Wednesday, January 2, 2008

VA - Questionable sign in Norfolk

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01/02/2008

It's a hot button issue in local and national politics: illegal immigration.

Now in a Norfolk neighborhood, a for rent sign reads: "No sex offenders and no illegals".

The home is rented by its owner Minton Owens who's now handcuffed and chained the sign to the porch because it's the third time he's put one up.

"It's got handcuffs and chains on it. That's no accident."

But his former renter, who asked not to be identified and found by WAVY.com said, "'It could be that I'm Hispanic."

This former renter showed us one of the signs. She admits taking it from the yard while in the process of moving out.

"I found it offensive. I'm not a sex offender and I'm not an illegal. I have my papers...I am in the country legally...I am not an illegal immigrant...It's because I'm Hispanic."

Owens responds, "I'm a landlord in Virginia. If you check the statutes, I have a right to have a picture ID or photo ID where I can track you. How can I complain about you if you tear up the property and I can't find you?"

HUD Federal Law says landlords can discriminate based solely on a person's citizenship status. HUD states that the Act, "does not prohibit discrimination based solely on a person's citizenship status."

Ownes' former renter says she's legal and was bullied to leave for reasons that had nothing to do with citizenship, but rather lawn maintenance.

Owens thought it odd that she would talk to WAVY.com, but not reveal her identity. What was she afraid of?

Both sides will appear in a Norfolk Court January 31 to litigate the issues.


NH - Outgoing mayor vetoes sex offender ordinance

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01/02/2008

NASHUA - Nashua New Hampshire's mayor is leaving office with a strong statement.

Mayor Bernie Streeter has vetoed an ordinance that would have prevented registered child sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools, parks or day-care centers. It applied to convicted sex offenders whose victims were 13 years old or younger.

Nashua's board of aldermen passed the ordinance last week.

It had been opposed by the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union and the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

The board would need at least 10 votes to overturn Streeter's veto. The ordinance passed by a vote of 7 to 6.

A new mayor and a new board are sworn in Sunday.


Managing Sex Offenders: Citizens Supporting Law Enforcement

View the 52-page PDF here

11/14/2007

Introduction
State and local law enforcement agencies are on the front line of a significant and growing public safety challenge: returning sex offenders. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) estimates that more than 566,000 offenders are listed in state sex offender registries nationwide (March 2006). Further, the most recent statistics from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), estimate that approximately 234,000 sex offenders are under some form of correctional or community supervision. Equally challenging to law enforcement are the sex offenders no longer under these types of formal supervision. The exact number of this population is not known. Of special significance are those sex offenders who have absconded or failed to register with local law enforcement agencies.

Considerable media coverage of high profile cases involving violent sex offenders and predators has increased public demand to know what law enforcement is doing to prevent future victimization and what citizens can do to protect themselves. These concerns have precipitated a wave of new legislative activity across the country. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), “new means to supervise and protect the public from sex offenders were top anti-crime priorities of
state legislatures in 2005.” State legislatures passed more than 100 sex offender laws in 2005.1 A report on state policy developments lists sex offenders as one of its 12 “Issues to Watch” in 2006.2

The impact of such legislation on law enforcement is substantial. Laws require state and local law enforcement agencies to maintain sex offender registries and implement community notification practices. New measures require: lifetime registration for certain offenders, electronic monitoring, and a broader scope of offenses subject to
registration. Law enforcement executives must juggle existing resources to ensure that they are equipped to comply with national and state laws requiring their agencies to register, monitor, and track the returning sex offender population in their communities. In addition, law enforcement agencies struggle to strike a balance between increasing public awareness of the presence of high risk offenders while decreasing an atmosphere of fear and anxiety.

To cope with the expanding requirements, law enforcement is tapping into previously untapped resources. Citizens are a major resource. The Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) Program, an initiative of the International Association of Chiefs of Police
(IACP) and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), DOJ, offers wide-ranging information and resources for and about law enforcement volunteer programs. From this program, we know that many law enforcement agencies across the country use citizens to support and expand agency functions, including sex offender management activities. In partnership with BJA, the IACP’s Citizen Involvement in Sex Offender Management Project (CISOM) has comprehensively examined the specific roles of citizens to assist law enforcement to manage sex offenders. Citizens assist with registration, community notification, address verification, and other monitoring and tracking efforts.


UK - Police try out new powers

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Just about everything that starts in the UK, comes to America, so don't be surprised when it does... The Gestapo in the making...

01/03/2008

POLICE officers in Rhondda Cynon Taff have become the first in Wales to use new powers to monitor sex offenders.

The new powers, come under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and are designed to allow them to enter and search the homes of registered sex offenders.

They allow officers to insist on entry into, and to search the premises of, any registered sex offender who does not comply with their registration conditions or refuses to let officers inside on compulsory unannounced visits.

The new entry warrant must be applied for by a police superintendent and issued by a magistrate and can allow officers to enter a property on more than one occasion if they are obstructed by the offender.

This is the first time the new powers have been used in the South Wales Police force area and is believed to be only the third time they have been used in the UK since they became available at the end of August.

Division Superintendent Simon Clarke says the powers will help officers to more strictly manage offenders if they refuse to comply with police requests.

“South Wales police canvassed nationally for additional legislation to give us this power of entry and it will be another valuable tool we can use whenever an offender tries to stop us doing our job,” said Supt Clarke.

“It sends a strong message to offenders and members of the public that we will use all means available to us to manage sex offenders and protect our communities, “ said the police chief.


AZ - A Starring Role for Drivers Who Drink

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12/10/2007

PHOENIX — A conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol is something many people try to conceal, even from their families. But now the bleary-eyed, disheveled and generally miserable visages of convicted drunken drivers here, captured in their mug shots, are available to the entire world via a Web site.

The hall of shame is even worse for drunken drivers convicted of a felony. A select few will find their faces plastered on billboards around Phoenix with the banner headline: Drive drunk, see your mug shot here.

The Web site and billboards, which began last month, are the brainchildren of Andrew P. Thomas, the county attorney here who has served as the prosecutorial counterpart to the county’s hard-edged sheriff, Joe Arpaio, who has been known to force inmates into pink underwear.

The purposes of the billboards and the Web site, Mr. Thomas has said, are to inform the public about drunken-driving laws, and to serve as a deterrent.
- I cannot believe you people believe this is going to deter someone from drinking and driving. Come on!

“People tend to like it, and it gets a message across to the offender,” said Mike Scerbo, a spokesman for Mr. Thomas, who declined to be interviewed. “We haven’t heard any complaints.” There are five billboards near freeways in the Phoenix area, with Mr. Thomas’s name in bold letters, and more will be up soon, Mr. Scerbo said.

While other states have used shame tactics like forcing convicted drunken drivers to use special license plates or pick up roadside litter wearing a placard announcing their crimes, defense lawyers and the spokeswoman for the national chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving said they had never heard of billboards or the Internet being used as scarlet letters.

The billboards will only feature convicted felons, whose crimes, which almost always involve someone’s death, are explained in detail on the Web site, StopDUIAZ.com. But those convicted of misdemeanors can be found on the site if the localities where they were convicted are willing to provide the mug shots and conviction information.

“I just can’t believe he’s doing it,” said Mark Weingart, a defense lawyer in Tempe who has advised hundreds of people facing charges of driving under the influence. “Besides the fact that it is in bad taste, D.U.I.’s usually involve somebody with no criminal history. The downside to this person being published on the Web site is tremendous. I don’t see the point. Why doesn’t he put sex offenders up there?”
- Why don't you just stop pandering to "look good" to the public, and try working on prevention? Also, stop wasting tax payers money with many registries, why don't you just create one CRIMINAL registry with ALL criminals on it for all to see. I'd love to know if a murderer, drug dealer/user, DUI offender, thief, etc live next to me as well. This is discrimination since you are picking on DUI and sex offenders only. And nothing about this will prevent further crime.

The tactic gets mixed reviews from M.A.D.D.

“Some parts of the Web site are good because they are informational and trying to provide the victim’s perspective,” said Misty Moyse, the spokeswoman for the group. However, she said, “M.A.D.D. would not want to be involved in calling out offenders. We are interested in research- and science-based activities proven to stop drunk driving.” Those activities include putting devices on the cars of prior offenders that they are forced to breathe into in order to start their vehicles, a program Arizona has also embraced.

Last year, 32 percent of fatal accidents in the state involved a driver with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit of .08, about average among states.

Mr. Thomas, a Republican, took office as Maricopa County attorney in January 2005 after a campaign that focused on themes of law and order. He has greatly increased the percentage of first-degree murder cases in which the death penalty has been called for, and has put an emphasis on tough punishments. The drunken driving program, which costs roughly $700,000, is paid for via a state justice grant and through assets seized in racketeering convictions.

Calls to roughly a dozen people featured on the site were not returned. But James Coveney, whose son is featured under the misdemeanor section, said he found the measure draconian.

“I think it’s most unfair,” Mr. Coveney said. “Those individuals go through the court system, and that is how it is resolved. I feel this is an extreme invasion of privacy.”


LA - Former inmate sues jail over medical care

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01/02/2008

BAYOU BLUE -- Inadequate medical care at the Terrebonne Parish jail led to a delayed diagnosis of cancer and the amputation of a former inmate's penis, the inmate claims in a lawsuit filed against parish government.

Christopher Medice, 40, said he first noticed symptoms while serving a six-month term for failing to register as a sex offender.

He said he reported the pain, discharge and bleeding to correctional officers and medical staff. After he was released, he said, doctors at the LSU system hospital in Houma diagnosed penile cancer and told him that amputation was necessary.

He sued Terrebonne Parish Consolidated government in state district court, claiming damages for physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, permanent scarring and disfigurement. Under state law, the suit cannot give a specific figure for damages claimed. Medice said he hopes he can have reconstructive surgery if he wins the suit.

Attorney Danna Schwab, who represents the government, was not immediately available Wednesday for comment.

Medice's attorney, Vincent DeSalvo of Houma, refused to comment last week.

Medice, who served four years after pleading guilty in 2000 to carnal knowledge of a 16-year-old girl. He said she told him she was 17. Said he was not eager to sue, but it was his only recourse.


CA - Philbrick Sentenced

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Another rather famous person getting a slap on the wrist, while the average citizen would be in prison for a long time. Talk about double standards, here is proof.

12/21/2007

Jim Philbrick's legal ordeal began more than a year ago after police arrested him during a sting operation.

It's not quite over yet...but at least, the worse seems to be over.

The judge ordered philbrick to serve 3 years probation and wear an ankle monitor for 90 days.

The former t-v news anchor reached a plea agreement with the County D.A. office last month.

He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges instead of felonies of soliciting sex from a young boy over the internet. This means that Philbrick will not have to register as a sex offender.

The young boy was actually a 25-year-old man working for the watchdog group called Perverted Justice.

Despite the charges, Philbrick always maintained he was role-playing with the person over the internet because they were in an adult gay chatroom.

Aside from probation the judge also ordered philbrick to pay some fines.


OH - How the Police Create Crimes: Criminals With Badges

View the article here | Related Story

01/02/2008

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
Counterpunch

Take heed, ye red-blooded American males. The police are operating a new sting designed to destroy your life.

The police are planting attractive women half naked in parks. They entice passing males, engage them in conversation, lay back, spread their legs and rest their feet on the men's shoulders.

After being as friendly and suggestive as possible, they ask to see your penis.

Don't show it to them. You are being filmed by police. If you show your penis, you will be arrested as a pervert.

Only American police, judges, and juries could think that responding to a seductress's invitation is proof of perversion. But, hey, you live in America where Christians believe that killing as many Muslims as possible for Israel is God's work. Don't expect a dumb Amerikan jury, or a self-righteous Republican judge, or a mindless law professor to understand entrapment.
- I don't agree with the statement above. I don't think that is a TRUE Christian view. Like Radical Muslims, you have Radical Christians as well.

No, this is not a joke. It is actually happening. Last May in Berliner Park in Columbus, Ohio, Robin Garrison, a 42-year-old firefighter was lured into arrest by a half naked woman under a tree.

In reporting the story, the idiot--possibly some male-hating feminist--who wrote the headline for ABC News describes the above: "Topless Woman Lured Perverts in Police Sting."

Get that, red-blooded American males. You are a pervert if you show your penis to a woman who is seducing you.

The reporter, Marcus Baram, is not indignant about the sting. Neither is Gabriel Chin, a University of Arizona law professor who says: "It's not entrapment to give somebody an opportunity to commit a crime."

It was Anglo-Saxons who made laws against entrapment. Thanks to law professors like Chin, gullible reporters and jurors, and corrupt police, prosecutors, and judges, Americans no longer have the protection of law. In the Orwellian world in which we now live, a male who succumbs to female seduction is a pervert.

The American police have never prevented crimes. In olden days, the police solved crimes by finding the guilty party. No more. In our time, the police create crimes. And that is why the US prison population is twice the size of China's, an authoritarian country with a population four to five times larger than America's.

And not only in Columbus, Ohio, are crimes created by police. The corrupt New York Police Department ensnared 300 innocents during 2007 via "Operation Lucky Bag." Police place IPods, cell phones, wallets, and shopping bags containing items in New York subway stations. The items appear to be dropped, lost, or abandoned. Anyone who picks up one of the planted items is arrested for "subway grand larceny."

This particular police atrocity is in conflict with New York law, which allows someone who finds property 10 days to turn it in to the police or to find the owner.

The corrupt NYPD says that the property left as bait has not been abandoned, but is the property actively left by an officer who is still in the vicinity."

There you have it. The American Police--"support your local Gestapo"--spend their time engineering false crimes and not investigating real crimes. Americans are more at risk from the police than they are from criminals.

On December 29, I received yet another email from a law-abiding American family harassed by police. The family refused to sell a $75,000 piece of property to a deputy sheriff for $4,000. Farm operations were obstructed. The mother was stopped every time she went out in the car. The son was framed and sent to prison.

Never make the mistake of calling the police, and never get stopped by a traffic cop. You run the risk that he will drop a bag of drugs into you car and arrest you on a drug offense. If you encounter a police officer, be sure you have thousands of dollars with which to buy him off from making false charges. Most police charges are false charges. Americans need to wake up to this fact or the American prison population will outstrip the rest of the world combined.


Programmed for love

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This is just insane!

01/02/2008

Author sees hard-wired sex in the future - and apparently it's all good - especially if you like robots

If you're younger than 35, you'll probably live long enough to put David Levy's prediction to the test. Levy says that by 2050 we'll be creating robots so lifelike, so imbued with human-seeming intelligence and emotions, as to be nearly indistinguishable from real people. And we'll have sex with these robots. Some of us will even marry them. And it will all be good.

Levy lays out his vision of a Brave New Carnal World in Love and Sex With Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships, which, despite its extended riffs on sex toys through the ages, is a snigger-free book. Levy's no Al Goldstein. Rather he's a 62-year-old British chess master turned artificial-intelligence expert persuaded that robot sex can brighten the lives of many, many unhappy people. "Great sex on tap for everyone, 24/7,'' he writes on the final page of the book. What's not to like?

"Chess'' and "sex'' aren't words that normally share the same sentence, but in Levy's case, the one led to the other. A keen chessman since boyhood, by the time he got to St. Andrews University he played at the international level. At the university he got interested in computers and the challenge of programming machines to play chess. Eventually he earned international recognition for his work on chess-playing computers and natural-language software, and in the mid '90s headed a team that won the Loebner Prize, widely regarded as the world championship of conversational software. Today he owns a firm that develops electronic hand-held brain games.

Designing computers that talk like humans naturally led to the larger question of how humans interact with robots, which are nothing more than computers with arms and legs and a head. The Japanese have taken the lead in developing "partner robots,'' machines that, for example, might do household tasks for elderly people. But if you could invent a robot that serves cocktails, could you not invent a robot that would make a superior bedmate?

It sounds like a mighty tall order. A machine with skin that feels like ours? With our physical dexterity? And, most important, with a mind like ours - imperfectly rational, sometimes emotionally intelligent, sometimes emotionally dumb?

"I think it's a reasonable assumption,'' Levy said in a telephone interview from his home in London. He lays out his case in a voice that's calm, rational, almost flat, more geeky than goatish.

"If one looks at the advances in technology in the last, say, 40 or 50 years, they've been immense, and the more we learn about the science and the technology, the quicker it will be to discover even more within that science."

Smart money never bets against technological advances, but it helps if you stack the deck. "The automaton simulates man when man has been defined in an automaton's way," literary critic Hugh Kenner wrote. Is that what Levy does?

"I take a pragmatic point of view," he said, "partly because in my original field, computer chess, that was how the problem was solved." Not by making machines that thought like chess masters but by making machines that beat chess masters. Similarly, Levy thinks, robots need only "simulate" human intelligence and emotions "to the point that they are absolutely convincing." If you can't tell whether the thing is man or machine, what difference does it make? You'll treat it as if it were alive. The rest is philosophical hairsplitting.

So who will avail themselves of 21st-century sexbots?

Sad cases, for one, people so physically unattractive or anti-social or isolated or emotionally crippled that they have trouble finding human romance. People who love their computers more than their fellows. Hey, they're out there already.

"They're lonely; they're miserable," Levy said. "I think society will be a much better place when they have an alternative that satisfies them without doing any harm to other people."

Add in those who have a satisfying sexual relationship but are simply curious and somewhere between 20 percent and 50 percent of the population will experience man-machine mating at least occasionally, Levy predicts.

He respects the fact that plenty of people, out of moral or religious conviction, will contemplate this with horror.

"But by and large," he said, "it will be very good for society, very beneficial, and I think that will be the majority view within a relatively short space of time."

Sexbots may put prostitutes out of business, he notes.

Near the end of the book Levy alludes to a set of vexing questions. If robots become utterly humanlike, must we not treat them as more than machines? So if you marry a robot, can it inherit your estate? If you catch it boffing the mail carrier, can you toss it out with heavy trash? If your robot pops your neighbor in the mouth, who does your neighbor sue?

Levy admits he doesn't know the answers.

"There are lot of questions here that need a great deal of discussion and consideration from people who are much wiser than I am in the field of ethics, philosophy and law. Clearly the law makers and the lawyers are going to have a field day debating these issues."

He expects the impetus for creating sexbots to come from the sex-toy industry rather than, say, MIT. Already a Japanese sex-doll manufacturer has announced plans to market a doll with electronics in it, and Levy has read that Japanese companies are working to produce sex robots for people living in outlying fishing villages.

"I think the Japanese are probably working on this more than one would realize from the little that's been published so far," he said.

Levy has been amazed at the publicity the Love and Sex With Robots has generated since its release last month. He's done a dozen radio interviews and a TV interview. Howard Stern raved about the book. So far, no hate mail.

Would Levy himself have sex with a robot? He doesn't have to ponder the question.

"If there was a robot of the sort I describe in the book, I would certainly want to experience using it for sex, and I wouldn't regard it as anything untoward," he said. "I would do it out of curiosity. Not that I have a need for a new sex partner. I'm happily married."

And the wife would be OK with this?

"Yes, yes, and if she wanted to try one I wouldn't have a problem with that. I would regard it as genuine scientific curiosity."


Avoiding Kids: How Men Cope With Being Cast as Predators

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09/06/2007

These days, if Rian Romoli accidentally bumps into a child, he quickly raises his hands above his shoulders. "I don't want to give even the slightest indication that any inadvertent touching occurred," says Mr. Romoli, an economist in La Cañada Flintridge, Calif.

Ted Wallis, a doctor in Austin, Texas, recently came upon a lost child in tears in a mall. His first instinct was to help, but he feared people might consider him a predator. He walked away. "Being male," he explains, "I am guilty until proven innocent."

In San Diego, retiree Ralph Castro says he won't allow himself to be alone with a child -- even in an elevator.

Last month, I wrote about how our culture teaches children to fear men. Hundreds of men responded, many lamenting that they've now become fearful of children. They said they avert their eyes when kids are around, or think twice before holding even their own children's hands in public.

Frank McEnulty, a builder in Long Beach, Calif., was once a Boy Scout scoutmaster. "Today, I wouldn't do that job for anything," he says. "All it takes is for one kid to get ticked off at you for something and tell his parents you were acting weird on the campout."

It's true that men are far more likely than women to be sexual predators. But our society, while declining to profile by race or nationality when it comes to crime and terrorism, has become nonchalant about profiling men. Child advocates are advising parents never to hire male babysitters. Airlines are placing unaccompanied minors with female passengers.
- This was said by John Walsh himself, who claims he had a sexual addiction as well.

Child-welfare groups say these precautions minimize risks. But men's rights activists argue that our societal focus on "bad guys" has led to an overconfidence in women. (Children who die of physical abuse are more often victims of female perpetrators, usually mothers, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.)

Though groups that cater to the young are working harder to identify predators, they also ask that risks be kept in perspective. Big Brothers Big Sisters of America does criminal background checks on each of its 250,000 volunteers, and has social workers assess them. Since 1990, the group says, it has had fewer than 10 abuse allegations per year. More than 98% of the alleged abusers were male.

"If we wanted to make sure we never had a problem, one approach would be to just become Big Sisters -- to say we won't serve boys," says Mack Koonce, the group's chief operating officer. But, of course, that would deny hundreds of thousands of boys contact with male mentors.

The Boy Scouts of America now has elaborate rules to prevent both abuse and false accusations. There are 1.2 million Scout leaders, and the organization kicks out about 175 of them a year over abuse allegations or for violating policies.

These policies can be intricate. For instance, four adult leaders are needed for each outing. If a sick child must go home, two adults drive him and two stay with the others, so no adult is ever alone with a Scout. "It's protection for the adults, as well as the children," says a Scouts spokesman.

The result of all this hyper-carefulness, however, is that men often feel like untouchables. In Cochranville, Pa., Ray Simpson, a bus driver, says that he used to have 30 kids stop at his house on Halloween. But after his divorce, with people knowing he was a man living alone, he had zero visitors. "I felt like crying at the end of the evening," he says.

At Houston Intercontinental Airport, businessman Mitch Reifel was having a meal with his 5-year-old daughter when a policeman showed up to question him. A passerby had reported his interactions with the child seemed "suspicious."

In Skokie, Ill., Steve Frederick says the director of his son's day-care center called him in to reprimand him for "inappropriately touching the children." "I was shocked," he says. "Whatever did she mean?" She was referring to him reading stories with his son and other kids on his lap. A parent had panicked when her child mentioned sitting on a man's lap.

"Good parenting and good education demand that we let children take risks," says Mr. Frederick, a career coach. "We install playground equipment, putting them at risk of falls and broken bones. Why? We want them to challenge themselves and develop muscles and confidence.

"Likewise, while we don't want sexual predators to harm our kids, we do want our kids to develop healthy relationships with adults, both men and women. Instilling a fear of men is a profound disservice to everyone."

Write to Jeffrey Zaslow at jeffrey.zaslow@wsj.com


LA - Sex offender registry law goes into effect

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01/02/2008

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Law enforcement officers will be required to keep better tabs on convicted sex offenders under a new law that goes into effect Tuesday.

The law makes sex offenders register with the state Sex Offender and Child Predator Registry longer, update their information more often and provide officials with new details about their whereabouts.

For example, a person convicted of a sexual offense against a minor must renew and update his or her registration every six months for 25 years.

Older laws required such an offender to register once a year for 10 years or if he or she changed addresses.

Lt. Leland Falcon of the Louisiana State Police said the agency plans on handling the increased workload by shifting personnel. The state police oversee the sex offender registry.

The Attorney General's Office Sexual Predator Apprehension team will help where and when it can, said Emma Devillier, an assistant attorney general.

"The idea is to see who has the most need for our manpower and training," she said.

The new law allocates money from fees paid by sex offenders when they register to the Attorney General's Office to help sheriff's offices monitor and track sex offenders with new computer systems.


FL - State fosters homelessness with offender registry law

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01/02/2008

Because of its perverse laws against sex offenders -- laws that permanently brand offenders and forbid them to live in many parts of the state -- Florida is actively creating homeless colonies.

At least two have cropped up with the Department of Corrections' help. One is under a bridge below the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Miami. About 20 offenders live there. Another is in the woods off John Young Parkway in Orlando, long frequented by the homeless. Needless to say, neither colony has running water, electricity, sanitation, telephones or security. At least one murder took place at the Orlando camp this year.

Before offenders are released from prison, the Department of Corrections spends up to three months locating a place to stay for them anywhere in the state. When the search proves fruitless, they point to the homeless camps. Some offenders go there. Others disappear, which goes against the state's interest in keeping track of them.

It's easy to say that the offenders get what they deserve. No one forced them to break the law, after all. Now they're paying for it. Not exactly: Paying for it is going to jail, serving out sentences and supervision time. Once they've done that, they're owed the same basic rights as anyone else. Creating colonies of homeless ex-offenders isn't the offenders' doing. It's the doing of state and local laws that wantonly deny ex-offenders their rights, property rights among them.

The system goes out of its way to ensnare former offenders again. Take Gideon Bernhard, a 59-year-old man who lived in Deltona until summer. In 1998, he was convicted in Seminole County and sentenced to probation and community control on charges of sexual acts with a 14-year-old girl. In 2006, he was again on probation. He had not recommitted sexual acts with a minor. Most sex offenders don't recommit. His offense: He'd failed to register as a sex offender. That year, the law changed, requiring offenders to register twice a year instead of once. But why require ex-offenders who have served their time to register at all, especially when it turns into such an easy setup for lawbreaking?

For Bernhard, probation set him up for his next problem. At a July 4 parade he was arrested for disorderly conduct for pointing a laser light at spectators. (He owned an LED laser light business.) The charges were dropped, but not before Bernhard spent 120 days in jail awaiting a hearing. Because of the probation charge, he was ineligible for bail. And because he spent 120 days in jail, he was thrown out of his three-bedroom home in Deltona and his business inventory was seized. He'd been able to live in that Deltona home because his residence there pre-dated the city's draconian ordinance forbidding sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of where children gather, including bus stops. Without the grandfather clause, Bernhard had to find a place that fit the new restrictions. Aside from swampland on the periphery of the city. Deltona barely has such places.

So Gideon Bernhard, who'd been living a relatively productive life, lost it all due to a series of circumstances, none of which should have led to his eviction. Now he's homeless and living in the wretched camp in the woods off John Young Parkway. Bernhard paid his debt for the 1998 sentence. Now he's paying the state's debt for hysterical, indefensible laws.

States and localities, pushed by courts, are beginning to realize that the draconian laws forbidding sex-offender residence are wrong and counterproductive. But it's a slow process. As far as eliminating Florida's homeless colonies is concerned, it shouldn't be. The state created the problem with those draconian laws. The state should assume the responsibility of housing the offenders more decently by providing a shelter or underwriting the costs of the offenders' stay -- anywhere appropriate but in homeless camps.


SD - Klaudt's Likely Future In Prison

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Wonder what will happen when they find out who he is, and that he helped pass laws to PUNISH sex offenders?

01/01/2008

His lawyer says he's ready to take responsibility. And on Friday, former state representative Ted Klaudt will be sentenced for raping two of his former foster daughters. Klaudt faces up to 100 years in prison for the acts that happened in a Hughes County motel room during legislative sessions.

Klaudt's status as a public figure raises questions about how he'll fare in prison. Warden Doug Weber spoke about what could lie ahead.

While serving as a state lawmaker for eight years, Ted Klaudt preached morals. He also voted in favor of bills regarding tougher laws for sex offenders, including the implementation of the state's online sex offender registry.

On Friday, after Judge James Anderson hands down the sentence for Klaudt's most immoral crimes, he will most likely register on that sex offender list and head to prison for a significant amount of time.

But he won't be the first public figure incarcerated in South Dakota.

"Typically what we do is we treat them like anybody else. We have to reassure them that things are going to be all right. And they are," Warden Doug Weber said.

He says public figures can fit in among other inmates.

"By and large, the men that we've had over the years that have law enforcement background or have been lawyers or doctors or whatever the case may be, have done just fine in population," Weber said.

But prison can be especially tough for sex offenders, and that could play a role in which unit Klaudt will be housed.

"He'll come into this Jameson Annex, and he'll be processed where we started down the hallway, and he'll end up in one of these cells for about 15 days while he goes through a battery of tests and we determine what the most appropriate placement is for him," Weber said.

Klaudt carries with him some big notoriety, and he's also a big man, which Weber says the prison is also ready to handle.

"We've had big guys in here before, so absolutely we can handle it. I mean, we've had to make longer beds because we had a guy in here that was 6-feet-11-inches tall. We've had to make bigger beds because of heavier guys. We've had to make special accommodations in the past. We're very good at it we're capable of doing it," Weber said.

But Klaudt most likely will not get his own cell. He'll have a roommate, and despite his past, will be treated just like any other inmate in the South Dakota State Penitentiary.

If prison officials feel that an inmates life is in danger at the South Dakota Pen, they can send them to a prison in a different state.

Klaudt will be sentenced a second time next week for witness tampering, so he could end up with a total of 120 years in prison.


FL - Mandarin Man Shocked To Find His Address Listed For Sex Offender

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01/01/2008

JACKSONVILLE -- A man whose address was mistakenly listed as that of a sexual offender is worried that it could hurt his family and that the same thing could happen to others.

Claudio DiGregorio and his family live what he calls a normal life in a quiet Mandarin neighborhood. He was startled when he discovered his street number listed on a state Web site as the residence of a man was recently released from prison on a conviction of lewd and lascivious battery child under 15.

"My first impulse is that I was angry," DiGregorio said. "I was angry, I was shocked."

DiGregorio said things got worse when he got a mailing from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement asking sex offenders to verify their address.

"My son (is) happy in the community where I raise him, without dealing with something like this," DiGregorio told Channel 4's Vickie Pierre. "This right here blows my mind to no end."

DiGregorio said he contacted the FDLE, but is still waiting for them to remove his address. Channel 4 contacted both the FDLE and the Florida Department of Corrections, but no one was available because of the holiday.

"Your reputation and your character itself is very important," DiGregorio said. "To me, that's the backbone of what this world is about."

"If someone uses my address to get out of prison and no one does a follow-up, I believe it could happen to anyone," DiGregorio said.

Channel 4 will try again to reach the FDLE and DOC on Wednesday.