Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Montpelier, Vt. (AP) - A judge has blocked the city of Barre from enforcing an ordinance that would have required a convicted sex offender to move.
29-year-old Chris Hagan had been ordered by city officials to move under a new ordinance passed last year that blocks convicted sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools or other places children gather. The preliminary injunction issued by Washington Superior Court Judge Helen Toor blocks the city from forcing Hagan to move at least until the full case is heard in court.
Hagan has been getting help from the American Civil Liberties Union's Vermont Chapter. Hagan was convicted of lewd and lascivious conduct over a contact with a 15-year-old girl that occurred when he was 18.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Over-generalization within each Tier and not evaluating each individual's risk of re-offending have created this drastic change in numbers. For example, "Sexual Battery" is a Tier III offense. In the Ohio Revised Code, 2907.03-Sexual Battery comprises 12 different types of acts, some specifically involving children, some not necessarily so. As in the case of Tammy Welton, mentioned above, she was most likely guilty of violating Section 2907.03 (A)(11) "(A) No person shall engage in sexual conduct with another, not the spouse of the offender, when any of the following apply: (11) The other person is confined in a detention facility, and the offender is an employee of that detention facility." But ORC 2907.03 also includes sexual offenses against a child by a parent or guardian (A)(5). No bearing is placed on consensual versus non-consensual sexual acts.
The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV) also has concerns about the Adam Walsh Act. Their stance is that "... over-inclusive public notification can actually be harmful to public safety by diluting the ability to identify the most dangerous offenders and by disrupting the stability of low-risk offenders in ways that may increase their risk of re-offense. Therefore, NAESV believes that internet disclosure and community notification should be limited to those offenders who pose the highest risk of re-offense."
What Can Be Done
The government approved the Adam Walsh Act and put laws into place quickly, without evaluating the consequences. Yes, we need protection for our children against sexual offenders, especially those of a predatory nature. The Adam Walsh Act is a start, but should be modified to control the appropriate offenders and reduce some of the increased, unnecessary burdens it created. Some things for lawmakers to consider when recreating the Adam Walsh Act include:
-Add more Tiers to the present three Tier system to account for lower level sex offenders and those who pose less risk to society, and to have the grouping of offenses within each tier more similar
-Differentiate between sex offenders with adult victims and with child victims
-If a person has completed their punishment for a sex-related offense and commits a new offense, consideration must be given to the likelihood of them committing another sexual offense before giving them a second punishment for a crime they already paid for
-Juvenile aspects should be reworked to avoid possible permanent trauma to non-violent low-risk teenage sex offenders
-Each individual's circumstance should be evaluated and the risk of re-offending taken into account before classification into a Tier
-On previously sentenced cases (still completing their sentences), plea bargains should be examined so as not to nullify the validity of the contract.
State Rep. Todd Smith has an op-ed piece in today's Star-Telegram criticizing Gov. Perry for vetoing one of his bills. Smith also suggests that Perry didn't properly understand the bill before he vetoed it.
SB 3148 would have allowed certain low-level sex offenders to petition a judge to be removed from the state's sex offender registry. The bill passed through the Legislature relatively easy and faced little organized opposition.
"Gov. Rick Perry vetoed one of the most morally compelling bills I have ever filed in the Texas House," Smith wrote.
Perry said in his veto statement that he couldn't sign the bill because "sex offenders would be eligible to petition a court for an exemption from sex offender registration, regardless of the age of the victim." However, Smith's bill only applied to cases where an offender was convicted of having consensual sex with someone who was at least 14 and not more than four years younger than the defendant.
"Perry apparently believes that every teenager who has a consensual relationship with someone more than three years, but less than four years younger should be labeled for life as a sex offender," Smith wrote.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
For three years, the convicted sex offender has been living in a room at the Ced-Rel Motel on Highway 30. The low, red-and-white building 4 miles west of Cedar Rapids has become a haven for those convicted of sex crimes in the years since the Iowa Sex Offender Registry was established in 1995.
Iowa law, until July 1, forbids sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or day-care center. The rule pushes them into remote places like the Ced-Rel, or campgrounds, rest areas and truck stops.
New legislation, which goes into effect on Wednesday, eliminates the 2,000-foot residency rule for all but violent offenders.
If you are afraid of ex sex offenders, you would be a fool to want ex offenders forced to live in isolated zones such as these.
desmoinesregister.com : Do-over needed: Sex-offender law based on myths.
First, this new law (as it presumes better public safety) is still predicated on the same old clinically and factually disproven myths. One is that sex offenders always reoffend. This is false, as proven by a federal study using 2004 data for Iowa that shows about 3 percent of registered sex offenders reoffend sexually, even though about 45 percent have or will commit other general crimes. The national statistic for general criminal recidivism is 68 percent. Many general criminal offenders have several convictions for similar crimes, but the average sex offender has about 1.5 sex-offense convictions, according to federal statistics and a state report.
Another myth concerns "stranger danger." Iowa law was written in apparent contempt for known facts about society and sexual abuse. Data show that 87 percent of all child sexual abuse is committed by a first-time offender, 95 percent of the time by a family member, teacher, priest or a close family friend or neighbor. Adult rape reflects a similar profile 64 percent of the time.
Finally, the new law takes those with the more criminally ridiculous "sex offense" charges, such as public urination and teenage consensual sex, off the registry, but does two wrongs to the public. It continues making restoration, reintegration and stability of former offenders difficult if not impossible, and it violates constitutional guarantees.
The concept of rehabilitation includes the ability to reintegrate to society after incarceration. For former sex offenders, being persecuted and repressed makes society less safe, and it defeats the supposed public-safety purpose of the informative, administrative regulation the original federal registration laws intended.
Iowa legislators were under pressure to comply with the federal Adam Walsh Act, which sets minimum standards for sex-offender registration and notification, or risk losing federal law-enforcement funds.
Federal pressure like that on states defeats the 10th Amendment's guarantees of state sovereignty and the power of the people's self-determination - a step toward fascism. It also affects certain personal-guarantee issues, in terms of the right to have a place to live, the right to personal liberty and the right to equal protection under the law that is afforded every other former convict.
Almost 100 percent of child sex abuse is not "stranger danger." To stop sexual abuse, Iowa should proactively engage in available programs of prevention combined with community treatment of offenders and a prison sex-offender treatment program truly designed to help people habilitate better thought and behavior patterns for a better life. That will help eliminate the victimization of children and adults that happens mostly because some people have treatable, untended biopsychosocial problems.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
"I will never forget that day in June when I heard Judge Banales say, “You are hereby sentenced to 60 years in the Texas Department of Corrections”. My legs felt like spaghetti, my hands went cold. I had no moisture in my mouth. I was numb all over. I wanted to throw up. I could hear my mother’s horrific cries in the background. I turned to see her and I saw my father holding her and my grandmother tightly. He was so scared, I could tell. There were other ladies that were also crying. They felt for my mom, and possibly for me. The judge told my dad if he didn’t quiet my mother, he would have her arrested. My mother had a look of fury in her eyes when they met with mine. I knew right there and then that her love and commitment as a mother would induce a fight for justice. The bailiff was so nice to me. He kept asking me if I needed some water. I couldn’t talk. All I could hear was my mother’s cry, over and over. I couldn’t even hug her goodbye.
When I was 17 years old, I made a mistake, a mistake that will haunt me and my family for the rest of our lives. I had consensual sex with a girl whom I believed to be much older. I was young and immature, drinking and smoking pot like many other teens at our school. I never intended to hurt anyone. I am not a dangerous predator or a violent rapist. I am a young man who has been given a punishment far beyond what is reasonable and just.
Two detectives approached me and asked me if I had sex with Michelle. I answered “yes, why?” They handcuffed me and took me to the Corpus Christi Police Department. I had no attorney present, nor my mom or dad. I was scared out of my mind. They told me that if I did not write out a statement, and sign it, that I would go to prison. I had never been in any trouble with the law before. I did what I was told because I was scared, did not want to go to prison, and did not know what else to do. Once the statement was signed, I was told that Michelle was only 12 years old. I wanted to throw up. I didn’t know whether to believe them or not. She looked much older than 12. Amanda told us that she was 16. My little sister was 12 years old at the time and that made me feel awful. I was sent upstairs and booked into jail. I called my mom at work and told her that I had been arrested for aggravated sexual assault and the bond was $20,000.
About 8 hours later, my mom and dad picked me up from the jail and took me home. My mother was crying and very upset, asking me “how could you do this?” I was crying so hard and grabbed my mom and told her to look into my eyes and listen to me. My mom always knew when we were not being truthful by our eyes. I explained to her that I did not know Michelle was 12 and that I was sorry for my behavior.
We hired an attorney. He told me that if we had a jury trial in this case that I would be looking at a long prison sentence, possibly life. I took the 10 year adjudicated probation offered by the district attorneys office. Life as I knew it was over. I could not go anywhere around kids, even my own nieces and nephews. A 9:00 curfew was imposed along with many, many other conditions and restrictions. Lie detector tests, sex offender treatment, probation appointments, and expenses were piling up. I was depressed, angry and bitter.
While on probation, I tested positive for drug usage a total of 3 times. I was also 10 minutes late one night when they came to my house to check on me. I was on a waiting list to go into a substance abuse treatment program for depression and marijuana usage. There was only one place I could go due to my charge. The waiting list was 1 year. The people kept telling my mom that I was not a serious drug user like the heroin or cocaine addicts who needed a bed more than I did. I was bumped to the bottom of the list. I never in my wildest imagination thought a judge would sentence me to 60 years in prison.
There were two other guys, with similar situations, in the same court, but different sentences. One was sentenced to 30 years, the other 20 for non-violent, consensual relationships. And so now, here I sit in a Texas prison writing a book on teen crushes, costly mistakes, and a cruel judge. I have faith in God above. He is my true attorney. I will fear no one but Him. I am thankful that Michelle’s sister, Amanda, has come forward and admitted the truth about that night. The fact that I did not know Michelle was 12, the fact that I am not a dangerous criminal. We were all young, immature, and made bad choices. Certainly, those choices did not warrant 60 years of prison time.
Now I have this stigma that I will live with every day for the rest of my life. My family and I have endured such embarrassment and mental anguish throughout this entire ordeal. I miss my family. I have always dreamed of being an uncle. I have a two year old niece that I have never met. I would love to hold her and play with her. I'd like to buy her a puppy. I know I will come home one day. God bless each and every one who reads this story. Please pray for me...........Brandon"
(Sadly, this is not an uncommon story. We can attest for the brutal and heartless treatment the judicial system imposes on those arrested, and their families, throughout the process. We pray for Brandon and his family and we hope his story will wake up many of those who read of these insane laws , but have not yet taken any action to fight against them.)
Doug Berman points to an interesting opinion from the Supreme Court of Missouri. It raises some complicated standing issues under the Tenth Amendment and begs the question of whether a state itself has an interest in enforcing state constitutional provisions specifically designed to protect state citizens from the state government. Here's the background.
The federal government adopted SORNA - the Sexual Offenders Registration and Notification Act - which requires that sex offenders register in any jurisdiction where they live. The Attorney General determined that the law was retroactive - offenders convicted before the law was adopted are nonetheless required to register. (The federal bench has already held that this sort of retroactive application does not violate the U.S. Constitution's ex post facto clause.) The federal government does not orchestrate this registration. In Missouri, for example, offenders register with a state agency. Various offenders sued in Missouri state court arguing that, because their conviction predated the registration legislation, the state was violating the state constitutional bar on ex post facto laws. The lower court ruled in favor of the offenders. On appeal, the Supreme Court held that registration was not subject to state constitutional limitations because federal law mandated respondents to register.
Let me issue the usual caveat. I am most certainly not a constitutional law expert. But it strikes me that if the State of Missouri is the party doing the registration, the state's conduct ought to be regulated by state constitutional law - unless federal law trumps. It's not that offenders are required to register by federal law; it's that the act of registration is being conducted by the State of Missouri. Missouri may argue that they're compelled to conduct this registration - whether or not it would be constitutional under state law - because of federal supremacy. But it strikes me that Missouri might have a colorable Tenth Amendment claim here - if it chose to bring it - because the federal government is comandeering the state's machinery to do its work. As a result, it might well be unconstitutional to compel Missouri to collect this information. Missouri can continue to collect the data, of course, but it would be doing so by choice. And then, logically, the registration procedure would be subject to state constitutional law.
The problem, in this instance, might be standing. The Eighth Circuit in U.S. v. Hacker, for example, recently held that individuals do not have standing to enforce the Tenth Amendment. (There is a circuit split on this issue.) But the Eighth Circuit did suggest there might be a small space for individual standing:
We note that at least one appellate court has speculated that a private party could assert a Tenth Amendment claim by showing that its claim “align[s] with the state’s interest.” Parker, 362 F.3d at 1284 (citing Mountain States Legal Found. v. Costle, 630 F.2d 754, 761 (10th Cir. 1980)).
So my question, long winded as it may be, is this: does the state constitution's guarantee of individual rights (here, its ex post facto provision) constitute a "state interest" such that the individual's assertion of this interest - notwithstanding a state attorney general who prefers not to enforce it - is actually in perfect alignment with the state's interest? Or do we understand a state interest to be whatever the elected officials prefer to support at any given time, irrespective of the constitutionality of the AG's preferences under state law?
Westbrook , Maine: A new state law that establishes boundaries for where convicted sex offenders can live will overturn the more stringent restrictions put in place by Westbrook officials two years ago.
In the municipalities that choose to enact the new law, which will take effect in September, registered sex offenders will be prohibited from residing within 750 feet of a school or any municipally owned building generally used by children.
Westbrook’s ordinance restricts any registered sex offender whose crime was committed against an individual under 18 from living or working within 2,500 feet of a school, child care center or home, park, playground, bowling alley or any other location frequented by children. The ordinance bars these sex offenders from the most densely populated residential and business districts in the city, including all of downtown.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday that it would decide whether Congress may adopt a federal law that keeps sex offenders in custody indefinitely after they complete their prison sentences.
The high court agreed to hear an Obama administration appeal seeking to reinstate a 2006 law providing for the continued detention of "sexually dangerous" convicted federal inmates who have served their prison terms. (Obama wants to lock these people up indefinitely after they have completed their sentences).
A U.S. appeals court based in Virginia struck down the law for exceeding the limits of congressional authority and intruding on police powers Constitution reserves for the states, many of which have similar laws.
The law had been challenged by five inmates who had been kept in custody at a federal prison hospital in North Carolina after their sentences ended.
The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments and issue its ruling in the case during its upcoming term that begins in October.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Office of Justice Programs Nov. 2003 Report
"Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison in 1994"
Rearrest for a new sex crime
Within the first 3 years following their release from prison in 1994, 5.3% (517 of the 9,691) of released sex offenders were rearrested for a sex crime. The rate for the 262,420 released non-sex offenders was lower, 1.3% (3,328 of 262,420). The first 12 months following their release from a State prison was the period when 40% of sex crimes were allegedly committed by the released sex offenders.
Recidivism studies typically find that, the older the prisoner when released, the lower the rate of recidivism.
Results reported here on released sex offenders did not follow the familiar pattern. While the lowest rate of
rearrest for a sex crime (3.3%) did belong to the oldest sex offenders (those age 45 or older), other comparisons between older and younger prisoners did not consistently show older prisoners’ having the lower rearrest rate. The study compared recidivism rates among prisoners who served different lengths of time before being released from prison in 1994. No clear association was found between how long they
were in prison and their recidivism rate.
Before being released from prison in 1994, most of the sex offenders had been arrested several times for different types of crimes. The more prior arrests they had, the greater their likelihood of being rearrested for another sex crime after leaving prison. Released sex offenders with 1 prior arrest (the arrest for the sex crime for which they were imprisoned) had the lowest rearrest rate for a sex crime, about 3%; those with 2 or 3 prior arrests for some type of crime, 4%; 4 to 6 prior arrests, 6%; 7 to 10 prior arrests, 7%; and 11 to 15 prior arrests, 8%. Rearrest for a sex crime against a child
On average, the 4,295 child molesters were released after serving about 3 years of their 7-year sentence (43% of the prison sentence). Within the first 3 years following release from prison in 1994, 3.3% (141 of 4,295) of released child molesters were rearrested for another sex crime against a child. The rate for all 9,691 sex offenders (a category that includes the 4,295 child molesters) was 2.2% (209 of 9,691). The rate for all 262,420 non-sex offenders was less than half of 1% (1,042 of the 262,420).
Released child molesters with more than 1 prior arrest for child molesting were more likely to be rearrested for child molesting (7.3%) than released child molesters with no more than 1 such prior arrest (2.4%).
Again, these Federal Studies refute the common lie that sex offenders have an enormously high recidivism rate.
Washington D.C. - police have added an interactive mapping function to their online sex-offender registry. Police say the new application allows users to search for offenders within geographic areas. For instance, people can search the radius around a specific address, school or licensed day care center. The registry provides offenders' photographs as well as their home, work or school addresses. Specific addresses are not listed; only their addresses at the block level are available.
All to make it easier for those who want to commit vigilante violence against ex offenders. Nice going, D.C. ! Here's hoping you folks get sued when the first ex offender is killed by a nutcase.
A Georgia law banning sex offenders from volunteer work at churches should be struck down because it "criminalizes fundamental religious activities," a court motion filed Tuesday says.
The motion is the latest legal assault on the controversial state sex-offender registry law, one of the toughest in the nation. A new provision says no registered sex offender shall be employed by or volunteer at a church.
This makes it a crime for sex offenders to sing in adult choirs, prepare for revivals or cook meals in a church kitchen, said the motion, which seeks a court order halting enforcement of the provision before it becomes law July 1. It was filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta as part of ongoing litigation that seeks to declare the law unconstitutional.
Sarah Geraghty, a lawyer with the Southern Center for Human Rights, said punishing registered sex offenders for volunteer work at a place of worship will do more harm than good.
"Certain people on the sex-offender registry should not work with children in a church setting or elsewhere," said Geraghty, one of the lawyers who filed the court motion. "With this law, the state of Georgia is driving people on the registry from the faith communities and depriving them of the rehabilitative influence of the church."
The goal of the state's sex-offender registry law is to keep sex offenders away from areas where children congregate and let the public know where the offenders reside. Its punishments are severe: Any offender caught working at or volunteering at a church can be sentenced to 10 to 30 years in prison.
"If we're practicing our faith and doing this work, we're doing the work God called us to do," said Collins, who filed an affidavit in support of the motion. "The state is hindering what the Bible clearly speaks about. I just want them to take another look at this."
A problem is that the ban is applied to all offenders, even if they were convicted of consensual sex as teenagers and pose no danger to children, he said Tuesday.
"The church is in the business of redemption," Rose said. "We must not throw a blanket over all sinners. Those accused of being sex offenders are individuals and should be treated as such."
The motion is part of ongoing litigation filed in 2006 after the Legislature enacted restrictions on where sex offenders could live and work. U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper initially issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting law enforcement from barring registered offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop. That order has since been lifted, but the bus stop restriction is not being enforced while the litigation makes its way through court.
Last year, the Georgia Supreme Court struck down part of the law prohibiting registered offenders from living within 1,000 feet of places where children congregate. This past session, the Legislature revised the law primarily to address the state Supreme Court's ruling.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Thousands of Missouri sex offenders will have to put their names back on the state registry after a ruling Tuesday by the state Supreme Court.
The offenders — including roughly 600 in Jackson County alone — were wiped from the registry in late June 2006. The court at the time said the Missouri Constitution didn’t allow for laws to be enforced retroactively, so only offenders convicted after the law took effect in January 1995 had to comply.
But the state judges unanimously ruled Tuesday that sex offenders must obey a federal law that went into effect about a month after that 2006 ruling. The federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act requires all offenders, regardless of when they were convicted, to register.
More idiots in the Missouri Supreme Court prove that they are incapable of discerning what a retro-active (retrospective) punishment is.
Monday, June 15, 2009
US sex offender laws may do more harm than good, according to a recent report from Human Rights Watch. Strict notification laws and residency requirements don’t reflect the reality of the risks children face, may not protect victims, and violate the basic human rights of former offenders.
Sarah Tofte is a researcher at Human Rights Watch; Linda runs a support group for families of registered sex offenders. Elizabeth J. Letourneau, Ph.D. works with juvenile sex offenders. She's Associate Professor at the Family Services Research Center of the Medical University of South Carolina.
Download MP3 of the broadcast
Manalapan township is moving forward with plans to repeal its sex-offender residency law, following the state Supreme Court's decision in May that struck local laws restricting where offenders may live.
The Township Committee at its June 10 meeting introduced an ordinance that would repeal its existing sex offender registry law. The township in 2005 had barred sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school, day-care center, park or library.
The high court affirmed last year's state appellate court decision, which said Cherry Hill and Galloway could not enforce residency restrictions for convicted sex offenders because those local rules conflicted with the state's Megan's Law.
The decision invalidated rules in some 100 communities across the state, including Manalapan's.
"We're compelled to rescind the ordinance now," Township Attorney Ronald Cucchiaro said.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Texas' sex offender registry received upgrades this year allowing residents to track offenders through workplaces, schools and e-mail notifications, but offender advocates say the upgrades downgrade chances of rehabilitation.
"Rick," who declined to have his name published, is self-employed and a sex offender. If he wanted to find a new job, he believes it would be more difficult.
The Texas Department of Public Safety revamped its sex offender registry at a cost of $1.2 million over the last year, making public where offenders work, go to school and offering e-mail notifications for people to track when an offender moves into their zip code or when a change is made to an offender's record.
"It's just another ploy. It's just another way to ruin your life after you've paid your debt to society," Rick said of the new changes.
Rick believes the addition of work information makes companies even less likely to hire sex offenders and puts currently employed offenders at risk of being discovered and losing their jobs. The listing could also make them a target for physical harm, Rick said.
DPS added these features because they were required to by a federal law, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, said Tela Mange, DPS spokeswoman. The features were rolled out in varying form over the last year, but DPS announced them all three weeks ago in a news release.
The issue is not just the information on the registry, but not having effective risk levels that tell searchers how dangerous an offender is, said Mary Sue Molnar, founder of Texas Voices, an offender advocacy group.
"The laws are very, very broad. People assume everyone who is required to register is a dangerous violent predator. That's not true, so listing the place of employment on a register has required many of our people to lose their jobs," said Molnar, whose son is a sex offender.
Texas Voices represents a variety of what she describes as harmless offenders such as the a 19-year-old boy who is arrested for having sex with his 16-year-old girlfriend. The laws keep released offenders from getting jobs and providing for their families, she said.
Her solution is to reduce the list to include the most dangerous and highest risk offenders, then information like employment will not be as detrimental and will affect only the worst offenders.
"If there is someone who is a registered sex offender living down the street from you, would you rather (have) them home alone, unemployed, desperate and homeless, or have a job, afford probation, treatments fees and counseling?" Molnar asked. "People can't be productive members of society without a job. This won't allow them to work."
Mange agrees offenders could lose their jobs or be the victims of harassment, but DPS must follow federal laws.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Title: A bill to direct the Attorney General to provide grants and access to information and resources for the implementation of the Sex Offender Registration Tips and Crime Victims Center Programs. Sponsor: Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY] (introduced 5/21/2009)
Sex Offender Registration Tips Program Act of 2009 or the SORT Act of 2009 - Directs the Attorney General to: (1) provide grants and access to information and resources to Parents for Megan's Law, Inc., to implement the Sex Offender Registration Tips Program; and (2) ensure access by Parents for Megan's Law, Inc., to the National Crime Information Center databases operated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Title: To direct the Attorney General to provide grants and access to information and resources for the implementation of the Sex Offender Registration Tips and Crime Victims Center Programs. Sponsor: Rep King, Peter T. [NY-3] (introduced 5/21/2009) Cosponsors (1)
Sex Offender Registration Tips Program Act of 2009 or the SORT Act of 2009 - Directs the Attorney General to: (1) provide grants and access to information and resources to Parents for Megan's Law, Inc., to implement the Sex Offender Registration Tips Program; and (2) ensure access by Parents for Megan's Law, Inc., to the National Crime Information Center databases operated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Thursday, June 11, 2009
SantaFe— New Mexico’s sex offender registration law does not apply to Native Americans living within the boundaries of tribal lands, the State Court of Appeals has ruled in a decision that reaffirms the state’s limited authority in Indian country.
The unanimous ruling came last week in consolidated cases involving three Navajos who were arrested in San Juan County in northwestern New Mexico outside the Navajo reservation. They were charged with failing to register as sex offenders under a state law.
The three men lived on tribal land and did not work or go to school off the reservation. They had each been convicted under federal law of sex offenses against minors.
The arrests occurred before April 2006, when the Navajo Nation began requiring convicted sex offenders who work, live or attend school on the reservation to register with tribal police.
Under state law, sex offenders who live in New Mexico must register with their local county sheriff. Registration is also required for sex offenders who are residents of another state but work or attend school in New Mexico. A 2006 federal law revised requirements for sex offender registration and dealt with questions of tribal and state authority over registration laws.
The court noted the 2006 federal law in deciding the cases of the Navajo men. Earlier federal laws on sex offender registration did not explicitly override tribal sovereignty, the court said.
A Houma man claims in a federal lawsuit that a city police detective sent personal information about him to Terrebonne Parish schools along with a false notice labeling him "a child predator."
Ronald Stuard, 47, filed the suit in U.S. District Court seeking an unspecified amount of money.
The court papers name detective Angela Domangue and Terrebonne Parish government as defendants. The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, alleges the incident caused Stuard mental anguish, anxiety and embarrassment.
A written notice Houma Police and Domangue sent to schools acknowledges he is not a registered sex offender but says officers want to "keep the kids safe" and "be in his face" if Stuard is found near a campus, the court papers say.
"Although he told her he was merely resting between running intervals on the public track, the teacher called the police," the suit states. Houma Police arrived and - without charging Stuard with a crime - asked him to leave and not to return.
The lawsuit says police officers, specifically Domangue, investigated his background. It also alleges his picture, birthdate, descriptions of his physical appearance and the car he drove and other personal information were sent to several local schools, which are not named in the suit.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
A Jeffersonville ordinance banning sex offenders from city parks was used unconstitutionally when a man who was no longer required to register with the state was blocked from watching his son play baseball, an Indiana Court of Appeals panel ruled yesterday.
The 2-1 ruling by the panel said the 2006 ordinance excessively punished Eric Dowdell, a Clarksville resident who wanted to watch his son play in Jeffersonville's Little League Ballpark. Dowdell asked for permission to go to the park more than 10 years after his sexual battery conviction and after his requirement to be listed on the Indiana sex-offender registry expired in 2006.
The panel's ruling applies only to Dowdell, who could not be reached yesterday for comment. But Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana and Dowdell's lawyer, said the City Council should repeal the ordinance.
The city has 30 days to ask the full Court of Appeals to reconsider the ruling or to ask the Indiana Supreme Court to consider the case.
Voters in a Connecticut town have rejected a plan to prohibit sex offenders from loitering near schools, parks and playgrounds, but advocates say they'll bring it up for a vote again.
Town residents voted 133-49 Monday to table the proposal indefinitely, after questions about its constitutionality arose. The ordinance would ban convicted sex offenders from many public places frequented by children, and give police authority to detain violators and fine them $100.
SEC. 2. BYRNE GRANT FUNDING CONDITIONED ON CERTIFICATION OF CERTAIN PRE-TRIAL RELEASE PROTECTIONS.
(a) Limitation on Funding-
(1) BYRNE GRANTS RESTRICTED- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Attorney General shall not provide any funds authorized under subpart 1 of part E of title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3750 et seq.) (whether characterized as the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Programs, the Local Government Law Enforcement Block Grants Program, or otherwise) to any State or unit of local government for any fiscal year for which the State or unit of local government, respectively, fails to meet the requirement under subsection (b).
(b) Requirement To Provide Certification of Pre-Trial Release Protections- For purposes of subsection (a)(1), the chief executive officer of a State or unit of local government shall submit to the Attorney General for a fiscal year a certification, in accordance with such form, manner, and time as specified by the Attorney General, that the laws of the State or unit of local government, respectively, provide adequate protection against the pre-trial release of individuals described in subsection (c)(1). For purposes of the previous sentence, in order to demonstrate adequate protection the certification must provide that the laws of the State or unit of local government, respectively, provide for at least the measures described in subsection (c).
In other words, the federal government wants to blackmail states (again) with the threat of withholding Byrne Funding to any state which allows an accused sex offender to be released on bail/bond prior to his trial. Not only is this an unconstitutional act, but also is in violation of the Federalism doctrine, which prevents the Federal Government from dictating to states the way they conduct their business.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Just weeks after New Jersey's Supreme Court ruled that towns cannot ban sex offenders from living near schools, parks or other places where children gather, some state lawmakers are pushing legislation that would give municipalities that right.
The May 7 court ruling struck down municipal ordinances in the southern Jersey communities of Cherry Hill and Galloway and invalidated similar laws in more than 100 other towns across the state. The cases highlighted Megan's Law, which requires convicted sex offenders to register their whereabouts with law enforcement, and meant local ordinances could only be allowed if lawmakers expanded that law or explicitly authorized towns to craft their own rules.
The proposed bill, A-641, would permit local measures that bar Megan's Law registrants from living up to 2,000 feet from places where children gather. However, supporters say the measure also would ensure that such ordinances could not be manipulated to create a zoning scheme that would effectively block a sex offender from residing anywhere in a given town.
Two other co-sponsors , Assemblywomen Pamela R. Lampitt, D-Camden, and Linda Greenstein, D-Hamilton, said the bill would help ensure that each local ordinance would be consistent and able to stand firmly on its legal merits.
To view legislation, click below and search bill "641":
lehighvalleylive.com : Measure to restrict residency for sexual offenders approved.
More than 100 New Jersey communities, including several in Warren County, may be able to have their local ordinances reinstated that prohibit sexual offenders from living in close proximity to a school, park, playground or day care center. Wayne DeAngelo is a co-sponsor of the bill, which would place restrictions on the location of the residences of sexual offenders.
A measure unanimously approved Monday by the New Jersey Assembly Judiciary Committee would restore ordinances nullified by the New Jersey Supreme Court in May.
It would, however set the radius at 500 feet and exempt those already residing in a community at the time the local law is enacted.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Think these sex offender laws apply only to sex offenders? Think again!
Sheriffs arrested two people for child endangerment for allegedly allowing a sex offender to live in their home.
The Sheriff's Office filed other charges on the suspect after learning that Julia and her husband, Ian P. Rodenberg, were renting a room at their residence to a person on the sex offender registry.
The Rodenberg's have three small children ranging from 4 to 10-years-old also living at the same residence.
Ian Rodenberg was then arrested and both he and his wife, were charged with child endangerment and taken to the Fayette County Jail. The child endangerment charge is an Aggravated Misdemeanor. The Fayette County Sheriff's Office also notified the Department of Human Services and the three children were turned over to their custody.
The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, signed into law on July 27, 2006, was intended to provide a standard method of determining sex offender classifications, and to standardize sex offender requirements in every state. Ohio adopted this federal law and made this Act effective in the state on January 1, 2008.
Q: Who must register as a sex offender?
A: The Adam Walsh Act organizes sex offenders into three categories, or tiers, with different registration requirements based upon an offender’s criminal conviction(s). This law applies to adult offenders as well as juvenile offenders, all of whom are required to register with the sheriff of the county where they live, work and attend school. They also must register with the sheriff any time they change their place of residence
Tier III offenders are considered the most serious offenders. They include those who have been convicted for offenses such as rape, sexual battery, murder with sexual motivation, etc. Tier III offenders (adult and juvenile) must register every 90 days for the rest of their lives.
Tier II offenders include those who have been convicted of offenses such as gross sexual imposition with a victim under 13 years old, pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor, and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor when the offender is four or more years older than the victim.
Adult offenders must register every 180 days for 25 years; juvenile offenders must register for 20 years.
Tier I offenders include those who have been convicted of offenses such as sexual imposition, voyeurism, and pandering obscenity. Adult offenders must register once a year for 15 years; juvenile offenders must register for 10 years.
Offenders who fail to register and update information may be charged with a separate felony offense under the law.
Q: Will the public be notified of sex offenders’ whereabouts?
A: The law requires the community to be notified of the whereabouts of Tier III sex offenders. This means that the sheriff of the county in which a Tier III offender lives or moves to must notify all residents of a neighborhood who live within 1000 feet of that sex offender’s home address. The sheriff also must notify schools, registered day-care providers, and other law enforcement agencies within the county any time a Tier III sex offender moves.
Q: What information must a sex offender provide to the sheriff?
A: All registered sex offenders must provide information about themselves to the sheriff’s office of their residential county during the entire time that they are required to register. That information includes any change of address, places of employment, enrollment in a school or institution of higher education, vehicles registered to them or which they might operate, telephone numbers, and all Internet accounts they may have, including e-mail addresses and any MySpace or similar accounts they may use.
Q: Where can sex offenders live?
A: Generally, registered sex offenders may live anywhere they choose, as long as that residence is at least 1000 feet from a school. “Schools” also include preschools and child day care centers. A civil legal action may be taken against any adult sex offender who lives within 1000 feet of a school, and a judge may order the offender to move. Juvenile sex offenders are not prohibited from living within 1000 feet of a school.
The city will be named in a federal lawsuit next week if it doesn’t move to eliminate a 2006 ordinance prohibiting registered sex offenders from loitering within 1,000 feet of schools, day cares, playgrounds or any public place children congregate.
The city’s sex offender loitering ordinance is being challenged as unconstitutional by the American Civil Liberties Union. Valerie Burch, of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, contacted city solicitor Michael Apfelbaum on Tuesday and notified him that a lawsuit will be filed next week if the municipality doesn’t act.
“We’re giving the city the opportunity to make it right without going to federal court,” Burch said .
The primary issue with the Sunbury ordinance is its vagueness, she said. “It’s unconstitutional when a law is not clear,” Burch said. “Loitering is not defined. A bug on the street could cause kids to gather.”
Apfelbaum agreed the language in the ordinance was too broad and said he’ll meet next week with the city council to discuss how to tighten up the language to provide more specificity on public areas restricted to sex offenders. “We’ve even asked the ACLU for suggestions,” he said. If the city fails to demonstrate its willingness to address the issue by Monday, Burch said, a lawsuit will be filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on behalf of “Jane Doe.”
“Jane Doe” is Teri Jo Hunt, a 39-year-old Sunbury mother of four and registered sex offender, who was cited for violating the ordinance last summer. The ACLU was alerted to the local law by news reports about Hunt, who was cited after she went to a city park with her young son.
Hunt, who was convicted of a felony offense in 2002 for taking a photo of a young girl’s breasts, said she was adhering to state Megan’s Law requirements of registering annually with the state police but had no idea there was a city law prohibiting her from taking her children to events and places where other minors gathered.
Many municipalities across Pennsylvania have passed ordinances restricting sexual offenders, Burch said, but few include the loitering element. Unlike the city ordinance, the state law doesn’t limit offenders’ housing options or movements.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
South Milwaukee’s Common Council considered an ordinance that had parents and the police chief surprised.
The ordinance would have allowed convicted sex offenders to participate in their children’s school activities.
However, the council voted against the measure in a unanimous vote. South Milwaukee has about 30 registered sex offenders, but neither police nor the school system knows how many have kids in school. City ordinance currently forbids them from setting foot on school property.
The R.I. Supreme Court Tuesday ruled that part of the state's sex-offender law violates the offender's constitutional right to due process, in some cases.
The state's highest court ruled that part of a state law gives the Superior Court discretion to deny a sex offender the "right to a meaningful hearing" during an appeal.
The court said this "cannot be reconciled" with the constitutional right to due process.
The court, in its 62-page opinion, said the provisions of the challenged law means a court can limit witnesses and cross examination during the hearings held when a sex offender appeals the classification.
Some officials testified at legislative hearings this year that offenders with highest risk of re-offense -- Level III classification -- often seek to have their classification downgraded in appeals that last for months. Level III status triggers a wide range of public notification about the person's identity, address and sex-crime convictions. There is some public notification about Level II offenders as well. Level 1 offenders, considered low risk to re-offend, do not have public notification.
The high court, however, was not persuaded in the underlying appeal to overturn an Oct. 3, 2005, Superior Court decision that upheld the Level III classification of Thomas Germane. The opinion state that the Superior Court gave Germane a "meaningful hearing" during his appeal of his classification. The Supereme Court also denied Germane's other assertions, including that his due process rights were violated.And the court also stated "we are not convinced" that people have "a fundamental right" to be free of sex offender registration and public notification requirements in the state's law governing such matters, "even if those requirements are intrusive and remain in place indefinitely."
U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.,Tuesday applauded the Justice Department’s decision to give a one-year extension to states to comply with the provisions of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), officials for Leahy said.
The Act was included as part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which was signed into law in 2006, and required states to comply with the provisions by July of this year.
In March, Leahy and other congressional leaders urged Attorney General Eric Holder to extend the deadline for compliance. Under the provisions of SORNA, states and other jurisdictions are required to comply with certain sex offender registry provisions within three years of the passage of the Adam Walsh Act. To date, no state or jurisdiction has met the requirements mandated in SORNA.
The 2006 law permits the Attorney General to grant up to two one-year extensions of the deadline. The proposal approved by the Attorney General is the first one-year extension.