WA Sex Offender Registration Requirements Can Cause Indefinite Opportunity For Imprisonment Of The Homeless

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

A recent case before the Washington Court of Appeals for Division I highlights what has as a direct result of an increasingly punitive legislation become a perilous trap for a homeless, mentally handicapped citizen–and by extension likely many more.

In February 1998, when he was 23 years old, Jayson Lee Boyd had sex with a 15 year old. On May 27, 1999, Boyd pleaded guilty to Rape of a Child in the Third degree. Boyd was sentenced on July 29, 1999. He has not committed a sex offense since his original conviction. Nevertheless, he is required to register as a sex offender under RCW 9A.44.130 and RCW 9A.44.140. Since his original conviction in 1999, Boyd has been convicted of failure to register as a sex offender three times, all in Skagit County.

Thus his station in life: Seemingly perpetual incarceration is his future.

Boyd is homeless, has a 9th or 10th grade education, and is mentally ill. At the time of his crime in 1998, homeless sex offenders were not required to register as sex offenders because they did not have addresses. (Former RCW 9A.44.130 (1998); State v. Pickett, 95 Wn. App. 475, 478, 975 P.2d 584 (1999)). The legislature subsequently amended RCW 9A.44.130 to require homeless sex offenders who lacked a fixed address to update the county sheriff weekly, in person, of their whereabouts. Laws of 1999, 1st Spec. Sess., ch. 6, §§ 1-3; former RCW 9A.44.130 (2000); former RCW 9A.44.130 (2011).

Boyd largely complied with the registration requirement but pleaded guilty to crimes of failure to register in 2009, 2010, and 2013. After his most recent release from confinement, Boyd has registered a change of address with the Skagit County sheriff more than 20 times. Boyd registered as a transient on December 11, 2014 and checked in weekly for the next six weeks. He failed to check in with the sheriff during the last week of January and the first two weeks of February 2015.

In March 2015, the State charged Boyd with failure to register as a sex offender between January 27, 2015 and February 10, 2015. The court ordered a competency evaluation after Boyd rambled incoherently during a pretrial hearing. A month later, after Boyd was found competent to stand trial, the court held another hearing. At that hearing, the court issued a scheduling order, which Boyd signed, setting the next hearing date for November 6, 2015. While explaining the order to Boyd, however, the court misspoke—it told Boyd that he needed to appear on December 6, 2015. After Boyd failed to appear on November 6, 2015, the State amended the information to add a charge for bail jumping.

Boyd was convicted by a jury as charged and sentenced to 45 months in prison.

Boyd appealed his conviction arguing that:

  1. The current sex offender registration statute, as applied, violates the ex post facto clause of the state and federal constitutions.
  2. There was insufficient evidence to convict him of failure to register and bail jumping.
  3. The trial court abused its discretion by denying his motion for a mistrial based on prosecutorial misconduct.
  4. The trial court incorrectly denied his proposed reasonable doubt instruction.

Ultimately, two of the appellate judges rejected each of the claims raised by Boyd–see slip opinion HERE.

In her dissent, Judge Mary Kay Becker established what I believe to be not only a compelling argument for releasing Mr. Boyd, It should be used a template for which the legislature needs to readdress existing Sex Offender Legislation.

I respectfully dissent. In 1998, when appellant Jayson Boyd committed a sex offense, registrants had no in-person reporting requirements. Now, a registrant like Boyd who lacks a fixed residence must report in person to the county sheriff at least 52 times each year. If Boyd had not been subjected to the statutory amendment enacted in 1999, he would have been free of the registration statute long ago and the legal jeopardy it has put him in repeatedly for failure to report. His 2015 conviction for failure to show up at the sheriff’s office to provide a weekly update is an ex post facto violation and should be reversed and dismissed.

In 1998, when Boyd was 23 years old, he had sex with a 15-year-old and was convicted in Skagit County of third degree child rape, a class C felony. He was given a standard range sentence of 15 to 20 months. Under the then-existing version of the registration statute, a class C felony sex offense conviction carried with it a registration requirement that ended 10 years after the offender’s release from confinement. Former RCW 9A.44.140(1)(c) (1997). Those who were subject to the statute were required to register with the county sheriff, to provide an “address” and other information, and to give the sheriff written notice of any change of “residence address” within a few days of moving. Former RCW 9A.44.130(1)-(4) (1997). Failing to register or update information when a change occurred was defined as either a class C felony or a gross misdemeanor. Former RCW 9A.44.130(7) (1997). There was no requirement for in-person reporting.

In 1999, legislators learned that the statute as written did not apply to sex offenders who lacked a fixed residence. State v. Pickett, 95 Wn. App. 475, 479-80, 975 P.2d 584 (1999). The defendant in Pickett was homeless and lived on the street, sometimes staying overnight in parks and sometimes on sidewalks. Although he registered an address in Everett, he was later found to be staying in and around Westlake Park in Seattle. He was charged and convicted of failing to register. This court reversed the conviction for insufficiency of the evidence. We held that the statute did not contemplate the situation of a person who did not have a “residence” as that term is commonly understood. Pickett, 95 Wn. App. at 479.

Responding to Pickett, the legislature amended the statute in 1999 to apply to sex offenders “whether or not the person has a fixed residence.” Laws of 1999, 1st Spec. Sess., ch. 6, §§ 1, 2; former RCW 9A.44.130(1) (1999). Transients were required to report to the sheriff in person weekly or monthly, depending on their level of risk. Former RCW 9A.44.130(6)(b) (1999).

More recent amendments have made the reporting requirement still more onerous. As of 2002, transient offenders must report in person once a week regardless of their risk level. Former RCW 9A.44.130(6)(b) (2002). Since 2010, failure to register is a class B felony when the offender has one or more previous convictions for failure to register. RCW 9A.44.132(1)(b). Another change is that all transient offenders are now subject to disclosure of information to the public at large, regardless of their risk assessment. RCW 9A.44.130(6)(b).

Boyd is required to make weekly in-person reports every Monday between 8:30 a.m. and noon at the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office in Mount Vernon. During these weekly check-ins, Boyd must provide a written list of the places where he has slept for the past week. Examples of Boyd’s entries include “Hwy 9,” “Concrete apt. #3 behind bakery,” and “Concrete fishing.” Boyd has occasionally missed his weekly visit to the sheriff’s office. He has convictions for failure to register in 2009, 2010, 2013, and, most recently, in 2015—the conviction challenged in this appeal. For the 2015 conviction, Boyd is currently serving a 45-month prison term.

Boyd’s duty to check in every week in person after he is released will continue for many years and perhaps for his entire life if the statute as presently written is applied to him. The duty to register continues indefinitely for a sex offender whose conviction was for a class A felony or who has a previous conviction for a sex offense. RCW 9A.44.140(1). It continues for 15 years from the last date of confinement if the conviction is for a class B felony and the offender has no previous sex offense convictions. RCW 9A.44.140(2). For an offender whose only sex offense conviction is a class C felony, the duty to register can end 10 years after release from confinement. RCW 9A.44.140(3). But the 10-year and 15-year end dates present a moving target. They arrive only if the person spends the 10- or 15-year period in the community without being convicted of a “disqualifying offense” during that time period. RCW 9A.44.140(2), (3). A disqualifying offense is a conviction for any felony. RCW 9A.44.128(3). A conviction for failure to register is a felony. Even though Boyd’s initial sex offense conviction was for a class C felony, every time he is convicted of failure to register, the clock starts anew and his duty to report weekly is extended. An offender who has a duty to register may petition for relief from the reporting requirement under narrow circumstances set forth in RCW 9A.44.142, but even in those circumstances, relief is difficult to obtain and entirely discretionary. RCW 9A.44.142(4).

The question before this court is not whether the registration statute is unconstitutional as presently written. The question is whether the statute as presently written is unconstitutional when applied to persons without a fixed residence whose offenses were committed before 1999. An otherwise valid statute or regulation becomes an unconstitutional ex post facto violation when it “increases the quantum of punishment annexed to the crime when it was committed.” State v. Ward, 123 Wn.2d 488, 496, 869 P.2d 1062 (1994). The quantum of punishment annexed to Boyd’s crime when it was committed has been increased by amendments to the registration statute.

The 1999 amendment requiring weekly in-person reporting makes Washington’s statute perhaps the most burdensome in the country. The Supreme Court upheld an Alaska registration statute against an ex post facto challenge in part because it did not require in-person updates. Smith v. Doe, 538 U.S. 84, 101, 123 S. Ct. 1140, 155 L. Ed. 2d 164 (2003). Washington’s statute now goes well beyond requirements that other jurisdictions have held unconstitutional in ex post facto challenges. See John Does #1-5 v. Snyder, 834 F.3d 696, 703 (6th Cir. 2016) (quarterly or annual in-person registration now required by Michigan is an affirmative disability converting the statute from regulatory to punitive), cert. denied, 138 S. Ct. 55 (2017); State v. Letalien, 2009 ME 130, 985 A.2d 4, 18 (quarterly in-person registration for life is an affirmative disability); Doe v. State, 167 N.H. 382, 392, 404-05, 111 A.3d 1077 (2015) (revisiting the statute in light of changes making it punitive, including requirement for quarterly in-person registration); Starkey v. Okla. Dep’t of Corr., 2013 OK 43, 305 P.3d 1004, 1022-25 (in-person registration required at pain of criminal punishment is affirmative disability); Commonwealth v. Muniz, 164 A.3d 1189, 1210-11 (Pa. 2017) (monthly in-person registration requirement is an affirmative disability), petition for cert. filed, No. 17-575 (U.S. Oct. 13, 2017).

Imprisonment is the paradigmatic affirmative disability or restraint. Smith, 538 U.S. at 99-100. As Boyd’s case illustrates, Washington’s weekly reporting requirement can readily lead to an unending cycle of imprisonment for transient offenders, particularly those who are dealing with mental health issues. Though Boyd’s only crime of sexual misconduct was committed when he was 23, he has been imprisoned four times since then for failing to comply with the amended registration requirements. If his history is any indication, he will continue to be imprisoned as punishment for the crime of failure to register—further extending his reporting term.

The statute in effect when Boyd committed a sex offense merely required him to register. The requirement to register, by itself, is not historically regarded as punishment. Ward, 123 Wn.2d at 496. But when a homeless offender has to travel in person to the sheriff’s office every Monday morning to report all overnight locations during the past week, the duty resembles a requirement to meet periodically with a probation or parole officer, a sanction historically regarded as punishment. See Muniz, 164 A.3d at 1211-13. And the failure to report in person can lead to incarceration, just as failure to comply with a probation requirement can lead to revocation and imprisonment. The Alaska statute considered in Smith was held not to be punitive in part because it did not contain mandatory conditions comparable to probation. Smith, 538 U.S. at 101. The Snyder court stated that while Michigan’s offender registration law “is not identical to any traditional punishments, it meets the general definition of punishment, has much in common with banishment and public shaming, and has a number of similarities to parole/probation.” Snyder, 834 F.3d at 703. In Letalien, a new requirement that offenders register for life was seen by the court as consistent with sanctions historically considered punishment. The court held that it was an ex post facto violation when applied to offenders whose registration obligation had been 5 to 15 years under the statute in effect when they were convicted. Letalien, 985 A.2d at 19-21.

Another consideration in the ex post facto analysis is whether the transient registration requirements are excessive in relationship to their nonpunitive purposes. Aside from failing to register, Boyd has not been charged with a sex offense in 19 years. Yet once he is released from prison, he must appear in Mount Vernon every Monday between 8:30 a.m. and noon, 52 weeks a year, for a minimum of 10 more years, no matter how far away it may be or how hard it is to get there.4Link to the text of the note RCW 9A.44.140. Assuming at least a 10-year duration, that is a minimum of 520 visits to the sheriff’s office. Failure to appear at any one of these check-ins will expose Boyd to prosecution for a class B felony, and a conviction will begin the cycle anew.

The inability of offenders to petition for relief is another factor indicating that sex offender registry requirements are excessive in relation to any nonpunitive purpose. Doe, 167 N.H. at 410. Similarly, a system that fails to consider the threat posed by an offender is evidence of excessiveness. Starkey, 305 P.3d at 1029-30. To avoid criminal prosecution, homeless registrants in Washington must continue reporting week after week for at least 10 or 15 years, no matter what evidence they may be able to offer of rehabilitation or incapacitation.

The punitive excess of the reporting requirements our State imposes on homeless persons is particularly glaring when compared to the relatively minor burden imposed on offenders who register from a fixed residence. Those individuals need only notify the sheriff by mail within three days of a change in registration information. RCW 9A.44.130(5). There is no requirement to report in person. In my judgment, the weekly reporting burden imposed on homeless individuals outweighs the nonpunitive purpose of letting the sheriff know, for example, that on the previous Tuesday the individual in question stayed overnight behind the bakery in Concrete.

Our statute has grown steadily harsher, especially as applied to homeless offenders. I believe it is time to reconsider the ex post facto analysis of the statute in light of the changes since Ward. I would join the jurisdictions holding that frequent in-person reporting requirements render a registration statute so punitive that applying it retroactively violates the constitution. I would reverse Boyd’s conviction and remand for dismissal with prejudice.

As should appear obvious to most readers, Mr. Boyd and certainly other homeless registered sex offenders face a consequence greatly exceeding those of most sex offenders. In essence Mr. Boyd represents a revolving door of homelessness and incarceration. Incarceration resulting solely in violating administrative rules. Though the appeals court majority argues the sex offender registration violation is not punitive in nature with regard to Mr. Boyd’s conviction. I find it hard to accept that this in fact does not represent a result that is directly alike to the effects of punishment.

I do not recommend this often, in fact I have only done so professionally twice, but the only hope that Jayson Boyd has to end this decades long trap is a full pardon by Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee of his original conviction and those subsequently for his failures to register.

The legislature needs to also reassess its priorities for low risk sex offenders.

By Darren Smith

Source: State v. Boyd

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

26 thoughts on “WA Sex Offender Registration Requirements Can Cause Indefinite Opportunity For Imprisonment Of The Homeless

  1. One obvious solution is to change the sex offender registry. Or at least change who gets on it. A person who has consensual sex with a person who is under 18 isn’t the same as a rapist. This is especially true if the person doesn’t know the minor is under 18. It is stupid to say a person who has sex with a person who is 10 minutes from their 18th birthday is a evil disgusting rapist but the person who waited 10 minutes is fine.

    Likewise a person who urinated outside in what they thought no one was around but a child saw them shouldn’t be treated as a flasher

  2. I agree with the dissenting judge. I can’t believe I am saying this, but their registration requirements for the homeless are not tenable. The very fact that they are homeless, especially for long periods of time, denotes that they have some sort of incapacity. 52 trips to the sheriff’s office a year is difficult for anyone to maintain, let alone someone with some sort of mental incapacity. It is also more onerous then those who register an address.

    I absolutely want to know where sex offenders are. Homeless offenders pose a very difficult problem. No one should be living on the street, but there are many who refuse to go to shelters. Some shelters are over crowded. Some are unsafe. Some people don’t want to go there because you’re not supposed to do drugs.

    I don’t think the answer is to make anyone check in 52 times a year.

    Great article, Darren. This is an aspect of homelessness we don’t hear much about.

    • Too much of an inconvenience? Too difficult to do once a week? Too onerous? How often do you think that victims, of sexual abuse, are required to revisit and remember said abuse? You think that it may be more often than once a week? If so–if you believe that victims, of sexual abuse are terrorized and impacted by such abuse more than one a week in their scarred lives–then this is requirment, for the convicted criminal, is not too onerous for the predator. If these tumbleweeds were more stable, where requiring that they supply an address meant that these individuals would remain in such locations for an extended period, then, of course, weekly reports would not be necessary; however, that, obviously, is not the case. These criminals change locations like you change your socks. The community has a right to know where these predators reside. This is a safety issue. Law inforcement needs to know where these criminals are located at any given time. Often, these people reoffend. Period.

      • I commend you for your unabashed display of breathtaking ignorance. You are allowed your own opinion–no matter how disconnected from reality–but not your own facts. Bravo! Never let the facts change your mind, you just keep on doing you.

        this is to “I usually just make sh*t up” bammie

  3. Are we to mourn his station in life. . .incarceration? Compared to his life’s trajectory, over the course of the past 20 years, it appears as though incarceration may, in fact, be a godsend. Let’s be brutally honest–for the past 20 or so years, he has roamed the streets, most probably, sleeping under bridges and, most assuredly, defecating in the city streets and alley ways, with no access to hygiene, no access to an education, with no steady and reliable access to medical treatment, with no access to training or employment skills and with no access to treatment for his mental illness. At least, while incarcerated, for his repeated failures to register with the authorities as a sex offender, he may–just, may–have the chance to turn his life around. Don’t get your panties all in a twist. . .just hear me out. In prison, at least, he will have a roof over his head, a clean bed, access to showers, three squares a day, a chance at continuing his education, access to medical and dental treatment, not to mention, medication and treatment to control his mental illness. Yes. Incarceration, at least in the particular situation, might serve to turn this lost soul’s life around. . .obviously, his existence, on the streets, has not.

  4. There’s reason to expect that ALEC legislators (the friends of the Koch’s who bear responsibility for the U.S. having the largest incarceration rate in the world, a situation that coincidentally feeds private prisons), will be routed.
    The 39th Democratic politician, since Trump took office, just flipped a state legislative seat to blue.

  5. Rape of a child in the third degree.
    (1) A person is guilty of rape of a child in the third degree when the person has sexual intercourse with another who is at least fourteen years old but less than sixteen years old and not married to the perpetrator and the perpetrator is at least forty-eight months older than the victim.

    Was his crime that he had consensual sex with a 15 year old, having exceeded the physical age tolerance by 4 years? If so, had he waited for her to turn 16, some how magically his act would have been legal. And for that he’s given a 10 year sentence to be on the registry and tripwires that would extend the registry requirement should he fail to comply. Also, never mind that he may have the mental capacity at or below his “victim”.

    Based strictly on what has been provided here, this does not seem to be justice served.

  6. This guy hasn’t molested anyone for 19 years?! He must have learned his lesson after his first incarceration. If he were a threat he would have raped again by now – those people are unable to keep their ahem, “hands” off children. Prisons making $$$ as usual.

    • Actually, repeatedly verified evidence shows that sex offenders have the lowest recidivism rate of all types of offender with the exception of murderers. But don’t let the facts stop a good fable. You keep on doing you.

      this is to “but I heard it from the cashier at the piggly wiggly” autumn

  7. There should be other means imposed to prevent sex offenders from committing sex crimes again. Cut off the parts of the body used to commit sex crimes. Blind them. If mentally ill then lock them up in a mental ward until they heal.

  8. Reporting weekly does seem onerous. It is like a lot of these Drug Courts where the program requires you to drop everything and rush off for a drug test.They seem sometimes like they are designed to fail. I have seen people who said to hell with Drug Court, just let me serve my time and get out. Because the drug court program starts over every time they screw up and miss a deadline.

    Plus, I don’t see 23 and 15 being sooo wildly apart in ages. It’s not like he was a 60 year old who had sex with an 8 year old or something.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    • Squeeky, when someone has nothing to do. . .no job. . .no responsibilities. . .nothing–nada–to do but roam the streets, all day long. . .how is it onerous to require weekly updates with regard to a convicted sexual offender’s whereabouts? I don’t find that it should be onerous for him. He is, potentially, a continued threat, in the community in which he resides. Darren makes an unsubstantiated claim that this person has committed another sexual offense since his conviction. . .and, Karnac the Magnificent knows this, how? By the fact that he has not been caught or charged? That doesn’t mean that he hasn’t committed another crime of this nature. Not by a long shot. It just means that he hasn’t been charged with doing so.

  9. So, let’s see Darren. . .this individual is homeless, has a 9th or a 10th grade education and is, by all accounts, mentally ill, and, yet, miraculously, you choose to blame his life’s downward spiral–after admitting that he raped a child, at the age of 23–on the fact that registering as a sex offender is an unfair and undue burden upon him? Really? A bit shortsighted, including woefully naive, to say the least. I would suggest that it is, instead, a myriad of problems which appear to plague this particular individual. . .from a lack of education, to mental illness and to an inability to simply follow the most basic of rules, not to mention, the capacity to control his sexual urges, but, it seems, that you appear to believe that the requirement, whereby he is compelled to simply register his whereabouts, is, singularly, the undue and unfair burden, which has caused havoc and resulted in his life’s downhill spiral? I highly suspect that his life would still be off of the rails, even if the requirement to register as a sexual offender, would be lifted. No doubt about that. You honestly believe that he would scramble to go back to school and obtain his GED if ONLY it were not for this undue burden of registering? You honestly believe that he would take his meds, faithfully, which could probably stabilize his mental health issues, if ONLY it were not for this undue burden of registering as a sex offender? You honestly believe that he would turn his miserable and desperate life around if ONLY society were to lift this undue burden? Get real. He would be the same worthless waste of oxygen on this planet even if he were not required to register as a sex offender. . .still, just as under-educated. . .still, just as mentally ill. . .and, yes, still just as much a threat to those unsuspecting neighbors in his community. That’s right. I balance his burden of simply allowing the authorities to know where this sexual predator resides against the right of those, in his community, to comprehend who and what they have in its midst. The right of parents to protect the most vulnerable amongst us–children–from predators, like this. . .and, you know what? The side of the community, the side with the parents, the side with vulnerable and innocent children trumps this guy’s rights, every, single, solitary time. A simple cost/benefit analysis, and, in this one, the convicted child rapist loses, every, single time.

    Just curious, Darren. . .do you have children? Not trying to be personal; however, I suspect that you do not, because, if you did, you would easily comprehend the wisdom in demanding that a child rapist be required to report where he chooses to live. You think that pedophiles successfully lose their attraction to kids? Read the statistics. They don’t. Parents, with kids, get it. Get it, instinctively. . .regardless of the alleged burden and difficultirs, that such required reporting poses to the convicted predator. The scales should always tip in favor of the most innocent and vulnerable in society. As a former cop, I thought that you would, instinctively, get that, as well. My sympathy is not with this guy. . .it is with his victim, whose life will be scarred forever. If this guy must pay the price of registering, for the rest of his life, I’d say that he got off easy I’m comparison to his victim.

    • You, in your lack of understanding, have failed to recognize that none of these conditions were in existence when the defendant was convicted. These were applied drip-by-drip over the 19 years since he took the deal; none of them were part of the bargain which he agreed to. So your, breathless speech which probably talks about how horrible crime is, while no doubt of interest to some–possibly–entirely misses the point.

      this is to “my soapbox has a hole in it” bammie

  10. Apparently, per this Oxford style “Reason” debate, the common meme that sex offenders are most likely to re-offend is exactly wrong, backwards even. Apparently sex offenders are less likely to re-offend v. other criminals. The sex offender registry is one of the justice department’s worst inventions.

    The debate question is “Should we abolish the sex offender registry?” which the yes person won by about 35%, determined by the rate of persons who changed their vote after the debate. This is a must watch debate: https://reason.com/reasontv/2018/02/26/abolish-sex-offender-registry

    This case that Darren describes is awful, a travesty, a human life destroyed for nothing except a bad criminal justice meme. To say nothing of hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted. Sometimes one wonders how anything works in this world.

    • This is the reality. The registration regime is solely a product for politicians to pander votes. Even the police will tell you that the registration regime is a waste of time, in that it requires too many people to register, most of whom are entirely harmless. With so many registrants who must all be verified, the police don’t have the time or the manpower to actually monitor the few who are actually a danger to the public.

  11. I’m wondering if Washington State is imposing particularly onerous requirements on “undesirables,” such as sex offenders and homeless persons, in hopes that they will move to California. Someone told me recently that Calif is suing Utah, after learning that Utah was filling busses with their homeless and mentally ill, and dumping them in San Francisco.

    • That is a good question. As far as “dumping” the mentally ill on other cities and states, it has a very long tradition in Western Culture. A fun habit was loading up all the mental defectives in town and other undesirables, putting them on a ship, and sending the ship to dock in another city.

      There was a book written in 1494, by a German lawyer named Sebastian Brandt, called Das Narrenschiff, or The Ship of Fools. About which wiki says,

      The books consists of a prologue, 112 brief satires, and an epilogue, all illustrated with woodcuts.[1] Brant takes up the ship of fools trope, popular at the time, lashing with unsparing vigour the weaknesses and vices of his time. Here he conceives Saint Grobian, whom he imagines to be the patron saint of vulgar and coarse people.

      The concept of foolishness was a frequently used trope in the pre-Reformation period to legitimise criticism, as also used by Erasmus in his Praise of Folly and Martin Luther in his “An den christlichen Adel deutscher Nation von des christlichen Standes Besserung” (Address to the Christian Nobility). Court fools were allowed to say much what they wanted; by writing his work in the voice of the fool, Brant could legitimise his criticism of the church.

      Sculpture based on the satire, located in Nuremberg, home of Albrecht Dürer.

      The work immediately became extremely popular, with six authorised and seven pirated editions published before 1521. Brant’s own views on humanism and the new, revolutionary views on Christianity emerging in the sixteenth century are unclear. The debate still continues whether the Ship of Fools is itself a humanist work or just a remnant of Medieval sensibilities.[2]

      The book was translated into Latin by Jakob Locher (de) in 1497,[3] into French by Pierre Rivière (fr) in 1497 and by Jean Drouyn in 1498, into English by Alexander Barclay in 1509 and by Henry Watson also in 1509.

      Most of the woodcuts of the first edition are attributed to the Meister der Bergmannschen Offizin (de), who may have been the young Albrecht Dürer. The additional wood-cuts are the work of the so-called Haintz-Nar-Meister (de), the gnad-her-Meister and two other anonymous artists.

      Here is a link to an old Englysshe version:

      https://www.gutenberg.org/files/20179/20179-h/20179-h.htm

      This was an extremely popular book, and has remained in print since 1494. There are modern versions, which are more readable. I have this one. Crap, I can’t find it!!! Anyway, here is a good translation:

      Dang it!!! Where is my book??? I know I have it. . .

      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

      • DBB – true that – and some “criminals” put in penal colonies were there because they’d stolen bread to eat. However, I have long thought that an island like the one portrayed in “Papillon” would be a good model for housing repeat violent criminals. Probably cheaper too.

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