Truths about Sex Crimes, Children and Halloween
With Halloween over, Fear Mongering Police lose focus on RSOs!
Proof they will lie about RSOs.

July 23, 2009

FL- Get rid of sex offender shantytown

7-23-2009 Florida:

OUR OPINION: The state must take lead to close shantytown under bridge

It has taken three years for Miami-Dade County officials to focus on shutting down the shantytown of sex offenders forced to live under the Julia Tuttle Causeway.

Three years of pass-the-buck finger-pointing, two lawsuits and embarrassing national and international media attention to this state-and-local conspiracy of inaction don't add up to leadership.

It's Umoja Village redux. Remember the illegal shantytown that burned to the ground in 2007 after homeless advocates took over a vacant lot in Miami? City officials tolerated this atrocity by blaming previous court rulings that they said tied their hands on moving out the homeless. Yet the health and safety of residents demanded action.

Tackle local ordinances

The causeway shantytown debacle should have taken three days -- tops -- to get state and local officials working together to find places for these felons, most of them on probation for sex crimes, to live without endangering children. This would mean tackling local ordinances throughout South Florida that render these felons homeless because they cannot live within 2,500 feet of a school, park and in some instances bus stops.

In three years the homeless camp swelled from a handful of mostly male felons to as many as 100. Good intentions to protect children turned into a public-safety and health crisis, as Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle astutely points out. Felons are using the bay as a toilet, rotted wood as housing, and state probation officers continue to steer them there as if a bridge were a legal address.

There's plenty of blame to go around: The legislature passed a 1,000-foot-buffer zone but then allowed cities and counties to go beyond that -- with no distinction between true sexual predators and offenders convicted for lesser crimes, such as public exposure. The state Department of Corrections has passed the buck to the local governments, which in turn blame the state for not finding a home for these felons.

Lack of leadership all around

And Gov. Charlie Crist? Why hasn't he shown leadership instead of insisting it's a local problem?

One ``solution'' under consideration -- warehousing the men at an old jail near the Golden Glades interchange -- simply moves the problem to another location without addressing the unworkability of the 2,500-foot buffer or the state's role in allowing it.

The ACLU is right to press Miami-Dade County's broad buffer in court. The city of Miami followed with its own lawsuit against the state this month. But all of these legal efforts could disappear -- and save taxpayers money -- if state and local officials would simply deal with a bad law and fix it. ..Opinion.. Of Miami Hearld

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FL- Nowhere to hide for architects of offenders' colony

7-23-2009 Florida:


They're no longer so invisible. So many of the banished now reside under the Julia Tuttle Causeway that their camp spills out from beneath the bridge like the contents of a closet jammed too full.

Tourists, driving across Biscayne Bay, can now add a bayside sex offender colony to postcard memories of a Miami vacation. Local citizens, on their way to work, can see the wretched consequences of ill-considered city and county ordinances.

Of course, I'd rather pretend that it was the hard work of South Florida journalists who caused this sudden flurry of concern among county and city officials. But the local media has been reporting on grotesque conditions under the Tuttle for more than two years. Nobody in power seemed to mind all that much, not as long as the sex offenders consigned to the bridge were kept out of sight, their tents and shacks and campers down under the bridge.

NOW A SPECTACLE

But the Tuttle population grew to 50, 60, 70, 80, maybe more. The concrete shelves under the bridge could no longer contain this weird government creation -- men (and one woman) forced into homelessness and made to live in a public health hazard by official fiat.

Some government entity had obviously made a mistake. The evidence was in plain sight.

Suddenly, the city of Miami has decided to sue the state, including the Department of Transportation, claiming its agencies ``have created, allowed and/or condoned the maintenance of a public nuisance.''

At their meeting last month, county commissioners (and favorite lobbyist Ron Book) complained angrily that the state Department of Corrections was dumping sex offenders under the bridge. But Book was talking this week about opening a temporary shelter.

SHIRKING BLAME

None of the local pols blamed the fools who actually created the problem -- that would be themselves. Both the county and the city (along with most municipalities in South Florida) expanded the state's 1,000-feet residency restriction around schools, kindergartens, day-care centers, parks, playgrounds, even school bus stops to a 2,500-foot radius.

The Florida Department of Corrections warned that the expanded zones eliminated all practical housing options, forced sex offenders into transient conditions and complicated efforts to track and treat offenders.

But no Miami-Dade politician would grapple in public with an unsavory problem of their own making. Not when it concerned the treatment of sex offenders.

Secretly, they were counting on a certain outfit to save them from their conundrum. And the ACLU had indeed ridden to their rescue.

CALCULATED AVOIDANCE

State Sen. Dave Aronberg, whose tough and sensible bill aimed at fixing this problem statewide found little support in the last two sessions of the Legislature, told me months ago that state and local political leaders were calculating that it would be safer, politically, to just allow the courts to undo these ordinances.

When Miami-Dade was hit with a lawsuit July 9, the mayor and the county commissioners should have whipped out their checkbooks and made out hefty contributions to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Let the ACLU and a Miami-Dade circuit court judge take the heat and toss the restrictions. And they can erase that ever-more-visible reminder of political ineptitude marring the view from the Tuttle Causeway. ..Source.. by FRED GRIMM

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MS- Miss. Appeals Court throws out banishment requirement for sex offender

7-23-2009 Mississippi:

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The state Court of Appeals has thrown out a lower court order that a McComb man be banished from Mississippi once his completes a 25-year sentence for a sex crime conviction.

Richard A. Simoneaux (SIM'-uh-noh) pleaded guilty in 2004 in Pike County to spying on and assaulting nursing home residents. Simoneaux pleaded guilty to attempted burglary, two counts voyeurism, sexual battery, sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult and burglary of a dwelling.

The trial judge sentenced Simoneaux to 30 years without parole with five years suspended. The judge also ordered Simoneaux to leave Mississippi once he is released from prison.

The Appeals Court rejected Simoneaux claims his pleas were not voluntary, that his attorney could have done a better job but agreed banishment was too harsh. ..Source.. by Channel3 News

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FL- Miami to find housing for sex felons living under bridge

If true, but I doubt it, then the only reason Miami would do so is INCOME from tourist trade is waning.

7-23-2009 Florida:

Miami officials and homeless advocates are finding housing for more than 70 registered sex offenders who have been living in squalor under a bridge because of restrictions designed to protect children, The Miami Herald reports.

Eight camp dwellers will be moved to an apartment building in the days ahead, while officials continue to hunt for housing for the rest, officials said. The Herald reports that one possible site is the old North Dade Detention Center, which has been vacant since it closed two years ago.

The encampment of tents and ramshackle huts has attracted local scorn and lawsuits, and brought bad publicity. A city ordinance requires sex offenders to live at least 2,500 feet from places where children gather, which makes finding housing difficult for many.

The Associated Press spoke with one squatter who isn't inclined to leave, however.

"I'm not in prison anymore," said Reg, a 44-year-old offender who served six years behind bars for molesting a minor. He declined to give his last name for fear he may lose his job as a cook. "I'm a taxpayer, I'm on probation and I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I don't want to be told to live somewhere."

On Deadline wrote about the first sex offenders who took up residence under the Julia Tuttle Causeway back in April 2007. Last year the state ordered the men to leave, but that was blocked by a lawsuit.

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued to overturn the ordinance, arguing it is more restrictive than the 1,000-foot limit set by the state. Also, Miami sued the state, saying the camp is too close to a small island park accessible only by boat. ..Source..

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July 22, 2009

Ron Klein (FL) Bill to Protect Missing Children Passes House

Not sure phone calls are better than pictures. i.e., maybe have folks turn on TV to certain channel..

7-22-2009 National:

Legislation expands South Florida non-profit into national program

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation authored by Congressman Ron Klein (FL-22) to help find children in the critical moments after they are reported missing. The bill, the A Child Is Missing Alert and Recovery Center Act (H.R. 1933) expands the widely-praised South Florida non-profit A Child Is Missing into a national program. The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support by a final vote of 417-5.

“This legislation is essential to every family around the county,” Klein said. “Every parent’s worst nightmare is to find that their child is missing, and today’s legislation can put their minds at ease by utilizing the latest technology to quickly find missing children and avoid potential tragedy.”

When a child or senior citizen is reported missing, A Child Is Missing utilizes the latest technology to place 1,000 emergency telephone calls every 60 seconds to residents and businesses in the area where the person was last seen. The program works in concert with the AMBER Alert, but is activated more quickly. Time is a critical factor, as 74 percent of children who are kidnapped and murdered are slain within three hours of their abduction. Klein’s legislation has the support of law enforcement agencies nationwide.

“A Child is Missing fills a critical gap in time in the most dangerous cases, and can be the difference between whether a child lives or dies,” Klein said. “There is nothing more important than protecting our children, and the founder of A Child is Missing, Sherry Friedlander, deserves our highest praise for turning her Ft. Lauderdale-based nonprofit into a blessing for parents nationwide. A Child is Missing has safely recovered kids from Ohio to Alaska, and with the passage of today’s legislation, we can serve even more communities.”

Congressman Louie Gohmert, a former Texas state judge and the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, is the lead Republican co-sponsor of the bipartisan A Child Is Missing Alert and Recovery Center Act. ..Source.. by Rep Ron Klein Press Release

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UK- Liars who cry rape strike at the heart of our justice system

7-22-2009 United Kingdom:

Rape. It’s a hugely emotive issue, so let’s get the basic stuff out of the way first.

Rape and other sexual assaults are, without doubt, the second most heinous crimes on our statute book, ranking just behind those offences which result in actual death but well ahead of all the other assaults that can be perpetrated against an individual.

At the core of the justice system, which exists to punish those who commit crimes, is the expectation that victims will tell the truth about the things which have happened to them.

Lying subverts the whole process and, arguably, to lie in court is to commit a far worse offence than the one committed against you. Quite rightly, the courts are quick to punish those who lie to them – as Jonathan Aitken and Jeffrey Archer found out to their cost.

All of this makes it even more remarkable that anyone would want to falsely claim that they have been raped, yet such cases appear to be on the increase. The conviction of Jennifer Day is just one of several cases this year - yet each case is apparently no deterrent to others.

One of the reasons for this may be the comparatively light sentences handed out to the accusers. A man convicted falsely of rape faces a sentence of life imprisonment, whereas the false accuser’s jail term is unlikely to exceed the two years given to Ms Day. That is a heck of a discrepancy, whichever way you look at it.

The obvious answer is to make the punishment for lying about the offence akin to the punishment which the wrongfully accused would have faced if convicted of it.

This would bring lying into line with the law on criminal attempts; attempting to commit a crime and failing attracts exactly the same penalty as committing the crime in virtually all situations.

Would Ms Day – or any other woman convicted of the offence in the past – have done something quite so foolish if she had known it would lead to a potential life sentence?

As Judge Ian Graham rightly pointed out to Ms Day, lying about rape makes it that much more difficult for other rape victims to have their cases taken seriously and that much more difficult for prosecutors to secure convictions in even the most deserving of cases.

What he could have gone on to say is that liars strike at the very heart of our justice system. Judges now need proper powers to sentence them. ..Source.. by Richard O'hagan

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FL- The Sex Offender Bridge Probably Isn't Going to Be Shown on 'Miami Social'

7-22-2009 Florida:

Bravo TV has a new show out this season called Miami Social which follows thirty-something year olds living, working and partying in Miami Beach. The show is full of shallow people we wouldn't want to be friends with in real life and yet there's not one totally outrageous diva character that would keep us tuning in again. Not even the regular appearance of the Gansevoort South which serves as the group's de facto Peach Pit After Dark has us interested in the slightest.

Instead we find the Sex Offender Bridge in Miami far more fascinating. It turns out Miami-Dade County has a rule that bans all sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of any school, playground, public park or even bus stops. Since there options are so restricted, sex offenders have been told by the state's corrections department to park their stuff under the Julia Tuttle Causeway, a bridge that connects downtown Miami to Miami Beach.

NPR's All Things Considered reports:

There are half a dozen wooden shacks, some with cooking and toilet facilities. It's a village of tents, campers and cars — also a dock with a few small rowboats. Shared generators provide power for a CD player — also to recharge cell phones and electronic monitoring units required for sex offenders on supervised release.

It's gone so far as the corrections departments have actually given offenders upon release from prison driver's licenses that say "Under the Julia Tuttle Causeway." The encampments have been hotly debated amongst local and state officials but the Miami Herald reports there could be a deal struck that would relocate the 70 or so offenders into proper housing.

Maybe if that happens the entire cast of Miami Social can relocate under the bridge in a sort of localized "Survivor" type of show. Now that would make for some interesting TV! ..Source.. by Jaunted.com



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FL- Miami-Dade officials, advocates working to relocate causeway homeless sex offenders

Some people consider "lip service" working, I don't, if they really wanted to solve the issue they would change the distance on their residency ordinance. Given they refuse to even consider same means they are not trying to protect anyone, instead are using the ordinance as a method of keeping RSOs out of the areas of their tourist trade; income.

7-22-2009 Florida:

Facing growing criticism about 70 registered sex offenders living in squalid conditions under a Julia Tuttle Causeway bridge, Miami-Dade officials and homeless advocates say they are working to relocate them to housing.

In the first step, eight camp dwellers will be moved to a private apartment building in South Miami-Dade in coming days, and officials are looking for a bigger place for the remaining people to be housed, said Ronald Book, chairman of Miami-Dade's Homeless Trust, who is leading the effort.

"Everybody is moving in a positive direction, but we're not where we need to be,'' Book said of the drive toward a permanent solution for the encampment, the target of mounting criticism at home and unflattering portrayals around the world.

Book declined to discuss possible locations, but parties familiar with the search said one venue under consideration is the old North Dade Detention Center, a county jail near the Golden Glades interchange and Miami Gardens that has been vacant since it closed in September 2007. The county has tried unsuccessfully to sell the building.

Some of those living under the bridge said late Tuesday night that they were skeptical of Book's latest plan.

Homer Barkley, 45, said he would be worried if he lived under the same roof as other sex offenders. "I have done my time for what they said I did. Now I want the chance to lead a normal life,'' Barkley said.

The Julia Tuttle encampment primarily houses registered sex offenders, mostly men, who cannot find residences elsewhere. That's because a host of county and city laws prohibit them from living within 2,500 feet of where children congregate - including schools, parks and day-care facilities.

Many of the felons are on state probation, and state Department of Corrections officers, unable to find suitable housing, steered them to the site as one of the few legal addresses in Miami-Dade County.

"It's a public safety issue,'' said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle, who met with Book and others this week to discuss solutions. "They are living in inhumane conditions. It's not safe for them - and it's not safe for others.''

Book said his efforts have focused on finding long-term living arrangements that would not run afoul of laws. The ideal place, he said, would be an apartment building or former hotel that is in foreclosure.

Still, many thorny issues must be ironed out. Who would supervise the residents? Who would pay for liability insurance, and their rent? "I can't have these people living on the taxpayer's nickel for the long-term,'' Book said.

As the camp's ranks have swelled over the past three years or more, so has the flood of unflattering attention - and lawsuits.

Debate over the sex offender encampment was chronicled Tuesday afternoon in a national broadcast of National Public Radio's All Things Considered.

On July 9, the ACLU sued Miami-Dade County, saying its 2,500-foot ordinance should be struck down because it cannot trump the less-stringent 1,000-foot limit mandated by state law. The result, the legal group contends: a shantytown that increases, rather than helps diminish, the danger to Miamians.

Other critics agree, saying the overlapping laws actually push sex offenders underground and make it harder for officials to track them because few have stable addresses.

On July 10, Miami sued the state, saying the camp is too close to Picnic Island No. 4, an island park in Biscayne Bay accessible only by boat.

Gov. Charlie Crist's office, in a letter to Miami City Manager Pete Hernandez before the lawsuit was filed, said that "local officials are charged with exploring lawful housing options'' for offenders under state corrections supervision.

While the efforts to relocate the camp dwellers is laudable, the overly strict local laws will promote creation of encampments elsewhere, predicted Maria Kayanan, associate legal director for Miami's ACLU.

"Nobody is addressing the root problem - the local governments are interfering with state statute,'' she said. "Everybody is pointing fingers at each other and trying to put a Band-Aid on the issue.'' ..Source.. by DAVID OVALLE, Miami Herald

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OH- Sex offender law ruled unconstitutional Ruling made in appeals court Monday; Supreme Court decision awaited

7-22-2009 Ohio:

An opinion by the 11th District Court of Appeals in Warren may rekindle the debate over whether Ohio’s Adam Walsh Act sex offender law is constitutional.

It may be a brief debate, since the Ohio Supreme Court is expected to render its decision on the constitutionality sometime this fall.

A three-judge panel of the district court, which covers Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Portage and Trumbull, handed down the opinion Monday in a Lake County case in which a convicted sex offender is contesting his reclassification as a Tier III offender.

In a 2-1 decision, the court found the new law that resulted in his reclassification unconstitutional.

Under his original 2002 sentence, Jason Ettenger was required to register annually at the sheriff’s department wherever he lived for 10 years.

Under Ohio’s Adam Walsh Act, Ettenger was reclassified and required to register personally with the sheriff’s office once every 90 days for life. The new law stiffened the penalties for failure to register as a sex offender as well as re-classifying nearly every offender convicted in the past 10 years.

Classification of offenders is now determined by the crime they were convicted of. No evidence is weighed on whether the defendant is likely to re-offend.

When the new law took effect Jan. 1, 2008, hundreds of cases were filed across Ohio, challenging the reclassifications as double jeopardy since they already had been sentenced and classified.

In Portage County, more than 80 cases were headed for reclassification when local judges issued a blanket stay “pending a final decision by the Ohio Supreme Court or the federal district court.”

Judges Timothy P. Cannon and Diane V. Grendell found the new law unconstitutional, but for different reasons. They reversed the Lake County court’s decision and sent the case back for reconsideration.

Judge Mary Jane Trapp, dissented from the judgment and other points by Cannon and Grendell, but concurred on their analysis of the separation between legislative and judicial powers, and due process issues brought up in the appeal.

..Source.. by Mike Sever

Record-Courier staff writer

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UK- False rape claim woman is jailed

7-22-2009 United Kingdom:

A MUM who lied about being raped has been jailed for two years.

On Tuesday Jennifer Day, 34, was led sobbing from the dock after she was sentenced for perverting the course of justice at Basildon Crown Court.

Day, of Williamson Way, Corringham, made a tearful 999 call on January 8, 2008, claiming she had been raped at home by an ex-boyfriend.

The boyfriend, Andrew Saxby, was arrested at work and held in custody for around ten hours before police became suspicious about inconsistencies in Day’s story.

They confronted Day, who had met Mr Saxby on a dating website, and admitted she had made up the claim.

The court heard the investigation into the false allegation wasted 270 hours of police time and cost £4,000.

In mitigation Rebecca Lee told the court the allegation was a cry for help.

Referring to the 999 call, she said: “Whatever had happened she was clearly confused and clearly in a state of considerable distress.

“It was certainly not a pre-meditated attempt to make such an allegation. What happened related to a cry for help.”

Mr Saxby had ended his relationship with Day the night before she made the allegation.

The court heard that psychiatric reports showed Day had abandonment issues since her mother left the family home when she was five-years-old.

Ms Lee added: “She is desperately sorry for what happened to Andrew Saxby.”

The court also heard that Day would not be able to care for her four-year-old daughter and would lose her home if she was sent to prison.

But sentencing, Judge Ian Graham told Day he had no option but to impose an immediate custodial sentence.

He said: “The police interview, in which you purported to give an account of being raped, was an extraordinary histrionic performance, a performance that involved telling deliberate untruths.

“You have added to the difficulties of genuine victims of rape in coming forward and being believed.” ..Source.. by Gazette

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MN- Do background checks unfairly weed out some volunteers?

7-22-2009 Minnesota:

Due to stricter enforcement of a policy of criminal background checks in Minneapolis parks, some longtime volunteers and staffers have recently been let go. While proponents argue that it’s a necessary move to safeguard children against potentially dangerous people, others say the “systemic bias of the criminal justice system” excludes too many minorities, particularly black men.

Wanda Richardson, who frequents Powderhorn Park, said it has recently lost a couple dedicated workers as a result of background check failures, which the center’s director declined to comment on. At least one person had served the parks for many years, she said. Another recreation center on the city’s North Side, Farview, was hit especially hard, she said, when three baseball coaches failed the background check midway through the season. (Sara Ackmann, recreation district supervisor for the parks, confirmed that, adding replacements were found to complete the season.)

In a letter that Richardson co-wrote with another resident, Linda Vest Klein, and read aloud at the July 1 park board meeting, she said that while everyone agrees that “careful and thorough” background checks are important, “in light of the systemic racial bias in our criminal justice system, how we enforce a policy based solely on data from that system needs careful evaluation.”

Richardson explained that it’s not an attack on what the parks are doing. Rather, she advocates for a process that would more clearly delineate how to cope with certain gray areas. The way she sees, “Some accommodations have to be made. Our neighborhood is racially diverse … Removing non-white people has a detrimental effect,” said Richardson. “It’s not just philosophical. It’s a real-life issue. We have to find a way to include people. We all make mistakes.”

Park board commissioner Scott Vreeland said the subject is complex. “We have a policy that is more protective than what some people would like,” he said. “There may be instances where folks are well-liked. That’s where there’s difficulty. Whether someone is a nice person isn’t something that factors easily in terms of an effective policy,” he said.

Not unique to the parks

The policy, which requires all workers to be screened, has been around for years and isn’t unique to the park system, according to parks general manager Mike Schmidt. “I presuppose that if you look at the form, you’ll see if you don’t qualify. Then you can make decisions about whether you want to continue through the process.”

Regarding the volunteers and staffers who didn’t make the latest cut, he said there had been a “missing check and balance.” While he couldn’t say offhand how many people who had previously been employed were affected, “It’s not in the hundreds or even the 10s,” he said. “I dealt with two that came through my office.”

Park Police Chief Bradley Johnson said the process has been “tightened up this year” in conjunction with other park activities. Previously, the background check results were between the police and the hiring manager. Now, the human resources department is in the loop. Some people got by in the past because either the hiring manager ignored it or results didn’t come in before employees were brought on, he explained. More recently, “The risk manager took a look at the process and made some changes,” he said. “We want to protect people’s safety and protect the parks from liability.”

Although he didn’t have a figure for how many previous park workers have been denied lately, he said that from April through June, the park police conducted 1,200 background checks of people who were new or seasonal. Of those, 46 people failed the check. Six went through the steps of proving they had been rehabilitated and were reinstated, he said.

Crimes that would be grounds for denial are listed in Minnesota state statute 299.c60, including the following: child abuse, manslaughter, felony level assault or any assault crime committed against a minor, kidnapping, arson, criminal sexual conduct, and prostitution-related crimes.

Additionally, any crimes that relate to someone’s potential job duties are disqualifying. For example, someone who has stolen money can’t work in finance. To be clear, “We’re talking about convictions, not arrests,” he said. “I think there are a lot of misconceptions out there, that we’re denying a lot more people than we are.”

According to information that was gathered by the Council on Crime and Justice, the guidelines dictate that the park police consider whether it’s been more than a year since a misdemeanor conviction; more than five years since gross misdemeanor conviction and more than 10 years since felony conviction. Criminal convictions that don’t rise to the level of background check crimes are looked at on a case-by-case basis. Evidence of rehabilitation or non-compliance with court orders is taken into account. “If someone has a string of misdemeanor arrests and convictions, that is a sign that something is wrong,” according to council information.

How race comes into play

Minnesota has one of the highest racial disparities in the criminal justice system in the country, with African Americans comprising roughly 35 percent of prison inmates but only about 4.5 percent of the general population, according to Mark Haase, director of public policy and advocacy for the Council on Crime and Justice. Haase said via email that, for this reason, an EEOC ruling found that irrational barriers for people with criminal records violate part of the Civil Rights Act.

While certain kinds of offenders should be blocked from working with children or vulnerable adults, “I am afraid the Park Police may be eliminating many more individuals,” he said, adding that he doesn’t have enough information about it. “We need men of color, the most likely group to have a record, as well as others who may have had criminal pasts, to be mentors and leaders in order to help stop the cycle of incarceration.”

He recommended that those who are rejected be put through a civilian review process, while the race and disqualifying crimes of those denied employment or volunteer positions should be publicized. “I think the Park Police intent is good, but there needs to be more transparency and some protections put in place for the reasons stated previously. They are of course going to weed out anyone they have concerns about, but many of those people are needed and can be appropriate, not to mention allowing people to volunteer helps them to ‘rehabilitate,’” he said.

Calculating risk

John Wilson said on the Powderhorn Park Forum that a scoring system should be in place “where the length of time since a crime occurred and the security implications of that crime are factored into a mathematical model of the risk that person poses. My guess is that insurance actuaries would be able to come up with a reasonably valid algorithm after studying the issue.”

He continued that “if there was a risk score that predicted that person was a 2 percent risk of hurting someone and a 1 percent risk of theft or property damage, the company HR rep would have something tangible to go on as to whether or not the risk level was acceptable.”

Michael Thompson, who conducts risk assessments for violence and sexual offense recidivism, said that Wilson’s idea would require establishing certain norms while also taking into account the implications of the crime and the job. Even with those things in place, many other challenges remain. For example, what about “offenses that occurred in another state? Another country? Where does one get the official version of criminal history (the “rap sheet”)? What about the guy who claims he didn’t do it? What about charges that are rolled into a plea? What about felonies pled down to gross misdemeanors?”

A point system would need to be followed, without deviating based on personal hunches. Companies should be able to perform dynamic assessment based on their criteria, he said. Luckily, he added, “There are several organizations that are slowly but surely getting the word out that giving a felon an employment chance is not a risky venture.”

Additional community perspectives

Someone who posted anonymously on the Reporter’s Notebook page for this story said it’s about risk management and liability. “Imagine some volunteer working with the Park and Rec does something unspeakable to a child or vulnerable adult – it’s then discovered that this is part of a pattern – they’ve done this before, in a similar situation and were caught.”

“What do the parents do in our sue-happy society (after filing criminal charges against the perp)? Find a lawyer and sue the Park and Rec Dept and/or City (whoever they can hold liable) for allowing the individual to volunteer with them, despite the fact they have a procedure in place to filter out risky individuals. It’s due diligence to figure out what these high risk positions are and what the appropriate requirements should be.”

The commenter cited an example is from a Star Tribune story about a music teacher hired despite a past sexual assault conviction: “Nobody with the district ran a criminal check on Gregory B. Washington before he was hired. District policy requires contractors to complete background checks on their employees and the district reserves the right to review individual employees records.”

Another person, writing under the name of heldt2, wrote on the Reporter’s Notebook page: “Should we wait until someone with a criminal background does something unspeakable before we decide to play by the rules? If you decide to engage in criminal behavior, there is a price to pay. You have just put yourself into a high risk category. Citizens do not want to take that risk. I am shocked that there was not more strict enforcement before now.”

Kristina Keifer, who lives in St. Paul, commented on Facebook that it comes down to common sense. “I would advocate background checks on all employees and volunteers (not only for parks but any job), but some practical guidelines need to be established-minor theft or juvenile offenses are not necessarily appropriate for exclusion, pedophiles or violent crimes should absolutely be excluded!”

Minneapolis resident Fredda Scoby said via email that, “Background checks shouldn’t be prohibitively expensive for volunteers. We are required to have background checks done on all our ESL teachers (they’re teaching adults) and the cost is only $5 a piece through Minneapolis Public Schools. In my opinion, background checks should be required at the least for those working with anyone vulnerable (youth or elders).” ..Source.. by Anna Pratt , TC Daily Planet

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FL- Why are sexual-related incidents up at Orlando's water parks?

None of these offenses are by former offenders!

7-22-2009 Florida:

With the most recent report of a sexual-related incident at a local water park, theme park officials, tourism experts and law enforcement are stumped by a troubling trend for theme-park-friendly Central Florida.

No one can explain why there's an increase in the number of reported incidents, but mental-health professionals have speculated about the effects of economic problems as well as the freedom both offenders and their victims have in theme parks.

Deputies said the latest incident happened Thursday at Walt Disney World's Typhoon Lagoon.

Although investigators are charging Amazon.com employee David Eugene Thomas with molesting a 13-year-old boy, they think Thomas victimized more than six children.

An Orange County judge denied Thomas bond on Friday. He is being held at the Orange County Jail.

His arrest marks the sixth sexual-related incident at an Orlando-area water park since March.

Psychologists stress that people who commit sexual offenses against children are largely behaving irrationally because of a mental illness.

"The great majority of people who are exposing themselves or touching kids, they know that it's wrong," said William Samek, a psychologist and director of the Florida Sexual Abuse Treatment Program who works with both offenders and victims.

Water parks present a particular temptation to the offenders because children often are fairly free of close parental supervision while wearing little clothing, Samek added.

The economy could be a factor, too.

"It does occur to me that with 10 percent unemployment, a lot of adults have unstructured free time," said Alan Grieco, a psychologist with Psychological Affiliates in Winter Park who also has worked with both offenders and victims. "With losing your job comes consequences to self esteem, and that stress could lead people [with the condition] to act out."

Nick Gollattscheck of Aquatica said Orange County sheriff's deputies spent Tuesday and Wednesday at the water park reviewing security procedures.

Joshua Fuentes, of Kissimmee, faces charges of battery and lewd and lascivious molestation after three girls, ages, 12, 13 and 14, accused him of touching them at Aquatica on June 27.

Theme parks are working in cooperation with authorities to prevent these crimes and quickly arrest the perpetrators, deputies said.

"The parks have been 100 percent behind law enforcement," said Sgt. Rich Mankewich of the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

Spokeswomen for Wild Waters near Ocala and Adventure Island in Tampa said those parks have not had any sexual-related incidents.

The Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau also has yet to receive any calls about the issues, said Brian Martin, a bureau spokesman. ..Source.. by Anika Myers Palm and Walter Pacheco Sentinel Staff Writer

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'Redemption' in an Era of Widespread Criminal Background Checks

7-22-2009 National:

One of the stated goals in President Barack Obama's crime and law enforcement agenda is to break down employment barriers for people who have a prior criminal record, but who have stayed clean of further involvement with the criminal justice system. To understand how many people are affected by some of these barriers, we only need look at the widespread computerization of criminal history records in the United States.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, more than 80 percent of U.S. employers perform criminal background checks on prospective employees.[1] Add two additional factors to that equation — advances in information technology and growing concerns about employer liability — and we can begin to understand how complicated the issue of employing ex-offenders has become.

The numbers leave no doubt that we have reached a broad penetration of criminal history records into the fabric of our society:


* In 2006, nearly 81 million criminal records were on file in the states, 74 million of which were in automated databases.[2]

* Another 14 million arrests are recorded every year.[3]

What does this mean for employers? And what does it mean for ex-offenders who need a job?

Consider a 40-year-old male who was convicted of burglary when he was 18 years old and has committed no further crimes. Every time he applies for a new job, he tells the potential employer that he was convicted of a felony; even if he does not state this up-front, the employer is likely to do a criminal background check. In either case, he probably will not get the job because many employers are unwilling to hire an ex-offender.[4]

This situation prompted us to ask the question: Is it possible to determine empirically when it is no longer necessary for an employer to be concerned about a criminal offense in a prospective employee's past?

Most people would probably agree that there should be some point in time after which ex-offenders should not be handicapped in finding employment. The question is when, precisely, should this occur? In the case of our hypothetical 40-year-old, when should a prospective employer no longer consider a burglary that was committed more than two decades earlier if the job applicant has stayed clean since then?

Currently, employers have no empirical guidance on when it might be considered safe to overlook a past criminal record when hiring an ex-offender for a particular job. Employers generally pick an arbitrary number of years for when the relevance of a criminal record should expire: five or 10 years, for example. It goes without saying that different types of employers will have different sensitivities about the potential employee's criminal record. Those serving vulnerable populations like children and the elderly would be particularly sensitive to a prior record involving violence, while a bank hiring a teller would be particularly sensitive to property crimes. A hiring crew for a construction company might be far less sensitive to most prior records.

The point is that determining when a potential employee's criminal record may no longer be relevant has, to date, been an arbitrary exercise. Although considerable research has been done on how to forecast possible criminal behavior, no empirical basis has been found for deciding when a person's record is stale enough for an employer to consider it no longer useful or relevant.[5]

Until now.

The National Institute of Justice funded our study to "actuarially" estimate a point in time when an individual with a criminal record is at no greater risk of committing another crime than other individuals of the same age. Although our research is ongoing — and our findings, discussed in this article, are preliminary — we have created a model for providing empirical evidence on when an ex-offender has been clean long enough to be considered, for employment purposes, "redeemed." An in-depth discussion of our findings and research methods appears in the May 2009 issue of Criminology.[6]

What We Have Known for Years

It is well known — and widely accepted by criminologists and practitioners alike — that recidivism declines steadily with time clean.[7] Most detected recidivism occurs within three years of an arrest and almost certainly within five years.[8] But is it possible to identify when the risk of recidivism has declined sufficiently to be considered irrelevant in hiring decisions?

In our study, we obtained the criminal history records of 88,000 individuals who were arrested for the first time in New York state in 1980.[9] First, we determined whether they had committed any other crime(s) during the ensuing 25 years or if they had stayed clean. Then we compared this data against two populations:

1. People in the general population who were the same age.[10]
2. People of the same age who had never been arrested.

Our goal was to determine empirically at what point in time the risk of recidivism for people in our study group was no greater than the risk for our two comparison populations.[11] To do this, we plotted data curves to determine when the risk of re-arrest for individuals in our study group:

* Dropped below the risk of arrest for same-aged people in the general population.

* Approached the risk of arrest for people who had never been arrested.


We believe that our analysis provides the criminal justice community with the first scientific method for estimating how long is "long enough" for someone with a prior record to remain arrest-free before he or she should be considered "redeemed" by a prospective employer.

Determining the Hazard Rate

Our analysis was based on a statistical concept called the "hazard rate." The hazard rate is the probability, over time, that someone who has stayed clean will be arrested. For a person who has been arrested in the past, the hazard rate declines the longer he stays clean.

To determine the hazard rate for our study group, we looked at two factors:

* Age at the time of the 1980 (first) arrest.
* Type of crime.

We then compared these hazard rates, as they declined over time, to people of the same age in the general population. For these data, we used the arrest rate (the age-crime curve) from the Uniform Crime Reports, maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In the above figure, we show the hazard rate for 18-year-olds when they were arrested for a first offense of one of three crimes: robbery, burglary and aggravated assault. The figure shows that for robbery, the hazard rate declined to the same arrest rate for the general population of sameaged individuals at age 25.7, or 7.7 years after the 1980 robbery arrest. After that point, the probability that individuals would commit another crime was less than the probability of other 26-year-olds in the general population.

The figure also shows our analysis for burglary and aggravated assault. The hazard rates of people who committed burglary at age 18 declined to the same as the general population somewhat earlier: 3.8 years post-arrest at age 21.8. For aggravated assault, the hazard rates of our study group and the general population of same-aged individuals occurred 4.3 years post-arrest or at age 22.3.

Individuals who were arrested for robbery at age 18 had to stay clean longer than those who were arrested for burglary or aggravated assault to reach the same arrest rate as same-aged people in the general population.

We also looked at the effect of the arrestee's age at the time of his first arrest in 1980. We examined the hazard rates for three ages of people in our study group — 16, 18 and 20 years old — who were arrested for robbery in 1980. Based on the criminal histories of these people, we found that individuals who were first arrested when they were 18 years old had the same arrest rate 7.7 years later as a same-aged individual in the general population. In contrast, those whose first arrest occurred at age 16 crossed the curve for a same-aged individual in the general population 8.5 years later, and individuals who were first arrested at age 20 crossed their curve 4.4 years after their first arrest.

Thus, our analysis showed that the younger an offender was when he committed robbery, the longer he had to stay clean to reach the same arrest rate as people his same age in the general population. We also performed the same analysis for the first offenses of burglary and aggravated assault and found similar results.

Comparing Hazard Rates to the Never-Arrested

As noted earlier, our study also compared hazard rates to people who had never been arrested. Needless to say, the hazard rates for people in our study group (because they had been arrested) would never be the same as the hazard rate for people who had never been arrested. But it is reasonable to expect that an ex-offender's hazard rate gets close enough — the longer he stays clean — for an employer performing a criminal background check to determine acceptability for a particular position.

The higher an employer's risk tolerance — that is, the closer a prospective employer would have to get to the hazard rate of the never-arrested — the longer an ex-offender would have to stay clean.

How Robust Were Our Results?

Our preliminary results are limited to people who were arrested in New York state in 1980. Our next step will be to determine if the data hold true at other times and in other places. For example, we want to see whether we get similar results if we draw upon a sample of people who were arrested for the first time in 1985 and in 1990 because these years were quite different from 1980 in a number of important ways:

* 1980 was a peak crime year due to demographic shifts of baby boomers aging out of the high-crime ages.

* 1985 saw a "trough in crime rates" before young people were recruited to sell crack as older crack sellers were sent to prison.

* 1990 was near a peak before the beginning of the crime drop in the 1990s.[12]

If we find that the hazard rates for exoffenders in these years are similar to what we have found in our preliminary analysis, the usefulness of our hazard-rate analysis method would be strengthened.

Note that our analysis looked at any crime as the marker for when a second arrest occurs; we would also like to examine the relative risk of a specific second crime because, as we stated earlier, different types of employers have different risk tolerances for particular crimes.

We also want to test our risk-analysis model with data from different states. Although it is possible that variations in local populations and arrest practices may affect the results, we anticipate that they would be reasonably close.

Another aspect of future research will explore the possibility that some of the individuals in our study group who looked clean in New York state might have been arrested in another state. We will access FBI records to determine if an individual with no further arrests in New York may have been arrested in New Jersey or Florida, for example.

Public Policy Implications

We believe that our preliminary findings and ongoing research offer an opportunity to think about when an ex-offender might be "redeemed" for employment purposes — that is, when his or her criminal record empirically may be shown to be irrelevant as a factor in a hiring decision.

People performing criminal background checks would find it valuable to know when an ex-offender has been clean long enough that he presents the same risk as other people in the general population. Employers also might be more likely to use this type of analysis if there were state statutes protecting them against due diligence liability claims when they adhered to reasonable risk-analysis findings.

We also believe that our findings could play an important role in policy discussions about the maintenance of and access to criminal record databases. Considerable policy control rests with those who oversee state criminal history repositories. These decision-makers could establish policies that prevent repositories from distributing records that are determined by hazard-rate analysis to be no longer relevant. Or repositories could seal or even expunge old records if they are deemed, based on such an analysis, to be no longer relevant to assessing future risk. Such policy decisions would inevitably vary from state to state and be driven by other relevant considerations, but policymakers may find valuable guidance in our research findings and methods for considering such decisions.

For example, officials who manage repositories of criminal records could inform prospective employers (and others who access criminal history records) when such records are "stale" — that is, when a recidivism risk analysis demonstrates that a prior arrest or conviction is no longer meaningfully relevant. Pardon boards, too, could use this type of analysis to decide when to grant a pardon to an applicant.

Where to From Here?

At a meeting of the American Society of Criminology in the early 1970s, one of the panelists argued against computerization — that was just then beginning — of criminal history records. Computers, he maintained, didn't understand the Judeo-Christian concept of "redemption." Another panelist challenged him, stating that paper records certainly did not understand that concept ... but at least computers could be "taught."

Our research is looking at what we might "teach" those computers.

As we said at the beginning of this article, our research is ongoing and needs much further robustness testing to ensure that findings apply more universally, beyond our study group of first-time 1980 arrestees in New York. Nonetheless, we believe that these findings represent the first empirical evidence on "redemption times" and how these could affect policies aimed at enhancing employment opportunities for ex-offenders.

NIJ Journal No. 263, June 2009
NCJ 226872
..Source.. by Alfred Blumstein and Kiminori Nakamura

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MA- Bill bars students’ sex with teachers

The evidence used to support this type of legislation is the evidence needed to show the fallacy of residency laws.

7-22-2009 Massachusetts:

When teachers or caregivers engage in the unthinkable — sexual relationships with their young students or clients — getting a conviction can be difficult because of the consent defense, says state Rep. Geraldo Alicea, D-Charlton.

Many times these cases don’t even make their way to a jury trial once consent is mentioned, as long as the person giving consent is at least 16 years old, Mr. Alicea said.

The probation officer-turned legislator wants that to change.

Earlier this year Mr. Alicea filed House Bill 1246, “An Act for Public Protection of our Youth.”

It is a re-file of a bill from last year, when it wasn’t heard until the end of the session. This time it was heard within six months of filing — with the support of a district attorney and police chief — all positive signs, Mr. Alicea said.

Cases working their way though courts in the state include those of a former teacher in Holyoke, a former substitute teacher at Quaboag Regional Middle School who lives in Sturbridge, and a former elementary school teacher in Abington accused of having sex with a teenager.

Five years ago Amber S. Jennings, a former English teacher at Shepherd Hill Regional High School in Dudley, was accused of having sex with a student.

Dudley Police Chief Steven J. Wojnar, who supports the bill, testified about that case and the challenges of legal vagaries before the House Judiciary Committee last week.

Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. submitted a letter on behalf of Mr. Alicea’s bill and mentioned supportive comments during the same hearing.

“Teachers are in a position of authority over students,” Timothy J. Connolly, Mr. Early’s spokesman, said. “To have inappropriate contact with pupils or students is crossing a very clear line. Mr. Early feels as though this law is needed for the few teachers out there who may think crossing this line isn’t a big deal.”

Most teachers in the state live by a high moral standard and conduct themselves in classrooms and schools in a professional way, said Mr. Connolly, a sentiment echoed by Chief Wojnar.

“But it’s for that small group of teachers over the years who have crossed this line that this law would be appropriate,” Mr. Connolly said.

On Sept. 26, 2005, Ms. Jennings pleaded guilty to a single count of disseminating harmful materials to a minor. Under a plea agreement, Ms. Jennings was sentenced to two years of supervised probation. She surrendered her teaching license and was ordered to stay away from the then teenager.

The charge was related to her having a sexual relationship from November 2003 to June 2004 with a 16-year-old male student.

“When we went forward with the case and investigation,” said Chief Wojnar, after testifying to a legislative body for the first time in his career, “we found out the laws covering this were rather vague. I think everybody knew the situation was wrong and illegal.”

Ms. Jennings admitted in Worcester Superior Court to e-mailing the teenager nude pictures of herself. The judge did not order her to register as a sex offender because she did not have a criminal record.

The chief said state Rep. Paul J. Kujawski, D-Webster, and Sen. Richard T. Moore, D-Uxbridge, have worked on proposals similar to Mr. Alicea’s.

“Certainly anybody who has teenage children or soon-to-be-teenage children would have the same feeling: They wouldn’t want to have that trust betrayed, and there should be some kind of a law in place to really prevent it,” Chief Wojnar said.

Regarding consent, the chief said, “The biggest thing, as far as the law would go with these types of situations, is people have some kind of direct control over these young people. Are they using influence over them? You could relate it to sexual harassment in the workplace.”

Mr. Alicea’s bill also covers caregivers, social workers, or people who drive people who have mental disabilities.

Some of the mentally challenged people are adults. But Mr. Alicea argues that, “Realistically someone who has a mental disability may be like 45 (years old), but mentally they may have” the discretion of a young person.

“We’re trying to protect a group of people who fall through the cracks. People with mental disabilities are one of them,” he said.

This indeed happens sometimes, but there is a fine line, said Cynthia L. Howard, director of services for the Southern Worcester County ARC, also called the Center of Hope.

“Some people absolutely have the right to a consensual relationship. Every case needs to be looked at case by case,” she said.

The center will likely write a letter of support for the bill, but Mrs. Howard said she wants to carefully review it.

Even high school students who repeated a grade, and are as old as 19, shouldn’t be able to consent to sexual relationships with teachers, Mr. Alicea said.

“It’s time to tell the worker, ‘You cannot legally have a relationship with that person, even if that person is 19. That person is in your care,’ ” he said.

Asked what a person should be charged with in such cases, he said, “Rape.”

But he said a jury is likely to have a harder time finding beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant is guilty of committing that offense. “They turn it around,” the representative said. “ ‘We had a relationship. We became more than friends. It’s consensual. It’s not rape.’ ”

In his 10 years working in the district attorney’s office, he said he worked on about 12 such cases. If a person was convicted, it was for a far lesser charge, such as with Ms. Jennings, a case with which he was not involved.

If the bill becomes law, the next step would be amending the crime of rape to say something to the effect that supervisory personnel of young people can be charged with rape, he said. But the bill has several hurdles to clear.

“The advantage of having it heard within six months of it being filed is it gives it the time it needs to go through the process to be heard and cleaned up if it needs any kind of amendments or clarifications,” he said.

Whether it will pass is hard to predict, with more than 6,000 bills filed every session.

There have been questions as to how the bill relates to higher education institutions. The bill would have “nothing to do with professors,” because college students are “old enough to make those decisions,” Mr. Alicea said, adding he has written Senate Judiciary Chairman Cynthia Creem, D-Newton, and House Chairman Eugene L. Flaherty, D-Boston, to make that point clear.

Also, a relationship, say, between a teacher and a 23-year-old taking classes at a vocational school would be permissible, and the bill would have protections to that effect.

Similar legislation has passed regarding a correction officer not being allowed to have a relationship with an inmate, Mr. Alicea noted. ..Source.. by Brian Lee TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF

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FL- Bridge Still Home For Miami Sex Offenders

7-22-2009 Florida:

State judges in Miami are being asked to mediate a dispute that involves the city, the state and a growing colony of sex offenders.

The colony is an encampment of tents and shacks under a Miami bridge that began when corrections officers began ordering offenders there a few years ago. The shantytown was created in response to local laws that restrict where sex offenders can live.

Now, local and state officials are trading charges about who's to blame for creating the situation and who should fix it.

Village Of Tents

It started more than two years ago — a few tents pitched under a bridge on Miami's Julia Tuttle Causeway. Today, it's a well-established shantytown. More than 80 people make their home under the bridge.

There are half a dozen wooden shacks, some with cooking and toilet facilities. It's a village of tents, campers and cars — also a dock with a few small rowboats. Shared generators provide power for a CD player — also to recharge cell phones and electronic monitoring units required for sex offenders on supervised release.

Homer Barclay came to live here a year and a half ago. Barclay was convicted of attempted sexual battery in 1992. Last year, after a parole violation, he says probation officers gave him just one option.

"They told me that I had to live up under the Julia Tuttle Causeway," says Barclay. "I said, 'How come I have to live under the Julia Tuttle Causeway?' They said, 'If you want to go home, this is where you got to go.' "

Barclay has a driver's license issued to him at the time of his release. His address is listed as Julia Tuttle Causeway.

Like many of the sex offenders on supervised release, Barclay is required to be here between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. During the day, many of the felons leave for jobs or to visit their families.

On this day, Barclay was fishing.

"I'm not working because it's difficult to find a job. I went everywhere looking for a job. Woo, it's rough," Barclay says. "Right now, I'm hungry, you know what I'm saying? I need a bath. I'm fishing, as you see, to try to survive. We just want to do what they want us to do. We just want our life back. That's all we want."

Whose Problem?

Miami is one of several communities in South Florida that, along with Miami-Dade County, adopted ordinances banning sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of schools, parks, bus stops and anywhere that children congregate.

State corrections officials say that made it impossible for many sex offenders to go back home because their old residences were within the restricted area. Even homeless shelters are off-limits. Corrections officials settled on the state-owned land under the bridge as their only recourse.

Until recently, the sex offender colony was mostly out of sight to motorists passing overhead on the interstate that links Miami Beach to the mainland. But the growing population has now spread out from under the bridge to the grassy areas alongside the road.

That's gotten the attention of Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff.

"This is probably not the message the city of Miami and, I suspect, certainly Miami Beach [wants] to send to its visitors that, 'Welcome to our neighborhood. We put all our predators right out here,' " Sarnoff said.

In a letter to the city of Miami last month, a state lawyer said the corrections department is just following local laws and that the growing colony of sex offenders is, in effect, Miami's problem.

That letter infuriated Sarnoff.

"Well, it's not our problem. The problem is the state's problem," Sarnoff says. "The state is the one that is placing them under the bridge. The state is the one that is issuing them identification cards that actually say 'Under the Julia Tuttle Causeway Bridge.' "

Sarnoff says he and others want the state to convene a task force to look for a solution to the problem. So far, they've seen no results.

Out of frustration, Miami sued the state of Florida saying it had created a public nuisance that was a threat to health and safety. The city also maintains that the shantytown on the causeway violates the sex offender ordinance because it's within 2,500 feet of an island in Biscayne Bay that's designated as a city park.

Gretl Plessinger with Florida's Department of Corrections disagrees.

While she says the corrections department shares the concerns about the growing population under the bridge, Plessinger says she doesn't believe the nearby island presents them with a legal problem requiring them to relocate the sex offenders.

"It's my belief that that is just a barrier island that occasionally boaters will go to to picnic," she says. "There's no playground equipment. It's not someplace where we would consider children to be congregating."

A Single Standard

Recently, the ACLU also entered the melee with a lawsuit that targets Miami-Dade County and its 2,500-foot residency restriction.

Maria Kayanan of the ACLU says Miami-Dade's law should be pre-empted by a state ordinance that sets a 1,000-foot residency restriction on sex offenders. That would expand greatly the places in Miami where they could live. It would also create a single, statewide standard.

"There seems to be a growing recognition, not just in South Florida but throughout the state and across the country, that state legislative schemes are the better way to go rather than a patchwork of local ordinances," Kayanan says.

All parties seem to agree that there should be a single statewide residency standard for sex offenders, but the question is how to get there. With state and local officials at an impasse, the future of the growing colony of sex offenders living under the bridge would now appear to rest with Florida's courts.



..Source.. by

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MS- AG: No new sex offender laws

The "arc of protection" is a ruse because no one has yet shown that crimes are committed at all in that protected area even before these "arc of protection" laws. The concept of "arc of protection" laws is a myth, one used by lawmakers to get votes and support but provides no real protection for anyone; a political myth, a tool used for ulterior purposes!

7-22-2009 Mississippi:

DESOTO COUNTY - Efforts to widen the "arc of protection" against sexual predators in DeSoto County have been hamstrung by state law.

In April, DeSoto County officials sought a State Attorney General's opinion as to whether they can expand the arc of protection that buffers schools and daycare centers from convicted sexual predators.

Attorney Jody Neyman, acting in the capacity of county attorney said Monday that the recently received State Attorney General's Opinion states that while the board does have the ability to adopt its own sexual offender laws separate and distinct from the State of Mississippi, they cannot supercede or go beyond state law.

"Under Mississippi's Constitution, a local government cannot pass legislation that exceeds state law," Neyman said.

District 4 Supervisor Allen Latimer, a high school history teacher, wanted to expand that arc of protection for schools and other places where children congregate from 1,500 feet to 2,500 feet.

"I was really disappointed that we didn't have any more authority than we have," Latimer said. "We should be able to enact anything for the safety of our people. Local government is what this country is based upon."

Latimer said under the Constitution, cities and local governments should have the power to expand protection.

"Right now, sex offenders can't live within 1,500 feet of a school - we can't expand that," Latimer said. "If we could have just extended it another 1,000 feet. That's at least three football fields."

Even though the effort failed, Latimer thanked the board for taking the steps necessary to expand protection.

"I appreciate the support in trying to protect the citizens of DeSoto County, but it seems like to me that our hands are tied," Latimer said.

Under state law, convicted sex offenders must register with the DeSoto County Sheriff's Department every 90 days."

There are currently 101 registered sex offenders living in DeSoto County. ..Source.. by ROBERT LEE LONG, Community Editor

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FL- Deal could see Julia Tuttle Causeway sex offenders rehoused

The very last sentence of this article says it all; finger pointing and no one is addressing the root problem. The state also is doing nothing but pointing fingers rather than resolving the problem and they have the power to do so through the legislature. If other states have solved the problem (New Jersey for one, declaring local ordinances unconstitutional, using a state residency law instead) there is no reason Florida cannot do the same. Unless they want to further punish offenders as this result does.

7-22-2009 Florida:

After three years, county officials are accelerating efforts to shut down and move a colony of convicted sex offenders living under a Miami causeway.

Facing growing criticism over 70 registered sex offenders living in squalid conditions under a Julia Tuttle Causeway bridge, Miami-Dade officials and homeless advocates say they are working to relocate them to housing.

In the first step, eight camp dwellers will be moved to a private apartment building in South Miami-Dade in coming days, and officials are looking for a bigger place for the remaining people to be housed, said Ronald Book, chairman of Miami-Dade's Homeless Trust, who is leading the effort.

``Everybody is moving in a positive direction, but we're not where we need to be,'' Book said of the drive toward a permanent solution for the encampment, the target of mounting criticism at home and unflattering portrayals across the world.

Book declined to discuss possible locations, but parties familiar with the search said one venue under consideration is the old North Dade Detention Center, a county jail near the Golden Glades interchange and Miami Gardens that has been vacant since it closed in September 2007. The county has tried unsuccessfully to sell the building.

Some of those living under the bridge said late Tuesday night that they were skeptical of Book's latest plan.

Homer Barkley, 45, said he would be worried if he lived under the same roof as other sex offenders. ``I have done my time for what they said I did. Now I want the chance to lead a normal life,'' Barkley said.

The Julia Tuttle encampment primarily houses registered sex offenders, mostly men, who cannot find residences elsewhere. That's because a host of county and city laws prohibit them from living within 2,500 feet of where children congregate -- including schools, parks and day care facilities.

Many of the felons are on state probation, and state Department of Corrections officers, unable to find suitable housing, steered them to the site as one of the few legal addresses in Miami-Dade County.

``It's a public safety issue,'' said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle, who met with Book and others this week to discuss solutions. ``They are living in inhumane conditions. It's not safe for them -- and it's not safe for others.''

Book said his efforts have focused on finding long-term living arrangements that would not run afoul of laws. The ideal place, he said, would be an apartment building or former hotel that is in foreclosure.

Still, many thorny issues must be ironed out. Who would supervise the residents? Who would pay for liability insurance, and their rent? ``I can't have these people living on the taxpayer's nickel for the long-term,'' Book said.

As the camp's ranks have swelled over the past three years or so, so has the flood of unflattering attention -- and lawsuits.

Debate over the sex offender encampment was chronicled Tuesday afternoon in a national broadcast of NPR's All Things Considered.

On July 9, the ACLU sued Miami-Dade County, saying its 2,500-foot ordinance should be struck down because it cannot trump the less-stringent 1,000-foot limit mandated by state law. The result, the legal group contends: a shantytown that increases, rather than helps diminish, the danger to Miamians.

Other critics agree, saying the overlapping laws actually push sex offenders underground and make it harder for officials to track them because few have stable addresses.

On July 10, Miami sued the state, saying the camp is too close to Picnic Island No. 4, an island park in Biscayne Bay accessible only by boat.

Gov. Charlie Crist's office, in a letter to Miami City Manager Pete Hernandez before the lawsuit was filed, said that ``local officials are charged with exploring lawful housing options'' for offenders under state corrections supervision.

While the efforts to relocate the camp dwellers is laudable, the overly strict local laws will promote creation of encampments elsewhere, predicted Maria Kayanan, associate legal director for Miami's ACLU.

``Nobody is addressing the root problem -- the local governments are interfering with state statute,'' she said. ``Everybody is pointing fingers at each other and trying to put a Band-Aid on the issue.'' ..Source.. by DAVID OVALLE

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July 21, 2009

NJ- New tack in fight against teen 'sexting

7-21-2009 New Jersey:

Juveniles who send sexually explicit photos on their cellular phones should be educated, not prosecuted, a state lawmaker argues.

Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt (D-Camden) has introduced three bills to curb the practice, called "sexting." The package is the latest in a wave of state legislation designed to help young users of the internet and electronic devices to avoid sex predators, bullies, stalkers and other dangerous contacts.

"Young people need to understand the ramifications of their actions, but they shouldn't necessarily be treated as criminals," Lampitt, said yesterday in a news release. "We need to create a path that placed education and forgiveness before arrest and prosecution."

One in five teenagers have sent nude or semi-nude electronic images of themselves to friends or posted on a website, according to a 2008 survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. One-third of teenage boys and one-quarter of teenage girls said they've viewed explicit images whose sender wanted them to remain private.

In March, a Clifton teenager was charged with distribution of child pornography because she posted nude photos for her boyfriend on MySpace. In April, Glen Rock police told youths to delete copies of a student's nude photo distributed by cellular phone.

Lampitt's proposals would involve:

3 Education: Juveniles, with county prosecutors' approval, would enroll in a program to learn about potential criminal penalties and the possible toll on their futures, including social stigma at school and impact on career choice. Those who complete the course would avoid a trial.

3 Warning parents: Information on the dangers of sexting would be sent to parents of students in grades 6 through 12.

3 Warning cell phone users: Sellers of cellular phones and service contracts would have to include information about sexually explicit transmittals.

Sexting and related behavior also is receiving attention at the federal level. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) is a sponsor of a bill to devote $175 million to fund internet safety programs for youth.

New Jersey has been confronting electronic safety problems for months, even as the technology has evolved.

Attorney General Anne Milgram's office developed the Report Abuse! icon, which encourages social networking site visitors to flag potentially dangerous posts and to point out bullying or other unwanted attention.

In March, the Assembly passed eight bills designed to protect youngsters and other users.

One measure would reduce the anonymity of Megan's Law registrants. Another would criminalize the transmission of sexually suggestive text and images. A third would compel computer technicians to report discoveries of child pornography. The rest involve stalking, identity theft and similar crimes. ..Source.. by STAR-LEDGER STAFF

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FL- Housing for sex offenders

7-21-2009 Florida:

Registered sex offender Randy Young bought the single wide mobile home at 382 Akorn Street when it went into foreclosure. He lives there and rents rooms to two other registered sex offenders.

"I get nervous about the children. I get nervous when we have the grandchild staying over and I get nervous about the girl across the street,” said Bill Hammel, who has owned the home next door for 15 years. "I still haven't found out who owns the place," Hammel added.

When FOX 35 told Hammel that a man named Randy Young, a registered sex offender, was the owner, he couldn't believe it. "That surprises me,” he said. “Shocks me actually."

FOX 35 discovered that Young has made a business out of finding homes for sex offenders. Just check his website, HousingForSexOffenders.com . We watched as Brevard County Sheriff's Lt. Tod Goodyear saw the website for the first time.

"Our biggest concern is he's bringing offenders in from out of county," said Lt. Goodyear, adding to the 700 registered sex offenders already living in Brevard County.

In a phone interview, Young told FOX 35 that he has more than forty homes which he either owns or is leasing, subletting rooms to registered sex offenders. In some of those homes, as many as four registered sex offenders are living under one roof. He considers these homes "safe havens for sex offenders."

"It’s a service that's needed. Just got a call from a lady living in a car," said Young. He also told FOX 35 that when he was released from prison after serving his sentence, his mother had a hard time finding him a place to live. He added that what was available was substandard.

"He's a registered sex offender. He knows what’s out there and knows what's available and the restrictions. He's using that as an advantage," said Lt. Tod Goodyear as he continued looking through Young's website.


Young said, on average, he profits $400 per home. Multiply that by the forty homes which Young owns or is subletting, and that could bring an average of $16,000 profit each month. These homes are in counties across Florida, including Brevard and Orange.

Lt. Goodyear said that as long as Young does not exceed a total of three residents living in the home on Akorn, he's not breaking any laws. Code enforcement has been by the house a few times. Lt. Goodyear said that he instructs deputies to pay extra attention to that neighborhood.

Aside from the three sex offenders living at 282 Akorn, there are two other registered sex offenders living on the same street. Deputies do extra patrols along that stretch.

Young tells FOX 35 that he plans to expand his business to offer more potential home rentals to registered sex offenders across Central Florida. ..Source.. by HOLLY BRISTOW | FOX 35 News

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It’s a hoax, police say of rape-kidnap

7-21-2009 Trinadad:

Camp Dangwa, La Trinidad, Benguet – It’s a hoax.

This in gist is what police authorities here summed up the earlier reported abduction and rape of a 13-year-old high school student from Baguio City who is reportedly a daughter of an anti-narcotics agent.

Chief Supt. Orlando Pestano, Cordillera police regional director, said that based on the police investigation, the reported incident never happened within his area of jurisdiction.

Pestano also refused to confirm whether the teenager is the daughter of an anti-drug agent, a law enforcer or an ordinary individual who was simply a victim of the usual gang gatherings in Baguio City.

Police investigation disclosed that at about 3:30 p.m. of July 18, the 13-year-old girl student was fetched by her male friends, who were 13 to 15 years old, and had a drinking spree in the house of one of her friends until she was drunk. Police said the teenager refused to go home drunk because she was afraid to be scolded but her friends accompanied her home and disembarked at the gate near her residence.

At about 8 p.m., the girl’s mother requested the assistance of a police officer at the Baguio City Police Office to go to the Baguio General Hospital for medical examination of the girl.

The mother however, requested the police to keep the incident away from public and the press.

Medical and physical examinations were conducted on the girl and when her father arrived, she and her parents all left the hospital at 2:20 a.m. the following day.

Medico legal findings by her attending physician showed she may not have been raped as her private part was “negative for sperm identification” but noted “presence of plenty of gram-positive short rods and pus cells.”

Pestano said that the findings of the attending physician will avert any wrong speculations on the incident.

To ensure the accuracy of the information being released to the public, the police official ordered the conduct of an investigation on how the false information was leaked to the media so that the same will not be repeated in the future to prevent the humiliation of the involved parties.

He ordered police units in the region to intensify their anti-drug operations in order to arrest notorious drug personalities and reduce the volume of drugs being circulated in the Cordillera to spare the youth from the serious negative effects of unabated drug use.

He said the report on the alleged abduction and alleged rape of the daughter of an anti-drug agent is considered to be a setback on the part of law enforcers if it were true “but the actual investigation showed otherwise.”

He deplored that due to the incident, there is a need for the people to be clarified about the issue “since it even reached the attention of President Arroyo who was so mad about what happened.” ..Source.. by DEXTER A. SEE

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PA- Pa. Supreme Court upholds state prisons' porn ban

7-21-2009 Pennsylvania:

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A sex offender's bid to overturn the state prison system's pornography ban was ended Monday by the state Supreme Court, which sided unanimously with the Department of Corrections.

The justices said inmate Shannon R. Brittain, 34, failed to refute the department's arguments in a meaningful way. They reversed a lower court ruling that had allowed Brittain's case to continue.

"Brittain's submission of self-serving non-expert averments of fellow prisoners, which merely assert that they do not believe their rehabilitation and treatment are hindered by viewing pornography, were insufficient," wrote Justice Max Baer.

Baer said it is conceivable that some other inmate might be able to make a compelling argument against the prohibition on obscene materials, but "the burden of doing so is high" and Brittain did not meet it.

The Corrections Department in November 2005 announced a ban on "materials in which the purpose is sexual arousal" as well as images of human nudity. The policy was later amended to allow a case-by-case review of items that may have literary or educational value.

Brittain, convicted of rape in Luzerne County, filed a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court two years ago in which he argued his constitutional rights had been violated. To back up his claim, he offered the statements of six other inmates that nudity did not affect their rehabilitation or treatment, cause them to sexually harass anyone or create a hostile work environment for prison workers.

Commonwealth Court declined the prison system's attempt to throw out the lawsuit, but the state appealed and won the reversal issued by the high court on Monday. Brittain, who is serving as his own lawyer in the case, is currently in the Mahanoy State Prison and could not immediately be reached for comment.

State prison system spokeswoman Sue McNaughton hailed the ruling for aiding "corrections professionals' ability to set and to change policies that affect the prison system."

The Corrections Department has offered statistical evidence that assaults and sexual misconduct cases declined after the porn ban was imposed, Baer said. McNaughton said a number of factors are credited with lower assault rates. ..Source.. by MARK SCOLFORO

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