Friday, October 30, 2009

More Halloween Sex Offender Hysteria ) : Restrictions on sex offenders during Halloween season. (Houston) : Special police unit is keeping tabs to be sure pedophiles don’t try to attract trick-or-treaters. (Arkansas) : Miller Co. corrals sex offenders for Halloween. (NY) : Suffolk police give sex offenders Halloween warning. (Texas) : Authorities Watching Out For Sex Offenders on Halloween. (Sarasota, FL) : Bradenton puts predators on notice to keep low profile on Halloween-Police tell registered sex offenders that they will be watched.

These are just a few more of the national stories on such hysteria. See previous post: "Halloween Sex Offender Policies Questioned":

"Sex crimes against pre-teen children are no higher during Halloween than at any other times of the year. Research has found that the highest danger for children during the Halloween season was from pedestrian- motor vehicle accidents, not from sexual abuse by strangers. Researchers found no increased rate of sexual abuse during the Halloween season." : Sex offenders sue over Halloween restrictions law.

St. Louis - Registered sex offenders say Missouri's is unconstitutionally restricting their activity during Halloween. The plaintiffs, who are parents, say the law is too vague, particularly as it applies to
their own children and grandchildren.

The new law took effect June 30. It
prohibits all Halloween-related contact with children; orders the offenders to stay inside their homes between 5 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. unless there is an emergency; orders them to post a sign stating, "No candy or treats at this residence;" and orders them to turn their outside lights off after 5 p.m. on Halloween.

The plaintiffs say they don't know how to conform to these rules with respect to their own children and grandchildren and fear undue prosecution. They are represented by Anthony Rothert of the ACLU.

The defendants include Missouri Attorney General Jeremiah Nixon, Gov. Matt Blunt, and other law enforcement officials. Read lawsuit here (PDF)

See Halloween Hysteria Part 1 here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

KY to Appeal Ruling Limiting Sex Offender Law : State to appeal ruling limiting sex-offender law.

The Kentucky attorney general’s office has asked the state Supreme Court to delay enforcement of its Oct. 1 ruling throwing out part of the state’s sex-offender statute until the U.S. Supreme Court hears the case.

The attorney general’s office filed a motion Oct. 21 asking the state high court to stay its ruling that the law banning sex offenders from living near schools, day cares and playgrounds cannot be applied to those convicted before the statute was enacted in 2006.

The court ruled 5-2 that the statute was improperly imposed on people convicted before it went into effect. The U.S. and Kentucky constitutions prohibit laws that impose or increase punishment on criminal acts committed before the law's enactment.

The attorney general’s office has until Dec. 30 to file a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. No petition has been filed. The U.S. Supreme Court rejects most cases, but the issue of whether sex-offender laws can be applied retroactively has surfaced in many states.

Under the Kentucky Supreme Court’s Oct. 1 ruling, sex offenders will still be required to register, but the residency restrictions enacted in 2006 cannot be applied to offenders convicted before that date. : Sex offender residency rules still being enforced despite Supreme Court ruling.

Kentucky probation and parole officers are enforcing a law that restricts where registered sex offenders can live despite a recent ruling by the Kentucky Supreme Court that says the law doesn't apply to those convicted before July 2006.

The state Department of Corrections has continued enforcing the law because Attorney General Jack Conway has asked the state's high court to suspend their ruling while he appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Our position is that the Supreme Court decision is not final," said Lisa Lamb, spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections. "We believe the former law is still in effect."

Mike Hummel, the Kenton County public defender, said he was disappointed by the state's decision.
"I think it's wrong to disregard what the Supreme Court has said is wrong," he said Thursday.
Lamb said the decision to enforce the old law came from the department's legal counsel.

Residents of Kentucky need to call and write their Attorney General's office and Supreme Court to demand that the ruling of the Kentucky Supreme Court be enforced. The Supreme Court is the highest level of legal authority in the state, but the Kentucky Attorney General does not believe he must abide by their decisions, apparently. Residents may also want to contact the Public Defender's office which needs to demand that the legal decision be followed.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

MA : No-go for Sex Offender Law : No-go for sex offender bylaw.

Plymouth - A proposal to restrict where Level 3 sex offenders can live in Plymouth and where sex offenders whose crime involved a child can loiter gained little traction Monday night as representatives argued the pros and cons of the plan. In the end, Town Meeting struck down the proposal, which would have prevented Level 3 sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet, or half a mile, of any school, daycare center, elderly housing complex, park or recreation facility.

If passed, the proposal would also have restricted sex offenders whose offense involved a child from being in a town or state park.

But Precinct 12 Rep. Bill Abbott, an attorney, said the bylaw, if adopted, would leave Plymouth vulnerable to a myriad of lawsuits.

“This bylaw is going to be a lawyer’s delight,” he added, noting that Dover, N.H., passed a similar restriction that was promptly appealed and overturned by the courts. In this case, the court ruled that the state failed to prove a connection between the restriction and safer children. In addition, the court ruled the measure violated these felons’ civil rights.

The bylaw, as written, is far too broad, Precinct 8 Rep. Theodore Bosen said. Many teens who are considered children under the law can be convicted of a sex crime for showing their friends a pornographic magazine, or for French kissing a girlfriend who is the not the legal age of consent. These relatively minor infractions can brand these children as sex offenders whose offense involved children. Restricting these minors from being in a state or town park means they won’t be able to participate in sports, attend events or even participate in recess, Bosen said. “This loitering statute is overly broad,” he added.

“It’s a flawed bylaw,” Precinct 8 Rep. Paul Luszcz said, adding that the measure needs more careful study and consideration before it’s ready for serious consideration by the local legislature.

A motion to eliminate the residency provision of the bylaw was defeated with a vote of 78 to 32. The sex offender article as a whole was struck down by a vote of 80 to 22.

Nebraska Proposed Sex Offender Regulations

Nebraska Proposed Sex Offender Regulations
Nebraska Secretary of State - Proposed Regulation Details
Title: 272 Chapter(s): 019 Section(s):
Short Description: Sexual Offender Registration
View Proposed Regulation (.pdf File)
Hearing Information: 12-02-2009, 9:00 AM at Central Auditorium, Nebraska Department of Roads, 1500 Highway 2, Lincoln, NE

Agency Hearing Contact Name: Shawn Edwards (402) 471-8492

AZ State Senator's Son Admits Sex Offense : State senator's son, 2nd teen admit 'brooming'- from 2006

The son of state Senate President (now Arizona Secretary of State) Ken Bennett admitted in court Monday to assaulting middle school boys with a broomstick in their rectal areas, but a judge allowed charges against him to be reduced from 18 to one, and he may avoid jail. Three of the 18 victims, all boys between the ages of 11 and 15, are from Tucson, and the families are angry that 18-year-old Clifton Bennett and co-defendant Kyle Wheeler, 19, were not charged with sexual assault.

Also, the families said Bennett is being treated favorably by the court system because of his father's position in the Legislature. Bennett's plea would allow the court to classify the aggravated-assault conviction as a misdemeanor, which means he could go on to become a teacher or counselor and would never have to disclose the so-called "brooming" incident.

"I think he got a sweetheart deal," said the father of one of the three Tucson victims, a 12-year-old boy who attends a local Catholic school. "I'd like him to get a year in prison. The victims should have been heard from before the plea was agreed to. If this was 18 girls who were victims, it would have been sexual assault."
Ken Bennett and his family would not comment Monday. The senator and his wife were in court throughout Monday's hearing.

Police reports say the assaults took place at Chapel Rock Camp in Prescott during a weeklong camp for school leaders in June. Witnesses told police that the junior counselors lined up the youngsters, told them to bend over and "broomsticked" them. The boys told police "broomsticking" was done alternately with a broom, a cane, a mop handle and a heavy-duty flashlight while they were clothed.

Bennett read a statement to the court in which he admitted the brooming and said he did it with the intention of insulting them through humiliation. "I know I personally broomed a number of the campers. I know I personally restrained a number of the campers. I now know this was an assault under the law," Bennett said. " 'Brooming' was the name given for the practice of poking a camper, while clothed, in the area of the butt. A broom handle, a cane and a flashlight handle were the objects used. I know all of the campers were broomed at least once."

List of Murdered Sex Offenders

Sex Offender Murders by A Voice of Reason : Master list of RSOs/SOs killed or murdered in the U.S.

A list of documented murders of Registered Sex Offenders in the U.S.

Denver Police Crush Sex Offender's Car

AP/Google : Denver police crush sex offender's car.

Denver police have crushed a car belonging to a man who pleaded guilty to attempting to sexually assault a child. Police destroyed the vehicle of 37-year-old XXX on Tuesday, saying it's a public nuisance.

Police say a vehicle can be considered a public nuisance in Denver if it is used to attempt a sexual assault.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Calif Supreme Court Oral Arguments in Nov.

California Supreme Court - Oral Arguments scheduled for Nov, 3, 2009 at 1:30pm:

In re J. (E.) on Habeas Corpus S156933; In re P. (S.) on Habeas Corpus S157631; In re S. (J.) on Habeas Corpus S157633; and In re T. (K.) on Habeas Corpus, S157634 (consolidated cases)
#07-457, In re J. (E.) on Habeas Corpus, S156933 (original proceeding); #07-458 In re P. (S.) on Habeas Corpus, S157631 (original proceeding); #07-459 In re S. (J.) on Habeas Corpus, S157633 (original proceeding); #07-460 In re T. (K.) on Habeas Corpus, S157634 (original proceeding).

In each of these four matters, the court issued an order to show cause why the petitioner is not entitled to relief from the residency restrictions imposed by Penal Code section 3003.5 on persons required to register as sex offenders, on the ground the statute violates the ex post facto clauses of the state and federal Constitutions, has been impermissibly retroactively applied, constitutes an unreasonable parole condition, impinges on the petitioner’s substantive due process rights, and is unconstitutionally vague.

If the above links do not work, go to , and search case numbers listed above.

Legislator Votes to Take Away Wages from Sex Offenders (MN): A vote against paying wages to sex offenders

More pandering by politicians...

Matt Dean, a Republican legislator from Dellwood, said he did not think it was a good idea for a state-run treatment facility to pay the patients for any work they performed -- especially when the program’s costs were spiraling upward and no patient had been successfully treated and released from the program by the courts. So Dean authored legislation earlier this year that would make it mandatory that 50 percent of their wages go to help pay for the program’s costs and that the other 50 percent not encumbered by a court order go to the crime victims reparations board.

A spokesperson for the state sex offender program said patients are paid $7.25 an hour when they participate in vocational programming, can work up to 30 hours a week and that up to 50 percent of their earnings go to paying for the program’s costs.

Though Dean’s proposal received a legislative hearing last spring, it eventually died. Dean, the lead Republican on the House Human Services Finance committee, said he later offered a watered down version on the House floor, asking that it be mandatory that 50 percent of the wages paid to sex offenders go to help pay the program’s rising costs. That proposal, he said, failed too.

"The purpose of that was to try to get [more] of the funds back," Dean said in an interview after the Star Tribune wrote last week. "A lot of people are very surprised that they actually do collect a wage.

"It’s a very odd population, and it’s also one that infuriates people," he added.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sex Crimes Committed by Illegal Immigrants : The Dark Side of Illegal Immigration: Nearly One Million Sex Crimes Committed by Illegal Immigrants in the United States 2006, By Deborah Schurman-Kauflin, Ph.D. Violent Crimes Institute, LLC Atlanta, Georgia

This privately conducted study discusses the proliferation of sex crimes committed by illegal immigrants. By definition, these illegal immigrants would not be listed on any sex offender registry, and therefore the statistics cited in this study cannot be affected by any SORNA/Adam Walsh Act laws.

After conducting a 12 month in-depth study of illegal immigrants who committed sex crimes and murders for the time period of January 1999 through April 2006 , it is clear that the U.S. public faces a dangerous threat from sex predators who cross the U.S. borders illegally.

There were 1500 cases analyzed in depth. They included: serial rapes, serial murders, sexual homicides, and child molestation committed by illegal immigrants. Police reports, public records, interviews with police, and media accounts were all included. Offenders were located in 36 states, but it is clear, that the most of the offenders were located in states with the highest numbers of illegal immigrants. California was number one, followed by Texas, Arizona, New Jersey, New York, and Florida.

Based on population numbers of 12,000,000 illegal immigrants and the fact that young males make up more of this population than the general U.S. population, sex offenders in the illegal immigrant group make up a higher percentage. When examining ICE reports and public records, it is consistent to find sex offenders comprising 2% of illegals apprehended. Based on this 2% figure, which is conservative, there are approximately 240,000 illegal immigrant sex offenders in the United States.

This translates to 93 sex offenders and 12 serial sexual offenders coming across U.S. borders illegally per day. The 1500 offenders in this study had a total of 5,999 victims. Each sex offender averaged 4 victims. This places the estimate for victimization numbers around 960,000 for the 88 months examined in this study.

Illegal immigrants who commit sex crimes first cross the U.S. border illegally. Then they gradually commit worse crimes and are continually released back into society or deported. Those who were deported simply returned illegally again. Only 2% of the offenders in this study has no history of criminal behavior, beyond crossing the border illegally. There is a clear pattern of criminal escalation. From misdemeanors such as assault or DUI, to drug offenses, illegal immigrants who commit sex crimes break U.S. laws repeatedly. They are highly mobile, work in low skilled jobs with their hands, use drugs and alcohol, are generally promiscuous, have little family stability, and choose victims who are easy to attack. Their attacks are particularly brutal, and they use a hands-on method of controlling and/or killing their victims.

Perhaps our focus should turn to crimes committed by illegal immigrants, before we take away constitutional rights of American citizens !

Idaho Girl Scouts Moving Due to Sex Offenders : South Idaho Girl Scouts moving due to sex offenders.

Twin Falls, Idaho (AP) - The Twin Falls headquarters for 620 Girls Scouts in south-central is moving due to what officials say are too many registered sex offenders in the neighborhood.
(Of course, they were forced into areas such as this by Residency Restrictions)

Shelli Rambo Robertson, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Silver Sage Council, tells The Times-News that the location on Fourth Avenue is not a safe environment because there are more than 50 registered sex offenders living within one mile. The office is in an industrial part of town next to a tattoo parlor. The group last month discontinued meetings at the headquarters and is moving to a new office near the College of Southern Idaho.

However, the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office reports there are 23 registered sex offenders living within one mile of the new location.

(Well, that should rectify the situation...)

YouTube Star Jailed for Violating Sex Offender Law : Sex offender Edarem, YouTube video 'star,' jailed for probation violation.
Edarem's YouTube Channel

On YouTube , 77 year old Edward Muscare is known by his user name "Edarem," and his recordings show an older man lip syncing and singing songs. Many of them have drawn hundreds of thousands of page views. Muscare's online fame, though, helped land him back in jail.

Muscare's videos have become so viral that law-enforcement agencies in Florida and South Carolina, where he has been living, became aware of his online presence. The former Lake County resident was jailed on violation of probation and failure to comply with conditions related to his status as a registered sex offender. One of those conditions was that he not use the Internet or other computer services, according to court records.

Now, some of Muscare's YouTube followers are coming to his defense by posting messages online, urging "Freedom for Edward Muscare" and "Libertad para Edarem." One Muscare supporter has posted a lengthy message addressed to Lake County Circuit Judge Mark Hill on YouTube.

"I am writing you on behalf of an individual who is now in jail for posting videos of his dogs and advice on how to scratch your back," the YouTube user wrote. "If there is any justice in the world Edward Muscare will be liberated."

Muscare has an arraignment scheduled for Monday. Court records show Muscare, who once lived in Lady Lake, avoided a five-year prison sentence when he pleaded guilty in 2007 and received five years' probation with special conditions of sex-offender probation. He had apparently moved out of his Lady Lake home and to a new residence in Orangeburg, S.C., but he failed to notify officials about the move as required.

In a letter sent to Hill at that time, Muscare wrote, "In the past 21 years, the only law I broke was leaving Florida in December 2005 without notifying the Sheriff's Office. And I did that only because of threats to my life and property." Muscare declined a request for an interview Friday at the Lake County Jail.

His criminal problems in Central Florida date to 1986, when the Orlando Sentinel identified Muscare as a former Kansas City television host who was arrested in San Diego on charges that he molested a 14-year-old Orange County boy while he was in Orlando. In Kansas City he worked as a late-night-television-show host known as Uncle Ed. He later worked for a station in San Diego.

In 1987, Muscare pleaded no contest to sexual battery, according to records with the 9th Judicial Circuit State Attorney's Office. He was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison followed by 10 years of supervised probation. Records show he also was ordered not be alone with children younger than 14, state attorney's spokeswoman Danielle Tavernier said.

In 1998, he was accused of failing to promptly register as a sex offender after coming off his probation. In 2006, he was hit with the similar charge of failure to comply when he made the move out of state.

Muscare's history has not fazed his online fans, though. Below his "Oh, Pretty Woman" video, one fan wrote in typical unpunctuated Web-speak, "edarem you look like a cross between uncle fester and doc out of back to the future. and maybe a bit of boris karloff thrown in the mix. you are a true youtube legend and will be for some time to come." Another user wrote, "this guy is one cool grandpa."

At least one supporter, the one with the lengthy note addressed to Hill, suggested that Muscare might not have controlled what videos appeared online. His defense lawyer, Jeremy Pykosz, an assistant public defender who just received the case, said that could be a defense, but he must review the facts first. " Someone could take different videos and post them online without their knowledge or permission," he said.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Halloween Sex Offender Hysteria (Vermont): Parole agency plans Halloween restrictions on sex offenders. (Alabama): Offenders must be off streets on holiday. (New York) : Sex offender under close Halloween scrutiny.

These are just a few of the national stories on such hysteria. See previous post: "Halloween Sex Offender Policies Questioned":

"Sex crimes against pre-teen children are no higher during Halloween than at any other times of the year. Research has found that the highest danger for children during the Halloween season was from pedestrian- motor vehicle accidents, not from sexual abuse by strangers. Researchers found no increased rate of sexual abuse during the Halloween season." : Sex offenders sue over Halloween restrictions law.

St. Louis - Registered sex offenders say Missouri's is unconstitutionally restricting their activity during Halloween. The plaintiffs, who are parents, say the law is too vague, particularly as it applies to their own children and grandchildren.

The new law took effect June 30. It prohibits all Halloween-related contact with children; orders the offenders to stay inside their homes between 5 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. unless there is an emergency; orders them to post a sign stating, "No candy or treats at this residence;" and orders them to turn their outside lights off after 5 p.m. on Halloween.

The plaintiffs say they don't know how to conform to these rules with respect to their own children and grandchildren and fear undue prosecution. They are represented by Anthony Rothert of the ACLU.

The defendants include Missouri Attorney General Jeremiah Nixon, Gov. Matt Blunt, and other law enforcement officials. Read lawsuit here (PDF)

Survey : Why States Won't Comply with SORNA

SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics
Survey on State Compliance with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA)(a.k.a. Adam Walsh Act) (PDF file) - April 2009


Not one of the 47 states that responded to questions in a recent survey will meet the July 2009 compliance deadline for implementing the sex offender registration and notification standards required by the Adam Walsh Act. The seven-question email survey of the states was conducted in February 2009 by SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics.

Of the 45 states that did answer the survey questions, 42 reported that legislation would be needed to bring the states into SORNA compliance. Two others were unclear whether legislation would be needed, and one was unlikely to put forth any more SORNA compliance legislation after two previous legislative attempts failed

Federally recognized Indian tribes were present in 26 responding states. Ten of those states indicated that they would work with the tribes on SORNA compliance through cooperative agreements. Seven states said they were not planning to enter into cooperative agreements with the tribes in that fashion, and nine states had not determined whether the state and tribe would work together on SORNA compliance.

States responding to the survey cited a number of factors impacting their ability to comply with SORNA although some common themes emerged (most states cited more than one impacting factor). The most commonly cited barrier to SORNA compliance was the act’s juvenile registration and reporting requirements, cited by 23 states.

According to the SORNA guidelines, SORNA does not require registration for juveniles adjudicated as delinquent for all sex offenses, but it does require registration for a defined class of older juveniles (at least 14 years old) adjudicated for committing particularly serious sexually assaults, along with conspiracies or attempts to commit such crimes.

Retroactive registration was the second most frequently referenced SORNA barrier cited by the states (20 states). SORNA requires registration to be retroactive to certain sex offenders whose convictions predate SORNA enactment or its implementation in a particular jurisdiction.

Seven states were concerned with the cost of implementing SORNA, as the federal government has yet to provide funds to support its implementation. Seven states also cited as a barrier SORNA’s requirement that convicted sex offenders be assigned to tiers based on the severity of their crimes, with Tier 1 offenders being considered the least dangerous and Tier III offenders the most dangerous. Length of registration requirement
and other controls are based on an offender’s assigned tier. Four states’ SORNA compliance was impacted by the act’s in-person reporting requirements, which direct registrants to appear in person to register and, periodically, to verify or update registry information.

Survey responses from every state are included in this document.

Ohio's response to question #4- What will be the most difficult aspect of the Adam Walsh Act/SORNA for your state to comply with?:

"Based on the legislative proceedings that resulted in implementation of the AWA, the unfettered registration of juveniles and the “super-retroactivity” requirements will likely be difficult to address. If the SMART office continues to apply the “substantially implement” standard as requiring absolutely no departure of any kind or degree from AWA guidelines, then compliance will be enormously difficult for every state."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Day Care Center Created to Oust Sex Offenders : Day Care May Oust Sex Offenders.

It was just a matter of time before citizens used the sex offender registry laws to strategically harass ex sex offenders.

Orlando, Fla. - There is a new proposal that seeks to oust nearly 100 sex offenders by building a day care near their Central Florida homes.

What began as concern over a school bus stop located on Orange Blossom Trail near a mobile home park that houses more than 90 sex offenders became a plan to push them out (of their homes) in the name of children’s safety after a proposal to move the bus stop didn’t work.

The woman who came up with the plan, Barbara Farris, said she wants them out and away from the public school bus stop. In fact, Farris has been sitting down the street, protesting their presence.

According to the release conditions placed on sex offenders, they are prohibited from living near schools, churches and day cares, but there is nothing that says can’t live by the bus stop.
So Farris has ramped up her efforts, and said she has a location for the day care facility locked down and is working with someone who already owns multiple day cares.

Florida A & M Law professor Barbara Bernier said if Farris gets her way, the sex offenders will have to move. Bernier said the plan is legal, but raises another legal conflict. "The question is, does the sex offenders right to live where they're living trump an individuals right to set up a day care center?" Bernier said.

Several sex offenders who live at the Lake Shore Village Moble Home Park came out to talk to Local 6 about the proposal. “We did our time,” said a sex offender who wished to remain anonymous. “We’re trying to do what’s right.”

Some sex offenders Local 6 spoke with said forcing them out of the area wouldn’t solve anything.
“Would you rather have 91 sex offenders in a park that has police protection because the owner of the park provides that to watch over what's going on, or would you rather have them scattered all over Orlando?” asked another offender who did not want to be identified.

Still, Farris said she hopes to her proposal will be approved and enacted quickly.
“Once we get our license approved, they have 24 hours to relocate,” Farris said.
Farris said she has a list of other monitored communities where they could relocate, but all are out of the county.

Arrested For Bringing School Lunch To Daughter : Sex Offender Arrested Bringing School Lunch To Daughter

When 32-year-old Daniel Wax showed up at Ellendale Elementary for lunch with his daughter, it sent off a warning. The visitor check-in computer found Wax on the Tennessee sex offender's registry. Police were called and Wax was arrested.

"They cannot be on school property or near school property, if they have kids at school have to go to the school and work out arrangements with the principal," says Inspector Jeff Cox with the Bartlett Police Department.

Halloween Sex Offender Policies Questioned : Halloween Sex Offender Policies Questioned.

Sex crimes against pre-teen children are no higher during Halloween than at any other times of the year and diverting law enforcement places people at more risk, according to a study in Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment.

That's not to say parents shouldn't use caution or supervision but the findings raise questions about the wisdom of law enforcement practices aimed at dealing with a problem that does not appear to exist.

Using the National Incident-Base Reporting System, the study looked at more than 67,000 non-family sex offenses (most sex offenses are committed by someone the victim knows) reported to law enforcement in 30 states across nine years. Taking into account such variables as time, seasonality and weekday periodicity, the researchers found no increased rate of sexual abuse during the Halloween season. Additionally, the number of reported incidences didn't vary before or after police procedures were implemented to prevent such abuse.

Research has found that the highest danger for children during the Halloween season was from pedestrian- motor vehicle accidents, not from sexual abuse by strangers.

"It is important for policy makers to consider allocation of resources in light of the actual increased risks that exist in areas besides Halloween sex offender policies," the authors conclude. "Our findings indicated that sex crimes against children by nonfamily members account for 2 out of every 1,000 Halloween crimes, calling into question the justification for diverting law enforcement resources away from more prevalent public safety concerns."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sex Registries Give a False Sense of Security : Somer Thompson lived near 161 sex offenders. Is that number high?

Authorities have found the body of seven-year-old Somer Thompson in a Georgia landfill 50 miles from her home. She was abducted Monday as she was walking home from school in Orange Park, Fla. Police have said it was a homicide but have not reported any motives for the crime. They are interviewing convicted sex offenders living in Somer's community. Florida's sexual offenders and predators registry, which is updated daily, shows 88 registered offenders live in Orange Park, and 161 offenders live within a five-mile radius of her home.

But experts say these figures are not out of the ordinary. With cities of all sizes increasingly limiting where sex offenders can reside, high-density clusters – sometimes with as many as 100 offenders living within one square mile – are becoming increasingly common.

"There are sex offenders living in all communities," says Jill Levenson, a professor of psychology at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., who specializes in studying sex-crimes policy. The number of offenders in the area surrounding Somer's home "may seem like a lot, but where do we think they're going to be living?"

Florida – along with Georgia and Louisiana – tend to have the toughest sex-offender laws. It has the third most registered sex offenders in the nation and ranks sixth per capita. This may contribute to Florida's relatively high number of offenders, but it also might provide a "false sense of security," says Professor Levenson.

She criticizes the registry, saying it does not assess an offender's risk to the community. "The registry is full of all kinds of different people," she says. "There's this huge list with little ability to distinguish between types of offenders."

Report: Sex Offender Rules Cause Problems : Report: Babylon's sex offender rules can cause problems.

Babylon (New York) Town Supervisor Steve Bellone says current sex offender residency restrictions could be pushing offenders underground and away from law enforcement - citing a two-year analysis of the addresses of sex offenders living in the town that found nearly one-third were not residing at the locations listed on the state's sex offender registry.

The report also stated that, as of Sept. 24, eight of the 17 sex offenders never lived at the locations where they were registered, and 50 of Babylon's 57 registered sex offenders were registered at addresses from which they were barred by residency restrictions.

Bellone called on Gov. David A. Paterson to commission a statewide analysis of the rules governing where sex offenders can live, laws which vary by jurisdiction. Babylon uses Suffolk County's restriction that offenders cannot live within a quarter-mile of schools, parks, day care centers and nursery schools.

Bellone proposed a different option: Apply residency restrictions at sentencing, with tougher rules for those more likely to re-offend.

"My concern is we often, in government, leap to do things that seem tough, but might actually undermine the goals" of laws designed to protect children, he said Wednesday.

Paterson's administration will review the report, said John Caher, a spokesman for the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. Spokeswoman Janine Kava said the state registry - which includes 29,518 Level 2 and 3 offenders - is designed to make it "incumbent on the sex offender to get in touch with us about the change of address."

Bellone's findings seem to echo the sentiment of sex offender rehabilitation advocates who have said residency restriction laws merely push offenders off the grid and do not make children more safe.

Richard Hamill, president of the New York State Alliance of Sex Offender Service Providers, said the laws can discourage sex offenders from registering at all because they are left with few options for housing. Bellone's report includes a map showing offenders are barred from living in more than 80 percent of the town's land area. Fewer housing options can produce clustering, critics say, pointing to communities such as Gordon Heights, a Brookhaven Town neighborhood where officials say about 40 offenders live within a roughly half-square-mile area.

Long-term supervision is a more effective way to prevent sex offenders from committing more crimes, Hamill said. "As long as we keep the populations of sex offenders up in the air, moving from place to place . . . they are more likely to commit offenses," he said.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Senators Attempt To Defund Justice Ex Post Facto : Senators Attempt To Defund Justice Ex Post Facto.

This article relates to prosecutions of terrorists. Our question: why is this violation of Ex Post Facto getting more attention than is the similar Ex Post Facto violation related to sex offender registries via the Adam Walsh Act?

In a piece of legislation that has been written and is currently under consideration by the United States Senate, Senators Lindsey Graham, Joseph Lieberman and John McCain have promoted S.Amdt. 2669 to H.R. 2847, the Defunding Justice Amendment, which would forbid the Executive Branch from using courts established under the Constitution to prosecute criminal suspects accused of being connected to just one particular set of crimes. The amendment declares that no government funds can be used to conduct trials of suspects accused of connection to the attacks of September 11, 2001.

You may not like the people accused of participation in the September 11, 2001 attacks (nor sex offenses) . Given what I know about them, I’m not fond of them myself.

In a free country, however, such prejudice is not supposed to be allowed to interfere with the conduct of any criminal trial, no matter how serious the charges. The Defunding Justice Amendment violates a fundamental aspect of the Constitution’s system of fair trials: The ban on ex post facto laws.

Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution forbids ex post facto laws, meaning that Congress is not allowed to pass laws that change the rules of the law regarding an event after the event has taken place. That means that a legal act cannot retroactively be declared illegal, but it also means that the system of prosecution and punishment for a criminal act cannot be altered after the criminal act has taken place.

Disregard of that fundamental principle of American justice is not just unfair. It is downright unpatriotic. that declares that anyone accused of the particular criminal event you’re alleged to be involved in would be put through a specially-established set of tribunals that don’t comply with constitutional standards of justice.

Man Can't Find a Legal Place to Live : Murphy's Law: Sex Offender Can't Find a Legal Place to Live in Broward.

The more we learn about Ronald Murphy's case, the sadder it is. We first told you about him last week. Then we met the man this weekend. And yesterday a source with knowledge of the case told us that Murphy's stuck living on a bench in Delray Beach, in part, because his family in Broward County has refused to let him live with them.

But mostly, he's stuck there because he's registered not just as a sexual offender but as a sexual "predator" -- meaning he gets a super-sized batch of statutory restrictions. Read them here if you've got an hour to kill.

He can't live within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop, a provision designed to keep him away from children, even though the crime that got him in this predicament was the rape of an adult woman he met in a public park.
Murphy has no money, so building an estate in Southwest Ranches -- or some similarly rural section of Broward -- is not an option. It's "nearly impossible" to find a legal location in the county for guys like Murphy to live, says the source (who asked not to be named) especially since neighborhoods that contain appropriate halfway houses have a way of suddenly building playgrounds in parks, whereby they disqualify themselves from being an area where offenders can live legally, which is what happened at one potential location, Fort Lauderdale's Mission of St. Francis.

So that puts Murphy squarely in no-man's-land: the bench outside his probation officer's office in Delray Beach.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Megan’s Law: Assessing Practical ,Monetary Efficacy

Megan’s Law: Assessing the Practical and Monetary Efficacy (PDF file)
Published by National Criminal Justice Reference Service
Federal funds provided by the U.S. Department of Justice

Executive Summary:

The research that follows concerns the various impacts of community notification and registration laws (Megan’s Law) in New Jersey. Although this report includes a variety of interesting findings and many ideas that will be explored upon post grant period, this research was embarked upon, in general, to investigate:

1) the effect of Megan’s Law on the overall rate of sexual offending over time;
2) its specific deterrence effect on re-offending, including the level of general and sexual offense recidivism, the nature of sexual re-offenses, and time to first re-arrest for sexual and non-sexual re-offenses (i.e., community tenure); and
3) the costs of implementation and annual expenditures of Megan’s Law.

These three primary foci were investigated using three different methodologies and samples. Phase One was a 21-year (10 years prior and 10 years after implementation, and the year of implementation) trend study of sex offenses in each of New Jersey’s counties and of the state as a whole. In Phase Two, data on 550 sexual offenders released during the years 1990 to 2000 were collected, and outcomes of interest were analyzed. Finally, Phase Three collected implementation and ongoing costs of administering Megan’s Law. The following points highlight the major findings of the three phases of the study:

  • New Jersey, as a whole, has experienced a consistent downward trend of sexual offense rates with a significant change in the trend in 1994.
  • In all but two counties, sexual offense rates were highest prior to 1994 and were lowest after 1995.
  • County trends exhibit substantial variation and do not reflect the statewide trend, suggesting that the statewide change point in 1994 is an artifact of aggregation.
  • In the offender release sample, there is a consistent downward trend in re-arrests, re-convictions and re-incarcerations over time similar to that observed in the trend study, except in 1995 when all measures spiked to a high for that period. This resulted insignificant differences between cohorts (i.e., those released prior to and after Megan’s Law was implemented).
  • Re-arrests for violent crime (whether sexual or not) also declined steadily over the same period, resulting in a significant difference between cohorts (i.e., those released prior to and after Megan’s Law was implemented).
  • Megan’s Law has no effect on community tenure (i.e., time to first re-arrest).
  • Megan’s Law showed no demonstrable effect in reducing sexual re-offenses.
  • Megan’s Law has no effect on the type of sexual re-offense or first time sexual offense (still largely child molestation/incest).
  • Megan’s Law has no effect on reducing the number of victims involved in sexual offenses.
  • Sentences received prior to Megan’s Law were nearly twice as long as those received after Megan’s Law was passed, but time served was approximately the same.
  • Significantly fewer sexual offenders have been paroled after the implementation of Megan’s Law than before (this is largely due to changes in sentencing).
  • Costs associated with the initial implementation as well as ongoing expenditures continue to grow over time. Start up costs totaled $555,565 and current costs (in 2007) totaled approximately 3.9 million dollars for the responding counties.
  • Given the lack of demonstrated effect of Megan’s Law on sexual offenses, the growing costs may not be justifiable.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sex Offender Registration: Disease or Cure? : Sex Offender Registration: Part of the Disease, or Part of the Cure?

Laws requiring sex offender registration exist in some form in all 50 states. These regulations were initially proposed as a way to provide information about the location of persons convicted of sex-related crimes and to discourage registered offenders from committing additional crimes.

The Consequences of Sex Offender Registration

Unfortunately, while the lawmakers may have had good intentions, there is little evidence to suggest that these regulations are effective at preventing further crimes. Often, law enforcement officials focus efforts on locating offenders who are not in compliance with registry procedures, but even those who have registered and have regular contact with the authorities may commit further offenses.

Furthermore, increasingly draconian laws are unfairly restricting the rights of registrants. For example, some laws preventing registrants from living within a certain distance of schools, churches, parks and other places where children congregate are forcing registrants to move to increasingly rural areas, live on state-owned correctional facility property or even be homeless. Nassau County, New York, recently passed a law that would prevent convicted offenders from returning to their own homes if those homes are in close proximity to the victims.

Continued Punishment

Even after they pay their debt to society in the form of prison time and other penalties, some sex offenders undergo what seems like further punishment. Some states, including New York, have what are known as "civil commitment" statutes. These laws can be used to place convicted sex offenders, even those who are no longer in a correctional facility, in a treatment facility for further rehabilitation. This confinement could last indefinitely, until a panel determines that the offender has sufficiently recovered and can reenter society. Even then, sex offender registration requirements remain and must be complied with.

Though sex-related offenses have existed for hundreds of years, the keen fear surrounding sex offenders is more recent. Mainstream media is responsible for a significant percentage of this apprehension. In spite of the fact that most cases of rape, statutory rape, molestation and lewd acts occur between acquaintances or family members, the attention given to these crimes has been the impetus for public outcry and more stringent sex offender registration laws across the country. Twenty-four hour news channels, the Internet and even smartphone applications providing information about the location of local sex offenders feed the panic and unduly alarm individuals and families.

The result is sex offender registration laws that restrict registrants so much that their ability to secure gainful employment, find decent places to live and conduct meaningful lives is hampered.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Group Opposes Sex Offender Registry (California) : Group opposes sex-offender registry for youths.

Legislation that requires states to publish the names and photos of minors who have been convicted of sex-related offenses in a nationwide public registry is being discouraged by a Washington D.C.-based group.

Some states already include minors as young as 14 in their own statewide sex offender registries, but legislation known as the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 is calling for all states to take up the practice for a national registry.

States that don't comply with the act risk a decrease in federal criminal justice funding. Yet, only one state and one tribe have complied completely since Congress enacted the act in 2006.

In addition to strengthening sex offender registries, the sweeping Adam Walsh Act plugged loopholes in current federal laws and increased prison terms. So far, only one state - Ohio - and a Washington tribe have completely complied.

Other states have cited numerous reasons for not complying, including the cost and the need for more equipment, resources and personnel. A Congressional Budget Office analysis from December 2005 reported the act to cost $1.5 billion to enact between 2006 and 2011.

Besides cost, California cited other reasons for not complying with the act: statutory barriers, juvenile privacy issues and constitutional privacy protections, according to an April survey conducted by SEARCH, a national consortium for justice information and statistics.

Man Sentenced to Post Sex Offender Sign in Yard (Ohio) : Holmesville man designated sex offender, must place sign in his yard.

Millersburg -- A Holmesville man described by a judge as "a sex offender with some serious psychological issues" will be required to display a sign at his residence.

Thomas A. Miller, 28, xxxx Township Road , was sentenced on one count of gross sexual imposition Thursday by Holmes County Common Pleas Judge Thomas D. White to 120 days in jail, mandatory sex offender counseling and five years probation. Through the term of his probation, Miller will be required to post a sign at his residence that identifies him as a sex offender.

The charge against Miller stems from a Feb. 17 incident, when, according to court records, he invited a woman to his home on a business call to discuss insurance. While he and the woman were speaking, Miller grabbed and stroked her foot. When she began to resist, Miller picked her up and started to carry her to a bedroom.
Miller said to adult probation authorities conducting a presentence investigation that while he was carrying the woman, he realized he was in a position to rape her. He said he then put her down.

Andrew Hyde, Miller's attorney, described Miller's actions as those of a socially inept and lonely man.
"(There is) a lack of intimacy in his life," Hyde said. "He doesn't know how to act around women. He's getting older, he's getting lonelier." Miller acted the way he did because he believed "he was enticing her," Hyde said.
White ordered Miller to pay a $1,000 fine. The gross sexual imposition carries a mandatory classification for Miller as a tier 1 sex offender.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Residency Restrictions Don't Make Kids Safer : Sex-offender residency restrictions don't make kids safer.

Conventional wisdom is a powerful force that often leads the well-intentioned astray. For example, there's the widespread belief that we can make children safer by restricting where known sex offenders are allowed to live. The notion is enticing in its simplicity. Make sure offenders don't lay their heads near schools or parks or other places where children congregate, and kids will be safely ensconced in a predator-free bubble. Unfortunately, it isn't that easy.

Residency restrictions don't make children safer. In fact, they may make communities more dangerous by pushing offenders underground. No one wants a sex offender living nearby. And the effort to protect kids is important and heartfelt. But the public, and elected officials, shouldn't waste their time and energy on ever more exclusionary residency laws.

Having a kid snatched by a stranger skulking around a school yard is a nightmarish prospect. But that's not how it usually happens. Nine out of 10 children who are sexually abused know and trust their abusers. They aren't strangers. They're a relative or babysitter, a coach or Mom's boyfriend. It's proximity through those and other relationships that puts children in harm's way.

Even when the attacker is a stranger, victims are increasingly likely to have met them on the Internet. Besides, residency restrictions limit where offenders sleep, but not where they go. So they provide a false sense of security, while doing nothing to prevent most dangerous encounters.

What these restrictions do instead is cluster offenders in fewer and fewer places - too often in poor, politically powerless communities. And as it becomes harder for offenders to find legal housing, more will drop off the grid. They'll report false addresses, or stop reporting any address at all. Some will become homeless and virtually impossible to monitor. And when the restrictions force offenders away from the support of relatives and counselors, or make it difficult for them to work, those laws increase the likelihood that they will reoffend.

Researchers who have studied the issue in places like Colorado and Florida and Minnesota all reached similar conclusions. In Minnesota, for instance, corrections officials analyzed the crimes committed by 224 sex offenders released from prison between 1990 and 2002 who were reincarcerated for a new sex crime by 2006. They looked at how they established contact with their more recent victims and where the crimes occurred. The conclusion? "Not one of the 224 sex offenses would likely have been deterred by a residency restrictions law."

They're not alone. The sentiment is shared by the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault - a group of 78 rape crisis centers whose reason for being is to support rape victims and end sexual violence. The group opposes the laws for one very simple reason, said executive director Jane McEwen: "Residency restrictions don't keep people safer."

Despite scant evidence that restrictions work, they're on the books in Nassau and Suffolk counties; the towns of Brookhaven, Huntington and Southampton; the villages of Mineola, Floral Park, Valley Stream, East Rockaway, Lynbrook and Massapequa Park; and the City of Glen Cove, according to New York's Division of Criminal Justice Services.

Residency restrictions are popular with the public and easy for elected officials to support. In fact, it would take real political courage for an official to resist. So the prospect that any of the existing laws will be repealed hovers somewhere between unthinkable and impossible. But enough is enough.

Officials shouldn't up the ante, for instance as proposed in Brookhaven, where Supervisor Mark Lesko and some town board members have sponsored an infinitely more restrictive amendment to the town's current residency restriction law. It would bar sex offenders from living within a quarter-mile of "community protection zones," which include any school, park, playground, day care center, school bus stop, video arcade, amusement park, ice cream store, skate park, youth sports facility, church, gym, public swimming pool, ballfield, library, movie theater, youth center or shopping mall. It would put practically all of Brookhaven off limits.

But pushing sex offenders out of one town would mean pushing them into another. That risks igniting a residency-restriction arms race, with municipalities enacting more and more restrictive laws. Eventually widespread exclusion would invite a constitutional challenge. And that could threaten residency restrictions of all kinds, should a court decide that they advance no legitimate state interest.

So, what's a worried public to do? There's no silver bullet, but some things work better than others. Like educating kids about the dangers. Longer prison sentences. Registration of sex offenders, as in New York, where 29,491 are listed - including 927 in Suffolk and 492 in Nassau. Rigorous risk assessment, to target the most dangerous offenders. Mental health treatment. Intensive supervision on parole and probation - in some cases for life - with individually tailored restrictions, maybe including GPS tracking. And for the most dangerous, civil confinement in a mental institution after prison.

To protect children from sexual abuse we need to identify what works and stop spinning our wheels with what doesn't.

New Playground Forces Out Sex Offenders : Playground forces sex offenders to leave St. Francis in Fort Lauderdale - The opening of a nearby playground brings the ouster of convicted sexual offenders from a nearby treatment center.

About 20 sex offenders helped keep St. Francis open by paying the $190 weekly fee required of each, though the center still fell into deep debt. In turn, St. Francis helped keep the men from their demons with
constant supervision and therapy and spiritual guidance.

``It changed my whole view of life that somebody cared,'' says Dwight Rennie Dennis, 47, a registered sexual predator and St. Francis resident who has spent much of his adult life in and out of Florida prisons. `
`This place made me understand that I can be somebody, that I can do better.''

That all changed in January, though, when a playground opened about two blocks away in Florence C. Hardy Park, triggering state and county residency restriction laws for sex offenders. In all of Miami-Dade and Broward, ordinances forbid convicted sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of schools and places where children gather.

The Department of Corrections, which supervises sex offenders on probation,
ordered the men to leave St. Francis, says Chris Mancini, a Fort Lauderdale attorney who filed an injunction on behalf of eight residents who wanted to remain.

As the Oct. 21 deadline approaches, Navarro worries he and the other residents may end up like the colony of sex offenders living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Miami-Dade, where a multitude of residency restrictions for sex offenders have left them with few other places to live.

The irony of evicting the St. Francis residents, said Jill Levenson, a licensed clinical social worker and chair of the Department of Human Services at Lynn University in Boca Raton, is that the center was probably the best environment for them.

``The programming was probably ideal for this kind of person,'' she says. ``He's got a structured, safe, supervised environment to live in, with therapeutic programming that focuses on preventing future crimes, resisting temptations, changing your thinking, living in a law-abiding fashion, and being part of a therapeutic community where those pro-social behaviors are supported.

``That is exactly the kind of environment we know helps prevent recitivism.''

Friday, October 16, 2009

OH Fiscal Impact for SORNA /Adam Walsh Act

Fiscal Note & Local Impact Statement:
for Senate Bill 10, as passed by the Ohio Senate (127 th General Assembly of Ohio)
for Sex Offender Registration and Notification Law and criminal offense changes-

(1) Potential gain in federal Adam Walsh Act grants, magnitude and timing
(2) Potential,
minimal at most, gain in locally collected court costs

(1) Potential
significant increase in annual incarceration costs to DRC;
(2) Costs to modify existing sex offender registry and related Internet database, estimated at
$475,000 in one-time expenses and $85,000 annually thereafter for software maintenance services

National Juvenile Justice Network provides a chart which shows that for all states, the first-year cost of implementing SORNA outweighs the cost of losing 10 percent of the state's Byrne Grant money (the consequence of not complying with SORNA by the deadline). The study also gives detailed information on the cost analyses performed by Ohio and Virginia.

Ohio will spend 18.6 million dollars to implement the SORNA laws in 2009. In return for implementing this law before the deadline, Ohio will receive $622,383 (the 10% of Byrne Funding).

In other terms, Ohio will spend 30 times more to implement these laws than it will receive by the federal government for doing so.

Once on a Registry, Your Life is Pretty Much Shot

"Once you're on a publicly accessible registry, your life is pretty much shot"

-U.S. Congressman Bobby Scott
United States House of Representatives
Committee on the Judiciary March 10, 2009 Hearing on
Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (Adam Walsh Act)

Watch video here:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

CA New Law : Illegal for Sex Offenders to Have Service Jobs : Sex offender bill signed into law.

Making laws which ban ex offenders from having practically any job, then forcing them from their homes and families only serves to create an environment where low-educated and low-income ex offenders have nothing to lose, and will increase recidivism probabilities.

A lawmaker's bill to prohibit sex offenders from working in virtually any capacity where there is one-on-one contact with a minor was signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Among the 700 bills on which the governor took action Sunday night, hours before a constitutional deadline, was AB 307 by Assemblyman Paul Cook, R-Beaumont.

The legislation, which takes effect immediately, makes it a misdemeanor for a convicted sex offender to work in a job in which he or she is alone "providing goods or services to minors."

According to Cook, the new law removes ambiguities authorities previously faced in determining whether a sex registrant was in violation of Penal Code section 290, which bars registrants from working or volunteering somewhere they would be supervising a child under 16 years old, or interacting with the child on more than an "incidental" basis..

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

Leno contended the legislation would open the door to future, duplicative proposals in which convicted sex offenders are prohibited from working just about anywhere.

The bill won unanimous support in both the Assembly and Senate.

Read bill here:

Mom Wants Sex Offenders Banned from Halloween (Indiana) : Elkhart mom wants sex offenders out of Halloween fun.

She wants to protect your kids from saying "Trick or Treat" at the wrong house. An Elkhart mother is teaming up with Indiana State Representative Jackie Walorski to try to make it illegal for sex offenders to participate in Halloween festivities.

"Fright for Your Right" is the name Elkhart mom Melody Blessing coined for the bill. It would be modeled after a Michigan law that would prevent sex offenders from handing out candy or having Halloween decorations that may lure kids onto their property.

Hey lady. what are you going to do about an ex offender who has a child who wants to trick-or-treat or participate in the holiday? What about the rights of that family?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

SCOTUS Docket 2009 - Carr vs United States

Supreme Court of the United States Docket: 08-1301
Title: Carr v. United States
Issue: Whether a person may be criminally prosecuted under 18 U.S.C. § 2250 for failure to register when the defendant’s underlying offense and travel in interstate commerce both predated the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act’s enactment ; whether the Ex Post Facto Clause precludes prosecution under § 2250(a) of a person whose underlying offense and travel in interstate commerce both predated SORNA’s enactment.

2 Sex Offenders Told They Can Go Home (Indiana) : 2 sex offenders told they can go home.

For more than two years, Robert Rawles' bedtime routine meant leaving his Lafayette home and driving roughly three miles to sleep at Devon Plaza. Rawles was prohibited by a July 1, 2006, Indiana law from living within 1,000 feet of schools, public parks or youth program centers.

Now under recent Indiana Supreme Court rulings, Rawles and one other Tippecanoe County sex offender who victimized children can return home. Thursday was Rawles' last night at Devon Plaza.

"I've still got kind of a chip on my shoulder for the past two years and all the money wasted," he said. "I've got to work through that for myself. It just devastated me financially."

Rawles' attorney, Ken Falk with the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, recently received a letter from Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Pat Harrington stating that residency restrictions for certain sex offenders no longer applied to Rawles. That's because Rawles' owned his childhood Lafayette home before the restrictions took effect on July 1, 2006.

The 5-0
Indiana Supreme Court opinion found that Indiana's residency restrictions violated the Indiana Constitution by retroactively punishing Pollard, who had owned his home 10 years before the 2006 legislation took effect.

Rawles was one of 28 Tippecanoe County sex offenders who were told to move when the sheriff's office and prosecutor's office began enforcing the residency statute in 2007.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

MO Would Publish Online Identities of Sex Offenders : Missouri would publish online identities of sex offenders

Rep. Tom Dempsey, of St. Charles is expected to sponsor a bill in the next session which would require all domain names, instant message names and e-mail addresses of registered sex offender to be posted in a public database. Sex offenders would only be permitted to use their registered online identifiers. Any violation of the law would be a class D felony.

Enforcement could be a problem, however, for both practical and legal reasons.

Practical Problems:

In announcing the bill, Gov. Blunt noted that recently deleted the user pages of 29,000 registered sex offenders. It goes, almost without saying, that MySpace only deleted the pages of the sex offenders who used their real names (either because they were stupid or perhaps because they weren’t doing anything wrong). Many of those 29,000 could have (by now) have opened new MySpace accounts under fake names and effectively gone underground.

This bill will suffer the same problem. Sex offenders can setup phoney email accounts all day long and no one will know. They know it will decrease their chance of getting caught, and if they do get caught committing a sex crime, the class D felony for failing to register will be the least of their problems.

Legal Problems:

Whether the bill is effective or not, Rep. Dempsey will have to be careful crafting a bill. Here’s why:

* Missouri’s Constitution provides, that “ no . . . law . . . retrospective in its operation . . . can be enacted.” Mo. Const. art I, sec. 13. “A retrospective law is one which creates a new obligation, imposes a new duty, or attaches a new disability with respect to transactions or considerations already past.” Doe v. Phillips, 194 S.W.3d 833 (Mo banc, 2006)

* It seems that the registration requirement would create a “new obligation” on anyone who committed a registry crime. That’s unconstitutional if applied to anyone whose crime was committed before the effective date of this bill (presumably Aug 28, 2008).

* As to the ban on using an unregistered username, that would seem to qualify as a “new disability.” So that sounds unconstitutional too.

If this is correct, this new law could not apply to any current sex offenders, but only to those who may join the rolls in the future.

HS Football Game Streaker Charged with Sex Crime (Minnesota) : Naked romps strike 3 St. Francis football games.

St. Francis High School students have been disciplined for streaking at three Saints football games this season, and one of the teenagers could be charged with criminal sexual conduct because of his nakedness.

Immediately after one of the games, a road contest Sept. 18 in Fridley against Totino-Grace, three boys ran from one end of the field to the other. Because of one of them "had no clothes, as in not a stitch [and] showing his genitals to people under the age of 16," a charge of fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct could be leveled, Markham said.

This would mean, of course by law, this student would become a registered sex offender.

OH Court Nixes Conviction in Registration Case : Court nixes conviction in sex registration case.

Cincinnati, OH — A federal appeals court has tossed out an Ohio man's conviction for failing to update his registration as a sex offender. The court in Cincinnati says he was indicted based on a regulation that wasn't ready yet.

In a 2-to-1 decision, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ordered that the indictment against Marcus Cain be dismissed.

Cain was convicted of attempted rape in 1998. The court says Cain's indictment for failing to register with authorities after moving from Ohio to Georgia covered a period that ended in March 2007. But that was while the government was still gathering comments on a regulation for applying a new federal registration to sex offenders convicted before July 2006.

Decision here: USA v. Marcus Cain - Northern District of Ohio at Akron

SORNA requires the Attorney General to issue regulations specifying its application before a sex offender convicted before its enactment may be subjected to criminal prosecution for failure to keep his registration current. Because the Attorney General did not issue such a regulation in compliance with the notice and comment and publication requirements of the APA within the time period charged in Cain’s indictment, the indictment must be dismissed. We therefore vacate Cain’s conviction and remand to the district court with instructions to grant the motion to dismiss the indictment."

Monday, October 12, 2009

"Um, I Have No Idea" Says Sex Offender Bill Author

HoustonPress Blog : Bill Would Keep Sex Offenders From Doing Something, Maybe. It's Hard To Tell.

Sometimes legislative bills don't seem to be written in plain English, so it's always best to go straight to the bill's author to find out what's up. But a bill authored by Republican State Senator Florence Shapiro of Plano seems remarkably straightforward: It prohibits registered sex offenders from "using the Internet to access pornographic material."

It would also establish a means for "a commercial social networking site or Internet service provider" to be provided with a list of said perverts, so such businesses can alert authorities if they're using those sites to prey on kids.

But what got Hair Balls was that first part -- about not allowing these pervs to look at any pornography, or as stated later in the bill, anything deemed "obscene." (The bill refers to the obscenity section of the penal code, which offers different definitions of obscenity, which include simulated sex.) Even though, as everyone knows, there is hardly any sex stuff on the Interweb, how would something like that even be enforced?

So Hair Balls called Shapiro, to see if she could elaborate. She was on the Senate floor as we talked, which might account for some of the ensuing strangeness.

Hair Balls: Does [this] mean that you do not want anyone convicted of a sex offense to look at sex by consenting adults online?

Shapiro: I have no idea... this is an agreed-to bill that came with the Attorney General, myself, and the online providers. It's model language that came out of [the American Legislative Exchange Council].

(OK, so it turns out Shapiro wasn't sure of all the particulars in the bill she attached her name to. But she explained to us that "The whole purpose of this is that we are seeing more and more young people on the Internet, and social networking of course is one of the major issues."

She then said that the bill would prohibit certain sex offenders from joining social networking sites...which it doesn't.)

Shapiro: We need to be able to have that list [the sex offender registry list] and make that list available to the social network providers to prevent these people from going online.

HB: So they can't even use Facebook or MySpace, then, to talk to other adults?

Shapiro: Oh yes they can. Absolutely.

HB: They can?

Shapiro: I'm sorry, what did you just ask me?

HB: Can they use a social networking --

Shapiro: No. If they are convicted, no.

HB: They can't even talk to an adult.

Shapiro: No, that's correct....Facebook is not one of them. These are social networks. This is like Friendster and MySpace. I don't know that...I don't remember about Facebook....Facebook is one of them, you're right, you're right....No, the answer is no they cannot....This would prohibit them, if they're on probation or they're on parole, this would prohibit them from using the Internet for purposes of communicating with minors.

HB: But it also prohibits them from looking at anything that can be deemed obscene, which includes certain movies, certain art...

Shapiro: Are those things on MySpace or are they on Facebook? I don't think they are. They can use the Internet -- they just can't communicate with minors....They can look at anything they want, as long as it has nothing to do with the children.

Um, actually, the bill says they couldn't. So ultimately, Hair Balls wound up a lot more confused than before we even made the call. But the important thing is this: as long as well-informed lawmakers are out there passing sensible legislation that they actually take the time to read (if not write), we should have absolutely no fear for the safety of our children. Or something.

How Do We Pass Rational Sex-Offender Laws ? : How Do We Pass Rational Sex-Offender Laws ?


Sex offender laws have gotten much harsher, no doubt about it. Along with mandatory minimums and post-incarceration monitoring, since 1994, when Congress passed the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have created sex-offender registries containing the names and addresses of people convicted of crimes ranging from rape, to sexual abuse, to downloading child pornography, to statutory rape. (Megan's Law, which requires community notification about sex offenders, was added to the Act two years later.)

In recent years, laws have passed to impose even stricter measures on convicted sex offenders, long after they have ostensibly paid their debt to society. The sweeping Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 set about the creation of a national sex-offender registry, "the first national online listing available to the public and searchable by ZIP code." While it would supposedly classify sex offenders into different categories according to the severity of their crime, it has yet to be implemented.

Now, amid the shock and outrage surrounding the Garrido case, some are calling into question how effective such legislation has been. Let's face it: Not every registered sex offender is a Phillip Garrido.

As Human Rights Watch pointed out in 2007, "in many states, people who urinate in public, teenagers who have consensual sex with each other, adults who sell sex to other adults, and kids who expose themselves as a prank are required to register as sex offenders."

Yet registries and residency restrictions have often failed to distinguish between these and those on the opposite extreme, like Garrido, who could justifiably be classified as the worst of the worst. With 674,000 people on sex-offender registries across the country, this has stoked a culture of fear while making it harder for law enforcement to keep tabs on the most-dangerous sexual predators.

The conditions of their release require them to have a home of some sort. Yet expanding laws have made it harder for them to find a place to live. "State figures show a 27 percent increase in homelessness among California's 67,000 registered sex offenders since the law took effect in November 2006," it reported. Between August and the end of October 2007, "the number of offenders with no permanent address rose by 560, to 2,622."

Americans have said they fear sex offenders more than they do terrorists, according to at least one poll.

This means that tough-on-sex-crimes legislation knows no bounds. Public sex-offender database? Check. Mandatory minimums for convicted sex offenders? Check. Color-coded license plates to alert you if that driver stuck in traffic with you might be a pervert? Ohio keeps trying.

In 2007, Human Rights Watch released a study, aptly titled "No Easy Answers," based on a review of sex-offender registration data from all 50 states. The authors interviewed law-enforcement officials, survivors of sexual abuse and child-safety experts. They also interviewed 122 sex offenders and 90 of their loved ones. The conclusion was that sex-offender laws have gone too far.

"Human Rights Watch appreciates the sense of concern and urgency that has prompted these laws," the report's authors wrote. " … Every child has the right to live free from violence and sexual abuse. Promoting public safety by holding offenders accountable and by instituting effective crime-prevention measures is a core governmental obligation"

Unfortunately, our research reveals that sex-offender registration, community notification and residency-restriction laws are ill-considered, poorly crafted and may cause more harm than good.

According to HRW, lawmakers "are steadily increasing the duration of registration requirements: in 17 states, registration is now for life. Yet former sex offenders are less and less likely to reoffend the longer they live offense-free."

Also according to HRW, at least five states classify people who visit prostitutes as sex offenders; at least 32 require it for indecent exposure. At the same time, reported HRW, these laws "offer scant protection for children from the serious risk of sexual abuse that they face from family members or acquaintances. Indeed, people children know and trust are responsible for over 90 percent of sex crimes against them."

The HRW report devoted a good portion of its 146 pages to the residency restrictions found in sex-offender legislation, calling them the "harshest as well as the most arbitrary."

"The laws can banish registrants from their already-established homes, keep them from living with their families and make entire towns off-limits to them, forcing them to live in isolated rural areas."

It also quoted Georgia House member Jerry Keen, who sponsored the state's law banning registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of places where children gather. As Keen once said during a debate on the House floor: "My intent personally is to make [residency restrictions] so onerous on those that are convicted of [sex] offenses … they will want to move to another state."

The HRW reports: "Registrants and their families have been hounded from their homes, had rocks thrown through their home windows, and feces left on their front doorsteps. They have been assaulted, stabbed and had their homes burned by neighbors or strangers who discovered their status as a previously convicted sex offender.

"At least four registrants have been targeted and killed (two in 2006 and two in 2005) by strangers who found their names and addresses through online registries. Other registrants have been driven to suicide, including a teenager who was required to register after he had exposed himself to girls on their way to gym class.

"Violence directed at registrants has injured others. The children of sex offenders have been harassed by their peers at school, and wives and girlfriends of offenders have been ostracized from social networks and at their jobs."

In the face of truly grotesque sex crimes, it can be hard to maintain perspective. But doing so is crucial in order to address those many cases where legislation is doing more harm than good.

This won't be easy. "Given the widespread belief in the myths about sex offenders' inherent and incurable dangerousness, it is perhaps not surprising that very few public officials have questioned the laws or their efficacy," says HRW.

As one ACLU lawyer out it, "We've gotten used to having few friends on this issue. With the exception of the criminal-defense bar, there just aren't a whole lot of people who want to stand up for the rights of sex offenders."