Recent Victory Against the DOC with Regard to Supervision
We have had a recent victory against the DOC with regard to supervision of someone who is required to register as a sex offender, but who is not currently under supervision for a sex offense.
Facts: We learned about an ex-offender who was assigned to live on a street corner in Mesa fro 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. He was allowed to go to his father’s house during the day. No restrooms or water available on street corner. Offender had a sex offense 20 years ago and had fully expired that sentence. He was required to register as a sex offender (which is not supposed to be a punishment), but after 15 years in the community, he had committed a drug offense. He was released from prison in May 2017 on the drug offense.
DOC immediately imposed sex offender terms of supervision, including placing him on GPS monitoring, imposing curfew, ordering that he could have no contact with children under 18, etc.
He could not “live” at his father’s house because it is within 1 mile of a school (state/city law), but he was allowed to hang out there (during the time when school would be in session!) from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day. At his assigned street corner, he slept in the open, in the heat, and exposed to anyone who wanted to harass him. He takes medication that causes frequent urination, but could not use the toilet at a Circle K across the street because it was outside of his 150-foot “inclusion” zone on his GPS monitor. Could not use the nearby restaurant bathroom unless he purchased something, and they closed at 11 p.m. each night.
James and I went to his “corner” and got the facts. Filed a lawsuit against DOC, seeking declaratory judgment. This means that if we win the lawsuit, all similarly situated sex offenders will be subject to the ruling we will ask for, and that is that the DOC is not permitted to treat someone with a twenty-year old sex offense, who is NOT on supervision for a sex offense, as a sex offender. This man must be supervised as a drug offender, which he is.
We were able to locate a group home for this man and with generous donations from ex-offenders and others, we placed him in the group home until his SSI benefits begin. Meanwhile, after filing the lawsuit, the DOC miraculously decided to remove his GPS monitoring device; he is still on curfew and is still not allowed to be around children under 18. The DOC’s lawyer has moved to have our lawsuit declared “moot” because they have removed the GPS device. However, because we filed it as a DECLARATORY JUDGMENT, a favorable ruling would not just affect this offender. It would require the DOC to stop treating ALL ex-sex-offenders as though they are current sex offenders while on supervision.
Obviously, this would not impact anyone who is currently or will soon be on supervision for a sex offense in the immediate past. But there is much case law, cited to in our lawsuit, which supports the argument that a person who is on supervision must be supervised with conditions that relate to the crime for which he/she is being supervised.
It is clear that DOC treats all sex offenders — even ones with decades-old offenses which have been fully expired — the same in order to “CYA.” (Cover-their-asses). But it is against the law to do so and we will continue to work to force them to change their policy. Offenders have enough problems to deal with upon release; they don’t need to deal with illegal imposition of conditions of supervision for crimes that are wholly unrelated to the current offense behavior.
If you know of an ex-offender who is required to register as a sex offender for an old offense, but who has fully expired his sex-related sentence and is not on any type of supervision (probation, etc.) for the sex offense, but who is on supervision for a completely different offense that is not sex-related, please provide his name and DOC #. The DOC claims that they have only four people in such circumstances as described. We don’t believe them; it is probably more.
Thank you for any helpful, accurate information you can provide.
Donna Leone Hamm, Judge (Ret.)
Director, Middle Ground Prison Reform
CEO, Donna Leone Hamm Consulting
MIDDLE GROUND IS ARIZONA’S PREMIER ADVOCACY ORGANIZATION PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF THE INCARCERATED SINCE 1983
Recent Victory Against the DOC with Regard to Supervision
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