Wednesday, May 13, 2009

FL - People Power Hour - Radio Broadcasts



03/26/2009

Winter Garden Sez:We DON'T Want You!
If you're a sex offender, that is. These bone-heads want to place further restrictions on "sex offenders" -- keeping them from living within 2,500 feet -- almost one half of a mile-- of any school bus stop -- effectively driving them out of the city. Winter Garden's slogan? "A Great Place to Live." Hahahahahaha!

Call us with your thoughts about this proposal at 407-774-1965.


NY - Police Used GPS Illegally, Court Rules

View the article here

Get a search warrant!!!

05/12/2009

By SEWELL CHAN

In a 4-to-3 ruling, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday that the State Police violated a criminal suspect’s rights under the State Constitution when it placed a GPS tracking device inside the bumper of his van without obtaining a warrant.

The police had used the device to monitor the movements of the suspect, _____, for more than two months. But the court ordered the evidence gathered from the device suppressed and ordered a new trial for Mr. _____.

In three written opinions, the judges debated the constitutional issues raised by the growing use of global positioning system technology as a tool of surveillance. The case could set an important precedent for state and local police agencies.

In the early morning on Dec. 21, 2005, a State Police investigator crawled under Mr. _____’s van, parked on the street, and placed a GPS tracking device, known as a Q-ball, inside the bumper. It remained in place for 65 days, constantly monitoring the location of the van.

It was not clear why Mr. _____, of Watervliet, N.Y., was placed under electronic surveillance, but he was eventually tried for two burglaries — one in July 2005 at the Latham Meat Market; the other in December 2005 at a Kmart in the same hamlet in Albany County.

A jury convicted Mr. _____ of two counts relating to the burglary of the Kmart but acquitted him of the counts pertaining to the meat market burglary. (GPS evidence had only showed that Mr. _____’s van crossed the parking lot of the Kmart hours before the burglary; he was never spotted behind the wheel, and was convicted in part on the testimony of a witness who said that Mr. _____, now 41, had used the van to scout out the Kmart before going back to commit the crime.)

Writing for the majority, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman cited a 1983 United States Supreme Court case in which government agents had placed a beeper in a five-gallon drum of chloroform to track the container’s movements. The beeper was used to help the agents keep visual track of the vehicle carrying the container. In that case, the court found that the driver of the vehicle had no reasonable expectation of privacy since the van’s movements were visible for all to see.

The judge also raised the specter of a GPS being used to penetrate every part of a person’s private life.

The judge added that the ruling had no bearing on federal cases, because the United States Supreme Court has not ruled upon whether the use of a GPS by the state in criminal investigations constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment, and most federal appellate courts have not addressed the issue.

In light of the unsettled state of federal law on the issue, we premise our ruling on our State Constitution alone,” Judge Lippman wrote, citing similar decisions in Washington State and Oregon. He was joined by Judges Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, Eugene F. Pigott Jr. and Theodore T. Jones.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Robert S. Smith acknowledged the newness and greater efficiency of GPS devices but defended the legitimacy of the search.


UK - Criminologist: Sex offenders just like us

View the article here

05/14/2009

By JUDY SKATSSOON - AAP

Sex offenders are just like the rest of us, according to criminologist and researcher Philip Birch.

Birch, who has come from the United Kingdom to take up a position at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), challenges the notion that sex offenders are psychologically damaged, lonely, insecure or dysfunctional.

Instead, he says we are more likely to find offenders in our homes, workplaces and neighbourhoods than lurking behind a bush in a dirty trenchcoat.

"It serves us well to construct the sex offender as the `other', (to believe) they're not like us, that there's something pathologically wrong with them," Birch says.

"It serves us to have these theories that give us grand explanations why they commit such offences, when actually it's a little bit more complex."

"The attacker is usually known to the victim. They are our fathers, they are our brothers, they are our uncles, they are our family members."

"They are our next door neighbours that we invite around for a barbecue and a beer."

Birch, who recently delivered a seminar entitled The Making of a Sex Offender at UNSW, bases his conclusions on a study he conducted two years ago that later became the book Sex as Crime?, published in 2008.

Birch set out to test previous research linking sex offenders to so-called "insecure attachment styles".

Attachment styles are developed with a main caregiver between the ages of six and 24 months and act as a "blueprint" for our relationships in later life, he says.

A child who has an uncaring parent is likely to develop an insecure attachment style, he says.

"Research indicates these insecure attachment styles are mapped into sexual offending," he says. "Sexual offenders demonstrate high levels of insecure attachment styles."

But when Birch compared attachment styles among sexual offenders and non-offenders, he found no evidence that offenders were more insecure than the non-offending population.

"My non-sex offending population sample actually demonstrated higher levels of insecure attachment styles than the sex offenders," he says.

What this implies, Birch says, is that rather than a person being destined to become a sex offender, it's something we all have the capacity for, given the right circumstances.

"I argue that attachment styles. . . change and develop and will always map on to the environment we find ourselves in," he says.

"That would imply that any one of us at any given time. . . could be a sex offender."

He says this is consistent with what is known about sexual crimes: "(They are) more likely to take place in the home, more likely to be committed by someone we know, it's our fathers, our brothers, our uncles."

Birch says the portrayal of sex offenders in the media and films, such as the troll-like pedophile played by Jackie Earle Haley in the movie Little Children, fuels the stereotypes his research challenges.

"That sends out the message that they're a homogenous group, and we know they're not," he says.

"But it's almost like one size fits all in terms of trying to explain their behaviour and assess and treat them."

Birch says his research also has implications for getting a realistic image of sexual offenders and understanding where potential victims are most likely to be at risk.

"We construct the sex offender as `the other' but they're not, they're living amongst us, with us, between us."

"The likelihood of knowing one is probably high."


MA - The predator-free zone

View the article here

05/10/2009

By Scott Zoback

The problems with plans to ban sex offenders

Right now, living in your town, there is this guy. You don't know him. He's happier that way.

He doesn't want to be noticed, but if you knew he was there — if you did a quick scan of public records and found him — you'd be concerned for your family, and especially, for your children.

Some years ago, he committed a crime. He was convicted as a sex offender. Under current law in Massachusetts, it's a label that never goes away. If he's a Level 3 offender, his information is the proverbial "one click away." The online Sex Offender Registry Board lists his name, his age, where he lives, where he works and what his offense was. Even if he's a Level 2 offender, his records are in the public domain; it just requires a trip to the local police station to request them.

And while many would say that it is a small punishment for those who have perpetuated some of the most heinous crimes in our society, the past year or so has seen a new wave of attempts to effectively legislate such people out of some communities — or nearly so.

A number of Central Massachusetts municipalities have proposed or passed ordinances that would regulate where convicted sex offenders could live in their towns. The laws differ in scope, but all have a similar function, designating areas around certain youth-centric places as offender-free zones. In some cases, only the areas around schools or educational facilities are considered off-limits; other proposals include language that would eliminate sex offenders to within a certain distance of any place where children gather. Likewise, the distances proposed range from 1,000 feet to 2,500 feet and even a mile.

It's everywhere: Holden, West Boylston, Westboro, Marlboro, Southbridge, Shrewsbury, Fitchburg and Worcester have all raised the issue in various ways: Where do "they" live, and how can we control it?

In May, several communities in the area will hold hearings or meetings to discuss ordinances restricting the residency of sex offenders. Holden is considering revised regulations after initial proposals met with some concern; Marlboro approved a plan, but it'll require another vote; Southbridge's proposal is currently being reviewed. Worcester hasn't reached the point of a full-blown regulation like the suburbs, but City Councilor Kate Toomey has asked for a report on what could be done in Worcester if surrounding communities passed laws restricting where sex offenders live. Her implication is that with nowhere else to go, the worst offenders might be funneled to Worcester.

"It's an emotional issue .... It's the fear of the unknown," says Holden Police Chief George Sherrill. (Sherrill made statewide headlines last month when he publicly opposed proposed residency restrictions. His town is currently working on its second proposal to limit where sex offenders can live or work. It's due to be discussed at a town meeting on May 21.)

Regardless of scope, the laws would have a potentially dramatic effect. The initial proposal in Marlboro would have reportedly barred sex offenders from living or working in nearly 98% of the town. That regulation was vetoed by Mayor Nancy Stevens (Email), but even the revised proposal, approved in a preliminary vote just this week, rules out 80% of the town for convicted offenders.

Elsewhere, state Rep. Karyn Polito (Email) of Shrewsbury has introduced a bill that would limit where certain sex offenders work or live to more than 1,000 feet from any "public or private school, licensed day care center, or any other child care facility." According to Polito, that includes church and after-school programs.

Critics have voiced a number of concerns with both the individual municipal bills and the statewide proposal. On a town-by-town basis, they claim, offenders will be forced out of "better" communities and enforcement would be difficult at best. And regardless of the proposal, critics say recidivism is lower when released offenders have a stable environment; that eliminating neighborhoods will only drive a dangerous population underground, making them more dangerous and more likely to re-offend; that the restrictions would be unenforceable; that they are an outright violation of basic civil rights; that we should use the legal tools already at our disposal to better control and supervise the population.

And that's to say nothing of Holden Chief Sherrill's rhetorical side question, "Where do you draw the line?" In other words, will these proposals lead to similar exclusion of murderers, repeat DUI offenders, or other convicted criminals? In other words, says Sherrill, there could be a situation where an 18-year-old youth offender is locked out of a potentially supportive environment, but someone convicted of manslaughter could end up living next door.

Before we go on, let's be clear: No one, even the most ardent critics of the proposals, is comfortable defending sex offenders. Sherrill readily admits his discomfort with playing the protector of the civil rights of bad guys. And ACLU Worcester's head Ronal Madnick cites his grandchildren, as if to say, "I have the same concerns as you."

Polito's bill

While the local towns have gotten a good deal of press, the movement most likely to have a wide-ranging effect is Rep. Polito's bill, modeled on Florida's "Jessica's Law."

Polito's bill eliminates what some critics say is the major drawback to passing regulations on a town-by-town basis: that there is no uniformity, and offenders will be "funneled" to towns that are slower to pass such regulations. One of the biggest enforcement concerns among critics is that by eliminating some towns as potential residences for sex offenders, they will move into the neighboring towns with fewer regulations — still nearby, but just beyond the control of the original police departments.

Polito recognizes those concerns as a motivation for her effort. "Rather than have a municipal-by-municipal approach ... it's better to have a statewide [bill]," she says. "The priority of my bill is to make Massachusetts a stronger state when it comes to sex offenders...not one of the weaker states."

As Polito is sure to mention, the bill goes beyond residency restrictions. House Bill 1688 proposes tougher mandatory minimum sentences for crimes such as rape of children, and suggests adding a new crime for rape of a child under the age of 12. But it's the residency restrictions that are generating the most press regionally and nationwide.

"Twenty-two other states have passed what are known as predator-free zones," Polito insists. "They are constitutional. They are effective." She adds that her bill purposely includes a sort of "grandfather clause" that would allow sex offenders to remain in their existing homes to alleviate concerns that kicking sex offenders out of current housing would be tantamount to a secondary punishment. "They do have rights ... to maintain that residence, which I think is helpful," says Polito.
- They are only constitutional because the states are ignoring the constitution, which forbids passing ex post facto laws, which these are.

Sherrill admits Polito's bill would solve some of the issues that come up when each town passes its own restrictions — more on those concerns later — but maintains, "It makes more sense, but still the same enforcement problems."

Polito is something of a hero among restriction supporters. Holden Selectman James Jumonville, who sponsored the initial proposal in the town, says they are "marrying" their regulation to her bill. "If it's so bad, why are so many communities doing it?" he asks.
- For grant money and punishment, maybe?  Because the public has been shown myths and lies, and they believe them now, instead of being shown the facts.  And because it's good to use to get votes and look good to the people.

Polito's model, Florida's version of "Jessica's Law," was enacted after the highly publicized rape and murder of Jessica Lunsford by a convicted sex offender in 2005. That law, wrote The Miami New Times in March, "effectively barred sex offenders from moving to Miami Beach." As such, it has generated significant nationwide attention and controversy.

Most recently, New Times and CNN stories detailed how under the law, some newly released sex offenders were forced to live under a Miami-area bridge when there were no affordable homes outside of the restricted zones. According to the reports, supervisory probation officers not only knew that's where the men were living; in some cases, they had told them to live there as the only viable alternative to them going completely underground, undocumented and unregistered. With few transitional homes or affordable housing located outside of the "predator-free zones," the bridge is considered the best alternative. And even that location, says the New Times, may be too close to some area schools.

To be sure, the bridge dwellers profiled by the New Times are exactly the type of guys communities are looking to banish. One was arrested for molesting his 9-year-old stepdaughter; another for attempting to rape a niece of the same age. "The only reason I can think that they put us here," Patrick Wiese, who molested his stepdaughter, told the New Times, "is that they're just waiting for us to violate, so they can throw us back in."

"I told the judge to let me back into prison," one of Wiese's bridge-mates told the paper. "If I'd have known this was going to happen, I'd have finished my eight years there."

Enforcement

Chief Sherrill likens trying to track where a sex offender lives to trying to track people residing with out-of-town license plates. In other words, it's not a matter of what the law is per se. It's an issue of enforcement, or how you track those breaking the law.

In Holden, the initial proposal would have established a residency "limit" of 14 days in one home within a certain distance of schools, and other forbidden zones. Sherrill says that when he spoke out against the proposal, that was one of his primary concerns, but even with an adjusted law, he still sees difficulties. What does residency mean? Does it mean sleeping at a home? Or spending a certain amount of hours there? And how are law enforcement officials supposed to determine and keep track of offenders?

"Parole officers can already restrict [homes]," says the ACLU's Madnick. Sherrill echoes this concern, questioning why we don't use the tools we already have to their fullest.

"These people are very mobile," says Sherrill, voicing concerns about "the worst Worcester offenders" traveling into Holden. And nothing short of around-the-clock monitoring, says Sherrill, can keep in-town sex offenders from visiting town pools or recreational facilities. "It's a false sense of security," adds the chief. "If someone lives in another neighborhood, they can still visit."

Already, say experts, that false sense of security is a big concern, especially when sex offenders don't register appropriately. Northeastern University criminal justice Professor Tim App says that in his work with sex offenders, he's seen many living in different locations from where they registered, essentially living with their background unknown to their neighbors.

Going underground

One fear is that new regulations, especially if they are strictly enforced, will push more offenders underground, into unregistered status. "It's those we don't know [are dangerous] ... those unregistered and those you trust the most," says Sherrill.

From both a law enforcement and a civil rights point of view, it's that "going underground" scenario that scares critics. "How do you manage a population you don't control?" questions App. When we have residency requirements, "We drive them underground."
- Come on, think for once.  The very laws cause this to occur, and this is why many are mobile, because the law forces them to be.


"I don't want to belabor it, but someone living in the woods, homeless, living in his car, not knowing where he is, having no job, no family, I think may contribute to re-offending," says Madnick, "and it's certainly more dangerous than the system we have now. So why are we going this way? People are not thinking it through to the end. It sounds good."

App, now a professor of criminal justice at Northeastern University, has a long history dealing with sex offenders. He had 30 years with the State Department of Corrections, including time as the deputy assistant commissioner. He was the first chairman of the Sex Offender Registry Board, the former head of the Massachusetts Parole Board, and served on the Massachusetts Coalition for Sex Offender Management. He now runs an organization dedicated to a "containment" model of treatment.

"The appropriate term for this population is ‘sex offender management,'" says App, who said he "doesn't disagree" that there is no real cure for sex offenders.

"What we know about [moderate and high risk] sex offenders ... if we can get them to a stable environment ... a sex-offender-specific program [there is lower recidivism]. Quite frankly, that's where we fall down," says App.

App says that in his experience as head of the Sex Offender Registry, he would get frustrated when he couldn't determine whether sex offenders were actually living in the place where they had registered. "If I had my druthers, sex offenders [would be] under supervision for life," he says. "I look [at sex offenders] the same way I look at alcoholics. Alcoholics ... if they stay inside the network ... stay recovered forever. Same with SOs. If they stay in treatment ... surround them with the stability they need. What residency restrictions do is take them away from everything ... that can get them to that stable environment."

You can't come home

App continues, "When you set ordinances ... let's be honest, you're creating a situation where they can't live in your town. Drive them away from any stabilization ... and they become more dangerous."

Madnick agrees. "It moves people away from their families, moves them away from their support system. Quite often, they lose their housing, they become homeless, they don't register, you don't know where they are, and they become more dangerous. They're put out and lose their jobs."

In Marlboro, the initial public proposal covered the Solomon Pond Mall, eliminating any retail store within as a potential employer. For someone just out of jail with limited job skills and a criminal history, there already aren't that many jobs that are available. Knocking out one of the bigger low-wage employers doesn't help. "Now you have people who can't live, can't get a job, can't support themselves, can't be with their family. If that was me, I think I'd be angry. And more likely to re-offend," says Madnick.

Just think about the "day after," as Madnick calls it. He looks at a map of Marlboro, commenting that all that would be left is some expensive housing. It would create a de facto "ghetto for new sex offenders" in each town, Madnick says. You can see it on our hypothetical map of Worcester: Whole sections of the city — including some areas hosting key transitional and treatment services — would be completely off limits for a whole class of people.

That's just fine with some folks. "Where are they going to go? Well, no one told them to go out and be pedophiles," says Jumonville.
- And that's your problem, you think all sex offenders are pedophiles, when they are not.

"There are a lot of unintended consequences that people haven't thought about," Madnick says.

On the other hand, there is the fact that the majority of sex offenses take place between offenders and victims in a place of trust. "Seventy percent of sexual assaults take place in a perp's home, a victim's home, or someone else's home. What do the residency restrictions do to counter that?" asks App.


And then there's the already existing issue of vigilantism. It's already a concern among some civil rights and privacy advocates, especially in the wake of last year's Maine and New Hampshire murders by a Canadian man who ended up shot by police as his bus pulled into Boston's South Station. Police say he had tracked sex offenders using online registry boards, and used the information to find them. He was on his way into Boston, many think, to continue his spree.

And in July last year, in Shrewsbury, one of the epicenters of the debate, residents of Hill Farm Estates waged a vicious crusade against a relocated sex offender. Citing police accounts, a Boston Globe account reported that residents went to the limits, "posting his picture on telephone poles, mailing him intimidating letters," and calling his boss — a local contractor — to cancel home improvement projects.

Then Police Chief Wayne Sampson told a Globe reporter, "We had to be very proactive to prevent residents from becoming vigilantes. It was that serious."

Alternatives

According to App, the new wave of restrictive regulation is happening in a bit of a vacuum. "Sentencing structures need to be overhauled. We need long-term supervision. We need to mandate treatment," he says. "Let's evaluate at time of sentencing and develop an appropriate plan."
- You need to also consider that some folks, are innocent, so mandating they get treatment, is wrong, IMO.

Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. says he doesn't believe the worst offenders can be rehabilitated. Still, he says people can "deal with boundaries all they want. I'd like to see structured reentry programs."
- Well, that is why he's a DA and not a sex offender therapist.  People can be rehabilitated, regardless of what this DA thinks.  He is in the business of getting convictions, period!

App details an aggressive program of training, transition and monitoring that begins almost as soon as sex offenders are in state custody. "If you want the most effective, you want them in treatment every week," he says, adding there should be polygraphs, and a team including a sex-offender-specific probation officer and victim advocate, which would meet monthly. Those probation officers would also have a smaller caseload. "When you look at supervision case loads, it's 170 per officer nationally. What we recommend for containment is one officer to 30," he says.
- Well, we all know polygraphs are junk science, and not admissible in court!

App claims that he has seen success and exceptionally low recidivism when all of those factors have been present. "We should intervene at the earliest possible [opportunity]," he says. "Get them under supervision, get them into treatment, and into appropriate jobs."
- What about those off probation and/or parole?  You cannot force them into treatment forever.  You are assuming all are under supervision, which they are not.

But not everyone agrees. Jumonville says that there is a "big difference between someone who is an alcoholic ... and a pedophile."
- And there is a big difference between someone who is a sex offender and a pedophile.  Not all sex offenders are pedophiles, which this person seems to believe they are.

"I don't understand why people think they can be rehabilitated."
- Because some can be.  Just like an alcoholic, drug user, etc.  They can be given the tools to change, but if they were all treated like they cannot be helped, like you seem to believe, and not given the tools to help themselves change, then what do you expect?

Even from a correctional background, App acknowledges that not every sex offense or convicted offender is on the same level, and even allows that some sex offenders don't belong in prison, but should be placed in aggressive treatment. For example, App relates, when he was chairing the state registry, he was faced with members of a college football team who were charged with open and gross lewdness for peeing in the woods after a game when they couldn't get to a bathroom. "We waste time," he says. "We don't look at real sex offenders. We don't take appropriate action."

Conclusion

Everyone has kids; everyone wants them to be safe; no one wants to think their family is under threat from the next-door neighbor. And few in a political position of power want to stand up and say, "This convicted sex offender needs our protection." "I'd rather be doing other things than dealing with this," says ACLU's Madnick. "I want to protect my grandchildren just like you do. This is not going to do it."

"If you take a hard line, it gets people going," says App. Defending the sex offender is "not a good sound bite," he adds, while these new restrictive regulations resonate well for public officials. "They say what sounds good, not what makes sense. It sounds good, gets you some votes ... but it doesn't work in terms of public safety."

"We're looking to keep our families safe. We want to prevent it, want to stop it," says Early.

"We all want to protect children," reflects Madnick. "People who favor these ordinances, they all have the same objective. The only problem is, this doesn't do it. It makes things worse."

Then there are those on the front lines. "We're going to do what we've done for 30 years: Good police work," says Sherrill. As far as the proposed ordinance, "I know in my heart this isn't right for the town. If it passes, we'll comply the best we can."


The "Pedophile-Issue" in the Hate Crimes bill HR-1913 and How It Came To Be..

Click the image to read the full article


Now tell me, why is the following, not a hate crime?

I know it may not be, due to the legal definition, but it's a hate crime, IMO!

Torched, Beheaded Body Of Sex Offender Found


Trailer Trash attacked sex offender with bat



The Cucumber Incident


2020 - Age of Consent - Vigilante Justice



2020 - Age of Consent - Branded for Life


NC - Sex offender bill gets specific

View the article here

05/13/2009

By Jordan Schrader

Raleigh – Legislators moved today to reverse what they say could be unconstitutional limitations on sex offenders' movements.

They want to scale back a law they passed last year that now is keeping some sex offenders from church, and could also ban them from some restaurants, libraries and stores.
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Trying to avoid further unintended consequences, lawmakers this time are getting more specific about where they don't want sex offenders to go, including:
  • amusement parks.
  • arcades.
  • toy stores or toy departments. (So now, you cannot buy your son, daughter or nephew any presents for their birthday or Christmas)
  • movie theaters that are showing G-rated or PG-rated films. (So I guess they want to force you to watch R rated films?)
  • colleges, unless the offender is a student there.
  • gyms and fitness centers. (So now, you cannot work out to stay fit.  Adults mostly attend these places, not children, so what's the problem?)
  • state and county fairs.
  • school bus stops.
  • libraries during children's programs.

These add to existing restrictions on schools, children's museums, child care centers and nurseries.

The proposal by Rep. Rick Glazier (Email), D-Cumberland, specifically allows offenders to attend places of worship, as long as religious leaders know about their status and give them permission.

The proposal was unveiled and endorsed by a House committee today. It could receive a House vote this afternoon.