Sunday, August 12, 2007
I received an email from my lawyer that said that David Singleton, a Harvard educated lawyer, is initiating a law suit against the State of Ohio, opposing the ex post facto legislation that is written in Ohio SB-10 to enact the federal requirements of the Adam Walsh Act of 2006. David Singleton represents Ohio Justice Center, a non-profit, ex-convict justice advocate. I think that he is looking for a group of sex offenders that would have come off the registry between July 1, and December 31, 2007 in Ohio. In an email that I received from him, he said that he is looking to represent sex offenders whose crime was not child related. If he wins his case, the RSO's may not have their registration duties lengthened. Here is the website of the Ohio Justice Center.
Web Site: http://www.ohiojpc.org/main.html
Their email is: email@example.com
Anyone who is a RSO or family member of a RSO from Massachusetts, please send this AG your comments, express your concerns about the laws, how it's affected your life and the lives of your family and your own children. Keep it clean, no foul language, etc. Your future depends on it! I've sent my comments and I'm not from this state.
Dedham Town Meeting, in what members saw as an effort to protect the town's children and elderly, voted in May to, in effect, declare about 76 percent of the town off-limits to sex offenders.
The declaration came in the form of a new ordinance that prevents sex offenders from establishing residency within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, elderly housing complexes, and places of worship -- pretty much anywhere children and the elderly congregate. It also forbids sex offenders to loiter within 300 feet of specific sites such as parks and bus stops. Taken together, that adds up to more than three-quarters of the town.
But more than 90 days after the vote, the ordinance has yet to become law. The state attorney general's office, which approves the legality of Town Meeting articles, has asked for more time to review the restrictions and has requested additional information from the town's geographic mapping system.
The ordinance could have statewide implications.
The delay in state approval is raising questions about whether Attorney General Martha Coakley, who took office in January, will support such residency restrictions, which have been both celebrated and sharply criticized in the handful of Massachusetts communities that have enacted them as well as in other cities and towns nationwide.
The ordinances have drawn the ire of civil libertarians and law enforcement officials, who accuse communities of ushering in a Colonial-era practice of banishing residents. Such a Draconian measure, they say, could discourage sex offenders from complying with sex offender registry laws or from seeking treatment, for fear of being kicked out of their homes or prevented from basic errands or visits to family.
- And this is exactly what is occurring across the country. Sex offenders are vanishing due to the draconian nature of these laws which are almost impossible to comply with.
The Dedham vote offers Coakley one of the first opportunities to analyze the legal and social implications of the residency restrictions and to take an official position on it. During her first eight months, mostly cities -- not towns -- have passed the residency restrictions, and those votes don't require attorney general approval.
Coakley has expressed concerns that Dedham's ordinance could have statewide implications, said Dedham Town Administrator William Keegan in summarizing discussions between Dedham's town counsel and the attorney general's office.
"She wants to make sure it's an enforceable bylaw and within constitutional limits," Keegan said.
Coakley's office could take an additional 90 days to review the ordinance, said Harry Pierre, a spokesman for the attorney general's office. He said the office originally requested the maps and other information from Dedham within the 90 days following the vote, but the town didn't provide the material. Pierre said he couldn't comment further about the review or whether Coakley would support the ordinance or any piece of it.
During the past two years, communities such as Fitchburg, Marlborough, Revere, and West Boylston have restricted residency of sex offenders, while Framingham, Shrewsbury, and a growing number of others west of Boston are contemplating it. The ordinances can create a domino effect in a region because nearby communities often perceive the communities imposing the restrictions as chasing sex offenders out of their towns and into the others. The ordinances could essentially leave a sex offender with few or no options to live in a community or even a region because the provisions often form overlapping circles of restricted areas. The ordinances work similar to drug-free school zones, except that the residency restrictions tend to apply to a much larger number of buildings, sometimes even shopping malls.
Dedham, which covers less than 11 square miles, boasts at least 10 public and private schools, including the 187-acre Noble and Greenough School. There also are nearly a dozen public parks, and a number of churches, day-care centers, and elderly housing complexes, most notably the HebrewSenior Life housing and care center, under construction on 160 acres.
Even with 24 percent of Dedham open to residency for sex offenders, it's unclear how much of that land is inhabitable because it includes cemeteries and acres of conservation land.
Don Reisner, chairman of the town Parks and Recreation Commission, started researching residency restrictions last year after reading a story in a local newspaper about a sex offender living in front of a bus stop in another town. Initially, Reisner sought to restrict establishing a residency within 2,000 feet of schools and other places that cater to children and the elderly, but it was reduced to 1,000 feet on Town Meeting floor.
Violations carry fines that range from $300 to $750, along with stipulations that violators must move from town.
"You can never let your guard down, but anything extra we can do I'm all for it," Reisner said.
Reisner thinks Dedham's ordinance could be pushing the envelope of restrictions by forbidding sex offenders to loiter within 300 feet of a park or bus stops. He said that provision is not part of West Boylston's bylaw, which received approval from former attorney general Thomas Reilly and on which Reisner largely based Dedham's ordinance.
"I think the attorney general's office just wants to dot their I's and cross their T's," Reisner said of the delay.
Other cities have similar loitering restrictions in their ordinances.
There is a notable loophole, though, in many of these residency restriction ordinances, including the one in Dedham: A grandfather clause enabling sex offenders who lived in town before the ordinances passed to remain there.
A Globe search of the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board's online database this month revealed 23 registered sex offenders living or working in Dedham who are classified at levels 2 and 3, which indicates moderate to high risk of re-offending.
The grandfather clauses prompt some critics to write off the ordinances as "feel-good legislation." But at the same time, many critics worry that the ordinances could prevent sex offenders from moving in with family when support is needed the most for a better recovery.
Nevertheless, critics and supporters expect residency restrictions to increase nationwide.
"The reason why these proposals have such currency is because people are scared and want to do something, but fear does not produce a good remedy," said John Reinstein, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. "These ordinances give the illusion of providing protection while not providing real protection."
- And this fear is all the fault of the media and politicians not citing facts and fear-mongering to garner votes and ratings. You have more of a chance your child will be killed by a drunk driver or running into the street than by a sex offender. 90% or more of sex crimes occur in the home, so banishing people does nothing.
In some cases nationwide, the residency restrictions have created a kind of buyer's remorse, said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. Some communities, he said, push forward with the ordinances, even though some local leaders have reservations.
"It's hard for public officials to be opposed to it," Finkelhor said. "Nobody wants to be seen as coddling child molesters or sex offenders."
- And they do not have the balls to stand up and say "I am for upholding the Constitution and being fair, and I am not coddling sex offenders, I just want to do what is right and what will work, and these laws do NOT work!"
GROWING POPULATION The state's southern counties are attracting more as residents. COMBINATION OF FACTORS Fewer law officers and more legal residency areas draw them to the south.
WAYCROSS - Nancy Ruiz recoiled and stepped back as if struck. Her hands trembled as she clutched a flier with the picture of the new neighbor across the street.
"Oh God! It's too close to home. A sex offender shouldn't be allowed in a neighborhood with children like this," Ruiz said last week.
Adelbert Avery Crosby, a 37-year-old sexual predator from Nevada, moved into an apartment in the 2000 block of West Jackson Street just outside Waycross last weekend.
From her job in a plumbing contractor's office opposite the apartment, Ruiz had glimpsed someone moving in but had no clue it was a predator until interviewed Wednesday by the Times-Union.
"I'm flabbergasted. It infuriates me that someone like that is here. I don't like it, and I don't want him here," said Ruiz, who lives close by with 12- and 14-year-old daughters.
But Ruiz has no say in the matter.
Her neighborhood is one of the places sex offenders can live without violating Georgia's controversial sex offender law.
Crosby is the first predator registered in Ware and adjacent Pierce County, where he previously lived in two Blackshear neighborhoods.
He is typical, however, of the swelling migration of sex offenders into rural South Georgia, according to area sheriffs and Georgia Bureau of Investigation data.
Nevada classified Crosby a high-risk sex offender posing a threat to public safety after his conviction for felony statutory sexual seduction and misdemeanor open and gross lewdness. His record also includes arrests for attempted murder and assault.
Two months after Crosby moved to Southeast Georgia, the Georgia Sex Offender Review Board in July designated him a sexual predator.
A woman who identified herself as Crosby's aunt answered the door at his home Wednesday. She accepted a reporter's business card saying she would relay a request for an interview. Crosby, who has no listed home telephone, has not responded. Two attempts to reach him by telephone at his job Thursday were unsuccessful.
Required to wear an electronic monitoring device, Crosby has moved three times in the past four months.
He first ran afoul of state restrictions for living too close to a Blackshear church and playground, said Sgt. Robert Newton of the Pierce County Sheriff's Office.
He moved to a small mobile home park southeast of town but soon packed up for Ware County, saying he wanted to be closer to his factory job, Newton said.
"They are all moving around a lot," said Newton, a 27-year law enforcement veteran and primary monitor of Pierce County's registered sex offenders.
An increasing number of sex offenders are settling in rural South Georgia, where law enforcement resources are limited and where there are fewer restricted areas such as parks, churches, playgrounds and designated school bus stops, county sheriffs and state investigators told the Times-Union.
Many are migrating from other states and Georgia's more urban counties, a Times-Union review of GBI data, sheriff's office records and court documents revealed.
Although the majority of sex offenders are "home-grown," the influx of outsiders will continue to grow, predict the region's sheriffs, prosecutors and civil liberties lawyers.
A Georgia law that took effect July 1, 2006, forbids sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of places like child-care centers, schools, churches, playgrounds, parks and school bus stops. A court challenge has halted enforcement of the bus stop provision.
The region's sheriffs blame the law for driving sex offenders into their communities.
The state's failure to pay for the necessary personnel, training and equipment to better monitor rural sex offenders compounds a bad situation, they said.
"They need to tweak that law," Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk said.
Paulk, past president of the Georgia Sheriffs' Association, called the law well-intentioned but difficult to enforce for most rural sheriffs given their limited staffs and budgets.
He favors a system in which the severity of the offense would be a key factor in determining how closely a sex offender is monitored.
"We check on them all regularly. Child molesters, rapists or a hard-core stalker who entices a child are the ones that we really focus on and check up on the most," Paulk said.
A "Romeo and Juliet" situation in which a 17-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl have consensual sex and later marry is different than child molestation or rape, he said.
The association supports exemptions for some elderly or infirm offenders such as those in nursing home.
"You have to ferret out and look at the degree of the offense," Paulk said.
Many of the out-of-state offenders are coming from Florida, but an increasing number are from Texas and other western states with tough sex-crime laws.
Offenders from Georgia's metropolitan areas are also migrating to rural areas, according to investigators, Georgia's sex offender registry and court documents.
"We're getting some from just about everywhere. I don't know how they find us, but they sure keep showing up. I guess they think we're small and that we can't keep up with them," Brantley County Sheriff Robert Thomas said.
Some come to live with relatives, but others have been forced out of other counties, Thomas said.
Adjacent Glynn County had expelled several of Brantley's offenders, said District Attorney Rick Currie, who prosecutes crimes in Brantley County.
Although sympathetic, Sheriff Wayne Bennett makes no apologies for sex offenders moving out of Glynn County, which has a dozen fewer now than last year, records show.
"We in Glynn County are going to do what we need to do to enforce the law to ensure the safety of our children and residents," Bennett said.
His office already had sex offenders under close watch before the law took effect and intensified the scrutiny over the past year.
"Since the law took effect, 22 sex offenders have moved out of the county due to the restrictions," Bennett said.
Glynn deputies made 56 offenders relocate because they were too close to restricted areas, he said.
Among them was George Edenfield, a 31-year-old convicted sex offender. Edenfield and his parents, David and Peggy Edenfield, each face the death penalty if convicted of malice murder in the March 8 sexual abuse slaying of 6-year-old Christopher Michael Barrios Jr.
The three Edenfields had lived together on Union Street near downtown Brunswick a few doors away from a city park. Ordered to move away from the park, the Edenfields rented a home in Canal Mobile Home Park near Christopher's extended family. The park then was home to four sex offenders: George Edenfield, David Edenfield, who was convicted of incest against his daughter; Christopher's father and a fourth man - both convicted of statutory rape.
- And this very law put Christopher Barrios in danger, because his father is also a sex offender, so he had nowhere to live either and his only option was were he was at, so you get clusters of sex offenders. So these very laws are what helped kill this young child.
With the federal injunction on enforcement of the bus stop restriction, Glynn deputies could not force the Edenfields or other offenders out of the mobile home park.
Bennett has one deputy assigned full time - and two others as needed - to monitor sex offenders in the county.
Generally, the small, rural counties have one deputy keeping track of sex offenders while also handling other cases.
In Pierce and Ware counties, veteran investigators handle the task aided by an administrative clerk to handle the legal documentation and entries to the GBI sex offender registry.
But they need help, the sheriffs said.
A statewide conference to train sheriff's deputies on Georgia's sex offender law will be held Wednesday and Thursday on St. Simons Island.
Because of state funding cuts, it's unknown how many rural deputies will be able to attend.
"It's bad enough that they won't help us with manpower to enforce these laws, but then they take away our training funds," Thomas said.
After a bitter budget battle with legislators this year, Gov. Sonny Perdue shifted money from the sheriffs to the Georgia State Patrol.
The conference cost of $75 per deputy doesn't include lodging, food or travel expenses. Thomas plans to send two of his 16 deputies.
"I know that $150 [registration fees] doesn't sound like much, but to a small department like ours it can make a difference especially when you add up the related costs," Thomas said. "We want to protect our kids, and we will find a way to make it, but we need some help from the state."
Each sex offender is charged a $250 registration fee in Georgia. A predator also must pay the cost of the electronic monitoring device. The sheriffs must collect those fees. If the offender is too poor to pay, the county foots the bill.
"All the money collected goes to the state. It doesn't go back to the sheriffs who are the ones keeping track of the sex offenders," Pierce County Sheriff Richard King said.
The Ware County neighborhood where Crosby lives is quiet. Children's toys and bicycles are scattered in yards where roosters are roaming freely.
Crosby may not stay in Ware County. Many sex offenders move on unless they have family in the county, sheriff's office records indicate.
"If they come here, normally within 90 days they are in jail or gone. A lot decide to move to other counties because we are strict when it comes to the law," said Angie Tayag, a sheriff's office administrative clerk who maintains the sex offender records.
Ruiz hopes Crosby moves on. Until then, she and her daughters are going to be on guard.
"I'm going to be looking behind my back from now on ... and I won't be bringing my daughters with me to work any more," she said.
A Dallas police officer was arrested in Mesquite early Saturday after a woman told police there he sexually assaulted her.
Officer Michael Bricker, 38, was in the Mesquite jail on suspicion of sexual assault and indecent exposure.
Officials said Mesquite police arrested Bricker during a traffic stop in the 1500 block of Gallowway.
There has been no official statement from either department, but Dallas police confirmed the 13-year veteran was on administrative leave.
Bricker works at the southeast patrol station.
Fear mongering is the use of fear to leverage the opinions and actions of others towards some end. The object of fear is exaggerated; those the fear is directed toward are kept aware of it on a constant basis.
Uses in politics
Fear mongering is often used in a time of war as a political tactic to frighten citizens and influence their political views. Fear mongering in the United States surfaced most prominently during the era of McCarthyism, when the nation first faced the threat of nuclear attack. Since then politicians and pundits alike have realized and utilized the powerful influential impact that fear can have on American voters. Fear of terrorism born from the September 11th attacks has been arguably exploited by incumbent politicians to maintain their control of the house, senate, and executive branch of the government.Campaign advertisements
Probably the best example in American politics is the Daisy television commercial, a famous campaign television advertisement that begins with a little girl standing in a meadow with chirping birds, picking the petals of a daisy while counting each petal slowly. When she reaches "9", an ominous-sounding male voice is then heard counting down a missile launch, and as the girl's eyes turn toward something she sees in the sky, the camera zooms in until her pupil fills the screen, blacking it out. When the countdown reaches zero, the blackness is replaced by the flash and mushroom cloud from a nuclear explosion.
As the firestorm rages, a voice-over from Johnson states, "These are the stakes! To make a world in which all of God's children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die." Another voice-over then says, "Vote for President Johnson on November 3. The stakes are too high for you to stay home."The recently released television advertisement by the Republican National Committee quoting "Osama Bin Laden," echoes the exact same line as Johnson's ad: "These are the stakes!" Additionally, the only audio in the commercial is the sound of a ticking clock that gradually gets louder and louder, until the image of a bomb exploding appears.
Why does he have to come up with another law to look good to the public? I thought the laws already on the books prevented people from working at places where children are involved, which would include these places. So why another law?
SPRINGFIELD -- With carnival and state fair season in full-swing, Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a law Thursday prohibiting sex offenders from working at the festivals statewide.
Considering the amount of children present at these events, Blagojevich signed House Bill 156 into law Thursday which prevents convicted felons from working at state fairs or carnivals, according to a release from the Governor’s office.
The law comes just days after a Lake County Fair carnival worker from Chicago was accused of molesting two girls on the Ghost Pirates ride in Indiana on July 27.
A violation of the new law could result in one to three years of jail time and a maximum penalty of $25,000, the release said.
The bill amends the Criminal Code that it is illegal for a convicted sex offender to knowingly reside within 500 feet of a playground, day care facility, or any other exclusively child-oriented place, the release said.
City Council President Chad Fradette, who developed the city’s sex offender ordinance and the Sex Offender Residency Board, thinks that appeals board may be going too far when hearing certain cases.
Fradette appeared at the board’s meeting today to question members about the handling of an appeal last month. The case involved a 31-year-old man convicted of a so-called “Romeo and Juliet” offense — having sex as a teenager with another teenager.
The man appeared before the board to appeal the residency restriction in the city’s ordinance, which prohibits registered sex offenders from moving to within 2,000 feet of any school, park or other gathering place for children in Green Bay. The board, troubled that the man did not have a specific address in mind nor a specific time in which he planned to move, persuaded him to withdraw his appeal.
“We postponed making a decision,” board member Mike Schulz said.
“In effect, you denied it,” Fradette said. “If I were him, I’d take it as a denial.”
Fradette said the ordinance was written for legal reasons to include all kinds of sex offenders, but that the City Council never intended for it to exclude Romeo-and-Juliet offenders from the city.
“I don’t care where they live,” Fradette said. “If they’re not a threat, they’re not a threat.”
Schulz said Fradette would perhaps think differently if he’d sit through the cases and hear the testimony himself. He and board member Arthur Taylor said the sex offender in question may have had at least four other sex offenses that were not Romeo-and-Juliet cases, although both board members also said they did not believe the offender presented a threat of repeating a sexual offense.
“He was a good man,” Schulz said.
Brad Hopp, acting chairman of the board, told Fradette the board needs to handle all cases in a consistent fashion, and granting open-ended waivers to Romeo-and-Juliet cases could lead to legal trouble for the city.
After the meeting, Fradette said he in no way wants to second-guess the board, which he said is charged with a difficult and unpleasant duty. But he said he still thinks the board should handle Romeo-and-Juliet cases differently, and that such offenders shouldn’t need to present a specific address when appealing.
“I’ll have more discussions with the chairman (Chris Wery, who heads the city’s Protection and Welfare Committee) on how the Romeo-and-Juliet cases should be handled,” he said.
The board, for its part, won’t change the way it’s doing business, Hopp said.
“I’m sure he understands now that we’re doing everything possible,” Schulz said.
# The board also granted the appeal of Edwin Scott, a convicted sex offender recently released from prison and wanting to move into the state’s Transitional Living Facility at 1761 Shawano Ave.
Scott, 51, was convicted of sexually assaulting two 9-year-old girls, daughters of Scott’s former girlfriends, in 1989 and 1994, and a 7-year-old girl in 1984.
Scott was released from prison last week and moved into temporary quarters at an Ashwaubenon hotel. He told the board he intends to find an apartment as soon as possible but likely will need to live at the Shawano Avenue residence in the interim. The facility currently has no bed available, but Scott expects to take the next available space.
The board voted 4-1 to allow the appeal, with Hopp casting the dissenting vote. It was the first split decision in the eight cases the board has heard since being formed.
If Scott finds an apartment in Green Bay, he’ll need to file another appeal with the board.
# The board voted to make Hopp chairman and Taylor vice chairman. Hopp, formerly the vice chairman, was acting chairman since Dr. Gerald Wellens stepped down in June.
The group is next scheduled to meet Sept. 12.