Thursday, December 4, 2008

NC - Editorial: Get tough on the right people

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Tougher new sex-offender laws are tailor made for the likes of _____, a Burgaw resident who this week admitted repeatedly molesting three young girls over the course of a year or so. When he gets out of prison - he'll serve 16 to 20 years, exceedingly light punishment compared to the lasting emotional and physical harm he caused those children - he should be on the sex-offender registry for the rest of his natural life, if possible.

But in their well-intentioned zeal to get tougher on the _____ in the state, the Honorables have used a black-and-white distinction when shades of gray might paint a more realistic picture. _____ is the kind of criminal lawmakers had in mind when they voted to triple the number of years a sex offender must remain registered with law enforcement after leaving prison.

A new law that took effect Monday requires sex offenders to be on a public registry for 30 years instead of 10, as mandated under the previous law. It makes little distinction between a child molester and a young adult who has consensual sex with an underage girlfriend (a criminal offense, as it should be, but hardly the same category as a serial pedophile).

As difficult as it is to forgive anyone who commits a sexual offense, our justice system operates not only to punish people but to give a second chance to those who are able and willing to rehabilitate themselves. Long-term monitoring after the person has served his sentence can thwart any chance of rehabilitation; contrary to popular consensus, experts say not all sex offenders are equal. In addition to registration requirements, convicted sex offenders also face restrictions on where they can live and where they can be seen in public.

The Honorables did leave an opening that could help sex offenders who really want to change. An offender can petition a judge after 10 years for a waiver of future registration requirements if he (or she) can show good behavior and compliance with registration requirements up to that point.

The General Assembly, as well as the federal government, also recognize that some sexual predators will never be rehabilitated, or perhaps a more appropriate word would be "cured" of their sick obsession. Those are the criminals most law-abiding citizens agree should be separated from polite society.

North Carolina law sets aside special provisions for violent predators and repeat offenders. Lifetime registration and monitoring could be required.

The law also was recently changed to require a minimum 25-year sentence for certain sex crimes, including rape, against children under 13.

For too long sex crimes against children and teens were swept under a rug, especially if a relative or acquaintance was involved. That's changed, for the better. Society now wants to make sure predators are punished and that laws are in place to prevent them from repeating their crimes.

North Carolina legislators are to be commended for adopting tougher penalties for pedophiles and violent predators.

But they also should periodically review the laws they have adopted to make sure they're getting tough with the right people, and not preventing the re-assimilation of those who have the will and the conviction to become productive members of society.


SOSEN Web Site | Forums

Great victory story!

Hosted by: Reality USA | More audio here


Time: 12/03/2008 09:30 PM EST

Episode Notes: Come and meet Steve from SOSEN as he tells us about his sons court battle and what the outcome was. Also Steve will let parents know what they need to know about what him and his family have been through with this court battle and educate parents of things they need to know.

IA - Seize chance to redo sex-offender laws Statutes waste resources, don't improve safety

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The Iowa Legislature will have the opportunity next session to repair an ill-conceived and ineffective state law. Though the price of scuttling this bad law will be adopting another bad one, it is a trade-off lawmakers should exercise, though with extreme reluctance.

The existing Iowa law makes it a crime for convicted sex offenders to live within 2,000 feet of any facility where children congregate, including schools and child-care centers. In many cases, this means men and women convicted of sex crimes are limited to living under bridges, along riverbanks or remote areas of the county. The law absurdly does not prohibit offenders from hanging out at any of those facilities, however.

The legion of critics of this law has grown to include law-enforcement officials, county prosecutors and even crime-victim advocates, who say the law has numerous unintended consequences, including discouraging reports of sex offenses and driving offenders underground.

Although lawmakers have so far lacked the courage to repeal the 2,000-foot law, they now have political cover: They can replace it with a new statute that would bring Iowa into conformance with a new federal law that expands federal sex-offender registry requirements to all 50 states.

The new draconian federal statute goes beyond Iowa's offender-registry statute to include a longer list of sex offenses and lengthens the registration period up to life, depending on the severity of the crime.

That's not an improvement. More years on the registry will consign people convicted of sex crimes to more years of suspicion and problems getting or holding jobs, continuing education and leading normal lives. The federal law thus is afflicted with some of the same defects as Iowa's 2,000-foot rule, and the same unintended consequences of forcing offenders underground and discouraging sex-crime reporting.

Moreover, if Iowa adopts the federal law, the Iowa Department of Public Safety and all 99 county sheriffs will absorb additional expenses and time riding herd on thousands of convicted sex offenders. Offenders must show up in person to re-register annually - some every three months - and not only report their current residence but employment, school and travel plans of more than seven days.

But the state of Iowa has a gun to its head: If it refuses to enforce the federal law, the state stands to lose 10 percent of federal law-enforcement grants. Besides, lawmakers reasonably might be reluctant to make Iowa a haven for sex offenders, which could happen if our law was more lenient than those in surrounding states.

So, in this lesser-of-evils equation, the greater good would be done by complying with the new federal law, and, in the process, scrapping the 2,000-foot rule and instead prohibiting sex offenders from entering schools and other places where children congregate.

The next step will be to work on Congress to rewrite the federal registry rules. Some who commit sex crimes may be incurable predators, and they deserve special treatment. The law treats all sex offenders alike, however, and as a result no one is any safer, law-enforcement resources are wasted and lives are unnecessarily ruined.

Iowa has learned that lesson. Now, Congress should get the message.

LA - Jindal works on sex offenders’ civil confinement

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Gov. Bobby Jindal (Contact) is pursuing civil confinement for sex offenders after being thwarted in his efforts to keep a convicted child rapist under a death sentence.
- Just like a little kid, he stomps his feet when he doesn't get what he wants!

Jindal said this week he plans to introduce legislation in the upcoming session to keep violent sex offenders off the streets once they have completed their prison sentence.

The goal, the governor said, is to have the toughest laws in the nation that protect children.
- Hell, if you want to have the toughest laws on the books, why don't you just do what Hitler did?  I guess with your mentality, if you could do it, you would.

He said Florida already has a law that allows the state to confine offenders to a treatment facility through the civil court system. Offenders can be held indefinitely in a facility as long as they are deemed to pose a threat to the community.
- So Germany, under Hitler, allowed for the massacre of Jews.  Just because someone else is doing it, doesn't mean it's right.

Florida turned a former prison into a civil commitment center for violent sex offenders who have completed their criminal sentences.

Critics complain that civil confinement is barbaric and basically means a life sentence.
- And also, it's a ton of wasted tax payer dollars.  If they are so dangerous, why not keep them in prison?  Prison outside of prison, costs a ton of money, which COULD be used elsewhere.

Jindal has been openly critical of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling that states cannot execute convicted child rapists like Patrick Kennedy, of Harvey.

The Jindal administration fought to keep Kennedy under a death sentence. Kennedy was convicted of raping his 8-year-old stepdaughter.
- You cannot execute someone who hasn't committed murder themselves.  If we start doing that, then what despised group would be next?

In October, the nation’s highest court refused a request by the state and the U.S. Justice Department to reconsider its decision based on military law that allows capital punishment for such crimes.

Jindal mentions the case often as he crisscrosses the country for speaking engagements. He talked about Kennedy last month to the Iowa Family Policy Center, telling the conservative crowd that sex offenders need to be locked up. He said Kennedy’s stepdaughter was injured so badly she will never bear children.
- Of course he does.  He's using it for votes, and reputation brownie points.  To look good to the sheeple.

The issue resonated with an audience that prides itself on “family values.”
- What about Christian values?  Bobby Jindal, IMO, is one sick man, who needs to be fired.  He's obsessed with this, like Hitler was in his reign.

It was the only part of the speech that Iowan David Keagle, a father of eight, disliked.

Keagle said he wants sex offenders to be executed — not simply locked up — to protect families from perpetrators.

However, Keagle said he is confident that Jindal feels the same way.

Jindal said he is not abandoning the issue even as he and his attorneys construct a civil confinement proposal.

The governor said he was encouraged by President-elect Barack Obama’s statement earlier this year that the rape of a child is heinous enough to merit the death penalty.
- Wow, you are one sick puppy.  For someone to get all excited to execute someone, that is just sick!

Louisiana was one of five states with a law allowing the execution of a child rapist.

A shift in the U.S. Supreme Court’s stance on the issue would seem to hinge on a change in the court’s makeup. The oldest justice, John Paul Stevens, is 88 but does not appear to be in a hurry to retire.

Kennedy’s attorney, Billy Sothern of New Orleans, said he doubts such a shift will occur.

“The Supreme Court itself, even with different justices, is expected to uphold its own precedents, especially when so recently issued,” he said.

For the moment, Kennedy remains on death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.

“It’s a matter of paperwork,” said Pam LaBorde, spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections.

She said Kennedy will be transferred from death row as soon as the state receives paperwork from the courts authorizing the move.

Sothern said he expects Kennedy to be resentenced in January.

“The governor is focused on the resentencing hearing in this particular case and wants the harshest sentence possible to be delivered,” said Melissa Sellers, Jindal’s communications director.

Aggravated rape is punishable by life in prison.

The state Department of Health and Hospitals is studying ways to implement a civil commitment system.

Jindal said his executive counsel, Jimmy Faircloth, also is studying the issue in order to have a proposal in place for the session that begins in April.

The administration characterizes the effort as an attempt to “ensure that sex offenders are treated for their illness and are less likely to recommit their awful crimes.”
- So why not get them therapy while in prison?  When someone has an "illness," you treat it, right?  Or you did at one time, but just because it's a sex offender, and they help you get votes and brownie points, you exploit the issue to further your own career..

Florida’s law is named for Jimmy Ryce, a 9-year-old boy who was kidnapped, raped and killed in 1995 just a few weeks shy of his 10th birthday.

NY - Schuyler offender law faces scrutiny

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By Glenda Gephart

Legislature to hold hearing Monday

WATKINS GLEN -- The last time Schuyler County legislators heard comments from the public about a proposed local law restricting where convicted sex offenders may live, they said some valid questions were raised and decided to spend more time studying the controversial issue.

Lawmakers have revised the proposed law and will hear comments on the new version during a 6:45 p.m. public hearing at their monthly meeting Monday. They are expected to vote on the proposed law following the hearing.

After public comments in January of this year, legislators tabled action on proposed law with provisions including banning certain convicted sex offenders from entering county parks, of which there is only one, Seneca Harbor Park, in Watkins Glen.

That provision is not included in the proposed law now under consideration.

The residency restrictions remain the same: Certain convicted sex offenders would be prohibited from living within 500 feet of a school, playground or day care center.

The proposed law would affect Level II sex offenders, who "have been determined to pose a moderate risk of committing another sexual crime," and Level III offenders, who "have been determined to pose a high risk of repeat offense and a threat to public safety."

Legislators acknowledge that the proposed law is controversial, and Del Bleiler, D-Odessa, criticized the state Legislature for not taking a tough position on sex offender residency issues.
- Controversial, I think you mean unconstitutional!

"It may save a kid's life. We don't know. But it can't do any harm," Bleiler said during Wednesday's Resolution Review Committee meeting.
- Can't do any harm to whom?  I think that depends on who you ask!

Sheriff William Yessman said Wednesday that the proposed law would not affect any of the 19 Level II and Level III registered offenders now living in Schuyler County.

Also on Monday, lawmakers will be asked to approve several resolutions that will further the planned public works facility on South Decatur Street that will be shared by the county, the village of Watkins Glen and the town of Dix in a minor way.

Among the items before legislators will be approving a low bid of $1.9 million from Welliver McGuire Inc. in Montour Falls as general contractor.

Low bids for the project, to be awarded to six different companies, totaled $2,742,000, County Administrator Timothy O'Hearn said.

The county is the lead agency for the construction of the facility, which will be used by the village streets and utilities departments; the county highway, watershed and soil and water conservation departments; and administrative services of the town of Dix.

O'Hearn said the facility could be enlarged in the future. It will be on county highway department property previously used for piles of road materials.

The total cost is expected to be about $3 million. The county has received a $484,000 state grant to help with the funding. The county and village will each put $500,000 into the work and the remainder will be borrowed, O'Hearn explained.

* Monday's meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Human Services Complex on state Route 14 in Montour Falls.