Friday, August 14, 2009

IL - Social-networking ban for sex offenders: Bad call?

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PLEASE NOTE: This is only for those who are on probation or parole.  You can read the bill at the link below, or contact the sheriff, probation/parole officer, to confirm this for yourself.


By Larry Magid

The just-signed Illinois law banning sex offenders from social-networking sites might seem like a good idea to protect children, but it will have virtually no impact on their safety and could wind up making things worse.

The law, which was signed Thursday by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, would prevent registered sex offenders in Illinois from using a social-networking service defined as an "Internet Web site containing profile Web pages...that include the names or nicknames of such members, photographs...or any other personal or personally identifying information."

The definition also includes "the ability to leave messages or comments on the profile Web page that are visible to all or some visitors to the profile Web page," which might be interpreted to include news sites, including CNET News, that allow visitors to register and leave comments.

But let's start with the problem the law is trying to solve. It's aimed at adults who troll the Web in search of children to sexually exploit. While such people do exist, they are rarely successful in harming youth whom they meet through the Internet. Every peer-reviewed study conducted by the Crimes Against Children Research Center and other scholarly organizations, as well as the report of Internet Safety Technical Task Force, has concluded that the risk of online predators is greatly exaggerated.

I'm not aware of any cases of a predator harming a prepubescent child whom he met on the Internet, and there are very few publicly known cases of sexual contact between a teenager and an adult they met online. In those few cases where contact has occurred, it is often because the teenager was aggressively seeking the contact and where the teen was also engaged in offline risky behavior. These cases are typically between a teenage girl and young adult male between 18 and 25.

Law enforcement officials and politicians will point to plenty of Internet predator cases, but the overwhelming majority are either sting operations, in which no child was harmed, or child pornography cases which, while horrendous, are not addressed by this law.

A January 2009 analysis of Pennsylvania cases by the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use found, during a four-year period, that "only eight incidents involved actual teen victims with whom the Internet was used to form a relationship," compared to 9,934 children who were sexually abused in a single year in that state.

If the law had no negative consequences, I would give it a pass. After all, who cares about the rights of people who have been convicted of sex offenses? Well, I do. Not because I think they're wonderful people but because it's in all of our interest that, if they're not in prison, they be integrated into society to the extent that they can function and be able to find and hold appropriate jobs. Keeping these individuals away from the very types of sites that can help them in their careers is counterproductive to the goal of rehabilitating them.

The other issue is how we classify sex offenders. Not everyone on every state sex offender list is a danger to children. A recent article in The Economist, entitled "Unjust and Ineffective, observes that "Many people assume that anyone listed on a sex offender registry must be a rapist or a child molester. But most states spread the net much more widely."

Citing a report from Human Rights Watch, the article says "at least five states required men to register if they were caught visiting prostitutes. At least 13 required it for urinating in public (in two of those states, only if a child was present). No fewer than 29 states required registration for teenagers who had consensual sex with another teenager. And 32 states registered flashers and streakers."

The article describes the plight of a young woman who, in 1996 at age 17, was charged with having oral sex with a 16-year-old boy. She was given jail time and probation, and wound up on a sex offender list. Should she be banned from having a Facebook account or the ability to publicly comment on posts like this one? I think not.

I'll leave it up to others to debate our sex offender registry policy. Adam Thierer and Robin Sax have just written thoughtful responses to The Economist's article, taking differing points of view, but I do think that we need to be careful about not indiscriminately shutting down social-networking access to all registered sex offenders. Some probably yes, but not every one of them.

Another reason to question this law is that it can lead to more than one false sense of security. To begin with, the most dangerous sex offenders aren't necessarily the ones who are registered but the many who haven't yet been caught and convicted. And if we focus exclusively on predation, we're likely to lose track of the most dangerous aspects of youth online behavior, which are mostly either kid on kid--such as bullying, harassment, and impersonation--or self-imposed risks such as sexting or posting information that could be embarrassing later in life.'s Declan McCullagh has also weighed in on this case.

"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved

FL - Miami sex offenders limited to life under a bridge

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By Lane DeGregory, Times Staff Writer

The roar of rush hour wakes him: trucks, cars and buses thundering across the causeway above his tent. Behind the shack next to his, someone guns a generator. Spanish music blares from a boom box. Homer Barkley turns on his side, pulls the covers over his head. His mother gave him these sheets when he got out of prison, to use at his brother's house, where he planned to stay. Instead, the sheets cover an air mattress Barkley hauled down here more than a year ago, when he found out he had to live on the edge of Biscayne Bay, with 70 other people convicted of committing sex crimes against kids. Home now is a spit of sand beneath a highway overpass. It's the punishment after the punishment.

Tattered tents line the abutment below the bridge. On the wide landing near the water, bigger tents and plywood sheds hug the dirty shore. There is nowhere to escape heat or bugs or storms. No electricity, except for a communal generator plugged into a tangle of extension cords.

And though people on parole are supposed to stay out here all night, there is no toilet. They go in a pickle bucket then dump it into the bay. The closest running water is at a Shell station a half-hour's hike away.

On the underside of the bridge, someone has spray-painted reminders: "They don't want us to make it." "We R not monsters." And, simply, "Why?"

It wasn't supposed to be like this. Everyone agrees on that. The state, the city and county, the Department of Corrections and the ACLU — none of them wanted to shove these people under a bridge. Even the man who got Miami to adopt stricter laws against paroled sex offenders says he is surprised at what he has wrought.

"It's a terrible situation for everyone, for the public and all those people living out there in third-world squalor," says Ron Book.
- All thanks to Ron Book and the state!

Book, a well-known lobbyist, is a walking contradiction. As the father of a girl who was molested years ago by a nanny, he's a fierce advocate for tougher laws against sex offenders. But as the chairman of Miami's homeless trust, he's supposed to look out for the people he helped put under the bridge.

"Those people out there know how I feel about them," he says. "But I've got to put my own emotions in check and figure out how to deal with all this."

"We didn't anticipate how big this problem could get."

Here's what happened: Florida law says people on parole for crimes against kids have to live at least 1,000 feet from any school, playground or park. Book pressured Miami-Dade to more than double that buffer to 2,500 feet — almost a half-mile. And he added school bus stops to off-limit areas.

In the crowded city, those restrictions left virtually nowhere registered offenders could live.

Which explains why Homer Barkley's driver's license lists his address simply as "Julia Tuttle Causeway."

Barkley grew up in Miami, dropped out of school in ninth grade, stole a car, broke into some houses, resisted arrest. In 1992, when he was 26, his girlfriend accused him of molesting her 10-year-old daughter.

Barkley took a plea bargain and was sentenced to 10 years for attempted sexual battery on a child. He got more time for assaulting another inmate and violating his probation.

When he got out in January 2008, his brother picked him up at prison and drove him to check in with his probation officer. Barkley announced his plans to stay with his brother.

"You have to stay at the bridge," he says the officer told him. He thought it was a halfway house.

But the officer took him across the causeway that links Miami to Miami Beach, turned around and threaded through a split in the guardrail, bumped down a dirt path. Barkley saw the shabby tents clinging to the concrete. On the gritty beach below, men were fishing for their dinner. Barkley sat on the shore, hugging his knees, watching the dark water creep closer.

"You'll never get used to it," a new neighbor told him. "But it's better than prison. Most of the time."

On this sticky summer Thursday, four months before his probation ends, Barkley yawns and unzips his front door. The stench of exhaust, fish and sweat is sickening. He sees his neighbor peeing on the shore.

"What happened last night?" calls Barkley, 44. "My fan went off and it got so damn hot in there I couldn't stand it."

"Generator ran out of gas," the guy says, adjusting his pants. It is cranking again now because somebody took up a collection and went across the bridge to get more.

Barkley nods. He picks up a plastic jug, pours water into a bucket, swirls in liquid soap and dunks a washcloth. Standing on the square of carpet outside his tent, he swabs his arms, his chest, his gray-flecked beard. He walks to the beach to brush his teeth, squats and spits into seaweed.

"Hey, you going in today?" Barkley asks his friend, Mark Wilson, who comes by to bum Pepsodent. "I got a bunch of things I got to do."

He has to find his cousin or sister, someone who will let him take a shower. He needs to talk to a psychiatrist because he has been depressed. He wants to go see this guy who just bought a foreclosed property; the guy wants Barkley to move in, with whoever else can afford $400 rent.

"You want in?" Barkley asks Wilson, 29. "You want to get out of here?"

"Ain't going to happen," Wilson says.

"Think positive," says Barkley. "This is me, not Ron Book."

For breakfast, he pulls a slice of last night's cornbread from his microwave. Then he tugs a T-shirt over his shaved head, stuffs his cell phone and his last $12 into a string backpack and straps a black box around his waist. The box sends signals to the monitor on his ankle so the cops can track his every move.

As the sun begins to bake the bay, Barkley and Wilson zip their tents, scale a steep concrete slope and trek 1.5 miles along the shoulder of the Julia Tuttle Causeway — back toward the city that banished them.

The first tent popped up more than two years ago. Since then the colony has grown to almost 80 residents. Most are sex offenders. The rest are homeless people who heard they won't get hassled at the bridge.

The sex offenders include 20-something men with gold grills on their teeth and a stooped 84-year-old who feeds feral cats; married men whose wives bed down with them in beater cars; and dads who see their kids on Sundays, at the grandparents' house; plus one woman who exposed herself to her girlfriend's children and stays in a trailer.

They are Romeos of 19 who loved underage Juliets, old men who violated young boys, young men who slept with girls who sure looked 21. Nobody talks about any of that. Out here, everyone is an outcast.

Some guys have built plywood shanties; one has a window. Some put padlocks on their tent doors. One man just stretches out on his back on the pavement.

They share food and bus tokens. Someone brought a rusty barbecue grill. Someone found a cooler. Someone plugged an orange extension cord into a coughing generator and strung it over the pilings, adding outlets for each new arrival. Most of the guys have fans and DVD players in their tents. One has a PlayStation. Every day, it seems, someone new shows up.

By last summer, the abutment was so full of tents that some started spilling onto the landing below. This spring, newcomers overflowed onto the grassy shoulder along the interstate. Suddenly, the lepers became visible.

It was all more than the ACLU could take. The organization sued Miami-Dade County on July 9, saying local laws virtually eliminated every place sex offenders could live, "thereby increasing the danger to society."

The next day, Miami sued the state, saying the Department of Corrections created a public nuisance by letting parolees camp on city property.

The story has been in Newsweek and National Public Radio. It has raised questions of justice and freedom, community safety vs. civic responsibility. The penal system released these people — then the community exiled them to a concrete island. You can hate the sex offenders or feel sorry for them — or perhaps both — but it's hard to look beneath the Julia Tuttle Causeway without asking yourself: Is this really what we had in mind?

Some of the men below the bridge have jobs. Some fry burgers, fix cars or mow yards. Most say they want to work, but no one wants them.

Barkley says he has applied for a dozen positions, from day laborer to dishwasher. He wants to work at a restaurant, he says, so he can "eat regular." His relatives give him odd jobs, buy him canned goods, wash his clothes. He spends his days navigating a maze of social services, reporting to classes and officers, having doors slammed in his face. When he has nothing to do, he rides the bus. It's air conditioned.

Wilson, who served three years for attempted sexual battery on a child younger than 12, is going to community college. He wants to work in an office. He needs to support his 3-year-old son.

Whether they have incomes or not, sexual offenders have to pay the state $20 a week for their rehab classes. They have to find their own meals, bus fare, bottled water. Barkley owes his probation officer $1,827 for his tracking box, plus $1,437.14 for supervision. He even has to pay for his own drug tests.

When the sun starts to sink, it's time for Barkley to head back to the bridge. He doesn't want to. He's tired of sleeping in a tent, battling bugs and hunger.

He fantasizes about cutting off his ankle monitor, just walking away. One guy under the bridge did it, and no one ever found him. What's the worst that could happen? They'd send him back to prison?

About 9:30, Barkley ducks into a gas station and spends his last $5 on a four-pack of Miller High Life. The cold cans bounce against his leg all the way across the bridge.

"Hey, how'd it go?" Wilson calls when he sees Barkley picking his way down the embankment in the dark.

Barkley sets his bag in front of his tent, pulls up a milk crate. "Well, I got me a shower. And the psychiatrist said I was depressed. He gave me a prescription, but I don't got the money to fill it." His voice drops. "Oh, and everything with that house I told you about? It fell through."

He hides his face in his hands. The house was his only real shot at getting out from under the bridge. "The state guys said that address was okay. I checked," Barkley says. "But now the city put in a new school bus stop. So we can't be there."

He hands Wilson a beer, then holds up another. A golden stream spills from the bottom, runs down his arm. He must have crushed the can climbing over the guardrail.

He peels off his T-shirt, wipes his arm, swats a mosquito.

Across the bay, he watches the lights of Miami's skyscrapers wink on, piercing the blackness below the bridge.

The words scroll across Barkley's electronic monitor a week later: "Come in Friday ... bring all your equipment." He calls his probation officer and asks what's going on.

You failed your urine test, the officer tells him. Smoking reefer again, huh?

Turns out the foreclosed house wasn't the only way out of here.

Later, packing his tent, Barkley won't admit he was trying to get sent back to prison. But he doesn't seem sorry to leave this netherworld by the bay.

"In a way, it will be a break, after being out here for so long," he says. "I haven't really relaxed since I came home."

He catches himself, and laughs.

"I can't believe I just called this place home."

"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved

IN - Police: Girl Possibly Made Up Bus Stop Assault Story

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Investigators Say Girl's Story Has Holes

INDIANAPOLIS -- A 14-year-old girl who told police that she was abducted from a bus stop and sexually assaulted at a vacant house on Indianapolis' east side Friday morning possibly made up the story, police said.

The girl told police that the incident happened a little after 6 a.m. near the intersection of Dearborn Street and Nowland Avenue.

Indianapolis police Lt. Jeff Duhamell said the girl told them she was alone at the bus stop when a black man in his 20s came up behind her, stuck something against her back and said "come with me."

The girl told police that the man grabbed her by the arm and took her to a home in the 1300 block of Dearborn Street, where the assault happened.

After the incident, the man, who was wearing black pants and a black shirt with a white shirt underneath, ran southbound on Dearborn, the teen told officers.

Police said that as they investigated the alleged incident further, there were several holes in the girl's story. They were not completely ruling out the possibility that an incident took place, though.

Investigators said that this was the first day the girl was going to school for the year, though Indianapolis Public Schools had been in session since Wednesday.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the girl's story, police are watching bus stops more closely.

"We have stepped up patrol in the area," said Lt. Jeff Duhamell. "There's some surveillance video we have south of here. We're going to be looking at that."

Police asked anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS.

"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved

UK - Concerns over teen 'sexting'

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View the video at the site above.


The police unit set up to tackle online sex abuse says it is increasingly worried about teenagers swapping intimate photos on their mobiles.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre is seeing daily reports of harassment after sensitive photos have been deliberately passed around.

See Also:

"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved

DEFINITION - Punishment


  1. the act of punishing
  2. (a) : suffering, pain, or loss that serves as retribution (b) : a penalty inflicted on an offender through judicial procedure
  3. severe, rough, or disastrous treatment


  1. (a) : to impose a penalty on for a fault, offense, or violation (b) : to inflict a penalty for the commission of (an offense) in retribution or retaliation
  2. (a) : to deal with roughly or harshly (b) : to inflict injury on : hurt


  1. the suffering in person, rights, or property that is annexed by law or judicial decision to the commission of a crime or public offense
  2. the suffering or the sum to be forfeited to which a person agrees to be subjected in case of nonfulfillment of stipulations
  3. (a) : disadvantage, loss, or hardship due to some action (b) : a disadvantage (as loss of yardage, time, or possession of the ball or an addition to or subtraction from the score) imposed on a team or competitor for violation of the rules of a sport
  4. points scored in bridge by the side that defeats the opposing contract —usually used in plural

GA - Cobb Sex Offender Jailed

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By Jon Lewis

(WSB Radio) A registered sex offender in Gwinnett County is back behind bars after refusing to comply with police.

Sheriff's Deputies said _____ didn't provide them with his email address and other internet related passwords.

Deputies said _____ was using a dating site and sent a sexually explicit picture of himself to at least one woman. Police are investigating whether he sent these pictures to anyone else.

"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved

UK - Cry-rape girl, 20, dragged man into toilets for sex to claim £7,500 compensation

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A woman faces jail after luring a man into having sex with her and then crying rape in a plot to claim thousands of pounds in compensation.

Sarah-Jane Hilliard, 20, applied for £7,500 from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority days after falsely accusing _____, 19, of raping her.

Yesterday, the telesales employee was told she faced a jail term, after her web of lies was exposed in court in May.

Hilliard told police she met up with Mr _____, whom she regarded as a friend, at Liquid nightclub in Basildon, Essex, on July 26 last year.

She said he joined her and a friend in their taxi home, but when she stopped in a public toilet by the railway station he came in and attacked her.

In reality they had met at another club and walked to the station, and it was she who lured him into the toilet - even telling him he 'better be there for the baby' if she became pregnant.

Mr _____ was arrested and bailed. But eight days later, after police failed to find CCTV images of the pair outside Liquid, Hilliard's friend confessed that they had actually been in the nearby Colors nightclub all night.

CCTV footage from there clearly showed Hilliard and Mr _____, both from Basildon, kissing and holding hands before leaving.

Officers contacted Mr _____ and told him he would not be charged and instead arrested Hilliard for perverting the course of justice.

But this did not save him from being made a hate figure. 'The last 11 months have been horrendous,' he said.

'I've lost all my self- confidence. I don't know why she did it but her lies have ruined my life.'

Mr _____'s father, _____, 48, said his son had to move out of Basildon because of threats against him. He said: 'After the court case people started kicking the door of his flat in and shouting "rapist" though the letterbox.'

'He moved into temporary accommodation but he heard that people were offering £100 to find out where he was. He's been threatened and chased through town with a knife too.'

'He's petrified. He's left Basildon and is staying with friends because he's worried about what's going to happen.'

In Hilliard's trial at Basildon Crown Court in May, Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, said: 'This incident has changed Mr _____.'

'He speaks of his lack of confidence approaching young women, not trusting them and having trouble sleeping.'

'He was physically sick through worry, constantly teary and feeling like he wanted to cry.'

Jacqueline Carey, defending, said Hilliard had an 'extremely difficult period in her past' which she had discussed with a psychiatrist.

Hilliard was found guilty and was due to be sentenced yesterday but that was adjourned until next month to wait for further psychiatric reports.

"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved