Friday, September 18, 2009

America's Flawed Sex Offender Laws

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09/05/2009

By Sarah Tofte

The Jaycee Dugard case illustrates how America's sex offender registries hurt efforts to stop repeat sex crimes

Americans have been doing some soul-searching about our approach to monitoring convicted sex offenders since the recent discovery of Jaycee Lee Dugard. Dugard was kidnapped in California at age 11 and held captive for 18 years in Phillip Garrido's garden. He managed to hide his secret prisoner from the police even though he was a convicted rapist and his name appeared on the public sex offender registry.

In the past, news of a horrific crime committed by a convicted sex offender inevitably led to widespread calls for increasing the scope of sex offender registration and community notification laws. Over the past 15 years, the US has expanded its registration and notification schemes to include an estimated 674,000 convicted sex offenders. Some remain on the public list for the rest of their lives, regardless of the seriousness of their offence, the current threat they might pose or their progress toward rehabilitation. The effectiveness of such laws has rarely been questioned, and they enjoy widespread public support.

But this time around, there has been a different type of discussion. Rather than just calling for tougher sex offender monitoring laws, Americans are openly wondering if a new approach is needed to deal with convicted sex offenders who have re-entered the community.

Although Garrido's case is extraordinary, it illustrates the flaws in America's sex offender registration and community notification schemes. Experts in sexual violence say that placing all convicted sex offenders on a registry for life may do more harm than good. The public nature of the registry makes it nearly impossible for convicted sex offenders to re-enter the community with the kind of support system they need to reduce their likelihood of committing another offence. Low-level offenders who pose little risk to the community are monitored in the same way as high-risk offenders, diluting police resources to concentrate on those, such as Garrido, who pose a high risk of committing another offence.

Furthermore, focusing so much public attention and resources on convicted sex offenders ignores the reality of sexual violence in the United States. It is estimated that 87% of new sex crimes every year are committed by individuals without a prior sex crime conviction. And very few sex crimes move through the system - less than one-third of all reported rapes result in an arrest.

So pouring scarce resources into monitoring all convicted offenders means there is less money for programmes to prevent sexual violence and counsel victims and for the rape investigation units, rape evidence testing and other tools that could bring justice in these cases.

Because of such concerns, Human Rights Watch called in a 2007 report for a major revamping of America's sex offender laws. Registration should be limited to former offenders who have been individually assessed as dangerous, and only for as long as they pose a significant risk. Community notification should be restricted to those who genuinely can benefit from knowledge about dangerous former offenders in their midst.

Sex offender registration and community notification laws didn't cause Garrido's crimes, but they didn't help the police stop them, either. While Americans are starting to question the value of our extensive sex offender monitoring system, it remains to be seen whether these doubts will lead to real reform.

Once sex offender laws are in place, it is hard for politicians to repeal them, because they don't want to appear weak on the issue of sex offenders. If Britain wants to do more to prevent sexual violence, it should keep its sex offender registry narrowly focused, and use the savings in time, energy and resources to implement sexual violence prevention policies that will actually keep the public safe.


"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 - Palm Beach Billionaire's Non-Prosecution Agreement Unsealed

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It pays to be rich and famous!

09/18/2009

Prosecutors Agree Not To Prosecute Epstein On Federal Charges

PALM BEACH GARDENS - An attorney for one of the victims of Jeffrey Epstein told WPBF 25 News that a plea agreement between prosecutors and the Palm Beach billionaire was nothing more than "a secret sweetheart deal" that let the convicted sex offender off easy.

Legal documents unsealed Friday detail the non-prosecution agreement between Epstein and federal prosecutors.

Epstein was released from the Palm Beach County Jail in July after serving a little more than a year of his 18-month sentence for paying underage girls for sex.

In exchange for Epstein pleading guilty to two felony counts of soliciting prostitution from a minor, prosecutors agreed not to prosecute him on federal charges assuming he fulfills his sentence and probation requirements.

Epstein and his attorney wanted to keep the details secret, but his victims filed lawsuits to have the agreement unsealed.

"Why did the government enter into a secret sweetheart deal?" attorney William Berger said. "Why were the victim's rights sold down the river? What was so important to the government that sex crimes against children were treated so lightly?"

Spencer Kuvin represents another woman who accused Epstein of sexual abuse. "It is an absolute embarrassment for the U.S. Attorney's Office to have entered into this agreement," Kuvin said. "There is no justice for the wealthy whatsoever. And that's exactly how she feels."

Epstein's attorney, Jack Goldberger, said in a statement that his client is "looking forward to putting this difficult period in his life behind him. He is continuing his longstanding history of science philanthropy both here in South Florida and nationwide."

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"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


CA - Anderson woman who had sex with teens won't do prison time

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Another woman, another sweet deal, compared to what a man in the same situation would receive.

09/18/2009

By Ryan Sabalow

A 30-year-old Anderson woman accused of having sex with her daughter’s would-be teen boyfriends won’t spend time in state prison.
- Boyfriends?  Was her daughter a player or something?  Usually people have one boyfriend!

Instead, Shasta County Superior Court Judge Wilson Curle this morning sentenced _____ to a year in jail and placed her on five years probation.

The 194 days she’s already spent in jail will count toward her sentence and, with good-time credits, she could be freed around three and half months from now, said Ted Loos, _____’s court-appointed deputy public defender.

She must also register as a sex offender and complete a sex offender rehabilitation program. She’s ordered not to spend time with any teenage boy other than her sons.

"If you’re to violate any of those (requirements), you could find yourself in state prison," Curle told _____ at today’s hearing.

The sentencing came over the protests of the Deputy District Attorney Ben Hanna, who had argued _____’s offenses merited prison time. She was eligible to serve a 12-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in July to 11 felony counts of having sex or intimate encounters 15- and 16-year-old boys.

Hanna said after the hearing that he was disappointed in Curle’s ruling, which ran counter to a probation department report recommending an eight-year prison sentence.

Loos said the judge agreed instead with a psychological evaluation that found _____ could be rehabilitated through a treatment program.
- Yet if this were a man, I'm sure this judge would not be saying the same thing, as we all know, all men are evil!

That evaluation, conducted by clinical psychologist Robert Boyle of Redding, found that _____, a mother of three with no prior criminal record and a troubled youth, was a good candidate for probation with a low risk of reoffending if she undergoes an extensive treatment program.

Loos said he’s told his client to heed the judge’s ruling and follow-through with the intensive program.

"If she fails it, she goes to state prison," Loos said. "There’s no doubt about it."

At a hearing last week, Curle said he thought the probation report urging an eight-year sentence was "slanted." He called it "astonishing," noting that he recently sentenced a man with a prior felony to seven years in prison for a violent assault.

Curle said last week that though some in the community might consider an older woman having sex with teenage boys a "rite of passage," he did not share that sentiment. He said that at least two of _____’s victims are having emotional difficulties.
- And even with the judge saying the above, he gives her a light sentence, IMO.  These double standards must stop. Men get burned while women get let off easy, compared to what men get.

An Anderson police report said that _____ admitted enjoying the attention she received from the boys and that she had set her sights on them to try to protect her teenage daughter from their affections.


"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


TX - Former Texas Sheriff’s Deputy Accused Of Soliciting Teenage Driver

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My question, why do they always call cops busted on the job, "former" cops? I know they may have been fired, but they were cops. So why do they have to insert the "former" into all stories pertaining to cops who were still on the job? When a teacher is busted on the job for having sex with someone, do they put "former" in the title? No, so why do it with cops? Go back at look at all the cop stories here, almost all say "former," then look at all the teacher articles. Do they say "former?" Just something I noticed. It's like they are trying to pretend they are ex cops to lessen the public's reaction to the story or something.

09/16/2009

A former Texas sheriff’s deputy is accused of soliciting sexual favors from a 16-year-old girl during a traffic stop.

MONTAGUE - A former Montague County deputy is accused of soliciting sexual favors from a 16-year-old girl during a traffic stop.

Brian Edward Henry is free on bonds totaling $102,000.

He was arrested last month after he was named in a sealed indictment.

Henry, 27, of Roanoke, could be sentenced to as much as 20 years in prison if convicted of indecency with a child charge and a year in jail if convicted of official oppression.

Montague County District Attorney Jack McGaughey said Henry's arrest was unrelated to a jail scandal that rocked the county on the Red River.

Earlier this year 17 people, including the former sheriff and some jailers, were indicted on charges of having sex with inmates or bringing them drugs.
- We need to weed out all the corruption in all aspects of government!


"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 - The satellite link that keeps watch on your children

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09/18/2009

Its vivid colour is clearly designed to appeal to youngsters. But this watch is really aimed at their parents.

For its key selling point is a satellite positioning system that locates the wearer to within ten feet.

The makers claim the GPS tracking device will offer anxious parents peace of mind and allow children the independence to go out to play on their own.

But critics have said the 'tagging' is a step too far in the climate of paranoia over child safety.
- I disagree, this is a great idea, IMO.  The child can wear it, and if they go missing, they can be found quickly.

The num8 watch, pictured above, costs £149.99 and can be securely fastened to a child's wrist, triggering an alert if forcibly removed.

Parents will be able to see their child's location on Google maps by texting 'wru' to a special number, or clicking 'where r you' on the secure website linked to the device. The street address and postcode will be displayed.

Safe zones can also be set up in which children can play. An alert will be sent to the parents if the child strays out of that area.

Steve Salmon, of makers Lok8u, said: 'Losing your child, if only for a brief moment, leads to a state of panic and makes parents feel powerless. The overriding aim of num8 is to give children their freedom and parents peace of mind.'

But Dr Michele Elliott, director of children's charity Kidscape, said: 'Is the world really that unsafe that parents need to track their children electronically? I don't think so.'
- Well, if we must track sex offenders, and since the public seems to think all offenders are dangerous, which they are not, then I think this is an excellent idea.  If a child goes missing, they can be found instead of spending weeks, months or years trying to find them.

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"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


MI - Mom Locates Long Lost Son Using Internet, Rapes Him

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WTF? Gave up her son for adoption, then later tracks him down and rapes him! Yep, she needs to be locked up for a very long time!

09/14/2009

WATERFORD TOWNSHIP - A 35-year old mother is accused of using the internet to track down the boy she gave up for adoption and then raping him.

Aimee Louise Sword is charged with criminal sexual conduct for the alleged rape of her biological son, whom she put up for adoption more than 10 years ago.

Authorities haven't said when or where she and the teenager met, but said she gave him up for adoption more than 10 years earlier.

Prosecutors say the boy is still a minor, but won't disclose whether he knew the woman was his mother.

Police were notified about the alleged incestuous romance late last year after being contacted by Child Protective Services.

Sword is currently free on bond.

Her lawyer, Kenneth Burch, tells The Oakland Press of Pontiac that his client "maintains her presumption of innocence."

He said the accusations have been very difficult for her.

Waterford Township is 30 miles northwest of Detroit.

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"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


TX - ‘Gypsy’ cop gets taken down by ‘KopBusters’

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09/16/2009

By Rhea

A former police officer who worked for over a dozen departments in Texas is behind bars Tuesday, held on numerous felony charges including engaging in organized criminal activity, promotion of prostitution, solicitation of minors and two counts of attempting to possess child pornography.

Activist and filmmaker Barry Cooper, who is producing a reality show called "KopBusters ," aided officers with the Combine Police Department in drawing the man out into the open, ultimately helping wrap a three-year investigation in the process.

Until late last month, Michael Meissner, 39, was chief of police in Little River-Academy, Texas, a town so small that it only had one officer. He resigned his post after residents of the small town packed city hall with complaints about his behavior, according to local reports.

Meissner called the town "a good stepping stone for me," reported Temple Daily News, which noted that the former officer held 18 different law enforcement jobs over the last 14 years. The "gypsy cop," said Dallas television station WFAA, "seemed to operate under his own rules, spending much of his time working off-duty security jobs 60 miles away in Dallas."

Prior WFAA reports "found that Meissner had used a phony college diploma for certification and failed to let his employers know that he had been arrested twice," the network added.

Combine police were initially probing Meissner over suggestions that he had misused official information to retaliate against another man. However, when they looked at Meissner’s text messages and e-mail, they claim to have discovered something much worse.

"When the affidavits are released, the public is going to be shocked," said Cooper, speaking to reporters outside Meissner’s home. "The conversation and the lewd conduct he’s been involved in with high school boys. As an ex-police officer, it makes me sick that we’ve got a guy running around here in a badge, that the public is supposed to trust, and he’s using that uniform to breach the trust of the younger citizens in the community. It’s horrible."

Two of Meissner’s neighbors additionally told RAW STORY they had repeatedly seen various teenage boys entering and leaving the residence.

"Man, I’m just glad police are doing their job, they’re heroes," said next door neighbor Brenda Lambert. "Anyone that messes with children needs to be taken care of."

"We don’t regret hiring him or letting him go," Little River Mayor Ronnie White told the Daily News when Meissner resigned last month. "We will find another officer."

Tactical officers, who had set up a staging area just one street from Meissner’s Arlington, Texas home, raided the residence at approximately 1:45 p.m. on Monday, but the suspect was gone.

He was arrested later that evening after returning to his home. Meissner actually called Cooper to warn that his that his home had apparently been raided. Cooper then called police and relayed Meissner’s location.

A judge has set Meissner’s bond at $1.5 million.

Cooper says he was in this instance an undercover journalist and police informant, who had befriended Meissner under the false pretense that he wanted to use KopBusters for the purpose of clearing his name.

For the man whose living is paid for by a DVD series on how to grow, sell and smuggle marijuana without being detected by the police, he certainly seemed to have a natural rapport with the officers on-scene.

One of them even asked Cooper how his former law enforcement mentor in Odessa was doing.

"Oh man, he was a legend back in my day," he replied. "Unfortunately, he planted meth on an innocent woman and I had to bust him."

After officers kicked in Meissner’s door and cordoned off his home, the front yard became what seemed to be Cooper’s first campaign stop in what he says is a serious run for Texas attorney general. He even put on a suit before heading to the location with reporters and his camera crew in-tow.

"Within a short time, we hope to have a corrupt police chief in jail for seven felony warrants [for] harming kids," he told reporters. "I acted as a undercover journalist-informant, they listed me as the informant on the arrest affidavit. I befriended this officer and made him believe that I was his friend and that I wanted to clear his name. The truth was, I was relaying all that information to the Combine police department."

Cooper continued: "As an ex-narcotics officer, I’ve experienced corruption and seen it myself. My wife suggested that I use my experience to go and start busting corrupt police officers instead of citizens. That’s when we formed ‘KopBusters,’ a reality TV show. We’re hoping to have 13 episodes up on [...] TV very soon. I feel [passionate] about my job, and we’re using these stings so I can win Texas attorney general in 2010, because in that position I can expose police corruption even further, take their salaries and begin paying police officers six-figure incomes … The one’s that deserve it."

Steve Allen, police chief in Combine, Texas, called Cooper’s brand of law enforcement activism an "excellent resource."

"Police officers need all the help they can get," he said. "There’s a lot of things, for example, [Barry] may have drawn him out of the woodwork for us — something that we couldn’t do that he did. So, I think [KopBusters] is an excellent resource and tool for us."

In December, Cooper and his team of lawyers and investigators staged a sting on the Odessa, Texas police department, setting up a fake marijuana grow house and baiting officers to raid it without proper legal authorization. It was the first of what Cooper promises to be many future operations against allegedly dirty police.


"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 - License plate readers

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Well, just like speeding, someone will come up with something to avoid these tools. There are many out there, that prevent stop sign camera from taking photos of your plate, and I'm sure one for this as well.

09/17/2009

Bay State police are excited about a new weapon they have to stop dangerous criminals and illegal cars that shouldn't be on our roads. More than a dozen police departments are now using state of art license plate readers. And one day they could be as common as radar. 7's Jonathan Hall uncovers how they work.

A cop, on the beat in Brockton, zeros in on a driver suspected of breaking the law.

Officer Cronshaw, Brockton Police Dept.

"Stay in the car! Get in the car!"

The officer moves in, working off of information he received just seconds before.

Police nab a shooting suspect wanted in Somerville. He was caught in a stolen car.

Sgt. Neil Brennan, Somerville Police Dept.

"The vehicle took off. The officers apprehended the operator."

Cops credit these catches to their new high tech crime fighting tool, a license plate reader or LPR.

It can see and analyze hundreds of plates a minute and immediately pull up any problems involving the car, or its owner.

Officer Cronshaw, Brockton Police Dept.

"Every one-tenth of a second it will send out an infra red signal."

The cameras are so precise they can photograph plates at speeds up to 120 miles an hour.

Officer Mark Saia, Peabody Police Dept.

"It's telling me if it's a stolen vehicle, if it's a revoked registration, expired registration."

If they get a hit, the alarm sounds.

Officer Lenny Ford, Melrose Police Dept.

"When the alert goes off, that's what catches your attention."

And it all happens in just seconds.

This system is an incredibly efficient tool for police. Up to four cameras can scan thousands of plates an hour. But the system is expensive, more than $20,000.

Deputy Chief Scott Carriere, Peabody Police Dept.

"Can you put a price on saving a life? Can you put a price on locking up a potential suspect?"

If a sex offender, driving his own car, is parked outside a school, police say they will know. The system is also designed to catch amber alert suspects, as well as get illegal cars off the road.

Somerville police have taken almost 100 cars off the streets in just the last few months.

Officer Diogo Deoliveira, Somerville Police Dept.

"Why are you driving an uninsured vehicle sir?"

Because LPRs can track drivers' movements and store them in a database, critics worry they could infringe on our constitutional right to privacy.

Carol Rose, American Civil Liberties Union (Email) (ACLU)

"Who has access to the data, how is it gonna be stored, what assurances do we have that it's secure?"

Police we spoke to say they will delete the data they collect, often within 90 days, unless it's used in court.

Officer Mark Saia, Peabody Police Dept.

"This is information that's already available to us. It just allows us to do it faster."

Drivers have mixed feelings.

Jeff Carbone, driver

"I think it's great. It gets the uninsured drivers off the road."

Todd Fowlie, driver

"I would say it's like being watched by big brother."

And watch for plate readers on Massachusetts highways. 7News has learned state police are now testing them out.

Wait for the embedded videos




"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


V - Barre mayor ready to dump sex offender law

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09/18/2009

By DAVID DELCORE

BARRE – Mayor Thomas Lauzon says he's ready to abandon an ordinance designed to regulate where convicted sex offenders can and can't live in the Granite City.

Two weeks after Superior Court Judge Helen Toor upheld Barre resident _____'s appeal of the city's controversial "Child Safety Ordinance," Lauzon said he plans to urge city councilors to let Toor's ruling stand.

"My recommendation to the council is going to be that we not pursue an appeal," Lauzon said, predicting a trip to the Vermont Supreme Court would be "a waste of time and money."

"We've got better things to do," he said.

Although Lauzon briefly flirted with the idea of asking voters to approve a charter change that could give the city the authority Toor recently ruled it lacked to enact the ordinance, he said he's scratched that proposal from the council's to-do list.

Rep. Paul Poirier, D-Barre, who serves with Lauzon on the City Council, said he advised the mayor that it would be "almost impossible" to secure the necessary legislative approval for the charter change he talked about in the wake of Toor's ruling.

"I told Thom (Lauzon) our chances of prevailing on this issue are pretty slim," Poirier said, noting that key legislative leaders strongly believe that local ordinances, like the ones adopted last year in Barre and Rutland, are "bad public policy."

According to Poirier, the conventional wisdom among many influential lawmakers is that ordinances that create residency restrictions for sex offenders will only serve to "force them underground" – making them harder to track and putting the communities where they live at greater risk.

"That's their view and they are very adamant about it," he said, suggesting that even if Barre voters were to approve the sort of charter change initially proposed by Lauzon, it would never make it through the Legislature.

Given that bleak forecast and an even less likely chance of persuading the Supreme Court to overturn Toor's ruling, Lauzon said he will ask councilors to drop the ordinance, but not the issue, when they meet next week.

"I think our time is better spent pursuing an expansion of the sex offender registry," he said.

Lauzon said he will ask the council to lobby lawmakers to provide a more informative version of an on-line registry that he argued is "remedial at best" in its current form.

According to Lauzon, Vermont's registry lacks key information – including street addresses and up-to-date photographs – of offenders.

"It doesn't exactly inspire confidence," he said. He noted that the treatment status of 17 of the 32 registered sex offenders currently residing in Washington County is listed as either "non-compliant" or "unavailable."

"What does 'unavailable,' mean?" he asked, suggesting Vermonters should expect a more comprehensive sex offender registry like the one in neighboring New York State.

New York's registry includes extensive information on offenders ranging from current street addresses, registered vehicles and employers to known aliases, "victimology" and conditions of release.

Lauzon said he believes Vermonters should expect the same.

"We can accomplish more in terms of protecting children and keeping children safe by empowering parents and providing them with good information," he said.

Although Poirier said he doesn't believe Vermont's registry should go quite as far as New York's he does agree with Lauzon that it is in need of improvement.

"The Vermont registry is clearly one of the weakest in the country as it stands right now," he said.

According to Poirier, the Legislature has asked for the on-line registry to be upgraded and expanded, but that project is currently behind schedule.

"We need to get them to move on that," he said.

Both Poirier and Lauzon agreed that an expanded registry would do more to protect children from sex offenders than the ordinance, which until recently, prohibited them from living within 1,000 feet of schools, parks and playgrounds.

Although some – including legislative leaders – questioned whether the Barre ordinance would achieve its desired goal, Lauzon predicted most would embrace a more thorough on-line registry.

"Anyone would have a hard time arguing that people of Barre and the rest of the state wouldn't be better served by an expansion of sex offender registry," he said. "I think it really is the right thing for the Legislature to do."


"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 - Sex crimes against children don’t increase at Halloween, says Lynn University professor

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09/18/2009

By Kim Miller

In recent years, law enforcement agencies have warned parents that sex offenders may target children during Halloween, a time when they could have more access to kids trick-or-treating or during parties.

The Florida Department of Corrections forbids sex offenders on supervision to give out candy during Halloween. They are also told not to decorate, answer the door, dress in a costume or keep their porch light on.

But a Lynn University professor recently completed a study that found sex crimes against children don’t increase during the Halloween holiday.

Jill Levenson, a human services professor at Lynn University in Boca Raton and a licensed clinical social worker, published the report in July in the journal, “Sexual Abuse: A Journal of research and treatment.”

Sexual molesters sometimes use seemingly innocent opportunities to engage children for sexual abuse and therefore might be expected to use trick-or-treat for ulterior purposes,” the study says. “However, this logic does not appear to translate into an increase in sex offenses around Halloween.”

Researchers looked at a 9-year period, saying even before increased awareness and enforcement, there were not significant spikes in sex crimes against children around Halloween.

Reasonable parental supervision and vigilance on Halloween is appropriate, but there does not appear to be cause for alarm concerning sexual abuse risk in particular,” the study found. “Increased vigilance concerning risk should be directed to the summer months, where regular seasonal increases in sex crimes are readily seen.”

The report also notes that it could be more worthwhile to have police focusing on traffic-related incidents on Halloween over monitoring sex offenders.

The wide net cast by Halloween laws places some degree of burden on law enforcement officers whose time would otherwise be allocated to addressing more probably dangerous events.”


"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 - ACLU fighting town sex offender law - Lawsuit says exclusion zones unconstitutional

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09/18/2009

By David Still II

A Barnstable ordinance restricting where registered sex offenders can live is being challenged in Barnstable Superior Court as being in violation of both the U.S. Constitution and the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.

The ordinance in question is the Barnstable Active Safety Information for Child Awareness, known as BASIC. Among its provisions is a 2,000-foot exclusion zone from places where services to children are provided for sex offenders registered categorized by the state at levels 2 or 3 "by reason of a sexual offense against a child."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (Email) (ACLU) is representing the plaintiff, and filed the 39-page complaint in Barnstable Superior Court in late August. It is the first challenge of residential restriction ordinances in Massachusetts.

The plaintiff, allowed by the court to proceed under the pseudonym "Mark Moe," is described as 34 years old and living with a family member in Barnstable. His classification as a level 2 sex offender stems from a juvenile California case when he was 16. According to the complaint, Moe was found delinquent for engaging in sexual acts with his 13-year-old girlfriend. According to the complaint, this is his only offense.

"Because the ordinance effectively forecloses all of the housing options in town, the plaintiff will be forced to leave Barnstable and, because he is indigent, will become homeless," the introduction to the complaint reads.

The town has agreed to suspend enforcement of the ordinance on the plaintiff while the case is pending.

Barnstable Assistant Town Attorney David Houghton said the town served a motion to dismiss this week, which has been received by the plaintiff’s attorney.

ACLU’s John Reinstein, lead attorney in the case said that in general, the issue of residential restrictions on sex offenders "one that we’ve been concerned with."

In addition to seeking a permanent injunction against the enforcement of the BASIC ordinance against the plaintiff, the complaint asks the court to enter a declaratory judgment that BASIC ordinance violates the Home Rule Amendment and violates the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and articles 1,10, 12 and 24 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.

The plaintiff also seeks court costs and "further relief as this Court deems appropriate."

A statement on the ACLU of Massachusetts Web site (aclum.org) explains the organization’s opposition to such restrictions: "The empirical data suggest, however, that these measures are not only ineffective, but may actually increase the likelihood of sex offenses. In addition, they raise serious constitutional questions by infringing upon well established civil rights."

Since going into effect in February 2007, the Barnstable Police Department has issued 20 citations under BASIC all to separate individuals.

The Plaintiff

Moe moved to Massachusetts in 2000 to be near family and registered as a sex offender in 2007, although "he contests his obligation to register in Massachusetts." Moe also says that he was not informed of his right to a hearing by the Sex Offender Registry Board, which classifies offenders a at one of three levels, low, moderate and high for risks of re-offense.

Moe is classified as a level 2 offender based on the California case.

The plaintiff has had difficulty finding and holding a job, due in part, according to the complaint, to his status as a registered sex offender. He moved to Barnstable in January, accepting the offer of a cousin. That residence is described in the complaint as being on Pitcher’s Way in Hyannis. His mother lives a short distance away, according to the complaint.

On Feb. 17, 2009, Barnstable Police served Moe with a citation for a single violation of the BASIC ordinance, which carried a $300 fine. Failure to pay the fine or request a hearing within 21 days could result in a criminal complaint being issued.

According to the court filing, Moe did request a hearing, but the town applied for a criminal complaint on Feb. 27. That resulted in a court magistrate issuing a criminal complaint, which is pending in Barnstable First District Court.

The Town of Barnstable has relied upon the Massachusetts Home Rule Amendment as the basis for some of its more progressive legislation and legal positions. Among the arguments put forth in the complaint is that the town’s BASIC ordinance exceeds its permissible scope under Home Rule.

The stated purpose of the BASIC ordinance is "to advance the public safety and welfare of the residents of the Town of Barnstable by making certain environmental information and controls available for the benefit of children and those who care for children."

It was approved by the town council in late 2006 and went into effect in February 2007.

"The Barnstable residency restriction at issue here violates the Home Rule Amendment and Act because it is inconsistent with a number of different statutes formulated to monitor the whereabouts of sex offenders," the complaint reads.

Moe argues that the state’s statutory scheme for regulation of sex offenders preempts local legislation.

"Local residence restrictions for sex offenders such as the BASIC ordinance significantly interfere with the implementation of state law and policy," the complaint reads.

"The ordinance is not rationally related to any legitimate governmental objective and subjects the plaintiff Moe to arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable restrictions on his freedom of movement, association and residence," the complaint reads.

The ACLU is expected to file an opposition to the motion to dismiss, after which a hearing before the court will be filed.


"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)

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