January 26, 2015

State bills aim to monitor sex offenders for life

1-26-2015 Florida:

Experts say bills raise questions, aren't likely to pass as written

A new push has begun in the state Legislature to require convicted sex offenders to wear ankle monitors to track their movements for the rest of their lives.

Two essentially identical bills, Senate Bill 134 and House Bill 203, aim to keep tabs on past offenders to make sure they don't slip away so it becomes impossible to track them.

But some experts said such laws would immediately be challenged in court.

Two Miami Republicans, Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla and Rep. Frank Artiles, said the bills are designed to protect children and keep track of sex offenders who often wind up homeless.

“When a sex predator or convicted criminal with sex crimes comes out, he labels himself as transient and basically disappears in the population,” Artiles said. “We in Miami-Dade County have a large population, and it's very easy to get lost.”

But local attorney Gene Nichols said the bills may be unconstitutional. He also said the law doesn't distinguish who would get lifetime monitors -- even if, for example, a person committed a sex crime at a young age by having sex with an underage girlfriend.

“They could still be at 60 years old wearing this ankle monitor when they have far exceeded the time period they can be punished for this crime,” Nichols said. “It's going to be how we define it. Do we define it as a punishment for the act committed or are we going to define it another way that the state monitors (them) for the rest of their lives?”

One other part of the bill that could hit a snag is that it requires sex offenders to pay for their monitors for the rest of their lives. If they don't pay, they could be convicted of another crime.

Nichols said a huge number of offenders are either homeless or struggle to make ends meet. He said this would repeatedly send them back to jail because they couldn't continue to pay for the monitors, which he said run around $11 a day.

News4Jax political analyst Jennifer Carroll said that while there are a lot of pushes to crack down on laws relating to sex offenders and predators, these bills, as written, would have a tough time passing the state Legislature.

“We're not giving an opportunity for a person to be a better citizen,” Carroll said. “You have this device on you for rest of your life, you want to repent and be forgiven and have life start all over again, (and) you're not going to be able to do so.”

Artiles said he understands there will be a lot of criticism of his bill, and he's prepared for that.

“This is a process and we are going to address those issues in committee -- the constitutionality and the extensiveness,” Artiles said. “But for sexual predators and people who commit sex crimes on children, if they were to get released or agree to lifetime monitoring, this would facilitate that.” ..Source.. by Scott Johnson

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NYS Senate passes bills to toughen penalties for sex offenders

1-26-2015 New York:

ALBANY, N.Y. – The state senate passed a package of bills that will toughen penalties for sex offenders.

The seven bills would help prevent the most dangerous offenders from having contact with children and college students, require more stringent residency reporting requirements for the sex offender registry, strengthen penalties for those who help sex offenders evade registration requirements, and create a public awareness program to educate schools, community groups and clergy on issues related to sex offenders.

Legislation S851 would prohibit Level 2 and 3 sex offenders from being placed in temporary and emergency housing or homeless shelters where children are present.

Legislation S869 will make it a crime for anyone to knowingly harbor, house, or employ a sex offender who has failed to register or verify residence or employment and fails to contact their local law enforcement agency.

Legislation S2084 would prohibit a sexually violent or Level 3 sex offender who committed a crime against a child from being granted custody and unsupervised visitation with a child. These sex offenders would remain ineligible unless they provide clear and convincing evidence that custody or visitation would benefit the child.

Legislation S1608 would require reporting of multiple residences when a sex offender is living somewhere part-time. Under current law, offenders are only required to register their primary residence with the Division of Criminal Justice Services. The bill also requires the Division to develop a notification system to report offenders who have multiple residences.

Legislation S396 would require the commissioner of the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities to contact local officials and school superintendents when a sex offender is transferred to a community program or residence within their municipality.

Legislation S833 would prohibit Level 3 sex offenders from living in student housing on college campuses and makes it a Class A misdemeanor upon conviction of a first offense, and a class D felony upon conviction for a second or subsequent offense.

Legislation S845 establishes a sex offender public awareness outreach program. This program would provide educational outreach to schools, community groups, and clergy on issues related to sex offenders.

The bills will be sent to the Assembly. ..Source.. by News 10 Web staff

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New bill further protects school zones from sexual predators

It is important to point out that, nowhere in the U.S. have we seen a reported sexual crime, of a person within a protected place, by a registered sex offender who lives within the proscribed distance to the protected place. These allegations are a mind game played by Lawmakers without any support or evidence of any kind.
1-25-2015 West Virginia:

PRINCETON — A new bill passed unanimously by the West Virginia House of Delegates would prohibit certain sex offenders from loitering within 1,000 feet of a school or childcare facility.

House Bill 2025 would add an additional restriction upon certain convicted sex offenders during a period of supervised release, according to the bill’s text. The offenders would be one that have been “deemed sexually violent offenders or who have been convicted of certain sexual offenses.”

These sex offenders would be prohibited from loitering within 1,000 feet of a school, childcare center or residence of a victim, according to the legislation. In the legislation, the term “loitering” would mean “to linger or be idle in a place when the individual has no particular lawful purpose.”

Under the current legislation, sex offenders are currently banned from establishing a residence within 1,000 feet of a victim’s home, childcare facility or school.

Mercer County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ash said he had read the text of H.B. 2025. He remembered seeing one case in which a sexual offender officer actually found an offender who was loitering around a playground. Sex offenders get a period of long-term supervision that lasts at least 10 years to life.

“The truth is that it is very hard to tell who is around a school or playground,” he said. Ash said he did not know whether the new provision would have an impact on keeping sex offenders away from children. “I don’t know if that will be of great assistance, but it doesn’t hurt,” he said.

Delegate John Shott, R-Mercer, is one of the legislators sponsoring H.B. 2025. Current law prohibits sex offenders from taking jobs or having residences within 1,000 feet of schools and other places frequented by children, but there were no provisions prohibiting offenders from loitering in those areas.

“There was nothing about just hanging around there and stalking the students or spying on students,” Shott said. “So we decided to add that to cover that situation.”

The next step for H.B. 2025 is to go before the Senate. How fast it moves through the Senate will depend on how many committees will review it and the priority it is given, Shott said. If passed, the bill would go before the governor. ..Source.. by Greg Jordan Bluefield Daily Telegraph

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January 25, 2015

Lack of suitable housing leaves hundreds of freed inmates in Illinois' prisons

1-25-2015 Illinois:

State prison officials hold close to 1,250 inmates beyond their release dates every year — not because they pose a threat to the public but because they cannot find a place to live that parole officers find suitable, according to court papers and interviews. ..Source..

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Lawmakers ask: How good does sex registry need to be?

1-25-2015 Vermont:

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont lawmakers are grappling with how close to perfect the state's sex offender registry needs to be before offenders' addresses are posted online.

Vermont in 2009 passed a law saying the registry had to have a clean audit from the state auditor of accounts before addresses could be posted. A 2010 audit found many errors; a follow-up audit last July found what Auditor of Accounts Doug Hoffer labeled "critical errors" in 11 percent of cases.

The July report found eight cases in which offenders had been released from incarceration, but had not had their names added to the online registry. In two cases, the offender did not meet the criteria for registration, but had information posted anyway. In one case, the registered offender was dead. Thirty-four cases mislabeled the length of time a person was supposed to remain on the registry, which is 10 years for some crimes and lifetime registration for others, Hoffer's office reported.

Sen. Richard Sears, D-Bennington, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Friday the standard should be a 0 percent error rate on information as basic as whether someone should or should not be on the online registry.

At a Judiciary Committee meeting Jan. 8, Sears appeared more flexible.

Committee members and witnesses, including Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn, said it was unfortunate that the 2009 law did not define what a clean audit meant in terms of an acceptable error rate.

"You can't keep waiting for a positive audit, without defining what a positive audit is. If we were to define (the error rate), it would probably be 10 percent," Sears said, according to a recording of the session.

Defender General Matthew Valerio interjected, "Or 5, or 2."

Sears added, "Or 5 or 2 or 1 (percent)."

Sears said the most important thing to get right was whether someone should be on the registry at all. "If you're supposed to be on it, you should be on it. If you're not supposed to be on it, you shouldn't be," he said.

With Hoffer's finding that in two cases, even that information was wrong, Sears acknowledged that perfection would be difficult to attain. "Human beings enter the information" into a Department of Public Safety database, he said.

The issue makes civil libertarians nervous.

"You should have the registry accurate before you start adding addresses because when you add addresses you've created a target for vigilantes," said Allen Gilbert, executive director of the Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Two Maine sex offenders were fatally shot in 2006 after information about them was posted online. Authorities said the gunman, Stephen A. Marshall, 20, of Nova Scotia, fatally shot himself when police confronted him on a bus in Boston.

Valerio told The Associated Press he doesn't like the idea of adding addresses at all. People with criminal convictions in their background tend to move frequently. A new person moving into an apartment or home vacated by someone on the registry could be targeted, he said.

But Sears said he did not want to reopen what he considers a settled issue, adding that he supports posting of sex offenders' addresses. ..Source.. by Dave Gram

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Legislature briefs: Sex offenders, guns, tanning beds

Raises a que of jurisdiction; can the state reopen a sentence and add further punishment which this would be?
1-25-2015 Mississippi:

Status: ‘sex offender’

Rep. Tom Miles, D-Forest, has authored a bill that would require sex offenders to label themselves thus on social media, such as Facebook.

HB 296 says that on any networking website where users have profiles, a convicted sex offender “shall include in his profile … an indication that he is a sex offender and shall include notice of the crime for which he was convicted” and must list their residential address.

But similar laws have been struck down by courts in Louisiana, Georgia, Utah and California. A federal appeals court recently ruled an Indiana law banning convicted sex offenders from social media was ruled unconstitutional.

Miles said he hopes his bill at least generates discussion. “At least put it in the backs of people’s minds that it’s a problem,” Miles said. “If it saves one child, it’s worth having the conversation.”

... ... ... ..Source.. by Geoff Pender and Jimmie E. Gates

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January 24, 2015

Plan to add human traffickers to sex offender list advances

1-24-2015 South Dakota:

PIERRE — A proposal that would require convicted human traffickers to register as sex offenders would help fight a dangerous threat to the state, Attorney General Marty Jackley told a Senate committee on Thursday shortly before the panel passed the measure.

The state Senate Judiciary Committee voted to send the proposal to the chamber’s floor. Jackley said that human trafficking of minors that involves kidnapping, prostitution or the death of a victim and coercive trafficking that involves the prostitution of a minor should be designated sex crimes that require registration.

“When I look at the sex offender registry ... human trafficking is precisely what that registry is designed to protect against,” Jackley said.

There are about 3,300 sex offenders registered in South Dakota.

An offender who has committed a comparable offense in a different state and moved to South Dakota would have to join the registry.

Jackley said the registration requirement also would keep offenders away from libraries and schools.

Kimberly Kaveny-LaPlante, executive director of Call to Freedom, a Sioux Falls-based advocacy group, said she’s pleased the state is moving forward with the plan.

But, it’s something that should be on the books right now, she said.

“Why hasn’t this been in place before?” she said. “It’s just the beginning of some of the things that need to happen as far as legislation in our state.”

South Dakota residents’ friendly mindsets have led to denial about the prevalence of human trafficking in the state, Kaveny-LaPlante said.

She said the state needs to provide more financial assistance to the victims of human trafficking and the organizations that support them. ..Source.. by aberdeen news.com

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New Oklahoma Bills affecting state sex offenders

Someday I'd love to be able to do this for all states, but today not possible. Reading and interpreting bills takes time.
1-24-2015 Oklahoma:

It appears there are 29 new bills affecting something to do with sex offenses and or offenders, of those 6 (six) are problematic. They are:
HB 1057 Prisons and reformatories; requiring payment of fee under certain circumstances; (This bill permits charging, effective 11-1-2015, a $25.00 fee for new registrations and also changes of addresses. Unclear is, will this be required of folks in prison?)

HB-2153 Driver licenses; directing the Department of Public Safety to include certain exemption provision on driver license and identification card applications; repealer. (This bill handles religious exemptions related to biometric identification. Something we are not familiar with, anyone can chime in on this and help in understanding this bill.)

SB-167 Restrictions on convicted sex offenders; modifying inclusions on residency restrictions. (This bill expands the scope of residency restrictions to include homeowner associations and towns; obviously missed when residency restrictions were first enacted.)

SB-537 Long-Term Care Security Act; removing certain requirement. (This bill extends background checks for employment in long term care facilities and permits termination or refusal of employment to folks convicted of certain offenses (see 1-1950.1) This may or may not be good as we are not aware of what it was before this bill.)

SB-578 Sex offenders; allowing Department of Corrections to initiate certain proposals; providing definitions. (The essence of this bill is establish a SEPARATE long term care facility for Level II-III sex offenders needing care and any incarcerated critically or terminally ill offender. The main pro0blem here is it would be run by the Dep't of Corrections and not the State Dep't of Health, which likely means it would be prisonlike. Level II-III offenders normally are in the community so this would clearly affect their freedom. We would oppose handling Level II-III offenders in such an environment.)

SB-671 Violent sex offenders; authorizing certain chemical treatment for certain offenders. (There is nothing scarier than lawmakers and DOC personnel mandating any form of castration without a medical doctor intervening to protect the life of the person affected; and what about women convicted of the offenses mentioned. This bill is a train wreck in the wrong hands, hopefully there will be someone to put the kibosh on this bill before it kills someone.)
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January 22, 2015

Bronx Pols Call for Ban on Sex Offenders at Family Homeless Shelters

1-22-2015 New York:

A group of politicians on Friday will call for a ban on sex offenders from family homeless shelters after a child molester and a rapist were found to be living in a Bronx facility.

State Senator Jeff Klein has drafted a bill barring the Department of Homeless Services to disallow the offenders from living in temporary emergency housing and in homeless shelters where families with children stay. Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and Councilman Jimmy Vacca also support the measure.

"Sex offenders are already barred from living in public housing," the proposed legislation reads. "This measure extends the same protection to homeless families."

The call comes as a result of registered sex offenders James Bryant and Curtis Bolden staying at the Crystal Family Residence, a shelter next to Donald Trump's soon-to-open Bronx golf course.

Bryant was convicted of sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl in 2004 and sentenced to 10 years in prison, while Bolden was convicted of rape in 1980 and sentenced to 100 months to 25 years in prison.

Both men are listed as level three offenders, meaning they are at high risk of repeating their crimes.

“DHS makes every effort to ensure the safety of its clients and families," said agency spokesman Chris Miller in an email. "State social service law prohibits us from speaking about specific clients.”

Klein framed the bill as a straightforward idea that would keep families safe.

"The legislation is rather simple," said Klein, "and I think it takes a common sense approach to protect children living in family shelters."

Benedetto agreed that the matter at hand was largely a safety issue.

"If you’re opening up a shelter, a family shelter, why would you even think of putting a sex offender in with other families in close proximity to children?" Benedetto asked. "It’s a difficult situation living in a shelter in the first place. Why are we making it even worse?"

The Crystal Family Residence is located within Bronx Community Board 10, and the board's District Manager Kenneth Kearns said he supported the spirit of the legislation.

"You’ve got a sex offender who’s accused, tried and convicted of acts against children placed in one of these facilities," he said. "It just doesn’t make sense." ..Source.. by Eddie Small

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