June 30, 2008

How to submit your concerns about S-431's e-mail and other Internet Ids bill.

6-30-2008
Regarding the FAST TRACKING of Sen. McCain and Sen. Schumer’s S-431 “The Kid’s Act of 2008” which generally wants ALL registered sex offenders, nationwide, to submit their e-mail addresses and all other Internet identifiers.

It took me longer to put together everything folks need to know than I expected, but here it is now. S-431 was amended by the Senate, passed and sent to the House where it was referred to the House Judiciary Committee. The first problem we encountered is, they have five subcommittees and we are not absolutely positive which one will handle it, see below “Contacting Committee Members” to see how we resolved that issue.

The Senate Amended S-431, which you can access on Thomas (See “Bill Information” below), was amended and now includes provisions addressing Adam Walsh Child Pornography laws, which is going to make it harder than ever to get it killed completely, so it is now CRITICAL for folks to respond so that changes in the portion of the bill addressing RSOs e-mail addresses can be made.

CRITICAL meaning IMPORTANT, so RSOs get every family member you can to also respond, get your friends, get your loved ones and if I have missed anyone else, get them too. There are major problems with this bill that will affect all 600,000 plus RSOs and their families too.

TIMELINE: Congress is on July 4th break right now, so that gives us a small window to get concerns FAXED in to them. Yes, I said FAX, below you will find a way to FAX using your computer for FREE. While I have not been able to test this system, due to its limitations on where FAXES can be sent, but Congress is one area that is available for FREE. If this works it will be a boon to RSOs and their families to have their voices heard on any new bill presented in Congress.

Now, S-431 is in Committee and that committee is scheduled to return on July 7, 2008. When they get in they will empty their FAX machines, get any e-mails from the House Committee e-mail system, and e-mails sent to Committee members and I guess assimilate all that and decide whether the bill is to be voted OUT OF COMMITTEE and go to the House floor, or killed, or again amended in committee before going to the House floor.

This is why it is CRITICAL to get your concerns in ASAP, I know it’s a holiday, but these changes are for a lifetime of registration, and for some that is the rest of their lives. Everyone MUST GET INVOLVED.

CONCERNS: Please remember, committee members are ASKING for input, and only they can make changes to the bill as it stands. So, whatever you write please make it such a logical convincing argument that they are going to want to make changes: LOGICAL CONVINCING and CONCISE, key words. It is their ball game, talk to them they way they like to be talked to. OK, so I don’t like to praise politicians, you’ve read my commentaries, BUT, I will do it if it will help ALL RSOs and their families, that’s my advocacy. Follow suit and together we may effect changes. Do nothing, well, read the amended bill text, that’s what will happen, guaranteed.

What are my concerns, you ask? I focused on five major topics, which if they get changed will kill a ton of minor issues. You are welcomed to read mine, eAdvocate’s reasons why S-431 should not become law as written, but they may not be ones that you would chose which is fine, write about what concerns you or your family: LOGICAL CONVINCING and CONCISE, key words.

I think that about covers it, but if I’ve missed something just send me a e-mail.

eAdvocate

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BILL INFORMATION:

S.431 Title: A bill to require convicted sex offenders to register online identifiers, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY] (introduced 1/30/2007) Cosponsors (20)

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2008 Held at the desk.

Senate Reports: 110-332 -------All Bill Information ------- Text of S-431 Legislation


CONTACTING COMMITTEE MEMBERS:

NOTE: Remember, you can always use the House Judiciary e-mail system , if you do you MUST put in the first line of the "e-mail body" S-431 Concerns for Rep. Conyers or Rep. Scott. Without that it may not get to them in time to be considered.

If you don't do the above then follow this: Who should you contact? Given we are not ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE which subcommittee will handle S-431, here are our thoughts: All subcommittees are shown below in the order of MOST LIKELY to handle S-431. Two Members (Rep. John Conyers and Rep. Robert C. Scott) sit on all committees, and both are most favorable to our advocacy. One helped us last year to present issues to the Internet Sex Crimes hearing held in Congress.

Accordingly, first FAX your concerns to them, their FAX numbers are shown. If for whatever reason you cannot FAX them, then there are links to their House websites, as well as all other committee member websites. Most of them have ways to e-mail them, but some require you be their constituent (you won't be able to e-mail them unless you are their constituent).

However, every member -on their House website- has phone numbers (FAX and Land Lines) where they can be contacted, you can call them and ask how to submit your concerns about S-431 for their consideration, -OR- use the FREE INTERNET FAX SERVICE.

NOTE: If you use the internet FAX Service, in the body of their formatted screen, you MUST FIRST put S-431 Concerns for Rep. Conyers or Rep.Scott, FOLLOWED by your Name, Full Address, Phone Number and e-mail address. Following that type your concerns before sending the Internet FAX. The service will confirm -to your e-mail address- that the FAX has been sent.

Congress has never been generous with ways to contact them, they are still in the DARK AGES resorting to SNAIL MAIL and FAXES in a technology age where e-mails and instant messages are common place. I guess thats why they get away with passing laws under suspension of the rules saying, "there is no public controversy," which is how the Adam Walsh Act was passed.

Good Luck. eAdvocate

House Judiciary SubCommittees:

Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security:
Robert C. Scott, Virginia (FAX: 202-225-8354 OFF: 202-225-8351)
Maxine Waters, California
Bill Delahunt, Massachusetts
Jerrold Nadler, New York
Hank Johnson, Georgia
Anthony D. Weiner, New York
Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas
Artur Davis, Alabama
Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin[1]

Randy Forbes, Virginia
Louie Gohmert, Texas
Jim Sensenbrenner, Wisconsin
Howard Coble, North Carolina
Steve Chabot, Ohio
Dan Lungren, California

Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property:
Howard L. Berman, California
John Conyers, Michigan (FAX: 202-225-7680 OFF: 202-225-5126)
Rick Boucher, Virginia
Robert Wexler, Florida
Mel Watt, North Carolina
Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas
Steve Cohen, Tennessee
Hank Johnson, Georgia
Brad Sherman, California
Anthony D. Weiner, New York
Adam B. Schiff, California

Howard Coble, North Carolina
Tom Feeney, Florida
Jim Sensenbrenner, Wisconsin
Elton Gallegly, California
Bob Goodlatte, Virginia
Steve Chabot, Ohio
Chris Cannon, Utah
Darrell Issa, California
Mike Pence, Indiana

The Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties:
Jerrold Nadler, New York
Artur Davis, Alabama
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Florida
Keith Ellison, Minnesota
John Conyers, Michigan
Robert C. Scott, Virginia
Mel Watt, North Carolina
Steve Cohen, Tennessee

Trent Franks, Arizona
Mike Pence, Indiana
Darrell Issa, California
Jim Jordan, Ohio

Other House Subcommittees Which We Do Not Think Will Be Involved:
Commercial and Administrative Law:
Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law:

FYI: A Complete Phone List for Everyone in Congress (including committees)

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Reasons why S-431 should not become law as written.

6-30-2008
S-431 is in the House Judiciary committee and it is being fast tracked for unknown reasons. One likely guess is, that John McCain needs votes to win the upcoming election, and sex offender legislation is one sure way to get votes.

Whatever the reasons are for fast tracking it is important, in this writer's opinion, that folks know why I believe this piece of legislation is bad and should never become law. The unfortunate fact, which advocates need to know is, remember the "and for other purposes" we always see in proposed legislation, well, tacked on to the end of this bill, BY THE SENATE, are changes to the Adam Walsh Act pertaining to child pornography. The obvious intent of including that, yes to change AWA, but also, to assure that no lawmaker will vote against this bill.

With that said, what follows are my reasons why this bill should never become law, and my best hopes are that changes are made to eliminate or reform what I have noted below.

Note: Anyone who wishes to use any portion or all of what I believe below is permitted to do so without my consent, assuming that person's beliefs are the same as mine they do so at their own risk signing their name to it. These beliefs are subject to change -at any time- as I learn more on these topics. Hopefully folks, Congress will see how wrong this bill is.

I include my earlier reviews of this bill as well:

Part-1 .... Part-2 .... Part-3 .... Part-4 .... Part-5

eAdvocate


BILL INFORMATION:

S.431 Title: A bill to require convicted sex offenders to register online identifiers, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY] (introduced 1/30/2007) Cosponsors (20)

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2008 Held at the desk.

Senate Reports: 110-332 -------All Bill Information ------- Text of S-431 Legislation

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Reasons why S-431 should not become law, or, should be amended again:
=========================================================

1) All RSOs are being erroneously accused of being Internet sexual predators:

Congress, recognizing a problem of minors being preyed on, generally while on social networking sites and other Internet sites, jumps to the conclusion that, registered sex offenders (RSO)are the ones who are preying on minors. Congress has failed to review those cases where minors were preyed on using the Internet, if they had, they would have found out that, RSOs ARE NOT the cause of the problem. In essence, Congress is erroneously accusing ALL RSOs of being Internet Predators. See Senate Report 110-332 “Background and Purpose of the Kids Act of 2008”

Also, recently, 29 state attorneys general banned together to have MySpace remove some 36,000 registered sex offenders who had MySpace accounts from the MySpace social networking site. Upon review of those 36,000 RSO accounts and their activities while on MySpace it was found that, only ONE had contacted a minor and he was arrested for that. It was also learned that, some RSOs who were on parole or probation and had Internet restrictions, did have MySpace accounts. But, it was never reported whether those cases had set up those accounts before conviction or after conviction. In either case those are technical violations and not new crimes as none of them were proven to have even tried to contact any minors on MySpace.

Senate Report 110-332 cites statistics from studies performed by David Finklehor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, in support of the need for S-431. But, David Finklehor has come out saying those stats are effectively being misapplied. See "KIDS Act: How Far is The Law's Online Reach?” where Sen. Schumer’s comments are being refuted by David Finklehor, saying


“said characterizations such as Senator Schumer's are "based on anxieties and not on a careful analysis of the nature of the problem or the way in which kids get harmed." Preventing convicted sex offenders from joining social networks through something like the KIDS Act might do some good but won't solve the problem. The notion that the main problem is social networking sites is "overdrawn." Finklehor wants Congress to treat this as a Public Health problem, “Instead of passing laws like the KIDS Act, Finklehor wants lawmakers to treat online and offline child molestation as a public health issue to be dealt with scientifically.”

Clearly Congress is targeting the wrong cause of the problem.


2) The 4th Amendment is violated by forcing RSOs to provide information which is inside their homes, their e-mail addresses etc., without a warrant or probable cause:

S-431 requires RSOs, under the threat of further prison and another felony conviction, to give the government something which is found ONLY in their homes which are protected by the 4th Amendment. The 4th amendment requires the government to get a warrant showing probable cause that a crime is being, or has been, committed before allowing government access to a person's home. The federal court in Indiana just declared an Indiana law, effective 7-1-2008, which wanted to do computer searches at any time even after a sentence was completed, unconstitutional. The reasoning was, the home is protected by the 4th amendment. Doe, Morris –v- Prosecutor, Marion County, Indiana (Case: 1:08-cv-0436-DFH-TAB)

While it is true that the court noted “Plaintiff’s do not challenge the requirements to report e-mail addresses, user names and the like” (p-5), the actual court analysis (pp-38-49) clearly showed that the 4th amendment prohibits the government from requiring things in the home without a warrant. E-mail addresses etc. are part of the computer which is found only inside the home. A few quotes from that decision:


"The Supreme Court has never substituted a balancing test for the warrant and probable cause requirements where the primary justification for the policy was to make it easier to detect criminal activity. See Ferguson v. City of Charleston, 532 U.S. 67, 79-86 (2001); Edmond, 531 U.S. at 41-42; T.L.O., 469 U.S. at 351 (Blackmun, J., concurring). The Fourth Amendment explicitly protects the “rights of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects” from unreasonable searches and seizures. ... But when the government’s chief purpose in dispensing with constitutional protections is simply to make it easier to detect and punish crime, even serious crime, the Fourth Amendment forecloses such efforts." (p-45).

"The heart of defendants’ special needs argument here is that sex crimes are “a serious threat in this Nation,” see Connecticut Department of Public Safety, 538 U.S. at 4 (approving sex offender registry against due process challenge), and thus warrant this unprecedented action. The court agrees with the premise but must disagree with the conclusion. As heinous as sex and violent crimes are, many other crimes are also threats to our Nation. The social contract reflected in our Constitution imposes limits on law enforcement to protect liberty and privacy. Americans invest a significant portion of public resources to promote social peace and safety. But our founders drew a clear line, based on observed and experienced abuses, on the government’s ability to invade fundamentally personal areas. To enter the homes of or to search the personal effects, papers, and bodies of persons in the general population, public officials must have cause to believe that they will find evidence of a crime. It is almost always possible to characterize the Fourth Amendment as an inconvenience to law enforcement officials as they carry out their vital duties. That inconvenience, however, is one of the fundamental protections that separates the United States of America from totalitarian regimes. The right to feel safe and secure in one’s own home, person, and belongings is central to our way of life.9" (pp-49-50).
The home, beginning at its front door, is sacrosanct, the government is not permitted access to anything inside which is where the e-mail addresses etc. are.


3) RSOs simply cannot comply with many portions of the law as written because the law fails to consider how the Internet works, and its failure to recognize the mechanics of the Internet will cause RSOs to be punished for violating the law when they cannot change how the Internet operates:

S-413 is a bill which is written without expert advise, and is written on the premise “I think this is how the Internet works,” a sounds-good bill. However, as written and if enacted, it would prohibit RSOs from ever establishing a future e-mail address or other Internet identifier, and would send them to jail if they did establish a new one.

Sec 2 requires registration of on-line identifiers, and states: “…`(4) Any electronic mail address or other designation the sex offender uses or will use for self-identification or routing in Internet communication or posting.'.”

First, it is impossible for RSOs to know the future, or what might be available when and if they were to setup a e-mail address or other Internet identifier. The way the Internet works is, when someone wants to setup a NEW e-mail address they choose some set of characters, then that set of characters is checked to see if it is available, if not, then they must chose something else. Until they find an available e-mail address they cannot know what it is, and once setting it up they have used it. Hence, the moment they try to register it as a NEW e-mail address, they will have violated the registry law which requires registration of such address BEFORE using it.

Immediately they are punished according to S-431 as written.


3) S-431 Definitions (Sec. 4 and 5) are vague, overbroad, and ambiguous designed to ensnare any reasonable man, especially if they have any prior sex offense whether or not related to the Internet:

First, “routing in Internet communication or posting” is a phrase, used multiple times, which no one can understand it has no known definition. Accordingly it is vague and ambiguous.

Earlier I mention the use of “will use” which is designed to ensnare RSOs, sort of an entrapment, convicting them for failure to follow a law, which itself fails to recognize the reality of the mechanics of the Internet.

“Social Networking Website” definition is overbroad, in that, it could mean virtually anything on the Internet such as blogs when many folks use to express first amendment rights and freedom of expression. Further it could mean sites such as news, periodicals and so forth, there is no logical reason to even deny RSOs access to such sites by suggesting to those sites to exclude RSOs which is the inherent intent of this bill.

Sec. 5 is most interesting, its title says one thing, but its detail is overbroad, saying


“`(c) Misrepresentation of Age- Whoever knowingly misrepresents his or her age
using the Internet or any other facility or means of interstate or foreign
commerce or the mail, with the intent to further or facilitate a violation of this section, shall be fined under this title and imprisoned not more than 20 years. A sentence imposed under this subsection shall be in addition and consecutive to any sentence imposed for the offense the age misrepresentation was intended to further or facilitate.'.”

The way that section is written, it pertains to everyone in the world, to ensnare ANYONE who doesn’t provide a correct age –in any context whatsoever-, is guilty of a crime punishable by 20 years in prison. Titles are not used to construe the detail of laws as written, accordingly this is OVERBROAD.

Note: As written above, this would apply to juveniles and especialy those young girls who lie about their age and result in young adults ending up in prison and then on the registry, possibly for life.

Above is the reality of the law as written, however, that is not what the Senate Report 110-332 (Purpose) states, the intent of this section is:

“Furthermore, the KIDS Act will make it a crime for any person 18 years or older to knowingly misrepresent his or her age with the intent to use the Internet to engage in, or facilitate, criminal sexual conduct involving a minor four years younger than the person so engaged.”

The wording of the bill differs from the stated intent.


4) The actual intent of S-431 is masked behind the claimed intent, “to keep sexual predators off social networks.”

First, S-431 equates “Unknown Internet Sexual Predators” with “Known Registered Sex Offenders (RSOs)” as though they were one in the same. Using that equation the intent of S-431 becomes a perversion. The implied intent then is, to keep RSOs off social networking websites.

Then by using an overbroad definition of –social networking website- the implied intent broadens even further, so far that it is impossible for any reasonable man to tell what type of site or service RSOs are permitted to use or access. The effect is, that RSOs are virtually denied access to thousands of sites on the Internet, and in fact, since S-431 also speaks to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) even they are likely to deny RSOs access to the Internet in its entirety.
This bill is crafted to circumvent and mask the real intent. One only needs to read the Senate Report 110-332 (Purpose), in part, “Senators Schumer and McCain introduced the Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators (KIDS) Act, S. 431, to fill a gap left by earlier sex offender registration laws and to curtail the anonymity that sexual predators currently enjoy while using Internet sites frequented by children. The KIDS Act will require a convicted sex offender to register, in addition to the information required by the AWA, his or her e-mail addresses, instant message addresses, or other similar Internet identifiers with the National Sex Offender Registry.”

Notice the crafty use of “Sexual Predators” and “Convicted Sex Offenders RSOs,” morphing RSOs into sexual predators under the intent of the bill “Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators.” This is devious and since it has been proven that RSOs are not causing the problem, the bill is only for show and to impose further restrictions on RSO.

The second part of the intent is also found in the Senate Report 110-332 (Purpose), where it states “The Department of Justice is empowered to make this information available to social networking sites, chat rooms or other qualified websites. Qualifying sites may--but are not required to--screen their users against the convicted sex offenders included in the registry.”

There is no reason for websites to screen their users for those found in the data base, except to exclude them from access to that website. Suggestive and crafty words. Without telling the website what to do. The reader can come to no other conclusion based on all the suggestions no matter how crafty they are, the website is to exclude these persons (RSOs).


Conclusion:

This bill will have a chilling effect on the "Political and Free Speech Rights" guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Contrary to what lawmakers believe there are thousand of former offenders, of all types of crimes, that use the Internet properly and well within the laws. This bill effectively divides former offenders into two groups, sex offenders and all others, and only sex offenders will be erroneously denied according to this bill. That folks is a equal protection under the laws question.

eAdvocate

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June 28, 2008

Why Death Penalty Won’t End Sexual Assault: A Social Work Perspective on Kennedy v Louisana

6-28-2008 National:

The nuances of the Supreme Court decision in Kennedy v Louisiana are perhaps more telling than the strict constitutionality of the ruling. The decision written by Justice Kennedy incorporates input from an amicus brief from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), the Louisiana chapter of NASW, the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence and other state organizations working to end sexual assault.

Acknowledging that the rape of a child is a most heinous crime, Justice Kennedy notes early that punishment is primarily about retribution and what this application of the death penalty says about our culture. (Please note that all quotes are pulled from the court decision.) ..The Rest of the Story.. by Center for Children, Law & Policy | University of Houston Law Center

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FL- Ankle monitor didn't stop serial rapist, police say

Proof beyond a reasonable doubt that, GPS has no preventative value. So why do lawmakers enact laws mandating its use? Its only value is as a prosecutorial tool to prove someone was at the scene of a crime, but even then cannot prove that person committed the crime. GPS has a tremendous value at lining the pockets of someone though!

6-28-2008 Florida:

Jerry Lee Williams Jr. was, authorities say, the most sinister kind of rapist: He would rape and choke, rape and choke, and sometimes he would rape and kill. All told, there were six victims, authorities allege. Two are dead.

And the state couldn't stop him, even after the Florida Department of Corrections forced him to wear an ankle monitor so it could keep tabs on him by satellite, the agency says.

While wearing the ankle band after his release from prison, Williams attacked two women -- killing one, authorities say. Both times, the satellite worked. It tracked his every move. But there was no way for the authorities to know that he was attacking the women.

Authorities insist the satellite technology did its job.

"No one is sitting in front of a [computer] monitor, watching these guys," said Steve Chapin, president of ProTech Monitoring Inc., the private contractor that kept watch on Williams and provides monitoring for thousands of offenders in Florida and other states. "It's the best supervision tool available. It's never advertised or promoted as being able to prevent a crime."

But to stop a serial rapist, you must do more than track him, said Jennifer Dritt, executive director of the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence.

"If he's not in treatment and he doesn't have . . . a deep, profound commitment to ending his behavior, then all the monitoring in the world is not going to prevent it from happening again," she said.

Death penalty sought

Williams chose his victims well, authorities say: drug addicts, prostitutes and the homeless. They were women no one would believe, women who wouldn't make good witnesses. Time after time, authorities would tie Williams to the victims -- his DNA was found on five of the six women -- but the cases would fall apart because victims would disappear, become mentally unstable or refuse to cooperate.

His most recent victim, according to police, was 39-year-old Lisa Marie French. She had been raped and asphyxiated, her body found behind a Sanford warehouse Feb. 20, 2007. Authorities found Williams' DNA on her body. When they checked his satellite-generated map, they discovered he had been at that warehouse for 30 minutes the weekend she was slain.

Williams, 25, of Sanford is now in jail, charged with rape and first-degree murder in that case. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

At the time of French's attack, Williams was on sex-offender probation, a far more relaxed form of supervision than house arrest. He was free to move about, as long as he abided by his curfew -- which he did -- according to Jo Ellyn Rackleff, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Corrections.

Satellite monitoring runs on the electronic equivalent of autopilot unless something goes wrong, such as the offender travels to an address from which he's banned. If that happens, an alarm will sound and probation officers are notified.

There were no alarms the evening Williams, wearing that electronic ankle strap and carrying his boxy 4-pound satellite transmitter, attacked French, authorities say.

And there were no alarms seven months earlier when, despite satellite tracking, he choked a woman until she blacked out and raped her in an abandoned Sanford house, where they'd gone to smoke crack, according to police records. Police arrested him, but prosecutors filed no charges because the victim would not cooperate.

2 more connections

Authorities know Williams is connected to two more women who were attacked before he went to prison. In 2003, a woman was raped behind an Orlando bar. In March 2004, a woman was found raped and strangled in the driveway of an abandoned house on Grand Street in Orange County.

Police were stumped by the crimes and did not find the piece of evidence that tied the cases together until a DNA sample was taken from Williams after he was convicted for a different crime.

Williams was found guilty of choking and raping a woman in a van on a deserted stretch of road near Osceola Parkway in March 2004. She fought him and escaped, and prosecutors got the charge to stick. Williams took a plea deal that included a two-year prison term -- he served seven months -- followed by three years of sex-offender probation.

When he was sentenced, authorities collected a DNA sample from him -- as they do all convicted felons. A few weeks later, in late 2005, a state DNA analyst reviewing cold cases made two matches: Williams had sex with the victim of the 2003 downtown rape and the woman who had been strangled at the abandoned house in Orange County -- a crime he allegedly committed on the same day he raped the woman in the van in Osceola.

That was the first time authorities realized Williams might be a serial rapist.

Williams was not arrested in either case. Orlando police closed the downtown rape case, saying the victim had become severely mentally ill.

Orange County sheriff's Sgt. Allen Lee said Williams might be charged with raping and strangling the woman in the driveway of the abandoned house, 40-year-old Patricia Ann Kimmons of Orlando. It hasn't happened, Lee said, because he can prove only that Williams had sex with her -- not that he killed her.

Kimmons' husband, Terry, from whom she was estranged at the time of her death, doesn't understand why authorities were unable to stop Williams.

"This doesn't make any sense," he said. "They caught the guy. What are they doing?" ..News Source.. by Rene Stutzman Sentinel Staff Writer

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GA- Ga. sex offender law faces new challenge

6-28-2008 Georgia:

ATLANTA --Georgia's tough sex offender laws turned Cedric Bradshaw into something of a nomad.

Twice he moved in with relatives in Statesboro, and twice he was forced to leave because he was violating Georgia's tough sex offender law by living too close to spots where children gather.

After the 25-year-old was arrested for failing to register as an offender - his second time doing so - he was sentenced with the only punishment allowed by the law: Life in prison.

Bradshaw's lawyers will ask Georgia's top court on Monday to reduce his punishment in what is the latest test for the state's oft-challenged sex offender laws. While others have targeted the law's residency restrictions, Bradshaw's challenge takes aim at the criminal penalties as "cruel and unusual punishment."

"It's not like this guy is out chasing children, yet the law required him to receive a life sentence," said Robert Persse, a public defender who is Bradshaw's attorney. "And we believe that constitutes cruel and unusual punishment because the penalty is totally disproportionate to the crime."

Prosecutors contend they were following the letter of the law.

"That's the law. That's what they passed, and we're prosecutors," said Scott Brannen, an assistant district attorney in Statesboro. "That's what was passed by the General Assembly and that's what was in effect. We follow the law as it was passed."

Lately, that's been somewhat of a challenge.

The measure was declared one of the toughest in the nation when it was adopted in 2006, banning sex offenders from living, working or loitering within 1,000 feet of just about anywhere children gather. That includes schools, churches, parks, gyms, swimming pools or one of the state's 150,000 school bus stops.

It also increased the maximum sentence for a second failure to register from a maximum of three years in prison to a mandatory life sentence. The change applies to all sex offenders, from child predators to those convicted of statutory rape.

Since it was passed, though, it has been tangled up in a series of court challenges. A lawsuit targeting the school bus stop portion of the measure is still pending, as is a separate challenge targeting a provision that could evict offenders who live near churches or volunteer at them.

And legislators were forced to retool the law this year to allow sex offenders who own their homes to stay there if a center where children gather later opens up nearby after the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the measure failed to protect the property rights of offenders.

This latest challenge questions the legitimacy of the law's sentencing guidelines, which Persse said is the nation's toughest.

"Georgia is the only state in all the American jurisdictions that imposes life as a possible penalty for not complying with sex offender registry rules," he said.

Bradshaw was 19 when he was sentenced to five years in prison on statutory rape charges in December 2001. After he was released on parole in 2006, he was slapped with 10 years of probation for failing to register his address with the state's sex offender registry.

When he was released in August 2007, he struggled for weeks to find a place to live.

First, he tried registering at his sister's address in Statesboro before being told to leave because the house was within 1,000 feet of a children's center. He also tried registering at his aunt's house, but had to move again because it was within 1,000 feet of a church.

Bradshaw's next move put him squarely in the crosshairs of authorities: He registered at a family friend's address, but instead moved in with a girlfriend. He was arrested 12 days later and soon sentenced to life in prison after he was convicted of failing to register.

To prosecutors, there's no question that state legislators clearly intended to raise the criminal penalties for repeat offenders who fail to register when they voted to do so overwhelmingly in April.

"That should be used as the best evidence of legislative intent - and society's view on the punishment," said Brannen.

But Bradshaw's attorneys contend it's a case where lawmakers have overstepped their authority.

"That's why we have the guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment," said Persse. "The Legislature has the right to define crimes and set penalties, but that discretion ends when they impose a sentence that's grossly disproportionate to the offense." ..News Source.. by GREG BLUESTEIN

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FL- Attorney: Dateline sex sting evidence obtained illegally

6-28-2008 Florida:

BUNNELL -- Evidence against a fired Alabama police officer arrested in the Dateline NBC sex sting in Flagler Beach should be thrown out because his privacy was violated for financial gain, his attorney argued in court Friday.

But Todd Spikes and others arrested in the sting were not entitled to privacy, Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Carlson countered Friday in Flagler circuit court.

"The defendants don't have any expectation of privacy when they are trolling for little children online and talking to them," Carlson said.

Spikes, 43, of DeFuniak Springs in North Florida was fired from his job as a Florala, Ala., police officer after he was arrested in December 2006 as part of a Dateline NBC "To Catch a Predator" sting. Police found handguns, an assault rifle and a shotgun -- all loaded -- in his sport utility vehicle. In court Friday with Spikes, was Daniel Kelly, who was 45 and from Clearwater when he was arrested during the sting.

In all, police arrested 21 men who had sexually explicit online chats with decoys posing as children and then drove to a house in Flagler Beach to meet the decoys, investigators said.

Spikes, sporting a blondish soul patch and mustache and wearing a blue blazer, sat in court Friday, sometimes leaning back in his seat as his attorney argued. Kelly, clean-shaven and wearing a tan suit, sat nearby, his hands sometimes clasped together or pressed against his face.

Spikes is charged with attempted lewd or lascivious battery, lewd or lascivious exhibition and computer pornography and child exploitation. Kelly is charged with attempted lewd or lascivious battery and computer pornography and child exploitation.

Besides arguing that evidence should be thrown out, Spikes' and Kelly's attorney, Patrick D. Hinchey, said the charges should be dropped because there was no actual child in the sex sting. The decoy investigators said Spikes and Kelly were chatting with was an adult over 18 years of age, the motion states. Hinchey wrote in the motion that there is nothing criminal about communicating with someone over 18.

Hinchey also argued that information such as the chat logs should be thrown out because they were obtained fraudulently and without a warrant.

He said the police worked through a third party, Perverted Justice, to get the evidence, and violated the Constitution's Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Perverted Justice is a controversial activist group.

"The procurement of information was through fraud with intent to use it for commercial purposes," Hinchey said. His motion states that third parties were paid more than $100,000 to provide electronic communication to NBC. That's a felony under Florida law, the motion states.

"I frankly don't know why we don't have criminal charges filed through the false procurement of this information," Hinchey said.

But Carlson argued that police joining forces with Perverted Justice and NBC did not constitute fraud against Spikes and Kelly.

"Law enforcement is not defrauding them," she said. "It's called an undercover investigation."

And the fact that there was no actual child did not matter, Carlson said.

Circuit Judge Kim C. Hammond said he would review the arguments and issue a ruling. ..News Source.. by FRANK FERNANDEZ, Staff Writer

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LA- Bobby Jindal faces recall petition

6-28-2008 Louisiana:

Washington: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, touted as a potential running mate to likely Republican presidential nominee John McCain, faces a recall petition, stemming from his failure to veto a legislative pay raise.

A recall petition was filed on Friday against Jindal, the first Indian-American Governor of a US state. He has come under blistering criticism around the state for his refusal to veto a bill doubling state legislators' base pay from $16,800 to $37,500.

Four lawmakers, including Republican House Speaker Jim Tucker, are also objects of recall petitions filed in recent days.

Forcing a recall election against Jindal will be a tough task. It would require verifiable signatures from well over 900,000 registered Louisiana voters. Still, the publicity attending a recall effort illustrates an abrupt change in public attitude toward the young conservative Republican. Jindal, who easily defeated 11 opponents last year, ABC said.

Jindal has repeatedly criticised the pay raise as excessive but said he would not veto it for fear of jeopardising his legislative agenda.

"The voters of our state are angry that the legislature more than doubled their own pay and I agree with them," Jindal said in a news release on Friday.

"It was excessive and they should reverse it. I'm sure more voters will take extraordinary steps to show their anger over the pay raise before this is all said and done - that's how a democracy works."

To force a recall election, a petition needs at least a third of a district's registered voters, gathered within 180 days of the filing of the petition. In Jindal's case, a petition would have to have a third of the state's more than 2.8 million voters, meaning more than 933,000 signatures would be needed.

Meanwhile, upset over US Supreme Court's ruling striking down a Louisiana law permitting the death penalty for child rapists, he signed a law allowing for chemical castration of sex offenders.

The legislation would allow judges to impose the drug treatment on those found guilty of certain crimes: molestation of a juvenile, aggravated rape, forcible rape, second-degree sexual battery, aggravated incest and aggravated crime against nature.

The drug is intended to diminish sexual impulses. For first offence sex crimes, the judge has the option to order the hormone drug to lower testosterone in the suspect. It's mandatory injections for second and multiple offences. The injections are to be given at least a week before a convicted sex offender is released from prison.

Jindal has said he will seek to enact laws that would invalidate the Supreme Court ruling.

Legal analysts said Jindal's pledge to keep the death penalty by amending state law may be designed to win him political credit but stands little chance of becoming reality as the state doesn't have the authority to override the apex Court decisions that are based on interpretations of the federal Constitution. ..News Source.. by SIffy News

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Interacting with Thomas the Congressional website

This is to announce that we have developed a way to directly interact between our blog and the Congressional Thomas website. The following is the format we will use, however, there may or may not be a Senate/House Report until such is created by the Senate or House.

Instead of us copying info into our blog you will be able to directly interact with Thomas through the following links. The "All Bill Information" link really provides a ton of information excepting the actual bill text. Click on the "Text of S-431 Legislation" to read the bill details. Sometimes you will see multiple copies, the last one is always the most recent with amendments.

I think this will assit all of us in having up to date interactive information. Try this out.
eAdvocate

S.431 Title: A bill to require convicted sex offenders to register online identifiers, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY] (introduced 1/30/2007) Cosponsors (20)

Latest Major Action: 5/21/2008 Held at the desk.

Senate Reports: 110-332 -------All Bill Information ------- Text of S-431 Legislation

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June 27, 2008

NV- New Sex Offender Law On Hold

6-27-2008 Nevada:

A judge has temporarily halted a new Nevada sex offender law. District Judge David Wall granted a preliminary injunction that will prevent Clark County from enforcing the law, which was set to take effect July 1st.

The so-called "Adam Walsh Act" would change the way convicted sex offenders are categorized and monitored. Judge Wall has granted the injunction until August 29th, when he will hear arguments on a constitutional challenge brought by the Nevada ACLU.

Among other things, the law would require the most serious, or "Tier 3" sex offenders to register with authorities every 90 days, have their personal information posted on a state website, and in some cases wear GPS monitoring devices. ..News Source.. by KXNT Nevada

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MI- Flint cracks down on sagging pants

Is this the next group to be chosen as sex offenders?

6-27-2008 Michigan:

FLINT -- Flint's new police chief wants to crack down on sagging pants that expose too much skin.

This immoral 'self expression' goes beyond freedom of expression; it rises to the crime of indecent exposure/disorderly persons," interim Chief David Dicks said in a memo today.

Under the order, anyone with exposed buttocks could be arrested on a misdemeanor charge of being a disorderly person, punishable by up to a $500 fine and three months in jail.

Dicks, who was appointed to his position June 2, said in the memo the measure was prompted by "a significant number of complaints from citizens."

But some are concerned that stepped-up enforcement could violate the Constitution or disproportionately target African-American men.

The American Civil Liberties Union has opposed clothing restrictions in other cities.

Greg Gibbs, an ACLU attorney, told the Flint Journal he plans to research the issue to see whether the crackdown violates the right to free expression.

Frances Gilcreast, president of the Flint chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said she is "not interested in looking at anyone's underwear."

But, she said, she is worried police are focusing on a loose-fitting style favored by some young black men.

"My concern is how (the policy) will be applied equitably," she said.

Flint Police Officers Association President Keith Speer said that in the past, officers have given out warnings for exposed skin and arrested those with their entire rear exposed. He said he doesn't anticipate any significant changes in how police will enforce the law. ..News Source.. by Detroit Free Press

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Man sentenced to life in prison for child pornography

Sentenced will be appealed and very likely declared excessive and set aside, so why go nuts with such a sentence in the first place?

6-27-2008 Illinois:

Man is first central Illinois person to receive life in prison under act

PEORIA -- A Peoria man is the first person in central Illinois to be sentenced to life in prison under a federal child sexual exploitation act.

A judge sentenced 30-year-old Justin Rosenbohm to life in prison without parole plus ten years Friday morning.

Police arrested Rosenbohm in 2007 after discovering pornograhic images of an 11-year-old and an 18-month-old on his computer.

Rosenbohm lived with the victim’s family.

Under the 2006 Adam Walsh Act, if a defendant is convicted of a federal sex offense with a minor and has a prior conviction on the same charges, a life sentence is mandatory.

Rosenbohm was previously convicted in 2001 for possession of child porn and for having sexual contact with a seven-year-old.

Members of the Peoria Police Department, FBI and Central Illinois Cybercrime Unit say this sentence should send a strong message to pedophiles and one less predator is off the streets.

“The victims are real Peoria children and the fact that this gentleman will not be getting out of prison for probably the rest of his life means there are many potential Peoria kids who won't be victims now. I think it's a real success for us in the criminal enforcement field,” said Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard.

Rosenbohm received an additional ten years in prison because he was a registered sex offender when he was convicted on the most recent charges. ..News Source.. by Blake Long

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McCain, Technically Challenged or Stuck in History?

Thanks to a reader who provided us with the link to this video. Folks, you have to see this and then wonder, how John McCain can author a bill S-431 on various features of the Internet (e-mail, IDs, Chat Rooms, etc.):

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Poll: Should McCain Learn to Use a Computer?

This comes at a perfect time, wish I knew of it earlier when I e-mailed you folks. Now, CLICK on the link below and take the poll, when I just checked it it was 90% said he should know about computers. I guess there is more truth in my analysis of his bill S-431 than I realized.

6-27-2008 National:

During the 2008 presidential race, John McCain's online team has often used web video to get the candidate's major campaign themes out onto the internet.

But an offhand verbal riposte by one of the members of that team has turned into a viral video that's providing just the kind of attention they don't want. It's reviving the idea that the Republican presidential candidate is clueless when it comes to technology.

Speaking at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York Monday, McCain deputy e-campaign director Mark Soohoo responded to a comment about McCain's self-professed computer illiteracy by saying that McCain is "aware of the internet."

The comment, caught on video and uploaded to the web on Tuesday by Micah Sifry, one of the two organizers of the conference, quickly made the rounds on the web and on Twitter.

It eventually provided fodder for one of CNN's regular off-beat stories done by its national correspondent Jeanne Moos, who took to the streets to conduct an unscientific survey of what Americans both young and old thought of McCain's computer illiteracy.

Everyone but one person interviewed agreed that McCain should know how to use a computer.

One woman exclaimed: "Oh, that's absolutely ridiculous."

Even Hu Jintao, China's president, surfs the web.

To be fair, what this online branding obscures is the fact that McCain is probably more familiar with, and better versed than most of the roster of the 2008 presidential candidates on the nuances of telecommunications and internet policy because of his work as a longtime member and former chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation -- work for which he has received frequent praise from consumer advocacy groups and think tanks.

So with all this in mind, take our poll.

Explain your vote in the comments section. ..From Wired News.. by Sarah Lai Stirland

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McCain's e-mail registry bill is going to be FAST TRACKED

6-27-2008 National:

It is projected that McCain's S-431 is going to be FAST TRACKED and folks need to get comments in just as fast.

Later today I will have more on this topic and what folks need to do. We need to get EVERYONE involved, RSOs, their mothers, fathers, grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles, and anyone else you can think of.

Here are the links to my earlier comments on this nasty disaster bill: Part-1 Part-2 Part-3 Part-4 Part-5

eAdvocate

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June 26, 2008

Obama Disagrees With Supreme Court Decision

As I predicted that Bush will, and now has, led us into a war, Obama, should he become President, will not allow any reasoned relief for registered sex offenders under the Adam Walsh Act, and will use his veto powers when disagreed with.

6-26-2008 National:

Senator Barack Obama told a press conference today that he disagreed with a Supreme Court decision outlawing the execution of child rapists.

Mr. Obama, whose position on the death penalty has changed over the years (his staff prefers the verb “evolved”), said that child rape qualifies as “heinous” and therefore as subject to the death penalty.

“I disagree with the decision; I have said repeatedly that I think the death penalty should be applied in very narrow circumstance for the most egregious of crimes.” Obama told forty or so reporters. “I think that the rape of a small child, six or eight years old, is a heinous crime, and if a state makes a decision under narrow limited well defined circumstance the death penalty is at least potentially applicable,

In 1996, Mr. Obama went on the record opposing the death penalty and he wrote in his most recent memoir, “The Audacity of Hope” that the penalty “does little to deter crime.” By the time he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004, he had come out in favor of the death penalty, saying that society has the right to express its outrage at heinous crimes.

-Is his purpose so different than those who take stances to get votes, as most have on sex offender issues? Votes control the laws, and necessary pretexts will underlie those votes.

At the same time, he said the system of death penalty justice was so flawed that the nation should declare a moratorium on executions, such as that imposed in Illinois by Republican Gov. George Ryan. ..The Rest of His Comments.. by Michael Powell

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Megan’s Law and the misconception of sex offender recidivism

2008

Introduction

Legislatures cite the so-called high recidivism rate of sex offenders to implement Megan’s Laws to justify laws requiring sex offenders to register and having their information being disseminated to the community. However, whether people convicted of sex crimes actually possess a dangerous risk of recidivism remains doubtful. This paper will critically question the justification of reliance on recidivism studies by both state and federal legislatures in implementing Megan’s Laws.

Part II outlines the history of Megan’s Laws and presents the claims of recidivisms made by the legislatures. Part III first demonstrates how Megan’s laws do not take in account the variation in recidivism rates among studies. It then shows how studies do not represent the actual majority of those convicted of sex crimes. Finally, this part analyzes the harm created by Megan’s Laws that outweighs any beneficial value on the community when an offender has a low recidivism rate. Part IV confutes potential opponents’ arguments that because sex offenses are underreported, the actual recidivism rates could be higher and that it is better to err on the safe side for children’s sake. Part V concludes that the discrepancy of studies suggests that compulsory notification laws are overbroad by assuming high recidivism rates by all sex offenders. Because recidivism rates vary depending on the characteristics of the sex offenders, Megan’s Laws are justified only for selected types of offenders who commit particular sex offenses. The heavy burden put on those who pose little risk to society outweighs the usefulness of Megan’s Law for the other categories of sex offenders. ..The Rest of the Paper.. by Debra Patkin

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Sex Offender Post-Incarceration Sanctions: Are There Any Limits?

2008

INTRODUCTION
American society has decided that there is no greater villain than the sex offender. Terrorists, drug dealers, murderers, kidnappers, mobsters, gangsters, drunk drivers, and white-collar criminals do not elicit the emotions and evoke the political response that sex offenders do. The intent of this paper is to empirically substantiate this claim. Central to this argument is the imposition of post-incarceration sanctions.

One way to discern society’s views about specific forms of criminal behavior is to examine historical, and contemporary methods of punishment. In the last fifteen years, all forms of government have pursued unique ways to control sex offenders after their release from prison or jail. All criminal offenders are subject to community supervision in the form of probation or parole conditions. For some offenders, probation and parole conditions may be quite restrictive and may include random drug tests, unannounced home visits, searches, and strict requirements for substance abuse and psychological counseling. Yet, as will be discussed in this article, there are a number of post-incarceration sanctions that have been created exclusively for and apply only to sex offenders.1

The growth of sex offender post-incarceration controls have come from the federal government,2 state governments,3 and now in an interesting trend, from local cities and towns;4 all of whom are trying to determine if, when, and how sex offenders will return to their communities. Specifically, society has imposed post-incarceration controls on sex offenders’ privacy, places of residence, travel, employment, sexuality, and reproductive rights.5

The article is structured as such: Section II examines the justification for these additional controls on sex offenders, notably the public fears about sex offender recidivism and the scientific data on sexual assault and sex offenses. Section III examines several specific areas of sex offender control including sex offender registration and notification, the recent enactment of the Adam Walsh Act,6 the use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to track and monitor sex offenders, civil commitment, the passage of residency restrictions, and the use of chemical castration. One additional trend is discussed, albeit a different form of sex offender control. Section III concludes with a discussion of the trend toward expanding the death penalty to include sex offenders. Section IV provides a discussion of the current trends and tendencies. The paper concludes with an assessment of the future of sex offender controls.

Before turning to a discussion about the justification for these laws, it is important to note one area of sex offender control that this paper does not examine. It has become quite common to open a daily newspaper and hear about the man who was arrested for soliciting a child via the Internet for sex. These cases almost always involve local, state, or federal law enforcement posing as an underage child who develops a relationship with an adult male. The relationship ends when the adult male arranges for sex, arrives at a pre-arranged location with the intention to meet this child, and is arrested by law enforcement authorities.

This practice has received the public notoriety and support of the national media with NBC’s Dateline: To Catch A Predator.7 Individuals arrested in these Internet sex stings have included officials in the Department of Homeland Security, a Massachusetts State Trooper, an Iraq veteran, a prosecutor, public school officials, and an Army Reserve Lt. Col., among others.8 This form of preventive detention is quite controversial. Supporters of this approach argue that the individuals arrested were looking to have sex with children and this is the only way to prevent that.9 Those opposed to this practice argue that it is a dangerous new form of entrapment with no actual victims, only deceptive police officers.10

The practice and increasing use of the Internet sex sting is a topic worthy of its own examination for both the legal questions, as well as the ethical and political issues that arise. Given that limitation, it is time to begin to examine why sex offenders are treated so differently than other criminals. ..Rest of the Paper.. by Richard G. Wright, Ph.D. in Public Policy, University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Bridgewater State College teaching a variety of courses including Sex Crimes, Terrorism, Civil Liberties & Victimology. For over fifteen years, Professor Wright has worked in research, evaluation, and program development in the fields of domestic violence and sexual assault. He is also the editor and principal contributor to RICHARD WRIGHT ET AL., SEX OFFENDER LAWS: RHETORIC & REALITY (Springer International Publishing) (forthcoming 2009).

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Jindal condemns Supreme Court, signs castration bill

6-26-2008 Louisiana:

Governor glad for new law to punish sex offenders on same day as 'atrocious ruling'

Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court announced it struck down the death penalty for child rape in his state, Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal signed a bill authorizing castration of sexual offenders.

Jindal – frequently mentioned as a potential vice-presidential nominee – said he was "especially glad" to sign the Sex Offender Chemical Castration Bill "on the same day the Supreme Court has made an atrocious ruling against our state's ability to sentence those who sexually assault our children to the fullest extent."

"Those who prey on our children are among the very worst criminals imaginable," Jindal said in a statement.

In a 5-4 vote announced yesterday, the Supreme Court's majority said imposing the death penalty in child rape cases violates the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

"The death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.

Hailing the new state castration law, Jindal said that as a father of three children, as well as a governor, he believes "sexually assaulting a child is one of the very worst crimes, and I am glad we have taken such strong measures in Louisiana to put a stop to these monsters’ brutal acts."

"I want to send the message loud and clear – to the Supreme Court of the United States and beyond – make no mistake about it, if anyone wants to molest children and commit sexual assaults on kids they should not do so here in Louisiana," said the governor.

"Here, we will do everything in our power to protect our children, and we will not rest until justice is won and we have fully punished those who harm them," Jindal said.

The Louisiana bill, SB 144, gives the court the option of castration on a first conviction of aggravated rape, forcible rape, second degree sexual battery, aggravated incest, molestation of a juvenile when the victim is under the age of 13, or an aggravated crime against nature.

Castration is required on a second conviction of the listed crimes.

The bill also allows a court to order physical castration instead of chemical castration. Convicted sex offenders who undergo castration must still serve their full sentence.
In the case addressed by yesterday's Supreme Court ruling, 43-year-old Patrick Kennedy was sentenced to death for the rape of his 8-year-old stepdaughter. The assault was so severe the girl needed surgery to repair some of her organs.

Kennedy is one of two people in the country condemned to death for a rape not accompanied by a killing.

Both cases are in Louisiana, where proponents of the law argued there is a national trend toward the death penalty for child rape cases. Justice Samuel Alito pointed that out in his dissent, arguing the "harm that is caused to the victims and to society at large by the worst child rapists is grave."

"It is the judgment of the Louisiana lawmakers and those in an increasing number of other states that these harms justify the death penalty," Alito wrote.

Justice Kennedy contended, however, "there is a national consensus against capital punishment for the crime of child rape," based on the absence of any executions for rape and the fact that only five states allow it.

Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas allow executions for child rape if the defendant had a previous conviction for the crime. ..News Source.. by WorldNetDaily

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3.2 Percent of Inmates Report Sexual Victimization in Local Jails

6-26-2008 National:

An estimated 3.2 percent of jail inmates (24,700) reported one or more incidents of sexual victimization in a survey mandated by the Prison Rape Elimination Act, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics announced today. About 1.6 percent of all inmates (12,100) reported an incident involving another inmate, 2.0 percent (15,200) reported an incident involving jail staff, and 0.4 percent reported being victimized by both other inmates and staff.

The survey limited reporting by inmates to incidents occurring in the past 6 months or since their admission to the jail, if more recent. Sexual victimization is defined as all types of sexual activity, including inmate-on-inmate nonconsensual sexual acts and abusive sexual contacts or unwanted touching. It also includes both willing and unwilling sexual activity with staff. An estimated 1.3 percent of inmates (10,400) said they had sex or sexual contact unwillingly with staff, and 1.1 percent (8,400) said they willingly had sexual contact with staff.

The survey was conducted in 282 randomly selected local jails between April and December 2007, with a sample of 40,419 inmates. Eighteen jail facilities had an overall sexual victimization rate of at least twice the national average of 3.2 percent, and 18 facilities had no reports of sexual victimization from inmates.

The Torrance County Detention Facility (New Mexico) recorded the highest overall rate of sexual victimization (13.4 percent). When sexual victimization excluded allegations of touching only, the Torrance County Detention Facility remained the highest with 8.9 percent, followed by the Brevard County Detention Center in Florida (7.8 percent), the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center in New Mexico (6.7 percent), and the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail (5.8 percent).

Overall, 0.6 percent of all jail inmates reported an injury related to sexual victimization. Among all victims, 16 percent reported minor injuries (such as bruises, cuts, or scratches), 8 percent reported being knocked unconscious, 6 percent reported anal or rectal tearing, 6 percent internal injuries, 3 percent broken bones, and 2 percent knife or stab wounds.

Inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization most often occurred in the victim's cell or room (56 percent of reports). Staff-on-inmate sexual victimization most often occurred in a closet, office, or other locked room (47 percent). Nearly 62 percent of all reported incidents of staff sexual misconduct involved female staff with male inmates; 8 percent involved male staff with female inmates.

An estimated 5.1 percent of female inmates compared to 2.9 percent of male inmates said they had experienced one or more incidents of sexual victimization. About 4.6 percent of inmates ages 18 to 24 reported sexual assault, compared to 2.4 percent of inmates age 25 and older.

Inmates with a sexual orientation other than heterosexual reported significantly higher rates of sexual victimization. An estimated 2.7 percent of heterosexual inmates alleged an incident, compared to 18.5 percent of homosexual inmates, and 9.8 percent of bisexual inmates or inmates indicating "other" as an orientation.

The Prison Rape Elimination Act requires the Bureau of Justice Statistics to conduct an annual data collection to measure the incidence of prison rape in at least 10 percent of the nation's correctional facilities. It also requires the Attorney General to provide a listing of institutions ranked according to the incidence of prison rape. As a consequence of sampling error, the survey cannot provide the three jail facilities with the highest rates of victimization.

The survey consisted of an audio computer-assisted self interview (ACASI) in which inmates, using a touch-screen laptop, interacted with a computer-assisted questionnaire and followed instructions via headphones. Inmate participation was voluntary, with 67 percent completing the survey.

The report, Sexual Victimization in Local Jails Reported by Inmates, 2007 (NCJ 221946), was written by BJS statisticians Allen J. Beck and Paige M. Harrison. Following publication, the report can be found HERE

..News Source.. by DOJ

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June 25, 2008

MA- Massachusetts Lawmaker's Pledge to 'Rip Apart' Child Rape Victims at Trial Draws Fury

While I agree that "Jessica's law" is excessive in the fact that it removes discretion from the judge, and it should be struck down. However, with that said, I also believe that this lawyer needs to be disciplined for conduct unbecoming a court officer, if the bar permits such, if not he should be barred from practice for a significant period of time. Courtroom conduct should not incite riots and his comments most certainly would.

6-25-2008 Massachusetts:

A Massachusetts politician is weathering a storm of criticism after he said he’d have to torment young victims on the witness stand and “rip them apart” if mandatory sentences for sex offenders pass the state legislature.

Rep. James Fagan, who is also a defense attorney, made the comments during debate last month on the state House floor over Jessica's Law, which would set such stiff minimum sentences.

“I thought his comments were over the top and unnecessary,” Massachusetts House Minority Leader Bradley Jones told FOXNews.com on Wednesday.

“I appreciate that he’s a defense attorney, and felt he had a point to make, but I think it was unnecessary,” said Jones, who supported an original version of the bill. “It was excessive.”

The father of the Florida girl for whom Jessica's Law is named also blasted Fagan after hearing the comments.

Mark Lunsford, whose 9-year-old daughter was abducted and buried alive in a trash bag by a sex offender in 2005, told the Boston Herald on Tuesday that Fagan should take the rights of victimized children seriously.

“Why doesn’t he figure out a way to defend that child and put these kind of people away instead of trying to figure ways for defense attorneys to get around Jessica’s Law?” Lunsford told the paper. “These are very serious crimes that nobody wants to take serious. What about the rights of these children?”

Fagan came under fire last month. The bill that he opposed eventually passed the House and set mandatory minimum sentences of between 10 and 15 years for a set of different offenses against children ranging from assault to sexual crimes. A version is still pending in the state Senate.

"I'm gonna rip them apart," Fagan said of young victims during his testimony on the bill. "I'm going to make sure that the rest of their life is ruined, that when they’re 8 years old, they throw up; when they’re 12 years old, they won’t sleep; when they’re 19 years old, they’ll have nightmares and they’ll never have a relationship with anybody.”

Fagan said as a defense attorney it would be his duty to do that in order to keep his clients free from a "mandatory sentence of those draconian proportions." Those comments drew the ire of local activists.

But from a legal perspective, law professor Phyllis Goldfarb said Fagan was probably expressing a basic courtroom truth – that it is a defense attorney’s job to test the prosecution’s case, especially when mandatory penalties are on the line.

“It is fundamentally true … if the proof is coming almost exclusively through a child witness you may have to find a way to test it. That’s the attorney-client obligation there,” Goldfarb told FOXNews.com.

Goldfarb, who used to direct the Criminal Justice Clinic at Boston College Law School, said Fagan used some over-the-top language, but that he probably didn't relish the idea of cross-examining a child. She said it's just his job.

“You do have to challenge a witness,” she said. “Some people find ways of doing that that are loyal to their role as defense attorneys -- testing the proof (in ways) that aren’t abusive to a witness, but it's very hard.

“And I think being put in that hard position is what he seems to be railing against here, using language that’s probably a little bit hyperbolic.”

Lunsford will be in Massachusetts on Wednesday to push the state Senate to include mandatory prison time in the state's final version of Jessica's Law, according to the Herald. ..News Source.. by FOX News

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GA- Law bans sex offenders' church work, say critics

If the court rules that the state may not bar registrants from volunteering, on religious grounds, how will that square with church policies that bar registrants from volunteering?

6-25-2008 Georgia:

A Georgia law banning sex offenders from volunteer work at churches should be struck down because it "criminalizes fundamental religious activities," a court motion filed Tuesday says.

The motion is the latest legal assault on the controversial state sex-offender registry law, one of the toughest in the nation. A new provision says no registered sex offender shall be employed by or volunteer at a church.

This makes it a crime for sex offenders to sing in adult choirs, prepare for revivals or cook meals in a church kitchen, said the motion, which seeks a court order halting enforcement of the provision before it becomes law July 1. It was filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta as part of ongoing litigation that seeks to declare the law unconstitutional.

Sarah Geraghty, a lawyer with the Southern Center for Human Rights, said punishing registered sex offenders for volunteer work at a place of worship will do more harm than good.

"Certain people on the sex-offender registry should not work with children in a church setting or elsewhere," said Geraghty, one of the lawyers who filed the court motion. "With this law, the state of Georgia is driving people on the registry from the faith communities and depriving them of the rehabilitative influence of the church."

The goal of the state's sex-offender registry law is to keep sex offenders away from areas where children congregate and let the public know where the offenders reside. Its punishments are severe: any offender caught working at or volunteering at a church can be sentenced to 10 to 30 years in prison.

Sen. President pro tem Eric Johnson (R-Savannah) said Tuesday that nothing in the law prohibits someone from attending a place of worship. "They just can't be Sunday school teachers or volunteer for a vacation Bible school," he said. "It prevents them, as it should, from being around children."

The motion stretches the intent of the law as a way to topple it, Johnson said. "I think somebody's trying to use religion to accomplish their own agenda."

Lori Collins, a 47-year-old mother of two from Henry County, is on the registry because she was convicted of statutory rape six years ago in Screven County for having sex with a 15-year-old boy. In prison, Collins completed the Department of Corrections' faith and character program and served as assistant to the chaplain.

Since her release, Collins has become a licensed pastor, is a regular churchgoer at Mount Paran Church of God and is active in prison ministries.

As of July 1, she said Tuesday, she will no longer be able to do this volunteer work or help with administrative functions at two small evangelical ministries.

"If we're practicing our faith and doing this work, we're doing the work God called us to do," Collins said. "The state is hindering what the Bible clearly speaks about. I just want them to take another look at this."

Collins said she would never volunteer for any activity involving children.

In a sworn affidavit attached to Tuesday's motion, Floyd Rose, pastor emeritus at the The Church at Pine Hill in Valdosta, expressed surprise that none of the more than 15,000 registered sex offenders will be able to volunteer at church.

A problem is that the ban is applied to all offenders, even if they were convicted of consensual sex as teenagers and pose no danger to children, he said Tuesday.

"The church is in the business of redemption," Rose said. "We must not throw a blanket over all sinners. Those accused of being sex offenders are individuals and should be treated as such."

The motion is part of ongoing litigation filed in 2006 after the Legislature enacted restrictions where sex offenders could live and work. U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper initially issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting law enforcement from barring registered offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop. That order has since been lifted, but the bus stop restriction is not being enforced while the litigation makes its way through court.

Last year, the Georgia Supreme Court struck down part of the law prohibiting registered offenders from living within 1,000 feet of places where children congregate.

This past session, the Legislature revised the law primarily to address the state Supreme Court's ruling.

House Non-Civil Judiciary Chairman David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) said the restriction against volunteering at a church or other places children congregate was added at the recommendation of local sheriffs.

It was made part of the law so people who cannot work in schools, churches or day care centers cannot get around that prohibition by saying they were merely volunteering at those places, Ralson said.

"This was adopted at the suggestion by law enforcement to keep people from subverting the purpose of the law," Ralston said. ..News Source.. by BILL RANKIN

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Child rapists can't be executed, Supreme Court rules

6-25-2008 National:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Wednesday that child rapists cannot be executed, concluding capital punishment is reserved for murderers.

The ruling stemmed from the case of Patrick Kennedy, who has been on Louisiana's death row since 2003, when he was sentenced to be executed for raping his 8-year-old stepdaughter.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion that "evolving standards of decency" in the United States forbid capital punishment for any crime other than murder. Execution of Patrick Kennedy, the justices ruled, would be unconstitutional.

Patrick Kennedy, 43, would have been the first convicted rapist in 44 years to be executed in a case in which the victim was not killed.

Kennedy was convicted of sexually assaulting his stepdaughter in her bed. The attack caused internal injuries and bleeding to the child, requiring extensive surgery, as well as severe emotional trauma, Louisiana prosecutors said.

"Difficulties in administering the penalty to ensure its arbitrary and capricious application require adherence to a rule reserving its use, at this stage of evolving standards and in cases of crimes against individuals, for crimes that take the life of the victim," Anthony Kennedy wrote in Wednesday's majority opinion.

Anthony Kennedy was supported by Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

In 1976 and a year later, the U.S. Supreme Court banned capital punishment for rape -- and, by implication, any other crime except murder. But 19 years later, Louisiana passed a law allowing execution for the sexual violation of a child under 12. State lawmakers argued that the earlier high court cases pertained only to "adult women." ..News Source.. by CNN News

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