Tuesday, November 24, 2009

WA - Hard to track sex offenders as they harness tech gadgets

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And they use the usual "100,000 offenders are missing" goldilock number. This is the same as the "1 in 5," and "50,000 online predators!." See the video below.

11/25/2009

By Jerry Markon

WASHINGTON  — The pursuit of _____ began the moment the sex offender was released from prison.

It ended months later with a U.S. Marshals Service helicopter hovering near a D.C. junior high school as _____ kissed a 14-year-old boy. In between, authorities used two global positioning system devices to track him, learned he was online at the library and seized a secret laptop with a power source in the trunk of his car. He is back in jail.

_____, who originally was convicted of molesting boys at the National Air and Space Museum and near the Washington Monument, is one of thousands of sex offenders accused of similar crimes after their release from prison or while on probation. His case illustrates the challenges of monitoring hundreds of thousands of offenders.

Staffing shortages

The nationwide crackdown on child pornography and other sex offenses has created severe personnel shortages and technology challenges for probation officers, police and federal agents struggling to track offenders who are jumping online with cell phones and portable game systems and flocking to social networking and other sites, where children or pornography can easily be found.

There are more than 716,000 registered sex offenders, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, a 78 percent increase since 2001, and that does not include all offenders because some crimes do not require registration.

Federal child sexual exploitation prosecutions are up 147 percent since 2002. Funding for task forces that bring charges in state courts rose this year from $16 million to $75 million.

But many of those offenders are now leaving prison, even as revenue-strapped states are cutting the budgets of probation departments.

"The burden on probation and parole officers is going to explode," said Ernie Allen, the national center's president.

The monitoring of virtually all sex offenders is required when they are on probation or parole.

The problem has gained national attention with the discovery of 10 bodies at a registered sex offender's home in Cleveland and accusations that Jaycee Lee Dugard was kidnapped at age 11 in 1991 and held captive at an Antioch sex offender's house until this August. Officers had visited both homes and noticed nothing wrong.

Those cases underscore a troubled registry system that has been the public face of sex-offender monitoring. An estimated 100,000 offenders do not comply with registration requirements. Law enforcement doesn't know where many of them are.

But the most alarming development for officers is proliferating electronic gadgets and the temptations they pose to offenders. A man on probation in Iowa for molesting a 9-year-old, for example, was recently caught downloading pornographic images of a girl on his PlayStation Portable — while walking to his probation appointment.

Sometimes, offenders cannot be monitored even while in custody. _____, a church deacon, pleaded guilty in federal court to sending child pornography to an undercover D.C. police detective. While awaiting sentencing, police said, _____ struck up another online conversation with the same detective, who traced the defendant to an unusual address — the D.C. Correctional Treatment Facility.

_____ had smuggled a phone into his cell and was on his bunk, online, when guards grabbed it, sources said. He was sentenced to 135 months in prison.

"When a sex offender has access to hundreds of tools, how we can possibly keep up with this explosion is beyond me," said Leonard Sipes, spokesman for D.C.'s Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, which helped capture _____ and supervises about 650 other sex offenders.

Social networking sites

Sipes said officers are especially worried about social networking sites frequented by children, such as My-Space, which this year said it banned 90,000 registered sex offenders. Facebook has said it is actively trying to prevent sex offenders from joining.

Probation and parole officers use GPS devices, polygraph tests, home visits and treatment to track offenders, but those tools can be used only during periods of supervision, which often end after three to five years. Parole is after prison, while probation is in lieu of prison.

The newest trend in sex-offender management is computer monitoring, which experts said is being done by a majority of state agencies.

A monitoring program installed on an offender's computer is designed to capture every keystroke, Internet site and program, including chat and e-mail.

"Anything they shouldn't be doing is going to leap off the page at you," said Jim Tanner, a former probation officer in Colorado and a leading proponent of monitoring.

Yet even this new tool is flawed. The software won't stop an offender from sneaking a laptop, using a family member's computer or logging on at the library. There is virtually no monitoring equipment for cell phones, BlackBerries or children's gaming devices.

Video Link



"That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing." - Martin Luther King - United States Constitution | Bill of Rights


© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved


MN - SUMMIT WILL IDENTIFY WAYS WE CAN CURB SEXUAL VIOLENCE

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11/24/2009

By PATTY WETTERLING

Twenty years ago I knew nothing about sexual violence. After my son Jacob was kidnapped, I learned quickly that the motive behind child kidnapping is most often sexual violence or exploitation. Who would do that? Who would sexually harm a child?

The answer is complicated, but I now know that the environment matters.

Twenty years ago, the community’s response to Jacob’s kidnapping was as it should be. Minnesota collectively put its foot down and said “no more.” We enacted legislation and improved training for police and response protocols. We have made a real difference in our ability to respond to this crime effectively.

Now it is time to stop sexual violence from happening before it starts. It is time to address the environment that feeds sexual violence, in order to inoculate our culture against it.

What causes people to harm others sexually? How are we “growing” human beings willing to exploit positions of power to cause sexual harm? How can we promote gender equity and respect in our schools, colleges, and workplaces? In our faith communities, neighborhoods, and homes?

It starts with the environment. We live in a culture that normalizes the very attitudes we condemn once they become headlines. And the information about healthy sexuality that our children need to thrive is largely missing.

We sell and purchase sexualized clothing for very young children. We coach our sons about how to win a game but not how to create respectful sexual relationships. We tolerate advertising that portrays young adults as sexual objects for attainment. We give points to those who rape on video games and additional points for those who go back to murder their victims. We flood the Internet, television, music, and movies with images of women who have been dehumanized, harmed or murdered for our entertainment. We are shocked when someone actually commits a crime or act of sexual violence, but we shouldn’t be. We taught them how.

In Minnesota, we have begun to imagine our lives without sexual violence.

The Minnesota Department of Health, with the support of the US Centers for Disease Control and many community partners, has developed the state’s first Sexual Violence Prevention Plan. And on December 4, The Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Violence (Contact) along with the Minnesota Department of Health and several other state agencies will sponsor The Minnesota Summit to Prevent Sexual Violence.

Invited leaders from business, media, government, academia, faith, philanthropy and nonprofit sectors will gather for a one-day prevention think tank. Leaders will identify actions in their sphere of influence to change the environment that grows sexual violence. This is a massive effort for social change, and we need champions from every sector, in every part of our state.

Twenty years after my son was kidnapped, I find hope in our state’s commitment to an environment that will allow all our children to thrive. I’m proud that Minnesota is the first state to hold a Sexual Violence Prevention Summit. (Other states are preparing their own actions, and a National Summit will be held in Washington, D.C. in June 2010.) Please become a Champion for Prevention in your community. For more information about Minnesota’s Sexual Violence Prevention Plan or The Minnesota Summit go to www.theminnesotasummit.com.


"That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing." - Martin Luther King - United States Constitution | Bill of Rights


© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved


IL - Please Oppose the Adam Walsh Act

This is a letter written by a member of SOSEN, and posted with their permission. Feel free to modify it, and send it on to those in Illinois.

State Senate Members
State House Members

11/24/2009

Dear Senator Duffy (Contact),

The State of Illinois is considering implementing the Adam Walsh Act which imposes stricter guidelines on individuals who have been convicted of a sex crime. Most of us want to protect children it is a quality that our heavenly Father has made an innate quality in each of us.

Unfortunately, there is no evidence that the AWA will protect children from being a victim of a sexual crime. Recently in the news there have been stories about children being victimized by adults. In most of these cases the perpetrator was not a convicted sex offender and in no case would the AWA have proven to have saved a child. The AWA would put more teenagers on the National Registry and be required to register to time indefinite. Yes it is unfortunate that so many teens are promiscuous and that some adults are being seduced or acting out compulsive behavior. But instead of passing AWA, we as a people need to examine what can be done in the early stages of a child's life to convey to them the importance of living a chaste life and how to prevent themselves from being lured by manipulative adults and peers.

Some states have opposed the AWA because they do not want the federal government telling them how to manage their sex offenders.

We want the federal government to protect us from terrorist and deal with the economy and let each state address domestic issues such as sexual deviance. Some state have indicated that it would be too costly to implement the AWA and it would make more fiscal sense to just let the government rescind 10% of the funding that they provide to maintain the Registry.

I am asking that you introduce legislation to provide funding to educate the general public about our responsibility to protect our kids from violence, sexual abuse, etc. Nearly 90% of all sex crimes against kids are committed by someone the child knows. The AWA does not prevent kids from being victims. It only allows us to brand more adults and teens as Registered Sex Offenders. Education is the best remedy to reduce this kind of crime.

Thank you for your service and I ask that you stand up boldly for justice!


"That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing." - Martin Luther King - United States Constitution | Bill of Rights


© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved


OFF TOPIC - Homeless Christians in Springfield, Mo.

The poem this man recites is excellent!

Video Link



"That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing." - Martin Luther King - United States Constitution | Bill of Rights

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved


UK - Watchdog Ofsted accused of stoking child safety fears

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11/24/2009

Local government leaders have accused Ofsted of "feeding people's fears" over child safety, rather than improving child protection in England.

The watchdog was more interested in "protecting its own reputation" than providing a "calm, measured voice", the Local Government Association said.

An Ofsted spokeswoman said: "There can be no hiding place for poor practice."

Ofsted, which covers formal education and children's services and childcare, is due to deliver its annual report.

The report is usually an occasion for the chief inspector to highlight the failures and successes in schools and children's services.

Independent?

However, ahead of its publication, Shireen Ritchie, chairwoman of the Local Government Association's children and young people board, said Ofsted needed to be "independent, and to offer conclusions based on facts and research rather than being influenced by external events".

She said inspectors could not "sit on the sidelines and offer tick-box judgements".

"The LGA believes Ofsted has become too concerned about protecting its own reputation and places a disproportionate emphasis on publicly highlighting weaknesses in child protection without adequately reflecting the huge amount of good work being done by councils across the country," says an LGA statement.

This publicity creates a risk-averse culture, says the LGA, which means that health professionals and police are overloading social services with extra work - making it harder to identify genuine cases.

It says there have been 47% increase in care applications in the three months to September 2009 compared with the same period last year.

And there has been a 9% increase in children being taken into care in the last year.

The local government body does not mention the publicity that followed the death of Baby Peter.

But earlier this month Ofsted admitted to a "serious and deeply regrettable error" in failing to disclose potential evidence in a High Court case involving Sharon Shoesmith, the former head of children's services at Haringey council.

Ms Shoesmith was dismissed from her post following a damning inspection report, after the trial of those responsible for the death of the 17-month-old child.

'Meaningless'

Ofsted is also under fire from the Association of Directors of Children's Services.

It claims that the the forthcoming annual performance profiles of local authorities are "not fit for purpose" and their assessments of children's services are "brief almost to the point of meaninglessness".

In response to the criticisms, Ofsted said it was "concerned about its reputation - a reputation for frankness and fearlessness and making a difference to children's lives".

"We would be failing in our duty if we did not highlight what works and where improvements are needed. We make no apology for this."

A spokesperson for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: "Robust, high quality, independent inspection is, of course, a vital part of ensuring that children's services around the country are the best they can possibly be."

"It is important too that Ofsted and colleagues delivering children's services have a shared appreciation and understanding of the inspection process."

"This is the first year of the Comprehensive Area Assessments to which ADCS refer and after publication of the results on 10 December, the DCSF will work with Ofsted and ADCS to help identify lessons from this first round of assessments."

Shadow Children's Minister Tim Loughton said: "Ofsted urgently needs to improve. We cannot have a situation where inspectors are more concerned with bureaucratic process than with outcomes."

"We need inspections that tell us how well children are being educated and cared for, not just how many government boxes departments of children's services have ticked."

"At the moment the system seems to spend too much time protecting itself and not enough time protecting the interests of children," said Mr Loughton.


"That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing." - Martin Luther King - United States Constitution | Bill of Rights


© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved


FL - New Smyrna Beach explores sex-offender laws

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11/24/2009

By MARK I. JOHNSON

NEW SMYRNA BEACH  -- If Dolores Maylone had her way, New Smyrna Beach's welcome mat would read: "No pedophiles allowed."

She recently came before the City Commission demanding it adopt an ordinance limiting where such sexual offenders can live, or even walk.

"If we make life difficult for them maybe they will move on before another child's life is ruined or another child dies," the New Smyrna Beach resident said.

Maylone voices concern that New Smyrna Beach trails other cities in enacting local rules tougher than state restrictions prohibiting sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of parks, recreation centers and around schools or any other place children might congregate.

Documents provided by the New Smyrna Beach Police Department (Contact) indicate 10 cities in Volusia County have more restrictive conditions than the state. Nine of the 10, including Deltona, DeLand, Ormond Beach and Pierson, prohibit such offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school, park or playground. Oak Hill adopted a 1,500-foot limitation.

Enacting and enforcing such restrictions are two different things, New Smyrna Beach Police Chief Ron Pagano said, but that hasn't stopped him and the city attorney from complying with commission direction to research what it would take to create a workable ordinance.

"We are exploring all possibilities," Pagano said.

Currently, New Smyrna Beach police officers conduct monthly checks on offenders to ensure they are following the laws governing their residences and movements.

Pagano said, at best, violation of any new city laws would be a misdemeanor charge. In some cases, the law might be impossible to enforce, such as distance restrictions on unmarked places where children gather, including school bus stops.

"This is not simple," the chief said. A law can be well intended but not practical to enforce.

There is also the issue of identifying pedophiles, who are not always registered sex offenders; just as not all sex offenders are pedophiles.

"You can't just go up to a person and ask if they are a sex offender," the chief said.

Some experts question if the restrictions already in place even work.

Marti Harkness, a specialist in criminal justice issues for the Florida Legislature's Office of Program Policy Analysis and Governmental Accountability (Contact), said during a recent report before a state House panel that his research showed laws limiting where offenders live are not connected to new crimes they commit.

"The literature is not real solid," he said by phone from his Tallahassee office.

A better deterrent would be "loitering zones" that prevent offenders from hanging out in a particular area, or electronic monitoring, Harkness said. However, that tends to be expensive and has technical drawbacks.

Professor Jill Levenson of Lynn University (Email) in Boca Raton, who believes there is no correlation between recidivism and where a sex offender lives, developed one of the studies Harkness used for his presentation.

"If all you are concerned about is abuse, then you are barking up the wrong tree," she said.

She said most pedophiles build relationships of trust and familiarity with their victims, which current laws don't address with restrictions on where such offenders can sleep.

"The current (state) law does nothing to restrict pedophiles from going anywhere during the day, just where they live," Levenson said. However, she does believe loitering zones make sense. "They restrict their ability to hang around an area and develop a relationship with children."

Maylone's ire surfaced after the September arrest of a registered sexual predator who walked onto the campus of Chisholm Elementary School armed with a BB pistol, telling everyone he was an agent with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

School officials said Kareen W. McNeal, 28, New Smyrna Beach, had no court-ordered restrictions prohibiting him from being on campus and had permission from a student's mother to pick up her son.

McNeal received his predator designation after a 1999 conviction for kidnapping and sexual battery with a weapon of a juvenile in Miami-Dade County. Florida Department of Law Enforcement records show he was confined in the North Florida Reception Medical Center. He was released in May 2007.

"I am upset, appalled, shocked and frustrated," Maylone said.

However, school officials said as soon as they were aware of McNeal's status, they kept him under surveillance while he was on campus.

Maylone said allowing McNeal on the school grounds endangered the children, which she believes is inexcusable. Her solution would ban pedophiles permanently from such locations, no matter what the courts said.

"If that is stepping on people's rights, we have to do it," she said. "It is time we protect our children."


"That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing." - Martin Luther King - United States Constitution | Bill of Rights


© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved