Tuesday, January 27, 2009

AK - Woman who claimed brutal rape lied, DA says

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They should sentence her to the sentence this man would've received, if convicted of the crime.  Women like this, should be in prison for a long time.

01/27/2009

By JAMES HALPIN

Elisa LaCroix told police her ex-boyfriend held a knife to her throat earlier this month as he brutally raped her, repeatedly punched her in the stomach and threatened to kill her unborn child.

But none of it ever happened, the Anchorage district attorney's office said Tuesday.

Following the initial claim of an assault, 24-year-old Cole Rothacher, a military policeman at Fort Richardson, was jailed on four counts of first-degree sexual assault in connection with the alleged attack Jan. 9 that LaCroix told investigators began when she denied him sex.

But Rothacher wasn't anywhere near her that night, Assistant District Attorney Taylor Winston said Tuesday. Instead, LaCroix, 20, created a crime scene and inflicted injuries to herself -- including stabbing her bed with the knife allegedly used in the assault -- to make it appear she had been sexually assaulted by her former fiance, who broke up with her back in late November or early December, according to the charges against her.

LaCroix, who also goes by Elisa Arts, was arrested Tuesday on charges of tampering with evidence and filing a false report -- a felony. She was already in custody for a probation violation, police said. LaCroix's bail was set at $2,500 and she remained jailed Tuesday afternoon, police said.

Special Victims Unit Detective Jade Baker said he initially had some doubt about LaCroix's story, but evidence recovered at the scene backed it up and police were required to take action under state domestic violence laws. Among the evidence LaCroix allegedly faked, Baker said, was an injury to her genitals and two condoms recovered -- including one she apparently swallowed. Detectives also found a knife stabbed into LaCroix's bed that she told them Rothacher put to her neck during the attack, Baker said.

But as the investigation progressed, evidence was uncovered that revealed LaCroix's claims were "patently false," police Lt. Dave Parker said. Under questioning by police Monday night, LaCroix "made admissions" indicating she lied and planted evidence to incriminate Rothacher, Parker said.

According to a past newspaper story, LaCroix was married last June and changed her name from Arts. She also applied for marriage licenses in 2007 and 2006, newspaper archives show.

She told police her marriage was "being complicated by her extra-marital relationship with Rothacher," and that she lied to make sure that relationship was over, Parker said.

The charges against Rothacher left him jailed for more than a week, his reputation shattered and his career on the rocks, he said in an interview Tuesday.

"It hasn't been too pleasant," he said. "Anybody that's known me knew right off the bat that it was false, because I'm not that type of guy."

Last Friday, as it was becoming increasingly clear that there were big problems with LaCroix's story, charges against Rothacher were dismissed because prosecutors didn't get a grand jury indictment in the required time frame, a ruling that allowed police to continue their investigation without Rothacher sitting in jail on $50,000 bail, Winston said. He was released from jail Friday.


CT - Julie Amero Fined $1000.00 Looses Teaching License

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"The Tip of the Punishment Iceberg"

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01/27/2009

By Matt Kelley

Does the public’s focus on high-profile crimes, the death penalty and DNA exonerations overshadow the bigger problems in our criminal justice system? Doug Berman, whose excellent blog Sentencing Law & Policy I link to often, says the punishment problem in our country is obscured by sensational crime headlines and even occasional good news like wrongful convictions being overturned.

Photo-ops and news stories often become the catalyst for specific, targeted policy reform, Berman says, and that leads us to forget about the vast expansion of our prison system and the damage caused by our addiction to punishment.

"In the criminal justice system those kind of anecdotes tend to skew a broader picture of what needs to be of persistent concern in the work of legal reformers and policy reformers," Berman said in an interview last week on Berkeley's KPFA radio.



The sprawling reach of parole, the loss of voting rights, the expansion of sex offender registries and dozens of other issues aren't getting the attenion they deserve, he says.

"It's gone largely unnoticed. There's an understanding that we've gotten more severe in our criminal justice system... but just how severely we punish and how many people we have locked behind bars is still something that is not nearly the part of the public conversation that I think it should be," he said.

Berman makes a great point here, and I agree that we need more focus on issues like parole, drug sentences and mandatory minimums. The public, however, still wants their sensational crime news and I'm a believer in using the big flashy story to get a little tidbit about reform in front of a few eyeballs. Doug’s interview on KPFA is worth a listen, and serves as a good reminder that we all need to do our part to ensure that the whole story about our criminal justice system is told.

How will you get these stories out there?


IA - Fifteen sex offenders to go free after ruling

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You see, here, they acknowledge the ex post facto issues which violate the constitution, but in many states, they continue to ignore the constitution and the ex post facto violations.  Adding more punishment or restrictions to someone, who was charged before the law came into being, is unconstitutional, because it violates ex post facto.

01/27/2009

By CYNTHIA REYNAUD

State prison officials scrambled Monday to alert the victims of 15 convicted sex offenders who will be released without supervision by Wednesday following an Iowa Supreme Court ruling.

A 16th inmate who brought the legal challenge will be freed in March, as originally scheduled.

The court's decision said the Henry County inmate was unfairly denied good-behavior credits - which move ahead inmates' release dates - after he was kicked out of a treatment program.

The Iowa Department of Corrections decided that the ruling on Friday in the case of Mount Pleasant inmate _____ should be applied to other sex offenders in the state prison system and announced Monday that 15 other inmates will be released within 48 hours.

Normally, the department notifies victims of sex offenders of the expected release date through a letter about two weeks before the release.

Corrections officials had ruled that _____, who was sentenced to 25 years in 1997 for third-degree sex abuse, was ineligible for the "earned-time" credits under a 2001 law because he was removed from a sex-offender treatment program for misconduct.

_____ contended that since his offense was committed before the law changed in 2001, the credits should apply.

A Henry County judge agreed with _____, and state officials appealed.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday that _____ should keep his scheduled release date. He will be released March 10, according to the Department of Corrections database.

The ruling applies to inmates whose offenses were committed before an amendment to Iowa law that took effect on Jan. 1, 2001, that required inmates to participate in a treatment program to be eligible for early release.

The Department of Corrections determined there were 18 offenders now in prison who were affected by the Supreme Court ruling. When the department added credits that were originally denied because of failure to complete treatment programs, 15 of the, were found to have overdue release dates, some up to four months, spokesman Fred Scaletta said.

"I think the Department of Corrections is to be commended for its action in extending this ruling to everyone affected without prompting from a court," said attorney Philip B. Mears of Iowa City, who represented _____ and two other inmates who went before the Supreme Court with a similar case.

The Supreme Court also on Friday supported the Jones County District Court's ruling in favor of _____ and _____, who, while serving time for 1996 convictions, refused to participate in sex-offender treatment. They were deemed ineligible to receive earned-time credits in 2006. The two were released from prison last year.

Normally, offenders released early would receive parole officers or other supervision to help them transition back into society. In this case, the department did not have time to organize supervision, Scaletta said.

There was also not time to consider sending any of the inmates to the state's civil commitment facility for sex offenders, he said.

Commitment to that facility requires a civil court proceeding, which can include a jury trial. The special treatment unit is based at the Oakdale prison near Iowa City and is run by the Department of Human Services.

Many of the offenders to be released had been reviewed and were determined not to be sexually violent or unlikely to commit the crime again, Scaletta said. Some, though, did not receive the evaluation.

"Under the circumstances, there is probably reason to be concerned," he said. "But there is not an immediate threat."

Department officials began calling victims Monday and plan to send law officers to the homes of those they can't reach.

"We always want the victim to know they're going out prior to them walking out the door," Scaletta said.

All offenders will be required to register with the Department of Public Safety Sex Offender Registry prior to their release. They will be held to restrictions that ban them from living within 2,000 feet of some schools and child care centers.


CA - California 'three strikes' sentence voided

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12/31/2008

SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) -- California's attorney general's office says it hasn't yet decided if it will appeal a ruling against a prison term imposed under the state's three-strikes law.

A federal appeals court said a registered sex offender's 28-years-to-life sentence for failing to update his address amounted to a violation of constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.

"This is not a case where my client failed to register. He failed to update his address information," said Gia Kim, the attorney for inmate _____.

The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday the ruling did not address the three-strikes law itself, but found that the sentence imposed on _____ in 2001 constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

The Times said conservative circuit Judge Jay Bybee noted in the opinion that _____'s actions were more oversight than illegal and would not even be considered a crime in 11 states.

Attorney General Jerry Brown's office had no comment on the ruling and would not say if it would be appealed.

_____ received the sentence after missing a deadline to notify police he had moved. The ruling Tuesday by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco remanded the case back to federal court in Los Angeles for resentencing.

© 2008 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


NH - Some Sex Offenders Don't Appear In N.H. Public Registry

Notice the scary music?

Video posted to YouTube on 05/31/2007

Some convicted sex offenders can move to New Hampshire and not be listed on the public sex offender registry, law enforcement officials said.


NH - Towns Consider Imposing Offender Residency Restrictions

Video posted to YouTube on 02/25/2008

Several communities in New Hampshire have imposed or are considering imposing restrictions on where registered sex offenders can live.


NH - Lawmakers Consider Changes To Sex Offender Registry

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Video is available at the site above.

01/27/2009

Bills Would Change Requirements, Allow Some Offenses To Expire

CONCORD - Proposed changes to the state's sex offender laws have led to strong debate at the State House, as some fear the changes could weaken the sex offender registry.

One of the bills would ease registration requirements for some nonviolent offenders, such as _____, who spent more than seven years in prison for possession of child pornography. Her mother, Jackie Bennett, said she would worry about such a change because it would mean her son wasn't tracked as closely.

"He's homeless in the streets with no treatment, and most likely, he would reoffend," she said.

Another bill would reduce the time that some nonviolent offenses would remain in the registry from 10 years to three.

"Most of the young adults that have been convicted of misdemeanors did not commit a crime that should ruin their lives," said Rep. Jennifer Brown (Email), D-Strafford.

But prosecutors argued that wiping certain sex crime convictions off the books in three years would put the sex offender registry in a difficult position to operate legally.

"On the one hand, they have an obligation to report, to disseminate information about people required to register," said Associate Attorney General Ann Rice. "And on the other hand, they are not allowed to talk about this particular crime because the person has gotten it annulled. That's a misdemeanor."

The Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence is watching the debate closely. Victim advocate Grace Mattern said some of the bills seem to work against a new three-tier offender rating system recently put into place.

"We are going back to a place where we have inconsistent laws," she said. "That's part of what last year's work was all about. The Legislature considered those bills very carefully."

Another sex offender bill under consideration would create a formal review panel that would look at individual cases and potentially reclassify convicted sex offenders depending on the circumstances surrounding their crime.


NY - Rockland ruling on sex offenders could affect LI

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01/27/2009

BY ERIK GERMAN

A judge's decision overturning a Rockland County law restricting where sex offenders live could affect dozens of similar laws statewide - including many on Long Island, where municipalities have rushed to enact tough residency legislation over the last few years.

In a decision Friday, State Supreme Court Justice William Kelly said local residency rules are superseded by New York State law, which specifically empowers local probation officers to decide where to place sex offenders in communities.

"'Not in my backyard' residency restrictions are spreading unchecked through county, town and village ordinance books from Suffolk County to Niagara Falls," Kelly wrote.

While the Rockland court holds no sway over other counties, legal experts said the ruling's impact could spread if the matter is upheld in higher court, or if judges in other jurisdictions adopt Kelly's reasoning.

"It would be a highly persuasive precedent," said Hofstra University law professor Julian Ku. "Attorneys for Nassau and Suffolk County should probably be reviewing this decision."

The lawyer who argued the Rockland case, David Goldstein of Chestnut Ridge, said he has already received calls from lawyers across the state looking to repeat his success. "This is the first time in this state these laws have been challenged on this argument and we prevailed on our first try," Goldstein said.

County attorneys for Nassau and Suffolk said they are reviewing the Rockland decision, but said Long Island's residency laws will continue to be enforced as written.

"Suffolk strongly disagrees with the judge's claim that the state has pre-empted local jurisdictions from acting in the manner they have," Suffolk County Attorney Christine Malafi said.

Local ordinances inadvertently increase the chances of relapses, Kelly wrote, "by either banishing offenders from entire communities or confining them to areas without adequate housing or transportation."

Rockland's residency law was similar to those in Nassau and Suffolk, which prohibit registered sex offenders from living near schools or parks. The buffer in Nassau is 1,000 feet from a school - the same as Rockland - and 500 feet from a park; in Suffolk the distance is a quarter-mile, about 1,300 feet for both schools and parks.

The state Division of Criminal Justice Services commissioner, Denise O'Donnell, had no official position on the Rockland ruling, spokesman John Caher said.

O'Donnell does have "reservations" about the 98 residency restriction laws in effect statewide because, Caher said, "she's not convinced they're always effective and they can force offenders underground."

Advocates for cracking down on sex offenders, such as Laura Ahern of Parents for Megan's Law, say they have no such reservations.

"Residency restriction laws are not designed to 'banish' registered sex offenders from communities, but to protect vulnerable populations from victimization," Ahern said. "The state mandates lifetime registration, but the financial burden of lifetime supervision often falls upon the community and local governments."
- What?  That sounds like doublespeak to me!


NE - 5 Inmates Get Pardon After Real Killer Identified

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01/26/2009

OMAHA - Five people wrongly convicted of a 1985 Beatrice murder have been pardoned.

Three of the six people convicted in the rape and slaying of a 68-year-old Helen Wilson spent nearly 20 years in prison. One didn't seek a pardon because his conviction was overturned.

It's the first time in Nebraska history that DNA evidence led to inmates being freed from prison.

The pardon, granted Monday by the state's three-member Board of Pardons, doesn't expunge their criminal records. But it does restore their civil rights, such as the right to vote, serve in the military and be issued a passport.

After the exoneration last year, Attorney General Jon Bruning (Contact) said, "Twenty years ago, in the deal of making a community feel safe again to solve an unthinkable crime, the former county attorney and some members of law enforcement bullied six innocent people into admitting crimes they didn't commit."

Bruning announced in November that DNA evidence conclusively linked Bruce Allen Smith to the murder. Smith died of AIDS in 1992.

Police said Smith killed Wilson and acted alone. Smith had been suspected in the case in 1985, but the results of lab tests performed at the time disqualified him.

Beatrice Police Chief Bruce Lang said blood evidence that a former sergeant kept led them to Smith.

"We know the blood in the bedroom was his," Lang said in November. "There was blood on part of her clothing that was his. There was semen found in her that was his."

Thomas Winslow was one of the five exonerated prisoners. After walking out of the Department of Corrections last year, he said justice was delayed but no longer denied.

"(I’ll) just try to put my life together, that’s what I’m going to do,” Winslow said. "The truth finally came out. Sorry is enough, because I already forgave everything."

Winslow always maintained that he had no memory of the incident. In court in October, he told the judge that he pleaded no contest because police and prosecutors threatened to send him to the electric chair.

He said that during his time in prison, he began to believe that he did commit the crime.

Previous Stories:


WA - MCNEIL ISLAND: Special Commitment Center fire possibly arson, deputy says

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01/27/2009

By Stacey Mulick, The News Tribune

Investigators believe someone intentionally set fire to a building Sunday at the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island. No injuries were reported and no arrest was made.

The fire started shortly after 6 p.m. in the Redwood Building, the state Department of Social and Health Services reported Monday. The building is part of the mental health treatment center for civilly committed sex offenders.

The 74 residents of the commitment center were evacuated without incident to the gymnasium, where they spent the night, the agency reported.

The fire caused $155,000 in damage to the single-story building and $10,000 to the personal property inside.
A deputy fire marshal suspects the fire was arson and referred the case to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department for follow-up, DSHS reported.


MO - Lawmakers consider life without parole for some violent sex offenders

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01/27/2009

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

JEFFERSON CITY - A bill in the Missouri Senate would put some violent sex offenders away for life.

Currently, someone who forcibly rapes or sodomizes a child that's eleven years old or younger gets life in prison, but is eligible for parole after serving 30 years.

The new measure would give prosecutors the option of pursuing life without parole.

Kerry Messer of the Missouri Family Network testified in favor of the bill at a Senate hearing Monday night.

"No pedophile has ever been found in a corrections department to ever be corrected of that sexual deviancy...so letting them out at any time puts more victims at risk," Messer said.
- Not all sex offenders who harm children, are pedophiles.

Daniel Dodson, an attorney from Sedalia, testified against the bill.

"Things change...within 30 years, there may be ways to rehabilitate these people...30 years is going to get most of these offenders to where they're getting fairly old in the first place...a lot of them aren't going to get out after 30 years, anyway," Dodson said.

Dodson also said that the State Board of Probation and Parole should have a say in how long such offenders remain locked up.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on the bill at a later date.

© Copyright 2009, KWMU


HR-414 - o require mobile phones containing digital cameras to make a sound when a photograph is taken


Yet another stupid bill that was not thought out very well. A criminal would not be deterred by this one bit.

Click the image to visit the bill site


CA - TEMECULA: Commission looking at Jessica's Law change

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01/26/2009

By AARON CLAVERIE - Staff Writer

Sex offenders might be banned from living near day care centers

TEMECULA ---- Sex offenders no longer will be allowed to live within 2,000 feet of a day care center if an ordinance before the city's Public/Traffic Safety Commission is eventually adopted by the city.

Proposition 83 (PDF), or Jessica's Law, was passed by the state's voters in 2006 to track paroled sex offenders with global positioning system technology and limit a sex offender's access to housing near areas with large numbers of children ---- specifically, schools and parks.

A provision of the law allows a city to add restrictions on where sex offenders can live, the legal undergirding for the proposed ordinance.

The commission is scheduled to discuss the ordinance during a meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday inside the City Council chambers, 43200 Business Park Drive (Map).

If approved by the commission, it will be sent to the City Council for consideration.

The definition for child care center in the proposed ordinance does not include a "family day care home," a home that provides care for seven to 14 children, including children who reside at the home.

Temecula Mayor Maryann Edwards (Email) said the ordinance is the product of more than a year's worth of meetings with the city's legal team, Police Department officials and county district attorney's office officials.
- What about civil/human rights experts, and therapists who deal with sex offenders?

"It's ready to go. There's no need to wait any longer," Edwards said Monday. "I want to get it in front of the City Council as soon as possible."
- Why the rush?  It's not going to protect anybody anyway!

Edwards said she understands the city's 30-plus registered sex offenders have to live somewhere, but she said the city will be on strong legal ground by making sure that it's not near a day care center.

The ordinance will be triggered when a sex offender moves into Temecula or moves to a new location within the city's boundaries. Sex offenders now living near a day care center will not be forced to move, she said.

Edwards said she does not know if there is a sex offender currently living near a Temecula day care center and she said the ordinance was not sparked by a request from the day care community.

Earlier this month, the state's Sex Offender Management Board questioned the wisdom of residency restrictions, saying in a report that the state needs to rethink that particular provision of Jessica's Law.

The report, backed by what the board calls "the vast majority of evidence and research conducted to date," contends the restrictions don't lower the chance of an offender committing a repeat offense.

In fact, the report claims that it's exactly the opposite: by limiting the number of places where sex offenders can live, sex offenders have been forced into state-funded housing or they have become homeless.

According to the report, both outcomes produce negative consequences: $22 million in costs associated with housing sex offenders and less stability for the sex offender population, a factor that has been shown to increase the chances of a repeat offense.

Edwards, disagreeing with the board's conclusions, said she is confident that adding day care centers to the list of restricted areas will benefit the community.

"The thing I'm concerned about is protecting our kids and knowing where those people are," she said.
- So by making them homeless, you WON'T know where they are, and the law will do NOTHING to protect anyone.  It's just more BS so you can look good to the sheeple!

A registered sex offender who has lived in Temecula for years said he supports the city's proposed ordinance.
- Well, he is an idiot as well!

The offender, who asked that his name and location be withheld for his safety, said he also supported Prop. 83 when it was being debated in 2006.
- Yep, he's an idiot!  So what one man says, is not a reason to assume all sex offenders are happy with it!

"I support what they're doing," he said. "I'm all for it."
- Ok, we know, how many times do they have to post this!

The sex offender ---- who said he has put together a productive life that has included a wife, children and neighborhood friends ---- said he supports measures that make a community feel safer.
- And that is all it does, makes them "feel safe," when it does nothing to actually make them safe.  Only you can make yourself and kids safe, not the government!

Last week, the Murrieta City Council approved an ordinance that makes it illegal for sex offenders to hang out in any place frequented by children if they are suspected of being there solely to watch children.
- So basically, you can't be anywhere kids are.  Because we all not, anything is suspect!

Temecula's proposed ordinance does not include similar language.


NH - Five sex offender bills to be heard today

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New Hampshire Bills (I have so far)

01/27/2009

By TOM FAHEY - State House Bureau Chief

CONCORD – The state's latest set of laws on convicted sex offenders has been in effect for less than four weeks, but changes are already being suggested.

In all, five bills are being heard at House committees today, some that get tougher on sex offenders, others that ease requirements. One would establish a board to review an offender's records before release to determine risk to the public. Another would create a civil commitment procedure the state could use to put the most dangerous away beyond their prison term. Two bills ease registration requirements and allow offenders to wipe their convictions off the books after only three years.

On Jan. 1, the efforts to match New Hampshire law to the federal Adam Walsh Act went on the books. Lawmakers here wanted to make sure the state did not become a destination for sex offenders trying to flee tougher laws in other states.

Of about 4,000 convicted offenders, roughly 1,600 people -- those considered to pose the greatest public risk -- are on the state's public sex offender list. The Department of Safety is struggling to catch up with another 2,300 cases that need to be rated under a new three-tier system that ranks offenders by their risk to the public.

As part of that work, the state is waiting for final approval on a $300,000 grant that will allow it to track an average of 200 convicted sex criminals who at any given time are out of compliance with registration laws.

The department plans to assign three experienced state troopers to work on the backlog, with costs covered by the grant.

Deputy Safety Commissioner Earl Sweeney said yesterday the troopers will track down offenders who haven't registered or who have moved and can't be located. They'll also review court records in each case and decide what tier of risk an offender should be placed on.

He said that up until now, the state has enforced sex offender laws with existing staff, but work has backed up to the point where more help is needed. Since the state passed its first registration laws, the Legislature has not included money for any enforcement, he said.

"This is catch-up," Sweeney said. "And every time the laws change, many of those files and records have to be reviewed again."

State Police Col. Fred Booth said the new troopers would keep tabs on 2,250 offenders the state now tracks. He said the department tries to contact them twice a year. The most serious offenses, in the top two tiers, have to register and be tracked for life. On average, 200 are non-compliant.

"Nobody likes to be on a list, but these people put themselves there," Booth said.

"Quite honestly, who knows if we'll ever get caught up. The purpose of this grant is to have a team continually follow up on this," he said. "One message we want to drive home as a state is that New Hampshire is not going to be a safe haven for sex offenders."

Rep. Steve Shurtleff, D-Concord, chair of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, said he wants bills up for hearings today reviewed carefully.

"One thing we need to keep in mind is that any changes in the law we have now can have an effect on our federal grants," he said. Shurtleff said that in general, laws ought to be given time to work before the state starts changing them.

Amanda Grady of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence agreed, and said she is concerned about weakening registration requirements. Many offenders ranked at the lowest offense level, she said, were originally charged with more serious crimes.

"We know people plead down from sexual assault charges," she said, noting prosecutors often hope to preserve a case that is difficult for witnesses.

Shurtleff said he scheduled four of the sex offender bills on the same day to save repeated trips to Concord for those who have interest in the bills.

Shurtleff himself has introduced a bill that establishes a panel to review offenders' records before they are released from prison. He said there are some costs connected with the bill, so he's not in a hurry to pass it given the state's budget squeeze.