August 31, 2009

CA- Experts: Abductees such as Jaycee stay out of fear

8-31-2009 California:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - In the 18 years that Jaycee Lee Dugard allegedly spent captive in Phillip Garrido's backyard, shielded from the world by trees, tarps, tents and tool sheds, she no doubt had a chance or two to tell someone the truth.

Customers of Garrido's Antioch home-based printing business say the young woman whom they knew as Garrido's daughter "Allissa" designed business cards and helped with the family business.

They never suspected that "Allissa" was a South Lake Tahoe girl kidnapped in 1991 at age 11.

Neighbors also had no idea that Garrido's two young daughters - now 11 and 15 - were Dugard's offspring, fathered by Garrido.

Why didn't Jaycee Dugard escape, reach out, scream for help?

The question arises every time an abductee is found with their abductors after years of hiding. But the question, and its implicit criticism of the survivors, is unfair, say experts on kidnapping.

"It's really important that people not jump to judgments or conclusions in these cases," said JoAnn Behrman-Lippert, a Reno, Nev.-based psychologist who has done extensive research on child abduction cases. "We know there are many cases like this, and it's very detrimental to the survivors to have such a simplistic view that does not take into account the actual situation the person was in."

Authorities say that Garrido and his wife Nancy kidnapped and raped Dugard and kept her imprisoned in the backyard compound. They pleaded not guilty Friday to the charges.

Garrido's printing business customers described Dugard as a polite and efficient aide who straightened out orders on the phone and by email.

One customer, Ben Daughdrill, said he saw her twice in the last six months when he drove to the Garrido home to pick up office supplies and drop off payment. She had an opportunity to escape or seek his help when she came out alone to Daughdrill's vehicle.

"There was a reason she did not say anything," said Daughdrill.

One explanation given to victims who stay with their captors is that they have Stockholm syndrome, where the victim comes to identify with and bond with their kidnappers. The term was coined in 1973 to describe several bank employees held captive for six days inSweden. At the end of their ordeal, the hostages resisted rescue, refused to testify against their captors and helped raise money for their legal defense.

Stockholm syndrome is most often associated with Patty Hearst, the newspaper heiress kidnapped in 1974 from her Berkeley apartment by the Symbionese Liberation Army. She joined the group as "Tania," a radical in army fatigues who helped her captors rob banks before she was released months later.

More recently, in 2002, 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart was snatched from her Salt Lake City bedroom at night and found nine months later, living 18 miles away with her abductor and his wife. Another famous case is that of Shawn Hornbeck of Missouri, who was kidnapped in 2002 at age 11 and found more than five years later, living with his captor a few miles from his family home.

No one yet knows the extent of what Dugard endured in Garrido's ramshackle compound far from her home. Her alleged abductor, a 58-year-old convicted sex offender who lived with his 55-year-old wife and an elderly mother, was considered an oddball and religious fanatic. Neighbors say he told them he could talk to people using only his mind.

Experts say Garrido most likely controlled Dugard by making her completely dependent on him. By isolating the victim and making them dependent on everything - food, clothing, shelter and affection - the kidnapper comes to completely control them, Behrman-Lippert and other experts say.

"In my experience with kidnapping victims," Behrman-Lippert said, "I know they don't always identify with the abductor. They figure out what kind of behaviors they need to survive."

Paula Fass, a professor of history at the University of California at Berkeley and author of "Kidnapped: Child Abduction in America," says another theory is that he told her he and his wife were her family and that she had no one else.

"Then she hadno contact with the outside world without him. By the time she had children with him, obviously other things came into play," Fass said. "Obviously, she wanted to protect her children. You don't have to invoke Stockholm syndrome. She didn't have to necessarily identify with her oppressors."

Aside from Hearst's situation, many other infamous kidnapping cases cannot be explained by Stockholm syndrome, said Dr. Frank Ochberg, who coined the term.

Ochberg said that when he developed the term "Stockholm syndrome" back in the 1970s, it was to help hostage negotiators.

The paradoxical set of feelings that develop in an adult hostage - that of identifying with their kidnappers - happens when the person has sudden feelings of great fear, regresses psychologically and then little by little develops trust with his kidnappers for not killing him, Ochberg said.

But the situation is different in child abductions because of the victim's age, he said, adding that a "better" theory would be that of a relationship of slave to master.

He believes "somebody at a tender age ends up being raised in captivity by a person who gradually transforms this person into a slave," he said. "There are cultures in which this happens, in which women are given to men at a young age."

"There's still a lot more to learn about this case," Ochberg said. ..Source.. by EVELYN NIEVES

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Another blogger about to be outed?

8-31-2009 Canada:

OTTAWA -- A petty online insult turned the spotlight on anonymous bloggers in the United States. Now, a Winnipeg lawyer is leading the fight in a similar case in Canada.

But while the U.S. case involved a model versus a wannabe fashion socialite, the Canadian case connects two Ottawa politicians including the city's controversial mayor, Larry O'Brien.

It could have ramifications for the dozens, if not hundreds, of anonymous critics who pass judgment, and often libelous accusations, against everyone from politicians to celebrities to journalists.

On Aug. 19, a New York state court ordered Google to reveal the identity of an anonymous blogger using Google's Blogger forum to spew what the court said were libelous comments against a model.

On Friday, Ottawa media reported that a Winnipeg lawyer, Brian Bowman, is asking Google to take down the site zeromeanszero.blogspot.com or unmask its author.

The site is a non-stop attack against O'Brien, Ottawa city councillors, the media and occasionally other politicians.

Bowman, an expert in privacy law, says he's representing a client who has been the subject of untrue statements on the blog. Bowman says the blogger has accused his client of doing things even when his client was not in town.

Ironically, Bowman won't reveal the identity of his client, except to say it's not O'Brien.

So far, the case hasn't gone to court. Bowman is negotiating with Google. But unless Google volunteers to shut down the blog or outs the name of the writer, it's likely it will be put before a judge.

Which could begin to answer one of the biggest privacy-related questions in the Internet age: Does freedom of speech allow someone to libel someone anonymously?

How can you stop it if you don't know who is doing it?

It is cowardly in the biggest sense of the word to criticize someone or insult them while hiding behind the veil of anonymity.

I am obviously a firm believer in freedom of speech, and truth is always a winning defence against accusations of libel. But freedom of speech does not, in my opinion, include the freedom to anonymously libel someone.

The Internet should not be a tool to allow anybody to say what they want about anybody, smearing reputations and even ruining careers, without the responsibility of having to out your identity.

And yes, you can put my name on that.

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Manitoba got a lot of national airtime last week, an unusual occurrence for a province that is often overlooked.

Premier Gary Doer's sudden resignation and subsequent appointment as ambassador to the U.S. was the biggest news of the week.

Unfortunately, the other story that made national headlines was far more sinister and is the subject of a national epidemic: missing and murdered aboriginal women. More than 75 in Manitoba alone in the last few decades; and more than 500 nationwide.

After two more young women were found dead in the city in less than a month, Justice Minister Dave Chomiak announced a new task force to delve into at least 30 unsolved cases, some of which go back to the 1960s.

While that was going on, Manitoba Liberal MP Anita Neville was meeting with experts in Washington, D.C., hoping to get the issue some international help. Neville said she feels strongly there is a connection between human trafficking and the dozens of women that disappear and die violently in Canada, and she fears Canada is far behind when it comes to getting an understanding of it.

"I was looking to see what is being done and what the gaps are here," she said. "I want to know what we can learn from it."

She is demanding a comprehensive national strategy on human trafficking.

Imagine if police in every province banded together to look for links in these hundreds of cases?

Ask yourself how quickly that might have happened had more than 500 white women gone missing in Canada in the last 30 years. Or what might have been the reaction if two teenagers from the Winnipeg suburbs showed up dead in less than a month.

Neville said she is still piecing together what she learned in Washington and has a commitment from Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff to include it in the party platform in the next election.

With another Manitoba MP, Conservative Joy Smith, making human trafficking her raison d'être, now the task force and Neville, maybe this issue is finally getting the kind of attention it deserves. ..Source.. by Mia Rabson

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WA- Governor Uses Emergency Fund for GPS Monitoring

8-31-2009 Washington:

Gov. Christine Gregoire implemented an emergency program to monitor 50 of the state’s most dangerous sex offenders with GPS tracking units.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Christine Gregoire implemented an emergency program to monitor 50 of the state’s most dangerous sex offenders with GPS tracking units.

The program is expected to cost $400,000 and will be paid for with an emergency fund that was created to handle critical needs of the state.

“As governor and as a mother, keeping communities safe is one of my top priorities,” Gregoire says. “With the advice, guidance and partnership of state and local police officers, we are taking additional measures to better track sex offenders to better protect communities.”

The program started the week of the announcement with electronic monitoring of five high-risk offenders. The program is expected to monitor 50 offenders by mid-year 2008 and 150 offenders by 2009. There are about 300 high-risk offenders in the state.

In accordance with state law, the monitoring system can be imposed on Level 3 offenders — those considered the most dangerous — who committed crimes after June 6. The system will provide information on offender movements at least every 24 hours, according to reports.

“As we have worked through these issues in the sex offender task force, we are looking to measures that will work to keep communities safe,” says Russ Hauge, a Kitsap County prosecutor. “The action that Gov. Gregoire is taking is a quick, effective way to help protect communities from the sex offenders most likely to reoffend such as those who are homeless and unemployed.”

The state’s Department of Corrections will work with local law enforcement officials to develop criteria for the electronic monitoring system. The program will be headed by the DOC Community Corrections Division, which will install equipment, enroll offenders and manage cases.

“This additional monitoring on the worst offenders is an appropriate, measured response to an immediate need in our communities,” says Mountlake Terrace Police Chief Scott Smith.

The announcement of the new program follows legislative pressure on the governor to hold a special session to increase electronic monitoring and toughen penalties for sex offenders. ..Source..

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CA- Sex offenders move to Antioch area 'because they can'

Important about this article is the general description of the community, generally a distressed one with lower rents and affordable housing. Most would say thats all former offenders deserve, if that much. Whatever your feelings on that topic are, here this, forcing folks -ostracizing them- into such areas by residency and proximity laws sets up circumstances under which many sex crimes occur, in isolation.

If you have been following this story you know that, those living close to Phillip Garrido -knew he was a properly registered sex offender- and some called him "Creepy Phil" and the nearest neighbors maintained their distance. Garrido's demeanor and actions were his method of keeping folks at a distance, to keep his secret, a secret; whether he did this purposfully or not, we will never know. But the community needed to be far more involved with him, rather than distancing themselves.

It is very likely, that if the community was closer, and the failures of law enforcement and parole officials (Federal, State, and those in Nevada too) hadn't occurred, Jaycee's circumstances would have been uncovered much earlier.

FInally, therapy -as we know it today, which is effective at reducing recidivism- was not available in the 70s and early 80s and I can find no article which shows he had any in the community. I do know that neither California nor Nevada -at his parole time- had any in-prison therapy program.

This case is an example of many failures that allowed his demons to fester rather than be put in check.

See CrimeReports expanding on "Isolating Sex Offenders."


8-31-2009 California:

A small, scruffy, unincorporated area largely surrounded by the city of Antioch is home to more than 100 sex offenders. It's also where Phillip Garrido allegedly held Jaycee Lee Dugard for 18 years.

Reporting from Antioch, Calif. - Dawn Cordy always knew her neighborhood was an easy place to hide -- a semi-rural San Francisco suburb where housing is cheap, sheriff's cruisers rarely appear, residents don't snoop and registered sex offenders have found a refuge.

It's a small, scruffy, unincorporated island largely surrounded by the hard-knock city of Antioch, a region synonymous with the foreclosure crisis in the Bay Area but now linked to yet another outrage.

This is where Phillip Garrido, who was charged last week with rape and kidnapping, allegedly held Jaycee Lee Dugard for 18 years and fathered her two children in a warren of tents and soundproofed outbuildings behind his gray cinder-block house on Walnut Avenue.

Garrido's and Cordy's 94509 ZIP Code is home to more than 100 registered sex offenders, according to the Megan's Law website, and officials say the region has a higher concentration of offenders than other areas.

At least four sex offenders, including Garrido, live within easy walking distance of Cordy's house; they move to the area "because they can," said Cordy, 52. "We're mostly an older bunch, and we don't pay that much attention. This is Boonieville."

Besides, she said of her unwelcome neighbors: "Honey, I collect knives. I wouldn't mind doing them harm."

On Sunday, Dugard remained secluded with her mother, daughters and half-sister in Northern California, where her stepfather said the family is working with counselors to overcome the last 18 years.

"They are doing fine -- not fine, but fine for the situation," Carl Probyn said. "My wife says that Jaycee is an excellent mother, and they are bonding, playing little games like checkers. They are doing OK for the situation."

Law enforcement officers with saws and cadaver dogs swarmed Walnut Avenue looking for clues that might link Garrido with a host of unsolved crimes in the region, including four slayings in Pittsburg in the late 1990s.

The main focus was the house next to Garrido's, where Damon Robinson, a 38-year-old driving instructor, now lives. Garrido cared for the property before Robinson moved in and lived for a time in a wooden shed behind it, according to sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee.

Three of the people whose killings remain unsolved were prostitutes. The fourth was a 15-year-old girl named Lisa Norrell, whose body was discovered a week after she left a dance alone on Nov. 6, 1998, and disappeared.

Capt. Daniel Terry of the Contra Costa Sheriff's Department said Friday that investigators were looking at Garrido because "several bodies were dumped at an industrial location where the suspect supposedly worked."

Minnie Norrell, 66, said a Pittsburg homicide detective contacted her Saturday about her daughter's slaying and called Garrido a person of interest.

"They said they didn't want to get my hopes up, but this guy was of interest," said Norrell, who lives in Pittsburg, where she spends her days on oxygen and in a wheelchair because of advanced emphysema. "He said they were going to be [in Garrido's neighborhood] for days. . . . I am hopeful."

Under recently passed laws, sex offenders' movements are severely circumscribed.

They generally must stay away from schools, parks, churches and places where children congregate, said Joan Petersilia, a law professor and co-director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center.

Such laws, combined with the high price of housing in California, "push sex offenders to less populated and more rural areas," Petersilia said. "They want a place where they can remain anonymous and people leave them alone."

Terry, who heads the sheriff department's investigative division, said Contra Costa County has about 1,700 registered sex offenders. His station is responsible for about 350, "349 more than the number of detectives I have dedicated to monitoring these people."

He called the region's concentration "significantly higher" than other areas and rued that "this is the reality. These people are walking amongst us everywhere."

Antioch, with a population just over 100,000, has struggled in recent years with crime, rampant growth and foreclosures. One San Francisco Chronicle columnist dubbed the city "the finest slum this side of Stockton."

According to RealtyTrac.com, the median home price has plummeted more than 40% in the last year and the foreclosure rate is still rising. There were 699 foreclosures filed in July.

Mayor Jim Davis acknowledged the economic pressures his city has faced. But he was quick to note that Garrido's neighborhood is not part of Antioch proper, although the city would like to annex it and "be able to get out there and police it properly."

"There's a lot of building out there, violating code," he said. "If the city were out there, all the sheds and tents out there would not have been tolerated. . . . There are lower-priced rents out there. It allows those who are on probation and can't find good employment to congregate."

Betty Unpingo, a mother of 10, always knew her neighborhood was "an easy area to get lost in for a while." But until her family threw a backyard party two years ago, Unpingo didn't know exactly who was taking advantage of that anonymity.

As the party ended, Garrido stood in front of his house across the street and motioned for the teenage girls leaving the event to come on over, she said. Unpingo's daughter was so suspicious, she checked his name on the Megan's Law list.

On the list were Garrido and several others nearby, including two living in one home. Since then, Unpingo has instituted the "buddy system." None of her children are allowed to leave the house alone.

Sex offenders have "got to have someplace to go," acknowledged the 52-year-old retired businesswoman, "but not here." ..Source.. by Maria L. La Ganga, Maura Dolan and Molly Hennessy-Fiske

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August 30, 2009

CA- Should some sexual predators be imprisoned forever or treated individually? Opinions differ

8-30-2009 California:

When news hit that Jaycee Lee Dugard's alleged abductor and rapist for the past 18 years was a convicted, violent sex offender, many were not surprised.

Citizens and law enforcement suggested that certain sex offenders, such as accused Dugard kidnapper, Phillip Garrido, can never be rehabilitated, and should be imprisoned until they die, or receive psychiatric treatment until they are no longer deemed a threat to society.

According to court records, during Garrido's first documented sex offense, he told his 1976 victim the assault was her fault because she was attractive and that "I want a piece of ass." He also had an elaborate hideout in Reno rigged with devices he used to assault the woman for hours after handcuffing and binding her with a leather strap. Authorities say that since 1991 he and his wife, Nancy, allegedly treated Dugard as their sex slave, and kept her and the two children she bore him, isolated in sheds hidden in a backyard compound.

Garrido, police said, is an example of the frustration they feel when violent convicted sex offenders repeat their crimes after being freed.

Some law enforcement officials point to states that have a Sexually Violent Predator Act -- which require civil commitments for sex offenders who have been assessed by experts as high risks to victimize more people -- as a possible solution to keep women and children safe. Nevada has no such law.

Others, like Nevada U.S. Attorney Greg Brower, say state sentencing guidelines should follow federal advisory guidelines that set out a specific sentence for offenses without the possibility of parole. That would take a legislative change, he said.

"(Garrido's) case is an example of what can happen when a dangerous sex offender is sentenced to too little time, or an indeterminate amount of time in the state system, which leaves everyone wondering, well how much time is he really going to do?," Brower said, adding that since Garrido was sentenced in 1977 to a 50-year federal term for the Reno case, the federal sentencing laws are stricter. Garrido served only 11 years of his 50-year federal term, and then served only eight months of his life sentence for the state rape charges from the Reno assault.

Brower said if Garrido was sentenced federally for the 1976 kidnapping today, "he would have served 50 years in the federal system. ... In this case, he got 50 years and does 10 ... it's outrageous."

Civil rights advocates and a local forensic evaluator, however, say offenders should be dealt with individually, and not be treated universally as terminally dangerous.
Rehabilitating sex offenders
Reno forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Melissa Piasecki, said the science is mixed on whether sex offenders can be rehabilitated. She said factors that put someone at a high risk to reoffend include a non-relative or stranger victim, having multiple sex offense convictions, and having male victims. She added that the data on the success of treatment is controversial, where some studies say it helps, and others say it has no affect.
"There is no tool that can allow us for sure to say a person is guaranteed to offend or not," she said. "But we can say if they have a high or low risk."
Sgt. Greg Curry, who supervises the Reno police child abuse and sex crimes unit, said by the time police catch sex offenders, it's not their first act. Many prior crimes go unreported, he said. "It's an on-going pattern of progression that continues to get worse," he said.
"What your and mine normal sexual behavior is not normal for them. If we try to bring them to what society says is normal, it's just not the way their mind functions. It's a powerful impulse they receive from their brain that they can't just turn off."
Curry, who was a young police officer when Dugard was abducted, doubted the 1976 Reno case was Garrido's first. "When you are kidnapping, binding and tying someone up, you are going from step A to Z," he said. "
Retired sex crimes prosecutor, Dave Clifton, who supervised the Washoe County District Attorney's Domestic Violence and Sex Crimes unit for about 14 years, said parole boards need to have the guidance of mental health and medical experts before they decide to release dangerous sexual predators.
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"I believe they should be locked up forever," said Clifton, who added there is no guarantee that an offender will stop once released from prison.


Lawmakers, in recent decades, have increased the time when those sentenced with life terms are eligible for parole, he said. For example, he said those convicted of sexual assault on a child once were required to serve a minimum of five years to be eligible for parole, now they must serve 35.

Kansas enacts Predator Act

In the 1990s, Kansas officials successfully argued to the U.S. Supreme Court that its Sexually Violent Predator Act is constitutional. At least 15 states have the SVP law, which requires a civil commitment of a sex offender assessed by experts as a danger to reoffend. A jury decides if the person will be committed to a treatment facility until doctors determine they are no longer a threat.

John P. Wheeler, Finney County, Kan., County Attorney, said the SVP law "absolutely" has made Kansas streets safer. He said the advantage of the civil commitment is that, if necessary, the offenders can be watched literally for the rest of their lives. If they are instead sentenced to a life term, they are still eligible for parole at some point.

"They are committed to treatment for as long as it takes until they can be safely released into society," Wheeler said. "If it turns out to be never, then they never are released. We can try to catch these guys and lock them up for as long as we can, but the U.S. Supreme Court says we can't execute someone for rape, and can't put someone to death for prowling on young women and children. There are some sex offenders out there who can never be rehabilitated."

But Lee Rowland, coordinator for the Northern Nevada chapter of the ACLU, said the key is individual assessments that "incorporates reality, focuses on the facts and any available science to make an informed decision in the interest of justice."

"The danger we fall into as a society is making justice from headlines, rather than creating policy to make communities safer," she said. "We cannot predict with certainty who is going to do something so off-the-charts, and then treat everyone as if they have no possibility to be redeemable in society."

"I believe they should be locked up forever," said Clifton, who added there is no guarantee that an offender will stop once released from prison.

Lawmakers, in recent decades, have increased the time when those sentenced with life terms are eligible for parole, he said. For example, he said those convicted of sexual assault on a child once were required to serve a minimum of five years to be eligible for parole, now they must serve 35.

Kansas enacts Predator Act

In the 1990s, Kansas officials successfully argued to the U.S. Supreme Court that its Sexually Violent Predator Act is constitutional. At least 15 states have the SVP law, which requires a civil commitment of a sex offender assessed by experts as a danger to reoffend. A jury decides if the person will be committed to a treatment facility until doctors determine they are no longer a threat.

John P. Wheeler, Finney County, Kan., County Attorney, said the SVP law "absolutely" has made Kansas streets safer. He said the advantage of the civil commitment is that, if necessary, the offenders can be watched literally for the rest of their lives. If they are instead sentenced to a life term, they are still eligible for parole at some point.

"They are committed to treatment for as long as it takes until they can be safely released into society," Wheeler said. "If it turns out to be never, then they never are released. We can try to catch these guys and lock them up for as long as we can, but the U.S. Supreme Court says we can't execute someone for rape, and can't put someone to death for prowling on young women and children. There are some sex offenders out there who can never be rehabilitated."

But Lee Rowland, coordinator for the Northern Nevada chapter of the ACLU, said the key is individual assessments that "incorporates reality, focuses on the facts and any available science to make an informed decision in the interest of justice."
"The danger we fall into as a society is making justice from headlines, rather than creating policy to make communities safer," she said. "We cannot predict with certainty who is going to do something so off-the-charts, and then treat everyone as if they have no possibility to be redeemable in society." ..Source.. by Jaclyn O'Malley

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IN- Court's trail confusing on sex offender rights

8-30-2009 Indiana:

The Indiana Supreme Court ruled this summer that an offender who owned his home before a new residential law restricting proximity to a school, public park or youth center could not be forced to move by the law.

This newspaper faulted the ruling, noting in this space that the defendant was being charged with behavior after the implementation of the statute, not before.

"In other words," we said, "he is not charged with owning a home, but continuing to reside in a home in violation of defined space limitations after the law was passed."

What the above comments miss is, that owning a home BEFORE the law, and then the law is enacted that would PREVENT him from using that home for his residency, and is equivalent to a "Takings w/o Compensation" and "Not for public use(Sec. 21)" which violates the Indiana constitution. Hence, the constitutional right is supreme.

Still there was consistency in the court's position. The state's high court only months before had struck down the conviction of a man for failing to register as a sex offender, noting in similar fashion that he had completed his sentence for child molestation before the state's Sex Offender Registration Act was passed.

So it is that we find more confusion than consistency with the court's most recent ruling this month letting stand without comment a Plainfield ordinance barring sex offenders from the town's public parks.
The difference is, constitutional rights -v- non constitutional rights (i.e., there is no constitutional right to visit parks), as best we see it. Anyone else have thoughts?

This goes well beyond the narrower residency statute. It bans those who have served criminal sentences and who pay taxes in support of public parks from even setting foot in those parks. And even where their crimes were not committed in those parks.

The defendant in the Plainfield case had completed his sentence and probation when he was told by police while visiting the town's recreation center with his young son that he could not return.

People who love the law for its fair play should have some issues with this kind of "Scarlet Letter" justice that continues to punish after the proverbial "debt to society" has been paid.

Now, supporters of these arguably overreaching restrictions will argue that it is the high rate of recidivism by sex offenders that targets them for ongoing restrictions to protect the larger society, especially innocent children.

The data on repeat offenses is more confusing than the Indiana Supreme Court's recent rulings. One can cherry pick what they want to support a particular position. For example, a Justice Department study of 272,111 felons released from prison in 15 states during 1994 found sex offenders were less likely than non-sex offenders to be re-arrested for any offense, but that sex offenders were about four times more likely to be arrested for another sex crime after discharge from prison.

But if the science convincingly supports the need to restrict the right to public property, or residency, or other basic rights for convicted sex offenders, then let that need be reflected in amended criminal codes that extend probationary periods upon conviction. That way, judges can rightfully impose those restrictions on a case-by-case basis within the broad parameters of probation. Those who violate specific terms of probation can be abruptly returned to prison, where they belong.

One thing that should be remembered here is that "sex offender" is itself a rather broad term, incorporating everything from the chronic perverts who prey on young children to, in some states, the 19-year-old youth caught and prosecuted for having consensual sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend.

.Simply denying fundamental rights to a class of citizens even a class loosely defined by past criminal conduct -- under the guise of protecting society probably renders us all a little less free and secure. ..Source.. by pal-item.com

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August 29, 2009

AZ- Seduced by 'sexting'

8-29-2009 Arizona:

Carol Crimmins of Tempe couldn't believe her eyes when she saw a picture of a topless female on her teenage son's cellphone, not after all the talks they'd had about that sort of thing.

Her son didn't know who had sent the picture, and he had the good sense not to forward it to anyone else.

This teenage foolishness of sending sexually explicit photos and racy messages, or "sexting," can have serious consequences. Across the country, lawmakers and law-enforcement agencies are grappling with what to do with kids who take naughty pictures of other teens with their cellphone cameras and send them to friends.

Technically, if the pictures are of minors that constitutes child pornography, even if they are taken by a minor. But clearly, a teenager with a cellphone camera isn't the same as an adult shooting frames of kids involved in sex acts.

The law is trying to catch up with the technology. Lawmakers in Vermont, Utah and Ohio are making sexting a misdemeanor instead of a felony when the cases involve teenagers, and as long as the sender voluntarily transmitted the image. That way, children caught up in this youthful fad don't wind up registered as sexual offenders.

Still, sexting is illegal and can get a child into a lot of trouble. In Arizona, there's no law specifically dealing with sexting, but Officer Luis Samudio, a spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department, says youngsters could face charges of child pornography, lewd and lascivious conduct and disseminating indecent materials to a minor.

A teenager in Allen County, Ind., is facing felony obscenity charges for allegedly sending a photo of his genitals to several female classmates. He's expected to receive probation and be ordered to get counseling.

In Ohio, a 15-year-old high-school girl who faced charges for sending racy cellphone photos of herself to classmates agreed to a curfew, loss of her cellphone and supervised Internet usage.

And in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, a judge ordered eight teens, ages 14 to 17, who were trading nude cellphone pictures of themselves to perform community service and to ask peers whether they knew sexting was a crime. The eight teens surveyed 225 teens; just 31 knew.

Young people have been taking sexually provocative pictures since the Polaroid. What's different now is that the images can be transmitted at lightning speed via cellphones and e-mail, leaving youngsters vulnerable to humiliation on a huge scale.

The pictures can fall into the hands of pedophiles, Samudio says, turning an unwitting 14-year-old into an Internet child-pornography star. Of the 2,100 children the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has identified as victims of online porn, one-fourth sent the initial images themselves.

One in five teens has sent or received sexually suggestive, nude or nearly nude photos through cellphone text messages or e-mail, according to an April survey of 655 teens ages 13 to 18 by the market research firm Harris Interactive for the center for missing children and Cox Communications.

Most of the teens surveyed sent the photos to girlfriends or boyfriends, but 11 percent sent them to people they didn't know personally.

Some question whether there really are that many instances or if the teens surveyed online were more likely to engage in that behavior because they spent so much time using the technology. Even if the numbers are a bit inflated, it's still enough to make parents wonder what's coming across their children's cellphones every time they hear that familiar ding.


Communication key

In January, a Gilbert mom learned from a school police officer that her 13-year-old daughter's cellphone contained a nude photo of a boy she liked. School officials had confiscated the girl's phone after she used it in class.

"I was horrified. My stomach was in knots," says the mom, who asked that her name not be published. Then she saw text messages from the boy asking her daughter to send him nude pictures of herself. She had refused, but he was persistent: "I sent you one. Don't you like me?"

"How long before she would have caved in?" her mother asks. "So many girls just want to be liked and accepted."

She encourages parents to talk with their children early on about sexting.

"If your child is old enough to have a phone, your child is old enough to have this conversation," agrees Gina Durbin, director of student-support services in the Cave Creek Unified School District. She conducts a workshop for parents each year about ways to use technology safely.

Durbin reminds parents why they got their kids cellphones in the first place: so they can reach their parents at any time or in emergencies, not so they can text their friends or take pictures.

Monitor your children's cellphones by regularly checking messages, pictures and games, Durbin recommends. The phone belongs to the parents, and if anything inappropriate is transmitted on it, it will be the grown-ups the police come looking for if it becomes a criminal matter.

Let your kids blame you for not being able to send or receive inappropriate material. They can tell their friends, "My parents are crazy. They read my text messages because their own lives are so boring."

For a small fee, Durbin says, parents can get an e-mail from most phone carriers of the text messages sent and received. If your kids know you will be randomly checking, they'll keep their conversations in check.

To stave off problems, Durbin suggests buying kids phones with no camera or asking your carrier to turn off the camera function. Besides sending inappropriate pictures, students also have used cellphone cameras to cheat on tests and take unflattering pictures of classmates.


When to worry

Crimmins, the Tempe mother, had talked about appropriate use of cellphones to the point that her boys, ages 12, 14 and 16, were rolling their eyes. They knew not to respond if they got a call or message from someone they didn't know. And they knew their mother would randomly ask for their phones and scan their text messages, pictures and games.

Sure, they could delete messages, but Crimmins told them, "Guys, if you're deleting them, it implies to me that something is going on you don't want me to know."

There are a lot of things a guy doesn't want his mom to know, like how many times he text-messages his girlfriend just to say "I love you."

When Crimmins came across the topless photo, she talked to all of her boys, telling them, "This is basically porn through texting" and is degrading to women.

The shot was a dark and unclear photo of a female's breasts. It could have been a picture of a picture. It was sent from a restricted number. Her sons said they didn't know who sent it. She explained that it meant that they had no idea who the person was, her age, who took the photo and whether it had been taken with that person's knowledge.

"The point was, they have to recognize that it is inappropriate material, and their moral values have to say, 'This is not OK,' " says Crimmins, who teaches at Scottsdale Community College.

She tells parents not to freak out if they find a picture or two on their kids' phones. This generation's digital pictures may be akin to previous generations' girlie magazines.

"It's like finding the Playboy under the bed. One picture is not damning," Crimmins says. But parents should worry if their kids have a collection of photos or are taking or sending them.

Often, the pictures are taken as pranks. Durbin says parents should tell their children to lock their phones when not in use and not to loan them to anyone. In 2007, a 12-year-old girl at Sonoran Trails Middle School in Cave Creek faced criminal charges after she snapped a lewd photo of herself using a classmate's cellphone and sent the image to other students as a prank. She was not prosecuted, but she was suspended from school.

Why do kids do it? It's hard to know for sure, Durbin says: "Is it because they want to fit in? Do they do it because they want someone to like them?"

Kids don't think about long-term consequences, says Monica Vila, a Westchester, N.Y., mom behind TheOnlineMom.com, a resource for parents about technology and kids: "We need to talk to kids about the use of images and how long-lasting, far-reaching and permanent they are online."

Even more important, parents need to talk to their children about respecting their bodies and their privacy, because kids send out these intimate pictures with utter faith.

"They're so trusting," Durbin says. "They think, 'He won't show anyone. He loves me.' " ..Source.. by Karina Bland

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CA- Protesters Meet Arrival Of Convicted Sex Offender In East Palo Alto

8-29-2009 California:

EAST PALO ALTO, Calif. -- A crowd has gathered Thursday night outside an East Palo Alto residence where a man considered a sexually violent predator by the state will live under supervised release, police said.

City officials have notified residents that Donald Robinson, 57, who was sent to prison more than two decades ago from Santa Clara County for committing multiple sexual assaults against women, is moving into a home at 903 Beech St.

Resident Mel Harris said Robinson moved in today and that a crowd of dozens, including many students, has gathered outside the home tonight.

Police acknowledged they are aware of some activity at the address but said no units have been sent there. They did not confirm that Robinson has moved in.

Robinson was convicted of multiple felonies between 1970 and 1984, including at least two rapes against adult women, East Palo Alto police said.

Robinson was eligible for parole in 1997 but was kept in custody an extra 12 years under California's sexually violent predator program, which was signed into law Jan. 1 that same year.

On Aug. 20, the court ordered him to be moved out of a state mental hospital and continue his treatment while confined to a home in East Palo Alto.

He will be under 24-hour surveillance by employees of Liberty Healthcare, the company hired to oversee his release. He will be confined to the house and will wear a GPS tracking device and an alcohol monitor.

The restrictions, however, which are meant to eventually taper off depending on Robinson's behavior, did little to ease the fears of dozens of community members who attended a meeting at East Palo Alto City Hall on Tuesday night.

Police Chief Ron Davis said at the meeting police will focus on keeping East Palo Alto residents safe from Robinson and vice versa.

He said police will work with local groups to notify community members of Robinson's presence, and that additional meetings will be scheduled. A flyer was available in English at tonight's meeting; additional flyers will be printed in Spanish, Davis said.

"The first step is today," he said. ..Source.. by KTVU.com

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FL- Former Skynyrd drummer acquitted

See earlier story: Guess jury decide that "The law is an ass" due to fact complications that simply were never allowed for in the laws.

8-29-2009 Florida:

Former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle was acquitted Friday of failing to register as a sex offender and lying on a driver’s license application.

Jurors deliberated four hours after a five-day trial before delivering their verdict, ending the 61-year-old rocker’s latest legal ordeal.

Pyle hugged and kissed his lawyers and numerous friends and family who showed up to support him.

“I feel very blessed,” he said. “I was in the hands of six people that really paid attention.”

He said waiting for the verdict was in some ways more stressful than the aftermath of the 1977 plane crash that killed three band members, the road manager and two pilots.

“I have never felt a feeling in my life like the feeling of waiting for that verdict,” he said. “It’s a feeling so deep inside you. It’s so hollow, and you feel so helpless.”

Pyle said the acquittal now frees him up to ask the governor to set aside his 1993 guilty pleas to attempted capital sexual battery and lewd assault charges on two young girls in Jacksonville Beach. He will have plenty of supporters in that effort, including one of the girls, his now-20-year-old daughter Kelly, who said Friday she believes the crime never happened.

Kelly Pyle was in court for much of the trial to support her father, who she didn’t meet until she was 18. She said she has never believed her father sexually assaulted her or any other child.

“If those charges were true, I wouldn’t be here supporting my dad,” she said. “I love him, and I know that he is a good person.”

She said he pleaded guilty because the state offered him probation and he was facing a potential of 25 years to life in prison.

In closing arguments Thursday, Assistant State Attorney Kelly Wark confessed a love for Lynyrd Skynyrd’s music but urged jurors not to be swayed by “sympathy or sadness at the tainting of an American legend.”

She said the law is clear that he should have registered as a sex offender because he worked and stayed in Florida. After he was arrested for that she said he failed to provide a correct address, resulting in a second arrest a week later. Wark said he clearly violated the law by swearing to Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles workers that his old St. Johns County address was still correct.

“He is not above the law,” she said. “He made choice after choice after choice with the assistance of everyone who loves him to violate the rules.”

Wark said Pyle had no problem following the rules during his eight-year probation sentence.

But defense attorney Craig Williams insisted Pyle no longer lived in Florida and therefore wasn’t required to register in the state. The only reason he came to Florida in November 2007 was to reinstate his driver’s license after a series of mistakes by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Revenue, Williams said.

He called the circumstances of Pyle’s arrest a “paperwork nightmare” and “mountain of calamity.”

He said St. Johns deputies never consulted the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Internet site, which would have shown Pyle with a North Carolina address. They lost a document showing Pyle notified the department when he moved from Crescent Beach in 2002, only to find it again two months ago, Williams said. And they ignored repeated phone calls from Williams’ office the week of Pyle’s arrest that he said could have resolved the matter.

If Pyle had resided at his old Florida address, Williams argued, he would have lived there free of charge without the knowledge of the family living there now for five years. He noted that when he learned St. Johns deputies were looking for him in 2007, he immediately called one of them, got in his car and drove to Florida the next day.

“Mr. Pyle doesn’t think he’s above the rules. In fact, Mr. Pyle did everything in his power to comply with the rules,” Williams said. “When people explained to him what he was required to do, he did it.” ..Source.. by Paul Pinkham

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August 28, 2009

FL- New Study Reveals Lack of Access to Affordable Housing for Sex Offenders in Miami-Dade

8-28-2009 Florida:

Miami-Dade Ordinance Creates Barriers to Reintegration; Makes Community Unsafe

MIAMI – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida’s Greater Miami Chapter and the Miami Coalition for the Homeless announce the release of Availability and Spatial Distribution of Affordable Housing in Miami-Dade County and Implications of Residency Restriction Zones for Registered Sex Offenders, a 69-page study that sheds light on the difficulty of finding affordable housing for sex offenders under current local residency restrictions.

The study shows that only 43 units were actually available at $1,250 or less a month in Miami-Dade County in July 2009. At more truly affordable rents of $1,000 or less there were only 15 units actually available, and at $750 or less a month, there were zero units. As many as 70 sex offenders have lived under the Julia Tuttle Causeway at any given time, and as recently as July there were as many as 177 sex offenders registered on FDLE’s Web site as “transient” or “under the Julia Tuttle Causeway.”

The study is the first of its kind that has been done in Miami-Dade County and identifies the sex offender residency restriction zones by jurisdiction to determine the impacts of restriction zones on the availability and spatial distribution of affordable housing within Miami-Dade County. Included in the study are detailed maps created as a result of the study.

“What we found with the results of this study is that the 2,500-foot sex offender residency restriction has a dramatic effect on the availability and geographic distribution of affordable housing in Miami-Dade County, with the few actually available units concentrated heavily in unincorporated areas,” said Carlene Sawyer, President of the ACLU of Florida Greater Miami Chapter. “It further solidifies what we have known all along -- that the County’s restrictions are not workable, as evidenced by the mounting public safety crisis we can see under the Julia Tuttle Causeway.”

Because the number of actually available units was determined using publicly available rental listings, the number is likely an overestimate since many landlords refuse to rent to sex offenders. Furthermore, of those units available, most are located in rural unincorporated areas where access to public transportation and services needed to aid in rehabilitation may be non-existent. Indeed, 32 of the 35 municipalities in Miami-Dade County had no rental units actually available in July 2009.

"We find it unacceptable for people to be legislated into homelessness in Miami with very little opportunity to reintegrate into the community," said Ben Burton, Executive Director, Miami Coalition for the Homeless. "We strongly believe that this study shows once and for all that given the current residency restrictions, there are virtually no affordable available housing units in our community for the growing population of sex offenders in Miami-Dade County."

The release of the recently completed study, prepared for the ACLU of Florida Greater Miami Chapter by Paul A. Zandbergen of the University of New Mexico Geography Department and Timothy C. Hart of the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, comes at a critical time in the ACLU of Florida’s lawsuit against Miami-Dade County to eliminate the 2,500-foot residency restriction. The ACLU’s lawsuit aims to revert to the State’s 1,000-foot restriction and comprehensive system for monitoring and tracking registered sex offenders, which the ACLU argues preempts the County’s over burdensome local ordinances.

“This study shows once and for all that the County’s ordinance has created a housing problem that won’t be solved by finding a few extra apartments. This is an ongoing problem that continues to grow as more sex offenders finish their prison sentences and are released every month. The only true solution is to revert to the State’s comprehensive system to monitor and track sex offenders, which would allow individuals to find affordable housing while keeping our community safe,” added Sawyer.

The study, Availability and Spatial Distribution of Affordable Housing in Miami-Dade County and Implications of Residency Restriction, was made possible with a grant from Miami Coalition for the Homeless.

To download a copy of the study and maps:

To download the Declaration outlining the key points of the study:

For more information about ACLU of Florida’s lawsuit against Miami-Dade County:

..Source.. by ACLU

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ME- Dozens want names off list

8-28-2009 Maine:

AUGUSTA -- Thirty of the 41 people suing the state over sex-offender registry requirements might be off that list under a law change that goes into effect Sept. 12.

Attorneys representing the state, various counties and municipalities, and the 40 plaintiffs -- referred to in open court as a numbered John Doe -- met Thursday with Justice Michaela Murphy in Kennebec County Superior Court to discuss the progress of the consolidated cases.

Laura Yustak Smith, assistant attorney general, said those people who believe they meet eligibility requirements to remain off the list or to be removed from the list will have to fill out an application and undergo national criminal background checks to confirm the information.

The law change affects people convicted of a sex offense between Jan. 1, 1982, and June 30, 1992, who have not had subsequent serious or sex-related offenses.

"This is a good step in the right direction," attorney David Crook said after the hearing. He represents John Doe 21, who is eligible for removal from the registry under the changed law.

However, Crook said, he was concerned that more steps need to be taken.

"There were not many defense attorneys assisting in the writing of this law," he said.

The public law, titled "An Act to Improve the Use of Information Regarding Sex Offenders," is available on the Internet at http://s7y.us/1592.

In the lawsuits, the John Does maintain that registration under the state's sex-offender law violates their constitutional rights and puts an additional criminal penalty on crimes committed up to 26 years ago.

They say they've lived lives free of sex-offense convictions for the past 16 to 26 years, and ask why they are now viewed as threats to society.

Attorneys for several plaintiffs who will no longer be subject to registry requirements say their lawsuits will continue because the plaintiffs want to sue for damages they say they suffered because they were forced to register. Those include lost jobs as well as other economic and emotional damages.

On Thursday, Maine's Sex Offender Registry listed on the Internet the names and photos of 3,350 people convicted of sex offenses, with the details of their convictions, their workplace, school and residence.

Several attorneys told Murphy they were concerned about their clients' anonymity and that the application for removal might be subject to release under the state's Freedom of Access Act.

Currently, a court order prevents the state from publicly identifying the John Doe plaintiffs.

Smith said many of the people who filed as John Does were convicted of sex offenses between 1982 and 1992. ..Source.. by BETTY ADAMS

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OH- Ohio inmate accused of trying to hire someone to kill child he is charged with raping

Knowing what a conviction means in todays society, results in, escalating violent responses! Victims are placed at risk...

8-28-2009 Ohio:

BATAVIA, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio inmate charged with raping a 7-year-old girl has been accused of trying to hire someone to kill the child and her mother so they couldn't testify against him.

___, of Goshen Township in Clermont County, was arraigned Thursday on two charges of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder. ___'s fiancee, 50-year-old ____, was arraigned on the same charges.

Authorities say 33-year-old ____ offered $4,000 to someone he thought would kill the girl and her mother and that man tipped off authorities.

Attorney Cathy Adams is representing ____ on the rape charges. She declined to comment on the new charges.

It was not clear if ____ has an attorney. ..Source.. by FOX8.com

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FL- Skynyrd drummer testifies in his defense in sex offender case

See earlier report: There are two ways to view this case: 1) He's guilty, guilty, guilty; -OR- 2) The law is an ass, simply because life presents circumstances for which lawmakers are not capable of foreseeing and refuse to make allowances for within the law. Life changes as one gets older, a person's ability to reason changes too, here this man has a firm to handle finances because he recognizes life is changing him. He complies with the spirit of the law, but will likely be found guilty because of the way the law is worded (fault of lawmakers).

8-28-2009 Florida:

Pyle is charged with two counts of failing to register as an offender.

ST. AUGUSTINE - Former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle told a jury Thursday he never meant to violate Florida's sex offender registry law and the charges against him resulted from a "convoluted" series of mixups.

"I was just trying to get my [driver's] license," Pyle testified. "I'm a long-haired, hippie freak ... but when somebody in authority tells me something, I try to listen and comply."

He told jurors: "I'm more nervous now than when we opened up for the Stones."

Pyle, 61, is charged with two counts of failing to register as a sex offender and one count of giving false information on a driver's license application. All are third-degree felonies carrying a maximum five-year prison sentence.

He pleaded guilty in 1993 to two counts of lewd and lascivious assault in Jacksonville Beach.

Prosecutors contend Pyle moved back to Florida in 2007 and didn't register within 48 hours as required by law. They note he gave his old Crescent Beach address when applying to reinstate his driver's license.

But Pyle, who has a home in North Carolina and is living with a friend in Virginia, said he doesn't live in Florida and hasn't in years.

He said he drove to Florida to reinstate his license after receiving a letter from the Department of Revenue. He said the department canceled it after mistakenly thinking he had stopped paying child support. In fact, he testified, his youngest child had turned 18.

Pyle said he used the Crescent Beach address because he planned to use his new Florida license to obtain a license in North Carolina. The old address had been on there for years, and he said he just decided to "let it ride."

"I was wrong," he said. He said he later gave police the Nocatee address of a friend so that police would be able to find him when he stayed there during visits to Florida.

Earlier Thursday, Pyle's lawyers presented three witnesses who testified he is so disorganized and unfocused that people in his life have to help him with details.

Among them was Michael Latimer, a Miami accountant who runs a trust that pays all of Pyle's bills and collects royalties and other income. Latimer testified the trust has total and irrevocable control over Pyle's finances, and he would know if Pyle purchased, rented or maintained property in Florida.

Circuit Judge Wendy Berger said she expects the case to wrap up after closing arguments this morning. ..Source.. by Paul Pinkham

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August 27, 2009

CA- Ban on sex offenders working with minors weighed in Sacramento

The hysteria continues, this bill is really stupid because there are dozens of jobs where a RSO would have minimum contact in the PUBLIC EYE and no opportunity for offense. Proposing such a ban will leave registrants unemployable and on welfare rolls for society to support; at what point will that break the back of society? Society needs smart lawmakers not ones who cannot think past their own personal biases and prejudices.

8-27-2009 California:

RIVERSIDE — An Inland Empire lawmaker's proposed bill to prohibit convicted sex offenders from working in virtually any capacity that involves one-on-one contact with minors is expected to be considered Thursday by a state Senate committee.

AB 307, sponsored by Assemblyman Paul Cook, R-Beaumont, was approved 4-0 Tuesday by the Senate Public Safety Committee and is scheduled for a hearing Thursday in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The bill appeared destined for defeat last month when Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who heads the Public Safety Committee, came out strongly opposed to the measure and advocated tabling it.

AB 307's original language banned registered sex offenders from operating ice cream trucks, and any offender caught doing so would face misdemeanor charges, with a conviction resulting in fines up to $1,000 and six months in jail.

According to Cook, because ice cream truck vendors come into casual contact with children, a previously convicted sex offender driving one could pose a risk to some underage customers.

Cook was inspired to introduce legislation after learning a man convicted of lewd acts on a child had been operating an ice cream truck in Perris.

But Leno told City News Service last month that Penal Code section 290 provides penalties for the same acts Cook described in his bill, which the senator described as “a solution in search of a problem.”

Under PC 290, convicted sex offenders who have done their time are required to register with their local law enforcement agency and are prohibited from having contact with children “on more than an incidental and occasional basis.”

The law specifically bars sex registrants from working or volunteering in a capacity where they would supervise or be in the “unaccompanied” presence of a child under 16 years old.

Cook argued his bill would strengthen current state law. But Leno said the legislation would open the window to future, duplicate proposals in which sex registrants are prohibited from working in numerous other capacities.

The senator nonetheless said he would be happy to consider a revised version of AB 307. Cook followed up with an amended bill that would make it a misdemeanor for a sex registrant to work in a job in which the person is alone “providing goods or services to minors.”

“The amended language creates a bill that protects children statewide,” said Cook. “I think the solution we arrived at does a better job keeping sex offenders out of ice cream trucks.”

He said if the bill becomes law, it will remove some of the ambiguities authorities previously faced in determining whether a sex registrant was in violation of PC 290's workplace provisions.

“Legislators need to give law enforcement all the tools possible to protect minors from sexual predators,” Cook said. “Permitting district attorneys to prosecute registered sex offenders who prey on children by enticing them with goods and services is crucial to public safety.”

The Assembly unanimously approved Cook's original bill in May. ..Source.. by PAUL YOUNG City News Service

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CA- Judge drops mooning charges

8-27-2009 California:

STOCKTON, Calif., Aug. 26 (UPI) -- A California judge says a woman who mooned an elderly couple will not have to stand trial on a charge that might have branded her a sex offender.

San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Franklin Stephenson also ruled, however, that the defendant must stand trial on the more serious felony charge of attempting to dissuade a witness, The Stockton Record reported Wednesday.

Stephenson said he did not agree with Deputy District Attorney Stephen Taylor, who sought a misdemeanor indecent exposure charge and a felony elder abuse charge against Katherine Patterson, 58. She allegedly exposed her right buttock and thigh to people who brought charges against her daughter-in-law, the newspaper said.

Donald and Nita Reinhart were leaving a court appearance in an embezzlement case when they said Patterson told them to "kiss my ass," and dropped her pants, mooning the couple.

Stephenson said Patterson was trying to dissuade the Reinharts from continuing the case against her daughter-in-law who, they claim, bilked their charter bus company of $240,000 in cash deposits.

While the judge ruled Patterson must stand trial on the charge of attempting to dissuade a witness, he said there was no evidence the Reinharts, who are in their late 60s, suffered any effects that would classify it as elder abuse.

Taylor said Patterson and her husband were trying to bully the Reinharts into dropping their case. ..Source.. by UPI

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FL- Man slapped with sex charge upon leaving hospital

8-27-2009 Florida:

WILDWOOD -- A 37-year-old man is facing charges of having sex with a minor as well as nursing head injuries, apparently after his roommate, the child's father, discovered the man having sex with his 16-year-old daughter.

Wildwood police said the father attacked the man with the butt of an unloaded shotgun last week shortly after arriving home and finding the man naked.

Police said after striking the man with the gun, the father pinned him down until police arrived. The 37-year-old was taken to Leesburg Regional Medical Center with injuries to the head. He was arrested Monday shortly after being discharged by officers who were waiting for him.

He is still in the Lake County jail Wednesday on $70,000 bail.

A jail official said Wednesday he would likely be taken to the Sumter County jail if he hasn't posted bond in two more days.

The Daily Commercial does not publish names or any information that would identify the victim of a sexual assault.

The incident occurred at the Stanley Street home of the 37-year-old man. The father and daughter lived with him, police said.

Police said when the father came into the home, he grabbed the first thing he saw -- the shotgun. Sgt. Russell Poitevent said the father knew the gun was unloaded and didn't try to shoot him, but did strike the man hard enough to send him to the hospital.

The father was taken into custody, questioned and released. Valentino added the 37-year-old signed a waiver stating he didn't want to file assault charges against the father.

Lt. Paul Valentino said the police would forward their investigation to the State Attorney's Office to determine if charges will be filed against the father. ..Source.. by MILLARD K. IVES, Staff Writer

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MI- Michigan Introduces Sex Offender Bills Covering "Social Networking," "Child Pornography" and Expands Covered Offenses

8-26-2009 Michigan:

As promised by Michigan's Attorney General, Michael Cox (during his recent Internet sting), who is running for Governor, he has convinced other lawmakers to introduce bills to make life rougher for CERTAIN registered sex offenders, and an ODD bill covering child pornography. In addition a bill to EXPAND covered offenses, which effectively EXPANDS the registry.

Normally introduced bills follow some recent event, but the one on child pornography follows no known event in Michigan so it must be someones pet peeve. I am all for prohibiting child pornography, but this is a very odd bill and needs some deep thought.


Two bills on Social Networking:

HB-5282 - Effectively prohibits CERTAIN sex offenders from accessing specifically designated social networking websites.

SB-770 - As introduced is a duplicate of HB-5282. However, don't bet it will stay that way after minds get cooking.

HERE ARE THE RELEVANT PORTIONS:
SEC. 37. (1) AN INDIVIDUAL 1 WHO WAS CONVICTED OF A LISTED OFFENSE IN WHICH THE VICTIM OR INTENDED VICTIM WAS A MINOR, OR WAS BELIEVED BY THE INDIVIDUAL TO BE A MINOR, AND THE OFFENSE INVOLVED THE USE OF A COMPUTER SHALL NOT ACCESS A COMMERCIAL SOCIAL NETWORKING WEBSITE WHEN THE INDIVIDUAL KNOWS OR HAS REASON TO KNOW THAT THE COMMERCIAL SOCIAL NETWORKING WEBSITE PERMITS MINOR CHILDREN TO BECOME MEMBERS OR CREATE OR MAINTAIN A PERSONAL WEBPAGE ON A COMMERCIAL SOCIAL NETWORKING WEBSITE.

(2) AN INDIVIDUAL WHO VIOLATES SUBSECTION (1) IS GUILTY OF A FELONY PUNISHABLE BY IMPRISONMENT 1 FOR NOT MORE THAN 5 YEARS OR A FINE OF NOT MORE THAN $5,000.00, OR BOTH.

(3) A VIOLATION OR ATTEMPTED VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION MAY BE PROSECUTED IN ANY JURISDICTION IN WHICH THE COMMUNICATION THAT IS THE BASIS OF THE VIOLATION ORIGINATED OR TERMINATED.

(4) AS USED IN THIS SECTION:

(A) "COMMERCIAL SOCIAL NETWORKING WEBSITE" MEANS A WEBSITE THAT IS ALL OF THE FOLLOWING:

(i) OPERATED BY A PERSON WHO DERIVES REVENUE FROM MEMBERSHIP FEES, ADVERTISING, OR OTHER SOURCES RELATED TO THE OPERATION OF THE WEBSITE.

(ii) FACILITATES THE SOCIAL INTRODUCTION BETWEEN 2 OR MORE INDIVIDUALS FOR THE PURPOSE OF FRIENDSHIP, MEETING OTHER INDIVIDUALS, OR INFORMATION EXCHANGE.

(iii) ALLOWS USERS TO CREATE POSTS, WEBPAGES, OR PERSONAL PROFILES THAT CONTAIN OR FACILITATE THE EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE USER'S NAME OR NICKNAME, PHOTOGRAPHS PLACED ON THE USER'S PERSONAL WEBPAGE, PERSONAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE USER, AND LINKS TO OTHER PERSONAL WEBPAGES ON THE INTERNET WEBSITE OF THE USER'S FRIENDS OR ASSOCIATES THAT MAY BE ACCESSED BY THE OTHER USER OR A VISITOR TO THE WEBSITE.

(iv) PROVIDES A USER OR A VISITOR TO THE INTERNET WEBSITE WITH A MECHANISM TO COMMUNICATE WITH OTHER USERS, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, A MESSAGE BOARD, CHAT ROOM, ELECTRONIC MAIL, OR INSTANT MESSAGE SERVICES.

(v) PERMITS REGISTERED USERS TO CREATE AN ONLINE JOURNAL AND TO SHARE THAT JOURNAL WITH OTHER USERS, BUT NOT NECESSARILY WITH ALL USERS.

(B) "INTERNET" MEANS THAT TERM AS DEFINED IN SECTION 230 OF THE COMMUNICATIONS ACT OF 1934, 47 USC 230.

(C) "JOURNAL" MEANS A RECORD OF EVENTS, THOUGHTS, EXPRESSIONS, OR STATEMENTS PROVIDED, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, BY A REGISTERED USER.

(D) "PROFILE" MEANS DATA OR OTHER INFORMATION ENTERED BY A REGISTERED USER THAT IS STORED AND MADE AVAILABLE BY THE COMMERCIAL SOCIAL NETWORKING WEBSITE IN A RESTRICTED OR UNRESTRICTED MANNER.

There isn't a reason in the world to enact these bills. In ALL of Cox's Internet stings (2008 and 2009), he has not found a single registered sex offender committing a Internet crime involving a minor. It appears that no one is willing, or smart enough (maybe purposefully), to review the evidence to see who is committing these crimes.

The net effect is, anyone with a listed offense, whose offense involved a minor and the Internet, will be barred from these websites. Even describing "commercial social networking website" as it does, is overkill and in some cases can bar a person from political, religious and other protected activities on the Internet.

If we were to take a close look at the sponsors of the bill, I would bet some have a presence on the prohibited websites (Facebook or Myspace for example) which registrants would be barred from. This bill is not smart, it is vindictive in intent and not based on evidence (Cox's own stings is proof this bill will not accomplish what lawmakers think it will).

In today's world where virtually everything is now on the Internet, political voice, banking, insurances, medical, governmental and everything else in-between, restrictions on its use -here specified by website types- have been held improper by courts for folks on parole or probation. This law extends to folks off parole or probation and very likely will end up in court declared unconstitutional.

While the intent is to protect minors, on social networking websites minors are the smallest portion of its users. These sites are used for virtually every type of business including services provided by states. The definitions are far too broad and will restrict content that is everyday use and nothing to do with minors.

Minors do not own the Internet and it was not invented strictly for them, restrictions need to be narrowed, not by website types. Anyone who understands the meaning of "social" knows it covers a broad spectrum. This restriction, as to folks not on parole or probation, is too broad. Also, with lifetime probation being new, such amounts to excessive punishment, grounds for appeal.

With that said I'll mention, how in the name of heavens can this be enforced? And, leave it there, for now.


One bill on Child Pornography:

SB-769 This is the odd bill.

HERE ARE THE RELEVANT PORTIONS:
(B) FOR VIOLATIONS OF SECTION 145C OF THE MICHIGAN PENAL CODE, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.145C, COUNT EACH DEPICTION OF A CHILD SUBJECTED TO CHILD SEXUALLY ABUSIVE ACTIVITY AS A VICTIM WHO WAS PLACED IN DANGER OF PHYSICAL INJURY OR DEATH.
In order to understand the above you need to know what 145C covers:
750.145c Definitions; child sexually abusive activity or material; penalties; possession of child sexually abusive material; expert testimony; defenses; acts of commercial film or photographic print processor; report to law enforcement agency by computer technician; applicability and uniformity of section; enactment or enforcement of ordinances, rules, or regulations prohibited.

As best I can interpret the new portion of SB769, it says, ONE COUNT (crime) for every covered picture. Two pictures means two crimes even if it is a duplicate of another picture? This bill needs work because as I read the bill's intent, it can be misinterpreted resulting in unintended consequences, the wording isn't right to accomplish what I think lawmakers wanted.


On bill to EXPAND Covered Offenses:

SB-771 This is a bill to require folks convicted of 145D(1)(A)to register and appear on the registry, who beforehand were not required to do that; according to Cox. However, from reader e-mails the state HAS BEEN requiring those folks to register, best guess is, illegally, so the state wants to now legitimize its former illegal actions:

HERE ARE THE RELEVANT PORTIONS:
(e) "Listed offense" means any of the following:

(i) A violation of section 145a, 145b, or 145c, OR 145D(1)(A) of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.145a, 750.145b, and 750.145c, AND 750.145D.


Its time for EVERYONE in Michigan to start bugging their lawmakers to STOP -at least- the social networking bills, and make changes to the other ones.
eAdvocate

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August 26, 2009

IN- Sex offenders charged to Register?

Given that Congress has forced evey state to have a registry, it seems more than logical that Congress should be paying to operate these registries. In fact, under the Adam Walsh Act there are grants to pay states and local jurisdictions' expenses (See Sec. 631 of AWA) (SMART Office Fiscal Year 2009 Support for Adam Walsh Act Implementation Grant Program). Therefore there is no logical reason to be charging registrants (esp. if local juridicstions failed to apply for the grants through their state representative), AND since registries are harming registrants -and their families- daily. Accordingly, any fees (further punishments?) charged registrants should be declared an ex post facto violation. ACLU where are you?

8-26-2009 Indiana:

Paperwork for ordinance in the works

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - NewsChannel 15 has uncovered convicted sex offenders living in Allen County may soon have to pay a fee to include their addresses on the county's sex offender registry.

Over 40 other counties in Indiana have ordinances requiring offenders to pay 50 dollars a year to register their address -- which is required of them.

Allen County Sheriff's Department Cpl. Jeff Shimkus says documents have been filed that would bring that yearly fee ordinance to Allen County. The ordinance, if passed by the county commissioners, would also require offenders to pay five dollars each time they change their address.

Shimkus says 90 percent of the money generated from that fee would be used in Allen County to maintain and update the current registry. The other ten percent would go to the state of Indiana. ..Source.. by Lindsay DeWitte



Sex offenders to pay registry fee?

Paperwork for ordinance in the works

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - NewsChannel 15 has uncovered convicted sex offenders living in Allen County may soon have to pay an annual fee to include their addresses on the county's sex offender registry.

According to the Associated Press, more than 40 other counties in Indiana have similar ordinancees.

Allen County Sheriff's Department Cpl. Jeff Shimkus says documents have been filed that would bring that yearly fee ordinance to Allen County. The ordinance, if passed by the county commissioners, would also require offenders to pay five dollars each time they change their address.

Shimkus says 90 percent of the money generated from that fee would be used in Allen County to maintain and update the current registry. The other ten percent would go to the state of Indiana.

"I think it makes a lot more sense to have these offenders pay $4 per month than to ask the tax payers to figure out how we are going to pay for this program that the state is requiring us to do," said Shimkus.

Grant County has had an annual registry fee in place for about a year. Detective Jamie Moore with the Grant County Sheriff's Department says there were some intial concerns that the fee would act as a deterrant for offenders to register at all.

"So far we haven't had any problem with it," said Moore. "Even the [offenders] that we had concerns with being able to afford the registration fee have seemed to come up with the $50 every year."

That's not the only concern though. Kimberly DuBina is the Indiana contact for a group called Reform Sex Offender Laws. DuBina says the registry fee is not only unfair, it's illegal. She says it punishes offenders twice, and for crimes committed before the law even existed.

"The registry is for the community's benefit," said DuBina. "It is not for the sex offender's benefit. If the community wants this, then the community should, through tax payer funds, pay for that."


Shimkus called the suggestion "immoral".

"That will never happen," he said.

Right now the paperwork for the Allen County Sex Offender Registry Fee is in the hands of a lawyer who is preparing it to go in front of county commissioners. No word on when that might be. ..Source.. by Megan Stembol, Lindsay DeWitte

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NJ- Westville Sex Offender Ordinance Declared Un-Constitutional

8-26-2009 New Jersey:

To come into compliance with the state law, Westville Borough Council repealed Ordinance #12-07 entitled “Sex offender residency restriction.” The state had ruled the restriction was un-constitutional.

Many governing bodies previously had passed the same type of ordinance that restricted where known sex offenders may live.

Now, most of them have also repealed the ordinance that was put in place to protect children and adults in the community.

“If we did not repeal the law that we did pass several years ago, the borough may have been sued by certain individuals,” said Council President, Michael Ledrich, who presided over the Wednesday, August 12 meeting in the mayor’s absence. ..Source.. by Sara Martino, NEWS Correspondent

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GA- Woman Who Challenged Sex Offender Laws Arrested

8-26-2009 Georgia:

Authorities in Columbia County have arrested a woman who challenged Georgia's sex offender laws last year.

A spokeswoman for Wendy Whitaker's attorneys says she was arrested and charged with failing to notify police of her new address after moving from a home that was central to her challenge.

Whitaker was convicted of a sex offense more than ten years ago. That means she has to live more than 1000 feet from a school or child care center, and also notify police when she moves, the same as violent rapists and pedophiles. Her attorneys say her punishment is extreme because her offense was a consensual sex act with a high school classmate when she was 17.

Whitaker had challenged the law, but a federal court judge last year ordered her to move out of her home in Harlem, which is near a church day care center. A judge in Columbia County then issued a temporary injunction, which allowed her to stay in her home while her attorneys sought to remove her from the sex offender registry.

Whitaker's attorneys say they don't know much about the arrest. They say they also don't know where she was living when she was arrested on Monday.

State lawmakers have since passed a law that protects teen-agers in cases such as Whitaker's from being placed on the state's sex offender registry. But that law only applies to people convicted after July, 2001, several years after Whitaker was charged.

Meanwhile, attorneys for another convicted sex offender are urging a federal judge to block a new Georgia law, which requires sex offenders to hand over Internet passwords, screen names and e-mail addresses to law enforcement officials.

Attorneys for Terrence White told the judge today the law is too broad and infringes on White’s constitutional rights. State attorneys say the new requirements give authorities another tool to keep registered sex offenders from striking again.

The law took effect in January and made Georgia one of a small band of states complying with guidelines in a 2006 federal law requiring authorities to track Internet addresses of sex offenders. But the state is among the first to take the extra step of forcing its 16,000 offenders to turn in their passwords as as well. ..Source.. by Mary Ellen Cheatham

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MI- Study: Late parole is no deterrent

8-26-2009 Michigan:

Lansing -- Keeping inmates in prison past their earliest parole dates does little to reduce crime, according to a study released today by a Michigan public policy group.

The findings come as Michigan plans to parole 3,000 more felons this year than in previous years to curb rising prison costs.

The study by the nonprofit Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending followed for four years 76,721 Michigan prisoners released for the first time between 1986 and 1999 to determine whether they came back to prison for a new crime or parole violation.

Researchers concluded that denying parole when prisoners first become eligible does very little to reduce crime rates.

The data showed those convicted of homicide and sex offenses rarely commit new crimes against people, and serving more time does not increase the likelihood of success upon release.

The study found:

• While 18 percent returned to prison with a new sentence within four years of their release, only 4.5 percent were returned for a new crime against a person. Returns for larceny, drugs and burglary were by far the most common.

• Re-offense rates vary widely by crime type. Criminals who commit financially motivated crimes are the most likely to return to prison; 3 percent of sex offenders returned for a new sex offense and less than 1 percent of homicide offenders returned for another homicide.

• Overall, 61 percent were released when first eligible but that also varied widely by offense. About 30 percent were kept one or two additional years, then released. Prisoners with the lowest re-offense rates were most likely to be denied parole.

• Length of time served was not associated with success upon release, although older age, lack of prior prison terms and good institutional conduct were.

The Lansing-based group, which advocates policies that prevent crime and rehabilitates offenders, estimates that if everyone denied parole for up to two years had been released when first eligible, on average, it would have saved more than 2,300 beds a year. ..Source.. by Karen Bouffard / Detroit News Lansing Bureau

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