Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Defining the sex offender - By Scott Dean

MT - Sex Offenders Struggle To Find Places To Live In Missoula

Original Article

See the video at the link above.


By Matt Leach

MISSOULA - One of every ten people under the Montana Department of Corrections supervision is a sex offender. When they leave prison most of them end up in the state's two largest cities, Billings or Missoula. That's where Katie Burton comes in.

"We get to know these guys really well," says Burton.

Burton is one of two DOC officers in Missoula dedicated to keeping track of the sex offenders and making sure they meet the conditions of their probation or parole.

"They are actually a fairly compliant group. If I ask one of my clients to come in to the office they come in to the office," says Burton.

The Department of Justice website has a list of names and addresses for every sex offender living in Missoula.

If you thought the offenders would be spread across neighborhoods randomly, you'd be wrong. The data shows there are clusters of sex offenders living together. The reason may be not that they want to, but that they have to.

One of those places, the Clark Fork Inn on Broadway, is currently home to five offenders.

"They struggle to find housing, and so they end up in these multi-listing addresses, because nowhere else is available for them," says Burton.

Many apartment building managers and home rental agencies check the sex offender list or ask questions on applications that indicate when an applicant is a registered offender. Burton says some places, such as some trailer parks, are more willing to house sex offenders

"They are more sympathetic in that they will give them an opportunity. Just because they are a sex offender they are not necessarily going to trash the apartment. They are probably going to take very good care of it," says Burton.

Some offenders have trouble finding any shelter at all.

The Orange Street bridge is one of the busiest roadways in Missoula, but underneath it numerous sex offenders use the thoroughfare as an address to register with the DOC.

"Most of the people that are registered as homeless currently are not on supervision," says Burton.

Three offenders are registered to the Orange Street bridge, three more live on River Road, a dead end into the Clark Fork. Ten are registered at the Poverello Center, but director Ellie Hill says on any given night the offenders are probably not sleeping there.

Burton says anyone under supervision should be living in a real house or apartment, but for the one or two who don't have an official address there's a protocol.

"We require detailed maps as to where they are going. We still do home visits," says Burton.

One safe haven for offenders when they get out of prison is Missoula 3:16, a church-based mission on Mullan Road. It can house eight men at a time for up to nine months while helping them find housing and jobs.

"They are involved in counseling, group work, classes, work study programs, community service," says co-executive director Bill Payne.

Payne says the nonprofit was home to four sex offenders last year, but even after they finished the program it was tough to place them in housing.

"It is very rare to find people who are just going to, once they know a person's background, they'll actually rent to a sex offender," says Payne.

The DOC says an average of 120 new sex offenders enter the prison system each year, increasing the burden for Burton and others who take on the task of placing them when they return to society and increasing the likelihood that more and bigger clusters of sex offenders will be part of Missoula's future.

"Things are not going to change. The prison is full. We need to find a way to make it work for everyone," says Burton.

CA - CHP Cop (Stephen Robert Deck) Convicted of Lewd Acts Attempt on 13-year-old Girl Loses Appeal

Photo by Jim Rugg
Original Article


By R. Scott Moxley

This week, a California Court of Appeal rejected the claims of a convicted California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer who attempted to sexually molest a 13-year-old Laguna Beach girl after learning during an online chat that the girl's mother was away from home.

Unless the state's Supreme Court becomes sympathetic, Stephen Robert Deck, a CHP lieutenant based in Orange County, will forever be known as the cop who was nabbed in a 2006 Perverted Justice sting operation that used "Amy," an online decoy, to lure men interested in having sex with minors.

Deck told the girl in an online chat, "I probably won't be able to keep my hands off of you," asked her if she "liked sucking c---," and took six, post expiration date condoms with him to meet the girl after learning that her mother was not home.

In Deck's view, his conviction wasn't fair because the jury should never had learned about the condoms, there was "insufficient evidence" that he intended to commit lewd acts with the girl and Robert Mestman, his prosecutor, misstated the law during his closing argument.

But appellate justices upheld the conviction, writing in a 22-page opinion that none of Deck's arguments were persuasive.

Stephen Robert Deck
"We conclude sufficient evidence existed to support the jury's finding that Deck attempted to commit a lewd or lascivious act on Amy," wrote Justice Richard M. Aronson, who noted that the cop's claim that he would not have molested the girl during their encounter was "faulty" reasoning given the circumstances.

Mestman demanded a prison term for the remorseless Deck, but the cop was sentenced to a year in the local jail.

Go HERE to read my coverage of the controversial March 2010 sentencing hearing.

-- R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly

OFF TOPIC - What’s the Difference Between Facebook and a Stranger on the Street?

Original Article


By Catherine Crump

Can you guys give us a list of every friend you’ve ever had? In alphabetical order, please.” This question, posed by a pair of geeky guys to two blondes, is part of a great satire of Facebook put together by the Australian show Hungry Beast. The video makes you stop and think about just how much personal information Facebook is learning about our friends, our families, and our lives — information most of us would never share with a stranger.

We shouldn’t have to choose between participating in an increasingly essential social community and keeping control of our personal information.

Today Facebook has 500 million users. So many of us use the service to communicate and connect about everything, from commenting on our daily activities to announcing engagements and sharing photos of newborns to participating in political activism. Our willingness to do that is what has made the company so successful and catapulted Mark Zuckerberg from an unknown Harvard undergrad to Time magazine’s Person of the Year.

The more we share on Facebook, the more important its privacy settings become. Few people want that goofy Halloween photo to be the first thing that pops up whenever someone Googles them, or are happy if our colleagues and every future employer can learn our religious and political beliefs. We all deserve to make those choices ourselves rather than learn that someone else has made them for us.

That is why the steady erosion of Facebook’s privacy policy matters. We can't make intelligent choices when Facebook’s privacy practices shift so frequently that even diligent users are uncertain what information they’re sharing, what they’re keeping private, and how to use the privacy settings that do exist. The ACLU is working to push for more user control so we can take part in online communities like Facebook without sacrificing our right to control the information that we choose not to share with the whole world.

NY - News 10's Fear Mongering / Vigilantism Report

WA - Sintralia Sex Offender - Part 1 - Police Harrasment

AR - Sex Offenders Say They Are Harassed, Others Not Sympathetic

Original Article


By Lauren Trager

A registered sex offender says he's being harassed at his home, because people know his past.

"They chipped off the paint, there's two dents right there," said Heather, showing KARK the marks in her home.

Preferring to be referred to only as Heather, Saturday she says someone shot up her home off Crystal Hill Road with a BB gun

"This is a last Hail Mary effort, I hope it doesn't keep happening. It scares me and it scares my neighbors and friends," she said.

Heather says this, and other harassment, has happened before: all because her roommate is a registered sex offender.

"I think they are targeting sex offenders, every time the notification flyer goes out, they target whichever trailer they think is where the person lives," she said.

In this area, there are more than a half a dozen sex-offenders. Each time one moves in, local law enforcement has to let the neighborhood know.

"It doesn't happen all the time, but it does happen," said Lt. Minden.

Lt. Carl Minden with the Pulaski County Sheriff's office says retaliation isn't what the registry is intended for and in fact, is potentially criminal.

"Obviously they did commit a crime, as a sex offender, but they still have rights as a citizen and you have to respect their rights or you'll be breaking the law and you won't be any better than them," he said.

That's why they're investigating what happened at Heather's home.

Still, she's worried someone is taking the law into their own hands.

"That's what worries me is that someone is going to come out here with more than a BB gun and mischief on their mind," she said.

But nearby neighbor Marley Benefield sees things differently. With three young daughters, she wouldn't retaliate, but she's not exactly sympathetic.

"They weren't being very sympathetic when they did what they did," she said.
- The entire family did not commit the crime, and besides, just because someone did commit a crime, doesn't give anyone the right to harass and threaten them.  These people should get security cameras, and when they have evidence, take it to the police.

Heather didn't want us to give out exact information about her, her home or roommate, fearing more retaliation.

The notification flyers actually have a warning on them against taking revenge.
- Yeah, but if the cops do not go after those who are harassing ex-offenders, it means nothing.

If you are having a problem with a registered sex offender in your area, law enforcement says call them instead.

AL - House Passes Bill to Strengthen Sex Offender Laws

Rep. Blaine Galliher
Original Article


By Morgan Hightower

Members of the Alabama House of Representatives Tuesday voted to strengthen the state’s sex offender laws, passing a bill sponsored by Rep. Blaine Galliher (R-Rainbow City) that would close loopholes in current law and require more frequent and thorough registration of sex offenders in Alabama.

House Bill 378, known as the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, would strengthen current law by requiring sex offenders to give local law enforcement more information when registering, including vehicle information, telephone numbers, Internet identifiers, email addresses, palm prints, travel documents and professional licensing information. Sex offenders would also have to register four times a year instead of the current requirement of two registrations per year.

Representative Galliher said updating Alabama’s sex offender laws will create better awareness of what sex offenders reside in the community, enabling the public to better protect themselves.
Registration and notification laws protect the community and serve to deter sex offenders from future crimes (Not really, it doesn't protect anybody nor deter offenders intent on committing a crime, but you can continue to live in Wonderland),” Representative Galliher said. “Requiring more frequent and thorough registration will maintain better contact between sex offenders and law enforcement, providing police and sheriff’s offices with the tools they need to identify, monitor and track sex offenders. We’re looking out for victims, and giving our communities the resources they need in the law to keep families safe.”

Sen. Cam Ward
The bill also closes a loophole that makes it difficult to enforce registration and notification requirements for homeless sex offenders by mandating that, until they obtain a permanent residence, homeless sex offenders must register with local law enforcement once a week. Another provision in the bill makes it a felony for a sex offender to contact or harass his or her victim.

House Bill 378 also brings Alabama up to date with federal sex offender law by ensuring that a comprehensive list of sex offenses is applicable to registration and notification requirements.

A similar bill has passed the Senate. Representative Galliher said he would work with the Senate Sponsor, Senator Cam Ward to combine the bills and ensure the strongest possible law ultimately passes.