Wednesday, October 6, 2010

CO - Officials Lose Track of 16,000 Sex Offenders After GPS Fails

Original Article
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So, these offenders were rounded up and thrown in jail for something not in their control, and without warrants. That is surely illegal! And also, how many potentially lost their jobs due to this failure?

10/07/2010

A company that provides electronic monitoring to track sex offenders, parolees and others said its system shut down after unexpectedly hitting its data storage limit, leaving authorities across 49 states unaware of offenders' movement for about 12 hours.

Prisons and other corrections agencies were blocked from getting notifications on about 16,000 people being tracked, BI Incorporated spokesman Jock Waldo said Wednesday. The system operated by the Boulder, Colo.-based company reached its data threshold -- more than 2 billion records -- Tuesday morning.
- Hmm, we only have just over 700,000 sex offenders in this country, so why 2 billion records?

Tracking devices continued to record movement Tuesday, but corrections agencies couldn't immediately view the data. The company has substantially increased its data storage capacity and hasn't heard of any safety issues, Waldo said. People being monitored were unaware of any problems.

"In retrospect, we should have been able to catch this," Waldo said.

BI contracts with about 900 government agencies across the country for monitoring and notification services, including real-time monitoring and delayed notifications about offender whereabouts. The agencies vary widely, and include state prison systems, sheriff's departments and pre-trial service entities, Waldo said.

In Wisconsin, prison officials had local police and probation agents detain about 140 sex offenders at local jails until the GPS tracking was back up and their whereabouts during the outage could be confirmed.
- And detaining someone who did nothing wrong, against their will, and without warrants, is illegal!

The offenders were never aware they weren't being tracked, state Department of Corrections spokeswoman Linda Eggert said. The shutdown affected about 300 people in Wisconsin, most of them sex offenders. She said the agency examined the offenders' GPS movements and was certain the shutdown didn't drive anyone to commit a new crime.
- Amazing!  People claims sex offender recidivism is very high, which we know it's not, but here, 12 hours passed, without a single incident!

Along with GPS systems, the outage affected BI's in-home radio monitoring, typically used to check curfew compliance, and alcohol monitoring, which transmits data from home breathalyzer tests, Waldo said.

Before the shutdown, the company's database could hold 2.1 billion records, such as a GPS address or an alcohol reading, Waldo said. Company workers weren't aware of how quickly the database was filling up before it exceeded its limit, he said.

The company spent Tuesday expanding the threshold to more than a trillion records. Waldo said staff will work to develop a system that can supply early warnings as the database fills.

"People in our development group knew there was a threshold," Waldo said. "They've never in their careers ... seen a system hit such a database threshold. It speaks of the enormity of the data we collect."

Waldo said he was unsure of all the different types of offenders or defendants the company tracks. The agencies that use the company's systems decide who they want to track, and contract confidentiality clauses prevent BI from disclosing the information.

Wisconsin prison officials said Wednesday it was the first time they had faced such issues.

"Due to a system failure beyond our control, we faced a challenging and unprecedented event for our Electronic Monitoring Center," Wisconsin Department of Correction Secretary Rick Raemisch said in a statement. But thanks to the agency's emergency plan and cooperation from local law enforcement, "the situation was managed safely and efficiently with the number one priority being public safety," he said.
- And due to something out of their control, offenders were rounded up and thrown in jail, without warrants.  And that is illegal!

Eggert didn't know how many apprehension requests went out Tuesday or how many of the offenders remained in custody as of Wednesday.


CA - Sex offender Halloween ban on agenda

Original Article (Listen)

10/06/2010

By GAIL WESSON

The San Jacinto City Council on Thursday will again take up the issue of whether to ban registered sex offenders from decorating their homes and passing out candy on Halloween.

While there was some discussion at the council's Sept. 16 meeting, only three of five councilmen were present, and a vote to pass an urgency ordinance to put the law into effect immediately takes a four-fifths vote of the council. Mayor Dale Stubblefield and Vice Mayor Steve Di Memmo were absent.
- It seems these Mayors have criminal issues of their own (see here).

At the previous meeting, the council focused on the city's legal liability if the ordinance were approved, plus whether there were ways, short of passing an ordinance, to keep children safe on the holiday.

Thursday's council meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Community Center on Pico Avenue.

The ordinance would apply to people who are required to register as a sex offender under state Penal Code Section 290, regardless of whether that person is on parole or probation, and who have been convicted of an offense against a child, according to a staff report by City Attorney Jeff Ballinger.

At the previous meeting, Councilman John Mansperger said the ordinance might give people a false sense of security. He suggested parents need to take responsibility for knowing where sex offenders live.

Frank Gorman, of Valley Watch, a nonprofit group that educates the community about the Megan's Law website that lists registered sex offenders, said last month: "I think we need to protect the kids. The thing I don't want is to put the city where they're going to spend a lot of money for lawsuits."

Gorman suggested the city might send out warning letters to sex offenders, similar to what the city of Perris is doing.

Mansperger suggested Valley Watch should send out the letters.

The city of Orange has an ordinance that requires sex offenders to post a sign stating no candy or treats are available at their residence. It has not been challenged in court. The Perris City Council considered such an ordinance but instead opted to send letters to sex offenders advising them not to interact with children on Halloween.


FL - Parks As Shields

Original Article

10/05/2010

By Margaret Griffis

A series of well-intentioned laws designed to protect children may be having the opposite effect in the Miami neighborhood of Shorecrest, where new regulations are unintentionally concentrating sexual offenders. A controversial condo’s resuscitated plan for a park, however, may just be the oasis the neighborhood is looking for.

In the wake of the 2005 sexual assault and murder of Jessica Lunsford in Homosassa, many Florida communities sought measures to prevent similar tragedies. The state had already told offenders they could not reside within 1000 feet of schools, playgrounds, and other child-friendly locations, but several Miami-Dade municipalities stretched that buffer zone to a purposefully excessive 2500 feet. Much of the county subsequently became off limits, driving about 100 offenders into a troll-like existence under the west bridge of the Julia Tuttle Causeway.

Earlier this year, however, county officials responded with an ordinance that superseded the Byzantine municipal ones. The 2500-foot restriction remained in place around schools, but the belt around the other focal points was loosened to the state’s 1000-foot rule. The causeway dwellers were forced out, which may have saved Miami’s national image, but precious little new housing became available.
- They were forced out, by Ron Book, who lobbied for the laws.  And he is the hypocrite behind the Homeless trust as well.  He then used grant and tax payer money, to put them into motels for awhile, until the fires burned out.  Now, they are homeless once again, now living at the DOC.

Without a school or playground to shield it, Shorecrest sat particularly exposed. The neighborhood’s unofficial boundaries extend from Biscayne Boulevard to Biscayne Bay, and from the Little River north to Miami’s city limits at NE 87th Street.

Sergio Torres, administrator for the City of Miami’s homeless assistance program, says the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, which was delegated with finding emergency housing, relocated 15 of the 96 evicted offenders straight into Shorecrest. The remaining offenders were moved into Allapattah, Homestead, and unincorporated parts of Miami-Dade.

Other offenders soon moved into the neighborhood. Indeed the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Sexual Offenders and Predators website shows small clusters throughout the county. Most of them contain between 9 and 15 individuals. However, the thickest concentration is in Shorecrest, in a small area bordered by NE 79th Street, NE Bayshore Court, Little River Drive, and NE 10th Avenue.

A September 21 search on the site found 42 offenders living there and within one-quarter mile of that cluster. About 14 are considered “predators,” which means they are repeat sexual offenders, use physical violence, or prey on children. The whereabouts of 392 other offenders are unknown. Could they be in Shorecrest too?

This past April tensions flared at a heavily attended Upper Eastside townhall meeting when the topic of sexual offenders was broached. Many Shorecrest residents were alarmed by one building where offenders allegedly occupied ten units. They were desperate for immediate action that, legally, could not be taken under the new rules. Mayor Tomás Regalado, who presided over the gathering, even admitted, “It’s unfair to punish one ZIP code against another because of schools and parks.”

Shorecrest Homeowners Association president Jack Spirk, who helped organize the meeting, said, “I feel sorry for the people who are so full of fear. When this started I wanted to remove some of the hysteria [through the townhall], but it all kind of backfired. Now I think that the people who came to the meeting were so turned off and felt so powerless that they’re not involved anymore.”

While tweaking county regulations will require concentrated effort from residents and officials, there potentially remains an easier solution: a new park.

As part of a deal with the city, the Related Group of Florida was to have traded a one-acre property for the right to build the waterfront Oasis on the Bay condominium just north of NE 79th Street. Two empty lots on the south side of 79th Street would be handed over for city use. A new park there could prevent more offenders from moving into the cluster.

Unfortunately, Related bowed out of the project thanks to the real estate crash, and returned all the lots, future condo, and park, to City National Bank of Florida early last year. The park project seemed terminated, but at a July 27 homeowner’s meeting, Spirk happily announced the park idea was still on the table. Thanks to an automatic extension under the new Miami 21 zoning code, the original project permit is now active until 2012, including the park giveaway.

With the slim chance that the Oasis condo will move forward, though, the city would have to work out a new deal with the landowners. (Currently the bank.) Spirk also told homeowners that the city is angling to rework the deal so that a more suitable development might take its place. Many Shorecrest residents were antagonistic towards Oasis, particularly its out-of-scale towers.

Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff confirmed negotiations were taking place and emphasized the city’s willingness to see it through: “I’d love to see a park there. We were the ones who tried to promote a park. We had four billboards taken down in preparation for it, so sure, the park is a great idea. It’s a good spot for a park. We’d just have to do a good job of maintaining the park once we get it.”

Even if the park opens tomorrow, the sex offenders currently living in Shorecrest would be grandfathered in, and with the lack of available housing elsewhere, they could be trapped in the neighborhood for years. Should residents live in absolute terror until the next regulatory fix? Probably not.

A 2003 Department of Justice study found that only 5.3 percent of offenders were rearrested for a sex crime within three years of release. Almost half of those arrests occurred within the first year of freedom. Rearrested child molesters came in at an even lower 3.3 percent of the study participants.

Even more significant for Shorecrest parents is a 2000 DOJ study that suggests “stranger abuse” of juveniles is relatively rare. Only 7 percent of the offenders were unknown to their victims. Sadly, family members perpetrated more than one-third of the attacks. The rest were friends and other acquaintances. As long as parents remain informed and aware, their children can remain reasonably safe. This is true of any neighborhood.


OH - Local sex offender debate continues

Original Article

10/06/2010

By Holly Samuels

Greenville city council tables the issue for now

GREENVILLE (WDTN) - A sex offender issue that's bringing heat among Greenville residents is pushed aside.

Council members have tabled the issue, and for now it remains unresolved, with emotions at an all time high.

The issue at hand would expand the sex offender buffer from 1,000 feet to 1,500, essentially banning sex offenders from city limits.

Dr. John Graham is at the center of the argument. He's the director of the Good Samaritan House, which helps sex offenders transition from prison to society.

If the issue goes through, Good Samaritan, which houses up to six offenders at one time, would have to move or shut down.

"All of the data all of the research, everything we do shows that the only way to make the community safe is to address these issues, to help with re-entry," said Dr. Graham.

Graham said the alternative is thousands of people living under bridges with nowhere else to go, similar to what happened in Miami, Florida, where they have outlawed areas of the city.

The opposition says statistics are not enough, and many are fighting against it because of personal experience.

One woman says her daughter was molested 15 years ago, and the pain that still lingers drives her fight.
- So how is an additional 500 feet, or any residency restriction going to help you? It won't!

The issue is expected to be discussed again at the next council meeting Oct. 19 at 7:30 pm.


CA - Charlotte Laws on The Filter - Talks about homeless sex offenders


CA - Sex offender restrictions extended

Original Article

10/05/2010

By JOHN F. HILL

Sex offenders in Murrieta will face new restrictions on where they can live after the City Council voted Tuesday to approve new regulations.

The council unanimously approved a law that would keep registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school, park, day care center, swimming pool, bus stop or amusement park.

The restrictions mirror those put in place by Jessica's Law (PDF), a statewide statute approved by California voters in 2006.

The new Murrieta law is different in that it applies to all registered sex offenders, while Jessica's Law only applies to those on probation or parole.

"There's a lot of (registered sex offenders) that are no longer on probation or parole," Murrieta Police Chief Mark Wright said.

Violating the law would be a misdemeanor. It would carry a fine of up to $1,000 per day and could lead to time in county jail.

Murrieta already has a law that prohibits sex offenders from loitering within 300 feet of places where children congregate.

The ordinance was prompted by complaints from residents of a neighborhood near Tovashal Elementary School who were upset about a registered sex offender living on nearby Hillsboro Circle.

The residents went to the City Council several months ago after police had told them there was nothing they could do about it because the man was no longer on parole or probation.

The man moved out of the city on his own accord months ago.

The law is not retroactive; registered sex offenders already living legally near parks or schools would not be forced to leave. They would be subject to the law if they moved.


OH - Sex Offender Boundary Comes Under Fire In Greenville

Original Article

10/05/2010

GREENVILLE - On Tuesday night in Greenville, a special ad hoc committee will present their recommendations to the City Council that make the requirements more stringent in regards to where a registered sex offender can live in the city.

Under Ohio law, a registered sex offender cannot live within 1,000 feet of a school. The ad hoc committee is expected to recommend to council that the sex offender boundary be extended to 1,500 feet and that day care centers and city parks be included, along with the school provision.

If approved in Greenville, that would shut down the Good Samaritan House on East Third Street. It's a re-entry program for inmates who are released from prison, giving them a second chance.

The program is in its third year in Greenville.

Members of the newly formed Citizens4Change is working for positive change in the community and supports the ad hoc committee recommendation. Organizers are expected to read a prepared statement during the meeting.

News Center 7 spoke to some residents in Greenville and they seem to favor the 1,500-foot boundary recommendation.

Officials at the Good Samaritan House are prepared to take the city to court if the new restrictions are approved.


TX - TESTED: How Twelve Wrongly Imprisoned Men Held Onto Hope

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MO - Changing lives: Three area agencies get nearly $600,000 to help ex-offenders return to community

Original Article

10/05/2010

By MARK MORRIS

Offenders returning to Kansas City from Missouri’s prisons pay about $30 a month for the privilege of being on probation or parole.

Soon, they’ll see the benefits of those payments.

The Missouri Department of Corrections recently announced that it had awarded almost $600,000 in grants to three Kansas City agencies that serve offenders returning to the community.

The grants, paid for with offender fees, will provide and sustain a range of services, including literacy training, and employment and housing programs.

Lora McDonald, a program director for the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission, said the grants will allow the commission, Catholic Charities and Literacy Kansas City to fill important gaps in service to a population that has, in some cases, an 83 percent chance of re-offending.

We’re not about charity,” McDonald said. “We’re about changing lives so we have less crime.”

According to the corrections department, about 97 percent of the state’s inmates eventually will return home. And the department contends that these grants can provide essential services that reduce recidivism and promote a safer Missouri.

A study by the University of Missouri’s School of Public Affairs has shown that a similar, but much smaller, round of grants awarded in 2009 improved employment rates and job skills, increased access to housing and improved transportation to jobs and medical care.

It’s really about changing their mindset so they can get a job and keep it and get an apartment and keep it,” McDonald said.

Almost $215,000 in grants to the crime commission will go to support its Second Chance Program, targeting high-risk offenders.

The program has established a risk reduction center and works with police and state and federal probation officers to provide behaviorial, employment and family support, as well as substance abuse programs.

The grants also will pay for an employee who will conduct two re-entry orientations a month for returning offenders referred by probation and parole officers. That employee also will coordinate information on community services available to the more than 3,000 offenders who return to Kansas City on parole each year.

The Second Chance Program also will establish a housing placement program for returning high-risk offenders, particularly those convicted of sex offenses.

Sex offender housing and services also are a focus of Catholic Charities’ TurnAround program, which received $300,000 in state corrections department grants.

Rita Flynn, TurnAround’s manager, said housing is a tough problem for returning sex offenders because of laws that keep them away from public facilities, such as schools and playgrounds.

Flynn said her program counsels such offenders as they come out of community release centers, helping them find housing, make good decisions and get registered with local sheriff’s department.

We believe it’s better to work with them … because it keeps the community safer when they make right choices,” Flynn said.

The grants also will allow TurnAround to expand mentoring programs to develop stable and productive lifestyles and promote crime-free living. Now, TurnAround has about 80 such mentors, who go through a six-hour training program, teaching them how to serve as role models and advocates for their clients.

An unrelated Department of Justice grant also will allow TurnAround to address a statewide problem with prisoner re-entry programs that MU’s public affairs school identified in its evaluation of the 2009 grants.

In general, awardees reported that they struggled to recruit offenders to participate in their programming,” the report noted. “A more systematic referral system could be designed to ensure clients are being connected with the services they need.”

The new federal grant will allow TurnAround to hire transition managers who will work with men and women in prison six months before they get out, preparing them for life on the outside.

Department of Corrections funders also awarded $69,190 to Literacy Kansas City, an adult reading program established here in 1985. The grant will allow the nonprofit to continue its Open Doors offender literacy program for a second year.

The program hopes to help 150 offenders improve their reading skills and work on personal goals, such as getting a job, enrolling in high school diploma equivalency programs or passing a written driver’s test.

How to help:
For information about participating in TurnAround’s mentoring program, call Mary Ann Fry in Kansas City at 816-561-1835, Chuck Linton in Liberty at 816-792-0793 or Richard Bolt in Independence at 816-462-2561.


CA - County forbids sex offenders from giving candy to kids on Halloween

Original Article

10/05/2010

By JENNA CHANDLER

Despite warnings from the Tulare County Public Defender that sex offenders harming children on Halloween is merely an urban legend, the Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to bar those convicted of sexual crimes against children and living in unincorporated areas from decorating their homes or handing out candy to children on Oct. 31.

The number of people offending on Halloween is zero,” Public Defender Michael Sheltzer said. “This statute addresses the fear of crime rather than the actual risk of crime. We do need to be protected from sex offenders, but this will give people a sense of false security.”

But supervisors disagreed, saying the new ordinance will keep children safe on arguably the most fun holiday of the year. Second District Supervisor Pete Vander Poel cast the dissenting vote. A proposed requirement to require the offenders to post “no candy” signs on their front doors was taken out of the statute.

This is a very minor infringement on sex offenders,” Board Chairman Steve Worthley said. “The real purpose of this is prevention, and empowerment of parents and kids.”
- She here he admits it's punishment (a minor infringement), and also they ignore all the facts, as usual!