Conventional Wisdom at it's finest! And this is the way that it is today.
If a man cuts his finger off while slicing salami at work, he blames the restaurant.
If you smoke three packs a day for 40 years and die of lung cancer, your family blames the tobacco company.
If your neighbour crashes into a tree while driving home drunk, he blames the bartender.
If your grandchildren are brats without manners, you blame television.
If your friend is shot by a deranged madman, you blame the gun manufacturer.
And if a crazed person breaks into the cockpit and tries to kill the pilot at 35,000 feet, and the passengers kill him instead, the mother of the crazed deceased blames the airline.
I must have lived too long to understand the world as it is anymore.
So, if I die while my old wrinkled ass is parked in front of this computer, I want all of you to blame Bill Gates!
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Conventional Wisdom at it's finest! And this is the way that it is today.
In United States v. Ambert (PDF), the 11th Circuit reviewed and rejected all of the major constitutional challenges to SORNA prosecutions under 2250(a). I had never heard of this case before, perhaps because the defendant was represented by a private attorney. Here is how the 11th Circuit addressed the Commerce Clause argument:
We have not had occasion to address this issue, although several district courts in this Circuit have done so. Most have found SORNA to be a proper regulation under Congress’ commerce power.... One district court, however, found that SORNA, 42 U.S.C. § 16913 and 18 U.S.C. § 2250, exceeded Congress’ commerce clause authority. United States v. Myers, 2008 WL 5156671 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 9, 2008) (unpublished).... Section 2250 is a proper regulation falling under either of the first two Lopez categories because it regulates both the use of channels of interstate commerce and the instrumentalities of interstate commerce.... Plainly, § 2250 focuses on sex offenders, like the defendant, who travel in interstate commerce. In this focus, SORNA is analogous to a statute prohibiting church-based arson “in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce” upheld by this Court in Ballinger, and to the Mann Act prohibiting the transport of women “in interstate commerce” for an immoral purpose, upheld by the Supreme Court long ago in Caminetti v. United States, 242 U.S. 470, 491 (1917).
There are several things that are troublesome about the opinion. First, the 11th Circuit has had more than one opinion finding that 2250 cannot be supported under the Commerce Clause. In fact, there have been three such opinions, including United States v. Powers which is on the 11th Circuit calender for argument. Second, there is no mention of the USSC opinion in United States v. Morrison, despite the clear connection between the relevant statutes in terms of attempting to deter sexual violence. Third, the idea that punishing sex offenders for failing to register can be supported under the first Lopez category continues to boggle the mind. How are sex offenders "channels" of interstate commerce? Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, the facts of the Ambert case are especially egregious in terms of Commerce Clause justification. The alleged interstate travel by Ambert was a two day trip to California on July 9, 2007. In other words, his failure to register was in no way connected to his travel between states.
How could the 11th Circuit reached its conclusions with such important facts and errors present in the case and opinion? In defense of the court, the brief for Ambert (PDF) spent less than two pages on the Commerce Clause argument (despite the 11th Circuit being a hotbed for district courts finding no basis for SORNA prosecutions under the Commerce Clause). In that limited section, there was no mention of the district court decision within the 11th Circuit in United States v. Powers which found no justification under the Commerce Clause months before the brief was filed. The result is, thus, especially disappointing because appeals from the cases where Commerce Clause arguments were won at the district court are now precluded from any chance of success at the 11th Circuit.
A recent Greeley ordinance restricting where registered sex offenders may live may have unintended consequences (Duh!). The staff and board of directors of the Sexual Assault Resource Center (formerly Sexual Assault Survivors Inc., or SASI) are concerned that the new ordinance is emotionally appealing but contradicts what is known about managing sex offenders (Yep, it's all hype and hysteria, based on myths and not facts!).
Our agency is dedicated to eradicating sexual assault and its devastating effects on victims. We focus our efforts on advocating for victims, supporting victims through the process of bringing offenders to justice, assisting victims in recovering from a sexual assault and educating the public to eliminate the false information and prejudices about sexual assault that hinder eradicating it. We are speaking out about the recent ordinance because part of our mission is to correct false beliefs.
The idea of restricting registered sex offenders from living near schools, playgrounds and parks seems like a common-sense idea to many people. Some who support the Greeley ordinance argue that the restrictions may make registered sex offenders less likely to choose to live in Greeley, and that will make Greeley safer.
But as we examined the evidence from six states that have looked carefully at residency restrictions, we found that all of the evidence refutes that common assumption. Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, California, Florida and Colorado have studied this approach to reducing sex crimes. Every single study concluded that residency restrictions had no effect on reducing sex offenses.
For example, the Colorado Department of Public Safety found that child molesters who re-offended did not live closer to schools or daycare centers than those who did not re-offend.
What has proven effective in preventing registered sex offenders from committing additional sex crimes is close supervision by parole and probation officials, long-term treatment by specially trained professionals, consistent employment, social support and a stable living situation.
Residency restrictions make it more difficult to require sex offenders to have stable housing, social support, close monitoring and treatment services. The worst unintended consequence is sex offenders becoming homeless or simply dropping out of sight. Losing track of offenders increases the danger for all of us.
While residency ordinances have not been shown to increase the safety we all want, we think the Greeley ordinance is also too broad. It lumps all registered sex offenders together — juveniles and adults; violent predators and less severe offenders; those who prey on children and those who don’t.
The success rate for rehabilitating juvenile sex offenders is extremely high. We don’t want to destroy that. If there is not enough support to rescind the ordinance, we propose amending it to exclude juvenile offenders and those with lesser offenses that have never involved a child.
We would also like the Greeley City Council to consider ways to measure the effectiveness of the ordinance in decreasing sexual offenses and review its effectiveness in a year.
Simply reducing the number of registered offenders residing in Greeley is an insufficient measure of success unless we also know that offenders who did not move here are not living just outside our city limits, or have not dropped out of sight, and have not committed additional sex offenses.
We do not want fewer sex offenders in Greeley at the expense of our neighboring cities and towns and county residents.
Sexual offenses are a major problem in our society, and effective solutions are complex and sometimes counterintuitive.
We should all consider a variety of approaches to see what works best. Then we must gather evidence, analyze it carefully and follow what it tells us. What at first seems like a good idea may not be.
The Sexual Assault Resource Center board of directors consists of Tanya Trujillo-Martinez, director; Maribel Talamantes, assistant director; Steve Wrenn; Deana Davies; Dr. Bob Stewart and Deb Corban.
By Andrew Wight
Queensland Police have warned the public they will take swift action against anyone who tries to interfere with serial pedophile Dennis Ferguson.
Ferguson, 61, was yesterday acquitted of one count of indecent treatment of a child under 12 years in the Brisbane District Court.
The charge stemmed from allegations he inappropriately touched a five-year-old girl during a visit to her home at Dalby, west of Brisbane, on November 9, 2005.
Deputy Commissioner Kathy Rynders said Mr Ferguson, who has previously served sentences for child sex offences, now deserved to live as a free man.
"I would appeal to everyone to take a rational, mature approach to this development," she said.
"Threatening the safety of any person is an offence and anyone taking this course of action risks being arrested and prosecuted.
"If Mr Ferguson's safety is threatened by the actions of others, the QPS will act to ensure public order."
"The QPS will not hesitate to step in to protect public order, and the last thing we want is to have people committing criminal offences and ending up facing the courts themselves."
Ms Rynders said Mr Ferguson has been quietly and lawfully living in the community since his arraignment, and there was no reason to expect that to change.
"We will be actively monitoring Mr Ferguson on a daily basis for a period of time, to ensure he is behaving in a lawful manner, just as we have done in the months since he was arraigned for trial.
"Additionally, the Child Protection Act allows police to quickly react to any actions taken by Mr Ferguson or any other convicted sex offender.
"This, however, will be the extent of QPS involvement at this time. We will have no role in providing Mr Ferguson with accommodation."
Ms Rydners said the Ferguson case was a timely reminder that the best protection for children was diligence and common sense and that the vast majority of offences against children are committed by family members, friends and people known to the victims.
"Every family should, from an early age, teach their children how to stay safe and what to do if they feel uncomfortable with any person or in any situation," Ms Rynders said.
You are dealing with HUMANS entering data into a database, and there is the problem. You will always have mistakes. I know some people who have to call and contact the local sheriff every single time they register, to get them to fix a problem in the data that was entered. Many people think that the sex offenders are giving the police the wrong information, and some may do this, but a vast majority of them give the correct information, I know this for a fact! So, when someone finds out the information is wrong, are the offenders going to be arrested on a technical violation for something the police did?
By Ryan Tracy - The Times
New Jersey's online registry of sex offenders is supposed to arm parents like Kalina Dixon with knowledge to keep their children safe.
Visitors to the website can check to see if convicted sex offenders have registered at an address near their homes. Type in a zip code, click on an offender's name, and a photo of the perpetrator pops up on the computer screen.
But when Dixon, a Hamilton resident and mother of two, checked the online registry last month, she was "shocked" at what she saw:
A convicted sex offender was listed as living at her own address on Krueger Lane.
"We have no idea how long (the offender's picture) has been on there," said Dixon, who insisted her family has no connection to the offender.
"We have a family that moved right next door a couple months ago. (The neighbors) might think it's a family member or somebody," she said.
Dixon contacted the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office, one of several authorities responsible for keeping tabs on sex offenders, on Feb. 9. The office acknowledged the information on the state registry was inaccurate. Days later, Dixon was satisfied that the problem had been corrected.
Yet her experience raises questions about the reliability of the online registry, which is a product of work performed at local, county, and state law enforcement agencies.
Under Megan's Law, which was enacted after 7-year-old Megan Kanka was raped and killed in 1994 by a convicted sex offender living near her Hamilton home, sex offenders must register with police after leaving prison. Offenders deemed to be particularly dangerous are listed on a statewide website as a form of community notification.
Dixon claims she first saw a photo of John Newman, who was convicted in Mercer County in 2003 of aggravated sexual assault, about three years ago when her family first moved into the home on Krueger Lane.
"A few weeks after we bought the house, my husband went on our website to check if there is any sex offenders in the area, and it turned out it said it was our own house," she said, referring to the registry on the New Jersey State Police website.
The registry provided a mug shot of Newman, who had a "dirty blonde" head of hair and "facial hair" like her husband, Dixon said.
"If you saw my husband up close, you would know it's not him. But from far away" the distinction might be less clear, said Dixon, who also has a 3-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son.
After some back-and-forth with the county prosecutor's office and the state police, Dixon said she was satisfied three years ago that the information was corrected.
Yet last month, after reading a story in The Times about Megan's Law, Dixon decided to check the New Jersey registry again. There was Newman's photo, with Dixon's address once again listed.
How exactly that mistake occurred remained unclear last week.
- Police typing mistake! The police, in most places, do NOT give the offender any copy of the data they took down, so the offender has no way of proving they did not make the mistake. It should be a LAW that when an offender fills out the paperwork and turns it in, they get a COPY of that paperwork, so they can PROVE the police, and not them, made the mistake. But, I doubt that will happen anytime soon.
According to Megan's Law guidelines drafted by the state Attorney General's office, Newman would have been required to verify an address with the Hamilton police department upon moving into the township.
- This is not how most states work. Most states, the person moves, they go down to register an address, the police enter the data into a computer, and then weeks or months later, they go out an verify the address. I also know this for a fact!
He would also be required to check in annually and notify the department if he moved to a different location. Offenders who fail to verify an address or provide false information can be convicted of a third-degree crime.
- So what about those who reported the change in address, and supplied the correct information, but the police, when they entered the data, typed something wrong? This happens all the time!
After verifying Newman's information, Hamilton would forward it to the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office, which is responsible for dividing offenders into tiers based on the likelihood that each will commit another sex crime.
If an offender is considered risky enough to be placed on New Jersey's online registry, the county prosecutor's office would forward his or her information to the state police's bureau of identification, which is responsible for maintaining and updating the website.
- And again, humans typing in the information, there is going to be problems. The people entering the data, should verify the information, which they do not. If they did, then mistakes would not be made.
Casey DeBlasio, spokeswoman for the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office, said the county was aware Newman had relocated to Florida as of March 2006, thanks to notification from authorities in that state.
Though there was apparently a delay in updating the website at that time, Dixon said she was satisfied in 2006 that the information online had been corrected.
Sometime thereafter, Newman's photo was posted again next to Dixon's address.
"When Ms Dixon contacted our office in February, an employee checked the state police website and saw that this offender was still listed" at Dixon's address, DeBlasio said. "We contacted the state police regarding the address change because we knew (Newman) was in Florida."
- And thus more problems. So, with the way vigilantism is today, what are they going to do, when an innocent person is attacked and possibly murdered, due to the registry not being updated correctly? It has happened already. I have some cases documented on this blog.
Lt. John O'Brien, assistant chief of the state police's identification bureau, said the state police changed the website after receiving confirmation from the county prosecutor's office on Feb. 15 that Newman had relocated to Florida.
- You see, there are tons of holes in how this whole process works. If there was ONE DATABASE, then this would not be much of a problem, but each state, and some counties, have their own databases, thus more mistakes could possibly be made. IMO, it should be one database, and the offender can go down to the police station, and use a computer to enter their information, then that is automatically placed into the database at that time, then if anyone is to blame, it's the offender. And they then go get any needed photos, DNA, fingerprints, etc. And also, a web site they can use to do the same thing. They go to the web site, log in, using some predefined username and password given to them by the police, then enter the data, and then the data is put into the database immediately. But, that is common sense, and we know we do not have much of that these days.
O'Brien said Newman was apparently still "registered as residing (at Dixon's Kruger Lane address) until we changed the database" last month.
DeBlasio added that the documentation regarding Newman's Florida address did not include an original fingerprint card from that state. New Jersey's state police usually require that document before changing the registry, DeBlasio said.
"At that time (last month, the state police) were willing to make an exception and they accepted a copy of the last (fingerprint) card that we had in our possession," which was a card created in 2005 by the Hamilton police, she said.
- How often does someones fingerprints or DNA change? I can understand fingerprints, if they worked in construction or something that could damage the hands, but DNA?
In the past, proponents of sex offender registries created under Megan's Law have fought criticism about their effectiveness.
For Debrorah Jackson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, Dixon's story provided proof that the lists "are not a reliable way to prevent sex crimes."
- Of course they do not prevent sex crimes, it's only about shaming, period!
"Registries give parents the impression that sex offenders are nefarious strangers in grainy pictures, but studies have shown that the vast majority of sex offenders are the people we least suspect -- people who are members or friends of the family," Jackson said in an e-mailed statement.
"The lists are often inaccurate and out-of-date," she said. "Parents need to be ever vigilant about their children's safety, whether they're walking home from school or staying at a friend's house, not relying on inaccurate lists."
- Yes, parents need to do their jobs, be a parent, and stop expecting someone else to protect you!
Kanka's parents, backed by lawmakers and other supporters, argue that the sex offender registry is not meant to prevent sex crimes. They say parents have a right to know when a high-risk offender lives nearby.
- So where is the law that says they have a right to know who lives around them? If that is true, then where is the CRIMINAL registry with all criminals on it, so we can know if our neighbor is a gang member, murderer, DUI offender, drug dealer, etc?
"As far as I know, doctors have not come up with a cure for treating sex offenders," Maureen Kanka, Megan's mother, wrote in a recent op-ed in The Times. "Until I know that pedophiles pose no risk to the children of New Jersey and any other state in our country, I am grateful for the awareness that Megan's Law provides."
- So tell me what can be "cured!" If you treat them like animals, making life hell for them, then eventually, they will act like an animal. If you give them the tools they need to PREVENT crime, then you are helping everyone. But, the registries, laws, GPS and other issues, is a money making business!
The state's online sex offender registry, which Maureen Kanka said has received more than five million visitors since its inception, does provide a disclaimer about the accuracy of its information.
"Although efforts have been made to ensure the information is as accurate as possible, no guarantee is made or implied," reads part of a statement on the site's front page.
- So therefore, you cannot rely on it, and you need to be a parent and protect yourselves and children!
For Dixon, however, the potential flaws in the registry system hit home.
"How effective is the website if you don't know the information is actually the truth that's on there?" she asked.
Not all sex offenders are child sex offenders, so once again, they are making a blanket law, which affects all sex offenders, regardless of what they did, and if they are on or off probation/parole.
By Sue Loughlin - The Tribune-Star
State law doesn’t prohibit child sex offenders from visiting schools
TERRE HAUTE — Indiana law prevents most registered child sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, but it doesn’t prohibit them from visiting a school.
Now, the Vigo County School Corp. wants to close the gap in state law by adopting a policy that, except in limited circumstances, would prohibit registered sex offenders “whose victim was a minor” from going onto school property.
By having a policy, the district will be better able to keep schools safe and protect students, said Ray Azar, director of student services, in a recent interview.
School districts in Brown and Bartholomew counties have similar policies or procedures in place, Azar has found.
Illinois law is more strict.
In that state, it is unlawful for a child sex offender to be present in any school building or property, or loiter within 500 feet of school property, without the permission of the superintendent or school board (with some exceptions).
As school policies and local ordinances in Indiana become increasingly restrictive toward sex offenders, some people are concerned about the civil liberties of those who already have served their sentences and paid their debts to society.
If such a policy prevents a parent from being able to watch his or her child participate in a sport or other event, or attend a parent-teacher conference, “That’s outrageous,” said Ken Falk, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.
If barriers continue to be erected for those who have served their sentence, “That makes him or her a continued prisoner for the rest of his or her life,” Falk said. “I caution government to think before they do these things and not react knee-jerk to a problem.”
Why a policy?
The school district has worked on the policy for several months and, at the School Board’s request, revisions have been made. The updated version will be presented to the board Monday night.
School officials have at times received reports that a registered child sex offender attended a school event, such as a festival or other after-school activity, Azar said. The offender might be the parent of a student or someone’s friend.
While state law does prevent registered child sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, it doesn’t prohibit them from visiting a school, Azar said.
“We were advised if we wanted to make school grounds off limits, we would need to have a policy” that can be enforced, Azar said.
The proposed policy does provide some exceptions.
There are limited circumstances where a registered child sex offender “has either a right or a legitimate education need to come on school property,” according to revisions in the proposed Vigo County policy. In particular, that could apply to an offender who has a child in school.
“We don’t want to deny parents their rights,” Azar said.
The revised policy includes a procedure that must be followed before an offender can visit the school. The offender must contact the director of student services, who will develop an Individual Access and Child Protection Plan with a school administrator, before the offender can enter the school.
“They would have to make special arrangements and have them approved,” Azar said.
There also is a provision for emergency procedures involving the welfare of a child, if a child sex offender is the one who will respond to the emergency.
Vigo County isn’t the first school district to consider such a policy.
Brown County schools have had a policy in place since 2006. The policy declares that “no registered sex offender whose victim was a minor may come on any school property in Brown County,” again with some exceptions if the offender is a parent of a child in school.
In that case, a principal can modify the policy to allow the parent to drop off and pick up his/her child from school and to come onto campus to attend parent-teacher conferences.
However, the parent “may not linger on or about school property before or after dropping off his/her child; and further provided that the parent is prohibited from being in any part of the school building except the front office.”
Brown County schools superintendent David Shaffer said the school district has used the policy on a few occasions in which registered offenders want to volunteer at a school, or in one instance, an offender related to a student wanted to go on a field trip.
The district hasn’t had any problems in the instances where it has had to use the policy, he said. It has not had to contact law enforcement for assistance.
A formal policy makes it easier for school principals to carry it out, Shaffer said. If someone is unhappy about it, the principal can say he or she is enforcing school board policy.
The Brown County school policy also states, in part: “The State of Indiana has determined that perpetrators of certain sex crimes pose a continuing threat to society as a whole even after completion of their criminal sentences.”
- Well, that statement if totally false, and not based on facts either, just an assumption!
A few years ago, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. put in writing what it already had done procedurally. It has included a sentence in its crisis and response plan that states:
“Individuals on this [sex offender registry] list are not allowed on BCSC property without prior approval.”
“It’s a very simple statement,” said Larry Perkinson, the school district’s employee and student assistance coordinator.
If an offender has a child in school, the principal will typically send that person a letter informing the parent/offender that he/she must make an appointment and obtain prior approval to attend a student conference or for any other reason.
The Indiana School Boards Association has advised districts that it is legally defensible to have policies barring child sex offenders from schools and school functions, but they must include educationally-related exceptions, said Dave Emmert, ISBA legal counsel.
He believes a recent Indiana Appeals Court ruling “backs up what I had been saying.”
The appeals court upheld a Plainfield ordinance banning sex offenders from parks and recreation areas there. Those banned are on the state sex offender registry.
The appeals court said that while the Plainfield ban does have a punitive aspect, the ordinance did not violate guarantees to the rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness under the Indiana Constitution.
- So once again, they admit it's punishment! And adding more punishment to a person, after they have been sentenced, is a direct violation of the constitution (ex post facto).
Because of that decision, Emmert believes school districts “certainly have much more legal support to invoke a policy.”
ACLU of Indiana is appealing to the state Supreme Court, Falk said.
While Indiana law does not prohibit child sex offenders from going into a school, schools “do have a duty of care to our students,” said Julie Slavens, also an ISBA staff attorney. For that reason, schools can restrict child sex offenders from coming into schools, she said.
“We have control over who comes in and out of our buildings, and the courts have upheld that, mostly under the duty of care to protect students,” she said.
- Isn't a school PUBLIC property? If so, then you have no right to determine who can and cannot come into the school.
Allowing child sex offenders in schools puts children at risk, and it creates liability risks for schools, she said.
Both she and Emmert believe that a child sex offender still has the right to attend a public school board meeting.
Minors don’t usually attend board meetings, and even if they do, there is typically enough supervision and security that the risk is very low, Slavens said.
Donald W. Hyde, who is a registered sex offender, raised that issue at the last Vigo County School Board meeting.
Hyde warned the board about denying people their civil rights and their right to free speech. If the administration building is placed off limits under the policy, then those affected individuals would be denied the right to attend public school board meetings.
“You are denying people the ability to approach you with a valid complaint,” Hyde said. “I don’t believe the Supreme Court will let you.”
The revised Vigo County policy says meetings conducted under the “open door” law are exempted from the policy. “However, the offender must inform the administrator of his/her presence upon entry so as to allow for additional supervision when minors are present,” the policy revision states.
Illinois tougher on child sex offenders
Illinois law is more stringent than Indiana law. It prohibits a child sex offender from being present in a school building or on school property, or loitering within 500 feet of a school property, without permission of the superintendent or school board. There are some exceptions for offenders who have children in school.
Also, it is unlawful for a child sex offender to live within 500 feet of a school, playground, or any facility providing programs or services exclusively directed toward people under age 18, unless the offender owned the property prior to July 7, 2000.
In Illinois, convicted child sex offenders must adhere to those residency and loitering restrictions for the rest of their lives, even if they no longer have to register as a sex offender.
“Once a child sex offender, always a child sex offender,” said Tracie Newton, who supervises the sex offender registration unit of the Illinois State Police.
- And this is the lady running the sex offender registration unit? She should be fired, IMO, and someone less biased put into the position. The statement she makes is total BS and her own personal feelings.
The restrictions remain in place as long as the offenders live in Illinois, she said.
According to Illinois law, there are some exceptions for parents, such as a parent-teacher or special education conference. In those types of situations, schools can’t deny access, but the offenders must still seek permission first. “That’s our interpretation,” Newton said.
- So why doesn't everyone stop "interpreting" laws, and figure out EXACTLY what is and isn't allowed? If everyone interpreted laws as they wished, the world would be in a lot bigger mess than it is now.
Because of changes in law, child sex offenders can no longer vote at their polling site if it’s at a school. They can vote absentee, Newton said.