Friday, December 11, 2009

TX - Does Texas needs tougher sex offender laws?

Original Article

Is this more fear mongering? Is child abuse actually rising, or just the number of reports (false accusations included)? Anybody can say this, but where is the facts? I can say millions of people are being thrown into an alligator pit each day, but without the facts to back it up, it's just a personal opinion. Until we start working on prevention and education, this will always be a problem. They are doing this backwards, IMO. They are just waiting until that kid is sexually abused, then locking someone up for it, but what about trying to prevent it in the first place?

12/11/2009

By Stacia Willson

More than three years ago, Congress ordered all states to adopt stricter laws for sex offenders, but so far only Ohio is following the new rules.

Meanwhile the number of children who are abused in Texas continues to grow.

Employees at Child Safe, the children's advocacy center for Bexar County, say over the past year they have helped more than 1700 children who were sexually abused. The number has increased by almost 60% over the past four years.

Nationwide numbers show one in four girls, and one in six boys, will be abused by the time they've reached the age of 18.

Video Link


Sexting Hysteria Drives Teen to Suicide. Media Blames Sexting, Fuels More Hysteria.

Original Article

The hysteria is driving by ignorant, boasting and grandstanding politicians who are ignorant of technology and sex offender issues, by them always citing bogus statistics, making more and more laws to punish sex offenders when less than 5% are truly dangerous, yet all are treated as if they have killed some child. Also the media helps the hysteria by once again citing bogus statistics and not trying to work on solutions, but fear mongering for a story, or so politicians can "look tough" on crime, while ignoring their oaths of office and the constitution to oppress someone and make them the modern day scapegoat. That is what fuels the hysteria, IMO.

12/11/2009

By Radley Balko

Yet more evidence for teens that "sexting" really can ruin your life. Not because of the dirty pictures, but because of the horrible things adults will do to you when they discover them. For your own good, of course.

Today's heartbreaking example is Hope Witsell, a 13-year-old Florida girl driven to suicide after she was caught sending a topless cell phone photo of herself to a crush. When her school administrators learned of the photo, they suspended her, even though her sending it had nothing to do with the school. Witsell's classmates harassed her, calling her "whore" and "slut" in the hallways, apparently with little notice, interest, or intervention from school officials. Witsell's parents also administered some tough love, grounding her for the summer and banishing her from the Internet and her cell phone. The poor kid showed her boobs to a boy, and she was banished from her school, her friends, and the outside world.

With all due respect to Witsell's parents, who are obviously grieving, it's the adults in Sylvia's life who need the tough love here. These overblown reactions to what's really little more than a technologically enhanced version of the age-old game of "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" really do ruin kids' lives, be it by saddling them with a criminal record, securing them a spot on a sex offender list, instilling in their heads that they're some sort of outcast pervert, or in Hope Witsell's case—Jesus—driving them to kill themselves.

I found this story via a link to the blog Sylvia Has a Problem. The blogger, "Sylvia" I presume, points to coverage of Witsell's death on the Today Show and rightly points out the most infuriating and disheartening part of all of this: Media coverage of the case has put the brunt of the blame on the 13-year-old kid herself, and her "impetuous move" to tread in the dark netherworld of "sexting."

That of course means the likely take-away narrative from Today Show viewers learning of Witsell's death last week will be that we need to crack down harder on kids who engage in sexting. You know, "to prevent more Hope Witsells." Which really only increases the odds we'll see more Hope Witsells.

Kids make mistakes. It's up to the adults in their lives—from parents to school administrators to law enforcement authorities—to show some sense of proportionality and perspective in reacting to those mistakes.

It's a dubious proposition that sending a couple dirty pictures to a boyfriend is going to ruin a young girl's life. But the hysterical, puritanical reactions of the authority figures around her sure as hell can.

Be sure to read Nancel Rommelmann's terrific report on another outrageous case of adults persecuting sexting teens from our July 2009 issue.


FL - Sex offender maps–what they don’t tell us

Original Article

12/11/2009

By Shawn Alff

I’m convinced Google Maps will one day have a feature that provides detailed search results for sexual predators near you. Until then, we’re stuck stalking offenders on Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement’s site, which allows you to search by county, city, zip code, or last name.

When I searched downtown St. Petersburg, little blips covered the map like one of those terrifying sex ed pictures of an STD rash. When you click on the bubbles, pictures and addresses pop up. I don’t know which is more disturbing, mug shots of the standard creepos–sloppy men frowning–or the photos of clean-cut men smiling. But, surprisingly, the number of sex offenders or their pictures wasn’t what disturbed me most about the site. For me, the most troubling thing was that this site doesn’t provide the specifics of what these offenders were charged with. All are simply listed under the blanket terms, Sexual Predator or Sexual Offender.

Granted, that to land on these lists, you have to do more than simply engage in a crime related to sex. For instance, most prostitutes and Johns aren’t listed on this site. (If you’re interested, The Palm Beach Post gives a detailed and simple breakdown of the crimes that classify offenders and predators). Still, there’s a world of difference between a rapist or kidnapper, and someone who unknowingly solicited a prostitute who wasn’t yet 18. Even the two-bit magazine Cellmates lists the specific charges beneath the mug shots of everyone who was arrested in the last month.

Also, why does this site stop at sex offenders? Why aren’t we able to search for violent offenders? Thankfully none of my friends have fallen victim to a sex crime, but several have been mugged at gun point in St. Petersburg. I’m not saying that being robbed is worse than being raped. I just think that we should have just as much warning about violent offenders as we do about sexual predators.


NV - Ex-deputy spared jail in NV 'Girls Gone Wild' case

Original Article

12/11/2009

By SCOTT SONNER

RENO - A former sheriff's deputy who admitted accepting bribes to give preferential treatment to "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis while jailed in Reno avoided prison time after U.S. prosecutors argued for leniency due to his cooperation in the case.

Ex-Washoe County deputy Ralph Hawkins was sentenced Friday to three years probation and fined $4,000 for accepting $3,200 in cash and tickets to Oakland Raiders football games from a Francis associate.

He acknowledged that in exchange, he had smuggled in sushi, barbecued chicken and other food to the soft porn mogul while he was being held on tax evasion charges last year.

Hawkins faced up to 10 months in prison. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Rachow argued probation was appropriate and U.S. District Judge Robert C. Jones agreed.


UK - Widow Says Husband Driven to Heart Attack after False Accusation

Original Article

12/11/2009

By Selwyn Duke

We’ve all heard about false accusations of sexual criminality, incidents such as the 2006 Duke University rape frame-up case. They are a form of psychological molestation and can destroy a person’s life just as being physically molested can. Well, now such an accusation might have ended a man’s life.

The hapless victim, 63-year-old British citizen Bryan Davies, died of a massive heart attack last Friday after months of community harassment resulting from a false accusation of pedophilia. And what was the reason for the accusation?

Two girls leveled it after the man and his wife, Debbie Davies, 43, refused to allow a “sleepover” at their home or the girls to walk their dog.

The Daily Mail reports on the story, writing, “Mrs Davies said her husband had fought in vain to clear his name after two schoolgirls falsely accused him in [sic] indecently touching them in the summer.” And it didn’t help Mr. Davies that the police had dismissed the girls’ story after an investigation. It didn’t help when, reports the Mail, “Police in Accrington, Lancashire, even went as far as handing out leaflets to locals in the neighbourhood to officially state the allegations as ‘false and without any foundation whatsoever’.” No, despite this, the couple suffered continual harassment. Writes the Mail:

. . . a brick through the window, slashed car tyres and constant shouts of 'paedo' and 'pervert' every time they left the house increased the stress, Mrs Davies said.

. . . And the couple moved homes to another street in the town recently but malicious rumours spread and the hate-mob followed.

Mr Davies, originally from the Cardigan Bay area of Wales, had a brick thrown the window of his house last week.

Obviously, the Davies have suffered due to a lack of a sense of justice among the mob that persecuted them and, of course, due to the same lack in the deceitful accusers. Yet there is also a lack of a sense of justice exhibited by the authorities — and it is salt thrown into Mrs. Davies’ wounds. I speak of the fact that the police have decided not to charge the accusers, citing their age.

Unfortunately, regardless of age, letting females who falsely accuse men of sexual misconduct off the hook isn’t unusual. For instance, the stripper who falsely accused the Duke lacrosse players of rape, Crystal Magnum, wasn’t charged, either. Now, let’s think about this: The woman levels accusations of rape against three young fellows not long out of boyhood, creating a national frenzy, fomenting racial unrest and making the boys pariahs in their school and the press. She causes them and their families many months of hardship they will never forget. And she gets to walk away with an “oops”? She has written a book now, too, just so you know. Only in America.

I suppose our cavalier attitude toward such accusers is explainable. There was a time when women were more reluctant to come forward with stories involving sexual abuse; this, and the fact that people in general were more moral back then, made false accusations of rape less likely. But then something changed: Male sexual crimes came to be viewed not just as wicked (which they were considered before) but as politically incorrect, and men became so themselves. On the other hand, women came to be viewed as a victim group, and what I’ve dubbed the New Chivalry became operative. That is to say, the result was not equality but a definite legal favoritism toward the fairer sex. This seems to have bred an attitude that the imperative of protecting women and children justifies making men second-class citizens in courts of law. Better that ten innocent men suffer than that one guilty man escape, I suppose.

But explainable is not synonymous with justifiable. Rape and child molestation are horrible, heinous crimes and should be taken seriously. But, for this reason, accusations of same are also horrible and heinous and when false should be taken seriously as well. Remember that there are men who have spent years in prison based on such malicious falsehoods. Moreover, even when the victim avoids the hangman, as former Secretary of Labor Ray Donovan said after being acquitted of highly publicized corruption charges in 1987, “Where do I go to get my reputation back?” Understand that, to this day, there are those who are suspicious of the Duke lacrosse players. And this video about four Hofstra University students who were falsely accused of rape includes commentary by those who have doubts about their innocence. Then there is the gripping testimonial of Professor Michael Patterson, who was falsely accused of rape in 1991 and had to endure pariah status and damage to his career.

After an accusation of rape and, especially, child molestation, a man’s life will never be the same again. It is just human nature: People will have their doubts and certain elements of the mob will relish having a whipping boy.

While this is often unavoidable, the authorities only exacerbate the problem by refusing to name and prosecute the victimizers. And the case of Bryan Davies is illustrative because it’s typical. As the accused, his name and face were associated with the story, placing him in the pillory of public scorn. If his accusers had been charged and named, there would have been a greater chance that they could have replaced him in that unenviable position (and the mob would have been far kinder to them). But with Davies front and center and the guilty remaining in the shadows, on whom was the mob’s focus going to be? People only hate that which is real to them. And the result was the death of Davies’ reputation — followed by that of the man himself.

Of course, there are those, such as feminists, who don’t like the idea of charging and naming false accusers. They may claim that any such action would discourage sex-crime victims from coming forward and undermine the battle against sex crimes. But they have it exactly backwards. Allowing sex-crime accusations to be tossed around loosely undermines the accusations themselves.

Just as there are bad men who abuse women, there are bad women who abuse men through manipulation of the legal system. And turning a blind eye to it is just as bad as being cavalier about rape itself. It’s simply not something good people do.

Selwyn Duke is a columnist and public speaker whose work has been published widely online and in print, on both the local and national levels. He has been featured on the Rush Limbaugh Show, at WorldNetDaily.com, in American Conservative magazine, is a contributor to AmericanThinker.com and appears regularly as a guest on the award-winning, nationally-syndicated Michael Savage Show. Visit his Website.


VA - Officers Speak Out About False Rape Cases in Waynesboro and Staunton

Original Article

This is why those who make false accusations, should be dealt with more harsh, because their false statement could ruin someone's life, and like mentioned in the article, it waste a ton of police man power and time for nothing.  They should also have to pay for all the wasted gas, money, etc.

12/11/2009

With two rape cases in Waynesboro and Staunton now closed because of false claims, officers are now speaking out about the seriousness of calling in a false report to police.

A report of rape is a call that puts police officers on high alert.

"Because of the egregiousness of the crime, the need is to make an apprehension as soon as possible, we throw all the resources we have available at it," says Sgt. Kelly Walker with the Waynesboro Police Department.

Walker says false reports, such as rape, are made more often than they should.

Investigations in Staunton and Waynesboro have turned up two of these cases just this week.

Walker adds, "As a standard response, we don't allow any presumptions. We don't prejudge any situations. We just allow the evidence to take us where the case is going to go."

While keeping an open mind for every call may force departments to waste time and resources dealing with a false report, it is also the response from residents that has officers concerned.

"It's particularly disturbing when you see the level of fear it raises in the community," says Walker.

He says false reports can put unnecessary stress on community members.

Walker adds, "They want to follow it. Once an arrest has been made there is a feeling in the community that we can breathe a sigh of relief."

However, officers say everyone responds differently to being a victim, and it is better to take a chance with their resources then let an actual crime slip through the cracks.

"We have learned to not allow ourselves to prejudge a situation. We've been trained not to do that," says Walker.

Waynesboro officers say after questioning an alleged rape victim about inconsistencies with her story earlier this week, she eventually confessed it was a lie.

Charges of making a false report are expected.

Officers in Staunton did not file charges in the case they had this week.


UK - Warrant issued over false rape claim

Original Article

12/11/2009

An arrest warrant has been issued for a girl who falsely claimed that she had been raped, after she failed to appear in court for sentence.

Lindsay Gorman, 20, originally from Lake Glen Avenue, Belfast sparked a massive police hunt last year after claiming she had been raped.

Belfast Crown Court heard that Gorman, has not been seen since her last court appearence in late October when she pleaded guilty to a single charge of doing an act between April 26 and July 25 last year which had a tendancy to pervert public justice by claiming she had been attacked and raped by an unknown man.

Solicitor Una Conway, from Donnelly and Wall, told Judge Geoffrey Miller that Gorman had not been seen by her family for a number of weeks and it would appear that a new address she supplied to the authorities was false.

Judge Miller, when issuing the bench warrant, said he would deal with the case once the warrant had been executed and Gorman brought before the courts again.


NE - Nebraska Supreme Court rules in favor of sex offender

Original Article

12/11/2009

By MARGERY A. BECK

OMAHA -- The Nebraska Supreme Court has reversed an order calling for a man convicted more than 10 years ago of using a 16-year-old girl as a prostitute to re-register as a sex offender.

_____ was convicted of pandering in 1996 and served two years in prison. Last year, _____' was found guilty of contempt of court for failing to register as a sex offender, as a judge had ordered in 2002.

Lancaster County District Judge Robert Otte determined that because _____ had spent less than five years on the registry and had been ordered to spend 10, _____ would have to re-register and remain registered until early 2014.

But in its ruling Friday, the Nebraska Supreme Court said the lower court didn't have the authority to determine the duration of _____' registration.


NY - Legislative Memo: The Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act (e-STOP)

Original Article

Legislative Memorandum

Subject: Attorney General’s Bill No. 4
A.9859 / Lentol et al.
S.6875 / Skelos et al.

(An Act to amend the correction law, the penal law, the executive law and the state finance law, in relation to the protection of people who use internet services from convicted sex offenders)

Position: Opposed


The Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act (e-STOP)

This legislation proposes a broad regulatory scheme that is intended to address the “clear and present danger” posed by “sexual predator[s]” who engage in communication via the internet. The bill’s principal focus is the prevention of sex crimes against minors who access social networking websites.

The state has a compelling interest in preventing sex offenses. This legislation, however, is based upon a misapprehension of the nature and scope of the problem. Moreover, it is unlikely that the proposed regulatory scheme will prevent registered sex offenders from using the internet; it will, however, place significant and constitutionally impermissible burdens on the use of the internet for legitimate and lawful purposes.

The proposed law would authorize the state to provide private internet entities with electronic identifiers – user names, e-mail addresses, access providers – for all registered offenders so that internet entities may bar access to internet services and advise government entities, including law enforcement of “potential . . . threats to public safety.

The legislation would also impose mandatory restrictions upon certain registered sex offenders subject to probation, parole, and conditional discharge or release. These restrictions prohibit registered sex offenders from using the internet to access pornographic material and commercial social networking websites; to communicate with other individuals or groups for the purpose of promoting sexual relations with persons under the age of eighteen; or to communicate with a person under the age of eighteen when such offenders are over the age of eighteen.

The sponsor’s memorandum accompanying the e-STOP bill states that the legislation would impose “reasonable and appropriate” restrictions on the use of the internet by registered sex offenders. The bill fails to meet even this modest standard. Supreme Court jurisprudence, however, sets a higher bar: a broadly framed regulatory scheme restricting constitutional rights of speech and expression must be narrowly tailored to accomplish a compelling government interest. The proposed scheme fails this test.

What’s more, as a practical matter, it is unlikely that the proposed legislation would deter unlawful activity facilitated by the internet. If barred access by the proposed law, it would be a simple matter to create a new e-mail address or to register with a different service provider. Thus even if it were possible to implement restrictions on internet use in a manner that targeted individuals likely to engage in unlawful activity, the bill would merely drive those individuals outside the sex offender registry.

The problem the legislation seeks to address is poorly understood; as a consequence the proposed regulatory scheme is misguided.

The sponsor’s memorandum accompanying the e-STOP legislation speaks of a grave security risk posed by predators who utilize the internet to perpetrate sex crimes. This assertion is dubious; recent analyses indicate the alleged problem is greatly exaggerated. Those concerned the internet is facilitating the commission of sex crimes often cite a study by the Crimes Against Children Research Center, which found that one in seven children had received sexual solicitations while on-line. According to the author of the report, however, many of these propositions were “coming from other kids, or just people who are acting weird on line.”

A highly regarded “Frontline” documentary produced by the Public Broadcasting System reached a similar conclusion. The PBS investigation focused on teenagers, 90 percent of whom used the internet daily – including Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites. The producers of the documentary observed that,

"One of the biggest surprises in making this film was the discovery that the threat of online predators is misunderstood and overblown. The data shows that giving out personal information over the Internet makes absolutely no difference when it comes to a child's vulnerability to predation. . . . Most importantly, all the kids we met, without exception, told us the same thing: They would never dream of meeting someone in person they'd met online."

As for children under the age of twelve who are the victims of child abuse, the perpetrator in more than 90 percent of such crimes is a family member or a known friend of the family. Kidnapping or sexual abuse of a child by a stranger is an extremely rare occurrence.

These findings and observations are consistent with the results of on-line sting operations, including sweeps of networking sites. Aggressive policing of the internet has uncovered few instances of registered offenders engaged in criminal conduct.

Recidivism rates among registered sex offenders offer further evidence that the risk of harm posed by registered offenders is greatly overstated. Following release from state prison, sex offenders are rarely subject to arrest or conviction for another sex offense. A recent study by New York’s Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives found that of 19,827 offenders registered as of March 31, 2005, the re-arrest rate for a new sex crime within one year from the date of first registration was 2 percent; re-arrest within two years was 3 percent; within five years, 6 percent; and within eight years, 8 percent.

With the introduction of this legislation, New York State continues to address the problem of sex offenses by pursuing policies that have the effect of marginalizing or banishing sex offenders. Such policies are counter-productive. Patty Wetterling, whose son’s tragic death prompted the creation of federal and state sex offender registries, has been an outspoken critic of the use of such registries to marginalize and harass sex offenders.

"Many states make former offenders register for life, restrict where they live, and make details known to the public. And yet the evidence suggests these laws do more harm than good. . . . We need better answers. We need to fund prevention programs that stop sexual violence before it happens. We need to look at what can help those released from prison to succeed so that they don’t victimize again – and that probably means housing and jobs and community support."

There is considerable research that identifies the components of a best-practice model for preventing recidivism among sex offenders. That model involves a coordinated program of monitoring, supervision and treatment, based upon a rigorous psychological and behavioral assessment of the individual. The psychology literature reports that such an approach reduces recidivism rates among sex offenders by 40 to 60 percent. With sufficient funding and coordination of resources, reported reductions in recidivism are significantly higher. (This paradigm is addressed in more detail in the closing section of this memorandum.)

The proposed regulatory scheme is flawed by vagueness and overbreadth

When government acts to restrict speech based on the identity of the speaker or the content of his speech, such restrictions must be narrowly tailored in furtherance of a compelling government interest. Courts have recognized that a greater degree of deference may be granted to restrictions upon conditions of probation; however these restrictions must not undermine constitutional rights in ways unrelated to rehabilitation.

There is no question that the state has a compelling interest in preventing sex crimes against minors. However, e-STOP is not tailored to restrict only – or even primarily – speech that may be related to the commission of such crimes. The bill’s stated objective is to prevent former offenders from communicating with minors through social networking sites. But a tremendous amount of communication takes places between adults on social networking sites. Many people visit MySpace, for example, to engage in political speech or advocacy, or to learn about music performances. However the proposed e-STOP law would subject to criminal suspicion and prosecution former offenders engaged in lawful speech that is directed to an adult audience, without any intent that the speech reach minors. The law would also make criminal the mere act of viewing the MySpace web site, even if done with the intent to learn about social or political events.

As a consequence the proposed regulatory scheme fails to pass constitutional muster.

■ Disclosure of Internet Identifiers

Section Five of e-STOP authorizes the state to disclose the complete database of internet identifiers used by all classes of sex offenders for the purpose of enabling an internet entity “to prescreen or remove sex offenders from its services or, in conformity with state and federal law, advise law enforcement and/or other governmental entities of potential violations of law and/or threats to public safety.” “Authorized internet entity” is defined as any entity “providing or offering a service over the internet which permits persons less than eighteen years of age to access, meet, congregate or communicate with other users for the purpose of social networking.”

This proscription is sweeping in scope. It neither employs an individualized assessment of risk nor distinguishes between a level one offender and a level three offender. This provision is based upon the assumption that all registered offenders are, to use the bill’s generic term, “predators.” This supposition is demonstrably false; nevertheless this bill will authorize the state to turn over to private internet service providers the personal identifiers of every individual registered under New York’s sex offender registry with the clear intention that such persons shall be barred or restricted from access to the internet.

As a policy matter, this measure drops all pretense of tailoring the provisions of e-STOP to regulating the conduct of individuals who pose a risk of recidivism or for whom the anonymity of the internet may serve as a disinhibitor. Rather, the legislation seeks to bar individuals from a vital communication network based solely upon status – and stigma – related to a past offense.

■ Mandatory Conditions of Probation or Conditional Discharge

The bill requires courts to prohibit certain sex offenders – as a condition of parole or probation – from using the internet to (1) access pornographic material, (2) access a commercial social networking website, (3) communicate with other individuals or groups for the purpose of promoting sexual relations with persons under the age of eighteen, and (4) communicate with a person under the age of eighteen when such offender is over the age of eighteen. Such court orders would apply to individuals who have been designated as level three sex offenders; convicted of a sex offense that was facilitated by the internet; or convicted of an offense that involved a victim under the age of eighteen.

Each of these prohibitions fails to pass constitutional muster. Even if these prohibitions were constitutionally sound, however, their application to all level three offenders is misguided as a matter or public policy. An individual is designated a level three offender based upon New York’s Risk Assessment Guidelines. These guidelines are seriously flawed. They were developed prior to scientific research that established clear correlations between the particular characteristics and behaviors of an offender and a propensity to re-offend. What’s more, an evaluator is allowed to override the Guidelines’ objective scoring measures based upon “special circumstances,” but the evaluator is not required to elaborate as to what those circumstances are. According to one expert in this area, New York designates approximately twice as many level three offenders as would be expected based upon scientific research and the experience of other states.

The following analysis addresses three of the aforementioned prohibitions that e-STOP would place on individuals subject to discharge or parole.

Access to pornographic materials

As a condition of parole or probation the proposed e-STOP legislation would prohibit use of the internet to access pornography. Unlike terms such as “obscenity” or “child pornography,” however, the term “pornography” does not have a legal definition. Therefore in imposing a prohibition on access to pornographic material, with a criminal sanction for violation of this prohibition, e-STOP runs afoul of the Due Process Clause.

The bill establishes a bar on the use of the internet to obtain pornographic materials that are available to the general population. It is well-documented, however, that one man’s art is another’s pornography; and as a consequence there is no clear distinction under e-STOP between protected expression and expression that may be prohibited. This will leave individuals subject to the regulatory scheme unable to determine with any certainty what materials they may access without fear of prosecution.

This provision further demonstrates an insufficient understanding of the subject matter that is subject to the proposed legislation. For while it is true that for certain sex offenders pornography may act as a disinhibitor, this is not the case for all offenders. Research demonstrates that there is little if any direct causal link between pornography and offense, let alone recidivism. What’s more, it is well documented that exposure to depictions of consensual sex between adults is an essential conditioning mechanism in some sex offender treatment regimes.

Access to Commercial Social Networking Websites

The second major restriction bars sex offenders from accessing commercial social networking websites. This term is defined as any business, organization or other entity operating a website that permits persons less than eighteen years of age to be registered users for the purpose of establishing personal relationships with other users, where such persons under the age of eighteen may:

  1. create web pages or profiles that provide information about themselves where such web pages or profiles are available to the pubic or to other users;
  2. engage in direct or real time communication with other users, such as a chat room or instant messenger; and
  3. communicate with persons over eighteen years of age; provided, however, that, for purposes of this subdivision, a commercial social networking website shall not include a website that permits users to engage in such other activities as are not enumerated herein.

This provision would bar a broad range of lawful and legitimate speech and expression. It is virtually impossible to narrowly cabin within a statutory definition the type of harmful conduct the bill seeks to prevent without catching up protected First Amendment activity. For example, the bill would bar posting information regarding political advocacy or musical events on MySpace – a central information exchange that provides access to music that may be sampled at no cost without violating copyright laws.

The proscription would bar individuals from disseminating information intended for adults on a web site to which young persons may have access. The bill would also prohibit a former offender from passively reviewing or downloading information from a broad range of social networking sites. Moreover, such websites are constantly evolving; the proposed statutory definition will inevitably preclude access to dynamic and evolving internet information hubs.

There is no governmental interest in prohibiting lawful communication between and among consenting adults, even via a communication medium often used by minors. When Congress tried to enact a similarly broad bar to conveying a particular type of speech over a medium of expression—the internet writ large—the Supreme Court unanimously held that such “unnecessarily broad suppression of speech” is barred by the First Amendment. Courts have repeatedly struck down such “prophylactic provisions” that seek to proscribe broad classifications of speech.

Notwithstanding the constitutional infirmities in a regulatory scheme barring access to social networking web sites, public policy considerations also argue against such a broad ban. Keeping former offenders connected to their communities, families, and friends is a critical factor in preventing recidivism. By reducing opportunities for registered sex offenders to use the internet – a primary tool of learning and communication in the twenty-first century – former offenders are removed from social groups and supportive relationships. This, in turn creates “psychosocial distress” that is directly linked to recidivism.

Communication with Persons Under the Age of Eighteen

The e-STOP bill also seeks to prohibit communication by former offenders who are more than eighteen years of age with persons under the age of eighteen. It is in the very nature of the internet and social networking websites that it is not always possible to determine who may have access to another’s communication; yet the proposed legislation creates a presumption that a former sex-offender who accesses a social networking site is engaged in illicit communication with under-age individuals

Whatever the merits of the legislation’s intent, in practice this broadly crafted prohibition would bar all manner of communication via the internet. Former offenders could not post any content on any social networking site to which a person under eighteen may have access. A former offender could not post a website that featured art or political views, even if it provided no opportunity for a reader to respond, because there is no effective way to filter the ages of individuals who attempt to access web pages. As a federal judge observed in an opinion that struck down New York’s Communications Decency Act: “Regardless of the aspect of the Internet they are using, Internet users have no way to determine the characteristics of their audience that are salient under the New York Act – age and geographic location.” By imposing a strict prior restraint that is not narrowly tailored to the stated legislative purpose, this provision creates an impermissible restriction on First Amendment rights.

Legislators must reevaluate the state’s approach to the prevention of sex offenses

New York law makers have little empirical information regarding the design and effectiveness of the state’s sex offender registry. Public policy in this area has been driven by alarming news headlines and heated politics.

As explained by one expert:

"We have twelve years of legislative history now. We have fifty states implementing registries. We have large police departments that have registries. We have state departments that have them. We have [more than] twelve years of history; yet there has not been one definitive study produced saying this reduces the recidivism of sex offenders."

There is, however, a consensus among sex-offender management experts and victim rights advocates as to what would be included in model legislation: the adoption of a more precise and accurate instrument for evaluating an offender’s risk of re-offending; a well-funded and -coordinated program of supervision, monitoring and treatment, based upon individualized assessment; creation of a state Office for the Prevention of Sexual Violence; and the establishment of regional centers for sex offender management.

New York’s legislature should abandon the e-STOP legislation and turn its energies to adopting a comprehensive, empirically based approach to preventing sex crimes.


FL - Panel restores ex-Gator linebacker's rights (What makes this man so special?)

Original Article

12/10/2009

By BILL KACZOR

TALLAHASSEE - State officials on Thursday restored the civil rights of a former University of Florida football team captain who had a drug conviction and also pardoned a man who was labeled as a sex offender after being targeted in an extortion scheme.

_____, a linebacker for the Gators in the mid-1980s, told The Florida Board of Executive Clemency headed by Gov. Charlie Crist (Contact) that he couldn't seek a state license to practice as a chiropractor until his rights were restored.

He served two years in federal prison for a conviction in a marijuana-growing conspiracy shortly after he graduated from Florida and was released by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"My involvement was minimal at most, but it boils down to this, when you're wrong you're wrong and I was wrong," said _____, who now lives in Sarasota.

_____ has been helping his wife with her massage therapy business and doing odd jobs while awaiting his rights restoration. He's also been an organizer and participant in the Tour de Spine, a bicycle trek from Alaska to Miami to raise money for the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

Crist's vote and those of two of the three Cabinet members are required to grant clemency.

The panel was unanimous in restoring _____'s rights.

It also voted unanimously to pardon _____, who had moved to Panama, where his wife is from, to avoid Florida's sex offender registration requirement.

_____, now 52, pleaded no contest 10 years ago to a single count of having consensual sex with an underage girl in Orange County. The judge withheld judgment, which ordinarily would give him a clean record, but he's still considered a sex offender under state law, said his lawyer, Kelly Overstreet Johnson.

She told the panel the girl lied about her age and used a fake ID to go to bars with _____. Her father, a convicted felon, encouraged her to have sex with _____ and other men to extort money from them, Johnson said.

When _____ refused to pay $50,000, she reported him to police. _____ asked for and passed a lie detector test but it's still a crime for an adult to have sex - even if consensual - with a minor, Johnson said.

She said _____ moved to Panama because his son, now 19, was harassed at school and attempted suicide after fliers depicting the father as a sex offender were circulated in their neighborhood.

The son now has a brain tumor and _____ sought the pardon so he could bring him back to the United States for treatment without being branded as a sex offender.

"He could come but he would have to register and that would start the whole issue all over again," Johnson said. "Plus, he would be limited where he could live, whether he could go to the hospital if the hospital was near a school or a park or all of the other restrictions that are in effect."


FL - Florida Town Offers Housing for Criminal Sex Offenders

Original Article

12/09/2009

By Kamika Dunlap

Convicted sex offenders don't have many housing options when it comes to finding a place to live.

More than 20 states, including Florida, limit where convicted sex offenders can live -- keeping them away from schools, parks and other places where children congregate.

But 90 miles outside of Miami, in a small city with numerous churches of multiple Christian faiths, convicted sex offenders are welcome.

According to NPR (Listen), it's a community dedicated to sex offender housing, and where they can find a new start.

Dick Witherow is pastor at Miracle Park, a church community mostly made up of sex offenders. He his church is open to serve a population has labeled "modern-day lepers."

At Witherow's church, sex offenders on probation attend weekly court-ordered sex therapy sessions. He also offers anger-management classes and sessions on relationships, inner healing and life skills.

Other places around the area are not so welcoming. There are few remaining zones where convicted sex offenders can legally live in Florida.

Miracle Park is located near Pahokee situated along western edge of Palm Beach County.

Because the church is outside of the city limits and there isn't much local officials can do about it.

Many states are dealing with problems surrounding sex offender housing. In urban settings legal residential areas for sex offenders is severely limited. That's also the case sometimes even in rural areas with greater distances between schools.

In California, as previously discussed, Jessica's Law has come under review by the state supreme court. Jessica's law severely restricts where sexual offenders can live after they are released from prison. In doing so, many sex offenders cannot find housing in urban areas across the state and often are forced into homelessness.

Critics have said residency restrictions were counterproductive, particularly because of a surge in registered sex offenders declaring themselves transients, making it more difficult to track their whereabouts.

Kentucky is also grappling with its rules on sex offender housing.
- So is Florida and Georgia.

Attorney General Jack Conway (Contact) is Kentucky Supreme Court to review a ruling that loosened restrictions on where convicted sex offenders can live.

The state Supreme Court held that the law (which bans sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools, daycare centers, playgrounds) is unconstitutional because lawmakers applied it retroactively to sex offenders convicted before the law was on the books.

Conway has until Dec. 30 to file a motion seeking the federal court's review, a move he says he'll do.


NC - Another ignorant lady talking on YouTube about punishing sex offenders, lumping them all into one group, as usual!

People like this lady, only investigate and see one side of the story, so leave a comment and educate these women, at the link below, if you have a YouTube account.

Video Link