Friday, May 16, 2008

Letter to State Legislature




Credit goes to Homey for writing this letter. (DOC, PDF)


=== Page 1 ===

Dear State Legislator,

I am a proud constituent of state name who is writing to ask you to consider modifying the draconian and unconstitutional laws concerning Registered Sex Offenders. These extremely harsh laws are not effective at protecting children, and have extremely negative and serious consequences for the approximately 600,000 registrants, and the over 2 million family members of these registrants. This results in a large population of people who want very much to lead healthy, productive, law-abiding lives, but find it impossible to do so, due to society’s unfair characterization of every registered sex-offender as a high-risk sexual predator waiting to attack their children.

Surely, removing all hope and disenfranchising the entire population of sex-offenders and their families is not healthy for anyone - not for those directly affected, not for society at large, and it certainly does not keep children safer.

According to the US Department of Justice, overall recidivism rates among sex-offenders are among the LOWEST among any groups - typically it is only 5-10%. It is also well known that the vast majority (commonly acknowledged at over 90%) of child sexual abuse is committed by a family member or someone known to the child - NOT a registered sex-offender. The current atmosphere of hysteria and fear surrounding sex-offenders clouds the underlying issues, and results in NOT protecting children because we are ignoring over 90% of all abuse cases. This does not seem to make good sense or public policy.

I urge you to reconsider the way in which has decided to deal with Sex Offenders. I urge you to draft and pass legislation based on facts and evidence, and not on emotion, hysteria, and political expediency.

The following page presents some facts and statistics that suggest that laws such as the Wetterling Act, Megan’s Law, the Adam Walsh Act, and Residency Restrictions are in fact counter-productive and do not serve their intended purpose of protecting children from dangerous sexual predators.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

your name here



=== Page 2 ===

A Few Facts and Statistics about Sex Offenders

• Megan's Law and the Wetterling Act were created on the assumption that recidivism is high for Sex Offenders. However, the recidivism for sex offenders is reported to be lower than that of any other class of offenders. The United States Department of Justice indicated that the recidivism rate for Sex Offenders is only 3.5% meaning that 96.5% of those who are on the registry are not likely to re-offend. (CSOM, 2007; Harris & Hanson, 2004; State of New York Department of Corrections, 2001; USDOJ, 2001Gwyn, 2007; Huenke, O'Connell, Price, & Weidein-Gist, 2007; Ohio Public Safety, 2006; Stalans, Seng, & Yarnold, 2002; Valentine & Huebner, 2006; White-Cerns, McKelvie, & Cohn, 2007).

• The List of Registered Sex Offenders creates the myth of "stranger danger" but nearly all authorities agree that 90-95% of sex offenses are committed by someone known to the victim.

• There is not one empirical study suggesting the effectiveness of these laws. In fact, most peer reviewed studies examining the effectiveness of Megan's Law conclude it has no impact on the recidivism rates, and is therefore ineffective at preventing new sexually-based crimes (Corrigan, 2006; Pawson, 2002; Toft, 2007; Wakefield, 2006; Welchans, 2005; Zevitz, et al., 200).

• Residency restrictions do not work. In Minnesota, the Department of Corrections found that between 1990 and 2002, of the 3,166 sex offenders released from state prisons, only 224 of these were returned to prison for a new sex crime through 2006. The report contains the statement, "Not one of the 224 sex offenses would likely have been deterred by a residency restrictions law."

• Public access to the sex-offender registries makes no sense without an individualized risk-assessment of each individual on the list. Public access should only be granted to those offenders who pose a significant danger to the public. The majority of registrants do not post a significant danger and should not have their private information on display.

• The consequences of these harsh laws for the Sex Offenders who have served their time and paid their dues include being denied employment and housing, being segregated from their communities, being forced to leave their families. This naturally destroys any hope the offenders and their families had for rebuilding their lives in a positive and productive manner.

• The majority of sex offenders are NOT high-risk, violent predators.

• The majority of sex offenders are low-risk, whose risk can be managed and reduced even further through re-integration into society, a stable work and home environment, and appropriate therapy. Disenfranchising and ostracizing all offenders and their families clearly makes for a more unstable and dangerous population.


CA - Predator purge?

View the article here

05/11/2008

California needs a more rational strategy for housing sex offenders than "anywhere but here."

There are no simple answers to how society should treat sex offenders who have served their time, but playing to public fears is not the same as protecting public safety.

Yet cities have increasingly pushed tough restrictions on where sex offenders can live. Pomona became the latest city to take that approach last week, when the City Council approved an ordinance that effectively bans sex offenders from moving into the city. Pomona built its ordinance on the foundation of Prop. 83, better known as Jessica's Law, which voters approved in 2006. That measure bans sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools and parks -- and also allows cities to enact tougher regulations.

So Pomona increased the required distance to 2,460 feet. And the city added preschools, child care centers, transit stops, tutoring centers, playgrounds, sports fields and other sites to the list of places sex offenders cannot live near. The result, as maps show, puts almost the entire city off limits to sex offenders who wish to move there. The council held off on applying the law to the approximately 260 registered sex offenders now living in Pomona.

Pomona based its ordinance on a similar law in Long Beach. Other cities, such as San Diego, have also imposed tougher limitations on where sex offenders can live. And Hemet last year proposed creating a series of "pocket parks" that would use the Prop. 83 rules to effectively ban sex offenders from the city.

Yet city officials congratulating themselves on protecting public safety this way conveniently ignore the fact that those protections come at the cost of pushing sex offenders into other cities. Making this widely feared population someone else's worry hardly offers a responsible strategy.

And, in fact, that approach can backfire. Depriving sex offenders of places to live could just as easily make keeping track of them more difficult. Sex offenders might go underground, deciding not to register in order to avoid housing restrictions. The state's Sex Offender Management Board, which the Legislature created in the wake of Prop. 83, reported in January that 18 percent of those required to register as sex offenders did not comply.

Or offenders could end up on the streets. The board's report noted that in January 2008, 2,879 sex offenders had registered as homeless, a 44 percent increase since 2006.

And driving all sex offenders away to rural areas is hardly fair to those regions. Nor does placing offenders far away from family support or treatment services -- two key components to avoiding repeat crime -- make much sense.

Even sex offenders have the right to live somewhere, and California needs to develop policies that meet that need while providing the most effective public protections.

Sexual crimes, particularly against children, evoke deep fears and strong emotions. But dread is no substitute for careful study of successful practices in crafting policy.


FL - Samurai sword killer sentenced to prison

View the article here | Related Articles

All three are sex offenders.

05/16/2008

Tampa - A 47-year-old Brandon man has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for killing a man using a Samurai sword.

Willie Tarpley Jr. was convicted of 2nd degree murder for the 2007 stabbing of Lee Alexander.

Alexander, 25, was dating Tarpley's estranged wife and had been convicted in 2000 of committing a sex act on a child.

Tarpley showed up at his wife's Brandon home and was furious that she would allow a convicted sex offender around his two young daughters.

Tarpley threatened Alexander with the sword, telling him to leave, or he would cut off his head.

Alexander panicked as he tried to drive away and backed into Tarpley's Corvette.

Tarpley then jabbed the sword through Alexander's open car window, stabbing him.

Ironically, even though Tarpley didn't want a sex offender around his children, both Tarpley and his wife are registered sexual offenders. They both served prison time for a 1987 kidnapping and sexual torture of a 21-year-old Fort Lauderdale woman.


IN - Registry change on trial

View the article here

05/16/2008

nkelly@jg.net

Limits in new law run retroactively

INDIANAPOLIS – Attorneys for two convicted child molesters argued before the Indiana Supreme Court on Thursday that legislators violated the Indiana Constitution when they retroactively broadened a law regarding sex offender-registry requirements.

Todd Jensen pleaded guilty in 2000 in Allen Superior Court to one count of vicarious sexual gratification and one count of child molesting.

He served his three-year prison term and completed another three years of probation. He was also required under a separate state law at the time to register as a sex offender for 10 years.

But in 2006, he was notified by the Allen County Sheriff’s Department that he was now considered a sexually violent predator and would have to register for life. This includes checking in with the department every 90 days and submitting to house visits by authorities several times a year.

Jensen has not been convicted of any new crime, but the legislature decided in 2006 to change the definition of sexually violent predator. A judge is no longer required to have expert evaluations to make that determination. Instead, anyone convicted of a specified list of sexual offenses was automatically shifted to the status of sexually violent predator and the lifetime registry.

“The state says the registry is civil in nature,” attorney Randy Fisher of Fort Wayne said. But he noted that each year the legislature adds or changes requirements of the registry. “There has to be a threshold. It is clearly punitive.”

Fisher represents Jensen, who in 2006 asked for a determination from a local judge on his registration status and was found under the new law to be a sexually violent predator. But the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in December that the law violated ex post facto prohibitions in the state and federal constitutions.

Specifically, the court found that the new law retroactively changed the elements or facts required to find Jensen a sexually violent predator.

The Indiana Supreme Court vacated that decision and took the case up Thursday along with a similar one out of Marion County.

The case is the latest battle over whether lawmakers have been too aggressive in their desire to monitor convicted sex offenders.

On Tuesday, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that the state cannot force convicted sex offenders who live near schools or other places frequented by children to move if they owned their homes before passage of a state law restricting their residency.

The court said Tuesday that the 2006 law – that prohibits convicted sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, public park or youth program center – was an unconstitutional ex post facto law in that it punishes sex offenders for behavior that wasn’t illegal when it was committed.

The crux of Thursday’s argument was whether the state’s sex offender registry is punitive in nature or increases punishment for old crimes.

“The intent isn’t to attach additional punishment,” said J.T. Whitehead, who appeared on behalf of the Attorney General’s Office. “It is to put the rest of us on notice and make it easier for police to track these offenders.”

But Fisher said the registry requires those convicted to take affirmative steps – sign up, provide information, pay fees and carry ID at all times – and if they don’t they can be charged with a criminal violation.

They are like additional conditions of probation and sentence, and it never ends,” said Kathleen Sweeney, an attorney representing the defendant in the Marion County case.

At one point, Justice Theodore Boehm asked Whitehead whether it is unfairly burdensome to require someone who has had no contact with the criminal justice system for years to suddenly fall under new requirements as a result of a decades-old conviction.

What about basic fairness,” Boehm asked. “Isn’t there something wrong with that picture?

Whitehead responded, “How the process feels isn’t important” under previous U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

Sen. Tom Wyss (Contact), R-Fort Wayne, who authored the sexually violent predator change in 2006, said lawyers at the time told legislators the law would not be unconstitutional.
- Why don't you read the laws and the constitution yourself? Then you will see it's unconstitutional!

“I consider that an absolute standard of assuring parents and children that we know who this person is and where they are, not necessarily punishment,” he said.

“You can look at it as going back on somebody and making something retroactive, but when someone commits that abhorrent of an act then I really have no sympathy for them.”


MO - States to Enforce Molester Law on Tribal Land

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05/16/2008

A little-noticed provision in a 2006 federal sex-offender law is rankling American Indian tribes in six states because it would give state law enforcers unprecedented authority to monitor child molesters living on tribal land.

Tribal officials are raising objections because they see the provision as an erosion of their sovereignty, and they argue they weren't consulted when Congress drafted the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which overhauls how sex offenders across the country are registered and tracked.

"It's kind of like us calling France and telling them what to do," said Kristen Anderson, who has analyzed the Adam Walsh Act as deputy director for case analysis and support with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a quasi-governmental organization that seeks to prevent sexual abuse of children.

Meanwhile, state officials in Alaska, California, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon and Wisconsin worry how they are to enforce the law on vast tracts of self-governed tribal land within their borders.

The law, named after the murdered 6-year-old son of "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh and due to take effect in full by next July, gives the six states new powers to supervise sex offenders who reside on tribal lands that are home to hundreds of federally recognized American Indian communities.

Unlike 28 other states with federally recognized American Indian populations, the six states have had jurisdiction over most criminal matters on tribal lands for decades under long-standing federal policy. Monitoring of sex offenders who have rejoined society, however, is a civil regulatory procedure that previously had fallen to the tribes or the federal government.

The change would mean the states soon must ensure that sex offenders within tribal borders register more frequently with law enforcement authorities and often for longer periods of time. The states must add molesters to existing online sex-offender registries and collect and publish information about their appearance, whereabouts and even the cars they drive. In some cases, they must see that offenders who currently are not behind bars are identified and added to state registries retroactively.

In the other 28 states, tribes were given a choice under the act to track offenders independently or to designate that authority to their states. A total of 198 of 212 tribes rejected state control, though they still can reconsider. Experts predict that many of the tribes will retain authority and choose to form working partnerships with states to ensure the law is enforced.

At a meeting of state legislators this month in Washington, D.C., Laura L. Rogers, the U.S. Justice Department official responsible for communicating with states about Adam Walsh Act requirements, cautioned lawmakers that the act demands new and widespread cooperation among states, localities and tribes across the country.

"I encourage everyone - whether you represent a tribe, you represent a local entity or you represent your state - to recognize that we all need to work together in this effort," said Rogers, director of the Justice Department's Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART).

There are more than 636,000 registered sex offenders in the United States, but there are no reliable estimates for how many live on American Indian land, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The Indian Health Service, a federal agency that seeks to improve health in tribal territories, estimates that one in four girls and one in seven boys will fall victim to sex abuse on American Indian lands.

In the six states where authority over sex offenders is being transferred to the state, tribal officials are upset not only because of sovereignty concerns. Some say they can keep track sex offenders on tribal land more effectively than state or local law enforcement.

"The tribal law enforcement have their ear to the pavement a lot better than the county law enforcement. They know who's coming and who's going and who the new people are. We feel we do a better job in that regard," said Joe Plumer, tribal attorney for the White Earth band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe in northwestern Minnesota.

The 20,000-strong band was among 75 Native American communities in the six states that last year petitioned the U.S. Justice Department for the right to monitor sex offenders independently. But it would take an act of Congress to return that authority to the tribes.

Leslie A. Hagen, an assistant U.S. attorney with the SMART office, said the Adam Walsh Act "doesn't mean those tribes need to dismantle (the registration systems) they have." Instead, she said, having a registration system in place will make it easier for tribes to share information with the state.

While tribes have expressed anger about the Adam Walsh Act, state lawmakers also are raising objections about the law and the costs of implementing it before next year's deadline. States that do not comply with the act face a 10-percent cut to their share of annual congressional grants used to fight crime.

Alaska state Rep. Nancy Dahlstrom, a Republican, said the complexity of the native population in her state - which itself has 227 federally recognized American Indian, Eskimo and other communities - makes it difficult to ensure that the state can comply by next year.

"Each of them has different rules and regulations and ways that they govern themselves," Dahlstrom said. "It's been a constant struggle in trying to work with the different groups."

Comment on this story by registering with Stateline.org.


NY - Town considers stricter sex-offender law

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05/16/2008

There are nearly 70 registered sex offenders in Tompkins County considered to be at moderate or high risk of re-offending.

In response to residents concerned about a registered offender in their neighborhood, the Town of Ithaca is considering whether to draft a law further restricting sex offenders in the town, or whether to work with other governments in the county to make sure that restrictions in one neighborhood don't just move offenders into someone else's backyard, said Supervisor Herb Engman.

Criminal sex offenders are regulated by state and federal laws.

Just this week, New York state passed a law to combat online sexual predators.

Smaller municipalities, like towns, villages, and cities can also pass laws more strictly regulating the movement of sex offenders.

In Tompkins County, the Town of Lansing is the only municipality with a law that goes beyond state and federal law.

The law was passed in 2006 to protect all town residents, especially children, said Deputy Supervisor Connie Wilcox.

“We have a large school district and we have the recreation fields, and we have a park,” she said. “We don't want them hanging out where children hang out.”

The law specifically applies to Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders, those considered to be of moderate and high risk of committing another sex offense.

It forbids sex offenders from residing or “being physically present” within 1,000 feet of school grounds, houses of worship, community recreational facilities, daycare facilities, special education facilities, and any other facility designated for children. Permits can be issued when necessary, for example, for a sex offender who has to deliver their dependent child to school.

“We're not vigilantes,” Wilcox said. “We have our constables that patrol the park areas so the local law just puts a little more teeth into (it). If something does happen, we're able to enforce it and prosecute.”

Engman said one of the issues he's concerned about with passing a law in the Town of Ithaca is pushing offenders into other municipalities.

If one municipality passes a stricter law, it can squeeze offenders off to the next neighborhood in another municipality,” he said. “We don't want to create a system where you have people moving from town to town because they can't live anyplace in that town or city or village.”
- Well, that is exactly what all these draconian, unconstitutional laws are doing. Wake up and smell the coffee....

Engman and Ithaca Town Board member Peter Stein both said they also have concerns about the constitutionality of passing further restrictions.

“I can understand the concern of these people. It must be terrifying to send your children off to school and wonder whether a pedophile was going to harm them. But I think that we just don't have a lot of expertise in looking at these issues,” Stein said. “There are a lot of constitutional issues involved in that. A person that served their time has the same rights as other citizens. Against the safety of the children, those are two tremendous issues in conflict.”
- And stop using the word pedophile to discuss sex offender issues! Not all sex offenders are pedophiles, predators or child molesters.

The Town of Lansing has never had anyone suggest that their law is unconstitutional, Wilcox said. In fact, other towns have asked for copies of their law, she said.
- Well, sex offenders need to start suing the state. These laws are unconstitutional.

Engman said Lansing's law is definitely one that they will study. Ultimately, he said he hopes a broader law could be passed by a larger body, such as Tompkins County.

“Just doing something on our own in the town may not solve much of anything,” he said. “I really do want to start a conversation with other levels of government so that we do what's best for everyone and it's not just a knee-jerk reaction on a very emotional issue.”

kgashler@ithacajournal.com


CA - It must be election time

View the article here

Yep, they need a scapegoat and sex offenders are the easy targets. It's sad they cannot get voted into office any other way, or for upholding the constitution, so they have to find someone to exploit!

05/15/2008

Well, it must be election time because Norma Torres has once again decided it is time to show some concern over sex offenders. As a matter of fact, her most recent sex-offender ordinance actually replaces her previous sex-offender ordinance which she introduced the last time she was desperate for some favorable media attention.

It matters little that she will only stir up an expensive taxpayer-funded legal battle and in the end accomplish nothing ... for anyone but herself.

It matters little that the cost of her seedy self-promotion is carried not only on the backs of Pomona's already overburdened taxpayers but more shamefully at the expense of the good-hearted believers that actually think that Torres is doing something for them. My condolences to the already overburdened Pomona taxpayers as well as to those hoping against hope that somebody will do something. Sorry folks, ambition is blind.

And speaking of "blind," did you happen to read where Norma Torres, mayor of Pomona, has declared that Pomona's budget deficit is down to $3.6 million? Before she breaks her arm patting herself on the back, let me call her attention to Pomona's 9 percent utility users tax.

In this fiscal year alone, Pomona's 9 percent utility users tax is intended to fleece $18.6 million from the good citizens and fine businesses of Pomona. Perhaps Mayor Torres has a short or selective memory, or maybe ambition is blind ... but isn't Pomona's utility tax in place to cover a budget deficit?

Mayor Torres must be thinking, "What is so tough about leadership? I'm ready for Sacramento. How easy and simplistic it is to balance the budget, all we need to do is dig $3.6 million out of our reserves."

That and conveniently ignore the remaining $18.6 million deficit because we've already "fixed" that with a 9 percent utility tax. Isn't this precisely the same thinking that her mentors in Sacramento have been using to drag us into a $20 billion deficit? How badly do we need her in Sacramento? How badly do we need her in Pomona?

Norma Torres, mayor of Pomona, driven by her desire to promote herself for higher office and a bigger paycheck, has turned a blind eye to the taxpayers of Pomona. An eye blinded by ambition, not an eye opened by leadership.

Maurice Ayala is running against Norma Torres and others for the Democratic nomination in the 61st Assembly District. He lives in Chino.


IN - Court restricts part of sex offender residency law

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05/15/2008

INDIANAPOLIS (AP)The state cannot force convicted sex offenders who live near schools or other places frequented by children to move if they owned their homes before passage of a state law restricting their residency, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled.

The court said Tuesday that the 2006 law that prohibits convicted sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, public park or youth program center was unconstitutional in such cases.

The unanimous 10-page ruling upheld a Blackford County judge’s opinion, holding that the state law was an ex post facto law that punished sex offenders for behavior that was not criminal when it was committed — in this case, home ownership.

The residency statute clearly increases the penalty applied to affected sex offenders by preventing those offenders from residing and taking full advantage of their ownership rights in property acquired prior to conviction and prior to the imposition of the statute,” Judge Paul D. Mathias wrote for the three-judge panel.

The ruling came in the case of a man had owned his home for about 10 years when he was convicted of a sex offense against a child in 1997. The man was charged in January 2007 with violating the state’s sex offender residency law. Blackford Superior Court Judge John Forcum dismissed the charge as unconstitutional, and the state appealed.

State attorneys argued that the man’s rights weren’t violated because he wasn’t charged with owning the home but with continuing to live there after the residency law took effect.

The appeals court disagreed.

“That punishment restricts an ownership interest in property that Pollard acquired before the statute came into effect; it is not just a potential penalty for continuing to reside within the exclusionary zone after the effective date of the statute,” Mathias wrote.

The Associated Press left a phone message seeking comment Tuesday night with the attorney general’s office, which handled the appeal.


FL - Teen alleging rape turns to YouTube

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Video is at the end.

05/15/2008

(CNN) -- The video is hard to turn away from. A sobbing 16-year-old sits in her bedroom and, staring into a camera, says she has been raped.

"Hi, my name is Crystal. ... I need some help. I didn't want to do it this way, but it's the only way I know that's going to work, that someone out there in the world is gonna listen to me."

The teen, whom CNN interviewed but is not identifying by her last name, is among dozens of young people who are turning to social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace to talk about sexual assault.

For an online generation, the Web offers what traditional counseling does not. It's a chance to communicate without having to face someone or fear their judgment. Some people are seeking legal advice and medical information, and many younger victims believe that they can warn others about their accused attacker, counselors say.

There also are people like Crystal, whose case was dropped by the Orange County, Florida, state attorney's office, who feel slighted by the justice system.

"Young victims, particularly girls, turn inward. They are going to reach out and try to connect in the isolation of their dorm room or their bedrooms," said Jennifer Dritt, the director of the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence. "Most young women feel like they want somebody to know that someone did this to them."

One in four American women under the age of 25 report that they have been sexually assaulted, according to the nation's largest rape crisis counseling organization, RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

"We noticed that this trend of posting details of an attack really picked up speed a few years ago," said Scott Berkowitz, RAINN's founder and president. "A rape survivor's intention may be to reach out, and we encourage that, but this is a dangerous way to do it."

Advocates worry that victims are divulging too much information. CNN found several Facebook and MySpace profiles on which young people say they have been raped. The postings include their names, photographs and hometowns. But Crystal is probably one of the few who have gone so far as to post a plea for help on YouTube.

Because anything posted on the Web is available forever through an Internet search, a rape survivor must consider how they would feel if that information were dredged up in the future, counselors said. By making themselves -- or their IP address -- available, victims open themselves to unreliable and unprofessional advice and the harsh judgment of their peers.

Perhaps worst of all, they could give their perpetrator a chance to find them again or gain more satisfaction.

In April, RAINN teamed with online security company McAfee Inc. and launched an anonymous and secure chat service where assault survivors can communicate with trained professionals. IP addresses are not tracked and transcripts of conversations -- which look like instant message boxes -- are not recorded. The service has helped more than 10,000 people, Berkowitz said. Go to RAINN's Web hotline

But counselors said survivors are going to look wherever they can to find help and comfort, particularly when they don't get it through the court system.

Fewer than 5 percent of reported cases in Florida make it to a prosecutor's office, Dritt said. Whether because of lack of forensic evidence or because many are he said/she said accounts, rape cases can be very difficult to try.

"What you hear from every rape crisis center from Pensacola to Key West is that there are hardly ever any prosecutions," she said. "Most sexual violence is acquaintance rape, and unfortunately, a lot of juries still think that if a victim had a relationship with their attacker, then they cannot be raped by that person."

Stacy, 25, worried about that when she was raped by a man she knew as a friend in 2001 while attending Ohio State University. Although she has spoken publicly numerous times about her experience, CNN is not using her last name in keeping with its policy of not identifying sexual assault victims.

As is typical of younger survivors, Stacy spent the days and weeks after her assault struggling to assure her friends and family that she was OK. She reported the assault to university authorities, but her attacker continued to go to class. She grew increasingly depressed and anxious. Her grades plummeted, and she gained weight.

"I thought that people who had never been assaulted would never understand. I thought I had no one to talk to, but then I realized, I had the Internet," she said. "Sometimes, talking to people who were not close to me was refreshing because there was no judgment to face. If you talk to someone online, there's no judgment, right? How can they judge you when they don't even know you?"

She began instant messaging in chat rooms but quickly realized that many people who initially seemed sympathetic were only pretending.

"The next thing you know, they are making it seem like they are turned on. They were asking me for details of my rape. It was very disturbing," she said. "I had to block several people. After that, I thought the worst of the world. I thought everyone was a perpetrator, and I trusted no one."

After years of face-to-face therapy, Stacy began to heal and feel more confident. She partly credits RAINN, which she found via an Internet search, for helping her recover. Other female students came forward to say they, too, had been assaulted by her attacker. He was expelled from the university and pleaded guilty to a lesser charge -- sexual imposition, a misdemeanor -- and was placed on probation.

Stacy watched Crystal's video.

"That's just heartbreaking," she said. "I feel really sad for her because no one seems to have explained that the justice system isn't always going to help. I understand why she's outraged. That's exactly how I felt, too."

Orange County authorities charged the 23-year-old man Crystal accused of assaulting her with lewd or lascivious battery. According to court documents, Crystal and the man both said they had an ongoing sexual relationship.

The prosecutor, who declined to comment to CNN, concluded that the teen and the 23-year-old had consensual sex, according to the case file.

Florida law states that a 15-year-old cannot give consent to sex. And though Crystal was 15 at the time of the alleged forced encounter, the prosecutor wrote that the case would not be prosecuted because Crystal was "a mere 1 month away" from turning 16, when it would be "legal to give consent," according to documents.

A spokeswoman for the Orange County state attorney's office declined to comment further.

Stacy had some advice for Crystal: Get counseling and keep talking.

"You're not always going to get what you want from the court system," she said. "So you've got to think about yourself, figure out who you are and realize that you're stronger than what he did to you."


Former Sex Offender Rights

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MO - Collinsville considers stricter rules for sex offenders

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05/14/2008

City looks to move offenders further from parks/schools

According to the Illinois Sex Offender Registry, published by the Illinois State Police, there are currently 24 registered sex offenders living in the city of Collinsville. The offenders have charges like possession of child pornography, criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and being a sexual predator.

Under current state laws, no registered sex offender can live within 500 feet of a public or private school, a public park or a public swimming pool.

Collinsville Police are looking to expand that distance. Police Chief Scott Williams on Monday presented the City Council with an ordinance that would double that distance so that a sex offender could not live within 1,000 feet of those "protected zones," which include schools, day care centers, public pools and parks, dance studios, and pre-schools.

Williams said his department is currently plotting the city map to get a better defined area of those areas. There are 13 public and private schools in Collinsville, approximately eight day care centers (including those run by churches) and two dance studios. Splash City Family Waterpark is the only public pool in Collinsville.

Williams said that any current sex offenders living in the city would be grandfathered in, so even if they did live within that additional 500 feet they would not be required to move.

The ordinance is actually taken from Granite City where the law has been in place since Dec. 6, 2005.

Granite City Police Detective Robert Patrich said he has had incidents where a registered offender has purchased a home or begun renting an apartment before registering with the police and that offender has had to move elsewhere in the city.

"I always tell them to check with any agency first," Patrich said. "They have to check with the Police Department before they move in to make sure they're not in violation."

Williams said the new ordinance is not a response to an increase of sexual offenders moving to Collinsville.

"As a result of the council's safest city initiative, we're redoing all policy and procedural ordinances that we can to be more effective in that goal," he said.

The council is expected to vote on the ordinance at the meeting scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on May 27. City Hall will be closed on May 26 for Memorial Day.


GA - Georgia Sex Offender Law back in Federal Court moments after being signed by Governor Perdue

View the article here

Please read the articles at the end, especially the 2nd link with is 56 pages, but very much worth the read!!!

05/15/2008

Late Tuesday, Governor Sonny Perdue signed Senate Bill 1, a modified version of Georgia’s sex offender residence and employment restrictions. Immediately following his signature, attorneys from the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) renewed their legal challenge to the sex offender law. For the last two years, SCHR has represented a class of people on the registry in Whitaker v. Perdue, Civil Action No. 4:06-cv-140-CC (N.D. Ga. 2006). The pleading filed today is the fourth amended complaint in the Whitaker case.

Civil rights groups are not the only ones challenging Georgia’s sex offender law. During the 2008 Georgia General Assembly, several advocacy groups for women and children, including Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault and Voices for Georgia’s Children, voiced their opposition to SB 1. They stated that SB 1 will once again commit taxpayer resources to efforts that have no demonstrated positive effect and that may, in fact, place women and children at greater risk of victimization by forcing sex offenders underground, increasing the likelihood of subsequent sex offenses by severing their ties to stabilizing forces like their church, families, and treatment providers.

“There is simply no evidence that 1,000-foot restrictions reduce sexual offenses, as recognized by the many women’s and children’s advocates who opposed SB 1” said SCHR Attorney Sarah Geraghty “It’s unfortunate that our legislature has again chosen political posturing over the safety of women and children.”

On November 21, 2007, the Supreme Court of Georgia held Georgia’s sex offender residency restrictions unconstitutional in Mann v. Georgia Department of Corrections. The Court held that Georgia’s sex offender residence restrictions violated the takings clause of the state and federal constitutions which prohibits the government from taking someone’s property without adequately compensating him for the property loss.

Senate Bill 1 failed to properly address the Court’s findings, and will likely similarly be struck down by the courts for the following reasons:

  • No Provision for Renters: People who enter into a valid lease to rent property have rights to that property protected by the takings clause of the Georgia Constitution. SB 1 carves out an exemption for homeowners who purchased property, but makes no provision for renters. Under SB 1, the moment a child care center or a church opens within 1,000 feet of a sex offender’s residence, that person is required to break his lease and move. Because it makes no provision for renters, SB 1 will be held unconstitutional under Mann, the very case that struck down the previous sex offender residency law.

  • All Offenders Treated the Same: Under SB 1, a 17-year-old who engages in consensual sex with a 15-year-old is subject to the same residency and employment restrictions as a serious sexual offender.

  • No Exemption for Nursing Home Residents and Others Who Do Not Pose a Threat: SB 1 makes no exemption for people in nursing homes, hospice care facilities, and others who no longer pose a danger and may not be able to safely relocate due to health problems.

The practical effect of SB 1 is that all people on the sex offender registry – with the exception of certain homeowners – will have to comply with all of the same residence restrictions as in HB 1059. The school bus stop provision remains a part of the law. There are no exceptions for persons who are physically incapacitated by illness or age. The prohibition against working at or within 1,000 feet of a church remains in the law. The law retains the provision making it illegal and punishable by 10-30 years in prison to be homeless.

The ostensible purpose of sex offender residence and employment restrictions is to keep Georgia’s children safe from sexual offenses. No one would dispute that this is a laudable goal. Senate Bill 1, however, is yet another wrong approach that has once again forces the State into court to defend the General Assembly’s ill-advised and unconstitutional actions.


IN - Sex offender ruling could have far-reaching effects

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05/14/2008

Reporter: Shannon Samson
New Media Producer: Melissa Greathouse

An Indiana higher court ruled in favor of a sex offender.

The case involves a man in Blackford County, but it has implications all over the state.

Last year authorities informed the man, Anthony Pollard, that he had to move from the home where he had lived for 20 years because he was in violation of a law that said sex offenders can't live within 1,000 yards of a school or park.

Pollard argued that he had paid his debt to society for the sex crime he committed in 1997 and should not continue to be punished. The higher court agreed.

The residency law went into effect in July 2007 and is interpreted to be retroactive, so in Vanderburgh County offenders classified as sexual predators were committing a felony if they lived within 1,000 feet of a school, park, licensed daycare or youth care program.

"We applied the thousand foot rule or law to people currently on parole or probation which could amount to about 70 of the offenders that's on the list," said Cpl. Tom Wedding of the Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Office.

That was easy to do considering the thousand foot rule is almost always a condition of their parole or probation.

Deputies also applied the rule to offenders who were deemed by a court to be a predator.

For everyone else on the list, which was quite a few people, they took a wait and see approach.

"We saw other courts throughout the United States ruling this thousand foot as unconstitutional, so we got the wait and see approach because we figured it would be happening here in Indiana which subsequently it did," Wedding said.

So essentially, the appellate court decision that recognizes the rights of the offenders won't change anything here.

Corporal Wedding will continue to do what he's always done, apply the thousand foot law to parolees and predators and continue to update the sex offender registry.

"The whole spirit of the law is to be used as a public tool, so you know who lives, works and studies in your community. That's what the whole registry is meant to be," he said.

The Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Office couldn't just order someone out of his or her home.

Deputies would have to turn the criminal case over to the prosecutor who would take the matter before a judge to decide what's best.

To date, the sheriff's office has not initiated those proceedings for any of the 700 or so sex offenders who've been on the registry since 2003.


MT - Critics: Sex Offender Registries Don't Protect Anybody

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Video is available at the site above.

05/16/2008

Many parents have checked online sex offender registries to see who's living nearby. Some people who deal with sex crimes say the list is nothing more than a false sense of security. Critics say scrolling down a list won't keep your kids any safer. First Assistant Prosecutor Jill Patterson says “The reality is that's an insufficient check." Licensed Professional counselor Kris Hamilton, who counsels offenders, says, "I'm not sure it protects anybody it gives a false sense of security." Chief Deputy Jim Arnott says, "It does have some problems with it.”

Since their inception in 1994, sex offender registries have been touted as a great tool for parents to protect their children. Allison Cash has two reasons to scroll through the list for peace of mind. Cash says, "It gives me limited comfort but some." Critics say your click for comfort relies on a criminal’s honesty. Like many counties, Greene County is required to have a registry but receives no federal or state funding to make sure offenders are living where they say they are.

Lisa Simmons has met almost every sex offender in Greene County. She's the one woman working an assembly line of offenders; entering fingerprints, photos and info on every sex offender every three to six months. No one double checks her work on a regular basis. Simmons says, “Unless I have suspicions I take their word for it."

Patterson says the lists' accuracy isn’t the only problem. Patterson says, “It shouldn’t be focused on where they live but what they’re doing, what is their conduct and what is their behavior." Sex Offender Kris Hamilton helps sex offenders find what triggered their offense and how to avoid it. Hamilton says many laws are knee jerk reactions to the public's fear. She says, "It's a horrible thing that does happen but registries just give politicians a lot of steam because it sounds good.”

Many who work closely with sex offenders say supervision and treatment can do more than an unchecked list. Hamilton says, "If they would let probation officers spend time getting to know their clients and going out and checking, that would make the community safer." Greene County Chief Deputy Jim Arnott says without the registry there could be more victims. Arnott says, "People need to be aware. I think it’s as good as it can be with the resources and laws we have." Cash says, "I think it's a loop hole in it but still it’s something extra. It’s an additional tool."

Registry skeptics say law makers should make sure their legislation fits the goal of "no more victims". Hamilton says, "That has to be our goal."

Critics would like to see the focus and funding go toward probation and parole, rather than the registry. Right now they say because of tight budgets probation officers spend most of their time doing clerical work rather than checking on sex offenders’ behavior and whereabouts.