Sunday, August 1, 2010

MALTA - Register for offenders on the horizon

Original Article

08/01/2010

By Ariadne Massa

Sex offenders and anybody who poses a serious threat to children will face life listed on a register under a new law that is expected to come into force by the end of the year.

The Protection of Minors Registration Act will empower the court to use its discretion over who should be placed on this register depending on the gravity of the case, Justice Minister Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici told The Sunday Times.

"The message behind this law is maximum protection for children. We want to ensure those entrusted with children's well-being are not a threat," he said.

The long-awaited register will not be implemented retroactively, which means the names of paedophiles convicted before its introduction will not be listed.

Although this means the register will not be a definitive source, Dr Mifsud Bonnici said it impossible to apply this law retroactively to those who would have already been convicted as they would have to be tried again for the same crime.

The Bill will be published for debate by the beginning of September, and if the process proceeds smoothly will be enacted by the end of the year.

The objective of this law is to protect minors (under 16s) from serious crime - not just offences of a sexual nature - which explains why the list is no longer called a sex offenders' register.

For example, anybody caught selling drugs to children or trafficking in the vicinity of a school or other place frequented by minors risks having their name placed on the register for life.
- This is what the US needs.  If a registry is okay for sex offenders, then it's okay for all other criminals.

Would the register also list, for example, a 17-year-old caught selling ecstasy to his 15-year-old friend?

"It is for the court to determine the gravity of the crime. Through this law we want to provide greater protection to children. We'll see how it works and then take stock of the situation. We have no intention of creating injustices, or letting people get away either," Dr Mifsud Bonnici said.

The Bill also states that if a court deems a person's crime to be a potential danger to children it can place their name on the register even if the crimes they are convicted of are not listed in the law.
- And this could include anything, like spanking your child, or leaving your child in a hot car while you run into the store.

The register with the offenders' names will remain in court and will not be readily available for the public to see.

"We want to give this law teeth, but we don't want this to become a witch-hunt. We need to ensure this register works in a small community like Malta," Dr Mifsud Bonnici said.

Instead, the register will be accessible to any institution, establishment or organisation which provides a service or activity involving the education, care, custody, welfare or upbringing of minors.

Checking the register before employing somebody in the field is not based on a carer's suspicion. Instead, relevant entities, be it schools or scouts, are legally obliged to request access to the register.

If they do not check a person's name against the register, the individual responsible for the relevant entity may be charged with a crime.

The Bill proposes that those on the list will be obliged to inform the Court Registrar regularly about their current address, any change in their place of residence, as well as any planned trips outside the country.

This is intended to provide information to other countries about the movement of offenders through EU-wide crime information sharing networks being created.

The idea to have a paedophile register surfaced in mid-2006 following a controversy involving the Malta Football Association, which retained a 79-year-old convicted paedophile as a groundsman at the Pace Grasso ground in Paola that also doubles as a playing field for a nearby school.

A popular call for the register resurfaced in 2008, along with tougher penalties for sex offenders, following the case of a 37-year-old religion teacher who admitted in court to sending SMS messages with sexual connotations to former students aged between 13 and 14.

The publication of his name was banned by the court but an infuriated chain e-mail message was sent, revealing his identity.

At a glance:
  • An offender's name will remain on the register for life.
  • The register will be under the court's responsibility, and it is the court that will decide whose crime is grave enough to be listed.
  • It will also be the court that accedes or denies requests to access the register. It will not be directly accessible to the public.
  • The register will be accessible to any institution, establishment or organisation that provides a service or activity involving the education, care, custody, welfare or upbringing of minors.
  • These entities will be legally bound to access the register before employing a person who will come into contact with minors (under 16s), or be charged with a crime.
  • The Protection of Minors Registration Act is expected to be enacted by the end of the year.



We are all pedophiles now!




OK - Punishment should fit crime

Original Article

07/22/2010

Stephen Skacall, independent candidate for State House District 61, released the following statement today in response to an announcement that District Attorney [Mike] Boring intends to prosecute several Texhoma residents, two of whom are minors, for their involvement in “sexting:”

We have, as a society, reached a point in time where our technology is advancing at a pace far exceeding our laws. Current Oklahoma law gives prosecutors no options when it comes to “sexting.” The only laws that are close to applying to this situation are existing child pornography laws. These laws demand harsh penalties for anyone convicted under them, as they should. However, the teenagers involved here are not the dangerous sexual predators that these laws were designed for."

These people are victims of a broken system. Every single person involved in this situation who has been arrested or charged with child pornography charges is, in fact, a victim. At best, their reputations will be tarnished. At worst, these teenagers could end up as registered sex offenders for the rest of their lives. They will be denied many opportunities that are openly offered to the rest of society. They will be told where they can and cannot live, where they can and cannot work, and quite possibly denied educational opportunities as well.”

When the nature of their actions is fully considered, these teenagers did harm to themselves. But the greater harm has been done not at their hands but at the hands of our government. For many years, the Legislature has sought to enact ‘one-size-fits-all’ laws against sex offenders. Typically, these laws have protected our community. In this case, however, the laws that our Legislators created have come back to devastate Texas County and the community of Texhoma by treating these teenagers like hardened criminals.”

Do these teenagers deserve to be punished if they are convicted of a crime? Of course. But the punishment should fit the crime. Our legislators have created a tangled web of laws that may very well destroy the lives of young people who are simply acting on hormones and teenage foolishness. This is senseless and unjust.”

I call on Representative Gus Blackwell to immediately begin working with District Attorney Boring to see that justice is served to everyone involved. Additionally, I encourage all residents of Texhoma and all of Texas County to contact the District Attorney’s office and join me in asking that these people be given their lives back.”

As a candidate for State Representative, I give my word that if I am elected I will work with Republicans and Democrats to push for an overhaul of our sex offender laws and that I will do my very best to ensure that, in the future, the punishment fits the crime.”

Stephen Skacall is a resident of Goodwell and is running for State House District 61 as an independent.



UK - Sarah Payne's Mother, Sara Payne, Welcomes The National Roll Out Of Sarah's Law

This is something the US should do, instead of the draconian unconstitutional laws they have on the books now, just so they can use it as a political tool to get re-elected. In the US, they don't care about facts or vigilantism, which IS on the rise. See the RSOVigilantism YouTube channel, for proof.

Video Link



AL - Attempted rape victim's brother is a hot mess

Autotune Song:



Original Video:



FL - New playground rules: No lone adults

Original Article

07/31/2010

By ANNA QUINTANA

Beginning Sunday, anyone 18 or older could face a fine -- or at least get shooed away by police -- if found in a Miami Beach playground without a child.

Intended to protect children from predatory adults, the new rule is part of a national trend -- a municipal corollary to kids-required policies for grown-ups at children's museums.

Miami Beach Commissioner Jorge Exposito proposed the ordinance at a City Commission meeting in April after seeing a man behave lewdly in front of children at South Pointe Park.

"If you don't have a kid, then what the heck are you doing in a tot lot?'' Exposito asked. "It's an instrument for parents and police, and it provides a safe environment for the children.''

Miami Beach is among the first in South Florida to join cities including New York City and San Francisco in instituting child-required policies in kids' play areas.

"It is precautionary as well as reactionary,'' says Charles Thompson, executive director for the International Municipal Lawyers Association.

Passed at the June 9 City Commission meeting, the Miami Beach law designates 19 playgrounds as "children's play areas,'' barring access to adults not accompanied by a minor.

It will fall to park staff and parents to report violators to police. Though approved unanimously, the law drew opposition from resident Mark Johnson, who said he uses the playground at the 53rd Street park to exercise because it has pull-up bars and shade.

"This is feel-good legislation,'' Johnson told the commission. "It has good intentions, but I've been paying taxes for 40 years. Our taxes pay for the parks, and you're going to ban us?''
- Don't you know, all men are evil sick pedophiles, and are suspects!

Beach resident Eliana Couch, who often takes her 3-year-old and 21-month-old children to South Pointe Park, said she understands that point of view but supports the new law.

"People have the right to be where they want to be,'' Couch said in an interview. "But as a mother of two little kids, anything to keep my kids safe is all right with me.''
- Well, you can't have it both ways.  Anything, really?  So what if child protection services decided you were an unfit mother, and wanted to protect your kids from you?  Is that okay?

Bans on unaccompanied adults are standard -- and stand to reason -- at children's museums, said Diane Kopasz, a spokeswoman for the Association of Children's Museums.

"When you have an institution geared to children, it normally doesn't attract adults,'' Kopasz said. "If you are an adult, you wouldn't go to a children's hospital so why would you go to a children's museum?''

The policy tripped up an elderly couple who drove 100 miles to visit the Miami Children's Museum earlier this year and were shocked to discover they couldn't get in, said Deborah Spiegelman, the Watson Island facility's executive director and CEO.
- Like I said, everyone is a suspected pedophile these days!

"It's a strict policy and we are not allowed any deviations,'' said Spiegelman, adding that the museum does offer a 15-minute guided tour for unaccompanied adults.

Wannado City, a role-playing theme park for children at Sawgrass Mills Mall, also requires that adults be accompanied by children. Chuck E. Cheese, the kid-oriented pizza parlor and arcade, has a different strategy. Adults are allowed in without a minor, but a hand-stamp system is used to make sure children leave with the adults who brought them.

James Kozlowski, a professor at George Mason University and a legal consultant for the National Recreation and Park Association, said the Miami Beach law is unlikely to generate controversy because most parents are vigilant about strangers.

Still, he said, policies that restrict people's access to public facilities are on constitutional "thin ice.''

"People respond to the headlines,'' Kozlowski said. "It's a rule that sweeps up a lot of legitimate behavior and innocent people.''

Arrests of child molesters at playgrounds or museums are rare, says Sgt. Edward Mccardle of the Broward Sheriff's Office's special victims unit, but restrictions on adults can't hurt.

"Child molesters put themselves in positions to come in contact with children,'' Mccardle said. "Anything that we can do to protect our kids is a good thing.''
- But studies show, most kids are not sexually abused by strangers at a park, but most of the time, from their own family or close friends.  So in order to "protect" kids, why not remove them from their family, who is more likely to molest them?

Ben Tanzer, a spokesman for Prevent Child Abuse America, is ambivalent about the approach. It's hard to argue with any policy that could protect kids, Tanzer said, but the no-adults policy could contribute to a needless and unhealthy fear of strangers.

"Children are mostly abused by family and friends, not by strangers,'' Tanzer said. "We want kids to be safe . . . but there is a much larger dialogue that needs to take place between adults and their children.''



MD - Navigating SORNA - Juvenile Justice,Tribal Jurisdictions, and New Guidelines

Source Document



KS - With open arms and open eyes, churches minister to sex offenders

Original Article

07/31/2010

By LAURA BAUER

Within days of attending a Sunday service at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, a Johnson County man received an unexpected e-mail.

Security officials at the Leawood megachurch wanted to see him immediately. They told him this summer that some rules needed to be set if he wished to come back to worship.

He must go straight to the sanctuary before service and leave immediately after it ended — no dawdling. There would be no direct contact with church staff.

Only a single-stool restroom on the church campus could be used.

And under no circumstances could he enter the children’s wing of the church.

The man is a registered sex offender, convicted seven years ago of possessing child pornography. He’s also one of a special class of worshippers whom most churches across the country want to welcome — but very carefully.

While we’re a very inclusive church family, at the same time, we feel we have a responsibility to have a safe environment for our members and visitors,” said Peter Metz, communications director for the Church of the Resurrection. “It’s a practical solution, much better than denying them access to the church.”

Sex offenders across the country face laws and regulations that keep them from living near schools, parks, bus stops and pools. Some neighborhoods created association rules banning offenders from residing there.

Now churches are in the mix, trying to welcome parishioners while draping a protective cloak over the children and others in the next pew.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church added wording to its manual last month that sex offenders can restore their memberships but never hold a post involving unsupervised contact with children.

Earlier this summer, a Georgia law took effect allowing sex offenders to volunteer in church only if they’re not around children.

In New Hampshire, a man has sued for the right to attend a Jehovah’s Witnesses church with a chaperone. [name withheld], who served about eight years in prison for 61 counts of child pornography, has been welcomed by the congregation. A church elder volunteered to chaperone.

But being around anyone under the age of 18 is a violation of his probation, and a judge denied his request. Attorney Barbara Keshen of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union argued his case last month before the state Supreme Court.

On the one hand, every citizen has the freedom to exercise their religion,” Keshen said. “On the other hand, churches want to make sure no member of their congregation is in danger.”

Sara Totonchi, executive director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, said: “I think churches are struggling to find that middle ground.”



By nature, and God’s word, churches welcome all people. Hate the sin, love the sinner, the belief goes.

But many churches say open arms have to come with open eyes. In the past several years, churches have done everything from requiring limited access agreements to prohibiting some from coming inside the church at all.

We believe they have spiritual needs that could help them on their path to recovery. We want to be part of their rehabilitation,” said Jim Bradford at the Assemblies of God national headquarters in Springfield, Mo. “But we have to be proactive. The stakes are too high.”

His church leadership recommends that its 12,000 churches adopt some restrictions but doesn’t mandate them. In the past, Bradford was lead pastor at Central Assembly of God in Springfield, where several sex offenders had attended.

First, Bradford said, he and other leaders would find out what the circumstances of the offense were. Then they would tailor the restrictions.

Sometimes, offenders would get offended, but the church stood firm. In one case, a man was told not to come back because leaders felt he wouldn’t obey the restrictions.

By ministering to them, it’s not necessarily saying, ‘We trust you,’ ” Bradford said. “It does say that ‘within Christ, we have hope for you.’"

We don’t want to close the door. … Jesus wouldn’t.

Janet Taylor, a minister at Kansas City’s Unity Temple on the Plaza, agrees. Her church makes sure children and other members are safe by monitoring security cameras set up throughout the church.

Anyone working with children goes through a background check. But the front door is open for offenders wanting to turn their lives around.

From my perspective, it’s important to have someone attend church if they were in that situation,” Taylor said. “Even though they acted inappropriately in the past, we would still strive to see the Christ-like essence within them.”

Churches are most cautious with volunteers. Some routinely check sex offender registries.

At Lenexa Christian, church leaders make sure volunteers working with young people have no convictions of a sexual nature. If they do, that doesn’t preclude them from being involved in other areas of the church.

We’re trying to reach out to them in love, also,” said pastor Kirk Ruchotzke, who oversees Christian education at the church. “Just because there’s something in their background doesn’t mean God can’t use them in some type of ministry.”



For the last several years, the Johnson County man attended a weekly group for adults sponsored by the Church of the Resurrection.

Some members knew his status. He wasn’t hiding.

That’s why he expressed surprise at the e-mail and the requirement to sign the agreement to be allowed to return. He felt his rights were violated, but he has declined to discuss the episode further.

Metz, a church spokesman, said the man remained under the radar until recently.

Our safety and security folks were not aware of him,” Metz said. “Every offender we become aware of, we ask them to sign our agreement.”

Restrictions are a good security tool for churches — as long as they’re accompanied by support, said Steve Vann, who helps run Keeping Kids Safe Ministries, based in Tennessee.

The group helps churches make proactive decisions regarding sex offenders in their congregations. What worries Vann are the churches that don’t address the issue at all.

When you ignore it, abandon or shut off these people, it makes it more likely for them to reoffend,” Vann said.

As a prison minister in central Kansas for 20 years, Lynn McBride has offered his services to criminals and offenders for years. To him, the importance of religion in rehabilitation is clear. He offered the example of one sex offender who remade his life once out of prison. He is now remarried, has a good job and is active in his church.

He turned to God in prison,” McBride said. “He’s just a wonderful young man. He’s doing great.”

Through another offender, McBride knows what can happen when the support and counseling isn’t there.

The prison minister didn’t meet one inmate until he was imprisoned after a second offense. Between prison terms, the child molester went to a church, volunteered in the nursery and abused a child there. The man is no longer behind bars and, through ministry and support, appears to be obeying the law.

There are good stories. There are tragedies,” McBride said. “It’s important for them to be able to call someone, to have a church, a pastor who understands."

That’s the bottom line. They need counseling. They need people there for them.”



UK - Woman (Gemma Scoones) admits SECOND cry rape offence... but is spared jail as she is heavily pregnant

Original Article

08/01/2010

A woman who falsely cried rape for a second time has been spared jail because a judge deemed it 'unfair' for her child to be born in prison.

Heavily pregnant Gemma Scoones, 27, stood before Judge Michael Taylor in the dock at Durham Crown Court on Friday to be sentenced for perverting the course of justice.

Last year, Scoones was given a 12-month jail sentence by the court after she admitted a similar offence involving a false rape allegation against her estranged husband, following the break up of their relationship.

Mr Scoones was arrested, held in a police cell for a day and was only released after his former wife admitted she had made the story up.

In her latest allegation, no one was arrested, and she eventually admitted making up the rape after police questioned her story.

She was given another 12-month sentence, but this was suspended for two years and was accompanied by a supervision order involving the Probation Service.

Judge Taylor told her that it was a serious offence that deserved an automatic custodial sentence and said that she had made an 'atrocious allegation'.

He said: 'But what saves you from an immediate sentence is that I see you are heavily pregnant and it would not be fair on your child to be born in prison,' he said.

He said it was fortunate that no one had been arrested in the latest case.

Lesley Kirkup, prosecuting, gave a brief outline of events, saying that on April 18, Scoones reported to an ambulance crew that she had been raped.

She was taken to hospital where she repeated the allegations, despite being challenged about her account.

Ms Kirkup said that medical examinations were carried out at the hospital and that police searched her home.

However, the officers were unable to find any evidence that the attack had actually happened.

When officers asked her again about her story, she told them she had made it up.

"At the end of the day, she has accepted she was never raped," Ms Kirkup told the court.

Scoones, of Horden, County Durham, admitted the offence at a previous hearing.



FL - Restriction on sex offenders makes us less safe

Original Article

But Ron Book's ego is too big. He would never repeal the laws to help the homeless, even though he is chairman for the "Homeless Trust!"

08/01/2010

By CARLENE SAWYER and JEANNE BAKER (www.aclufl.org)

The problem of sex offenders who lived in a shantytown under the Julia Tuttle bridge in Miami-Dade County -- before getting housing that most now are about to lose -- demands resolution.

Contrary to Homeless Trust Chairman Ron Book's claim that there is no answer to this problem, there is a simple step that the County Commission can take -- without spending a penny of taxpayer dollars: Rescind its 2,500-foot sex-offender residency restriction, and let the state's 1,000-foot restriction govern where released offenders sleep.

More than a year ago, when the shantytown under the Julia Tuttle bridge brought Miami worldwide negative attention, state Department of Corrections Secretary Walter A. McNeil wrote to the Homeless Trust stating: ``[U]sing the 1,000-foot criteria, most of the sex offenders living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway would be able to find a place to live in accordance with state law.''
- But Ron, with powerful binoculars, could still see your ugly face, and he doesn't want that!  Out of sight, our of mind!

The area covered by the county's 2,500-foot restriction is more than five times greater than the state's exclusionary zone. By overrunning the boundaries set by the state, the county has created homelessness for released offenders who require stability and monitoring. Lack of social support and unemployment are the major factors in recidivism.

If the county followed the state's 1,000-foot restriction, most offenders could find a place to live because more low-cost housing would be available. Those who are unemployed and cannot pay rent could move in with family or friends. They would then get government IDs with real addresses, removing a major barrier to employment.

A year ago, the ACLU urged commissioners to rescind the 2,500-foot restriction so that state law could set the limits. Instead, commissioners acquiesced to the temporary, costly Band-Aid backed by the Homeless Trust. Now Book, who was responsible for creating the problem in the first place by lobbying to create the 2,500-foot restriction, has announced that the Trust will no longer provide housing for these people, turning them out onto the street once again.
- So, why is he in the "homeless" business again?  For the money maybe?

Certainly, allowing the state's 1,000-foot restriction to operate is a far better alternative than creating a new shantytown under a bridge, the clustering of sex offenders in a few neighborhoods or having sex offenders sleep on the streets.

It is time for commissioners, who have the power and responsibility, to remedy this problem.

Carlene Sawyer is president and Jeanne Baker is cooperating attorney of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Greater Miami Chapter.

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