Thursday, January 15, 2009

MA - Former Official Criticizes Sex Offender Registry Board

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There is a video at the site, but it doesn't seem to be working.  Wonder if that is intentional?

01/15/2009

Says Delays, Interference Are Violating People's Rights

BOSTON -- An insider at the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board claims the process of deciding which sex offenders are the most dangerous to the public has been seriously compromised by politics and mismanagement. NewsCenter 5's Sean Kelly reported on Thursday the former hearing examiner is now suing the board.

"The public's interest is not the priority," said Attilio Paglia.

"What is the priority?" asked Kelly.

"I feel it's their own private agenda," answered Paglia.

Paglia spent eight years at the Sex Offender Registry Board as a hearing examiner until he abruptly resigned in December 2008. Paglia determined how convicted sex offenders living and working in neighborhoods all over Massachusetts should be classified, from the most dangerous to the least likely to re-offend.

Paglia told Team 5 Investigates there are serious problems with that classification process. He claims the Sex Offender Registry Board repeatedly tried to get him to change his decisions in violation of state regulations. "There were attempts to take away my authority or limit me or prevent me from acting impartially," said Paglia.

Paglia is suing the Board, his former boss, Martin Whitkin, as well as the Board's former general counsel; Dan Less who he said pressured him to change his decisions at the expense of people's rights. "I mean it was an unprecedented amount of interference. There's this need to grandstand to the Executive Office that management at the board is tough on crime," said Paglia.
- Exactly what I've said for years now.  They are not giving people fair trails and reviews, they are simply grandstanding and using sex offender as their scapegoat to look like they are "tough on crime," and actually doing something, when they are not.

Paglia's attorney, John Swomley, frequently defends sex offenders appealing their classifications before the board. "I think what they want to do is have these decisions made through the hearing process but made through the back rooms of the sex offender registry board," said Swomley.

Paglia claims even the board's new management is part of the problem. "Nothing's gotten better," said Paglia.

Paglia isn't the first employee to blow the whistle on the agency. Dr. David Medoff is a former board member who talked to Team 5 Investigates about his concerns. "The way the registry is being run now, in my opinion and in the opinion of many others who are trained in this area actually can in some instances undermine public safety," said Medoff.

Two years ago, Team 5 Investigates first exposed flaws in the state's system used to classify sex offenders. Our investigation revealed how this highly politicized agency uses a former house painter and nail salon technician to help determine how dangerous sex offenders are, without relying on any scientific research.

Team 5 also revealed how the agency made _____, a level 3 sex offender, the most dangerous and likely to re-offend, even though ____ had never been convicted of any sex crimes. "The state has robbed me of my life, man, and they ain't trying to do nothing to correct it," said Thomas.

Now Paglia claims what happened to _____ could easily happen again. And he said the state is deliberately delaying the dissemination of public information about criminals who could be a threat to your children. "Government agencies love statistics and if there's a slow month, there's a need to make everything look like it's steady," said Paglia.
- Maybe they should read this, this, this, this, this and this?

So, often times weeks and months pass preventing the public from being able to find out about dangerous sex offenders. For example, the board didn't disclose _____'s classification as a level 3 sex offender for three months. "Their actions speak nothing of public safety. Their actions work against public safety," said Paglia.

Officials at the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security who oversee the Sex Offender Registry Board refused to comment. So did the board's spokesperson, citing the pending litigation. But Team 5 Investigates did speak with the board's former attorney and executive director who said Paglia's accusations about being pressured are not true and they never tried to interfere in his decisions.


GA - State Adding Info to Sex Offender Website

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01/15/2009

By Evan Pinsonnault

Georgia's online sex offender registry may soon have more detailed information on offenders and their crimes.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the state has until July to comply with the Adam Walsh Act, a 2006 federal law intended to crack down on the number of sex offenders nationwide.

Under the act, all states are required to adopt the same minimum standards for registering and tracking sex offenders, including the information they post online.
- No, they are not REQUIRED!  Why don't you actually read it, and you will see it's RECOMMENDATIONS.

That information includes not only the name of the sex offender and the crime they committed, but also where they work, the cars they drive, the aliases they use, their e-mail/instant message accounts and passwords and body markings.
- Passwords goes too far, and I'm sure they will be inundated with law suits for that!

Right now, Georgia's online registry, administered by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, only includes the name, address, physical description and crime of sexual offenders and if they have any tattoos or body markings.

Samantha Hines with the Crawford County Sheriff's Office says she thinks the online changes to Georgia's sex offender website will make a difference, even if they prove challenging to get and enforce.

"It's a good idea for anyone to be knowledgeable about sex offenders living near them," she said. "And to have all that information at your fingertips online can make it safer for you and your family."
- So why not put the information for ALL criminals or citizens online?  So we can know who is living around us?

At the same time, it's a juggling act because even people on the list have rights,” said Hines. “It's an invasion of privacy in some aspects, but we're here to protect the people of Crawford County and keep them safe from sexual offenders."
- So she admits it's an invasion of privacy, which it is, and violates the Constitution, period!


Internet security task force downplays online threats to children; critics blast report

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Related Articles
Deconstructing Reaction to Net Safety Task Force Report

Of course they are going to blast the report, they have a lot of reputation to uphold, and they don't want to look bad to the sheeple. And even with the very team they hired, they still insist the report is wrong. Talk about huge ego's!  Leave a comment at the above article.

01/15/2009

By Jaikumar Vijayan

Group says biggest danger on social networks is cyberbullying, not sexual predators

A report released Wednesday by a task force set up by MySpace Inc. paints a surprisingly benign picture of the online security and privacy threats faced by children. But the report's conclusion — that some of the common concerns about those threats may be overstated or misplaced — is drawing sharp criticism from some quarters.

Perhaps the most scathing critique came from South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster (Contact), who blasted the report for creating a "false sense of security" about online child safety. In a letter (download PDF, also here) addressed to a working group of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) — which commissioned the report early last year — McMaster asserted that the task force's findings are "as disturbing as they are wrong."
- And one man knows better than many?  Stop the grandstanding!

The 279-page report at the center of the controversy is titled "Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies" and based on a review of academic and industry research. It was compiled by the Internet Safety Technical Task Force, which was created last February as part of an agreement between MySpace and the NAAG aimed at improving online safety for children, particularly on social networking sites. The AGs signed a similar deal with Facebook Inc. last May.

The task force was directed by Harvard University's prestigious Berkman Center for Internet & Society. In addition to MySpace and Facebook — which both pledged to add new security features to their Web sites as part of their deals with the AGs — the task force members included representatives from companies such as Google, Microsoft and AOL and from several child safety and public policy advocacy organizations.
- So you see, this one man thinks he knows more than all these people!

The report says that contrary to popular perceptions, the biggest risks that teenagers and younger children face on the Internet are cyber-bullying and online harassment — not sexual predators. And the most frequent threats to children on social networking sites and the Internet in general come not from predatory older adults, but from their peers and young adults, according to the report.

The task force's findings shouldn't be misconstrued as a statement that the Internet doesn't pose risks for children, said John Morris, general counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington-based think tank that took part in producing the report.

The most important takeaway, Morris said, is that despite the "hype and hysteria" among the general public and the media, online risks to children are sometimes less serious and more nuanced than typically assumed. "No one is saying the online environment is risk-free," he said. "But in the end, the research shows that social networking environments are generally safe for kids and that the ones at risk online are the ones who [also] are at risk offline."


NY - Ulster County predator law could force state to follow suit, lawmaker says

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New York State Laws (Tons of laws!)

01/15/2009

By PATRICIA DOXSEY - Freeman staff

KINGSTON — Ulster County Legislator Glenn Noonan (Email) hopes a proposed law limiting where registered sex offenders can live within the county will prod state lawmakers to impose statewide residency restrictions on sex offenders.

I’m trying to get Ulster County on board with several other counties who have passed similar legislation,” said Noonan, R-Gardiner. “Then it forces the (state) Assembly to get off their butts and do something about this on a state level.”

State law places no restriction on where registered sex offenders can live. Noonan said if enough counties adopt restrictive laws, the state will be forced to deal with the issue.

Earlier this month, Noonan, the Legislature’s minority leader, introduced a resolution setting a public hearing on a proposed local law that would prohibit registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, church or day-care center. Following a somewhat heated debate, the Legislature’s Democratic majority referred the resolution to the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Safety Committee for consideration.

According to the New York state Sex Offender Registry, there are 118 Level 2 and Level 3 registered sex offenders living in communities within Ulster County. Under state law, Level 1 sex offenders cannot be listed on the public Web site.

The law proposed by Noonan is similar to ones adopted by a number of neighboring counties, including Rockland, designed to steer sex offenders clear of areas where children congregate.

Noonan said he was prompted to reintroduce the legislation after receiving numerous phone calls and e-mails from constituents upset that the Rockland County Department of Social Services relocated Christopher Palma, a Level 3 sex offender, from a Rockland County hospital, where he’d been staying, to a motel in Kerhonkson. “It’s bad enough we have our own … but to start bringing them in from another other counties is ridiculous,” Noonan said.

_____, 25, was convicted in 2005 on misdemeanor charges of attempted possession of an obscene sexual performance by a child less than 16 years old. According to the state registry, _____ used a computer to disseminate indecent material to a minor and to promote/possess a sexual performance by a child.

In 2007, _____ had moved into a Rockland County apartment near an elementary school, but county legislation passed earlier that year prohibited him from living there. When he was forced to leave his apartment, he wound up in the county’s care, which ultimately placed him in the Colonial Motel in Kerhonkson.

As a result of an outcry over that placement, the Ulster County Department of Probation returned _____ to Rockland County. According to the Sex Offender Registry, _____ now is living in a Days Inn in Nanuet.

In 2006, Noonan tried to get a local law passed similar to the one he now is proposing, but that measure was referred by the Democratic majority to the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Safety Committee, where it has languished.

Noonan said he was astounded that Democrats wouldn’t even set a public hearing on the proposal. “I can’t understand why the Democrats won’t even hear from the public,” he said.

Legislator Dart, chairman of the Criminal Justice and Safety Committee, accused Noonan of playing politics with the issue, and he promised the latest proposal wouldn’t suffer the same fate as the 2006 resolution.

Dart, D-Kingston, vowed to have the proposal promptly reviewed by “experts” and to bring a proposal forward for a vote at the Legislature’s meeting in February.


NY - Jail time unlikely for ex-cop in sex case

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He has sex with a minor, and will not spend time behind bars?  Yep, the "Good Ole' Boys" network at work!  So much for holding people in authority positions to a higher standard, this is less.  If the average citizen did the same, they'd be in prison for a long time.

01/15/2009

By ARIEL ZANGLA - Freeman staff

KINGSTON — A former Ulster County sheriff’s deputy who admitted accepting a sexual favor as a bribe is not likely to spend any time behind bars, according to all the lawyers involved in the case.

Defense attorney Thomas Petro said on Wednesday that the court has recommended — but not yet imposed — a sentence of 10 years’ probation and registration as a Level 1 sex offender for Jeffrey P. Geskie.

Geskie, 27, pleaded guilty on Tuesday in Ulster County Court to receiving a bribe and committing a criminal sexual act, both felonies, and official misconduct, a misdemeanor, for coercing a 17-year-old girl to performing a sexual act in exchange for not writing her a ticket for trespassing and other infractions. The incident occurred last June 2 in High Falls, and Geskie was indicted on July 31.

Geskie is to be sentenced on April 2.

Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright said his office recommended Geskie face jail time as well as probation, but defense attorney Thomas Petro argued against incarceration, and he said the court accepted that position.

Carnright and the girl’s attorney, Joseph O’Connor, confirmed that a sentence without prison time is likely.

“Our position was that Geskie should go to jail in addition to the probation,” Carnright said. He said his office recommended less than a year behind bars plus 10 years of probation.

The maximum allowable sentence for Geskie’s crimes is 2-1/3 to seven years in state prison.

Carnright noted that because Geskie pleaded guilty, he will never again be allowed to serve as a police officer in New York state.
- What about other states?  He should not be allowed to be a police officer period!

O’Connor said the proposed sentence of probation and registering as a Level 1 sex offender for 20 years was requested by the girl’s family. He said the deal means the girl will not have to testify in court.

“It was certainly with the family’s blessing,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor has said his client essentially was forced to perform a sexual act because Geskie threatened her. He said Geskie, among other things, told the girl she would be thrown in jail and that he would notify her future college of her wrongdoing if she did not comply.

Geskie resigned from the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office last June 3, the day after his arrest.


Child Porn Laws Used Against Kids Who Photograph Themselves

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01/15/2009

By Kim Zetter

Privacy advocates say prosecutors are misusing child pornography laws by turning them against the very people they are meant to protect.

The accusation comes following a raft of recent child pornography cases against juveniles accused of photographing themselves in the nude.

This week, prosecutors in Greensburg, Pennsylvania charged six teens ranging in age from 14 to 17 with creating, distributing and possessing child pornography, after three girls were found to have taken photos of themselves in the nude or partially nude and e-mailed them to friends, including three boys who are among the defendants.

The case is only one of the latest in a spate of similar prosecutions and investigations. In Florida, officials similarly charged a 16-year-old girl and her 17-year-old boyfriend with producing, directing or promoting child porn after they photographed themselves having sex. Neither of the teens shared the images with anyone else.

The issue of teenagers distributing self-made pornography isn't new, but its prevalence and consequences have been exacerbated by advances in technology. Thirty years ago a teen who wanted to take nude self-portraits had to develop the film at a lab, and distribution was limited by the number of copies made from the negative. Now a camera-phone and internet connection are enough to send the image around the world in an instant, whether or not the sender intended it to reach that far.

Critics say the criminal charges against minors, under laws that were meant to protect them from adults, is the wrong way to address the issue of teens exploring their sexuality. Law enforcement's reaction effectively turns victims into perpetrators, they say.

"The problem is that the child porn laws were really designed for a situation where an adult abuses a minor by forcing that minor ... psychologically as well as physically ... into taking these pictures," said Mark Rasch, a former federal cybercrime prosecutor. "But when the person takes the picture herself or consents to the picture being taken, it turns the whole statute on its head."

In the Pennsylvania case, a school official seized the phone of one of the boys after he was caught using it during school hours in violation of a school rule, according to local police Capt. George Seranko. The official found the picture on the phone, and after some interrogation, discovered that two other girls had also e-mailed photos of themselves in the nude to friends. That's when the school called police, who obtained search warrants to seize the phones and examine them. Police showed the images to the local district attorney, who recommended they bring charges.

Seranko said the images "weren't just breasts; they showed female anatomy."

Authorities argue that bringing child porn charges against teens is designed to educate them about the dangers of creating and distributing such images, which could fall into the hands of commercial pornographers, pedophiles or others who might want to harm or exploit them.

But Parry Aftab (Blog), founder and director of WiredSafety, which educates kids about internet safety, says the prosecutions are desperate acts by frustrated law enforcement officials, and they don't achieve the desired effect.

"Prosecutors don't know what to do, so they are reaching out in the way that prosecutors do," she said.

Rasch agrees. "You take teenagers, alcohol and cell phone cameras and put them in a room together and you've got a prescription for disaster," he said. "But you shouldn't be making felons out of it."

Rasch supports legislation to exempt any minor from prosecution for creating an image of himself or herself and distributing it to friends. The recipient, too, should be exempt, though Rasch sees no problem with charging a boyfriend or friend if they distribute the image further without the girl's consent. Even then, though, he thinks there's room for debate about the consequences.

"If my son or daughter were doing this kind of stuff, I'd have a serious discussion with them about the consequences, but I don't know that it would help anybody to throw them in jail," he said.

Rasch said teens don't realize that one unintentional consequence of self-made child porn is that it can sometimes provide authorities with evidence of other crimes. He cites the case of Genarlow Wilson in Georgia who was convicted of having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17 based on a videotape of his encounter with the girl at a party. Wilson was sentenced to 10 years in prison and required to register as a sex offender, though he was released after serving two years following an appeal to the state supreme court.

There are no known cases involving federal charges against a minor for child porn: the recent cases were brought under state laws by local prosecutors, usually in juvenile court. Since juvenile cases are not part of the public record, Rasch says it's not known what kinds of sentences have resulted from such cases. But he said generally juveniles who commit crimes get convicted of delinquency, not the actual crime they commit.

In the recent Pennsylvania case, Capt. Seranko said the teens are likely to get community service if convicted.

"Their records won't be scarred for life," he said.

Rasch points out that people who take or share nude self-portraits when they're minors could be prosecuted as adults and face harsher penalties if they're still in possession of the images when they reach the age of 18.

With regard to the claim that prosecution of minors will deter other teens from engaging in the same activity, Aftab says this isn't the case, because teens don't identify with the concept of criminal charges. She points to the famous case of several teenage girls in Florida last year who were arrested for beating up another girl.

"They were laughing on the way to jail and worrying about if their hair will look good on camera," said Aftab. "They didn’t understand that jail is jail."

In the case of teens charged with child pornography, they simply don't see a difference between posting provocative pictures on MySpace and sending nude photos to friends.

"These kids are now seeing stuff on MySpace and other places online where other kids are posing in sexual poses in the nude performing real or mock sex, and to them it's just their 15 megabytes of fame. They think it's the norm," she said.

Aftab says the solution is counseling and education. The former should enlist mental health experts, and the latter should involve teen educators, since teens don't listen to adults when it comes to regulating their behavior.

She also said teens who engage in this kind of activity should be punished with a consequence that really matters -- having their cell phone taken away or losing internet or other privileges.

"That's real," Aftab said. "It's quantifiable and it's within their reach."


NY - Former guard to be sentenced for sex with inmate

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01/15/2009

NEW HAVEN - A former guard at the federal prison in Danbury is set to be sentenced for having sex with a female inmate and plotting with her to kill his wife.

Michael Rudkin of Brewster, N.Y., is scheduled to appear in federal court in New Haven Thursday afternoon. He faces up to 10 years in prison after having pleaded guilty last August to sexual abuse of a ward and attempted murder for hire.

Prosecutors say Rudkin and the inmate had a sexual relationship from October 2007 to January 2008. They say he promised to pay her $5,000 to arrange for his wife's murder.

They say Rudkin also asked the inmate to wait until he could reinstate a life insurance policy on his wife. Prosecutors say investigators learned of the plot before any harm came to Rudkin's wife.


WA - Lawmakers consider implanted chips for tracking sex offenders

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HB-1142

I would tell them to stick that chip up their a__!!!  Also, despite what the lady below says, these things do NOT have GPS in them, so they cannot track you, the reach of these things is measured in feet, and again, it's not a GPS.  So once again, we have a lady, who knows nothing about technology, who claims these things can track you.  Plus, they have been proven to be easily tampered with, and also cause cancer.

01/14/2009

By Luke Duecy

OLYMPIA -- Lawmakers are considering a controversial bill that would outfit sex offenders with a surgically-implanted device that tracks their movement.

The devices would replace the ankle bracelets that are currently used to track offenders. The bracelets have been criticized as a lacking device as offenders have successfully removed them in the past before disappearing off of the radar.

"(The devices would) be a little more difficult to take off," said Rep. Maralyn Chase (Contact), D-Edmonds.

Chase is among a handful of lawmakers are looking into radio chips that can be planted under the skin. Some of the designs are no larger than a grain of rice.

The radio chips would allow police to track an offender from a sex offender using the same technology used at the Tacoma Narrows bridge toll.

"Right now, we get a postcard at home every few weeks saying we have a sex offender moving into the neighborhood. But unless you know where they live and what they look like how are you going to have protection?" said Chase.

The Department of Corrections admits even with the current devices, officers often lose signal. DOC officials also note that no tracking device can prevent crime.

"It certainly is not prevention. It certainly is not 100-percent," said Anna Aylward with the state DOC.

The bill is currently in committee.

If passed, the bill would allow the state to hire the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs to determine whether chip implants would be more effective.

Similar technology is used to track criminals in the U.K. and school children in Japan.


AK - Assailant of lottery winner arraigned

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01/14/2009

ANCHORAGE -- The California man accused of attacking last weekend's lottery winner went before a judge Wednesday afternoon.

Brandon Hughes, 20, of Los Angeles faces charges of first-degree assault and tampering with evidence.

Police say he attacked lottery winner _____ with a tire iron late Tuesday afternoon near the Fifth Avenue Mall.

Court documents do not indicate whether _____'s history as a sex offender motivated Hughes to commit the crime. But investigators say Hughes called a friend before the attack and said he had spotted the lottery winner and was going to beat him.

Hughes could face up to 20 years in prison if he's found guilty. On Wednesday his bond was set at $150,000, cash only.

Hughes is also facing extradition to California on a fugitive warrant for a parole violation.


VA - Ordinance passed in Reidsville to prohibit sex offenders from public recreation facilities, areas

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01/14/2009

By Miranda Baines

The Reidsville City Council has unanimously passed an ordinance prohibiting registered sex offenders from city recreational facilities, public parks and greenway trails.

The new city ordinance, which passed Tuesday, will be enforced in conjunction with a state law, “Sex Offender Unlawfully on Premises.” It became effective Dec. 1.

“The mayor (James Festerman) had some concern that this state statute was not broad enough to cover all of the city’s public venues where children gather and participate in some activities, specifically the greenway trails, the boat ramps, the lake store, other areas around the lake, which would also include the campground,” Police Chief Edd Hunt said.

City Attorney William F. McLeod Jr. and Hunt determined the law was not broad enough to include all geographical areas within the confines of the two city lakes and the greenway trails. Hunt prepared a “full-scope” ordinance to present to city council.

Festerman said it “makes sense” to include areas such as the greenway trails and city parks in the ordinance because those are areas where children are likely to be; therefore, they are areas where sexual predatory attacks are more likely to occur.
- That is a crock of BS!  How many sex crimes do you know that have occurred at any of these places?

“I think it’s important we do everything we can to protect our youth,” said Festerman. He said he has had conversations with Hunt about enacting such an ordinance to protect children from sexual predators even before the state law was passed.
- If you want to do everything to protect the youth, you should then remove all children from their homes, since studies show that 90% or more of all sex crimes occur in the victims own home, family or close friends.

Violations will be considered a Class H felony violation, and people are subject to a fine of not less than $500 per offense and, or 30 days in jail. Hunt said police would enforce violations of the state law first, if applicable. If the violation occurs in one of the “fringe areas,” police will use the city ordinance to enforce it.

Hunt told the council he plans to write each of the registered sex offenders in Reidsville and “possibly a certain radius around the city” to notify them of the new ordinance. He said there are 131 registered sex offenders in the county and 26 in the city.

“It’s not a requirement. I think the chief is just trying to give them a heads-up that they’re not welcome (in the city parks),” McLeod Jr. told the council. Hunt said he thought the city would have a better case against violators of the city ordinance if the registered sex offenders were notified in writing about the law.

Hunt said the city would need 30 to 50 signs making sex offenders aware of the ordinance. Councilman W. Clark Turner made a motion to adopt the ordinance and that the money for the signs comes from the contingency fund in the general fund balance.

Staff Writer Miranda Baines can be reached at mbaines@reidsvillereview.com or 349-4331, ext. 35.


CA - Calif. sex offender's law questioned

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01/14/2009

LOS ANGELES (UPI) -- A movement is afoot to revise "Jessica's Law," with some officials saying the California law limiting where sex offenders can live is counterproductive.

The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that a state board has found that the restrictions on where released sex offenders can live has left many of them homeless and more likely to return to a life of crime. Also, state taxpayers wind up paying $25 million a year to house some of them.

The law passed by California voters two years ago bans sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools, parks and other areas where children gather. But the state Sex Offender Management Board said in a report sent to lawmakers this week that has drastically curtailed where the offenders can live and hasn't shown to be effective in reducing crime.

"It seems unwise to spend such resources as a consequence of residence restriction policies which have no track record of increasing community safety," board members wrote.

State lawmakers would need a two-thirds majority to change the law. State Sen. George Runner (Contact), R-Lancaster, who helped push the law through, still supports it.

"I do believe the general public would say a child molester should not live across the street from a school," Runner said.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was also a strong supporter but is now open to considering revisions.

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


AUSTRALIA - Police at scene of suspicious death

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01/15/2009

By KATE HEDLEY

POLICE are at the scene of what they are saying is a “suspicious death” on the corner of Ward Street and France Street in Mandurah.

A 68-year-old man was found dead in his house this morning.

A friend raised the alarm and detectives and forensic police have been combing the area for more than an hour.

Inspector Pete Branchi said it “could be hours” before police have any new information on the death.

The dead man, who is believed to be a child sex offender, has had his house set alight in the past and has been the target of vigilantes in the area according to neighbours.


WI - Mayor Gary Becker accused of attempted child sex assault

Gary Becker
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01/14/2009

Racine Mayor Gary Becker also faces charges of possessing child porn

MADISON - State agents arrested the mayor of this southeastern Wisconsin city and planned to charge him with child pornography, attempted sexual assault and other counts, authorities said Wednesday.

Mayor Gary Becker was arrested late Tuesday at a shopping mall in Brookfield, a Milwaukee suburb. He was being held Wednesday in the Kenosha County Jail on a $165,000 cash bond.

He faced tentative charges of attempted sexual assault of a child, child enticement, possession of child pornography, official misconduct and other counts, according to a news release by the state Department of Justice.

Racine County District Attorney Michael Nieskes said he expected to file formal charges by Thursday.

The state news release gave no detail on what Becker, 51, was accused of doing, and officials declined to comment.

Racine, with a population of about 79,000, is some 25 miles south of Milwaukee along Lake Michigan. It is home to consumer products giant S.C. Johnson & Son.

According to the city's Web site, Becker has been married since 1981 and has two daughters. He had served two terms as alderman before taking four years off, then was elected mayor in 2003. He ran unopposed in 2007.

Racine police Lt. James Dobbs said police received a tip about two weeks ago about possible criminal activity involving Becker. Concerned about a possible conflict of interest, they turned the information over to the state Division of Criminal Investigation.

The phone at Becker's home went unanswered Wednesday morning. Women who answered the phones at the mayor's office and his dry cleaning business said they did not know whether he had hired an attorney.

City Council President David Maack told The Journal Times he was "shocked and disappointed." He said he will serve as acting mayor for the time being.