Sunday, August 3, 2008

NC - Wilmington council to consider banning sex offenders from parks

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See the email and response from Jason Thompson to the email I sent, below.  He clearly, like usual, thinks all criminals are scum.  I bet when he gets popped on corruption, or his son or daughter gets slammed on the sex offender registry, then he will sing a different tune, as most hypocrites do.  Email this idiot and let him know what you think about these laws, but keep it clean and no threats, or you may find yourself being arrested.

08/03/2008

Registered sex offenders may soon be banned from Wilmington parks under an ordinance up for debate Tuesday by the city council.

Councilman Jason Thompson (Email) asked for the law in June, "the minute" the N.C. Supreme Court upheld a similar ban in Woodfin against claims it violated due process.

Thompson said no particular occurrence prompted his proposal, but he often hears concerns about sexual predators in public places. According to the N.C. Sex Offender Registry, 145 sex offenders are registered as living in Wilmington.

None of them, Thompson said, should be in parks.

If it passes, Wilmington would join a wave of local governments, including Mecklenburg County, that have passed or are considering ordinances similar to Woodfin's. Jason Young, the mountain town's administrator, said he has received dozens of requests for copies of the ordinance.

The town passed the ban in 2005 after two sex offenses in or near parks, according to the Supreme Court decision.

So far, the town of about 7,000 near Asheville has yet to arrest anyone for violating the law in its three parks, though the related scrutiny might have helped to nearly halve the number of registered offenders in town from 13 to 7, Young said.

But Katherine Parker, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, said little evidence exists to show such bans work. And she had practical and political concerns about them.

They punish people who already have served their sentences; they affect offenders even if they never targeted minors; and they offer parents a false sense of security, she said.

"Most sex offenses occur by people who know the victim," Parker said.

Additionally, they affect people convicted in other states even if their actions are not crimes in North Carolina, she said, referring to a case several years ago in Georgia, where a 17-year-old boy received 10 years in prison for consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl.

Registered sex offenders from other states must register in North Carolina, she said.

Lucy Crockett, spokeswoman for the Wilmington Police Department, said she did not know of any problems with sex offenders in parks. It is already a felony in North Carolina for a registered sex offender to knowingly reside within 1,000 feet of a school or child care center.

Thompson said sex offenders have a high rate of recidivism. He acknowledged the ban might be hard to enforce, but he said the proposed $100 fine and misdemeanor should be a significant deterrent.

- Thompson is an idiot as well.  Study after study proves recidivism for sex offenders are LOWER than any other criminal, except murderers.  You can read many of these studies here.

"If it keeps one of them away, that's fine with me," Thompson said.

Officials in Pender, New Hanover and Brunswick counties said they were not currently considering such a proposal, though some expressed interest after hearing the idea.

"There's nothing afoot, but if it's legal, I am personally in favor of it," said Bill Sue, chairman of the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners.

Sam Scott: 343-2370 - sam.scott@starnewsonline.com



I sent the following brief email on 08/03/2008:

Quote
I am sick and tired of people saying "sex offenders have a high rate of recidivism!" That is a false statement, and if you'd do some homework, you would see that sex offenders have a LOWER RECIDIVISM RATE THAN ANY OTHER CRIMINAL, EXCEPT MURDERERS.

I have done your homework for you, and you can read these studies, done by the DOJ, BJS and many other experts, here:

More of my thoughts can be found here, if you care to know the facts?


To:

Quote

In regards to this article:

http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20080803/ARTICLES/808030328/0/ARTICLE&title=Wilmington_council_to_consider_banning_sex_offenders_from_parks

And this is the idiotic response I got from Jason Thompson:

Quote
Thanks for your email...but you are still a convicted criminal. JT

Now you will notice, he has no clue who I am, yet he assumes I am a criminal. You see, these people do not care about what anybody has to say, because sex offender laws help them get elected, votes, etc, when they cannot get voted into office any other way.  And if this is the type of people running the "government" then all American citizens are screwed.  Just because someone might be a criminal, doesn't make the laws less unconstitutional or draconian.  Everyone has rights, which he clearly sees differently.  I bet when his son or daughter, if he has either, gets caught in the large nets, then he will be singing to a different tune.

I then sent them another email, which is this entire blog item:

http://sexoffenderissues.pbworks.com/My-Thoughts-About-The-Sex-Offender-Laws

And it bounced back as undeliverable. So either he blocked me, or their spam filter kicked in for it having certain words like porn or sex, or it was too large.

So this shows, anytime you want to get your word out, it's best to FAX or snail-mail the person, fax being the preferred method.


Revoke Adam Walsh Act Laws ! ConstitutionalFights.org

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OH - Incorrect sentences must be fixed according to the law

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Sentencing someone twice for the same crime? That is totally unconstitutional!


08/03/2008



When Curtis Simpkins pleaded guilty to two counts of rape and one count of gross sexual imposition in May 1998, a subsequent error in his sentencing would eventually take his case through the Ohio legal system until it came before us - the Supreme Court of Ohio.



Here's what happened: After pleading guilty, Simpkins was sentenced in June 1998 to a term of eight years' incarceration for each count of rape and to three years for the single count of gross sexual imposition, to be served concurrently.



The sentence carried a requirement for post-release control - or what used to be commonly referred to as probation. But the journal entry that recorded his sentence did not indicate that Simpkins was subject to post-release control. That error went uncorrected for more than seven years.



In December 2005, however, the state discovered the mistake and filed a motion to resentence Simpkins prior to his release from prison. The state asserted that the original sentence was void because it had not included post-release control.



The trial court held a hearing on the motion while Simpkins was still in custody and agreed that the initial sentence was void. The court then resentenced Simpkins to the same sentence as before, but added a period of five years' post-release control.



Simpkins, as you might guess, filed an appeal. In support of his appeal, Simpkins argued that a decision by our court - in a case from 2006 - does not support the after-the-fact resentencing of a defendant who has nearly completed his sentence. But the court of appeals rejected his claim.



The court of appeals explained that the trial court "retained its jurisdiction to resentence" Simpkins. Ohio law mandates that a trial court impose a term of post-release control for the offenses to which Simpkins pleaded guilty. Therefore, according to the court of appeals, the trial court must impose post-release control "orally at the sentencing hearing and transcribe such imposition in the court's journal entry. Failure to do so renders the sentence void." Because his 1998 sentence was void, the court of appeals said resentencing was a proper remedy to correct the trial court's original error of omission.



After that ruling by the court of appeals, Simpkins's case came before us. Writing for the majority of our court, Justice Maureen O'Connor said, "This appeal requires us to balance the doctrine of res judicata...and the people's interest in the imposition of lawful, proper sentences."



What is "res judicata?" It's a Latin term, as so many legal terms are, meaning, "an issue that has been definitively settled by judicial decision." Another way of putting it is, "a matter once judicially decided is finally decided." Or think of it in terms of baseball - once the umpire calls a strike, it's a strike; the issue is settled.



The doctrine of res judicata is meant to give a certain finality to things. As it pertains to this case then, the question is: Once a defendant is sentenced - even if the sentence is improper - can the state obtain a new sentence, or does the doctrine of res judicata prevent that since the matter has been judicially decided?



Simpkins maintained that the state is barred by res judicata from challenging the trial court's failure to include the period of post-release control. He also argued that he had a legitimate expectation of finality in his sentence and that the Double Jeopardy and Due Process Clauses of the federal constitution protect that expectation.



By a six-to-one vote, we disagreed with Simpkins' arguments. Why? In a series of cases stretching back to 1984 our court has consistently held that a sentence that does not include a term that is required by law - such as post-release control - is a void sentence.



The underpinning of those 24 years of decisions, Justice O'Connor wrote, "is the fundamental understanding that no court has the authority to substitute a different sentence for that which is required by law. Because no judge has the authority to disregard the law, a sentence that clearly does so is void."



A trial court's jurisdiction over a criminal case is limited after it renders judgment, but it retains jurisdiction to correct a void sentence and is authorized to do so. "Indeed," Justice O'Connor wrote, "it has an obligation to do so when its error is apparent."



What about Simpkins's res judicata argument? In a number of previous decisions, our court and the United States Supreme Court have said that res judicata is a rule of fundamental and substantial justice that "is to be applied in particular situations as fairness and justice require, and that ... is not to be applied so rigidly as to defeat the ends of justice or so as to work an injustice."



As Justice O'Connor points out, "We would achieve neither fairness nor justice by permitting a void sentence to stand." Although res judicata is an important doctrine, it is not so vital that it can override "society's interest in enforcing the law, and in meting out the punishment the legislature has deemed just."



Justice O'Connor added that, "Every judge has a duty to impose lawful sentences. The interests that underlie res judicata, although critically important, do not override our duty to sentence defendants as required by the law. Similarly, a prosecutor cannot bind the people or a court to an unlawful or otherwise void sentence by failing to appeal it properly.



"Neither constitutional principles nor the doctrine of res judicata require that sentencing become a game in which a wrong move by the judge or prosecutor means immunity for a defendant."



What about Simpkins's claim that his resentencing violated the Double Jeopardy or Due Process Clauses? Given that his sentence was issued without the authority of law and that Simpkins was represented by an attorney, "we find that there was not unfair surprise or prejudice to Simpkins in his resentencing. Because he did not have a legitimate expectation of finality in his sentence, Simpkins could be resentenced without offending the Double Jeopardy or Due Process Clauses."


VT - Advocate says sex offender law won’t work

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08/03/2008



RUTLAND — An advocate for victims of domestic and sexual violence says an ordinance being considered by the city that would require sex offenders to live far from schools, playgrounds and day care centers won’t work.



Karen Tronsgard-Scott, the director of the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence who oversees 16 domestic and sexual violence shelters, hot lines and support groups, said such strategies have been shown to create more problems than they cure.



Moving sex offenders away from probation officers and community support can lead to isolation and a higher risk of re-offense.



“Sex offenders who don’t re-offend are stable ones,” said Tronsgard-Scott. “As options for housing becomes more limited, it drives up the likelihood of re-offending and it drives people to fall off the registry and go underground.”



She said laws such as those being considered in Rutland can have unintended consequences. “Decisions made to strengthen public safety have in fact worked in opposition to the goals to keep kids safer,” she said.



On Monday, the Board of Aldermen will decide whether to adopt a so-called “Child Safety Ordinance” establishing 1,000-foot buffer zones around every school, park and registered daycare in the city. The overlapping zones would make it illegal for sex offenders charged with sex crimes involving a minor to live in most areas of the city.



The idea being considered, which was based on an ordinance recently adopted in Barre, is being supported by the city’s administration, aldermen and police.



Tronsgard-Scott said she was glad to see Rutland discussing the issue of sexual violence.



She said there have been studies across the country that show there’s no link between recidivism and where offenders spend time.



Instead of buffer zones, Tronsgard-Scott said she would like to see communities and the state to support educational programs.



But Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras said he hadn’t done any research into whether the proposed ordinance would work.



“I would argue that if this protects just one child, it’s worth it,” he said. “No one has ever contended that this is perfect legislation that will protect all children but it’s more than we have now.”

- So more doesn't mean better either.  The laws were working, before people started fiddling with them.  Protect one child and destroy thousands more.  What kind of mentality is that?  Sounds like something Hitler believed in as well!


NY - Putnam taking a second look at its child-safety zone law

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08/03/2008



The Putnam County Legislature plans to re-evaluate a local law passed in April that prohibits convicted sex offenders from living, working or spending time within 1,000 feet of places where children congregate.



The Legislature's Protective Services Committee will review legal and logistical aspects of the bill when it meets Aug. 19, to ensure it can withstand potential court challenges.



"We wanted to take another look at it to avert problems before enforcement," said county Legislator Terry Intrary, R-Kent, the committee chairman.



The call for a re-examination of the legislation followed a meeting last month hosted by Putnam County Sheriff Donald B. Smith and attended by top county officials.



"Putnam County is committed to protecting children from dangerous offenders through a process that is efficient, practical and constitutional," Smith said in a written statement after the meeting. "Recent court decisions concerning similar child-safety laws in sister jurisdictions have prompted us to review our local law to ensure that it satisfies all those requirements."



Legislature Chairman Tony Hay, R-Southeast, who proposed and drafted Putnam's bill, said he wants it enforced as is.



"I don't know why it's going back for redesign," Hay said. "People can challenge any law on the books. I would rather have a law in force that is tough and let a judge throw it out."



The Putnam law would set a 1,000-foot prohibitive perimeter around schools; child-care facilities; nature preserves; parks; playgrounds; youth centers; swimming pools; recreational facilities, including theaters, bowling alleys, sports fields, exercise or sporting facilities; and apartment buildings, co-ops, condominiums, mobile home parks or clustered housing developments with 10 or more single-family homes on less than one-third of an acre.

- Well, that pretty much covers the whole state, I would assume.  Man, where do you expect these people to live?



Hotels, motels and rooming houses in Putnam would be exempt from a child-safety zone if all patrons were notified daily, in writing, that a sex offender lived on the premises.



A state Supreme Court justice last month upheld a 2007 Rockland County law that bans sex offenders from living, working and congregating within 1,000 feet of facilities involving children. Violators face a misdemeanor charge. Westchester is now considering its own child-safety law.



The Sheriff's Department was on the verge of notifying convicted sex offenders who live within 1,000 feet of these facilities that they had six months to move out or face fines up to $500 and imprisonment up to three months for a first offense. Stiffer penalties would follow subsequent violations.



The Rockland law doesn't force sex offenders already living within the boundaries to move.



There are 19 Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders in Putnam listed on the state Division of Criminal Justice Services' Web site. Sheriff Department spokesmen did not respond to an inquiry about how many of them would have to relocate.



Convicted sex offenders are classified into three categories, with Level 3 considered the most likely to commit a crime again, Level 2 considered a moderate risk and Level 1 the lowest-risk category.



Putnam's law does not make a distinction between the levels of offense and some see this as potentially unfair.



What happens when teenagers in high school get romantically involved and a parent files a complaint, Intrary said.



A dilemma could arise where a 17-year old high school junior is designated as a Level 1 sexual offender and could no longer live or work in Putnam, Intrary said.



Michael Piazza, county commissioner of social services, said a revision of an earlier version of the local law had alleviated some of his concerns about enforcement.



Initially, the legislation established a child-safety zone of 2,500 feet and prohibited sex offenders from coming within that distance of school bus stops.



This would have created more homeless, who by law, he must lodge, Piazza said.



"There would have been no place in Putnam County where I would have been able to place someone," Piazza said.



Linda Berns, executive director of the Lower Hudson Valley chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said even at 1,000 feet, Putnam's law would mean "banishment."



"A law this restrictive drives sexual offenders underground and makes it more difficult for the police to keep track of them," Berns said.



But some residents want Putnam's law to remain as restrictive as possible.



"I think the law is necessary to keep our children safe," said Brewster resident Tony Giacalone, a father of three teenagers.

- It doesn't keep your children safe, that is the problem.  The majority of the public, has been whipped into a hysteria, by the media and politicians always citing BOGUS statistics and fear-mongering to get ratings, viewers, votes, etc.  There is absolutely NO EVIDENCE that these laws protect anybody, period!



Nora Mannuccia, a nurse and mother of a 5- and a 4-year old, agrees with her Cobb Road neighbor.



"I moved up here from Throgs Neck to give my children a better life - so they could play in the backyard," she said. "I was shocked when I found out Putnam doesn't have a child-safety law."



The families are neighbors of Brian Edward Morrissey, 38, who has lived in his family home in Brewster since October 2006 after he served nine years in federal prison in Virginia for child pornography charges.



Morrissey, a former teacher now classified as a Level 3 offender, could not be reached for comment but his parents, Susan and Edward Morrissey, have said they believe the law is unconstitutional because it is overly restrictive and continues to punish a person who has already served time for a crime.



Reach Susan Elan at selan@lohud.com or 845-228-2277.


The Impact of Megan's Law on Sex Offender Reintegration

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This is a repost.



Jill S. Levenson, PhD, Lynn University.



Purpose: The purpose of this study was to better understand the positive and negative, intended and unintended, consequences of community notification on sex offenders’ rehabilitation and reintegration. Two research questions were postulated, although specific hypotheses were not proposed. First, what are offenders’ experiences with community notification and perceptions of the impact of Megan’s Law on their lives? Second, do different types of notification strategies produce different effects? Florida was seen as an ideal venue in which to conduct such an investigation, because it has one of the broadest notification laws in the U.S. Method: A sample of 183 convicted male sex offenders from two Florida treatment programs in Fort Lauderdale and Tampa agreed to participate in the study. They completed a survey which asked about the types of community notification strategies used in offenders’ neighborhoods, the negative impact of Megan’s Law, the positive impact of Megan’s Law, opinions about notification, and opinions about the fairness of public disclosure of certain types of personal information. Participants were asked to rate Likert scales indicating their degree of agreement with the issue in question, and were also given the opportunity to provide narrative responses.



Results: Overall, about one-third of participants had experienced dire events such as the loss of a job or home, threats or harassment, or property damage. Physical assault was reported as a relatively rare occurrence (5%). However, the majority of participants endorsed other negative effects, such as stress, isolation, loss of relationships, fear, shame, embarrassment, and hopelessness. Some respondents noted positive effects of Megan’s Law on their lives, including motivation to prevent reoffense and increased honesty with friends and family. Few sex offenders believed that communities are safer because of Megan’s Law, and more than half reported that the information posted about them on Florida’s Internet registry was incorrect.



Implications for practice: Most offenders reported that they have felt the social or psychological impact of Megan’s Law. A lack of social support has been identified as a dynamic risk factor for sex offense recidivism. Such stressors may threaten a sex offender’s reintegration and may even trigger some sex offenders to relapse. Although sex offenders inspire little sympathy from the public, ostracizing them may increase their danger.



Implications for policy: Social policies should strive to meet their stated goals in the most cost-effective manner possible. Community notification comes with high costs related to personnel, time, and budgetary resources. Although broad notification has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, it may behoove states like Florida to consider a tier system of notification. Nearly two thirds of the offenders in this sample were estimated to be in the low to medium risk range. A tier system can help reduce fiscal and manpower demands while allowing communities to more accurately identify those sex offenders who pose the greatest threat to public safety. At the same time, a tier system might decrease some of the negative effects of community notification on lower risk offenders.


MA - Sex offender restrictions inconsistent

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08/03/2008



Advocates of tougher restrictions on convicted sex offenders in several northwest communities are pushing for ordinances to ban released convicts from schools, libraries, and playgrounds, and to place posters of offenders' names and faces around town.



American Civil Liberties Union officials warn that restriction zones and posters could violate the civil rights of not only sex offenders who have served prison sentences but also innocent people who live in these communities.



The issue has come to the fore in Methuen, where the City Council last month approved, in the first of two votes, a $300 fine for Level 3 sex offenders traveling within 1,000 feet of schools, libraries, daycare centers, and playgrounds. It also approved the use of townwide posters.



The second and final vote is scheduled for tomorrow in Methuen on the restriction, the $300 fine, and the posters.



City Councilor at Large Kenneth R. Willette Jr., who initiated the proposal, said he wants Methuen to have more say about sex offenders. "Give police the power of arrest and add criminal penalties to arrests. The state has to give cities and towns greater powers to enforce restrictions."



Michael J. Hayden, School Committee member at Greater Lowell Technical High School, said pictures of area Level 3 sex offenders would now appear on central school bulletin boards. Like Willette, Hayden wants broader measures.



"I would like to see City Council posting them on city bulletin boards," Hayden said. "You go into a park, and here are all the people you should be wary of."



But to Christopher Ott, communications director at the ACLU of Massachusetts, the new ordinances are problematic. "A 12-year-old is going to accurately remember what a photocopied image looked like while walking along the street?" Ott said. "There are so many possibilities for things to go wrong."



Beyond mistaken identification and the possibility of residents harassing the actual pictured offenders, Ott said, papering the town with mug shots compromises the concept of serving a finite prison sentence. "These measures are essentially trying to punish people for life," Ott said.



Hayden said the posters are not supposed to fuel confrontation. "That's not my intention," Hayden said. "If I have to sacrifice one sex offender for one student, . . . when you reach the level of a Level 3 sex offender, that's a lifelong tag that you elected to put on yourself."



The Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board defines Level 3 sex offenders as people who are dangerous to the public and pose the highest risk of repeating their crimes. The board actively disseminates information about such offenders, most of whom have been convicted of sexually violent offenses against adults or children, or sex-related crimes against minors.



In Derry, N.H., Town Councilor at Large Kevin Coyle wanted to ban Level 3 offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of schools and day-care centers. The council dropped the proposal in April.



Objectors thought ordinances would drive offenders underground, Coyle said. "I didn't buy that, especially in New Hampshire. You might be able to drive someone underground in Boston or New York, but not New Hampshire."



The Nashua Board of Aldermen did pass such a residency ban, creating a 1,000-foot zone around schools and playgrounds, but Mayor Bernard Streeter vetoed the ordinance during his final days in office last January.



Alderman Steven A. Bolton, who proposed the residency restriction, was on vacation and unavailable for comment.



Barbara Keshen, staff attorney for the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, said Streeter's veto left aldermen with the option of restarting the process. But, she said, residency restrictions are increasingly unpopular.



"They're ebbing throughout the country, not just New Hampshire," Keshen said. "People who are in positions of power are becoming more educated to the real impact of these ordinances. They're not promoting them, they're not advancing them."



Evidence, according to Keshen, continues to appear. A state appeals court in New Jersey, for example, struck down sex-offender residency restrictions in dozens of Garden State towns last month.



In north-central Massachusetts, proposals for restriction zones reveal a shortcoming of the state, said Laurie Myers of Chelmsford, president of sex-offender legislation group Community Voices. Each new proposal, she said, represents a community struggling not to become "the next sex-offender town" as ordinances are passed, driving out neighboring offenders.



"The only reason why selectmen come up with residency restrictions is out of frustration that legislators aren't doing anything," Myers said. "The laws that are supposed to protect us are not working. Residency restrictions are the only thing a town can do."



Myers said she was encouraged by Governor Deval Patrick's recent signing of House Bill 4811, setting minimum mandatory sentences of 10 to 20 years for certain sex offenses. "I think people will now see sex offenders getting time for crimes," she said.



In Derry, Coyle said the Town Council is awaiting a trial stemming from Dover's 2,500-foot restriction zone. The New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union challenged the zone as unconstitutional in May. If either party appeals the pending Superior Court ruling, the state Supreme Court will decide the matter. If the high court upholds the zone, Coyle said, he plans to revive his proposal for specific limits in Derry.



Willette in Methuen said Coyle's caution in New Hampshire informs his strategy. "That's the best we can do at this stage. I don't want to open a can of worms with a residency restriction that would be challenged in court on the basis of constitutionality."


Life Altering Consequences result from a Federal Court Conviction under the Adam Walsh Act of 2006!

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