was on supervision and was told to report to the local jail to receive shelter. He responded it was a “non-option” because “Louisiana has a history and it continues to today of locking people in jails and losing their paperwork and refusing to let them out,” and because he worked as an emergency respondent for an oil company. He added, “I have been told stories in the past where evacuations were ordered and every registrant in one of the parishes were immediately listed as non-compliant ‘as the police no longer had knowledge of where they were.’ I have told my family that should an evacuation be ordered I would not leave and should I die as a result to sue the s**t out of Louisiana.”

A second member wrote that she told a P.O. there was “no way in hell” she’d allow her family to be separated during a storm. “I said we would all just have to live in our car before I let them put us in separate facilities. This was met with a shrug. She genuinely acted like it never occurred to her that the “laws” regarding emergency shelter for registered people in a hurricane, could in some circumstances actually result in pulling a parent away from a child.” She mentioned there is no shelter hotline that was mandated by Louisiana RS §15:543.2.B(1). Furthermore, one reentry program was flooded, forcing those in the program to live in an office building for months without adequate cooking or shower facilities, adding, “No one in law enforcement or local government helped us or had a plan or gave two s**ts…..UNLESS they could arrest you for something, they were still VERY clear about what you couldn’t do.” She also confirmed that Louisiana is using an animal shelter as the current designated location for registrants seeing shelter, noting it is insulting to treat registrants as animals.

An agent for the Louisiana’s Office of Emergency Preparedness confirmed to the SaferLA group that there are no plans in place regarding assistance to those on the registry beyond settling them in the separate shelter.

Florida’s laws are vague, as there is not a statewide ban from shelters currently in place. Each county apparently sets their own guidelines. Calls to Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, where 40% of Florida’s homeless registrant population reside, wielded no definitive answers. In the meantime, the Florida Action Committee has set up a page to share hurricane shelter information at:

HURRICANE IRMA – INFORMATION EXCHANGE

It is important to consider your OWN contingency plan in the event of a natural disaster, be it Hurricane Irma or any other disaster. Don’t assume you’ll receive sufficient aid from the government. Hurricanes are slow enough to plan accordingly. Think about any relatives or friends farther inland with whom you can stay & not be in violation of any restrictive laws. Be sure to ask your local office if they have procedures in place to avoid any FTR charges due to disaster. (Sadly, we’re somehow expected to report changes in living arrangements even in emergency situations.) Be sure to maintain a reasonable stockpile of emergency provisions that can be taken with you in the event of a disaster- food, first aid, and other basic necessities. Remember that it is up to you, AND ONLY YOU, to prepare for any emergency.

 

Derek W. Logue, Reform Advocate
www.oncefallen.com

4 comments for “Riders of the Storm: Registrants in the wake of natural disasters.

  1. Will Bassler
    September 6, 2017 at 7:59 am

    Below are two separate emails from our SAFERlouisiana crew (names withheld for privacy) trying to get as much information together about what is expected should we need to evacuate in a hurricane. The emails are separated by horizontal lines.

    Louisiana Law:RS 29.726 E (14) 9c (i) requires that registered sex offenders that seek public sheltering must be housed separate and apart from the general population.

    (d) Notwithstandin g the provisions of R.S. 15:542 or any other provision of law to the contrary, a proposed shelter component in the homeland security and state emergency operations plan shall include after the termination of the declared state of emergency, the following requirements:

    (i) That a registered sexual offender shall not knowingly be housed or sheltered in shelters, hotels, Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer parks, or any other housing funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency where the general population of evacuees is staying.

    (ii) That a registered sexual offender shall be provided shelter or housing in an alternative location separate and apart from the shelters, hotels, or Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer parks or any other housing funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency where the general population of evacuees are staying.

    (e) During and after termination of a declared state of emergency, any person, official, or personnel of a federal or state charitable organization or institution who becomes aware of the fact that there is a registered sex offender being housed in any shelter facility shall be required to notify and disclose to the sheriff of the parish and the chief of police of the municipality the identity of any registered sex offender housed, even in a separate area, in the shelter facility.

    (f) During or after the termination of a declared state of emergency, any person, official, or personnel of a federal or state charitable organization or institution reporting in good faith the name of a registered sex offender housed in any of their shelter facilities shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability which might otherwise result by reason of such action.

    You’d probably be interested to see the state’s shelter plan. What I’ve found is attached. The state’s plan is to have a “unique population” shelter at a state prison in northern Louisiana, with capacity for 120—in a state with over 12,000 registrants!

    A secured site has been identified at the Wade Correctional Center in Homer, LA. This compound has the potential to host a maximum capacity of 120 registered sex offenders. ESF-13 [Department of Public Safety and Corrections] will be responsible for security at this “tent city” site when activated for emergency operations. (Emphasis added)

    From page 17 of the Unified Shelter Plan:

    Sex Offender Shelter (SOS) – Louisiana Act 285 of the 2006 regular session prohibits registered sexual offenders from being housed with other evacuees during a declared state of emergency or after a declared state of emergency. There is one planned shelter in the state so that registered offenders that seek public sheltering may be housed safely away from the general population and out of harm’s way in accordance with state law. (Emphasis added)

    That means separation of families. Single parents will be directed to give custody to other family members or the state will take custody. “This includes … ensuring that sheltering needs are met for special needs persons (… children separated from single parents designated as registered sex offenders, etc). [LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES ESF-6 EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT OPERATIONS PLAN]

    Apparently, registrants who have special medical needs will not be allowed in the medical shelters. None of the plans address this possibility.

    And yet they, the government that has put this emergency plan into effect, has the gaul to continue to claim that a person on the registry is not being given any additional punishment and that the registry still only serves as a civil remedy for public safety. Who cares if during an emergency it forces registrants to be separated from their own families and deny them the simple protection and medical care granted to all other citizens

    I would also point out that people on the registry have a lower re-offense rate than any other criminal class less than 1% in any given year reoffend and yet they are singled out for added punishment by the government simply because people see them as a disfavored group and want them ostracized from society these laws that have been passed restricting registered citizens from retaining their family ties during a state of emergency as well as denying them adequate medical treatment and forcing them to be separate from other members of society are the truest form of bills of attainder or lesser pains and punishments anyone who is physically mentally or emotionally damaged by the implementation of these laws rules and regulations should sue the government agencies responsible and press for criminal charges under title 18 section 241 to be brought against anyone involved in enforcing these laws.

  2. September 6, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article171551437.html

    It didn’t take long for some Floridiot to make a fool of himself on this issue. I give you Grady Judd.

  3. NM
    September 6, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    This is the governments chance to let mother nature kill sex offenders. It may just work.

  4. Will Bassler
    September 7, 2017 at 10:25 am

    I guess it is time to post to this bit of information again since law enforcement in Florida and Louisiana as well as legislators have decided to violate individual rights by denying them shelter in public locations. there is also a form that can be printed out and handed to the law-enforcement that turns a person a way notifying them that they have committed a federal crime. (Violation Warning Denial of Rights Under Color of Law Violation Warning– 18 U.S.C. §242; 18 U.S.C. §245 U.S.C. §1983) /wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Denial-of-Rights-Under-Color-of-Law.pdf

    Title 18, U.S.C., Section 241
    Conspiracy Against Rights

    Laws: Cases and Codes : U.S. Code : Title 18 : Section 241

    This statute makes it unlawful for two or more persons to conspire to
    injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person of any state, territory
    or district in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege
    secured to him/her by the Constitution or the laws of the United States, (or
    because of his/her having exercised the same).

    It further makes it unlawful for two or more persons to go in disguise on
    the highway or on the premises of another with the intent to prevent or
    hinder his/her free exercise or enjoyment of any rights so secured.

    Punishment varies from a fine or imprisonment of up to ten years, or both;
    and if death results, or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to
    kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual
    abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned
    for any term of years, or for life, or may be sentenced to death.

    ——————————————————————————–

    Title 18, U.S.C., Section 242
    Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law

    Laws: Cases and Codes : U.S. Code : Title 18 : Section 242

    This statute makes it a crime for any person acting under color of law,
    statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom to willfully deprive or cause to
    be deprived from any person those rights, privileges, or immunities secured
    or protected by the Constitution and laws of the U.S.

    This law further prohibits a person acting under color of law, statute,
    ordinance, regulation or custom to willfully subject or cause to be
    subjected any person to different punishments, pains, or penalties, than
    those prescribed for punishment of citizens on account of such person being
    an alien or by reason of his/her color or race.

    Acts under “color of any law” include acts not only done by federal, state,
    or local officials within the bounds or limits of their lawful authority,
    but also acts done without and beyond the bounds of their lawful authority;
    provided that, in order for unlawful acts of any official to be done under
    “color of any law,” the unlawful acts must be done while such official is
    purporting or pretending to act in the performance of his/her official
    duties. This definition includes, in addition to law enforcement officials,
    individuals such as Mayors, Council persons, Judges, Nursing Home
    Proprietors, Security Guards, etc., persons who are bound by laws, statutes

    ordinances, or customs.

    Punishment varies from a fine or imprisonment of up to one year, or both,
    and if bodily injury results or if such acts include the use, attempted use,
    or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire shall be fined
    or imprisoned up to ten years or both, and if death results, or if such acts
    include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an
    attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be
    fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or
    both, or may be sentenced to death.

    ——————————————————————————–

    Title 18, U.S.C., Section 245
    Federally Protected Activities

    Laws: Cases and Codes : U.S. Code : Title 18 : Section 245

    1) This statute prohibits willful injury, intimidation, or interference, or
    attempt to do so, by force or threat of force of any person or class of
    persons because of their activity as:

    a) A voter, or person qualifying to vote…;

    b) a participant in any benefit, service, privilege, program, facility, or
    activity provided or administered by the United States;

    c) an applicant for federal employment or an employee by the federal
    government;

    d) a juror or prospective juror in federal court; and

    e) a participant in any program or activity receiving Federal financial
    assistance.

    2) Prohibits willful injury, intimidation, or interference or attempt to do
    so, by force or threat of force of any person because of race, color,
    religion, or national origin and because of his/her activity as:

    a) A student or applicant for admission to any public school or public
    College;

    b) a participant in any benefit, service, privilege, program, facility, or
    activity provided or administered by a state or local government;

    c) an applicant for private or state employment, private or state employee;
    a member or applicant for membership in any labor organization or hiring
    hall; or an applicant for employment through any employment agency, labor
    organization or hiring hall;

    d) a juror or prospective juror in state court;

    e) a traveler or user of any facility of interstate commerce or common
    carrier; or

    f) a patron of any public accommodation, including hotels, motels,
    restaurants, lunchrooms, bars, gas stations, theaters…or any other
    establishment which serves the public and which is principally engaged in
    selling food or beverages for consumption on the premises.

    3) Prohibits interference by force or threat of force against any person
    because he/she is or has been, or in order to intimidate such person or any
    other person or class of persons from participating or affording others the
    opportunity or protection to so participate, or lawfully aiding or
    encouraging other persons to participate in any of the benefits or
    activities listed in items (1) and (2), above without discrimination as to
    race, color, religion, or national origin.

    Punishment varies from a fine or imprisonment of up to one year, or both,
    and if bodily injury results or if such acts include the use, attempted use,
    or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire shall be fined
    or imprisoned up to ten years or both, and if death results or if such acts
    include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an
    attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be
    subject to imprisonment for any term of years or for life or may be
    sentenced to death.

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