Thursday, March 11, 2010
By Pat Kessler
ST. PAUL (WCCO) - Minnesota lawmakers are preparing to pass a $1 billion construction projects bill on Thursday. But they're cutting way back on the project Gov. Tim Pawlenty (Contact) wants most: a sex offender treatment facility.
Some lawmakers say it is way too luxurious. In fact, they are calling it "Pawlenty's Palace" for sex offenders.
The number of civilly committed sex offenders skyrocketed after ex-con Alfonso Rodriquez murdered college student Dru Sjodin. But lawmakers say the governor's proposing "a palace" to confine them.
"It seems so unreal," said State Sen. Keith Langseth (Contact), DFL-Glyndon, who describes Pawlenty's proposed $89 million facility as "more than a Cadillac plan ... it's a Mercedes, maybe."
Langseth, who's the chairman of the powerful Capitol Investments Committee which approves construction projects, calls the Moose Lake plans too excessive and too luxurious.
"The governor is critical of us when we do this for common citizens, but when it comes to the sex offenders, he goes all out," said Langseth.
The blueprints for the Moose Lake Treatment Facility call for a gymnasium, a chapel, two computer labs, a large library, multiple lounges and individual rooms.
The Republican governor said it has to that way because sex offenders are patients, not prisoners.
- So they make it look like it's not a prison, when that is exactly what it is!
"Once they serve their time in prison, if we're going to keep them legally, civilly committed, it can't be just like a prison, because the courts won't tolerate that," said Pawlenty. "It has to have some other amenities."
Democrats complain the Moose Lake price tag is nearly double what it was just four years ago, and they say the governor has not provided a breakdown of where all the money is going.
"And people are worried now that we double bunk sexual predators?" asked an incredulous Sen. Steve Murphy (Contact), DFL-Red Wing. "You know what? I don't care! Put 20 of them in a room!"
Minnesota has two sex offender treatment facilities, at in St. Peter and Moose Lake. But Minnesota's committing sex offenders faster than almost any state in the country.
Last fall, the current Moose Lake facility is the place that bought 12 50-inch flat screen TVs for the sex offenders as part of their treatment. After that was made public, Pawlenty order the televisions removed and distributed to veterans homes.
By Joanne Beck
BATAVIA -- Sixth Ward City Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian (Email) wants to adopt a law that says where registered sex offenders may -- or may not -- live.
If council approved such a move, Batavia would join several other communities that have this law, including Monroe, Erie and Niagara counties.
Warsaw's Village Board has been debating the creation of the law in the Wyoming County municipality. The board has tabled the issue for future discussion.
Meanwhile, Christian wants to see a Level 3 sex offender move out of her southside neighborhood. Some residents have expressed outrage that the offender is living there -- especially a tenant in the sex offender's own building who was not informed of the criminal occupant.
- So where do you expect them to live? If all counties passed a similar law, they'd be exiled from the entire state. Oh yeah, you are running for senate, now I get it!
"(The tenant) said if (the offender) doesn't move out, he will," Christian said. "I don't think they should be able to live so close to a school. I'd like to get that law here."
She plans to bring the topic to a future City Council meeting. There will also be an educational program about sex offenders at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the city police station, 1 West Main St. Christian said that she and some of her neighbors will be there to discuss their own situation and to ask questions. She doesn't understand why a sex offender can live near a school.
The Sex Offender Registration Act does not limit where a sex offender can live. However, if the sex offender is on parole or probation, the terms of the offender's parole or probation may limit where he or she can live.
Level 1, 2 and 3 sex offenders all must register with the state Criminal Justice Department. Level 1 offenders must register for at least 20 years and those at levels 2 and 3 must register for life. That means they must notify law enforcement when they change anything in their lives, including residence, employment, vehicle, Internet accounts and if they've obtained any higher education, Corona said. They're supposed to notify law enforcement within 10 days or they can be charged with a felony, he said.
When a Level 3 offender moves into a neighborhood, the city police will send out letters to inform area residents, schools and to those on a "vulnerable entities" list such as a day care facility, Scout troops and church groups. The southside tenant who did not get a letter may not have been listed on the police department's directory, Corona said. An attempt is made to inform as many area residents as possible. But, "you have to stop somewhere," he said. Letters aren't sent to the entire city, only to the immediate neighborhood.
"It's a judgment call. They go to where it's reasonable," he said.
Corona said that while the registry offers information and photos of convicted criminals, it is only meant to inform people. It's "a system to be forewarned" so residents can be safe and be cautious, he said. He emphasized what the site clearly states: "Anyone who uses this information to injure, harass, or commit a criminal act against any person may be subject to criminal prosecution."
- Yeah right. The registry has been used for this purpose, and have you seen any person brought up on charges yet?
Yes, convicted criminals do have rights, Corona said. That's at least part of the debate for Warsaw's village board. Some people have said it's unconstitutional to tell an offender where to live.
But again, residents can be aware of their surroundings and know where a sex offender is living, Corona said.
"I recommend to people that they go to the local Web site. There's information 24/7 and it's updated by us as (the offenders) are walking out the door," he said. "The registry is a tracking system. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Those people were always out there. But now we know about it."
CA - More Social Network Fear Mongering Hysteria (It's all a gimmick for politicians to use to grandstand! Show me the proof!)
Just the usual grandstanding and boasting about a blown out of proportion fear mongering campaign spread by the media and idiotic politicians, so they can "look tough" on crime, while discriminating based simply on a label and not evidence of any wrong doing! Yeah, just the usual politics!
Just the average cop out stirring up fear! What else is new?
By Stan Schroeder
According to the Guardian and Global Dashboard, Facebook has threatened to sue Daily Mail over an article that wrongfully claimed Facebook makes it easy for older sex predators to approach and seduce minors.
Daily Mail’s article, which can (in edited form) be found here, was written by a former police detective Mark Williams-Thomas, and had originally been titled “I posed as a girl of 14 on Facebook. What followed will sicken you.” It contained the account of the author posing as a minor on Facebook, which, according to him, attracted sexual predators right away.
The problem? He wasn’t really using Facebook to conduct the experiment, he used a “different social networking site,” as explained in today’s update to the article, added at the bottom by Daily Mail staff. The full text of the update is as follows:
“In an earlier version of this article, we wrongly stated that the criminologist had conducted an experiment into social networking sites by posing as a 14-year-old girl on Facebook with the result that he quickly attracted sexually motivated messages. In fact he had used a different social networking site for this exercise. We are happy to set the record straight.”
Needless to say, this caused a strong response from Facebook, which is still referenced throughout the article. According to the Guardian, a UK spokeswoman for Facebook said that the company was considering legal action due to the “brand damage that has been done.” “If you were a Middle England reader and your child was on Facebook, this sort of thing would have a very serious effect on what you thought of us,” she said.
Facebook has a point here; besides the obvious erroneous reporting, the article details how someone posing as a 14-year-old girl would get messages from older men (more accurately, users whose Facebook profile indicates they’re over 18 years old), which cannot be done on Facebook. Therefore, Facebook can argue it has measures in place to prevent exactly the kind of behavior the article describes, unlike the unnamed social network the experiment was conducted on.
We’ve contacted Facebook’s UK PR representative on this matter but have yet to hear back.
A convicted sex offender's scheduled prison release has been reversed following objections from a Monroe County prosecutor.
The Blade of Toledo, Ohio, says former Lambertville, Mich., resident _____ will remain in prison two more years.
The 61-year-old _____ has served about 12 years of the 8 to 30 year prison sentence he received for the 1997 sexual abuse of two 8-year-old girls.
Prosecutor William Nichols objected to a three-member state parole board panel's decision to grant _____'s release after reviewing his case in August. The full 15-member Parole and Commutation Board reversed that ruling.
So what compromise was reached? Okay, so the state has a statewide 1,000 foot ban, but counties can still go up to 2,500 feet, so what is different than what they have now? Doesn't seem like any compromise to me, unless I am missing something here!
Lawmakers reached a tentative compromise Tuesday on a measure that would ban sex offenders from loitering in areas frequented by children and also set a minimum statewide buffer zone on how close offenders can live to schools and day cares.
The measure, which has been before the Legislature in past years, threatened to implode last week, as last minute amendments were offered, setting the stage for the same political fights that have derailed the bill in past years. Lawmakers were all in agreement over a provision that prohibits sex offenders from loitering within 300 feet of places frequented by children such as a school bus stop, a day care or a play ground.
But the part tripping up the proposal involved restrictions on how close a sex offender could live to a school or day care center. Lawmakers initially set out to create a uniform, statewide standard of 1,000 feet, but counties, including Miami-Dade, wanted their tougher restrictions to stay in place.
The compromise agreed upon by lawmakers would set a minimum 1,000 foot standard for the state, but still allow counties to enact tougher residency restrictions, up to 2,500 feet.
- So how is this any different than what they have now?
Sen. Dave Aronberg (Email), D-Greenacres, one of the bill sponsors said that he wanted a firm statewide standard, but that the compromise was a step in the right direction.
“We want to have a system where we know where sex offenders are after they are released from prison,” he said.
- So if counties can still go up to 2,500 feet, then more shanty towns will pop up, just like the Julia Tuttle Causeway, which Ron Book helped create and destroy!
Florida has gotten national attention over its sex offender laws. In Miami, where the 2,500 residency restriction is in place, a colony of homeless people settled under the Julia Tuttle Causeway over the past several years. They are currently being moved into housing, and Miami officials hope the settlement will be completely destroyed by the end of the month.
Courtenay Strickland, a lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union (Contact), argued that a uniform, statewide policy would better serve Florida and that many counties could go to the maximum residency restriction, creating future housing problems for sex offenders.
“At the worst, this would invite counties to go up to 2,500 feet if they have not already done so,” she said.
Lobbyist Ron Book, who has advocated in the past for measures against sex offenders, hailed the bill as possibly “the most important public safety bill” lawmakers will examine all session. The loitering portion of the legislation is particularly important, he said.
“Predators and offenders went around saying, ‘ha ha ha, we can do whatever we want during the day,’” Book said.
- No they didn't! They were pointing out the insanity of the draconian laws, and your huge ego keeps getting in the way.
The measure (SB 1284) passed by a 7-0 vote, but faces future tests in Senate Community Affairs, Senate Judiciary, Senate Criminal and Senate Civil Justice Appropriations. The House version (HB 119) passed the Public Safety & Domestic Security Policy Committee, but still is set to go before the Military & Local Affairs Policy Committee, Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committee, and the Criminal and Civil Justice Policy Council.
Facebook requests government data so it can remove sex offenders (Still trampling on peoples rights and buying into the fear campaign!)
Facebook has asked the Government for access to data from the sex offenders’ list so it can make sure that no registered sex offenders are on the site.
The safety of young people on the social network has been under the spotlight this week following the jailing of known sex offender Peter Chapman, who used Facebook to meet a 17-year-old girl before raping and murdering her.
Facebook is urging the Government to create a way for information on registered sex offenders to be securely shared with public chat sites and social networks, so they can remove them.
A Facebook spokeswoman said, “If we can get this data from authorities we commit to removing registered sex offfenders from Facebook within days.”
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre this week called for all social networks to adopt its online abuse reporting button. Some major social networks such as Facebook and MySpace are yet to implement the button on their site.
Facebook said that it hadn’t adopted the button because its own system was robust.
OK - Increasing Safety Zones For Sex Offenders (Senator Paul Gumm, feeding the people placebo's so he can grandstand and "look tough" in the process!)
Comments as posted here:
How do lawmakers justify laws they have enacted? In order to justify laws enacted, someone must break the law and get caught, only then can lawmakers justify the law!
Note the police say, that, NOT ONE RSO was arrested for breaking the 300 foot prohibited zone last year. That's a problem for lawmakers, they cannot justify (i.e., get brownie points with voters) the law enacted.
So this year lawmakers decide, lets make the distance greater, maybe we can catch someone and justify the law. They make the same claims to voters as they did last year. i.e., we are keeping RSOs further away from kids.
Most interesting is, the police (Sgt Adams) notes that, these laws are a waste of time as there is no proof they work.. Frustrated lawmakers -under the guise of protecting children- will grasp at anything, no matter who gets in their way, or who they may harm.
By Abbie Alford
Oklahoma lawmakers are talking about tougher rules designed to keep predators away from children.
There are certain places convicted sex offenders are not supposed to be in Oklahoma.
Under SB2064, Senator Jay Paul Gumm (Email, YouTube), D-Durant, wants to make those areas that are currently off limits larger.
- So what does he have to justify this? Nobody has broken the existing 300 feet! It's just so he can say "Look at me, see how tough I am on sex offenders!"
FOX23’s Abbie Alford explains if local law enforcement believes this is an effective law to keep registered sex offenders away from children.
In Oklahoma registered sex offenders whose victims were 13 years of age or younger are forbidden for being anywhere near a safe zone including schools, parks and permitted or licensed daycare centers.
“Zones of Safety” are designed to protect children from those who would prey on them.
"To keep them off the street and away from our children," says father James Henson.
Tulsa police report there are 15%-20% of registered sex offenders in Tulsa who victimized children 13 years of age or younger.
Those people cannot be trusted anywhere close to a child.
- So 500 instead of 300 is all of a sudden magical?
"He may get off the bus and hang out on the fence line and stare at the kids that may be his sexual gratification is looking at children that may be all he needs to fulfill his fantasy," says TPD Exploitation Sergeant John Adams.
- Come on! How many sex offenders have you seen sitting 300 feet away, staring at kids?
So Senator Gumm wants to increase the safe zone distance from 300 feet (about the length of a football field) to 500 feet for registered sex offenders who loiter in these areas.
"It's not right when you don't feel safe letting your kids go out in front of the house and play," says Henson.
- You are right, the world is a dangerous place. And do you feel safe knowing their are serial killers, gang members, drug dealers, burglars, etc roaming the streets?
Although the father might feel safer knowing sex offenders would be kept 500 feet from kids in safe zones instead of 300 feet, Sgt. Adams says there are no hard facts that safe zones actually keep sex offenders from preying on children.
"It's just another tool it makes everyone feel safer and it makes everyone feel better," says Adams.
- While stepping on sex offenders (scapegoat) rights to make you feel better as well. But it does nothing to protect anybody. Do you think someone who is really dangerous, is going to avoid that 500 feet zone? Of course not!
Tulsa police say in the last year they have not arrested a registered sex offender for violating the 300 feet safe zone loitering law.
This law would also require registered sex offenders who need to enter the safe zone to notify the facility once a month the time and day they will be entering the safe zone.
Here is a copy of an e-mail Senator Gumm sent FOX23:
“…. A couple of critical concerns I think needs to be raised are these:
First, increasing the zone of safety does give parents an increased measure of security for their children. As I told the Senate when asked, I would rather keep a sex offender 500 feet away from my child than 300 feet away from my child.
- So what is next? 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, what? You are just grandstanding, that is all!
The second critical component is the new restrictions on the ability of sex offenders to enter the zone of safety. under the current statute, an offender could enter the zone of safety to pick up, drop off or enroll their child in a school or child care center. They could, under the existing law, remain in the zone indefinitely claiming to be taking advantage of one of the exceptions without the knowledge of teachers or administrators in the facility.
SB 2064 would limit offenders to a "reasonable amount of time" to accomplish their task, and the offender would have to inform the inform school or child care center administrators of his or her status as a registered sex offender and update monthly, or as often as required by the school or center, information about the specific times the person will be within the zone of safety.
I believe knowledge is power, and this is a power and knowledge schools and parents deserve.
Thanks again for covering the issue.
Jay Paul Gumm
Senator, District 6