Sunday, April 15, 2007

Megan's Law: Establishing the Practical Efficacy & Monetary Value

View the article here.

Abstract - This is an ongoing initiative scheduled to last 18 months (3 phases). This project will culminate into the first study of its kind in the USA to assess the empirical efficacy of New Jersey's Megan's Law. Through collaboration with the New Jersey State Police, the Prosecutor's Megan's Law unit, Associates in Psychological Services and Rutgers University, the study will assess the prevalence rates of sex offense arrest preceding and subsequent to the initiation of the Megan's Law legislation. Since there are few outcome studies on Megan's Law, there is an untested directive on how effective the law is in reducing sex offenses and re-arrests for sex offenses. This initiative is funded in full by a research grant from the National Institute of Justice.



Dave's Life

You may or may not know that I am a dog person. I used to like to borrow a dog for the day (when I didn’t have one) and walk in a park or just wander around the neighborhood. As it happens I used to walk a landlords dog to clear my mind when I started being followed by a chatterbox of a little boy who would follow me for a few houses. I remember being amused but I never said more than hello, goodbye, nope or yep to his incessant ramblings. As I said before, I wanted to clear my mind and conversation with some kid wouldn’t do that. Because of my legal status I’d just walk faster when I was approached.

While wandering one day I heard this chattering behind me and I rolled my eyes in amusement. I remember thinking this kid is going to end up in telemarketing. Suddenly a woman sternly came out of the house and called the boy over. The next thing I saw was her hand coming down on the boys face very hard as she screamed, “Never talk to that sick bastard!” I stumbled a bit but walked away quickly hearing many more blows and feeling miserable. I cried quite a bit that day. He didn’t deserve that. I don’t take walks too much anymore. I don’t do much of anything anymore. I can still hear the screams.

Depression to me is as comforting as joy is to most “normal” folks. I can always rely on it to be there for me no matter what. I like to keep busy focusing on other people, other things, anything other than thinking about me. Oh, how I do hate myself at times. It’s harder for me to break even than it is for everyone else to get ahead. Why should you care? Besides, I’m a bad guy. It’s true that I made a mistake at a youthful age, who hasn’t?

I am trying so very hard to lead a normal life. It’s impossible to be completely normal as I will always be a “sicko” in the eyes of the world. I care entirely too much about what others think about me. I don’t care enough for me. I’m tired of being frustrated. I will be a sex offender for the rest of my life. Although I must say that what I am is not who I am. I am defined by a mistake that should never have happened. I am tired of opinions and I don’t want any, unless they’re positive. I can’t handle any more bad times.

I’ve had fliers posted around different places I’ve lived. My Pontiac was vandalized, windows smashed, nothing was taken. I’ve received several threats over the years. The ones I remember the most are the old friends that just found out what list I’m on. Every time something happens to me my family feels it. I have reconciled with all parties involved. In the eyes of God I believe I have been cleansed. My victim even told me once she wished the state would leave me alone because she doesn’t need a reminder of what’s in the past. Too bad the state doesn’t factor in the cross. Sadly, neither did my church.

I always thought of my church as a bastion of stability. A place hurting people go when they’re hurt. Well, the reality was that when things’ started going down I was told to get out. I was an “embarrassment” that was too much to handle. I was thinking to myself at the time isn’t God supposed to give you the strength to handle it? Isn’t this the sort of thing a church is supposed to help a member with? I had a very frank discussion with the governing board about liabilities and image. It’s funny how healing, reconciliation and God were never brought up. Since than I’ve gone from church to church but I never seem to fit anywhere. That horrified me, depressed me, and broke my heart at a time I needed them the most.

In the eyes of the world I am a liability. Very few companies will employ me and very, very few people will rent me a room. Even simple problems, for me, are compounded. The state makes it so very hard to succeed and when I fail I get the book thrown at me. I was never told what would happen if I succeeded. I was however made very aware of what would happen when I failed. It is expected. Countless times I have begged God to take my pointless life from this horrible world. I have cried myself to sleep praying this way over and over and as I wake I curse God for making me suffer another day. I have very little joy in my life, no peace and no happiness. I have taken it away from me. Maybe I’m not entitled.

Generally, people make their perceptions of me quite known. Usually out of some form of ignorance of the liberal media and their propaganda it is decided that I'm inherently awful and need to be banished. Well, I’m sorry for not being worthy of the lofty presence of the liberal media who use me to increase their ratings by causing a frenzy. I detect a bit of sarcasm their Dave… ‘eh? (Sorry, tangent, different letter, moving on.)

I know I’m a nice guy. A bit strange sure, but that doesn’t negate niceness. Sometimes I feel a bit awkward around people. Like Hitler stumbling in upon a Bar Mitzvah. Oops! I’ll just be going now. Why does Dave feel this way? People are just mean and I don’t like them. Sounds simplistic but hey, it works for me. This struggle has forced me to be a xenophobic shell of a human. Living in fear is a lot like being a registered sex offender in the state of Florida. The state doesn’t care if I’m in prison, dead, or on probation. Lucky for me I’m not any of those things. I have reached my limit and my mind can’t handle any more stress.

Let me break it down a little more. Early American history is full of witch-hunts and mercilessly slaughtering natives. In other words, terrorizing that which is misunderstood. Lets compare sex offenders with witches for a moment. Mary the witch would never turn farmer Joe into a newt. But why take the chance? Sure, witches are slightly evil herbologists with a slightly askew dogma… but burn them? Fear of the unknown turns into hatred. (We now know, the only thing to be found in a witches brew are herbal remedies that actually work.) They are more interested in preserving themselves than hurting others. Sound familiar? Sex offenders make good neighbors. We are more afraid of ignorance than the public is afraid that we will turn your kids into newts. Strange yes, but think on it.



The Unforgiven - By M

Monday, February 24, 2003

I am a registered ex-sex offender who moved to Texas almost two years ago. I have obeyed the law since the molest and seek to make myself into an upstanding member of the community. Unfortunately the stigma the label "sex offender" brings makes it next to impossible to live, particularly in a state that posts this information for public viewing on the internet.

I avidly sought work while in California and here in Texas, sending out more than 100 resumes. When I made it to the interview and admitted to my offense I was politely shown the door and told they weren't interested. So I did what I had to to find work, I lied at an interview and was hired by a state agency.

Everything went well for almost a year and a half at which time I approached a fellow employee who is an officer in the active army reserve and requested he re-enlist me in the Navy inactive reserve so I could continue receiving my voluntary separation incentive that I was entitled to after 15 years of service. The only requirement to continue receiving this payment was to remain in the IRR.

The gentleman did a background check on me (which is not required) without informing me that he was going to do so. Needless to say he found out about my past. Not only did he destroy my ability to receive the payments but he told the director of the agency and I was terminated on the sixth of this month.

I am now unemployed, I cannot utilize the RIO at the Texas Workforce Agency since I didn't spend any time in an actual cell (I served my time under house arrest). I am most likely not going to be able to collect unemployment insurance since the termination will likely be considered misconduct (I lied on the application). So I am at my wit's end.

I ask where the forgiveness is in a nation that does not forgive. It continues to punish me for a crime that I have not only paid for with society's punishment, but I paid for it with guilt and pain that more than a year of therapy was not able to completely eradicate.

They say God forgives, yet the people who claim to be of God are supposed to be a reflection of Him. That's supposed to be how we see God and yet, instead of forgiveness all I see is recrimination and condemnation.

Must suicide be the answer? After all, homelessness is not something I can live with or survive. I would rather not live than live a life on the street with no home.

My fiance is not aware of the feelings I have and I cannot tell her. It is hard enough having to be at home and look for work while fearing that each resume I send out, each call I make, each fax I send and each interview I go to will only succeed in closing one more door and bringing me that much closer to the bottom from whence I came.

Where is help? I attempted to do the right thing. I registered when I arrived here like I was supposed to and all that did was ensure I cannot live without the fear that someone will put my name into the search engine and find me only to ruin me again.

I cannot put myself on the lease out of fear that the management will not permit us to live here. In fact, we attempted that when we were at the last apartment and when they found out they not only evicted us but also called CPS. Thankfully CPS is now aware and has concluded that my fiance's daughter is safe with me because they concluded I am not a predator.

What do I do? Praying has been done and that doesn't seem to be the answer anymore. This is no longer a temporary situation or problem. It seems permanent and there are no longer any solutions that seem to even have a promise of working. Nobody cares. In fact, I get the impression that the people in this community would rather I were removed to either live someplace else or not live at all. That would be the safest thing - the removal of a monster from the community and the world.

There is no longer any place to turn. I am ready to give up.

M.



My Sons Story - BY DD

He met a woman while working in another state. They had a child, married and she decided that she had to move back home to a very small town in another state. He wasn't happy but went along with the decision. I want to make very clear that his problems are all of his own doing and no one else is to blame and fortunately he would be the first to admit to that. The above is just background. They moved into a small house with her family. He started having health and money and emotional problems.

For some reason he found that exposing himself to children provided some kind of relief. I don't understand it, but he did it on at least two occasions and in very public places with parents nearby. He was caught and arrested. When he was arrested he didn't ask for an attorney. They kept interviewing him for hours on end. Later he said he admitted to things he never did because he was so tired and sick. He ended up saying he did the same thing in other states including one state he's never been in. The police promised him he'd get off with a slap on the wrist if he signed a confession. He did. He did a weekend in jail plus the time he was in jail before being bailed out. He was lucky in that respect. The charges were misdemeanors and when we looked up the charges on the Illinois site we thought he would not have to register.

Unfortunately in West Virginia indecent exposure is cause for a life time registration. And now of course he must register in Illinois also. He is registered in WV using the address of an apartment he rents and stays in when he's there one week a month to look for a job. He had a lawyer who we hired after re-mortgaging our house. I think he was pretty useless. I could be wrong maybe he got him the best deal possible. He goes to therapy once a week here and has been diagnosed as depressed. When he is on his meds he will talk about registering and getting on with his life. However, when he's off his meds which is most of the time he refuses to register. His job here in Illinois pays a little more than minimum wage and he works no more than three nights a week. We've pointed out what will happen, and I know it will, if he does not register here in Illinois. His health, he has a disease which is causing him to lose his eyesight and muscle weakness and his heart is getting bad, and he has no insurance. He needs a specialist but we can't afford one and not many places will hire a SO.

Yes I know he's an adult and should handle this himself. He's always been very independent but with increasingly bad health I can't imagine putting him out. That's why I was looking for help to try to understand all this and not to feel so alone out there.

You know the weird thing is I always thought these SO laws were wrong even before this happened to my son. I especially feel bad for the younger men who get caught with their below age girlfriends. There is something especially wrong about their having to register.



My Story - By Mike White

In 1997 I beat the man who molested me as a child. He also molested my brother and my friend (along with others). This beating occurred about 12 years after the man molested me. The man was my fathers best friend.

In 1997 I found out about what he did to my brother. I also found out what he did to my best friend. My friend and I confronted the man. We beat him severely. My friend was befriended by the man, because my friend was homeless. We confronted the man a second time. My friend sexually assaulted him that day. My friend submitted a video tape confession to the police. He told everything that happened. He stated that he "FLIPPED OUT" and sexually assaulted the man. He also stated that I did not sexually assault the man in anyway.

There was also a third man present during the sexual assault.

My friend plead guilty to aggravated battery, and residential burglary in 1998. No sex conviction for him. I had lawyers and doctors telling me I was the victim, so I went to trial. I lost. The judge gave me 20 years. I appealed the conviction and won. I was granted a new trial. I had served 4 years straight. I bonded out. I am sorry!

I live in Illinois, about two minutes from Chicago. I was out on bond for another three years. Finally a judge stated he would give me the minimum sentence allowable if I plead guilty. In Illinois they call the meeting with the judge a 402 conference.

After being sentenced to 20 years and knowing what that was like, I jumped at the deal. I received 8 years. Which is basically time served. My public defender never informed me that I would be labeled as a sexual predator for the rest of my life if I plead guilty to that charge of aggravated criminal sexual assault. In Illinois certain sex offenders have labels attached to their registration. These labels are put on solely due to the name of the charge, not the circumstances of the situation, or the risk of the person.

I have been on house arrest for two years and four months, and have 8 months to go. I'll be honest, the parole people have been very respectful to me. I thank God for that. I am very hurt that I am labeled in this way. I would never prey on anyone. I had no clue my friend would grab that knife. I was wrong for beating the man on the first occasion. I deserved to be punished for that. I never laid a hand on him the second time. The man never told the police anything. He ended up hanging himself.

Even if some people feel I am accountable for being there, then why didn't the two other people be held accountable? Especially the person who admitted to it?

In 1998 the county had a different state attorney. That state attorney felt we shouldn't have to register for the crime. I went to trial. When I was granted the new trial the state attorney had changed. The new one in office didn't believe in dropping serious charges for lesser offenses. I was stuck with the sex charge. The third person in the room was never charged with anything. The state is not trying to protect anyone from me by labeling me. I am just another conviction. My goal is to at least get the predator label off me.

Thank You,

Michael White.



Lee's Story

My son last December in 2005 went to a club in Iowa for sixteen to twenty year olds. There he met a girl who told him she was older. They hooked up and began dating and ultimately had sex.

In April the girl for the second time ran away from home and was advised by a friend to call the cops, say she was scared to go home because her boyfriend got her pregnant. So she took her friends advice and the cops took her home and spoke to her parents. This girl admitted to the cops she had lied to my son about her age when they met at the club.

A week or so later my son was questioned by police and thinking he had no reason to lie he admitted they had sex twice. The cop told him, "Well guess what? She is only thirteen." My son and I were both flabbergasted and stunned. She had told me a couple months back she was fourteen turning fifteen in July.

The police said the parents were not pressing charges and the ex girlfriend had admitted to lying about being pregnant to "piss her mom off."

On May 3rd my son, by this time, had turned seventeen, was arrested for two counts of sex abuse, class C felonies which under Iowa law is a forcible felony. He had to spend the night in jail and the next day the judge set his bail at $23,000.00. His step father and I told the judge I had recently lost my vision within a couple months of this nightmare and financially we could not bail him out and he was a junior at school.

The judge told my son, he had better be at every court date or he will be put back in jail and held on a bail amount no one could get him out on.

My youngest son began having kids tease him at school about his brother being a rapist. People began treating us like garbage. When we would go into the store to shop, you could literally feel the stares or hear whispers. So we decided to get our sons out of Iowa and come back home to Oklahoma.

We asked our public defender who talked to the D.A., and she agreed we could come to Oklahoma as long as we came back to court. Well we were back and forth in court several times and the public defender even tried to get it moved to juvenile court. However the juvenile probation officer said she could not do my son any good, because he had no time to be rehabilitated since by this time he was seventeen and a half. She thought he would do better in adult court.

My sons attorney told him he was looking at prison time if we fought it in a jury trial cause at thirteen the victim could not consent to sex even though she did. The Iowa law states she isn't old enough to say yes to sexual relationships.

My son and I were scared he would go to prison. So the public defender told him to take a plea of one charge of lascivious acts with a child, and it would be deferred, no registration.

We talked and decided to do it as well as take the attorneys advise not to do pre-sentencing by probation, so we could stop traveling back and forth. He said it makes no difference. Five minutes before we were to see the judge and take the plea, he informed my son and I that on a deferred, under Iowa law, since July 2005, you have to register as a sex offender for ten years on this charge.

My son was totally rocked. He was to leave for the Navy this coming summer and had dreams, since boyhood, to become a policeman to help other kids. He got angry and we quickly tried to calm him down but he kept saying they lied to me about registration.

We got a few minutes to calm him down before seeing the judge at which time my son was crying openly in court and was being given tissues by the bailiff. The judge talked to him and went over charges making sure my son understood his "crime".

He gave my son two years deferred, telling him it leaves some doors open for him for a couple years, that he was young and had a full life ahead of him. He must now register ten years as well.

This was October 20th 2006.

We came back to Oklahoma after seeing probation to get a transfer here which had already been approved by Oklahoma DOC. We met the probation officer here at our home on Friday October 27th, 2006. He told my son he had to tell his school of his SO status and give them his number to call him. My son the following week told his principal, and was told they would have to talk to his probation officer. Later that day I got a call from the school telling me my son was not going to be able to attend there anymore due to his status as a registered sex offender. The probation officer told the principal my son was a liability to the school.

My son cannot attend GED classes at night there either, probation has put a stop to that as well. So now my sons education is screwed up and probation has blocked him from any public school campus to get his GED. Yet he told my son he has to get his GED and a job.

My son is not eighteen yet and cannot find work. He would of had a job at McDonalds but the manager saw he was a sex offender on the application and said "no we can't have people like you in here".

My son was then informed by probation he could not be two thousand feet within the school or parks cause my sons "victim" was thirteen. My son was upset and angry feeling as if his whole life was blown to hell.

We were ordered to begin sex offender treatment classes at the cost of thirty five dollars a week. My son went and met the counselor who told him he was just a kid and he refused to let my son in class. Probation officer told my son your going, I don't care what he says. My son went back, mind you, this is a fifty mile drive one way. The counselor again refused to let him in and now was mad that they were sending my son back. So he contacted the probation officer and set up a sexual behavior polygraph to be done, feeling my son was not mature enough for adult classes and no juvenile classes are available near us. We have until February 21st to come up with five hundred dollars for a polygraph. Until then my son is not in counseling. The counselor informed us too that the probation officer was wrong about the law keeping son away from playing basketball at parks and gave me a copy, which reads "under thirteen". So I questioned the probation officer who told me he feels it was meant to be written thirteen and under so he feels. We had a few words and I told him I'd contact an attorney as he was treating my son like a rapist or molester who snatched children from parks or schools. He told me to calm down and my son could go to park and his one friends house near the school but no where else.

My son was happy and actually felt like maybe he could get through this nightmare until last week when he was put on registry and was listed as aggravated. It says he is registered for life and has to register every ninety days at the sheriff department. He was shocked and once again angry. He made a mistake he admits, but it was consensual and she admitted to lying.

So now at seventeen, he feels he has no future. He did not realize nor I as you move state to state they can change your registration time at the states own laws. Our family is devastated and our lives are one roller coaster after another.

I hope to meet others who may be in similar situation and those who are fighting to change the sex offender laws. My son is not a predator nor does he belong on the registry for life, much less ten years.

I asked the DA once if the "victim" was to walk into court, and shoot the judge or someone else, would they let her walk out claiming she was not old enough to know what she had done? I got no answer of course but felt I made a point anyways.

Laws need changed! I have met several kids now in the same situation whose lives are ruined as they now have to wear this label.

Lee



Labeled For Life - A Sex Offender Speaks

"Sex offender" is a label this man admits he deserved after he molested a young Goshen girl back in 1988. To protect his identity we'll call him "Ed". "Ed" contacted Newscenter 16 because 19 years after that crime, Indiana suddenly made him register as a sex offender.

“Just a couple of weeks ago they sent me a letter saying that I had to move because I live within 1000 feet of a school,” “Ed” says. The Elkhart County Sheriff's Department informed "Ed" that he would be charged with a felony if he didn’t move out of his house of 10 years.

Indiana considers “Ed” a lifelong sex offender on their registry, even though he was convicted in 1988 before the registry existed.

If “Ed” has been a danger to society all this time, why is Elkhart County only now catching up to him?

“Because of the Legislature making it a felony I have no desecration as to what I enforce and what I don't,” Detective Brian Holloman.

In the summer of 2006 law changed and Indiana began regulating how close a sex offender could live to a school, park, or daycare.

Since then more and more sex offenders are being added to the website, some like "Ed" for life. “In order to be a lifelong offender they have to be convicted of one of these offenses that requires registration: The victim is under the age of 12, or force or threat of force was a factor, or they have been determined to be a sexually violent predator, or they've been convicted of more than one sex offense. If none of those apply than it would be a ten-year registration period,” explains Detective Holloman.

“Ed” feels something similar to a parole board could be formed to give sex offenders a chance to prove they should be taken off the registry. “I went through this counseling. I’ve been crime-free for 20 years, let's give me the benefit of the doubt,” “Ed” suggests.

There are those like Detective Holloman, who feel that if a victim carries the memory of a sexual assault for life the offender should carry the stigma of a label just as long.



Jared's Story

View the article here.

Is Jared a "violent sex offender" who needs lifetime supervision?

Current law says yes, "one size fits all." Should he, and others like him, be punished the same as those in the heinous kidnapping/murder/rape cases we read about in the news?

You decide

Jared was an honor student, varsity athlete, accomplished musician, community volunteer, and was active in church all his life. He had little dating experience as his interests kept him busy. He was a good kid.

At age 18, after high school graduation he took a few months leave of his good judgment and began drinking with friends. One was an underage girl. He had sexual contact with her. There was no force, no coercion, no violence. The incident lasted only a few minutes. The next morning he felt terrible about what he had done. He soon returned to his old values and old friends, having several healthy, non-sexual relationships with other girls his own age.

His confession

The incident came to light four months later. When confronted by his parents Jared confessed to what he had done. He then met with his clergy, who rightly advised him that the right thing would be to tell law enforcement. He took full responsibility for what he had done, with nothing to hide, and turned him self in that very day.

Unfortunately, Jared didn't have an attorney with him. If he had, he would have been afforded a degree of protection which the law allows. Later an attorney was engaged, but there was nothing he could do at this point. A full confession was on the record now, and so Jared was indicted on a rape charge.

As an aside, since four months had passed and there was now no physical evidence it’s possible (right or wrong) that he wouldn’t have been charged with anything. It was Jared’s desire to take full responsibility for his actions and his honesty that gave the D.A. his case.

During pre-trial

Upon hearing of the incident Jared’s parents immediately got him into counseling as they wanted to know what was going on with their son. The doctor concluded that he was not a dangerous predator, but was somewhat socially immature, sexually curious, that he had made a mistake which he was unlikely to repeat, and that he had compassion for the young woman and her family. (Report was sent to the D.A. and is on file with Jared's attorney.)

Jared's attorney tried unsuccessfully to meet with the D.A. about reducing the charge. Over 100 friends, community leaders, former teachers and others wrote to the D.A. asking for leniency, but to no avail. In an effort to make restitution to the young woman Jared wrote letters of apology to the young woman and her family, helped pay for psychological counseling for her, and gave her parents money toward redecorating her bedroom (where the encounter happened).

Jared and his family were grateful that to avoid having the girl go through a trial the D.A. offered a him a plea of 10 years without parole. He accepted it like a man, blamed nothing or no one but himself, and determined to make the best of it.

In prison

Jared is a trustee and top worker in his full time prison day job. He has graduated from a vocational training course, and is an "A" student in the university courses he takes by mail. He has taught himself to play the guitar, and sings and plays piano for church groups who hold services there. He teaches a GED class for inmates. Jared also participates and excels in all of the allowable sports. Jared has had strong support from family and friends (male and female) and they have visited him nearly every Saturday and Sunday for 8 years. His church sends men to the prison to conduct weekly church services and his standards remain high. He's making the best of a difficult situation.

Plea for executive clemency

After a few years in prison Jared applied for executive clemency since his case was an unusual one. Over 30 state legislators wrote to the parole board requesting that a clemency hearing be granted, and it was. They who create the state laws recognized this wasn’t the type of guy they were trying to put in prison. (letters on file with Jared's attorney)

The judge in the case wrote to the governor saying that he would support clemency due to the unusual nature of the case, and the fact that there was no judicial discretion in this mandatory minimum case. It is highly unusual for a judge to do this.

Later, after he re-examined the case, the D.A. wrote to the governor too saying he would support clemency if granted. Very unusual for a D.A. to do this. (both letters are on file with Jared's attorney)

Unfortunately, clemency was denied. What governor wants to be remembered for releasing a sex offender? After leaving office this governor realized he had erred and apologized to the family for not taking care of this case, and did what he could to now help, but it was too late.

His future

In Jared's state when he is released from prison he will not be free. Because of his charge (not his character, nature of the crime etc.) he is now labeled a "violent offender" and is under the control of the parole dept. for the rest of his life.

That was not part of his plea agreement. So, in order for the state to legally do this, before being released from prison Jared will be forced to sign a document agreeing to amend his sentence to Community Supervision for Life. If he doesn't sign it he will be arrested by the local sheriff and charged with a new offense.

What does community supervision for life mean in his state?



Good Morning America! One Year Later! - By Kiokwus

02/02/2007

Good Morning America,

It has been awhile since I have written you. You do remember me, don’t you? I am your neighborhood sex offender. You know the person the police warned you about many months ago. My name hasn’t changed, I’m still the same father, brother, uncle, or neighbor or the person down the street. You were told that I’m a monster and your children are not safe due to my presence.

Each morning I watch as family members or the neighbors leave for work. I have not been able to find a job as any potential employer is afraid that I will cause harm to his business. The new laws now make it near impossible to find and keep any job as most are located in forbidden areas or near a place where children may congregate. While I watch each of you head to work, I’m packing up my home as I was told by the police the area we live in is now a restricted area and I am not allowed to live here any longer. It doesn’t matter that I’ve lived here for over 10 years, due to my “status”, I must move or face going to jail. So I’m packing. Where I’m going to live hasn’t been decided as of yet, I’ve not had much luck finding a place that is outside the restricted area in this, our town.

Like you, I have children and a wife. I fear for their safety daily because they stayed by my side rather than divorce me or shut me out. My children do not understand why the adults in the area around us tell them terrible things about me. They do not have many or any friends because their parents are afraid that my children will harm their children or that I will harm their children. I have seen my children suffer from the other children at school who make fun of them and call them terrible names.

I could just leave my family behind so they have stability in their lives. We talked about doing just that, but forced separation after working so hard for many years to be a family again is not an option. My family would rather live in a shelter than allow the city to separate us. That may not be an option as well. It has been hardest toward the children. They don’t understand why we have to move. They don’t understand why they must part from their friends or go to another school.

It has been over 20 years since I committed my crime. I have not so much as gotten a parking ticket since then. I served my sentence and no longer owe the state anything. I had thought that when I completed my punishment, I would be able to rebuild my life. I find this just isn’t so. From the actions of someone else, has brought upon myself and my family unending punishment. From the actions of others, new laws are being forced upon us on a daily basis. All I can do is comply with these laws or be punished for failing to follow them.

From the advent of horrendous crimes committed by others, it seems like every town is making restrictive zones that will prevent my family from living within. The few areas that these towns decide are open for us to live in are either industrial complexes, or areas so small there is nothing there we could afford even if a place opened. So we become homeless. All I can figure is these towns would rather us be homeless and harder to keep track of then letting us live where we have been for years.

My family has watched over the last few months as town after town or city after city has adopted new ordinances that prohibit former rehabilitated sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of schools, School-bus stops, day-care centers, parks, playgrounds, public libraries, churches and other places children might congregate. Each time I open the paper, I read where another area is being considered to be off limits. It isn’t just the town we live in, it is the surrounding towns as well.

I have looked at the studies about the restrictive zones and find there is no difference if the zones are in place or not. The common element being we are a mobile community and if someone wanted to commit a crime against children, there is nothing to stop them from going to an area they are not known to commit their crime. I’m sure the same studies are availible to these who make these laws. I could give you statistics and facts that show this hysteria is unjustified. These studies are compiled by the U.S. Department of Justice and show the recidivism rate is less than 5%. The problem is the elected officials you depend upon have stated there is a huge percentage, 80% or better, that sex offenders will always commit another sex offense, that there is no way these people can be rehabilitated and they deserve everything that happens to them.

The government has gone so far as to deny basic constitutional rights, guaranteed to all citizens, and stated they no longer are applicable to rehabilitated former sex offenders. Those who make the laws continue each term to make the laws more punishing than the last bunch. They have stated and the courts have agreed that they have a right to create new laws today and apply them to someone who committed their offense 20 or 30 years ago. They have created laws that have taken any due process rights you may enjoy, away from former rehabilitated sex offenders. It looks like they have either forgotten we have these same inherent rights or have chosen to ignore these inherent rights when passing these laws against RSO’s. Many of these laws have unconstitutional written all over them, yet they still make them.

I have more often wondered if our leaders are trying to make a caste system like that in India . If you ever commit a sex offense, you become an untouchable and no longer have any rights. People can do to you as they please without worry of punishment. Our children and wives are treated in such a way that makes them guilty just by being with me. There is little basis for each town to create more onerous laws than what the state has in place. These towns do such out of fear, fear that all the SO’s from the town next to them will drive RSO’s into their town. So the cycle has begun and multiplies as each town tries to out do each other before RSO’s can move in. Some states have gone so far as to tell the public the intentions of these restrictive laws is to drive RSO’s out of their state. One can but wonder if we even belong in this country any longer. Before much longer, we will have no place to live and be forced to leave America .

Well America , school is finished for the day. The children will be home and homework needs to be done. For now, I still make dinner and have it ready for when my wife gets home from work. How much longer she holds her job depends where we find a place to live and it is within commuting distance. We as a family try to live our lives the same as anyone else. After dinner, we have more packing to do. Hopefully the children will have a peaceful night tonight and my family can sleep in peace without the worry that someone will decide they do not want us in the neighborhood and do something to harm my family or destroy our peace.

May God Bless you America . As a nation, we should be above the hate and hysteria that prevails today. Thousands of rehabilitated former sex offender’s are being driven out of their homes while doing nothing more than working to be a law abiding, contributing member of society.

Your Neighbor, family member, familial associate.



Fearful Times - By Product Of The Past

There is no doubt that we live in fearful times. We see evidence of it all over the TV, the radio, newspapers and in public chat rooms all over the Internet. We see terrorist plots everywhere, we see evildoers of all stripes lurking in the shadows just waiting to pounce on some unsuspecting soul. In the last 20 years we have gone from a proud, strong and energetic nation to one that seems to be full of people afraid of their own shadows. How has this happened? How have we gone from the land of the free and home of the brave, to the land of the skittish and home of the fearful in only three presidents?

When I think back on 1986, I remember being very proud of my country, my president and my people. Now maybe it's just me, but it seems that today, as I look out across the landscape of my homeland, all I seem to find are people demanding that the government protect them at all costs from every conceivable danger that they can imagine happening. We, as a people, seem to spend our time fretting about what might happen to us at any given moment and are so willing to surrender many of our liberties in the hope that our government can make the bad things disappear. WOW! What a change in a short two decades.

It seems to me that the people who fought and died to secure our liberties would be ashamed to be associated in any way with such an ungrateful and uncaring lot. We have forgotten what it's like to struggle to survive on a day-to-day basis. We have forgotten what it's like to fight for something that we believe in. We have forgotten how and why this country came into being in the first place. And worse of all, we have forgotten the sacrifices made in the last 230 to secure our liberties. To this date there has never been a foreign invasion of US soil. Some will claim the reason for this is distance and the fact we have an ocean on either side of us that separates us from our enemies. While that explanation may hold some credence there is another more compelling reason. It is because our enemies have always known that if they attacked us we would not only defend ourselves to every last man, but we would also set aside our differences and put away our fears to carry the fight to them as one nation undivided, a real force to be reckoned with. We prove that in World War II.

Little more than five years ago we were attacked by a group of fanatical Islamic terrorists and what has our response been? Instead of coming together as a nation undivided we have sat in our houses complaining that the government isn't doing enough to protect us from ourselves. We worry that a former felon might live two doors down from us and demand that the government pass some new law to make them move. Remember this, for every liberty that you demand be removed from someone else, cheapens your own liberty and makes it much more likely that you too will lose it.

I have a few questions I would like people to ask themselves and to really think about.

  • Do you feel safer today than you did 20 years ago?
  • In 1986 if you wanted to know something about your neighbor you had few choices. You can go talk to your neighbor and get to know them, or you could tie into the neighborhood grape vine. Now, we expect the government to invade our neighbor's privacy and expose all for us to review. Which system do you think is better and why?
  • If your answer to question one was no, then why is that? Has knowing about your neighbors criminal past made you feel safer and more secure or less so?
  • What does the following quote by Benjamin Franklin mean to you? "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Or by Thomas Jefferson? "A people who would surrender their liberties in the name of safety, will deserve neither and lose both."
  • Do you even know your neighbors?
Come on America, we can do better than this. We need to once again become a nation of thinkers and doers. Let us stand together and force our government to leave us alone and let us do what we do best, come together as one nation and solve our own problems with intellect and a can-do attitude as was once the hallmark of our society. We can do this we just have to want to bad enough. If you won't do it for yourselves, than do it for your kids and grandkids. Let's not force them to confront our failure to secure our liberties and leave them with a legacy to be ashamed of.



Bo's Story

Hi, my nick-name is Bo and that's what I'd like to go by here for now.

I don't want to come across as untrusting but my life is in a whirl wind right now and I cannot risk making more problems for myself.

My husband offended at the age of 19, which was about 20 years ago. The victims were 12 and 15. He spent 4 1/2 years in prison and is on lifetime probation. His "official" record is conviction of "attempted molestation". (Lifetime probation was not part of the plea agreement) He was one of the first sex offenders that "successfully" completed an intense offender therapy program in prison established by Dr. Grey.

When he and I met, I had a daughter from a prior marriage that was just under a year old. We went through YEARS of family-of-sex offender counseling to have me become an approved chaperone and before he was even allowed to live in the same house with us. By the time he got to move in with me on a full-time basis, we were already married and I had given birth to our own daughter almost 3 months before.

When my oldest daughter was about 4 years old, we began the process of severing the parental rights of my ex-husband with the intention of having my current husband adopt her. It took several years, numerous psychological evaluations of both my
husband and daughter, plethysmographs and polygraphs to succeed in our goal. When my daughter was 9, my husband was the first sex offender in the state of Arizona to legally adopt a child.

Now our children are almost 14, almost 11, and we have a son that's 4.

We have been living a closely guarded life with our kids. My mother-in-law also lives with us and is also an approved chaperone. We have "integrated" rules and habits into our lives that most often eliminates any chances of there ever being any question at all about "where my husband is" and "what he was doing at what time" and "making sure there is no chance of contact with other kids at all".

We moved to another state recently but didn't know that doing so would spark the "necessity" to put my husband's smiling face on the internet. In AZ, they only put offenders on the internet that were a high risk. My husband is listed as a "0" on a 0-5 risk scale (meaning little to no risk) so he had never been on the internet before. This was VERY upsetting to us.

Also, we have done EVERYTHING in our power to make sure that the children were NOT EVEN AWARE that their father was a sex offender. We both felt that with as nasty as other children could be AND with as nasty as many adults could be, we were NOT going to compromise our children's "innocence" and have them carry the burden of knowing their father made a very, VERY poor decision many years before they were even born. Thats too much for a kid to have to swallow. They don't deserve to be punished for what he did.

Then it finally happened; The other day my eldest daughter came home saying that her best friend was no longer allowed to come over to our house because her mother saw Daddy on the internet. So, we had a family meeting and "confessed all" to the kids.

This was NOT an easy thing to do. Ultimately, it will make life easier since they now understand why daddy always has to work late on the days that they have an after-school function.... or why I only allow sleep-overs when daddy is out of town on a business trip. The fact is, as I told the mother of my daughter's best friend, I have NEVER placed my own children, let alone other children, in any danger. I love my husband VERY much....Easy to prove considering the life I have chosen to live and the burning hoops I jumped through to become a family with him......but I will ALWAYS put my children and other peoples' children FIRST.....ALWAYS! ! I too, was a victim as a child.....I also told on the man that offended me and I WAS NOT believed.... thus the abuse continued DAILY for over 3 years......

I am not about to make the same mistake my mother made with me.

My husband's test results show that he is essentially not a risk to society, at all.

My children are still not allowed to be alone with him at all. He cannot take them anywhere by himself nor can he be alone with them at home. Most of the time, that is really not too much of a problem...

So here I am now.......Mother to these 3 great kids and a wife of a sex offender that is not allowed, by law, to be alone with his own kids.

Here is where things get a little sticky.......

I was recently diagnosed with an illness that could end my life..... I am very sick and getting worse all the time.......

So, what happens to my family if I die?????

This is a bad question for anyone to ask themselves but in my case, its a bit more difficult than average.

I'm only 32 years old.....I'm not ready to die.....but I'm REALLY not ready to face what will happen to my family if I do.

I really need to find out what its going to take to get my husband off of probation so he can continue to be a father to my children if I die.

If anyone has any advice, I really want to hear it NOW, PLEASE!!!

Thanks
Bo



A Product of His Past?

The summer of 1973 was warm and humid in the small Kansas community just outside of Kansas City. June was a warm month but not as hot as July promised to be. A young blue eyed boy had just celebrated his sixth birthday earlier in the month and was now outside enjoying one of his toys, a big yellow dump truck that he liked playing with. He loved the way it made him feel to run over the small hot-wheels cars with the huge tires of the truck. It made him feel in control and somewhat powerful.

Usually the boy felt just the opposite, weak and not in control of his life. He doesn’t remember exactly when it started but he remembers how. He remembers how he was taught that he was worthless, weak and stupid. The realization hit him, like most life changing ones do, during an incident that he’d rather just forget. But he can’t forget about it, it keeps eating at him day in and day out. He wanted it to just go away, but it refused. It was always there, taunting him like a monster in the closet, always reminding him of the fact that he was not in control. Always there telling him that he was not smart enough to make it stop, to make it go away as he wished it would. Not brave enough to tell someone about it, afraid that he would not be believed that he had somehow deserved it.

You see, this boy had what we would call a bad experience just a month or two before this nice June day. There was this man that his mother had been dating and….. well… I’ll spare you the details. Lets just say that it was something that no boy should have done to him.

A few years later this boy turned eleven years old. He lived with his mother and three sisters, two older and one younger. He was afraid every day when he had to go to the local grade school. He can’t remember a time that he was not afraid anymore. He dreaded recess the worse because of the bullies. He never understood, no matter how hard he tried, why they always picked on him. Why did they always have to taunt him and push him to the ground? Didn’t they have anything better to do?

Deep down he thought that he knew why though. He believed that he was stupid and ugly, plenty of reason for being picked on. At 3:10 pm the final bell would ring and he steeled himself for the long walk home. Who would be waiting to pounce on him this time? Would it be that big kid in his class? Or would it be that pack of three boys that always hung around together calling him things like “sissy” and “stupid”? He never knew.

The year was now 1977 and school was almost over for the summer. How he wished that it would hurry up and be over so he could stay at home for three entire months. He could be relatively safe there, as long as he could stay away from his older sister who was still living at home. I’ll call he #2. The eldest girl, #1, had moved away to college last fall and was living 45 miles away. She was always the one to comfort him when he cried over some childhood hurt or another. She was the one that he slept with that stormy night when he was four when that lightening storm had terrified him into tears. She was the one who gave him a cold bath when he had the chicken pocks so bad that his fever hit 203. She was the one person that he could count on to make things better. The only one he could really trust. He missed her so terribly much that it hurt.

Where was this boy’s mother and father you may ask. Well, you see his mother was working two jobs as a waitress in a steak house in the big town 15 miles away. She was so tired trying to keep them fed and clothed that she didn’t have time for much of anything at home except sleep. Even then she didn’t get much with the kids constantly vying for her attention. The boy’s father lived in the big city 60 miles away and worked rotating shifts at the factory. He wasn’t around much and then only for a few hours at a time. His parents had divorced when the boy was three.

That summer at eleven years old the boy learned from sister #2 what a girl looked like under her clothes. He didn’t really want to know but, as with most things in his life, he had no control over that. She forcefully showed him what a woman’s breast felt like and what the…. umm… “Personal area” on a young woman smelled and tasted like. He didn’t like it at all. In fact, he got sick to his stomach and lost his lunch. That angered sister #2 so much that she wailed on him like he was a punching bag. Which was nothing new, she had a habit of using the boy as a sparing partner. He learned to stay away from her as much as possible but sometimes he was not successful.



CLOSE TO HOME: SEX OFFENDERS AMONG US

View the article here.

This idiot does not know what the hell they are talking about. Where did they get this BS? From thin-air? I am talking about the BS highlighted at the end in red.

04/15/2007

Pennsylvania State Trooper Ed Asbury has a pretty good grasp of how many convicted sex offenders live in Franklin County.

The Chambersburg barracks is an annual destination for offenders, who must update their address and employment information yearly, as well as have their photo taken for the Megan's Law Web site. "It seems like every day we have someone coming in to update their information for Megan's Law," Asbury said.

Franklin County has 111 convicted sex offenders living within its boundaries, including 42 in the Chambersburg ZIP code, according to the Megan's Law Web site. Fifteen offenders live in Greencastle and 17 in Waynesboro, according to the site.

Neighboring Adams County has 77 offenders listed and Cumberland County has 348. Fulton County has 17 offenders listed. A sex offender is anyone who is convicted or pleads guilty to crimes considered sexually violent, such as rape, sexual assault, kidnapping, incest and unlawful contact with a minor. Sex offenders must register once a year for 10 years, and anyone deemed to be a Sexually Violent Predator must register with the state for the rest of his or her life.

A Sexually Violent Predator is a sex offender who has been determined by the court to have a personality disorder that makes him or her more likely to engage in violent sexual acts. The offenders are determined to be Sexually Violent Predators after being reviewed by the state's Sexual Offender Assessment Board. The Commonwealth must prove with clear evidence that the person is a Sexually Violent Predator.

Franklin County does not currently harbor anyone deemed a Sexually Violent Predator, nor do Fulton or Adams counties. Cumberland County has 11 Sexually Violent Predators listed, all of whom live in Camp Hill, Mechanicsburg or Carlisle.

The biggest difference between sex offenders and those deemed Sexually Violent Predators is that a neighborhood is notified by flyer when a predator is moving into the area. Neighbors who live within 250 feet of the predator's residence or the closest 25 homes receive notification, along with the school district in which the predator lives. The county director of Children and Youth Services, the licensee of certified day care centers, and the president of each local college and university also receive word.

Megan's Law is named after Megan Kafka, a 7-year-old from Hamilton Township, N.J, who was killed in 1994 by a twice-convicted pedophile who was living across the street. Gov. Tom Ridge signed Pennsylvania's initial Megan's Law in 1995, which was designed to identify offenders and predators and their whereabouts.
- It's Megan Kanka dumba$$, not Kafka.

Congress passed a federal version of the law, an amendment to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, in 1996.

Pennsylvania's Web site previously listed just the names, offenses and ZIP codes of offenders. However, addresses have recently been added into the mix. House Bill 2447, which passed Nov. 9, made it legal to publish the addresses of all offenders.

Previously, only the addresses of Sexually Violent Predators were made public. Lt. Janet McNeal, director of the State Police Megan's Law Task Force, said vehicle information on offenders also will be available on the Web site by the end of the year.

Pennsylvania's compliance rate for offenders following the Megan's Law guidelines is about 94 percent, making it one of the higher-ranking states in the country. McNeal said a big reason for the high compliance is that state police strictly enforce the law, and also work with municipal police.

Sex offenders who don't follow the requirements face third-degree felony charges and Sexually Violent Predators face second-degree felony charges for the first offense.

A Waynesboro resident was recently charged for not updating his information. Pennsylvania State Police, Chambersburg, charged Harry W. Henry III in March for failing to register in Maryland as an offender when he was employed there. A court affidavit also states that Henry failed to update his employment information in Pennsylvania after he changed jobs.

McNeal said people's biggest misconception about Megan's Law is that it restricts sex offenders and predators. It doesn't. Megan's Law makes it easier for parents and guardians to find out who sex offenders are and where they live through the Web site.
- That is NOT a misconception, it's a FACT!! Why don't you commit some sex crime and then tell me this? When you are banned from places, loose your job, cannot find another job, forced to move, etc, it's called punishment and it does restrict. You are very uneducated my friend. Why don't you go places, tell them you are a sex offender, and see how many jobs you get. None!

Any additional laws on where convicted offenders may live in a borough or town must be drafted and adopted by the municipality.

There currently aren't any ordinances on the books in Franklin County. Chambersburg Borough Manager Eric Oyer said the borough does not have an ordinance and none has been brought before council.

Oyer said the police department and mayor have not proposed an ordinance stating where convicted offenders may live. Police Chief Michael DeFrank confirmed the department has never made it an issue because there hasn't been a problem with repeat offenses, and there is no one listed as a Sexually Violent Predator living within the borough or the county.

"I'm sure that if the police department or citizens had concerns, council would look into it," Oyer said.

Doylestown Township in Buck County does lay down that law. The township adopted an ordinance in October 2005 that prevents convicted sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school, day care center or any other child-related facility.

Doylestown Police Chief Stephen White said the township wasn't reacting to a specific incident. White estimated about half of the municipalities in Bucks County have some kind of ordinance on where offenders may live.

McNeal said restricting where offenders may live, although well-intentioned, is not the answer to making an area safer. She said restricting offenders would potentially drive them into rural areas that lack a local police force. It also would push them away from public transportation in some areas, which would inhibit some from getting to and from jobs.

Larry Frankel, legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said restricting offenders to one section of town increases the chance of potential problems. Frankel added that legislating where a person can live doesn't help in a situation where the offender is or has assaulted someone that he lives with.

"What we should be thinking about is, if these people are safe enough to be released from prison, what can we do so that there's less of a chance that they'll commit another offense. Otherwise we're just shoving the problem around," Frankel said.

McNeal also said the perception of predators and offenders lurking around schools and playgrounds is more of a stereotype than reality. According to information on the state Sexual Offender Review Board Web site, 90 percent of molested children know their victimizer and half of the time are related to him or her. With children ages 12 and older, 80 percent know the offender.

McNeal said the best situation for offenders who have been released is to be employed, and have a stable home life. Joey Stickell of Chambersburg is accomplishing all of that.

Stickell pleaded guilty to interstate travel to engage in sex with a minor in 2004. He's had the support of friends and family, and he's now engaged and has a child.

He's trying to leave the past in the past and focus on the present and future. "I'm just trying to put it behind me because my future is bright," Stickell said.

He said one of the hardest things to deal with is the stigma that comes with the term "sex offender."

"When people see the word they immediately think it deals with little kids and it wasn't anything like that at all. I know the full story," Stickell said.

The information on the Web site is not to be used for harassing, intimidating or threatening the offender or the families of those listed. Anyone who does could face criminal prosecution or civil liability.

McNeal added that the site was not established to make people fearful of their neighbors, but to give them a crime prevention tool by letting people know where offenders live so they can take the necessary precautions. "This is really what we're after -- less victims," McNeal said.

Warning signs that a person may be a 'seducer-type' child sex offender:

- Provides unwarranted gifts, trips, affection and attention to a specific child or small group of children

- Seeks access to children

- Gets along with children better than adults

- "Hangs around" children more than adults

- Has items at home or in vehicle specifically appealing to children of the ages they intend to molest, such as posters, music, videos, toys and even alcohol or drugs

- Displays excessive interest in children (may include inviting children on camping trips or sleepovers)

- Single, over 25 years old (but could be married, sometimes as a "cover," and could be any age)

- Has photographs or videotapes of children

- Lives alone, or with parents

- Refers to children as objects ("angel," "pure," "innocent" etc.)

- Manipulates children easily

These are dangerous, especially when taken together, but each apart from the other is not necessarily a direct indication of a sex offender, according to Little League Online.

Signs of sexual abuse/exploitation in a child's behavior:

- Sudden mood swings

- Excessive crying

- Withdrawal

- Nightmares

- Bed-wetting

- Rebellious behavior

- Fear of particular people or places

- Infantile behavior

- Aggressive behavior

- Physical signs, such as pain, itching, bleeding, fluid or rawness in private areas

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (http://www.missingkids.com), teenagers are particularly at risk because they often use the computer unsupervised, and are more likely than younger children to participate in online discussions regarding companionship, relationships or sexual activity.

A child might also provide information or arrange an encounter that could risk his or her safety or the safety of other family members.

Predators have used e-mail, instant messages, bulletin boards and chat areas to gain a child's confidence and then arrange a meeting.

Signs your child may be at risk:

- Child spends large amounts of time online, especially at night

- You find pornography on your child's computer (sex offenders often supply their potential victims with pornography as an opener for sexual discussions and for lowering the child's inhibitions). However the child could hide the files on a disk, especially if the computer is used by other family members.

- Child receives telephone calls from men or women you don't know, or is making calls, sometimes long distance, to numbers you do not recognize.

- Child receives mail, gifts or packages from someone you don't know.

- Child turns off monitor or quickly changes the screen on the monitor when you come into the room.

- Child becomes withdrawn from the family.

- Child is using an online account belonging to someone else (using "free" e-mail accounts so parent/guardian has no access).



Forcing sex offenders underground

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04/15/2007

Residency requirements for convicted sex offenders serve a sound purpose, but not when the rules are unduly restrictive.

Backlash to states' progressively strict housing rules for convicted sex offenders was building long before the recent news of five offenders forced by Florida's residency requirements to live under a highway bridge in Miami.

Much as we want to shrug "So what?" and save our sympathy for the victims, these requirements have become so restrictive in some states as to make it nearly impossible for offenders to re-enter society after their release.

Such requirements, however well-intended, have limited offenders' access to jobs, transportation and treatment programs. One of the five offenders living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Miami has to walk to a nearby convenience store to charge his electronic monitoring device. There are no power outlets under the noisy highway.

That kind of extreme only increases the chances of sex offenders returning to the very activity that landed them, well, under a bridge, calling a cardboard mat and belongings in plastic bags "home."

And so, the backlash.

According to Stateline.org -- an independent news Web site of the Pew Research Center -- laws in about a half-dozen states barring sex offenders from living near parks, schools and child care centers are being challenged by ex-offenders who claim the laws unconstitutionally penalize them.

In Iowa, where residency requirements are among the toughest in the country, the number of sex offenders moving out of state has increased since a law that bars offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools and child care centers took effect in 2005. Law enforcement officials have found increased difficulty in tracking sex offenders as a result.

In Illinois, Minnesota and New Jersey, challenges against sex-offender residential requirements are pending in state courts. Requirements enacted by Georgia last summer face a federal class-action lawsuit.

The 2005 horrific murder of 9-year-old Florida resident Jessica Lunsford at the hands of a convicted sex offender created fear palpable enough to fuel the push nationwide for measures that keep sex offenders at a distance, whether it be 1,000 feet or 2,500 feet away from places where children congregate. In Virginia, that distance is 500 feet.

The primary concern should be for the innocent victims. But requirements that drive sex offenders who have served their time underground or across state lines, where they may not be properly supervised, is not in the best interest of public safety.



L.A. County to pay $2.8 million in inmate's beating

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12/20/2006

Board of Supervisors votes unanimously to settle lawsuit by a man, charged with molestation, who wasn't segregated in custody.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to pay $2.8 million to a former jail inmate who was severely beaten after other inmates learned he was an accused child molester — the most the county has paid to resolve a lawsuit involving a jail attack.

Attorneys for Jose Beas, 41, had contended that sheriff's employees endangered the married father of three by placing him in a dormitory with 80 general population inmates instead of isolating him as department policy required.

Beas, of South Los Angeles, was a machinist and part-time soccer referee who volunteered at his children's school. He was arrested in December 2003 and charged with molesting a 5-year-old girl that his wife was baby-sitting.

The charges against him were dismissed because of the extent of his injuries, court records show. Beas had denied molesting the girl, saying he playfully patted her bottom with an open hand. He had no prior criminal history, his lawyers said.

Because child molestation suspects are often targeted for violence while in jail, the Sheriff's Department for several years has housed them apart from the rest of the jail population.

In a suit he filed against the county in 2005, Beas contended that the department failed to segregate him even after one jail employee requested that Beas be moved to protective custody.

Sheriff Lee Baca said his department had taken many steps in recent years to improve security in the jails, including isolating members of a Latino gang from other inmates.

But ensuring the safety of all inmates is difficult, he said. The department processes nearly 200,000 inmates a year and is responsible for moving thousands each day to and from court, the exercise yard and medical visits.

"We can't match a deputy with every prisoner we send down the hallway to exercise, to their attorney, to visit their family," Baca said. "At any one time, we have no more than 1,000 people watching 18,000 people. I can't walk them with a deputy side by side everywhere they go."

The Board of Supervisors' unanimous decision to pay Beas $2.8 million brings the total compensation paid to inmates injured in custody to more than $9 million since 2004. Among those cases were incidents in which inmates were attacked or killed by others they had testified against in court, killed by gang members considered higher security risks and attacked after guards left them unsupervised for long periods.

Since 2000, 14 inmates have been killed while in custody in Los Angeles County jails and hundreds more have been injured, many seriously.

After Beas' arrest three years ago, he was booked into Men's Central Jail to await trial. He was assigned to a dormitory, where he was assaulted Dec. 13, 2003. Sheriff's deputies did not witness the assault. Alerted by another inmate, they found Beas on the floor of the dormitory, unconscious in a pool of blood.

Beas had sustained a serious brain injury and spent months in a semi-vegetative state, lapsing in and out of consciousness. He remains bedridden, unable to walk or talk.

His lawyers said he will need round-the-clock care for the rest of his life. He communicates by moaning or grunting.

In the suit, Beas' lawyers said a jailer requested that Beas be moved out of the dormitory Dec. 12, 2003 — the day before the attack — because he had been charged with child molestation.

The department has not explained why Beas remained in the general population. His attorneys said they were prepared to prove at trial that he was attacked because other inmates learned about the charges against him.

Sheriff's officials have disciplined dozens of deputies and other employees for lapses in supervision that have contributed to jail violence.

The discipline has been reduced on appeal in many instances, including one case in which a deputy left a dormitory unsupervised because her shift had ended and her replacement had not arrived.

In that case, an inmate was beaten during the 20 minutes the dormitory was unsupervised. Anthony Fernandez sustained a severe brain injury in that assault. Earlier this year, the Board of Supervisors approved a $750,000 settlement in that case.

The deputy who left the dormitory unattended was initially demoted but appealed to her supervisor and got her previous job back, with a 30-day suspension.

No deputies were disciplined in the Beas case because sheriff's officials did not learn of mistakes allegedly made until after a one-year deadline to impose discipline had lapsed.


L.A. County inmate settlements

Los Angeles County has spent more than $9 million since 2004 to resolve lawsuits filed by families of inmates killed or injured in violence in the county jails. Some significant cases:

Name: Jose Beas

Details: Severe brain injury. Beaten by inmates at Men's Central Jail,

Dec. 13, 2003.

Settlement: $2,800,000

Name: Raul Tinajero

Details: Killed in cell at Men's Central Jail by inmate he'd testified against,

April 20, 2004.

Settlement: $1,250,000

Name: Ki Hong

Details: Killed in dorm by inmate workers at Men's Central Jail, Oct. 21, 2003.

Settlement: $800,000

Name: Anthony Fernandez

Details: Severe brain injury. Beaten by inmates at Pitchess Detention Center-North, May 24, 2004.

Settlement: $750,000

Name: Ahmad Burwell

Details: Severe brain injury. Beaten by inmates at North County Correctional Facility, April 1, 2000.

Settlement: $725,000