Saturday, August 15, 2009

OR - For 2nd time, jury deadlocks in Ore. abuse case

View the article here

So I guess they will keep taking the man to court, until they get the conviction which they apparently want. The jury, on two occasions, failed to convict the man, so drop it. The constitution does say that a person cannot be tried for the same offense, twice. It's called "double jeopardy!" I guess, since the constitution died many years ago, they can try you as many times as they like.

08/15/2009

CORVALLIS (AP) - For a second time, a jury has deadlocked in a trial of a Lebanon man accused of sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl.

Prosecutors say they will decide soon whether to try 42-year-old _____ a third time.

He was accused in 2007 of sexual abuse and unlawful sexual penetration.

Prosecutors say friends left the victim with _____ while her father went to the hospital.

The first jury deadlocked in July 2008. A new trial started Monday, with deliberations beginning Wednesday. A mistrial was declared Thursday afternoon.

The case was the first in Benton County tried under Oregon's version of "Jessica's Law," which increased mandatory minimum sentences for certain sex crimes against children younger than 12.


"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


SD - Committee on sex offender registry laws to meet (URGENT)

View the article here

It is important that offenders and family members attend this meeting, and voice your opinions. Don't sit back and hope for the best, make your voice known!

08/15/2009

PIERRE (AP) - A legislative committee set up to review state laws on the sex offender registry will take public comment on Tuesday.

The Sex Offender Registry Study Committee meets in Room 414 of the Capitol beginning at 9 a.m., with public testimony beginning at 1 p.m.

Everyone including citizens, sex crime victims, sex offender registrants, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys and neighborhood watches representatives are invited to give their input. Public comment is expected to run well into the afternoon.


"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


CANADA - Secret Life - A panel of Canada's Experts discuss sex offender issues

View the article here

Sexual offenses against children are considered the most heinous of crimes and the perpetrators most vilified.

As a civil society, how do we deal with this - the most emotive of issues? Can offenders be rehabilitated and are they safe to live among us?

We've assembled a team of experts who offer their informed opinions and the latest research on the most complex social dilemma of our time.

YouTube PlayList



"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


CT - How we deal with sex offenders?

View the article here

08/14/2009

The town's new sex offender ordinance, passed Thursday by the Board of Selectman and now before the RTM for final approval, makes reasonable concessions to protect the rights of offenders who have already been punished for their crimes.

But, as distasteful as it might be to say given the offenses of those concerned, it still does raise important constitutional questions, and it could leave the town vulnerable to future lawsuits.

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (Contact), a Greenwich resident who supports the new rule, admitted as much when he told reporter Neil Vigdor: "The courts across the country have divided on these issues, and it's still an evolving area in terms of constitutional law."

The ordinance bans registered sex offenders from loitering at schools, parks, playgrounds and beaches. It is the second time the proposed rule has made the rounds of town government. After an earlier version was dropped, officials added exceptions to allow registered sex offenders to enter "child safety zones" to vote, attend public meetings, drop off or pick up their children at school and meet with teachers to discuss their children's education.

But the central issue remains: After a person serves a court-ordered sentence for a crime, is it constitutional to continue to punish him or her, as this ordinance would?

It's a particularly complicated question in the case of sex offenders because their crimes, especially those that target children, are so horrible, and because some, not all, research indicates high recidivism rates.
- So you use some studies to justify further punishment?  A majority of the studies show LOW recidivism rates, so you pick the ones you want, to justify this?

We as a society, not just this town, still have not come up with a perfect method of protecting children while respecting the Constitution when it comes to dealing with sex offenders who have completed their sentences. Even the sex registry itself is a too-blunt tool fraught with problems.

But, ironically, we think the best solution was raised this week by an outspoken opponent of Greenwich's new law, Andrew Schneider, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut (Contact), who told Mr. Vigdor: "If we as a society determine that sex offenders cannot be released as free individuals, then maybe what we need to consider is stiffer penalties in the first go-around and not stigmatize them and prevent them from living as free individuals once released."

We couldn't agree more. Much too often we report cases in which those convicted of sex crimes are let off too easily. Just this week we reported on a Westport man sent to jail for two years for being caught with child pornography while on probation. He'd previously been convicted of luring children to sit naked on shaving-cream-filled balloons at Compo Beach in Stamford. He served no jail time for that conviction.

That's but one incident in which the legal system is not doing enough to protect potential victims, but it would not be difficult to dig up many more like it, enough to fill this space many times over.

The truth is we would not need constitutionally questionable laws if we dealt with sexual perpetrators properly. In some cases, many perhaps, it would be appropriate to keep them locked up for good. After all, sexual assault inflicts a life sentence of trauma on many innocent victims.

As for this most recent ordinance, officials have built in reasonable protections. The RTM should pass it, and the town should stand up to whatever legal challenges might come its way.


"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


IL - Kicking Sex Offenders Off The Internet?

View the article here

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.

08/13/2009

By Declan McCullagh

Forget MySpace: A New Illinois Law Says Sex Offenders Can't Use Google, Yahoo, Amazon, And Many Other Popular Sites

(CBC/CBS) If you believe its sponsors, a new Illinois law will keep sex offenders from recruiting children on the Internet.

"If the predator is supposed to be a registered sex offender, they should keep their Internet distance as well as their physical distance," said sponsor Bill Brady, a Republican state senator, according to the Chicago Tribune. "The object is to protect innocent individuals on the Internet from sex offenders."

If that were its effect, this would be a laudable piece of legislation. But in reality, the state law is written so broadly it would effectively prohibit registered sex offenders from using the Internet.

It says "social networking websites" are off-limits, and defines those as "an Internet website containing profile web pages of the members of the website that include the names or nicknames of such members," or photographs, or any other personal information. Offenders must "refrain from accessing or using" such Web sites.

Unfortunately, the Illinois state legislature didn't seem to recognize that many popular Web sites -- perhaps even the majority of the large ones -- fall into those categories.

Google.com features user profiles, including name, photos and personal information. So do Yahoo.com, Amazon.com, geek site Slashdot.org, and aggregator site Digg.com.

Sites like Hulu.com, Netflix, and Pandora do too, as do TV.com, MP3.com, and CNET.com. This overly broad scope makes the law vulnerable to a First Amendment challenge. (Those last three are our sister sites and are owned by CBSNews.com publisher CBS Interactive.)

(It is surely coincidence that Bill Brady is a candidate for governor of Illinois, whose campaign biography says: "He fought for and passed legislation to protect children from sexual predators.")

Now, perhaps Brady's intent truly was to ban sex offenders from the Internet, although if that's true you wouldn't know it from the former developer and realtor's public statements on the topic. Nor was it probably apparent to his colleagues in the state capitol, where the legislation was unanimously approved by both chambers -- or to Gov. Pat Quinn (Contact), who signed it into law this week.

Like it or not, using Google, Yahoo, TV.com, and so on is part of modern life, and it's reasonable to hope that even sex offenders could be reintegrated into society rather than cordoned off from it and therefore more likely to relapse. One Justice Department release says that 5.3 percent of male sex offenders were rearrested within three years after their release from state prison.

Brady's legislation also does not distinguish between violent criminals who have served prison time for rape -- and adults who are registered sex offenders because of youthful hijinks.

The Economist published two stories on this topic last week. One, called "America's Unjust Sex Laws," says: "Janet Allison was found guilty of being 'party to the crime of child molestation' because she let her 15-year-old daughter have sex with a boyfriend. The young couple later married. But Ms. Allison will spend the rest of her life publicly branded as a sex offender."

A second article tells the story of Wendy Whitaker, a 17-year-old high school student in Georgia, who preformed oral sex on a boy in her class. "Her classmate was three weeks shy of his 16th birthday. That made Ms. Whitaker a criminal. She was arrested and charged with sodomy, which in Georgia can refer to oral sex. She met her court-appointed lawyer five minutes before the hearing. He told her to plead guilty. She did not really understand what was going on, so she did as she was told," the magazine reported.

No wonder that a Human Rights Watch report recommends a rethinking of U.S. laws in this area.

It would be one thing if Illinois' new law said "sex offenders shall not use the Internet to harm or seduce a minor," or language to that effect. Unfortunately, the man who would be governor of that state seems to be more interested in taking credit for enacting a law rather than ensuring the right law is enacted.



"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


MA - Police allege register misused - Woman accused of harassment of sex offender

View the article here

08/14/2009

By Kim Ring

EAST BROOKFIELD — An Oxford woman who allegedly used the state’s sex offender registry to track down and harass a man she said raped her friend two decades ago will be tried in October on a charge of misusing the sex offender registry.

Karyn E. Raymond, 46, of 447 Main St., Oxford, allegedly looked up information about _____ after her friend asked her to see if he was living in the area. The friend was allegedly a victim in a sexual assault case against Mr. _____, who is listed as a Level 3 sex offender.

According to a police report, Ms. Raymond got the information from the Internet, used a mapping program to find Mr. _____’ address, and drove her friend to his home on Dec. 28.

When they arrived, Mr. _____’ wife answered the door and summoned him after they asked to see him.

According to the report, Ms. Raymond’s friend told Mr. _____ that “she wanted him to know, ‘I forgive you.’ ” She later told police she has been in therapy and “they decided it would be a good time to let _____ know that she forgives him.”

During the conversation, Mr. _____ asked how the women had found him and Ms. Raymond told him she’d found him “on the Internet listed with all the other sex offenders. You are a monster.”

The women were asked by Mr. _____’ wife to leave and Ms. Raymond became upset, pushing her and screaming, “A sex offender lives here,” and warning that something could happen to his family.

The alleged victim then got Ms. Raymond to the car. The _____ copied the license plate number and called police, who tracked her down and filed charges.

Ms. Raymond is to be tried on Oct. 7 in Western Worcester District Court in East Brookfield on charges of disorderly conduct, trespassing and two counts of assault and battery in addition to misuse of the sex offender registry.

State law forbids use of the sex offender registry to harass an offender. A conviction on the charge could result in two-and-a-half years in the House of Correction or a fine of not more than $1,000.

It is not clear whether the woman who visited Mr. _____ was the victim in any of the three cases referenced on the state Web site.

Ms. Raymond has been ordered to stay away from Mr. _____ and his family.

Massachusetts Registry Notice:


"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


WA - Teen inmate says state failed to stop guard's sexual assault

View the article here

08/13/2009

By LEVI PULKKINEN

In separate suit, former guard says she was offered better hours for sex

A former inmate at Echo Glen Children's School claims the state failed to stop the guard who sexually assaulted her.

The lawsuit comes just days after the youth rehabilitation center settled a separate sexual harassment complaint filed by a former employee.

In court documents, the young woman's attorney argues that Echo Glen staff had been warned that Robert Heath Fox had an inappropriate interest in girls housed at the Snoqualmie center weeks before he sexually assaulted the 19-year-old. The department's inaction, attorney Jack Connelly said, paved the way for the attack that derailed the young woman's recovery.

"She had overcome a number of issues such as trusting authority, self-esteem and self-confidence," Connelly said in court documents. "All of this was destroyed."

In February, Fox, 39, pleaded guilty to first-degree custodial sexual misconduct charges following allegations that he forced himself on the young woman confined at Echo Glen. At the time of the assault, Fox was a part-time security officer charged with monitoring children and teens housed there.

According to court documents, Fox had turned his attention toward several girls at Echo Glen in the weeks leading to the assault and was caught on one occasion taking photos of two girls as they roughhoused in an office there. The young woman who he later assaulted told authorities Fox had attempted to watch a movie alone with her days before the incident, and that she had become concerned about the attention he was showing her.

The night of the assault, according to police reports, Fox went to the girl's room as she slept, woke her to offer her an energy drink, then left. He returned a short time later and sexually assaulted her.

Confronted the following morning by another resident who'd heard her crying in the night, the young woman recounted Fox's assault on her. The other resident reported the assault to Echo Glen staff, who summoned King County sheriff's deputies.

Following a guilty plea, Fox was sentenced to eight months in King County Jail, a term he is currently serving.

Now, in a lawsuit filed late last month in King County Superior Court, the young woman is claiming the Department of Social and Health Services knew Fox posed a threat to young woman and girls at Echo Glen but failed to act.

"Prior to the incident, (department managers) were made aware that Fox had previously made unwanted advances toward female inmates and employees, but took no action to stop this behavior," Connelly alleged in court documents.

That inaction, the Tacoma attorney added, "resulted in these horrific acts of violence that shattered (the young woman's) dreams, hopes and aspirations for life."

Contacted for comment, Assistant Attorney General Kate Battuello, who is representing the department in the action, said the state has yet to file a formal response. Battuello noted that the department took swift action against Fox and reported the assault as soon as allegations were brought to light.

"No one is contesting that this very unfortunate event occurred," Battuello said Thursday. "I would say that Echo Glen acted immediately to make sure he would never come back again."

"It's my hope," she added, "that the parties will act quickly and cooperatively … toward an early resolution"

The recent action follows two sexual harassment suits filed against Echo Glen in which former employees describe a sexually charged atmosphere among staff at the facility.

In one case filed last year, a woman asserted in court documents a security manager began asking her sexually explicit questions shortly after she was hired in 2007. That behavior, the woman alleged, set the tone for the department.

"Male security officers openly flirted and made sexual comments about female employees, with no, or virtually no, repercussions," attorney Toni Castaneda said in court documents. "While some female employees at Echo Glen welcomed the sexual comments and advances by male employees, others were fearful of complaining about such conduct for fear of reprisal."

In the suit -- for which the state paid $30,000 in late July to settle -- the former guard went on to allege that the security manager suggested she would be provided a desired position in exchange for sex. Concerned by her manager's comments, the woman and another female security officer repeatedly complained to the facility's superintendent.

Addressing the complaint against the security manager, Battuello said the department notified the State Patrol after the allegations surfaced.

"When she brought her concerns forward, they were investigated and Echo Glenn took immediate action," Battuello said.

The security manager, who held that position during Fox's assault on the young woman, was terminated following the investigation's conclusion, Battuello said.

The second harassment complaint remains pending in King County Superior Court.


"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 - Former sheriff’s deputy sentenced for child porn

View the article here

08/11/2009

By Amanda Stewart

A former Prince William County sheriff’s deputy has been sentenced to serve 17 years and six months in federal prison for child pornography charges.

Arthur Weston Staples, 66, pleaded guilty to charges of distributing and possessing child pornography and was sentenced at the U.S. District Court in southern Florida.

According to federal court documents, Staples began talking to an undercover detective with the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office in St. Lucie, Fla. in an Internet chatroom on Dec. 5, 2008.

The undercover officer said he was a father in Florida. Staples said he was a grandfather of four children and “was interested in prepubescent children.”

During their conversation Staples suggested “trading images” of child pornography and sent images of child pornography to the undercover detective, according to court documents.

The undercover detective asked Staples to call him and when he did, the detective traced the phone number to an address in Manassas, where authorities later learned that Staples lived with his wife.

Manassas police assisted Florida authorities in the investigation and learned that Staples was a deputy with the Prince William County Sheriff’s Office, assigned to the courthouse security unit.

Police searched Staples’ house, on Liberty Trail in Manassas, and seized his computer, which contained over 900 images of child pornography, police said at the time.


"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


NJ - Former police chief denies sex with child

View the article here

08/11/2009

By CHARLES WEBSTER

A former Marlboro police chief was formally charged Monday with sexually assaulting a girl when she was between the ages of 12 and 14 in the years 2005-07.

Robert C. Holmes (Above left), 61, of Marlboro is charged with two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, two counts of second-degree sexual assault and one count each of second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, third-degree aggravated criminal sexual contact and fourth-degree criminal sexual contact.

Holmes entered a not guilty plea during his arraignment Monday.

The Sex Crimes/Child Abuse Unit of the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office launched an investigation in December 2007, after the girl's mother called the Prosecutor's Office to report the allegations.

The Prosecutor's Office said an investigation found Holmes provided alcohol to the child on numerous occasions and then engaged in sexual acts with the girl at his home.

Superior Court Judge Edward M. Neafsey maintained bail of $100,000 for the former chief. The bail amount was initially set by court Assignment Judge Lawrence M. Lawson last month. He also ordered Holmes could have no contact with the girl or her family as a condition of bail.

Other bail conditions were that Holmes surrender his passport, not travel outside of the state without court approval, surrender his firearms purchaser identification card and surrender all firearms (including long guns) that he either owns or are in his possession. As a condition of bail, he also cannot store any firearms or have them present at his residence, or in any vehicle or vessel.

Holmes' defense attorney, Norman Hobbie, did request, and Neafsey approved, a Virginia vacation Holmes had already scheduled for the end of this month.

Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Peter J. Boser is handling the state's case.

Holmes retired in December after 36 years on the police force, 11 of them leading the department. His $73,000 retirement package included an $18,200 boost in pay and $55,000 in unused sick, compensatory, vacation and holiday pay. His tenure as chief was marked with some controversy, including a scathing 54-page report about the department and his leadership, released by the state earlier this year.

That report described his performance as "disruptive to the day-to-day operations of the police department," and while it criticized his leadership, there was nothing in it to hint at the allegations made against him in the indictment.

Holmes retired on Dec. 31 and, as part of a separation agreement with the township was ordered not to speak about the details of his departure.


"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


VT - Out of State Sex Offenders Stay Off Registry... For Now

View the article here

08/13/2009

Two sex offenders were successful in their bid to keep their names off the internet version of the Vermont Sex Offender Registry. At least for now.

A judge ruled Wednesday that the names of Vermont residents convicted of sexual offenses in other states cannot be posted on the state's expanded internet registry.

Two Caledonia County men who were convicted of sex crimes in other states in the 90s went to court arguing the public posting violates their offenders' rights. But the merits of their lawsuit were not heard because lawyers discovered an error in the way the new law was written.

So for now, no people with out of state offenses will be on the list. Lawmakers say they'll fix the problem in January.


"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


Residential Proximity to Schools and Day Care Centers: Influence on sex offense recidivism, Levenson, Zandbergen and Hart, 2009

View the article here
Archived PDF

Conclusion:
Proximity to schools and daycares, with other risk factors being comparable, explains virtually none of the variation in sexual recidivism. Sex offenders who lived within closer proximity to schools and daycare centers did not reoffend more frequently than those who lived farther away. These data do not justify the widespread enactment of residential restriction for sexual offenders. The time that police and probation officers spend addressing housing issues is likely to divert law enforcement resources away from behaviors that truly threaten our communities in order to attend to a problem that simply does not exist. Residency restrictions greatly diminish housing options for sex offenders, resulting in increased homelessness, transience, and instability, undermining the very purpose of registries and exacerbating known risk factors for criminal recidivism. Residence restricftions decisions should be made on an individualized risk management basis and not legislated.


"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


CO - Colorado 2009 White Paper-Residency Restrictions


Colorado Department of Public Safety
Division of Criminal Justice
700 Kipling Street, Suite 3000
Lakewood, CO 80215
303-239-4546

June 2009

The United States has witnessed an increase in sex offender management policy beginning in the 1990’s and continuing through as recently as 2006 at the Federal, State, and local level. As a result, laws have been enacted with the intention of protecting the community from sex offenders including the recent Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. Part of this movement has included the passing of zoning and residence restrictions, which prohibit convicted sex offenders from residing within a certain distance of areas where children typically congregate or from living in the same residence with another convicted sex offender. Currently, approximately 30 of the states in the U.S. have enacted statewide residence restrictions (Koch 2007). Although well intentioned and with the safety of the community in mind, these ordinances are often passed without consideration of the research and are typically ineffective for a number of reasons. Consequently, there is an emerging and escalating necessity to address these laws, which may seem appealing to the community, legislature, and policy makers despite growing concerns regarding their actual effectiveness.

A number of years ago Colorado experienced several jurisdictions contemplating such policies after a concerned citizen notified the media of a Shared Living Arrangement (SLA) in her neighborhood. (SLA’s are residences where more than one convicted sex offender resides while receiving intensive correctional and treatment services). At the time there was a lack of knowledge and research regarding the use of SLA’s and their effectiveness in managing high risk sex offenders. This, coupled with negative media exposure, led to the passing of several local zoning restrictions which prevented more than one sex offender per residence from being housed in the jurisdiction. When the Colorado Legislature became aware of what local jurisdictions were doing and received a request to pass a state law, they requested that the Sex Offender Management Board (SOMB) conduct a formal study on the safety issues pertinent to SLA’s and residence/zoning restrictions.

The SOMB is a legislatively created board administered by the Division of Criminal Justice, Colorado Department of Public Safety. The SOMB has been mandated to develop Standards for the treatment and supervision of sex offenders. The SOMB’s philosophy is to support research based community and victim safety policy development through a collaborative approach. As requested, a research study was conducted in 2004 in reference to the proximity of sex offender residences to schools and childcare centers and the related impact on community safety. This study utilized information on 130 sex offenders from the Denver metropolitan area in conjunction with plotting the subjects’ residences on maps.

The findings of the research revealed that among sex offenders who reoffended, there were not a greater number of sex offenders living within proximity to schools and childcare centers than those who did not live in proximity locations. In addition, sex offenders who received positive support (i.e. family, friends, treatment, SLA’s, and employers who were aware of the sex offender’s issues and held the offender accountable in a supportive fashion) had significantly lower numbers of probation violations and reoffenses than those with no support or negative support (Colorado Department of Public Safety 2004). It should be noted that this finding has been supported by numerous other research studies related to residence restrictions and recidivism rates regarding the reintegration of sex offenders (Minnesota Department of Corrections 2003 & 2007; Ohio State University 2009; Levenson, Zandbergen, & Hart 2008).

Minnesota Department of Corrections conducted two important studies in 2003 and 2007 regarding the impact of residence restrictions. The first study focused on residential placement issues of high risk offenders and found that there was no evidence that residential proximity to schools or parks affected recidivism. This was replicated by Levenson, Zandbergen, & Hart in 2008. Furthermore, the Minnesota study revealed that residence restrictions were limiting most high risk sex offenders to residing in rural, suburban, or industrial areas resulting in fewer supervising agents and less available services (Minnesota Department of Corrections 2003). The latter study conducted in 2007 was about residential proximity and recidivism and revealed that none of the 224 sexual recidivists studied would have been affected by residency restrictions. It was also learned that even when offenders made direct contact with juvenile victims, the offenders were unlikely to do so close to where they lived because they were attempting to maintain anonymity. One of the most compelling factors discovered in this research was that in 16 years of discharging sex offenders from the prison, none of the recidivists who returned due to a new sex offense resulted from contact with a juvenile victim near a school, park, or daycare (Minnesota Department of Corrections 2007).

There has recently been a considerable amount of research focusing on the successful reintegration of sex offenders. As a result, common themes have been discovered that significantly impact recidivism, which are stable housing or living accommodations, secure employment, and positive support systems/resources. States that have enacted residence restrictions have conducted empirical studies showing that the laws have actually proven counterproductive to these factors because they often cause destabilization to sex offenders (Iowa, California, Florida, and Ohio). Consequently, there has been discussion that the ordinances may in fact inadvertently exacerbate the factors correlated with recidivism (Ohio State University 2009).

A recommendation was made by the SOMB in 2004 indicating that placing restrictions on the location of correctionaly supervised sex offender residences may not deter sex offender re-offense and should not be used as a universal sex offense management strategy. Such decisions should be made on an individualized basis by the sex offender’s Community Supervision Team. Furthermore, it was suggested that the imposition of residence restrictions may increase the risk of re-offense by forcing sex offenders to live in communities where positive support systems may not exist, and they may be removed from accessible resources or live in remote areas providing them with high degrees of anonymity. This has been further supported by the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA 2005).

More recently, in 2008, the Colorado SOMB conducted a statewide survey of varying law enforcement jurisdictions regarding their sex offender residency restriction policies, if any. Twenty-eight (28) jurisdictions across Colorado participated in this on-line survey. Approximately 20% of participants had sex offender residence restrictions in place. Most of the jurisdictions that had the restrictions limited housing for registered sex offenders to at least 1,000 feet from any schools or daycare settings.

This study compared data from jurisdictions that did not have residence restriction ordinances (n=22) to jurisdictions that did have them in place (n=6). The average population of the jurisdictions that did not have residence restrictions in place was twice as high as the average population in the jurisdictions that did have them in place; however, the average number of registered sex offenders was higher in the jurisdictions with residence restrictions in place. Additionally, the average number of sex crime arrests in jurisdictions with residence restrictions in place was twice as much as the average number of sex crime arrests in jurisdictions that did not have them. There did not appear to be any differences in the number of offenders who failed to register, by sex offender population, in both types of jurisdictions.

Out of the six (6) jurisdictions that had residence restrictions in place, two (2) reported data regarding sex offender population, sex crimes, and failure to register information prior to when the ordinances were imposed. Of these two (2), there were no significant changes in the number of registered sex offenders or number of sex crimes after residence restrictions were enacted. However, the number of registered sex offenders who failed to register, perhaps going underground, seemed to increase after the ordinances were enacted.

On a national level, research from the U. S. Department of Justice conducted in 2000 indicated that 93% of child sexual abuse victims knew their abusers (Bureau of Justice Statistics 2000). This information has been confirmed through subsequent research and may in fact be a conservative number. Studies have also shown that most sexual offenses are committed in the offender’s or the victim’s home (Greenfeld 1997; Bureau of Justice Statistics 2000; Smallbone and Wortley 2000; Colombino and Mercado 2009). Research conducted in other states, including Iowa and California, indicate that homelessness, absconding from supervision, and not registering for tracking purposes all appeared to be significant byproducts of residence restrictions (Davey and Rood 2006, Thompson 2007). Additional research has revealed that residence restrictions have negatively impacted the risk for recidivism with sex offenders due to increased isolation, financial hardship, decreased stability, and lack of support (Levenson and Cotter 2005).

The national legislation that began in the 1990’s in this country were purportedly enacted to better track sex offenders in an effort to increase public safety, which appears at odds with proximity restrictions as many sex offenders end up going underground and/or providing false or inaccurate address information. This renders registration databases incomplete and unreliable, making tracking ineffective. Many of the states that originally enacted residence restrictions have expressed regret due to aforementioned issues, along with enforcement difficulties and legal dilemmas regarding constitutional rights. Many constituents in Iowa have been actively working to repeal their residence restriction law and victim centered programs have begun publicly expressing disagreement with such laws due the negative impact they have on treatment and monitoring efforts of sex offenders (Iowa County Attorney’s Association, California Coalition on Sexual Offending & New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence). One of the most concerning aspects of the implementation of residence restrictions, locally or nationally, is the passing of policy and law without consideration for research, best practice, and effective methodology. This often results in unintended, counterproductive consequences which negatively impact community safety.

An additional important factor to note is the false sense of security that can result from these types of ordinances. The concept of limiting where a sex offender sleeps at night versus where he/she spends time during the day if not supervised through the criminal justice system seems ineffective. Many residence restrictions are worded so that the prohibited party is able to frequent any place, but is excluded from residing near areas where children commonly gather. There are sex offenders living in all communities because nationwide the minority of convicted sex offenders are sentenced to imprisonment or incarceration. Accordingly, housing has become a near epidemic issue, especially for those labeled high risk. Legally, these offenders have the right to secure a residence and as previously stated they are most likely to succeed in the community if they are afforded that right.

Politically speaking, a government official does not typically want a reputation of being soft on sex offenders. This is likely the perception of a political figure opposing residence or zoning restrictions if the community as a whole is not sufficiently educated, regardless of the ineffectiveness of such laws. Society often relies on sensationalized media accounts to educate them about sex offenders, policy, and laws. Thus, creating effective and responsible community safety policy and laws on a local and national level are cumbersome and complicated.

Communities are obviously concerned with their overall safety and as a result sex offenders have become a common topic of debate and controversy. This is evident in the legislature, the justice system, and in the media. Representatives of such systems have tended to focus on extreme cases and as a result, myths have been perpetuated and led to emotional reactions of sort. The Federal laws driving sex offender policy (Wetterling, Megan’s Law, and the Adam Walsh Act) are all a result of tragic crimes that received media and legislative attention. Ironically, they are in fact, the rarest types of sex offenses and represent less than 1% of sexual assault convictions in the nation (Levenson and D’Amora 2007). As a result, implementation of these policies has been problematic because once a law is enacted, it becomes difficult to reverse. Furthermore, to date there is no research indicating that residence restrictions are correlated with reduced recidivism or increased community safety.

Colorado has historically been proactive with regard to the management of sex offenders. The state has a Board, standards for treatment providers, and has conducted valuable research. Thus, the following resources, alternatives, and suggestions are provided for governmental agencies and advocacy groups involved in policy-making and legislative activity. They include, but are not limited to: implementing policy based on relevant research; funding relevant research; identifying and promoting effective methods of community education; educating law enforcement, policy makers and legislators; encouraging the use of Shared Living Arrangements (SLA’s) as utilized in Colorado; promoting the containment model; and multi-disciplinary collaboration among agencies in sex offender management.

In conclusion, the ethical and responsible choices with regard to the management of sex offenders are not always the most popular. This is especially true in the current socio-political environment that emphasizes accountability, and many times, has a punitive tone with regard to sex offenders. However, the long lasting impact on sex offenders, communities, and victims require thoughtful research based policies and laws. There is much to learn from the states that have enacted such laws and research conducted thereafter. It appears counterproductive to endorse and/or institute policy and law based on fear, ignorance, and politics when it causes more problems than it solves. Community safety is paramount and should be the common goal when considering any policy or law regarding sex offenders. Residence restrictions and zoning laws as a whole are clearly counterproductive to this goal.

Cathy Rodriguez and Amy Dethlefsen on behalf of the
SOMB Office of Domestic Violence and Sex Offender Management

Colorado Department of Public Safety, Division of Criminal Justice



"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


OK - Lawmakers Discuss Death Penalty For Repeat Sex Offenders

View the article here

08/14/2009

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

TULSA - An Oklahoma lawmaker pushes to toughen laws against repeat sex offenders. A Sand Springs legislator wants repeat child molesters to face the death penalty. But, the idea might not pass constitutional muster.

The arrest of a two-time convicted sex offender for kidnapping and molestation has prompted outrage. And, the uproar has a state lawmaker from Sand Springs calling for action to toughen penalties against repeat sex offenders.

"That individual ought to be, at the discretion of the district attorney, eligible for the death penalty," said Representative Rex Duncan (Email) of Sand Springs.

It's not the first time the idea has come up. Oklahoma Senator Jonathan Nichols (Email) of Norman introduced a bill in 2006.

"It will send a clear message to child predators in the state of Oklahoma we will find you, we will prosecute you, and we will put you to death," said Senator Jonathan Nichols.

The U.S. Supreme Court intercepted that message in 2008. The nation's highest court ruled in a split decision the death penalty was unconstitutional for the rape of a child. The move struck down death penalty laws in five states, including Oklahoma.

"The intent of my legislation would be to find a way around the Supreme Court's prohibition on the use of the death penalty for child molesters," said Representative Rex Duncan of Sand Springs.

Representative Duncan says the U.S. Supreme Court case involved a Louisiana inmate convicted of his first offense and he believes the outcome would be different for a two-time sex offender.

But, Oklahoma's first law dealt with repeat offenders. Duncan admits it will be an uphill battle. But, with a high profile case fresh in people's minds, he says it's worth the fight.

"If they are found guilty a second time by a jury of their peers then the public ought to have the piece of mine that individual will never walk the streets again," said Representative Rex Duncan.

Video Link



"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