Sunday, May 13, 2007

Hollywood To Restrict Where Sex Offenders Can Live

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(CBS4) HOLLYWOOD - Another Broward city could soon be hanging out the 'un-welcome' sign to sexual predators.

Hollywood commissioners are expected to vote Wednesday on imposing new restrictions that would prohibit registered sex offenders from living within 1-thousand feet of schools, parks, and recreation centers. They would also not be permitted to live near day care centers or public school bus stops.

According to our news partners at the Miami Herald more than 150 sex offenders have addresses listed in Hollywood and more than half of them are no longer under court supervision.

Housing restrictions for sexual offenders were discussed during the last session of the Florida Legislature. Mental health experts who treat sexual offenders criticized the residency restrictions saying it makes them harder to track and often forces them to live on the streets.

A number of cities passed their own sexual predator residency restrictions following the kidnapping, rape, and murder of 9-year old Jessica Lunsford by convicted sex offender John Couey in 2005. Problems with housing restrictions became evident when several sex offenders were found living under Miami's Julia Tuttle Causeway. The men said they were forced to live there because Miami's residency restrictions kept them out of available housing.

Currently, Ft. Lauderdale is the only city in Broward County that has no restrictions on where sex offenders can reside.

Senate passes sex-offenders bill

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Electronic monitoring included in legislation being sent to House

A bill that could lead to the placement of global-positioning devices on Ohio's sex offenders unanimously passed the state Senate yesterday.

Ohio's 20-year statute of limitations for prosecuting kidnapping cases and felony sex offenses where the victim is younger than 13 also would be eliminated under Senate Bill 9.

The bill, which now goes to the House, would require the state Department of Public Safety to apply for a federal grant to help pay for programs to outfit sex offenders with electronic monitoring devices, including the local law-enforcement personnel needed to enforce usage.

The grants would provide $5 million per year for the next three years.

Sen. Patricia Clancy, a Cincinnati Republican and sponsor of the bill, called it "an important step for Ohio to take to protect the public, and particularly children, from violent sex offenders."

The bill is part of a package of four proposals designed to bring Ohio into compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which sets benchmarks for sex- offender laws, including registration.

States that do not comply with the act by July 2009 face a 10 percent reduction in law-enforcement assistance grants.

Other bills in the package include those that would bring Ohio's minimum sentences in line with federal requirements for violent crimes against children, change sex-offender registration obligations to comply with the new online federal registry, and allow civil commitments when sexually violent predators are released from prison.

In other business yesterday, the Senate approved a bill aimed at sparking cable TV competition across Ohio and ultimately lowering rates.

The bill is designed to put competitors Time Warner and AT&T on more level ground. If approved by the House and signed by Gov. Ted Strickland, it would create a single statewide franchise for each company instead of a patchwork of local agreements signed by cities and townships.

"We know consumers today want choices," said Sen. Jeff Jacobson, R-Vandalia, the bill's sponsor, arguing that the bill would get Ohio to "a robust marketplace with fairer choices, better prices, and a good opportunity for Ohioans to grow and have the technology to succeed."

Sen. Ray Miller, D-Columbus, said the bill will help with job creation, economic development and the cost of services.

"I don't think we're doing anything to shut anybody out," he said, referring to concerns about reduced public-access channels.

The Ohio Municipal League remains opposed to the bill, based largely on concerns that current cable operators could abandon their franchise agreements and obligations to communities across the state.

Sen. David Goodman, a New Albany Republican who said he worked closely with this issue as a former Bexley city councilman, was among four senators who voted against the bill. The current local franchising system, he said, gives communities leverage in working out consumer issues with cable providers.

"(AT&T) and these providers who want to come in simply don't want to do the legwork cable television providers have put in over the last 10 or 15 years," Goodman said.

"No matter how you slice this, this is a bad bill for local communities."