Thursday, March 12, 2009

NY - Sex Offender Law Enforcement Begins in a Year in East Rochester

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Related article and video

03/11/2009

By Patrice Walsh

East Rochester - Sex offenders in East Rochester have been notified that they cannot live within 2,000 feet of places where children congregate such as schools and playgrounds.

Vicki Garritano doesn't believe sex offenders should live in East Rochester at all.

When asked if she believes in second chances, she said, “Not that kind of crime, no, no reason to have a sex crime against a minor."

Garritano supports the new residency law for sex offenders.

She said, "People will say they won't commit crimes near where they live. I don't believe it, it's the safety of our children. They come first, our rights come first. They gave up their rights when they committed a bad crime.”

Four registered sex offenders live in the village. Two have families and have lead law-abiding lives.

Advocates who fight for better laws for sex offenders say that forcing them to move would disrupt their stable lives and could cause them to repeat their crimes.

The Rev. David Hess (SOhopeful of NY) said, "They just feel, ‘What's the use? I'm going to be punished if I do good or bad!'"

Hess advocates for better laws to ensure the rights of sex offenders.

"We cannot excuse it," he said. "I think the last thing I or anyone else would want to do is excuse it. What we want to do is promote safety. This law doesn't promote safety."

East Rochester Mayor Jason Koon said the village has only received one or two complaints about the law. He said it will be enforced beginning in one year.

The American Civil Liberties Union calls the law unfair, ineffective, and unconstitutional.

Similar laws are being challenged across the country.

The residency law will stand for now, but the state could and pre-empt it with a different law.


NE - Senators Consider Limits for Sex Offenders

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Video is available at the site.

03/12/2009

By Christie Bett

State Senators are considering two bills that would further limit sex offenders.

In a public hearing Thursday afternoon, two bills were presented by Senator Tony Fulton of Lincoln and Senator Robert Giese of South Sioux City to protect children from class three sex offenders. LB 284 would prevent convicted class three sex offenders from working within 500 feet of a school or child care center, and LB 265 would prevent them from living within 500 feet of a park, including pools and athletic fields.

Senator Fulton says he presented LB 284 for the second year to restrict where offenders work because of a tragedy in 2007. Fulton says a boy was molested in a convenience store across from his school, after which the previously convicted sex offender committed suicide. Fulton says the bill stands on the same arguments that current sex offender limitations stand on.

"Whatever logic allowed us to enact a statue which restricts where sexual predators can live, that same logic is true for where they can work. Because, as we all know, the amount of time that one spends in his place of employment, is as much, if not more, than the amount of time he spends in his home," said Fulton.
- The logic that is allowing you to be able to do this, is a corrupt government, who is ignoring the Constitution of the United States and the state.  The laws are clearly unconstitutional, if one  reads the Constitution!

Senator Brenda Council of Omaha was at the hearing, and she says she agrees that offenders need to be limited, but she thinks more of a focus needs to be placed on making the public aware of their presence, not further restricting offenders from re-entering society. Eventually, Council says too many restrictions will force a disproportionate number of offenders to live in certain areas.
- Once again, a nice little quote from Abraham Lincoln: "The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly."

"We're going to get to a point where there's going to be this sliver, for lack of a better term, where the sex offenders can either live or reside and we're eventually going to be establishing colonies," Council said.
- And I believe, this is their ultimate goal!

Senator Council also said she has an issue with the language of the bill and how it defines employment, because many jobs like sales and delivery require one to work throughout the community. Senator Fulton reacted to her concern saying he is willing to reconsider the bill's language to better define the terms of employment.

Senator Steve Lathrop of Omaha also mentioned concerns with LB 284, saying the Judiciary Committee should take a look at current legislation limiting sex offenders to see if it's already comprehensive enough.

As for LB 265, Senator Giese says he thinks it is a simple correction of what he called a "mistake" in the 2006 legislation on sex offenders. Giese says it's important to include swimming pools and athletic fields in the definition of "park" since those are areas where children frequent, many times with less parental supervision.

Scot Ford, the Police Chief of South Sioux City, spoke at the hearing in support of LB 265. He said it's important to further protect children, and also to remove that temptation from offenders who are likely to strike again.


FL - ACLU Takes On "The Bridge Issue"

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03/12/2009

By Fred Grimm

After my most recent column on the outcasts consigned to the Julia Tuttle Causeway, Richard Rosichan, a board member of the Greater Miami Chapter of the ACLU writes:

“We have been fighting these ridiculous residency restrictions, and the "bridge issue," tooth and nail. While I can't speak for the local or state boards, I can assure you that the fight will go on. We are not about to back down.

“Residency restrictions affect few if any offenders. Most sex related offenses involve on-line solicitation, family members and friends, baby sitters, consensual relationships of people usually fairly close in age (including the so-called "Romeo and Juliet" cases), young teenagers who look and act much older, and work or school related relationships. The "Megan's Law" type of thing involving someone who assaults a neighbor and in which proximity is a factor are very unusual. As for on-line solicitations, these people almost always prefer to select their targets in relatively distant locations to avoid detection by people who know them.

A sex offender type crime can involve anything from a vicious murder to an 18 year old getting it on with his 16 year old girlfriend."

“I'm not familiar with any specific cases in this area, but here are two that I do know about that demonstrate the absurdity of these laws. One was the case of Mel Reynolds, a one time congressman (D-IL) who had sex with his 17 year old female page. He was arrested, convicted and served a year in prison. Ten years later, he received a letter ordering him to move out of his apartment. I would say the chance of "recidivism" in his case was a clear zero.

“Think that's absurd? I visit one of my daughters in Atlanta a lot. The Georgia laws make ours look positively lax. There was national publicity about the prison sentence of a black teenage boy there who had consensual oral sex with a teenage girl. Think that's bad? Recently, a 29 year old woman was ordered to leave her house within two weeks because it was within 1000 feet, yards, or whatever, of a bus stop. . I don't recall her name (Wendy Whitaker), but I do recall the name of the federal judge who turned down her appeal - Clarence Cooper. Her crime? Twelve years earlier - at age 17 - she had been arrested for having consensual oral sex with a 15 year old boy. Yep, she was still a minor herself. And she never saw it coming until she got a letter from the county sheriff - 12 years later.

Now, about the relationship of this to the homeless issue. The real problem here is a well known and very rich lobbyist - Ron Book, head of the Homeless Trust. He has been a fanatic on this issue ever since his child was allegedly molested - touched inappropriately - by a female babysitter. Because of the tie-in between these residency restrictions and the problem of homelessness, he has no more business being head of the Homeless Trust than he would have being on a jury trying a sex offender case. As the Herald reported, he is doing everything he possibly can to obstruct resolution of the ‘bridge case.’ ”


NY - Sex Offender Upset by East Rochester Law

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Video is available at the site.

03/12/2009

By: Patrice Walsh

East Rochester - By doing their time, some child sex offenders believe they’re “paid their dues.” But now a new residency law in East Rochester will dictate where registered sex offenders can not live.

“My kids are my life, I had to give my daughter up because of this,” said Rusty Lamere.

Lamere, a Level II sex offender [Level III is considered highest risk] will be labeled for life.

However, he doesn't think he should be forced out of his home in East Rochester. "I love living here; I don't want to move. My son started school here. He wants to graduate here," Lamere said.

Lamere is one of four registered sex offenders living in the Village of East Rochester. He has been there for ten years.
- Yes, he was there for ten years, before the law, and not the violate the constitution, and force someone to move. That is wrong, plain wrong, period!

He was charged in 2003 with third degree rape, but pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct of a 14-year-old in the village, and served a year in jail.

"I took advantage of a child, it's a mistake I truly wish I could take back…just to know what my victim is going through, I feel so bad," Lamere said.

A new residency law passed in East Rochester could force Lamere and other sex offenders out of their homes.

Village Administrator Marty D’Ambrose said, "One of the things we want to look at is, not only is it fair to live in the community, but is it fair for a seven- or eight-year-old to walk around and not feel safe?"

Lamere's wife and children stand by him. "He definitely won't do it again; feel it in my heart,” said Lamere’s wife Lori Razzante.

"It broke my family apart. My wife has supported me; I'm shocked she is by me now,” Lamere said. He said he learned his lesson, paid his dues, and won't hurt anyone again. "I'm not a danger to nobody. I know what I did was wrong. It's never going to happen again."

Rusty Lamere is on probation until 2011. He can have no contact with any children under 17 and cannot attend his son's high school sporting events.

He can not own a computer and is undergoing counseling.

Newly released sex offenders who wish to live in East Rochester will not be allowed to move there if the house is anywhere near children. Those living there now will have a year to find another place to live.


Fart Interrupts City Council: Hahahahahahaha!!!



As someone mentioned elsewhere, it seems like politicians would be very familiar with politicians talking out of their asses, they do it all the time. And below, is the child of one of these politicians.


INDIA - Dance Ban Forces Girls To Turn Sex Workers

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Mumbai - The trouble with laws that seek to stamp out any form of expression - from dancing, to music to partying - is that they tend to drive those practices underground - as the Mumbai example shows.

It's a typical Mumbai Police crackdown on illegal dance bars. The bar girls will be booked for soliciting customers at one such bar.

"Nine girls have been arrested for soliciting customers," said Inspector, Special Service Branch, R B Mane.

The ban has just driven the business underground. Many dance bars now feature live orchestras and women waiters to entertain customers. Legally allowed only up to 9:30 pm, several bars generally close around 1:30 am - provided the police get their cut.

"This is legal extortion," claimed president, Dance Bars Association, Manjeet Singh Sethi.

Made famous by the film Chandni Bar, many dancers found themselves out of work after the ban, and have had no option but to turn to the flesh trade.

"Prostitution is up 10 fold, they have so many expenses. The can only earn Rs 100 - Rs 200 a day as waiters," said Sethi.

"I have no option because of the 9:30 pm ban," said former bar dancer Shabnam.

And often the real culprits get away scott free. In this case, while the girls, orchestra members and the bar manager were arrested, the owner escaped.


GA - Money Crunch Delays Edenfield Murder Trial

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03/12/2009

BRUNSWICK - The first trial resulting from the death of 6-year-old abducted, raped and killed in 2007 has been postponed until the next fiscal year because of a shortage of state funds to pay the expenses of the defense.

David Edenfield, his wife and his son are charged with first-degree murder in the death of Christopher Barrios Jr. Jury selection was scheduled for April 20, with the trial expected to begin two weeks later.

The Glynn County Superior Court Clerk's office told Channel 4 on Thursday that the first trial -- that of David Edenfield -- was pushed back to September to ensure that defense would have adequate state funding to pay for experts and investigators in the case.

The Office of Georgia Capital Defender is responsible for paying the legal bills for capital cases in the state. That department, like other state agencies, has been asked to cut 10 percent of its budget as part of state budget reductions.

Due to the high profile of the case resulting from a week-long, community-wide search for the missing boy, Glynn County Superior Court Judge Stephen Scarlett last month granted a defense motion that a jury will be brought in from another part of Georgia.

Prosecutors said Barrios was kidnapped, molested and strangled in the Edenfields' trailer in a Glynn County mobile home park.

Due to the extensive media attention the case received, Scarlett ruled jurors from Jeff Davis County would be brought in to hear the case and would remain sequestered during the trial.

Edenfield's wife, Peggy, and their adult son, George Edenfield, face charges in Barrios' death.

George Edenfield, a convicted sex offender, lived in the same mobile home park as Barrios and across the street from his grandparents. Prosecutors said Edenfield and his father, David, sexually abused the boy while the mother watched.

Prosecutors said Peggy Edenfield has reached an agreement to testify against her husband and son in exchange for a possible life sentence.

David and George Edenfield could face the death penalty.

Earlier this year, Donald Dale pleaded guilty to making a false statement to police in connection with the case was remanded to a psychiatric facility for five years.

Prosecutors said Dale was not involved in the killing, but helped hide the body and lied to police during an extensive six-day search for Christopher before his body was found.

Previous Stories:


OH - Registry lists need to label offenders accurately

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Anything to bloat the registry and keep the fear going!

03/12/2009

Convicted criminals don’t deserve sympathy often, especially those who held people, including children, hostage.

But _____ and others like him really don’t deserve the stigma attached to them long after they served their time in prison.

_____ won a rare victory this past week in his quest to be removed from Ohio’s sex-offender registry when prosecutors dropped a charge against him for failing to register and notify the local sheriff of his current address.

There’s no doubt _____ failed to do those things, just as it’s clear he does not belong on a sex-offender registry.

He’s never been accused or convicted of a sex crime, and there’s no mention of the word “sex” in _____ case file from the conviction that landed him in prison for five years in 1994. But with children involved as his victims, _____ learned in 1999 that he had been classified as a child-victim offender under Megan’s Law, the predecessor of the Adam Walsh Act.

In Ohio, no separate registry exists for child-victim offenders, meaning they are included in the state sex-offender database and tasked with sex-offender registration requirements — and their notoriety, too.

The glaring unfairness of this approach is apparent to just about everyone, although Ohio lawmakers and law enforcement have done little to correct it for years. We’re hoping a federal judge hearing a lawsuit on the matter will rectify the situation as soon as possible.

Once again, we don’t mean to minimize _____’ crimes or appear unsupportive of sex offender registration. We firmly believe the public has a right to know a sex offender is living next door.

But the execution of offender registry lists must be perfect and accurate. That’s not the case in Ohio.

For now, _____ has agreed to comply with the registration requirements until 2014, some 20 years after his five-year sentence began.

That’s probably as wise as prosecutors’ decision to dismiss his case before trial and create yet another miscarriage of justice.


WA - Sex offender kills teen while under GPS monitoring, police say

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Just more proof that the sex offender laws and GPS will NOT prevent a crime, like everyone seems to believe it will.

03/12/2009

By Eliott C. McLaughlin and Patrick Oppmann - CNN

VANCOUVER (CNN) -- When 13-year-old Alycia Nipp didn't come home from a trip to Wal-Mart, her family had no idea where she was, but a tracking device was transmitting the location of her alleged killer.

The quirky seventh-grader, who went by "Licy," could tell you the origin of every neon drinking straw in her collection and she "sewed buttons on everything," said her aunt, Amber Hager.

Her family thinks her free-spirited nature may be the reason she walked through a field popular with transients -- a field she'd been warned to stay away from and where her body was found February 22.

Licy's family had reason to be cautious. Hager was raped twice as a teen and Licy's grandmother was kidnapped as a child, Hager said, so the family was extra vigilant with Licy and Hager's young daughters.

"We all made Licy the promise that it would never happen to her. The cycle would end," said Hager, who is acting as family spokeswoman. "Now we're left wondering: What didn't we say? What didn't we do? How come she didn't listen?"

Darrin Sanford, 30, was one of several homeless people living near the field in an abandoned home slated for demolition, police said.

He was convicted in 1998 of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes and luring minors with sexual motivation; he was sentenced to probation, said a Clark County sheriff's report. When he was released from jail in January, following a November probation violation, Sanford was fitted with a global positioning tracking unit on his ankle, according to the Washington Department of Corrections.

Sanford was wearing the device seven weeks later when he tried to rape Licy before beating and stabbing her in a field a couple of blocks from the street where she lived, according to police.

Authorities said they used GPS to corroborate Sanford's confession. A Clark County judge this week postponed his arraignment until June so the defense and prosecution can prepare for death penalty arguments.

Sanford's defense attorney Michael Foister declined to comment on the allegations against his client.

Debate over GPS

The slaying rocked the enclave of Hazel Dell in Vancouver, a 15-minute drive from Portland, Oregon, and serves as fodder for those who claim GPS is used too broadly and bluntly as a tool for keeping tabs on offenders.

"They can't monitor it live, and even if you could monitor it live, him being in the field wouldn't have told you [if] he was murdering the girl," said Evan Mayo-Wilson, an Oxford University lecturer who has studied the use of GPS.

There are two types of GPS monitoring: active, in which the offender's whereabouts are surveyed in real-time, and passive, in which probation or parole officers check an offender's movements after the fact.

Sanford was passively monitored, said Anmarie Aylward, the Washington DOC's program administrator.

Both types of GPS are important tools for law enforcement, Mayo-Wilson said, but the technology must be coupled with other efforts to reduce recidivism, including treatment programs, personal visits and interviews with neighbors, family members and employers.

Sex offenders should be assessed on a case-by-case basis, and supervision programs must be based on fluid assessments that weigh the likelihood of reoffense, said Peter Ibarra, a sociologist at the University of Illinois-Chicago who studies the use of GPS in stalking and domestic violence cases.

"You have to use it very responsibly," Ibarra said. "It's a technology that cannot stand alone, especially if you're thinking about using it with offenders who imperil the public."

Sanford was registered as a Level 3 sex offender, the category considered most likely to reoffend, according to the Clark County Sheriff's Office. He was listed as homeless on the state sex offender registry, one of 34 transient sex offenders in Clark County. There are eight homeless Level 3 offenders registered in Clark County.

Sanford was living in a vacant home near an overgrown field where Licy's parents sometimes played paintball. The field, littered with trash, has "No Dumping" signs along its periphery and is buttressed by fast-food joints, Chinese restaurants and strip malls. The air smells of frying oil.

Resident Nick Holden, whose daughter was Licy's friend, told The Oregonian newspaper that the field was a popular shortcut -- "a kid highway." Though it wasn't necessarily deemed unsafe, he told the paper, "you ask the kids to not go alone."

Licy was told just that, but on February 21, as she and a friend returned from Wal-Mart, Licy said she wanted to cut through the field. Her friend declined, Hager said.

Police: Sanford unsure of his weapon

Sanford told detectives he met Licy near the vacant homes and walked with her to an isolated area of the field, police said. There, he attempted to have intercourse with her "but wasn't able to complete the sexual act," according to the probable cause affidavit filed in court.

"After she giggled at him," continued the affidavit, "he was overcome with a violent rage and hit her with something in the back. She turned to face him and he kept hitting her, knocking her to the ground."

Sanford told police he wasn't sure what he hit her with -- maybe a stick, knife or beer bottle, the affidavit said. The 180-pound Sanford left the body but came back later and moved Licy, a scant 100 pounds, to an area where her stepfather found her early the next morning, according to the affidavit.

"His GPS unit verified that he was in the area and his movements," the affidavit said.

Attempts by CNN to reach Licy's mother and stepfather, Maranda and Jason Hannah, were unsuccessful.

On the day before his 20th birthday in 1998, Sanford was placed on probation. According to a sheriff's office report, a group of minors, ages 8 to 11, reported that Sanford had offered them money for oral sex. The youngsters fled, but Sanford approached them again in a sparsely wooded area of the playground, asking them if they wanted to go home with him to "play house," the report said.

Sanford violated his probation three times between November 2006 and November 2008, the DOC said. When he was released in January, he was required to check in daily with a probation officer, which he did the day before Licy's murder and the day after her body was found.

Technology, offenders misunderstood

Experts say GPS can create a false sense of security because its capabilities are overestimated. Jill Levenson, an associate professor of human sciences at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, said many people believe it is "some magic bullet or panacea that prevents crimes."

Levenson also concurs with other experts who say the technology is used too sweepingly. Twenty-seven states have some mandatory requirement that the devices be used on sex offenders, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Only six states have no specific provisions for such monitoring.

Most sex offenders are neither violent nor pedophiles, and they re-offend in about one of 20 cases, said Levenson, who studies sex crime policy.

Because the media focus on the most sensational crimes, politicians often focus their energies on combating the violent incidents rather than the more common occurrences, such as people being sexually assaulted by those they know, she said.

UIC's Ibarra called it a "knee-jerk reaction" by lawmakers. He said he notices that "legislators often propose this kind of [GPS] requirement in the aftermath of some notorious act."

Added Oxford's Mayo-Wilson, "[GPS] could be used effectively to help shape behavior, but it's being used too bluntly."

GPS is more likely to work with low-level offenders while the technology's deterrent effect on the most dangerous perpetrators is limited, Levenson said.

"[GPS] is not necessarily going to deter people from having sexually deviant intentions," she said. "Many crimes are more impulsive and opportunistic, and that level of thinking may not go into it."

Homelessness itself poses problems among sex offenders because unstable living conditions can increase recidivism, Levenson said. Many states have enacted laws limiting where sex offenders can live, forcing more offenders to the streets.

According to a 2007 report by the Council of State Governments, 29 states have residency restrictions for sex offenders. Washington, which the DOC says is home to about 300 homeless sex offenders, forbids them from living within 880 feet of a school or daycare.

An example of residency restrictions exacerbating the problem is in California, said Robert Coombs of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Since 2007, when California implemented its version of Jessica's Law -- which bars registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school, park or places where children congregate -- homelessness among paroled sex offenders spiked 800 percent, Coombs said.

In large metro areas like Los Angeles and San Francisco, "the concentration of schools and parks is so high, the entire jurisdiction becomes largely off limits for housing," Coombs said.

The Justice Department did not respond to repeated requests to discuss the number of homeless sex offenders in the nation, but in California there are about 65,000 registered sex offenders, of which 3,267 are homeless, according to California's Sex Offender Management Board.

It's not only costly and unfeasible to monitor sex offenders, but allowing them to remain homeless increases their stress levels and instability, Coombs said. It makes for a "really dangerous cocktail when it comes to public safety," he said.

Connecticut reviews GPS policy

Bill Carbone, executive director of the Court Support Services Division of Connecticut's Judicial Branch, said the state recently reviewed its use of GPS.

Connecticut, which monitors more than 2,000 offenders, revamped its GPS monitoring after acknowledging the technology had its shortcomings, including error messages, lost signals and susceptibility to manipulation, Carbone said.

Coombs and Carbone also note that charging the devices can be problematic when the offender has no home.

"To some extent, it's been oversold and misunderstood," Carbone said. "I think it is a tool -- not the sole tool -- needed for proper supervision of offenders."

Hager said she is pleased authorities were able to use Sanford's GPS bracelet to make a swift arrest in her niece's slaying, but it makes her angry that a homeless, convicted sex offender was allowed to hang out in a field frequented by children.
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Licy's family may never know why she cut through the field, and many other questions about her murder may remain unanswered. Hager said her niece's accused killer should answer one of them.

"My daughters keep asking, 'Why did the angels take Licy? If we pray hard enough will they bring her back?' " Hager said. "I just want to tell him, 'You explain to my daughters what happened to their cousin.' "


FL - Banishment to bridge hurts city's image

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Sweet, you can't beat this kind of media coverage! And I'd like to know when the media is going to jump on the bandwagon, that sex offender laws do not, and are not working? And also a good quote from Abraham Lincoln: "The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly."

03/11/2009

BY FRED GRIMM

Miami couldn't buy this much publicity.

Newspapers from Scotland to New Zealand carried the story. It was the stuff of Canada's National Post. The University Press wired it to college newspapers. The Associated Press sent it around the world.

The BBC, CNN and MSNBC dispatched camera crews to juxtapose the Miami skyline against the squalor of tents and shacks beneath the Julia Tuttle Causeway.

Newspapers in Chicago, New York, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, Washington, Denver, Pittsburgh explained how Miami-Dade communities, in a mad rush to outdo one another with sex-offender laws, eliminated all residency alternatives but that festering address in the middle of Biscayne Bay.

The story reverberated through USA Today and in newspapers from towns with names like Grand Forks, New Haven, Bergen, Hattiesburg, Albany, Corpus Christi, Torrance, Columbus, and Nanaimo. Details, a high-concept fashion magazine normally fascinated with prettier aspects of Miami, described the camp like a disfiguring scar on a beautiful model.

It's a whole new image we've created for ourselves, to go with bikinis, sidewalk cafes, Deco hotels, neon nights -- at once a PR coup and a public health nightmare. We did it by forcing at least 48 men to live under a bridge, without toilets, trash depository or running water, despite warning from corrections officials and social scientists that residency laws dripped with unintended consequences.

CAUTIONARY TALE

Most of the considerable new coverage touched on the bizarre notion that public policy has actually mandated homelessness. Or the stories offer up South Florida's experience as a cautionary tale. ''Celebrated sex offender laws doing more harm than good,'' warned the headline in the National Cities Weekly, in a report that offered Miami as Exhibit One.

The great irony here is that South Florida contrived its own nasty image makeover for no good reason. The Florida Department of Corrections, not exactly a touchy-feely outfit, has warned that forcing sex offenders to live in homeless camps impedes DOC supervision.

Social scientists who've studied the effect of Draconian residency laws are even more blunt. ''It defies logic,'' said Jill Levenson, chairman of he Lynn University Department of Human Services. ''We all agree that the public needs to be protected against people who've engaged in these crimes,'' she said. "But the question is whether these strategies accomplish that.''

FAILED STRATEGY

They don't. In December, Levenson along with a criminologist and a geography professor, completed a detailed analysis of sexual offender recidivism. They concluded: ''Proximity to schools and day-care centers . . . explains virtually none of the variation in sexual recidivism. Sex offenders who lived within closer proximity to schools and day-care centers did not re-offend more frequently than those who lived farther away.'' (A copy of the Levenson study will be available at MiamiHerald.com on my blog, The Grimm Truth.)

Instead, Levenson warned, we've fixed it so they have ''nowhere to live, few opportunities for employment, unable to get support from their families.'' She warned that we've forced these outcasts into a category that represents a heightened threat to public safety.

"They have nothing to lose.''


Sex Offender Statistics by A Voice of Reason

Click the image to visit this new blog

I have also added this blog to my Blog roll.


AZ - Alleged Child Molester Kills Himself

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03/11/2009

By H. Hughes - NBCSanDiego.com

An Oceanside man suspected of child molestation has been found dead in an Arizona hotel room.

62-year-old _____, who had worked as a barber in Oceanside, was already a registered sex offender when he came under investigation last month for allegedly molesting a relative, under the age of 14, at his home.

A few day later, detectives found out that he had left the county. On Monday, _____ was spotted at a hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona.

On Tuesday, as local police surrounded his room, two gunshots rang out and _____ was found dead inside the room with the body of a woman, believed to be his wife, _____.

The San Diego District Attorney's office had issued an arrest warrant against _____ for five counts of lewd acts with a child, and a $1million bail was set.

The Flagstaff Police Department is now conducting an investigation into the two deaths.


SORNA Conference (03/10/2009) - Witness Testimony - Amy Borror


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U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
SUBCOMMITTEE ON CRIME, TERRORISM, AND HOMELAND SECURITY
HEARING ON THE SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION AND NOTIFICATION ACT (SORNA)

TUESDAY, MARCH 10, 2009

WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF:
AMY BORROR
PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER
OFFICE OF THE OHIO PUBLIC DEFENDER



Chairman Scott and Members of the Subcommittee on Crime, thank you for this opportunity to testify about the barriers to states’ implementation of the Adam Walsh Act’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, the potential legal ramifications of the Act, and Ohio’s experience attempting to comply with the Act’s requirements.

The Office of the Ohio Public Defender is, of course, concerned about the constitutional rights of our clients who are affected by this Act. But we are also concerned about our clients’ futures, and any obstacles that may prevent them from leading crime-free lives. We work with law enforcement, prosecutors, victims groups, treatment providers, and child advocates on this issue because we are all committed to a common goal: reducing the incidence of sexual abuse in our society.

And personally, as someone who has several friends who have been victims of sexual abuse, I am concerned with not just the stated goals of policies aimed at improving public safety, but also with the practical effects those policies have on my safety and the safety of my loved ones. It is for all of these reasons that I am here today.

Ohio’s implementation of the Adam Walsh Act
On June 30, 2007, Ohio Senate Bill 10 (SB 10), the state’s attempt to implement the requirements of the federal Adam Walsh Act, was signed into law. In late November 2007, the Ohio Attorney General’s office mailed letters to thousands of registered sex offenders in the state, informing them that their classification status and registration duties were changing under the new law.

In the 15 months since those reclassification letters were mailed, at least 6,352 petitions challenging the new law’s retroactive application have been filed in 78 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Ohio courts of appeals have issued decisions in at least 59 cases.

The Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association estimates that the new law has increased sheriffs’ workloads by 60 percent.

The Adam Walsh Act, which is intended to create uniformity in sex offender classification and registration requirements across states, has instead resulted in tremendous variation in the application of Ohio’s sex offender registration laws across Ohio’s counties.

The implementation of SB 10 across the state of Ohio has been uneven, at best. County courts, prosecutors, and sheriffs have interpreted the massive new law differently. Many courts have issued blanket orders staying enforcement of the new law and allowing persons retroactively affected by the law to continue registering under Ohio’s prior sex offender classification and registration scheme until the Supreme Court of Ohio issues a ruling on the constitutionality of SB 10.

The impact of the new law on offenders varies greatly, depending on the county in which they reside. An offender may have to file a challenge to his reclassification as a civil motion or as a motion in his original criminal case. A civil filing fee, ranging from $10–$300, may be assessed. If the offender is indigent, counsel may or may not be appointed at state expense. While the challenge petition is pending, the county sheriff may or may not send out community notification. And, the judge considering the offender’s challenge petition may consider constitutional challenges to the offender’s reclassification, or may simply view the hearing as an opportunity to correct any errors that may have occurred in the reclassification.

The effect of SB 10 on Ohio was stated succinctly by Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge David E. Cain: “It’s a mess created by politicians, and it’s going to be a mess for the courts to sort out.”

Changes to Ohio’s sex offender registry and classification scheme
The transition from a risk-based classification system to an offense-based system has turned Ohio’s sex offender registry upside down.

Prior to adopting SB 10, Ohio had a risk-based sex offender classification system. After a conviction of or plea to a sexually oriented offense, a hearing was held to determine whether the offender was likely to commit another sex offense in the future. While these proceedings were deemed to be civil in nature, the Ohio legislature recognized that the offenders needed procedural protections. At the hearing, the offender and the prosecutor could present evidence, call and examine witnesses and expert witnesses, and cross-examine witnesses and expert witnesses. The offender had the right to be represented by counsel and, if indigent, to be provided counsel at state expense. The state had the burden to prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that the offender was likely to reoffend. And, the offender had the right to appeal an adverse ruling.

Simplifying Ohio’s risk-based classification system a bit, offenders could be classified into one of three categories. An offender who had been convicted of or pled to a sexually oriented offense, but who had not been found likely to re-offend, was labeled a sexually oriented offender. An offender who had a prior conviction for a sexually oriented offense, but had not been found likely to re-offend, was labeled a habitual sexual offender. And an offender who had been convicted of or pled to a sexually oriented offense, and had been found likely to commit another sex offense in the future, was labeled a sexual predator. These three categories roughly translate, in duration and requirements of registration, to the Adam Walsh Act’s Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III, respectively.

The state’s risk-based classification system had resulted in a registry that looked much like what scientific research tells us about the likelihood of sex offender recidivism: 77% of Ohio sex offenders were classified as sexually oriented offenders, 4% were labeled habitual sexual offenders, and 18% were labeled sexual predators. After implementing SB 10, Ohio’s registry became top-heavy: only 13% of offenders are classified in Tier I, 33% are in Tier II, and 54% are in Tier III.

Ohio’s Sex Offender Registry


The number of people in the highest tier of Ohio’s registry has tripled. Nearly 8,000 of Ohio’s sex offender registrants were moved from one of the two lower classification levels into Tier III not because they had committed a new crime or because of new evidence of their future dangerousness, but only because of the crime of which they had been previously convicted.

Ohio’s old registry was, potentially, a useful public safety tool. It included more than 22,000 offenders; however, only 4,000 of those offenders were labeled sexual predators. Those 4,000 offenders, found by a judge to be likely to reoffend, would rightly garner the most attention from the public and require the closest supervision by law enforcement. Now, however, Ohio’s registry includes more than 12,000 people labeled as Tier III offenders. Their propensity to reoffend is not known, but the public will certainly perceive them as dangerous, and law enforcement must expend tremendous resources to supervise them.

Under Ohio’s old law, a person convicted of rape for consensual sex with a person four years and one day his junior might have been classified a sexually oriented offender, if that person had not been found likely to commit another sex crime. Also under Ohio’s old law, a person convicted of sexual imposition, a misdemeanor, might have been classified a sexual predator, if a judge found him likely to reoffend. Now, however, Ohio courts are mandated to classify the person convicted of rape as a Tier III offender and the person convicted of sexual imposition as a Tier I offender.

The person convicted of rape could lead a law-abiding life and could even, as happened in at least one Ohio case, marry the “victim” of his offense and have a family, but he would forever be labeled a Tier III offender, the supposed worst of the worst. Even though the person convicted of sexual imposition is likely to commit future sex offenses, a judge would not be able to classify that person into a higher tier until that person committed and was convicted of a subsequent sex offense. Instead of being able to properly label a high-risk offender, the court must instead wait until another offense is committed and another victim is created.

Sex offender registration and notification laws are supposed to be forward-looking, aimed at protecting the public from future crimes. Risk-based systems, like Ohio’s prior scheme, do a much better job of addressing the stated aim of sex offender registries: protecting the public from future criminal acts.

In its position paper on the Adam Walsh Act, the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV), a victim advocacy organization that conducts the public policy work of state sexual assault coalitions and rape crisis centers, states that, “over-inclusive public notification can actually be harmful to public safety by diluting the ability to identify the most dangerous offenders and by disrupting the stability of low-risk offenders in ways that may increase their risk of re-offense. Therefore, NAESV believes that internet disclosure and community notification should be limited to those offenders who pose the highest risk of re-offense.”

The Adam Walsh Act, however, is not concerned with the likelihood of future crimes. It looks only at past offenses and labels offenders based on those past offenses, without considering what those offenders might do in the future.

Retroactivity
One of the primary objections to the Adam Walsh Act concerns the requirement that states apply the law retroactively to persons who offenses predate the enactment of the Act. It is important to remember, however, that the Adam Walsh Act as passed by Congress was not, itself, retroactive. Rather, the Act delegated authority to the Department of Justice to interpret and administer the Act’s registration provisions, and to determine the applicability of those provisions to offenders who were convicted prior to the enactment of the Act.4 The Guidelines for implementation of the Adam Walsh Act, issued by the Department of Justice’s SMART Office, require that the Act be applied retroactively to persons with convictions for sex offenses who are incarcerated or under supervision; who are already subject to a pre-existing sex offender registration system; and who re-enter the justice system because of another crime, regardless of whether it is a sex offense.

Congress did not mandate that all sex offenders be reclassified, and certainly did not require that those offenders who have completed their period of registration be re-registered under the new provisions of the Adam Walsh Act. Applying the Adam Walsh Act’s classification, registration, and notification requirements retroactively, as required by the Guidelines, unnecessarily subjects states to lengthy and expensive constitutional challenges that could be avoided simply by applying the Act prospectively only.

Retroactive application of the Adam Walsh Act presents separation of powers issues, as state legislatures, acting on a directive handed down by the executive branch of the federal government, will be reversing decisions made by judges. In Ohio, the retroactive application of SB 10 legislatively overturned thousands of legal decisions of trial court judges—to not label offenders as sexual predators—simply because offenses committed many years ago fall into a certain Tier, as defined by the Act.

Plea deals that predate the enactment of the Adam Walsh Act and states’ implementation legislation raise additional legal problems. There are thousands of offenders in Ohio who, since the enactment of Ohio’s prior sex offender registration system, had pled guilty to sex offenses.

Many of them pled guilty to offenses that would, under the Adam Walsh Act, be Tier III offenses. But those offenders were labeled, by a judge, as sexually oriented offenders (similar to Tier I), not as sexual predators (similar to Tier III). In many cases, that label of sexually oriented offender was part of a plea bargain, agreed to by the State of Ohio, through the office of the county prosecutor.

Those plea deals are contracts: the defendant agreed to give up his or her right to trial and agreed to go to prison, and in exchange, the State agreed that the defendant would not be labeled a sexual predator. But now, with SB 10 being applied retroactively, thousands of offenders will be notified that, because of the offense to which they pled guilty, they are being reclassified as Tier III offenders and subjected to lifetime registration and verification duties. The State of Ohio, which years ago entered into these contracts and agreed to less-severe labels, has now unilaterally altered thousands of contracts. And, as a result, has made onerous changes in thousands of people’s lives, changes that were neither anticipated nor necessary.

The cost to states and their court systems of the retroactive application of the Adam Walsh Act could take many forms: class action lawsuits; thousands of motions to withdraw pleas; and lawsuits for damages after offenders lose their jobs, are forced to move, or appear on an internet registry after being told they would not. And, perhaps most costly, defendants’ unwillingness to enter into future plea agreements, knowing that at any time, any branch of government at any level may choose to breach the State’s obligations in that contract.

The retroactive application of the Adam Walsh Act’s classification, registration, and notification requirements runs afoul of fundamental fairness. It has, and will continue to, unduly burden court systems and prove costly for the states. Congress, with its one-sentence delegation of authority to the Department of Justice, surely did not intend to levy such a cost on the states and their courts.

The Act’s application to juveniles
The juvenile court system is based on the fundamental belief that children can be rehabilitated. Indeed, juveniles’ inherent amenability to rehabilitation has been recognized by the United States Supreme Court. In its 2005 opinion in Roper v. Simmons, which declared the death penalty for juveniles unconstitutional, the Court stated:

The reality that juveniles still struggle to define their identity means it is less supportable to conclude that even a heinous crime committed by a juvenile is evidence of irretrievably depraved character. From a moral standpoint it would be misguided to equate the failings of a minor with those of an adult, for a greater possibility exists that a minor's character deficiencies will be reformed.

The emerging field of neurological science tells us that children’s brains are physically different from the brains of fully mature adults, and that as a result, they are not only more likely to engage in risk-taking behavior, but also more amenable to treatment. In children and adolescents, the prefrontal cortex is not yet “hardwired” to the rest of brain. It is this part of the brain that plays a critical role in decision making, problem solving, and being able to anticipate the future consequences of today’s actions. Until the prefrontal cortex becomes fully connected, children must rely on another part of the brain for decision making: the amygdala, which processes emotional reactions and is the part of the brain known for the “fight or flight” response.

While this period of brain development can lead to children behaving irrationally, making poor decisions, and overreacting to perceived threats, it is also what makes children especially amenable to treatment. Treatment provided during this critical stage of development to a child who is sexually inappropriate or abusive will impact the way that child’s brain continues to develop; as a result, juvenile sex offenders are known to be especially amenable to treatment, and thus significantly less likely to reoffend.

According to the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities, research shows that “with treatment, supervision and support, the likelihood of a youth committing subsequent sex offenses is about 4–10 percent.”5 And a compilation of 43 follow-up studies of the re-arrest rates of 7,690 juvenile sex offenders found an average sexual recidivism rate of 7.78 percent.

Additionally, the American Psychological Association has noted that because “adolescent sexual offending is different from adult sexual offending in its motivation, nature, extent, and response to intervention … [r]esearch has consistently shown that the majority of children and teenagers adjudicated for sex crimes do not become adult offenders.” The National Center on Sexual Behavior of Youth has conducted an extensive review of the available research on juvenile sex offenders, and has concluded that adolescent sex offenders have fewer numbers of victims than do adult offenders, and engage in less serious and aggressive behavior.

The inclusion on a public registry of all children who are adjudicated delinquent of certain sex offenses is fraught with problems that undermine both the history of the juvenile court system and the purpose of the Adam Walsh Act. It ignores the very foundation of this country’s juvenile court system: a belief, confirmed by scientific research, that children can and should be rehabilitated. And it dilutes the effectiveness of the public registry as a public safety tool, by flooding it with thousands of juvenile offenders, 90–96 percent of whom will never commit another sex offense.

Juveniles who are amenable to treatment and who are successfully rehabilitated have no place on a public registry of violent adult sex offenders. Those who interact with each child individually—juvenile court personnel working in conjunction with treatment providers—should continue to be allowed to determine whether a child’s offense was a youthful indiscretion, a manifestation of a mental illness or other behavioral health problem, or a sign of a child who is not amenable to treatment and who poses an ongoing threat to public safety.

Including children on an internet-based registry also puts those children at risk of being targeted for harassment and abuse. A pedophile could use the online registry to find victims. The registry will provide him with the names, pictures, and home addresses for children as young as 14, as well as the names of the schools they attend, the cars they drive, their license plate numbers, and other identifying information. Many juvenile sex offenders were themselves victims before they committed their offenses, and are especially vulnerable to further victimization.

Additionally, many juvenile sex offenses are intra-familial. During deliberations in the Ohio General Assembly on SB 10, testimony was heard from several parents with a child who sexually offended on a sibling. Those parents testified about the conflicts they face, as parents of both a juvenile sex offender and a victim of sexual abuse. In these situations, the offender and the victim receive much-needed treatment only if their parents are willing to speak up and seek help. Undoubtedly, many parents will be unwilling to ask for help if doing so resigns one child to a lifetime of inclusion on an internet-based registry, with all the restrictions on schooling, employment, and residency it entails, as well as potential threats to that child’s safety. As a result, in many instances, neither offender nor victim will receive the treatment they need.

The risk of mandatory, lifetime inclusion on a public registry will also mean that children facing charges for sex offenses will be less likely to plead guilty and more likely to go to trial, thus exposing the victim and others to the trauma of testifying and to other intrusive aspects of the criminal justice system. And children’s defense counsel will certainly work to get sex offense charges reduced to non-sex offense charges, such as assault, in order to avoid the severe consequences of lifetime inclusion on the public registry. But a child adjudicated delinquent for assault is unlikely to receive sex offender treatment, which results in tremendous lost opportunities for treatment and the prevention of further harm.

The list of offenses to be included on the public registry may seem to target only the “worst of the worst” of juvenile sex offenders. But in Ohio, the offenses recognized as equating to the federal definition of “aggravated sexual abuse”—rape, sexual battery, and gross sexual imposition—include a wide range of behaviors.

Several years ago, my office represented “Brian,” a 16-year-old boy. On the school bus, Brian sat next to a 15-year-old girl whom he had dated previously. He touched his former girlfriend’s breasts through her clothes, and attempted, unsuccessfully, to put his hand down her pants. The girl testified at trial that Brian had put his hand down her pants “[a]bout to the knuckle line.” Brian was adjudicated delinquent for attempted rape and gross sexual imposition.

In another example of a client my office represented, “Zach,” a 14-year-old boy, and several other children had been at a friend’s house without parental supervision. Zach and some of the boys had stolen bottles of alcohol, and the girls had set up a tent in the yard. At some point in the evening, Zach and a 10-year-old girl, who “had become boyfriend and girlfriend earlier that day,” were lying on their sides next to each other in the tent. He put his arm over the girl’s midsection and touched her “below her beltline” but “did not put his hand in between her legs.” Zach was adjudicated delinquent for gross sexual imposition on a victim under the age of 13.

My office also represented “Michael,” whose case highlights many of the problems typically found in juvenile courts. Michael was removed from his mother’s custody at the age of 11, after being physically abused, and over the next several years was placed in seven different foster homes. He is very low-functioning and has been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, extreme mood swings, and reactive attachment disorder. Despite this, Michael was adjudicated delinquent for gross sexual imposition without being represented by counsel. Michael certainly should have been evaluated for his competency to face the GSI complaint, but he had no attorney to raise the issue, and Ohio lacks a competency statute for juveniles.

The Adam Walsh Act purports to protect society from dangerous sexual predators, like the adult pedophiles, unknown to their victims, who kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and murdered Adam Walsh, Jacob Wetterling, Jessica Lunsford, and the other children for whom the legislation is named. But, with the overly broad requirements of the Adam Walsh Act and Ohio’s SB 10, Ohioans instead find themselves “protected” from children like Brian, Zach, and Michael.

The year that Ohio implemented the Adam Walsh Act also marked the 40th anniversary of In re Gault, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that granted many basic due process rights to children in juvenile court, including the right to advance notice of the charges, the right to a fair and impartial hearing, and the right to be represented by counsel. But Gault did not grant full due process protections to juveniles facing delinquency complaints. Notably absent are a child’s right to a grand jury determination of probable cause and the right to an open and speedy trial by jury. And, at least in Ohio, juveniles have yet to fully realize the promises of Gault. A recent study found that two-thirds of children facing unruly or delinquency complaints are not represented by counsel when they appear in Ohio’s juvenile courts.

The failure to fully protect juveniles’ constitutional rights is certainly not limited to Ohio. Last month, two Luzerne County, Pennsylvania judges pled guilty to receiving $2.6 million in kickbacks to send juveniles to certain juvenile detention facilities. A lawsuit filed by the Juvenile Law Center on behalf of 70 families affected by this scandal alleges that the two judges violated the rights of juveniles in ways that went beyond the kickback scheme.10 The lawsuit asserts that in “a wave of unprecedented lawlessness,” the judges failed to advise youth of their right to counsel, accepted their guilty pleas without explaining the charges against them, and garnished the wages of their parents to pay the costs of detention. If Pennsylvania were to adopt the Adam Walsh Act’s overly broad offense-based system, some of these youth, forced to enter admissions to sexual offenses in courts that showed complete disregard for their constitutional rights, would automatically be labeled Tier III and subject to lifetime registration and notification.

The Guidelines for implementation, issued by the SMART Office, instruct that “registration need not be required on the basis of a foreign conviction if the conviction ‘was not obtained with sufficient safeguards for fundamental fairness and due process….’” The Guidelines fail to acknowledge, however, that only limited due process protections are offered to children in juvenile court. By placing juvenile sex offenders on a public registry, the Adam Walsh Act imposes adult sanctions on juvenile defendants. It treats a select group of children who appear in juvenile court differently than other children who appear in juvenile court; it treats them more like adult sex offenders than like children. And it does so without regard to the limited due process protections offered to children in juvenile court.

Limited due process protections make the retroactive application of the Adam Walsh Act especially inappropriate for juveniles. Children who have already been through the juvenile court system—without full due process protections and perhaps without even being represented by counsel—could never have anticipated that lifetime inclusion on a public registry would someday be a consequence of their juvenile court proceeding.

Recognizing the unique qualities and needs of children, the juvenile court system was established to focus on treatment, supervision, and control, rather than solely on punishment. Inclusion on a public registry, though, will significantly limit treatment and aftercare options for juvenile sex offenders. Many group homes, foster homes, and community placements will not accept children with sex offenses in their histories. Children on a public registry with community notification requirements will be nearly impossible to place for or after treatment. As a result, many juvenile sex offenders will be kept in juvenile correctional facilities far beyond the time it takes them to complete treatment. Children will be incarcerated not because they need further treatment or pose a risk to public safety, but only because public policy will prevent them from going anywhere else. This is a dramatic, and ill-advised, shift in the focus of the juvenile court system from treatment to punishment.

Subjecting juvenile sex offenders to the same sanctions as adults raises legal and scientific questions about culpability and punishment, and the registration and notification requirements are inconsistent with the purposes of juvenile court: treatment and rehabilitation. Inclusion on an internet-based public registry will subject juveniles to social ostracism, limit access to educational and work opportunities, make it more difficult for juveniles to be placed with family or friends, and limit residential treatment options. And treating juvenile sex offenders in the same manner as adult sex offenders with respect to reporting, notification, and length of classification, even though juveniles have fewer legal rights and protections than adults, presents legal and Constitutional problems.

The plain language of the Adam Walsh Act requires that all children age 14 and older who are adjudicated delinquent for offenses “comparable to or more severe than aggravated sexual abuse” be included on the public, online registry of sex offenders. But the negative consequences of doing so—fewer intra-familial crimes being reported, fewer offenders and victims receiving treatment, and children on the registry being targeted for abuse and exploitation, to name only a few—would actually put states out of compliance with the stated intent of the Adam Walsh Act: protecting children from violent sex offenders.

Substantial compliance and SORNA as a “floor”
The Adam Walsh Act requires substantial implementation, and the Guidelines issued by the SMART Office purport to require substantial compliance. But the definition of “substantial” is unclear, and leaves states uncertain about their options to tailor the Act to their systems and needs.

The Guidelines offer that the “substantial” compliance standard “contemplate[s] that there is some latitude to approve a jurisdiction’s implementation efforts, even if they do not exactly follow in all respects the specifications of SORNA or these Guidelines.” However, the Guidelines also say that the Adam Walsh Act presents a set of “minimum national standards,” and that the Guidelines “set a floor, not a ceiling,” for states’ registration systems.

These two statements, taken together, imply that a state’s implementation efforts do not have to “follow in all respects” the Adam Walsh Act or the Guidelines, but only if the state chooses to exceed the requirements of the Act or the Guidelines. These two statements seem to define “substantial” compliance as something at or above 100 percent compliance. That, of course, is an illogical and unfounded definition of “substantial,” and clearly goes beyond what is required by the Adam Walsh Act. The Guidelines instruct that nothing less than strict compliance will be sufficient, while the Act requires only the substantial implementation of the federal law.

Further, the characterization of the Guidelines as a “floor” is disingenuous. It is akin to Congress declaring that a speed limit of 95 miles per hour is now the floor for speed limits across the nation. States could feel free to exceed that requirement and set the speed limit within their jurisdiction at a higher rate, but 95 miles per hour would be the new national minimum. Ohio and other states, with speed limits ranging from 55 to 75 miles per hour, would be left staring upward at the 95-mile-per-hour floor, wondering how to achieve that level, whether doing so would be worth the effort and cost of implementation, and most importantly, what impact the implementation of this new federal requirement would have on public safety.

States should be allowed to substantially comply with the Adam Walsh Act not by blindly enacting federal mandates, but by crafting good public policy that both achieves the Act’s goals and is tailored to the unique systems and public policy goals of each state.

Cost to implement
Especially now, as the country faces the most serious economic downturn in at least three decades, the cost to implement the Adam Walsh Act must be considered.

Virginia’s Department of Planning and Budget, which has developed one of the most detailed fiscal analyses to date, estimated that implementing the Adam Walsh Act would cost the Commonwealth nearly $12.5 million the first year and nearly $9 million every year thereafter, to maintain the system. While the Virginia fiscal analysis included cost estimates for law enforcement and the adult prison system, it did not include estimates for expenditures by the juvenile justice system, courts, prosecutors, or defenders.

And, compared to the estimated $12.5 million Virginia would have to expend to implement the Adam Walsh Act, it risks losing only $394,304, were it to choose to not comply with the federal Act.


Using the Virginia cost estimates, the Justice Policy Institute estimated the cost of implementation for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, based on population, and compared those numbers to the amount of money states would lose in Bryne Grant funds if they chose to not comply with the requirements of the federal Adam Walsh Act.

Other states show a similar disparity between costs incurred to implement the Act and the potential financial penalty for non-compliance.






While not an exact measurement of the necessary state expenditures, the Justice Policy Institute’s calculations provide a picture of the serious fiscal impact on states that choose to implement the Adam Walsh Act. For states to just break even between expenditures and the potential loss of Byrne grants, Virginia’s cost estimates must have been overestimated, or allocations to the Byrne grant funds must increase from their 2006 levels, by a factor of 31.

These are significant costs to implement an act, the efficacy of which is being questioned not only by defense attorneys, civil libertarians, child advocates, and treatment providers, but also by social science researchers and a growing number of concerned state attorneys general, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and victims groups.

Conclusion
The effects of the Adam Walsh Act, once implemented, contravene the Act’s well-intentioned goals. An act intended to unify registries across the country has instead placed an incredible burden on courts and law enforcement and created confusion from one jurisdiction to another. A law aimed at protecting children from sexual predators instead places thousands of juveniles, many of whom have been sexually abused, on an online registry and into harm’s way. A system meant to simplify sex offender classification has instead muddled the meaning of offenders’ designations, and left the public to only speculate about which prior offenders might pose a future risk.

Respectfully, I urge the Members of this Subcommittee to consider an extension of the deadline for states to comply with the Act; the establishment of task forces, comprised of experts in the field of sex offender management and representatives of all stakeholders in this complex issue, to examine the practical effects of the Act on public safety; and possible statutory reform.

Chairman Scott, Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today.


SORNA Conference (03/10/2009) - Witness Testimony - Detective Bob Shilling


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Testimony:

Detective Bob Shilling

House Judiciary Committee
Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA)

March 10, 2009



Mr. Chairman, Committee Members, Guests, I am honored to be given the opportunity to testify today. My name is Bob Shilling. I am a twenty-nine year veteran of the Seattle Police Department. I have spent the last nineteen years as a detective in the Special Victim’s Unit, Sex and Kidnapping Offender Detail. I have written or co-authored 12 pieces of sex offender legislation that have been passed into law in Washington State, and testified on the Community Protection Act of 1990, which became the first community notification law in the United States. I am the only municipal law enforcement officer in the United States who is a member of the Interpol Specialists Group on Crimes Against Children. I currently serve as Chair of the Sex Offender Management Theme Group.

My experience in protecting the public from sex offenders spans two decades. It’s not a job to me it’s a passion. Perhaps my most significant experience related to this work comes from the fact that I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. The abuse spanned a four-year period and without question marks the darkest days of my life. I have dedicated my life to doing whatever I can to stop sexual abuse, not only in this country, but also around the world.

Prior to becoming a detective in the Special Victims Unit, I like many citizens, believed the only way to manage sex offenders was to put them on a distant island where they couldn’t victimize anyone else. My feelings were naïve, yet a heartfelt response to a very complex problem. My focus then and now has always been victim centered. What can we do to ensure we don’t have additional victims? What can we do to stop sexual abuse before it happens? What has research taught us? How do we hold sex offenders accountable while making sure they have the tools to succeed once they are released from incarceration?

Washington State has been in the national forefront of sex offender management and in ensuring public safety from sex crimes. We have an End of Sentence Review Committee that looks at the risk each sex offender poses to the community prior to their release from prison. We have a highly regarded sex offender treatment program within the prison system, and statewide certification of sex offender treatment providers in private practice. We do actuarial risk assessments on each of our sex offenders in an effort to identify those who are most likely to re-offend. This helps put precious public safety resources where they are needed the most; monitoring the highest risk offenders. We proactively educate our community about sex offenders. We want the public to be able to protect themselves from known sex offenders, as well as those who haven’t been caught yet. We also educate the community that it’s in the best interest of public safety to be invested in the offender’s success when they are released.

I’ve trained law enforcement officers from all over the world in the art of educating the community about sex offenders. I’ve stated: “You can’t do community notification without community education. To do so is like smoking a cigarette while standing in a pool of gasoline.” Without education there’s misinformation. Misinformation leads to heightened anxiety, which in some cases, leads to vigilantism. The community deserves to know who the high-risk sex offenders are in the community, about the relatively low sex offender recidivism rates, and what research tells us. Citizens can and will act responsibly if we are honest with them. They are better able to protect themselves and their loved ones when we educate them about sex offenders.

I ask that you consider how the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) impacts the public safety aims of effectively managing sex offenders in the community. The SORNA does not mandate community education as a component of community notification. This is a recipe for disaster and leaves citizens trying to sort out fact from myth, truth from emotion, and what to do next. This creates public safety concerns and does not have the citizens invested in offender success. It has the opposite effect.

The SORNA mandates offense based tiering, which is a faulty alternative to actuarial risk based tiering used in over 20 states. Citizens have grown used to level one sex offenders being low risk, level 2 moderate risk, and level three high risk. Under SORNA, most sex offenders will be tier 3. That will cause great confusion and anxiety for the citizens, as they believe each of these offenders is a high risk to re-offend. That just is not true. Sex offenders differ greatly in their level of impulsiveness, persistence, risk to the community, and their desire to change their deviant behavior. Assigning sex offender tiers based on crime of conviction tells us very little about who this sex offender is and what his or her risk for re-offense may be. In Washington State, I have the ability to aggravate someone’s risk level if dynamic risk factors indicate an escalation in risky behavior. I won’t have that ability under SORNA. Their tier is their tier. It is not an effective way of doing business with the public.

Research tells us that 90% of victims under age 12 knew their abuser. That number is 66% when the victim is between 18 and 29 years old. (Tjaden & Thoennes 2000) Under the SORNA, all sex offenders will be subject to broad based Internet dissemination (community notification) regardless of risk. When we know that most victims of sexual abuse know their abuser, and in a large proportion of cases it’s a family member, Internet notification increases the likelihood that the victim will be identified. Victims tell us that their greatest concerns are their family knowing about the assault (71%), and people outside the family knowing about the assault (68%). (Kilpatrick, Edmunds, Seymour (1992) Rape in America.) The last thing we want to do is create disincentives to victims and their families to report.

Finally, I ask you to consider the retroactivity aspect of the SORNA. Research tells us that most sex offenders do not re-offend sexually over time. In a 2004 study done by the pre-eminent researchers Harris and Hanson, with a sample of 4,724 sex offenders over a 15-year follow-up period, “73% of sexual offenders had not been charged with or convicted of another sexual offense.” Under the SORNA, law enforcement will be responsible for reviewing the criminal history of anyone brought back into the system even for a non-sexual criminal offense. If they were once convicted of a sex offense, regardless of how long ago that conviction was, the offender will be required to register as a sex offender. This will be very labor intensive and costly. Our time, efforts, and resources are more effectively spent focusing on moderate to high-risk sex offenders, not sex offenders who committed their sex crime 25 or 30 years ago have not reoffended in a sexual way.

Thank you for your time and your thoughtful consideration.


GA - Norcross Man: Officer Forced Me To Perform Sex Acts

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03/11/2009

ATLANTA - _____ of Norcross says he will never forget what happened to him last Tuesday inside a room at the Georgia World Congress Center.

_____, a former convention center employee, told Channel 2 Action News reporter Eric Philips that an officer with the Georgia World Congress Center Police Department crossed the line by inquiring about his sexuality and forcing _____ to perform sexual acts while _____ was being questioned on suspicion of having a stolen cell phone in his possession.

“I really didn't know what to think, because for one, I was never prepped on anything like that as far as an officer coming on to me,” said _____, who told the officer he was bisexual when questioned.

_____ said the officer indicated that if he complied, he would not go to jail.

"It happened so fast it was like very disturbing, going to jail over something you didn't know about," said _____.

_____'s attorney, Michael Harper, said his client has DNA evidence and text messages that implicate the officer. Harper also said medical tests showed _____ tested positive for oral gonorrhea from the incident.

“The question is if you say no, what will happen, and that's a result he didn't want to take, so he complied with the officer's request,” said Harper.

_____ is set to file a $5 million lawsuit against the state because of the alleged sexual assault.

The officer in question has resigned from the Georgia World Congress Center. Convention center officials said they will not comment, nor would officials with the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office because the investigation is ongoing.

“It plays, it constantly plays over again in my head,” said _____.


MD - Shank seeks end to sex offender "loophole" (Violating his oath of office and the Constitution, and calling it a "loophole!")

View the article here

So when did violating ones "oath of office" to uphold the Constitution, thus violating ex post facto and due process become a loophole?

03/10/2009

By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

ANNAPOLIS — _____’s father began sexually abusing her when she was just 5 years old.

The abuse continued until she was 12, and now at 25 years old, _____ says she wants to help warn others about the crimes committed by her father, a Sharpsburg resident.

_____, a graduate of Boonsboro High School who now lives in Hawaii, was in Annapolis Tuesday to testify in favor of a bill that would correct a law that allows sex offenders like her father to avoid registering as such.

Her father, _____, 57, was convicted of third-degree sex offense for abusing _____.

Del. Christopher B. Shank (Email), R-Washington, sponsored the bill, which would retroactively add sex offenders to the Maryland Sex Offender Registry, correcting what he calls “a loophole.”
- And thus violating his "oath of office" and the Constitution, which he "swore to God" he would uphold, and apparently lied, and calling it a "loophole!"

The bill was heard Tuesday before the House of Delegates Judiciary Committee. No action was taken.

The current law prevents people who committed a crime before 1995 who were not charged until after October 2001 from registering. Shank’s bill would apply to people convicted in 1995 or later whose crimes occurred before 1995.
- So I guess all those mothers and fathers who had sex at an early age, are going to now be put onto the sex offender registry?

About 130 people charged with sex offenses have been able to avoid registering as sex offenders because of the "loophole", according to testimony. The majority of those people have committed crimes against children.

The abuse _____ suffered took place from 1988 to 1995, and it wasn’t until 2007 that she turned her father in to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. Experts testified Tuesday that child victims often wait years to report abuse, especially if their abuser is a parent.

_____ originally was forced to register after his conviction in 2008, but _____’s lawyer is petitioning to have him removed based on the loophole. He is still listed on the Maryland Sex Offender Registry.

Shank said the bill is similar to one he filed in the General Assembly last year after learning about the loophole from a Washington County woman, who offered written testimony Tuesday in favor of Shank’s bill.
- So what happened with this similar bill?

In 2005, the woman reported to police that _____, sexually abused her 22 years prior, when she was in eighth grade. _____ was her social studies teacher at the time.

Maryland State Police began an investigation into _____’ behavior in July 2005 after the victim contacted police. Charges were filed several months later. _____ pleaded guilty to the charge for inappropriately touching the girl and was sentenced in September 2006 to serve 10 years in prison with 5 1/2 years suspended.

_____ also has not registered as a sex offender because of the law’s "loophole".

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services supported Shank’s bill, but offered some amendments. The Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Abuse also supports the bill. It is opposed by the Maryland State Bar Association and the Maryland Office of the Public Defender.