Sunday, August 19, 2007

Stopping Sex Crimes: The Real Problem and Real Solutions


One of the biggest problems with sex offender registration (and indeed, almost any other punishment for any other crime you can think of) is that the problem being addressed is always viewed from legal or public safety standpoints exclusively. Everyone, in their arguments for or against this and that, fail to both discuss the true underlying concerns that spawn the discussion as well as discuss real solutions that will address those concerns.

The reason criminal laws exist is to exact corrective measures on a person or persons that cause harm to others. That's why it's called a "Department of Corrections" and not a "Department of Punishments." The objective is to rehabilitate the person, helping them to understand why they committed a wrongful act and the fact that it IS a wrongful act, and what their other options were. Our corrections systems in the USA are a dismal failure at this, because over the past century our focus has slowly crept from correcting a criminal's actions and behaviors to meting out more and more punishment and labeling those punishments as the corrective measures instead. All that has done is bred a huge class of Americans that are locked in a box for years to simmer in their own hatred, not giving two cents about the wrongful nature of their act in many cases because it's never really addressed--and why would it be? All we care about is punishing the bad guy, and we don't stop the mental mechanics that trigger the unacceptable behavior because it's easier to just label them and file them under "10 years in prison."

The American corrections system falls so far short of the goals of a real "correctional" system that no one even talks about it anymore. Prison doesn't stop crime for a lot of inmates, it only delays the next one, because we as a nation lock too many people up for too long of a time and ignore what got them in there in the first place, effectively sweeping it under the rug. So if the DOC can't correct them, what's the solution?

The problem of crime (including sexual crime) is not a legal problem. It is a social problem. This is the key, and this is why things like sex offender registries (which are only a new creation of the past decade or so, by the way!) do not accomplish the goals that are used as the premises to establish such additional punishments. Putting someone's personal information and picture on the Internet doesn't make anyone safer, because the people on the Registry aren't the only sex offenders. The vast majority of sex offenses are first-time offenses, which means the perp wasn't on the Registry to be identified in the first place, but I digress.

Registration won't solve the problem because it is an answer to a different question. SOR's are one answer for "How can we help to prevent this person from committing another sex crime when they're released?" when the real question we want an answer to is "How can we prevent ANY new sex crimes from being perpetrated in the first place?" The only reason we fear a "sex offender" is because they were caught. We fear them because they've shown that they are less resistant to performing an unacceptable action: a sex crime.

However, it is not the offender himself or herself that we are really concerned with, but rather the chance they'll offend again, and that means we need to create solutions to sex crime perpetration in general rather than wasting time creating more and harsher punishments. After all, when it comes time for a sex criminal to pay for his crime, THE CRIME HAS ALREADY BEEN COMMITTED! Adding more and more punishments doesn't STOP the crimes from happening; it only makes you feel good and vote for the politician that enacted the law.

When you were a kid and sneaked a cookie from the cookie jar, were you thinking about the punishment you'd get if you were caught, or did you only think about it AFTER you got caught for it? This is where the lay person's fundamental understanding of things is tossed aside in favor of an emotional response: "punish more, that'll teach 'em!" But by the time the cookie thief is punished, they may have already eaten three cookies first.

I propose that people shift their discussions to solutions for preventing new sex crimes, rather than pumping more and more Draconian laws and punishments into the system and settling for that as a solution. Did you know that if someone seeks treatment for inappropriate sexual urges, they are reported to the authorities and possibly arrested or even committed? WHY? If someone seeks treatment to help themselves, our answer is to lock them up? Why not take that cash for the Registries across the nation and use it to set up low-cost or free therapy for people who are concerned and feel they need help, or for convicted offenders who want a little straightening out if their urges start to return two years after they complete sex offender treatment and are off of probation? That's just a start; I'll leave it up to you to think up more.



IA - Sex offender ordinance up for consideration

View the article here

Why do they always have these meetings in places sex offenders are not allowed to go?

08/19/2007

MASON CITY — An ordinance restricting the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders will be up for City Council consideration Tuesday night.

The council meets at 7 p.m. in the Mason City Room of the public library.

A citizens committee has been working on a proposed ordinance for more than a year.

“A lot of us have been talking about it for two years, said Tonya Kantaris, chairwoman of the committee who got involved because she says she lives in a neighborhood populated with sex offenders.

The committee lobbied unsuccessfully to get the state law repealed. It prohibits anyone on the sex offender registry list from living within 2,000 feet of many public places.

Several Iowa cities, including some in North Iowa, have also passed laws with residency restrictions on sex offenders.

Mason City Mayor Roger Bang said he hoped Mason City could come up with a model ordinance — one that restricted where sex offenders would be when they were away from home.

He also criticized the state registry of sex offenders because it said it puts rapists on the same list as “a kid who moons the school principal.”

The committee followed Bang’s thinking and focused on places where sex offenders are likely to hang out rather than where they live.

Their proposed ordinance restricts the highest-risk sex offenders from loitering in parks, playgrounds, school bus stops and other public places.

There are fewer restrictions for lower-risk sex offenders.

Kantaris said the committee is aware that under current state law, offenders are placed on the sex offender registry for conviction of a variety of crimes, some much more serious than others.

“We tried to be fair,” she said. “We realize that the sex offenders have to be able to live. If this had been easy, we would have been done a long time ago.”

The proposed ordinance has been reviewed by City Attorney Tom Meyer.

“He’s done some tweaking and may do more tweaking between now and Tuesday night,” said Kantaris.

A new ordinance requires three readings by the City Council unless the council votes to waive further readings.



FEDS' PORN ULTIMATUM

View the article here

08/19/2007

Ron Jeremy, Jenna Jameson - get ready to stand and be counted.

The Department of Justice wants to come up with an official list of every porn star in America - and slap stiff penalties on producers who don't cooperate.

The new rules, proposed under the Adam Walsh Child Safety and Protection Act, would require blue-movie makers to keep photos, stage names, professional names, maiden names, aliases, nicknames and ages on file for the inspection of the department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.

"The identity of every performer is critical to determining and ensuring that no performer is a minor," according to the new proposal.

The adult film industry plans to challenge the new rule as a violation of the First Amendment, said Paul Cambria, a lawyer for Hustler and other adult film companies.

He sees it as a way to harass legitimate stag-film producers.

"If they can't get you for obscenity, they'll get you for violating record-keeping," he said. Such a violation would carry a five-year penalty.

The proposed rule would require porn producers to give the title of the video or magazine, or the Web address where the actor appears.

The Department of Justice has shown some sensitivity for the performers' privacy, however. All information not essential to proving their age and identity, like phone numbers and addresses, can be withheld.

Distributors of foreign pornography aren't off the hook - they must still produce a copy of the foreign actor's identification card. The department estimates that there are 500,000 Web sites, 200 DVD producers and 5,000 businesses nationwide that would be subject to the new rule.

The department did not respond to requests for comment, but in its proposal suggested that the benefits outweighed any negative impact on the porn industry.

"The benefit of the rule is that children will be better protected from exploitation in the production of visual depictions of sexually explicit conduct by ensuring that only those who are at least 18 years of age perform in such depictions. The costs to the industry include slightly higher record-keeping costs," the agency argued.



AR - Woman Puts 'Offender' Sign on Wrong House

View the article here

02/10/2006

Bella Vista - A woman in Benton County hung a sign on a neighbor's door warning people that the man who lived there was a sex offender.

But there were two problems: she had the wrong house, and even if she had the right house, police say sex offender notifications can't be used to harass released convicts.
"Don't play here. Child molester lives here," the sign said, according to a police report.

Carolyn Hansen of Bella Vista also posted warnings in a nearby park. Those signs said, "There is a child molester here. Keep children out of the park."

Hansen told sheriff's investigators she'd been told by her daughter that a sex offender who moved to the neighborhood lived in the house.

The signs were collected, but a deputy saw Hansen posting the fliers again and stopped her.

After Hansen learned the address she had was the wrong one, she apologized to the man she targeted, deputies said. The man didn't want her prosecuted so she was not charged, Benton County sheriff's investigator Barb Shrum said.

The names, addresses and photographs of all level 3 and 4 sex offenders are available on the Arkansas Crime Information Center Web site. A sex offender listed on the registry had moved near the park.

The center's Web site notes that the information is provided to the public as a service, but "anyone who uses this information to commit a criminal act against another person is subject to criminal prosecution."

"The whole point of this is to be able to keep your family and your neighborhood safe from these people, but you can't harass them," Shrum said.



WA - Wash. prosecutor's sexual relations raise ethical questions

View the article here

08/18/2007

CHEHALIS - The tomcatting of the elected prosecutor in this conservative rural town has jeopardized as many as four cases brought by his office and prompted a complaint to the state bar association.

Liam Michael Golden, a Republican who ran unopposed for Lewis County prosecutor last November, is facing allegations that he did not properly disclose past sexual relationships with the mother of a victim in one case and the mother of a defendant in another. His office also charged someone with cyberstalking a woman Golden had slept with, though Golden recently turned that case over to a prosecutor from neighboring Thurston County.

The fourth case involves a 16-year-old boy charged this month with providing drugs to the mayor's 20-year-old son, leading to his fatal overdose. Some locals have questioned why any charge was brought in that case and suggested it was timed to deflect bad press.

Golden, a divorced father of two, concedes the relationships but denies any impropriety in his handling of the cases. The Washington State Bar Association is reviewing a complaint made against him. His chief criminal deputy, Jason Richards, could also be in trouble for handling plea negotiations with a juvenile arson defendant knowing that Golden had slept with the boy's mother, court documents show.

The accusations have dumbfounded people in Lewis County, a timber-and-agriculture region that's still reeling from another titillating controversy last year. Patti Prouty, a county administrator, was fired after exchanging racy text messages with on-duty law enforcement officials - including the police chief in nearby Napavine. Turns out Prouty also figures in the current scandal.

"Mike's got a lot of explaining to do," said Mark Anders, chairman of the county Republican Party. "I have some heartburn about him having affairs here, there and yonder, just from a personal moral standpoint. But in this post-Clintonian era, your personal life is your personal life, and you have to ask, 'Well, was it legal? Was it ethical?'"

Early this month, one of Golden's deputies charged a woman with sending Prouty harassing e-mails late last year. The deputy, Jonathan Richardson, says he didn't speak with Golden before filing the charge. Once Golden learned of it, he had the case transferred to a Thurston County deputy prosecutor because of Prouty's "past involvement" with Lewis County.

Golden said last week that he and Prouty had a brief affair about two years ago. But Prouty denied the affair to local reporters this week.

Anders and a retired Lewis County prosecutor, Jeremy Randolph, say Golden's conduct reflects poorly on the office, and several defense attorneys and a law professor say it's ethically troublesome.

Early this year, Golden's office prosecuted a 16-year-old boy arrested for investigation of arson. From shortly after his November election until the boy was arrested in January, Golden dated the boy's mother, Kristine Wallace, who had worked on his campaign. Golden never disclosed the relationship, and Wallace didn't tell her son's attorney, Jonathan Meyer, until after the boy pleaded guilty in juvenile court.

In a sworn declaration filed in Lewis County Superior Court, Wallace said Golden persuaded her to relate discussions with her son's attorney.

"I allowed my feelings for a man to distort my commitment to my child and cause me to do things and say things that destroyed his chances at justice," Wallace wrote.

She said that she and Golden exchanged text messages frequently about her son's court appearances and about meetings with Meyer. With her affidavit she filed pictures of text messages from Golden's cell phone number, including one that read, "This was not taken lightly and he is lucky to avoid adult court" - a statement that could be construed as dissuading her son from fighting the charge or from seeking to withdraw his guilty plea. The boy has not been sentenced.

"That's way inappropriate," said Seattle University Law School ethics professor John Strait. "One, he's giving legal advice to someone he doesn't represent. And if he's using her as a conduit to get to the defense, that's major misconduct."

Strait added that he believed Golden handled the cyberstalking case properly by having it transferred.

Meyer has asked a judge to dismiss the arson case and is seeking phone records that could shed more light on the extent of the communication between Golden and Wallace.

Meanwhile, Wallace has filed a complaint with the Washington State Bar Association. Golden responded by writing that he ended the relationship when the boy was arrested and disclosed the relationship to his chief criminal deputy. His text messages to the boy's mother "consisted of my civil responses to her communications to me," he wrote.

In a telephone interview, Golden denied using Wallace to gather information about the defense and said he never shared information about the case with his deputy prosecutors.

"I believe that ultimately, when all is heard, it will be determined that I acted appropriately," Golden said. "The allegation seems to be that I hide these things. That seems to be not true."

Wallace's complaint also raised the case of David Brosius, convicted in June of failing to register as a sex offender. Golden personally handled the case, but failed to disclose that he had dated the mother of a girl Brosius had been accused of molesting. Brosius' lawyer, Don Blair, who was trounced by Golden in the Republican primary, is seeking to have the conviction thrown out.

Richards, the chief criminal deputy, said he kept his boss apprised of developments in the case but that Golden made no decisions about it.

"That didn't have any bearing to me at all regarding what the ultimate outcome of the case was," Richards said. "I knew there had been a dating relationship, and I just knew Mr. Golden said, 'I don't want to be associated with the case.' The allegations against the defendant were supported by his confession, and the plea agreement was a standard plea agreement."

Meyer and Douglas Hiatt, a Seattle attorney who represents the boy accused of providing drugs to the mayor's son, said Richards had a duty to report his boss's affair and said they expected a bar complaint to be filed against him.

Hiatt also said he will seek to have the charge against his client thrown out, saying the charge appears to have been politically motivated to deflect attention from the Golden controversy. The death occurred about 11 months before the charge was filed; Golden says it took so long because of staff changes in his office, and nothing but the facts of the case were considered in the charging decision.

Anders, the GOP chairman, said he was stunned by the charge and more so by its timing. The sum of the allegations doesn't look good for Golden, he said.

"If the Supreme Court" - which handles lawyer discipline - "comes in and says 'no harm, no foul,' we'll see some gossip tongues wagging and it will have no real effect on Michael doing his job," Anders said. "But as more and more of this stuff comes out, any prospects for his reelection are rapidly fading."



CA - California about to pay for extreme Jessica's Law

View the article here

08/18/2007

LAST November, Iowa was dealing with a tangled legal mess due to Jessica's Law. And that very month, a whopping 70.5 percent of Californians stamped their ballots for that same statute. Iowa had warned us, but only 29.5 percent of our voters took the time to listen and study the facts from academics, therapists and researchers. The rest only read the headlines and heard the sound-bites, all blaring the magical vote-grabbing words: "Protect our children."

Now, nine months later, our state is encumbered by 2,100 sex offenders who'll soon have no place to live due to their 2,000-foot distance restrictions from schools and parks. It's predicted that many will slip through the cracks, fall off the registry, and go underground, where stress and instability will render them more of a danger.

That is, those who are really high-risk - and that's only 10 percent of all registrants. The rest are one-timers, Romeos and Juliets, outdoor urinators, flashers, mooners and the like - all low- or no-risk. Yet, they're all shoved into the same pool by our national neurosis. With our Puritanical origins, we labor under an erotic dichotomy that's simultaneously obsessed and repulsed by anything with a sexual element. Other types of child abuse can hurt as much, but don't get nearly the notoriety.

In 1994, Patty Wetterling successfully lobbied for the first registry on behalf of her abducted son Jacob. It was not an unreasonable law, aimed only at offenders who might pose a danger and meant for the eyes of law enforcement alone. Now, she's appalled by the extreme outcome of her original effort and is trying to amend it.

"Everyone is trying to out-tough the next legislator," she says. "It's all about ego and boastfulness." Here we have a bereaved parent who yet retains logic, sense, and humanity.

Her statement may well apply to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who should have known better than to back Jessica's Law. He was aware of Iowa's situation, and had already approved a slew of workable sex-offender enactments shortly before the November election. But could our body-building leader seem the wimp by acting "soft on crime?" Said the French politician, Julian Dray, back in the 80s, "Schwarzenegger has a lot of muscles, but apparently not much heart."

Ironically, Arnold was indeed playing the wimp by caving in to political pressure and the need to retain his tough-guy status at whatever cost. Thus, we have a suggestion for our governor to redeem himself by solving the dilemma of those 2,100 displaced persons.

He, Maria, and their four children currently live in an 11,000-square-foot Brentwood home. They also own a house in the Pacific Palisades that's not too shabby.

Since 11,000 square feet is more than ample for a family of six, why not move to the Palisades and turn over that Brentwood home to the offenders? Surely, 2,100 people could comfortably fit into that space. And, to accommodate our media-driven public paranoia, the National Guard might act as sentries so that no offender - not even a 4-year-old girl caught hugging her teacher (yes, it's come to that) - could escape and terrorize Brentwood.

This could also fulfill Maria's Kennedyesque urge toward philanthropy. She's a supporter of the Special Olympics for challenged contestants, so here's her big chance. According to popular perception, there are none more challenged than "sex offenders." This category includes not only the hotsy-totsy toddler, but also a 13-year-old girl who's been deemed both a victim and offender for having sex with her 12-year-old boyfriend.

"The only thing that comes close to that is dueling," said Associate Chief Justice Michael Wilkins of Utah, noting that two people who take 20 paces and then shoot could each be considered both victim and offender.

So, if our suggestion seems far out, it's an answer to molester laws that have galloped far out of control. The pendulum has swung too far to an extreme end and must regain a more balanced position if the U.S. is not to be seen as excessively punitive. We are the most incarcerated country in the world, yet continue to build more costly prisons for the most minor offenses and parole violations.

In fact, what we need is more therapy for troubled and troubling people. But then, that wouldn't hurt the true offenders - only help them. And our national stampede is towards vendetta, not prevention. This must change if we're to survive as the civilized culture in which many of us would like to think we exist.

Betty Schneider is a member of the California Coalition on Sexual Offending, as well as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Contact her through her Web site, www.therapy-key.com.



NH - Policymakers debate predator safeguards

View the article here

08/19/2007

Defense attorneys, sex-offender treatment counselors and some lawmakers are appalled at the harassment of registered sex offender Gloria Huot by her Manchester neighbors. But other politicians are pushing for tighter controls on people who hurt or touch kids improperly, commit date rape or sleep with underage girlfriends.

A mob milled in Huot's yard and burned a scarecrow on her doorstep. In response, Manchester aldermen are mulling an ordinance like the one in Dover that bans sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of schools and day-care centers. Tilton, Northfield, Franklin and Boscawen passed even tougher codes this spring and summer.

Depending on the community, registered offenders can face fines as high as $1,000 for a second infraction.

And state law puts them in jail for up to seven years if they fail to register for the state's Internet list twice a year.

U.S. Senate candidate and Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand said he is open to a sex-offender ordinance in the city.

"I have to react as a husband and parent of two young girls," he said. "We need local, state and federal vigilance against predators. People need information on their whereabouts. Our City Council has talked about doing something, but there's been no formal action. The recent news has underlined the issue. We also want to be sure any ordinance is constitutional."

Rep. Bill Knowles, D-Dover, chairs the House Criminal Justice Committee and had nothing to do with passing the Dover ordinance. His committee took the lead in killing a bill last term to impose the same residence restrictions statewide.

"I oppose those ordinances," Knowles said. "They drive people underground and give the public a false sense of security. Over 90 percent of the perpetrators are well known to their victims. Those people in Manchester are sick vigilantes."

Lawyer David Hirsch of Portsmouth, who briefly represented the first inmate charged under a new law that lets the state keep a sex offender behind bars an extra five years if deemed still dangerous to society, said, "Those zoning ordinances are clearly unconstitutional. They serve to keep people out of the community."

"Unfortunately," he said, "the courts have upheld the registration laws. When the government tells the neighbors somebody is a sex offender, that is an invitation to vigilantes. The sex offenders can't lead normal lives, get jobs or have families. It makes them more likely to re-offend."

Defense lawyer Patrick Fleming of Portsmouth said the new child predator law has chilled the plea-bargaining process as expected.

Few defendants are confessing guilt because they could face civil petitions to keep them behind bars when they finish doing their sentences.

And if they get out, they face the Internet registry. It sets them up to return to the only safe place, Fleming said — prison.

"It scares me there's so much fear mongering going on," Fleming said. "But it's good politics. People respond to it. Americans are afraid now of all Muslims and all sex offenders."

Why stop at sex offenders?

Rep. Lee Quandt, R-Exeter, was a parole officer for 27 years and made sure his sex offenders registered. He advised a pedophile not to move in next door to a playground, but the person was free to.

"I don't see that Manchester woman as a threat," Quandt said. "I'm not sure we should dictate where anyone lives. Who's next? Hispanics? Blacks?"

Rep. Laura Pantelakos, D-Portsmouth, sits on a committee this summer studying criminal sentencing. She said the hatred against Huot is part of a dangerous trend.

"The simple answer is put them on an electronic bracelet," Pantelakos said. "The police would know where there are, and the lynch mobs wouldn't."
- This is just idiotic. Even if you have GPS, you'll have to live somewhere, and the online registry makes it impossible to live anywhere without vigilantes coming out of the wood work to get a witch hunt going. I bet you have stock in the GPS market, why else are you pushing for this so much?

Rep. Albert Weare, R-Seabrook, serves on the Criminal Justice Committee and called the Dover ordinance a bad thing.

"John Q. Public wants to lock them up and throw away the key," he said. "We need some balance here."

Carolyn Lucet of Conway has counseled more than 400 released sex offenders in New Hampshire over three decades. She said only one of those clients has ever gone back to prison for a new sex crime, although others have been busted for parole violations or nonsexual charges.

She said the Menonites in Canada have a Circles of Support ministry for paroled sex offenders.

The churches give them jobs, housing and strong emotional support.

"The recidivism rate has been zero," Lucet said. "This woman in Manchester, what do they want from her?"



IL - New law to protect minors online

View the article here
Experts Debunk Myths About Online Youth Victimization

08/19/2007

PLAINFIELD -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich took the final step in making it illegal for anyone over 17 years old to conduct illicit conversations with minors over the Internet.

The law, which was initiated by state Rep. Tom Cross, R-Oswego, cleared the House and Senate months ago.

Now, those who engage in sexually-explicit conversation with a minor over the Internet will face Class 4 felony charges, which Cross said he hopes will curb Internet predators.

"This is an important step in continuing to keep our children safe from Internet predators and others who use chat sites as a way to befriend minors," Cross said. "These types of crimes are growing trends in communities all over the state. We have to put these laws in place to allow authorities to seek and prosecute criminals who are skilled in using computer technology to gain access to children."

House Bill 2858 is part of Rep. Cross' Social Networking Web site Safety Legislative Package, which also includes a bill allowing schools to discipline students who make harmful threats over the Internet and a bill that would enhance the penalty for making online death threats.

Cross, who has two children, said in a May 30 Sun-Times News Group column that he sponsored the bill to ease parents' worries.

"As our children continue to grow, my wife and I have encouraged them to become proficient in the use of computers," he wrote. "Now we worry about the types of people they may encounter when they use social-networking Web sites like MySpace and Facebook."

Shows like Dateline NBC's "To Catch A Predator" have brought the issue of Internet predators into the limelight through its series of programs targeted at the online solicitation of minors.

Others groups looking to protect minors from Internet predators include Perverted Justice, an activist group out of Portland, Ore., which uses volunteers posing as teens to gather information about pedophiles.

Sen. A.J. Wilhelmi, D-Joliet, worked with Cross to pass the bill. Kendall County State's Attorney Eric Weis, Oswego Police Chief Dwight Baird, Will County State's Attorney Jim Glasgow, and area library and school officials also are credited for their support, Cross said.



KY - Case dismissed against sex offender for violating new residency laws

View the article here

07/24/2007

LOUISVILLE - A ruling Tuesday from a district court judge could change the law limiting where sex offenders can live. Last October, Kentucky passed new laws prohibiting convicted sexual offenders from living within 1,000 feet from facilities with children. WAVE 3's Caton Bredar has the latest from an attorney involved in the case.

Kentucky's new sex offender laws took effect last October, and almost immediately, Kentucky State Police identified and charged more than three dozen sex offenders for violating residency restrictions.

Attorney Mike Goodwin's client was arrested the same night the new law took effect. Goodwin says the problem, legally, is that the new law amounts to a second punishment for the original crime, which is ex post facto, or unconstitutional.

"The Legislature decided that this is punishment," Goodwin said, referring to the new law. "They named it that in the title of the bill, and they said this is an act all about punishing sex offenders. And the Constitution couldn't be clearer that you can't punish people twice for the same thing."

According to Goodwin, his client was found guilty of a sexual offense nearly 10 years before being found in violation of new residency restriction laws. Those laws, passed last summer, dictate that convicted sex offenders cannot live within 1,000 feet of a school, day care, or public playground. It's a law Jefferson District Judge Don Armstrong deemed unconstitutional, dismissing Goodwin's client's case.

Across the nation, similar laws are facing legal challenges. In Clarksville, Indiana, the ACLU is challenging a law banning sex offenders from parks after a man was denied an exemption to coach his son's little league team.

Goodwin says such punishment is often doing more harm than good. "If you take people who have been convicted of a sexual offense, just like any offense, the last thing you want to do is destabilize them."

There's also the problem of where offenders "can" live. In Louisville, nearly 60 registered sex offenders were found in a single area near Churchill Downs, the same part of town where 4-year-old Ivan Aguilar Cano disappeared. His body was found in the neighborhood eight days later. It's that type of forced concentration, Goodwin fears, that can lead to problems.

"Forcing them to move out of their homes, breaking up their families," Goodwin said, "making them move where they can't work -- those things were a much harsher punishment than some of the original punishments for what were, in many cases, minor offenses."

Goodwin is representing 11 other Kentucky sex offenders in a federal court case, hoping to get the law repealed, and he said the bottom line is that the law is "not keeping communities safe."

He adds that original proponents of the residence restrictions in other states have now done an aboutface and hopes that the same is soon true in Louisville. "In some cases," he concludes, the restrictions "make the problem worse."



Sex Offender Found Innocent