A plea to Justice Armstead: Please use correct, scientific information

By Sandy and Michael S . . . Nobody today references the daily price of whale oil. Why? Because given the presence of modern-day petroleum, whale oil is not relevant to everyday life. So why do some judges continue to refer to outdated and debunked information that distorts the realities of everyday life for those on a public registry?

From the high bench of the Supreme Court, to the prosecutors’ offices, to the public and the offenders themselves – all believe that good laws produce public safety. And while some courts are moving in that direction, some judges in particular remain an obstacle to public safety by reinforcing old stereotypes of those who have committed a sexual offense.

In recent court decisions upholding the rights of registered persons, state supreme courts are, to use a popular idiom, on a roll.

In mid-June, 2021, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that “. . . a state law requiring sex offenders to register for life without prior judicial review is unconstitutional.” Then the very end of June, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that, without a procedure allowing for individual assessment and a path off of the registry, placing juveniles on it for life violates the Eighth Amendment. These courts are getting it right!

And in West Virginia in mid-July, a person with a sexual crime conviction prevailed in his case, resulting in a Supreme Court decision reinstating good time credit for many on extended supervision revocations.

While the court itself did the right thing, two justices dissented, and in writing their dissenting opinion, Justice Armstead, while making his argument against the majority decision, chose to imply that those with sexual crime convictions should not be the recipients of early release benefits. He does not explicitly say this; he is much more subtle than that. He does it so abruptly that it seems out of place by inserting this statement: “Study after study has shown that sex offenders have one of the highest likelihoods of reoffending once they are released from custody. See Hensler v. Cross, 210 W. Va. 530, 536, 558 S.E.2d 330, 336 (2001) (‘We are aware that sex offenders are significantly more likely than other repeat offenders to reoffend with sex crimes or other violent crimes and the tendency persists over time.’).”

He says “study after study,” but he does not cite to any of these studies. Instead, he cites to a decision from 2001 where the sentence in parentheses appears, and it too has no citation or documentation. Statements such as these only reinforce myths about registered persons and, at worst, create bad laws and harm public safety.

If we could, we would say to Justice Armstead:

Sir, if you insist on using such old references to make a case about sexual offense recidivism, please refer to the 2003 DOJ study, the largest ever done, where the results showed a 5.3% rate of rearrest for a sexual crime with a 3.5% reconviction rate at the three-year mark.

As a first step toward reimagining a judicial system that is fair, equitable, and accurate, NARSOL calls on Judge Armstead to acknowledge the error of his statement and retract it from the record.

Sandy Rozek

Written by 

Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

22 Thoughts to “A plea to Justice Armstead: Please use correct, scientific information”

  1. AvatarPerry P.

    This so-called ‘Justice’, only wants one thing: He wants everyone on The Registry to remain for life, and doesn’t care about Scientific MODERN Studies. He want Us all to die at the hands of Vigilantes. That’s what he wants, and he might as well come out and say it openly. Yet, he won’t, because he wants to retain his ‘High Position’ and all that comes with it.
    ‘Champion For Justice’! Right!!
    Nuff Said!

  2. AvatarTim in WI

    Perhaps a peek at Mr. Armstead’s investment portfolio would shed some light. It is important to recall the 1990s, a time where even the most experienced business minds had no conception of how cyberspace could be profitable. They were clueless about the advantages that could wrought through the advent of the interconnected database driven infrastructure. Those minds focussed on ” real property ” couldn’t conceive a world now ( market) recognized as social media platforms et. al. whereby input to the proprietary electronic properties was free! And in that ignorance they couldn’t believe people (users)would input by there own volition. Nobody goes to work ( inputs) without consideration was the basis of their reluctance. SOR isn’t that kind…..is it! No! That property is maintained by force of law. Naturally that was something, a concept, that fit the traditional business model understood very well.

  3. AvatarDerek

    The US Supreme Court had also based their ruling on the constitutional of the registry on flawed facts quoting a false study that sex offenders have a 80% reoffence rate. These fase claims used to back up law should be challenged

    1. AvatarTim in WI

      Yes Derek we all recall the Freeman & Longo article in Psychology Today, a magazine available to Kennedy from the back of an American Airline first class seat out of D.C. Just guess who’s treatment books are being sold to most of the fifty states. Ya know some actual scientists believe “Psychology” is not really ” science at all. ” I would post a source of that criticism… but on this venue ya know… Obviously, the Rehnquist court could not have been more wrong. The database they said could be used to provide protection for our family, when infact our bohemien, laise fair approach has made the people MORE vulnerable than ever via the database driven infrastructure.. Americans only chases cyber security, like the crazy ass dog chasing it’s tail. How about SOLARWINDS, those unfortunate Columbia Pipe line folks, secured network me thinks not. How about we all wire in “Ringdot” so any stranger can have a view of and a conversation with our kids in their bedrooms.

  4. AvatarJacob

    I hate to say it but I cant even find a lawyer or anything I’ve been working on my issue for 2 year and I can’t afford a attorney it’s a big scam I was 23 when I was arrested I’m 36 now my was encouraging a online crime for downloading stuff that was 7 year age difference but I started at 17 it is so unfair and unjust the only thing that would change things is if we did what they did at the Capitol. most dont want to bring attention to being a S.O but I look at it as if they did me wrong maybe I can help stop this for the other younger ones so maybe they dont have to deal with everything I’ve had to deal with.

  5. AvatarJ

    I have said it before and I will say it again. As long as they keep saying “But we are protecting your children” people fall in line like sheep.
    This is a great article and it highlights what is wrong.
    In my opinion a lack of facts in an argument is a reason to have a decision overturned. You cant argue anything except facts in legal documents no matter who you are.

    1. SandySandy

      Keep in mind that was the minority dissenting opinion. The decision was a good one. We wouldn’t want it overturned. The majority voted correctly for law and for justice. When it comes down to it, what the minority thinks is immaterial. It’s just that we took exception to a state supreme court justice believing something so lacking in validation and so untrue.

  6. Avatarmut

    i think theyre making political decisions

  7. AvatarEd C

    I suggest that the judge read the analyses and reporters’ notes in the new Model Penal Code just approved by the American Law Institute. I’ve been slogging through them little by little. This report says the same things that NARSOL and other advocacy groups have been saying for years. It is accurate, well documented and I don’t believe that even someone like Judge Armstead could argue with the authors legal credentials.


  8. AvatarSandra Harvey

    Sandy H
    My grandson was just sentenced to 16 yrs and lifetime monitoring and registration. He was a senior in high school and had just turned 18 yrs of age when after months being t
    sent suggestive photos, receiving numerous invitations to have sex , until one night he received a phone call saying she’d snuck out of her house and wanted him to pick her up. She was only 14 yrs old but (much older & wiser for her years then he and his teenage hormones and immature mind gave in and picked her up. Afterwards he was on his way to take her home when they were encountered by her father who had headed directly to my grandsons home when he was alerted by his parents that his daughter had snuck out again. It wasn’t he first time , he wasn’t the first boy, just the first time she’d been caught. Her story immediately went to a rape scenario and even though the sexual assault kit did not show any signs of trauma or blood and numerous other males told the police they’d received photos & invitations from her as well, she was the victim so none of it was allowed in court. After working as a child advocate in the KS court system for years my first instinct was to have her tested for psychological problems due to her overt behavior for a such a young girl and given the fact she lived in the basement of her grandparents home with her “father” and was more than just a little overly protective. Again because she was the victim it was only my grandson ordered to be tested and even though it revealed he was exceptionally immature for his age . In spite of this and and the fact he’d never been in any kind of trouble before, in fact the only time he’d been away from home was for church camp and the times he spent with me , the judge deemed him a danger to young girls and as I said he was sentenced to 16 yrs, lifetime parole, and registry . He cry’s when he calls me and says how he wants to come home. I understand that he made a very bad judgment call because he had just turned 18 but frankly I don’t believe he ever understood he was then considered an adult. It’s been a rude awakening and once they’ve finished with their evaluation at the El Dorado Corrections facility in KS where they will decide which prison he’ll be sent to , he’ll be housed with true criminals and any chance of the sweet , loving, person he is now remaining after 16 yrs is zero. Then he look forward to the pain of trying to live any kind of normal life on the registry and continued parol to boot ! These laws are spinning out of control and are being used now in ways they were never original meant to be. They originated after a very young girls was tortured and murdered, then buried under the mans steps just across the street from where she lived . That was the beginning of the first law and meant to protect children from true predators, not people like my grandson and countless other men serving years and years of their lives for similar crimes and less. These laws must be changed, you’re right their on roll and that will continue until we begin to fight to stop it. So many times a politician wants to be elected sex offense laws are their platform. Until the public is educated and begins to understand that all of the these sex crimes can not be lumped together and the offenders sentenced according to a box , grid, or any or generalized way. I’m worried to death that grandson will be used all the years he’s in prison or even killed if he they don’t break him and he kills himself . Thank you for reading

    1. AvatarWilliam

      What gets me is today they are handing out lifetime parole….how???? That is a life sentence. Like me….i am lifetime gps for downloading pictures…..

    2. AvatarThe King of Facebook

      If someone says they were raped the first thing we think shouldn’t be “What kind of rape was it?”. There shouldn’t be statutory rape laws because they lessen the horror of actual rape.

  9. AvatarSandra Harvey

    I just left a comment and wanted to add that I’ve been a NARSOL member since my grandsons arrest more than two years ago. I have written about him before and was even touch with the NARSOL representative in KS . She did tell me she was the only one in KS and it was hard to get get support and apparently she quit because her responses simply stopped.

    1. AvatarVictor

      Hi Sandra,

      I understand what you are going through as well as your grandson. I have been on the Florida registry since I was 19. I will be 43 this year. Your grandson’s crime is similar to mine. I was convicted in North Carolina in 1998 and sent to live with my mother in South Florida. I petitioned for release of registration in NC and it was granted. However FL still keeps me on registry even though I now live in Washington state.

      If I were your grandson, I would spend my time gaining specialized skills for the workforce and some college as well. Tell him to use the system for they have!!!! Its a technical world, probably computer science, machine learning, capentry, mechanics… to name a few. He has the time to educate himself and come out further ahead than others that are not incacerated. Use the system.

  10. AvatarTimd

    This justice is an idiot. I wonder if a former president could get sex offenders to rally at the Supreme Court to see how that goes. ALI even agrees it’s punitive, they say It hurts more people than it helps. You already know that the Supreme Court is never going to see it any other way, because they call it civil not punitive.These judges need a 4 yr term and that’s it. They’re so far behind the times their still waiting to take a ride on the Titanic. They need to go. Unless there is some kind of push back or riot we’re never going to be heard. I’m sick of living like this. Modern day lepers is what we are.

  11. Avatartrevor sisk

    So why don’t we say this to Justice Armstead?? Judges don’t get mail? An official letter from NARSOL would be best way to do that. You’re preaching to the choir here.

  12. AvatarDerek

    I pray yoyr grandson will be protected, and I believe he will , meet a guy on the registry from Kansas who did time for a sex crime he said kansas was pretty laid back .. I did the same thing 20 years ago almost and I was 23 , and very immature and had know idea of the registry, sex crimes any of it. I would of thought yiu maybe got a ticket contributing to a minor , but prison, registry never , They are making monsters outta of people being people, 1 day hopefully sooner than later. Real justice will be brought back and real protection for those that need it , Like I say not sure in Kansas but my state will take that same girl charge her as adult if she commits certain crimes but If she chooses to have sex with someone older than her allowed sex limit of 17 , she’s a victim he’s rapist , it’s wrong I’ve thought about this alot for alot of years , my decision like your grandsons wasn’t tge best decision but it also wasn’t that decision that they make it out to be . They like a few young men In every state to pay the high price but if the numbers are low enough not alot of noise will be made and they can scare and discourage, others from earing from the forbidden tree ,

  13. AvatarNate Rinken

    Then why are we all not writing to this judge to correct him. Let’s send some informational packets his way. Send it directly to his office.

  14. AvatarNate Rinken

    Send his contact information and let us flex our 1st amendment right and bombard his mail with the correct information. He won’t be making this mistake again. Well unless he’s corrupt, he’ll just find another reason. But shut his reasoning down one by one.

  15. AvatarJohn Logan

    judge Armstead is a poster child for Paul Simons famous lyric: A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.

  16. Avatarrpsabq

    NARSOL should file a complaint with the Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline. He is in violation of its 2nd Canon which states, “A judge shall uphold and apply the law,* and shall perform all duties of judicial office fairly and impartially.*

  17. AvatarGregory Morros

    A plea, and a please……??

    The judge is just gonna laugh. chuckle. grin an evil little grin. then laugh some more.

    I’m saying the truly sick ones are always idiotic enough to show their true colors. As Armstead clearly did. His writing betrays his chicanery and lack of true intelligence.

    Being a little too nice me thinks.

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