Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wiki Answers - Check it out.

 

Click the logo above to visit the site

What is WikiAnswers?

WikiAnswersTM harnesses people's collective knowledge to give you useful answers about anything... with a wiki-twist.

WikiAnswers is a wiki-based Q&A project powered by contributors from all walks of life. Anyone can ask, answer or edit questions, building a global Q&A database, covering all topics. For more information, please see the Help Center.

For the complete WikiAnswers story, meet J:



AFRICA - Register to track sex offenders

View the article here

10/26/2008

By OLIVER MATHENGE

The Government will now keep a register and a DNA data bank of all sexual offenders following the publication of regulations aimed at implementing the Sexual Offences Act.

Attorney-general Amos Wako (Contact) has announced that the registrar of the High Court will open and maintain a register of all convicted sexual offenders in the country.

He also announced that the director of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) would be required to maintain a dangerous offenders DNA data bank to help identify criminals.

The AG made the announcement in the Sexual Offences Regulations of 2008 published in a special issue of the Kenya Gazette.

According to the rules, the offender’s details would remain in the register and be made void only upon death.

Details of the sexual offender to be entered in the register will include name, date of birth, place of birth, nationality, physical description, passport photographs and a set of fingerprints.

Convictions

It will also have details of the physical address at the time of the offence, sentence entered by court, age of the victim in the sexual offence and previous convictions.

This register may be made available to any person who demonstrates to the registrar that he has a reasonable interest in whether a person’s name is appearing in it."

The offender is required to notify the registrar in writing in case of change of residence, school or employment,” the regulations read in part.

The DNA bank will comprise a crime scene index and dangerous offender’s index.

Access to information contained in the DNA data bank may be granted to any person or class of persons that the director of CID considers appropriate for the purposes of the proper operation and maintenance of the bank,” the regulations read.

Other salient features of the regulations include the establishment of a prohibited publications review board and the recognition of designated officers, including nurses, clinical officers and medical doctors for purposes of litigation.

The new regulations come at a time the country is grappling with findings related to sexual offences by the Waki report on post-election violence. It accused police officers of being the main sexual offenders during the chaos.



IN - Hoosier Sex Offenders Off Streets for Halloween

View the article here

Once again, this is for those on probation or parole, not all sex offenders which many people will believe.

10/26/2008

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) (Indiana's NewCenter) - The Indiana Department of Correction has ordered most paroled sex offenders to attend Halloween evening meetings to keep them away from trick-or-treating children.

Deputy prison commissioner Randy Koester (CUS-ter) says such meetings began in Indianapolis in 2004 and have worked so well that the Operation Safe Halloween program is expanding this year to the entire state parole system.

The meetings are scheduled during the hours when children are most likely to be out trick-or-treating. Parolees who don't attend could have their parole revoked.

Koester says the idea is to keep the paroled offender away from temptation and to prevent parents from sending children to their homes.

In some areas of the state with large parole district, parolees will be required to stay inside and place signs outside telling trick-or-treaters to stay away.



VT - Candidates differ on ways to curb crime

View the article here

10/26/2008

By BRENT CURTIS Staff Writer

Over the last several years Vermonters have witnessed an increase in fatal drug-related violence, and the high-profile kidnappings and slayings of a 12-year-old girl in Randolph and several young women in Chittenden County.

The spate of violent crime has rocked the state and led officials to re-evaluate the effectiveness of the criminal justice system.

For the three candidates in the governor's race, crime has become a hot-button issue.

As the Senate Judiciary Committee worked through the summer and fall on recommended changes to the state's sex offender laws, Republican Gov. James Douglas (Contact) has pushed for the passage of a 23-point plan, Democratic House Speaker Gaye Symington has her own five-point plan, while Independent Anthony Pollina (who is running for Governor in 08) has focused on a more general and cultural approach to sex crime prevention.

Douglas' plan hinges on longer sentences for sex offenders, greater oversight and public access to sex offender records — and even perpetual incarceration for some high-risk offenders, known as civil confinement.

"Every year we have two or three people who are likely to re-offend let out," Douglas said Thursday. "We need another layer of protection."
- Wow, only two or three!  You people are always saying recidivism rates are above 80% or 90%, but this doesn't sound like that to me.

The three most critical components of Douglas' plan reflect that notion – calling for 25-year minimum sentences, civil confinement and an expanded sex offender registry.
- Expanded registry?  How?

Earlier this month, a petition, signed by 52,000 Vermonters, calling for 25-year mandatory minimum sentences was presented to the Senate committee, which has proposed a Vermont version of Jessica's Law. Under the committee's proposal, prosecutors would have the choice of using either the proposed new law with mandatory minimum sentences or existing statutes that offer more prosecutorial leeway.
- Mandatory sentences are just going to overflowing the already overflowing prisons!  Yet they won't tell you that!

Douglas said the compromise is acceptable as long as prosecutors act in accordance with what he said are the wishes of Vermonters to see more long-term sentences.
- What about what is MANDATED by the CONSTITUTION?

"I can't recall another display of support like this for anything," he said. "Time will tell if this will work. I respect the discretion of the prosecutors. They have to build a case. But Vermonters want stiffer penalties."

Symington said she, too, likes the Senate Judiciary Committee's mandatory minimum sentence proposal, which she described as a "thoughtful way" to impose longer sentences while preserving prosecutorial options for plea deals in cases with incomplete evidence.
- Even if you do the mandatory sentences, eventually, they will get out, and it's back to the same issue!

While the House Speaker and Douglas have that much in common, Symington said she doesn't agree with most of the governor's proposals.

"I want to keep children safe rather than sound tough," she said. "I think we need to think first before we act based on our anger."

While longer jail sentences are worthwhile considerations, Symington said they're meaningless if prosecutors lack the tools or evidence to obtain convictions in the first place.

One of the keys to her five-point plan is to expand and fully staff special investigative units specializing in sex crimes, which she said the Douglas has been slow to support around the state.

"I've seen them be effective and I want to expand them statewide," she said.
- That would take more tax payer money!  And below, it mentions only two units, so how have you seen them be effective?  Do you hang out with them to see it in action?  Or are you just going on someone's word?

Presently only two special investigative units are fully up and running in the state. Symington attributes this slow progress in part to Douglas' failure to act quickly.
- Yeah, blame each other for the problems, that will solve nothing.  No matter how many laws you pass, sucking up more tax payer dollars, they still will not prevent future sex crimes.  If you believe it will, you are living in Fantasy land!

Douglas said he supported the creation of the units in 2006 and additional funding for the SIUs in the last budget cycle.

"This is an example of political rhetoric creating an issue where there isn't one," Douglas said.
- Yeah, like you passing more laws, when the sex offender hysteria, is just that.  The laws were working, before everyone started spreading lies, and grandstanding to get more votes and to look good to the sheeple and mob!

Symington's plan also calls for hearings and written reports before sex offenders are released on probation, the collection of DNA samples from sex offenders for identification and the admission of prior sexual misconduct into court.

While Douglas and Symington have exchanged barbs, Pollina has mostly stood outside the fray focusing on other issues.

"They spend a lot of time bickering," the Independent candidate said. "It exemplifies why not a lot gets done in Vermont."
- That's politics!

Rather than talk about mandatory minimum sentences – which he said only give people a "false sense of security" – or obtaining convictions in cases, Pollina said he is focusing on preventing sex crimes, which he said are predominantly the result of an objectifying culture, poverty and desperation.
- Sounds like a smart man to me!

"The governor needs to engage citizens about why these crimes are happening," he said. "It's easier for him to talk about putting people in prison rather than talk about the reasons why it's happening."
- Yep, they need a scapegoat to blame, and so they can "look tough on crime," instead of  "smart on crime!"

Pollina said as governor he would start a dialogue by visiting schools and using the platform of the governor's office to counter a culture that he says "tells men and boys that it's OK to abuse women."
- Why don't you start by talking with experts in the field of dealing with sex offenders, and study the FACTS, and also look at the Constitution, and civil/human rights?

To some extent, Pollina blamed sexual crimes and violence against children on economic hardships that he said have contributed to desperate acts.

"It has as much to do with poverty and joblessness as anything else," he said.

For offenders coming out of the prison system, Pollina said he would tighten probation and parole measures to prevent the early release of offenders such as Michael Jacques, the 42-year-old Randolph man accused of kidnapping and killing his niece, 12-year-old Brooke Bennett of Braintree in June.

"Some of us don't understand how a fellow like this guy was let out," he said. "He was allowed early release from prison and was even allowed to live with a girl."
- Because someone evaluated him, and said he was not a risk.  Plus, you made laws that were "suppose" to protect children, yet this man was a KNOWN SEX OFFENDER, on the registry, and the family of this girl knew him, yet it still happened.  Thus proving my point, no matter how many laws you pass, it will NEVER prevent another tragedy like this, NEVER!

Douglas said he agrees with Pollina that preventive measures, such as public awareness and parental education, are important. But continued monitoring and public awareness of sexual offenders beyond prison walls and even indefinite incarceration are also essential, he said.
- If they need monitoring, why let them out in the first place?  Everybody is going to eventually get out of prison.

Two primary elements of Douglas' plan, however, face uphill battles.

His civil confinement proposal, which would mandate indefinite imprisonment for unrepentant sex offenders deemed likely to re-offend, will likely be left off the Judiciary Committee's list of recommendations, according to Sen. Richard Sears, the chairman of the committee.

The second difficulty comes down to money. Expanding the Internet sex offender registry to include information about 2,000 additional offenders is estimated to cost more than $3 million.
- I think that is a load of BS!  How does simply entering data into a database cost $3 million dollars?  Hell, I'll do it for $1 million, and save you $2 million.

In a tight fiscal year that has already seen a $32 million reduction to the state's existing budget, Douglas acknowledged that it would be hard coming up with the money to update the Web site.

"It would present a budgetary challenge," Douglas said. "Finding the funding would be difficult, but it ought to be done."

To support that position, Douglas pointed out that he protected public safety funding from the mid-year budget cuts.

Symington has said funding the special investigative units is "a matter of priority, not dollars and cents."
- Well, priority takes money!  And that is tax payer money!  This is an example of how the rich get richer and the poor get more poor.

The House Speaker's plan to protect programs such as Prevent Child Abuse Vermont and Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence from budget cuts would also cost money.

One area where both candidates have a chance of finding some public safety dollars is in redefining the role of the Vermont State Police. The Legislature is waiting on the results of a study to be released next month that will make recommendations for the state's 327-trooper force.

Douglas, who said he has increased public safety spending three times the growth rate of the General Fund in recent years, said he hopes to utilize troopers in more sex crime investigations in the future.
- Come on, you could spend $100 trillion dollars, and hire a cop per person, as their bodyguard, and crime would still occur.

"State troopers are highly trained and outstanding investigators," he said. "I think it makes sense to use their skills to the best possible advantage."

The Vermont State Police, however, also serve as local forces for many of the state's small towns.

With that in mind, Symington said she would also like to see state police take a more active role in sex crime investigations while continuing to provide services for communities that cannot afford to staff their own forces.

"I think it would be very difficult for a town as small as Tinmouth to have a police department," she said.

While reserving judgment until the report is issued next month, Symington said it would make sense to coordinate efforts between local police departments, county sheriffs and state police to divide coverage and offer troopers more time to focus on difficult investigations.

Pollina would also like to see the state police focus more on investigations – an initiative he said he would support through additional funding not only for troopers but for local law enforcement.

"Our police forces are good but there's a lack of a coordinated message and support," he said.



NY - Sex offender's upkeep: $661G and counting

View the article here

Wow, no wonder this country is going broke, this, and the war, plus the bailout?  Where in the hell is all this money coming from?  You!!!!

10/26/2008

By Ted Hesson and Steve Lieberman

Rockland taxpayers have shelled out more than $661,000 to house a sex offender living at Summit Park Hospital in Ramapo, even though doctors cleared him to leave the psychiatric unit nearly 18 months ago.

But state regulations prevent the county facility from forcing Christopher Palma, 25, to leave - and end the burden on taxpayers - unless he has a place to live.

And a 2007 county law essentially blocks sex offenders from living in most neighborhoods in Rockland County.

"Summit Park cannot discharge him without a place to live," Senior Probation Officer Jennifer Williams told a Clarkstown judge. "Those are state guidelines. And there is really no place he can live outside the pedophile zones."
- They are called residency restrictions.  You are making the public hysteria worse, but calling these zones pedophile zones, when that is not what they are, they affect all sex offenders, and not all sex offenders are pedophiles, SO STOP USING THE INCORRECT TERMS!  So if he cannot live anywhere, and they cannot release him without a place to stay, I guess he will be staying there for life, or until you fix the broken laws, which were working.  It's costing tax payers $447,125 per year to house one person!

Rockland officials claim they had exhausted the list of possible housing across the county for Palma. His decision to remain in the county hospital costs taxpayers $1,225 per day - and the costs are not reimbursed by any federal or state programs.
- Why does it cost this much?  If he were living in a hotel/motel of a home, it would not cost this much a month!  If it cost this much to house all 600,000 sex offenders, that would be $735,000,000 (million) per day, and $268,275,000,000 (billion) per year.  Yes, I know not all 600,000 offenders are being held in facilities like this, but if it was up to the public, this is how much (roughly), it would cost.

County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef said the county law was adopted ostensibly to protect children, but was not meant to bleed taxpayers. He said the whole issue of housing sex offenders needed a state policy.

"I think one has to look at the practical effect of this law," Vanderhoef said. "I think the law gives a false sense of security anyway. This law has put us in a financial burden in this case."

Palma pleaded guilty to several misdemeanor sex offenses in 2005 and voluntarily entered Summit Park's in-patient crisis unit in April 2007. Two weeks later, the facility's doctor's cleared him for release.

That's when the problems started - and the bills started mounting.

Rockland's Pedophile-Free Child Safety Zone Act prohibits high-risk sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools, parks and other places where children congregate.
- Again misusing terms.  They are sex offender free zones, and not all sex offenders are pedophiles.  This reporter needs to get his terms correct!  Notice it says the act "prohibits high-risk SEX OFFENDERS?"  It doesn't say PEDOPHILES!

Palma and county officials say he has been unable to find housing that conforms to the law. Palma has said he would be willing to live outside Rockland.

During an interview in August at Summit Park, Palma spoke of a desire to leave the facility and move to a more affordable part of the state with a decent bus system and a local college.
- If he gets out, I think college is out of the question, with the existing laws, so why doesn't someone tell him that?

He said he had been searching for an apartment consistently during his stay at the facility.

"I've been getting the paper, looking through the classifieds," he said. "Every place that I can afford is either a drug house or it's over a bar or I can't afford to go there."
- And, when they find out you are a sex offender, they will deny you a place to stay!

"I asked my grandmom for help," he said, "and she didn't seem too pleased about it, so we'll see about that."

At a hearing Thursday, Williams, Palma's probation officer, told Justice Howard Gerber that the few places Palma could potentially afford in Rockland conflicted with the terms of his probation.

She cited a bungalow-type residence in Stony Point, but she said the housing was known for being a haven for drug dealing and violence. A Nanuet housing development requires three months rent up front for anyone earning less than $75,000 a year.

Gerber floated one solution to to the problem: Send Palma to the county jail for violating his probation.
- What?  Violating him for something that is OUT OF HIS CONTROL?

Palma pleaded guilty to a violation of probation charge that could carry jail time. But it's not necessarily the best solution, said Williams and Palma's lawyer, Jonathan Ripps.

If Palma went to jail on the charge, he likely would be released within six months and no longer be subject to the control of the Probation Department. He has six years left on probation if he were to avoid jail time.

Gerber agreed with Ripps and Williams that the sex offender law was keeping Palma as a ward of the county.

"It really is something that's out of Palma's control," Ripps said, "and it seems that the court is well aware of that."
- But it is in the states control, but putting all the laws back to how they were, when it was all working, and the country is not going broke!

Palma apparently has housing opportunities in Ulster County. Williams said previous out-of-county residences fell through or the host county didn't want to monitor Palma's probation.

"I want you to pursue all avenues, any possibility of finding him a place to live," Gerber said. "If the Rockland County Department of Probation has to monitor him in Erie County, so be it."

He is scheduled to return to court Nov. 6.

This isn't the first problem that has cropped up from the law, which was approved in February 2007.

For months, Dennis W. Edwards, 55, bounced from residence to residence, at one point claiming he was living out of his car.
- Because the laws are punishment, and they make it impossible to find ANY place to stay.  Why do you think they are all having these problems?  Eventually they will just vanish!

This summer, two convicted sex offenders from Monsey challenged the statute in state Supreme Court, claiming it infringed on their ability to practice religion. State Supreme Court Justice William Kelly disagreed and upheld the law's constitutionality.
- The laws infringe on more that just that, and this judge is an idiot, IMO.  Being a sex offender, when you go to church, and someone gets a flyer in the mail, you can bet they will ask you to leave, so it does infringe on his right to attend church, not practice religion, he can do that anywhere.

Several state and federal courts have upheld exclusionary laws as constitutional, even if they seem impractical, experts say.
- Impractical?  They are pure punishment, period!  Why don't you live with such laws for a couple years, then tell me if it's not punishment?  And if it's punishment, then they are unconstitutional!

Rockland Deputy Director of Probation Kathleen Tower-Bernstein said a handful of sex offenders had been charged under the county law for living in prohibited areas.

A similar ordinance in two New Jersey towns was struck down by a state appeals court in July after the judge ruled that it conflicted with the state's Megan's Law. Megan's Law classifies sex offenders and forces them to report their addresses to police.

Rockland County Legislator Ed Day, who sponsored the sex offender law, said Palma's situation was a failing of county government, not of the law itself.
- Well, you sponsored the bill, so you are just as guilty, IMO!

"I think that if we are spending money to house a predatory sex offender who has never had a problem finding a place to live, and he's now being supported by taxpayers, there's something desperately wrong with that system, and it needs to be changed," said Day, a Republican from New City.
- What?  This man pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors, and volunteered to enter the facility, so why are you calling him a predator?  Did a board review his case and declare him a predator?  And to this Rep, welcome to the reality of the unconstitutional laws you helped pass.  So you are the cause of the problem, all legislature who agree with these laws.

Day has called Palma "the poster child" for this pedophile-free zone because he had proven himself to be a danger to the community.
- Not all sex offenders are pedophiles you idiot, and who designated him a danger to the community?  He had two misdemeanors and volunteered to enter the facility, they did not make him.  If he was evaluated and deemed a predator, then I am sure they would've MADE him enter a civil commitment facility.

"There are people who truly are in need of housing in this county," he said. "Meanwhile, we are bringing the power of government to find a place to live for someone who defiles children."
- Well, you sentenced him to prison, he did his time, now he is out, and because of the insane laws you helped pass, now you are seeing the "unintended consequences!"  That is what you get when you do not think!

Critics have argued Rockland's sex offender-free zone was ineffective in protecting children from sexual predators.
- That is more like it, it is a sex offender free zone, not what you have been calling it, but, you mention predators, and not all sex offenders, which these laws apply to, are predators.  You need to learn what these terms mean, just open a dictionary or Wikipedia.  Educate yourself!  It seems you are letting your personal feelings enter the reporting, which reporters are not suppose to do, they are suppose to report the FACTS!

Though they supported Day's proposed legislation, Vanderhoef and some legislators said at the time that the law would give people a false sense of security.
- But, did they listen?  Nope!  They never do, they assume they know better than the experts!

Most children are sexually abused by people they know or relatives, experts say. And the law doesn't prevent pedophiles from entering parks, though police are empowered to arrest those offenders if they recognize them.
- Again with the word pedophile.  You are an idiot.  These laws and restrictions are for all sex offenders, not just pedophiles!

State statistics found the rate of recidivism among sex offenders to be the lowest among all crimes, opponents have argued. More than 25,000 sex offenders are listed on the New York State Registry, including 456 in Westchester, 112 in Rockland and 33 in Putnam.

"Most children are not snatched up from playgrounds or day care centers and abused by strangers," Tower-Bernstein said. "It's mostly people they know or someone you open your door to and invite them in and offer them dinner."

In December 2005, Palma pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of attempted possession of an obscene sexual performance by a child and two counts of endangering the welfare of children.
- I thought only those convicted of FELONIES were made to obey these laws, not misdemeanors?  Guess I was wrong!

The endangering counts involved having oral sex with a 14-year-old girl and intercourse with a 15-year-old girl. A state police investigator testified that Palma had given both girls alcohol first.

Palma expressed a desire to put his crimes behind him and move on with his life.

"I don't know what I was thinking at the time," he said. "I was trying to figure that out in the therapy. I was trying to figure out why I did these things."

Reach Ted Hesson at thesson@lohud.com or 914-696-8492.



Residency restrictions for sex offenders popular, but ineffective

View the article here

They continue to pass them, because they get votes, and the government doesn't believe in the Constitution anymore, so they are willing to trample on anyone's rights now.  And that is a scary thought.  Who's rights will be trampled on next?  It's only a matter of time!

10/26/2008

By Paula Reed Ward, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Despite research that shows sex offender residency requirements actually hamper the rehabilitation of offenders, jurisdictions across the country continue to pass them, including Allegheny County last year.

Experts say the laws, which prohibit convicted sex offenders from living within a certain distance of schools, day care centers and parks, also don't work to help cut down on recidivism.

These types of residency restrictions have been passed in at least 30 states and thousands of municipalities nationwide. Even as prosecutors, criminal justice researchers and child advocates say they don't work, parents and legislators continue to push for the tough laws.

County Councilman Vince Gastgeb, R-Bethel Park, who was the primary author of the local bill passed in October 2007, said he wrote the law that parents wanted.

Mr. Gastgeb said he originally intended for the restrictions to apply only to offenders whose victims were children. But after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit against the county this month, Mr. Gastgeb learned that the law actually applies to all registered sex offenders, no matter their victims' ages.
- Yeah right, you expect me to believe he was not aware of this?

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of six sex offenders who said they could not find anywhere to live because of the restrictions.

At the time the suit was filed, Mr. Gastgeb said he would amend the law so that it applied only to sex offenders whose victims are children.

But days later, he changed his mind.

"I do think it's legally sound, and I do think we'll prevail in court," Mr. Gastgeb said. "So a certain section of the county is off-limits. That's the way it is.

"There's plenty of places for people to live."

Even if there are "plenty of places for people to live," those who have studied the issue know that residency restrictions push sex offenders outside of metropolitan areas into rural communities.

That means less access to family, housing, employment and treatment programs, said Dr. Jill S. Levenson, a professor at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., who has been studying sex crime policy for six years.

"At first glance, these laws sound good in theory," she said. "But it's much more complex than that."

The visceral reaction of "not in my neighborhood," needs to be balanced with pragmatism, she said.

Part of the problem, she continued, is that residency restrictions are often one-size-fits-all.

They often don't distinguish among the types of crimes that have been committed, Dr. Levenson said. Just because someone is designated a sex offender under state law does not necessarily mean that that person is a sexually violent predator or a pedophile.

Further, studies conducted by the Minnesota Department of Corrections and Colorado Department of Public Safety have not shown any correlation between sex offender recidivism and living near schools or parks.

And though residency restrictions might prohibit a sex offender from living in a certain neighborhood, they can't keep such a person from sitting across the street from a playground.

"They really do nothing at all to stop sex offenders from having access to children during the day," Dr. Levenson said.

On the other hand, there is ample scientific evidence that shows residency laws do interfere with the reintegration of sex offenders into society.

"Criminal offenders who have stable housing, stable employment and support systems in their lives, those people are less likely to go on and commit new crimes," Dr. Levenson said.

Sex offender residency restrictions were approved in Iowa in 2002, though the law was put on hold pending the outcome of a court case. In 2005, the state Supreme Court upheld the law there.

Law enforcement opposition

Almost from inception, law enforcement entities have been fighting to get it repealed, said Corwin Ritchie, the executive director of the Iowa County Attorneys Association.

The prosecutors' group issued a policy statement on the issue, outlining what it sees as numerous problems.

In addition, residency restrictions have made it less likely for people charged with sex offenses to plead guilty, for fear that they will lose their homes.

That means that more cases must go to trial -- potentially causing additional trauma for victims -- or more offenders go free because sex crimes can be hard to prove.

Another important factor to be considered, Mr. Ritchie said, is the vast amount of resources being spent to enforce residency laws with few tangible results.

In Iowa, according to his organization, the state has lost track of more than half of its registered sex offenders since restrictions went into place, making the jobs of probation and parole officers much more difficult and time-consuming.

Also, Department of Justice research shows that at least 90 percent of children who are abused are victimized by someone they know and trust.

"[The incidence of] stranger danger is tiny," Mr. Ritchie said. "It's tragic, but its incidence is really, really small."

And despite public opinions to the contrary, research shows that sex offenders are among the least likely criminals to re-offend, Dr. Levenson said.

But in Iowa, legislators don't want to hear any of that, Mr. Ritchie said.

"We ran into the politics of it," he continued. "No one wants to be seen as soft on sex offenders."
- So, by having legislature without balls, that means anything can be done to sex offenders, and they would be OK with it.  So how much is too much?  Are concentration camps and firing up the ovens next?

"It's just politically untenable."

Soon after Iowa's law went into effect, a small panel of legislators who wrote it told Mr. Ritchie that they were wrong and that it should be overturned, he said.

But those same lawmakers said they would not be the ones to do it, he said. Instead, they left it up to the courts.

"They're a fearful bunch," he said. "They've done such a good job of selling it, they can't turn and go the other way."

Advocates for repealing Iowa's law came close two sessions ago, Mr. Ritchie said. They will take up the fight again in 2009.

"The general public doesn't really care if it's good public policy," Mr. Ritchie said.
- And they public doesn't know what is in the Constitution or care what is done to sex offenders, but, I thought this is why we voted legislature into office, to make and pass FAIR and SANE laws?

Parents insistent

The decision by Mr. Gastgeb to write the local law was influenced by listening to many parents in Mt. Lebanon speak at community meetings.

They were outraged last year to learn that a convicted sex offender was living near Howe Elementary School in the Sunset Hills neighborhood.

Last week, parents there continued to support the residency restriction law.

"It would be very difficult to have a whole lot of sympathy for sex offenders at all, having three children," said Kathy Graziano, who lives in the community.

One of the reasons she feels so strongly about the restriction is that the Mt. Lebanon School District does not have a busing system. Many students walk to and from school, she said, which makes them more vulnerable.
- So why isn't the media showing all the children being caught in the large nets of the "sex offender" laws?  It's because the media and politicians keep spewing MYTHS to heighten the fear-factor for votes and ratings!  WHEN IS THE TRUTH GOING TO BE TOLD?

"There were children passing his residence at any time of the day," Ms. Graziano said. "We don't have buses . . . or designated adults that would be one more set of eyes."

She doesn't care if local sex offenders have access to housing or jobs.
- Not until her, her husband, child or someone in their family is affected, then she will be changing her tune.  Out of sight, out of mind!

"Then I suppose they should work out in a cornfield in the middle of Iowa," she said.

Another neighbor, Bill Crock, who has four children, believes the residency restriction should stick.

"From what I've read, these guys don't get better," he said. "It's a lifelong problem."
- Well, that is the problem, the media has force fed you lies, so has the media, John Walsh (who is an admitted sex addict), Mark Lunsford (who had child porn on his machine when Jessica went missing, and his son has since been busted for molesting a child, but walked free), and politicians.  The sheeple believe anything that is force fed to them, even if it's a lie.

A teacher, who also lives in the community, was the only one to express mixed feelings on the issue.

She wouldn't give her name for fear of reprisal from her school district, but the woman said she felt sorry for the offenders.

Though the most important thing is to protect children, she also added that sex offenders do have to live somewhere.

That's a notion that Dr. Levenson backed up.

"When sex offenders become homeless, they do become more difficult for probation and parole to track," she said. "That, in itself, defeats the very purpose of Megan's Law."

Though most jurisdictions pass residency restrictions when they are introduced, the Kansas legislature in 2006 chose not to after listening to expert testimony during two days of hearings.

"This is not about sympathy for criminal offenders," Dr. Levenson said. "Housing instability is one of the strongest indicators of recidivism in the criminal justice literature."

If jurisdictions want to enforce some residency restrictions, Dr. Levenson suggests that it be done only after an evaluation is performed to assess the person's potential for future danger.

Parents should not rely simply on sex offender registries to keep their children safe, she said.

"With the reliance on sex offender registries, we do parents a disservice," she said. "They need to be aware of what to look for in anyone who spends time with their child."
- Parents are not stupid, they know what to look for, they just chose to ignore it!

Paula Reed Ward can be reached at pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620.



PA - Residency restrictions for sex offenders popular, but ineffective

View the article here

They continue to pass them, because they get votes, and the government doesn't believe in the Constitution anymore, so they are willing to trample on anyone's rights now.  And that is a scary thought.  Who's rights will be trampled on next?  It's only a matter of time!

10/26/2008

By Paula Reed Ward, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Despite research that shows sex offender residency requirements actually hamper the rehabilitation of offenders, jurisdictions across the country continue to pass them, including Allegheny County last year.

Experts say the laws, which prohibit convicted sex offenders from living within a certain distance of schools, day care centers and parks, also don't work to help cut down on recidivism.

These types of residency restrictions have been passed in at least 30 states and thousands of municipalities nationwide. Even as prosecutors, criminal justice researchers and child advocates say they don't work, parents and legislators continue to push for the tough laws.

County Councilman Vince Gastgeb, R-Bethel Park, who was the primary author of the local bill passed in October 2007, said he wrote the law that parents wanted.

Mr. Gastgeb said he originally intended for the restrictions to apply only to offenders whose victims were children. But after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit against the county this month, Mr. Gastgeb learned that the law actually applies to all registered sex offenders, no matter their victims' ages.
- Yeah right, you expect me to believe he was not aware of this?

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of six sex offenders who said they could not find anywhere to live because of the restrictions.

At the time the suit was filed, Mr. Gastgeb said he would amend the law so that it applied only to sex offenders whose victims are children.

But days later, he changed his mind.

"I do think it's legally sound, and I do think we'll prevail in court," Mr. Gastgeb said. "So a certain section of the county is off-limits. That's the way it is.

"There's plenty of places for people to live."

Even if there are "plenty of places for people to live," those who have studied the issue know that residency restrictions push sex offenders outside of metropolitan areas into rural communities.

That means less access to family, housing, employment and treatment programs, said Dr. Jill S. Levenson, a professor at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., who has been studying sex crime policy for six years.

"At first glance, these laws sound good in theory," she said. "But it's much more complex than that."

The visceral reaction of "not in my neighborhood," needs to be balanced with pragmatism, she said.

Part of the problem, she continued, is that residency restrictions are often one-size-fits-all.

They often don't distinguish among the types of crimes that have been committed, Dr. Levenson said. Just because someone is designated a sex offender under state law does not necessarily mean that that person is a sexually violent predator or a pedophile.

Further, studies conducted by the Minnesota Department of Corrections and Colorado Department of Public Safety have not shown any correlation between sex offender recidivism and living near schools or parks.

And though residency restrictions might prohibit a sex offender from living in a certain neighborhood, they can't keep such a person from sitting across the street from a playground.

"They really do nothing at all to stop sex offenders from having access to children during the day," Dr. Levenson said.

On the other hand, there is ample scientific evidence that shows residency laws do interfere with the reintegration of sex offenders into society.

"Criminal offenders who have stable housing, stable employment and support systems in their lives, those people are less likely to go on and commit new crimes," Dr. Levenson said.

Sex offender residency restrictions were approved in Iowa in 2002, though the law was put on hold pending the outcome of a court case. In 2005, the state Supreme Court upheld the law there.

Law enforcement opposition

Almost from inception, law enforcement entities have been fighting to get it repealed, said Corwin Ritchie, the executive director of the Iowa County Attorneys Association.

The prosecutors' group issued a policy statement on the issue, outlining what it sees as numerous problems.

In addition, residency restrictions have made it less likely for people charged with sex offenses to plead guilty, for fear that they will lose their homes.

That means that more cases must go to trial -- potentially causing additional trauma for victims -- or more offenders go free because sex crimes can be hard to prove.

Another important factor to be considered, Mr. Ritchie said, is the vast amount of resources being spent to enforce residency laws with few tangible results.

In Iowa, according to his organization, the state has lost track of more than half of its registered sex offenders since restrictions went into place, making the jobs of probation and parole officers much more difficult and time-consuming.

Also, Department of Justice research shows that at least 90 percent of children who are abused are victimized by someone they know and trust.

"[The incidence of] stranger danger is tiny," Mr. Ritchie said. "It's tragic, but its incidence is really, really small."

And despite public opinions to the contrary, research shows that sex offenders are among the least likely criminals to re-offend, Dr. Levenson said.

But in Iowa, legislators don't want to hear any of that, Mr. Ritchie said.

"We ran into the politics of it," he continued. "No one wants to be seen as soft on sex offenders."
- So, by having legislature without balls, that means anything can be done to sex offenders, and they would be OK with it.  So how much is too much?  Are concentration camps and firing up the ovens next?

"It's just politically untenable."

Soon after Iowa's law went into effect, a small panel of legislators who wrote it told Mr. Ritchie that they were wrong and that it should be overturned, he said.

But those same lawmakers said they would not be the ones to do it, he said. Instead, they left it up to the courts.

"They're a fearful bunch," he said. "They've done such a good job of selling it, they can't turn and go the other way."

Advocates for repealing Iowa's law came close two sessions ago, Mr. Ritchie said. They will take up the fight again in 2009.

"The general public doesn't really care if it's good public policy," Mr. Ritchie said.
- And they public doesn't know what is in the Constitution or care what is done to sex offenders, but, I thought this is why we voted legislature into office, to make and pass FAIR and SANE laws?

Parents insistent

The decision by Mr. Gastgeb to write the local law was influenced by listening to many parents in Mt. Lebanon speak at community meetings.

They were outraged last year to learn that a convicted sex offender was living near Howe Elementary School in the Sunset Hills neighborhood.

Last week, parents there continued to support the residency restriction law.

"It would be very difficult to have a whole lot of sympathy for sex offenders at all, having three children," said Kathy Graziano, who lives in the community.

One of the reasons she feels so strongly about the restriction is that the Mt. Lebanon School District does not have a busing system. Many students walk to and from school, she said, which makes them more vulnerable.
- So why isn't the media showing all the children being caught in the large nets of the "sex offender" laws?  It's because the media and politicians keep spewing MYTHS to heighten the fear-factor for votes and ratings!  WHEN IS THE TRUTH GOING TO BE TOLD?

"There were children passing his residence at any time of the day," Ms. Graziano said. "We don't have buses . . . or designated adults that would be one more set of eyes."

She doesn't care if local sex offenders have access to housing or jobs.
- Not until her, her husband, child or someone in their family is affected, then she will be changing her tune.  Out of sight, out of mind!

"Then I suppose they should work out in a cornfield in the middle of Iowa," she said.

Another neighbor, Bill Crock, who has four children, believes the residency restriction should stick.

"From what I've read, these guys don't get better," he said. "It's a lifelong problem."
- Well, that is the problem, the media has force fed you lies, so has the media, John Walsh (who is an admitted sex addict), Mark Lunsford (who had child porn on his machine when Jessica went missing, and his son has since been busted for molesting a child, but walked free), and politicians.  The sheeple believe anything that is force fed to them, even if it's a lie.

A teacher, who also lives in the community, was the only one to express mixed feelings on the issue.

She wouldn't give her name for fear of reprisal from her school district, but the woman said she felt sorry for the offenders.

Though the most important thing is to protect children, she also added that sex offenders do have to live somewhere.

That's a notion that Dr. Levenson backed up.

"When sex offenders become homeless, they do become more difficult for probation and parole to track," she said. "That, in itself, defeats the very purpose of Megan's Law."

Though most jurisdictions pass residency restrictions when they are introduced, the Kansas legislature in 2006 chose not to after listening to expert testimony during two days of hearings.

"This is not about sympathy for criminal offenders," Dr. Levenson said. "Housing instability is one of the strongest indicators of recidivism in the criminal justice literature."

If jurisdictions want to enforce some residency restrictions, Dr. Levenson suggests that it be done only after an evaluation is performed to assess the person's potential for future danger.

Parents should not rely simply on sex offender registries to keep their children safe, she said.

"With the reliance on sex offender registries, we do parents a disservice," she said. "They need to be aware of what to look for in anyone who spends time with their child."
- Parents are not stupid, they know what to look for, they just chose to ignore it!

Paula Reed Ward can be reached at pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620.