Tuesday, August 10, 2010

NE - One Metro Group Upset About Sex Offender Registry

Original Article

08/04/2010

By Robert Maday

Omaha - A Nebraska law that went into effect last year requires every person convicted of a sex crime to be added to the state's online sex offender registry. At least one group is not happy with that change.

For about a year, members of "A Hand to Hold" have knocking on doors of people who live near a level three sex offender. They claim the new law makes it difficult for residents to figure out who's level three.

Rebecca Patlan is one head of the group. The mission of the group is to notify every neighbor near a level three sex offender. They're concerned the neighbors may not know, because the website no longer lists what level a sex offender is.

"It's like this sex offender registry put all the sharks in there and nobody knows who the great white is," Patlan said.

[name withheld], guilty of kidnapping and murdering 12-year-old Amber Harris, was the reason behind the group. He was a sex offender living in her neighborhood.

"A Hand to Hold" has written letters to law enforcement and lawmakers, pleading for changes to the sex offender registry, a list of thousands of names.

Members hope lawmakers can add more details to the registry, but for now, they'll keep knocking on doors.


CA - Punishing sex criminals: a conversation with the author of Chelsea's Law

Original Article

08/10/2010

By Rina Palta

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The parole system has been heavily criticized since registered sex offender John Gardner pled guilty to raping and killing two teenage girls in Southern California. In the wake of the murders, Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, a Republican from San Diego, introduced Chelsea's Law, a bill named after one of Gardner's victims, Chelsea King.

The bill does a few things. It gives judges the option of sentencing someone to life without parole in the case of a forcible sex crime against a child. It increases the time some released sex offenders must spend on parole. And it creates a risk assessment system for identifying which sex offenders need more treatment and supervision.

KALW's Rina Palta called up Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher to talk about the bill.


CA - GPS tracking of sex offenders: a fix or false sense of security?

Original Article

08/10/2010

By Jude Joffe-Block

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Last month, California paid Jaycee Lee Dugard a 20 million dollar settlement for failing to supervise convicted sex offender Phillip Garrido. While Garrido was on parole for a 1977 kidnapping and rape conviction, he kidnapped Dugard as a child and held her captive for 18 years until she and her two children were rescued last year. And this spring, the public was outraged to learn that convicted sex offender John Gardner was behind the rape and murder of two San Diego teenagers. Both incidents have policy experts looking for ways to improve oversight of California's known sex offenders.

But we already have a lot of laws on the books governing sex offenders. Residency requirements ban sex offenders from living within 2000 feet of a school or a park. And every sex offender on parole in the state is monitored with Global Positioning System technology, or GPS. When California voters passed a proposition four years ago requiring the technology, they never expected such massive failures of the system. So why is GPS not working? Jude Joffe-Block has this report.

JUDE JOFFE-BLOCK: Parole agent Ricardo Bautista is driving an unmarked vehicle as he makes surprise visits to sex offender parolees in the North Bay.

RICARDO BAUTISTA: The next guy that we are going to go see, he is a transient in Vallejo. He came in to see us on Monday and we just put a bracelet on him.

That bracelet is a gray GPS tracking device that all parolees convicted of sex offenses like rape, child molestation or even sometimes public exposure, must wear around their ankles. That amounts to 6500 sex offenders on GPS. The bracelets allow parole agents to see where parolees have gone and track them down at any moment.

BAUTISTA: So now we are going to conduct a home visit on him, well if you call it a home visit. He lives out in a field where the two highways meet.

Laws that ban sex offenders from living near parks and schools mean that one third of parolees haven't found housing. Today's visit is with a 29-year-old named [name withheld]. He was convicted of a sex offense against an adult. But as Bautista drives up, it doesn't look like [name withheld] is at his usual campsite. So Bautista pulls over and opens his laptop. He runs software that uses GPS data to display [name withheld]'s most recent movements. Then Bautista's partner, Donovan Lewis, radios in from another car.

DONOVAN LEWIS: Where is he at right now, where is his last location?

BAUTISTA: Actually he is north on 29, you know what, I think he is panhandling north on 29 at the entrance to the old Wal-Mart.

Bautista turns the car around and begins scanning the side of the road.

BAUTISTA: And his location was here on Highway 29 which we are currently on and we're heading north, and it was approximately 300 meters south of Minnie Drive... which is him right here.

A man in a San Francisco 49ers hat and a dirty Lebron James jersey is walking along the road carrying a panhandling sign. He stops at the car and Bautista rolls down the window.

BAUTISTA: What's up, [name withheld]?

[name withheld]: How ya doing?

BAUTISTA: Go ahead and drop that for me and put your hands on the door right here, that's cool. What we are going to do right here is a quick search right here, is that okay?

[name withheld]: Yeah.

BAUTISTA: So just hang out right there for a minute.

During the visit, Bautista determines that [name withheld] is on methamphetamines--a parole violation. Afterwards, the agents drive him to a drug treatment program, though they could have sent him to jail. These surprise visits that reveal what parolees are really doing is why many parole agents say they like using GPS. But the technology also keeps agents busier than ever before.

Back at the parole office in Fairfield, Bautista and his partner Lewis spend much of their time in front of a computer tracking the roughly 30 men they each supervise. About a third of sex offender parolees are classified as high risk. For these individuals, agent Lewis reviews where they've been each day. For all other parolees, he looks at their movements at least four days each month.

LEWIS: Not only do we use our computers to track, but we also have cell phones that sends us text messages and emails that alerts us to violations also.

Some of these alerts require an urgent response-like if a parolee tries to take off his GPS bracelet. But others just let agents know if someone misses curfew or if a bracelet has a low battery. Since these alerts can come at any time of day or night, Lewis says his workday never ends.

LEWIS: With GPS it makes it 24-7 because we get alerts.

In fact, fewer than 300 parole agents across the state had to address almost a million GPS related alerts last year. Representatives to the parole union say agents are overwhelmed with these alerts, and are left with less time to do field visits. And the department of corrections Inspector General, David Shaw, says that while the state is collecting a lot of data on sex offenders' movements, parole agents analyze too little of it.

DAVID SHAW: There were some missed opportunities to discover what parolee sex offenders were up to...so our reports have made a number of recommendations to shore up the program.

After the Jaycee Lee Dugard and Chelsea King scandals, Shaw's office launched investigations into the incidents. His office found that had agents been monitoring GPS data, they could have stepped in a lot sooner. Shaw says the GPS program needs to be beefed up.

SHAW: The data should be utilized to its fullest extent... and it seems it is going to take more resources.

State policy makers have convened a taskforce this summer to improve the $60 million dollar a year program. But some people wonder if GPS bracelets should be relied on at all. Jay Adams is a psychologist with the California Coalition on Sex Offending, a network of sex offender experts. She says GPS monitors can show where a sex offender is, but not what they're doing.

JAY ADAMS: Since most sex offenses occur not outside, but either in the victim's home or the offenders home, very often they just don't simply protect the victims.

Adams points out that the majority of sex crimes are committed by people who are known to their victims. She says GPS monitoring of sex offenders and restricting where sex offenders live makes the public feel safe. But policies like these are based on fear, not research on what actually prevents sex offenses.

ADAMS: The whole area of sex offender public policy is one where there is a great deal of willingness to take actions, very extreme actions that are not well founded in research or experience.

It's still unclear whether GPS is working to prevent parolees from committing new sex crimes. But a proposed bill in Sacramento, known as Chelsea's law, would put certain sex offenders on parole, and on GPS, for life.

For Crosscurrents, I'm Jude Joffe-Block


OH - Rights violated as a sex offender

Video Description:
A Lucas County sex offender claims his rights are being violated and it has to do with the way he identifies himself on paper at the sheriff's office.

Basically the unnamed sex offender has been registering as a sex offender every three months for the last 11 years.

The last time he showed up at the sheriff's office, he felt like his information was made public -- and he wasn't comfortable with that.

"To me, leaving a clipboard out, it might as well be on a billboard," he said.

Usually the process would be professional when the sex offender would register downtown. He would have to write down who he is, and then say he was headed to "records."

Now, he claims he has to write down that he's a sex offender, and anyone can see it.

"I just want a little bit of privacy," he said. "I understand I messed up, but I went to prison and I served my time. All I want is to be able to have a life, and what little privacy I have I'm not going to give up freely."

He does agree that anyone can check on sex offender web sites and look up his profile, but he believes writing down that he's a sex offender is unnecessary.

"I was told by a sheriff's deputy that if I didn't do it their way, they wouldn't let me come in and register," he said.

When it comes to the sheriff's department, signing in is simply their protocol. The reason they need sex offenders to sign in as a sex offender is so law enforcement knows exactly where they are going, and what they are there for.

Video Link


GA - Sex Offender Rules

Original Article

08/09/2010

By Jennifer Bellamy

Patricia wrote to us asking, 'Is it OK to have a registered sex offender over a major restaurant?'

We contacted the Bibb County Sheriff's Office and took a look at Georgia law to find out.

Lt. Greg Abernathy heads up the Bibb County Sheriff's Office's Sex Offender Registry tracking unit.

"We know where they live, we know where they work. We do periodic checks on them. They are required to live by certain requirements and we enforce those," he said.

According to Abernathy, people who committed a sex crime before June 4, 2003 have no residency or employment restrictions; they can live or work anywhere.

Because Georgia lawmakers have updated the law, it sets different restrictions for people who committed crimes at different times.

For those who committed offenses between June 4, 2003 and June 30, 2006, restrictions kick in. An offender can't live within 1,000 feet of a child care facility, school or area where minors congregate. That includes places like playgrounds and parks, but does not include churches, bus stops, swimming pools or libraries for this group. They also have no employment restrictions.

Living and employment restrictions for offenders who committed a crime from July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2008 extend to include churches. They can't live near areas where children congregate; this extends to cover community pools and bus stops. Libraries still don't fall under restrictions for this group.

For sex offenders who committed their crime on or after July 1, 2008, the restrictions extend to include public libraries.

This group can't work or volunteer with child care facilities, churches, or businesses within 1,000 feet of them.

The law doesn't prevent people from working at any other specific places like a restaurant and Abernathy says it all depends on when they committed their offense and which limitations apply.

If you think someone is in violation of sex offender registry regulations you can contact your local sheriff's office.


SD - 37 Taken Off Sex Offender Registry

Original Article

08/09/2010

By Krystle Kacner

37 South Dakotans are no longer considered sex offenders.

Lawmakers created a 3-tiered system that allows lesser offenses to have a chance to be removed from the list.

The new three tiered sex offender registry puts offenders into 3 categories...the first being the most dangerous, or serious and the third for more minor offences.

Those with lesser offences, in the 2nd and third tier, can be removed if they petition the court.

But against the attorney generals suggestion that even misdemeanor charges be required to petition, the legislature ruled it wasn't a requirement.

The result was as of July 1st, 37 individuals convicted of indecent exposure were automatically taken off the list.

"My job is to voice what public safety concerns we have, what resources may be affected and to weigh in and I thought we were given a good opportunity for that and this was just one of those incidents where the legislature disagreed,” said South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley.

South Dakota Attorney General says he foresees more discussion and enhancement of this system in the future. But until then, he says the protection now put in place is sufficient.

"There are certain criteria that sex offenders would have to satisfy, one being they completely complied with the rules during their time of registry,” Jackley said.

Some aspects that are considered are child involvement, number of offenses, and severity of the crime.

Jackley says 2 petitions for removal have been delivered to his office but lawyers are still reviewing the requests.

Sex offenders deemed high risk, such as those convicted of violent rape or child molestation can never get off the list.

Video Link