National Conference Report
RSOL just concluded a fabulous conference last Saturday in Dallas Texas. We are grateful that three members of RSOL-NM’s Board of Directors took time out of their personal lives to represent our state and play important roles in the conference. Our members did the following:
- Rick headed up the security operations and also chairs the Electoral Committee (EC) which screens prospective new members of the Admin Team;
- Larry serves on the Admin Team and presented three workshops; and
- Lloyd put on a workshop and conducted the live auction fundraiser.
Overall, I felt that the conference was a success although the attendance has dropped the last two years from the high-water mark set in New Mexico back in 2012. Most of the speakers were fantastic and very motivational. In addition, I found the workshops were informative and well done. The most important speaker to me was Melissa Hamilton about “The Science of Risk Assessments”. She explained how treatment and risk assessments have become a huge business and often work to the detriment of the offender. Dr. Steven Davidson delivered a the most inspiring speech from my perspective. Dr. Davidson is a minister whose son was placed on the registry after engaging in consensual relations with an underage girl. He spoke eloquently about “injustice in this great nation.” The Admin Team (AT) conducted a pre-conference meeting/retreat that lasted for approximately 6 hours. The team engaged in a critical analysis of our successes and failures over the past year and set priorities for the coming year. You will hear more from the AT very soon.
This is the 5th conference I have attended only having missed last year’s conference in Los Angeles. It’s easy to forget the value and camaraderie one feels when in the presence of more than 100 committed civil rights organizers and the friendships you build despite meeting for only a few days. There is comfort in this gathering as well as knowledge to be gained. My impression is that there has been an evolution in what was discussed at each conference. Some highlights from this years’ conference included:
- A complete debunking of risk assessment tools by the foremost expert;
- A perspective from a pastor in the bible belt with a child on the registry that is not convicted of a sex offense because he received a “deferred adjudication,’ yet he was denied removal under the Texas removal process;
- Larry’s clear demonstration of the political influence that has resulted from the conservative “get tough on crime” policies;
- The absolutely amazing “Worst Mom in America” Lenore Skenazy and her humorous take on a wider threat of our fear driven society; and her second presentation she upped the ante by bringing in one of the most famous publicists in the world, of Men are from Mars and Woman are from Venus and the Supersize Guy Fame. Wow!
Are there things I would change? Sure, and I would like to see us move forward beyond the attendance mark our small New Mexico group set two years again which may involve us hosting another conference. Regardless of where the conference is held next year, I hope you will consider making the pilgrimage and see what it is all about.
This years’ Conference was at a wonderful facility provided by some very gracious people. This location helped to make security a breeze. I worked the largest portion of this conference and was only able to attend a couple presentations. I did meet many new people from other states and reconnect with others from previous conferences. It is encouraging to know that meaningful change is happening in different states and that the train (that is this movement) has begun to roll. To help it pick up steam we all need to pitch in, whenever, however and wherever we can. I did break a sweat helping Lloyd in the auction which was lots of fun.