Sunday, October 21, 2007

MI - Sexual activity can be criminal

View the article here

See the sample videos kids are watching today below. You tell me, why do you think they are more sexual today? Also view this blog item to see more of why kids are out of control these days.

10/21/2007

Are teens today more sexually active than teens of yesterday or are they just admitting it more freely?

Regardless, teen sexuality has life-long consequences. Those consequences were discussed at a town hall meeting last week in Sturgis that focused on teen pregnancy. But pregnancy isn’t the only consequence teens should be aware of when becoming sexually active. Criminal charges can come into play when teens are under age.

“They don’t know how much trouble they can get into,” said John McDonough, St. Joseph County assistant prosecuting attorney.

And when it comes to sexual activity, age is a big issue.

The age of consent in Michigan is 16 and at 17, teens are viewed as adults in the eye of the criminal justice system. For sexual activity involving those under 13, criminal sexual conduct crimes become more serious.

The legal jargon describing criminal sexual conduct in the first, second and third degree also includes variables that make it more serious depending on age, relationship to and the mental and physical states of the victim.

They all outline actions that can send a person to prison or put them on the state sex offender registry.

“We don’t want to see kids on the sex offender list,” McDonough said. “Neither do we want to send someone in to the public that’s a predator. The kids are important. If we can get to the kids before they are adults, it will make our community a better place to live.”

McDonough pointed out that even if a teen’s activity doesn’t constitute criminal sexual conduct, but is a prank like mooning for instance, it can have legal consequences.

And from what he’s learned by talking with teens, McDonough believes sexual activity among teens has increased in recent years.
- Look at the TV, movies, music, Internet! Sex is everywhere. Why aren't we going after the porn industry? Put them behind an .XXX domain, and after movies and TV shows? If we want to protect kids, then why isn't this being done? Look at almost ANY rap video and you will see what I mean.

The prosecutor said while he is sympathetic with raging hormones, the consequences of teen sexuality include pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease and criminal sexual charges. The goal, he said, is to “get the message out that this can destroy your life.”
- i.e. Thus it's punishment like I've been saying. Therefore the laws are unconstitutional!

Rapper Akon In Controversial Dance With 14 Year Old


IN - Versailles family warns neighbors with a huge sign


People cannot even spell. Moveing is spelled "Moving!" This is harassment. Indiana registry says:
Information in this registry may not be used to harass or threaten offenders or their families. Harassment, stalking, or threats may violate Indiana law.

10/18/2007

In a neighborhood that seemed perfect to raise children, there is only one sign, literally, that all might not be as idealistic as originally thought.

The Ratliffs - Chad and Faith - erected a 6’x8' sign on their property south of Rexville (1050S off US 421) alerting the neighborhood that a convicted sex offender is moving in.

Knowing it’s not against the law for offender Evertt Scholl to move next door, and the knowledge that the sheriff says Scholl makes his weekly appointments with his parole officer, does not give the Ratliff’s much consolation.

Public records reveal that Scholl, 61, has served time for two counts of Incest and two counts of Rape on a conviction out of Madison County, Indiana. He served four years with his parole ending in April of 2008. He is required to register as a sex offender until 2013.

The Ratliffs have four daughters ranging in age from nine to 15. “It scares me,” Chad told The Versailles Republican, “because I’m a truck driver and gone two to three days at a time. I can’t be here to protect them.”

Faith said the girls are afraid now and won’t sleep alone in their new home. The Ratliff’s will be in their new home a year this month after fire destroyed their other one. “They all pile in one room and make me sleep with them when Chad’s on the road,” Faith noted. She says the girls won’t even walk to the bus stop alone. “It shouldn’t be like this..it’s just not fair.”
- You are only adding to the fear the kids are experiencing.

When the Ratliff family was reminded that sex offenders have to live somewhere, Faith replied, “Not 100 feet from my daughter’s bedroom window.”

The Ratliff’s met their to-be neighbors and ironically the Scholls did not disclose what Faith says is the most important information about themselves. The Ratliffs were tipped off about Scholl’s record from a concerned friend. They immediately began checking websites and making phone calls to confirm their worst fears.

Pat Redwine, a neighbor of the Ratliff’s, said she originally owned the property where the Scholl’s home is being installed. She sold it to another individual, who in turn sold it to the Scholls. “I hate it,” she told The Versailles Republican saying, “everybody around here has children.” The neighborhood around the Ratliff’s home reflects the presence of children - a swimming pool, swing set, trampoline, playhouse, horses, animals and basketball goal.

Feeling they have no recourse except to alert others and keep a close eye on their daughters, the Ratliffs got busy and made the huge sign to let everyone know. Neighbors say the road has “had more cars on it than ever before,” with people driving by to see the sign.

The Ratliffs say the reason behind putting the sign up is as simple as this, “We’re trying to keep our kids safe.” They say they have no malicious intent toward their intended neighbors - they don’t even know them.
- How does harassing someone keep you safe? You know the man is there, so why isn't that enough?

As for the children, Erika, who is the oldest, told The Versailles Republican she’s afraid she won’t be able to have her friends over. “Who will let their kids come here when they know who lives next door?” Faith said they have a swimming pool and the girls had a great summer with lots of friends over. “One time we had about 60 out here,” she laughed. Her laughter was short lived as the realization sank in that things might be different next summer for her family.
- Why wouldn't she be able to have friends over? People are going to have to get use to it. Sex offenders have to live somewhere.

“We shouldn’t have to be this afraid,” Faith noted.
- Then why are you? Go talk to the man, let him know you know he is there, and let him know if he comes near your kids, you will report him.

The Ratliffs live on property that belonged to Faith’s parents, Melvin and Gladys Burton. The Burtons still live close and are very concerned about their granddaughters.

Right now the way Indiana law reads, about the only thing a person can do is become knowledgeable about where sex offenders live. You can do this by accessing the website, then click on the sheriff’s website, then check on the sex offender list.

“What if we didn’t know and I sent one of the girls over to check on the new neighbors in the wintertime?” Faith cringed. “It’s all so unnerving.”
- Why in the hell would you be sending your kids over to check on a new neighbor in the first place? That isn't very responsible now is it. You should be going over to check on the neighbors.

Fox 19 news and The Versailles Republican made a personal visit to the home of Scholl’s on County Road 700S for his comment on the situation. No one answered the door. When Channel 5’s news crew knocked on their door, a woman answered and told them, “they have their rights and we have ours.” She then instructed the news crew to leave their property.
- What did you expect? A welcome party! You are harassing the man, leave him alone! Anything for more ratings I guess.


Criminalizing Sex

View the article here | More Children Ruined For Life

Please click the above link and take the poll they have on the site.

10/21/2007

by Foxwizard

In an editorial piece today, The Atlanta Journal Constitution offers an analysis of the Georgia sex offender law that, I think, points to a grave indication of just how deeply totalitarianism has crept into our society. I've been concerned about this aspect of things for quite some time, because this is just one of the tools being used to marginalize an entire generation.

Georgia's Sex Offender law is written in such a way that it 'inadvertently' roped in many teenagers whose crime was to, well, be teenagers. Each year it has been tightened, requiring the registration of all those convicted of a sexual crime, even when that 'crime' was consensual sex between teenagers attending the same school. The law now forbids those who are registered from living, or working, near churches, schools, bus stops, pre schools, day care sitters and baby sitting services. Essentially, it forbids those registered from living or working close to anyplace there might be children. And there is discussion about tightening it further. The sex offender registration lists are mandated by the federal government and, of the thousands on them, there are only a handful of real predators.

There are numerous accounts of young people who have been incarcerated and had their futures taken from them by being registered sex offenders. Their egregious and horrendous crime: because they engaged in what some may call adolescent behavior with other students.

The most notable is Genarlow Wilson, who netted a ten year term of hard time in prison for engaging in consensual oral sex with a classmate at a student party. The AJC article also tells the story of a young man forced to leave home, then move again, to comply with the most recent tightening of the law. He now lives in a van in the woods, with no water or electricity. A young woman, caught in the act when she was a senior, is now married but family has been driven from their home by the law as well. She is afraid to have children or go to church because it would place her in violation of the law, by placing her in proximity to schools, churches, bus stops, day care centers and pre-schools.

The story also relates the case of two thirteen year olds who were charged as felons after rudely patting female classmates on their butts. Of course it was rude and reprehensible behavior. But is hard time and lifetime as a registered pervert the appropriate remedy for a 13 year old? May less dramatic measures would be more effective into shaping these young men into citizens -- such as community service and year of detention. Or maybe not. The thought on crime crowd seems to think there are two natural states: sinless and hard felon. This is not simply a story for Georgia, either.

Now I am not in the habit of advising adolescents to go out and have sex. It is always better to wait for maturity before giving yourself to another person so completely. But neither am I naive enough to believe that young people are going to avoid touching one another until their wedding day. I do question the purpose of society criminalizing every activity which society may wish to discourage.

In fact, this strategy is already so discredited by abolition and the drug war that there should be little need to rehash it. Criminalizing behavior is not sufficient to prevent it. It merely overburdens the criminal justice system, marginalizes people who otherwise might be productive citizens, and does more to encourage crime than prevent it.

My concern runs deeper though. Most grade schools in our area have removed recess from the schedule. Parents are limiting the amount of down time for middle schoolers with strict and full schedules of structured (and competitive) activities; and for high schoolers, the pressure is on to work, study and achieve in everything they do so they can get into a 'good' college.

Added to this, teens' interpersonal activity is being policed not just by their parents, but by government agents intent on jailing them and marking them for life, if they happen to cross the line from affection to passion. Is there enough stress on our adolescents yet? I mean, shouldn't we make them responsible for the fate of the world before their graduation while we're at it?

And what do we expect to end up with? Can it be anything other than unimaginative, fearful, repressed, aggressive and hostile people? Won't society really be worse when we try to turn people into unthinking serfs afraid of their own shadow?

That's a bit of a rant, I know; but I can't help comparing this to the old laws that stipulate how my wife and I may behave in our own bedroom with each other. And that, to me, is the real question here: do we want to raise another generation so afraid of their sexuality that they can only understand it as a dehumanizing activity? For that is how the commodotized sex in advertising shows it: bereft of emotion and personal connection.

As one whose family was seriously damaged by the repression and fear of sexuality in the 1950's moralism, I truly do hope we do not go back to being unable to discuss sex and understand it with some maturity. But this is beyond that. It is a step toward medieval strictures that dehumanized it and saw all sexual activity as the devil's work. It is tugging us toward a Puritan ethic that refuses to see the beauty of the world and focuses only on the evil in it.


OH - Ex-prison workers challenge update of sex-offender law

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10/18/2007

Two sex offenders are challenging the constitutionality of a new state law that changes the classification, registration and notification requirements imposed on sex offenders, arguing that the changes cannot apply retroactively.

Lawyers with the Cincinnati-based Ohio Justice and Policy Center filed suit Monday in the Ohio Supreme Court on behalf of the sex offenders, joined by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, the Ohio Public Defender and the Columbus-based Equal Justice Foundation.

At issue is Senate Bill 10, signed into law by Gov. Ted Strickland this year and carrying changes that will be effective Jan. 1. It brings Ohio into compliance with the federal law known as the Adam Walsh Act, named after a 6-year-old Florida boy kidnapped from a shopping mall in 1981 and murdered.

The state and federal laws classify sex offenders in three tiers, based on the crime for which the offender was convicted and without considering the likelihood of re-offending.

Current state law requires less registration time -- 10 years is the current minimum -- and classifies sex offenders based on their likeliness to commit another sex crime.

The sex offenders suing are two female former prison workers who pleaded guilty to having consensual sex with inmates. Both were designated sexually oriented offenders, the lowest classification, now requiring 10 years' registration.

The changes in law mean both will be reclassified and required to register for the rest of their lives.

Lawyer David Singleton argued that neither is a community danger. "Labeling them the 'worst of the worst' offenders dilutes the purpose of the registry and will subject them and their families to public hostility and ridicule," he said in a news release.

This is the second constitutional challenge of the state's sex-offender laws that Singleton, executive director of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, has filed with the state Supreme Court.

The high court heard oral arguments last week on a challenge to the state law forbidding registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school. A sex offender who was forced in 2005 to leave the home he bought in 1991 because it is too close to a school argues that the 2003 law cannot apply retroactively.


ME - Shadowed by the past

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10/21/2007

Should we care that laws against sex offenders in Maine may have gone too far? Even some law-and-order types are now saying yes.

"Lee" was 19, his date 16, and a week after they had sex, she told police she was raped.

He still maintains it was consensual.

"I was scared to death," he said. "I was afraid she was going to get on the stand and lie and I would go to jail for a long time."

When the District Attorney's Office offered him a plea - no contest to gross sexual misconduct - he took it. It was a good deal, his lawyer told him. Eighty days in jail, three years probation. A quick way to put the allegation behind him.

That was in 1988.

In 2007, the state said not so fast.

Changes in Maine law required Lee, a central Maine husband, father and business owner, to suddenly register as a sex offender.

"I spent the night crying," Lee said. "It floored me and I said 'I'm not doing this.'"

But he had to. Lee's profile is online now, one of nearly 2,900 listed in an easily searchable database open to anyone who wants a look. The phrase "gross sexual misconduct" is just below his name, age, home address, work address, physical description and photo.

Lee, who asked that his real name not be used to protect his family, is frustrated by his suddenly public sex offender label. He's humiliated. But most of all, a year-and-a-half after a Canadian man shot and killed two men he found on Maine's online registry, he's scared.

Like other sex offenders from the 1980s and early '90s recently required to register, he's demanding the law change.

The surprise? An array of Maine lawmakers, police and victim advocates agree it should.

Tug-of-war

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have sex offender registries, according to the U.S Department of Justice.

Maine started its registry in 1996, originally listing people convicted of gross sexual assault of a child under 16. Over the years, the state expanded the registry, folding in more crimes and increasing the penalties for offenders who failed to register.

In 2005, the Legislature significantly rolled back the registry's cutoff date, requiring retroactive registration for all sex offenders sentenced from 1982 on. Although the law changed two years ago, some sex offenders from that earlier period - like Lee - only received their notice to register within the last several months. It took the state that long to track people down.

The state this year also placed greater restrictions on registered offenders who committed crimes against children under 14. They're now prohibited from visiting a school, child-care facility, athletic field, park, playground or "other place where children are the primary users."

But as Maine's sex offender laws have steadily grown more stringent since 1996, the state has become caught in a kind of tug-of-war.

One one side: the federal Adam Walsh Act. Passed this year, it mandates greater constraints on sex offenders, requires states to place juvenile offenders on public registries, establishes a tiered registry system based on the crime and requires states to maintain registries online, with detailed information down to the license plate numbers of any car the offender uses. States could lose federal funding if they don't comply.

On the other side: a call to completely overhaul, if not eliminate, sex offender registries as they are now. In September, an international human rights organization issued a 146-page report that concluded registries "may not protect children from sex crimes but do lead to harassment, ostracism and even violence against former offenders." It cited Maine's two sex offender murders as an example.

Also in September, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court said Maine's registry might be unconstitutional because its 2005 expansion retroactively increased punishments for people who had already served their sentences. It sent the complaint back to the lower court for further proceedings.

In the middle: Maine.

"There are no easy answers," said state Rep. Richard Sykes, R-Harrison, a member of the Legislature's Criminal Justice Committee.

'He's been branded'

To meet their registration requirements, sex offenders must regularly present themselves to police, fill out a form, provide a new photo and submit to fingerprinting. They're listed on the registry for 10 years or for a lifetime, depending on their crime. Currently, 78 percent of offenders are on the registry for life.

Lee is on for a lifetime. So is the husband of a central Maine woman who asked to be identified only by her first name, Renee.

Her husband served 30 days in jail for unlawful sexual contact 15 years ago. He learned last spring that he was required to register under the expanded 2005 law.

"He's not a rapist. He's not a pedophile," she said of her husband. "He's a regular person."

Because Renee's husband is on the registry for a crime involving someone under 14, state law bars him from bringing their children to day care or watching their young son play with his hockey team.

Her husband has a master's degree in clinical counseling, but has had trouble finding and keeping a job. Once a company finds out he's on the registry, it doesn't want him.

After the murders of two men on Maine's registry a year-and-a-half ago, Renee and her husband worried about their family's safety. They've thought about getting a guard dog. They've considered leaving the state or changing their children's last names so they can't be identified as the children of a registered sex offender.

Renee likens the registry to wearing a scarlet letter.

"He's been branded," she said. "Murderers don't even have to go through this."

Maine lawmakers, sex offenders, victim advocates and police interviewed for this story agree the state registry needs to be tweaked. Even those who have fought for the strictest punishments now say the registry, in some instances, goes too far.

In 2005, when the Legislature made the registry retroactive to 1982, Rep. Michael Vaughn, R-Durham, told the Sun Journal, "I'm a firm believer in stigma."

He's fought to bar sex offenders from living in certain towns, institute civil commitments for some sex offenders and increase public notification of offenders living in the area. Although none of those bills passed, many of Vaughn's constituents seemed to appreciate the effort.

"I mostly got comments back saying harsh things about what should happen to sex offenders and thanking me for standing up for the women and children," he said. "I believe that is a legitimate and primary function of state government, to - aside from roads - to protect the public from obvious dangers like that."

But after hearing from other constituents - including a Durham-area woman whose husband is on the registry - Vaughn questioned whether registering every sex offender is really a public service.

He doesn't, for example, consider an older teenager who had a relationship with a younger teenager to be a predator. Under current state law, however, that older teen would have to register as a sex offender.

"I'd like to see it revamped," he said.

So would state Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, Senate chairman of the Criminal Justice Committee. So would the leaders of Sexual Assault Victims Emergency Services in Farmington and the Sexual Assault Crisis Center in Lewiston. So would Maine State Police Lt. Col. Robert Williams, who has overseen the registry.

"The debate is, how do you do it?" Williams said.

Degrees

While many people believe Maine's registry needs to be changed, they differ on what those changes should be.

Some, like Renee, want Maine to get rid of the online registry completely or showcase only offenders who present an immediate danger to the community.

Some, like Lee, want the state to stop registering offenders who were convicted or pleaded guilty before Maine's registry existed.

"We didn't know it was a possibility. How could we?" Lee said.

Others, like the executive director of Sexual Assault Victims Emergency Services, would like to see the registry include more information so the public can distinguish between someone who once had a relationship with an underage teenager and someone who is a repeat pedophile.

Still others, like, Williams, the police officer, and legislators Vaughn and Sykes, believe the registry should be redesigned to include some kind of tiered system based on the severity of the crime or the likelihood the offender will re-offend.

"There are degrees," Sykes said. "We need to take a look at this."

The demand for change has grown so strong that the Legislature's Criminal Justice Committee will meet Tuesday to start discussing the registry's future. Diamond believes any decision could take months.

In the meantime, Lee said he'll continue to register. He has no choice.

"All of the sudden I have another sentence," he said.


CA - Another perspective on sex offenders

View the article here

Another study is here entitled "Criminal Offenders Statistics."

10/21/2007

I'm becoming disgruntled with the inaccurate and unfair media attention former sex offenders are receiving. I understand the stigma and political sensitivity, as I understand a parent's desire to protect a child, but at what point does the unjustified witch hunt end and the truthful recognition of fact begin?

During the campaign for Jessica's Law, I began doing research. On the Department of Justice Web site, I found a report entitled "Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison in 1994 (PDF)," November 2003.

This is what I learned.

Fact: "Compared to nonsex offenders released from state prison, sex offenders had a lower overall re-arrest rate."

Fact: "Released sex offenders with one prior arrest (the arrest for the sex crime for which they were imprisoned) had the lowest re-arrest rate for a sex crime, about 3 percent."

Fact: "Following their release in 1994, 209 of the total 9,691 released sex offenders (2.2 percent) were re-arrested for a sex offense against a child."

Fact: "Of the 9,691 released sex offenders, 3.5 percent (339 of the 9,691) were reconvicted for a sex crime within the three-year follow-up period."

Fact: "Released child molesters with more than one prior arrest were more likely than those with only one arrest in their criminal record to be re-arrested for a new sex crime (5.7 percent compared to 3.2 percent). The same was true of statutory rapists (5.3 percent compared to 3.5 percent)." A statutory rapist is an individual who had illegal consensual sex with a minor.

These statistics are documented evidence that former offenders pose very little threat to our community, although it's politically taboo for politicians or the Department of Corrections to admit it.

Research has shown that where an offender lives is unrelated to where he/she commits a crime. A predator can find a potential victim regardless of where they live. If only 3.5 percent of offenses are committed by registered sex offenders, then the sad truth is that the remaining offenses are committed by individuals the Internet can't warn you about.

Research also shows that more than 90 percent of sexual assaults against children are committed by someone they know. Sadly, a child can be at greater risk from a close acquaintance than the offender who moves in down the street. What use then are Megan's and Jessica's laws beyond creating a false sense of security and focusing our attention on the least-likely suspects?

Three times The Star has published a map depicting areas in Ventura County that, due to Jessica's Law, are off-limits to former sex offenders. This map is inaccurate and fails to represent how restrictive the law is.

The law includes not only community parks, but state and federal parks as well. If I'm not mistaken, much of our coastline and the Los Padres National Forest are state and federal parkland. Ventura County's intent to expand parkland will only further restrict housing.

A parole officer told me that former sex offenders are preferable to supervise than other parolees. They keep a low profile, are most motivated to find work and stability and are more willing to do what is necessary to rebuild their lives and prevent further incarceration.

Another problem is the legal classifications of offenders not fitting the individual or the circumstance in which the crime was committed. California law designates these individuals as "violent" or "high risk" when the crime involved was neither violent nor of a predatory nature.

According to the Department of Justice Web site: "Violent" means while not actually using force, the offender did not have the victim's "factual" or "legal" consent. "Legal" consent means that the victim willingly participated but, in the eyes of the law, the victim was not old enough to give his or her "legal" consent. Thus, many individuals are deemed violent sex offenders due to the "victim" not being of legal age to consent, even when the act was consensual. How many can relate to that?

As a former sex offender, I have an interest in how these laws affect my life and my loved ones. It will soon be 10 years since I was involved in an illegal and inappropriate relationship with a minor, younger than the age I was led to believe, though no less wrong. I was 20 at the time. I do not take lightly what I've done, but I can state that I am neither violent, nor have a high risk of reoffending.

California law would have you believe otherwise. I am not a predator and have no tendencies or inclinations that could lead me to reoffend. I made a poor decision and I have been punished. I have paid my debt. I don't ask for sympathy or understanding, but for the right every citizen has to move on and rebuild without concern of who might harass family and friends for their association with me.

If an individual truly wants to educate him/herself on the threat of the former offenders living in his neighborhood, as distasteful as it may seem, I suggest speaking with the offending party. Talk about what they did, and get a feeling of what kind of person they may be today.

I'm not suggesting friendship, but keep in mind that the crime committed may have been years or decades past. Learn the truth from the source and judge for yourself if your family could be at risk. Never assume a former offender is automatically a predator or even guilty of the convicted offense.

Maybe in doing so, you might find yourself resting a little easier at night. Former sex offenders are not people who need to be "dealt with" or "put somewhere," as many like to think.