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So why are they not being prosecuted for not upholding their oath of office? Check out the video at the end... :)
Article III, Section IV, Paragraph II.
Oath of members. Each Senator and Representative, before taking the seat to which elected, shall take the oath or affirmation prescribed by law.
Article III, Section VI, Paragraph I.
General powers. The General Assembly shall have the power to make all laws not inconsistent with this Constitution, and not repugnant to the Constitution of the United States, which it shall deem necessary and proper for the welfare of the state.
45-3-1. Oaths required in addition to oath of office and constitutional oath
Every public officer shall:
(1) Take the oath of office;
(2) Take any oath prescribed by the Constitution of Georgia;
(3) Swear that he or she is not the holder of any unaccounted for public money due this state or any political subdivision or authority thereof;
(4) Swear that he or she is not the holder of any office of trust under the government of the United States, any other state, or any foreign state which he or she is by the laws of the State of Georgia prohibited from holding;
(5) Swear that he or she is otherwise qualified to hold said office according to the Constitution and laws of Georgia;
(6) Swear that he or she will support the Constitution of the United States and of this state; and
(7) If elected by any circuit or district, swear that he or she has been a resident thereof for the time required by the Constitution and laws of this state.
45-3-11. Loyalty oath -- Persons required to take oath generally
All persons who are employed by and are on the payroll of the state and are the recipients of wages, per diem, or salary of the state or its departments and agencies, with the exception of pages employed by the General Assembly, and all counties and cities, school districts, and local educational systems throughout the entire state, are required to take an oath that they will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Georgia, and that they are not members of the Communist Party.
45-3-15. Loyalty oath -- Proceeding for false swearing when oath violated
If any person required to do so by Code Sections 45-3-11 through 45-3-14 and this Code section executes a loyalty oath and subsequently it is proved that said individual has violated the oath, then the governing authority shall institute proceedings in the proper court against such person for false swearing.
16-10-71. False swearing
(a) A person to whom a lawful oath or affirmation has been administered or who executes a document knowing that it purports to be an acknowledgment of a lawful oath or affirmation commits the offense of false swearing when, in any matter or thing other than a judicial proceeding, he knowingly and willfully makes a false statement.
(b) A person convicted of the offense of false swearing shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000.00 or by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years, or both.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
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It wasn't enough to just go along with the useless MySpace "agreement," New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (Contact) joined forces with State Sen. Joseph Bruno (Contact) and State Assemblyman Sheldon Silver (Email) in announcing the Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act (E-Stop… isn't that CUTE?), which is a new bill that promises to prevent sex offenders from accessing social networks like MySpace and Facebook.
Without getting into the nitty gritty of the bill, it proposes to do this by (wait for it), requiring registered sex offenders in New York to disclose their email addresses and online identities. New York will them compile this data and turn it over to the sites, allowing them to cross-reference this list with their user database, and then block access when they get a match.
Have you stopped laughing yet? The proposed law would view a change of email address without notification within 5 days of the change as a parole violation.
I'm a New York State resident, and I honestly have to believe that the Attorney General's office just can't figure out how to actually get anyone with any kind of technical knowledge to give input when proposing this sort of legislation. The number of ways to avoid being caught at this are astronomical, especially when you consider that New York has 25,000 registered sex offenders who could possibly be on this list. I can probably register for 10 new email addresses in the next five minutes using a Web anonymizer program. The sex offender registry has shown time and time again that they can't even keep track of WHERE many of the sex offenders are, and I'm supposed to believe they will be able to track something as changeable as an email address?
- Yes, they want all the sheeple to believe everything they say, and you know what, they are believing it... Nothing about this bill or any of the sex offender laws, will protect children from a true predator, period. Does laws prevent murderers from murdering, drug dealers from selling, or DUI offenders from driving drunk? Nope!
These initiatives are getting a great deal of press lately, and are nothing more than empty attempts with no real protection behind them. I'm far more interested in the proposal that Symantec has floated at DEMO this week, which is supposed to put more of the responsibility for staying safe online in a combined effort between parents and children. Anything has to be better than what the legislators are coming up with.
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I cannot believe people are so ignorant and gullible to believe these laws are going to protect children from serious predators! Do you really think a true predator is going to obey the laws? All they have to do is create a new identity in a matter of seconds and go about their business. Why does the America people believe this will protect children? It won't, it's a "false sense" of security that is nothing but a placebo. As Hitler once said "Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it." More ways to control the sheeple!!
ALBANY — In what is being billed as the nation’s most comprehensive legislation to dramatically enhance protections for New Yorkers, especially children, from sexual predators on the Internet, the new and comprehensive Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act (e-STOP) was introduced Tuesday by the legislative leaders at the request of Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
The legislation establishes vital protections against sexual predators so that users of the Internet - especially children - can more safely surf the Web. The legislation will restrict certain sex offenders’ use of the Internet and updates Megan’s Law for the Internet age.
“We have seen far too many times that in the hands of a sexual predator the Internet can pose a clear and present danger to New York’s most vulnerable,” said Cuomo. “With the Internet, sexual predators have found an ideal tool to prey on the innocent with anonymity. While government has enacted dramatic protections from sex offenders in recent years, existing laws have not kept pace with the rapid advances in technology.”
Current laws are not enough to protect children and keep sexual offenders from misusing the Internet. In fact, recent investigations have found tens of thousands of sex offenders had signed onto at least one of the most popular social networking sites. Far too often, sexual predators use the Internet to commit crimes against children.
Passage of the Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act would enable New York to combat the increasing misuse of the Internet. It would require sex offenders to register their email addresses, instant message screen names and any other online identifiers, and would give access to that information to online social networking companies. Those sites would then be able to prescreen and block access by convicted sex offenders.
Sex offenders have been shown to have recidivism rates far higher than those who commit other types of crimes.
According to the state Division for Criminal Justice Services, there are nearly 25,000 registered sex offenders in the state.
• 9,565 are level 2 registered sex offenders (moderate risk to commit another sex crime).
• 6,515 are level 3 registered sex offenders (high risk to commit another sex crime and a threat to public safety exists).
The Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators (e-STOP) Act:
• Requires that sex offenders register all of their Internet accounts and Internet identifiers (email addresses and designations used for chat, instant messaging, social networking or other similar Internet communication) with the State Division of Criminal Justice Services.
• Authorizes the Division of Criminal Justice Services to release state sex offender Internet identifiers (email addresses and designations used for chat, instant messaging, social networking or other similar Internet communication) to social networking sites and certain other online services, that may be used to prescreen or remove sex offenders from using the site’s services, and notify law enforcement authorities and other government officials of potential violations of law and threats to public safety.
• Requires, as a condition of probation or parole, mandatory restrictions on a sex offender’s access to the Internet where the offender’s victim was a minor, the Internet was used to commit the offense or the offender was designated a level 3 (highest level) offender. Such offenders would be banned from accessing social networking web sites, accessing pornographic materials, communicating with anyone for the purpose of promoting sexual relations with a minor, and communicating, in most circumstances, with anyone under the age of 18.
Parents are advised to take preventive steps to keep their children safe and issued tips on How to Occupy Space on Social Networking Websites Safely:
–Be cautious about sharing your personal information online that can be used to locate you offline. This includes your screen name, personal photos, hobbies, social security numbers, address, phone number, bank or credit card number, and for children, the schools they attend. Remember, websites for underage users are not permitted to request personal information without a parent’s permission.
–Do not share information online that you would not share offline - There are no “Takebacks.” Once information is posted online, it cannot be removed. If deleted or modified, older versions continue to exist online. Share information that is appropriate for the public. Remember, colleges and potential employers may rely on a social networking website to check you out.
–Use Privacy Settings to restrict access. Social networking websites provide a variety of privacy settings that can restrict access to personal information. These settings block unknown individuals from breaking into your account and misusing your profile and information.
–Install safeguarding programs with monitoring or filtering capabilities. Your online service provider may offer these services. Setting up a monitoring product is like a having a camera in the corner of your local bank - it can help collect evidence for law enforcement and trace a predator, if necessary.
–Watch out for unsolicited messages and emails. Do not respond to emails or download attachments you are not expecting. Some viruses can “spoof” the name and email address of friends and fool users into an unwanted online relationship.
Beware of inappropriate or threatening online behavior. Risky online behavior can lead to cyber crimes. It may start with an online stranger following you into chat rooms, breaking into your account, abusing your personal information, sending you sexual solicitations or signing you up for porn sites and IM. Pay attention to these predators. Websites do not have the capability to verify ages or information of their users.
–If in doubt, report it! If you believe that a predator is communicating with you or your child, you must report it. In every case where a child is molested or killed by an Internet sexual predator, law enforcement find messages sent to the predator by parents threatening to report them. Do not hesitate to report it.
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top law enforcement official said on Friday he keeps in his office a portrait of George Orwell, whose book "1984" envisioned a futuristic technology security state overseen by a prying "Big Brother."
But the inspiration comes from Orwell's writing style, not the dystopian world the English writer depicted, an aide said.
Attorney General Michael Mukasey, in his first extensive meeting with reporters since taking office in November, said he selected two portraits for his office, the first being Robert Jackson, a former Supreme Court Justice, U.S. attorney general and Nuremberg war crimes prosecutor.
Mukasey, a former federal judge, said he admired Jackson for his clarity of expression and thought.
"I said I had his picture hanging. His was one of two. The other was George Orwell, so put 'em together " Mukasey said without elaborating.
Asked what Mukasey saw in Orwell, Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said it was his clarity. "When he was a judge, he assigned new law clerks George Orwell's 1946 essay 'Politics and the English Language.' It's one of the first things our speechwriter received as well," Carr said.
Orwell wrote in his essay, "Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."
Jackson also had memorable sayings. "The price of freedom of religion, or of speech, or of the press, is that we must put up with a good deal of rubbish," he once wrote.
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Lawyer for convicts says it's oppressive
Defense lawyers renewed their constitutional challenges to the state's new sexual predator law yesterday, this time in an effort to free two convicted child molesters who state officials say are dangerous enough to remain confined - even though they've each served their maximum prison sentence.
"New Hampshire has produced one of the most oppressive laws of this type in the United States," public defender Mark Larsen told a judge in Hillsborough County Superior Court.
The new law, which allows the state to confine dangerous sex offenders beyond their prison sentences for five years of treatment, went into effect more than a year ago. But it remains largely untested in court because the first cases brought were dropped or dismissed before they had gotten very far.
One of those cases involved convicted rapist William DeCato of Pembroke. Larsen raised a series of constitutional challenges in that case in May, but prosecutors dropped their case against DeCato before the judge could rule. DeCato was freed this spring.
Now Larsen and his office are defending the only other men charged so far under the new law.
Thomas Hurley, 48, recently finished two 7½- to 15-year prison sentences for raping a 10-year-old boy in Hillsborough County in 1986. While serving his sentence, Hurley repeatedly requested sex offender treatment and once even asked about castration, according to court records. Prison officials told Hurley they didn't believe he was sincere about completing the sex offender treatment program, the records said.
The other man is William Ploof, 48, who recently finished a 10-year-sentence for sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy in 1993 and again in 1996 when the boy was 13. According to the state's recent petition to keep Ploof for treatment, Ploof has claimed between 20 and 50 other victims and scored high on a test that estimates a person's potential to reoffend.
Both men remain at the state prison, in the Secure Psychiatric Unit, pending the outcome of their current cases. If Hillsborough County prosecutors convince a judge or jury, which ever the men choose, that they suffer from a mental abnormality and are likely to reoffend, they will be held for up to five years for treatment. If they are considered still dangerous after the first five years, they can be reconfined for another five years.
Yesterday, Larsen said the new law is unconstitutional on several grounds:
• Hurley and Ploof participated in sexual offender or mental health treatment in prison believing their conversations with counselors would always be confidential. The new law, however, allows prosecutors to use those treatment records against Hurley and Ploof even though they could not have never have anticipated that possibility.
"This is a striking and disturbing change under the law in New Hampshire," Larsen said.
• The new law is described as a treatment program but it's really another punishment for past offenses Hurley and Ploof have already answered for, Larsen said. As evidence, Larsen said the five-year commitment period is as long as a felony sentence. There's no promise an offender can get back into court before that five-year period if he is no longer dangerous. Treatment is not explicitly required in the law. And anyone held will be held with inmates at the prison, even though they are no longer an inmate.
"All of these things, individually may not be so much a problem," Larsen said. "But together, they are oppressive and penal."
• The law, Larsen said, is really another way to commit the mentally ill. Offenders must suffer from a mental abnormality and remain dangerous, but the term "mentally ill" is not sufficiently defined, he said. There are already laws to commit the mentally ill that are more humane, Larsen said.
Michael Valentine, a Hillsborough County prosecutor who is handling Hurley's case, disputed each of Larsen's points yesterday.
• He said New Hampshire's civil commitment law is not excessively worse than those in other states. It falls in the middle, he said.
• The five-year commitment is not unreasonably long, he said. The state's other civil commitment law for those not convicted of sexually violent offenses also carries a five-year term. Although there is a different process for reviewing the person's mental health.
• The Legislature did not create this law simply as another way to confine the mentally ill. People are eligible to be held under the sexual predator law only if they suffer a mental abnormality and remain dangerous and likely to reoffend. That distinguishes violent sexual predators from the other mentally ill who are committed after being found insane or for other reasons.
• Valentine said the law is not unfairly retroactive. Hurley and Ploof have served their prison sentences for their past crimes. But because the state believes they remain dangerous today, that is a current and new condition, Valentine said.
Valentine quoted a past United States Supreme Court decision issued following an appeal of another state's sexual offender law.
"The liberty secured by the Constitution of the United States to every person within its jurisdiction does not import an absolute right in each person to be at all times and in all circumstances, wholly free from restraint.
"On any other basis, organized society could not exist with safety to its members. Accordingly, states have in certain narrow circumstances provided for the forcible civil detainment of people who are unable to control their behavior and who thereby pose a danger to the public health and safety."
Judge Gillian Abramson did not immediately rule on Larsen's arguments yesterday. Hurley is tentatively scheduled to stand trial first, in April.
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Beccy Hasselbarth Also Helped The Boy Escape From Youth Facility
LAGUNA NIGUEL (CBS) ― An ex-juvenile probation counselor who admitted having sex with a 17-year-old inmate and helping him after he escaped was sentenced to a year in county jail and three years probation, prosecutors said.
Beccy Hasselbarth, 36, of Murrieta, admitted that over a period of nine months in 2005, she engaged in sex with the boy, who was under her supervision at the Los Pinos Youth Facility.
Hasselbarth entered a guilty plea on Friday at the Laguna Niguel courthouse to three felony counts each of oral copulation of a minor and unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and one count of being an accessory after the fact -- all felonies, and three misdemeanor counts of child annoyance, said Farrah Emami of the Orange County District Attorney's Office.
Hasselbarth will have to register as a sex offender, Emami said.
After the boy escaped from the county-operated facility, Hasselbarth helped him by giving him money, Emami said.
The boy reported the relationship to a social worker while in custody in Los Angeles, and the case was referred to Social Services in Orange County, Emami said.
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I truly believe the people in office in Georgia are stubborn idiots who do not know what they are doing. They do NOT listen to experts or even look at the FACTS! This is just going to bring more lawsuits, thus wasting tons of money, and it will continue to have lawsuits as long as the laws violate the Constitution and are unfair. Anybody in Georgia, take your case to court and overload the system with lawsuits!
ATLANTA -- Restrictions on where convicted sex offenders can live, struck down by the Georgia Supreme Court last year as unconstitutional, overwhelmingly passed the House on Tuesday with changes that supporters said would make the new proposal palatable.
- No it won't. It's for rich people who own homes, yet renters are forced to move over and over and over again, they have rights as well, and the SCHR already said they'd file yet another lawsuit if this passes. And the idiots keep voting to pass it when it will not protect anybody. They are all just grandstanding. Why can't Jerry Keen be a man and admit his law sucks?
House Bill 908, which passed on a 141-29 vote, would bar sex offenders listed on the state registry from living or working within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, dacare facilities or other places where children gather.
However, it would allow offenders who have established their residency and own that property to continue to live there if one of the buildings that would otherwise trigger the residency restriction moved in afterwards.
- So if you have since been forced to sell your home since July 1st 2006 when the law went into effect, and are now living in hotels and motels, you are screwed. I'd file a lawsuit and get compensated for the house you lost and all the pain and suffering that came along with it.
The measure now moves to the Senate.
The debate reprised a small portion of the battle over a 2006 law intended to crack down on sex offenders. That law, by House Majority Leader Jerry Keen (Email), R-St. Simons Island, toughened residency restrictions that were already in state law.
- Check out this idiots quotes about these laws. I think his and their intent is very obvious, they cannot admit defeat and want to push all their problems off to other states instead of fixing the problem themselves. These are people who should all be kicked out of office, IMO.
Supporters stressed that, without action, the state will be without a provision intended to shield children from sex offenders who might repeat their crime.
- Nothing about the laws will protect children anyway! You people are all just blind and ignorant and don't want to listen to reason. Do you seriously think that a true predator would obey these laws if they wanted to commit another crime? And do you really think these laws would prevent them from committing another crime? If you say yes, you are totally ignorant!
"I think that the people of Georgia want this kind of protection, and I think it's important that we give it to them," said Rep. David Ralston (Email), R-Blue Ridge, the head of the House committee that handles criminal law.
- I'm sure the people want all sex offenders and other criminals dead as well, you going to give them that as well?
Ralston noted that other states in the Southeast currently have the restrictions, raising the prospect that sex offenders might move to Georgia if the law wasn't reinstated.
- That is a cop out, and you just want to push your problems off to others, so you don't have to deal with it, and if you are compliant, get the grant money. What ever happened to justice for ALL? You people all have a chip on your shoulders and are thinking you are "holier than thou!" And you probably call yourself a Christian as well. Pathetic!!!
But opponents questioned whether the measure did any good, pointing to studies indicating that whether sex offenders live close to children has little to do with whether they strike again.
- They do not care at all about what experts say or statistics, that is obvious. They just want to look good to themselves to boost their egos and to look like they are doing something.
"While the legislation makes good press, it doesn't make good sense," said Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam (Email), D-Riverdale.
Others said it would also be struck down because it didn't recognize the property rights of renters, which the Georgia Supreme Court has upheld in previous rulings.
"Now that we're coming back even after the court has struck down the residency portion of this, we still continue to pass laws that are going to have us back in court spending taxpayers dollars," said Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan, D-Austell.
- Meanwhile the value of the dollar is crashing, the deficit is shot to hell, and the USA is going to hell, yet we keep doing the same things! If you want a different outcome, then you cannot do the same and expect that, you need to do something different.
They also said the new measure was broad enough that some offenders convicted of having consensual sex as minors would be haunted by its provisions.
A provision in the 2006 law cracking down on sex offenders exempted most of those convicted of consensual sex when they were younger from having to register, but that measure was not made retroactive, meaning those convicted before the 2006 law took effect must still sign up and be tracked.
"Where will they work? Where do we expect them to live?" Morgan asked.
- The idiots passing these laws do not want sex offenders to work or live, they want them all in prison, that is the REAL purpose.
Rep. Steve Davis (Email), R-McDonough, slammed those objections.
- So, anybody can oppose them and stamp their feet like this child. But you all took an oath to uphold the constitution, which was apparently a lie... So we have a bunch of lying, cheating, egotistical hypocrites in office. GOD HELP US ALL!!
"For us to come up here and say we're more concerned about the property rights of a convicted felon, child molester, than we are about our children? You've got to be kidding me," he said.
- Um, not all sex offenders are child molesters, and EVERYONE HAS RIGHTS!!!! Ever heard of "And Liberty and Justice for ALL?" It doesn't say "unless you are a felon!" Also, check out the Constitution and Bill of Rights, which you've apparently never read!
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New York's lawmakers have introduced legislation to keep convicted sex offenders off the likes of Facebook and MySpace.
- Why? Not all sex offenders who use these sites are not out trolling for children to harm. So banning all, when they are not seeking children is wrong. I could understand banning someone who used the Internet or these sites to commit their crime, but not everyone. Many people use these sites to keep in touch with family and friends.
In a press conference on Tuesday, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (Contact), State Sen. Joseph Bruno (Contact), and Assemblyman Sheldon Silver (Email) unveiled details of the Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act (E-Stop), a new bill to crack down on the presence of sex offenders on the Internet, specifically on sites where they could get in touch with minors. The legislation aims to restrict convicted sex offenders' Web use, banning them from social networks like Facebook and News Corp.'s MySpace.
Under E-Stop, registered sex offenders in New York would have to turn over online identity information, such as e-mail addresses and instant messaging screen names, to the state. Participating social-networking sites would have access to the registry so they could block access, a statement from Cuomo's office explained. In addition, sex offenders who previously had "used the Internet to commit their offense, victimized a minor or who have been determined to be a high risk for committing a new offense" would have their Internet usage restricted by the state's parole board. It would be a violation of parole for a convicted sex offender to change e-mail addresses without notifying authorities within five days.
- But a person who is a real predator and dangerous would simply create a new email address in a matter of minutes and commit their crime.
New York has nearly 25,000 names in its sex offender registry. Cuomo's office has been extremely vocal about social-networking safety for minors, engaging in high-profile legal negotiations with Facebook last year.
Executives at Facebook and MySpace have expressed support for the proposed New York legislation. "We applaud Attorney General Cuomo's leadership, both on this legislation and on the development of precedent-setting social-networking safety principles in which MySpace and 50 state attorneys general recently joined," Hemanshu Nigam, MySpace's chief security officer, said in a statement.
Nigam was referring to the agreement earlier this month in which law enforcement authorities joined up with MySpace representatives to announce an extensive new safety plan. "This bill complements technology we've already put in place to remove registered sex offenders from our community and is a comprehensive approach to protecting Internet users from predators," Nigam continued.
Chris Kelly, Facebook's chief privacy officer, also released a statement: "The E-Stop Act will enhance Facebook's existing use of technology and social rules to build a safer and more trusted environment for its users," he said. "We applaud the leadership of Attorney General Cuomo, Majority Leader Bruno, and Speaker Silver in introducing such effective legislation in the effort to protect kids online."
In the press conference, New York law enforcement authorities expressed concerns bordering on sensationalism, name-checking the hit primetime TV show To Catch a Predator as evidence that children now face far more dangers than they did a generation ago, offline as well as online. But MySpace's Nigam attempted to buoy fears and suggested that the right legal and technological checks can make social-networking sites perfectly safe.
"We often talk about the virtual world of the Internet as separate and apart from everyday life," Nigam said at the press conference. "However, as our teens spend more and more time online this has become a difference without a distinction. Rather than treating the online and offline worlds differently, our goal has been and will continue to be to make our virtual neighborhoods as safe as our real ones."
Kelly, who talked up Facebook's promotion of "a real-name culture instead of a screen-name culture" as evidence of its commitment to safety, agreed that with legislation like E-Stop, social-networking sites will be safe for minors--and then, ideally, they may stop getting targeted as hotbeds of activity for sex offenders.
"We need assistance from govt to identify those individuals," Kelly said.
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Single-year cost spike attributed to change in California law
Eager to keep violent sex predators behind bars, state lawmakers and voters in 2006 vastly expanded the pool of inmates who can be forced into mental hospitals when their prison terms end.
The early result: The state spent about $25 million more last year to screen and evaluate thousands of newly eligible inmates, none of whom it appears were committed to a state institution.
Part of the reason is a backlog of cases. Prosecutors say they are filing more court petitions for commitment, but delays mean it often takes more than a year to reach trial.
But a bigger factor, say those who evaluate sex criminals, is that so few of the newly eligible convicts meet the definition of a sexually violent predator.
"We were really identifying the highest-risk sex offenders for the most part" prior to the changes, said Amy Phenix, a psychologist who evaluates inmates and trains other evaluators under a contract with the state Department of Mental Health. "I haven't noted any cases where they wouldn't have qualified before, and they do now, that I would recommend for commitment."
In legislation and again in Proposition 83, the list of crimes that qualify an inmate for commitment under the state's program for SVPs grew from seven to 35. Also, the state no longer requires multiple victims to qualify an inmate. Now, one crime will do.
The changes brought a wave of soon-to-be-released inmates up for evaluation to determine if they have a diagnosed mental disorder that makes them "likely to engage in sexually violent, predatory criminal conduct without appropriate treatment and custody."
Referrals from corrections officials to the mental health agency ballooned from an average of 45 per month to nearly 750, according to agency data. The number of SVP candidates who were given full psychological evaluations rose from about 19 per month in the year before the change to about 206 — or 240 in the year before the change, to nearly 2,500.
The swell has led to delays in ordering up evaluations for inmates who are approaching their release dates, and a nearly sixfold rise in the number of former inmates being held at the state mental hospital in Coalinga past the end of their sentences, pending their commitment trials. The state pays about $12,500 a month to house them, more than twice the cost of a prison bed.
In the meantime, the number of commitments barely rose, from 24 to 27 (an average of two per month to 2.25). All of them qualified under the earlier law, said agency spokeswoman Nancy Kincaid, citing an informal survey of county prosecutors.
One reason, say psychologists, is that some disorders can be diagnosed only with recurring behavior over at least six months. For many inmates with a single sex offense, there is no verifiable pattern.
"It's casting a larger net to look for more of the fish you want to find," said clinical psychologist Mark Miculian, who does SVP evaluations for the state. "You are also going to capture a lot of fish you may not want."
For the full evaluations, two psychologists are assigned to independently evaluate each inmate. If they disagree, another two are assigned. The state pays about $7,500 for each pair of evaluations, said Kincaid. The annual cost for evaluations alone this year is projected at $27 million.
Supporters say the new law will prevent some of the worst violent offenders from slipping through the cracks. Critics, including some mental health experts, say it has done little more than feed a cottage industry for state-hired psychologists.
"It lowers the threshold so greatly that the (state agency) is flooded with cases now, and it still doesn't change the ultimate number of people who get committed," said Dr. Douglas Tucker, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco. "It's silly, actually."
Tucker does similar assessments for the state of Washington, which in 1990 became the first of 17 states with SVP commitment laws.
Washington's SVP law also sets the bar at a single offense.
"It's good employment for psychologists, but it doesn't really achieve anything," he said. "You're going to get a lot of people who don't have a sexual disorder, who just got drunk."
Prosecutors and some evaluators point to cases of newly eligible inmates that fit the criteria for an SVP and would have been released without the changes in the law. Among the added crimes are continuous sexual abuse of a child and assault or kidnapping with intent to commit a host of sexual offenses. Prior to the changes, those "intent" crimes did not count.
In Contra Costa County, there is one pending SVP case that would not have qualified prior to the change. In Alameda County, prosecutors have filed commitment petitions against five inmates who would not have qualified earlier.
Among them are Eugene Pingitore, 71, who was convicted in 2004 on one count of a lewd and lascivious act for repeated oral copulation with a boy under 14; and David Allen, 39, who committed several sex crimes as both a juvenile and adult, including sexual battery and attempted rape — but only one that would have qualified before the change in the law, court records show.
"We would have never seen these cases" before, said prosecutor Mas Morimoto.
Dr. Clark Clipson, who has evaluated hundreds of inmates for the state, noted a young man who had molested his half-sister as a teenager, then returned as an adult and did it again. He was not prosecuted fully in juvenile court, said Clipson, so it didn't count.
"During the interview he was fairly open about his preference for pre-pubescent girls," said Clipson, who said he assessed the man as an SVP.
Controversy has surrounded such laws since states began to pass them nearly two decades ago as a way to keep violent predators in custody past their prison terms. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld them over claims that they constitute ex post facto punishment.
Since California's law went into effect in 1996, 582 offenders have been committed under the program.
Fewer than a dozen offenders have undergone a five-step treatment program and been released, according to the agency. More than 100, however, have been released through court decisions.
The new laws sought to reduce those cases by making SVP commitments indeterminate, removing the right to a new trial every two years.
Now, 462 SVPs are committed in state hospitals, with another 231 there awaiting their trials.
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I guess the tax payers love demanding laws that will be fought for years in courts, thus wasting their tax payer dollars. Ohio is swamped with law suits right now, and we need to follow suit in ALL STATES. Swamp the system with court cases, appeals, etc.. Then maybe they will open their eyes and think before passing idiotic laws like this.
NEWARK — Despite having a plan in place for challenges to Ohio’s sex-offender laws, Licking County finds itself one of 88 defendants in a class-action federal lawsuit.
The Cuyahoga County public defender filed the lawsuit Friday with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio on behalf of four unnamed plaintiffs against all 88 county sheriff’s offices, who are charged with enforcing the requirements of the Adam Walsh Act.
The law took effect Jan. 1 and changed the classification system so that offenders are placed into one of the three levels based on the sex crime they are convicted of. Previously under Megan’s Law, a classification hearing where evidence was presented to a judge who then designated defendants as sexually oriented offenders, habitual sex offenders and sexual predators.
The Adam Walsh Act, like Megan’s Law, is retroactive, meaning those convicted and entered into the state’s sexual offender registry before Jan. 1 were reclassified into the tier that corresponds with the crime for which they were adjudicated.
In the complaint, received by the Licking County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday, the public defender’s office asserts that the approximately 35,000 sexual offenders in the system before the beginning of the year were “reclassified under the AWA prior to a hearing, without the right to counsel, and absent sufficient procedures to comport with the requirements of due process.”
Paul Kuzmins, assistant Cayahoga County public defender, said the lawsuit does not challenge the “substantive merits” of the law.
Rather, the plaintiffs in this case are concerned with the burden of scheduling a hearing lying with the offender, the failure to inform all offenders of the changes, the ambiguity of some of the law’s language, the lack of explanation of rights and not having appointed counsel, he said.
A teleconference call regarding a temporary restraining order, which would put a halt on the enforcement of the law statewide, is scheduled for today with federal Judge Patricia Gaughan.
Challenges began pouring into the Licking County Courthouse earlier this month, prompting Common Pleas judges Thomas Marcelain and Jon Spahr to issue a stay on all individual cases.
Part of the order required all offenders in the county to remain in compliance with their registration requirements under Megan’s Law until a resolution was decided.
A single hearing on the constitutionality of the law is scheduled for March 24 and is to be preceded by a pair of hearings to clear up other legal questions.
“If this stay is granted and exceeds or goes past what the (Licking County) Common Pleas Court has said, then whether (the local court) can go forward is up in the air,” said Licking County Prosecutor Ken Oswalt, who received a copy of the lawsuit Monday.
Whether offenders, who are now ordered to stay on the rolls even if their term of registration had expired under the old law, will be released from responsibility is unknown should the federal court side with plaintiffs, Oswalt said.
The possibility exists that Licking County could be cleaved from the lawsuit because a plan is already in place to address the issue locally, Oswalt said.
A quick, statewide decision on the legality of the lawsuit would benefit all involved, Oswalt said.
When Megan’s Law was enacted in 1997, Oswalt said some the same issues were brought up, challenged and decided in the Common Pleas Court.
The Ohio Supreme Court stepped in and resolved the conflict, meaning that what was done in Licking County had to be adjusted to reflect its decision, he said.
“Whatever we did had to be undone,” he said.
Unfortunately, the expected challenges to the law may not be resolved overnight.
“The problem with a class-action lawsuit is that this is not going to be quick,” he said, adding that coordination amongst 88 counties will be no easy task.
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Urinating in public would cop a fine, not sex offender rap
CONCORD — The New Hampshire Legislature is set to review a bill that aims to fix a loophole that allows individuals who urinate in public to be placed on the state's sex offender registry.
According to the measure's primary sponsor, Rep. Stephen Shurtleff (Email) of Merrimack, the bill would separate public urination and defecation from the indecent exposure provision, elements that heretofore have been prosecuted together under state law. Under the proposed law, relieving oneself in public would move into the realm of a violation punishable by a fine.
Shurtleff said the bill became necessary in his eyes because New Hampshire is changing its sexual predator laws to move into compliance with federal law. If the bill does not pass, he said public-urination offenders could end up on the non-public sex offender registry if convicted twice in a three-year period.
"It's about keeping people off the registry that really shouldn't be on it. For example, you have some homeless people with varying degrees of mental problems who might (urinate or defecate in public) and it's not a sexual offense," Shurtleff said. "There's a stigma attached with the indecent exposure connection."
Portsmouth Police Chief Michael Magnant said Portsmouth doesn't use the state law on lewdness or indecent exposure when someone who urinates in public is apprehended, instead citing them for a violation of a city ordinance. He noted that the state law requires that those making use of the street as a bathroom have to have caused public alarm to be convicted under the heading of indecent exposure.
"That adds an extra element that we have to prove in court," Magnant said.
The chief said the Portsmouth Police Department monitors sex offenders closely and keeps track of where they are living. Partly because of the work involved in that, he echoed Shurtleff's view that the registry needs to be kept free of offenders who do not deserve the label.
"If you start to clutter that list, you're putting strain on a department," Magnant said.
Shurtleff said that, thus far, the bill has seen no opposition in the Legislature. He said he expects it to go up for debate on the floor in less than a month.
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Registered sex offenders will be listed longer and will be required to pay moderately higher fees under a proposed bill in the Legislature. The new requirements, however, are far less strict than a 2006 federal law demands.
- They are still unconstitutional and extortion on top of that. More punishment after the fact and extorting people into paying fees to obey the law.
The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 requires states to list juvenile sex offenders as young as 14 on the registry, to relist many offenders who have already fulfilled their obligations and to register people for crimes that were not previously registerable in their states.
States such as Ohio, which implemented many controversial elements of the Adam Walsh Act on Jan. 1, have already been challenged on constitutional grounds for the changes.
The deadline for compliance set by Congress is July 2009.
- Or they do not get any of the grant money they were promised if they implement it, which the last time I checked is called bribery, which is illegal. And for even the states who are in compliance, they are not even getting the grant money promised.
Utah Rep. Paul Ray (Email), R-Clinton, said his bill, which is not yet numbered, will improve Utah's sex-offender monitoring system by implementing elements of the Adam Walsh Act but will not fully comply with it.
"We decided we're not going to go into full compliance," Ray said. "We're going to look at it over the summer, because we've been told to expect some changes to Adam Walsh."
Utah could lose as much as $400,000 if the federal government's deadline is enforced. For failure to comply, the act says, states will lose 10 percent of their Byrne Justice Assistance grants that they would otherwise receive.
Utah received $4.4 million in 2004, but according to the National Sheriff's Association, the Byrne grant fund was reduced in the most recent budget from $520 million to just $170 million.
If Utah's grants decrease as a result of the budget cut, its penalty would decrease, too.
Utah's Legislature may not be alone this year in its resistance to Adam Walsh Act compliance. The National Conference of State Legislatures' official policy regarding the act calls the law "an unfunded mandate," "inflexible" and, "in some cases, not able to be implemented."
The conference put forth 11 suggested amendments, asking the federal government to allow states more flexibility.
Ray said he will introduce a bill that will extend parole periods for sex offenders, which will in turn extend their time on Utah's sex-offender registry. His bill will not, however, ask Utah to list juveniles on the registry. Offenders who have already fulfilled their registration period also will not be relisted.
- And thus violating ex post facto laws, so I'm sure you will be wasting tax payers money in legal battles on this.
"If they're off the registry, as far as we're concerned, they've met their requirements," he said. "We're not going to go back and punish them a second time."
- But if they are still on the registry and have a year or so left, then what? Punish them again?
Offenders who are still in their 10-year registration period would be required to fulfill the new requirements, which may be longer than 10 years.
- Yep, thought so.
Ray said his bill will not add crimes to the list of registerable offenses.
Registered offenders' annual fee could increase from $75 to $100 per year.
- More extortion!
Another Utah bill related to Adam Walsh directs the Division of Child and Family Services to eschew an estimated $500,000 in federal funds per year. The bill tells DCFS to place foster children with family during the time it takes to do a criminal background check.
The Adam Walsh Act instructs states to wait until the background check is complete before placing children with any foster parent, kin or otherwise.
Other laws regarding sex offenders that are not related to the Adam Walsh Act have been proposed in the Utah Legislature as well.
House Bill 265 asks for longer minimum sentencing options for three child sex crimes. Currently, violators of those laws can be sentenced to 15 years to life in prison, but that may jump to 25 years.
- I think they meant HB256 instead.
Utah currently has almost 7,000 registered sex offenders. More than half are no longer incarcerated, on probation or parole.
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MONROE — A Loganville man who was being investigated for allegations of child molestation was found dead in a parking lot Wednesday night.
Walton County Sheriff’s Office investigators were called to the house of a 16-year-old juvenile who alleged Frederick Mitchell IV, 46, of Loganville, molested her. During the course of the investigation, detectives received a call from Mitchell.
According to reports, Mitchell told detectives he needed to see them immediately. The detectives, who were still conducting their investigation with the juvenile, tried to delay the meeting until Thursday morning. Arrangements were eventually made for him to come by the sheriff’s office.
“The detectives came back to the office and Mitchell never showed up,” WCSO Capt. Chris Cannon said, adding they waited for some time before opting to go and look for him. In their search, a detective located Mitchell’s vehicle in a parking lot.
“When they approached the vehicle, they found Mr. Mitchell dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Cannon said.
A gun was found in the vehicle still in Mitchell’s hand, according to officials.
The investigation into the death was initially turned over to the Monroe Police Department, as the body was found in the Southern Pipe Company parking lot on South Broad Street. MPD Chief Keith Glass called in the Georgia Bureau of Investigations to assist in the processing of the scene.
TX - Murder-for-hire scheme planned by members of the motorcycle group Bikers Against Child Abuse (Vera Elizabeth Guthrie-Nail)
|Vera Elizabeth Guthrie-Nail|
These are the folks who showed up at the Ohio Rally (see last video) in December of last year!!!
Investigators found evidence at a China Spring home they say is connected to a murder-for-hire scheme planned by members of the motorcycle group Bikers Against Child Abuse.
Vera Elizabeth Guthrie-Nail, a 42-year-old China Spring native and Carrollton resident, was arrested Jan. 10 in the Dallas area on a criminal solicitation of murder charge in the death of her estranged 36-year-old husband, Craig Nail, said Sgt. Gerald Meadors, a Frisco, Texas, police spokesman. She was released from the Collin County Jail on Wednesday afternoon on a $100,000 bond, a jail spokesman said.
Nail was fatally shot at his Frisco home the day after Christmas, police said. Nail’s 38-year-old girlfriend, Therisa Hofman, who was shot in the arm and ear, survived, Meadors said.
McLennan County court records state that Guthrie-Nail told a friend that a gunman forced Nail to admit that he had molested a child, then fatally shot Nail in the head.
The biker group’s Web site states that the organization does not “condone the use of violence or physical force in any manner.” Organization representatives could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
On Tuesday, investigators in the case searched the China Spring home of one of Craig-Nail’s relatives in the 15900 block of Old China Spring Road. Craig-Nail grew up in the Waco-area community, and graduated from its high school in 1984, according to the McKinney Courier Gazette.
Officers found a .22-caliber pistol, a handgun magazine with live rounds, seven boxes of ammunition, marijuana and a “methamphetamine kit,” at the China Spring residence, according to McLennan County court records.
Investigators also seized from the home three cell phones, including a pay-as-you-go phone. Guthrie-Nail told a friend that phone was used for all communication in the murder plot, according to the returned search warrant affidavit filed in the McLennan County Courthouse.
Meadors declined to comment regarding possible additional pending arrests.
Guthrie-Nail told a friend, whose husband is a McLennan County sheriff’s lieutenant, that she gave her relative instructions to destroy one of the cell phones if police showed up at the house, according to court records.
Guthrie-Nail told the friend days after her husband’s death that she knew the shooting was going to happen, but did not hire anyone to kill her husband, the records said.
She told the friend she was associated with Bikers Against Child Abuse, and that a friend of hers who was also affiliated with the organization had contacted someone in California, also with the group, who had watched Craig Nail’s Frisco home for four months and planned the killing, the affidavit states.
Guthrie-Nail told the friend that it was supposed to look like a murder-suicide involving Nail and his girlfriend, records state.
Hofman told police that the man who fired at her and Nail was a 40-plus-year-old white man with salt-and-pepper hair and blue or green eyes.
She said he was wearing a dark-color hooded sweatshirt and carried a black baseball bat with a red bandana tied around it.
An arrest warrant affidavit quoted in the Denton Record-Chronicle states that Guthrie-Nail had also repeatedly asked her boyfriend to kill Nail.
The affidavit states that under the plan, Guthrie-Nail would “lure (her husband) to the house with a promise of sex and the chance to reconcile their marriage.” The affidavit goes on to state that she had planned that her boyfriend, who is no longer dating Guthrie-Nail, could “come into the house through the garage and kill (her husband) when he went upstairs.”
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Blind Lady Justice can smile a little bit today. Twenty years after the murder of Peggy Hettrick and nearly nine years after the conviction of Timothy Masters for that conviction, the innocence of Mr. Masters was established through the use of cutting-edge DNA technology. The case provides us with a number of other very important lessons.
The case reminds us that lawyers who defend people charged with crimes -- criminal defense lawyers -- are critical to ensuring that justice is done. Mr. Masters' original attorneys were not given access to the information that the law and the Constitution required they be given. Handicapped, they were not able to provide Mr. Masters with a proper defense. Mr. Masters' current attorneys were eventually given this additional evidence and were able to use it to exonerate Mr. Masters.
The case reminds us that prosecutors and police have an extraordinary amount of power, and that they must be watched carefully to ensure that this power is not abused. The overwhelming majority of prosecutors and police act honorably and fairly, but these police and prosecutors -- with the notable exception of at least one Fort Collins officer who worked long and hard to exonerate Mr. Masters -- did not.
They withheld evidence from the defense and they destroyed other evidence, and they perverted justice. Lawsuits against the responsible parties may not succeed due to the rules relating to immunity for government employees, but any prosecutor who knowingly withheld exculpatory evidence should lose his or her license to practice law, and any cop who did so ought to be fired.
The case reminds us that "the system" does not always work. Apologists for the system will argue that Mr. Masters' exoneration is proof that the system works. A system that keeps an innocent man in prison for nine years because of cheating and lying police and prosecutors cannot, under any stretch of the imagination, be said to be working right. Hundreds of thousands of tax dollars were spent prosecuting, defending and ultimately exonerating Mr. Masters, and much of this money was wasted by prosecutors and police who were, at best misguided, and, at worst, dishonest.
The appeal system did not "work," either. When the Colorado Supreme Court allowed the prosecutors to use hundreds of pages of Mr. Masters' admittedly unusual, but irrelevant, notes and drawings, and then to use a self-serving, celebrity psychiatrist to interpret these notes and drawings as proof of Mr. Masters' guilt, it was wrong. The three justices who dissented characterized the decision as "a great injustice" to the rules of evidence, and pointed out, with great prescience, that "there exists a substantial risk that [Mr. Masters] was convicted not for what he did, but for who he is." The court should re-visit this opinion and acknowledge its error, and no trial court or prosecutor should ever use this decision as a basis for introducing evidence in a court of law.
And the system did not "work" in a more basic, yet often overlooked way: The misdeeds of the police and prosecution have allowed the murderer of Peggy Hettrick to remain at large. No one yet knows whether the DNA samples that exonerated Mr. Masters will lead to the murderer. Police and prosecutors are now interested in a former boyfriend as a possible suspect. Whether or not he is responsible for the murder remains to be seen, but someone is responsible, and the misdeeds of the police and prosecution have helped that murderer escape justice for two decades. We can only hope that the murder committed no other offenses while at large.
The case reminds us that the system sometimes does work. Mr. Masters' post-conviction team, led by Maria Liu and David Wymore, were appointed and paid (at about one-fifth of what they would normally charge) by a state agency with our tax dollars. Money well spent. The post-conviction prosecutors did their jobs and, when their own analysis confirmed what the defense attorneys had been saying all along, they acted quickly to free Mr. Masters.
In the end, of course, the case is about humans. Peggy Hettrick's family must again search for answer, and their grievous wounds have been re-opened. Timothy Masters will likely go free on Tuesday, but he has lost a decade of his life and the problems he will have re-integrating into society will be difficult and pervasive. We need to help all the victims of this terrible miscarriage of justice.
Finally, the case serves as a powerful reminder that we need to make sure that we carefully watch those with power and protect those without. it.