Friday, December 28, 2007

CA - Murder May Be Tied to Online Sex Offender List

View the article here

Click the link above to listen to this audio.

12/28/2007

When 67-year-old convicted sex offender Michael Dodele moved to the northern California town of Lakeport, he might have thought he could leave his past behind. But that didn't happen.

Dodele's neighbor, a 29-year-old construction worker with a young son, is charged with killing Dodele.

As prosecutors prepare for a hearing in January, they're looking into the possibility that Dodele was murdered because he was in the Megan's Law database of registered sex offenders.


OK - School Kids Face Prostitution Going to School


FL - Sex Offender Won't Pay School Tax

View the article here | His Web Site

12/28/2007

SPRING HILL - When Stephen St. Laurent went to re-register as a sex offender Thursday, an informal chat at the sheriff's office set his mind to thinking.

First he mulled over the growing restrictions against his kind: the limited jobs he can take, the bi-annual registration, the new stamp he'll get on his driver's license in February.

The penalty for breaking some of the conditions means immediate imprisonment.

Then it dawned on him. For the past nine years, almost half of his property tax bill has been dedicated towards the county's schools. If he can't have anything to do with children, does this violate state statute?

"They're trying every way they can to entrap a sex offender," St. Laurent said Friday.

The answer was clear to him.

When he sent in his $1,100 tax bill this week, it was $400 short. A clerk at the tax collector's office was quick to respond and phoned to say the check would be returned if he didn't pay the school tax.

St. Laurent, 65, expects that. When the check shows up in the mail, he will march down to the courthouse and file a lawsuit against the county and state for fraud and discrimination.

He's prepared to take his fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tax Collector Juanita Sikes said roughly 5,000 people out of the 112,000 property owners in the county refuse to pay their taxes each year.

"It's a small percentage," she said.

A lien is placed on the property if taxes aren't paid by the deadline, but citizens have about a two-year window to pony up.

If the accrued interest and past taxes aren't paid in that time, the house is put on the auction block.

St. Laurent has been a faithful taxpayer up until this point, Sikes noted.

Occasionally, people will gripe about the school tax because they don't have any children attending classes. St. Laurent said that's not the point.

Those people can still visit the schools and see their taxpayer dollars at work. St. Laurent can't.

The school district's safety and security director, Barry Crowley, confirms as much.

Any sex offender who steps on a campus is trespassing. Parents who are sex offenders are given limited access to their children. For example, they can pick up their kids after school and attend parent/teacher conferences.

But even that access is closely guarded and if the parent's offense was a sexually violent crime against a child, permission to step onto school grounds is denied.

St. Laurent was convicted of committing a lewd act in front of children when a pair of teenagers looked through his window and saw him masturbating. Like other sex offenders without children in school, St. Laurent is explicitly banned.

"There are no special allowances," Crowley said.

The school tax portion of the bill is applied towards debt, the general fund and capital outlay. That includes operating costs, teacher's salaries, construction projects and textbooks. Even if residents don't have children, the money is going towards the education of tomorrow's lawyers, doctors and plumbers, said Joe Vitalo, president of the teacher's union.

"Indirectly, it pays for the services of the future," he said.

St. Laurent has authored an autobiography about the isolation and treatment he has received with the label of sex offender. He sees the growing restrictions on sex offenders as a violation of the Eighth Amendment, which protects citizens against cruel and unusual punishment.

The knee-jerk legislation and rules "have got to come to an end and maybe this is the way to do it," St. Laurent said of his protest.


ID - 55 Idaho inmates sidetracked during move from Texas prison

View the article here

It's all about money!

12/28/2007

BOISE — Fifty-five Idaho inmates who were moved out of a troubled Texas prison on Thursday have been forced by a contract delay to make a temporary stop before going to their final destination, a lockup near the Mexican border.

More than 500 Idaho prisoners are in Texas and Oklahoma due to overcrowding at home.

The prisoners being moved are bound for the Val Verde Correctional Facility in Del Rio, Texas, after more than a year at the Dickens County Correctional Center in Spur, Texas, where one Idaho inmate killed himself in March.

Because a Texas county official has yet to approve the contract to house Idaho prisoners at Val Verde, they have first been sent 100 miles away to the Bill Clayton Detention Center in Littlefield, Texas.

There, they will sleep in groups of up to 10 men on makeshift cots in day rooms until resolution of the contract allows them to complete the final 250-mile leg of their journey to Val Verde sometime in early January.

The inmates "were a bit dubious and questionable about that," said Randy Blades, the warden in Boise who oversees Idaho's out-of-state prisoners.

That's one reason why his agency has sent two officers to make sure the move runs smoothly, Blades said.

Both the Dickens and Val Verde prisons are run by private operator GEO Group Inc., based in Boca Raton, Florida.

Pablo Paez, a spokesman for GEO, didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

GEO no longer has the contract to manage the Dickens facility after Tuesday. Because Idaho recently rejected an offer from the new company that will run Dickens, GEO on Thursday had to move the Idaho inmates to temporary quarters in Littlefield.

Though Idaho officials thought details of the move to Val Verde had been resolved, Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke said he learned only last week that a Texas county judge wanted a lawyer to look at the contract one last time.

"It was something we did not anticipate," Reinke said. "GEO is paying the transport costs."

This is just the latest uprooting of Idaho inmates since they were first shipped out of state in 2005. Since then, they have bounced from prison to prison in Minnesota and Texas amid allegations of abusive treatment. There also has been the criminal conviction of at least one Texas guard for passing contraband to inmates; at least two escapes; and the death of Scot Noble Payne, a convicted sex offender who slashed his throat last March in a solitary cell at Dickens County.

Idaho officials who investigated concluded the GEO-run prison was filthy and the worst they had seen.

As a result, about 70 Idaho inmates were moved from Dickens to Littlefield, where about 300 Idaho inmates were already housed, while the state continued talks with GEO over sending the remaining 55 to a new 659-bed addition at Val Verde.

Despite the stopover, GEO has a hefty incentive to make sure the move to Val Verde goes smoothly, Reinke said.

The company hopes to win contracts with Idaho to build a large new prison here to help accommodate the state's 7,400 inmates.

"They're really monitoring this closely, and doing a good job at this point," Reinke said. "It's not a lot different than triple bunking."


OH - Constitutionality of sex offender law challenged

View the article here

12/28/2007

TROY — Ohio's new Adam Walsh Act was challenged Friday in a Miami County court by lawyers arguing the law's reclassification of previously convicted sex offenders and new registration requirements for those offenders are unconstitutional.

Troy lawyer Jose Lopez filed injunction requests on behalf of six people in county Common Pleas Court and said he plans to file similar complaints for others Monday in Shelby and Auglaize counties.

The challenges are believed to be the first in Ohio against the law passed this summer by the Ohio General Assembly.

Miami County Prosecutor Gary Nasal said he knows of no other challenges of the law. "We fully expected we would face a constitutional challenge," he said, pointing to challenges still in the courts of previous sex offender registration and residency laws.

Nasal said he expects the Walsh Act challenges to make their way to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Prosecutors will be in court Monday in Troy for a hearing on Lopez' request for a temporary restraining order against any court hearings on proposed reclassification of offenders who have been notified by mail of their new classification and registration requirements. Letters sent to offenders in late November with the new classification and requirements gave 60 days to file a challenge.

Nasal said the Walsh Act allows longer registration periods and classifies offenders in three classification tiers based only on the charge for which they were convicted.

"If you commit an offense, you fall within that tier," Nasal said.

Previously, judges determined classification — sexually oriented offender, predator, etc. — after looking at a number of factors.

Lopez said he sees two "chief problems" with the new law. He said making the law retroactive changes the penalty for crimes that occurred years ago.

For one client he represents, notifying the community of his residence would now be required when it was not following his conviction in 1999, Lopez said. He said the law also penalizes juveniles who may be required to register for life instead of a shorter period under previous requirements.

"If they had simply enacted (a law) and said. 'From this day forward we are going to do this,' that's a whole different ball game," Lopez said.

Contact this reporter at (937) 335-4357 or nbowman@DaytonDailyNews.com.

Copyright 2007 Dayton Daily News. All rights reserved.


NC - 9 Days Later, Police Release Officers' Suspension Details

View the article here

12/27/2007

GREENSBORO (WGHP) – The alleged sexual assault of a Greensboro police officer is the basis for the suspension of three fellow officers.

"The victim alleges she and a friend were leaving the area of Four Seasons (Town Centre) when they encountered 3 on-duty police officers who offered to give them a ride," said assistant police chief Gary Hastings. He said the sexual assault happened while the two were being driven.

Greensboro police Sgt. A.S. Wallace, Officers J.O. LeGrand and C.S. Stevens, all members of the tactical special enforcement team, are suspended with pay while the department conducts a criminal investigation, followed by an internal investigation into the alleged sexual assault.

City council members met Thursday to find out why it has taken nine days for details into the suspensions to be made public. During the meeting, the council went into closed session, which is normal procedure for personnel issues. Two council members refused to attend the closed session.

"I prefer to discuss it with the public, that's what I ran on in my campaign," said fifth district council member Trudy Wade. "When I was elected I would be open and honest with the public."

"I haven't been on city council one month," said at-large council member Mary Rakestraw. "I don't plan to use my 2 years on city council doing this. I think we need to make decisions and move on."

Fellow council member Mike Barber, who represents the fourth district, said repeatedly he frustrated with the process.

"I think the city is trying to do what's right regarding the info," said Barber. "For some reason we can't manage the process to get the info out to the community."

Mayor Yvonne Johnson says she's satisfied with the information that was released Thursday and hopes the communication process with the council will get better.

"It's going to be kind of a road map if God forbid, we have to deal anything like this in the future," said Johnson.


OH - Appeals court won't redo OU officer's case

View the article here

12/28/2007

An appeals court will not reconsider its ruling that upheld a former Ohio University police officer's conviction for illegal sexual conduct with a minor, according to a recent decision.

Robert Andrew Parsons, 38, was fired from OU after his employer learned he was being investigated for the alleged felony. He pleaded no contest to the charge in July 2006 in Athens County Common Pleas Court.

This type of interview is used when a police officer is suspected of a crime, and the officer is required to answer the employer's questions or be fired. However, the interview is used only for administrative and disciplinary purposes, and the officer's answers cannot be used against him in a criminal case.

Parsons has argued that Coss used information from Parsons' interview to convict him. Specifically, Parsons has argued that police were led to a witness for the prosecution who was mentioned in the Garrity interview. Parsons' superior at the police department who interviewed him, Lt. Chris Johnson, was not involved in the criminal investigation of Parsons, but sat in on a meeting of the investigating group, and also used a piece of information from the Garrity interview to find the contact information of a witness, the appeals court found.

Parsons raised the issue before his trial in common pleas court, asking the judge to suppress parts of the state's case and requesting transcripts of the grand jury proceedings, both of which were denied. Parsons took the no contest plea, and then appealed to the 4th District Court of Appeals, which upheld the trial court's decision in September but found that Coss did use one piece of information from the Garrity interview.

However, the appellate court found that this error was legally harmless and wouldn't have affected the outcome of the case.

Parsons' attorney for the appeal, Todd A. Morman, requested that the appeals court take a second look at its ruling, arguing that it contradicted decisions from other Ohio appellate districts. The court denied the motion last week.

Parsons has already appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, although there is no guarantee the court will decide to hear his case.


Code Pink’s Benjamin Gets in FBI’s Face Over “Criminal Database”

Many people will be deemed a "terrorist" and placed on to this same database. The sex offender registry was the start, and more will follow. Who knows, you may be on the database already, and not know it.


OH - Topless Woman Lured Perverts in Police Sting

View the article here | Comments

I know this doesn't fit the definition of entrapment, but it seems like the fat a$$ cops in the videos could lose some weight and go out and fight real crime. This kind of stuff ticks me off. In the video, she was all over this man. I know, he should not have done it in a public place, but still ticks me off that cops can get a way with this BS! And no, I don't hate law enforcement, I hate their tactics and BS! IMO, they pick on the weak. Why don't they use these tactics for the "war on drugs?" Because they know they could get shot or killed, so they forget about the real crime and go after the weaker.

12/28/2007

Firefighter Busted for Exposing Himself to Sunbather Appeals 'Entrapment' Conviction

Robin Garrison, an off-duty 42-year-old firefighter, was walking in Berliner Park in Columbus, Ohio, in May when he saw a woman sunbathing topless under a tree.

He approached her and they started talking and getting comfortable, the woman smiling and resting her foot on his shoulder at one point.

Eventually, she asked to see Garrison's penis; he unzipped his pants and complied.

Seconds later, undercover police officers pulled up in a van and arrested Garrison; he was later charged with public indecency, a misdemeanor, based on video footage taken by cops who were targeting men having sex or masturbating in the park. While topless sunbathing is legal in the city's parks, exposing more than that is against the law.
- Now if they were out looking for the above, wouldn't this be similar to entering a house with a warrant to search say someones bedroom for porn only, but then went around the whole house instead? They were looking for specific people, which he did not fit the description. You know what I'm getting at? Like a warrant to look for drugs, but you find something else and arrest the person but not what you were originally after.

The case is just one of the more extreme examples of police stings aimed at luring people into committing crimes, a tactic that has resulted in hundreds of arrests, many convictions and plenty of controversy.

Law enforcement officials say that such sting operations are an extremely effective means of lowering crime rates and stopping the criminally minded before they commit worse offenses. From early 2006 to the spring of 2007, there were 160 citations for public indecency in the city, according to an investigation by 10TV News. Among those who were caught in the stings: an Ohio State University doctor, government employees and a retired highway trooper.

But such operations veer dangerously close to entrapment, say lawyers, civil libertarians and defendants who've been caught in sting operations.

At Garrison's trial, his attorney argued that it was a case of entrapment. "Columbus police utilized this topless woman to snare this man," said Sam Shamansky. "He sees her day after day. He's not some seedy pervert."

The argument failed to sway a Franklin County Municipal Court jury that found Garrison guilty of public indecency last month. He was ordered to stay away from the park, placed on a year's probation and fined $250. Currently, Garrison remains on paid desk duty while the fire department conducts an internal investigation into his behavior.

"We want to be held to a higher standard, we are in the community every day and we put our best foot forward, but sometimes we stumble and make a mistake," said Columbus Fire Battalion Chief Doug Smith.

Garrison could not be reached for comment.

Shamansky plans to appeal the verdict on the grounds that the jury wasn't instructed on the definition of entrapment.

Other police departments across the country have dangled other temptations, from big-screen plasma TVs, Xbox 360 consoles and a shopping bag containing a cell phone and an iPod to catch people breaking the law.

In New York City, nearly 300 people, many of whom had no criminal record, have been snared this year through the NYPD's Operation Lucky Bag, in which undercover officers leave a wallet, iPod or cell phone in a subway station and wait to see who picks it up.

Although deputy police Commissioner Paul Browne says the program has helped cut subway grand larcenies by half, critics say that the police have gone too far.

"It's pretty straightforward that this is a police-created crime," said Legal Aid Society lawyer Alex Lesman, who defended a man arrested for taking a bag containing an Xbox video game box, a Sprint cell phone and cash. "The police set this whole thing up. They shouldn't be doing that and luring people in that situation, especially in this age of terrorism where the transit system is always telling you to be on the lookout for suspicious bags."

The judge agreed with Lesman, acquitting his client, Antonio Arroyo. "The police should concentrate their noble efforts on behalf of the city on countering real crimes committed every day," wrote Kings County criminal court judge Matthew A. Sciarrino Jr. "They do not need to manipulate a situation where temptation may overcome even people who would normally never think of committing a crime."

Other lawyers have argued on behalf of their clients that the operation may also violate New York's personal property law, which allows someone who finds property worth more than $25 10 days to turn it in to the owner or the police.

An NYPD spokesperson emphasized that Operation Lucky Bag does not use abandoned property; rather it is property actively left by an officer who is still in the vicinity. In addition, it is used at stations where similar crimes have been reported.

Another sting operation that made headlines involved police in El Paso, Texas, and U.S. Marshals sending out messages to wanted felons stating that they had "won" free Xbox 360 consoles and/or big-screen plasma TVs. The operation led to 115 arrests last month and the police picked up more than $25,000 in traffic fines.

This ploy, which has been used in other cities in recent years, is a new twist on an old trick, because sting operations involving drugs and prostitutes have been around for decades. And though defendants often claim entrapment, that argument rarely works in those kind of cases.

"The definition of entrapment is police activity that induces somebody to commit a crime that they otherwise wouldn't do," said Gabriel Chin, law professor at the University of Arizona. "It's not entrapment to give somebody an opportunity to commit a crime."

Chin explains that entrapment involves an officer cajoling and persuading someone who's resistant to the idea of committing a crime. "Just preying on a predisposition is not necessarily entrapment."

But he said that Operation Lucky Bag seemed to cross a line, especially when compared to longstanding police operations involving officers posing as drunks to lure muggers to take their wallets or jewelry.

"Very few people who see a drunk with gold chains or an old lady with money sticking out of her purse succumb to temptation and assault that person," he said. "But lots and lots of people wouldn't turn in a wallet when it's full of money. You could ask whether it's an appropriate use of police resources. If we really want to criminalize people who do what we don't want them to do, a lot of people would be in jail."

The temptation may just be too powerful. "I've found $5 on the street and put it in my pocket," said Chin. "If I found $5,000 on the street, I hope I would do something different."


NJ - Does NJ Sex Offender Net Ban Go Too Far?

View the article here

So what about setting an age limit to the Internet? Kids cannot drive until they are 16 or so, cannot drive until 18 or 21, so why not set an age limit on the Internet as well? Also, what about other criminals who use the Internet to do their crimes, like Terrorists, identity thieves, hate groups, etc? Why are we not doing the same for them? Again, because sex offenders are easy prey!

12/28/2007

The law "will give us some of the toughest tools in the nation to crack down on the growing threat of Internet predators," said New Jersey Acting Gov. Richard Codey, who introduced the law in the state Senate. It "will help a lot of parents sleep easier at night," he said. The law takes effect in 60 days.

Joining Nevada and Florida, New Jersey is the latest state to enact legislation that strongly limits the rights of convicted sex offenders to use the Internet.

A bill, signed Thursday by New Jersey Acting Gov. Richard Codey, allows judges to impose the restrictions and also makes it easier for authorities to monitor the online activity of the offenders.

The law applies to sex offenders whose actions are restricted by Megan's Law, primarily those who are subject to lifetime community supervision or who are on probation or parole.

Helping Parents Sleep

"No matter how much you trust your kids, no matter how much you think you know what they're doing, there are some sick people out there that will stop at nothing to prey on them," said Codey, who is filling in as governor while Gov. Jon Corzine is out of the country.

The law "will give us some of the toughest tools in the nation to crack down on the growing threat of Internet predators," said Codey, who introduced the law in the state Senate. It "will help a lot of parents sleep easier at night," he said.

The law takes effect in 60 days. Under its provisions, a sentencing judge will be permitted to prohibit offenders from accessing or using a computer or other Internet-enabled device without prior court approval.

Broad Powers

The law includes exceptions that permit job-related Internet work, or searches for employment -- with parole officer or probation officer approval.

Offenders will be required to periodically turn over their computers or other Internet devices for inspection by authorities. They will also be forced to allow the installation in their equipment of hardware or programs that will monitor their online activity, and they will be required to submit to any other "appropriate restrictions" relating to their use of equipment to access the Internet.

The law makes it mandatory that the restrictions be imposed if it is ruled that the Internet played a part in the crime for which the offender was convicted but it also gives the State Parole Board the power restrict Internet access for other sex offenders, "regardless of whether they used a computer to facilitate their crime," noted Codey.

Offenders who violate the Internet restrictions will be charged with a fourth-degree crime.

Danger a Mouse Click Away

The law brings the state's sex offender legislation up to date, said Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (Contact), the bill's primary sponsor in the Assembly.

"When Megan's Law was enacted, few could even envision a day when a sex offender hiding behind a fake screen name would be a mouse-click away from new and unwitting victims," said Greenstein. "Sex offenders cannot be given an opportunity to abuse the anonymity the Internet can provide as a means of opening a door to countless new potential victims."

However Santa Clara University Assistant Professor Eric Goldman, an expert in cyberlaw, said the law is grammatically sloppy and bothersome in a number of more important ways.

Don't Touch That

"It says it prohibits a person from using a computer or any other device with Internet capability without permission," Goldman told TechNewsWorld. He doubts whether the bill's authors really meant to prohibit the use of computers.

The law doesn't define the word Internet, Goldman noted, adding that cars, digital video recorders, home appliances, cell phones and many other devices can connect to the Internet.

"The Internet is ubiquitous," he said. "In 10 years, we are going to look back at laws like this and we are going to laugh at them. We're going to say, 'That is so stupid. The Internet is everywhere.' It's like saying you can't use the roads."

Modern-Day Bogeymen

Attempts by legislators to craft over-reaching laws relating to sex offenders are problematic, Goldman said.

"This is part of much broader social campaign to strip away rights and powers of sex offenders," he said. "Basically sex offenders are the new pariah. They're the target of legislative activity that allows legislators to feel they've done something really important without any political opposition whatsoever. We've seen this over and over and over again -- legislators looking for ways to pass laws attacking the problem of sex and the Internet -- and sex offenders are a convenient target."

Goldman said the New Jersey law is typical of these types of efforts, where nobody is willing to stand up and challenge the bills since sex offenders have no "political clout" and are universally hated. "There's zero opposition," he said "Nobody votes against these laws and nobody comes into the Legislature to combat them."

Part of a Package

While Goldman said there is no proof these type of laws prevent recidivism, Internet Alliance Executive Director Emily Hackett said the organization has no problems with New Jersey's action.

"It gives law enforcement another arrow in their quiver to use for repeat offenders," Hackett told TechNewsWorld.

However, the Internet Alliance opposes another bill pending in New Jersey, one that would require online dating sites to tell state residents whether they do criminal background checks.

Online dating site customers need protection from predators, said Codey, who also sponsored that bill. However, the proposed legislation will do little but give them a false sense of security, Hackett said.

"While the sex offender registration is consistent with current law, doesn't raise Constitutional challenges and goes after the bad guys, that's not true of this companion bill, part of a package that Codey put together, that has all sorts of regulations about what to do if you do background checks and what to do if you don't do background checks," said Hackett. "It's a situation where you are asking an industry to do a lot of notification where people might feel something has happened that would make them feel more secure when they really are not."


IA - Sheriff's Association seeks alternative to sex offender registration

View the article here

12/25/2007

The new President of the Iowa Sheriff's and Deputies' Association supports "Safe Zones" to protect victims of sex offenders. Plymouth County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Craig Bartolozzi says it can be difficult to track sex offenders who are required to register their residence with law enforcement. "The problem is just tracking them right now," Bartolozzi says, "they're only required annually to come and verify their address they're at and then through the year you have no way to track them unless you go out and check their addresses."

When the Plymouth County Sheriff's Department makes checks twice a year, Bartolozzi says they find one or two who are not living at the address they've given on the registry. Bartolozzi doesn't believe the Sex Offender Registry Law effectively protects children because the law only prevents offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools and daycare centers. "(The law) does not do anything as far as keeping (offenders) away from (children)," he says. "In essence they can go sit across from the grade school all day long and there's really nothing we can do to them because there's no law that says they can't do that - it just says they can't live within that area."

In addition, the group would like to see a statewide, and possibly a nationwide, system to track people who buy pseudoephedrine - a key ingredient in the production of methamphetamine. "We're looking at putting in a system that would work statewide that, no matter if you bought it in Des Moines this morning, if you come to Le Mars and try to buy it at Hy-Vee or Wal-Mart, it would pop up and say you've bought your allotment for the month," Bartolozzi says.

Other priorities for the group include finding enough facilities for people who need mental health treatment and to have facilities that don't require a great deal of travel to take people to treatment.


OH - Stark County sex offenders challenge law

View the article here

So if you live in Ohio and are in a higher tier, file a law suit NOW before it is too late. You can see what falls into which Tier here.

12/28/2007

CANTON Sex offenders living in Stark County who challenge the state’s new registration law won’t be bound by its regulations for at least three months.

Common Pleas Judge John G. Haas put enforcement of the law on hold Thursday after hearing arguments and consulting with his fellow judges.

At least 27 convicted sex offenders in Stark County have challenged the law, which takes effect on Tuesday. More challenges are on the way. The Stark County Public Defender’s office has interviewed at least 30 people and is in the process of preparing those petitions.

COURT RULES

Haas granted a preliminary injunction on the community notification and registration requirements, saying that county prosecutors and attorneys for the sex offenders need more time to gather information before dealing in March with arguments that the law violates several constitutional principles and is unfair in its retroactive application.

The order only covers sex offenders who challenge the law before Dec. 31 or within 60 days of their notice of reclassification, whichever comes later, and they must continue registering with the sheriff as if the old law is still in effect, Haas said.

Ohio changed its classification system earlier this year to bring it in line with the federal Adam Walsh Act. The attorney general’s office has been reclassifying all sex offenders who didn’t complete their registration requirements before July 1.

The old categories of sexually oriented offender, habitual sex offender and sexual predator are out, replaced by three tiers. Instead of a judge deciding which tier to place an offender, the new law assigns offenders by their crime without considering the risk to the community or likelihood of re-offending.

Judges do have discretion when it comes to ordering community notification.

As a result of the change, some sex offenders are finding themselves in more restrictive tiers, including those now requiring lifetime registration and community notification.

CHALLENGES MOUNT

Defense attorney Rick Pitinii, who filed some of the first challenges last week, argued that if offenders are reclassified and made subject to community notification, and later the law is found unconstitutional, they would be irreparably harmed. He was backed in his argument by other local defense attorneys.

Assistant Stark County Prosecutor Chryssa Hartnett asked the court to enforce the law. If there were concerns about community notification, the judge could stay that provision, while letting the rest of the law go forward, she said.

Haas said it was his job to make sure the rights of sex offenders weren’t being overlooked, and he could only imagine the uproar if some other law — like a zoning code — were being changed.

Also, the sheriff hasn’t received a list of local sex offenders and their new classifications from the attorney general.

“That’s another reason why I don’t think this thing is ready to go as of the first of the year,” Haas said.

Earlier this month the Ohio Supreme Court dismissed a constitutional challenge to the law without comment. Defense attorneys around the state have taken that to mean the court wants to see the issue work its way through lower courts before weighing in.

Amy Borror, public information officer for the Ohio Public Defender, said judges in Franklin, Hamilton and Licking counties have granted injunctions but those decisions dealt with individual cases.

Reach Repository writer Shane Hoover at (330) 580-8338 or e-mail shane.hoover@cantonrep.com.

OLD LAW

Sexually oriented offender: Annual registration for 10 years

Habitual sex offender: Annual registration for 20 years

Sexual predator: Lifetime registration with verification every three months

NEW LAW

Tier 1: Annual registration for 15 years

Tier 2: Registration every six months for 25 years

Tier 3: Lifetime registration with verification every three months


MI - ACTION ALERT for MICHIGANDERS


ACTION ALERT for MICHIGANDERS:
The state is in the process of adding information to the PUBLIC registry and has messed-up its registry, they are showing many many many folks as non-compliant when -in fact- they are compliant! Hopefully registrants HAVE a copy of their last registration documents to prove compliance. Check what is shown online and verify ALL OF THE INFORMATION SHOWN!

If you are on parole or probation -and- it erroneously shows NON-COMPLIANT, contact your parole or probation officer asking for directions. Everyone else, IF the PUBLIC REGISTRY is wrong, then: Call the MSP office in Lansing to get it straightened out (you may have to provide them proof. Call 517-322-4939; or Fax: 517-322-4957 them the proof).

Just what Michigan needs when its budget is a mess. By declaring registrants non-compliant, they can again fill their jails and prisons and soak the taxpayer. I wonder if a class action is in order for "False Light in the Public Eye" given the public is being told the wrong information causing a public panic. Boy the TIP LINE is going to be busy.

Happy New Year Michiganders!

Copyright © 2007, eAdvocate