October 23, 2014

Correction Commissioner Halts Placement Of Sex Offenders At Manchester Halfway House

See earlier: Residents Concerned Over Sex Offender Group Home in Manchester
10-23-2014 Connecticut:

The state will not place any more convicted sex offenders in a halfway house that residents have said does not belong in their neighborhood, the state correction commissioner wrote in a letter released Thursday.

"Based on appropriate community concerns," Interim Commissioner Scott Semple wrote to state and local officials, "we are assessing whether this is an appropriate location for placing offenders."

"I do not intend to place any additional individuals at the Clinton Street location from this point forward," Semple wrote in the letter, dated Oct. 20 and received at town hall on Thursday.

East Side residents crowded a meeting with Semple earlier this month, saying they were outraged that the safety of them and their children had been compromised and that neither they nor town officials had been told of the transitional housing facility at Clinton and School streets.

Currently, four sex offenders who have been released from prison live at the home, which is run by Hartford-based Chrysalis Center under contract with the correction department.

"It's a step in the right direction," Mayor Jay Moran said of the correction department's actions. "Are we happy it's not shut down? No. Between myself and [state Sen. Steve Cassano, D-Manchester, and state Rep. Joe Diminico D-Manchester] we're going to stay on top of them, hopefully to the point where they shut it down."

At the meeting with Semple, held on Oct. 6 at the Nathan Hale Building, residents and town leaders criticized the correction department for lack of communication.

"In an effort to improve our current practices that govern transitional housing in the community, we are discussing and reviewing requests for proposals, contract language, length of service terms, as well as avenues for effective communication," Semple wrote in the Oct. 20 letter.

He also offered to start quarterly "safety meetings" with local officials to enhance communication "and discuss issues specific to your community members, allowing for collective solutions."

Correction department officials have said that the sex offenders, some of whom were convicted of first-degree sexual assault, are monitored closely. The house is the correction department's only transitional living facility in Manchester, and without such housing, department officials said, the men would be homeless. The program helps them find work and provides other services to "get them back on their feet in the community," agency spokeswoman Karen Martucci has said.

But Manchester board of directors member Mark Tweedie said Thursday that if the correction department had researched the location and held a public hearing before leasing the home, they would have found that many single women and children live in the neighborhood. Stopping placements of offenders, Tweedie said, "is not a big enough step."

"Ultimately, it needs to go," he said. ..Source.. by JESSE LEAVENWORTH

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October 22, 2014

West Seneca Neighbors Dismayed Albany Judge Will Hear Sex Offender Group Home Case

10-22--2014 New York:

WEST SENECA, N.Y. -- The battle to move sex offenders out of a group home in West Seneca will continue in Albany. On Tuesday, the judge moved the case on the state's policy on sex offenders and housing from Erie County Court to Albany County.

Since February, residents have repeatedly expressed outrage that seven registered sex offenders are living in a group home on Leydecker Road in West Seneca. They say the state moved the men to their neighborhood without notifying them.

"You're putting the fox in the hen house," said Fran Gray, a neighbor. "All summer, this past year, the kids have not been allowed to play outside themselves. They're not allowed to come out unless mom or dad is out to keep an eye on things."

The New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, or OPWDD, is in charge of the group home. Time Warner Cable News reached out for comment, but did not hear back.

Assemblyman Mickey Kearns said the reluctance to reveal information only makes him and the residents suspicious.

"OPWDD has not been forthcoming, and right now they are stating privilege under mental hygiene law," said Kearns, D-Buffalo. "We don't feel as though they have that privilege. We are not asking for individual records of health history.

"Emotionally it's like a punch in the gut. I'm not mad at the judge, I think the judge has to do his job, ruling on the points of law. However, I am upset with OPWDD because I do think this was an unnecessary thing to do. Another tactic, a legal tactic and strategy to delay us from getting information."

Meanwhile, neighbors said they will not be able to pack their bags to travel across the state, despite wanting their say in the courtroom.

"It would mean taking time off, keeping the kids out of school, traveling across the state, just to have our voices heard. It's completely unrealistic," Gray said.

A date has not been set for the next court hearing. ..Source.. by Jennifer Auh

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Sexting amounts to child pornography in the eyes of the law

10-22-2014 Virginia:

More than 100 Virginia teenagers are under investigation for sharing child pornography, even if they were simply sexting with their friends.

Teens sexting, or sending nude photos to a boyfriend or girlfriend, could end up facing felony charges.

Apps like Snapchat, Wickr, and Oovoo allow users to take a photo or video, send it, then the image self destructs on the other end in a matter of seconds.

"It's almost like a sneaky way of sexting," Renita Kellam told WMC-TV.

The photos can be captured with a screenshot and once it is, you don't have any ability to remove that image from their phone. It's saved into their pictures and from there they can do whatever they want with it.

While some teens may not care those photos could last forever, they likely don't know the pics they send while sexing could land them in jail.

Stacey Bigley's been beside herself since police came after her 17-year-old nephew Trey Simms, according to WMC-TV.

"There are real criminals out there, every day and you're wasting pretty much government money, tax payer money," Bigley told the TV station. "I don't know whose money. you're wasting people's money by going after a child."

Police seized Trey's iPhone and iPad and charged him with manufacturing and distributing child pornography in January for sexting with a girl he was dating who was a minor.

Taking the nude photo can be considered manufacturing child pornography and sending it can be considered distribution for minors. The recipient can also be charged with possession of child pornography, even if they're underage as well. ..Source.. by Ray Daudani

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October 20, 2014

Sex offenders to spend Halloween in mandatory meeting

10-20-2014 Louisiana:

For the seventh year in a row, the Leesville District Probation and Parole Office will be holding a mandatory meeting on Friday, Oct. 31, for all convicted sex offenders residing in the areas of Vernon and Beauregard Parishes.

The event will be held at the West Louisiana Forestry Festival building, located at 276 H.M. Stevenson Blvd. in Leesville from 4:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m., which is considered peak trick-or-treating hours.

The aim is to keep all sex offenders, especially those under the supervision of the local State Probation and Parole Office, from any contact with children on Halloween night, as well as update official records and inform the local sex offenders of any new and/or revised laws and to review compliance issues with them.

The offenders will be under close observation by officers with the Office of Probation and Parole, Leesville Police Department and deputies with the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office. Offenders will not be left unattended.

Only those sex offenders under supervision by the Leesville Probation and Parole Office who have a valid and verified reason for not attending the meeting (employment, medical, etc.) may be excused, but they still must not have any contact with children on that evening.

The event has been authorized by Leesville Probation and Parole District Administrator Sandra Ortego, Chief of Police Greg Hill and Vernon Parish Sheriff Sam Craft. The meeting will be conducted by Supervisor and District Sex Offender Coordinator Paul Cryer and officers with Probation and Parole.

Attendance requirement at this mandatory meeting only applies to those sexual offenders who are under the supervision of State Probation and Parole; however, an invitation has been extended to sex offenders currently residing in the two-parish area who are not currently under formal mandated supervision at this time.

Those offenders currently not under supervision may benefit from attendance at the meeting in an effort to avoid accusations of misconduct during trick-or-treating hours and the ability to acquire updates on new laws and revisions.

Last year's meeting was extremely successful in terms of both attendance and review of compliance issues. ..Source.. by Staff Reports

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October 19, 2014

Amendment 2 asks whether child sex defendants' past acts can be used against them at trial

The real question here is, treating sex crimes differently than other crimes, when there is no proof or research that any specific crime type, has a higher rate of unprosecuted crimes than any other crime type? A BELIEF is not proof of the truth of the statement!
10-19-2014 Missouri:

In August, the Missouri Supreme Court swept away one of the last vestiges of a centuries-old legal doctrine that the testimony of sex-crime victims could not be trusted. On Nov. 4, Missouri voters are being asked to make an exception to another long-standing rule, in place for more than 100 years.

The Missouri Constitution currently bars testimony that past acts show propensity — that the accused is likely guilty of the same crime again. Amendment 2 would alter that rule in cases involving child sexual abuse, including allowing testimony about crimes that were never charged.

Supporters argue the exception is necessary because pedophiles often have more than one victim, many of whom remain silent for years as they endure abuse in a family setting.

“From our perspective, we fully believe most sexual predators began their work as teenagers,” said Emily van Schenckhof of Missouri Kids First, an organization that provides support for the state’s 15 child advocacy centers.

Opponents said Amendment 2 undermines a basic protection in an area of law that already makes substantial exceptions to the rules that regulate other trials. Amendment 2 does not limit the testimony about other crimes to similar acts, said Michelle Monahan, treasurer of the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

“We think it is one of the most dangerous propositions that has come along in a long time,” she said.

Amendment 2 was proposed by the General Assembly to overturn a 2007 Missouri Supreme Court decision in a case involving Donald Elliston, a Livingston County man convicted of repeatedly molesting a young girl. A law passed in 2000 allowed prosecutors to introduce evidence of Elliston’s conviction for sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl to show he likely was guilty of similar acts with the new victim.

The court ordered a new trial, ruling the law violated the Missouri Constitution. “Evidence of a defendant’s prior acts, when admitted purely to demonstrate the defendant’s criminal propensity, violates one of the constitutional protections vital to the integrity of our criminal justice system,” Judge Michael Wolff wrote for the unanimous court.

The issue that voters must decide is whether sex crimes against children are exceptional cases that require different rules.

Each year, Missouri’s 15 Child Advocacy Centers conduct about 7,500 forensic interviews with children younger than 18. More than 75 percent of the interviews concern alleged sexual abuse. Each interview is conducted in a neutral manner, observed by law enforcement and prosecutors from an adjoining room and recorded for use in court.

At Rainbow House in Columbia, the Child Advocacy Center has conducted more than 5,400 interviews since opening in 1998. Rainbow House serves a 10-county area of Central Missouri. “We were designed to be the neutral, safe-haven place for that child and family to come so that child can tell the story to all the investigative team members,” administrative director Janie Bakutes said.

The d├ęcor at Rainbow House is child-scaled. The base of the walls feature images of children at play, on skateboards or with tennis rackets and baseball bats. A large canvass covered in colored handprints helps build rapport with the child when they are asked to find a hand that matches their own, Bakutes said.

That rapport is key to making the interview a success, she said. The Child First model employed by the center is designed to allow the child to tell their story but not push them or suggest that they must talk.

“At some point the child is going to talk about it or not,” Bakutes said. “What we mostly find is it is a relief, that the kids know why they are coming in. We make it real plain.”

The forensic interviews are conducted in a spare room with beige walls and beige chairs and a few toys, markers and the like. The design is intended to relax the child with as few distractions as possible. Before the interview begins, the child is shown the room where observers will sit watching through a one-way mirror.

Cameras and microphones are mounted discreetly in the ceilings and walls, and backup power prevents the system from stopping during a storm. All that is explained to the child before the interview begins, Bakutes said.

The design has been created through trial-and-error. The sensational McMartin preschool case in the 1980s, where the owners were accused of molesting up to 360 children, fell apart when video recordings of the interviews revealed coercive, leading questioners were treating children like adult witnesses.

In Missouri, before the adoption of child advocacy centers, investigations of child abuse were often conducted by home visits in response to hotline calls, Bakutes said. The alleged offender often would be there, with the child services worker interviewing the victim in the next room.

“We did everything wrong, and would leave the child because the child would say ‘no, nothing is wrong,’ ” Bakutes said. ..Continued.. by Rudi Keller

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October 17, 2014

Confidential List of Sex Offenders Tracked by Maryland State Investigators

Two facts are important here: 1) It is not a secret list, instead the list is of folks on parole or probation, that state agency is required to know who they supervise, hence their working list. 2) It is a misstatement to say these folks are a "Higher Risk" to the community. These folks are finishing their sentence and that does not mean they are a higher risk to the community. All of these folks would appear on the regular registry if their crimes so warranted it. And this is true of every state in the nation it is a normal function of folks on parole and probation and the agency that monitors them.
10-17-2014 Maryland:

Maryland state investigators are closely monitoring more than 2,000 of the state’s 9,000 registered sex offenders, according to an investigation by the News4 I-Team -- including monthly home visits, polygraph exams and reviews of the offenders’ computers.

The offenders include some of the most violent sexual criminals in the state and some of the state’s most recently convicted criminals. They are getting the extra monitoring in an effort to reduce the risk of the offenders committing additional sex crimes.

Records obtained from Maryland’s Division of Parole and Probation show 2,133 registered sex offenders are being regularly monitored by state agents. The agency monitoring program, known internally as the Collaborative Offender Management Enforced Treatment program, or COMET, deploys state agents across Maryland to visit and question sex offenders deemed to be a higher risk to the community.

The COMET program was developed in recent years, but unlike the public and interactive state sex offender registry, the addresses and other identifying details of the offenders who are included in the program remain confidential, the I-Team has learned.

One of the sex offenders who is monitored under the COMET program said he has been subjected to lie-detector tests to gauge his truthfulness and his likelihood for committing future sex crimes.

“They hook you up and monitor your vitals and your breathing. It’s very intimidating,” said the offender, a former school teacher who pleaded guilty to a sex crime with a student. He spoke with the I-Team on the condition of anonymity.

Other offenders who’ve been placed in the COMET program receive monthly home visits by agents, who ask questions about the offenders’ employment, finances and personal relationships.

COMET investigator Tricia Bennett said, “If someone shuts down real easy or takes an aggressive posture (during at-home interviews), that’s a red flag.”

An agency memo detailing the COMET program said, “The approach is focused on discovering the nature of each offender’s abusive behavior and working to minimize the likelihood that he or she will repeat the behavior.”

State agents also use written score sheets to measure the likelihood of sex offenders striking ..Continued.. by News4 I-Team

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October 16, 2014

Operation Safe Scare In Sebastian County

10-16-2014 Arkansas:

FORT SMITH (KFSM) – We are just days away from ghosts and goblins, and alls things scary roaming the streets and looking for treats. But to make sure your kids stay safe, deputies with the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office are hitting the pavement Wednesday (Oct.15) looking for real monsters.

Sixteen teams of deputies will be out on the streets checking where sex offenders live for the rest of the week. Their goal is to make sure kids stay safe when they’re out trick of treating this Halloween.

“We have so many kids that are vulnerable in this day of age,” said Captian Mike Conger. “There’s various things going on and we want to keep predators off the street.” Deputies with the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office keep a very close eye on where sex offenders are living and what they’re doing. They do that by performing compliance checks on them throughout the year.

“We usually do it during Halloween so we let the parents and everyone know that we do this to keep kids safe and not go to a house where an offender might be, ” according to Conger. Right now, there are 69 convicted sex offenders living in county limits so to make sure the deputies know who they are and which houses are theres an offender has to check in with deputies twice a year said Conger. ” They actually have to check into the office and do paper work and re-photograph whats going on,” said Conger.

With Halloween coming up, kids are going to be out going door to door asking that all too familiar question, trick- or- treat? But for law enforcement, it’s a little scary that kids aren’t always aware of which doorbells they should’nt be ringing. So to keep kids from knocking on those doors, they have the sex offenders put up a sign to let parents know.

“We have a bright pumpkin and it has a circle with a slash through it,” said Conger. Deputies said it’s also a good idea that parents get an idea of their trick- or- treat routes before hand. “What they need to do is go online to where ever their living and find out where an offender might be living in their area or close by,” said Conger. “Its just the responsiblity of adults to take care of their kids.”

Anyone can go to the Sebastian County online website and check to see if an offender lives near you.

Deputies with the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office will be doing the compliance check through Friday (Oct.17). If offenders don’t meet the compliance checks, authorities said a warrant is issued for their arrest and they go back to jail. ..Source.. by Meredith Marney

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October 15, 2014

Lincoln County begins sex offender notification program

This is the ultimate in stupidity. And, it is only for Sheriff's offices that choose to use it. I wonder, do they hire limos to bring folks who don't have transportation to view sex offenders on monitors/pics/etc. in public buildings? A Tennessee Rube Goldberg system..
10-15-2014 Tennessee:

FAYETTEVILLE, Tenn. (WHNT)– The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office wants to make sure you get a good look at sex offenders who may live in your neighborhood.

You can always use the Tennesee Bureau of Investigations website to view them, but in a community meeting some rural residents told county leaders they don’t have access to that.

“Sex offenders were in the area and the people weren’t able to be notified because they didn’t have computers, or access to computers or the internet,” said Sandra Metcalf, Sex Offender Registrar at the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.

Metcalf and Sheriff Murray Blackwelder brought this to the attention of state representatives, and helped craft House Bill 1860, which passed and was signed into law last June.

With that in place, cities and counties voluntarily establish a community notification system for sexual offenders, create a notification fee to be administered to sex offenders in order to pay for it, and define where to put the notifications so the public can see them.

“It gives people an awareness they didn’t [all] have before,” said Blackwelder.

In Lincoln County right now, notices about registered sex offenders including their names, addresses, offenses, and photos are distributed through LCD monitors placed in the courthouse and sheriff’s office.

Later, letters, mailers, newspaper postings, and other means will be used to get the word out

“That gives us the ability to catch everyone at some point in time,” said Blackwelder. “It’s a slow process, but we’re going to get it out there.”

Metcalf said it took a lot of work to get this in place, including deputies traveling to each offender’s home to confirm where they live.

Right now, this notification system only distributes the information for offenders monitored by the sheriff’s office.

“[We are] educating the people, wanting them to know what’s going on around them,” said Metcalf.

The funding for the notifications comes from a yearly fee all sex offenders must pay. It may take a while to get all the means of notification in place while the money rolls in.

Sheriff Blackwelder said Lincoln County played a huge part in getting the law passed.

“It’s satisfying to see it from start to finish,” he said. ..Source.. by Kristen Conner

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Lawmaker fighting for sex offender records

Is this Lawmaker for real? Someone get him a dictionary so he can lookup "Group Home" and "Developmental Disability." How do these people get elected?

UPDATE 10-17: Kearns gets some documents related to sex offender queries "More than 300 pages of documents have been emailed to a state assemblyman fighting for information about why convicted sex offenders are being housed in a West Seneca neighborhood. ..."
10-15-2014 New York:

Assemblyman Micheal Kearns will be in state Supreme Court on Wednesday trying to uncover why sex offenders live in two state group homes in West Seneca.

Last month, he filed an article 78 proceeding in state court against the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.

Kearns wants records regarding how seven sex offenders were placed in the homes.

Many neighbors have been angry about this. Frustration has boiled over a couple of times when the sex offenders left the grounds without proper supervision.

“They put these seven sex offenders into a neighborhood adjacent to a park, without any notification to elected officials, local or state, and all we want are answers to our questions” said Assemblyman Michael Kearns D-Buffalo.

Michele Gray, a mother that lives in West Seneca, said “(It’s) frustrating to me as a homeowner and a mom that I can’t even leave my windows open on a summer night”.

The hearing is set for 10 a.m. on Wednesday in state Supreme Court. ..Source.. by Brittni Smallwood

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