Saturday, February 2, 2008
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Good news for once!
Former sex offenders, increasingly unwelcome in their communities, cannot just disappear. Scores are taking refuge at the very center of the region, in a place that knows their past and is still willing to help them find a future.
It's the Mark Twain Hotel, 205 North Ninth Street, between Olive and Pine streets, an address that shows 60 registered sex offenders. Only three St. Louis-area ZIP codes have more names on the state sex offender registry than this single, eight-story building.
Its true roster of sexual criminals changes faster than the registry is updated. Twenty-four of the 60 people named have moved on — some back to prison, according to hotel staff. Others may have come in. There is a constant flow of parolees to and from the St. Louis Community Release Center, the massive halfway house north of downtown.
The 101-year-old former luxury hotel is in the center of downtown, a block from a MetroLink station and the Old Post Office, near lofts and hotels, stadiums, parks and plazas.
The offenders who live here did bad things and then did their time. One raped his daughter. Another seduced a teenager he met on a chat line. Several sexually abused young relatives.
"You read the reports, and they are scary and sad," said Ishwinder Arora, the hotel's general manager. "But that is their past."
He said he feels that helping low-income working people — even those with criminal records — is the hotel's mission, especially since many work downtown already. "They need a place, and what's a better place than downtown?"
Of 11 sex offenders interviewed by a reporter last week, some said they live in the 236-room hotel because they have to live somewhere, and many other areas are off-limits.
Some said they liked the convenience of having service and day labor jobs nearby, and easy transportation.
Others said they'd be afraid to move somewhere that people might take notice of them.
"I have some money that I could use to buy myself a place to live," said a 62-year-old Twain resident, who asked not to be identified. He said he exposed himself to children in his family on two occasions in the 1990s. "The question is, will the system let me move there? Once I move there, will my name be exposed to where I'm subjected to vigilantism?"
States and cities have made it tougher for sex offenders to exist in populated areas. In Missouri, a sex offender can't live within 1,000 feet of a school or day care — or go within 500 feet of them. Those are moderate restrictions compared to some areas of the country. In Florida and Iowa, such offenders have been all but expelled.
When sex offenders reoffend, people get nervous, and officials ratchet up the rules. After a sex offender named Benjamin Rzadca was charged with exposing himself in Florissant's James Eagan Center, the City Council bypassed its normal legislative process last week, immediately barring offenders from parks and recreation centers.
"I can't allow them to be around children in this community," Florissant Mayor Robert Lowery (Email) said.
But there aren't many children studying or playing downtown. In fact, a recent study found that dogs far outnumber children there.
So instead of being considered a nuisance here, the sex offenders in the Mark Twain get scant notice beyond warnings on Internet forums. Occasionally, someone will come into the lobby to ask a front-desk clerk: Do you know this hotel has a lot of sex offenders? And the answer is: Yes, we do.
A St. Louis police substation is next door. Officers are occasionally summoned to the hotel to break up fights, or investigate minor thefts, but no one at either the hotel or the police department can remember a problem involving sexual reoffending.
"I didn't know we had so many registered sex offenders there," said Capt. Jerry Leyshock, commander of the 4th District, which includes downtown. "I chart our crime consistently, and I haven't seen anything even begin to resemble a pattern of any type of sex crime."
If the hotel is giving people a chance to reclaim their lives, Leyshock said, then it's a good neighbor and compatible with downtown.
Kyna Iman, who works in public relations for the Downtown St. Louis Residents Association, said the concentration of sex offenders was "kind of disturbing."
"But if they are paying rent and they're trying to get back on the straight and narrow, it's kind of difficult to say, 'You can't live here.'"
Said Rachel Kraus, the group's president: "My feeling is that everyone has to live somewhere and everyone deserves forgiveness and respect to start over again."
Even the nonprofit group that promotes and supports downtown living and commerce shrugs at the concentration of sex offenders in the Mark Twain.
"I do know that the ownership and management of the Mark Twain ... are compassionate and trying to help people get their lives back in order," said Jim Cloar, president and chief executive officer of the Downtown St. Louis Partnership.
"I wasn't aware of the situation, and no one has mentioned anything to me about it," he said. "I take comfort that police say there is nothing they have seen that traced back to the Mark Twain. Knowing that the management is tough on the rules gives me some comfort, too."
A luxury inn built in 1907, the Mark Twain is one of the city's most elegant old buildings, adorned with glazed, white terra cotta friezes and linear stacks of bay windows. Each tile, from locally drawn clay, was individually designed by a craftsman.
But the concept of luxury passed the hotel by, and the Twain was a notorious flop house for decades. Its previous owner is said to have devised a unique security system: He covered the fire escape with bear grease to make it hard for prostitutes to get in.
Developer Amos Harris led a partnership to buy the hotel and, using low-income tax credits, clean it up. The Mark Twain reopened in 1998 with the mission of giving poor people a safe place to get their lives in order.
The hallways and rooms are tidy, if not fancy, and residents get regular housekeeping service.
But living here isn't cheap or easy. Rent has been raised to $95 per week for furnished quarters; and $30 more for a private bathroom. There are no kitchens. Visitors must leave IDs at the front desk.
No one can knock on a neighbor's door after 11 p.m. Guests need a source of income. Everyone in the building either works or collects retirement or disability benefits.
Troublemakers or people who can't pay the rent are quickly removed, the hotel's managers and guests say.
House rules do not permit children to live there, although youngsters can make overnight visits with residents on Fridays and Saturdays.
Offenders interviewed at the Mark Twain said they learned about the hotel at therapy sessions, or from their parole officers. It is not available to recent offenders. A felon must be three years past his conviction — seven years if the crime involved drugs — to be accepted.
It doesn't matter how serious or violent the charge was, Arora said. Thirty to 40 percent of more than 200 guests have a record, he said.
If he had a choice, Dale Fredenburg said, he would either live with his mother in St. Charles or closer to his job in Maplewood, where he helps make theatrical costumes.
But his parole officer says those addresses are too close to children, said Fredenburg, 53, who served 42 months in prison for deviate sexual assault and forcible sodomy. He said he sexually abused a teenage boy.
Fredenburg said he has no quarrel with having to register as a sex offender.
- And most offenders who are trying to get on with their life do not mind either, but, it should be offline and used by police only, the public has proven they cannot handle the registry in an adult and civilized manner without resulting to vigilante justice.
"People ought to have a right to know where we're at," he said. But he insisted he is no threat to anyone's safety.
- People do NOT have any right to know where you are. Where does it say that in the constitution or any law? If you have done your time, then you should be left alone like everyone else. Why don't we know where all other felons are 24/7? Like murderers, DUI offenders, thieves, gang members, drug dealers, etc? If sex offenders must have this registry, I think we need ALL criminals on a registry.
"I'm trying to get back on with my life, and get back to society."
- And so are about 90% or more, but anytime a new idiot kills or harms a child and it makes the news, we are all punished more and more for someone else's crime. The registry should have the remaining 10% who are dangerous and the rest should be off the public registry and on a registry used by police only!!!
View the article here
Sounds like this department knows the TRUE facts. I congratulate them for posting the truth instead of the myths the media and politicians spew to instill fear in everyone. Thank You Sheriff!
Q: Why is the offender living in my neighborhood?
A: The Sheriff's Office cannot place any restrictions on where an offender lives in any community. While you may not be happy about an offender living in your area it is important to realize that at least you are aware of this offender. There are countless numbers of individuals who have not been caught and continue to offend in your community. The best defense you can have is being educated in how to protect yourself and your family members from being victimized by anyone.
Q: When is the Sheriff's Office going to move the offender from my neighborhood?
A: The Sheriff's Office lacks any authority in forcing an offender to move from one location to another. The Sheriff's Office is granted the authority to give community notification about specific offenders considered moderate or high risk to the community. The Sheriff's Office also checks to see that all sex offenders are living where they are registered. We also actively seek out those offenders who fail to register or fail to make proper notification of an address change.
Q: How often do sex offenders really re-offend?
A: Studies indicate that approximately 5 % of treated sex offenders re-offend in a sexual way. Untreated sex offenders re-offend approximately 7% in a sexual way. Approximately 8% re-offend in a non-sexual, non-violent way and 3% re-offend in a non-sexual, violent way, and approximately 77% have no new offenses at all.
Q: What are the different types of sex offenders?
A: In Ohio we have 3 classifications of sex offenders as set forth by the State Legislature, they are:
- Sexually Oriented Offender, they were convicted of or plead guilty to a sexually oriented offense and they have to register once a year for a period of 10 years with the Sheriff's Office in the county that they reside in.
- Habitual Sex Offender, determined by the sentencing court to have previously convicted of or plead guilty to one or more sexually oriented offenses. They may or may not be subject to community notification, this is determined by the court. They have to register once a year for a period of 20 years with the Sheriff's Office.
- Sexual Predator, adjudicated by the sentencing court to be a sexual predator relative to the sexually oriented offense in question. They are subject to community notification for life with address verification every 90 days with the Sheriff's Office.
All of the above classifications have to verify their address each and every time they move. If they are subject to community notification it will be done each time they move or they notify us that they are moving.
Q: Are you going to tell us if the offender moves out of this neighborhood, so we do not have to worry anymore?
A: We will not be contacting the public if this offender moves from a location. We are obligated to notify only the new neighborhood where they move, and only those sex offenders that require community notification will be done. Offenders move on a regular basis and it would present great difficulties in providing this notification. To assist everyone, the Sheriff's Office posts all registered sex offenders on our web site.
Q: Why are we not told about all sex offenders?
A: The intent of Ohio's community notification law is that you receive information that is RELEVANT and NECESSARY to enhance your safety. Not all sex offenders pose a risk to all residents. If the law treated all sex offenders the same, the courts could not consider it punishment and therefore unconstitutional because the offenders have served their time. Furthermore, knowing about every convicted sex offender does not necessarily increase your safety. Targeting notification according to which offenders are likely to re-offend ensures you receive constructive information.
- Again with the word punishment! But I thought it wasn't punishment but restrictive? BS!!
Q: What do I tell my children about this offender?
A: Not all sex offenders offend against children. Do not tell them scary details about the crimes. Keep them informed in general, as it may protect them from others who would harm them. The goal is that your child is educated about being safe from everyone, including strangers, acquaintances or family members who would victimize them.
Here are some basic do's and don'ts regarding an offender:
- Do not accept a ride from the offender
- Do not go into the home or yard of the offender
- Call 911 if your parents are not home and this offender approaches you
- Do tell your parents if this person offers you toys, money or candy.
Q: Now that I know a sex offender lives in my neighborhood, what should I do differently to protect my family and myself?
A: Whether or not a sex offender lives in your neighborhood you need to educate yourself and your family in safety concerns. This is a time to reinforce family safety planning and specific concerns about this offender. Be observant, be vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Work with your local law enforcement agency and get involved in your Neighborhood Crime Watch program. If your block or neighborhood does not have one, start one. Community notification was not developed to scare you. It exists to educate you and help you make your neighborhood safer through awareness.
Q: Why does it matter if I give the offender a hard time?
A: It is natural to be angry or fearful when we hear about a sex offender living nearby. Even though we know that there are over 8,600 sex offenders already living among us, it seems like the one offender we hear about has made our life very uncomfortable. This is a defining moment for the community. If the result of community notification is that the offenders are harassed, the courts or the legislature could take the law away. We need this offender law to succeed, because if it doesn't, that means there will be another victim. Sex offenders are less likely to re-offend if they live and work in an environment free of harassment. If an offender is able to build a stable, crime-free life we all win. If we lose this law, we will go back to the days of not knowing when an offender lives near us. With this new right to know comes a new responsibility to use the knowledge constructively.
Q: Can I post additional copies of the neighborhood notification?
A: As we have stated earlier we want the sex offender law to succeed and if you want to advise additional neighbors or individuals, please just refer them to the Sheriff's Office or to this web site. We do not want you to be civilly liable if anything may occur to the offender, their family or property.
Knowing My 8 Rules For Safety (for children)
- I always check first with my parents or the person in charge before I go anywhere or get into a car, even with someone I know.
- I always check first with my parents or a trusted adult before I accept anything from anyone, even from someone I know.
- I always take a friend with me when I go places or play outside.
- I know my name, address, telephone number, and my parent's names.
- I say no if someone tries to touch me or treat me in a way that makes me feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused.
- I know that I can tell my parents or a trusted adult if I feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused.
- It is OK to say no, and I know that there will always be someone who can help me.
- I am strong, smart, and have the right to be safe.
For More Information Contact:
Stark County Sheriff's Office
4500 Atlantic Blvd., N.E., Canton, Ohio 44705
Tel: (330) 430-3800
FAX: (330) 430-3844
View the article here
How young is too young? When are they going to have a 2 or 3 year old in shackles and in court?
He is accused of forcing a 7-year-old to perform a sex act on a school bus.
An 11-year-old boy accused of forcing a 7-year-old to perform a sexual act on a Howell school bus last May was found competent on Friday to stand trial in Livingston Juvenile Court.
The competency evaluation was the second such test ordered. The first determined the boy was unable to understand the charges against him at a mid-December hearing.
A pretrial date has been set for Feb. 15 before Judge Carol Hackett Garagiola.
The boy is one of two elementary-age boys charged with first and second degree criminal sexual conduct and gross indecency between males. A 9-year-old boy is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 8 for a settlement conference. The boys could be listed on the state's sex offender registry until age 30 if found guilty.
Defense attorney Carolyn Henry declined to comment on the specifics of the 11-year-old boy's competency test or recommendations made by Charles Clark, a psychologist from Ann Arbor. "I will say Dr. Clark conducted a thorough report. The findings will help this child out," she said.
The 11-year-old, who was a fifth-grader at Southwest Elementary School, was originally named as a witness by the 7-year-old who claimed the 9-year-old, then a fourth-grader at Challenger Elementary, was the initiator of the sex acts. The 11-year-old later confessed to participating in the acts, according to a police report.
The controversy that erupted in September shortly after charges were filed against the two boys resulted in an investigation by a law firm hired by the Howell School Board. At least two school principals and bus garage supervisors did not report the incident to Superintendent Chuck Breiner. Police reports do not match statements later made by school personnel claiming the incident was a "bullying complaint."
The investigation is now entering its fifth month. The attorney from Lansing-based Thrun Law firm was expected to conduct one additional interview as of last Monday, according to board President Phil Westmoreland.
A special closed session board meeting has been called for 7 p.m. Tuesday to discuss union negotiations and Breiner's employment contract, according to a report by WHMI-FM. Westmoreland could not be reached for comment on Friday.
View the article here
In January 2007, the state started tracking dozens of sex offenders with satellites, anklets and belt-clip transmitters for the rest of their lives. A year into the program, it's not clear whether it's constitutional -- or whether the state can afford it over the long haul.
Like the sex offender registries that began in the 1990s, Global Positioning System tracking programs aim to keep law enforcement agencies in constant contact with convicted criminals who often backslide. Registries can tell officers and the public where sex offenders live; GPS anklets can show where they are every second of every day.
The law requires judges to impose lifetime GPS tracking for repeat or aggravated sex offenders and violent sexual predators. The state spent about $750,000 on the program last year, but that figure will only grow as more offenders don the tracking equipment.
State and federal lawsuits have challenged lifetime tracking. They say it marks the felons with a "scarlet letter" and violates their rights to due process, equal protection and freedom from unreasonable search and seizures.
"It will be very expensive and very difficult," said Fayetteville lawyer Gerald Beaver, who is fighting the program in federal court. "It opens a Pandora's box in criminal jurisprudence."
Currently, about 85 offenders are on supervised monitoring, and probation officers check their whereabouts about three times a week; more than 60 of those must wear the anklets for the rest of their lives.
Another 40 are on unsupervised tracking for life. State officials, not a probation officer, check on them once a week.
Between 600 and 700 probation officers have access to computer software, satellites and cell-phone towers that receive signals from offenders' anklets and waist transmitters. The devices show up as dots on a map on an officer's computer screen, and an alarm goes off if the signal is lost or if the offender enters an exclusion zone -- near a school, for example.
UNC-Chapel Hill law professor James Markham said tracking can be a useful investigative tool, even if officers use it only to determine whether an offender was near a crime scene. But Sarah Preston, legislative coordinator with the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, disagreed.
"They'll look into sex offenders who were in the area instead of looking into whether there were other possible perpetrators," she said.
Preston's protest echoes others who complain that the devices mark the wearers as criminals even after their sentences.
"It's a lifetime of Big Brother monitoring," said Chapel Hill trial lawyer Glenn Gerding. "It's like being branded with the Scarlet A."
Not always effective
Beaver has filed a federal lawsuit calling GPS tracking unconstitutional, on behalf of a man who took indecent liberties with a 15-year-old girl.
Beaver said Jay Usategui of Cumberland County lost his job because deputies and probation officers kept showing up or calling when they lost satellite contact. He said his client struggles to keep the equipment dry while bathing, and frequently has to stop his car and exit buildings when his transmitter loses contact with a satellite.
The lawsuit focuses on the fact that the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office imposed GPS tracking after Usategui had already been sentenced. Usategui will join about a dozen other offenders in Cumberland County Superior Court on Friday in trying to fight retroactive GPS sentences.
Last November, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld retroactive GPS monitoring saying that it's not punishment but civil regulation. That court does not have jurisdiction in North Carolina, but Markham said it could persuade judges here.
- Total BS! Retroactive (i.e. ex post facto) laws are a direct violation of the constitution and are unconstitutional. Also, they all say it's a regulation and not punishment, what a total crock of s**t! Why don't you wear a GPS for life and tell me it's not punishment!!!! Also, if you look at the bills (here), why is punishment in the bills text? BECAUSE IT'S PUNISHMENT!!!
Free, but still jailed
Beaver's complaint to the federal district court for Eastern North Carolina also calls the GPS program unconstitutional "on its face." For example, he says, the program requires an offender to remain at home from midnight to 6 a.m. each day.
"That's basically house imprisonment for one-quarter of your life," said Beaver.
Rowland declined to say whether her office had ever required offenders to stay home between midnight and 6 a.m.
Beaver argues that GPS monitoring is an unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Markham said strict sex-offender laws are popular with the public but might not survive legal scrutiny.
"No state wants to be the state that is most friendly to sex offenders," he said. "The sex-offender lobby is not very effective. It's sort of a one-way ratchet of severity. I wouldn't be surprised if this does get to the Supreme Court within a number of years."
Worth the cost?
Outside the constitutional issues, some have questioned whether the GPS program is sustainable as more offenders join the program but few drop off. "There are so many people that are under this, and it is so expensive to monitor people for 24 hours a day that they're wasting their time," said Beaver.
The ACLU opposes the practice as "bad public policy," arguing it impedes rehabilitated offenders' integration into society and costs too much. The ex-convicts pay a one-time fee of $90. "The state's carrying the costs," said Preston.
Rowland does not know whether the state will be able to pay for the program in the long term. The legislature approved a $1.3-million annual budget for the program, but administrators don't have a full fiscal year's worth of data to know whether that is enough.
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OLYMPIA -- Spurred by headline-grabbing crimes and election year politics, Washington lawmakers are targeting familiar criminals - drunken drivers and sex offenders - with plans that raise troubling questions of constitutional precedent, civil liberties and even practical enforcement.
In some cases, lawmakers and the state's top elected officials acknowledge serious court challenges will follow if their bills become law. But they remain unabashed, even if the chances of surviving court review are questionable.
It is clear that in 2008, some officials have left behind the more typical tweaking of sentences and other punishments, reaching instead into touchy areas of privacy and free speech. Their proposals include bills that would:
- Revive the long-abandoned practice of suspicionless police searches for all cars on a particular stretch of road, in hopes of catching drunken drivers. (Gestapo - May I see your papers please?)
- Force anyone convicted of several misdemeanors - including animal cruelty and simple assault - to submit a sample of their DNA to a government database.
- Create the crime of viewing child pornography on the Internet - even accidentally - with people urged to report any accidentally viewed child porn to police if they want immunity.
- Ban Web sites that list places where children gather, when the publication is aimed at "arousing or gratifying sexual desire" - which treads very close to violating the First Amendment.
Looming in the background is the November election, when the entire state House, half the Senate, and all statewide elected officials - including Gov. Chris Gregoire (Contact) and Attorney General Rob McKenna (Contact) - will be up for another term.
- And when election time comes around, they always bring up the sex offender issues, so they look like they are doing something, and so you (the sheeple) will vote for them again.
"You get votes for passing a bill like this," said Mark Prothero, a defense lawyer who testified against the DNA database expansion. "And two years later, when the Supreme Court throws it out, no one comes and takes your votes away."
Gregoire surprised some fellow Democrats in the Legislature when she announced her push for drunken-driving checkpoints.
Police conduct similar roadblocks in nearly 40 other states, and the practice has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. But Washington's constitution has stronger privacy protections, and such wholesale stops of drivers have been off the table for 20 years, after the state's high court tossed out a Seattle program.
Gregoire, a former attorney general, acknowledges constitutional questions about her measure. So does House Judiciary Chairwoman Pat Lantz, D-Gig Harbor, who is sponsoring the bill.
They say it is carefully crafted to balance civil liberties, and offers the best chance to institute such a program in Washington.
But there are vocal critics in the Legislature, where some have suggested the state instead beef up conventional enforcement - focusing on a proven tactic that has no constitutional questions and won't result in a lengthy court challenge.
- They don't care about what works, or what experts say, they think they know best, and do this so they get voted in again, so they look good to the public. One day, the public will see this, but it will be too late then.
The prominence of some critics - including Senate Judiciary Chairman Adam Kline, D-Seattle - has made the checkpoint bill's chances of clearing the Legislature uncertain.
Skeptics were not exactly soothed this week when McKenna, the Republican attorney general, suggested at a hearing that some opponents "have neither read the bill nor the underlying cases which they're citing."
- This happens all the time. They don't read everything in the bill, but see the title and pass it. I bet you could give all these people a test on what is in a sex offender bill and they would flunk!!
The expansion of the DNA database is another worry for defense lawyers and civil libertarians. The bill is meant to target sex offenders, but also includes more mundane misdemeanors such as second-degree animal cruelty and fourth-degree assault.
- If you want to do this, why don't you require ALL PEOPLE to submit DNA, regardless of their past. Then when a crime occurs, you have everyones DNA on file. If someone commits a crime, for whom you do not have DNA, then what point is it?
The low-level assault convictions particularly worry defense lawyers - someone can get that on their record for an angry shoving match, a punch that misses its mark or school bus fight, lawyers said.
"If there were a list of the most popular crimes ever, that would probably be at the top of the list," said Amy Muth of the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw, a former police detective, doesn't doubt the broader DNA database will be challenged in court. But he downplayed the civil liberties risks to people convicted of misdemeanors.
"What's the harm to a person that never comes back in the system again? It's not like they're being labeled or named," Hurst said. "What's the danger if it sits there for the rest of their life?"
- It's called invasion of privacy, and who knows what the "government" will do with this DNA? Clone someone, use it against you in some other way, who knows what.
McKenna is sponsoring the ban on viewing child pornography, saying it would help prosecute cases involving Internet-based pornography, where bans on possession might be harder to prove.
- How are you going to know when someone views child porn? Why is child porn on the site in the first place? Will you charge the person who is housing the child porn also, even if it's an ISP?
Jennifer Shaw, lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union, is among those wondering how the ban could be enforced.
"You don't require possession, so I don't know. That's beyond me," she said. "That'll be up to law enforcement to figure out how to enforce that one without violating anybody's rights."
Another measure targets one particularly bizarre case - that of Jack McClellan, a self-described pedophile who said he never physically acted on his attraction to young girls, but still maintained Web pages detailing areas frequented by children.
That behavior is now being targeted by Sen. Eric Oemig (Contact), D-Kirkland, who was frustrated that McClellan couldn't be prosecuted because of free speech protections.
- This is such a slippery slope. I agree what he's doing is morally wrong, but it is free speech and he hasn't been convicted of harming anyone. So if this passes, free speech may soon vanish as well.
"I said 'Free speech, baloney. This is terrorist speech,'" Oemig said.
- Oh come on, what about the KKK, and all the other hate groups out there? When are you going to round them up and throw them in prison for free speech as well. I'm sure some things you've said in the past could be labeled "terrorist speech" as well...
Behavior like McClellan's is obviously troubling, Muth said. "But at the same time ... legal behavior is going to be encompassed within the scope of this law," she said.
Examples like these leave Prothero and others shaking their heads. But at the same time, he said, it's clear lawmakers have to push for what the public wants, and what gets them re-elected, "and leave it to the courts to be the bad guys and say 'You've gone too far.'"
"Generally, they kind of cater to the whims of the popular vote, whereas the Supreme Court caters to the constitution," Prothero said.
- They should also cater to the constitution, that is the problem in this country!!! They all took oaths to uphold this document, so we need to arrest them all for "false swearing!"
For Lantz, a longtime legislator, such conflicts are inherent in the process of lawmaking, a process that can be compromised if legislators succumb to fears of being overruled in court.
"A bill that you draft like (drunken driving checkpoints), that's sort of on the cusp of constitutionality one way or another, you can't guarantee if it's going to pass muster," she said. "That's the court's job."
- This is total BS! If you were familiar with the Constitution, like you should be, then you could use common sense and READ THE DAMN BILL to see if it is constitutional or not, and change anything that may be needed. This is just the easy way out...
View the article here
I'm sure it was not "mistake!"
A trailer of carpet cleaning equipment at an Evansville house may have been mistakenly set on fire by someone targeting a suspected sex offender early Friday morning, according to a police report.
Firefighters arrived at 705 Audubon Drive at 2:30 a.m. to find a cargo trailer on fire in the driveway at the home of Randall Eggers, according to fire investigators.
The phrase "GET OUT PERV" was spray painted on the victim's garage.
According to an Evansville Police Department report, the homeowner heard a popping sound from outside and could see a glow from the windows. He went outside to find the cargo trailer on fire and used his pickup truck to push it away from the house before the fire could spread.
Fire Investigator Jesse Storey told police that he could smell gasoline around the trailer. The trailer and its contents were a total loss and valued at about $30,000.
The resident told police that Robert "Andy" Gillespie, who was arrested last month on preliminary charges of child solicitation, lives nearby.
Gillespie was arrested after driving to the Indianapolis area allegedly to meet a 14-year-old girl he had met in an online chat room.
But police say Gillespie actually was chatting online and sharing lewd photographs with an undercover Carmel, Ind., police officer who arranged for Gillespie's arrest when he showed up at their agreed upon meeting place.
The recent University of Evansville graduate and a former employee of the WUEV student radio station there also worked several times as a substitute teacher at McGary Middle School and Stockwell Elementary School.
View the article here
So now they are diluting the registry by including people who are not dangerous. This is a major step backwards IMO. Only true predators who are dangerous should be listed, not everyone. I hope this bill dies, but I doubt it. Politicians are cowards and do not have the balls to stand up for what is right... So now, the people who are really dangerous will be mixed in with all the others and it will appear as if ALL people on the registry are dangerous. People in politics are totally brain dead, IMO!
Hundreds of registered sex offenders live in the Tri–Cities, but only a fraction of them are made known to the public. However, a new state law could soon change that. People could soon have a much clearer idea of who's living in their neighborhood.
Right now, the State Patrol's website only lists "Level 3" sex offenders - those considered a high risk to re–offend. But if a new bill passes, the names of everyone convicted of a sexual offense, even misdemeanors, would be put on the registry for all to see.
Nebraska has more than 2700 registered sex offenders.
But you will not find nearly that many on the State Patrol's public registry.
"Currently the NSP has three levels. There is level one, which is classified as a low risk to re–offend, and is only known by law enforcement," said Adams County Deputy Sheriff Daniel Furman.
Schools, day care centers, and church groups can find out more about Level 2 offenders, considered a moderate risk to re–offend.
But they are not on the website either.
With the new law, this would all change.
"My understanding is they are going to do away with the levels. They are all going to be listed on the website," said Furman.
- This just shows you how ignorant the police are. If the state complies with the Adam Walsh Act, then they will be having three tiers with level 3 being the most dangerous. Idiots!
Right now, Hall County has 101 convicted sex offenders, but you can only learn where 40 of them live.
58 registered offenders live in Adams County, but only 19 are public.
Buffalo County has 66 registered - 24 are listed.
"The public will have access to everyone who is listed on that registry instead of level 3," said Judy Priess, SASA Crisis Center.
"I think it is a good effort to try to keep our community well–notified of where the sex offenders are," Furman said.
But some see downsides to expanding the list.
"What our concern is is it might create a false sense of security for folks," said Priess. "Do not assume that because their name is not listed on that registry that they have not ever done something like that. If your gut is telling you something is wrong in a situation, I would suggest following that gut instinct."
- Yep, it's going to raise the FEAR FACTOR. So instead of seeing 40 predators, they will think there is several thousand now. The people do not know who is a predator and who is not. With the way it currently is, everyone on the registry is a predator (level 3) which is how it should be. Level 1 and 2 should not be on the public registry. I don't agree with registries at all, but if we must have them, the truly dangerous should only be on the registry, otherwise it defeats the whole purpose.
Another change will be the amount of time a sex offender must stay registered.
Those incarcerated less than a year must register for 15 years, but those in for more than a year could be registered anywhere from 25 years to life.
Also, whenever offenders move to a new house, they will have to notify authorities within 3 days.
If all goes according to plan, the expansion would take place January of 2009.
View the article here
If the government wants people to do background checks, why aren't they doing the same? Do as we say, not as we do! Hypocrites!!
TALLAHASSEE (AP) -- A spokesman for the Department of Children & Families was arrested Friday on child pornography charges, authorities said.
Al Zimmerman has been charged with eight counts of using a child in a sexual performance. Zimmerman, who has been with the agency for nearly two years, has been fired, agency officials said.
Authorities say Zimmerman, 40, solicited at least two victims between the ages of 16 and 17 to create child pornography.
DCF Secretary Bob Butterworth issued a statement asking the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate whether any child in the state's care had been victimized as a result.
"Mr. Zimmerman's alleged conduct is an egregious breach of the public trust and will not be tolerated," Butterworth said.
A telephone message left on Zimmerman's cell phone by The Associated Press was not immediately returned.
Zimmerman was arrested in Lakeland, where his parents live, and booked in the Hillsborough County jail. The suspected crimes took place in Tampa.
Bond had not been set as of Friday night for Zimmerman. He faces up to 120 years in prison if convicted of all charges.
"Every photograph, every image, every lasting impression of a child's sexual abuse perpetuates this horrible crime over and over again," Attorney General Bill McCollum said in a statement.
DCF has faced a firestorm of criticism in past years.
Former secretary Lucy Hadi resigned after being found in contempt of court for not moving inmates to state hospitals if they were incompetent to stand trial. Last year, a child protection task force criticized DCF officials because a 2-year-old foster girl was missing for four months before police began searching for her.