Dear Members and Advocates,

The fact recitals from the court’s order in a case out of the Southern District of Illinois last week reads like a horror story.

A corrections officer from Theodore Beasley’s unit at Shawnee Correctional Center tells the other inmates Beasley is a “child molester”. During the inevitable beating he received from another inmate, Sergeant Hicks could be heard laughing outside the cell as Beasley called for help. After officers extracted the beaten Beasley from his cell, “The officer escorted Plaintiff to the front of the wing, where he began beating Plaintiff. The officer elbowed Plaintiff and punched him repeatedly in his head and face. Plaintiff fell to the floor. As he attempted to shield himself from additional blows, he felt Sergeant Hicks’ boot on his face.

His repeated requests for medical help were ignored. “His face and nose were bleeding, cut, and badly injured. His eyes were swollen shut. His wrists were swollen, and his hands were numb from the tight cuffs… When Plaintiff regained consciousness, Lieutenant Hamilton was dragging him—feet overhead—back to the cage… On the way, [the officers] beat him, struck him in the face, and stomped on his bare feet with their boot heels. By the time they reached the HCU, Plaintiff’s face was allegedly “unrecognizable.””

The case these horrifying facts come from are not the criminal charges against the attackers, but a decision on whether Beasley could pursue claims against his attackers and sue the prison for refusing medical attention. (Beasley v. Hicks, Dist. Court, SD Illinois 2018). It seems nothing happened to the attackers, yet ironically Beasley’s ordeal makes him one of the lucky ones. He survived the attack. James Mills, who was incarcerated in Pinellas County (Florida) for a registration violation is on a feeding tube after being attacked last week. Wesley C. Moore, serving a sentence for a registration violation was killed at Century Correctional Institution in Florida the week before.

People required to register as “Sex offenders”, who are jailed for violations (something that is otherwise non-criminal) are being targeted by officers and inmates. People required to register as “Sex offenders” who are living law abiding lives are being attacked by vigilantes in their own homes. People required to register as “Sex offenders” are being targeted in phone scams across the country. The families, friends and employers of people required to register as “Sex offenders” are subjected to stigma and cruelty.

A human being compelled to register as a “sex offender” is not like filling out an application at Price Club, as Justice Roberts of the US Supreme Court suggested when he was arguing for the State in Smith v. Doe. It’s NOTHING like that. Compelling a human being to register as a sex offender is like painting a fluorescent bullseye on a deer during hunting season! If Justice Kennedy, who wrote the opinion for the Supreme court in Smith, didn’t have the integrity to correct the mistake he made 15 years ago (yes, Smith v. Doe was that long ago) when he was given the opportunity in Does v. Snyder, good riddance to him! At least the SCOTUS denied certiorari, allowing Snyder to stand, but we need a more just and unprejudiced justice to finally do the right thing.

Last night President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy created when Justice Kennedy retires from the US Supreme court at the end of this month. Kavanaugh was a former law clerk for Kennedy, so it’s quite likely that many of his views will be similar (it’s known that the clerks do a lot of the research and writing for the Justices). That said; that was 25 years ago, and since that time Kavanaugh has done a few other things that likely give us some hints as to why Trump selected him to succeed Kennedy. Kavanaugh was also on Kenneth Starr’s team when he was investigating former President, and Trump adversary, Bill Clinton. Then, years later Kavanaugh had a shift on that position and opined that sitting Presidents should not be investigated. Likely another bonus point in Trump’s mind.

Setting aside the reasons for his selection, how will Kavanaugh impact us in our issues? What we know about him is that he’s one of the more experienced candidates that were under consideration. He’s been a Judge at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, so he has experience in Federal court. He’s said to be more conservative than Kennedy on certain issues, such as reproductive rights and affirmative action. Where Kennedy was previously a swing vote on these issues, Kavanaugh might have easily swung the other way. From a human rights and liberties perspective, that may not be such a good thing. Politically, he’s also more involved than many others. He worked as a legal advisor in the White House under George Bush, was involved in the Clinton investigation and by mere proximity (he’s been in Washington DC his entire life and currently sits on the Court there), he’s been closer to politics than others. For a group advocating a very politically unpopular opinion, that’s not a good thing for us.

At the end of the day; who knows? We were concerned about Neil Gorsuch, but in the end, he’s a firm believer in the Constitution and our position is firmly rooted in Constitutional rights. When it comes to First Amendment arguments or Ex Post Facto, Gorsuch would be good for our cause. While Kavanaugh was once on the prosecution end (during the investigation of Clinton), he was not afraid to change his opinion on that matter, leaving us hopeful that as more information and evidence comes before him, his opinion may change. That is likely what the President is hoping for when the Court has the opportunity to reconsider Roe v. Wade/Planned Parenthood v. Casey. That is what we are hoping for when the SCOTUS is in the position, one day, to reconsider Smith v. Doe.

Registration is no longer just like filling out an application at Price Club! If you don’t believe it, just ask James Mills and Wesley Moore… that is if they were still around to answer.


The Florida Action Committee


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