• Editor’s Comment
 • Jan Hindman
 • STABLE-2007 & ACUTE-2007: Improving the Assessment of Dynamic Risk Potential
 • ATSA and Public Policy: Many Steps Forward
 • Clinical and Theoretical Notes on the Change Process for Sexual Offenders
 • Juvenile sexual offenders: Comparison of victim age based subgroups and prediction of treatment outcome and recidivism
 • Board of Directors Election Results
 • Student Committee Report
 • Research Committee Report
 • New ATSA Members
 • Advertisement: Understand Offending
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Vol. XIX, No. 4
Fall 2007
ATSA and Public Policy: Many Steps Forward

     The past year has seen ATSA take many steps toward realizing the need to secure a place in effecting public policy at both the national and state level.  In April 2006, the Board of Directors took the unprecedented step of recruiting Alisa Klein to serve as the organization’s Public Policy Consultant. Working in conjunction with the Public Policy Committee (PPC) of ATSA (co-lead by Board members David D’Amora and Jill Levenson), Alisa has committed herself to identifying and advancing the public policy interests of ATSA.  Many of the goals developed over the past five years by the PPC have been realized as a result of the organization’s making the commitment necessary to have an effective agent to take action relative to those goals.

     Major policy changes by the federal government and state legislatures were already well underway by the time ATSA initiated its renewed public policy agenda. Consequently, the organization’s collective efforts were in playing catch-up over the past year. A primary goal was to establish ATSA as a key stakeholder and resource relative to the development and implementation of policy activities. In January 2007, Alisa represented ATSA at the Council of State Governments' sexual offender policy summit for legislators. Subsequently, a number of state legislators have consulted with ATSA about the development of sexual offender legislation. That same month, Alisa attended a meeting of the Open Society Institute called "Responses to Sexual Offenses and Offenders." This conference included legal scholars and practitioners, researchers, sexual offender treatment and management professionals, and policymakers from throughout the country. ATSA’s presence at this meeting has already resulted in fruitful and important relationships and partnerships with professionals from allied disciplines.

     This past June, David D'Amora and Alisa attended a number of meetings on Capitol Hill with members and staffers from the House and Senate judiciary committees in order to discuss issues regarding the Adam Walsh Act and other proposed sexual offender legislation. The outcome of these meetings was positive: ATSA will be working with Representative Conyers' (Chair of the House Judiciary Committee) office to convene a Congressional hearing on current sexual offender legislation being proposed in the House. Several ATSA members have been invited to Congress to provide expert testimony to the House Judiciary Committee.

     ATSA has also been asked to submit comments on issues that we have identified with the Adam Walsh Act. In June, David D'Amora presented on sexual offender policy issues to U.S. Department of Justice staff, including the SMART office, the National Institute of Justice, the U.S. Attorney General's office, and others. That same month, Alisa represented ATSA and presented on sexual offender policy at the annual conference of the National Center for Victims of Crime. The focus of her presentation was on how sexual offender policies and legislation affect victims, their families, and communities.

     More recently, in August, Alisa convened the first meeting of the steering committee of the newly formed National Adam Walsh Act Working Group, a cross-disciplinary task force led by ATSA and Patty Wetterling. This working group was established to examine how to create change and conduct advocacy relative to the Adam Walsh Act. Members of the Minnesota state chapter, (MnATSA), initiated the relationship between ATSA and Ms. Wetterling for purposes of this national group. The goal of the National Adam Walsh Act Working Group is to conduct outreach to, and provide networking and resource-sharing for, the range of professional disciplines and national organizations concerned with aspects of the Adam Walsh Act.

     Other members of ATSA’a Board of Directors have been active in public policy activities. Board member Detective Bob Schilling also presented at the Council of State Government's sexual offender policy summit for legislators from U.S. States, while Board member Mike Miner, Ph.D., L.P.  was an invited guest at the U.S. Department of Justice's SMART office national sexual offender management symposium. Mike’s attendance afforded ATSA a voice in the discussions at the two-day conference and also broadened our organization's ability to work on issues related to the Adam Walsh Act and the implementation of the SORNA. Otherwise, Jill Levenson and Alisa Klein contributed to the development and review processes of the Human Rights Watch document "No Easy Answers: Sex Offenders Laws in the United States."

     Both the PPC and Alisa have increased their activities to educate and assist the general membership, local chapters, and individual states with regard to key issues of public policy concerning sexual offending. Alisa provided information, resources and advice to a number of legislative advocacy and legal projects related to sexual offender policy, for example, Ohio's Adam Walsh compliance law developed and passed in June and a Massachusetts class action suit by sexual offenders regarding the requirement for lifetime GPS tracking. Further, Jill coordinated ATSA’s efforts toward an Amicus Curie brief relative to Ohio litigation regarding residence restriction issues.

     Alisa has been an active member of the list-serve, providing the membership with frequent updates regarding significant issues for the field and providing access to relevant materials regarding various policy issues. To date in calendar year 2007, Alisa has fielded over 200 requests for policy assistance from the members of ATSA and others. She has fielded 40 calls from members of the media and conducted outreach to, and discussions with, over 45 professionals from other national and state-based organizations across the country concerned with sexual offender treatment and management policy.

     The upcoming ATSA Conference in San Diego has a distinct focus and commitment to public policy issues, including a public policy pre-conference session and a public policy plenary address. During the conference, both PPC members and State Public Policy Representatives (SPPRs) will staff a Public Policy booth. During 2007, three subcommittees were formed under the ATSA Public Policy Committee: the State Public Policy Representatives Subcommittee, the Canada Policy Subcommittee, and the Public Policy Packets Subcommittee. Under the oversight of SPPR Subcommittee Chair Carolyn Lucet, the Subcommittee has found SPPRs for 46 states and DC, and is currently working on plans to activate them. Several Canadian policy representatives are also being identified. The SPPRs will be introduced to the ATSA membership at the upcoming ATSA conference and a first training for them will be conducted there as well. Carmen Gress and the Public Policy Packets Subcommittee have worked to create a series of sexual offender policy-related information packets for use in public policy advocacy and educating members of the media. The first packet focusing on sexual offender residence restrictions is almost complete; others will be ready for distribution at the ATSA conference.

     In summary, the past year has been a particularly busy one for public policy activities on behalf of ATSA.  We hope to have laid a strong foundation for being viewed as a key stakeholder and resource in the development and change of ongoing and future polices affecting sexual offending, sexual offenders, and sexual abuse prevention. ATSA is appreciative of the increasing awareness and support of its membership regarding the significance of our being active and pro-active in shaping future public policy activities—in state, federal, and international domains.

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