April 18, 2014

Houston lawmaker calls for investigation of sex offender program

Isn't there a child's fable about "Crying Wolf" when there is none?
4-18-2014 Texas:

A Houston state senator is calling for an investigation into a program that puts high-risk sex offenders in supervised homes in neighborhoods, without telling neighbors.

One of those supervised homes is in East Austin, a second is in Houston and a third is now proposed just north of Houston.

Senator John Whitmire said the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management was out of control and asked the Travis County Public Integrity Unit, among others, to launch an investigation.

He also promised to pass new legislation when lawmakers return to Austin.

During our initial story about the home in East Austin we spoke to a caseworker who said the residents who live there are under 24 hour surveillance, wear GPS monitors and can't leave the home.

She said most of the residents are just happy to be out of prison and don't want to risk screwing that up.

According to the state, in 2012 there were 234 offenders in the supervised release program. None had committed a new offense. ..Source.. by TWC News Staff

Read More of Article...

April 16, 2014

Dublin passes its first sex offender ordinance

4-16-2014 Texas:

Residents of Dublin have lived for years without a sex offender ordinance, but not anymore. On Monday the Dublin City Council heard from residents and Police Chief Shawn Fullagar on the issue.

Fullagar said when he discovered the city was without a sex offender ordinance, he began researching other cities with sex offender ordinances and policies in place. Armed with the information, Fullagar drew up an ordinance he and City Administrator Nancy Wooldridge presented to the council.

"When I discovered the city did not have an ordinance involving these situations I set about doing some research and working one up to present because your city administrator and I believed we needed one," Fullagar said. "I looked at ordinances in Coppell, Alpine, Stephenville, Keller and Carrollton. I wanted to make sure we got everything we needed covered, covered, without going too far."

The ordinance is similar to Stephenville's, restricting a sex offender's ability to live or own property within 500 feet of a school, public park, daycare center or other place where children gather.

The ordinance does not require sex offenders already living or owning property within those limitations to sell the property or move. Fullagar said of the nine to 11 sex offenders living within the Dublin city limits, none are currently living within 500 feet of those locations.

The ordinance restricts where sex offenders can be, and who they can communicate with. For example, the ordinance Fullagar recommended prohibits sex offenders from being within 500 feet of any event, meeting, celebration or gathering where minors are present.

"Another component of the ordinance will make it unlawful for a sex offender to approach a minor on the sidewalk, street, in any public area including local businesses and public buildings like the library," he said.
"All of these components apply to all children or minors except those minors who are the offender's own children. The goal of this ordinance is to protect the children of Dublin, not to restrict people from being good parents to their children."

One resident, Ray Hernandez, spoke in regards to the ordinance. He admitted that at 19 he made a mistake. Hernandez said his life is different now and asked the council to consider an ordinance that allows him to continue being a part of his eight-year-old son's life.

I know I made a mistake and I'm not trying to get around that," Hernandez told the council. "All I'm asking is that you make sure there is a way I can continue to be a part of my children's lives, that I can continue to support them as they grow and participate in local events."

Fullagar assured council members the ordinance would not limit parents like Hernandez from attending their children's events. He did say when at those events, any offender there to support their child cannot make contact with other minors.

"The maximum consequence for a city ordinance violation is a citation for $500," he said. "However, if the subject warrants contact from an officer in these situations, it could escalate into something more. But this ordinance would only be a citation."

After the discussion, council member Mac McMullen said he had reservations about voting for an ordinance that was "trying to regulate morality."

"I just have a problem voting in favor of an ordinance that would be, in effect, regulating the morality of others," McMullen said.

Fullagar said he didn't see it that way
.

"I see it more like there are people in our community who have committed crimes involving minors," he said. "I see this as keeping those minors in our community away from someone who has committed such a crime."

Following a lengthy discussion, the council passed the measure 4-2 with McMullen and John Johnson voting against it.

In other business, the council voted unanimously to re-adopt the city's current curfew ordinance. This ordinance requires minors to be indoors by 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday evenings and by midnight on Friday and Saturday.

There are exceptions for minors who are out past curfew for work, school or other extracurricular activities. ..Source.. by JESSIE HORTON

Read More of Article...

April 15, 2014

Sex offenders taken out of Skyway shelter

4-15-2014 New York:

The city has removed 39 Level 2 and 3 sex offenders from the Skyway homeless shelter in South Ozone Park, Councilman Ruben Wills (D-South Jamaica) announced at Community Board 10 last Thursday.

“We have been going back and forth with the Department of Homeless Services for weeks about the issue and they have removed every sex offender from the shelter as of today” the Councilman announced to applause.

The facility, a former motel at 132-30 South Conduit Ave. on the outskirts of JFK Airport, houses over 100 people and has been controversial since it changed from a family shelter to a men’s shelter in February 2011.

That change happened without anyone in the community knowing. Two blocks from the shelter is PS 124 and across the Belt Parkway is a park frequented by neighborhood children.

The shelter change in 2011 was also controversial because several children who lived there attended PS 124 and were forced to relocate halfway through the school year.

The Department of Homeless Services assured the community several times that security was tight at the shelter, which has 174 beds, but made no assurance that sex offenders wouldn’t be placed there. However, parents and area residents, however, still expressed concern about its effect on the neighborhood. ..Continued.. by Queens Chronicle

Read More of Article...

Council limits where sex offender can be

Why do lawmakers like these fail to recognize that the threat is NOT from folks living within XX feet of these places, but from EMPLOYEES.
4-15-2014 North Dakota:

When registered sex offenders move into a community, the first response is fear, the second is uncharitable feelings and the third is, how do we protect our children?

Worried parents and other like-minded individuals wish they could cordon off their town and roll out the “unwelcome sign.” It isn’t that easy. After an offender has served their time, they have rights on where they want to live. Most of us hope it is somewhere else, but what can you do when their residence is your city?

The Hankinson City Council was notified of a high-risk sex offender living near town and they created an ordinance to limit where the offender can be in Hankinson. The council created their ordinance from one the city of Abercrombie adopted. It is a legal way residents can restrict offender’s activities.

Hankinson established a safety net for children by creating areas around locations where children regularly congregate in concentrated numbers and will prohibit registered sex offenders and sexual predators from loitering or prohibit establishing temporary or permanent residency near these locations. Mayor Joseph O’Meara said the council had their first reading of the new ordinance last Monday. “We can’t make it so they can’t come to town. Period,” he said. “But, there are critical areas we don’t want to see him loitering around.”

There are a number of registered sex offenders living in Richland County, with three high-risk offenders living in Wahpeton, one near Hankinson and the fifth one residing in Lidgerwood, N.D. Registered offenders have served their time and have rights. City councils represent the rights of their citizens and are obligated to protect our children, especially from the ones considered high risk to re-offend. ..Source.. by Daily News Editorial Board

Read More of Article...

April 12, 2014

Yakima County judge blocks release of sex offender information

4-12-2014 Washington:

A Yakima County judge has blocked the release of names and addresses of low-level sex offenders to a Mesa woman who wants to post the information on a website.

Ruling Friday, Superior Court Judge Blaine Gibson permanently blocked Donna Zink’s request for low-level sex-offender registration forms from the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office. The move had been sought by 22 low-level offenders who said releasing the information would subject them to public scorn and threaten their safety. The ruling covered all low-level offenders who comply with state law, such as registering with authorities, and have permanent addresses.

Zink, who would not speak to reporters afterward, said she would appeal Gibson’s orders, along with similar orders in Benton and King counties denying her requests for Level 1 offender information.

Level 1 sex offenders are considered the least likely to offend again, and their names are typically not posted publicly, except in rare circumstances, and then only released to those who have need for the information. The names of Level 2 and Level 3, those considered most likely to re-offend, are routinely released as they change addresses and are listed in public registries.

Zink filed the request with the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office in November for the registration forms filled out by all Level 1 sex offenders in the county. Zink is trying to assemble a database to be posted online listing all known sex offenders in the state. The sheriff’s office was prepared to release the forms and notified the Level 1 offenders that the information would be made public. Several offenders filed suit to block the release.

As of Friday, there were 674 registered Level 1 offenders in Yakima County, according to a website maintained by the sheriff’s office.

Attorney Greg Scott, who represented the 22 offenders, argued the ruling should apply to all Level 1 offenders, noting that some couldn’t afford attorneys or did not want to step forward and risk exposure.

But Gibson limited his ruling to those in compliance with state law and with permanent addresses. The law allows the sheriff to post the names of transient and homeless offenders, as well as those who are not in compliance with the registration law.

Scott said Gibson’s prohibition on releasing the names would extend to future offenders, since the judge ruled that the forms were exempt from disclosure under the state Public Records Act.

Gibson based his decision on a 1994 state Supreme Court ruling that declared requiring a sex offender to register was not an additional punishment, as long as the state used an offender’s potential for offending again as a factor in determining who should be informed about their past crimes.

“The Supreme Court recognizes that the mere declaration that someone is a sex offender is harmful to the person,” Gibson said. “Even if your neighbor next door has been a good neighbor for 10 years, when you learn that they were a sex offender 20 years ago, it affects how you deal with them.”

Gibson said the fact that the Legislature put some restrictions on distributing Level 1 offender information suggests that it did not intend for the information to be released through public records requests. The law limits notification about Level 1 offenders to law enforcement, schools the offender might attend, and the offender’s victim and witnesses to the crime.

Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Stefanie Weigand, who represented the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office, said there was legitimate public interest in granting Zink’s request. She said the Level 1 classification may mean low risk, but it is not zero risk.

“If (the offenders) were not dangerous, they would not have to register,” Weigand said.

She also noted that their convictions are a matter of public record.

Weigand argued that the Legislature never defined the offender information as exempt under the records act.

While there are some restrictions on posting it to registries, she said it is not exempt from records requests.

Weigand also argued that Yakima County could be legally liable for not granting Zink’s request under the records law.

Zink, who argued her case herself, said Gibson’s ruling turned the registration law on its head, and instead of protecting the public, it was being used to protect offenders’ privacy.

She said it also violated a principle of the state Public Records Act in that if information is released to some people, it has to be released to all. ..Source.. by Donald W. Meyers

Read More of Article...

April 11, 2014

Yakima County judge to hear arguments on request for sex-offender data

4-11-2014 Washington:

YAKIMA, Wash. — A Yakima County Superior Court judge will hear arguments today on whether to give a Mesa woman names and addresses of all low-level sex offenders in the county.

Judge Blaine Gibson will also hear a request from attorney Greg Scott to certify his suit to block the release of the names as a class action on behalf of all 688 Level 1 sex offenders in Yakima County. Level 1 sex offenders are considered least likely to offend again, and their names are typically not posted by authorities. The names of Level 2 and 3 offenders are routinely released as they change addresses.

The hearing starts at 2:30 p.m. in the Yakima County Courthouse.

Scott’s suit names Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin and Donna Zink as defendants.

Zink requested copies of the registration papers of all Level 1 sex offenders from the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office in November. Zink is creating her own public database of all sex offenders in the state, and has received a list of Level 1 offenders from Franklin County.

Scott said Zink’s request to Irwin should be denied because the Legislature never intended for Level 1 sex offender names to be released publicly, except in rare circumstances and only to those who need the information.

Scott said releasing the names would harm the offenders, especially if a court later rules the information should not have been released.

Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Stefanie Weigand said the state’s Public Records Act does not exempt the offenders’ information from being released. She said denying Zink’s request would expose the county to liability for denying the records request.

In January, a Benton County Superior Court judge denied Zink’s request for data on Level 1 sex offenders in that county, and a King County Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order barring the Washington State Patrol from releasing Level 1 offender information to Zink. ..Source.. by Donald W. Meyers

Read More of Article...

April 10, 2014

Marc Sarnoff Creates Little River Pocket Park To Keep Sex Offenders From Shorecrest

Are there any readers who understand what "Abuse of Process" Means? Here we see a perfect example of it, a sign is erected stating this is a pocket park for children, but in no way is it a place where children should be, it is not safe for them. What has happened here is, someone has used a legal process (creating a park) for illegal purposes (to banish sex offenders) and they admit they have done it for that purpose. The registry --supposidely-- is not to be used to harass etc., but here is being used that way.
4-10-2014 Florida:

Two years after a colony of sex offenders famously camped under the Julia Tuttle Causeway -- one of few urban locations permissible by exponentially restrictive local laws -- Miami-Dade County Commissioner Marc Sarnoff has found a way to disperse a similar community growing on a corner in Shorecrest: he stuck two spring toys in the ground, threw up a sign, and christened it Little River Pocket Park.

The small patch of new public space effectively bars any additional sex offenders from moving to the area, as Miami-Dade law states that persons convicted can't live within 2,500 feet of schools or playgrounds.

“I can’t dislodge those who are there,’’ Sarnoff told The Miami Herald. “But this is to prevent any further sexual offenders from being put there by the state.”

Though the Florida Department of Corrections denies sending sex offenders to the corner of 10th Avenue and 79th Street, many among them told police they were directed to the spot by parole officers on admitting they'd nowhere to go -- prompting Sarnoff to take the lead in suing the FDOC.

His new park at a bend of 10th Avenue off 79th Street is blocked off by a guard rail. Boasting a giant tree covered with shrubs in the center, it features two spring rider toys in the ground and a carport frame without cover. Sandwiched between a construction site and a private home, the park’s uneven ground is littered with broken glass and pieces of concrete.

Miami-Dade's sex offenders have had a notoriously difficult time finding a place to live because of the county’s rules. While Florida law bans registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, Miami-Dade County extended the law to 2,500 feet in 2005. The City of Miami Beach goes as far as not allowing sex offenders to live within that distance to any location "where children regularly congregate."

“We have had an issue for a long time with these ordinances or policies that restrict or move former offenders from place to place, and in essence, put a lifetime penalty on people,” ACLU Florida communications director Derek Newton told HuffPost Miami.

The Julia Tuttle Causeway encampment was broken up in 2010, and the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust paid for temporary housing at apartments for those who were actively looking for jobs and housing. No solution for those currently living at the corner in Shorecrest has yet been proposed.

“The problem exists statewide, and until such time that we find a way to build affordable housing away from the general population to house predators and offenders in a price range that they can afford to pay, we’ll continue to have a problem,” said Ron Book, a lobbyist and the chairman of the board for the Trust. The 2,500-foot law is named in honor of his daughter, Lauren, who was abused for six years by her nanny.

There are places that meet the 2,500-foot law, Book said, but many freed offenders may not be aware of their locations. He told HuffPost the Trust is willing to help lead them in the right direction. ..Source.. by Christiana Lilly

Read More of Article...

April 9, 2014

Sex offender registration loophole closing

Lawmakers needs to spend more time on PREVENTION than on CHASING former sex offenders. According to this report, there is no evidence such is causing further crimes, except in the minds of lawmakers.
4-9-2014 Oklahoma:

ENID, Okla. — A new law that takes effect Nov. 1 will close a loophole in the current sex offender registration statutes.

House Bill 3016, by Rep. Sean Roberts and Sen. AJ Griffin, will require sex offenders to register in Oklahoma if they spend 14 days in the state in a 60-day period.

Current law only requires them to register if they spend seven consecutive days in the state.

Roberts said the legislation is a critical tool for law enforcement.

“Law enforcement must be able to track the movement of sex offenders,” said Roberts, R-Hominy. “This legislation addresses sex offenders that come to stay in Oklahoma on a consistent basis, but never for seven consecutive days.

“An example would be an offender coming to stay with someone every week but never for a full week. The details of this legislation may seem trivial, but current law allows sex offenders to legally hide in our communities by using this loophole,” Roberts said. “Closing the loophole means that law enforcement can take action against those who sneak into our communities without notification or registration.”

Griffin said sex offender statutes must be continually reviewed and updated.

“It is important that we continually review our laws to ensure that the public is appropriately informed and protected,” said Griffin, R-Guthrie.

The legislation was approved by the Oklahoma House by an 88-4 vote March 5. The state Senate voted in favor of the bill unanimously, 45-0, March 31. Gov. Mary Fallin signed it into law Monday. ..Source.. by Cass Rains

Read More of Article...

April 8, 2014

Sheriff: Jared Remy fought child sex offender

4-8-2014 Massachusetts:

Accused killer Jared Remy told investigators from the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office, “I did what I had to do — I got a child molester,” when he allegedly threw scalding water in the face of fellow detainee Jemery Hodges before a fight with a green plastic chair, soap and his fists, according to court documents released today.

“I had a plan and I did it. I took water, boiling hot water, and threw it in the guy’s face. I took a piece of soap and threw it at the guy’s face and hit him with a chair.
Once I slipped, I punched him in the face,” Remy reportedly said during a videotaped interview following the incident Thursday morning in an overflow room of the Special Management Unit at the Cambridge jail, records state.

Hodges, 27, was watching television when Remy snuck up on him, a report by Sheriff Peter Koutoujian’s Investigations Unit states. The violent dustup was captured by surveillance video, the report states, and reportedly shows Remy striking Hodges with the chair five times with “overhead swings.”

Hodges was treated internally for burns on his face and cuts to his left hand.

Hodges, of Cambridge, pleaded guilty last summer in U.S. District Court in Jackson, Miss., to federal human trafficking and child pornography charges stemming from the May 2012 videotaped sexual abuse of a toddler in a motel in that city. Hodges is not yet in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, however, because he’s awaiting a June 2 trial in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn on related child pornography charges.

His attorney Bruce Ferg declined comment, saying he had not had a chance to talk to his client.

Remy’s lawyer Edward P. Ryan Jr. has not responded to requests for comment.

Remy, 35, the son of Red Sox legend and NESN color commentator Jerry Remy, is scheduled to be arraigned April 24 on eight counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and one count of assault and battery, the Herald first reported yesterday. He told investigators he’d had no involvement with Hodges prior to the attack, but said, “I’m not a rat. I’m not a child molester. I don’t want to be around those people.”

The report also reveals Remy was assaulted by another inmate March 31, but he declined to press charges.

When asked by investigators why he thought he was picked on, Remy allegedly told them it may have been because he’s “a rich kid” and his name is in the newspaper.

“I’d rather take a punch every day living in the tiers, earning respect,” Remy is quoted as telling investigators in their report, “than living in protective custody.”

Koutoujian’s office declined to comment on Hodges or release the surveillance video, but in a statement said, “Our job at the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office is to ensure the care, custody and control of all inmates without regard to their alleged crimes. Based on the results of an internal investigation, the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office determined that the alleged actions of Jared Remy warranted criminal charges and filed a criminal complaint in Cambridge District Court. “Given the evidence in this case, filing these charges is critical to maintaining a safe, secure institution while upholding our responsibility to those we serve.” ..Source.. by Laurel J. Sweet

Read More of Article...