Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sen. Tom Wyss Authors Bill to get Tougher With Sex Offenders

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I am so sick of hearing "toughest laws in the nation!" Every state says that to "look tough". But the laws do NOT work!

"The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation."
- Adolph Hitler (Mein Kampf)

Indiana may soon have one of the toughest set of sex offender laws in the nation

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - Thursday afternoon, two bills that would further reveal and restrict sex offenders in neighborhoods received near unanimous support in the Senate.

Senate Bill 471 widens the net of sex offender identification, so more people convicted of sex-related crimes - particularly where children are victims - are forced to become a part of the National Crime Information Center Sex Offender Registry File. The bill requires both sexually violent predators and sex offenders who don't fall into the violent category to register within 72 hours of a release or address change.

That's a significant improvement from the current law, which allowed non-violent sex offenders seven days to register.

Sen. Tom Wyss, who authored the legislation, believes the improvements in SB 471 are both appropriate and necessary.

"Children are among our most precious blessings, and we need to do everything we can to ensure they are safe in their own neighborhoods," Sen. Wyss said. "This bill will give families a means to know who's living in their neighborhoods so they can take the steps necessary to protect their children."

Because of the increasing prevalence of sexual predators in our society - and their creative ways to satisfy their addictions - SB 471 has included several other safeguards for Hoosiers.

The safeguards include:

  • requiring sex offenders to register in person, in most cases;
  • mandating that homeless sex offenders register every seven days and provide the location where they will be staying;
  • having sex offenders against children register for life and prohibiting them from working in certain locations.
Meanwhile, Senate Bill 42, authored by Sen. Richard Bray (R-Martinsville) and co-authored by Wyss, received near unanimous support for legislation that adds several more classifications to who qualifies and must register as a sex offender. It focuses on those promoting prostitution and human trafficking. It also adds to that list those caught in possession of child pornography as a first offense.

"I think these bills send very important messages about the state of Indiana," Wyss said. "First, it shows how much we cherish and value our children. Secondly, it tells everyone that we won't tolerate sexual crimes in this state."

Sen. Tom Wyss is from Fort Wayne and represents District 15. He is chairman of the Homeland Security, Transportation and Veteran Affairs Committee in the Indiana Senate.

Man cleared in cyberstalking case; 13-year old girl arrested

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And these are "experts"? They said they tracked the person down, who was the wrong person, but he was thrown in jail. Spend some tax payer money on professionals, instead of want to be experts.

SPOKANE -- Spokane Police have arrested a 13-year old girl for allegedly using the internet to terrorize her own family. The teen was taken into custody on Saturday after detectives learned they had arrested the wrong person on cyber stalking charges.

Police started investigating this case on Valentine's Day after a north Spokane family began to receive a series of threatening messages on their myspace page. The messages took on a frightening tone when the stalker made it clear he had been inside the victims' home and was apparently monitoring their every word.

Police thought they could silence this cyber stalker by sitting down to a computer and sending their own message to the suspect but even that wasn't enough to stop the threatening e-mails.

The cyber stalker went by the name of Marco and liked playing a frightening game of hide and seek on the internet. On his profile, Marco represents himself as a motorcycle cop but writes messages like a he's a hard core pedophile.

A Spokane single mother initially allowed Marco into her MySpace page after he wrote he was working at the World Trade Center during 9/11, but his messages became threatening and quickly all too specific.

Once inside the victim's home Sergeant Sean Nemec then wrote Marco asking him to stop and when he didn't detectives backtracked the messages to a north Spokane home where Dean Dunn was arrested.

Detectives found no evidence that Dunn had sent the messages and in the meantime the e-mail from the person who called himself "Marco" continued.

Police say they now believe a 13-year old girl living in the home sent the death threats and on Saturday booked her on two felony counts of cyber stalking. Detectives say Dean Dunn has been cleared of any wrong doing and they do not believe he had any involvement in this case.

Now they are trying to refund the $10,000 bond Dunn posted to get out of jail.

Police wanted to apologize to Dunn in person but he referred officers to his defense attorney.

Former Soccer Coach Accused Of Molestation

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An example of how the registries do NOT protect children! This person never had a record. So it's not the low risk people on the registry you have to worry about. It's the predators, and your own family and friends.

A former soccer coach in Lake County, Fla., is accused of molesting a child, according to a Local 6 News report.

Police said David Schmidt faces charges he molested a child under 12 years old.

Schmidt was a coach at the Lady Lake Soccer Club until November.

Local 6 spoke to the president of the club who said they ran a background check on Schmidt and nothing came up and he never had any problems with the children.

Schmidt was in the Lake County Jail late Friday.

Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.

Sex Offenders Myths And Facts - By Kyle

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What is so egregious about this case is not so much Mark Foley was Chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, and a major sponsor of the Adam Walsh Child Safety Act of 2006 (AWCSA), but that he willfully ignored real solutions to child sexual abuse.

These were proposed by the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, SOhopeful International, jurist, litigators, therapy professionals, law enforcement, and other disciplines related to this issue.

Apparently, a predator in sheep's clothing, Foley pushed through congress a law that is broad, far-reaching, challengeable on Constitutional grounds, and harmful to the wives, children, parents, and siblings of LOW-RISK offenders and former offenders by denying them due process protections.

Additionally, the AWCSA offers very little in actual prevention and follows the long list of state and federal laws based on retributive justice, not restorative justice. At the end of the day, Foley himself proved that sex offender proximity (banishment) and community notification (registration) laws are ineffective and do absolutely nothing to make children safe.

The original intent of sex offender registry and community notification laws were designed for law enforcement to track the most violent and predatory offenders.

What are the facts and what are the myths?

Myth – All sex offenders are child molesters and all child molesters are predators.

Fact – The FBI-UCR, National Crime Victimization Survey reveals that only 23% of sex crimes are against someone under 18; and the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that predators represent around three percent of all sex offenders and child killers are less than one percent of all offenders.

Myth – Strangers are lurking at school bus stops or around playgrounds looking for children to molest.

Fact – The politicians, and some in the media, want you to believe in the stranger danger myth. The fact is that, according to the U.S. Dept. of Justice, American Psychological Association, the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, and other experts; children are abused by a family member or someone trusted by the family in around 90 percent of all the cases.

Myth – Depraved adults commit all sex crimes.

Fact – The Department of Justice own statistics show that about 40% of sex crimes committed against someone under 18 are by a juvenile; most are consensual sex by teenagers, others are older children acting out against a younger relative or friend.

Myth – Men who molest boys are homosexuals or bisexual.

Fact – According to the October 5, 2006 issue of Pediatrics, the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 98% of molested males and 99.6% of molested girls are victims of Heterosexuals.

Myth – Sex offenders have the highest recidivism rate (some quote 95%) and allowing them back into society is a mistake.

Fact – Again, according to the U.S. Dept. of Justice and other studies done since 1994, sex offenders commit another crime, of any kind, at a average rate of just thirteen percent, while those convicted of property theft reoffend (steal again) at an average of 75%. People convicted of drunk driving will reoffend at a rate of 51%, while a convicted murderer will reoffend at a rate of 41%. Ex-convicts with a non-sex offense charge are 87% more likely to commit a sex offense than a convicted sex offender in therapy is.

The public needs to be more concerned about high-risk sex offenders and absconders, not low risk offenders who are working hard to comply with their court and therapy guidelines. Many have paid their debt to society, and are on the Sex Offender Registry by law. Under our current system, law enforcement spends precious resources tracking low risk offenders, instead of high-risk absconders and predators. If the registries were working, why are we seeing an 8% increase each year in the number of registrants?

According to the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, most sex offenders live in an area due to its proximity to their family or therapy provider. Chasing them away from therapist and family support network is not in the best interest of public safety.

What has not been publicly discussed is the impact of registration on those low risk registrants and specifically their families and children - many times (remember DOJ stats show 40%), the offender is under 18, and the victim is a younger sibling of friend. These victims are doubly victimized when their older sibling or friend is humiliated and ostracized. Nationwide, wives, children, parents, and siblings of offenders and former offenders are denied due process protection because of proximity (banishment) and community notification (registration) laws.

There are solutions that protect all families

  • Treatment of high-risk separately from that of low-risk offenders.
  • Civil commitment for Predators.
  • Assess risk level prior to re-entry into society, implement GPS monitoring and bi-annual assessment of high-risk offenders until their determined risk is lowered.
  • Immediate removal of community notification for low-risk offenders (teenage consensual sex and one time intra-familial) increasing its effectiveness to law enforcement, state corrections, and the courts.
  • Develop standardized investigative techniques, creating an accurate litmus test to determine false allegations from factual sex abuse cases.
  • Prevention programs for teens and young adults to prevent sex abuse through development of successful coping skills and through understanding of appropriate boundaries.
In lieu of fostering a fearful witch-hunt mentality for election year sound bites, politicians should step up to this societal challenge. Additionally, the media should strive to dispel the myths and create the environment for policy and subsequent legislation to succeed, creating a safe society for all children.

How does demonizing an entire group of people create value for society? What is next for sex offenders and their families? Internment camps fashioned after the "relocation centers" for Japanese Americans during World War II?

Please, for the sake of all children, support and push for a National Sex Offender Policy Forum. We are either going to be part of the problem or part of the solution.

Myths and Facts About Sex Offenders

View the article here. | More Facts & Myths

There are many misconceptions about sexual offenses, sexual offense victims, and sex offenders in our society. Much has been learned about these behaviors and populations in the past decade and this information is being used to develop more effective criminal justice interventions throughout the country. This document serves to inform citizens, policy makers, and practitioners about sex offenders and their victims, addressing the facts that underlie common assumptions both true and false in this rapidly evolving field.

"Most sexual assaults are committed by strangers."

Most sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim or the victim's family, regardless of whether the victim is a child or an adult.

Adult Victims:

Statistics indicate that the majority of women who have been raped know their assailant. A 1998 National Violence Against Women Survey revealed that among those women who reported being raped, 76% were victimized by a current or former husband, live-in partner, or date (Tjaden and Thoennes, 1998). Also, a Bureau of Justice Statistics study found that nearly 9 out of 10 rape or sexual assault victimizations involved a single offender with whom the victim had a prior relationship as a family member, intimate, or acquaintance (Greenfeld, 1997).

Child Victims:

Approximately 60% of boys and 80% of girls who are sexually victimized are abused by someone known to the child or the child's family (Lieb, Quinsey, and Berliner, 1998). Relatives, friends, baby-sitters, persons in positions of authority over the child, or persons who supervise children are more likely than strangers to commit a sexual assault.

"The majority of sexual offenders are caught, convicted, and in prison."

Only a fraction of those who commit sexual assault are apprehended and convicted for their crimes. Most convicted sex offenders eventually are released to the community under probation or parole supervision.

Many women who are sexually assaulted by intimates, friends, or acquaintances do not report these crimes to police. Instead, victims are most likely to report being sexually assaulted when the assailant is a stranger, the victim is physically injured during the assault, or a weapon is involved in the commission of the crime.

A 1992 study estimated that only 12% of rapes were reported (Kilpatrick, Edmunds, and Seymour, 1992). The National Crime Victimization Surveys conducted in 1994, 1995, and 1998 indicate that only 32% of sexual assaults against persons 12 or older were reported to law enforcement. (No current studies indicate the rate of reporting for child sexual assault, although it generally is assumed that these assaults are equally under-reported.) The low rate of reporting leads to the conclusion that the approximate 265,000 convicted sex offenders under the authority of corrections agencies in the United States (Greenfeld, 1997) represent less than 10% of all sex offenders living in communities nationwide.

While sex offenders constitute a large and increasing population of prison inmates, most are eventually released to the community. Some 60% of those 265,000 convicted sex offenders noted above were supervised in the community, whether directly following sentencing or after a term of incarceration in jail or prison. Short of incarceration, supervision allows the criminal justice system the best means to maintain control over offenders, monitor their residence, and require them to work and participate in treatment. As a result, there is a growing interest in providing community supervision for this population as an effective means of reducing the threat of future victimization.

"Most sex offenders reoffend."

Reconviction data suggest that this is not the case. Further, reoffense rates vary among different types of sex offenders and are related to specific characteristics of the offender and the offense.

Persons who commit sex offenses are not a homogeneous group, but instead fall into several different categories. As a result, research has identified significant differences in reoffense patterns from one category to another. Looking at reconviction rates alone, one large-scale analysis (Hanson and Bussiere, 1998) reported the following differences:
  • child molesters had a 13% reconviction rate for sexual offenses and a 37% reconviction rate for new, non-sex offenses over a five year period; and
  • rapists had a 19% reconviction rate for sexual offenses and a 46% reconviction rate for new, non-sexual offenses over a five year period.
Another study found reconviction rates for child molesters to be 20% and for rapists to be approximately 23% (Quinsey, Rice, and Harris, 1995).

Individual characteristics of the crimes further distinguish recidivism rates. For instance, victim gender and relation to the offender have been found to impact recidivism rates. In a 1995 study, researchers found that offenders who had extrafamilial female victims had a recidivism rate of 18% and those who had extrafamilial male victims recidivated at a rate of 35%. This same study found a recidivism rate for incest offenders to be approximately 9% (Quinsey, Rice, and Harris, 1995).

It is noteworthy that recidivism rates for sex offenders are lower than for the general criminal population. For example, one study of 108,580 non-sex criminals released from prisons in 11 states in 1983 found that nearly 63% were rearrested for a non-sexual felony or serious misdemeanor within three years of their release from incarceration; 47% were reconvicted; and 41% were ultimately returned to prison or jail (Bureau of Justice Statistics).

It is important to note that not all sex crimes are solved or result in arrest and only a fraction of sex offenses are reported to police. The reliance on measures of recidivism as reflected through official criminal justice system data (i.e., rearrest or reconviction rates) obviously omits offenses that are not cleared through an arrest (and thereby cannot be attributed to any individual offender) or those that are never reported to the police. For a variety of reasons, many victims of sexual assault are reluctant to invoke the criminal justice process and do not report their victimization to the police. For these reasons, relying on rearrest and reconviction data underestimates actual reoffense numbers.

"Sexual offense rates are higher than ever and continue to climb."

Despite the increase in publicity about sexual crimes, the actual rate of reported sexual assault has decreased slightly in recent years.

The rate of reported rape among women decreased by 10% from 1990 to 1995 (80 per 100,000 compared to 72 per 100,000) (Greenfeld, 1997). In 1995, 97,460 forcible rapes were reported to the police nationwide, representing the lowest number of reported rapes since 1989.

More recently, when examining slightly different measures, it appears that rates have continued to drop. The arrest rate for all sexual offenses (including forcible rape and excluding prostitution) dropped 16% between 1993 and 1998. In 1998, 82,653 arrests were logged for all sexual offenses, compared to 97,955 arrests in 1993 (Federal Bureau of Investigations, 1997 and 1998).

"All sex offenders are male."

The vast majority of sex offenders are male. However, females also commit sexual crimes.

In 1994, less than 1% of all incarcerated rape and sexual assault offenders were female (fewer than 800 women) (Greenfeld, 1997). By 1997, however, 6,292 females had been arrested for forcible rape or other sex offenses, constituting approximately 8% of all rape and sexual assault arrests for that year (FBI, 1997). Additionally, studies indicate that females commit approximately 20% of sex offenses against children (ATSA, 1996). Males commit the majority of sex offenses but females commit some, particularly against children.

"Sex offenders commit sexual crimes because they are under the influence of alcohol."

It is unlikely that an individual who otherwise would not commit a sexual assault would do so as a direct result of excessive drinking.

Annual crime victim reports indicate that approximately 30% of all reported rapes and sexual assaults involve alcohol use by the offender (Greenfeld, 1998). Alcohol use, therefore, may increase the likelihood that someone already predisposed to commit a sexual assault will act upon those impulses. However, excessive alcohol use is not a primary precipitant to sexual assaults.

Myth: "Children who are sexually assaulted will sexually assault others when they grow up."

Most sex offenders were not sexually assaulted as children and most children who are sexually assaulted do not sexually assault others.

Early childhood sexual victimization does not automatically lead to sexually aggressive behavior. While sex offenders have higher rates of sexual abuse in their histories than expected in the general population, the majority were not abused. Among adult sex offenders, approximately 30% have been sexually abused. Some types of offenders, such as those who sexually offend against young boys, have still higher rates of child sexual abuse in their histories (Becker and Murphy, 1998).

While past sexual victimization can increase the likelihood of sexually aggressive behavior, most children who were sexually victimized never perpetrate against others.

"Youths do not commit sex offenses."

Adolescents are responsible for a significant number of rape and child molestation cases each year.

Sexual assaults committed by youth are a growing concern in this country. Currently, it is estimated that adolescents (ages 13 to 17) account for up to one-fifth of all rapes and one-half of all cases of child molestation committed each year (Barbaree, Hudson, and Seto, 1993). In 1995, youth were involved in 15% of all forcible rapes cleared by arrest—approximately 18 adolescents per 100,000 were arrested for forcible rape. In the same year, approximately 16,100 adolescents were arrested for sexual offenses, excluding rape and prostitution (Sickmund, Snyder, Poe-Yamagata, 1997).

The majority of these incidents of sexual abuse involve adolescent male perpetrators. However, prepubescent youths also engage in sexually abusive behaviors.

"Juvenile sex offenders typically are victims of child sexual abuse and grow up to be adult sex offenders."

Multiple factors, not just sexual victimization as a child, are associated with the development of sexually offending behavior in youth.

Recent studies show that rates of physical and sexual abuse vary widely for adolescent sex offenders; 20 to 50% of these youth experienced physical abuse and approximately 40 to 80% experienced sexual abuse (Hunter and Becker, 1998). While many adolescents who commit sexual offenses have histories of being abused, the majority of these youth do not become adult sex offenders (Becker and Murphy, 1998). Research suggests that the age of onset and number of incidents of abuse, the period of time elapsing between the abuse and its first report, perceptions of how the family responded to the disclosure of abuse, and exposure to domestic violence all are relevant to why some sexually abused youths go on to sexually perpetrate while others do not (Hunter and Figueredo, in press).

"Treatment for sex offenders is ineffective."

Treatment programs can contribute to community safety because those who attend and cooperate with program conditions are less likely to re-offend than those who reject intervention.

The majority of sex offender treatment programs in the United States and Canada now use a combination of cognitive-behavioral treatment and relapse prevention (designed to help sex offenders maintain behavioral changes by anticipating and coping with the problem of relapse). Offense specific treatment modalities generally involve group and/or individual therapy focused on victimization awareness and empathy training, cognitive restructuring, learning about the sexual abuse cycle, relapse prevention planning, anger management and assertiveness training, social and interpersonal skills development, and changing deviant sexual arousal patterns.

Different types of offenders typically respond to different treatment methods with varying rates of success. Treatment effectiveness is often related to multiple factors, including:
  • the type of sexual offender (e.g., incest offender or rapist);
  • the treatment model being used (e.g., cognitive-behavioral, relapse prevention, psycho-educational, psycho-dynamic, or pharmacological);
  • the treatment modalities being used; and
  • related interventions involved in probation and parole community supervision.
Several studies present optimistic conclusions about the effectiveness of treatment programs that are empirically based, offense-specific, and comprehensive (Lieb, Quinsey, and Berliner, 1998). The only meta-analysis of treatment outcome studies to date has found a small, yet significant treatment effect—an 8% reduction in the recidivism rate for offenders who participated in treatment (Hall, 1995). Research also demonstrates that sex offenders who fail to complete treatment programs are at increased risk for both sexual and general recidivism (Hanson and Bussiere, 1998).

"The cost of treating and managing sex offenders in the community is too high—they belong behind bars."

One year of intensive supervision and treatment in the community can range in cost between $5,000 and $15,000 per offender, depending on treatment modality. The average cost for incarcerating an offender is significantly higher, approximately $22,000 per year, excluding treatment costs.

As noted previously, effective sex offender specific treatment interventions can reduce sexual offense recidivism by 8%. Given the tremendous impact of these offenses on their victims, any reduction in the reoffense rates of sex offenders is significant.

Without the option of community supervision and treatment, the vast majority of incarcerated sex offenders would otherwise serve their maximum sentences and return to the community without the internal (treatment) and external (supervision) controls to effectively manage their sexually abusive behavior. Managing those offenders who are amenable to treatment and can be supervised intensively in the community following an appropriate term of incarceration can serve to prevent future victimization while saving taxpayers substantial imprisonment costs (Lotke, 1996).