Wednesday, March 11, 2009

SORNA Conference (03/10/2009) - Witness Testimony - Mark Lunsford





Jessie was a beautiful baby. I can remember when she was about one year old, and she would laugh at me and give me kisses and hugs and pick the raisens out of my cereal as we sat at the kitchen counter.

I remember when she was about 4 and she would run through the house telling on her older sister Elizabeth and her brother Gerald, all the time. They're about 10 years older or more than Jessie. They learned to give her what she wanted. I got more hugs and kisses and I love you's.

I can remember how she missed her brother and sister when they got older and moved out, I got more hugs and kisses, she got nephews and a niece. She was about 7 then.

She could drive the bratz through the house in their bratz car. She can operate a D-9 Dozer and a rubber tire loader from her fathers knee. From bumps to bruises, from bandaids to bicycles, she was a tomboy with her daddy and a very nice young lady for her grandma.

I could go on and on but the best way to describe Jessie is for you to think about the small child in your life. You know the one, the one you would change the world for.

We were more than father and daughter, we were best friends. As a single father I learned alot of things about my children that only a single parent could understand. Me and Jessie would argue about who loved each other the most. (description of how we would show each that we loved one another).

One day we left North Carolina to see her two nephews and one niece in Ohio. That is where my older children moved to. We spent two weeks with them that was the first time the met and the last time they would ever play together. We then ended our trip in Florida where my parents lived.

My mom and dad are good christian people. They sang gospel music all over Ohio. I can remember people like the Rambos and Bill Gaither and throwing rocks on top of the church. I learned to be a good father to my children by being raised by good parents.

Well it was February 2005, we had lived in Florida for a year now with my parents. Now we really had a house full of love.

On February 24 in the early morning hours about 2 or 3 a.m. she was taken from her bed from a stranger. For the first few days detectives told me my father knew where Jessie was, they even said they found her blood on his under clothes. They said he showed no remorse for Jessies disappearance. They asked me to go into the room I was broken hearted, angry and confused and I asked my father what he did with Jessie? My father looked at me and said, Marky honey I dont know where Jessie is and he began to cry.

My father told the detective that he had enough and he was going home. They grabbed him by his arms and put them behind his back and told him he was not going anywhere. A few days later, they told me they thought that my mom and dad gave Jessie to someone else to raise.

Then they said on national T.V. that my mom raised red flags on her polygraph.

Three weeks went by and they found her killer and he confessed and told them where to find her. She was repeatedly raped, tied with stereo wire and kept in a closet for 3 days. She was only 150 yards from her bedroom.

John Couey convicted sex offender arrested 23 times or more in his 46 year life took my little girl, put her in a trash bag and buried her alive at the back door of his home.

I'm sure that when she was dying she was crying for me. I still hear her cries.

As a parent i will never be able to get over the grief of knowing that she was only 150 yards away from me for at least 3 days, while i prayed for her to come home.

Her death was a result of a system that failed her and us. For if we had tougher laws for registration and good programs for notification this may have prevented her death. Although John Couey was on probation his probation officer didnt even know he was a convicted sex offender. The sheriff was advised by the AG office 3 months before the kidnapping to round up the absconded sex offenders, John Couey was on that list.

But there is more, much more. The day Jessie disappeared, the law enforcement went to John Couey's address and asked his housemates if they had seen him and they said no and they never asked to search the trailer.

My heart sank at the trial when another resident of John Couey's trailer admitted that had the police asked to search the trailer, she would have let them.

On the second day of Jessie's disappearance, one of the residents of the home was visibly shaking and openly nervous when the police came to the door. This was actually in the police report. But the never asked to search the trailer. Even worse on February 25, 26 and the 28, police received tips from people who said that John Couey was a sex offender who was living across the street from Jessica. They even identified his address.

No crime victim, no individual or family, should ever have to go through what my family and I have been through. This has changed everything i ever knew. From the grass being green and the sky being blue.

My job now is to declare war on child sex offenders and predators and to get you to join me. Instead of them stalking our kids, we will stalk them. And instead of them being our worse nightmare we become theirs.

Jessie's law, was past in Florida and is tougher legislation to stop these kinds of crimes. Since the law first passed in Florida, I have been to many states to speak about Jessie's Law and at least 37 states have passed it in their jurisdiction.

I lobbied the halls of congress for the Adam Walsh Child Safety Act which the President signed in 2006. I've lobbied for I.C.A.C and the U.S. Marshalls funding.

You, the Federal Legislator appropriate the money that the Adam Walsh Child Safety Act needs now. Our childrens very lives depend on you to make that decision. I know Jessie did.

And know that these types of crime are just to heavy for mercy. It's more than mercy can do. It is an eye for an eye for a child.

On February 12, 2007 jury selection began for the murder trial of Jessica Marie Lunsford and it was followed by a 3 week trial.

The jury came back with 4 guilty verdicts and recommeded the death penalty. Judge Howard gave John Couey the death penalty.

Sitting through the trial was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to kill him.

Remember people watch out for our children. The child you save could be your own.

Through sexual offender registration and tracking system, properly funded and enforced may have protected Jessie and will protect other children.

In Florida, the law is so slacked that the public is only notified of sexual offenders, and that is at the discretion of each sheriffs department. The public is not notified when a sexual predator moves, So we need better notification for the public. We must know where every John Couey is so that we can take the necessary steps to protect our children.

In addition to a strict registration system, Congress must empower law enforcement to go after these guys. If law enforcement is not empowered and funded to go after these predators the system fails all of us. Additionally if we are not going to empower law enforcement, as has been the case in failing to fund AWA then registration and notification became that much more important. So fathers and mothers have the information they need to protect their children.

It's simple, you as legislators and all organizations, whether you are surviving parents coalition or NCMEC or ACLU we are all for human rights and it's time we all realize our children need our help to protect their rights for a safe life.


UK - Crack addict tortured her baby until he died... and she'll be out of prison in just four years

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Four years? They should be in prison until the day they die. So are they going to be on a abusive parent registry? Of course not, but why not? If it saves one child, it's worth it, right?

03/11/2009

By Colin Fernandez

A baby died aged just eight weeks old after 'over optimistic' social workers left him with his crack addict mother and her violent sex offender boyfriend.

Rhys Biggs suffered severe injuries during his short life - including 13 broken ribs, a broken shoulder and a broken wrist.

Yesterday, as his mother Claire Biggs was jailed for eight years for child cruelty, it emerged that if her boyfriend's vile past been known the child would immediately have been taken into care.

But social workers failed to discover that Paul Husband, 33, had a previous conviction for unlawful sex with a girl of seven and a string of convictions for violence.

The 'significant error' meant that the little boy was allowed to remain with the couple - effectively signing his death warrant.

In a case which echos the failings in the terrible case of Baby P, drug addict Miss Biggs, who had her first child taken away from her because of her habit, managed to con two social services departments.

After Rhys was born in 2006, Biggs played a cynical game of cat and mouse with the authorities - repeatedly postponing or missing appointments with health visitors.

This meant that no-one in authority identified the baby as being at risk.

Sentencing Biggs at Inner London Crown Court, Judge Lindsay Burn said Biggs had failed to attend meetings with social workers and health visitors to avoid her cruelty coming to light.

'You were clearly capable of obtaining help for Rhys when you wanted to. The time came, however, when you turned on him, a tiny baby, and deliberately injured him repeatedly.

'To cover up for the serious injuries you knew you had inflicted upon your baby, you deliberately decided that he would not have medical help to relieve his considerable pain and suffering.

'In your own words you decided that he would 'slip through the net', the net being the raft of facilities provided by social services and medical professions.'

'Three separate sets of serious fracture injuries were inflicted by you over a period of over six weeks before his death.'

The judge said extensive medical tests had been unable to prove the injuries inflicted by Biggs had caused the baby's death.

But the judge said he rejected claims by Biggs that she had been physically and sexually abused by Husband to such an extent she was not in control of what she was doing.
- Yep, try to blame it on the husband!

He said: 'I am satisfied that you were fully responsible for your conduct to Rhys at all material times in this case.'

As Biggs was sent down to start her eight-year- sentence - only one year short of the maximum, she wept and shouted, 'I didn't hurt my baby.'

Husband was 'acutely mentally unwell' yesterday and unable to attend court. He will be sentenced at a later date.
- So I see nothing in this article that says what Husband did, do you?  Sounds like they are sentencing him, just because he is a sex offender and was staying there.

In the baby's brief life he was monitored by agencies in Newham, East London - where Rhys died - and Camden, North London - as Biggs had previously stayed in a hostel there.

Watching proceedings was the child's natural father, Robert Branson, a builder who was jilted by Biggs a few months before Rhys' birth.

Mr Branson, 34, only saw his son twice before his death. He is now understood to be pursuing legal action against Camden and Newham Councils over their failures in the case.

Rhys slept in Biggs' and Husband's bed at their flat in Newham.

Following Rhys' death, Biggs went on to have two more children with another man. Both were taken into care shortly after their birth.

The court heard that Biggs is now no longer able to have children for medical reaasons.

Husband's previous conviction in 1993 was 'lewd indecent and libidinous behaviour' at Kirkcaldy Sherrif's Court in Scotland in 1993.

A serious case review by Newham and Camden councils said the 'known risk factors' to baby Rhys were so serious that he should have been assessed before he was born.

No such assessment took place.

It also criticised the failure to investigate Husband's background.

It said: 'The failure to carry out background checks on Mr Husband was a significant error,' the report said.

And in a further parallel with the case of Baby P - where Haringey Council social workers were taken in by a deceitful mother who had been abusing her child, both councils were criticised for their failure to take Rhys into care.

The report said it the decision 'not to implement child protection arrangements' for Rhys was 'over-optimistic'.

Camden and Newham councils said it was 'very sorry about what happened to Rhys' and that they had fully implemented recommendations made after the in the serious case review.


NC - AG Goes After Social Networking Sex Offenders

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This is the bill

03/11/2009

By Kendall Jones, NBC17

RALEIGH - More than 2100 registered sex offenders in North Carolina were kicked off MySpace, according to North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper.
- Yep, just more discrimination based on a label and not evidence that they were actually doing something wrong.  Not all sex offenders who are on these social networking sites are out trolling for someone to molest, it's just the typical "LOOK AT ME" fear-mongering to look good!

Now, Cooper is taking their information and sending it to local law enforcement agencies.

"I think it's a great idea," said 22-year-old Rahsaan Coples.

On Tuesday, he sat at a computer in the Cary Library checking his Facebook account.

"I love chatting online and meeting new people," the 22-year-old said.

But a few months ago, something happened while he was online that changed his whole perspective.

"I had an incident where someone tried to get at me and they weren't who they said they were," Coples said. "It just kind of scared me a bit so I took some time off Facebook and MySpace. I got back to it, but now I'm more careful about who I'm dealing with."

That's why Coples is a big fan of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper's latest move.

Cooper not only pressured MySpace to remove registered sex offenders, but he also subpoenaed the names, IP and email addresses of the 2,116 convicted North Carolina sex offenders found on its social networking web site. Cooper has asked for the same information from Facebook.

Last week, Cooper sent the files to local law enforcement agencies.

"We've got to send them a strong message," Cooper said. "In North Carolina we passed a law saying it's against the law for a sex offender to go on there in the first place."

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said the information will help him find the 95 registered sex offenders in Wake County who may have violated that law.

In addition, Harrison said it may help keep sex offenders out of trouble.

"By bringing our attention to it and by them knowing that they're going to be turned in so to speak, that will keep them a little bit straighter," he said. "Plus, it will give us the tool to monitor their whereabouts."
- So tell me, how does not being allowed on social networking sites allow you to monitor their whereabouts?

Cooper said he will continue to push for even stricter guidelines for social web sites.
- And I'm sure, eventually they will start fighting back as well.

"It's a matter of public safety," he said. "It's a matter of protecting our children."
- If that was true, then why not do the same for murderers, gang members, DUI offenders, drug dealers, abusive parents, and all others who harm children?  You are just using sex offenders as your scapegoat!

The information provided by MySpace does not include sex offenders who have not been convicted, are not registered, or may be using aliases on the site. Cooper remains concerned about other sex offenders on the site who may be lying about who they are, and is continuing to ask MySpace to do more to protect children on its site.For more than three years, Cooper and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal have led a group of Attorneys General who are pushing to make social networks safer, winning landmark national agreements with MySpace and Facebook in 2008. They are pushing social networks to use technology such as age and identity verification to better protect children.


SORNA Conference (03/10/2009) - Witness Testimony - Ernie Allen


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TESTIMONY OF

ERNIE ALLEN
President & CEO

THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING & EXPLOITED CHILDREN

for the

UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
SUBCOMMITTEE ON CRIME, TERRORISM AND HOMELAND SECURITY

“SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION AND NOTIFICATION ACT (SORNA)”

March 10, 2009



Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, I welcome this opportunity to appear before you to discuss the sexual exploitation of children and the importance of the Adam Walsh Act. Chairman Scott, we are deeply grateful for your long history of advocacy for children and for your leadership on these issues.

As you know, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is a not-for-profit corporation, mandated by Congress and working in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice. NCMEC is a public-private partnership, funded in part by Congress and in part by the private sector. For 25 years NCMEC has operated under Congressional mandate to serve as the national resource center and clearinghouse on missing and exploited children. This statutory mandate (see 42 U.S.C. §5773) includes 19 specific operational functions, among which are:
  • operating a national 24-hour toll-free hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST® (1-800-843-5678), to intake reports of missing children and receive leads about ongoing cases;
  • providing technical assistance and training to individuals and law enforcement agencies in the prevention, investigation, prosecution, and treatment of cases involving missing and exploited children;
  • tracking the incidence of attempted child abductions;
  • providing forensic technical assistance to law enforcement;
  • facilitating the deployment of the National Emergency Child Locator Center during periods of national disasters;
  • working with law enforcement and the private sector to reduce the distribution of child pornography over the Internet;
  • operating a child victim identification program to assist law enforcement in identifying victims of child pornography;
  • developing and disseminating programs and information about Internet safety and the prevention of child abduction and sexual exploitation;
  • providing technical assistance and training to law enforcement in identifying and locating non-compliant sex offenders; and
  • operating the CyberTipline, the “9-1-1 for the Internet,” that the public and electronic service providers may use to report Internet-related child sexual exploitation.

The CyberTipline is the national clearinghouse for leads and tips regarding child sexual exploitation crimes. It is operated in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), the Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces (“ICAC”), the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, as well as other state and local law enforcement. We receive reports in eight categories of crimes against children:
  • possession, manufacture and distribution of child pornography;
  • online enticement of children for sexual acts;
  • child prostitution;
  • sex tourism involving children
  • extrafamilial child sexual molestation;
  • unsolicited obscene material sent to a child;
  • misleading domain names; and
  • misleading words or digital images on the Internet.

These reports are made by both the public and by Electronic Service Providers, who are required by law to report to the CyberTipline. The leads are reviewed by NCMEC analysts, who examine and evaluate the content, add related information that would be useful to law enforcement, use publicly-available search tools to determine the geographic location of the apparent criminal act, and provide all information to the appropriate law enforcement agency for investigation. These reports are also triaged to ensure that children in imminent danger get first priority.

The FBI, ICE and Postal Inspection Service have “real time” access to the CyberTipline, and assign agents and analysts to work at NCMEC. In the 10 years since the CyberTipline began, NCMEC has received and processed more than 667,000 reports. To date, electronic service providers have reported to the CyberTipline more than 5 million images of sexually exploited children. To date, 21 million child pornography images and videos have been reviewed by the analysts in our Child Victim Identification Program, which assists prosecutors to secure convictions for crimes involving identified child victims and helps law enforcement to locate and rescue child victims who have not yet been identified.

In 2008, Congress amended NCMEC’s authorization to specifically authorize us to provide training and assistance to law enforcement agencies in identifying and locating non-compliant sex offenders. All states/jurisdictions currently require sex offenders to register; California enacted the first such law in 1947. As of our latest survey of the states, there were 673,989 sex offenders who are required by law to register their address and other information with law enforcement and update this information as it changes. However, the mobility of offenders and inconsistencies among current state registration laws have resulted in as many as 100,000 “missing” sex offenders – law enforcement does not know where they are, yet they are living in our communities.

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, passed by Congress in 2006, conveyed “fugitive” status on non-compliant sex offenders who have left the state and failed to register, and charged the U.S. Marshals Service with tracking them down. In response, NCMEC created a Sex Offender Tracking Team. Upon request from the Marshals, we run searches of noncompliant sex offenders against public-records databases donated to us by private companies for the assistance of law enforcement. We also conduct internal searches for potential linkages of non-compliant sex offenders to NCMEC cases of child abduction, online exploitation and attempted abductions. We forward all information to the Marshals, who use it to locate the offenders so they can be charged with the crime of non-compliance. This has resulted in thousands of arrests of fugitive sex offenders by the Marshals. In addition, NCMEC provides assistance to any requesting law enforcement agency trying to locate non-compliant sex offenders. Most of the law enforcement agencies who request assistance from NCMEC have exhausted all of their resources trying to locate these offenders and have been unable to do so. To date, we have provided more than 1,200 analytical leads packages to law enforcement upon request, and act as liaison between local law enforcement and the Marshals Service, where necessary.

NCMEC also partners with ICE on the “Operation Predator” initiative. ICE developed this initiative to identify, investigate and arrest child predators and sex offenders. NCMEC’s alliance with ICE is designed to facilitate the exchange of information on exploited children and those who prey upon them. NCMEC supports ICE’s efforts by providing analysis utilizing public records database searches and CyberTipline reports on potential child victims and those suspected of crimes against children. An ICE Special Agent has been assigned to work at NCMEC so that ICE can promptly and efficiently act on the information developed by NCMEC. This alliance has proved enormously successful: nearly 12,000 individuals have been arrested nationwide. Almost 85% of these arrests are of non-citizen sex offenders, more than 6,300 of whom have been deported.

However, despite our progress the victimization of children continues. There has been much attention given to the question of how many children are victimized by sexual offenders. Experts estimate that at least 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys will be sexually victimized in some way before they reach adulthood, and just 1 in 3 will tell anybody about it. Clearly, those numbers represent a broad spectrum of victimizations from very minor to very severe. Nonetheless, the numbers are powerful testimony to the fact that children are at risk and that we must do more.

There are strong empirical data as well. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 67 percent of reported sexual assault victims are children1 – more than two-thirds. And these are only the ones that law enforcement knows about. Most crimes against children are not reported to the police.2 This means that there are many, many more victims of these heinous crimes than the statistics show.

In recent years, millions of Americans have followed with horror the devastating stories of Jessica Lunsford, Sarah Lunde, Jetseta Gage and others. These tragic cases have generated anger and indignation nationwide, and epitomize an area of great concern: how to effectively track, register and manage the nation’s convicted sex offenders. Sex offenders pose an enormous challenge for policy makers. They evoke unparalleled fear among citizens. Their offenses are associated with the greatest risk of psychological harm. Most of their victims are children and youth. And, according to the National Institute of Justice, child abusers have been known to reoffend as late as 20 years following release into the community.3 As policy makers address the issue of sex offenders, they are confronted with some basic realities:
  • most sex offenders are not in prison, and those that are tend to serve limited sentences;
  • while most sex offenders are in the community, historically their presence was largely unknown to citizens;
  • sex offenders represent the highest risk of reoffense; and
  • while community supervision and oversight is widely recognized as essential, the system for providing such supervision is overwhelmed.

Of the estimated 100,000 non-compliant sex offenders, many are literally “missing.” They moved and failed to register their new address with law enforcement, or they provided the wrong address or some similar variation. The number of offenders required to register is only going to increase as new cases work their way through the criminal justice system. This problem is not going to go away. These offenders will be in our communities. The question is: what more can we do?

In 1994 Congress passed the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Predators Act, mandating every state to implement a sex offender registration program. However, by 2006, even though all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and some U.S. territories and Native American tribes had created sex offender registries, there was still a striking lack of consistency and uniformity. In response, Congress passed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act in July of 2006 in an effort to enhance and tighten the sex offender registration system. The Adam Walsh Act attempted to correct the serious discrepancies among the jurisdictions, eliminating loopholes in the laws that permitted sex offenders to cross state lines and remain undetected. By encouraging uniformity across jurisdictions, the Adam Walsh Act attempted to prevent sex offenders from “forum-shopping” in order to remain anonymous. However, despite Congress’ intent, the goals of the Adam Walsh Act remain unmet today.

Title I of the Adam Walsh Act is commonly referred to as the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). The Sex offender Monitoring, Apprehension, Registration and Tracking (SMART) Office is authorized to determine whether a jurisdiction has substantially implemented SORNA or to grant an extension of the deadline. A jurisdiction must submit materials about its registration program to the SMART Office. The Adam Walsh Act permits jurisdictions to apply for up to two one-year extensions. The deadline for submitting extension requests is April 27, 2009.

Currently, there are no jurisdictions listed on the SMART Office webpage as having achieved substantial compliance. Seventeen jurisdictions are listed as having been granted a one-year extension to July 26, 2010 (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Guam, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, Quileute Tribe, Santee Sioux Nation, and South Carolina).

Thirty eight jurisdictions have submitted materials for review. These are:


A few states have announced that they have implemented SORNA, but only the SMART Office is authorized to make an official determination of substantial implementation.

Cost appears to be the primary hurdle for compliance. It is difficult to determine a particular jurisdiction’s required costs to implement SORNA with accuracy. However, some jurisdictions are doing so in an attempt to weigh the costs of implementation against the loss of Byrne Grant funds.

NCMEC is in frequent contact with registering agencies and has learned anecdotally that they are most concerned about:
  • personnel (40 states have fewer than 10 staff members);
  • lack of law enforcement personnel dedicated solely to sex offender issues;
  • database software purchase, installation and maintenance;
  • outdated computer hardware and software;
  • lack of centralized communication systems between jurisdictions for tracking offenders;
  • lack of technology to easily identify fake addresses;
  • lack of a national registry of sex offenders covering all tiers;
  • in some states, registrants’ verification is by mail and not in person;
  • increased incarceration of offenders and related expenses;
  • additional court proceedings;
  • training of law enforcement, court and correctional personnel;
  • lack of funding to conduct community notification of sex offenders;
  • inability to track homeless registrants;
  • lack of notice by jails of offenders’ release;
  • lack of a comprehensive national jail data system; and
  • lack of uniformity in laws and requirements across jurisdictions.

In order to come into compliance with the Adam Walsh Act, many jurisdictions must make fundamental changes to their sex offender registration systems. Yet, these jurisdictions simply do not have the resources to make the necessary changes, leaving us where we were prior to the enactment of the Act with inconsistency across the jurisdictions enabling some sex offenders to game the system.

In order to help protect our nation’s children, we must improve our current registration system so that we know where all of the convicted sex offenders are. We must assume that those who represent the greatest threat are those least likely to be compliant. They are the most likely offenders to attempt to disappear.

From the beginning of the discussions that led to the passage of the Adam Walsh Act, it was always understood that the jurisdictions needed help in order to implement the new law. We are deeply grateful to Chairman Alan Mollohan, Congressman Frank Wolf and the House Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee, and to Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, Senator Richard Shelby and the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee for their repeated attempts to do just that. On several occasions since the passage of the Adam Walsh Act in 2006, the CJS Subcommittees have passed appropriations measures providing seed funding to begin implementation at the state and federal level. Yet, for reasons unrelated to the merits of the Adam Walsh Act, and having to do with larger funding disputes which resulted in Continuing Resolutions and late session Omnibus Appropriations measures, the funds designated by the CJS Subcommittees were never actually appropriated. Once again this year, Chairman Mollohan, Chairwoman Mikulski and their subcommittees are taking steps toward providing assistance.

In our judgment, providing such funding is the key to being able to finally implement this critical system. However, with the compliance date looming and with essentially no funding having been provided to date, we think it imperative that Congress act to keep the Adam Walsh Act alive by extending the deadline for compliance and reauthorizing the statute. 

We understand that resources are scarce and that there are many competing demands. However, it is hard to imagine a greater or more pressing priority. NCMEC urges lawmakers, law enforcement and the public to take a serious look at the dangers threatening our children today, and to move decisively to help states create a seamless, coordinated, uniform system that works. Now is the time to act.

Thank you.


SORNA Conference (03/10/2009) - Witness Testimony - Madeline Carter


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Testimony Submitted by Madeline M. Carter

Director, Center for Sex Offender Management and Principal, Center for Effective Public Policy to
House Judiciary Committee
Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security

March 10, 2009



Good afternoon Chairman Scott and members of the Committee. My name is Madeline Carter. I want to begin by thanking the Committee for convening this hearing and for offering me the privilege of addressing you. I also want to acknowledge the enormous respect I have for the other witnesses who are speaking today. Each of us comes to this issue with a unique background and set of experiences – including law enforcement, prosecution, defense, and victim advocacy. As a result we may see the issue of sex offender management through different lenses and perhaps have divergent thoughts about the public policy approach that will result in the greatest benefit. I am certain of one thing however: that we all share the same goal – to prevent sexual victimization.

Let me begin by saying a few words about my background. I am a Principal with a non‐profit organization in Maryland. For 26 years we have worked with state and local government officials across the country to advance sound policy solutions within the criminal justice system. Nearly 12 years ago we were awarded funds by the Justice Department to establish the Center for Sex Offender Management. I have served as its director since that time.

CSOM’s mission is to enhance public safety by preventing further victimization through improving the management of adult and juvenile sex offenders. Over 12 years, we have produced nearly 40 policy and practice briefs and other resource documents; trained nearly 50,000 professionals; and provided training and technical assistance to officials in almost every state. We do not conduct original research ourselves. Our role is to assist policymakers and practitioners in understanding the research and translating its findings into policy and practice.

I want there to be no misunderstanding about the purpose of our efforts. We do not view ourselves as advocates for anything more than sound policy approaches that result in safer communities. Our goal is to support efforts to end sexual violence. I personally am deeply concerned about the threat posed by sexual violence. I am a professional in this field and also the mother of two children. I pray they never experience sexual assault. I am a friend to many who have, and as a young teenager I was the victim of an attempted rape by an individual that was described to me by police as most likely a serial rapist. Like you, I have a major stake in the safety of victims and potential victims and the safety of our communities.

I would like to share with you five points that I believe can guide our collective thinking on this matter.

Point #1: Sex offender policy and practice should be evidence based. When empirical research is applied to both policy and professional practice it is referred to as evidence‐based policy or practice. Today, we have a wealth of knowledge about the factors associated with recidivism risk, and methods to intervene with and reduce that risk. Important and extensive research regarding criminal offenders, including sex offenders, has been conducted over the past three decades.

Within the context of this hearing it is not possible to reasonably review all of the significant findings, although I and perhaps some of my colleagues will touch upon a few major findings. The point I want to make at this moment, however, is an important and over‐arching one: that there is a wide body of research that can and should shape public policy because it can increase public safety by reducing new crimes, including sexual offenses.

This research has shaped practice in local communities across this country over the last decade or more. The results are promising and need ongoing support and evaluative study.

Point #2: Not all sex offenders are alike. Perhaps one of the most illuminating research findings relates to the label “sex offender.” One of the fundamental problems in our field is that we tend to paint all sex offenders with the same brush when professionals in the field have long recognized key differences among these offenders. These differences relate to the types of crimes they commit and the victims they target, the pathways that lead to their abusive behavior, the degree to which they are motivated to change, their risk for recidivism, and the types of interventions that will most likely reduce their risk for reoffense.

These key differences have important implications. For example, among adult sex offenders, research tells us that some are at higher risk to reoffend than others. While some are extremely dangerous others can be safely managed in the community. Research further distinguishes adult sex offenders from their juvenile counterparts: Juveniles are developmentally different, have lower recidivism rates, and seem to respond well to treatment.

These research findings suggest that a “one size fits all” approach to sex offender policy is inappropriate. Instead, a more tailored and strategic approach is called for.

I respectfully recommend that this Committee support further examination of the differences between juvenile and adult sex offenders, and the treatment, supervision, and other supports needed to prevent specific sub‐populations of offenders from committing new crimes.

Point #3: Risk assessment is an important tool in our management arsenal. If a one size fits all approach is not appropriate, we need a way to distinguish among sex offenders. Until recently, we had no choice but to categorize offenders primarily on the basis of the specific offense they had committed. Risk assessment instruments offer a scientifically‐based method to distinguish important differences among individuals. While these tools are not perfect, they have been consistently demonstrated to be more reliable than professional judgment.

Given the significant advances in research–both in terms of our understanding that sex offenders are not all alike, and in terms of our ability to distinguish sex offenders from one another through the use of risk assessment tools–a tailored approach to sex offender management, based upon risk to reoffend, should be employed to all of our sex offender management strategies.

The road to moving the criminal justice system from an offense‐based to a risk based system, not only for sex offenders but also with other offender types, has been a long one. Today, many states use actuarial risk assessment to differentiate between offenders; resource allocation and management strategies are deployed accordingly. I encourage this Committee to consider establishing a commission to examine the use of actuarial risk assessment tools to guide the tiering of sex offenders for registration and notification purposes.

Point #4: There is no silver bullet. We want desperately to find the “silver bullet” that will solve this problem, but there are no silver bullets—there is no single answer to the problem of sexual violence. It is much too complicated for any one solution.

CSOM has developed a model policy framework for sex offender management. We call it the Comprehensive Approach. It is built on solid research and a set of core values, the most fundamental of which is that our efforts should focus squarely on victim protection and safety. The Comprehensive Approach acknowledges that there are many elements involved in an effective approach to protecting public safety: thorough investigative practices; appropriate charging and plea negotiations; informed sentencing; and management practices based in research around assessment, treatment, and institutional and community management. Among these elements are registration and notification. Research suggests that some of the strategies that we have at our disposal are more powerful tools in reducing recidivism than others. Admittedly the research is not yet complete; there is still much we do not know. But thus far, the evidence suggests that a combination of sex offender specific treatment and community based supervision can increase public safety by reducing new sex crimes. Thus far the research on registration and notification has not demonstrated the same results. Therefore, the research suggests that we cannot rely on this as our only strategy, and it also suggests that we should invest our limited resources in those strategies that show promise for greater public safety by reducing new sex crimes and, at the very least, be judicious in our investment in options that do not.

Point #5: We should use the lessons of research and experience to build a better, stronger approach to reducing victimization. There was a time not too long ago when little was known about sex offenders. I still remember it well. When we established CSOM, the research was scant. The professional opinions were oftentimes in sharp disagreement. Our first step was to bring all the voices in the field together. With their help we identified promising practices, synthesized the research, and built an approach that offered the promise of reducing future victimization. As we have learned more, the approach has evolved. We still have more to learn.

But some things we already know. We know that some of the efforts we have made in the past in the name of public safety have proven ineffective. We should let go of those. Others hold promise for recidivism reduction. We should embrace these.

We know now from more than a decade of experience working with communities all across the country that we can hold offenders accountable; we can provide victims with support and safety, and partner with them in our efforts to increase public safety. Most importantly, we know from research that we can reduce the likelihood of new sex crimes and the harm that it causes. But to achieve these goals, we must be thoughtful and deliberate in our strategy. We must bring all of the stakeholders together. We must evaluate the extent to which each community’s efforts align with research. We must provide information and training to professionals; educate our communities; and fully invest in strategies proven effective. These are the lessons of more than a decade of work that guides us to meaningful solutions. These lessons are documented in several of the written materials I have supplied along with my testimony. I and my colleagues across the country would be most pleased to partner with you to understand how best to implement these approaches to sex offender management strategically on a national basis.

In closing let me say that my first and only goal is to prevent future sexual violence. To this end, I support efforts to reconsider any provisions of SORNA that are not supported by research; to advance policy around those strategies that are evidence based; and to expand our national research agenda in the area of sexual violence prevention.

Congress can provide important leadership to the nation on this critical issue. I thank you for your concern over this matter and look forward to joining forces with you to end sexual violence.


SORNA Conference (03/10/2009) - Witness Testimony - Emma J. Devillier


View the article here | PDF

PREPARED TESTIMONY BEFORE THE HOUSE
JUDICIARY SUBCOMMITTEE ON CRIME, TERRORISM,
AND HOMELAND SECURITY

THE ADAM WALSH CHILD PROTECTION & SAFETY ACT’S
SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION AND NOTIFICATION ACT (SORNA):

BARRIERS TO TIMELY COMPLIANCE BY STATES

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Emma Devillier
Majority Witness
Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division
Office of the Attorney General of Louisiana
Chief, Sexual Predator Unit
P.O. Box 94005
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70804-9005
(225) 326-6284
DevillierE@ag.state.la.us



My name is Emma Devillier. I am here on behalf of Attorney General James D. “Buddy” Caldwell, as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Louisiana where I serve as Chief of A.G. Caldwell’s Sexual Predator Unit. I come before you this afternoon as someone who has been a frontline prosecutor of sexual offenders for over a decade and also as a representative of A.G. Caldwell, who has thirty years of experience as a frontline prosecutor. It should first be said that A.G. Caldwell and I believe that establishing some uniformity among the states regarding sex offender registration laws is a worthwhile goal. Ultimately, a reasonable degree of uniformity will lead to increased compliance by offenders and fewer legal defenses for those who continue to be non-compliant. A.G. Caldwell and I also speak to you today as parents, who want to know if there is a predator next door. As prosecutors and parents, we understand what it takes to successfully prosecute sex offender and child predator cases, how registration issues affect the administration of justice in some of those cases and we understand a parent’s desire to have information that will allow them to protect their children against such predators. We, however, believe very strongly that SORNA, did not get it right. SORNA is not the pinnacle of good public policy where sex offender tracking is concerned. In fact, in some respects it is not good policy at all. When you look at what Louisiana has done to craft and implement a tough and targeted policy of mandatory sex offender registration which maintains the integrity of the criminal justice system and does not impede the administration of justice, it will become abundantly clear to you where SORNA falls short of the mark and why states are having difficulty adhering to it.

We all believe in mandatory sex offender and child predator registration, but if we do not do it right we are helping the true predators go undetected. The devil is in the details. I am here to tell you why Louisiana has not and why other states probably will not come into compliance with the current legislation and to respectfully implore you to take a hard look at what it will take to have an effective public policy that accomplishes effective tracking of sex offenders and child predators while not impeding the administration of justice.


A.G. Caldwell and I are grateful to Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Ranking Member Louie Gohmert, and the other esteemed members of the subcommittee for the opportunity to testify regarding the current Barriers to Implementation of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (hereinafter referred to as “SORNA”) and for your commitment to exploring and crafting sex offender registration and notification policy that works to enhance public safety.

The Office of the Attorney General of Louisiana suggest that the Subcommittee delay the July 27, 2009 enforcement date of SORNA and create task forces to examine the significant barriers to implementing the Act. This is not just an arbitrary suggestion. It is an informed and educated analysis developed over time.

The Hurdles of Implementing SORNA in Louisiana
I was the Assistant Attorney General responsible for coordinating Louisiana’s efforts to implement SORNA compliant legislation. In fact, I was one of the first Assistant Attorneys General in the country to work with the SMART Office when it first opened for business. Between late 2006 and mid-2007, my office worked closely with all stakeholders (District Attorneys, Sheriffs, Corrections officials, etc) to help craft Louisiana’s version of SORNA, House Bill 970, which passed in the 2007 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature which session concluded in June of 2007. Because Louisiana was trying to comply within the first year of passage of the Adam Walsh Act, key members of the Louisiana Legislature and I had the dubious charge of trying to get SORNA compliant legislation passed before the release of the SORNA Final Guidelines.
After passing HB 970 in the 2007 Regular Session, Louisiana submitted the legislation to the SMART office for determination of substantial compliance. Despite best efforts, in late fall of 2007, the SMART Office determined that though the State of Louisiana had made “substantial efforts to achieve compliance with SORNA”, the State had “not achieved substantial compliance with SORNA.” Former Director of the SMART Office, Laura Rogers, stated that Louisiana had failed to enact all provisions of SORNA.

In our Compliance Audit by the SMART Office, Louisiana was told that in some instances HB 970 had exceeded what is required by SORNA. By this time, Louisiana had no choice but to wait for the release of the final guidelines to be issued before making another attempt at full compliance. However, some, though not all, of the changes recommended in the compliance audit were enacted in the 2008 regular session of the Louisiana Legislature. The Final Guidelines were not released until July 1, 2008, after the 2008 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature and a full year after Louisiana had originally submitted HB 970 to the SMART Office. Additionally, Louisiana takes issue with the guideline’s interpretation of the substantial compliance language in the Act to mean actual ( strict) compliance is required. There is a huge difference in substantial compliance with the intended purposes of the Act, versus actual compliance with the poorly drafted and illogically formulated provisions of the final guidelines as hereinafter discussed.

This entire experience has been difficult for several reasons. First, Louisiana received very little guidance from the SMART Office. Though Louisiana tried very hard to work with the SMART Office, we received no clear instruction or guidance on whether the legislation we were proposing was sufficient or even close to being in “substantial compliance” with SORNA. Second, the SORNA final Guidelines are not practical. We experienced great difficulty in determining which of our State’s substantive sex crimes belonged in which tier. The elements of Louisiana’s sex crimes do not fit neatly into the elements of each tier proposed by SORNA. The Final Guidelines do not take into account the elements of a sex crime that vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Third, it is quite obvious that the SMART office interprets “substantial compliance” to mean “actual” or “strict compliance. The SORNA Final Guidelines determined that SORNA offered jurisdictions a “floor” in which to comply, not a guideline. In this vein, Louisiana was even advised in its compliance audit by the SMART office that it would have to amend some of its substantive sex crimes in order to comply. Fourth, as a prosecutor who has specialized in sex crimes, I can tell you that SORNA’s offense-based (at least as interpreted by the SMART Office), retroactive system is overinclusive, overly burdensome on the state, exorbitantly costly, and will actually do more to erode community safety than to strengthen it. This is generally true, I am advised, not just for Louisiana but for most states.

FIRST HURDLE: LACK OF TIMELY AND ACCURATE GUIDANCE

Louisiana seeks this extension because the implementation phase has been delayed by lack of proper guidance from the SMART office. As outlined previously, though perhaps through no fault of the SMART office, there were undue delays by the SMART office in responding to the request for guidance from Louisiana. Though our criminal statutes were outlined to the SMART office before the beginning of our legislative session in 2007, we did not get a response until well after the session was over. Additionally, this response was not a firm one as the final guidelines were not published until after the end of the 2008 legislative session. After reviewing the final guidelines, Louisiana believes in some instances they are ill conceived and are not practical or advisable for the good of the criminal justice system and Louisiana seeks this extension in order have an opportunity to discuss these issues with the Congress. Even former Director of the SMART office, Laura Rogers, in her recent comments to the Surviving Parents Coalition, agrees that though the drafters of the Adam Walsh Act had good intentions, “they did not consult professional child abuse prosecutors or those with frontline experience and knowledge.” Having been a legislator, I am acutely aware that even with the best intentions and the best attempt to consult all stakeholders, mistakes in the drafting of legislation is difficult to avoid, particularly when it is as comprehensive as the Adam Walsh Act. Those mistakes are inevitable and understandable. What would not be understandable is not addressing those mistakes once they become apparent.

SECOND HURDLE: GUIDELINES ARE NOT PRACTICAL

The final guidelines indicate that all state sex offenses must be “tiered” by comparing the state sex offense to the described federal offense to determine if the state sex offense is comparable to or more severe than the federal offense. This is fairly consistent with the AWA. However, the problem comes in the interpretation as to how that comparison is performed. The problem in trying to compare our offenses to the federal offenses is that the federal offenses differentiate seriousness based on facts not necessarily made elements in the State definition of the crime.

To understand the problem you will first have to understand that the Federal statutes to which the state statutes are to be compared are distinguished between sexual acts and sexual contact and require categorization based on the method used (physical force/drugs) to complete the sexual act or contact and the age of the victim. For example the guidelines require that any offense which involves force and penetration must fall into tier 3 and require lifetime registration and any offense involving penetration or any type of sexual touching (through the clothes or otherwise) of a child under 12 requires lifetime registration whether or not force or drugs were used to accomplish the task. Given that requirement, in which tier should Louisiana’s indecent behavior statute be categorized? The indecent behavior statute in Louisiana requires lewd and lascivious behavior upon the person or in the presence of a child under the age of seventeen when there is an age difference of greater than two years between the child and the perpetrator. The elements of the indecent behavior do not necessarily include a sexual act (penetration or direct touching of the genitals) or sexual contact (fondling of genitals through the clothing). Indecent behavior could be accomplished by performing a sexual act in the presence of a child. A good prosecutor will not list the nature of the lewd or lascivious behavior except to state that it happened upon the person OR in the presence of a child and that the child was under the age of sixteen and the perpetrator was more than two years older. The prosecutor will always only plead the facts he necessarily has to prove because he will be held to whatever facts are alleged.

The SMART offices compliance audit of Louisiana’s 2007 legislation stated that Indecent Behavior should not be listed as a tier I crime (requiring 15 years of registration) because it could involve a sexual act or contact with a minor. The audit stated that this crime should be listed as a tier II (requiring 25 years of registration) and, if the victim was under the age of 12, it should be listed in tier III (requiring lifetime registration). The audit and the final guidelines state that the age of the victim should be controlling as to the tier of the offense, whether or not it is an element of the offense. This is not enforceable. If the age of the victim is not in the bill of information how will you hold the offender accountable for a fact that has not been established in a court of law? The guidelines state that you will have to look at the underlying facts of the offense to determine the age of the victim. How does this possibly afford due process? Basically, the guidelines seem to be stating that we must allow some bureaucrat to determine what the underlying facts of a conviction were and then apply the appropriate tier to that offense based on the determination of this bureaucrat. We are essentially basing an offender’s future legal obligation to register on facts that have not been established in a court of law. Because SORNA requires that time period of registration and number of in-person renewals per year be tied to the elements of the offense of conviction, the Louisiana legislature thought it necessary to have a judicial determination of these facts. Therefore, we placed offenses in tier I which did not necessarily include the types of elements described in SORNA for tier II and tier III placement. The SMART office’s test was the opposite, if the elements of tier II or tier III were not necessarily excluded, then it should be placed into the higher tier. This means all offenses involving a child victim must require a 25 year or lifetime registration period.

If no crimes against children are left in tier I, i.e., indecent behavior with a juvenile, prosecutors who run into difficulty with a reluctant and terrified victim will have to go outside of the sex offense statutes to accomplish a plea where there will be no resulting sex offender/child predator registration required. Even though the courts have ruled that registration is regulatory and not intended to be punitive, the courts did recognize that registration does have punitive effects. When these punitive effects interfere with getting a plea in a child sex case because the offender refuses to plead to anything that requires 25 year or lifetime registration and you have no sex offense in tier I that you can offer because your victim is seven and traumatized about trial, the prosecutor will go outside of the child sex crimes statutes to effectuate a plea. This is not based on laziness or not caring, it is based on the realities of what we, as sex crimes prosecutors, deal with on a regular basis in trying to seek justice while not re-victimizing the victim.

Registration is supposed to be a product of a conviction. In order to maintain prosecutorial discretion which is essential for the administration of justice, if registration is to be offense based, it must be based on the facts as alleged in the bill of information. If the facts in the bill of information leave doubt as to the specific act involved or the specific age of the victim which would establish that the offender’s actions were of the type described as a tier II or tier III offense, then the offense should be categorized in tier I.

Sex cases involving minor victims are the most difficult cases to prove. Often your whole case comes down to the word of a child versus that of an adult. Many of these offenses are not reported until the perpetrator (often a family member) is separated from the victim through divorce or a change in living circumstances. There is rarely any physical evidence. The child is often reluctant to participate in a public trial. We cannot mandate sex offenders register until we convict them. Good public policy will not impede a prosecutor’s ability to get a plea is these most difficult cases. The current requirements of SORNA will impede this process much to the detriment of public safety and criminal justice.

THIRD HURDLE: SMART OFFICE DETERMINATION THAT SUBSTANTIAL COMPLIANCE MEANS ACTUAL (STRICT) COMPLIANCE

Louisiana addressed some of its concerns outlined above by banking on the “substantial compliance” language of the act. The substantial compliance language, we thought, would allow us to leave certain child sex cases in tier I so that prosecutors would have a place to go in child sex cases in which the victim recants or indicates that a trial is not something they can handle and registration for 25 years or life was a deterrent to getting a plea as charged. Again, even though the courts have found that registration is not part of the punishment for a crime but is regulatory, offenders surely do not see it that way. It is particularly burdensome in Louisiana because we require, in addition to publication of the information on the registry, that the offender send a post card with his picture and the details of his conviction to all of his neighbors within a certain radius of his home. This must be done every time the offender changes addresses and every five years, whether or not the offender has a change of address. Additionally, we require offenders to carry a driver’s license or identification card with SEX OFFENDER in red letters across the bottom of the offender’s photo. Also, in Louisiana, no matter the tier of your first sex offense conviction, a second conviction will require lifetime registration. Still further, if the offense of conviction requires registration for any period less than life, the prosecutor upon showing by a preponderance of the evidence that the offender poses a substantial risk of re-offending, the court may order the offender to register for life. All of these additional provisions go far beyond what is required by SORNA. By determining that “substantial compliance” means strict compliance, the SMART office has taken away Louisiana’s ability to address the problems outlined above in a fashion that does no harm to the intent of the act. To the contrary, we believe that what Louisiana has done actually enhances public safety by maintaining prosecutorial discretion and targeting resources towards the worst offenders. Louisiana submits that no where in the Adam Walsh Act does the Act require strict compliance or suggest that these are minimum standards which must be adhered to religiously. Such a requirement is unrealistic and impractical.

FOURTH HURDLE: RETROACTIVE APPLICATION OF THE ACT

With respect to sex offenders whose convictions predate the enactment or implementation of SORNA, the Guidelines require that a jurisdiction register the following offenders: (1) those who are incarcerated or under supervision for the registration offense or for some other crime; (2) those who are already subject to a preexisting sex offender registration requirement; and (3) those who subsequently reenter the jurisdiction’s justice system for a conviction for some other crime, even a non-sexual offense.

One of the practical problems with this retroactive provision is that it fails to give proper guidance to enable law enforcement to identify such offenders and to classify them in a tier. When the requirement of retroactive application of SORNA is taken into consideration, the problem of “tiering” offenses becomes even more evident. Even if the age of the victim or specific facts relating to the offense are put forth in the Bill of Information, law enforcement agencies tasked with enforcement of registration laws will spend countless man hours tracking down bills of information, often from out of state convictions, trying to ascertain the facts alleged in each bill rather than just looking at the criminal statute violated in the conviction to determine if it necessarily includes a forced sexual act or sexual contact with a child under the age of 12.

Retroactivity as required by the guidelines is also problematic in that it requires an offender who has long ago finished his legal obligation to register to register once again if he is subsequently convicted of any felony. States do have the discretion to give the offender credit for the time that has elapsed since he last registered, but that is small solace to an offender who under SORNA will have to register for life if convicted of the subsequent felony. Prosecutors have real concerns about the effect of this provision on the ability to get pleas in cases having nothing to do with a sex offense. For example, an offender who has a felony theft charge pending who twenty five years ago was convicted of indecent behavior with a juvenile under the age of 12, will, if convicted of the felony theft charge, have to register again for the rest of his life, under the current requirements of the guidelines. Louisiana, therefore, adopted a limited retroactivity provision making the new registration periods applicable to all sex offenders who were under an active obligation to register as of the effective date of the act. Retroactivity was also limited in Louisiana because prior to 1999, a Judge could legally waive sex offender registration and many did, as part of a plea agreement. There was real concern that convictions could be overturned if the new registration statute was made to apply to these offenders. There is Louisiana case law supportive of the offender’s right to withdraw his plea if the waiver was part of the plea agreement.

Furthermore, I ask you, how will juveniles who never had an existing duty to register be subjected to the Act? How would we find them? Louisiana, therefore, adopted a prospective only application for a very limited number of juvenile offenders age 14 and above adjudicated or convicted of only the most heinous acts – aggravated rape, forcible rape, 2nd Degree Kidnapping of a child under 13, aggravate kidnapping of a child under 13, aggravated incest involving penetration and aggravated crime against nature.

Another issue stemming from the retroactive provision of SORNA is the “recapturing” of offenders. Once a jurisdiction enacts SORNA legislation, that jurisdiction is required to “recapture” and register “retroactive” sex offenders within the following time frames” Tier I offenders within one year; Tier II offenders within six (6) months; and, Tier III offenders within three (3) months. How is this to be accomplished? We can barely keep up with the ones we know about now given our limited resources.

Compliance Issues Plaguing Other Jurisdictions
I participate in a national sex offender management listserv and have engaged with other offices of Attorneys General through the National Association of Attorneys General to discuss issues related to SORNA implementation. Through this process I have learned that not only Louisiana but many other states are experiencing the same or similar difficulties as evidenced by the failure of any state to achieve substantial compliance as of this date. In addition to the above issues faced by Louisiana, discussions with other States through NAAG and otherwise, have raised other issues with regard to AWA compliance which need to be considered:

  1. Many States currently have risk-based assessment schemes to determine the length and conditions of registration rather than offense-based schemes in which they have invested lots of time and money and which they believe accomplish the same goal as the AWA but just arrives there through a different avenue. These States have indicated that, at least informally, the SMART office has indicated that they will have to switch to an offense based scheme or be deemed to be noncompliant. Massuchusetts has jurisprudence which establishes that sex offenders have a state constitutional right to a risk assessment before being placed on a public registry.
  2. Most other States have indicated similar problems with retroactivity as faced by Louisiana.
  3. Some States are concerned that the inclusion of the sex offender’s employment address and school address will impede reintegration of sex offenders into the community by making it much more difficult to obtain employment, de-stabilize offenders and be counter productive to public Safety.
  4. Some States are concerned that quarterly registration will divert law enforcement resources away from the more important public safety task of compliance checks to do less important administrative tasks.
  5. The requirement that the States get palm prints which can only be provided by agencies that use Livescan technology will prove too expensive and difficult for all registering agencies to acquire.
  6. Whether those States who allow a sex offender to be relieved of the obligation to register by obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation will, due to the retroactivity requirement, have to revive those obligations. (The SMART office has now said any provisions to relieve an offender from registration before the allotted time periods in the AWA would not be in substantial compliance with the AWA)
  7. The significant cost of compliance versus the loss of Byrne funds. SORNA Compliance motivated by loss of Byrne Funds
  8. Some States have significant concerns about juvenile registration based on their constitutions, on public opinion or on their juvenile systems which are design to not permanently label a child in hopes of rehabilitation.

Conclusion
As a State AG, we support the idea of having more homogeneous sex offender registration laws across the nation. Louisiana specifically, submits that it has achieved “substantial compliance” as required by SORNA because we disagree with the SMART office’s interpretation of that language in the ACT to mean strict compliance. However, any such federal attempt to help all state’s achieve this goal must take into consideration the varying states’ current substantive criminal statutes and the varying sex offender registration laws and policies with the goal of making enforcement of such laws when an offender crosses state lines more feasible. To ensure that federal legislation in this regard is based on sound public policy and that it will be effectively implemented, all stakeholders must be brought to the table.

In addition to the issues highlighted above there are many more which need discussion. Not the least of which is SORNA’s inadequate provision of sex offender registration computer programs to jurisdictions. The program made available only addresses the needs of the central registry in each jurisdiction. SORNA fails to recognize that the central registries would have no information but for the information provided by local law enforcement agencies which actually register the offenders. In order to meet the time restrictions required by SORNA on transfer of registration information from the local sex offender registrar to the central registry, local law enforcement must have the ability to transfer this information electronically. No provisions in the act address this essential element. Louisiana has addressed this by imposing a fee on all felony probationers which is paid into a technology fund to support the implementation of a web-based program for the collection, storage and transfer of this data to our central registry at no cost to the tax payer. We not only believe we are substantially compliant with SORNA we believe we have far exceeded its goals.

Respectfully, Attorney General Caldwell and I urge the members of this Subcommittee to consider an extension of the deadline for states to comply with the Act, the establishment of a task force comprised of prosecutors, law enforcement, state registries, corrections, experts in the field of sex offender management, victims and all other stakeholders in this complex issue to examine the practical effects of the Act on public safety and possible reform to address the concerns raised here and those recommended by the task force. Not to do so would jeopardize the viability of the overall goal of SORNA and would put states at imminent risk of losing vital BYRNE grant dollars for worthy law enforcement programs beginning July of 2009.

Emma J. Devillier, Asst. Attorney General, Criminal Division, Office of the Attorney General of Louisiana, Chief, Sexual Predator Unit, Baton Rouge, LA


GA - Need A Job? 100+ Employers Set For Career Expo and Job Fair

View the article here

03/10/2009

ATLANTA -- State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said Monday that the Georgia Department of Labor will sponsor a Career Expo and Job Fair featuring more than 100 employers Wednesday, March 11, at the World Congress Center in Atlanta. The event will be from 4-9 p.m. The Career Expo and Job Fair is in partnership with Channel 2 WSB-TV.

“We are pleased that so many employers are committed to participate in this career expo and job fair,” said Commissioner Thurmond. “This event will help lay the foundation for a return to economic growth and prosperity in our state. I encourage jobseekers to attend and take full advantage of the resources that will be available.”


In addition to employers with jobs to fill, the event will feature approximately 100 resource and service providers. Among them will be several two-and-four-year public and private educational institutions and technical colleges whose representatives will provide information about education and training opportunities.

Job seekers should bring information on their work history, updated resumes, be prepared to fill out company applications, and dress appropriately to interview for current job openings. Job seekers will have access to more than 100 computers that can be used for online job search and resume preparation. Those needing a new resume will be able to consult one-on-one with certified resume advisors and print copies of the resume.

A series of workshops will be presented throughout the event on such topics as how to make informed career decisions and how to better handle personal finances after a job loss. Several two-and-four-year public and private educational institutions and technical college representatives will provide information about education and training opportunities. And, assistive technology will be provided and extensive information will be available from certified vocational counselors to help people with disabilities succeed in the workplace.

Jobseekers are encouraged to use MARTA, which is accessible at two stations: Dome/GWCC/Philips Arena/CNN Center and Vine City. Also, parking is available at five surface lots and two nearby parking decks. Attendees are invited to bring canned food to donate to the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

MORE INFO:


GA - 18 Arrested In Alleged Child Porn Ring

View the article here

Way to go!  You see, the police can do their jobs, why do they continue to work with the vigilante group, Perverted-Justice? Why make these people rich, when the police can do the job? Video is available at the site.

03/10/2009

ATLANTA -- Authorities told Channel 2 Action News they executed more than 40 search warrants culminating a three-month investigation into the distribution of child pornography over the Internet in Georgia.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, along with local and federal law enforcement agencies, made 18 arrests and confiscated 74 computers by Tuesday evening in a sweep that began in the morning.

“We have made 16 arrests for people who have been distributing child pornography,” GBI Director Vernon Keenan told Channel 2 Action News reporter Tom Jones earlier Tuesday afternoon.

Police updated the number of arrests to 18 by 6 p.m.

John Whitaker, special agent in charge of GBI's high tech crimes investigations, said the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force detected the porn distribution ring through software tools used to find Internet users who were sharing computer files. He said the computer files consisted of child pornography ranging from nude photos to graphic videos.

Authorities told Channel 2 Action News they have arrested some high profile suspects.

"Some of the arrests we know were related to military personnel. Some that we've been executing search warrants on are people that were working in school systems," said Whitaker.

The GBI is not releasing the names of the suspects or where the arrests were made.

Since distributing Internet child pornography is also a federal offense, the U.S. Attorneys Office was involved as well.

The task force is composed of 17 local law enforcement agencies and state and federal agencies, including the three Georgia U.S. attorney offices.


Report: 1 in 50 U.S. children face homelessness

View the article here
Another article disputing this claim

This is not about sex offenders, but notice the nice round "1 in 50" number? Also, I thought the government was "for the children," and out to "protect the children?" So what about these children? So are we about protecting children, or not?

03/10/2009

(CNN) -- One in 50 children is homeless in the United States every year, according to a report released Tuesday.
- What report?

The report, by the National Center on Family Homelessness, analyzed data from 2005-06 and found that more than 1.5 million children were without a home.
- The above site, has a simple report, then links to this site.  And the report can be viewed here (PDF).

"These numbers will grow as home foreclosures continue to rise," Ellen Bassuk, president of the center, said in a statement.

The study ranked states on their performance in four areas: the extent of child homelessness, the risk for it, child well-being and the state's policy and planning efforts.

The states that fared the poorest were Texas, Georgia, Arkansas, New Mexico and Louisiana.

Connecticut, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Rhode Island and North Dakota performed the best.

Homeless children have poor health, emotional problems and low graduation rates, the study found.

"The consequences to our society will play out for decades," Bassuk said. "As we bail out the rest of our nation, it is also time to come to their aid."

The report offers recommendations such as improved support to ensure that children's schooling is not interrupted when they lose their homes, and services to address the trauma of homelessness.

Other highlights in the report, "America's Youngest Outcasts: State Report Card on Child Homelessness:"

  • 42 percent of homeless children are younger than 6.
  • African-American and Native American children are disproportionately represented.
  • More than 1 in 7 homeless children have moderate to severe health conditions, such as asthma.
  • Approximately 1.16 million of homeless children today will not graduate from high school.


TX - Seeking change in sex offender laws (MEDIA VIGILANTISM)

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Just read the vigilantism being done by the media here, and how they try to whip the people into a fear induced frenzy!  Harassing someone just for that story!  Yes, they must be very hard up for news!

03/10/2009

By Wayne Dolcefino

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The state is keeping you in the dark about how sick some people really are. 13 Undercover is trying to fix that. We took the case to the state capitol.

We've already exposed the exposers, how the law keeps serial flashers from ever paying a bigger price. Your primary weapon against sex offenders is knowing who they are and where they are, but are you being told all you should be to protect your family?

"Mr. _____, I'm Wayne Dolceifno with Channel 13," we said as we chased after John _____.

Take a good look at _____. His T-shirt says "Cleverly disguised as an adult." Hurry. He's getting ready to run.

"Mr. _____, do you think it's fair to your neighbors that you are still here?" we asked him, but got no answer.

Because Mr. _____ has four convictions for indecent exposure. One time, he pleasured himself in front of a neighbor.

"We had no idea that 180 days is all anyone can get," said one neighbor of _____ who didn't want to be identified.

With good time, that means even a serial exposer will spend only 90 days behind bars no matter how many times he does it, as long as he sticks to grossing out just adults. He's not even forced into treatment.

"That's somebody I don't want in my neighborhood," said Kelly Boros with the Houston Area Women's Center. "That's somebody I would want off the streets."

After two convictions for indecent exposure, you do have to register as a sex offender. But how many people know that?

Take a look at _____' record on the DPS sex offender website. It only shows one conviction from April 2007, not the four convictions he really has.

_____ shows up on the website with just one conviction.

"I think people deserve to know exactly who you are dealing with," said Harris County Precinct 1 Constable J.C. Mosier.

And the truth about _____ is that he doesn't just have one conviction for indecent exposure. He's got nine.

"It probably would be more helpful for people to know the full story," said Judge Larry Standley of the Harris County Criminal Courts.

And then there's _____. Get a good look. You won't find his picture anywhere on the DPS website. He had two convictions for indecent exposure in 2004, another one in 2006, one public lewdness and another indecent exposure in 2008. And court records show he's homeless.

Prosecutors have now charged him with the felony of failure to register as a sexual offender, but he's not in jail. He's out on bond.

We called Judge Shawna Reagan to talk about the _____ case. She accused us of ambushing her over the telephone. Then she hung up.

Hey Judge Reagan, you might want to know that Mr. _____ was charged with another crime yesterday. His bond is now set at $1 million dollars.

We found other Harris County flashers missing from the DPS website, like _____; three convictions. It made us wonder why we don't register sex offenders when we have them in custody, rather than to trust the pervert to do it himself within seven days of release.

"I think that's a question you have to ask the people who make the rules," said Judge Standley. "That's something I can't comment on."

So we went to Austin.

"That makes just a whole lot of common sense and I'm going to do what it takes to look into that and see what we need to do to make that occur," said State Rep. Debbie Riddle (Contact).
- Yep, anything to make yourself look better!

That way, folks could at least see the picture of _____. He has three indecent exposure convictions.

"I think those folks, they're sick," said Rep. Riddle.

And that's why guys like _____ scare the heck out of their neighbors. What could he do next?

"You no longer get that excitement from that first step. You have to progress to another step," said Boros.

Like _____. He had three indecent exposure convictions. Then he graduated to sexual assault of a child.

"Every day you live in fear," said _____' neighbor.

Oh, by the way. _____ has now been charged with failure to register as a sex offender. The DPS revoked his registration in January 2008. But the Harris County criminal justice system failed you. _____ was arrested in April on charges of indecent exposure, convicted, sent to jail and then released. He could have been charged with a felony then, but he wasn't. Mr. _____ committed another indecent exposure three days later.

"To do that over and over again, you gotta be sick," said Rep. Riddle.


FL - Text lands teen on sex offender list

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See these IMPORTANT comments by eAdvocate

03/10/2009

Illicit text message means 5 years probation

BREVARD COUNTY (WOFL FOX 35) - _____, 19 years old and a recently-registered sex offender, pointed to pictures of his young sisters on his cell phone. "When people see these pictures, it's not this kid that's a good big brother that loves his sister," he said, "it's a sex offender, with pictures of little girls on his phone. That's not me."

But _____ is a registered sex offender, listed with all the child molesters, rapists, and the rest on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Sexual Offender Registry.

A year ago, after breaking up with his 16-year-old girlfriend, he got angry. He emailed a nude picture of her to more than seventy people, including her parents. He said she sent him the picture while they were dating.

His text was reported to police and he was later arrested for transmitting child pornography, a charge which he contests. "Child porn? No!" said _____. "The girl is 16-years-old!" But the law says she is a child.

A remorseful _____ admited he made a terrible mistake, but feels the punishment is excessive. "I didn't cause trauma to her. I didn't ruin her life. I embarrassed her," he said, adding, "a lot of my friends have not stood by me. People don't want to talk to me anymore."

Attorney Lawrence Walters agreed. "These laws are designed to punish the worst child rapists and pedophiles in our society. They're designed to punish the adult that tells a toddler to perform a sex act on camera, terrible behavior! They're not designed to punish teens who share racy photos of themselves via the internet or cell phones."

For now, the way the law stands, the law does punish those who send illicit text messages of minors and get caught.

_____ has served one year of a very strict probation and still has four more to go. After that, he will be required to stay registered as a sex offender until he is at least 43.


OH - Ohio Senate Approves New Sex Offender Law, blatantly disregarding the constitution, a 2008 ruling, and their "oath of office!"

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I see that even with the 2008 ruling that the law is unconstitutional, they come along and pass yet another unconstitutional video, violating the ex post facto (retroactive) and due process of the constitution. WHY EVEN HAVE THE CONSTITUTION IF IT MEANS NOTHING?

03/10/2009

COLUMBUS -- The Ohio Senate has passed a bill to prevent sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools or day care facilities even if they committed their crimes before passage of a state law prohibiting such residency.
- So here, they pass another unconstitutional law, despite the ruling below!

The Senate voted 30-0 Tuesday in response to a 2008 Ohio Supreme Court decision that says the sex offender residency law could not be applied retroactively. The Legislature enacted the law in 2003.

The court said the law was vague and that it could not determine that lawmakers wished to make it apply to sex offenders who committed their crimes before the residency law was enacted.
- Why don't you idiots who are running this country, and took an oath to uphold the constitution, read the document you said you would uphold?  You apparently lied, and you even swore to God!

The bill applying the law retroactively now goes to the Ohio House.