Sunday, June 14, 2009

Underreported: Are Sex Offender Laws Working?

View the article here

This is old, but I do not recall having this audio discussion on this blog.

12/20/2007

US sex offender laws may do harm than good, according to a recent report from Human Rights Watch. Strict notification laws and residency requirements don’t reflect the reality of the risks children face, may not protect victims, and violate the basic human rights of former offenders.

Sarah Tofte is a researcher at Human Rights Watch; Linda runs a support group for families of registered sex offenders. Elizabeth J. Letourneau, Ph.D. works with juvenile sex offenders. She's Associate Professor at the Family Services Research Center of the Medical University of South Carolina.

Other Links:




"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (Bill Of Rights)



Mary and Ricky on Truthbrigade

Talking Points Radio Show

The following is the audio discussion on the above radio show for 05/04/2009.




"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (Bill Of Rights)



ARC Radio - Benjamin Radford - Author of Media Mythmakers: How Journalists, Activists, and Advertisers Mislead us

View the article here

I just uploaded the MP3 to LiveLeak for others to be able to hear this excellent discussion.  It can also be listened to at the link above.

Hosted by: RealityUSA

Title: Author of Media Mythmakers: How Journalists, Activists, and Advertisers Mislead Us

Time: 06/03/2009 09:30 PM EDT

Episode Notes: Please join us this coming Wednesday, as we here at American's Reality Check (ARC) welcome Author/Writer Benjamin Radford to the show.Media Mythmakers: How Journalists, Activists, and Advertisers Mislead Us (Hardcover) Product Description This hard-hitting critique of our media culture examines not only the ways in which we are deceived, but also the media's role in propagating those deceptions. But "Media Mythmakers" goes beyond criticism to give concrete examples of the damage that manipulation of the news causes. From missing children to the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, from the efforts to end slavery to AIDS education, myths and deception in the media threaten us all. While the public is being misled, real problems go unaddressed and resources are wasted on misguided ideas. In an increasingly complex world, where accurate and unbiased information is more important than ever, this book provides a timely and much-needed analysis.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1591020727/qid=1062536294

Benjamin Radford is managing editor of two science magazines, The Skeptical Inquirer and the Spanish-language Pensar. He has written over 300 articles on various topics, including urban legends, mass hysteria, mysterious creatures, and media criticism. His columns appear in the Corrales Comment newspaper and Skeptical Inquirer, as well as on the Web at Livescience.com and CSICOP.org. Radford has appeared on The Discovery Channel, CNN, National Geographic Television, the Learning Channel, and the Discovery Science Channel as well as MTV. He is also a film critic at:

http://www.radfordreviews.com

Benjamins Website:

http://www.mediamythmakers.com/cgi-bin/mediamythmakers.cgi

Articles By Benjamin- Predator Panic: A Closer Look

http://www.csicop.org/si/2006-05/panic.html

LiveLeak Article Link



"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (Bill Of Rights)



2008 Family Law Documentary - Crisis in Americas Family Courts - Our Children at Risk

Video is only available when my machine is online!




"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (Bill Of Rights)



TX - Sex offender registry update may pose risk to offenders

View the article here

06/14/2009

By Victor O'Brien

Texas' sex offender registry received upgrades this year allowing residents to track offenders through workplaces, schools and e-mail notifications, but offender advocates say the upgrades downgrade chances of rehabilitation.

"Rick," who declined to have his name published, is self-employed and a sex offender. If he wanted to find a new job, he believes it would be more difficult.

The Texas Department of Public Safety revamped its sex offender registry at a cost of $1.2 million over the last year, making public where offenders work, go to school and offering e-mail notifications for people to track when an offender moves into their zip code or when a change is made to an offender's record.

"It's just another ploy. It's just another way to ruin your life after you've paid your debt to society," Rick said of the new changes.

Rick believes the addition of work information makes companies even less likely to hire sex offenders and puts currently employed offenders at risk of being discovered and losing their jobs. The listing could also make them a target for physical harm, Rick said.

DPS added these features because they were required to by a federal law, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, said Tela Mange, DPS spokeswoman. The features were rolled out in varying form over the last year, but DPS announced them all three weeks ago in a news release.
- This is a lie.  The AWA does not say you have to post work, school and email information.

The e-mail notifications will help victims prepare and adjust when offenders are released on parole or probation, giving them the benefit of some control, said Lisa Hatfield, Killeen police victims assistance coordinator.

Hatfield thinks the features give victims a chance to make their families and communities safer with greater knowledge to protect themselves. Hatfield said its too early to tell if the benefit of the changes is greater than the risk it poses to offenders.
- All you have to do is read all the news articles about people not hiring, vigilantes using the registry to harass and harm people, so no, it's not too late to determine this, it's only a matter of time before it's used again, for this purpose.

Lt. Daniel Austin of Copperas Cove police does not recall threats against sex offenders in the past, but it's still possible they've happened and gone unreported, he said. Austin said if someone uses the registry to harm an offender, they will investigate as they would any other crime.
- Well, check here, I have tons of documented cases!

Austin agrees the notifications are a benefit, but also thinks DPS needs to publicize the registry more.
- More?  I disagree!

"Some people have no clue that the DPS has that service online," he said. "It's one of those deals where everybody wants to know if they have a sex offender living in their neighborhood."
- Well, if they are too stupid to find it, then that is their problem.  Why shove it down their throats?  Do you announce all new laws coming into being so the public is aware of them?  No, so why would you need to do this?  If they watch TV, then they should not registries are out there.  This is like a preacher shoving their religion down your throat.  If a person wants to know the info, then they will find it.

The issue is not just the information on the registry, but not having effective risk levels that tell searchers how dangerous an offender is, said Mary Sue Molnar, founder of Texas Voices, an offender advocacy group.

"The laws are very, very broad. People assume everyone who is required to register is a dangerous violent predator. That's not true, so listing the place of employment on a register has required many of our people to lose their jobs," said Molnar, whose son is a sex offender.

Texas Voices represents a variety of what she describes as harmless offenders such as the a 19-year-old boy who is arrested for having sex with his 16-year-old girlfriend. The laws keep released offenders from getting jobs and providing for their families, she said.

Her solution is to reduce the list to include the most dangerous and highest risk offenders, then information like employment will not be as detrimental and will affect only the worst offenders.

"If there is someone who is a registered sex offender living down the street from you, would you rather (have) them home alone, unemployed, desperate and homeless, or have a job, afford probation, treatments fees and counseling?" Molnar asked. "People can't be productive members of society without a job. This won't allow them to work."

Mange agrees offenders could lose their jobs or be the victims of harassment, but DPS must follow federal laws.
- So, they admit it!


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (Bill Of Rights)



FL - Jury calls renderings child porn

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06/13/2009

BARTOW - Although a jury convicted a former Polk County school principal on child pornography charges Friday, appeals courts likely will have the last word on whether his actions were a crime.

Prosecutors say _____ superimposed the faces of two girls on photos of nude women to make it appear as if the girls were in lewd poses.

_____, 62, remained quiet and showed no visible reaction as the verdict was read. He faces up to 25 years in prison.

Courts have ruled that most pornography is protected by the First Amendment. Child pornography is not, however, because the government has a strong interest in protecting children from exploitation.

But what about pornography that appears to depict children but was produced without involving children in lewd or sexual activity?

"There are definite potential constitutional problems," said Becky Steele, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney. "You can't constitutionally premise legislation on the desirability of controlling a person's private thoughts."

In _____'s case, she said, "No children were actually involved in sexually harmful conduct."

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2002 overturned a federal law that made computer-simulated child pornography illegal. The high court ruled that because the computer-generated depictions were not the product of the actual sexual abuse of children, they were protected by the First Amendment.

_____'s attorney, Robert Gray, maintains the photos at the center of his client's case are not child pornography.

After the verdict, Gray asked that _____ be allowed to remain free pending his appeal, but the judge ordered him held without bail.

Circuit Judge Mark Carpanini refused to dismiss charges against _____ before trial. Although Carpanini didn't issue a written opinion, his rationale was similar to that rendered by another judge in a similar Polk case.

_____, a volunteer Sunday school teacher, was charged with producing child pornography after authorities said he took photographs of children and superimposed their faces over adult images.

In _____'s case, which is set for trial in July, Judge Donald Jacobsen ruled the prosecution could proceed because the faces were of "identifiable real children in pornographic photographs" of "what appear to be children engaged in sexual conduct."

Jacobsen's decision did not mention the 2002 high court case, Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition.

In _____'s case, the girls whose faces were used were 11 and 12 at the time, a Polk school investigator testified.

The investigator, Chuck Smith, said he found four photos in which shots of the girls' faces were superimposed on photos of at least one nude woman. The photos were found in a briefcase in _____'s office closet at Scott Lake Elementary in Lakeland.

Charles Rose, a Stetson University College of Law professor, said Florida lawmakers constructed the state's child pornography statute "to get around the Ashcroft case problem. Whether the Florida law will hold up on appeal I don't know."

Rose said he thinks _____'s case will hinge on just how explicit the photographs were and whether the courts deem them to involve sexual conduct, rather than mere nudity.

"There has got to be a sexual conduct component to it," Rose said.


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (Bill Of Rights)



OH - Evans .v. State of Ohio - Law found unconstitutional (For one man, not all!)

View the article here
Archived Document

This is good, but it's also bad. It was found unconstitutional for this one man, not the entire state. If the law is unconstitutional for one, then it is unconstitutional for all registered sex offenders living in the state. But, they do not declare that, so it's going to be more tax payer dollars wasted for all the other court battles on a one by one basis. Now if that is not insane, then what is?  See this more detailed item from "Sex Offender Reports, Charts and Other Papers by A Voice of Reason"


05/09/2008

Conslusion:
This Court concludes that the Adam Walsh Act is unconstitutional under both the retroactive clause of the Ohio Constitution and the ex post facto clause of the United States Constitution. Judgement is hereby entered for the Petitioner, and Defendants are enjoined from enforcing the law as against _____.


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (Bill Of Rights)



OR - Castleford residents allegedly harassing sex offender

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06/14/2009

By Blair Koch

CASTLEFORD - _____ said he made the mistake 12 years ago of falling for a young girl. He was 26, she was 17, but they had a sexual relationship nonetheless.

_____ said he doesn't regret later marrying the girl or fathering "two beautiful children." But having to register as a sex offender as a result of their past relationship in Gold Beach, Ore., is something he deals with every day.

Since moving to Castleford about two weeks ago–_____'s past has made him a target, he said. When a resident found _____ on Twin Falls County's online sex offender registry, his life was turned upside down.

Flyers were posted around town depicting _____ as a threat to the town's children. His car windows are dotted with BB holes, and someone threw a beer bottle at his front door.

_____'s new wife and infant daughter now tag along with him to work. His wife is –afraid to stay alone in–the modest home they hoped to buy later this year, he said.

"I've made a lot of mistakes - a lot of them - and I own up to those. Back in Oregon all those years ago we were cooking meth and doing all those things we shouldn't have done," _____ told the Times-News. "Through the years I've struggled with drug addiction and am on probation for meth now but I'm trying to live my life and start over."

_____, a construction contractor, said the exposure of his sex offender status has cost him tens of thousands of dollars in lost wages, along with his hopes of starting a quiet, honest life in Castleford.

"Before this we were doing really good but now we are scraping to get by," he said. "I'm tired of it all. When people look at me they are scared and disgusted, and I would be too if a child molester had moved in but that's not me, not at all."

The situation in town quickly caught the attention of the Castleford City Council, which asked Twin Falls County Sheriff's Sgt. Doug Sugden to attend Wednesday night's council meeting. _____ was not present at the meeting.

Sugden works with residents in the county who must register as a sex offender. Sugden said _____'s status is based on a third-degree misdemeanor that "barely even qualifies him as needing to register."

_____'s relationship with the minor girl is a crime–punishable in just–a handful of states, Idaho included, said Sugden.

"This man has paid for the crime six times over," Sugden said. "Not only did the crime occur 12 years ago but he married the gal after getting out of prison and they had another child together. If it was a pedophile people were concerned with I'd be here for a totally different reason."

Sugden said the posters, harassment and vandalism to _____'s property constituted a crime in itself.

"Vigilantism is not the answer," Sugden said.

After visiting with the city Sugden planned on talking to an alleged suspect thought to be responsible for the harassment.

City officials want the situation to stop.

"The City Council would definitely back you on that," said Councilwoman Meryle Lyn Paxman about Sugden's involvement in remedying the situation.

While it is unlikely for such acts against _____ to persist, said Sugden, the damage is already done.

"Here's a guy who is doing everything right and just wants to live his life," Sugden said. "Could he press charges? Yes, but he doesn't want to. He just wants the quiet contended life he moved to Castleford trying to find."


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (Bill Of Rights)



PA - Doubt cast on residency restrictions for sex offenders

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06/14/2009

By MONICA VON DOBENECK

Several studies have shown that laws restricting where convicted sex offenders can live don't make children safer.

People fear sexual offenders, especially any whose offense is directed at children.

So it's maybe understandable to see why Middletown has joined a list of Pennsylvania communities that restrict where convicted sex offenders can live. The problem is that several studies seem to show such laws don't make children safer.

Lauren Taylor is executive director of the Sexual Offenders Assessment Board, which evaluates everyone accused of a sex crime to determine their risk to society. Taylor is no apologist for sex offenders and would not dictate to municipalities. But she visits municipalities considering such laws at their invitation to arm them with the facts she has gathered.

"Research shows there is no correlation between residency restrictions and reducing sex offenses against children or improving the safety of children," Taylor said.

"If you're going to do it, make an informed decision instead of letting emotions lead you to a decision that is meaningless in the goal you are trying to reach," she said.

Rodney Horton, president of Middletown Borough Council, said he has read those studies and understands the argument. But he believes Middletown's law, which keeps offenders 500 feet from places children gather, sends a message. The borough passed its law on Tuesday. It's like the laws some cities pass requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen guns, even though those laws are unlikely to stop gun violence, he said.

"We're sending a message that sex crime, especially toward children, is a major issue," he said. "When a community has endured many offenses like Middletown has, you can't sit idly by."
- Okay, it may send a message, but the Constitution protects everyone, not just those you like.  And you cannot trample on anyone's rights without trampling on everyone else's as well.  How many sex crimes can you tell me, that have occurred at a school, park, day care or play ground?  90% or more of all sex crimes occur in the victims own home, and by a family member, not some stranger at any of the above mentioned places.  And 90% or more of all sex crimes committed, are by those not currently on a registry.

He particularly referred to the case of _____, 39, who is charged with molesting 13 boys ages 4 to 14 between 2002 and 2008.

Some argue that residency restrictions make people less safe, not more.

A study by the Iowa Department of Public Safety showed that the number of offenders unaccounted for doubled after a residency restriction law went into effect. Studies in Colorado, California and Minnesota showed residency restrictions have no effect on the chance that someone convicted of a sex crime might be arrested again.

State Police Lt. Douglas Grimes, who is in charge of Pennsylvania's Megan's Law Web site, said police officers "strive to know where the threats are," which becomes harder if sex offenders are forced to move or become homeless.

Probation officers can restrict where sex offenders live, but they base decisions on individual circumstances, he said.

Offenders who are in psychological treatment are nearly half as likely to offend again, according to the Center for Sex Offender Management. Residency restrictions can keep them from the family, employment and treatment that makes them less likely to break the law.

A federal judge overturned an Allegheny County law, saying it interfered with the state's obligation to try to rehabilitate offenders. His decision is under appeal.

Lemoyne Borough Council has a law that makes it unlawful for sexual offenders to live within 500 feet of any school, child care facility, common open space, community center, public park or recreational facility.
- And like I asked above, how many sex crimes can you name, which has occurred at any of the above mentioned places?  I am willing to bet, none!

Harrisburg officials have considered similar restrictions but have not enacted any ordinances.

It's important not to lump all sex offenders together, Taylor said. Those the assessment board calls sexually violent predators make up only about 2 percent of those on the Megan's Law Web site. Others might be men who had a consensual relationship with a teenager or a single instance of indecent assault with an adult while drunk.

"They run the gamut," she said. "And it's not the ones on the list you need to worry about" because most of the people arrested for sex crimes have no record. Authorities can keep a closer eye on those already on the list, she said.


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (Bill Of Rights)



CA - Sex offender convicted of threat to Calif TV crews

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What the hell is wrong with protecting your own property from a vigilante news crew out to harass you?

06/13/2009

OAKDALE - A convicted rapist faces a possible life sentence after he was convicted of threatening television news crews with a box cutter.

Three TV news crews went to _____'s house about 80 miles south of Sacramento in October after Oakdale police drew attention to his case at a public meeting on sex offenders.

The 44-year-old _____ yelled at reporters to get off his property. He pulled a box cutter from his jacket and threatened the crews as they kept filming. He later confronted them again.
- The first time he said to get off his property, they should've turned off the cameras and left, but no, they had to be vigilantes and get the next big story, and they got it, by provoking the man!

A first jury could not reach a verdict. But a second jury convicted him of making criminal threats. He is set for sentencing July 27.
- What the hell is this?  He was not convicted by the first jury, but because someone did not get what they wanted, they take it to a second jury.  What was wrong with the first?  This is just plain wrong!  If the first jury could not find him guilty, then the jury's are told they must plead not guilty!  What an injustice, IMO!

Kawamoto's attorney says the news crews provoked his client and should not have been surprised when he reacted.
- And I totally agree.  He told them to get off the property, but they did not, and they kept filming!


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (Bill Of Rights)