Tuesday, June 2, 2009

FL - Pottinger v. City of Miami

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May be of use to those homeless RSO's in Florida who are forced to live under bridges by the state.

Plaintiffs

Michael Pottinger, Peter Carter, Berry Young

Defendant

City of Miami

Plaintiffs' Claim

That the city of Miami had a policy of harassing homeless people and routinely seized and destroyed their property in violation of their constitutional rights.

Chief Lawyer for Plaintiffs

Benjamin S. Waxman

Chief Defense Lawyer

Quinn Jones III

Justices for the Court

Joseph W. Hatchett (writing for the court), R. Lanier Anderson, Peter T. Fay

Justices Dissenting

None

Place

Atlanta, Georgia

Date of Decision

2 February 1996

Decision

That a settlement agreement between the homeless of Miami and the City of Miami would provide for police training, law enforcement contracts with the homeless, record keeping, an advisory committee, and $600,000 compensation for the homeless.

Significance

Pottinger v. City of Miami is a landmark class action case brought onbehalf of the homeless. The case is a model of how these types of cases can be resolved.

The homeless of Miami, Florida, filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against the city of Miami inDecember of 1988. The homeless charged that the Miami police had a policy ofharassing homeless people for sleeping, eating, and performing life sustaining activities in public places with the purpose of driving them out of the city or rendering them invisible. In addition, the class asserted that the cityroutinely seized and destroyed its members' property and failed to follow itsinventory procedures when confiscating personal property. The class assertedthat the city's activities constituted cruel and unusual punishment, malicious abuse of process, and unlawful searches and seizures, in violation of dueprocess, the right to privacy, and the Equal Protection Clause. The class asked for declaratory judgment, compensatory damages, and reasonable attorney'sfees. Additionally, the class sought to stop the city from arresting homelesspeople for conducting necessary life sustaining activities and from destroying their personal property.

City's Treatment of Homeless Violated Their Constitutional Rights

The district court ruled that the city's practice of arresting homeless individuals for harmless life sustaining activities that they are forced to perform in public is unconstitutional because the arrests constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, restricted innocent conduct in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, andburdened the fundamental right to travel in violation of the Equal ProtectionClause. The court also determined that the city's practice of seizing and destroying the property of homeless people without following its written procedures for found or seized property violated the class's Fourth Amendment rights.

On 16 November 1992, the district court entered its findings of fact and conclusions and order on the plaintiffs' request for declaratory and injunctive relief. The district court ordered the following: (1) the parties must meet and establish two safe zones where homeless people may remain without being arrested for harmless activities; (2) the city's police department may not arrest homeless people for performing harmless life sustaining acts in the two designated safe zones; (3) the city may not arrest homeless people for sleepingor eating in two primary locales until the parties agree upon the location ofthe new safe zones; (4) the city's police department may not destroy homeless persons' property; (5) the city must follow its written procedures governing the handling of personal property; and (6) the city must provide the publicwith five days notice before cleaning parks to enable homeless people to move their property to a nearby place the city may designate. The city appealed,challenging the basis and scope of the district court's injunction.

C. Clyde Atkins, judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, heardthe city's appeal on 2 December 1994. He noted that since the district court's 1992 order, the city and private entities had constructed homeless shelters to address the problems on which the district court had ruled. Certain provisions of the injunction were unclear. For example, it was unclear whether the city may arrest homeless people for engaging in lawful conduct when they are outside the safe zones, or whether the city must transport homeless peopleto the safe zones. Finally, the parties did not comply with the district court's order directing them to establish safe zones through negotiation. Atkinsremanded (sent back) the case for the district court to address these concerns. He stated that the district court should issue appropriate clarifying language to guide the city in its determination of the scope of its duties underthe injunction, and the district court should consider whether its injunctionshould be modified in light of recent events. The district court should address these concerns within a reasonable time.

On 7 April 1995, following an evidentiary hearing, the district court enteredits findings on order of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The districtcourt ultimately concluded that "though improvement in the overall situationis occurring via the Dade County Homeless Assistance Trust, the salient facts of this case have not changed substantially . . . " Thus, the district court determined that its original injunction should remain in effect with few modifications.

On 7 February 1996, following further briefing and oral argument, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals entered an interim order referring this matter toa mediator for settlement discussions. The parties engaged in extensive settlement negotiations and agreed to resolve each and every remaining issue in this case.

Negotiations Lead To Settlement Agreement

As a result of the lawsuit, Miami participated in a countywide effort to provide services and assistance to homeless people. In keeping with its past andongoing efforts, Miami committed itself to ensuring that the legal and constitutional rights of all homeless people be fully respected by all city policies, rules, regulations, practices, officials, and personnel. On 18 December 1997, Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez signed a resolution approving a settlement withthe American Civil Liberties Union of Florida to end the nine-year lawsuit filed on behalf of the homeless people of Miami. The settlement agreement resulted from the collective efforts of American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorneys on behalf of the homeless, the city attorney's office, and many othercommunity leaders, homeless activists, and homeless people over the last twoyears. The agreement provided for police training regarding the circumstancesand rights of homeless people. Miami agreed to implement various forms of training for its law enforcement officers to sensitize them to the unique struggle and circumstances of homeless persons and to ensure that their legal rights shall be fully respected.

The agreement set up a protocol for law enforcement contacts with homeless persons to prevent arrests, harassment, and the destruction of their property.The Miami Police Department adopted a departmental order regarding the treatment of the homeless within the city which reflected the city's commitment torespect the constitutional rights of homeless people and implemented the protocol which law enforcement officers must follow when they encounter homelesspersons. Records regarding police contacts were mandated. An advisory committee was set up to monitor compliance with the agreement. The committee has monitored all police contacts with homeless people by interviewing them on the streets, by patrolling with police officers, by accompanying city outreach workers in areas with high concentrations of the homeless, by overseeing policetraining, by reviewing the training curriculum, and by reviewing informationon file with the appropriate unit within the Miami Police Department. The advisory committee has also received and has investigated complaints by homelesspeople. A $600,000 compensation fund was set up for the homeless who have been injured by the unconstitutional conduct that was condemned by the federalcourts. Each successful claimant was awarded a debit card in the amount of $1,500.00. Attorney fees for the plaintiffs' lawyers were also included in thesettlement.

Impact

Cooperating ACLU attorney Benjamin S. Waxman noted that this was a landmark settlement recognizing that the homeless cannot be denied fundamental constitutional rights simply because they are homeless. Waxman felt that the settlement showed the best of what can be achieved when two sides of a dispute work together to find common ground to accomplish a mutual goal. The settlement mayserve as a model for how other cities treat the homeless.

On 1 April 1998, the ACLU expanded Torres v. Metropolitan Dade County andCity of Miami, a case involving Hispanic men arrested for "loitering forpurposes of temporary employment." The ACLU was concerned that police enforcement was directed exclusively at one ethnic group. Andy Kayton, Legal Director of the ACLU of Florida, stated that the Pottinger case is a good model for how these types of cases can be resolved. He hoped that the county andcity could discuss the problems involving the Hispanic day laborers in the same way that the problem with the homeless of Miami was discussed and resolved.

Related Cases
  • Newell v. Prudential Ins. Co. of America, 904 F. 2d 644 (1990).
  • Alabama-Tombigbee Rivers Coalition v. Dept. of Interior, 26 F. 3d1103 (1994).

Homeless Rights

Homelessness in America significantly escalated through the 1980s with estimates of possibly as many as three million people living on the streets or in temporary facilities by the late 1990s. As the numbers increased, the occurrence of homeless families with children became more prevalent. Also, with increased visibility came reactions from society to suppress the visibility and intrusion of homelessness on communities. Nationally, Congress lacked a clear response to the increasing problem. Consequently, states and local governmentsbegan taking action citing health problems and increasing crime in locationswhere street people congregate. New laws restricted panhandling on streets,loitering, camping in public spaces, and sleeping in the public. Advocates for homeless rights claimed the laws constituted homeless harassment. Police tearing down shacks and tents and destroying personal property constituted illegal search and seizure, anti-panhandling ordinances unconstitutionally restricted free speech, and loitering ordinances violated peoples' right to travel.

Advocates pressed for recognition of right to shelter and emergency assistance, child welfare, mental health care, voting rights, and right to education.The New York Coalition for the Homeless successfully gained state and city support for housing for the homeless mentally ill. However, communities generally only provided minimal assistance in response to court orders or to avoid expensive lawsuits.

Sources

Stoner, Madeleine R. The Civil Rights of Homeless People: Law, Social Policy, and Social Work Practice. New York: Aldine de Gruyler, 1995.
  • ACLU of Florida. http://www.aclufl.org.
  • Ellickson, Robert C. "Controlling Chronic Misconduct in City Spaces." Yale Law Journal, March 1996, p. 1165.


WA - SEX OFFENDER HOMELESS IN SHELTON

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WTF? Just because he becomes homeless they raise his tier level? Well, that does show that they consider homeless people more of a threat, and yet down in Florida, they continue to FORCE people to live under bridges. So I wonder, what is it they are trying to do actually?  Also, I thought PROFESSIONALS were suppose to review someone to determine their risk, not the keystone cops?


06/02/2009

By Dedrick Allan

A sex offender has recently become homeless in the Shelton area and the Mason County Sheriff's Office has raised his assessment. _____, nearly 26, is required to register as a sex offender due pleading guilty in a military court marshall to a charge equivalent to Rape of a Child 3rd Degree. The conviction stems from _____ at age 21, having sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old girl. He was also convicted of a charge equal to Violation of a No Contact Order. The Mason County Sheriff's Office has assessed _____ as a Level 2 Sex Offender, meaning he is at a moderate risk to re-offend. However, now that _____ is homeless, his assessment has been raised to Level 3, the highest level and he is now considered at a high risk to re-offend. _____ is a white male, five-foot-ten, 190 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. _____ has given his address in Mason County as "Transient/Homeless within Shelton". All homeless sex offenders must check in with the Sheriff's Office every Monday.
- So you see, they make laws to make people become homeless, so the keystone cops can "raise" his level to Tier III simply because he is homeless due to their laws?  Talk about hyping the fear factor.  So, do they want to prevent crime, or aid in it occurring?  It makes you wonder!


CANADA - Critics wary of changes to sex offender registry

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It seems like the US is not the only ones exploiting peoples fears and sex offenders for votes and brownie points by the sheeple.

06/02/2009

It began on Monday morning with a cross-country media blitz. Conservative MPs and cabinet ministers in nearly every major city in the country — 13 Tories in all, including those at an announcement in Ottawa — were touting the government's plan to "strengthen" the national sex offender registry.

While the national registry already has a series of well-documented complaints about its ineffectiveness, the new bill, tabled in the House after Question Period on Monday, goes a step further. If passed into law, Bill C-34 would see that anyone convicted of a designated sexual offence be automatically added to the national sex offender registry. Currently, a prosecutor must apply to have an offender listed on the registry, and then it's up to the judge to decide. This bill would remove that judicial discretion. Those convicted of a designated sexual offence would also be required to provide a DNA sample for the national DNA databank.

Concerns about the bill are coming from several corners. NDP MP Bill Siksay will be keeping his eye on it.

"I'm always concerned about how we deal with sex issues and law issues," Siksay says. "We don't have a very good record of making reasoned decisions on that. I haven't seen what the new proposals from the Conservatives are, but I'd be very interested to see what they are, but given the record, I'll be concerned to see what's there."

"It feels like election posturing," says gay Liberal MP Rob Oliphant. "They're trying to look tough on crime and this is one thing they can do, whereas all the parties on the Parliamentary committee are equally concerned about it, and [the minister] is acting like he has a monopoly on concern about this issue."
- Notice they inserted the word "gay" before the mans title?  That is discrimination, and uncalled for, IMO.  Just the typical way of trying to discredit someone.

Oliphant, who is a member of the Commons Public Safety and National Security Committee, says that the sex offender registry has recently been studied by the committee.

"We've just finished our study but haven't released our report yet," says Oliphant. "The minister is pre-empting our study, where we listened to dozens of witnesses and spent Parliamentary time and money, and now he's jumping to a conclusion before we've issued our report."

Oliphant expects to have the report — including his minority comments on the dangers of blanket provisions — published within two weeks.

At first glance, both the Liberals and NDP sound like they will support the bill, though there are some reservations.

"We've seen some of the abuse that happens in the United States where names get put on the list and the general pubic has access to that list," says NDP justice critic Joe Comartin. "There's no intention, in my understanding, for them to do that."
- Yeah, it's called vigilantism, and is proof the public cannot handle the registry in an adult, civilized manner!

The bill lists about 20 Criminal Code offences for which automatic inclusion in the registry will apply. These offences include sexual assault, luring a child by means of a computer, sexual exploitation or interference, exposing oneself to a person under 16 for a sexual purpose, and obtaining prostitution of a person under the age of 18.

Those on the registry are forced to report their location to the police and to the authorities of any foreign country they visit, including reporting the name of their employer and any organizations they volunteer with.

There are concerns that by automatically registering all offenders, that some less serious offences may be treated the same as more vicious crimes.

"There's less serious offences that you would not [register]," says Comartin. And if there are plans to put young people on the registry, he says he "would have serious problems with that."

Liberal justice critic Dominic Leblanc says that he wants to ensure that Charter rights are respected in the bill, and he too has reservations — especially if the bill intends to treat all sexual offences equally.

"Yes, of course that concerns me," Leblanc says. "That's why we'll want to understand exactly what the legislation means in terms of every sex offence, every conviction being included in the registry."

With the increasing criminalization of HIV in Canada, the HIV/AIDS Legal Network is also watching closely.

"The obvious concern is that it might mean those who are convicted of aggravated sexual assault for not revealing their HIV status will automatically be added to the sex offender registry," says senior policy analyst Alison Symington.

"Everything we do that makes non-disclosure more serious, be it more serious charges, longer sentences, or media coverage, declaring that people are 'sex offenders' — which automatically in people's minds makes you think predators, paedophiles and rapists," says Symington. "It has the potential of just adding one more layer, one more ingredient to all of those factors that are increasing stigma and discrimination, and are leading to misinformation and people avoiding services."

The BC Civil Liberties Association also has concerns about the DNA databank provisions, but sees possible greater danger in the "preventative" aspects of the bill.

"The example that was given was someone acting suspiciously around a schoolyard might be enough to trigger police to use the information in the database," says executive director David Eby. "That sort of preventative use is of potential concern to us because when you're talking about suspicious activity, then you start talking about people who appear to be homeless, or appear to be drug users, or you get into issues of racial or sexual profiling, and we're very cautious about the term 'suspicious activity.'"


RI - High court strikes down part of sex-offender law

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See Also

06/02/2009

By Mike McKinney

PROVIDENCE - The R.I. Supreme Court (Court Case) Tuesday ruled that part of the state's sex-offender law violates the offender's constitutional right to due process.

The state's highest court ruled that part of a state law gives the Superior Court discretion to deny a sex offender the "right to a meaningful hearing" during an appeal.

The court said this "cannot be reconciled" with the constitutional right to due process.

The court, in its 62-page opinon, said the provisions of the challenged law means a court can limit witnesses and cross examination during the hearings held when a sex offender appeals the classification.

Some officials testified at legislative hearings this year that offenders with highest risk of re-offense -- Level III classification -- often seek to have their classification downgraded in appeals that last for months. Level III status triggers a wide range of public notification about the person's identity, address and sex-crime convictions. There is some public notification about Level II offenders as well. Level 1 offenders, considered low risk to re-offend, do not have public notification.

The high court, however, was not persuaded in the underlying appeal to overturn an Oct. 3, 2005, Superior Court decision that upheld the Level III classification of Thomas Germane. The opinion state that the Superior Court gave Germane a "meaningful hearing" during his appeal of his classification. The Supereme Court also denied Germane's other assertions, including that his due process rights were violated.

And the court also stated "we are not convinced" that people have "a fundamental right" to be free of sex offender registration and public notification requirements in the state's law governing such matters, "even if those requirements are intrusive and remain in place indefinitely."


LA - Sex offender hurricane shelter selected

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06/02/2009

LAKE CHARLES (KPLC) - A controversial question that pops up during hurricane season has been answered. Where should registered sex offenders go to evacuate?

The Louisiana Department of Social Services has announced that they will be housed on the grounds of Wade Correctional Center in Claiborne parish.

Officials had previously planned to use buildings on Louisiana State Police training property in East Baton Rouge parish. But those buildings were destroyed by Hurricane Gustav last year.

Under state law, the state may either house sex offenders in one spot or isolate them within Red Cross and church shelters.


DC - Sex Offender Reporting Deadline Delayed

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06/02/2009

The Justice Department said this week it will give a one-year extension to states and other jurisdictions struggling to comply with technology-related provisions of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which was included in a larger 2006 child protection bill that set a July deadline for adherence. States have complained about signification costs and unforeseen difficulties in implementing the law and without the extension, some jurisdictions would have faced financial penalties. To date, no state has met the requirements mandated in the law and are experiencing mounting funding concerns amid the economic downturn, according to a press release by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (Contact). The law permits up to two one-year extensions by DOJ.

Leahy joined with Sen. Arlen Specter (Contact), D-Pa., House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (Email) and House Judiciary ranking member Lamar Smith wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder in March urging him to extend the deadline -- a move that was supported by champions of the statute including the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Part of the problem was that the DOJ office charged with writing the final rules did not make them available until June 2008. "Everyone wants to strengthen the tools and resources available to law enforcement to protect our children," Leahy said in a Tuesday statement. "Vermont and other states across the country are working to comply... This much-needed extension will provide needed time to meet those requirements."


GA - Sex-registry suit can go on - Judge allows class action: Ruling strikes down ban on church work by sex offenders

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Court Ruling

05/31/2009

By Bill Rankin - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A federal judge on Monday banned the state from enforcing a provision of Georgia’s tough sex-offender law that prohibits offenders from volunteering at churches.

Lawyers representing the plaintiffs presented evidence from ministers and others who work with sex offenders about the restorative powers of faith and volunteering in faith communities, U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper said.

Allowing plaintiffs to continue to participate in their faith communities will further public safety by providing support, stability and a grounded sense of right and wrong,” Cooper wrote.

Separately, Cooper rejected attempts by the state to throw out the class-action lawsuit on grounds it is unmanageable and impractical.

Cooper allowed the suit filed on behalf of all 16,000 people on Georgia’s sex-offender registry to proceed on claims the law is too vague and broad.

Cooper also broke the suit down into various “subclasses” and allowed those claims to proceed. These subclasses include offenders seeking to overturn a provision banning them from living within 1,000 feet of designated school bus stops; offenders who want to volunteer or want to work at places of worship; and offenders who were convicted before the law’s passage on July 1, 2006, but are on the sex-offender registry.

Cooper declined to allow claims to be pursued further by subclasses of offenders who are renters or those who are elderly or disabled.

Georgia’s sex-offender law is one of the toughest in the nation. It prohibits most offenders from living or working within 1,000 feet of places children congregate, such as schools, parks, swimming pools and churches.

But the law has suffered a number of legal setbacks, including court rulings granting relief to offenders who own homes, who are homeless and who got mandatory life sentences for failing to register a second time.

Russ Willard, a spokesman for Attorney General Thurbert Baker (Contact), said the office was discussing the impact of Cooper’s injunction with its clients.

Gerry Weber, a lawyer with the Southern Center for Human Rights, which filed suit on behalf of the plaintiffs, applauded the ruling.

Georgia’s sex-offender law has suffered more legal setbacks than any such law anywhere in the country,” he said.

This order should send a clear message to the General Assembly that it’s time to fix this law,” Weber said.

The Senate recently approved legislation that seeks to change a number of provisions.

One would allow sex offenders to volunteer at places of worship, provided they are not with unsupervised minors.

But a House version of the bill does not include that provision.


ME - Please Vote against LD 1157 (A Letter from a Maine Citizens for Change Member)

Dear Representative (insert your representative name here):

I am writing to ask you to vote against LD 1157. At one time, the requirement for people to register for a crime of a sexual nature was determined by the court during sentencing. This had the safeguard of a criminal proceeding. The law has been amended many times. First, the sex offender registry was amended to make it retroactive. Then it was amended to include new offenses. Now it is being amended in an attempt to make these added offenses retroactively registrable. The language of the bill gives the sex offender registry itself the authority to determine the requirement to register without any of the procedural safeguards that were once part of the criminal process.

Basically, if the registry says you have to register, you have 5 days to comply, or face criminal sanctions. This happens regardless of whether the crime committed was actually a registerable offense at the time when it was committted.

Some may say this is a good thing, but it is violative of the ex post facto clause in both the Maine and the U.S. Constitutions. This bill will not moot the court cases already challenging the sex offender registry in Maine. The basis of those cases are rooted in constitutional problems that have plagued the sex offender registry. These issues include problems with the ex post facto clause, the bill of attainder clause, the equal protection clause, the cruel and unusual punishment clause, procedural due process, substantial due process, and the equal protection clause. It will spawn more cases because it will threaten more people with registration.

One of the serious constitutional problems has already been elucidated by the Maine Supreme Court. Under Maine law, you cannot relabel something that was a criminal penalty and call it a civil penalty. It was tried in the 1980's with drunk driving offenders and the Maine Supreme Court struck it down. LD 1157 is an attempt to do just that. It continues to try to separate the requirement to register from its original place as part of criminal sentencing. This is an attempt to make it appear to be a civil regulation and not a criminal punishment.

It was a case from Alaska that went to the U.S. Supreme Court (Smith v. Doe) that gave legality to the sex offender registry. However, it was a very different registry when that case was decided. The Maine Supreme Court has already stated it is aware of the great punishment registration entails. Last year, Alaska reheard Doe's challenge and struck down retroactive application of the sex offender registry because it violated the state constitutional ban on ex post facto laws. The Maine Supreme Court appears to be poised to do the same. This bill will only create more litigants and more challenges.

(optional you can insert your personal story and how these laws effect you and your family here)

I have attached an article surveying the collateral consequences on the families of registrants. In particular, please look at the survey's results about children. It can be argued that this sex offender registry harms more children than it will ever help.

Sincerely,

(insert your name here)


CA - Corrections officials reverse themselves: Sex offenders can return to camp on creek

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06/02/2009

By SCOTT JASON

Reversing course, California corrections officials said Monday that homeless sex offenders on parole may once again live along Black Rascal Creek.

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation had ordered that by Friday the camp in west Merced be cleared after it heard complaints about trespassing.

A handful of the homeless people moved beneath a Highway 99 bridge about a mile away for the weekend before learning they could return to their old camp.

The land, by the creek and train tracks, was thought to be owned by Union Pacific, though it's now believed to be owned by the Merced Irrigation District.

Assistant Regional Administrator Bobby Haase said parole has never been in the housing business. The department's role is to enforce what parolees can't do, not tell them what they can.

"Our job is to help these guys to reintegrate, not to put up barriers," Haase said.

Paroled sex offenders may live along the creek as long as the landowner doesn't object.

Merced Mayor Pro Tem John Carlisle appealed to Corrections' undersecretary of operations Scott Kernan to halt the plans. Carlisle said it was the departments' director who approved rescinding the order.

"We're right back where we were before," he said.

In time, he hopes some solution will be found for the homeless encampments around Merced. The city's eligible for about $515,000 in economic stimulus money to help the homeless.

Merced Irrigation District has implied it wouldn't try to move the homeless unless there were problems, Carlisle said. For example, one man who carved his campsite into the levee's side was kicked out.

"They don't want to be the boogeyman," he said.

MID officials were unavailable for comment.

Renee Davenport, who was advocating for the parolees, said the bridge where they had moved was unsafe and did nothing but move the men from one area to another.

"They're going home," she said, "and I'm glad."


Microsoft's New Search Engine Puts Porn in Motion

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Come on, why is Fox picking on Microsoft?  You can go to almost any search engine, enter the same keyword, and turn off the moderation and view videos, pictures and who knows what else. You can see many "sex offender" related videos here.

06/01/2009

By Joseph Abrams

Your kids may get a bang out of Bing — and that's not a good thing, Internet safety experts warned on Monday.

Bing, Microsoft's new search engine, went live in the U.S. this weekend, aiming to challenge and possibly unseat industry titan Google.

But bloggers and Internet safety experts quickly discovered that one of Bing's "features" is that it takes only a few clicks for anyone — of any age — to view explicit pornographic videos without even leaving the search engine.

In its bid to beat Google, Microsoft has unveiled a slate of convenient features for Bing, including an "autoplay" tool that lets users preview videos simply by hovering a mouse over them.

That asset may become a liability, because users can get a taste of porn videos on Bing instead of having to go to a smutty Web site — an innovation other search engines have yet to offer.

Technology blogger Loic Le Meur noticed the issue early Monday after testing video search on Bing.

What he found was a cornucopia of pornography that he said transformed the search engine into its very own pornographic Web site.

"You are now on a porn site without leaving Bing. Amazing," Le Meur wrote on his blog.

Bing, like other major search engines, lets users set filtering preferences at one of three levels — strict, moderate or simply off.

Online safety advocates argue that search engines need to do much more to cut off underage access to pornography — because the filters can be circumvented easily with just one click.

"It's a no-brainer for any kid," said Donna Rice Hughes, president and chairwoman of Enough Is Enough, a group that works to help parents protect children from online porn.

"From the standpoint of the new state-of-the-art search engine, [the video preview] is a really neat thing of course," Hughes said. "The flipside of that is that you've got an abundance of pornography out there."

Content-filtering companies have also been reviewing Bing — and have found the same gaping problems.

With adult-content filters turned off, "Bing.com does at this point allow users to watch pornographic videos without ever leaving the site," said Forrest Collier, CEO of InternetSafety.com.

Parental filtering software such as SafeEyes, which is produced by Collier's company, can block any explicit or unwanted search results, he said.

CyberPatrol, another major safe software manufacturer, confirmed to FOXNews.com that its early tests had successfully blocked all illicit media during searches with Bing.

Hughes, the director of Enough Is Enough, said Microsoft and other search engines "need to make their filtered searches much more prominent and have an option for password protection" that parents could use to prevent kids from switching the controls around.

Microsoft said in a statement that it was up to users to turn off the filters, and provided instructions on how to toggle the settings on its blog.

"By default, Bing filters out explicit image and video results. Consumers must take action to turn off the Safe Search filter in their settings in order for explicit image or video content to appear in Bing's results," the statement read.

Other major search engines like Yahoo and Google come up with similar video and image results when electronic filters are turned off — but don't provide automatic playing of videos within the search-results page.

The abundance of pornography is something child health experts say is simply a fact of life.

"Kids can access pornography on the Internet no matter what the search engine is," Dr. David Walsh, president of the National Institute on Media and the Family, told FOXNews.com.

Walsh said it's particularly important that kids be protected from the worst excesses of pornography during their formative years.
- That is why people need to purchase filtering software, so the parent can filter and block those sites.  Most have password protection, which cannot be turned off, unless the child knows the password.  So the issue needs to be put back into the parents hands, not the government and other companies, IMO.  Companies and schools can educate parents on how to do this, then leave it up to them.

"Because they're at the very age when they are developing their whole attitudes about sex and sexuality," he said, it's bad for them to be visiting porn sites, "where sex is basically a commodity to be bought and sold and where women are treated like objects. The attitudes that they're going to pick up there are not the attitudes we want them to have for life."

Protecting kids from pornography or other potentially harmful materials must ultimately rest with parents, Walsh added.

"I don't know that search engines can be programmed to do the job that parents need to," he said.


GA - Alleged Rape Victim Has Filed False Reports In The Past

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You see, she's cried wolf so many times, now her own credibility is being questioned. Yes, she could've been raped, but when you lie in the past, it comes back to haunt you. As in this case.  Just think about this.  A woman hates men, so she tells them she is into kinky sex, and likes to be tied up.  Then, afterwards, she claims she was abducted and tied up, and the man goes to jail and/or prison.  I am not saying this is the case here, but it could happen.


06/01/2009

CHEROKEE COUNTY - Channel 2 Action News reporter Jodie Fleischer discovered new information in the alleged kidnapping and rape of an Atlanta woman who was found tied-up in a Tennessee cabin. Records show the same woman has filed at least three false reports of assaults in the past.

Detectives with the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office said they charged the woman with filing a false report in 2005. Monday, when Fleischer told them the same victim was involved in the Tennessee case, they called detectives there and told them about three different incidents, all involving the same woman.

"It's certainly important to know. If I was handling a case like this, I would certainly want to know it," said Maj. Ron Hunton with the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office.

Hunton oversees the criminal investigations division in Cherokee County and helped work a rape investigation in 2005. In that case, a woman told detectives someone had broken into her home and raped her, leaving her behind a Kohl's department store. The next day, officials charged her with filing a false report.

"The investigation revealed pretty quickly that, in fact, it didn't happen," said Hunton.

The investigation also revealed a report filed by the same woman in Henry County in 2004. In that case, she claimed two men broke in and sexually assaulted her. Police there elected not to charge her in that case.

Last fall, she pleaded guilty to filing a false assault report in Fannin County. She is still on probation for that.

"Just because someone's done this certainly doesn't mean they couldn't have been raped or assaulted, but it'd be foolish to ignore it," said Hunton.

In the Tennessee case, David Jansen, of Snellville, has been charged with kidnapping and rape. The same woman said he kidnapped her while she was jogging along Montgomery Ferry Road last week, tied her up, took her to a cabin in the Tennessee mountains, and raped her. They were discovered when he ordered pizza and the deliveryman saw the woman tied up and called 911.

"I think that it's suspicious," said Hunton.

Hunton said detectives in Tennessee thanked him for the information and said they would look into it.

"Part of police work is uncovering the facts, and sometimes that may mean clearing the innocent as well as locking up the guilty," said Hunton.

Channel 2 Action News chose not to identify the woman because Tennessee authorities still consider her a rape victim.

The suspect in the Tennessee case claimed the incident was a pre-planned, sexual encounter that was consensual.


FL - News Conference: 45 Child Pornographers Caught in Polk County Florida


WI - Knowing the Pros and Tracking the Cons of Green Bay's Sex Offender Ordinance

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06/01/2009

By Matt Smith

City leaders learned more about the pros and cons of the Green Bay sex offender ordinance Monday night, as some argue the ordinance should be reconsidered.

The ordinance prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools, day cares, and other places children gather, which effectively puts 93-percent of the city off-limits.

Two years after the ordinance's inception, Green Bay's Advisory Committee debated Monday how well the ordinance really works. The focus was on the Sex Offender Residence Board, a group of volunteers who approve or deny sex offenders' requests for exemptions to move within the city limits.

The debate followed a report card, of sorts, from the city attorney's office.

According to that office, 128 appeals have been heard since May, 2007. Eighteen were from offenders appealing more than once.

The result: 83 sex offenders -- about 65 percent -- were approved to move within the city.

"The heart of the matter is, are we doing enough due diligence with this board to make it effective?" city council member Celestine Jeffreys said.
- What constitutes "effective?"

The concerns reflect the workload of the all-volunteer board, a lack of guidelines, and dwindling resources from the city and police department.

"If you don't have the tools to do the job, you're set up for failure," city council member Jerry Wiezbiskie said.
- The same could be said for the sex offenders having to live with your unconstitutional laws, they are doomed for failure from the start!

Alder Wiezbiskie recently brought up the overall issue, sharing concerns mirrored by the state Department of Corrections that some sex offenders simply quit reporting where they live because of the city's ordinance.

But others argue the DOC only has its own interests in mind, since it's charged with placing offenders after their release from prison.

"They would want this ordinance to go away because it would make their lives a lot easier. I'm not interested in that," city council member John Vander Leest said.
- Why don't you make constitutional laws, and then it would not be much of a problem!  The laws, as is, are unconstitutional and violate ex post facto, and much more of the constitution!  You are not about working on preventing crime, but creating crime, and to make yourself look better, that is all this is about!

What was agreed upon is that improvements can be made to the residence board.

But the big picture questions -- Is this board serving its purpose, and is the city putting enough resources and oversight into this subjective process? -- have yet to be answered.


CA - Former S.F. police sergeant cleared after being sued by 14-year-old girl he solicited for sex

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Wow, this cop is getting a way with having sex with a 14 year old. So what else is new? He said she said she was 18, and he believed her. If the average citizen would've said that, they would be laughed out of court, yet here is a cop, and they believe the cop. Typical! I also think this child is trying to extort money from him. She was/is a prostitute! Apparently the cop will be a sex offender for life, but what about prison time, which the average citizen would get?

06/01/2009

OAKLAND — A former San Francisco police sergeant who quit the force two years ago after being caught purchasing sex from a 14-year-old prostitute did not cause the girl emotional distress or inflict sexual battery, a jury declared late Monday.

The girl, who is now 16, said Donald Forte's actions the night he paid $50 to have sex with her was an act of sexual battery that caused her emotional distress. But a jury decided Monday that Forte's actions did not cause distress and that the former officer did not commit sexual battery.

The jury's decision came just four hours after attorneys for the girl and Forte argued in closing arguments about why or why not it should force Forte to pay money to the girl for emotional damage.

"There is a child and an adult, the adults are supposed to know better," said Marco Acosta, the attorney representing the girl, during closing arguments in the case Monday. "It would not be fair for this man to have done what he did and then walk out of this courtroom without paying for it."

Forte, 58 years old when he picked up the girl near the corner of 17th Street and International Boulevard in June 2007, admitted breaking the law by hiring the girl for sex. But Forte argued, both when he was arrested and in testimony during this civil case, that the girl told him she was 18 years old and he believed her.

Acosta attempted to convince the jury that Forte should have know better and that his actions in June 2007 added a new layer of emotional damage to a girl already suffering from distress.

Meanwhile, Forte's attorney Harry Stern argued that evidence showed the girl was a somewhat seasoned prostitute with existing emotional damage. He also argued the girl had lied in the past to make her case appear more damaging.
- So what?  She's a kid, he had sex with her, which he admitted, and that is a crime.  It doesn't matter if she is a prostitute or not!  But, he's a cop, so of course he is going to get a way with it.

Acosta admitted his client stopped attending school and had already showed signs of emotional distress before Forte paid her for sex, but he said Forte's actions made the situation worse.

Being a police officer for more than 35 years, Acosta said Forte should have realized his client was underage and should have acted responsibly by taking her to her home instead of paying her for sex.

"When a police officer chooses to violate the law, that is an outrage," Acosta said. "Mr. Forte should have taken my client home to her parents and not engage in these disgusting acts."
- Well apparently it's not much of an "outrage," because cops get a way with this all the time.

In addition, Acosta presented the case as a chance for the jury to provide justice because evidence of Forte's criminal punishment was not allowed to be presented to the jury during the civil trial.

Forte was initially charged with committing a lewd and lascivious act with a child of 14 or 15 years old by someone at least 10 years older but eventually pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor sexual battery. Forte, who is married, was also forced to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life.

"If a police officer can come into our county and break the laws and not have any consequences, that will be a sad day in Alameda County," Acosta said. "We are dealing with a young person and the laws of this society are designed to protect the young."
- The laws should be to protect EVERYONE!

But Stern, a partner in the same law firm that is defending former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle against murder charges, said the girl is not the innocent, first-time prostitute described by Acosta.
- Who gives a rats a$$?  She is a child, and he had sex with her, period, end of story!

Although Stern admitted his client acted shamefully, he said Forte should not pay for damages that he did not create.

"As a lawyer, you know you are in a challenging case when your client's defense is: 'I meant to be with an adult prostitute,'" Stern said to the jury. "Mr. Forte is no hero, but the consequences (of his actions) are not found in this case."
- And even being with an adult prostitute is a crime!

Stern pointed to the girl's statements to police after the incident and in a sworn deposition later to show that she was willing to lie to make her case more compelling.

The girl told police she was 18, and in her deposition for the civil case, the girl said she was a virgin before she had sex with Forte.

The statements were not true, the girl admitted during testimony in the civil case, and Stern suggested the girl lied to bolster her assertion that Forte caused emotional damage.

Stern also suggested that Forte was not the girl's first customer, as she and her attorney assert. Stern suggested the girl was an active worker on the streets of Oakland, pointing to evidence that showed she had stains on her underwear not related to the case.

Stern suggested the jury send a message that the civil courts should not be used by those who seek to unfairly gain financially from incidents.

By denying monetary damages to the girl, Stern said the jury would be sending a message to her that she needs to find other ways to "get her life together."

"Doing anything else will be the absolute wrong message. You would, in fact, be endorsing her actions," Stern said.

Acosta, however, argued that the jury should consider the fact that his client was barely a teenager when the event occurred and could not think rationally during, before or after the act.

"We are dealing with a young person," Acosta said. "We are talking about one of the most vulnerable and weak."


FL - Ex-police officer faces sex charges

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And another cop charged with a sex crime in Florida. Man, the water down there must be contaminated or something.

06/02/2009

By MARK I. JOHNSON

EDGEWATER -- A former police officer and volunteer computer science teacher is accused of having sexual contact with a teenage boy he met in his class at a private school, police said.

Michael Gregory Miles, 22, New Smyrna Beach, surrendered to Edgewater police investigators Friday after a warrant was issued for his arrest on charges of lewd and lascivious acts and sexual battery.

The warrant was signed after officers investigated statements that Miles had sexual relations with the teen, who was 14 at the time.

Edgewater police Sgt. Joanne Winston wrote in her complaint affidavit that Miles admitted to the encounters during an interview in April at the department.

In that document, Winston said Miles told her that he and the student met while the teen was attending the Discovery Academy in Edgewater, where he was a volunteer instructor. Miles is related to the owners of the pre-K through eighth-grade school, the report states.

"We did not know any of this happened," said Dan Lewis, a teacher and school co-owner with wife, Teresa Lewis, who is Miles' aunt. "We were told about it by (the teenager's) parents (about a month ago)."

He said nothing improper took place on campus and that Miles no longer works in his nonpaid position. Lewis could not recall exactly when Miles left the school.

"He was let go because he would not follow our guidelines," Dan Lewis said.

The teenager attended Discovery Academy for two or three years before graduating after he completed eighth grade, Dan Lewis said.

Miles told Winston the Edgewater teen and he both expressed curiosity about having sexual contact with "another guy." Miles claimed he had been molested by an uncle as a child, but had had no other sexual contact with a male, according to the report.

Miles and the unidentified teenager's communication continued via e-mail and conversations over the social networking Web site MySpace, the complaint states. Then the pair agreed to meet behind the Publix supermarket shopping center at U.S. 1 and 30th Street, where they exposed themselves and touched each other, the report said.

A second encounter occurred in the spring of 2008 in a wooded area near Willow Oak Drive and 35th Street. There was one other incident when Miles said the teen performed oral sex on him, the report states.

When asked what he was thinking at the time, the police report states, Miles told investigators "he wished it had not happened, adding hindsight was 20/20 and obviously he was not thinking at the time."

The relationship came to light after the teenager was seen kissing another boy in a classroom at Spruce Creek High School in April. When questioned about the encounter by classmates, the report said he had an "emotional purge" and began telling them he was bisexual. The report said as a teacher tried to stop the boy, he "blurted out he had had sexual relations with a teacher from his previous school."

Miles served as a part-time Oak Hill police officer between September and November 2007 before resigning to "pursue other professional avenues," Oak Hill Police Chief Guy Grasso said Monday morning.

"He was not grasping law enforcement. He realized that and that is why he resigned," the chief said.

The accused is the son of Volusia County sheriff's Sgt. Greg Miles. The sergeant accompanied his son to the Edgewater Police Department on Friday. Michael Miles was being held Monday at the Volusia County Branch Jail on $50,000 bail.

Efforts to reach Sgt. Miles were unsuccessful Monday.

Later in 2008 Miles was accused of two other unrelated felonies.

He is scheduled for trial this month on a felony grand theft charge stemming from an incident at the Volusia Mall in August 2008, as well as an October 2008 incident in Port Orange where he was accused of falsely impersonating a police officer, court records show.

The August arrest came after Miles was accused of failing to make eight bank deposits totaling $1,259 while manager-in-training for a cellular phone retailer.

In October, Port Orange police said Miles tailgated a woman while driving north on U.S. 1 and began flashing lights at her. At the traffic signal on Nova Road and U.S. 1, the victim confronted Miles, who said he was an officer and she should pull over when she saw flashing lights. He was wearing a hat with the word police written on it, the report states.

He followed the woman home before speeding away, Port Orange police said. Officers located him a short time later and placed Miles under arrest.


AL - Former Alabama Judge Charged in Inmate Sex-Abuse Case

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You can read the indictment here

05/31/2009

By Martha Neil

A former judge in south Alabama has been arrested and released on $287,500 bond, concerning a 57-count state-court indictment that accuses him, while still on the bench, of sexually abusing and paddling inmates and a defendant who appeared multiple times in his own courtroom.

The charges against former Mobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas include kidnapping, sex abuse, extortion and multiple ethics violations. However, a lawyer for the ex-judge says Thomas himself is being victimized by a racist justice system, CNN reports.

"Did you ever think of the fact that this is the only black circuit judge we've ever had in Mobile County and that the right-wing Republicans have gotten rid of him?" said attorney Robert Clark who described the case as a "high-tech lynching" at a Friday news conference. "This is racism at its very finest."

Thomas' law license was suspended yesterday, reports the Press-Register, which has published multiple articles on the case.

If convicted on the most serious charge, kidnapping, CNN reports, Thomas would face a potential prison term of between 10 and 99 years, according to Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr.

Tyson describes the racism allegations as "absolute nonsense," reports the Press Register in an article Friday on the charges against Thomas. Both the judge and the alleged victims are African-American.

A copy of the indictment (PDF) is provided by the newspaper. The Press-Register reports that it redacted the names of the inmates involved, because they are allegedly victims of sex crimes.

Both CNN and the Press-Register say Thomas is accused of checking inmates out of jail in order to force them into sexual activity, at least some of which allegedly occurred in a room near his courthouse chambers, the newspaper reports.

These allegations against Thomas follow an earlier judicial ethics case that led to his 2007 resignation from the bench, in which he was accused of giving some defendants special treatment and interfering in other judges' cases, writes the Press-Register in a Sunday editorial.

It points to a number of as-yet-unanswered questions concerning the case against Thomas:

"How could any person, even a judge, routinely have checked out inmates from the Metro Jail? What really went on in the little room adjacent to Mr. Thomas' chambers, and why did no one notice?" the newspaper asks. "And didn't anyone in the courthouse realize that he was interfering in other judges' cases?"