December 2006 Iowa:
The Iowa County Attorneys Association believes that the 2,000 foot residency restriction for persons who have been convicted of sex offenses involving minors does not provide the protection that was originally intended and that the cost of enforcing the requirement and the unintended effects on families of offenders warrant replacing the restriction with more effective protective measures.
The ICAA has the following observations concerning the current restriction:
1. Research shows that there is no correlation between residency restrictions and reducing sex offenses against children or improving the safety of children.
2. Research does not support the belief that children are more likely to be victimized by strangers at the covered locations than at other places.
3. Residency restrictions were intended to reduce sex crimes against children by strangers who seek access to children at the covered locations. Those crimes are tragic, but very rare. In fact, 80 to 90 percent of sex crimes against children are committed by a relative or acquaintance who has some prior relationship with the child and access to the child that is not impeded by residency restrictions. Only parents and caretakers can effectively impede that kind of access.
4. Law enforcement has observed that the residency restriction is causing offenders to become homeless, to change residences without notifying authorities of their new locations, to register false addresses or to simply disappear. If they do not Iowa County Attorneys Association register, law enforcement and the public do not know where they are living. The resulting damage to the reliability of the sex offender registry does not serve the interests of public safety.
5. There is no demonstrated protective effect of the residency requirement that justifies the huge draining of scarce law enforcement resources in the effort to enforce the restriction.
6. The categories of crimes included in the restriction are too broad, imposing the restriction on many offenders who present no known risk to children in the covered locations.
7. A significant number of offenders have married or have been reunited with their victims; and, in those cases, the residency restriction is imposed on the victims as well as the offenders.
8. Many offenders have families whose lives are unfairly and unnecessarily disrupted by the restriction, causing children to be pulled out of school and away from friends, and causing spouses to lose jobs and community connections.
9. Many offenders are physically or mentally disabled but are prohibited from living with family members or others on whom they rely for assistance with daily needs.
10. The geographic areas included in the prohibited 2,000 foot zones are so extensive that realistic opportunities to find affordable housing are virtually eliminated in most communities. The lack of transportation in areas not covered by the restriction limits employment opportunities. The adoption of even more restrictive ordinances by cities and counties exacerbates the shortage of housing possibilities.
11. The residency restriction has no time limit; and, for many offenders, the restriction lasts beyond the requirement that they be listed on the sex offender registry. For this reason, there are many offenders who are subject to the residency restriction but who are not required to inform law enforcement of their place of residence, making enforcement nearly impossible.
12. There is no accommodation in the current statute for persons on parole or probation supervision. These offenders are already monitored and their living arrangements approved. The restriction causes many supervised residential placements to be unavailable even though they may be the most appropriate and safest locations for offenders to live.
13. Many prosecutors have observed that the numerous negative consequences of the lifetime residency restriction has caused a reduction in the number of confessions made by offenders in cases where defendants usually confess after disclosure of the offense by the child. In addition, there are more refusals by defendants charged with sex offenses to enter into plea agreements. Plea agreements are necessary in many cases involving child victims in order to protect the children from the trauma of the trial process. This unforeseen result seriously jeopardizes the welfare of child victims and decreases the number of convictions of sex offenders to accurate charges.
Consequently, many offenders will not be made fully accountable for their acts and will not be required to complete appropriate treatment or other rehabilitative measures that would enhance the safety of children. Similar unintended negative effects often accompany well-intended efforts to increase prison sentences with mandatory provisions.
14. The drastic reduction in the availability of appropriate housing, along with the forced removal of many offenders from established residences, is contrary to well-established principles of treatment and rehabilitation of sex offenders.
Efforts to rehabilitate offenders and to minimize the rate of reoffending are much more successful when offenders are employed, have family and community connections, and have a stable residence. These goals are severely impaired by the residency restriction, compromising the safety of children by obstructing the use of the best known corrections practices. ..more.. by The Iowa County Attorneys Association
February 9, 2008
December 2006 Iowa:
February 8, 2008
Gives those reclassified time to file challenges
Sex offenders reclassified under the state's newly enacted Adam Walsh Act can file legal challenges beyond the original 60-day deadline, a federal judge has ruled.
According to the Ohio Public Defender's Office, about 26,000 sex offenders were reclassified into a new, three-tier reporting structure. The Walsh Act went into effect Jan. 1.
Originally, those who wished to challenge the new system were required to do so within 60 days of receiving their state reclassification notices.
But according to a ruling this week by U.S. District Court Judge Patricia A. Gaughan, that deadline is extended ''until further order from (the) court.''
''It's important for people to understand that Judge Gaughan's order is not permanent,'' Ohio Public Defender Tim Young said in a statement released by his office. ''Instead, the order gives people who have yet to file their legal challenges more time to do so.''
The court ruling also puts a temporary hold on the community notification requirement for reclassified offenders who were not previously subjected to it. However, community notification still applies to offenders subjected to it under the old law. ..more.. by Ed Meyer, Beacon Journal staff writer
Few crimes create more fear among community members than sexual offenses.
Not surprisingly, this fear and the ability of politicians to take advantage of it has resulted in inconsistent and incomprehensible policies toward sex offenders.
Such policies often not only decrease the ability of offenders to reintegrate into society but also call into question some of the basic principles on which our judicial system is based.
Earlier this week, an Associated Press story detailed the situation of a group of sex offenders living under a bridge in Miami. The offenders said that the passing of local laws about where offenders could live — akin to other cities’ bans on living within 1,000 or more feet of a church, school or other community area — prevented them from getting housing elsewhere. Thus, 19 of the offenders created a communal living space under the bridge and registered the location with their probation officers as their place of residence. Before being told last week to move out, the men had lived under the bridge for an entire year.
Last March, spurred by Green Bay’s march toward implementing strict restrictions on where sex offenders could live, I wrote an opinion column decrying this practice of legislating segregation. Later, in September, fellow columnist Bassey Etim wrote an excellent column on the continuing spread of these restrictions throughout the nation. The situation in Florida is the exact kind of outcome that Mr. Etim and I warned about: Despite serving their sentences, these released offenders have little hope for reintegration into society after they are released.
Unfortunately, the restrictions on where sex offenders can live are not the only aspect unique to their situation. Even when a particular town or city allows an offender to settle down, he or she is often the subject of a neighborhood meeting that notifies everyone of the potential danger they may present.
In Wisconsin, the addresses of all the state’s sex offenders are readily available via a purpose-built website. One Wisconsin legislator even suggested making sex offenders put specially colored license plates on their cars.
If they aren’t becoming less dangerous in prison, then the ongoing efforts to isolate them from society once they are released certainly aren’t helping them further adjust to a different style of life outside of prison.
Honestly, I find these practices baffling. What is the point of releasing an offender if he or she won’t get a chance to normally reenter society? Won’t the isolation and contempt of their neighbors only increase the likelihood of re-offending?
Taken together, the laws that single out sex offenders have the effect of being another dividing line in our society. This type of law seeks to specifically discriminate against a defined group after they have already served what should be a substantial punishment. This type of law seems particularly foolish considering the fact that sex offenders are among the least likely of felons to ever commit another crime. Reports from Washington and Tennessee correctional systems hold up this fact, as well as a massive 1994 study by the United States Department of Justice.
In the future, absent a court decision striking down residency restrictions or a change in the trend toward enacting them, there doesn’t seem to be anything to stop communities from enacting restrictions on any felon. After all, they are far more likely to re-offend than a sex offender.
Unfortunately, the effect of this would be to create a batch of second-class citizens. Of course, in many states felons aren’t really even citizens because they are no longer allowed to vote. But that’s a topic for another day.
Now, I am open to compromise on this issue. Perhaps more freedom after a release for the first sex offense should be compromised with lifelong punishments for second-time offenders. This way, their fates are in their own hands. An offender can choose the path of reintegration after his or her first crime or face a life sentence, hard labor or a firing squad, for all I care.
I decided to shed light on this issue once again because I think the situation that occurred in Florida is deplorable and should be avoided at all costs. The criminal justice system has enough problems with it already. In the future, it should not be used to hound and segregate offenders for their entire lives after they have paid an appropriate punishment for their actions. ..more.. by Andrew Wagner (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a junior majoring in computer science and political science.
February 7, 2008
LIMA -- Nearly 70 sex offenders in Allen County are asking for hearings on a new federal law that requires them to register longer, even if they were sentenced well before the law ever came about.
"It's almost like we're changing the rules of the game after they completed, for the most part, their duties to register," said Judge Richard Warren of Allen County Common Pleas Court.
The federal law, named the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, has created a tier system for all states to follow with retroactive registration requirements. Offenders must provide information during registration including registering their name, address, work address and be photographed.
Failing to register is a felony.
Warren has 38 appeals on his docket; Allen County Common Pleas Court judge, Jeffrey Reed, has 31. Both judges have placed the cases on hold while the Ohio Supreme Court considers the matter.
"It may ultimately have to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court because it has ramifications in every state," Warren said.
While the cases are on hold, sex offenders still have a duty to register under the old law, which requires reporting their addressed to the county sheriff at least once a year, Warren said.
The new registration requirements are expected to create a lot more work for county sheriff's offices that have to keep track of sex offenders. Allen County Sheriff Dan Beck said he has reassigned one patrol deputy to handle the new requirements.
Beck said he is concerned he may have to move additional deputies off the roads because he was not given more money to create positions to handle the requirements.
Allen County has about 180 registered sex offenders, he said.
The filing requirements, which range from 15 years to lifetime registration, includes more time than the previous way under state law. Offenders are looking at it as an extra sanction they were not advised of when their criminal cases went through the courts, Warren said.
"Some of them were in a classification where they were ending the need to register maybe this year," Warren said.
Most of the sex offenders filing are acting as their own attorneys because the county will not pay attorney fees on a civil matter, which this falls under even though it derived from a criminal case, Warren said.
Most of the people filing appeals are out of prison, Warren said.
Allen County and other communities that are home to a prison receive additional filings beside local offenders because the federal law requires an offender to file in the county in which he or she lives, which brings inmates from the two local prisons into the picture, Warren said.
That part of the law creates a logistical nightmare because Warren and Reed will have to order files from other counties, he said.
"Most of them, however, are filing in their home county where they lived before they went to prison," Warren said.
Registration requirements are mandatory unless states want to face losing federal funding, Warren said.
"It's one of those situations where it's an offer they can't refuse. The states are placed in that position," he said. ..more.. by Greg Sowinski, The Lima News, Ohio
2-7-2008 New Jersey:
First Responders, Security for Ports, Transit and Infrastructure Among Key Areas on Administration's Chopping Block
February 6, 2008 -- WASHINGTON – United States Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), both members of the Senate Budget Committee, today assailed President Bush’s Fiscal Year 2009 budget proposal for its drastic cuts in state and local homeland security funding that is critical to high-threat, high-population states like New Jersey. The Senators’ analysis of the homeland security portion of the president’s budget shows deep cuts in areas of homeland security that would disproportionately affect the Garden State, including first responders, ports, transit and infrastructure, as well as health assistance for 9/11 responders.
“With our concentrated population and miles of critical infrastructure, our state needs a much stronger investment in these security programs than this president is willing to make,” said Senator Menendez. “We have one of the busiest ports in the nation, we have major bridges, tunnels and highways, and we have first responders who may be called to respond to attacks not only here but potentially in New York as well – those are all areas that the president has put on the chopping block. We also have heroes of 9/11 who inhaled the toxic air around Ground Zero but are seeing a diminished commitment to their health by this administration. For a president who has consistently invoked the terrorist threats to justify a host of policies, these deep cuts represent a pre-9/11 mentality. And with al Qaeda allowed to regroup in a safe zone along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, these cuts make even less sense.”
“President Bush’s proposed budget would make New Jersey less secure – it’s that simple. New Jersey is home to the most dangerous two miles in America for terrorism, according to the FBI, and some of the nation’s busiest airports, seaports, rail lines and roadways. I will fight for sufficient homeland security funds for New Jersey’s first responders, transit systems and infrastructure. We must ensure homeland security funds are risk-based so we can better protect ourselves from a possible terrorist attack,” said Senator Lautenberg.
President Bush's proposed budget cuts homeland security funding to states and localities by $2 billion, from $4.2 billion to $2.2 billion – a 48% cut from this year’s funding. That includes a slashing of funding for port security grants in half and a cut of state homeland security grants by almost 80%.
Under the budget, the successful COPS program that has added nearly 5,000 police officers and sheriffs to New Jersey’s streets and sent more than $350 million to New Jersey would be eliminated. Eliminating COPS also means that $205 million Congress provided for critical law enforcement technologies and interoperable communications would be gone. In addition, the Byrne Justice Assistance Grants program, which support a wide range of law enforcement activities and help local law enforcement partner with state and federal agencies, would be eliminated. Last year, New Jersey received $2.5 million in Byrne Justice Assistance Grant funding and $554,000 in COPS funding.
Grants for firefighters, which provided New Jersey firefighters more than $11 million last year, would be cut by 60% and infrastructure protection spending would be slashed in half.
Furthermore, with an approximately 8,000 New Jersey residents who may require assistance for medical and health problems because of their work near the World Trade Center site after 9/11, the budget cuts funding for screening and treatment for first responders and others exposed to toxins at the World Trade Center by 77%.
The grossly inadequate Bush budget comes less than 6 months after the president signed a law implementing the remaining 9/11 Commission recommendations, which calls for much higher funding levels of key programs designed to give states and localities the tools to protect themselves from threats and future unforeseen attacks.
It also comes out just days after the Department of Homeland Security announced increased funding for transportation security grants in FY 2008 due to higher appropriation levels from Congress.
PRESIDENT BUSH’S FY2009 BUDGET:
UNDERMINING GARDEN STATE SECURITY
v Cuts Infrastructure Protection in Half. Despite the ongoing risks that our nation’s top targets face and the need to protect communities surrounding chemical plants, major airports, railways, and ports, the president’s budget for next year would cut funding for critical infrastructure in half, to $400 million from over $850 million.
v Backtracks on Funding for Our Nation’s Ports. This year marks the first year that our nation’s ports will receive the level of funding they say we need to make needed security improvements. Despite this important step, the president’s budget would cut port security grants for next year in half to $210 million. Last year, along with New York, New Jersey received more than $42 million in port security grants.
v Undermines Transit Security. The administration continues to undermine our nation’s public transit and rail security needs. After Congress dramatically increased funding to $400 million for this year to neglected security programs, the president’s budget would provide only $175 million, a 56% cut. New Jersey benefited from $98 million in federal transit funding with New York and Connecticut last year.
v Slashes Funding for 9/11 Health Monitoring. The budget cuts funding for screening and treatment for first responders and others exposed to toxins at the World Trade Center by 77%, from $109 million this year to $25 million. Some 8,000 New Jersey residents may require assistance for medical and health problems because of their work near the site.
v Makes Deep Cuts to Grants to States and First Responders. Once again, the Bush administration takes aim at federal funding that to our states and first responders. Homeland security grants to states that provide millions to our first responders would be cut by almost 80%. Last year, these grants were funded at $950 million. However, the president’s budget slashes their funding to only $300 million for next year. These grants are integral to New Jersey’s homeland security efforts and provided the state with $14 million last year alone.
v Eliminates Key Funding for Police Officers. The successful COPS program that has added nearly 5,000 police officers and sheriffs to New Jersey’s streets and sent more than $350 million to New Jersey is eliminated. Last year, the COPS program received $587 million, including $205 million for law enforcement technologies and interoperable communications. COPS provided New Jersey $554,000 last year. None of this funding would be available under the president’s budget.
v State and Local Law Enforcement Left Fending for Themselves. Funding for state and local law enforcement assistance, including Byrne Justice Assistance Grants, violent gang and crime reduction programs and offender reentry funding, is cut more than 55%, from $908 million to $404 million. New Jersey could lose over $6 million in funds that help our communities prevent crime and improve the criminal justice system.
v Cuts Back Funding to Firefighters. The budget would cut funding for firefighters by 60% and would eliminate grants that help fire departments provide overtime and hire new firefighters. More than 100 New Jersey fire departments received over $11.5 million in these grants last year.
v Eliminates Funding for Interoperable Communications. The budget eliminates dedicated funding for interoperable communications for state and local governments, a key element of the 9/11 Implementation Act. The administration has already delayed the distribution of these important funds; under this budget, they would receive almost nothing next year.
v Underfunds Urban Area Security Initiative. The budget calls for a less than 1% increase in the urban areas security grants, the only strictly risk-based homeland security program designed to help high-threat, urban areas be adequately prepared for and to respond to threats.
v Continues Controversial Security Funding Program to Trucking Industry Lobbyists. The president again proposes $8 million for the Highway Watch program, which is administered by trucking industry lobbyists as a training program to train truck drivers on anti-terrorism awareness. Last year, a DHS Inspector General audit requested by Senator Lautenberg found that more funding was spent by this lobbyist group on marketing and overhead than actually training truck drivers.
v Increases Tax on Airline Travelers. While the budget provides a $515 billion increase for the Pentagon, the president proposes multi-year tax increases on airline travelers. This year’s budget proposal would increase security fees paid by airline travelers by 20%, to $3.00, each time they board a plane (up to $6.00 per flight). ..more.. by Source: Senator Frank Lautenberg
MANSFIELD — Up to 100 sex offenders living in Richland County have appealed new state classifications setting stricter requirements for residence reporting.
Richland County Common Pleas Clerk of Courts Lin Frary said the Ohio Attorney General’s office reclassified convicted sex offenders between July 1 and Dec. 1. Registered letters notified them they were placed in one of three new tiers.
Convicted offenders had 60 days to contest their new classification. Some offenders may also file motions relieving them of community reporting requirements, if that wasn’t required in their case before, Frary said.
The clerk of courts believes the onslaught of appeals is likely to end this week.
Changes in sex offender classifications are a result of Ohio Senate Bill 10, which imposed more stringent reporting.
“Ohio is now supposed to be in step with the federal Adam Walsh Act,” Frary said.
Senate Bill 10 organized sex offender classifications into three tiers. Each tier has registration requirements ranging from 15 years to lifetime. In-person verification at the county sheriff’s office also varies by tier, from annual to every 90 days.
Reclassification caused a major spike in the common pleas court caseload at the beginning of the year, Frary said.
The clerk’s office processed 21 administrative appeals of government agency decisions in 2007. This year there have already been 83, most filed by those appealing the new sex offender classifications, Frary said.
According to Frary, many convicted sex offenders filed appeals without a lawyer.
“We had people coming in saying ‘Do you have petitions (to contest this)?”
The final total may be reduced somewhat, as cases are merged where both the sex offender and their attorney filed with the court, she said.
Ben Kitzler is among area attorneys representing clients appealing reclassification. He will contest the constitutionality of reclassifying large groups of people based on an edict from state legislators.
“They have taken a system that used to classify people into different categories, based on a judge’s consideration of the case after hearing evidence and weighing facts about the offender and about the offense,” Kitzler said.
Judges decided whether that individual was a predator who might harm the community by reoffending, or a person who made a bad mistake, he said.
Under SB 10, the sole consideration for classification is the specific number of the offense the person was convicted for under the Ohio Revised Code.
“We have taken the discretion from the hands of judges and simply enabled a lot of politicians to decide,” Kitzler said. “The law says at the end of your case, you should know what your punishment is.”
The attorney said he’ll be interested to see how local judges respond to the appeals.
Let’s be honest, this thing is going to be decided ultimately at higher levels, by larger organizations,” he said. ..more.. by LINDA MARTZ
MADISON — A Tomah, Wis., man was sentenced to more than 27 years in prison Thursday for sending child pornography videos to an undercover FBI agent.
U.S. District Judge John Shabaz gave Jason Shrake, 32, 330 months in prison, saying he was concerned about the damage done to child pornography victims and wanted Shrake confined as long as the law would allow.
When he leaves prison, Shrake also will be on supervised release for the rest of his life, Shabaz said.
A jury Jan. 17 convicted Shrake on charges of possessing and distributing child pornography.
After Shrake had sent the two videos March 20, 2005, an FBI search of his home turned up more child pornography on CDs and his computer hard drive, according to federal court records. ..more.. by Tribune staff
The 7th Circuit Appellate Decision:
CLEVELAND (AP) — A federal judge has extended the deadline for sex offenders to challenge their reclassification under a law that took effect this year.
U.S. District Judge Patricia Gaughan also stayed the law’s community notification provision for those who weren’t subject to it under the old law.
Under the Adam Walsh Act, offenders are automatically classified in one of three tiers by their crime without considering the likelihood of re-offending.
Gaughan made the rulings in a class action lawsuit filed by sex offenders who say the law denies them their constitutional right because their classification can be changed without a hearing. ..more.. by NewardAdvocate.com
February 6, 2008
A Work in Progress, check back often:
The Rational Offender Registry [ROaR] is a project began in 2004-2005 and now I am asking folks for input. Initially, this is a "Information Gathering" mode, and if you have ideas or feel different about something, I am all ears.
It is my belief that current registries are useless, glorified telephone books, providing meaningless facts which does nothing to protect the public. A registry of value is one that is both factual and intuitive, displayed in a mannner that is analytical to the viewer. eAdvocateUPDATE 2013: What are the differences between a "Registry" and a "List" of people or what they have done?PROJECT PREMISE: "Safety = Protection for Everyone"
Protecting the Public: Unfortunately registries are here to stay. So, if we accept that registries are supposed to protect the public, then, EXACTLY what information SHOULD a PUBLIC registry contain?
Think about it, the question is deeper than most folks think. Where the registrant lives, OK, but what else? Think protection! e-mail eAdvocate with your thoughts, and your reasoning wouldn't hurt either. I will review reasoning to decide the public safety issue.
Protecting Registrant's Family: Further, accepting that registries are supposed to protect the public, then there must be sufficient protections incorporated in the public registry to protect the registrant and family, if s/he has one.
Protecting Businesses Providing Services to Registrants: In addition, there must also be sufficient protections for those businesses that registrants and their families utilize for their needs; provisions to prevent the businesses from becoming targets for employing or providing services to registrants.
Tight Controls on Use of Registrant Information:
Folks will notice that there are very strict controls on use of the registry information including NO secondary use of same, the reason for this is to create a CENTRAL place where the public may go for timely reliable and correct information provided by the state. Should there be an error, then it is the state's responsibility to make the corrections which may include getting updated information from the registrant.
Who should appear on a public registry:
Long term in a ROaR registry (Rational Offender Registry) the computer will decide who should appear publically. Its computerized decision process will be based on a parameter file established by the state, which allows the state to fold in their laws, using the information shown below in the "Registry Content Issues."
Registry Content Issues:
Registrant Name and Address:
Registrant Photos: Photo-1: Registrant's photo at time crime was committed, or at time of conviction if former not available. Photo-2: Registrant's current photo.
Registrant's Age when crime was committed: A numerical number calculated by the computer from the registrant's birthday which the registry will not display because of ID Theft Issues.
Years Since the Sex Crime: Instead of showing the year the crime was committed, which by itself does not help the public, the registry will shows the number of years (and tenths) since the crime.
Crime Had a Live Victim: Yes/No. Whether there was a live person (or a cadaver) as the victim. Far too many crimes are victimless in that there is no live person involved. i.e., child porn, a case of entrapment, etc,.
Victim Age Range: Over 17, 16 through 17, 12 through 15, Under 12. If we were to put the victim's specific age, that would violate the, no vicitm information provision, usually found in statutes.
Victim Was a Stranger?: Yes/No, a stranger being someone who had no interactive contact with the offender in their daily lives. Incidental contact (i.e., the victim shops where the offender works) would still be considered a stranger.
Crime was Predatory: Yes/No. Whether the crime was predatory in nature.
Crime Severity: A scale 1 to xx to designate how severe the crime was. This allows a blending of all state crime statutes into one understandable system. Crime Severity is a simple way to compare one state's statutes (the statutes used to convict the person) to statutes of another state, so that "nationally" folks can get a gist of how severe the crime was, in the state's eyes. Using the final charged statute (for comparison) that reflects all mitigating and aggravating circumstances that the state applied during the criminal proceeding.
Escalation Factor: Based on "Crime Severity" and "Recidivist" number, whether the registrant progressed from a lower level crime to a higher level crime.
Recidivist: A number to indicate the number of sex crimes committed (computer shows nothing until sex crimes equals two or more). Only sex crimes are considered. A registrant is a recidivist ONLY IF there is a period of time -in the community- between sex crimes. The criminal justice system has long accepted this distinction although many prosecutors have fought it, and sometimes winning.
Sentenced to Prison/Jail: The length of time of the sentence in prison or jail expressed in years and tenths of a year.
Parole/Probation Began and Ended: None; MM/DD/YY to MM/DD/YY; MM/DD/YY Continues.
Participated in Sex Offender Therapy: Yes/No whether the registrant participated in a QUALIFIED sex offender therapy program -and- successfully completed it. Beyond Yes/No raises HIPPA issues.
Currently Employed: Yes/No, no indication of employer's name or location on the public registry available online. All issues regarding notifying the public of where the registrant is employed should result from legislation directing the employers to do so, at the employer's location only for certain types of businesses. This minimizes the harmful collateral effects on the employer and the registrant. If the registry is intended to protect the public, then the only public that needs protecting are those coming into where the registrant is employed, not the whole world.
Currently Attending School: Yes/No, no indication of school's name or location on the public registry available online. All issues regarding notifying the public of where the registrant is attending school should result from legislation directing the schools to do so, at the school location internally for school personnel. This minimizes the harmful collateral effects on the school and the registrant. If the registry is intended to protect the public, then the only public that needs protecting are those coming into where the registrant is in school, not the whole world.
Other Dynamic Life Factors: These would come from what is happening in the lives of registrants, such as became a drug addict, or alcoholic, or even things like obsessive gambling which affects overall life, getting divorced or even deaths of loved ones. The actual list of these dynamic factors will not necessarily be related to sex offenses but also to the registrants life from day to day.
Registry Access Issues:
1) Public registries should have a Security Entry Agreement (SEA) or technically known as CAPTCHAs to prevent AUTOMATED COMPUTERIZED ACCESS to registry data (scraping registries). Public registries should track (maintain the computer IP Address and name) of every access to a registrant's record.
2) The CAPTCHA should lead to a screen where the requestor must register their name and address. Once that is done then that person should be given a access code for future use. CAPTCHA's can be bypassed only by previously authorized valid access codes.
3) All screens displaying registrant information should be constructed soas to prevent printing of the screen on local printers.
4) All displays of registrant information MUST CONTAIN appropriate public WARNINGS regarding the proper use of the information, and, that any improper use WILL result in a criminal prosecution.
5) All displays of registrant information MUST CONTAIN a statement explaining how any incorrect information may be corrected.
Secondary Dissemination Issues:
1) Law should make it a crime to distribute any information about registrants with severe punishments for violators.
2) The only secondary dissemination permitted under the law is to one's immediate family that resides with the person who received the registrant's information from the public registry through a authorized access code.
Media Use of Registry Information:
1) The media is not permitted to use any of the registrant's information excepting the registrant's name, and may include a link back to the OPENING PAGE of the appropriate registry that contains further information about that registrant.
More to follow as e-mails or comments are received. Last Update 2010
February 5, 2008
President Bush’s $22.7 billion fiscal 2009 budget proposal for the Justice Department aims to consolidate the department's state and local law enforcement assistance grants (Note: At the end of that link the Byrne grant for 2009 is only 200 million making passage of AWA by the states less likely) and includes boosts for FBI, counterterrorism activities and border security.
Overall, the budget represents a $350 million decrease from fiscal 2008. In addition, the Bush administration is requesting $931 million compared with $855 million for information-sharing technology that was included in the 2008 omnibus budget.
Department officials said in a press release that they hoped to replace $675 million worth of earmarks in the fiscal 2008 budget for state and local assistance with four new competitive grant programs. Officials say the new programs will total $1 billion in discretionary grants and the Office of Management and Budget’s DOJ budget summary states that these grants would consolidate more than 70 state and local law enforcement assistance programs that are worth more than $2 billion in spending.
The four new consolidated grant programs are:
• Violent Crime Reduction Partnership, worth $200 million.
• Byrne Public Safety and Protection Program, worth $200 million.
• Violence Against Women Program, worth $280 million.
• Child Safety and Juvenile Justice Program, worth $185 million.
The budget significantly decreases the funding for grants to state and local governments compared with the 2008 budget. For example, according to DOJ numbers, Congress allocated $2.4 billion to DOJ for state and local discretionary spending in 2008, while Bush is asking for just $800 million for fiscal 2009.
The administration is requesting $7.1 billion for the FBI -- including $235.5 million for operations that include efforts to tackle cybercrime -- about $450 million more than the bureau got in fiscal 2008 from Congress. Under the proposed budget, the FBI would also get an additional $28.4 million to update technology, central records management, field facility infrastructure and information technology disaster recovery.
The administration is also asking for nearly $50 million more than Congress gave Justice for fiscal 2008 to implement a nationwide Integrated Wireless Network — an upgrade that officials say is vital to national security.
The budget proposal calls for a 6 percent increase in spending on the department’s law enforcement and prosecution programs, including $492.7 million to improve DOJ’s counterterrorism and intelligence capabilities.
Bush seeks an additional $100 million in new resources to create the Southwest Border Enforcement Initiative, which will focus DOJ efforts on the needs of that region. ..more.. by Ben Bain
Based on a keynote address delivered in conjunction with the Journal's annual symposium, this paper examines several of the major legal and policy issues associated with sex offender registration and community notification laws. Particular attention is dedicated to the Adam Walsh Act, a federal law taking effect in July 2006 that continues Congress' effort to foster changes in state registration and notification regimes as a result of its Spending Clause authority. In addition to discussing the federalism implications of the AWA, the paper examines several of its most significant provisions, including those calling for empirical assessment of registration and community notification, twelve years after Congress first pressured states nationwide to adopt laws in accord with its will. ..more.. by WAYNE A. LOGAN, Florida State University College of Law
How Risky Are Social Networking Sites? A Comparison of Places Online Where Youth Sexual Solicitation and Harassment Occurs
OBJECTIVE. Recently, public attention has focused on the possibility that social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook are being widely used to sexually solicit underage youth, consequently increasing their vulnerability to sexual victimization. Beyond anecdotal accounts, however, whether victimization is more commonly reported in social networking sites is unknown.
PARTICIPANTS AND METHODS. The Growing up With Media Survey is a national cross-sectional online survey of 1588 youth. Participants were 10- to 15-year-old youth who have used the Internet at least once in the last 6 months. The main outcome measures were unwanted sexual solicitation on the Internet, defined as unwanted requests to talk about sex, provide personal sexual information, and do something sexual, and Internet harassment, defined as rude or mean comments, or spreading of rumors.
RESULTS. Fifteen percent of all of the youth reported an unwanted sexual solicitation online in the last year; 4% reported an incident on a social networking site specifically. Thirty-three percent reported an online harassment in the last year; 9% reported an incident on a social networking site specifically. Among targeted youth, solicitations were more commonly reported via instant messaging (43%) and in chat rooms (32%), and harassment was more commonly reported in instant messaging (55%) than through social networking sites (27% and 28%, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS. Broad claims of victimization risk, at least defined as unwanted sexual solicitation or harassment, associated with social networking sites do not seem justified. Prevention efforts may have a greater impact if they focus on the psychosocial problems of youth instead of a specific Internet application, including funding for online youth outreach programs, school antibullying programs, and online mental health services. ..more.. by Michele L. Ybarra, MPH, PhDa and Kimberly J. Mitchell, PhDb
Fearing a return to prison amid a state push for him to find a new home, a sexual predator on probation allowed the battery on his ankle monitor to run down and fled a camp beneath the Julia Tuttle Causeway early Monday.
The Florida Department of Corrections confirmed Monday evening that Antonio Cannon, 30, fled the makeshift camp under the causeway after numerous visits by parole officers during the last week.
The officers were distributing forms to the residents, all registered sex offenders, indicating that living under the bridge may violate state or local ordinances.
The future of the remaining sex offenders under the causeway was no clearer Monday than it was last week, when they were first given notices by the state Department of Corrections that their living arrangements may put them in violation of their probation.
A 9 a.m. Monday target for clearing out the causeway's underside came and passed with little change. However, six of the 19 men who had been living there had moved on, said Gretl Plessinger, a state DOC spokeswoman.
''The others have been asked to report on what progress they've made in finding another place to live,'' she said. She said there was no firm deadline to vacate the camp, but the men were told to leave by Feb. 1 or begin trying to find new homes.
Any bridge squatters who refuse to make the effort could be found in violation of their probation, she said. ``But that would have to be an extreme case.''
''Unfortunately, a lot of these offenders are misinformed,'' Plessinger said. She added that although DOC is actively trying to move the offenders from under the bridge to more permanent residences, ``no one will be violated simply for being homeless.''
Cannon, whose criminal record dates to 1997 and includes cocaine distribution, marijuana possession, resisting arrest, grand theft auto and armed robbery, evidently feared otherwise. He was convicted on Dec. 10 of attempted sexual battery on a minor under 12. He served no time for the felony but was tagged as a sexual predator and given 10 years' probation.
Plessinger said a statewide law enforcement alert has been issued for him.
The causeway men were allowed to live beneath the bridge by the DOC as a response to Miami's 2005 ordinance banning sex offenders from residing within 2,500 feet of any school -- a law that left few options for housing for them. But DOC has since urged the men to sign forms acknowledging that they must make other living arrangements. For most of them, the only alternative housing is outside Miami-Dade County.
''I'll have to move out to where the crocodiles are in the Everglades,'' said causeway resident Alejandro Ruiz, 67. Ruiz said he was convicted of lewd and lascivious behavior in 2006. He readily admits his guilt today, saying, ``I touched the girl.''
The crackdown on convicted sex offenders' unusual living arrangement began last month in Broward County; a small group of offenders who were camping under the Oakland Park Bridge were given ''no trespassing affidavits'' by the Department of Transportation, which owns the bridge.
''We anticipated something like this could happen with the men under the Julia Tuttle, and we're trying to be proactive,'' Plessinger said.
DOT spokesman Brian Rick said Monday his agency had no plans to evict residents from the causeway.
He said the DOT will ``work closely with DOC as they assist offenders in relocating to a residence that complies with terms of their probation as well as state laws and local ordinances.''
. In contrast to the county, the state requires only that sex offenders live at least 1,000 feet from a school. ''We know there are few places left in Miami-Dade,'' Plessinger said.
In Florida, fewer than 50 convicted sex offenders on probation are listed as homeless, she said.
The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement Monday afternoon saying it is sending a letter to Gov. Charlie Crist urging him to direct the state Department of Corrections to find suitable lodging for homeless convicted sex offenders.
''Living under a bridge is not suitable lodging and requiring people to live under a bridge is cruel and unusual punishment,'' Jeanne Baker, state board president for ACLU of Florida, said in a press release. The organization is also urging Miami-Dade and the cities of Miami and Miami Beach to reconsider their 2,500-foot residency ordinances.
''Now that they have seen the real impact of these hastily drafted and ineffective laws, the effect of which does not protect the children of our community but only creates homeless citizens,'' Baker said. ..more.. by DAVID QUINONES AND LUISA YANEZ
As New Bedford seeks to improve security at its public libraries following the rape of a 6-year-old boy Jan. 30, the trustees must weigh the fundamental freedom of library access — including access by ex-convicts and the homeless — against the right of children and other patrons to expect a safe environment.
Mayor Scott W. Lang is seeking no-trespass orders against all of the city's Level 3, and possibly Level 2, sex offenders.
He asked the trustees yesterday to approve a system that would require every patron to have valid photo identification in addition to a library card or guest pass. Patrons would have to swipe their cards to enter or leave the library.
In a cash-strapped system, the information from those cards would probably be used only to identify people after a crime has taken place, much the way the library's security cameras are used today. But the potential to infringe on individual freedom by monitoring library activity should raise concerns among the trustees.
I.D. cards have questionable preventative value. Almost anyone could get an I.D. card and enter the library. But the cards could be used to enforce no-trespass orders against sex offenders like the Level 3 offender accused in the rape.
Barring any group from using a public library is virtually without precedent. Nadine Mitchell, chief librarian in Lynn, warns that denying anyone access to the library violates state law and would likely result in decertification of a library, loss of grants and removal from the interlibrary loan system.
Yet libraries are not without rules. Bad behavior on the premises, such as viewing Internet porn or harassing other patrons, can result in a no-trespass order. In general, sex offenders are already barred from entering schools. Should the same apply to libraries, where children often go without their parents?
If New Bedford seeks to bar an entire class of people from the libraries, it could have a legal battle on its hands. What the final outcome should be, it is too soon to say. But we applaud Mayor Lang and the library trustees for investigating changes that could make a meaningful difference in safety at the libraries.
Massachusetts courts should take a hard look at the system that allowed the suspect, Corey Deen Saunders, to go free in spite of his history of sexual aggression. But the courts can only do so much to predict whether a convict will reoffend. Cities like New Bedford must take steps to protect the public from the inevitable presence of sex offenders in the community.
In the short term, the city is apt to beef up traditional means of security by adding more guards, cameras and monitors.
In Springfield, the main library is part of a campus of city museums. They share a security staff of 40 and a control room where surveillance video is monitored 24 hours a day.
New Bedford Library Director Stephen Fulchino cautions, though, that video surveillance is imperfect. "If nothing happens except every three years, you're going to miss it," he says.
Springfield's head of library security, Roger Plasse, would like to go beyond surveillance. He has asked for permission to eject sex offenders from the library, but the Library Commission considers it a violation of civil liberties, he said.
We shall see whether New Bedford sees things differently. ..more.. by
February 4, 2008
$600K grant pays for special program, patrol
Brevard County law enforcement agencies use nearly $600,000 from a federal grant to purchase new equipment, pay overtime for special patrols and fund a transport program that keeps officers patrolling neighborhoods.
But local authorities likely will see only a fraction of that money next year after funding was slashed for the often-used federal grant.
The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program received about $168 million in the federal budget for fiscal year 2008 approved in late December -- only about one-third of the $519 million allocated in fiscal year 2007.
"It's almost unprecedented," said David Steingraber, president of the National Criminal Justice Association, a group supporting increased funding for the grant.
"You can't cut a program by two-thirds and expect it to continue at the same level."
Six agencies in Brevard County received $317,214 in Byrne JAG funding for fiscal year 2007 directly from the Department of Justice.
Dollars for fiscal year 2008's grant have not yet been awarded, so it's not clear how much agencies might receive.
Brevard County Sheriff's Office also received $262,901 from the $18.1 million allocated to Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
That money, plus $114,345 from the Department of Justice, funds vans that transport those arrested from police departments and sheriff's precincts to the county jail in Sharpes, sheriff's office budget manager Greg Pelham said.
The program, which is open to all local police departments, is designed to keep officers and deputies patrolling neighborhoods instead of driving to and from the jail, he said. That saves almost two hours for an officer or deputy coming from the southern end of the county.
To cope with the anticipated funding cut, Pelham said cities might be asked to pick up the tab or program officials could seek more money from the county.
With the passage of the property tax amendment making financial situations even tighter, "those two items are very unlikely," he said.
What's more likely to happen is a reduction in personnel and in operating hours for the program.
For other local agencies, the dollars pay for new equipment or fund additional patrols targeting anything from traffic to mid- and upper-level drug dealers.
Titusville police use the $36,130 to fund overtime for traffic enforcement as well as its career criminal and sex offender follow-up program, where officers make stops at offenders' homes to ensure they are living where they are registered and are following curfews.
"With the budget and tax reforms, it's been a lifesaver to get these initiatives done," Titusville Police Department administrative manager JoAnn Couey said.
With fewer dollars, the department will likely try to refine the programs to do the same work with less funding, she said.
In recent years, Palm Bay Police has used Byrne JAG money to purchase equipment such as Tasers, digital cameras and computers, the department's executive assistant Lynne Nungessern said. It also paid to equip a meeting room with the technology needed for its Coordinated Plan Response, a program that sends officers to patrol areas of the city based on crime statistics.
Its most recent grant of $51,118 was split between purchasing automated ticket writers and funding undercover operations combating drug sales.
Byrne JAG allows the department to keep up with ever-changing technology, Nungesser said. Fewer grant dollars means it may take longer to add new technology.
"It certainly has impact on the rate with which we improve our technology and safety equipment," she said.
While the grant accounts for less than 2 percent of the amount states and local governments spend on law enforcement, the money allows departments to fund new programs that prove to be invaluable, Steingraber said.
"It's the one place people can turn to try something new," he said.
For example, FDLE used Byrne JAG funding as seed money for Florida's Computer Crime Center, which targets everything from child solicitations and child pornography to fraud, banking scams and computer hacking. Lawmakers continued the funding after it became an established resource, FDLE director of external affairs Heather Smith said.
But FDLE is anticipating a
67 percent drop in its grant, which funds nearly 200 major programs in the state.
The agency will have to look for other possible grant sources, find creative solutions to provide the same services with less money or run them at lower levels.
"It's going to impair some of the public safety programs that are in place," Smith said. ..more.. by Cervenka at 360-1018 or email@example.com.
February 3, 2008
Placing restrictions on where registered sex offenders can live and work is politically popular, and certainly appears tough on crime.
But do those restrictions actually work? Do they do more harm than good?
Some Georgia legislators who fought against the passage of a bill to reinstate residency restrictions on sex offenders said that not only do the restrictions not prevent sexual abuse of children, but they suck up vital law enforcement resources and make it harder for offenders to stay on the up and up.
Sgt. Mike McGuffey of the Coweta County Sheriff's Office, who oversees Coweta's sex offender registry, said that he likes to know where his sex offenders are living. But it doesn't really matter where they live. McGuffey said he is thinking of testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee when it takes up the House version of the sex offender bill.
Last fall, the Georgia Supreme Court struck down the residency restrictions, saying that they violated property rights.
Under that law, sex offenders were forced to move out of their homes if a school, church, day-care center or other prohibited site were to open up within 1,000 feet of the home.
The new bill gives an exemption to sex offenders who own their property; renters are out of luck.
McGuffey sees a myriad of problems with the law. What if a sex offender is married but the house is in his wife's name? What if an elderly couple dies and leave their house to their child, who is a sex offender? "He inherits the family land where he grew up, and he's the owner and there's a day-care. What happens if it's been in his family for 50 years and a day-care went up a month earlier?"
"Technically, there's a lot of questions," McGuffey said.
When asked whether he thinks residency restrictions are effective, McGuffey said he has spoken to law enforcement officers in other states where there aren't residency restrictions. "They didn't seem to have a problem," he said. "It was better for them because the sex offender was not more likely to run or go underground."
The possibility that sex offenders will give up trying to be good and go underground was something mentioned several times by the legislators during discussion of the bill.
That is something that concerns McGuffey. "If we keep making them move ... one of these days they're going to get tired," he said. "And then we won't know where they live."
"I don't think the residential restriction in any way affects the purpose of the sex offender registry," he said. Staying away from areas where minors congregate might help them avoid temptation, but with the Internet, temptation is everywhere.
"The fact is knowing where they are ... it's not where they live, that's just a factor of keeping track of them," he said.
There is also the concern of what having to abide by these restrictions forever does to someone who was convicted of a minor crime — for example, someone who was a teenager and had consensual sex with a 15-year-old.
Though that crime is now a misdemeanor, if the perpetrator is only a few years older, there are many statutory rape offenders on registration lists all over the state, including in Coweta.
When offenders get out of jail, it can be very hard for them to find a place to stay and work. Many times, they can't stay with their family, said Rep. Alisha Morgan, D-Austell.
Additionally, Morgan said, many organizations that work with victims of sexual assault have opposed the new bill.
Those in favor of the restrictions always talk about protecting children.
But 94 percent of child sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone the victim knew, said Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam, D-Riverdale, who gave the minority report. And 75 percent of the assaults are committed by family members.
"By continuing to focus on child sexual abuse as a stranger abduction phenomenon, this bill may seriously damage the steps we have taken to create safer communities," she said.
A study by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles found that each time a former inmate had to move the chances of his reoffending went up 25 percent. And the chance of reoffending goes up 1 percent every day that offender is out of work, Abdul-Salaam said.
Enhancing Parole Decision-Making Through the Automation of Risk Assessment
Executive Summary: Automated Parole Risk Assessments
The sex offender registry, for the most part, treats all offenders the same. Someone convicted of statutory rape or public indecency has to abide by the same restrictions as a child rapist.
Rep. Steve Davis, R-McDonough, spoke in favor of the bill, saying "it just absolutely fascinates me how anyone can come in here and say that a convicted felon's right to property is more important than the safety of a child."
"We're talking about family values and our children," he said.
Sex offenders have families and children as well. Many of Coweta's sex offenders have children in school. One often goes to each lunch at school with his daughter. McGuffey said he often gets calls about sex offenders being at recreation fields and the like. Usually, they are there watching their children play sports. And they have every right to be. Sex offenders are prohibited from loitering at certain places, but if they have a reason to be there, that's OK.
McGuffey likes the fact that he knows exactly where every sex offender lives and works, and what kind of car they drive. And that they have to check up with him.
But when it comes to the residency restrictions, "I don't know what they're talking about when they're talking about protecting" children and families, he said.
The law doesn't keep predators from attacking children. It doesn't make them better or worse people.
"It's just going to restrict where a sex offender can and cannot live" McGuffey said. "That's all it's going to do." ..more.. by SARAH FAY CAMPBELL
Convicted sex offenders told by state officials two years ago they could live under the Julia Tuttle Causeway bridge are now being told they must leave by Monday.
Convicted sex offenders who have called the area under the Julia Tuttle Causeway bridge home got a rude awakening early Saturday morning.
They were visited by state Department of Correction parole officers at 5 a.m. The message, delivered in writing, was clear: The residents have until 9 a.m. Monday to vacate the bridge, which spans Biscayne Bay, linking Miami to Miami Beach.
The move to rid the bridge of the men marks yet another strange chapter in a long-running saga that has drawn national media attention and began in 2006 when a handful of convicted sex offenders began sleeping under the bridge because a city of Miami residency ordinance left them unable to find housing.
The ordinance does not allow convicted sex offenders to live within 2,500 feet of a school. The state requirement is only 1,000 feet.
The state Department of Corrections, charged with supervising offenders after their release, said no offenders were ever assigned to sleep under the Julia Tuttle bridge. The department simply OK'd the location because offenders said it was just about impossible to find a place to live within the ordinance's restrictions.
On Saturday, the causeway residents said state officials had been ordering them to leave through the week.
''What are we supposed to do? Where are we supposed to go?'' asked Juan Carlos Martín, a causeway bridge resident first assigned to the bridge by the state Corrections Department in January 2007.
''We had a nice place going here. We had it set up. It's not a perfect situation. We have no running water, but we had it set up like home, like a community,'' he said. State officials said offenders had received the first eviction notice on Tuesday and that four of the 19 residents already had found other places to stay by Friday night.
Gretl Plessinger, a corrections department spokeswoman, said the agency decided to give residents notice after the owner of land under the Oakland Park Boulevard Bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale last month evicted residents living there.
''We have every indication this is going to happen statewide. We're being proactive by giving them more time to move,'' she said, noting they may stay only if the causeway owner agrees.
Unlike the land under the Oakland Park Boulevard Bridge, which is privately owned, the western portion of the Julia Tuttle Causeway is owned by the city of Miami.
Plessinger stopped short of saying that those without living arrangements would be arrested on Monday.
However, those living under the causeway bridge fear they may end up back in prison.
''We are doing what we're supposed to do,'' said one resident who did not want to be identified. ``I take orders, I do what I'm supposed to do, and they said I'm supposed to be here. Now I'm supposed to move somewhere I don't even know how to get to?''
Parole officers have handed out packets to the residents detailing other accommodations in the state. Most are hundreds of miles away from Miami.
The closest is a Motel 6 in Fort Lauderdale, but the $79.99-a-day rate is too steep for most of the residents.
When reached by phone, the manager of the Fort Lauderdale Motel 6 said he knew nothing about the arrangement.
Ray Taseff of the American Civil Liberties Union in Miami said the move to evict the residents will ''ultimately boomerang on the city'' of Miami, causing offenders to go underground.
''This is the government that created homelessness, and now the government is effectively trying to banish them from the community,'' he said.
''If these people are homeless and engaging in life-functioning behavior, it seems to me that violating their parole is a violation of their Eighth Amendmentrights,'' said Taseff, who said the ACLU will help the residents. ..more.. by DAVID QUINONES AND JOSE PAGLIERY
February 2, 2008
2-2-2008 North Carolina:
In January 2007, the state started tracking dozens of sex offenders with satellites, anklets and belt-clip transmitters for the rest of their lives. A year into the program, it's not clear whether it's constitutional -- or whether the state can afford it over the long haul.
Like the sex offender registries that began in the 1990s, Global Positioning System tracking programs aim to keep law enforcement agencies in constant contact with convicted criminals who often backslide. Registries can tell officers and the public where sex offenders live; GPS anklets can show where they are every second of every day.
The law requires judges to impose lifetime GPS tracking for repeat or aggravated sex offenders and violent sexual predators. The state spent about $750,000 on the program last year, but that figure will only grow as more offenders don the tracking equipment.
State and federal lawsuits have challenged lifetime tracking. They say it marks the felons with a "scarlet letter" and violates their rights to due process, equal protection and freedom from unreasonable search and seizures.
"It will be very expensive and very difficult," said Fayetteville lawyer Gerald Beaver, who is fighting the program in federal court. "It opens a Pandora's box in criminal jurisprudence."
Currently, about 85 offenders are on supervised monitoring, and probation officers check their whereabouts about three times a week; more than 60 of those must wear the anklets for the rest of their lives.
Another 40 are on unsupervised tracking for life. State officials, not a probation officer, check on them once a week.
Between 600 and 700 probation officers have access to computer software, satellites and cell-phone towers that receive signals from offenders' anklets and waist transmitters. The devices show up as dots on a map on an officer's computer screen, and an alarm goes off if the signal is lost or if the offender enters an exclusion zone -- near a school, for example.
UNC-Chapel Hill law professor James Markham said tracking can be a useful investigative tool, even if officers use it only to determine whether an offender was near a crime scene. But Sarah Preston, legislative coordinator with the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, disagreed.
"They'll look into sex offenders who were in the area instead of looking into whether there were other possible perpetrators," she said.
Preston's protest echoes others who complain that the devices mark the wearers as criminals even after their sentences.
"It's a lifetime of Big Brother monitoring," said Chapel Hill trial lawyer Glenn Gerding. "It's like being branded with the Scarlet A."
Not always effective
Beaver has filed a federal lawsuit calling GPS tracking unconstitutional, on behalf of a man who took indecent liberties with a 15-year-old girl.
Beaver said Jay Usategui of Cumberland County lost his job because deputies and probation officers kept showing up or calling when they lost satellite contact. He said his client struggles to keep the equipment dry while bathing, and frequently has to stop his car and exit buildings when his transmitter loses contact with a satellite.
The lawsuit focuses on the fact that the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office imposed GPS tracking after Usategui had already been sentenced. Usategui will join about a dozen other offenders in Cumberland County Superior Court on Friday in trying to fight retroactive GPS sentences.
Last November, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld retroactive GPS monitoring saying that it's not punishment but civil regulation. That court does not have jurisdiction in North Carolina, but Markham said it could persuade judges here.
Free, but still jailed
Beaver's complaint to the federal district court for Eastern North Carolina also calls the GPS program unconstitutional "on its face." For example, he says, the program requires an offender to remain at home from midnight to 6 a.m. each day.
"That's basically house imprisonment for one-quarter of your life," said Beaver.
Rowland declined to say whether her office had ever required offenders to stay home between midnight and 6 a.m.
Beaver argues that GPS monitoring is an unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Markham said strict sex-offender laws are popular with the public but might not survive legal scrutiny.
"No state wants to be the state that is most friendly to sex offenders," he said. "The sex-offender lobby is not very effective. It's sort of a one-way ratchet of severity. I wouldn't be surprised if this does get to the Supreme Court within a number of years."
Worth the cost?
Outside the constitutional issues, some have questioned whether the GPS program is sustainable as more offenders join the program but few drop off. "There are so many people that are under this, and it is so expensive to monitor people for 24 hours a day that they're wasting their time," said Beaver.
The ACLU opposes the practice as "bad public policy," arguing it impedes rehabilitated offenders' integration into society and costs too much. The ex-convicts pay a one-time fee of $90. "The state's carrying the costs," said Preston.
Rowland does not know whether the state will be able to pay for the program in the long term. The legislature approved a $1.3-million annual budget for the program, but administrators don't have a full fiscal year's worth of data to know whether that is enough. ..more.. by firstname.lastname@example.org or (919) 932-8760
News researchers Denise Jones and Brooke Cain contributed to this report.
LORAIN — The county sheriff’s office won’t be able to carry out new state-mandated community notifications on sex offenders who are challenging the new requirements, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Visiting Judge William Coyne issued a stay on enforcing the notification requirements for the more than 150 sex offenders who have filed challenges in county Common Pleas Court.
The stay only covers notification requirements for those sex offenders who are challenging the law, but even they must comply with new, more stringent reporting requirements.
Note: It appears that the lawsuits in Ohio only cover the classification / reclassification issues, as the sentence above indicates that even those plaintiffs must follow the new Adam Walsh Act excepting the enjoined classification issues.
The stay will remain until Coyne holds hearings later this year and makes a decision. Judges in other Ohio counties have already issued similar stays.
Coyne said he would also decide soon whether attorneys should be appointed for sex offenders who don’t have one for their challenge. The challenges can only be filed as civil claims and state law doesn’t typically allow court-appointed attorneys in civil matters.
The new law — known as Adam’s Law after Adam Walsh, a 6-year-old Florida boy who was abducted and killed in 1981 — was passed by the state after the federal government threatened to cut funding if uniform sex offender classifications weren’t in place in each state by 2009.
It increases the length of time offenders have to register with county sheriff’s departments and also reclassifies currently registered offenders, which means even people who had only a few years or months left to report will suddenly face the prospect of having to register for longer.
It’s the retroactive sanctions that have prompted most of the court challenges, including an argument that the new law may be unconstitutional.
Attorney Kenneth Lieux, who represents about 15 of the challengers, said the new law is a breach of contract some convicted felons entered into with the state when they agreed to plea deals, and is effectively punishing people twice.
“It’s a very poorly thought out law and I’m happy the judge prevented it from going into effect,” he said.
Under Ohio’s old law, there were eight classifications ranging from a 10-year reporting requirement as a sexually-oriented offender to the lifetime reporting requirements for more serious sexual predators.
The new law aimed to standardize reporting requirements nationally, making it easier to track sex offenders, according to State Rep. Matt Barrett, D-Amherst, who voted for it. Barrett has said the new law makes it more difficult for sex offenders to get around registration requirements.
But the law is also unfair to people who already served their punishment, according to one woman who is representing herself in the matter.
The woman, who declined to give her name, said she has already been punished under a plea deal on a sexual offense charge she made with prosecutors, and doesn’t think it’s fair that the state now wants to change the deal.
“I’m sympathetic to people wanting to protect their families, but just because someone takes a plea bargain doesn’t mean they actually did it,” she said.
The woman said she is innocent of the charges, but was faced with three consecutive life sentences if convicted of the crime at trial, so she took the deal. ..more.. by Adam Wright at 329-7151 or email@example.com.
Ask the next hundred people you meet if child sexual abuse cases are increasing nationwide and don't be surprised if everyone says yes. Lisa Jones wouldn't be surprised, even though she knows cases have decreased 49 percent since 1990.
This surprisingly good news could be very bad news for posturing politicians trying to use scare tactics to limit personal freedom.
If the bogeyman is only half the man he supposedly was, citizens would be less likely to support demagogues wanting to police the so-called back alleys of the information superhighway or to impose new taxes or draconian zoning restrictions on adult bookstore-type business.
Ms. Jones is a research assistant professor of psychology at the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. The center focuses on child abuse and neglect and how communities should respond to those most helpless of victims.
There is not enough media attention, even though for 15 years there has been an unmistakable downward trend," Jones says. Big Media's focus on sexual predators, including those trolling the Internet, and programs such as "To Catch a Predator" on NBC might have created a skewed image in people's minds, she suggests.
In most cases, the victim knows the perpetrator (roughly half are family members), she says. "Strangers make up the smallest group of predators, from 7 percent up to 25 percent, depending on the study," she says. To catch a predator, some families only need lure the relatives over for dinner.
But what about critics who believe all data are suspect because it can be so difficult for young victims to "disclose" and since each state could have its own system to collect data and crunch numbers?
Jones concedes that many cases probably do go unreported. But the so-called iceberg analogy takes that into account, she says. For example, say there were 100 cases reported for every thousand people in 1995. However, by 2005, only 50 per every thousand were reported. "We have no reason to believe the iceberg has changed," Jones says.
For Pennsylvania, sexual abuse cases identified by child protective service agencies declined from a rate of 15.3 per 10,000 children in 1992 to 9.7 per 10,000 children in 2005 (the most recent year for which data are available), for a total decline of 37 percent over 13 years, she says. The largest part of the decline occurred in the mid-1990s.
The statistics for this commonwealth, and for the other 49 states, are reported annually by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children, Youth, and Families.
"The numbers are pretty accurate," Jones says.
Jones concedes that the fear of losing funding might be why agencies serving child sex abuse victims might downplay the tremendous success in the ongoing battle.
However, she believes as more funders learn that the problem can be cut down to size, they will be more likely to fund agencies that are making a difference by prevention and intervention.
There's a wealth of free information at the center's Web site -- unh.edu/ccrc -- about the untold success.
People who now pay closer attention to little victims when they decide to disclose also should pay closer attention to what the studies disclose. ..more.. by Dimitri Vassilaros is a Tribune-Review editorial page columnist. His column appears Fridays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-380-5637.
January 31, 2008
WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday vowed to seek a major funding boost for a local law enforcement grant program that President Bush has long targeted for elimination.
Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Christopher S. Bond, R-Mo., both senior members of the Appropriations Committee, said they would seek to provide $660 million in Byrne grants for local law enforcement, prosecution and court programs in an emergency war spending bill for fiscal 2008 expected to be considered in the next few months.
The grants, established in a 1988 anti-drug law, are named for Edward Byrne, a New York City police officer who was killed in the line of duty in 1988.
In his fiscal 2009 budget request, Bush is expected to propose significant cuts to Byrne grants and other local law enforcement programs, including the Clinton-era Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS. Some conservatives have criticized COPS, saying it takes away federal dollars from homeland security operations.
Lawmakers in both parties have routinely resisted Bush’s attempts to slash funding for the politically popular programs. In recent years, the result has been more funding for them than Bush wanted, but less than Congress sought. ..more..
The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) is one of the most frequently used personality tests in the mental health fields. This assessment, or test, was designed to help identify personal, social, and behavioral problems in psychiatric patients. The test helps provide relevant information to aid in problem identification, diagnosis, and treatment planning for the patient. ..more..
January 30, 2008
Interpersonal influences on cognition can distort memory judgements. Two experiments examined the nature of these ‘social’ influences, and whether their persistence is independent of their accuracy. Experiment 1 found that a confederate’s social proximity, as well as the content and the confidence of their utterances, interactively modulates participants’ immediate conformity. Notably, errant confederate statements that ‘lied’ about encoded material had a particularly strong immediate distorting influence on memory judgements. Experiment 2 revealed that these ‘lies’ were also memorable, continuing a day later to impair memory accuracy, while accurate confederate statements failed to produce a corresponding and lasting beneficial effect on memory. These findings suggest that an individual’s ‘informational’ social influence can be selectively heightened when they express misinformation to someone who suspects no deceptive intent. The methods newly introduced here thus allow multiple social and cognitive factors impinging on memory accuracy to be manipulated and examined during realistic, precisely controlled dyadic social interactions. ..more.. by Kevin Allana -and- Fiona Gabbert
1-30-2008 New York:
In a bipartisan effort to keep sexual predators from trolling social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, lawmakers have drafted a bill that would track the e-mail addresses of serious sex offenders and restrict their use of the Internet.
The bill was announced this afternoon and promised a bridging of the technological gap between young and old. “We have to admit that life is different than when we were growing up,” said Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol. “We have to have educational programs so that parents know about MySpace and Spacebook and…”
Uh, did he just say “Spacebook?”
O.K., well, Mr. Lentol, a Brooklyn Democrat, did admit he was out of his depth. “When we were young, things were different. And we need to pass legislation that reflects today’s world, not yesterday’s world,” he continued. “Old geezers like me have no clue about the Internet and all of its intricacies.”
The bill was introduced at a news conference hosted by Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo; the State Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno; and the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver. State Senator Dale M. Volker, a Republican from western New York, is the sponsor of the bill, which has the strong support of Mr. Silver and Mr. Bruno.
The initiative behind the bill is called the Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act or E-Stop. The legislation restricts certain sex offenders’ (high risk Level 3 offenders defined as those offenders with a “high risk to commit another sex crime) use of the Internet, updating Megan’s Law “for the Internet age.”
E-Stop would require sex offenders to register any and all email accounts and Internet identifiers used in instant messaging, chatting and other forms of Internet communication and social networking with the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services just as they would register their home addresses. If the said offender creates an email address and doesn’t tell the authorities with 10 days of its creation, he or she is violating the law, Mr. Cuomo said, and could be hit with a violation of their parole or probation.
The bill also gives the division of criminal justice services to pass along the email addresses and identifiers of some sex offenders to the networking sites (so far MySpace and Facebook have committed to working with New York) so that they can remove any sex offenders that have registered their emails with the sites. MySpace and Facebook officials support the bill and said that they would notify law enforcement of any sex offenders they catch using their site’s services.
“We avoid letting our children go to the playground, now. We avoid the opportunity for them to walk to school alone and not have some protection, or go to the mall alone. Yet our children are as much at risk in our own homes as they are anywhere, on our computers,” Mr. Lentol said. “We have to get up to snuff.”
Call it Law 2.0? ..more.. by Trymaine Lee
1-30-2008 New York:
ALBANY — Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo and state lawmakers, with the backing of the social networking sites MySpace and Facebook, are pushing a bill that would crack down on sex offenders’ use of the sites.
The law would require all registered sex offenders to submit any e-mail addresses and other Internet identifiers, such as screen names used for instant messaging, to the State Division of Criminal Justice Services within 10 days of their creation, just as with their home addresses.
Offenders who fail to do so would be violating their parole or probation, Mr. Cuomo said.
Under the bill, Level 3 sex offenders, whom the state considers the most dangerous and most likely to commit another sex crime, and sex offenders who used the Internet to commit sex crimes or who committed crimes against minors would be barred from social networking sites. Such offenders would also be barred from communicating online with children.
Lower-level sex offenders and sex offenders who did not use the Internet in their crimes would not be barred from the sites under the bill. MySpace and Facebook said, however, they would bar them anyway.
The bill also would allow the state to share the e-mail addresses with sites like Facebook and MySpace. Officials with both companies have agreed to check their databases against the lists provided by the state. If the addresses match, the companies said that they would terminate the users’ accounts and alert the authorities. When setting up accounts with the sites, users must submit valid e-mail addresses.
Mr. Cuomo, along with the Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and other lawmakers, unveiled the bill on Tuesday. “This will take us to the next level,” said Mr. Cuomo, who applauded the bipartisan support for the bill. “It’s not just a conceptual agreement we have. There is a specific bill that is written.”
“We have to admit that life is different than when we were growing up,” said Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol, a Democrat from Brooklyn and a supporter of the bill. “We avoid letting our children go to the playground now. We avoid the opportunity for them to walk to school alone and not have some protection, or go to the mall alone. Yet our children are as much at risk in our own homes as they are anywhere — on our computers.”
Mr. Cuomo said that he did not believe that the bill, in tracking sex offenders and possibly restricting their Internet access, would violate their rights.
In May, MySpace implemented a program to find the profiles of any registered sex offenders on the site and remove them, said Hemanshu Nigam, the chief security officer for the company. ..more.. by TRYMAINE LEE
January 29, 2008
Urinating in public would cop a fine, not sex offender rap
1-29-2008 New Hampshire:
CONCORD — The New Hampshire Legislature is set to review a bill (HB 1294) that aims to fix a loophole that allows individuals who urinate in public to be placed on the state's sex offender registry.
According to the measure's primary sponsor, Rep. Stephen Shurtleff of Merrimack, the bill would separate public urination and defecation from the indecent exposure provision, elements that heretofore have been prosecuted together under state law. Under the proposed law, relieving oneself in public would move into the realm of a violation punishable by a fine.
Shurtleff said the bill became necessary in his eyes because New Hampshire is changing its sexual predator laws to move into compliance with federal law. If the bill does not pass, he said public-urination offenders could end up on the non-public sex offender registry if convicted twice in a three-year period.
"It's about keeping people off the registry that really shouldn't be on it. For example, you have some homeless people with varying degrees of mental problems who might (urinate or defecate in public) and it's not a sexual offense," Shurtleff said. "There's a stigma attached with the indecent exposure connection."
Portsmouth Police Chief Michael Magnant said Portsmouth doesn't use the state law on lewdness or indecent exposure when someone who urinates in public is apprehended, instead citing them for a violation of a city ordinance. He noted that the state law requires that those making use of the street as a bathroom have to have caused public alarm to be convicted under the heading of indecent exposure.
"That adds an extra element that we have to prove in court," Magnant said.
The chief said the Portsmouth Police Department monitors sex offenders closely and keeps track of where they are living. Partly because of the work involved in that, he echoed Shurtleff's view that the registry needs to be kept free of offenders who do not deserve the label.
"If you start to clutter that list, you're putting strain on a department," Magnant said.
Shurtleff said that, thus far, the bill has seen no opposition in the Legislature. He said he expects it to go up for debate on the floor in less than a month. ..more.. by Dave Choate
Lawyer for convicts says it's oppressive
1-28-2008 New Hampshire:
Defense lawyers renewed their constitutional challenges to the state's new sexual predator law yesterday, this time in an effort to free two convicted child molesters who state officials say are dangerous enough to remain confined - even though they've each served their maximum prison sentence.
"New Hampshire has produced one of the most oppressive laws of this type in the United States," public defender Mark Larsen told a judge in Hillsborough County Superior Court.
The new law, which allows the state to confine dangerous sex offenders beyond their prison sentences for five years of treatment, went into effect more than a year ago. But it remains largely untested in court because the first cases brought were dropped or dismissed before they had gotten very far.
One of those cases involved convicted rapist William DeCato of Pembroke. Larsen raised a series of constitutional challenges in that case in May, but prosecutors dropped their case against DeCato before the judge could rule. DeCato was freed this spring.
Now Larsen and his office are defending the only other men charged so far under the new law.
Thomas Hurley, 48, recently finished two 7½- to 15-year prison sentences for raping a 10-year-old boy in Hillsborough County in 1986. While serving his sentence, Hurley repeatedly requested sex offender treatment and once even asked about castration, according to court records. Prison officials told Hurley they didn't believe he was sincere about completing the sex offender treatment program, the records said.
The other man is William Ploof, 48, who recently finished a 10-year-sentence for sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy in 1993 and again in 1996 when the boy was 13. According to the state's recent petition to keep Ploof for treatment, Ploof has claimed between 20 and 50 other victims and scored high on a test that estimates a person's potential to reoffend.
Both men remain at the state prison, in the Secure Psychiatric Unit, pending the outcome of their current cases. If Hillsborough County prosecutors convince a judge or jury, which ever the men choose, that they suffer from a mental abnormality and are likely to reoffend, they will be held for up to five years for treatment. If they are considered still dangerous after the first five years, they can be reconfined for another five years.
Yesterday, Larsen said the new law is unconstitutional on several grounds:
• Hurley and Ploof participated in sexual offender or mental health treatment in prison believing their conversations with counselors would always be confidential. The new law, however, allows prosecutors to use those treatment records against Hurley and Ploof even though they could not have never have anticipated that possibility.
"This is a striking and disturbing change under the law in New Hampshire," Larsen said.
• The new law is described as a treatment program but it's really another punishment for past offenses Hurley and Ploof have already answered for, Larsen said. As evidence, Larsen said the five-year commitment period is as long as a felony sentence. There's no promise an offender can get back into court before that five-year period if he is no longer dangerous. Treatment is not explicitly required in the law. And anyone held will be held with inmates at the prison, even though they are no longer an inmate.
"All of these things, individually may not be so much a problem," Larsen said. "But together, they are oppressive and penal."
• The law, Larsen said, is really another way to commit the mentally ill. Offenders must suffer from a mental abnormality and remain dangerous, but the term "mentally ill" is not sufficiently defined, he said. There are already laws to commit the mentally ill that are more humane, Larsen said.
Michael Valentine, a Hillsborough County prosecutor who is handling Hurley's case, disputed each of Larsen's points yesterday.
• He said New Hampshire's civil commitment law is not excessively worse than those in other states. It falls in the middle, he said.
• The five-year commitment is not unreasonably long, he said. The state's other civil commitment law for those not convicted of sexually violent offenses also carries a five-year term. Although there is a different process for reviewing the person's mental health.
• The Legislature did not create this law simply as another way to confine the mentally ill. People are eligible to be held under the sexual predator law only if they suffer a mental abnormality and remain dangerous and likely to reoffend. That distinguishes violent sexual predators from the other mentally ill who are committed after being found insane or for other reasons.
• Valentine said the law is not unfairly retroactive. Hurley and Ploof have served their prison sentences for their past crimes. But because the state believes they remain dangerous today, that is a current and new condition, Valentine said.
Valentine quoted a past United States Supreme Court decision issued following an appeal of another state's sexual offender law.
"The liberty secured by the Constitution of the United States to every person within its jurisdiction does not import an absolute right in each person to be at all times and in all circumstances, wholly free from restraint.
"On any other basis, organized society could not exist with safety to its members. Accordingly, states have in certain narrow circumstances provided for the forcible civil detainment of people who are unable to control their behavior and who thereby pose a danger to the public health and safety."
Judge Gillian Abramson did not immediately rule on Larsen's arguments yesterday. Hurley is tentatively scheduled to stand trial first, in April. ..more.. by ANNMARIE TIMMINS