May 31, 2009

NY- Sex offender law questioned in wake of shooting

5-31-2009 New York:

Miller says he will seek changes

ALBANY — At least two of New York’s nine most dangerous sex offenders freed under a two-year old civil confinement law have faced arrest on sex charges again, including one who this week shot a police officer then killed himself.

State lawmakers said they’ll study the law, designed to restrict and monitor some sex offenders after they leave prison, to see if it’s too easy for some offenders to be returned to the streets.

The latest was Ken-Tweal Catts, who was freed from civil confinement by a jury in September, about a year after his release from prison. Catts was picked up Wednesday and was being charged with rape when he grabbed a Dutchess County detective’s pistol and fired a shot that grazed the officer’s head. He then holed up for three hours in the county building before shooting himself.

The first sex offender freed in the jury stage of the 2007 state law, Douglas Junco of Washington County, was accused of rape and kidnapping a woman in Georgia a year ago. That was eight months after a jury found there wasn’t enough evidence of a mental abnormality, as required under the law, to confine him or order him to be strictly supervised in the community.

“The question is, what does the jury really know?” said Assemblyman Joel Miller, a Dutchess County Republican. “Judges normally do that and it’s only when we play this game when people claim mental illness that we fool the jury. This isn’t supposed to be a game. People with competence should make the decisions, not turn it over to lay people.”

The Republican said he will seek changes in the Democrat-controlled chamber to improve the sex offender management law because of the shooting.

“Frankly, I don’t like any part of the current system,” said Miller, noting that it provides a false sense of security. “I think we created a charade that misleads the public.”

Confined in mental health facilities

The state now confines 81 sex offenders in mental health facilities. They can petition a court for release annually.

The next highest level of “civil management” under the law is to require “strict and intensive supervision” in the community. The state has put 65 offenders in that category so far. Of them, 29 violated the conditions of their release and 10 were charged with sex-related violations or new offenses. Of those, five did not involve physical contact, according to state records.

“It’s a new law and a new experience and we are constantly monitoring and evaluating it,” said John Caher, spokesman for the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. “I don’t believe there are any concrete proposals on the table at the moment to effect any major changes.”

There was no immediate comment from the Democratic majorities in the Senate and Assembly, or Democratic Gov. David Paterson.

“We have big concerns,” said Sen. Dale Volker of Erie County who was part of then-Republican majority in the Senate that supported the 2007 law. “The reason we passed the civil confinement law is because there are some people you need to keep in confinement. We’ll look into this.”

The law was aimed at a void in the criminal justice system: Once sex offenders — who often repeat their crimes especially without rehabilitation — completed their prison terms and parole, there was little way to monitor or help them. The 2007 law sought to rehabilitate, rather than punish, the sex offenders.

The system creates a series of checks and reviews by medical and judicial officials.

Confinement rejected in many cases

Since it was effective in April 2007, the state prison system and Parole Division has referred 3,252 sex offenders. The state Office of Mental Health rejected 2,691 cases as not warranting supervision or confinement beyond their jail sentences. The other steps in the process, including psychiatric evaluations and judicial reviews, which can eliminate cases from consideration for further confinement, further winnowed the group. That left only the nine who were confined and 65 on strict and intensive supervision in a community. Many cases are pending the jury stage, which is at the end of the process.

“There is no hole dark or deep enough for these sick and twisted predators,” said Assemblyman Greg Ball, a Republican whose district includes Dutchess County. He said the most serious offenders must be confined permanently.

Catts was convicted in 2004 of felony sexual abuse in a case involving a 17-year-old. He had spent more than 500 days in jail before that, and was released twice from prison and returned for parole violations, according to state prison records.

In prison, he logged 27 disciplinary incidents, including fighting, harassment, smoking and an unnamed sex offense, according to corrections records. He was released in 2007.

Junco had served nearly 15 years in prison for an attempted first-degree rape conviction in 1993 in Albany. ..Source.. by

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Homeless cave found in L.A.

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Peter Cumming's recent speech on "Sexting"

5-31-2009 Canada:

"Sexting" has been in the news recently (see here here and here) as the result of a conference speech ( Youth, Sexuality, and Technology ) by Peter E. Cumming, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Division of Humanities, and Coordinator, Children's Studies Program.

Today Peter Cumming is making his full speech available and has the following to say:

"For people interested in vital issues related to youth, sexuality, and technology, I am making available here the complete conference paper as presented in Ottawa--so that people can respond based on more complete knowledge than is available in press releases, interviews, and wire copy. Although I prefaced my presentation by indicating that "children's voices" were not in the presentation as I had originally planned and hoped, the written copy of the paper is a full and accurate reflection of the presentation I made."

So folks, if "sexting" is a topic you are interested in, then by all means read his paper (link above) and respond to him (His Contact information).


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May 29, 2009

OH- Exclusive: Facebook bans Akron sex offender after nearly 'friending' WKYC

And he did nothing wrong, didn't use false information (as a noteable person recently did on a similar site), didn't violate Facebook's Terms of Agreement which says nothing about the alleged policy that former registered sex offenders are not allowed to have accounts; he did nothing wrong!

5-29-2009 Ohio:

AKRON -- A convicted child molestor had his Facebook profile deleted Friday as the social media site enforced its policy restricting access to convicted sex offenders.

____, 48, served 14 months of a four-year sentence for sexual battery and telephone harassment after admitting to inappropriate relationships with six male students while he was a counselor at Firestone High School. He was released from prison in July, 2000.

____ is a tier three sex offender, the most serious classification, which requires him to register his whereabouts every 90 days for life.

Earlier this year, Facebook adopted a new policy prohibiting sex offenders from having profiles and deleted the profiles of more than 5,000 known sex offenders.

Anchor Eric Mansfield learned of ____'s Facebook profile when a Channel 3 viewer sent ____'s name to Eric as a "friend suggestion"; Eric contacted Summit County Sheriff Drew Alexander who ordered an immediate investigation.

"This is a major concern," said Sheriff Drew Alexander. "It's a major priority. Anybody that's assaulted anybody. We will be on top of this before the day is over."

Alexander dispatched a deputy to go to ____'s North Akron home and talk to him about the profile, which appears to have been created in the last few days and included basic information on ____'s education and family.

See Eric's complete story tonight on Channel 3 News at 6. ..Source.. by WKYC

Comments from News site:
NO Social Networking site has any exclusion statement
in their Terms of Agreement, they use verbal unwritten policy
to entrap people then bar them from their site.


They should re-open Alcatraz, populate the waterway surrounding the island with Great White sharks, and place all sex offenders there for life.

I know from experience that there are numerous people's children online that don't have clue at to what they're doing. And furthermore the parents don't know anything about what the children are doing either.

Mr. REPORTER just made a call. Wouldn't you call someone? We teach our children to run from strangers yet we don't teach them the basics of online strangers.

I don't know Mr. ____, but if he was found guilty of a crime and being the worst type of offender for that crime, i'd be the first one to call!

Does anyone know if he had underage children on his facebook page? This actually is very news-worthy. It will help some parents to understand that they can't just throw their child onto the computer without some kind of supervision!

____ wrote:
I agree strongly with ____'s first two paragraphs. This story reads like a self-aggrandizing pat on the back by and for Mr. ____. Generally, I have a lot of respect for the guy's reporting, but occasionally he goes a little Carl Monday on us. I believe this is one of those occasions.

Am I the patron saint of sex offenders? No. I appreciate the importance of keeping tabs on creepy dudes, especially in situations where they might have access to the vulnerable. I take the danger seriously and I understand the need for precautionary measures.

BUT. I've been a Facebook user since 2005 and I've never been notified of a sex offender exception clause in the TOS. I believe it exists, but this is the first I'm hearing of it and, were I a sex offender, I'd be violating it just like Mr. Bennett. FURTHERMORE, Facebook isn't MySpace. Anyone who has actually used the site knows that it's nearly impossible to get in touch with someone who doesn't want to hear from you, and anonymity is highly unusual. I don't get the impression Mr. ____ was using an alias.

I don't even think Facebook should have that clause. But that's not really my point here. In my opinion, Eric Mansfield's heroic deputygram to Mr. ____ isn't protecting anyone on Facebook, and certainly isn't newsworthy.

No disrespect.

he shouldn't have done it if he wasn't willing to face the consequences. why defend him? do you like molesting, too?

Does Facebook's enrollment process and TOS (Terms of Service) ask a new subscriber if they are a convicted sex offender?

If ____ is properly registered with the Summit County Sheriffs office, then a visit to his home by deputies (prompted by the media) borders on harassment.

Isn't WKYC's calling the Summit County Sheriff about a Facebook profile somewhat akin to the guy who recently called 911 when his McDonald's Happy Meal was incomplete?

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LA- Louisiana House Appropriations Committee OKs fee measure to fight Internet crime

Notice the absence of any support that Internet crimes are really increasing; heresay legislated.

5-29-2009 Louisiana:

Internet users in Louisiana would be subject to a new tax under a bill moving through the Legislature that aims to beef up the attorney general's ability to investigate online sex predators.

But House Bill 569 faces tough climb thanks to questions about its legality and opposition from Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has made a signature issue of cracking down on sex offenders but promised a veto Friday because of the bill's cost to taxpayers.

The bill by Rep. Bodi White, R-Central, won unanimous approval Thursday from the House Appropriations Committee and faces a likely hearing on the floor next week.

Sponsored by Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, the legislation would collect an estimated $2.4 million a year through a 15-cent fee tacked onto monthly bills from Internet service providers. The money would go into an Internet Crimes Investigations Fund, where it would be used by the attorney general's office to investigate and prosecute a range of online crimes, including financial fraud and child pornography.

White, testifying on the bill in committee, told lawmakers that online sex crimes are a growing problem in Louisiana at a time when the department's ability to investigate them is declining due to budget cuts.

"What it tells you is they don't have nearly enough people to investigate or look at this," White said.

The bill won enthusiastic support from lawmakers who normally oppose tax increases and describe themselves as fiscal conservatives.

"Let's make Louisiana the example for this country," said Rep. Noble Ellington, D-Winnsboro. "As our governor has said, if you're going to do Internet pornography, child porn, whatever it is, you're going to go somewhere else to do it."

Rep. Joe Harrison Jr., R-Napoleonville, put it more plainly: "I think this is a clear case of good versus evil."

For Jindal, however, the bill sets up a clash between two competing political goals: Making life tougher for sex offenders, and opposing any and all tax increases. In this case, anti-tax sentiment won.

"While we absolutely support cracking down on sex offenders that prey on our children, we see this bill as a tax increase and the governor would veto it if it comes to his desk," Jindal press secretary Kyle Plotkin said.

Other opponents said the bill conflicts with the federal Internet Tax Freedom Act, which prohibits states from taxing Internet services, and would likely be challenged in court.

"A tax by any other name is still a tax and it's prohibited by federal law," Robert Rieger, a lawyer for Adams and Reese who represents cable companies, told the committee. He said Louisiana would be the first state to charge such a tax.

"The fact that no other state has done this speaks volumes," Rieger said.

But Caldwell said it's not a tax but a fee, and thus permissible under the law. "We would not burden you with something we don't think would survive a legal challenge," he said. ..News Source.. by Jan Moller, The Times-Picayune

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FL- A thoughtful voice tackling what Miami Herald called ‘the sex offender mess’

5-29-2009 Florida:

Dr. Jill Levenson, associate professor and chair of human services at Lynn University, is sometimes in the unenviable position of being on the right side of a tough issue. A licensed clinical social worker who got her start 20 years ago as a child protection social worker, she is a nationally known expert on sexual violence and has become a respected authority on, among other things, laws aimed at protecting children while punishing, tracking and rehabilitating sex offenders.

Yesterday morning’s Miami Herald included an editorial by Fred Grimm that dissects South Florida’s own ’sex offender mess’ - a problem that some believe is the result of housing restrictions that have kept registered offenders clustered in tight communities and, as is the case in Broward County to our south, in a homeless sect nestled under an interstate overpass.

In an effort to find a better way to protect the county’s children, Broward recently created an independent commission to examine new alternatives. Chairing the commission is our own Dr. Levenson, whose work has shown, among other things, that rules imposing housing restrictions on sex offenders can sometimes create more problems than they solve (as may be the case in Fort Lauderdale).

In his editorial today, Grimm applauded the work of this commission.

“The task force charged by the Broward County Commission with finding a way out of the conundrum created by sex offender residency restrictions has listened to experts, crunched numbers and discussed a dismaying array of unintended consequences,” he wrote.

“They discussed better solutions than laws that forced registered sex offenders into homelessness; that left parole officers with no alternative but to send them to live under a highway bridge; that encouraged sex offenders to cluster in neighborhoods with less restrictive ordinances.

They pushed beyond the emotional stuff and dug for what made sense.

It was the kind of thoughtful examination needed to sort out a complicated and volatile problem.”

What stuck out to me were those two words: “thoughtful examination.” If you know Dr. Levenson, you know those two words fit her well. She applies her more than two decades of field work and expansive research to projects aimed at finding real solutions. Sometimes, this approach - favoring research over knee jerks - has drawn scrutiny from some corners where voters and lawmakers favored fast action to a slower, if more productive, approach. But more and more people in government (as in Broward County) and the media (like Grimm) are seeing the value in that method.

I, for one, was glad to see this approach (so common to university faculty in general but especially, Dr. L) gaining traction here at home. Bravo Jill! And best of luck to you and the commission. ..Source: Lynn University blog.. by Jason

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Killed by Laws: Former Sex Offenders (FSOs) and Persons Associated with Them

National: LAST UPDATED 12-5-2010

The following persons (former sex offenders (FSOs) and persons associated with them; family in one case of a FSO child) died, directly or substantially, because of the law noted. Their manner of death differs (i.e., murdered, suicide, died because of exposure, died because of lack of medical care, etc.), and of those, some were homeless as well. Each case must be reviewed to understand why they are listed here. Clicking on their name will direct you to their stories:

This page has been moved: CLICK for its new home. All stats have been moved.

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MA- Bill would create registry for drug dealers

I fully support this idea as it will totally overwhelm the police so that no more criminals can be caught; cuts down on court cases too. Lets do this. Oh, the problem is -if every drug conviction was FORCED to register- we would see some lawmakers on it now wouldn't we? What the heck, according to lawmaker logic, registries make the public safer; go for it!

5-29-2009 Massachusetts:

Convicted drug dealers could join rapists and other sex offenders on the list of criminals forced to register with the state if a bill sponsored by a Cape Cod lawmaker gains support on Beacon Hill.

State Rep. Demetrius Atsalis, D-Hyannis, has filed legislation seeking to create a drug offender registry, similar to the state's sex offender listings, to help identify and track convicted drug dealers throughout the state.

The proposed registry, which would include all convictions for distribution, trafficking or possession of drugs with intent to distribute, is intended to alert residents to drug dealers in their community, while providing police with a useful tool to combat drug use and drug-related violence, Atsalis said yesterday.

"While we know what sex offenders are in our neighborhoods, we don't know what drug offenders are (coming in)," he said. "And in a lot of ways drug offenders are just as bad. ... They bring some dangerous people into our neighborhoods."

But the legislation, which will now go to Beacon Hill for consideration in the state House of Representatives, could also make it harder for some drug dealers to reform their ways, some critics said.

Such registries — Minnesota, Tennessee and several other states have launched methamphetamine databases — often stigmatize reformed drug dealers, making it more difficult for them to find employment and housing as they look to rehabilitate, said Ann Lambert, legislative counsel to the Massachusetts branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.

In 2008, Cape Cod police departments made 814 arrests for drug-related crimes, including possession, distribution and other crimes, according to the Cape and Islands District Attorney's Office.

"What it's talking about is branding forever people who are substance abusers," Lambert said. "There are large numbers of them that are amenable to treatment."

Modeled after the state sex offender registry, Atsalis' proposal would require convicted drug offenders to report their name and personal information to local authorities, as well as to the registry's five-member governing board upon moving to a new city or town.

It would divide the registrants into a tiered system based on the severity of their crime: Level 1 offenders, those considered unlikely to repeat an offense, would be registered to an internal database available to law enforcement authorities; the names of Level 2 offenders, those considered somewhat likely to repeat, would be available only through inquiries to the state or local police; and Level 3 offenders, considered high risk to repeat, would each be listed on a public Internet database.

The program would be self-funded through registration fees paid by registrants, Atsalis said.

The registry could prove to be a useful tool both for residents who want to protect the safety of their neighborhood and to police conducting investigations, police officers said.

It could help ensure police safety as officers respond to calls and it could cut down on the length of investigations, providing officers with easy access to information, according to Barnstable police Sgt. Michael Clark, who helped Atsalis develop the bill.

"Oftentimes we'll respond to calls and not realize who's residing at a particular residence," Clark said. "We'll respond to a scene and then go back to the station ... and realize they have long criminal records."

To the public, this information could prove more alarming than helpful, some critics said.

"What are people going to do with this information?" David Rossman, director of Boston University's Criminal Law Clinical Programs asked. "In what way would this help the public as opposed to hurt people who might have at one point had a drug problem? ... I don't see what good this would cause." ..News Source.. by Jake Berry

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MI- Bryon Township man sentenced as part of Internet sex sting

5-26-2009 Michigan Phase-I:

GRAND RAPIDS -- A 25-year-old Byron Township man will spend 18 months to 20 years in prison after he pleaded guilty in Kent County Circuit Court to using the Internet to commit child sexually abusive conduct.

____ was one of more than 20 men arrested in a sting targeting online predators, conducted by the state Attorney General's Office and the group Perverted Justice. ____' lawyer, Craig Haehnel, said his client has been diagnosed with leukemia.

Judge James Robert Redford allowed ____ to wait a week before beginning his sentence so he could have time to arrange his medical treatment with prison officials.

____ attended Grand Rapids Community College, has a 2-year-old child and worked full time at an automotive repair shop.

He believed he was talking to a 14-year-old and arranging a sexual encounter before he was arrested. ..News Source.. by Jeff Haywood

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OH- County to charge sex offenders to register

This is ridiculous, with so may registrants being FORCED to Tier III where they must register for life, that is a significant amount of money. In addition, due to the registry many registrants are FORCED to move and will then incurr even greater expenses. Currently there are no evidenced based studies to prove the registry has any value besides it sounds good, and that is not a basis for fees like this. Maybe the ACLU or some other legal entity will take up the fight. 5-29-2009 Ohio:

ELYRIA — It’s going to start costing money to be a registered sex offender in Lorain County.

The county commissioners on Thursday approved a resolution that will allow Sheriff Phil Stammitti to charge sex offenders to register with the county — something they’re required by law to do.

It will cost Tier III sex offenders — who are required to register every 90 days for life — $100 per year to register. Tier I and Tier II offenders, who must register annually for a certain number of years, will pay $25.

“It’s not a whole lot, but it’s something to help defray the costs,” Stammitti said.

It’s also a new trend throughout the state, and so far sheriffs in 18 other counties have implemented similar programs, Stammitti said. He expects other sheriffs will follow because of budget problems throughout the state.

Stammitti said he doubts the program will bring in enough money to allow him to hire back any of the 10 full-time deputies who are currently laid off. But it will help with administrative costs — if the money, which is paid into the county’s cash-strapped general fund, comes back his way.

The commissioners slashed $6 million from the county’s budget late last year and have imposed a 0.5 percent sales tax increase that is expected to generate $15 million annually. Although the tax hike went into effect in April, voters must approve it in November in order for it to become permanent.

Commissioners have warned that if that doesn’t happen there will be additional cuts.
The county currently has 699 registered sex offenders, 291 of whom are Tier III offenders.

There are 213 Tier II offenders, 90 Tier I offenders and 105 offenders who are fighting a recent change in how sex offenders must register, Stammitti said.

But all of those offenders won’t end up paying the fee to register, he said.

If an offender makes less than 125 percent of the federal poverty level — $13,537 annually for an offender who is single with no dependents or $27,562 for an offender in a family of four — they won’t be required to pay, Stammitti said.

The fees will go into effect July 1. ..News Source.. by Brad Dicken The Chronicle-Telegram

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May 28, 2009

WI- AG Van Hollen: Dane County Circuit Court upholds constitutionality of Wisconsin's sex offender registration statute

Throughout the nation there are homeless people, homelessness is not something new. One would think lawmakers would have the mindset to address such a status specifically within these laws; it seems due process would require it. However, there is not one word addressing it in Wisconsin statutes. Given the judge said "registration is harder on homeless folks" I take that to mean they have to register more frequently than registrants with a fixed address.

The only difference between a fixed address and a non fixed address, is that police know where a registrant can be contacted. However, with a fixed address the registrant may or may not be there when the police wish to contact them. Apparently with a non fixed address Wisconsin wants those registrants to contact police more frequently. So the real issue is contact with police. What happens with homeless persons when they do contact police, this cannot be ascertained from the laws as written and the laws do not address a homeless situation.

Accordingly I cannot see how the judge could consider the law, as applied to a homeless person, constitutional; what basis, mere technicality of some sort? It appears clear that due process rights have been violated. i.e., the heart of due process is notice and here it is totally lacking on the part of the state.

Finally, it is well recognized that presence on the registry denies registrants all sort of opportunities to support oneself and comply with laws is included in that, is the omission of lawmakers purposeful, the real intent being to make as many registrants as possible INMATES and in Wisconsin subject to civil commitment (Internment a SMART Office Mission goal)?

5-28-2009 Wisconsin:

Yesterday, the Dane County Circuit Court, Judge Sarah O’Brien, presiding, issued a decision upholding the constitutionality of Wisconsin’s sex offender registration statute, Wis. Stat. § 301.45.

The defendant in this matter, Joseph M. Larue, is a registered sex offender. As a registered sex offender, Larue is required to register his home address with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Sex Offender Registration Program. The State charged Larue with failing to keep an accurate address on file. In his defense, Larue claimed that he was homeless at the time of the alleged offense, and that his homeless status made the Sex Offender Registration statute unconstitutional as applied to him.

Judge O’Brien disagreed. She ruled that although the Sex Offender Registration statute may bear harder on homeless sex offenders, that effect is an unintentional consequence of the statute, and one that is backed by an important governmental purpose: protecting the public and helping law enforcement by keeping track of where sex offenders reside within the community.

“This decision validates the crucial importance of monitoring and tracking the whereabouts of sex offenders in the community," said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, whose office participated in the case along with the Dane County District Attorney’s Office. “Although the effect of this decision is limited to this individual case, it serves as a strong affirmation of the Department’s commitment to public safety,” said Van Hollen. ..News Source.. by WI DOJ

Judge: Sex Offender Registry Can Cover Homeless

Law Requires Offenders To Register Their Addresses

A judge said Wisconsin's sex offender registry law does not discriminate against homeless offenders.

Dane County Circuit Court Judge Sarah O'Brien said the law requiring offenders to register their addresses might be harder to follow for the homeless.

But she said that's an unintended consequence and outweighed by the government's interest in letting police and residents know where sex offenders live.

The ruling came in a case involving Joseph Larue, who is charged with failing to report his address to the registry between July and January.

The 43-year-old said he was sleeping outside of a Madison homeless shelter and the law is unconstitutional as applied to him and other homeless offenders. ..Source.. by

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UT- Utah AG Mark Shurtleff slams 'sexting' study

5-28-2009 Utah:

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has attacked a Canadian professor's recent contention that teenagers should not face child pornography charges for electronically sending nude pictures of themselves to others.

Peter Cumming, an associate professor at York University in Toronto, presented a paper to 8,000 researchers in which he maintained that "sexting," or sending nude images through electronic text-type messages, is a fairly innocuous activity and similar to "playing doctor or spin-the-bottle."

Cumming maintains that "sexting" is a safer activity than other sexually related actions involving teens because there is no physical contact. He believes adults often overreact when such images are treated as pornography and said the stigma of labeling a teen as a sex offender for sending such images "defies common sense." Cumming said adults must make a distinction between nudity and child porn.

Shurtleff strongly disagrees.

"Children playing doctor or spin-the-bottle don't risk having millions of people, including child predators, looking at their nude photo from now until the end of time," Shurtleff said. "No matter how the professor spins it, the fact is that minors sending nude photos, images or videos are engaging in the production, manufacture and distribution of child pornography."

Shurtleff's office supervises the Utah Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force that checks into and prosecutes cases of child pornography and sexual exploitation of children on the Internet.

A federal study showed that one out of five teens in the U.S. had taken part in sending such images.

"We should be teaching our youth the consequences of their behavior, rather than excusing it," Shurtleff said. "Countless ICAC cases involve teens being exploited for the gratification or profit of others. Sexting leaves long-lasting scars." ..News Source.. by Linda Thomson, Deseret News

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Sexting just teens exploring their sexuality, child-culture expert says

5-28-2009 Canada:

No charges in Canada over dissemination of suggestive images

Teens who use cellphones to disseminate suggestive messages and images are just doing what teens have always done -- exploring their sexuality -- a researcher in child and youth culture says.

"Sexting" is neither a phenomenon, a craze nor an epidemic, says Peter Cumming, co-ordinator of the Children's Studies Program at York University, who spoke Tuesday at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at Carleton University.

Cumming points to his own near-disgrace in Grade 2 after he was "hauled before the authorities" for trying to look up girls' dresses in 1957.

Despite the uproar in the popular media, no charges have been laid in connection with sexting in Canada, he said. In some countries, though, child pornography laws have been applied like a "sledgehammer."

Take the case of a Grade 8 Texas student who spent a night in juvenile detention after his football coach found a nude picture a fellow student sent him on his cellphone, Cumming said. Or Florida resident Phillip Alpert, a spurned 18-year-old who avenged himself on a 16-year-old former girlfriend by mass e-mailing nude photos of her to her family. Alpert was convicted of transmission of child pornography and faces being labelled a sex offender until he is 43.

"The law is a very blunt instrument," Cumming said.

In New South Wales in Australia, the education ministry has launched an awareness campaign with the tagline "Safe sexting: No such thing."

However, there has only been one survey on the subject, and it was an online poll by the U.S. National Council on Teen Pregnancy and Cosmo Girl magazine, Cumming said.

Even that survey suggests youth do it for fun. More females than males engage in sexting: 20 per cent of females aged 13 to 19 reported sending suggestive messages and images, compared with 18 per cent of the males. The girls were more likely to say they did it because it was fun and flirtatious than because they felt coerced.

Katherine Albury, a researcher at the University of New South Wales, said cellphone images have been used in some alarming cases in Australia, including a gang rape, but the child pornography law has also been used to prosecute teens in cases that are more about indiscretion than criminality.

Last year, for example, a Melbourne-area 16-year-old was charged with producing child pornography after he held a wild party and took cellphone photos of semi-naked girls playing Twister. Australian 16- and 17-year-olds can consent to sex, but they cannot consent to being photographed in sexual situations, Albury said.

"A game of semi-naked Twister is absolutely legal, but they can't agree to being photographed."

Cumming says society is uncomfortable with the idea that teens, especially girls, are sexual beings. Albury agrees.

"I suspect there are adolescent girls who want to experiment with sexual self-representation," she said.

Cumming concedes there can be real-world consequences for sexting. Cyberbullying and sexual harassment are indeed cause for concern.

"However, teenagers have no monopoly on foolish choices and devastating consequences," he said. ..News Source.. by Joanne Laucius, The Ottawa Citizen

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UT- Husband throws more than mere accusations

5-28-2009 Utah:

OGDEN -- Police are investigating a rare case of harassment: fake sex offender registry notices followed by a bucket of feces.

The target was a man in an Ogden apartment complex who had a one-night stand with a married co-worker in November.

The carefully plotted revenge of the husband came first on April 30, when more than 30 notices were tied to doorknobs in the victim's apartment complex accusing him of membership on the state's sex offender registry for rape of a 5-year-old.

"He's not a sex offender," Ogden Police Lt. Loring Draper said. "That wasn't a very good thing to do."

The bright orange fliers bore an exact copy of the apartment complex's logo and included half a dozen names of offenders who are really on the sex offender registry, complete with the distance of their residence from the apartment complex, just as the state's sex offender registry Web site lists them.

"Whoever did this is going to be damn lucky if they don't get sued," Draper said early on in the investigation.

"There is a criminal defamation charge in the state code that makes this a class B misdemeanor, up to six months in jail, for disseminating info known to be false and knowing it will expose the subject to 'hatred, contempt or ridicule,' is how it reads."

Staff at the apartment complex noticed the fliers before the victim did, called police, and were able to take down about 30 of them and notify the victim of what had happened.

The apartment manager that same morning then put out fliers on all the buildings in the complex noting the prior notices were fakes and advising that a police investigation was under way.

A week later, around midnight May 7, the victim found a plastic bucket tossed on his second-floor apartment balcony, spewing what appeared to be human feces. The liquefied dung was also all over his car.

At the time the 29-year-old victim, who is raising a 3-year-old daughter, was understandably angry.

"I'm going to take this as far as I can, prosecution, hire a lawyer, file a lawsuit, whatever I have to do," he said.

Police were called again and a suspect was formally identified as the betrayed husband, who was interviewed.

Two weeks later, with no further incidents, feelings have since abated somewhat on both sides, with a happy ending pending, apparently.

The victim has received an apology in writing. "I can understand why he's upset, I made a mistake with his wife," he said this week.

"I don't need to make things any harder for him. And he's got some young kids, too."

He hopes the case can be closed without official charges filed.

Police wouldn't comment on the eventual outcome of their investigation.

The hand-written apology was delivered by the investigator in the case, Ogden Community Police Officer Tim Shelstead.

Any further contact by the author of the apology with the victim in the case could become a witness-tampering charge, police said.

That's a felony that could put the offender in Utah State Prison, not just the county jail.

"I can't recall a case quite like this," Draper said, citing the elaborate work on the phony sex offender registry notices.

"I've heard of people threatening to do stuff like this, but not actually doing it. I guess it's good that feces is all he threw." ..News Source.. by Tim Gurrister, Standard-Examiner staff

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NY- A call to punish sex offenders using social Web sites

Why even bother with such nonsense when, if the person is on probation the probation officer already prohibits such, and if violated the person would go back to prison. So this law would accomplish nothing that isn't already happening! Policital reasons (votes) are behind this waste of the legislature's time!

5-27-2009 New York:

A Nassau County legislator plans to propose legislation Wednesday that would send sexual predators back to prison if they are caught going on social networking Web sites.

Facebook and MySpace have already agreed to block some 25,000 registered sex offenders listed on a state database, according to state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who drafted the law passed last May that created the database.

"State law puts the onus on the site operators, this puts the onus on the probation department and the probationer," Legis. David Mejias (D-Farmingdale) said Tuesday.

Mejias said he would be joined at a news conference Wednesday by supporters of his proposal, including Nassau County police and probation officials and Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan's Law...... To read the rest of this article:

What is so interesting about this TODAY is, over at Sex Offender Issues Blog a RSO that lived close to the legislator mentioned above actually went to his office to speak to him. Click on the picture below to read what happened:

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The real cultural predators

5-28-2009 National:

Controversy finally canceled Dateline NBC’s popular “To Catch a Predator” series. Although it wasn’t the only program to profit from the sordid world of sexual abuse, it was the first to transform audiences’ strange fascination with sexual crimes into a commodity.

To produce the show, Dateline NBC paid the controversial citizens’ organization, which recruits volunteers to pose as underage Internet users to lure online predators to pursue sexual liaisons. Dateline producers funded the organization, which then staged confrontations between the predators and reporter Chris Hansen, who grilled them before their arrests.

Although Dateline producers marketed the program as an investigation, which reports the news as it currently exists, they were, in fact, helping to produce the news themselves by spearheading antipredator initiatives alongside Perverted-Justice.

There lies one of the show’s significant moral blemishes: A journalist’s responsibility is to report the news, not create it and then cover it.

NBC News executives have staunchly defended the series. It is true that they were ultimately helping to take harmful sexual predators off the street. Yet no matter how noble the work of these journalists might have been, pursuing this end at the expense of sound practices sets a dangerous journalistic precedent and gives their work a certain dishonesty. Perhaps that’s why, despite the show’s graphic element of realness and the detail in which it explored the obscene world of online solicitation, it still had a manufactured and disingenuous feel.

In strangely voyeuristic fashion, NBC’s hidden cameras captured the utter humiliation of men whose lives were being ruined on national television. The show’s genius, purely from a marketing perspective, was that it managed to combine the veneer of a serious investigative report with the manufactured drama of planned confrontations. It’s this combination of artificiality and realism, of specious journalism and reality show candidness that gave the show its popular formula. That’s why Dateline could re-create the same scenario during a four-year period without ever showing something really new. That and, well, people were willing to watch.

After all, as easy as it is to slam NBC for driving up its profit at the expense of honest, respectable journalism, consumers ultimately bought in. Dateline smartly pilloried one of the most universally abhorred and easily condemnable crimes. It seems scapegoating is a clever marketing strategy.

Such marketing strategies are incredibly cynical though. The underlying assumption is that viewers are so desperate for someone on which to blame society’s ills and perversions that they will faithfully watch a television show that does just that.

The sad reality, of course, is that the strategy worked. And when critics finally created a stir about the ethicality of the show, network execs argued that the ends justified the means. Their implication is that ratings come before principled journalism. Cultivate within viewers a sense of moral outrage, the thinking goes, and the ratings will take care of themselves, no matter how artificial the journalism is.

I’m just sorry there’s not more social outrage to go around. ..News Source.. by Christian Hines | IDS

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Horror: Raped Her With Newspapers And Urinated

5-28-2009 Croatia:

She has lived such a profligate life that she will not even notice one rape case, a judge said.

Irrelevant of the Law on the equality of genders and Law on preventing discrimination, Croatia still has a long way to go for sexual stereotypes and discrimination against women to end. This, unfortunately, was proved very graphically, in a cruel way and undoubtedly by the results of verdicts for rape cases of women conducted by the B.a.B.e. (Be Active Be Emancipated) association with the supervision of Ksenija Turkovic of the Zagreb Faculty of Law and Ana Garacic, vice president of the Supreme Court, attorney Ines Bojic and judge Ivana Radovic at the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Project called “Against stereotypes and discrimination against women – sex crimes in Croatia” is about to end and with the help of the Croatian government`s office for the equality of genders, it will result in a media campaign in order to make the public aware of the issue.

Parents of a raped daughter

The project commenced when a minor girl walked into the B.a.B.e. headquarters over a year ago and asked for help because she was raped by several family friends, and her parents forbid her to report them because they wanted to remain on good terms with them.

- If such a thing happened in Zagreb, I cannot imagine what happens to women and girls in smaller areas – Sanja Sarnavka of the B.a.B.e. association was shocked, even though she has been witnessing all sorts of violence against women for 15 years.

This girl attempted suicide, she left home because her parents through she was at fault for what happened.

- We followed her through the tormenting process, because the female judge kept suspecting her. They were sentenced to two and one year in prison tops, and of course, filed an appeal, which means the story is still underway. Reading the verdict analyses, we could not believe how much the judges made an effort to find justification for the perpetrators so that they got more lenient sentences. Assessing whether the rape happened or not, Croatian jurisdiction does not act the way it is supposed to, according to international standards – Sarnavka explained.

She illustrated this with information for the analysis of the practice of the Supreme Court, which considered five verdicts of rape in marriage and 15 rape cases in 2007 and 2008, 36 verdicts at County courts in Zagreb, Rijeka, Vukovar, Karlovac and the Zagreb Municipality Court.

Profligate will not notice a rape case

The most frequent sentence passed for rape was up to a year in prison, while the most severe punishment was eight years in prison (the maximum sentence is 15 years) for a recidivist rapist. In 14 out of 19 cases re-examined by the Supreme Court, evidence was sought that the victim physically resisted, which is not against the law. In thee cases, the moral of the victim was estimated: in one case, the judge remarked: “She has lived such a profligate life that she will not even notice one rape case”.

The victim is questioned during the court process with especial suspicion when it comes to rape in marriage. In one of the verdicts, the judge explains that the woman was getting on a bit and was having problems with menopause, which made her particularly sensitive and this is why she did not realise that it was not rape, but her husband`s fiery approach, although he banged her head against the bed frame, beat her and threatened to kill their son. The first-degree court did not accept her deposition that she was raped, because it believes she was jealous and caused a heated reaction, while the victim`s menopause was also considered. Interestingly enough, an acquittal for two defendants was passed because the victim was questioned several times in several years. This is why discrepancies were present in her deposition, while her psychological and psychiatric evaluation were not accounted at all. The Supreme Court wanted a retrial, therefore the victim will go through the trauma once again.

The court`s sluggishness is relentless in rape cases as well. In one case, the pre-investigative process lasted three years and four months, while the timeframe of the main discussion ranges from one day to 13 years.

- The defendant was acquitted in this case, i.e. sentenced with parole, with the argument that a lot of time has passed, as if the victim was at fault here and not the system which stalled. The appeal process lasted between three months to six years and seven months in the analyses cases. Analysing the Supreme Court rulings, we see that judges have carious prejudice and are prepared to discriminate against the victims. The law is not that bad, but use of force is always sought. It is not accepted if someone made “just threats”, because the victim was scared and blocked or blackmailed – Sarnavka is horrified.

Although the victims were supposed to have been questioned only once, most often, they had to testify four times, one even had to testify nine times and at the same time, the defendant is not removed from the courtroom, but the victim is forced to go through the ordeal before them.

- These were mostly awful stories. Frequently, the perpetrator would urinate in the victim`s mouth, to humiliate her. Only in two cases the victims were protected by giving testimony via video link, while a professional, a psychologist was present in only seven cases, and a psychologist is mandatory when you have a case, for instance, when several men humiliated the victim by urinating on her, made her run before them naked, while they threw objects at her, made her roll in her own urine or even forced to shove newspapers into her vagina. This woman reported the rape, after which he had to reiterate her deposition before the court seven times. This is not all, because the defendants, who claimed the victim was lying, appealed to the verdict. And they claimed that the evidence has not been entirely submitted because it has not been proved that newspaper can be inserted into the vagina – activist Sarnavka is horrified. ..News Source.. by

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FL- State needs to fix the sex offender mess

5-28-2009 Florida:

Thoughtfulness comes too late.

The (sex offender) task force charged by the Broward County Commission with finding a way out of the conundrum created by sex offender residency restrictions has listened to experts, crunched numbers and discussed a dismaying array of unintended consequences.

By its second meeting on Tuesday, none of the task force members were defending the notion that draconian restrictions actually protected children from sex offenders.

They discussed better solutions than laws that forced registered sex offenders into homelessness; that left parole officers with no alternative but to send them to live under a highway bridge; that encouraged sex offenders to cluster in neighborhoods with less restrictive ordinances.


They talked about the documented failure of these laws in other states.

They talked about laws, instead, that would keep sex offenders from loitering around places where children congregate. They talked about re-zoning industrial areas to allow sex offender housing.

They talked about restrictions that fail to distinguish between less dangerous offenders and sexual predators.

They pushed beyond the emotional stuff and dug for what made sense.

It was the kind of thoughtful examination needed to sort out a complicated and volatile problem.

Except, it comes too late. Most of South Florida's cities (and Miami-Dade County) have already passed 2,500-foot restrictions around schools, parks, day care centers, even school bus stops. The County Commission holds sway over less than three square miles of unincorporated Broward.

''That's just a tiny portion of the county,'' lamented Lori Butts, a forensic psychologist on the task force. The task force was wrestling Tuesday with the perverse effect of leaving those unincorporated areas without jacked-up restrictions, creating a kind of refuge for sex offenders driven out of nearby cities.

Nor can the Broward County Commission (unlike the Miami-Dade Commission) pass a superseding ordinance, replacing the 2,500-foot restrictions passed by Broward cities with something sensible, said Task Force Chairwoman Jill Levenson, Lynn University's expert on sex crime policies.


An obvious irony hangs over the Broward sex offender task force, with members from law enforcement, corrections, academia, government and with a victim and a sex offender at the table. Best I can tell, it's the first in the state. Other cities and counties passed a frenzy of residency restrictions without bothering to examine the consequences.

You'd think Miami-Dade, with that festering homeless colony under the Julie Tuttle Causeway, would have appointed a sex offender task force months ago.

It's probably too late. It'll take a state law now to sort out this mess. Lori Butts said her group can't do much more than deliver a ``well thought out, well researched idea we'd like to see happen statewide.''

The state must either fix the mess, Butts said, or pay the tab to keep sex offenders in prison. Forcing potentially dangerous predators into homelessness, she said, ``is just crazy.''

Homeless sex offenders are beyond treatment, she warned. ``If they're living under a bridge, they can't get better. '' ..News Source.. by FRED GRIMM

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May 27, 2009

DC- Where Would Justice Souter’s Replacement Make A Difference? Part I

5-27-2009 Washington DC:

It has widely been assumed that Justice Souter’s retirement, and replacement by an Obama nominee, would have little effect on the outcome of cases in the Supreme Court, on the theory that Souter’s replacement will likely share his views in large part, at least in cases where the Court is closely divided. This post will begin an examination of that presumption, identifying recent cases in which Justice Souter cast a deciding vote in a context where it is at least possible that his likely successor, Judge Sotomayor, might vote differently.

The universe of possible cases in which Souter’s replacement might make a difference to the outcome is necessarily limited to cases decided by 5-4 margins with Justice Souter in the majority. This rules out the fair number of cases with traditional conservative-liberal 5-4 splits, in which Justice Souter was in the dissent - even if his replacement voted more conservatively than he did, that would just widen the margin, not change the result.

That leaves two other kinds of cases. The first are cases in which the liberals (including Justice Souter) attract a fifth vote, and it is possible that Judge Sotomayor would vote with the conservatives when Justice Souter voted with the liberals. One would predicate that - at least on hot-button issues, like abortion and affirmative action - the President would not have nominated Judge Sotomayor unless he were fairly confident that she would vote consistently with Justice Souter’s liberal-leaning record. But there may be less high-profile cases in which that would not hold true, perhaps in the criminal context where Judge Sotomayor has often sided with prosecutors and Justice Souter sometimes has not (although he has been far from a sure vote for either defendants or the Government in criminal cases). We will look for such cases in a subsequent post.

The second category of cases in which the change in Court personnel might make a difference, and the one we will review first, is in the relatively rare, but nonetheless recurrent, cases in which the Court splits 5-4 along non-traditional lines, with Justice Souter in the majority.

One example of such a case was United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), in which a majority of the Court, including Justice Souter, declared the federal sentencing guidelines unconstitutional in part. The majority included liberal Justices Souter, Stevens, and Ginsburg, joined by conservative Justices Scalia and Thomas. Dissenting were Justices Rehnquist, O’Connor, Kennedy, and Breyer. If Judge Sotomayor had been on the bench at the time, and voted differently than Justice Souter, the case would have come out the opposite way.

While it is unlikely that the Court will revisit Booker anytime soon, the case continues to give rise to subsidiary questions. For example, this term in Oregon v. Ice, No. 07-907, the Court divided 5-4 over whether the principles animating Booker require that juries, rather than judges, find the facts necessary to the imposition of consecutive, rather than concurrent sentences of multiple offenses. If she is confirmed, Judge Sotomayor thus may play a critical role in the future development of this line of cases.

Thus far, there have been two “quirky lineup” cases decided this term in which Justice Souter was in the majority.

The first was Arizona v. Gant, in which a bare majority of the Court, including Justice Souter, voted to overturn (or at least narrowly cabin) a prior precedent that allowed the police to search a vehicle incident to the arrest of its driver without any showing of particular suspicion or need. The majority included Justices Stevens, Scalia, Souter, Thomas, and Ginsburg. Justice Breyer agreed that the old case was wrongly decided, but declined to vote to depart from it, on stare decisis grounds. Had Judge Sotomayor been on the Court, and agreed with Justice Breyer’s position or the position of the dissenters, the case would have come out differently.

The second such case was Vaden v. Discover Bank. This case involved a question about federal courts’ jurisdiction to here claims asking to compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act. As a matter of statutory interpretation, Justices Ginsburg, Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, and Thomas, held that the federal court has jurisdiction to compel arbitration only if it would have jurisdiction to resolve the underlying dispute between the parties, looking at the type of claims asserted in the original complaint.

In future posts, we will look beyond the current term for other cases or issues that may be significantly affected by the replacement of Justice Souter. ..News Source.. by Kevin Russell

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DC- USGovernment's Channel on YouTube

5-27-2009 Washington DC:

The official YouTube channel of the U.S. Government, linking you to videos across government. Visit the playlists and other channels for a wide variety of interesting videos! CLICK MAIN PAGE

There is a wealth of information and videos in the links provided on their channel. So enjoy.


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DC- Court Rejects State's Limits on Federal Civil Rights Suits

5-27-2009 Washington DC:

A sharply divided Supreme Court ruled yesterday that New York's efforts to limit prisoners' federal civil rights claims in New York state courts violated the Supremacy Clause.

New York moved to restrict prisoner-rights claims in New York state courts under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 in order to curb what it deemed "frivolous and vexatious" suits against state correctional officers. (Section 1983, a Reconstruction-era statute, authorizes civil suits against state officers for violations of federal constitutional rights in the scope of their employment. Plaintiffs can file in federal courts or in state courts of general jurisdiction.) Thus the state stripped its courts of jurisdiction over Section 1983 claims by prisoners against correction officers. (The state also stripped its courts of jurisdiction under a state statute that, like Section 1983, authorized civil suits against state officers for violations of constitutional rights.) But the state granted jurisdiction over these claims to a state court of limited jurisdiction, the Court of Claims, with a 90-day notice requirement, no entitlement to a jury trial, no right to attorney's fees, and no punitive damages or injunctive relief.

The New York law thus severely restricted prisoner-rights claims in state courts under Section 1983. (Prisoners, of course, could still file a Section 1983 claim in federal court.) Justice Stevens (for himself and Justices Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer) ruled that the New York law violated the Supremacy Clause. Stevens wrote that while "states retain substantial leeway to establish the contours of their judicial systems, they lack authority to nullify a federal right or cause of action they believe is inconsistent with their local policies."

Slip Op. at 6.

Because New York's law "operates more as an immunity-from-damages provision than as a jurisdictional rule," Slip Op. at 7, n. 5, it's not a "neutral state rule regarding the administration of the courts"--an exception to the "presumption of concurrency" between federal and state law under Howlett v. Rose (1990). Slip Op. at 6.

Moreover, the law was not "neutral," even though it divested state courts of jurisdiction over both state and federal law authorizing prisoner constitutional rights suits, because it targeted only a "particular species of suits--those seeking damages relief against correction officers." Slip Op. at 10. Stevens for the Court:

We therefore hold that, having made the decision to create courts of general jurisdiction that regularly sit to entertain analogous suits, New York is not at liberty to shut the courthouse door to federal claims that it considers at odds with its local policy. A State's authority to organize its courts, while considerable, remains subject to the strictures of the Constitution.

Slip Op. at 11.

In dissent, Justice Thomas (for himself, Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Scalia and Alito) argued that the Court's cases didn't support the non-discriminatory requirement in the Court's definition of "neutral" and that states had plenty of authority and room to issue neutral rules of administration for their own courts. (Roberts, Scalia, and Alito joined only a narrow part of Thomas's much broader opinion, part of which focused on the original intent of Article III.)

The case is a victory for federal civil rights claimants in state courts. It means that states that seek to limit access to their courts for federal constitutional rights claimants face a higher bar--one that New York's efforts failed to satisfy--and that states can't try to side-step their way around federal civil rights law by disguising an immunity provision as a jurisdictional rule, even as states retain substantial authority to organize their own courts. ..Source.. by Const Law Professor Blog

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Allocations For 2009 Byrne Justice Assistance Grants Announced

5-27-2009 National:

WASHINGTON, May 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Justice today announced Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 allocations for state and local law enforcement assistance available through the 2009 Omnibus. Funding will be provided through the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program which is administered by the Office of Justice Programs' (OJP) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). JAG allocation amounts for states, territories, and units of local government can be viewed HERE.

The FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act includes more than $2 billion to assist state, local and tribal law enforcement and for other criminal justice activities that prevent and control crime and improve the criminal justice system in the United States. Specifically, $546 million was appropriated for the JAG Program and is in addition to the funding provided by the Recovery Act. Solicitations for applications may be found at: HERE -and- HERE Deadline for states to apply is June 25, 2009 and the local application deadline is July 9, 2009.

The JAG Program supports a variety of efforts such as multijurisdictional drug and gang task forces; equipment needs; crime prevention and domestic violence programs; and courts, corrections, treatment, and justice information sharing initiatives. The procedure for allocating JAG grants is based on a formula of population and crime statistics, in combination with a minimum allocation to ensure that each state and territory receives an appropriate share of funding. Sixty percent of the allocation is awarded directly to a state and 40 percent is set aside for local governments. Funding will be used by states and more than 5,000 local communities to enhance their ability to protect communities and combat crime.

The Office of Justice Programs, headed by Acting Assistant Attorney General Laurie O. Robinson, provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has five component bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime. Additionally, OJP has two program offices: the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART). More information can be found at ..News Source.. by DOJ

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Stepdad cleared of abuse, can see kids again

5-26-2009 Canada:

Estranged wife hired hitman to kill him

A Toronto man -- whose estranged wife hired a hitman to kill him -- was cleared of allegations he molested his stepdaughter.

The 40-year-old man who wept on the witness stand while describing the anguish of being estranged from his children was acquitted by Justice Silja Seppi, who found his evidence "resonates as truth."

The Brampton judge decided the mother was not a credible witness, noting she "manipulates facts" and tried to have the accused killed after their separation.

The judge also found that the child may have been coached to testify against her stepdad.

The judge said the timing of her mother's report to the police about the sexual assaults, "coming as it did in the heat of a high-conflict matrimonial separation," is relevant.

"She was clearly determined to punish the accused by whatever means at her disposal as evidenced by her plan to have him killed," the judge said in the judgment released last week.

"The mother was also the benefactor of his being charged, as he was then removed from the matrimonial home, allowing her to return with the children free of his presence."

The hitman, who admitted hating the accused, testified the girl told him she "would tell the police whatever her mother and father told her to say about the stepfather," Seppi said. His evidence was "firm and convincing."

The hitman said the girl was being used as a pawn in the family court battle and he believed the mom was motivated by her hatred against the accused for their bitter breakup, not for the alleged sexual abuse.

The judge said the girl, now 11, "was also visibly and verbally reluctant when she talked about the stepdad sexually assaulting her" and was rarely specific.

"Her reluctance and lack of detail could be a manifestation of having been coached on what to say, and being at a loss, when asked about matters beyond what had been coached."

The girl corroborated to the judge the videotaped statements she made to police in 2005 and '06 of mostly genital rubbing, which allegedly occurred when she was six to seven years old.

A publication ban prevents naming the girl or anyone who may lead to her being identified.

Last year, the girl's mother, now 31, pleaded guilty to planning the November 2005 hit against the accused molester -- which she later cancelled.

The mother of four was given a stay-at-home sentence of nine months and probation. She was in jail for six weeks in '06 until she made bail. ..News Source.. by SAM PAZZANO, COURTS BUREAU

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CA- Parolees in camp must find another place to stay

5-27-2009 California:

Sex offenders argue their options are limited.

The paroled sex offenders living alongside Black Rascal Creek must move elsewhere by Friday or face arrest, a state corrections official said Monday.

"We're not ignorant in the sense that the problem of the transient population will go away," Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation unit supervisor David Domico said. "We do have an obligation to enforce parole restrictions and the law."

The parolees can't live on private property. They knew the day would come when they'd have to find somewhere else to stay, Domico said.

Homeless advocates argue that a lack of suitable housing means there's no option for them but to go back to prison. The department's move may scatter the population, they add, possibly creating more safety issues because the sex offenders would be living alone without the support of one another.

The number of sex offenders at the encampment west of Merced changes every day. It represents a small percentage of the total homeless population.

Nonetheless, it's one of the thornier social and legal issues facing the city because of the strict restrictions about where the parolees can live.

About a dozen paroled sex offenders are living there now, though there are also homeless who aren't serving out parole. They're not being asked to move because the department doesn't supervise them.

It's up to the landowner to complain about the trespassing. As it stands, there's some confusion about whether the camps fall on land owned by Merced Irrigation District or Union Pacific.

The decision to evict the paroled sex offenders follows a meeting last week with Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Merced, and Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, that was requested by Merced Mayor Ellie Wooten and Merced County Supervisor Mike Nelson.

The local leaders called the state senator's office because the problem falls within state control, Denham spokeswoman Jann Taber said. "(Denham) believes if these paroled sex offenders do anything that violates their parole they should be arrested," she said.

By noon Thursday, the parolees must tell their agents where they plan to live, according to a letter given to them.

If they can't find anywhere to go, Domico explained, they'll be held accountable, which includes going back to prison. "If that's what it takes, that's what it takes," he said.

Their options are limited. Restrictions put on sex offenders, such as living within 2,000 feet from parks and schools, effectively keep them out of the city. The Merced County Rescue Mission, the D Street shelter and local churches are also off-limits.

Jesse, a homeless sex offender, didn't want his last name used because he feared he'd be targeted.

He was convicted on a charge of oral copulation after a stint at a youth corrections complex in 1981. Cornered, he thought he was going to be raped by a couple other juveniles.

He went on the offensive, dropping his pants and yanking the boy's head to his crotch, he recalled, and yelling a verbal command at the 15-year-old.

Another crime -- drunken driving in 2001 -- violated his parole and forced him to register as a sex offender.

His parole is set to end in March. He isn't sure where he'll live next week. There's a spot near Highway 99 that he thinks may work. "We're pretty heartbroken," he said. "We don't know where to go."

Homeless advocates, since learning of the plans, have been busy trying to stop the plan. A call was put into the American Civil Liberties Union for help.

Renee Davenport, who lobbies for local homeless people, said she called top officials with state parole.

"It's just crazy," she said. "They have nowhere to go."

And they've got till Friday to go there. ..News Source.. by SCOTT JASON

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RI- Senate bill would ban sex offenders from venues used by children

5-27-2009 Rhode Island:

CRANSTON — So far there’s been no silver-bullet resolution of the controversy over housing convicted sex offenders at a local homeless shelter, but the public outcry has prompted one response — a possible change in state law.

Sen. Hanna M. Gallo, D-Cranston, has sponsored a bill that would make it a felony for anyone convicted of first- or second-degree child molestation to set foot in a playground, daycare center or school.

If adopted, the bill would amend a law the General Assembly adopted only last year, eliminating language that bars convicted sex offenders from living within 300 feet of a school because the restriction was recently found to be unconstitutional.

The 2008 law was challenged by former Central Falls City Council member Luis Gil, who pleaded guilty in February to two counts of third-degree sexual assault. Gil argued, among other things, that the restriction amounted to an unconstitutional taking of his property because he would have been forced to move. Superior Court Judge Joseph F. Rodgers Jr. agreed, writing in his decision that the residency restriction amounts to a taking “without just and adequate compensation.”

Gallo said her bill is not a solution to the issue of sex offenders staying at Harrington Hall — a homeless shelter that is about a quarter-mile from a playground and about a half-mile from the nearest school. But she said it at least sets limits that do not exist in the current law and should act as a deterrent.

“It will make it so that they really don’t want to because they will end up back in prison,” she said.

The bill calls for up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000, if a convicted first- or second-degree child molester is found guilty of setting foot on one of the protected properties.

Word that sex offenders are staying at Harrington Hall, on Howard Avenue, spread last month as the police began notifying nearby residents and schools. But just how long sex offenders have been staying there remains something of a mystery.

Dennis B. Langley, president and CEO of the Urban League of Rhode Island, which runs the state-owned shelter, said in a recent interview that sex offenders have been there for years. But others, including City Council member Michelle Bergin-Andrews, have said it is their understanding that the number has gone up, from perhaps 2 or 3 to about 10. The police, meanwhile, decided recently that notifications were needed when offenders are staying at a homeless shelter, said Maj. Ronald T. Blackmar, but he was not sure what prompted the change.

Langley refused to answer follow-up questions about the shelter or another on Prairie Avenue, in Providence, which is also run by the Urban League and also known to house sex offenders.

A.T. Wall, director of the state Department of Corrections, said the Urban League is hired to provide “discharge services” for “high-risk” inmates who are being released, which means the agency deals with sex offenders.

“In most cases, they succeed in placing the sex offender with family, with a friend, or in some other arrangement,” he said. But when those options do not exist, the Urban League “may inform the offender that the option of a homeless shelter exists.”

While Langley refused to answer questions about Harrington Hall, he did stress that Urban League shelters are not the only ones that house sex offenders. Noreen Shawcross, head of the state office of Housing and Community Development, said homeless shelters, in fact, do not bar sex offenders, though appropriate precautions are taken at shelters that serve families with children.

“We don’t as a system exclude people, because we’re there to be the safety net,” she said. “So you will not find any wording anywhere that says we do not take sex offenders.”

Still, the presence of sex offenders at Harrington Hall has sparked an outcry, one that Jim Ryczek, director of the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless, said needs to be addressed through better community reentry programs for convicted offenders that provide treatment that minimizes the likelihood of repeat offenses.

The coalition has called on Governor Carcieri to address the matter through his Re-Entry Council.

“This issue is being painted as a homeless issue, but it’s not a homeless issue,” Ryczek said. “It’s a criminal justice reentry issue.”

Gallo’s bill is pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee. She has also sponsored a bill that requires the state to reimburse cities and towns for the cost of carrying out the state-required notifications when a sex offender lives in the area. That one is also pending before the Judiciary Committee. ..News Source.. by Randal Edgar, Journal Staff Writer

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NY- A call to punish sex offenders using social Web sites

Why even bother with such nonsense when, if the person is on probation the probation officer already prohibits such, and if violated the person would go back to prison. So this law would accomplish nothing that isn't already happening! Policital reasons (votes) are behind this wate of the legislature's time!

5-27-2009 New York:

A Nassau County legislator plans to propose legislation Wednesday that would send sexual predators back to prison if they are caught going on social networking Web sites.

Facebook and MySpace have already agreed to block some 25,000 registered sex offenders listed on a state database, according to state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who drafted the law passed last May that created the database.

"State law puts the onus on the site operators, this puts the onus on the probation department and the probationer," Legis. David Mejias (D-Farmingdale) said Tuesday.

Mejias said he would be joined at a news conference Wednesday by supporters of his proposal, including Nassau County police and probation officials and Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan's Law.

"My bill would make it a violation of probation if they are caught going on these sites," Mejias said. He said violators would be sent back to prison to complete their original prison sentence. ..News Source.. by

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AL- State Representative Calls for Sex Offender Law Change

5-27-2009 Alabama:

One state representative is calling for a change in how Alabama handles sex offender cases.

Last week, Governor Bob Riley signed two new measures into law. One concerns child predators, the other calls for a valid address for sex offenders.

Representative Patricia Todd says she supports measures that crack down on predators, but adds the laws include some offenses that can hardly be considered predatory.

“For example, I have two constituents who were arrested for having sex in a public place and they're now classified as sex offenders. I think the state needs to have a task force to really look at what our current sex offender laws are and maybe have two classifications of sex offenders,” Todd said. ..News Source.. by CBS 42 News

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May 26, 2009

Prof: Kids 'sexting' isn't new behavior

5-26-2009 Global:

OTTAWA, May 26 (UPI) -- A Canadian social sciences professor says the uproar over youth sending sexually charged text messages, or "sexting," is overblown.

Speaking at the international Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences this week at Ottawa's Carleton University, Dr. Peter Cumming, an associate professor at York University and coordinator of its Children's Studies Program, said youth are doing what they've done all along using new technology.

Cumming said several cases in the United States have made the news when teenagers sent semi-nude pictures of themselves or others over cell phones.

"It would be very unlikely to see dozens of news stories announcing that some children we caught playing spin-the-bottle, or doctor, or strip poker," he said. "Yet many of the cases brought forward have been on the same level of innocence and experience as those activities."

He said the uproar about sexting is just the modern version of the outrage in the 1950s about the way Elvis Presley moved provocatively on stage.

"The big bad wolf right now is the Internet and cell phones with cameras," he said. "What I would say to anyone is to take a deep breath, think in context, and use common sense." ..News Source.. by

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Bill in Congress - S-1047

5-26-2009 National:

`School And Family Education about the Internet Act of 2009' or the `SAFE Internet Act'

Sponsor: Sen Menendez, Robert [NJ]
Introduced 5/14/2009 Bill: S-1047

Se. Mendendez's Press Release on this bill: "KEEPING CHILDREN AND TEENS SAFE ONLINE: SEN. MENENDEZ, REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ PROPOSE NATIONAL GRANT PROGRAM FOR INTERNET AND WIRELESS SAFETY EDUCATION," and this news article: Internet-safety bill takes aim at sexting Press releases are the hype, the bill tells us the truth!

The STATED intent of the bill is: A bill to promote Internet safety education and cybercrime prevention initiatives, and for other purposes. .

My Summary:
In essence this bill provides grants to various state or local educational agencies, or nonprofit organizations, or a consortium of elementary schools or secondary schools for the purpose of developing "Internet Safety Education Programs." Grants are prioritized to agencies that work with community based groups or social service organizations and a few others. My only concern is that all of these folks may not have the "Internet expertise" necessary given technology advancing as quickly as it is. The ultimate Internet Safety program needs to be based on more than sound-bites. Other than those concerns there are three "Findings" that are important to discuss. see below.

My Analysis:

Important Findings to Highlight:

(8) In a national poll on children's health, parents ranked Internet safety fifth among their top health concerns for children. Educating parents about Internet safety is key to empowering them to understand actual risks and to take an active role in protecting their children.

(9) The problem of online harassment or cyberbullying of youth by other youths is widespread, and results in a range of children's experiences from minor irritation to severe emotional harm. The Bureau of Justice Statistics has found that online harassment tends to begin in third and fourth grade, peaks in seventh and eighth grade, and continues in reduced amounts throughout high school, college, and professional schools.

(10) Young people face greater risks in the form of electronic aggression and sexual solicitation from other young people known to them than from strangers.

(11) Gang members increasingly are using the Internet as a recruitment tool to entice would-be members and as an intimidation tool to threaten rival gangs. Gang members use the Internet in particular to promote their message.

(12) More research is needed in several areas of youth online safety, including--

(A) minor-to-minor solicitation to use the Internet in an inappropriate manner;

(B) the creation of problematic content by youths;

(C) lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth and youth with disabilities who may be particularly vulnerable;

(D) the interplay between socioeconomic class and risk factors;

(E) the role that pervasive digital image and video capture devices play in harassment of youth by other youth and youth production of problematic content;

(F) the intersection of different mobile and Internet-based technologies; and

(G) the online activities of registered sex offenders.

In each of the highlighted portions, excepting the very last one, the discussion is about "youth interacting with youth," then he throws in "registered sex offenders." While I cannot say why he does that, it appears he is implying that registered sex offenders are likely the cause of online sex crimes involving youth. If that is his intent then he has not analyzed the facts of online sex crimes. Such crimes very rarely involve a RSO, instead, someone who has never before been convicted of a sex offense.

In Menendez's Press release he mentions "Cynthia Logan, whose daughter took her own life after "sexting" incident," but fails to mention another incident just as important. The case of Lori Drew who -under a false persona- used the Internet to bully a neighbor girl ( Megan Meier ) into committing suicide. Suicides and people who prey under false persona's need to be addressed as well.

I would SUPPORT this bill with my above concerns. Contact lawmaker, with your views, by clicking on his/her name above, as well as your own folks in Congress.

Folks can contact the Committee Members working on this bill, by simply clicking on the bill number above, going to the "Congressional Actions" section and find the name of the committee. Once you have the committee name, contact the correct committee here: House Committees or Senate Committees


Note: To see all bills concerning sex offenders or their families currently in Congress simply click here. At the present time I do not review sex offender bills concerning Immigration or Appropriations, they get very involved and are time consuming.

Note: Full bill text WILL NOT be included in this blog because as time goes on bills are amended by Congressional Committees and also on the floor of either house, and it is too easy to confuse folks who may not realize that. Further, links to the bill in Congress will be provided so folks can always see the latest version of the bill.

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