Sunday, April 10, 2011

TN - HB-1169 - Requires registered sex offenders to report to registering law enforcement agencies prior to traveling out of the United States

Click the image to view the bill, or here for the PDF


CANADA - Police warn of potential sex offender in Forest Hill

Original Article

Talk about fear mongering, well here you go! How do they know the person is or isn't a sex offender? Or did they figure if they threw "sex offender" into the title, it would get more attention?

04/10/2011

By Carys Mills

A potential sex offender may have taken photos of a Forest Hill apartment, police warn.
- Isn't everyone a potential sex offender?

At about 9:10 p.m. on Friday a man looked or reached into an open window, potentially taking photos of a ground floor apartment near Bathurst St. and Claxton Ave., police say,
- And that makes him a "sex offender" how exactly?

The man is described as between 5-foot-4 and 5-foot-7, stocky, clean shaven, wearing wire framed glasses and of East Asian descent.

Police are trying to identify the man and are asking anyone with information to call 416-808-1300 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).


OH - Councilman upset funds being used to house sex offenders

Original Article

04/09/2011

By Justin McClelland

Matt Rodriguez’s main concern lies with the residential neighborhood of Walnut Street.

LEBANON — A City Council member here said he is upset to learn that taxpayer dollars are being used to house convicted sex offenders who are also classified as having mental illnesses, and he worries such classifications are leaving residents in jeopardy.

Councilman Matt Rodriguez said he is disgusted that the Mental Health Recovery Services of Warren and Clinton Counties and organizations it contracts with are using taxpayer dollars to pay for the housing of sexual offenders in residential neighborhoods in Lebanon.

Rodriguez’s chief concerns lies with a home in the residential neighborhood of Walnut Street. Rodriguez has receipts of payment that shows the housing for one resident who is also listed on the Warren County Sheriff’s list of convicted sex offenders was being paid for by MHRS through an intermediary.

The Warren County website shows that two convicted sex offenders currently occupy the four-unit residence, although neither of those residents has been accused of any wrongdoing since moving into the building.

A third man, [name withheld], who lives in the home, is not a convicted sex offender but has been arrested on multiple occasions for exposing himself in public and was indicted on such charges in March by a Warren County grand jury.

I’m calling out sexual predators and the professionals who are housing them,” Rodriguez said.
- And I'm calling out idiots in congress who think all sex offenders are child molesting, predator pedophiles, which they are not.  It is my opinion you are doing this for your own career.  After all, if you need to get elected, or look good to the public, attack someone everyone hates, right?

I think we need to review these programs and if by law they have to house people [who are] convicted as sex offenders, they should be put in some sort of rural housing where they can be monitored away from the general population.”

Earlier this year, Rodriguez attempted to push through stricter restrictions on where convicted sex offenders could live within the city. The measure failed after other members of council became concerned such a law would open the city up to civil rights lawsuits.

Lebanon is currently developing an anti-loitering restriction that would punish convicted sex offenders caught being around areas where children congregate without a valid reason.

According to the Warren County Sheriff’s webpage, there are 204 registered sex offenders living in the county. Of that number, about 40 live in Lebanon.

Sex offenders are a concern to many people because studies, including one conducted by the Justice Department in 2003 (see links below for the facts), report that sex offenders released from prison were four times more likely than other ex-convicts to be rearrested for a sex crime within 10 years, although sex offenders were less likely than other ex-convicts to be rearrested for any crime.
- You are wrong, and taking the report out of context, as usual!  Here is the actual report, if you care to see the facts.  And many other studies, here, show this is a lie.

Brent Lawyer, the executive director for the MHRS, said he is not allowed to comment on specific cases or even confirm or deny who is being treated or housed by MHRS and its affiliated organizations. MHRS does not handle any direct counseling or treatment of clients but contracts the work to a number of organizations.

In general terms, however, Lawyer said that MHRS has the proper supports put in place to address anyone in their care.

People that Mr. Rodriguez is concerned about wouldn’t be in the system if they didn’t warrant and need services. If we aren’t helping them, where are they going to go?” Lawyer said. “They will still live in their communities because these communities are their home.”

Lawyer cautioned against making overly broad generalizations about the people assisted by MHRS, which covers the gamut of mental illnesses.

MHRS assisted 6,500 clients in 2010, Lawyer said. Of that number, only 200 received housing from the board and its contracted outlets.

The in-house care patients are divided into three categories — those who live independently, those who receive part-time support and those who require full-time monitoring. Lawyer said there are 29 people who require full-time monitoring.

There is a real danger in tying to lump everybody into one category,” he said.

MHRS is funded mainly by taxdollars, with the majority coming from a local county levy and other dollars coming from state funding, Lawyer said.

Rodriguez, whose Lebanon council seat will be up for election in November, said his push is not politically motivated but comes out of concern for the safety of his community.
- Ah, now you see why he's pushing the sex offender hysteria, he needs to be re-elected!


OR - State may discourage overpass camp

Original Article

The states create draconian, cruel and unusual punishment laws, that force people into homelessness and joblessness, then when people start complaining about the homeless folks, they arrest them and put them in jail and/or prison.  Instead of helping them integrate back into society, leper colonies (here and here) like this are popping up all around the country. Damned if you do, damned if you don't!

04/10/2011

By AnneMarie Knepper

ODOT ready to put up no-trespassing signs

[name withheld] says he can’t get a job because he is a registered sex offender. He’s says he drinks because he can’t get a job. He can’t stay at Helping Hands shelter because he drinks. So he stays under the bridge.

[name withheld], 43, is one of a handful of men living under the Pacific Boulevard overpass near Albany Station.

That’s what we have in common,” he said as he sipped a High Gravity malt liquor. “We have different reasons. We are all alcoholics. It’s a condition of the heart.”

[name withheld] and the others may soon have to find another place. Responding to complaints by passersby, Albany police say the Oregon Department of Transportation is about to put up no-trespassing signs under the overpass, part of the state highway system.

[name withheld] says that if he could get a job, he would get himself and his “family” — the other men staying under the bridge — off the streets for good.

Police say if folks wouldn’t give them money, they would move on without being forced.

But several of the men said they are there because they can’t stay at the nearby Helping Hands shelter. One said because it is full, the others because it does not allow alcohol.

One man used to stay in a nearby gazebo. Complaints from neighbors and nearby businesses put a stop to that.

From January to March of this year, Albany police had 17 calls complaining about “panhandling,” compared to 28 in all of 2010.

We are seeing an uptick in panhandling-related complaints,” said Lt. Casey Dorland.

The number does not include complaints made to the mayor or other city officials, said city spokeswoman Marilyn Smith.

There is no city ordinance against panhandling. “It’s protected free speech,” Smith said.
- Is it really?  Then why are they being arrested for it?

Ordinances such as loitering and vagrancy were struck down years ago as unconstitutional,” added Capt. Eric Carter of APD.
- And yet they are arresting them or telling them to leave.  Either it's unconstitutional, or it's not!

Panhandlers run afoul of the law only if they step into traffic during a green light, change the flow of traffic, harass someone, or keep others from using the sidewalk. In some cases, the individual could be cited for disorderly conduct. Waiving a sign is not considered harassment.

In cases of disorderly conduct or harassing, the person bothered also must be willing to sign a complaint and be willing to act as a witness or a victim.

People say, ‘I don’t want to be involved,’” Carter said. “Then we can’t do anything about it.”
- Yet you are!

Officers at APD could not recall any car accidents caused by distraction over panhandling.

If that were to happen, the driver handing out the cash could actually be cited for impeding traffic.

Along with trash, there have been reports of human waste on and around the overpass steps, so ODOT put lime down recently as a sanitation measure.

The Pacific overpass itself is the property of ODOT.

The state department has agreed to put up no trespassing signs “any day now,” according to Dorland. When it does, police will be able to enforce it.

Usually, when we start issuing citations, word gets out, and we start to see it fall off,” Carter said.

The captain said the individuals he sees under the overpass are some of the same folks he has seen over the past 15 to 30 years. They have been offered services but choose the homeless lifestyle instead.

They don’t fall under the category of ‘lost their home because of the recession,’” he said.

Police advise against giving money to panhandlers for several reasons.

Don’t roll down your window,” Dorland said. “You don’t know who they are. You don’t know what their history is. You are inviting in the potential for something that is going to be very negative.”

If you want to help, donate to a recognized charity. Otherwise, police say, more often than not, the money goes to feeding an alcohol or drug addiction.

Then when they service their addiction, we get disorderly conduct calls,” Carter said.

[name withheld], 63, is a Vietnam veteran from West Virginia living under the overpass.

He said Veterans Affairs sent him from that state to Seattle for care. After treatment, Seattle sent him to White City, and from there he was sent to Eugene, where he says he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. From there he was sent to Roseburg. He said after he received drug and alcohol treatment in Roseburg, the VA drove him to Albany and dropped him off.

[name withheld] has multiple sclerosis, pancreatitis and is nearly blind.

He holds a sign. The most money he has ever gotten was in Eugene. A man handed him a bank envelope with $212 in it.

He said, ‘thanks for your service,’” Beam recalled. In Albany, the most he has received through holding a sign is $20.


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TN - Tennessee bill would shield juvenile sex offenders registry from public

Original Article

04/10/2011

By Beth Warren

In a controversy highlighted by several local cases, Tennessee lawmakers and officials across the nation are debating how to manage minors who commit rape and other violent sex crimes.

This week a Shelby County judge will decide what to do with Memphis' youngest known rapists, ages 7 and 9, who admitted luring a 2-year-old neighbor from her yard in August.

A previous Juvenile Court judge removed the boys from their families over concerns about their home environments. The case is being appealed Wednesday before a new judge.

A 15-year-old is awaiting trial in adult court on charges of raping and beating a 23-month-old girl last summer in Cordova.

The boys were among about 100 juveniles accused of violent sex crimes last year, said Larry Scroggs, the court's chief administrative officer.

"It's very disturbing," he said. "It reflects the environment and what they're exposed to."

Last week, a 14-year-old was charged with sexually assaulting a 2-year-old relative.

Many juvenile offenders first victimize siblings or cousins and later progress to attacking strangers, schoolmates, neighbors or dates, Scroggs said.

For the past few years, state lawmakers have fought over whether residents should have access to the names of these minors.

The debate centers on how to balance the public's right to know -- and protect children from sexual predators -- to a juvenile offender's right to a second chance.

A 2006 federal mandate initially required states to create a juvenile sex offender registry accessible to the public.

Yet, five years later, Tennessee and 45 other states have yet to comply, said Linda M. Baldwin, director of the federal Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART).

Due to the sluggish response, federal officials made the significant concession this year of allowing the registries to be private.
- All registries should be private, to stop harassment and vigilantism of sex offenders and their families.

And SMART officials, who are part of the U.S. Department of Justice, extended the deadline until July 27. After that, states not in compliance could lose millions of dollars in federal Byrne grants, dispersed to local law enforcement agencies.
- As shown in other posts on this blog, it will cost millions more to implement the laws, so they spend tens of millions to get a million or less of funds?

State Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, is sponsoring a bill he feels will pass this year due to some major tweaks. He is working on the most significant change -- making the registry private.

That means, unlike the adult registry, the list would be accessible only to police, prosecutors, judges and court officials. Since offenders would have to update their address anytime they moved, it helps police track their movements.
- Like I said above, even the adult registry should be private, like it originally was.  Then you could just have one registry with all criminals on it.

Lawmakers initially debated a public registry, but critics quashed the measure.

Opponents said juveniles and their families would be ostracized at school, church, work and their neighborhoods. Being labeled a "sex offender" could hinder the minor's college and job prospects, said Linda O'Neal, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth.
- It's the same for adults as well.  They cannot get jobs, homes, are harassed by neighbors, etc.

"For a young person going on a registry, they feel like their lives are ruined," said O'Neal, who lobbied to defeat bills for a public registry.
- Amen, the same applies for adults as well.

"For most of them it's not a calculated decision to do this. It happens."

The state's proposed registry would only encompass those age 14 or older who commit or attempt the following violent sex crimes: rape or aggravated rape; rape or aggravated rape of a child, if the victim is at least four years younger; or aggravated sex battery.

Judges would have discretion to keep juveniles off the registry.

The TBI has maintained a similar registry for adult offenders since 1995.

There are currently about 14,000 on the list, including more than 2,000 sex offenders in Shelby County.

Some minors, guilty of the most egregious cases, are already on the registry after they were sent to adult court and convicted as adults. Their names can be viewed by the public.

But most juvenile sex offenders are shielded from public scrutiny.
- All criminals should be shielded from public scrutiny.

That's because the state's juvenile code is designed around treatment, not punishment, with a mission to "remove from children committing delinquent acts the taint of criminality and the consequences of criminal behavior and to substitute, therefore, a program of treatment, training and rehabilitation."
- So again, another person admitting the adult registry is about punishment! This should be the goal for everyone, not just kids.

Similarly, national juvenile criminal records have long been considered sacrosanct, accessible only to prosecutors, judges, police and others in the criminal justice system.

But one teen, herself a victim of a juvenile sex offender, helped shatter that shield of silence.

Amie Zyla was age 17 in 2006 when she convinced lawmakers in her home state of Wisconsin to pass "Amie's Law," allowing police to notify neighbors if a potentially dangerous juvenile sex offender lives nearby.

Zyla, of Waukesha, Wis., was 8 when she was abused by a 14-year-old, who later went to prison for preying on boys. Zyla thought the boys could have been protected if the community had known of her abuse, said Brad Schimel, Waukesha County district attorney, who prosecuted Zyla's abuser.

Wisconsin already had a juvenile registry, but it initially was kept private.

Zyla's story motivated federal lawmakers to pass the federal mandate.

A key reason to create private registries is that juvenile sex offenders are much more amenable to treatment, compared to adults, said clinical psychologist Sidney Ornduff, who evaluates the Memphis minors.
- Many adults are as well, if you give them a chance.

"Children are not simply little adults," she said. "They're still developing."
- I agree, yet when they commit some crimes, they are all of a sudden adults, charged as adults.  It seems you hypocrites want it both ways.  Either they are or aren't adults.

With the proper mental health counseling and guidance, most minors are less likely to repeat their inappropriate sexual behavior, whether it's as minor as flashing someone or as serious as rape, said Ornduff, director of Juvenile Court's Clinical Services.
- Hell, most adults are less likely to commit another related crime, if you stop ignoring the facts.

Some studies show the national recidivism rate for adolescent sex offenders who receive treatment as low as 5 to 14 percent, according to the National Center on Sexual Behavior of Youth.

Of 162 Memphis minors accused of sex crimes in 2009, only five -- or 3 percent -- have since committed another sex crime, according to a juvenile court study completed last month.

Tennessee lawmakers will take another vote on the proposed private registry this spring as a last attempt to meet the federal deadline.