Monday, December 1, 2008

WY - Stricter Sex Offender Registration Bill on the Table

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12/01/2008

A proposed legislative bill would require sex offenders in Wyoming to register with their local county sheriff rather than with a state agency, cleaning up existing loopholes in sex offender registry.

More than 1,300 hundred of Wyoming's sex offenders could see new changes when registering.

Currently, offenders register with the state's Division of Criminal Investigation. However, a legislative committee will hear of a proposed bill on Thursday specifying that all sex offenders register with their local sheriff's department allowing all the information to be processed through one database.

"I think they are trying to keep it where one agency, meaning the sheriff's department, is doing all the registering. The major changes for us is that it's going to be more computerized," explained Lt. Linda Gesell of the Laramie County Sheriff's Department.

The changes would make sure that local law enforcement are informed about where sex offenders are working and living.

"It will make it easier from the stand point that it will be more updated. The response time is going to be much quicker as far as getting the information out on the website," Lt. Gesell went on to say.

Just last year, Wyoming lawmakers made changes to what they said was a too lenient sex offender law forcing every sex offender to be placed on the state's sex offender website.

Also, sex offenders have a shorter window to register when they move giving them only 3 days.

They also imposed a harsher penalty when one fails to register making it a felony rather than a misdemeanor.

However, lawmakers felt that the lax registration requirements would make Wyoming a seeked out home for out of state offenders.

"Your sex offender issues have been a hot button issue for the past several years. You've heard of the horror stories that happened in Florida and other states. I think Wyoming is catching up to what other jurisdictions have been doing for a while in the past," said Lt. Gesell.

Whether the bill is passed or not, the Laramie County Sheriff's Department will begin training their detectives over the database starting in January.


That's my king!


IA - New sex-offender tracking rule sought before U.S. deadline

View the article here

12/01/2008

It could be the perfect opportunity to kill Iowa's controversial law restricting where registered sex offenders can live and completely rewrite the rules aimed at tracking violators.
- But doing so is political suicide...  Nobody wants to look soft on sex offenders.  The registry is not needed.  It should be trashed.  If the offender is dangerous, sentence them to prison longer, and if they are out of prison, then let them live free, like the Constitution, at one time, guaranteed!

State lawmakers' reason for this politically risky move? Iowa is under a deadline to update its laws anyway so that they match a stricter federal law.

Sex offenders, including some as young as 14, would have to stay on the online public registry at least five years longer, reveal more personal information about where they work and go to school, and face more supervision from law enforcement.

Iowa must comply with these federal provisions by July or lose up to $450,000 for law enforcement activities.
- So they lose $450,000, but it's going to cost millions to implement, so it sounds like common sense to not implement the laws to me, but, we know legislature do not have common sense.

Some Iowa lawmakers think this is the chance to toss out the controversial 2,000-foot state rule restricting where sex offenders can sleep, and pass a new law banning them from school grounds and child care centers unless they have written permission.

"Scrap what we have because it's not working," said Republican state Rep. Clel Baudler (Email), a former state trooper who lives in Greenfield.

Even if other lawmakers and victim advocates agree with that, some are leery of certain provisions in the federal law, called the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.

State Sen. Keith Kreiman (Email) said the provisions would cost Iowa law enforcement more in time and money. He wants to be sure the provisions would actually make children safer from sexual violence before he votes for them.

"When you're adding additional burdens on state and local taxpayers, you'd better make darn sure what you're doing is going to result in better public safety," said Kreiman, a Democrat from Bloomfield who heads the judiciary committee in the Iowa Senate.
- Why don't you read the many studies on these issues, then you'd know they don't and won't work.  They are just wasting millions of tax payer dollars for a "false sense of security," that does nothing to prevent sexual abuse.  Ok so a person cannot live XXXX feet from a school or daycare, but, they can get in their car and drive, and if someone is truly intent on committing a crime, they will do so, regardless of the laws in place.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety will finalize a draft bill today, said Ross Loder, a state employee who lobbies for the department.

One of the most controversial provisions in the bill would require some Iowa juveniles as young as 14 years to be on the sex offender registry, with their photo, address and crime committed available for public inspection.

But it would only be for certain serious sex crimes such as those involving force, Loder said. Currently, Iowa judges have the option of waiving registry listing for any youth up to age 17 for any sex crime.

If Iowa complies with the federal law, some youths' names could circulate on the Internet for years, which would "basically stigmatize them for life," said Elizabeth Barnhill, executive director of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

"Clearly there are some juveniles that are very dangerous, but there are many who were also themselves victims and they're very amenable to treatment," she said.

Registry laws that are "more draconian" may send more offenders underground, away from treatment and law enforcement monitoring, Barnhill said. Whereabouts are unconfirmed for 134 of the 5,083 sex offenders on the Iowa registry.
That 134 number is only those the police have went around to check on.  Have they checked on all 5,083 offenders?

Fewer victims may report abuse "if they know their uncle or stepfather ... will be on the registry for life, and they're probably going to be unemployed and your family's going to have to move," Barnhill said.

"Oh, dear!" said Gaileen Phelps, a Sioux City mother, when she heard about the proposed requirements. "We've just been praying so hard they'd lessen the rules."

Her son, Stephen Phelps, 45, is set to drop off the registry in 2012, but under the new law, he'd stay on until at least 2017 and have to report more personal information such as his Social Security number, e-mail addresses and car license plate.
- So this is adding more punishment to someone, after the fact, which is a direct violation of ex post facto and other issues in the US and state Constitutions.  You see folks, the Constitution means nothing now, so without it, the fascist government can do anything they want, and mark my words on this, if we continue down these roads, your rights will be next on the list.

Gaileen Phelps said her son fondled an 8-year-old girl when he was drunk, then flew to Hawaii to confess to the girl's father and beg forgiveness. He reported himself to law enforcement officials, was convicted in 1994 of second-degree sexual abuse, and served eight years in prison.

Stephen Phelps is not employed. He can't live with his mother because her house is too close to a child care center, so he lives on an acreage outside the city.

"How do you expect these people to become productive citizens if they're continually harassed and treated with disdain?" Gaileen Phelps said.

The existing 2,000-foot rule is "extremely bad public policy," and lawmakers shouldn't make the same mistake in passing more bad policy on sex offenders, said Ben Stone, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa.
- Oh, but they will, because they don't have to balls to uphold the Constitution, which they took an oath of office to do, and they do not want to look soft on sex offenders, and possibly end their careers.  So it's about saving their jobs at the expense of ruining someone else's.

"Several courts already have declared portions of the Walsh act unconstitutional, and state legislatures around the country are beginning to defy its mandates. Iowa's leaders should do the same," Stone said.

But, Loder said: "If Iowa were to stand out and say, 'We're not going to comply,' is the implication that we're going to be kind of like an island for offenders who don't want to be in this national system?"
- Give me a break, that is what they all say, to SCARE you into complying!

The federal law does not require Iowa to repeal its 2,000-foot rule, which is a political third rail. But it would provide lawmakers some cover if they want to do so, supporters said.

"If they're afraid of political ramifications, I can assure them that anything we move forward with is better than what we have now," Baudler said.

By current state law, there are 2,000-foot rings around some schools and child care centers where no sex offenders can live. The proposed legislation would replace the residency restriction with "exclusion zones," which would limit where sex offenders may be present or loiter.
- And they ignore the facts, which state, that 90% or more of ALL sexual crimes, occur in the victims own home or close family, not by some stranger at a school, bus stop or park!  So how does pushing people out into the netherworld protect these children?  It doesn't protect anybody, it just exiles offenders and their families, and pushes the problem a way, so the state doesn't have to come up with something that is actually fair and helps work on prevention!  It's all about punishment, and saving their own careers, period!  But, the sheeple will never see that, not until the government comes for their rights and lives, then it will be too late.  And think about it, so they have a 2000 foot exclusion zone, so are they magically safer when the offender lives 2001 feet a way?  No, the exclusion zone could be 100 miles and it still is just nothing but a placebo to make you "feel safe!"  If an offender wants to harm someone, they will do it, period!

Offenders couldn't step foot on the grounds of a school or child care center without prior written permission, and they couldn't loiter within 300 feet.

Child abuse experts say it's a myth that children are most vulnerable to attacks by strangers who approach them at a school, playground or other public place. In reality, about 80 percent to 90 percent of child sexual abuse is committed by a person known to the child's family, such as a teacher, family friend or relative, said Steve Scott of Prevent Child Abuse Iowa.

Nevertheless, Scott supports replacing the 2,000-foot rule with the plan that keeps offenders off school and child care grounds without permission.

"It makes more sense than the existing law, but we don't have data to support the need for it," he said.

Even in cases of sexual attacks by strangers, there are examples that the 2,000-foot rule doesn't work. It did nothing to stop James Carson Effler Jr. in 2005, shortly after the law took effect. The 32-year-old convicted sex offender grabbed a 20-month-old girl at the downtown Des Moines library, locked her inside a bathroom and sexually assaulted her.
- Like I've said, if a person is intent on committing a crime, they will do so.  One million laws on the books will not prevent sexual crime, or any crime for that matter, it's just "feel good" laws to garner votes and ratings by the media, nothing more.

Lawmakers tried to slip a provision into a last-minute catch-all bill last session that would have banned sex offenders from child care centers without permission. It passed the Iowa House, but was scissored from the standings bill in the Iowa Senate.
- Typical sneaky tactics used by corrupt governments!

There may be less wariness about replacing the 2,000-foot rule now that House Republicans have a new leader and the Democratic force in the House is even stronger, with 56 instead of 53.

"If it's going to happen, we need to have both Democrats and Republicans agreeing it's the right route to go," said House Speaker Pat Murphy.

As for the provisions of the Adam Walsh act, state Rep. Kurt Swaim (Email), a Bloomfield Democrat, said he thinks it's likely lawmakers will comply.
- And thus ignoring the facts on the issues, and wasting millions of YOUR money for something that WILL NOT WORK!  You might as well flush all the money down the drain.

"I don't know that I do anticipate a lot of resistance," said Swaim, chairman of the judiciary committee in the House.
- This is why all registered sex offenders in this state, needs to be hiring a lawyer, and taking this to court, NOW!!!!  If you do not, more and more laws will be passed.  That is basically what he is saying here, so FIGHT IT IN COURT!!!!!

If lawmakers don't comply, Iowa will lose up to $450,000 in federal money that pays for drug task forces and overtime for law enforcement officers. The amount depends on the federal budget for the grants and on whether the sanction is applied to grants for both the state and local governments.
- Yeah, use scare tactics to get what you want.  But notice they do not mention it will cost you millions more if they decide to implement the law.

Some lawmakers, including Kreiman, said they feel little urgency to meet the federal deadline.

The Legislature convenes Jan. 12.


CT - Ordinance would ban sex offenders from parks, playgrounds, beaches

View the article here

12/01/2008

By Neil Vigdor - Staff Writer

Schools, parks, playgrounds and even town beaches could be off-limits to registered sex offenders under a proposed child protection ordinance that is gaining traction in Greenwich.

Scheduled to be taken up by the Board of Selectmen in January, the ordinance would create child safety zones in many places where minors are present and would allow police to issue summons to registered sex offenders found loitering.

Each summons would carry a $100 fine per incident and give police authority to detain the person for questioning, which proponents of the ordinance said could help avert crimes against children.
- I can see the police harassment now!

"It's important to protect children, particularly in an area they should be free of any harm," First Selectman Peter Tesei said.
- So what about their own homes?  The only way to prevent sexual crimes, since statistics show that 90% or more of all sexual crimes occur in the victims own home, you should remove the children from all American families.  Of course that is insane, but that is the only way to protect children!

Convicted sex offenders must register with the state Department of Public Safety, which maintains a registry with their names on its Web site.

While there were only three convicted sex offenders listed as living in Greenwich on the registry, the ordinance's proponents said that there are nearly 5,000 statewide.

"We're hoping what it will do is prevent something really bad from happening in this town," said Keith Hirsch, a police neighborhood resource officer for the western part of town who helped craft the proposal with his former partner Robert McKiernan, a detective.

Hirsch said that the child safety zones, marked with signs, would likely be chosen by the selectmen with input from law enforcement and the school board.

"The main goal is the safety of the kids in this town, and I can't see anybody disagreeing with that, especially if you have kids," Hirsch said.

"It's loitering, basically parking their car and hanging out," Hirsch said. "Why are you there?"
- Because they are an American citizen, and have rights maybe?  So are you going to now question every man you see in the park who has their child with them?  I can see that occurring.

Several neighborhood and community policing groups have thrown their support behind the measure.

"What we want to do is give the cops another tool in their toolbox to protect our children," said Sam Romeo, chairman of the East Sector of the Community and Police Partnership. As part of the partnership, police attend regular community meetings to stay abreast of concerns of residents.

In late 2006, Danbury became the first municipality in the state to enact such an ordinance, which has been adopted by a few other communities, including Bristol.

Some civil liberties groups have questioned the concept, however, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, which has said that such laws could violate the Constitution and make it difficult for sex offenders who have served their time to re-assimilate into communities.
-The laws DO violate the Constitution, there is not COULD about it.

A message seeking comment was left for ACLU of Connecticut's executive director.

Hirsch said the issuance of a summons would allow police to check if a sex offender is violating the terms of his or her probation.

If a person on the sex offender registry was videotaping a school soccer game, for example, Hirsch said police could see if he or she was prohibited from having video equipment as part of the terms of their probation.

Registered sex offenders will receive a notice if the town adopts the ordinance, Hirsch said.

Although a handful of towns have created child safety zones, proponent's say such laws would gain teeth if Connecticut adopted enabling legislation on a statewide basis.

Romeo said he plans to talk to General Assembly members from Greenwich and neighboring municipalities about a state child protection law.

"I plan on taking it to the next level," Romeo said.


A sick man calling himself John Mercauto abusing the registry!

More abuse of the registry! This is not funny, IMO, and this is a sick man. I hope and pray he himself finds Jesus. But, listen to what the registered sex offender says... He's constantly being harassed! Thus more proof the public cannot handle the registry, without doing stupid crap like this, or becoming a vigilante.


NC - Sex-offender law tougher

View the article here

See the other more detailed article further below. The police need to quit trying to interpret the laws and enforce them, that is their job, not deciding what someone can and cannot do, based on their ASSUMPTION!  I hope a law suit is started on this. Denying someone their RIGHT to go to church, simply because a day care is in the building? Come on!

12/01/2008

By Ruth Sheehan - rsheehan@newsobserver.com

Changes prohibit going to places kids might gather, raise questions about enforcement.

Neil Cagle was stocking shelves at his convenience-store job in Western North Carolina when a sheriff's deputy came by to tell him to quit going to church.
- Um, you do not interpret the laws, you enforce them.  This is something the state and/or their probation needs to say, not you!

Cagle, 61, is a registered sex offender. Under his sheriff's interpretation of stricter rules on the state's 11,000-plus sex offenders, which take effect today, Cagle can no longer attend Sunday service because his church has a small nursery.
- I can feel a law suit coming, and I hope this sheriff and the state is sued for a ton of money, and this man wins!

“I started going to that church when I was 12,” said Cagle, who did four years in prison for indecent liberties with a minor. Free three years, he said he tries to obey the law. “But every year they increase the things I can't do.

To many, that's as it should be. But some experts warn the tougher law fails to distinguish between sex offenders most likely to reoffend and those determined to live clean lives.
- It doesn't matter if the person is dangerous or not, this should be up to the CHURCH to decide, not the state!  Ever heard of "SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE?"  Or the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights?  Here, I'll clue you in to what it says:

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


Passed nearly unanimously and signed by the governor in July, the law aimed to bring the state into compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act.

The new law triples the time many offenders stay on the N.C. sex-offender registry to 30 years and requires they register in person within three business days of changing address. Starting today, it also makes them stay 300 feet from any place children might gather.
- 300 feet or 100 miles, will not prevent another child from being harmed.  If someone wants to harm a child, all they have to do is get in a car and drive, and commit the crime, period.  This is just FORCED EXILE!

Depending on a sheriff's interpretation, that can mean not only day care centers, schools and youth camps – but also churches, malls and McDonald's Playlands.
- So why is the sheriff interpreting the law?  That is NOT their job, their job is to ENFORCE the law, period!

Only 3.5 percent of sex offenders, according to one federal study, are sexual predators. Those need the closest monitoring, said Jill Rosenblum, a Chapel hill lawyer who has reviewed the issue. Under the new law, she worries, they may not draw enough attention because law enforcement will be so busy monitoring the others.




Article has some of the same comments as above, but continues in more details, which I've commented from there.

12/01/2008

By Ruth Sheehan, Staff Writer

Neil Cagle was stocking shelves at the convenience store where he works in the western part of the state when a sheriff's deputy stopped by to tell him he wouldn't be allowed to go to church any longer.

Cagle, 61, is a registered sex offender. Under his sheriff's interpretation of stricter rules governing the state's 11,000-plus sex offenders that take effect today, Cagle can no longer attend Sunday service because his childhood church includes a small nursery.

"I started going to that church when I was 12," said Cagle, who served a four-year prison term for taking indecent liberties with a minor.

Cagle was released three years ago and said he is trying to do as the law requires.

"But every year they increase the things I can't do," Cagle said.

To many people, that's just the way it should be. But, as the state clamps down on sex offenders, most experts and at least one legislator warn that the tougher new law fails to distinguish between offenders who are most likely to offend again and those who are determined to live clean lives.

That places a burden on sheriffs, such as the one in Cagle's home county, who are required to monitor all offenders equally, the experts say. They also warn that the stricter mandates have the potential of allowing the worst offenders to commit their crimes without detection.

Passed by the legislature nearly unanimously and signed by the governor in late July, the sex offender law was the latest effort to bring the state's statutes into compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act.

The new law triples the length of time many offenders remain on the state's sexual offenders registry to 30 years and requires offenders to register in person with their local sheriff's office within three business days of changing address. Starting today, the law also prohibits offenders from coming within 300 feet of any place where children might be expected to congregate.

Depending on a sheriff's interpretation, that means staying a football field's length away not just from the obvious -- day-care centers, schools and youth camps -- but also from churches, malls and McDonald's Playlands.

Cagle, who lives in an adults-only mobile home park, says he never fondled the teenage boy at the center of his case. But he ultimately pleaded guilty and served his time. He said he lost one job and nearly lost his current one after people raised concerns about his sex offender status. The law's new restrictions will only extend his isolation and paranoia, he said.

"Look, a murderer gets seven years and is out scot-free," Cagle said. "These laws are like telling a murderer, 'Well, no, you have to serve another seven years.' "

There is a common public perception that people who have committed a sexual offense can never be cured.

"And that they always recommit," said Jill Rosenblum, a Chapel Hill lawyer who became interested in the law after representing a man who committed a sexual offense as a teenager but hasn't been in trouble with the law since.

In reality, not all sexual offenders are alike, said Christi Hurt, a longtime rape crisis counselor. Some are on the registry for having consensual sex with a person under the age of 16. Others have sexually assaulted an adult.

Only a very small number -- 3.5 percent according to one federal study -- would be classified as sexual predators. Those are the ones who need the closest monitoring, Rosenblum said. But under the additional requirements of the new law, she worries they might not draw enough attention. That's because law enforcement will be so busy monitoring all offenders at a basic level that the worst offenders might quietly drop out of sight to abuse again.

Despite a college education, Rosenblum's client has had difficulty finding a job or a place to live because his name is on the registry. The law that takes effect today raises new questions about where he can legally go for something as simple as a cup of coffee.

Rosenblum has been working with Hurt to persuade state officials to craft sex offender restrictions that target the people most likely to re-offend.

"The problem is, the law treats all offenders equally," Hurt said.

Rosenblum and others think state money would be better spent expanding the Sexual Offender Accountability and Responsibility program at Harnett Correctional Institute. SOAR is an intensive program that trains inmates convicted of a sex offense -- and willing to admit their guilt -- to use new strategies for controlling their thoughts and behaviors.
- Well, not all who plead guilty to a sex crime, are actually guilty, I hope you take that into account as well.

The program has been praised for its low recidivism rate. But because it is so intensive, its scope is limited -- 56 inmates volunteer per year -- and its cost is high -- $335,000 annually.
- So it's ok to spend millions, if not billions of tax payer dollars on GPS and locking people up, but getting them therapy to help PREVENT crime, costs too much?  Sounds like you have your priorities wrong to me.

Robert Carbo, director of SOAR, noted that psychologists who work with his population have increasingly keen tools to gauge which offenders are most likely to re-offend.

"The current law is one size fits all," he said. "When you do that, some of the high-risk offenders aren't getting enough attention, and some of the low-risk offenders are getting too much."
- Treating all sex offenders the same, is wrong.  Should we treat all republican and democrats as pedophile simply because a small few committed sexual crimes against children?  No, of course not, but that is what you are doing here.

The tougher North Carolina law makes people feel better and wins the vote of politicians, but it doesn't offer more protection to children, said Grier Weeks, director of an organization called PROTECT, until recently located in Asheville, that lobbies for tougher predator laws at both the state and federal levels.

At a recent legislative study committee meeting on sexual offenders, Weeks reminded lawmakers that sexual abuse is far more likely to be committed by a person related to a child than some anonymous bogeyman.

"This is still very much a mom-and-pop industry," Weeks said.

Rep. Verla Insko of Orange County was the only lawmaker in either the House or Senate to vote against the new law last summer.

Insko, who holds a politically safe seat and has been criticized for her vote, said she understands the instinct to severely punish people who have committed an abhorrent crime.

However, she said, she hopes in the next session to get her legislative colleagues to consider the ramifications of the new law.

"We've cast the net too wide," she said.


TX - Lake Travis district sued in challenge to computerized sex offender checks

View the article here

Read the comments at this article as well.  Some are saying people have been misidentified as sex offenders, when they are not.  This is just a insane amount of wasted money...  Why can't they just have ONE PC, which costs about $300-500 at the front desk, hooked up to the Internet, and then the person just checks the persons name on the National sex offender registry?  Then you'd save the tax payers a ton of money! See the video at the end.

12/01/2008

By Molly Bloom - AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

Background check systems used in growing number of Central Texas school districts.

A couple has filed a lawsuit against the Lake Travis school district in one of the first legal challenges over background check systems used to vet visitors in a growing number of Central Texas schools.

In a lawsuit filed last month against the district and Bee Cave Elementary School Principal Janie Braxdale , Yvonne and Larry Meadows say that the district's background check policy violates their constitutional rights to freedom of association and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure as well as several state laws.

Lake Travis and other Central Texas districts — including Austin, Hays, Leander and Round Rock — use software and equipment from Houston-based Raptor Systems to scan information encoded in the magnetic strip on driver's licenses and other identification cards. The software sends each visitor's full name, birth date, license number and photo over the Internet; checks the information against Raptor's national database of registered sex offenders; and prints out a visitor's badge with his or her name and picture.

School personnel can also type in a visitor's name and birth date, said Greg Goedeke , Raptor's sales vice president. Goedeke said he was not aware of any other lawsuits challenging computerized visitor background checks. The company serves 5,000 schools nationwide; its Texas clients also include the Dallas school district and the Southside school district in San Antonio.

The Meadowses said in their suit that when the Bee Cave campus began using the software in the fall of 2006, the principal refused to allow Yvonne Meadows to attend several school events unless her driver's license was scanned.

Meadows refused and filed a formal grievance with the district, asking that Lake Travis officials instead check her sex offender status by comparing her full name to the Department of Justice's online national sex offender database, according to the suit. After the district denied that grievance, Meadows asked the Texas education commissioner in March 2007 to review the decision. That review is pending.
- I agree, you do not need to scan someone's drivers license to do a quick check.  Look at their license, type their name into the online registry, then allow them access or not.  Why must you scan their driver's license?

In their lawsuit, the Meadowses, who have since left the Austin area and are home schooling their three children, request unspecified damages. Neither parent is listed in the national sex offender database.

Yvonne Meadows said in an interview that while she does not have a criminal record, she objected to allowing the school to scan her driver's license because she was concerned about identity theft and about allowing a private company to collect her personal information.

"Raptor sold (their system) on this 'registered sex offenders, we need to be on guard,' idea but it was primarily a visitor management system," Meadows said.
- Many people take advantage of the system, and Raptor is one of them, they take advantage of people's fear to make quick cash and eradicate people's privacy, all in the name of "FALSE SECURITY!"

Lisa McBride, Lake Travis' lawyer, said the district thinks its visitor access system is reasonable and fully complies with state and federal law "in both the letter and in how it is being administered."
- Just because it complies with state and federal law, doesn't mean it's right!

Matt Simpson, a policy strategist for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said the main concern raised by visitor background checks is the use of private companies' databases. Often, information in private databases is inaccurate and difficult to correct, he said.

The Austin school district is using Raptor in 103 of its 113 campuses; all campuses will have it by August. The district paid $182,000 in startup costs and will pay $50,000 a year for the service, said Christy Rome, a district official who helped craft the background check policy.
- And yet more wasted money.  Just look at their license, go to the sex offender web site, and enter the persons name, and if the address matches, then you can deny them access.  Why are you wasting tax payer dollars for this service, when you can purchase one PC for about $300 - $500, hook it into the Internet, and check the National sex offender registry?

Austin schools don't require a swipe of visitors' identification cards, which can include foreign driver's licenses, Rome said. Visitors can show their photo identification and have their names and birth dates typed in.

Rome said that she was unaware of any sexual assaults at Austin schools committed by registered sex offenders. She said district administrators decided to use background check software to make schools safer.

"It was just a matter of 'this is available and it will help to increase the level of safety at our campuses,' " she said.