Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What is SOhopeful Internation?

SOhopeful International, Inc., aka SOhopeful, is yet another organization formed to affect a change in laws regarding sex offender registration, due to the belief by those same offenders that they are being treated unfairly as a result of the current laws in place.

SOhopeful was formerly known as the SOhopeful Legal Defense Fund, which was an organization designed to raise funds in an effort to bring about a change in sex offender laws in the State of Oregon specifically. Tom Madison, a convicted sex offender, joined the group following his own conviction and requirement to register on the state's registry. From there he decided to create SOhopeful, and later SOhopeful International, to serve beyond fund raising efforts as a political action group which would seek out registered sex offenders to join in his campaign. SOhopeful has chapters in all 50 states with other members from Canada and from the United Kingdom as well. Made up of convicted sex offenders, family, friends and supporters, the group is currently under the leadership of Carolyn Ferguson, a former sexual abuse victim as a child who has friends she claims were falsely accused of sex crimes.

SOhopeful would like legislators, the media, and the general public, to believe that registered sex offenders are largely made up of people who do not need or deserve monitoring or restrictive laws, stating that a large number of offenders are persons who were convicted of crimes related to offenses such as urinating in public, taking photos of babies breastfeeding, and "consensual" statutory rape. They claim extremely low rates of recidivism, yet fail to recognize that such low rates are a good indicator that the current laws are serving their purpose. SOhopeful has even gone so far as to claim that children are victims of current sex offender registration laws because it leaves them fatherless and vulnerable to emotional and behavioral problems, rape, drug use, pregnancy and even suicide.

Update:One of the co-founders, Jim Freeman was recently arrested on child porn charges.

In the early evening of March 7, 2008, the SOhopeful Board of Directors released this statement after it became obvious to them that the media had picked up on the story of Jim Freeman's indictment and his connection with their group:

Advocate's Arrest for Child Pornography Leaves Colleagues Outraged, Betrayed

SOhopeful International, Inc., an organization that has advocated for years that laws springing from Meagan's Laws all over the USA be modified according to professionally directed best practices to ensure safety of all citizens, regretfully reports that its Interim Executive Director, James 'Jim' Freeman, of Santa Rosa Beach, FL, has been arrested in connection with a global child pornography ring. He has been removed from his position and the organization.

Santa Rosa Beach, FL -- March 7, 2008 -- The Board of Directors is horrified and disheartened about this unfortunate situation. No member of SOhopeful leadership had any knowledge that Mr. Freeman was involved in any activity that was unethical or illegal. The Board of Directors is addressing internal structural and security issues, and law enforcement would have SOhopeful's full cooperation, if requested.

The Board's outrage, shock, horror, and deep sense of betrayal, anger and humiliation at what Mr. Freeman has allegedly done only pales in comparison to what the child victims of the pornography ring have endured and will continue to deal with the rest of their lives. The hearts and prayers of every member of SOhopeful go out to the many child victims. Everyone in the organization is just in utter shock and is horrified, but both the members and Board of Directors will grieve for the victims, pick up the pieces and carry on with the organization's mission. Those child victims and all children are depending on SOhopeful. Despite the unfortunate situation, the goal of SOhopeful remains: NO MORE VICTIMS!

A few hours later, this statement was replaced on their main page with a notice of the groups dissolution:

SOhopeful International, Inc., has officially dissolved.

Many members had come to rely upon the forum for a place of refuge, support, et cetera. Support is available at forums.sexoffenderalliance.com or through www.healingwives.com, both of which are places that do provide support for former offenders (in the case of the former) and their wives (in the case of the latter). Many thanks all SOhopeful members for the hard work that has been done over the years to make SOhopeful International, Inc., a place where good research information was available, where support for right living could be found, and a place to share ideas on how to advocate for rational legislation could be found as well. We regret the unfortunate turn of events that has led to this decision.

  • Education of the public, legislators and the media to dispel the numerous myths about sex offenders utilizing solid facts from reputable agencies and professional organizations;
  • Strengthen Megan's Law by eliminating the majority of registrants which are low risk;
  • The conformity of state and federal laws, specifically: age of consent, and which actions constitute a sex offence;
  • Establishment of rational and consistent criteria for risk assessment and adoption of procedure to challenge/amend risk assessment level;
  • Re-examination of policies that mandate intense (and in some US states lifelong) supervision of lowest-risk registrants;
  • Preservation and maintenance of the family unit - all registrants are more successful with support systems in place;
  • Maintain civil rights per the United States and State Constitutions and respective documents in other countries;
  • Prevent unjust application of federal and state statutes and rules; and
  • Provide informational resources and networking opportunities for convicted former sex offenders and their families.

Web Site Addresses

SOhopeful International, Inc.
SOhopeful's Cafepress store
SOhopeful's Forums

Last Known Address

1900 NE 181st Ave., Suite 111
Portland, OR 97230

Last Known Telephone Numbers


Organizational Staff

Note:The "executive positions" of this organization change often and rapidly. The following people hold, or have held, the following positions:

Carolyn Ferguson - Executive Director, Communications Director, Board Member
Tom Madison - Finance Director
Jim Freeman - Legal Affairs Director, Executive Director, Co-founder
Christine - Non-Offending Parent Outreach
Liz - Media Project Coordinator
Antonio - Juvenile Issues Coordinator

Related Organizations

Reform Sex Offender Laws Campaign
Roar for Freedom

No comments: