Wednesday, May 6, 2009

SC - AGs v. Craigslist: Putting the Bully Back Into Bully Pulpit

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05/06/2009

By Matt Zimmerman

Here we go again. On Tuesday, South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster notified craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster that unless craigslist removes its erotic services section within 10 days, "craigslist management may be subject to criminal investigation and prosecution." McMaster's threat comes on the heels of increasingly bellicose rhetoric in recent weeks from other AGs such as Rhode Island AG Patrick Lynch, Illinois AG Lisa Madigan, and Connecticut AG Richard Blumenthal. The case further echos the suit brought by Cook County (Illinois) Sheriff Thomas Dart back in March seeking, among other things, compensation for funds the County spent on combating prostitution.

The AGs would almost certainly lose any such threatened lawsuit.

Craigslist, as previous courts have held, is protected by federal law. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, passed in 1996, immunizes providers of "interactive computer service" such as Craigslist -- website operators, ISPs, domain name registrars -- from state criminal liability for content posted by third parties. Under CDA 230, it is irrelevant that such a service might have known about the posts or could have done more to block them. Indeed, one of the explicit rationales for passing CDA 230 in the first place was to protect service providers who wanted to engage in the kinds of self-regulatory measures as Craigslist has already done to help limit access to sexually explicit materials online. As California Representative Christopher Cox noted in support of the future statute, CDA 230 would “protect [online service providers] from taking on liability ... that they should not face ... for helping us solve this problem” as well as establish a federal policy of nonregulation to “encourage what is right now the most energetic technological revolution that any of us has ever witnessed.” The notion that craigslist (and their officers!) should be held responsible for third party content on their site because they didn't do enough to satisfy the individual whims of respective state attorneys general is wholly inconsistent with the law.

In fact, craigslist has gone far beyond their obligations under the law. In November of 2008, craigslist agreed to implement a series of technical and policy changes to curb the use of their site for illegal purposes by third parties, including (among other things) requiring telephone and credit card verification for "erotic services" ads posted on their site, automatically blocking certain ads that it believes may be illegal, tagging adult-oriented ads to help facilitate the effectiveness of parental-screening software, improving its search capabilities in an attempt to help law enforcement to locate missing persons and identify exploited minors and victims of human trafficking, and the like. Even before their November 2008 agreement, according to craigslist, the number of erotic services ads dropped 90% as a result of craigslist's own internal efforts to screen ads that violated their terms of service. Despite these efforts and results, it appears that some of craigslist's governmental critics will remain unsatisfied unless they can control the ad categories offered on the site.

Attorney General Henry McMaster has no case. Neither do AGs Lynch or Blumenthal. And neither does Sheriff Dart, as craigslist explained Monday in their motion to dismiss his March lawsuit. While the AGs may wish it was not so, federal law protects craigslist and no amount of posturing will change that fact.

And that's a good thing. The existence of sites that rely on third party content depends on strong uniform legal protections against liability based on material posted by users. If site operators were forced to screen all third party contributions under risk of civil or criminal penalty, the Internet would lose many of the vibrant services that have made it so dynamic. The problem would be further compounded if, as these state AGs now suggest, each state was able to put together its own wish list instructing website operators how to treat third party content. Under such a radical re-envisioning, the Internet would ultimately become the province of rich and cautious media companies who would actively serve as gatekeepers to decide whether and how users could engage with the world. The AGs are wrong to promote such a profound change... and out of line to suggest that such a legal world already exists.


Typical media fear-mongering and vigilantism!


FL - Commission Puts Sex Offender On County Board

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Related Article

This could be good news, but I am willing to bet they will just ignore anything the RSO says.

05/06/2009

By BUDDY NEVINS

Martin Kiar is pissed.

The youthful state representative is upset about one member of a newly-formed county commission task force – a registered sex offender.

The offender is part of a task force that will make recommendations about laws governing where sex offenders can live.

I get concerned when sexual predators are put on county boards,” Kiar says.

Apparently Kair is not alone.

A number of lawmakers in Tallahassee shook their heads in disbelief when they learned Broward County would appoint a registered sex offender to a board.

They chalked it up to more Broward County liberal foolishness.

The task force will contain one sex offender, two cops, home owners association and American Civil Liberties Union representatives, two members of the Broward League of Cities and representatives of a college and the state Department of Corrections.

The victim’s representative is Lauren Book-Lim. She’s lobbyist Ron Book’s daughter.
- I figured Ron Book would be involved some how!

Book-Lin was molested by her nanny in a widely publicized case several years ago. She now runs Lauren’s Kids, an advocacy group for molested youths.

I personally don’t agree with Kair.

Some of the people labeled sex offenders are not a wild-eyed predators that Kair and everybody else rightfully fears. Those offenders should be controlled.

But others are stigmatized for life because of youthful indiscretions, usually made when they are drunk.

They get caught for urinating in public or being in an Internet sex chat rooms. Somewhat victimless crimes.

The offender appointed to the task force appeared at the commission meeting.

He said he had recovered. His victim appeared with him, according to Mayor Stacy Ritter (Email).

Do people like this – who paid their debt to society — deserve input into laws governing their life?

You bet.

“They are people too,” says Ritter.

I agree.


VA - Substance mailed to state police headquarters

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05/06/2009

Virginia State Police are awaiting lab test results to identify a white, powdery substance found this afternoon in an envelope mailed to the agency's administrative headquarters on Midlothian Turnpike.

State police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said that shortly after 2 p.m., an employee came across the substance while opening mail in the criminal justice information services division. Following procedures established for such situations, the employee notified her supervisor, the ventilation system was shut down on that floor and the area was evacuated, Geller said.

Hazardous materials teams from Chesterfield County and the state police arrived and entered the building wearing protective suits and breathing equipment at 4:15. They conducted preliminary field tests on the substance and, after determining that there was not any immediate danger, collected and transported the powder to the state laboratory in downtown Richmond, Geller said.

Geller said the department that received the envelope maintains databases such as the state sex offender registry. The envelope contained a sex offender registration form but no written threat, Geller said.

The employee, supervisor and two others who were in close proximity to the substance were quarantined and monitored and have not shown any symptoms of illness, Geller said.


MN - Minnesota Legislature Votes To Limit Internet Use Of Sex Offenders

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05/06/2009

This is bad policy.

ST. PAUL - The highest-risk sex offenders will face limits on their Internet access under a bill the Minnesota Legislature voted unanimously to send to Gov. Tim Pawlenty (Email).

Starting in August 2010, predatory offenders put on intensive supervised release won’t be able to access, create or maintain a personal Web page or social networking account if it permits contact with anyone under 18. The restrictions apply to chat rooms, instant messaging and popular sites like MySpace and Facebook.

This seems unenforceable to me. I don’t care how “intensive” a given sex predator’s release is, given the pervasive nature of the internet today there’s no way they can catch everything. You can get the internet at the local library. On the cell phone. There are open wi-fi access points all over the place. All you need is a laptop.

We could spend millions - billions, perhaps, nationally - trying to enforce laws like this one and we still probably won’t be real effective.

What I’m wondering is, if these guys are so dangerous they can’t even be trusted with unsupervised use of the internet, what in the world are they doing out of jail?


VT - ACLU sues on behalf of Barre sex offender

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05/06/2009

MONTPELIER (AP) - A sex offender ordered to get out of Barre is now suing the city, claiming a residency restriction unfairly bars him from living there.

The American Civil Liberties Union's Vermont chapter has filed the suit on behalf of 29-year-old _____, who moved to Barre with his wife and two children this spring, not knowing that an "exclusion zone" set up as part of a safety ordinance banned him from living in the apartment he rented.

_____ was convicted of lewd and lascivious conduct over a sexual contact with a 15-year-old girl that occurred when he was 18.

Barre Mayor Thom Lauzon (Email) says the city will defend the ordinance in court, believing that a municipality's right to keep its citizens safe trumps the right of individuals like _____ to live anywhere.


NY - Former officer spared from prison time

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05/06/2009

By Joe Arena

Plead guilty in prostitution scandal

LOCKPORT (WIVB) - A former Lockport Police Captain John Trowbridge has been spared from prison time for his role in a prostitution scandal.

First it was former law Clerk Michael Stebick, who faced sentencing and avoided jail time. Wednesday, former Lockport Police Captain John Trowbridge stood before a federal judge to find out his fate after pleading guilty to taking a massage parlor worker across state lines for the purpose of prostitution with former Supreme Court Justice Ronald Tills.

Trowbridge offered no comment when showing up and leaving the courthouse Wednesday morning. Judge William Skretny admitted he had a tough decision to make in sentencing the former police captain.
- That would not be such a "tough decision" if it were the average citizen!

Mainly because as he said, what Mr. Trowbridge did was a disgrace to himself and an insult to his wife. But in light of the cooperation from Trowbridge and admitting guilt upon being questioned without even contacting a lawyer, Judge Skretny spared the 62 year old jail time and sentenced him to two years probation.

Trowbridge will pay a $10,000 fine and register as a sex offender with the state under the terms of his sentence.

Copyright WIVB.com


TX - De-registration bill for consensual sex offenders passes House

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05/06/2009

By Emily Ramshaw

Sex offenders who were convicted despite having consensual sex with their victims would be allowed to petition for removal from the state's sex offender registry, under a bill the House passed on Wednesday.

The bill allows offenders who were no more than four years older than their victims - and whose victims were at least 13 years old - to ask a judge to remove them from the sex offender registry if their relationship was consensual. The bill passed 131-12.

Under current law, young men who were convicted after having sex with their underage girlfriends are often forced to register for years, a stigma that keeps them from finding work or renting apartments. Many of the men who came to testify on the bill this spring were married to the women they were convicted of assaulting.

"This is one of the most morally compelling pieces of legislation that I have ever filed," said Rep. Todd Smith (Contact). "We rarely have the opportunity to do something that takes people out of a living hell."


DC - Prison Awaiting Hostile Bloggers

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05/05/2009

By David Kravets

Proposed congressional legislation would demand up to two years in prison for those whose electronic speech is meant to “coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person.

Instead of prison, perhaps we should say gulag.

The proposal by Rep. Linda Sanchez (Contact), D-Los Angeles, would never pass First Amendment muster, unless the U.S. Constitution was altered without us knowing. So Sanchez, and the 14 other lawmakers who signed on to the proposal, are grandstanding to show the public they care about children and are opposed to cyberbullying.

The measure, H.R. 1966, is labeled the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act. It’s designed to target the behavior that led to last year’s suicide of the 13-year-old Meier.

In response to Meier’s suicide, prosecutors turned to an anti-hacking statute, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and prosecuted Lori Drew. She was accused of violating MySpace’s terms of service agreement in what prosecutors said was a complex conspiracy to harass Meier via a fake MySpace online profile.

The judge presiding over the case is weighing a motion to nullify the jury’s verdict on allegations the authorities failed to prove Drew knew the MySpace terms of service existed — allegations that would be mooted had Drew been prosecuted under Sanchez’s proposal. Drew’s case was the nation’s first cyberbullying prosecution under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Sanchez’s bill goes way beyond cyberbullying and comes close to making it a federal offense to log onto the internet or use the telephone. The methods of communication where hostile speech is banned include e-mail, instant messaging, blogs, websites, telephones and text messages.

We can’t say what we think of Sanchez’s proposal. Doing so would clearly get us two years in solitary confinement.

The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.


AK - Sheriff implementing volunteer 'posse' program

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So now they are allowing citizens to be "police?" What is going to happen when someone goes to check on a sex offender, and they get hurt?

05/06/2009

By AARON MARTIN

JUNEAU — "This is not an opportunity for you to be a gun-toting cowboy," Dodge County Sheriff Todd Nehls told a crowd gathered Monday night to learn about a new volunteer posse program.

But the volunteer posse program is an opportunity for citizens to save officers' time and taxpayer dollars by assisting the sheriff's department with non-enforcement tasks — and to have some fun along the way.
- Non-enforcement tasks?  Well see below, that doesn't seem like a "non-enforcement task" to me!

Of the 44 municipalities within Dodge County, the sheriff's department serves as a first responder to about half of them; all while patrolling almost 900 square miles of Dodge County, maintaining the jail and providing security for the courthouse.

Facing a long list of public safety responsibilities and ever-present budget restrictions, Nehls said it's inevitable that less-pressing tasks fall by the wayside.

Enter the volunteer posse.

"That's what the posse will do, fill in those gaps," Nehls said.

Daily posse responsibilities will range from office/clerical work, to assisting the patrol and jail divisions.

Posse volunteers in the jail division will be asked to perform a wide range of tasks including sorting mail, sewing, checking on Huber inmates at work, running errands from the jail to the courthouse and even stopping by the homes of sex offenders to ensure their addresses are current with the sex offender registry.

A squad car, with a fully-functioning radio and radar gun, will be provided for patrol division volunteers to use as they set up the sheriff's department radar wagon, conduct home surveillance checks and conduct radar speed checks to identify problem areas throughout the county.

The posse volunteers wont be able to conduct traffic stops, but they can record speeds and identify problem areas that need to be staked out by a real deputy.

Aside from the daily posse tasks — which will entail about 10 to 12 hours of work a week for each volunteer — Nehls said a strong posse could be a great asset in the event of a major disaster.

"Something huge will happen in Dodge County and we will be woefully short of resources," Nehls said, adding that posse volunteers could be used to check people in and out of disaster areas, answer telephones and provide traffic control.
- Sounds like they are "expecting" something to happen!

Twenty-two citizens were in attendance for the informational meeting held at the sheriff's department Monday night, and Nehls said he has received many more applications for the program.

He plans to start with about a dozen volunteers; hopes to identify one or two leaders and then to expand the program.

"I would not put it out of the realm that in five to seven years having 100 people I know I can call on a moments notice," Nehls said.

He also acknowledged that finding the right group of people to get the program off the ground is imperative to its success.

"As a posse volunteer, although you will not be paid, you will be treated as an employee of the county government," Nehls said. "If we offered $8 an hour, we would have 500 people here tonight, of which 490 I would not want."

Nehls said that posse volunteers will be expected to have strong moral convictions and to conduct themselves as sheriff's department ambassadors at all times.

Dodge County Administrator Jim Mielke, who was in attendance at Monday's meeting, said he sees great potential in the posse program.

"The sheriff has a great vision for what he wants to accomplish through this program, and it certainly looks successful gauging the turn-out tonight and enthusiasm that's been displayed here," Mielke said. "If it frees up some of our regular deputies' time, it's certainly a great program. I'm certainly optimistic that it's going to work."


Zero Tolerance and Homeless Sex Offenders

The info in this video, was pulled from this Power Point Presentation (12/11/2007). Notice the items highlighted in red, starting at chart 9?


FL - Zero Tolerance and Homeless Sex Offenders

The info in this video, was pulled from this Power Point Presentation (12/11/2007). Notice the items highlighted in red, starting at chart 9?


SEX OFFENDERS' RESIDENCY RESTRICTIONS

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Keep in mind this is from 2007, and many states residency restrictions have changed, but I am going to try to find more about which states have residency restrictions, and what they may be.

05/23/2007

By: Sandra Norman-Eady, Chief Attorney

You asked for information about state laws and local ordinances that preclude registered sex offenders from residing in or visiting certain areas.

SUMMARY

As of August 2006, at least 21 states and over 400 local governments had adopted sex offender residency restriction laws and ordinances, respectively, according to the California Research Bureau in an August 2006 report entitled The Impact of Residency Restrictions on Sex Offenders and Correctional Management Practices: A Literature Review. These laws are modeled after nuisance codes, creating sex offender-free zones like drug-free zones. They typically prohibit sex offenders from living, and sometimes working or loitering, within a specified distance of designated places where children congregate.

Like all states, Connecticut requires sex offenders to register. And like most states, police must notify residents when a sex offender moves or returns to their neighborhoods. But, the state has not enacted a law restricting sex offenders' residency. This could change soon, however. A bill, sHB 5503, currently before the General Assembly requires the Risk Assessment Board to use the risk assessment scale it develops to determine the sex offenders who should be prohibited from living within 1,000 feet of the property comprising an elementary or secondary school or a licensed center- or home-based child day care facility.

Danbury is the only city in this state known to have an ordinance restricting sex offenders' residency. The ordinance prohibits sex offenders from entering a public park, playground, recreation center, bathing beach, swimming pool, sports field, or sports facility.

Proponents of residency restrictions argue the need to safeguard potential victims and opponents argue the need to track offenders. We have found no empirical studies on whether these laws reduce crime rates.

Constitutional challenges to the laws and ordinances have been unsuccessful.

BACKGROUND

States began trying to keep track of sex offenders over 50 years ago, when, in 1947, California enacted the first sex offender registration law. Now all states have sex offender registration laws that help law enforcement agencies keep track of offenders' movements.

In the mid 1990's states, following the federal government's lead, enacted community notification laws that require law enforcement agencies to inform residents of the identity and location of sex offenders in their neighborhoods. These notification laws caused people to complain to their local official when sex offenders moved into their neighborhoods. As a result, five years after the first notification law the first sex offender residency and child safety zone restriction law was enacted in Texas.

SEX OFFENDER RESIDENCY RESTRICTION LAWS AND ORDINANCES

State Laws

At least 21 states have laws restricting where registered sex offenders can visit or live. The most common type of restriction prohibits them from residing within a certain distance of specified places where children congregate. Distance markers generally range from 1,000 to 2,000 feet from the designated place; however, Illinois and South Dakota have 500 foot distance markers. Some states limit the restrictions to offenders (1) convicted of only the most serious offenses (Arkansas, California, Indiana, and Louisiana) or (2) most likely to reoffend based on some type of risk assessment (Minnesota and Washington). Table 1 shows the 22 states, lists their relevant statutes, and describes the ban.

TABLE 1: RESIDENCY RESTRICTIONS BY STATE (CLICK TO ENLARGE)


(Table 1 Continued)

Source: California Research Bureau/ California State Library, 2006.

Local Ordinances

According to the California Research Bureau, over 400 municipalities have enacted restrictive ordinances, primarily within the past two years. States with known local ordinances include California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. The number of municipalities with such ordinances varies by state but according to the bureau, at least 113 municipalities in New Jersey and 60 in Florida have them. Like state laws, local ordinances on this issue either preclude offenders from certain areas where children are known to congregate or establish distance markers.

Danbury is the only city in Connecticut with such an ordinance. It prohibits child sex offenders who are required to register in this state from being present in any child safety zone. A “child safety zone” is a public park, playground, recreation center, bathing beach, swimming or wading pool, or sports field or facility and surrounding land.

The prohibition does not apply to any person:

1. whose name has been removed from the Department of Public Safety's Sex Offender Registry or from the registry in another state or in the federal or military system by court order or expiration of the registration term

or

2. entering into a polling place in a child safety zone to vote if he leaves immediately after voting.

If a police officer reasonably believes a child sex offender is in a child safety zone in violation of the ordinance, the office must ask him to provide his name, address, and telephone number. If the officer's belief is confirmed, he or she must issue the offender a written warning and require him to leave the area. An offender who refuses to leave and subsequent offenders are subject to a $ 100 fine for each violation. The fine does not apply if the offender's conduct results in his conviction for a new criminal offense or if his parole or probation is revoked because of it (Danbury City Ord. § 12-27).

ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST RESTRICTIONS

The most powerful and often the single argument in support of safety zones or residency restrictions is that they reduce recidivism rates by keeping potential victims safe and apart from offenders. Opponents argue that these restrictions have a number of unintended consequences. For example, they (1) isolate offenders, often forcing them to live in rural areas that lack jobs, transportation, housing, and treatment; (2) create homelessness, making it difficult for law enforcement officers to track offenders; (3) cause offenders to go underground and not update registration information; and (4) can prevent offenders from residing with supportive family members who live in the restricted areas.

CONSTITUTIONALITY OF RESIDENCY RESTRICTIONS

Residency restrictions have withstood constitutional challenges in trial and appellate courts in Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, and South Dakota. At issue in these cases collectively was whether the restrictions (1) impose criminal sanctions that penalize offenders whose convictions are final in violation of the ex post facto clause of Article I, Section 10, Clause 1, of the U. S. Constitution, (2) violate the constitutionally-protected right to travel, or (3) discriminate against offenders in violation of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.

These courts have held that (1) residency restrictions are a form of civil regulation intended to protect children and thus prohibitions on ex post facto laws do not apply; (2) the federal constitution does not include a right to live where one chooses; and (3) residency restrictions are rationally related to states' legitimate interests in protecting children from harm (see Doe v. Miller, 405 F. 3d 700 (8th Cir. 2005); State v. Steering, 701 N. W. 2d 655 (Iowa 2005); Coston v. Petro, 398 F. Supp. 2d 878 (S. D. Ohio 2005); and People v. Leroy, 357 Ill. App. 3d 530 (2005)).

SN-E: ts


IN - Registering offenders

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05/06/2009

Two state Supreme Court rulings last week will – rightly – reduce the number of sex offenders who must register with the state. More important, though, the rulings – taken together – reinforce the validity of requiring violent sexual predators to register their home and work addresses for life.

In one case, the court ruled that criminals convicted of offenses before the 1994 enactment of the “Zachary’s Law” sex offender registry are not required to register as sexual offenders. Both state and federal constitutions explicitly prohibit – for good reasons – adoption of ex post facto laws that publish or regulate criminals for actions committed before the law was established.

So the court threw out the conviction of a child molester for failing to register with the authorities.

We believe the impact of this decision will be limited to a fairly narrow group of offenders,” Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said after the ruling. “Sex offenders convicted after (1994) still must register and still can face criminal charges if they fail to register. The ability of parents to check the registry and protect their children remains in effect.

In a key decision that upheld Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull, the court ruled 3-2 that _____ was required to register for life because of his guilty plea in 2000 to vicarious sexual gratification. State law at the time required him to register as a sex offender for 10 years. Later, however, the legislature required lifetime registration for people convicted of crimes that qualify for their listing as sexually violent predators.
- This is a load of BS.  If before the law was passed, he was only required to register for 10 years, and now they are requiring him to register for life, due to some new legislation, because he was convicted after a 1994 law, that is more ex post facto issues, and he should only have to register 10 years, because the lifetime registration was not on the books when he was convicted.  So ex post facto is okay in some cases, but not others?

Through a series of legal tests, the court determined that because _____ had to register as a sex offender at the time of his conviction, the change in term from 10 years to lifetime did not violate his constitutional rights. He is also entitled to petition the court for removal from the registry if he can prove he no longer poses a threat.
- It does, it's ex post facto punishment.  He was convicted under an old law, which stated 10 years, now they pass a new law stating life, yes, that is unconstitutional, period!  And how is anyone going to be able to prove they are NOT a threat?  I thought it was the laws purpose to prove this, not the offender.  My how we have become totally backwards now!  You are guilty and must prove your innocence, instead of the original innocent until proven guilty!  Hell, why do we even have a constitution any more?  It apparently is not worth the paper and ink it's written with.

Though law enforcement officials sometimes struggle to enforce requirements that offenders notify authorities when they move or begin other jobs, the registry gives parents a useful tool in knowing where people convicted of child molesting and other sex offenses live and work. Because pedophiles often pose a lifetime risk to children, a lifelong registration requirement is appropriate.
- Well, not all child molesters and those convicted of other sex offenses, are pedophiles.  And any ex post facto punishment is unconstitutional.  Also, the registry is a false sense of security.  If a hardcore criminal wanted to commit another sexual crime, they would.  Also, why do we not have a registry for all other criminals?  Like murderers, gang members, drug dealers/users, thieves, DUI offenders, etc?  If it's good for one group of criminals, it should be good for all criminals, even the politicians busted for prostitution, DUI, etc!

Whether state and local officials will actively seek to remove offenders convicted before the 1994 took effect from the registry remains to be seen. Any inmate convicted before 1994 who is released from prison in the future will not have to register, but most sentenced before 1994 have already been released. Prosecutors will no longer be able to bring charges against people convicted before 1994. Offenders on the list who fall into that category may have to petition courts or local sheriff’s departments for their removal.

Overall, the court rulings defend the validity of Indiana’s sex offender registry, and that is good public policy for the state.
- Um, no it's not.  It's an outright violation of the constitution.  The time must fit the crime, and I don't think a life sentence fits the crime!  For someone who kills a child, yes, then it fits the crime, but then, they'd be in prison for life for murder.


FL - Sex offenders live in legal limbo

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05/05/2009

OUR OPINION: Unfair laws create dangerous communities of outcasts

In three years, the number of people living in legal limbo on a spit of sand under the Julia Tuttle Causeway has grown to 66 from seven. They are there because state and local elected officials have acted with willful ignorance and fear-mongering to perpetuate the illusion that isolating sexual offenders somehow makes a community safer. They are wrong. They are instead creating colonies of desperate men who live in squalid, inhumane, unsanitary, dangerous conditions.

These same elected officials -- the lawmakers you sent to Tallahassee and members of local councils and commissions -- will react with shock and horror when the tinderbox they created is leveled by storm or fire, crippled by disease or explodes in violence.

Punishment doesn't end

Miami Herald columnist Fred Grimm in recent weeks has documented the sordid conditions in the camps and the lame excuses politicians offer for their existence. On Sunday, reporter Robert Samuels further illuminated the despair and precarious circumstances of 65 men and one woman forced to live out their lives under the causeway bridge. People who commit sex crimes deserve punishment, but not life sentences.

The Miami camp is larger and more humiliating than most, but it is a harbinger of the future if nothing is done about it. The camps are the result of state lawmakers and communities throughout Florida enacting laws that ban sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school, kindergarten, playground or school-bus stop. These laws rely on a 2005 federal-appellate court decision upholding an Iowa law that registers and bans sex offenders under civil procedures.

Challenges in court

However, with camps like Miami's and a much smaller one in Broward County, there is a growing body of evidence that the bans aren't civil at all. The bans clearly are meant to punish sex offenders as a continuing part of their criminal convictions. Proof of this is the fact that sex offenders are required to wear GPS monitoring devices and to report their whereabouts to parole officers. This clearly is a continuation of the criminal process. These issues eventually will be reconsidered in court, thanks to legal challenges by the ACLU and civil-rights groups.

However, the intentional creation of a humanitarian crisis by local and state officials is no less excusable. Their behavior is reminiscent of a practice begun in the Middle Ages of banning people with leprosy and isolating them in colonies. This was largely discontinued hundreds of years later when it became known that leprosy was not highly contagious. Like their forebears, today's elected officials act from a misguided sense of duty, yet they are informed by the same demons: ignorance and fear.


Even Bill O'Reilly admits that sex offenders are more likely to be beaten up and require protection (Discussion about new Hate Crime Bill)

Related Article


LA - House panel pushes sex offender bills

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So remember the other question someone posed, here?  Now, if this article is right, all sex offenders coming out of prison, will be on lifetime GPS, and not be able to fly at all.  And who is to pay for the GPS for life?  Surely all those offenders will become broke and homeless, then that will put more people in potential jeopardy!  Wow, Bobby sure doesn't believe in using his, what little he has, brains, does he?  It's just the typical posturing and grandstanding to look good to the people, so they will vote for him, when he runs to be president, God forbid!  I have emailed this reporter and Bobby, but do not expect any reply! See the email from Jordan D. Blum of this news organization, at the bottom.


05/06/2009

By JORDAN BLUM - Advocate Capitol News Bureau

A group of proposed bills backed by Gov. Bobby Jindal (Contact) to crack down on sex offenders moved through the House Criminal Justice Committee on Tuesday.

Legislation would broaden “lifetime” electronic monitoring of released sex offenders while another bill would raise the outlawed age limit on teacher sexual intercourse with high school students from 18 years old to 20 years old.
- So what about politicians having sex with staff members?  Or bosses having sex with employees?  Why not pass a law for that as well?

In addition to the teacher changes, House Bill 476 by state Rep. Patrick Connick (Email), R-Marrero, also would ban sex offenders from owning or volunteering at child-care facilities. The bill also would penalize child-care businesses owners and directors that employ or grant access to sex offenders.

Criminal Justice Chairman Ernest Wooton’s House Bill 366 would require that all registered sex offenders released from prison must be evaluated by the state’s sex offender assessment panel.

The panel could approve lifetime electronic monitoring with ankle bracelets in cases of violent sex offenders and child sex offenders.

Thomas Bickham, state Department of Public Safety and Corrections undersecretary, said about 80 sex offenders in Louisiana are already recommended for lifetime monitoring. He said Florida, Texas and California have similar new laws.

We are doing it right now,” Bickham said. “We are just tweaking it.

Wooton, R-Belle Chasse, said daily monitoring costs $4.44 per person. That equates to nearly $130,000 annually for the current 80 offenders.

The offenders could appeal their monitoring status every three years, according to the legislation. A first offense of violating the electronic monitoring could result in at least two years’ imprisonment, according to the legislation.

Defense attorney Jim Boren complained that the state is focusing on more punishments rather than rehabilitating sex offenders with proper mental-health care.

I think some sanity needs to be injected into what we’re doing with sex offenders,” Boren said, complaining about the monitoring costs in the context of the state’s struggling financial status. “This is a Band-Aid.

Wooton said Jindal is recommending keeping 11 of 12 additional probation officers who were slated to be laid off to keep up with the monitoring.

In other bills approved, House Bill 564 by state Rep. Neil Abramson (Email), D-New Orleans, would better match Louisiana’s child trafficking laws for sexual purposes with tougher federal laws.

House Bill 50 by state Rep. Simone Champagne (Email), D-Jeanerette, would prohibit new prison work-release facilities within 1,000 feet of schools and day-care facilities. The bill excludes existing facilities.



Email Response:
The electronic monitoring would only apply to those released sex offenders recommended for monitoring by the state's sex offender assessment panel.

But, yes, in some cases they may approve lifetime monitoring. The only positive is that released offenders can appeal to their sentencing court to have the monitoring reduced every three years.

Hope that helps some.

Thanks for the feedback,

Jordan Blum

Jordan D. Blum (jblum@theadvocate.com)
The Advocate
Capitol News Bureau
Office: (225) 342-7279
Fax: (225) 342-0272