Monday, July 21, 2008

GA - Sex offender flees

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You see, GPS is a waste of time and money.


CLAY COOUNTY (WALB) - A convicted sexual predator has cut off his ankle bracelet and is on the run.

Forty-eight-year old Mark Wayne Hugo lives in Clay County. He was sentenced to wear an ankle bracelet to monitor his whereabouts.

Sheriff's deputies say he cut if off at 8:00 Monday morning and disappeared. Hugo was last seen in a green canoe on the Pataula Creek Sunday night. He's 5'6", 160 pounds, with glasses and short hair.

If you have any information about Hugo, call the Clay County Sheriff's Office at 229-768-2505.

Criminal Justice Resources: Sex Offender Residency Restrictions

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By Ken Strutin, Published on July 20, 2008

There are laws in more than 20 states and hundreds of communities limiting or proscribing where convicted sex offenders may live and work. See Lawsuits Test Crackdown On Sex Criminals,, April 18, 2008; Sex-Offender Residency Laws Get Second Look, USA Today, Feb. 26, 2007. These residency zones or exclusions are frequently imposed in conditions of probation and parole or as a facet of registration laws. They raise constitutional issues in addition to the practical problems created by shutting off access to family members, affordable housing, employment, therapeutic treatment and public services.

This article collects recent court decisions, research papers and reports that have addressed the efficacy of exclusionary zoning laws and the impact of these restrictions on sex offenders reentering their communities. For additional resources on Megan's Law and the Adam Walsh Act, see generally Ken Strutin, Sex Offender Laws, LLRX, Sept. 28, 2007; and Sex Offender Resources (NACDL).

Case Law

Restrictions have been challenged on a variety of constitutional grounds, such as substantive due process, equal protection, right to travel, ex post facto, bill of attainder (e.g., banishment), and taking of property. See Anti-Sex-Offender Zoning Laws Challenged,, Dec. 9, 2006. Recent appellate decisions show how these laws fare in the gristmill of constitutional analysis, and offer insight into possible paths to Supreme Court resolution. See Exactly When And How Will Scotus Confront Sex Offender Residency Restrictions?, Sentencing Law and Policy Blog, May 14, 2008.

  • Georgia: Mann v. Dept. Of Corrections, 282 Ga. 754, 653 S.E.2d 740 (2007)

    "Although we earlier determined appellant's property interest in his rent-free residence at his parents' home to be 'minimal,' Mann, supra, 278 Ga. at 443 (2), we find appellant's property interest in the Hibiscus Court residence he purchased with his wife to be significant. As a registered sex offender, the locations where appellant may reside are severely restricted by OCGA § 42-1-15 (a); as recognized by other states, those locations may also be subject to private limitations, see Mulligan v. Panther Valley Prop. Owners Assn., 766 A2d 1186 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2001) (discussing homeowner association covenants prohibiting sale of property to sex offenders), and we note that HN5 nothing in OCGA § 42-1-12 et seq. expressly precludes Georgia cities and counties from enacting additional restrictions. See Wernick, In Accordance with a Public Outcry: Zoning Out Sex Offenders Through Residence Restrictions in Florida, 58 Fla. L. Rev. 1147, 1163-1164 (2006) (discussing ordinances enacted by local governments in Florida that have expanded state statutory buffer zones). Nevertheless, appellant and his wife were able to find and purchase a house that complied with the residency restriction in OCGA § 42-1-15. The evidence is uncontroverted that the Hibiscus Court property was purchased for the sole purpose of serving as their home. OCGA § 42-1-15, by prohibiting appellant from residing at the Hibiscus Court house, thus utterly impairs appellant's use of his property as the home he shares with his wife."

  • Illinois: People v. Morgan, 377 Ill. App. 3d 821, 881 N.E.2d 507, 317 Ill. Dec. 339 (Ill. App. Ct. 3d Dist. 2007)

    "Defendant, [a convicted sex offender] . . . , was convicted following a jury trial of knowingly residing within 500 feet of a school building that persons under the age of 18 attended (720 ILCS 5/11-9.3(b-5) (West 2006). Defendant was sentenced to 30 months' probation and fined. Defendant appeals his conviction and fines. We affirm in part and vacate and remand in part. Turning to the subsection at issue in the instant case, we adopt the reasoning and analysis employed by the Fifth District in Leroy and apply it to the subsection under consideration before us. In doing so, we find that the law is constitutional. We conclude that, in accordance with the analysis employed by the court in Leroy, section 11-9.3(b-5) does not constitute an impermissible ex post facto law. Therefore, defendant's argument must fail."

  • Indiana: State v. Pollard, No. 05A02-0707-CR-640 (Ind. Ct. App. May 13, 2008)

    "For all of these reasons, we hold that Indiana Code section 35-42-4-11, otherwise known as the residency statute, is an ex post facto law as applied to a person in Pollard’s circumstances. The residency statute is a criminal statute that criminalizes residency because of the resident’s status as a sex offender. In addition, the statute’s effect is punitive because it is applied retroactively to sex offenders who established ownership and property rights in a residence prior to the effective date of the statute, and because it forces them to relinquish some or all of their ownership rights or face a felony charge. Perhaps most importantly, Indiana’s residency statute does not exempt ownership established prior to the statute, provide a constitutional taking procedure, or exempt ownership impacted by later construction of a protected facility or area."

  • Iowa: Wright v. Iowa Dept Of Corrections, No. 01 / 06–0863 (Iowa April 11, 2008)

    "Floyd Wright, who was convicted of a sexual offense against a minor in 1977, challenges the district court's ruling that he was subject to the residency restrictions of Iowa Code section 692A.2A (2005), which prohibits sex offenders from residing within two thousand feet of certain facilities such as schools. Wright contends that he is not subject to the statute because he was not a "registered" sex offender. Even if the statute were applicable, Wright contends it would violate his equal protection and substantive due process rights and would be invalid as a bill of attainder. The district court rejected his arguments, and so do we."

  • Missouri: R.L. v. Missouri Department Of Corrections, 245 S.W.3d 236 (Mo. 2008)

    "The same long-standing principles applied in Phillips apply in this case. As with the registration requirements in Phillips, the residency restrictions at issue in this case impose a new obligation upon R.L. and those similarly situated by requiring them to change their place of residence based solely upon offenses committed prior to enactment of the statute. Attaching new obligations to past conduct in this manner violates the bar on retrospective laws set forth in article I, section 13."

  • Ohio: City of Middleburg Heights v. Brownlee, 2008 Ohio 2036, 2008 Ohio App. LEXIS 1739 (Ohio Ct. App., Cuyahoga County May 1, 2008)

    "Defendant John F. Brownlee, Jr. (appellant) appeals the court's granting an injunction prohibiting him from residing within 1,000 feet of a school. After reviewing the facts of the case and pertinent law, we reverse the court's ruling and order the injunction vacated. In the instant case, appellant bought his home in 1972; he committed the offensive acts in February and March 2003; and the statute's effective date is July 31, 2003. Accordingly, the court erred when it applied R.C. 2950.031 to appellant, and his first assignment of error is sustained."

  • Ohio: Hyle v. Porter, 117 Ohio St. 3d 165, 2008 Ohio 542, 882 N.E.2d 899 (2008)

    "We hold that HN1R.C. 2950.031 does not apply to an offender who bought his home and committed his offense before the effective date of the statute. The judgment of the First District Court of Appeals is reversed."

  • United States:Validity Of Statutes Imposing Residency Restrictions On Registered Sex Offenders, 25 ALR6th 227

    "In recent years, a number of state or local statutes imposing residency restrictions on registered sex offenders have been enacted. In Doe v. Miller, 405 F.3d 700, 25 A.L.R.6th 695 (8th Cir. 2005), cert. denied, 126 S. Ct. 757, 163 L. Ed. 2d 574 (U.S. 2005) (applying Iowa law), the court of appeals held that an Iowa statute that prohibited persons who had committed a criminal sex offense against a minor from residing within 2,000 feet of a school or child care facility, did not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, was not retroactive criminal punishment in violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause, did not interfere with the right of sex offenders to travel, and did not violate the right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment. This annotation collects and summarizes those cases in which the courts have determined the validity of state or local statutes imposing residency restrictions on registered sex offenders."


Scholars and researchers have examined the effectiveness of residency restrictions on sex offender behavior and its lawfulness as punishment.

  • Banishment By A Thousand Laws: Residency Restrictions On Sex Offenders, 85 Wash. U. L. Rev. 101 (2007)

    "Across America, states, localities, and private communities are debating and implementing laws to limit the places of residence of convicted sex offenders. Nineteen states and hundreds, if not thousands, of local communities have adopted statutes which severely limit the places where a sex offender may legally live. In this article, I trace these new laws to historical practices of banishment in Western societies. I argue that the establishment of exclusion zones by states and localities is a form of banishment that I have termed 'internal exile.' Establishing the connection to banishment punishments helps to explain the unique legal, policy, and ethical problems these laws create for America. Ultimately, residency restrictions could fundamentally alter basic principles of the American criminal justice system. While those supporting these laws have the interests of children at heart, the policies they are promoting will be worse for children and society."

  • Constitutional Collectivism And Ex-Offender Residence Exclusion Zones, 92 Iowa L. Rev. 1 (2006)

    "The US has often been imperiled by the competing interests of individual states, and while past threats have most frequently assumed economic or political form, this article addresses a different threat: state efforts to limit where ex-offenders (those convicted of sex crimes in particular) can live. The laws have thus far withstood constitutional challenge, with courts deferring to the police power of states. This deference, however, ignores the negative externalities created when states jettison their human dross, and defies Justice Cardozo's oft-repeated constitutional tenet that "the peoples of the several states must sink or swim together." The article discusses the continued need for this tenet in the face of state expulsionist tendencies and invokes in support the Court's decisions invalidating state laws barring entry of the poor and solid waste. In both instances, the Court, while acknowledging the exigencies motivating states, invalidated the laws because they betrayed the national imperative of dealing with challenges faced by all states. As the article establishes, a kindred understanding and resolve is now necessary as states seek to isolate themselves from the shared national responsibility of offender reentry."

  • Controlling Sex Offender Reentry: Jessica's Law Measures In California (SSRN 2006)

    "This paper examines current research on the effectiveness of electronic monitoring and residential restrictions in preventing recidivism amongst sex offenders in California, as well as the experiences of other states that have experimented with these techniques. The paper focuses on four questions: 1) What are the trends in California sex offense data and other states with sizable sex offender populations? 2) What does research and other state experiences tell us about the effectiveness of electronic monitoring in preventing recidivism and absconding of sex offenders? 3) What does research and other state experiences tell us about the effectiveness of residential restrictions in preventing recidivism of sex offenders? 4) In light of California's sex offender population, and CDCR's current methods for supervising paroled sex offenders, what challenges would CDCR and other state agencies likely face in implementing expanded electronic monitoring and residential restrictions?"

  • Does Residential Proximity Matter? A Geographic Analysis Of Sex Offense Recidivism, 35 Crim. Just. & Behavior 484 (2008)

    "In an effort to reduce sex offense recidivism, local and state governments have recently passed legislation prohibiting sex offenders from living within a certain distance (500 to 2,500 feet) of child congregation locations such as schools, parks, and daycare centers. Examining the potential deterrent effects of a residency restrictions law in Minnesota, this study analyzed the offense patterns of every sex offender released from Minnesota correctional facilities between 1990 and 2002 who was reincarcerated for a new sex offense prior to 2006. Given that not one of the 224 sex offenses would have likely been prevented by residency restrictions, the findings from this study provide little support for the notion that such restrictions would significantly reduce sexual recidivism."

  • Has Georgia Gone Too Far-Or Will Sex Offenders Have To?, 35 Hastings Const. L.Q. 309 (2008) $

    "Given the wide range of issues that were presented by Georgia's latest sex offender residency restriction, this note will discuss how Georgia's new residency restriction statute, as originally written, violated (1) the Ex Post Facto Clause, (2) the Eighth Amendment, (3) Procedural Due Process under the Fourteenth Amendment, and (4) the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Lastly, the note will analyze potential issues under the Dormant Commerce Clause and other policy considerations to argue that, in practice, the use of such harsh residency restrictions might make for a more dangerous situation for children, sex offenders, and the rest of society."

  • How To Stop A Predator The Rush To Enact Mandatory Sex Offender Residency Restrictions And Why States Should Abstain 86 Or. L. Rev. 219 (2007) "A new trend in state legislation emerged as twenty-two states entered legally unsettled waters by enacting various residency restrictions for convicted sex offenders. Legislators tout the need for such residency restrictions to reduce child sex offenders' opportunities for contact with potential victims. However, courts disagree whether these new laws are constitutional, and research increasingly questions their utility. This Comment will first look at the primary legal questions facing the courts, examining various legal challenges to state residency restrictions and the limited research surrounding the efficacy of such restrictions. Next, this Comment will address the 2006 California ballot measure Proposition 83, which serves as a practical case study of these new restrictions and their unsettled legal ramifications. Finally, this Comment will examine Oregon's nonmandatory residency restriction and explain why it serves as the best model for achieving the goals of protecting our children, monitoring the sex offender population, and withstanding judicial review. Ultimately, this Comment will attempt to show that research on mandatory residency restrictions may affect the way future courts rule on these restrictions. This Comment will also attempt to persuade those presently in favor of mandatory residency restrictions that more flexible, nonmandatory restrictions will increase the likelihood of achieving their stated objectives."

  • In The Zone: Sex Offenders And The Ten Percent Solutions (SSRN 2008)

    "This Article challenges prevailing judicial orthodoxy that many sex offender residency restrictions are constitutional under the federal Ex Post Facto Clause. The paper applies the analytical framework in Smith v. Doe, the Court's most recent case involving sex offender legislation. It also forges a new way of thinking about these regimes as land-use policies that "negatively" zone individuals out of the urban cores. The paper proposes an innovative "positive" zoning scheme, the Sex Offender Containment Zone, that zones high-risk convicted sex offenders back into the city and that is effective, humane, and constitutional."

  • Irregular Passion: The Unconstitutionality And Inefficacy Of Sex Offender Residency Laws, 102 Nw. U. L. Rev. 307 (2008)

    "The Comment concludes that non-tailored residency laws are unconstitutional. These same laws are also unwise and ineffective in terms of their stated goals, rendering them poor policy decisions. Given their ineffectiveness and the threat they pose to fundamental rights, this Part argues that it is important that courts assess the laws rigorously and without bias, particularly because the political outlash against sex offenders is immense, irrational, and hard for legislators to reverse. Until courts correctly deem these non-tailored residency laws unconstitutional, both the rights of sex offenders and the safety of their potential victims will be at risk due to the crippling political outrage surrounding the issue."

  • Never Going Home: Does It Make Us Safer? Does It Make Sense? Sex Offenders, Residency Restrictions And Reforming Risk Management Law, 97 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 317 (2006)

    "One of the most hotly debated issues in criminal law today is how to manage the perceived risk of sex offenders loose in the community. Beyond mandatory registration and community notification, over a dozen states, including Illinois, have enacted residency restrictions that forbid sex offenders from living within a certain distance of schools, parks, day care centers, or even "places where children normally congregate." This Comment scrutinizes these laws to see if they make sense, and more importantly, if they make us safer. The answer to both questions appears to be no. After detailing the statistical, political, and constitutional problems that render these restrictions ineffective and unconstitutional, I shift my attention to envisioning a better system of risk management. I end by critically examining best practice methods of states across the country that more effectively allocate finite resources to identify and control high risk offenders to prevent them from harming again, while allowing the vast majority of offenders who are low risk to better re-integrate into and become productive members of society."

  • Off To Elba: The Legitimacy Of Sex Offender Residence And Employment Restrictions, 40 Akron L. Rev. 339 (2007)

    "This article will look at why sex offenders are treated differently than other criminal offenders. Sex offenders are subject to sanctions and prohibitions above and beyond what other criminal offenders must face. Next, the article will look at some of the residence and employment restrictions placed on sex offenders to determine if they are rationally related to any legitimate government interest without overbearing the sex offender's constitutional rights. Finally, the article will offer an alternate means of sex offense prevention that encourages sex offender assimilation back into society instead of further exclusion."

  • Reentry And Reintegration: Challenges Faced By The Families Of Convicted Sex Offenders, 20 Fed. Sent. R. 88 (2007) $

    "Our article will focus on the adult family members of convicted sex offenders and the many challenges they face in reuniting with their loved ones post-incarceration. We will explore the general knowledge on families of prisoners and incorporate preliminary findings from our ongoing research on the experiences and needs of families of convicted adult, male sex offenders."

  • Sex Offender Re-Entry: A Summary And Policy Recommendation On The Current State Of The Law In California And How To 'Safely' Re-Introduce Sex Offenders Into Our Communities (SSRN 2006)

    "This paper attempts to provide a comprehensive review of the current and pending sex offender legislation in California, examine their effectiveness or ineffectiveness and any possible loopholes, and conclude with a broad recommendation on where the state of California's law and policies surrounding the safe release and supervision of sex offenders into the community should be heading. In doing so, the paper will rely on current statistics on sex offenders in California, policy recommendations by various organizations on this topic, media profiles and case histories of recent real-life sex crimes, and actual data from the California online sex offender registry to discover the profile of the "real" sex offender in California. This paper will also examine the roll of public outcry and moral panic in the implementation of these laws and the effect this may have had on their specific provisions and eventual effectiveness in order to provide a more comprehensive review of the impetus behind such regulations and hopefully to inform future legislation of the lessons of the past."

  • Sex Offender Residence Restrictions: Sensible Crime Policy Or Flawed Logic?, 71 Fed. Prob. 2 (Dec. 2007)

    "Although 22 States now have laws that restrict where sex offenders can live, with 1,000 to 2,500-foot exclusionary zones being most common, research on the effects of sex-offender residence restrictions is limited. Only one study (Minnesota Department of Corrections, 2007) has specifically examined the relationship between residence restrictions and reoffending. That study was prospective, because no such law was in place where the study was conducted (Minnesota). There is a growing body of evidence, however, that residence restrictions have unintended consequences for sex offenders and communities. These adverse effects include homelessness for sex offenders; transience; lack of accessibility to social support, employment, and rehabilitative services; registry invalidity; and the clustering of sex offenders in poor, rural, or socially disorganized neighborhoods. Residence laws are often based on erroneous assumptions about sex-offender high reoffending rates and the belief that most sex offenders target strangers for victimization. In addition, they are rarely coupled with the administration of proven risk-assessment instruments and procedures. In the absence of evidence that residence restrictions are effective in achieving their intended goal of improved community safety, their unintended adverse effects may outweigh their benefits. It is crucial that research be conducted to determine whether residence restriction laws are effective."


State legislatures and government bureaus along with civil rights and other interested groups have published reports on the outcomes of residence and employment restrictions for sex offenders.

  • IX. Residency Restriction Laws in No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws In The U.S. (Human Rights Watch 2007)

    "The inability of convicted sex offenders to find housing when they are released from prison has become a significant barrier to their successful reintegration into society. This is particularly problematic for registrants who have limited resources, or for those who because of work, community, or family obligations want to live in particular locations. Residency restrictions prevent offenders from living in the areas closest to jobs and public transit, since schools, daycare centers, and parks are often built in the center of main residential areas of cities and towns."

  • Impact Of Residency Restrictions On Sex Offenders And Correctional Management Practices: A Literature Review (California Research Bureau 2006)

    "Today some communities in the United States banish sex offenders from living in their midst, resulting in a difficult dilemma: where can these offenders live, and where can they best be supervised and receive treatment, if available? This report describes local ordinances and state statutes restricting where a sex offender may reside, discusses what research has found so far about the success of these restrictions, considers the impact that these restrictions are having on criminal justice management practices and sex offender treatment regimens, and examines constitutional implications."

  • Residential Proximity & Sex Offense Recidivism in Minnesota (Minnesota Department of Corrections 2007)

    "In an effort to curb the incidence of sexual recidivism, state and local governments across the country have passed residency restriction laws. Designed to enhance public safety by protecting children, residency restrictions prohibit sex offenders and, in particular, child molesters from living within a certain distance (500 to 2,500 feet) of a school, park, playground or other location where children are known to congregate. Given that existing research has yet to fully investigate whether housing restrictions reduce sexual recidivism, the present study examines the potential deterrent effect of residency restrictions by analyzing the sexual reoffense patterns of the 224 recidivists released between 1990 and 2002 who were reincarcerated for a sex crime prior to 2006." See also Sex Offender Recidivism in Minnesota (Minnesota Department of Corrections 2007).

  • Sex Offender Residence Restrictions (Report to the Florida Legislature 2005)

    "Sexual violence is a serious social problem and policy-makers continue to wrestle with how to best address the public's concerns about sex offenders. Recent initiatives have included social policies that are designed to prevent sexual abuse by restricting where convicted sex offenders can live, often called "sex offender zoning laws," or "exclusionary zones." As these social policies become more popular, lawmakers and citizens should question whether such policies are evidence-based in their development and implementation, and whether such policies are cost-efficient and effective in reaching their stated goals."

  • Statement On Sex Offender Residency Restrictions In Iowa (ICAA 2006)

    "The Iowa County Attorneys Association believes that the 2,000 foot residency restriction for persons who have been convicted of sex offenses involving minors does not provide the protection that was originally intended and that the cost of enforcing the requirement and the unintended effects on families of offenders warrant replacing the restriction with more effective protective measures."

MA - H-4811 - An Act to further protect children

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The Senate, 35-1, approved and sent to Gov. Patrick (Contact) a bill imposing mandatory minimum prison sentences for six newly created crimes of rape or sexual abuse of a child. The measure is based on Jessica's Law which supporters call the national model for child sex crime laws. The new crimes include a mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentence for a first offense of the new crime of aggravated child rape - defined as instances that include rape when a weapon is used, when a child is kidnapped, drugged or forced to appear in child pornography or when the perpetrator is in a position of authority including teachers, clergy, coaches and doctors.

The proposal does not impose mandatory sentences for several categories of child sex crimes including rape of a child under 16 with force - a provision that some senators said is a key part of Jessica's Law.

Another provision allows the attorney general and district attorneys to obtain from Internet service providers through a subpoena, without a warrant, the identity of computer users who are subjects of a criminal investigation.

Supporters said that the bill would get tough with child sexual predators and impose mandatory sentences for many heinous child rape and sexual abuse crimes. They noted that the measure is a balanced one that still gives prosecutors flexibility by allowing them to enter plea agreements and lower the charge in cases in which they don't feel that they can get a conviction or in which children are afraid to testify.

Opponents said that the measure goes too far and takes discretion away from prosecutors. They argued that mandatory sentences have been a failure in the past and noted that taking discretion away from prosecutors will result in fewer convictions and in children being traumatized by testifying against the offender who even if convicted would not necessarily receive a mandatory sentence.

Some legislators who voted for the bill said that it was a first step but does not go far enough and is much weaker than other states' versions of Jessica's Law.

(A "Yes" vote is for the bill. A "No" vote is against the bill).

Sen. Marian Walsh – Yes


The Senate, 7-29, rejected an amendment requiring that offenders who have been convicted of rape of a child by force register with the Sex Offender Registry Board for life.

Amendment supporters said that the amendment is a "no brainer" and argued that those who commit this crime should be tracked for life. They said that the amendment would close a loophole in current law and noted that there are cases in which offenders who were convicted of rape of a child by force were not required to register with the board for life.

Amendment opponents said that current law already requires this and argued that the amendment is unnecessary. They accused sponsors of proposing the amendment just to embarrass senators who vote against the amendment because it is duplicative.

(A "Yes" vote is for the amendment requiring that offenders who have been convicted of rape of a child by force register with the Sex Offender Registry Board for life. A "No" vote is against lifetime registration).

Sen. Marian Walsh – No


The Senate, 9-26, rejected an amendment imposing a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for the first offense of rape of a child with force.

Amendment supporters said that this provision is the cornerstone of Jessica's Law - the national model for child sex crime laws that has been adopted by 42 states. They argued that without this mandatory sentence, all defendants could receive very light sentences for this crime. They noted that the amendment still allows prosecutors discretion by allowing them to agree to plea bargain the crime to a lesser charge if they feel that conviction on the rape with force charge would be difficult to achieve.

Amendment opponents said that the amendment goes too far and would tie the hands of prosecutors by taking away some of their ability to decide on a case by case basis whether to charge offenders with a crime that imposes a mandatory sentence or one that does not. They noted that giving prosecutors discretion is important because there are many cases in which they don't feel that they can get a conviction on a more severe charge because children are afraid to testify or there is a lack of evidence.

(A "Yes" vote is for the amendment imposing a ten-year mandatory minimum sentence for rape of a child with force. A "No" vote is against the amendment).

Sen. Marian Walsh – No


The Senate, 14-21, rejected an amendment prohibiting convicted sex offenders from driving an ice cream truck. Current law allows sex offenders to drive an ice cream truck. The amendment also prohibits sex offenders from driving a school bus. It broadens current law that only prohibits anyone convicted of the crime of rape, unnatural act or sodomy from driving a school bus.

Amendment supporters said that sex offenders should not be allowed to work in these two fields that cater to millions of children across the state. They argued that the amendment is merely an extension of current laws that require criminal background checks and prohibit specific offenders from holding specific jobs.

Amendment opponents said that the amendment is well-intentioned but argued that it creates a slippery slope that would result in proposals to ban sex offenders from other jobs involving children and eventually all jobs.

(A "Yes" vote is for the amendment prohibiting sex offenders from driving an ice cream truck or school bus. A "No" vote is against the ban).

Sen. Marian Walsh – Yes

ME - Lawmakers craft offender registry changes

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AUGUSTA - In a fourth-floor meeting room at the State House last week, months before the next legislative session, lawmakers once again took up an issue that some see as a political third rail. In other words, touch it and there’s trouble.

Maine’s online sex offender registry was controversial even before April 2006, when a young Canadian man stalked and killed two men whose names and addresses he found there. It didn’t matter what crimes they committed; they were monsters in Stephen Marshall’s eyes.

But since the deaths of William Elliott, 24, of Corinth and Joseph Gray, 57, of Milo, Maine’s legislators have felt increasing pressure to improve the registry.

"In truth, those [killings] put the pressure where it needs to be — on us," said Sen. Bill Diamond (Email), D-Windham, co-chairman of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

- Wow!  It takes two people to die before they see this?

Diamond and his colleagues in Augusta spent part of last week outlining plans for legislation that would create a tiered system for online registrants, similar to what other states have done.

"The registry is a very emotional issue for some people and I’ve certainly gained a lot of knowledge about this," said Rep. Richard Sykes (Email), R-Harrison, the ranking minority member on the committee. "What we’ve learned most is that there are some offenders that should be on the registry for life, but others should not, and certainly [Elliott] fits into that category," Sykes said.

- Man, why does it take a couple murders before you use your brain to see this before this kind of stuff happens? You people need to come out of your little black boxes more often and read the news and check the Internet more often, then you'd see the MANY MURDERS AND BEATINGS of sex offenders, which proves the pubic cannot handle the registry, and it needs to be taken offline.

William Elliott was a 19-year-old when he had consensual sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor offense of sexual abuse of a minor and served a brief sentence, but was required to register as a sex offender.

"In our current system, Elliott appears no different than the worst offenders," Diamond said.

- This is the same across the country... All sex offenders are seen and treated as if they killed many kids.

Under a tiered system, however, offenders like Elliott would be in the lowest-risk class and their names would be on a "silent" registry accessible only to public safety officials. A second tier, whose names would be available to the public on request, would apply to offenders who committed nonviolent felony sex crimes. The most serious offenders — child rapists, for instance — would fall into the third tier that could be accessed by anyone at any time.

- And when I say the registry should be taken offline, this "silent" registry is what I am talking about.  We still have a registry, but it's offline and used by police only.

The details haven’t been made final, Diamond said, but the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will ultimately develop legislation centered on the tiered system for the next session.

Both Diamond and Sykes support a tiered system, although Sykes said it should be based on the type of conviction. Gov. John Baldacci, however, has said he thinks risk assessment of offenders should be the criterion for the tiers.

"Risk assessment is too subjective and can be challenged in court ad nauseam," Sykes said. "If the governor is insistent on risk assessment, I’m wary of that."

- What?  All offenders should be evaluated by a fair system and put into an appropriate tier, are you suggesting a blanket evaluation or something?

Right now, members are still gathering information. The committee has planned a summit for September in which it plans to invite experts and representatives from other states that have instituted tiered systems for their online sex offender registries.

"There is no sense trying to reinvent the wheel," Sykes said.

- Well, just because someone builds a wheel, doesn't mean it's the best wheel there is.  Many laws across this nation are unconstitutional (based on the constitution) and so harsh, eventually sex offenders will vanish, then more people are in potential danger.  You pass so many draconian laws, making it impossible to even live, eventually people are going to snap and vanish, or worse!

Committee members have studied the registry at length. Last year, the committee developed LD 446, an Act to Improve the Use of Information Regarding Sex Offenders to Better Ensure Public Safety and Awareness. That bill did not propose a tiered system but limited the circumstances under which sex offenders who were convicted of a crime between 1982 and 1992 would be included in the registry. The change was meant to address concerns that the registration law retroactively increased an offender’s punishment.

Ultimately, Baldacci couldn’t get over the fact that the change would have allowed nearly 600 offenders to have their names removed from the registry. He refused to sign the bill in late April, a tactic known as a pocket veto, which effectively negated months of work by committee members.

- So did he not pass it simply because of a number?  Or did he actually look at the offenders records and see why they would be removed?  Sounds like the number scared him, and he had one of the typical KNEE-JERK reactions...

So, Diamond said, the committee went back to the table.

"A bill will be before the Legislature next session, but this time we’ll have the governor involved early," Diamond said. "I think we learned a lot from [the pocket veto]."

This year, Maine legislators must consider the federal Adam Walsh Act, which establishes basic guidelines for sex offender registries. Failure to meet the federal requirements by the summer of 2009 would deny the state 10 percent of certain federal law enforcement grant funds.

Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe (Contact) also told committee members last week that as many as 20 so-called "John Doe" lawsuits are pending in state superior courts that deal with the sex offender registration and notification act. Most sprang from a Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruling last year that indicated Maine’s sex offender law could be unconstitutional because it increases criminal punishments retroactively for people who already have completed sentences.

Many Maine cities and towns also have explored restrictions for sex offenders, although that has slowed recently in light of the Maine supreme court ruling. Diamond pointed out that a court in New Jersey recently struck down restrictions approved by municipalities which sought to toughen sex offender limits.

"Increasing restrictions doesn’t solve the problem. We can’t pretend [sex offenders] don’t exist," he said.

Sykes agreed with Diamond that the issue should be dealt with at the state level.

"Towns are going to get themselves in hot water by taking matters into their own hands," he said.

CA - Are you a registered sex offender in the state of California ???

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PA - Sex-offender ordinances face challenges

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When he was 15 and in foster care, G.H. was accused of wrongly touching a 13-year-old girl. He denied it but was judged a juvenile delinquent and given two years' probation.

Now a college student in Ocean County, he is still dealing with the consequences of Megan's Law and a plethora of other rules that restrict sex offenders after they have served their time.

But a precedent-setting ruling Tuesday by a New Jersey appeals court should make it easier for the Richard Stockton State College student, and others in his situation, to find a place to live.

Identified only as G.H. in court documents, he was classified as a sex offender, under Megan's Law, for fourth-degree sexual contact. For 15 years, he must, among other things, notify police whenever he moves into a community.

Two years ago, when he was a freshman, police gave him 60 days to vacate his dormitory because Galloway Township had just adopted an ordinance barring sex offenders from living near schools, day cares and churches - regardless of the severity of their offenses. The college was deemed a school. He had not committed any other crimes.

G.H. sued, with the help of the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, and that led to the ruling last week. A three-member appeals panel struck down the Galloway ordinance and a similar one in Cherry Hill, saying they were trumped by state law. The ruling also invalidates ordinances passed by 115 other New Jersey municipalities that had restricted residency for sex offenders.

Galloway Township, whose case was argued by Demetrios K. Stratis, an attorney with the American Center for Law and Justice, based in Washington, plans an appeal to the state Supreme Court, saying the protection of children from sex offenders is paramount. Cherry Hill officials are weighing an appeal. The high court, however, has discretion over whether to grant review.

- If these idiots would check the statistics, they would see that less than 10% or less of all sexual crimes occur in these places, they occur in the victims own home.  And residency restrictions have been proven as well as not protecting anybody, they are nothing but FEEL GOOD legislation. They even say on their web site, that they are for constitutional law.  Well, this is not constitutional.  If they'd actually read the constitution they might know that.

The ordinances, adopted over the last five years throughout the state, run the gamut: Some ban sex offenders from living within a half-mile of convenience stores, bowling alleys, beaches, or anywhere children might congregate. Edgewater Park in Burlington County created a buffer zone around cemeteries, according to Legal Services of New Jersey.

- Hell, why don't you just put a buffer around the entire state?  I'm sure you would, if you could.

Attorneys say a few other states have adopted residency restrictions to varying degrees. Iowa's statute was upheld, but Georgia's was not.

- Well, Georgia's was shot down, then basically reinstated.  So this reporter is not doing their homework.

Besides the ACLU lawyers, attorneys with the state Office of the Public Defender, the state Department of the Public Advocate, and Legal Services of New Jersey, which represents indigent clients, supported arguments against the ordinances. They said these ordinances threatened their clients with homelessness, joblessness, and increased risk of repeat offenses.

On the other side of the emotionally charged issue were the N.J. Crime Victims Law Center and municipal officials, who say the state isn't doing enough to protect residents from sex offenders.

- So what would this idiotic organization recommend?  True banishment?  Probably so!

In a 42-page opinion, the appeals court found that the ordinances bordered on "vigilantism and harassment" and went far beyond a carefully crafted state law. Megan's Law, the court said, strikes a balance between protecting children from sexual predators and safeguarding the rights of former convicts who are released into society.

The Legislature adopted Megan's Law in 1994 after 7-year-old Megan Kanka was raped and killed by a twice-convicted sex offender who lived on her street in Hamilton Township. Other states soon followed suit, adopting their own versions after the public outcry.

Over the years, these laws have evolved, leading to an Internet registry of the more serious sex offenders, GPS monitoring, and stringent parole conditions that require lifetime supervision and permission to cross state lines or visit places where children might be. Parole officers also were given the responsibility of approving residences.

- These reporters need to do homework.  The Internet registry is not just "serious sex offenders!"  It has ALL sex offenders on it, period.  Thus the reason it is not working.  It makes it impossible for anybody to know who is a threat, so they assume everyone is, which is wrong.

About five years ago, municipalities began adding layers of restrictions, creating a mosaic of buffer zones that outlined where sex offenders were not permitted to live.

In Franklin Township, Gloucester County, there are 16 categories, including convenience stores and recreation fields, with buffer zones as wide as a half-mile for some sex offenders.

- What?  So you cannot go into a store to buy something? Surely this is a load of crap?

"I've had clients ask me whether they should stop reporting and go underground, or whether they should split up their family and move out of their house where they've lived for years," said Ingrid D. Johnson, a lawyer with Legal Services of New Jersey.

"Some couldn't afford to move and became resigned to the fact that they would just go back to prison because they had no other way to exist," Johnson said. Many of the ordinances carried fines and prison terms if the person wouldn't move.

But Stratis, who at no charge argued Galloway's case on behalf of the nonprofit organization, said the towns just wanted to help parole officers find appropriate places for sex offenders to live.

"Parole officers have many many cases and can't expect to know where children congregate in a township. The town knows, and that's why we are a home-rule state. We set up laws to protect our citizens," he said.

- Well apparently not ALL citizens.

Municipalities adopted their ordinances when they saw the legislators fail to act on a state law that would set up uniform restrictions, Stratis said.

"We believe that if you are a sex offender, you have a high risk of recidivism," Stratis said. "A township should have a right to set up these barriers. . . . The idea is to remove temptation."

- Well, that shows how ignorant you are.  You do not listen to the experts who specialize in treating sex offenders, but believe everything you hear or see on the news.  I have tons of studies here, here and here which prove you are WRONG! Again, 90% or more of all sex crimes occur in the victims own home or family, so pushing them way out into the country doesn't work, and nobody has the right to tell someone where they can and cannot live, READ THE D--N CONSTITUTION!!!

But Frank L. Corrado, the attorney whom the ACLU provided to the college student, said parole officers are best equipped to determine the best environment for a sex offender. That normally is "where he's living with family, or one where he can walk to work," he said. Unfortunately, Corrado said, such locations sometimes fall inside a buffer zone.

Two years ago, this happened when a 76-year-old Franklin man who had served time for molesting his two grandchildren wanted to return to his home of four decades and his wife. Police tried to evict him, saying an ordinance barred him from living within 2,500 feet of a beach.

The Public Defender's Office sued, arguing that he was not a threat to strangers and that his family members were already aware of his past and would protect their children. A year ago, the township settled the case, and he was allowed to stay.

Michael Z. Buncher, a deputy public defender, said studies show the ordinances don't work because they create stress that can interfere with a sex offender's rehabilitation. Studies also show that most offenders, if they are going to re-offend, will go at least five miles away so as not to be recognized.

- I do not believe the last statement.  It's proven that most offenders are not strangers, like this leads you to believe, but 90% or more are family or close friends.

Buncher said the ordinances fail to recognize differences among the sex offenders and their varying risk levels. "They are not a monolithic group of people," he said.

The appeals panel agreed, finding the municipalities had overstepped their bounds and created ordinances that had the effect of denying housing to sex offenders.

"The Legislature did not include residency restrictions in its chosen remedy, but did include a complex system of particularized case-by-case assessment of risk . . . combined with close supervision," the court said.

The court noted that most of Galloway fell into buffer zones and that Cherry Hill had "virtually banished" all sex offenders from within its borders. Only "a desolate field" and a posh neighborhood were outside the township's many buffer zones, the court said.

Contact staff writer Jan Hefler at 856-779-3224 or

GA - Should this sex offender relocate?

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Columbia County woman puts state law to the test

ATLANTA - Ongoing litigation over the state's stringent restrictions on sex offenders recently opened up a new wrinkle in the controversial law.

At what point does a registered sex offender actually own a home?

In filings this week in federal court, Harlem resident Wendy Whitaker, the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking to defeat the restrictions, is asking a judge to issue a preliminary injunction prohibiting the Columbia County Sheriff's Office from kicking her out of a home she moved to in February.

Ms. Whitaker has already moved twice because of the restrictions and dreads the thought of having to do so again.

"Now I'm ready to pack a bag at a moment's notice," she said. "I'm just hoping and praying that it is going to be all right. I'm tired of moving."

Ms. Whitaker, 28, pleaded guilty to sodomy after having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old classmate when she was 17. She was sentenced to probation and required to register as a sex offender.

In January 2006, she and her husband purchased the home, not knowing it was within 1,000 feet of a church with a day-care center, a fact that forced her to move.

The couple moved across the border to South Carolina until the Georgia Supreme Court struck down the restrictions late last year.

A revised law that took effect this month remedied that issue by exempting offenders who owned their home as of July 1, 2006, from the restrictions.

But Ms. Whitaker's name wasn't added to the deed until 2007.

A sheriff's investigator called her last week and told her she would have to move within 48 hours or face arrest. Offenders convicted of violating the restrictions can be sentenced to a maximum 10 years in prison.

- The Georgia cops just like to harass people.

Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle -- along with 158 other sheriffs -- has agreed to hold off on enforcing the restrictions until the judge decides whether they are unconstitutional.

"They just want instructions," said Augusta attorney David Hudson, who represents the sheriffs. "And until they get some instructions in Ms. Whitaker's case, they are not going to enforce it against her until the court rules one way or the other." Mr. Hudson also represents newspapers owned by Morris Communications Co. LLC.

Attorneys for the state are asking the judge to ignore that request, saying sex offenders have a propensity to reoffend and that Ms. Whitaker should press the issue in state court rather than federal court.

- Sex offenders do NOT have a propensity to reoffend.  I'd like to see this jerk show me the statistics that shows this.  I have tons of them liked here, here and here which prove otherwise.  And these are not my studies, but professional organizations.

Sarah Geraghty, Ms. Whitaker's attorney, said exactly what constitutes home ownership under the law is one issue in the case.

"But the broader issue is whether the Legislature can pass a law retroactively evicting Wendy from her home," Ms. Geraghty said.

In November, the state's highest court ruled that forcing offenders who already owned a home to move was unconstitutional because it amounted to unlawful taking of property.

To fix that, lawmakers added the exemption for offenders if they established property ownership.

Ms. Whitaker said she and her husband pay the mortgage on their home through a joint bank account, which she says gives her ownership rights.

Moreover, Ms. Geraghty contends that restrictions should be more nuanced, with different requirements for serious offenders and those such as Ms. Whitaker, who participated in consensual sex.

"The concern is that Georgia's registry is bloated with people who don't need to be there," she said.

Proponents of the restrictions say they prevent offenders from reoffending by barring them from living, working or volunteering within 1,000 feet of schools, churches and other places children gather.

- That is just a cop out.  How many crimes can you name, which were committed near one of these places?  None!  Most occur in the victims own home or close family.  So pushing them out into the country does nothing.

Opponents say there is no proof the restrictions protect anyone, and that they actually increase the chances of a new offense because they keep offenders from reintegrating into society.

The restrictions have come under various challenges this year. A Jefferson store owner whose business was close to a building that doubled as a church asked a judge to exempt him from the restrictions because he did not work the same time the church was in session. He later withdrew the request.

- There has been constant law suits since the new law in 2006 came to be, and it's been shot down every single time, except this latest SB-1, which is what this is about.

A group of sex offenders is also challenging the restriction that keeps them from volunteering at church, saying it criminalizes their practice of religion.

Offenders can apply to be removed from the registry 10 years after they complete their sentence, including probation. But they must gain approval from a judge, who considers their criminal record.

- And how many do you know of, that have successfully got off the registry?  ZERO!!!

Reach Jake Armstrong at (404) 589-8424 or