Sunday, July 27, 2008

NV - Domestic violence registry proposed

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I'm all for it. Why don't they create one CRIMINAL registry with ALL criminals on it? Then we'd all know who has some skeletons in their closets.


07/27/2008



What if you could prevent your sister, your daughter or yourself from falling into an abusive relationship with a simple click of the mouse?



That's what one Nevada lawmaker hopes to accomplish with a new Internet registry featuring the names and criminal backgrounds of the state's domestic violence offenders.

- Just another "get votes" action.  Why not one registry with all criminals on it? Why create 10 million different registries?



Assemblyman James Ohrenschall plans to introduce a bill to create the registry during next year's session, assuming voters return him to office.



The goal is to provide ready access to information that might save someone from a relationship with a person who has a history of abusive behavior, Ohrenschall said.



"I know it's a cliché, but it seems like it's a lot easier not to get into an abusive relationship than it is to get out of one," he said. "Domestic violence hurts so many families, and it scars children for life."



The 35-year-old assemblyman said the registry could be operated at a minimal cost to the state. The information it would contain is already available to the public, though it's not always easy to find, he said.



"I haven't spoken to one woman who doesn't like the idea, and I haven't spoken to one man who has a sister or a daughter who doesn't like the idea," said Ohrenschall, who was elected in 2006 to the Assembly seat his mother, Genie, held for 12 years.



He said the meat of the measure has yet to be written, but he is leaning toward limiting the registry to those convicted of felony domestic battery.



The list would not include those convicted in other states or those convicted in Nevada before the registry is created.



"I think we might run into some constitutional problems on retroactivity," he said.



Those aren't the only potential problems, according to Gary Peck, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Nevada. Such a registry is ripe for all manner of abuses, he said.



"It's unclear how people get on the list. Are they really people who are high risk of repeating this kind of behavior or not?" Peck said. "In general, this is just a bad idea. This is one of those feel-good measures that's really not going to accomplish much of anything."



Victim advocacy groups also see a plan fraught with problems.



Sue Meuschke, executive director of the Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence, said it is hard to comment without first seeing the finished bill. But she worries about how much the registry would cost to set up and maintain.



"It's not just the money, though. It's so many things," Meuschke said.



In some cases, for example, the victim is the one who gets arrested and ends up pleading guilty to domestic violence, Meuschke said. "So who's going to be on this list?"



Joni Kaiser, executive director of the Reno-based Committee to Aid Abused Women, said the proposed registry seems to address subjects her organization generally supports, namely accountability for the perpetrators and prevention of future abuse.



But it's too soon to say whether Ohrenschall can count on their support.



"We'd certainly have to see the bill, and we'd have to see the financial note," Kaiser said.



There's just too little money to go around in Nevada these days to support anything that might jeopardize the shrinking pot of funds that provides direct services to abused women, she said.



Near as Ohrenschall can tell, Nevada would be the first state to create a domestic violence registry.



The idea was edited out of a bill in California earlier this year after concerns were raised by the members of various policy committees.



A measure in Pennsylvania targeting "domestic violence predators" is stuck in the judiciary panel until lawmakers return to work in September.



"That bill is not dead. It's sort of floating in the ether," Ohrenschall said.



The idea for his registry came after he talked to counselors from a crisis call center in Northern Nevada.



Asked if he has ever seen the effects of abuse firsthand, Ohrenschall said, "It's hard to find any people who haven't been touched by domestic violence in some way."



He wouldn't elaborate.



Olfelia Monje knows more about the scale of the problem than most. In three years as a victim advocate for the Metropolitan Police Department, she was called in on thousands of cases of domestic violence.



She said some victims could have avoided abuse altogether if there had been a registry in place to warn them about the violent people they unwittingly invited into their lives.



As Monje said, and crime statistics suggest, many abusers are likely to repeat their crimes.



"I hate to say it, but it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks," she said.



But Monje, now a law student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, also has some concerns about Ohrenschall's idea, particularly when it comes to who might be left off the list.



She said people charged with felony domestic violence often see their cases negotiated down to misdemeanors that would not land them on the registry.



Some repeat offenders never face felony charges, also because of the high number of cases that result in plea agreements, she said.



On the other hand, Monje acknowledged that a registry of misdemeanor offenders would be far too large, complicated and expensive to work.



One day, Ohrenschall would like to see a national registry of all domestic violence offenders. He also supports Internet-searchable databases of other court documents that might be in the public interest.



"Eventually, it would be good if all public records were as easy to find as me going on the county (assessor's) Web site and looking up the value of your house," he said. "Shouldn't public records be public? Shouldn't they be accessible?"



But Peck called that a "slippery slope," one that could lead to government registries for every offense under the sun, a list for everyone and everyone on a list.



The ACLU would prefer to see the government devote its resources to programs and groups that can "actually reduce instances of domestic violence," Peck said.



Even if the registry idea goes nowhere, Monje commends Ohrenschall for trying.



"I really praise him for at least coming up with a plan to address this huge problem. I think it's always a good thing when people are being proactive. With any new idea there are going to be a million cons. I don't know what the answer is."



Contact reporter Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350.



FL - Anthony Westbury: Going the distance with sex offenders

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07/27/2008



By Anthony Westbury (Contact)



It's every parent's nightmare: A registered sex offender moves in to the neighborhood.



Many people say, "Get rid of the scum. We don't care where they live, as long as it isn't here."



There's a movement gathering force across the Treasure Coast that might achieve just such a result.



While a state statute already restricts sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of places where children tend to gather, St. Lucie County is working on a new ordinance that might make the distance even more restrictive.



Port St. Lucie and Fort Pierce are watching the county's progress closely and may piggyback onto county legislation.



But will more restrictive laws do any good, other than giving us a false sense of security?



To start with, national statistics suggest the vast majority of sex assaults don't come from strangers cruising near playgrounds. They come from people known to the child: relatives, friends, people in positions of authority. In other words, residential restrictions wouldn't prevent up to 90 percent of cases that get reported.



Most sex offenders are already subject to close supervision. That includes the former art teacher out on bail and living in Port St. Lucie before he serves a 43-year sentence for abusing a young boy. They must contact law enforcement at least four times a year. Port St. Lucie police have checked on Aaron Mohanal 16 times since he moved here from Broward County. Neighbors may be scandalized the guy's out on bail, but restrictions wouldn't have prevented that.



More restrictions might drive sex offenders underground, according to a 2007 report by the Human Rights Watch group.



A growing number of cities have residency requirements so strict there's simply nowhere for sex offenders to live. You might think that's fine, but denying residency could be unconstitutional — the Miami-Dade Public Defender's Office is appealing restrictions that forced offenders to live under a highway bridge.



There's a widespread feeling that sex offenders should be behind bars and the key thrown away. Yet studies show that's not only more expensive, but treatment of offenders can suffer in prison. Often they benefit from the support of family and friends. And another myth, that sex offenders are beyond redemption, simply isn't borne out by the statistics. Recidivism rates are a lot lower than you might imagine.



In all the discussions I've sat in on, the politicians aren't distinguishing between "regular" sex offenders and the really nasty guys, sex predators. There are about 130 sex offenders in PSL, but only six predators. Roughly the same ratio applies in Fort Pierce and in Martin County.



We need to be very careful how we write new laws on this topic. Perhaps we need to see past our fears and look at the facts. Sending these people underground rather than where we can see them could prove much more dangerous in the long run.



Associate Editor Anthony Westbury may be reached at (772) 409-1320 or anthony.westbury@scripps.com.



Study: Fears over kids' online safety overblown

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08/08/2007

One of the commonly accepted mantras is that the Internet is a very dangerous place for kids—especially social networking sites, where innocent youngsters can be approached by strangers offering them virtual candy—hence the recent moves by sites such as MySpace to tighten up access controls for younger users. A new study from the National School Boards Association suggests strongly that many of those fears are misplaced and that the overwhelming majority of kids have never had an unknown adult ask them for personal information.

The NSBA study (PDF) was carried out by surveying 1,277 students aged 9 to 17, 1,039 parents, and 250 school administrators with decision-making power over Internet policy. Funded in part by Microsoft, News Corp. (which owns MySpace). and Verizon, the study paints a picture of Internet safety that differs significantly from that commonly depicted by the mainstream media.

Of the over 1,200 students surveyed, only seven percent said that they have been the victims of cyberbullying. That figure is in stark contrast to a report issued a couple of months ago by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. In a survey of 935 teens aged between 12 and 17, nearly a third of them reported that they had experienced some form of cyberbullying.

Three percent of the kids surveyed said that unwelcome strangers attempted to communicate with them online. Two percent said that such a person attempted to arrange an in-person meeting. A miniscule .08 percent of the kids responding to the survey said that they went through with such a meeting without their parents' permission.

In contrast, school administrators believe that social networking sites are a significant cause of problems for students. 52 percent of the districts surveyed said that students being free and easy with personal information online has been "a significant problem" despite the fact that only 3 percent of the students in the same study ever reported doing so. The NSBA notes that there is a similar disparity on the subject of cyberbullying.

Should schools relax their restrictions on social networking sites, as tech.blorge.com suggests? Problems arise when a student does meet up with an online predator with tragic results or a particularly bad case of cyberbullying hits the media. The end result is predictable: repeated calls for schools to ban access to social networking sites, forums, and even instant messaging services.

Most schools already have such bans in place: 84 percent of the districts surveyed ban online chat and 81 percent ban IMs. A little over half of the schools bar access to social networking sites, while 62 percent prohibit participation in forums. 60 percent have also banned e-mail.

The report concludes with a handful of recommendations, the most controversial of which is likely to be a suggestion that schools reexamine social networking policies. "Safety policies remain important, as does teaching students about online safety and responsible online expression," the study's authors note. "But students may learn these lessons better while they're actually using social networking tools."

One might look askance at such a recommendation, given that the study was funded in part by MySpace's corporate parent—not to mention the fact that kids should be getting their learn on when they're in school. But much of the data in the study underlies the NSBA's assertion that the vast majority of students are aware of the dangers that may await them online. Perhaps all of the warnings and attention paid to Internet safety are actually having the desired effect on kids.



Youth Internet Safety Survey

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December 2001

Message from the Director:
Children have always been vulnerable to victimization. Their trusting natures and naivete make them perfect targets for perpetrators—both people they know and those they don’t. As children grow into adolescents, they remain vulnerable to victimization.Youth are often curious and eager to try new things. Many youth struggle with issues of rebellion and independence and seek attention and affection from people outside the home, often by using computers. Today, an estimated 10 million children are using the Internet. By 2005, approximately 77 million kids will be online. With so many children online, today’s predators can easily find and exploit them. For predators, the Internet is a new, effective, and more anonymous way to seek out and groom children for criminal purposes such as producing and distributing child pornography, contacting and stalking children for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts, and exploiting children for sexual tourism for personal and commercial purposes.

The nature of Internet crimes presents complex new challenges for law enforcement agencies and victim service providers with regard to investigating crimes, collecting evidence, identifying and apprehending offenders, and assisting child victims and their families. For example, victims and perpetrators are often separated geographically, which may hamper investigation efforts. Also, victims are often ashamed and reluctant to come forward, which makes identifying offenders difficult. These challenges are being addressed by federal and local law enforcement agencies, but there is still much to learn about preventing, identifying, and investigating Internet-based crimes against children.

This Bulletin is based on the experiences of professionals now working with child victims of Internet crimes and their families. It highlights some of the challenges law enforcement and victim service professionals face in addressing Internet crimes against children and focuses attention on child victims of these crimes by examining who they are and how best to respond to their needs and the needs of their families.



IN - Jury decides Terre Haute paper must pay Clay County sheriff's deputy $1.5M for defamation

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07/25/2008





TERRE HAUTE -- The Tribune-Star of Terre Haute has been ordered to pay $1.5 million by a jury which found that a sheriff's deputy was defamed by stories published in the newspaper.



Jeff Maynard, who was a Clay County sheriff's deputy when he filed the lawsuit in 2004, said in the suit that two articles the newspaper published that year contained allegations against him that were "false and defamatory."



In one of the stories, a Clay City woman accused Maynard of misconduct following a traffic stop. Another story stated that the Clay County Sheriff had asked Indiana State Police to investigate her allegations.



The lawsuit did not mention a follow-up story stating that Maynard had been cleared of wrongdoing and that the woman who made the allegations was charged with false reporting. The charges against her were later dropped as part of a plea agreement.



A Sullivan County jury deliberated for about two hours Thursday before finding that Maynard was defamed by the stories.



Tribune-Star publisher Jeremiah Turner said he was disappointed with the jury's decision and would consider appealing the ruling.



"We have always felt and still do that the way we reported the story was truthful, accurate and fair," he said. "At this point, we are considering all the options available to us, including an appeal."



The jury awarded Maynard $500,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages. But under Indiana law, 75 percent of punitive damages in a civil lawsuit brought by a private plaintiff goes to the state's violent crime victims compensation fund.



Maynard's lawyer, Eric Frey, said his client was happy with the decision. Maynard has since been promoted to detective.



"It wasn't about the money with him," Frey said. "It was about vindication."



Maynard initially filed the suit in Vigo Superior Court, but it was later transferred to Sullivan Circuit Court. The newspaper had unsuccessfully asked a Sullivan County judge to dismiss the lawsuit, citing an Indiana law that shields the public and press from lawsuits attempting to curb free-speech rights in matters of public interest.



Child abduction murders rare

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02/09/2004

By Larry Copeland, USA TODAY

The average victim of child abduction and murder is an 11-year-old girl considered a low-risk, "normal" child from a middle-class neighborhood. She has a stable family relationship. And her initial contact with an abductor occurs within a quarter-mile of her home.

That description is from a seminal study by the Washington State Attorney General's Office. And it could be a description of Carlie Brucia, the Sarasota girl whose body was found early Friday a short distance from the carwash where a surveillance camera recorded her abduction on Feb 1. Joseph Smith, 37, a mechanic with a lengthy arrest record, is charged with kidnapping and murder.

Child abduction experts say that in 74% of cases in which a child is abducted and killed, the child is dead within three hours of the abduction.

"When this happens, (the victims) aren't being taken and driven around in a car for a couple of weeks," says Joe Weis, professor of sociology at the University of Washington and a co-author of the Washington study. "The abductors are very typically killing them in a very short period of time."

Experts are quick to point out that the overwhelming majority of child abductions end with the victim being safely returned home. Child abduction murders are "pretty rare compared to the total number of reported missing kids," Weis says. "People are probably more afraid and concerned than the numbers would reflect."

The videotaped images of Carlie's abduction, and the apparent ease with which her captor was able to take her, struck dread in the hearts of many parents across the nation. The Web site of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which gets about 400,000 parental requests for information on an average day, got about 2 million on Friday.

Experts say the visceral public reaction is understandable given the circumstances. "I really think this case has hit a nerve," center president Ernie Allen says. "And I really think that is a result of the video {ndash}{ndash} the average American sitting at home watching their television and seeing how easy it was for this character to take this child."

In Sarasota, the case has hit the public especially hard. During the weekend, dozens of mourners left flowers, stuffed animals and notes at the small ranch house where the 11-year-old sixth-grader lived with her mother, stepfather and brother, 6. A circuit court judge who handled Smith's recent probation hearings says he has received death threats from people outraged that Smith was on probation after a history of arrests.

A public memorial service for Carlie is planned Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. outside Central Church of Christ, near where the girl's body was found.

About 800,000 children are reported missing each year, and about 58,200 of these involve non-family abductions, according to the U.S. Department of Justice's most recent assessment of missing children. About 115 of these are the most serious kind, in which the abductor intends to keep the child permanently, the child is gone overnight, is killed, transported 50 miles or more, or is ransomed. One-third of the most serious cases result in the child being killed, the October 2002 study found.

"That's a terrible number, but a larger number do not end with the death of a child," Allen says. "You don't have to live in fear. You don't have to be paralyzed by fear. But you need to be cautious and prepared."

The Washington State Attorney General's Office study, which examined more than 600 child abduction murder cases between 1993 and 1997, found that when an abducted child is killed, it happens within 24 hours 94% of the time.

"That is true," Allen says. "But it's also important to point out that we do recover children after days and weeks and months and even years.

"It is very much a function of what the abductor's motivations are. The overwhelming majority (of non-family abductions) are sexual, and all sex offenders are not child killers."

Allen also points out that "Amber Alerts," in which the public is instantly notified about child abductions, are now used in many places. And they have led to the safe recovery of 123 children. All 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico now have clearinghouses for sharing information on missing children.

Meanwhile, Carlie's family wants the state to investigate how it was that Smith was free. The convicted drug felon was on probation despite a long criminal history.

"I really find the decision made by some of these judges very questionable," said Joe Brucia, Carlie's father. "I would ask the governor to look into this."



Are Allegations of Sexual Abuse That Arise During Child Custody Disputes Less Likely to Be Valid?

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This is only a portion of the above. Click the link above to read the rest of the article.

An Annotated Review of the Research
Bala, N. & Schuman, J. (2000). Allegations of sexual abuse when parents have separated. Canadian Family Law Quarterly, 17, 191-241.

Nicholas Bala and John Schuman, two Queen's University law professors, reviewed Canadian judges' written decisions in 196 cases between 1990 and 1998 where allegations of either physical or sexual abuse were raised in the context of parental separation. Only family law cases were considered; child protection and criminal decisions were excluded. The study showed that the judges felt that only a third of unproven cases of child abuse stemming from custody battles involve someone deliberately lying in court. In these cases, the judges found that fathers were more likely to fabricate the accusations than mothers. Of female-initiated allegations, just 1.3% were deemed intentionally false by civil courts, compared with 21% when the man in the failed relationship brought similar allegations.

The cases involved 262 alleged child victims (74% of them alleged sexual abuse). Thirty-two percent of these children were under 5 years of age, 46% were 5 to 9 years of age, 13% were 10 or older; for 9% the age was not specified. About 71% of the allegations were made by mothers (64% custodial and 6% non-custodial), 17% were by fathers (6% custodial and 11% non-custodial), 2% were from grandparents or foster parents. In about 9% of the cases the child was the prime instigator of the allegations. This study found that fathers were most likely to be accused of abuse (74%), followed by mothers (13%), mother's boyfriend or stepfather (7%), grandparent (3%) and other relatives, including siblings (3%).

A judicial finding on the balance of probabilities (the civil standard) that abuse occurred was made in 46 cases (23% of all cases). In 89 cases, the judge made a finding that the allegation was unfounded, while in 61 cases there was evidence of abuse but no judicial conclusion that abuse occurred. In 45 of the 150 cases (30% of the cases where abuse was not proven) the judge believed that it was an intentionally false allegation.

In the 89 cases where the court found that the allegation was clearly unfounded, the accusing party lost custody in 18 cases, though this was usually for reasons not directly related to the making of an unfounded allegation of abuse. In only one case was the accuser charged (and convicted) for false reporting (mischief) in connection with the false allegation, though in 3 other cases the accuser was cited for contempt of court in connection with denial of access. In the 51 cases where abuse was proved on the civil standard, access was denied in 21 cases, and supervised in 16. The abuser was criminally charged in only 3 of these 51 cases.

Note: This study may not be representative of all cases where abuse allegations are made after parents have separated, as in cases with strong evidence of abuse, the perpetrator is likely not to contest the issue of abuse in family law proceedings. This study may, however, give a good sense of the cases that are likely to be litigated in the family courts.



Most sex offenses committed by first-time offenders, experts say

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04/17/2008

Kimberly Coulter remembers riding her bike all over St. Paul’s east side as a kid, not a worry on her mind.

These days she’s a Cottage Grove mother of two, and though she says she feels safe raising her kids in their quiet neighborhood near Grey Cloud Elementary School, Coulter said the knowledge a convicted sex offender lives nearby leaves her wary of letting her 10- and 12-year-old even go around the block.

“It’s scary,” she said after last week’s public forum on sexual predators hosted by the Cottage Grove Police Department at Cottage Grove Junior High.

Coulter said she “was shocked” to learn 45 convicted sex offenders reside in her hometown, but officials Thursday night told the 40-or-so residents gathered it wasn’t the predators the state knows about that are most worrisome.

The state of Minnesota has “built a wall” to protect citizens from convicted predatory offenders, said Bill Donnay of the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

Unfortunately, most of the threat to the state of Minnesota is not from known sex offenders,” he said. “We built the wall; the wall is working. But the threat is inside the wall.”

Representatives from the department of corrections, the Jacob Wetterling Foundation and Human Services, Inc., worked Thursday to make parents more aware of what they can do to help prevent sexual abuse — whether through monitoring their kids on Internet chat rooms, knowing the adults they spend their time around or recognizing the signs of abusers or the abused.

Karen Hogendorf, a victim intervention and recovery program supervisor with Human Services, Inc., said cell phones, chat rooms and Internet pornography are all relatively new problems for parents to deal with — and with technology-savvy youngsters it can be hard to know kids are safe.

But oftentimes, Donnay said, it’s not strangers — over the World Wide Web or in the flesh — perpetrating the sexual abuse. Department of corrections statistics show 90 percent of sex offense victims know the offender, whether it’s family, a friend or an acquaintance.

And while worried adults wondered why predatory offenders can live near schools, Donnay said 90 percent of sex offenses are committed by first-time offenders.

“It’s social proximity, not geographic proximity,” he said, “that leads to sexual abuse.”

So, though it’s important to know what threats are out there, said Alison Feigh, a child safety specialist with the Jacob Wetterling foundation, knowing what to look for and how to talk to your children is critical.

Some red-flags to watch for in adults spending time near your children, Feigh said, are: adults who are overly interested in the sexual development of a child, an adult who is always offering to baby-sit many different children or one who spends most of their time with children and has little interest in spending time with peers.

Parents should screen all caregivers, make unannounced visits to their child’s activities, pay attention to behavioral changes and mood swings, and — most important of all, she said — trust their instincts.

Be aware, Feigh said, of “the uh-oh feeling.”

Linda Fliss, a Cottage Grove mother of two, said she agreed parents need to take on responsibility for keeping their kids safe from predators. Fliss said she wasn’t surprised to learn of the number of offenders living in Cottage Grove.

“I used to work with offenders, so I’ve always known they’re out there,” she said.

What parents need to do, she said, is help spread the word about suspicious activity in their neighborhoods.

“We need to keep each other informed, help each other out,” Fliss said.

Fliss mentioned an e-mail circulated among parents about an offender living near Grey Cloud Elementary, saying it was the community “bonding, coming together.”

Officials stressed, though, it’s important to allow convicted sex offenders the opportunity to re-integrate into society. Harassing a convicted offender now out of prison isn’t constructive, public safety officials said Thursday.

Predatory offenders may have been guilty, but “sex offenders have rights, too,” said officer Gwen Martin of the Cottage Grove Police Department. “We can’t vote them off the island, we can’t put them into exile.”

But Coulter was shocked residents weren’t made aware of every offender living in the city — the public is notified only of predatory offenders assessed to be of the highest risk to re-offend.

“I’m surprised you’re not made aware,” she said. “I understand they have a right to move on, but it’s scary.”

Jon Avise can be reached at javise@swcbulletin.com.



GA - Lawmakers might reform law if 'oats' in their past were exposed

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Maybe they should check out this link!



07/27/2008



Editor:



The Georgia state law which is forcing Wendy Faye Whitaker and her husband to move from their Grovetown home is cruel and unusual punishment for a sexual indiscretion committed by Mrs. Whitaker 11 years ago.



She was then 17 and her companion was 15, both of them unwise experimenting teenagers. To treat Whitaker as if she were some kind of sexual monster preying on innocent children is insane.



The politicos who wrote and enacted the sex offender law have not (nor will they ever) deter a determined adult predator. What the law has done in many cases is to carve a scarlet letter on the foreheads of people who have made mistakes in the past, but constitute a danger to nobody.



The eager proponents of this unrelenting lifelong punishment law are cruel and stupid.



Perhaps a thorough, open investigation of these politicians' "oat-sowing" years will yield some indiscretion for which the law can turn on them and force them into a life of constant humiliation.



You can bet a lot of our representatives would be scrambling to revise or rescind the present sex offender statute.



Gene Rickaby

Martinez



Reports don't tell whole story of child sex abuse

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04/20/2008

Records and experts reveal a different picture of perpetrators.

A man is accused of asking an 11-year-old girl to don "her little black dress and her necklace" before taking her to an abandoned house in St. Johns County where she is raped.

A physician-in-training is accused of traveling across the state for what he thinks will be a sexual tryst with a 15-year-old girl he has courted online.

A pastor's past repulses the community when multiple victims accuse him of sexually abusing them decades ago.

Those recent scenarios involving Jacksonville suspects generate headlines and chill parents determined to protect their children. The people arrested in even more horrific cases, such as the murders of Jessica Lunsford in Florida and Christopher Michael Barrios Jr. in Georgia, are portrayed as depraved victimizers with dangerously imperfect psyches.

Yet as disturbing as these stories are, they don't tell the whole story of child sex abuse in Northeast Florida, Southeast Georgia or the nation. And, experts said, perpetrators often are less likely to be as driven by inner demons as might be expected.

The number of children being sexually abused dropped 5 percent nationally from 2005 to 2006, contributing to a 53 percent decline since 1992, according to a study released last week by the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.

The center used data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System in the report.

In Florida, the number of substantiated sex crimes against children dropped 10 percent in the 2005-06 time period and 59 percent over the 14 years covered in the study. Georgia had greater drops of 27 percent and 78 percent, respectively, for those periods.

University of New Hampshire researcher Lisa Jones said the steepest part of the decline occurred in the 1990s as a range of things happened, including increased public education and more involvement by law enforcement and the judicial system.

More aggressive prosecutions, increases in the number of law enforcement and child protective service personnel, and even new psychiatric treatments and medications have contributed to the drop, the report said.

Picking apart the profile

Tactics used by abusers vary, whether it be meeting young teens on the Internet, casing playgrounds and schools or having connections as a family member or person of respect, such as a pastor or teacher.

By conservative estimates, more than 350 arrests have been made in Florida since 2003 in cases where the suspect is charged with using a computer to entice a child or has traveled to meet an underage victim, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Experts and records paint a different picture of who commits most sex crimes on children, though.

According to information from the Clay County Sheriff's Office, for example, the victims knew their attackers in about 90 percent of the cases from 2003 to 2008. In 2003, 100 percent of the child victims knew their assailant in the 65 rape, sodomy and fondling cases.

There is evidence that pedophiles make up a minority of child molesters, said Elizabeth Letourneau, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the Medical University of South Carolina.

"The majority of sex offenders do not re-offend," she said. "The majority of these guys, once they get caught, are able to change their patterns."

Studies as far back as 1989 show there is a low recidivism rate, she said. The evidence is substantiated by studies that have followed offenders for 20 years or more, she said.

Letourneau said stressful patterns of events such as marital problems or job loss combined with availability and opportunity can trigger behavior most would consider unspeakable.

"It's very difficult to empathize," she said. "The truth of the matter is there are some people who were pushed over the edge."

Even factors such as the economy make a difference, she said. "When things get better, people behave better."

Others simply take advantage of a situation. The vast majority of offenders are male while most victims are female, Letourneau said.

"There are people who are opportunists who will take sex where they can get it," she said.

Self-control

Other perpetrators are what experts call fixated, and prefer children, said psychologist Larry Neidigh of Community Behavioral Services in Orange Park.

"The prognosis is much poorer for fixated pedophiles," said Neidigh, who counsels perpetrators and victims.

Abusers who don't have that attraction respond to treatment, he said. "Treatment is geared toward enhancing self-control and understanding why these things happened."

Unquestionably these types of crimes are the most unreported, said Assistant State Attorney Julie Schlax, director of the special assault unit for the State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville. Victims, she said, often allow the abuse to continue out of fear of retaliation or because they think no one will believe them.

The public doesn't want to believe sometimes, said Schlax, who has been in the unit eight years.

"It is so incomprehensible that someone could do that, sometimes it is easier for jurors or the public to think, 'That child is troubled,' " she said. "Especially in the family setting. I just think there is heightened scrutiny of a child or any other victim."

She said abusers caught harming one victim have admitted later to many, she said.

"I don't think I've come across anyone who has falsely reported that they were victimized," she said.




CRIMES AGAINST KIDS

The number of sex assault victims younger than 17 and reported to Jacksonville police dropped from 2003 to 2005 then began to rise through 2007, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Year Cases

2003 199
2004 169
2005 141
2006 149
2007 164~~~first coast sex cases involving minors

Irfan Nawaz

On April 5, Irfan Nawaz, 31, a physician-in-training at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, was arrested in Central Florida on charges of using a computer to arrange for sex with a 15-year-old girl.

Authorities said Nawaz traveled to St. Cloud, where the teen turned out to be an undercover officer posing as a 15-year-old in an online chat room. Detectives had pictures of Nawaz that had been sent to them during the sting.

He was charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex, two counts of soliciting a minor for a lewd act and resisting arrest.

What the law says: So far this year, at least nine people in Florida have been charged under a state law that makes it a felony to travel to meet someone for sex if they believe that person is a minor, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Kenneth Bernard Silas

On April 6, Kenneth Bernard Silas of Jacksonville was found with an 11-year-old girl inside an abandoned house on County Road 208 in St. Johns County. The girl told detectives she was awakened in the middle of the night and told to put on a black dress and necklace and that she needed to prostitute herself or her relatives would be harmed. She later told investigators she was raped.

Silas and the girl were found after a deputy began checking on a suspicious vehicle. He was charged with capital sexual battery.

St. Johns County rapes: There were seven rapes in 2007 in St. Johns County in which the victims were from 6 to 17 years old.

Paul John Mucci

On April 13, Paul John Mucci, 51, of Ponte Vedra Beach was charged with two counts of traveling to meet a minor for sex and three counts of online enticement of a minor for sex acts after an arranged rendezvous in Tallahassee with a "14-year-old girl" who was an undercover agent.

Agents are trying to link him to a man who was aggressively trying to find a young girl by chatting online with sheriff's office undercover agents in Lake, Broward and St. Lucie counties, as well as the Attorney General's office in Orlando.

Investigating Internet crime: There are 45 federally funded task forces nationwide created solely to investigate Internet crimes against children, including the online sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Darrell Gilyard

The Rev. Darrell Gilyard, 46, former pastor of Jackson- ville's Shiloh Baptist Metropolitan Church, was charged in late March with soliciting a lewd act and molestation involving a girl younger than 16.

Gilyard already faced felony charges. Gilyard resigned his pastorate in January, a week before he turned himself in on the initial charges, which accuse him of sending lewd text messages to a 14-year-old girl whose mother attended his church.

The penalty: Under Florida law, lewd or lascivious molestation is a second-degree felony with a possible sentence of 15 years. Lewd or lascivious conduct is a third-degree felony with a possible sentence of five years.

Robert Gray

Robert Gray, a former pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, died in November at age 81 while waiting to go to court on charges that he sexually abused four children in the 1970s at the church and an associated school. Some cases were thrown out because of the statute of limitations.

When Gray was arrested in May 2006, he admitted to "French kissing" several girls in his office years ago, but three women said they were fondled and one said the pastor exposed himself to her. They were between 5 and 8 when the incidents happened. Almost two dozen women in their 30s and 40s have accused Gray of abuse.

Victims confused: Victims are often confused about what happened to them or how they were convinced to allow attacks, said Julie Schlax, director of the special assault unit for the State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville.



Time to Work: Managing the Employment of Sex Offenders Under Community Supervision

View the PDF here

This is the intro only, read the rest at the above link.

NOTE: If anybody else has any job leads, please comment to this blog item with the state the job is in, any info relating to the job and any contact names and numbers. This is mainly to help out other people in your situation.


January 2002

Introduction
Structured, full-time employment is a cornerstone of nearly all community supervision programs for offenders, especially for sex offenders. Most offenders who are released into the community after their conviction are required to find and maintain suitable work. However, acquiring appropriate employment for sex offenders presents formidable obstacles. Many employers are reluctant to hire sex offenders because of the stigma that follows them, and most sex offenders are restricted by special conditions of their supervision. Community supervision officers also face difficult challenges; they must monitor carefully sex offenders in their work-related activities to ensure they do not have opportunities to reoffend. This monitoring is a demanding task as job activities can account for nearly 60 percent of an employee’s waking hours each week (when factoring in preparation and travel time).1 A substantial amount of time
and effort therefore is required to supervise effectively sex offenders in their employment. Supervision agencies must determine how to manage sex offenders on the job in a way that adequately restricts offenders, protects the public, and simultaneously promotes successful offender reintegration.

This paper discusses critical issues in the management of sex offender employment,
including:

  • assessing potential job placements;
  • approaching the job search process;
  • making sound job placement decisions;
  • developing relationships with employers; and
  • monitoring sex offenders’ job-related activities.

This paper also examines research findings on the subject of offender employment and the importance of employment in the sex offender’s life.



STATEMENT ON SEX OFFENDER RESIDENCY RESTRICTIONS IN IOWA

View the PDF here

12/11/2006

The Iowa County Attorneys Association believes that the 2,000 foot residency restriction for persons who have been convicted of sex offenses involving minors does not provide the protection that was originally intended and that the cost of enforcing the requirement and the unintended effects on families of offenders warrant replacing the restriction with more effective protective measures.

The ICAA has the following observations concerning the current restriction:

  1. Research shows that there is no correlation between residency restrictions and reducing sex offenses against children or improving the safety of children.
  2. Research does not support the belief that children are more likely to be victimized by strangers at the covered locations than at other places.
  3. Residency restrictions were intended to reduce sex crimes against children by strangers who seek access to children at the covered locations. Those crimes are tragic, but very rare. In fact, 80 to 90 percent of sex crimes against children are committed by a relative or acquaintance who has some prior relationship with the child and access to the child that is not impeded by residency restrictions. Only parents and caretakers can effectively impede that kind of access.
  4. Law enforcement has observed that the residency restriction is causing offenders to become homeless, to change residences without notifying authorities of their new locations, to register false addresses or to simply disappear. If they do not register, law enforcement and the public do not know where they are living. The resulting damage to the reliability of the sex offender registry does not serve the interests of public safety.
  5. There is no demonstrated protective effect of the residency requirement that justifies the huge draining of scarce law enforcement resources in the effort to enforce the restriction.
  6. The categories of crimes included in the restriction are too broad, imposing the restriction on many offenders who present no known risk to children in the covered locations.
  7. A significant number of offenders have married or have been reunited with their victims; and, in those cases, the residency restriction is imposed on the victims as well as the offenders.
  8. Many offenders have families whose lives are unfairly and unnecessarily disrupted by the restriction, causing children to be pulled out of school and away from friends, and causing spouses to lose jobs and community connections.
  9. Many offenders are physically or mentally disabled but are prohibited from living with family members or others on whom they rely for assistance with daily needs.
  10. The geographic areas included in the prohibited 2,000 foot zones are so extensive that realistic opportunities to find affordable housing are virtually eliminated in most communities. The lack of transportation in areas not covered by the restriction limits employment opportunities. The adoption of even more restrictive ordinances by cities and counties exacerbates the shortage of housing possibilities.
  11. The residency restriction has no time limit; and, for many offenders, the restriction lasts beyond the requirement that they be listed on the sex offender registry. For this reason, there are many offenders who are subject to the residency restriction but who are not required to inform law enforcement of their place of residence, making enforcement nearly impossible.
  12. There is no accommodation in the current statute for persons on parole or probation supervision. These offenders are already monitored and their living arrangements approved. The restriction causes many supervised residential placements to be unavailable even though they may be the most appropriate and safest locations for offenders to live.
  13. Many prosecutors have observed that the numerous negative consequences of the lifetime residency restriction has caused a reduction in the number of confessions made by offenders in cases where defendants usually confess after disclosure of the offense by the child. In addition, there are more refusals by defendants charged with sex offenses to enter into plea agreements. Plea agreements are necessary in many cases involving child victims in order to protect the children from the trauma of the trial process. This unforeseen result seriously jeopardizes the welfare of child victims and decreases the number of convictions of sex offenders to accurate charges. Consequently, many offenders will not be made fully accountable for their acts and will not be required to complete appropriate treatment or other rehabilitative measures that would enhance the safety of children. Similar unintended negative effects often accompany well-intended efforts to increase prison sentences with mandatory provisions.
  14. The drastic reduction in the availability of appropriate housing, along with the forced removal of many offenders from established residences, is contrary to well-established principles of treatment and rehabilitation of sex offenders. Efforts to rehabilitate offenders and to minimize the rate of reoffending are much more successful when offenders are employed, have family and community connections, and have a stable residence. These goals are severely impaired by the residency restriction, compromising the safety of children by obstructing the use of the best known corrections practices.

For these reasons, the Iowa County Attorneys Association supports the replacement of the residency restriction with more effective measures that do not produce the negative consequences that have attended the current statute. For example, the ICAA would support a measure that includes the following:

  • A statute creating defined protected areas (“child safe zones”) that sex offenders would be prohibited from entering except in limited and safe circumstances. Such areas might include schools and childcare facilities.
  • Entrance into the protected areas would be allowed only for activities involving an offender’s own child and only with advance notice and approval from those in charge of the location.
  • The restriction should cover offenses against “children” (under age 14), rather than “minors” (under 18).
  • The statute should specifically preempt local ordinances that attempt to create additional restrictions on sex offenders. Such ordinances result in a variety of inconsistent rules and promote apprehension among local authorities that they must act to defend themselves from the perceived effects of the actions of other communities.
  • Most important, any restriction that carries the expectation that it can be effectively enforced must be applied to a more limited group of offenders than is covered by the current residency restriction. This group should be identified by a competent assessment performed by trained persons acting on behalf of the state. The assessment should be directed at applying the statutory restriction only to those offenders that present an actual risk in public areas to children with whom the offender has no prior relationship
  • Children will be safer with clarification and strengthening of certain child sex abuse laws, including, sex abuse by deception, sexual exploitation of a person “reasonably believed to be a minor,” using a position of authority to cause children to engage in a sex act, and requiring admission at trial of a defendant’s prior acts of sexual abuse.
  • Sex offender treatment both inside and outside of prison should be fully funded and improved.
  • Measures should be enacted that aim at keeping all young people safe from all offenders. This should include programs that focus on the danger of abuse that may lie within the child’s family and circle of acquaintances. It is important to help children and parents recognize the signs and dangers of sex abuse by persons with ordinary access to children.
  • Recognize that child safety from sex offenses is not amendable to simple solutions by creating a Sex Offender Treatment and Supervision Task Force to identify effective strategies to reduce child sex offenses. These observations of Iowa prosecutors are not motivated by sympathy for those committing sex offenses against children, but by our concern that legislative proposals designed to protect children must be both effective and enforceable. Anything else lets our children down.

The Iowa County Attorneys Association strongly urges the General Assembly and the Governor to act promptly to address the problems created by the 2,000 foot residency restriction by replacing the restriction with measures that more effectively protect children, that reduce the unintended unfairness to innocent persons and that make more prudent use of law enforcement resources, and strengthen the child sex abuse laws and prosecution. The ICAA stands ready to assist in any way with this effort.

Contact Information:

Corwin Ritchie, Executive Director
Phone: 515-281-5428
Email: corwin.ritchie@ag.state.ia.us