Thursday, July 28, 2011

CA - Lawyer (Chance Xcaliber Oberstein) loses bid to end sex offender status

Original Article

07/28/2011

By GREG HARDESTY

Appellate court affirms OC judge’s rejection of attempt by former L.A. public defender to clear name.

SANTA ANA – A panel of appellate justices has sided with an Orange County judge in denying a former Los Angeles public defender's bid to stop registering as a sex offender.

The panel ruled, however, that the judge erred in forcing Chance Xcaliber Oberstein to wait another two years to seek a so-called certificate of rehabilitation, which if acquired would free him from having to register as a sex offender.

Oberstein was convicted in 1998 of having unlawful sex with a 16-year-old girl he met while working for the Los Angeles Public Defender's Office. The girl was a client of the office, but not represented by Oberstein.

The sexual contact occurred in 1996, when Oberstein was 38. The convictions - for unlawful sexual intercourse, sodomy and oral copulation – yielded a one-year jail sentence and probation, prompting Oberstein to resign from the state bar.

In June 2001, Los Angeles Superior Court granted early termination of probation and, in September 2003, Oberstein's convictions were reduced to misdemeanors. In June of 2004, his guilty verdict was set aside and, in 2008, the state bar reinstated him as an attorney.

A certificate of rehabilitation is a court-issued recommendation to the governor to pardon a convicted felon and release the petitioner from certain requirements stemming from the conviction. The standard for receiving a certificate of rehabilitation is high.

Oberstein petitioned for a certificate in February 2010 before Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals, arguing that he did not pose a threat to society and that he had broken no laws since 1996.

Oberstein argued that his legal practice -- especially his chances of getting appointed to the federal indigent panel -- were hindered without a rehabilitation certificate.

Goethals, however, rejected his petition, saying the crimes were "not that old" and were very serious, especially for someone who was a lawyer at the time.

Goethals also said he was bothered by the fact that Oberstein would no longer have to register as a sex offender if the certificate were granted.

That issue "is sticking in my craw," Goethals said, according to court records cited in the appellate court's ruling, made public Wednesday.

Oberstein argued in his appeal that Goethals' decision was arbitrary and that the judge had abused his discretion.

The panel of three justices, however, argued that Goethals' ruling was legally sound. Appellate Justice Richard Aronson wrote the non-published opinion with Justices William Bedsworth and Eileen Moore concurring.

In siding with Goethals' ruling, the panel noted that the majority of Oberstein's favorable mental health evaluations were prepared in 1998, and the most recent one – in January 2008 – was prepared by a social worker.

"As the Attorney General points out," the appellate opinion reads, "(the social worker) did not base his conclusion on a structured mental health evaluation that a forensic psychologist would have administered before rendering an opinion. Nor did (he) carry the expertise of a psychiatrist trained to assess the risks posed by sex offenders."

"(Goethals) therefore did not act arbitrarily in disregarding Oberstein's mental health evidence and implicitly finding Oberstein failed to meet his burden to show complete rehabilitation."

The panel ruled, however, that Goethals did not have the right to extend Oberstein's rehabilitation period for another two years, because the law only allows for that when an offender has broken the law since the original conviction.

Oberstein has not had any legal issues since his convictions.

At the time of his arrest, Oberstein was living in Orange County. He attended UC Irvine as an undergraduate and got his law degree from UC Davis, according to state bar records.

Oberstein, 53, currently works at the law offices of Brian A. Newman in Redondo Beach, according to state bar records. He lives in Dana Point, according to public records.

Messages left for Oberstein and his attorney, William S. Harris, were not immediately returned.


MA - Town to consider sex offender residence bylaw

Original Article

07/28/2011

By CINDY DOW

LAKEVILLE — In response to the recent attempt to have a level three sex offender placed in a stepped-down facility on Crooked Lane, Police Chief Frank Alvilhiera suggested to the Board of Selectmen that the town enact a sex offender residency bylaw to have a little more protection than it currently has.

At the selectmen's meeting Monday night, Chief Alvilhiera submitted an example of a sex offender residency general bylaw from Rockland, noting that there are quite a few available in the state.

"This goes into the residency of a level two or level three offender. There are different variations as it relates to maybe loitering, near a school or a park," he said.

Chief Alvilhiera said he was waiting for a call from legal counsel for the Massachusetts Chiefs Association for input on the different bylaws that he is familiar with. Chief Alvilhiera said he was seeking the board's authorization to go forward with seeing what else is available.

"I know there have been a few issues in a few other towns, where it's been raised that it's unconstitutional. Different versions have come out," he said.

The Rockland bylaw, approved in 2009, stipulates that a sex offender classified as level two or level three can not establish a permanent residence "within 1,000 feet of the town library, or any school, day care center, park, elderly housing facility or place of worship within the town of Rockland." If a sex offender does set up such a residence, each day the offender continues to live there constitutes a separate violation. For a first offence, the offender will be notified that he has 30 days to move. For a subsequent offense, a non-criminal fine of $300 is charged, and notification sent to the offender's landlord, parole officer and probation officer, as well as the state sex offender registry, that the person has violated a town bylaw.

However, Chairman of Selectmen Stephen Olivier noted that certain exceptions do apply, including one that could have allowed the level three sex offender to move into the facility on Crooked Lane, if the person qualified as a mentally ill person subject to guardianship, because he would have been residing in a group residence that is professionally staffed and supervised 24-hours a day.

"This particular bylaw wouldn't have helped out in this particular situation, at all," he said.

Chief Alvilhiera agreed that each bylaw would probably have situations that it wouldn't cover.

"I think if we research the ones that are out there, maybe we can come up with something that makes sense for the town," he said.

Selectman Scott Belliveau said he would like to see one that restricted any residency to a greater distance from schools, parks, and other areas. Chief Alvilhiera said some might be able to be adapted to a greater distance. However, he suggested that the attorney general would have to approve

Norman Orrall, who with his wife, Keiko, organized opposition to the proposed location of the level three offender on Crooked Lane, noted that Plymouth just recently had a bylaw fail, and others have been challenged in court.

"It's not necessarily an easy bylaw to adapt. You'd think you could maybe tailor it, but it's very tricky. But, anytime something can be applied to makes sense, its worth doing," he said.

Chief Alvilhiera said he was surprised to learn that bylaws attempted have not always gathered overwhelming support from the communities, which he would have expected. Mr. Orrall suggested trying to adapt one that has been approved for a while, and perhaps has even withstood a legal challenge.


5 years later, states struggle to comply with federal sex offender law

Original Article

07/28/2011

By Emanuella Grinberg

Five years ago this week, President George W. Bush signed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act with the intention of making it the law of the land for keeping tabs on sex offenders.
- Let's analyze that title, shall we? You see, it has "child protection" in it, which one would assume, that it would be a law for all who harm children, not just sex offenders. People like DUI offenders, abusive parents, neglectful parents, like Reve Walsh, drug dealers/users, gang members, etc, but it's not about "child protection," it's about punishing sex offenders over and over. If it were for "child protection," then all the others who harm children would also be on an online registry and made to live with draconian residency laws as well, but you see, if they did that, then probably many in congress, police, and other government agencies, would also be on the registry, and they can't have that.

Named for the 6-year-old whose slaying by a stranger galvanized child safety reforms and turned his father, John Walsh, into one of the nation's most recognizable victims' advocates, the law set forth the most comprehensive national standards to date for monitoring sex offenders in America's communities.
- So the above says the law was made to punish sex offenders, and it was due to Adam Walsh's murder, right? But Adam's murder had nothing to do with sex, nor was a sex offender arrested for the crime. They claim Ottis Toole was the person who did it, but others also say Jeffrey Dahmer may have done it. Ottis was a serial killer and pathological liar, and Jeffrey Dahmer was also a serial killer, but he did, on several occasions, sexual abuse people, even kids, and the Wikipedia article (not sure if it's true), does say he was a sex offender, so he would seem more like a suspect to me, but that is just me. My point is, why are they only punishing sex offenders when the title has "child protection" in it, and Adam's murder had nothing to do with sex?

This week also marks a key deadline for states, tribes and U.S. territories to meet the act's requirements or face a 10% cut in federal justice assistance funding, not exactly small change in tight economic times.
- It may not be small change, but when it cost more to implement and maintain everything after it's passed, many are thinking it's not the best thing to do. Does it make any sense to spend millions of dollars to save less than 1 million dollars? Doesn't to me. Also, isn't offering incentives like this basically bribery? Last time I checked, yes, and it's also a crime as well.

As of Wednesday, the 30th anniversary of Adam Walsh's disappearance from a Florida department store, 14 states, nine tribes and the territory of Guam had "substantially implemented" what's known as the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, or SORNA, provisions of the Adam Walsh Act. On the eve of the July 27 deadline, last-minute submissions were trickling into the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking, known as the SMART office.

The law expanded the categories of crimes eligible for registration and increased the period and frequency of registration for certain adults and juveniles, effectively growing registries by as much 500% in some states. It called for jurisdictions to retroactively register some adult offenders who'd already done their time on the registry. It also called for registration of certain juveniles who'd been shielded from the registry in the past, based on the notion that confidentiality offers them a greater likelihood of rehabilitation.
- Retroactively adding more punishment and regulations to something that was not in effect when the offender was sentenced, is called an ex post facto law, which in most states, and in the US Constitution, is unconstitutional, but, they say the laws are "regulatory" and not "punishment," that is how they get around that, but anybody who has to live with the "regulations", and the families members who also have to live with the "regulations," can tell you, it's punishment! When you cannot get a job or lose the one you have, cannot find a home or lose the one you have, are forced into homeless and joblessness, harassed by neighbors, yes, it's punishment!

The goal was to corral the information into a national public registry and FBI database. But the act is still very much a work in progress.
- Corral the information on whom? Sex offenders only, or anybody who harms a child?

It's not from a lack of desire, said Susan Frederick, federal affairs counsel with the National Conference of State Legislatures. Since 2008, 48 states have enacted nearly 350 laws related to residency restrictions, sentencing and monitoring sex offenders, according to an NCSL database.
- And tons of studies have been done on whether the residency laws or registry prevent crime or protect people, and they show that they do not. So these are placebo laws that don't actually do anything, except drain money from the government, organizations, and make other "non-profit" organizations rich!

"States are very sympathetic to the need to supervise and penalize registered sex offenders. There's no softness on that population," Frederick said. "But any time you're going to be collecting and cataloging information on more people more often, that comes at a high cost. The question is whether it's worth it."
- But again, the law says it's about "protecting" children, not punishing sex offenders, yet they are not "protecting" children from everyone, only sex offenders. So why isn't it called the "Adam Walsh Sex Offender Punishment Act?"

Many states don't want to change their laws; others believe the legislation's cost outweighs its predicted benefits, she said. Texas has put the estimated federal funding cuts at $1.4 million, compared to a cost of $38.7 million.
- Yes you see, they are expected to spend $38.7 million to implement and maintain everything, just to save $1.4 million, which will be gone as soon as they implement the laws.

To see how the law has fared in practice, one need look no farther than Ohio, the first state to adopt the law in its original, most stringent form, in 2007.

Ohio's version of the Adam Walsh Act, SB 10, has resulted in more than 7,000 legal claims, according to the state public defender's office. It also has led to years of litigation, two state Supreme Court rulings and separate registry criteria for sex offenders whose crimes occurred before and after the law's enactment.

The slow unraveling of Ohio's law underscores some of the major criticism of the new federal scheme and the registry in general: that it stigmatizes offenders beyond hope of rehabilitation while giving the public a false sense of security.

The federal agency created to help the states implement the act acknowledges that compliance has been an uphill battle. It has also listened to the states' concerns and issued supplemental guidelines that offer states more flexibility than Ohio had when it adopted its law.

Controversial legal issues like retroactive registration -- requiring an offender who was sentenced before the legislation to follow the new rules -- and juvenile registration get the most notice. For most states, however, the biggest hurdles are implementing technology and adjusting statutes, said Linda Baldwin, director of the SMART office.
- If you follow your oath of office to defend the constitution, then these laws would not be passed in the first place, at least the retroactive portion. It's unconstitutional to add additional punishment and "regulations" onto a person who has already been convicted. The laws, which are suppose to be about "child protection" are also ruining children's lives, for being kids.

"What happens across the board is some states are finding it more difficult to implement SORNA depending on their starting point," she said. "We've found that states whose systems are not centralized and digitized have had to make great changes to their registry system, but those changes require an investment that states have been able to apply to our office for funding for."

Uniform laws and a centralized database enable law enforcement to share information and ensure offenders don't slip through the cracks, Baldwin said. Community notification makes information about released sex offenders broadly available through various means, such as postcards in the mail, phone calls, e-mail alerts and police going door to door.
- And community notification also leads to vigilantism, harassment, etc. The registry, should be offline and used by police only.

Online registries don't include everyone who is a threat, she said, because not all dangerous predators are known to law enforcement. Online registries also are not a tool to reduce repeat offenses, she said.
- No, online registries are to help vigilantes get their jobs done, and do nothing to prevent crime or protect anybody, it's all about naming, shaming and punishing, period.

"It's hard to measure whether these important public safety goals are being met and figuring out how to measure that is challenging and may take years for us to complete," Baldwin said. "But what we've found is, as an alternative, many people are focusing on registration notification programs as tools to reduce recidivism, which really is not a major goal of these laws."
- So what is the major goal? Punishment?

She stressed that the registries are "primarily a law enforcement tool, an ability to allow the public to take measures to protect themselves."
- Ok, and the public has proven they cannot handle the information without harassing people on the list, having mobs show up at an offenders house, employment, etc. Just read the news, or these articles. And like I said, the registry should be offline, used by police only, then we'd not have any vigilantism!

The effectiveness of registries -- for sex crimes and other offenses -- has long been a topic of debate. Supporters like Baldwin tout their public safety benefits, while critics say they can have the unintended consequence of destabilizing sex offenders.
- So touting their benefits is a personal feeling that is not backed by facts. Many studies have been done that prove the laws do not do what they are suppose to do. But as usual, people don't care about facts, only vengeance. Nobody listens to the real experts, those who treat sex offenders, or the critics, they are immediately ignored and criticized. If you speak out against the laws, then you must be a pedophile or pro-sex offender, or else you'd not be speaking out against the laws.

"Public notification creates barriers to successful sex offender management and treatment and supervision," said Alisa Klein, Public Policy Consultant for the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers and co-author of the report, "A Reasoned Approach: Reshaping Sex Offender Policy to Prevent Child Sex Abuse (PDF)."

Offenders re-entering the community need strong support systems to prevent them from reoffending, she said, through family, faith communities and a steady job.
- I agree, and also, many studies show that sex offenders have the second lowest recidivism rate (for similar crimes) than any other criminal, except murderers, yet the news media, politicians, John Walsh, Mark Lunsford, and others continue to say sex offenders have a high recidivism rate, which is a flat out lie! You will also notice that a lot of people who say this, don't back up their lies with facts, and usually run a "non-profit" organization and receive profit from their disinformation and fear-campaign.

"Going on a public registry creates an immediate stigma. It can prevent employment, prevent them from living with families, get them thrown out of faith communities; it has the consequence of putting someone in an emotional state that may make them more likely to reoffend," she said.
- I agree. A person with nothing to lose, is capable of anything. See here for more on our thoughts about these laws.

Some states have attempted to evaluate the benefits of SORNA. In Texas, home to more than 60,000 registered sex offenders, a 2010 report from the Senate Criminal Justice Committee (PDF) concluded, "It is clear registries do not provide the public safety," noting the issue contained "gray areas."

The California Sex Offender Management Board (PDF) also recommended against implementing the provisions of the Adam Walsh Act, stating, "California state law and practice related to offender risk assessment, juvenile registration and sex offender monitoring is more consistent with evidence-based practice that can demonstrate real public safety outcomes."

People on both sides of the debate agree that truly dangerous sexual predators, such as pedophiles and rapists, need to be monitored closely if they're going to be released into communities.
- You need to take into account their entire criminal history, not just a crime label. Many have committed one bad mistake in their life, and have not committed any similar crime, so they should take that into consideration, but they don't, in most cases. Just ask anybody in society today, "What do you think of when you hear the words sex offender?" Most will immediately say child molester or pedophile. Why? Because of all the disinformation spread by the media, politicians, and others, that is why. Spreading lies doesn't help the matter, it makes it worse.

The federal law uses a three-tiered system based on the sex crimes offenders are convicted of to determine the length of time they must remain on the registry and the frequency with which they must check in with law enforcement. Critics say that using offense-based registration instead of an approach based on risk-assessment -- favored by states like Texas and California -- pulls too many offenders onto the registry and overburdens law enforcement, preventing police from keeping a close eye on the worst of the worst.
- Yes, it's basically "You committed XYZ crime, so you get XYZ punishment," they don't care about the details surrounding the crime, or any other details, just the label. It's nothing but cookie cutter laws.

"I think we would have a better use of our time if we could determine who the most dangerous ones are," said Sheriff Jeff Grey of Mercer, Ohio. "Sometimes we get tied up registering the ones who are trying to do the right thing and don't have time to look for the ones that are out of compliance, but just because someone's registering and doing everything he's supposed to doesn't mean he's not going to reoffend."

In Ohio, law enforcement is working closely with the state Attorney General's Office to explore ways that technology can streamline the process. Sheriffs' departments use software that sends e-mail notifications to offenders or calls them seven days before they have to register. If the e-mail bounces back or the call goes to the wrong person, law enforcement knows an offender is not complying, Grey said.
- What? This is not true. Email systems go down, so emails will bounce back, that doesn't mean they are not complying with the laws. Come on! This is why people who do not know technology, should not be passing laws about technology. That would be like a carpet cleaner telling you how to fix your car, it's stupid!

The state also recently released an iPhone app -- Shaquille O'Neal is its spokesman -- that locates registered sex offenders in a given area. Authorities in Ohio also are looking into kiosks to allow offenders to self-register through iris and fingerprint scans at the sheriff's department if the technology proves reliable.

"We need to keep up with the technology because it's there to help us do the job," said Grey, chairman of the sex offender registration and notification committee for the Buckeye State Sheriff's Association.

Besides Ohio, states that have adopted SORNA are Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming. The number of offenders on Wyoming's registry increased from 125 to 1,450 after the state moved from risk-based assessment to a tier system for registration, said Kevin R. Smith, deputy director of the state's Criminal Justice Information Services.

The biggest change for Wyoming involved juveniles, who were exempt from registration under old state law. New guidelines passed in January 2011 allowed Wyoming to exclude juveniles from appearing on the online registry, but they're still subject to community notification, he said.

"It's always been a difficult decision for the Legislature, the need to register juveniles for public safety versus the idea of confidentiality to rehabilitate juveniles." Smith said. "Wyoming didn't want to be seen as any more or any less restrictive than the national standard. ... We didn't want to be seen as the place to come to that was easier on sex offenders."
- So what about the confidentiality and rehabilitation of adult offenders? The same applies to them as well, or should, unless it's not about rehabilitation?

There's a saying among critics of the registry, that the rare cases of "stranger-danger" inspire the most sweeping legislative reforms. The slayings of Adam Walsh, Jacob Wetterling, Jessica Lunsford and Dru Sjodin, all sparked legislation that has been incorporated in the Adam Walsh Act.

Sadly, it often takes a tragedy to inspire needed reforms, said Linda Walker, Sjodin's mother. She thinks if the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website had existed in 2003, it might have saved her daughter's life.
- Well she is living in Wonderland as well. Just knowing a person is on the registry would not prevent them from committing a crime, if they chose to do so.

Neither Sjodin, a University of North Dakota student, nor her mother knew that a sex offender considered likely to reoffend was living across the border in Crookston, Minnesota. Alfonso Rodriguez was released from prison in May 2003 after serving 23 years for sexual violence against a Crookston woman. He abducted Sjodin from a mall parking lot in Grand Forks, North Dakota, on November 22, raped and murdered her. Rodriguez is awaiting execution on federal death row.

Sjodin's death inspired Dru's Law, which required convicted child molesters to be listed on a national online database and face a felony charge for failing to update their whereabouts. It was included in the Adam Walsh Act and signed into law the same day, five years ago.

Sjodin's mother has become a member of a club no one wants to belong to: The Surviving Parents Coalition. The group advocates for legislative initiatives in areas of child safety education, the expansion of DNA laws and national standards for sex offender legislation -- Walker's main focus.
- Yes, a bunch of parents, who have suffered greatly, who are running on emotions, and anger, advocating for insane laws that trample on others constitutional rights, for a little temporary safety.

She maintains that the Adam Walsh Act sets minimum standards, not a ceiling, so the public can protect itself.
- No amount of laws will protect society! Has the drug wars protected the public? No! Criminals will be criminals, period!

"Our borders, we don't see them, and we're such a mobile nation, we move to different communities frequently, so this gives you a better awareness of who you might be living among," she said.
- So why don't we know about all the murderers, gang members, drug dealers/users, DUI offenders, thieves, and all other criminals who live around us, so we can all live in fear for our lives?

"I get so angered that we humanize these people who choose to victimize. We give these offenders two, three, four different chances -- what does that say to the victims?"
- And I get so angry that we continue to humanize bills by attaching some child's name to it. Who in the world would not pass a bill that has a dead child's name attached to it? Stop trampling on others rights because you are angry and want others to pay for your suffering!

Some people would rather die than face a lifetime on the registry. One of those people, [name withheld], hanged himself in his garage after learning he would be reclassified as a Tier III offender in Ohio.

[name withheld] was released from prison in 2004 after serving 10 years for raping a female relative, though he maintained his innocence, said his lawyer, Shimane K. Smith.

Under the state's Megan's Law, which took effect in 1997, a judge classified [name withheld] a sexually oriented offender, which meant he had to register once a year for 10 years after his release. Then he received a letter in November 2007 from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation notifying him that under Ohio's SB 10, he would be reclassified effective January 1, 2008, as a Tier III offender.
- Yes, the cookie cutter laws in affect. Many who are low risk are classified as predators due to these cookie cutter laws, and that is just wrong. Ohio also had to undo the mess they caused as well.

For the rest of his life, he would have to check in every 90 days with law enforcement to confirm his home address, employer, school address and Internet identifiers and vehicle make.

His sex offender status was already a source of deep shame for the introverted, 50-year-old construction worker, who was prone to drinking in times of despair, said his companion, [name withheld].

"You go to get a job, they know your record, they don't want you. Everybody knows who you are. You're marked for life," she said.

She never suspected he was capable of killing himself. But upon reflection, there were signs to indicate he had prepared for it, she said. He cleaned up the garage, organized his tools, finished an addition to the house. Then, early in the morning of February 27, 2008, he came home smelling of alcohol.

"I went to bed; told him we didn't have to talk about it. In the middle of the night, I heard coughing. I thought he was smoking a cigarette. I woke up the next morning and was calling for him. He was in the garage. He had hung himself with a cord," she said.

He didn't leave a note, but she knew that the prospect of lifetime registration was too much to bear.

"If you've not been involved in it you do not know what it's like," she said. "I just think him having that label on him, he couldn't take it anymore. I think he thought that was his best choice."

Since [name withheld]'s suicide, retroactive registration under SB 10 has been found unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court in two cases, including a July 13 ruling that found imposing "current registration requirements on a sex offender whose crime was committed prior to the enactment of SB 10 is punitive."

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said he does not agree with the court's decision in State v. Williams (PDF), but his office will not appeal the ruling. He does plan to seek clarification on how the panel reached its decision and how that could apply to cases down the road.

DeWine, a former U.S. senator and representative, continues to support public registration. His next step is to figure out how to make sure offenders retain their pre-SORNA classification.

"The public has an interest in making sure these people check in with police and that we know where they are," he said. "The public policy goal of the attorney general's office is to make sure that the sex offenders who were classified before remain classified."

The recent court ruling creates a cliffhanger ending for those watching three juvenile cases that raised similar claims regarding retroactive registration.

"We think with the court's finding that SB 10 can't be applied retroactively to adults should lead to the same finding for children," said Brooke Burns with the Ohio Public Defender's Office, who represents two juveniles in claims that retroactive application of the law for juveniles is unconstitutional.

The cases underscore concerns nationwide that placing teens on a public registry will stigmatize them and hamper their chances of moving beyond the offense.
- The same applies to adults wearing the label!

Given juveniles' positive response to treatment and room for cognitive development, the juvenile system has traditionally been regarded as rehabilitative, unlike the adult system, which counts punishment among its goals, Burns said.
- Exactly, punishment is the goal!

"The court's finding that registration is punishment opens the door for us to start advocating that juveniles cannot be given a punishment because they're in juvenile court, which in itself is a rehabilitative system," she said.
- Rehabilitative system? Really? Why are we a prison nation then? Just ask anybody who has been arrested. Once you are in the system, you are in the system forever! That is not rehabilitation, but a continuous flow of income!

Another scenario she hopes for is that the court might consider terminating the requirement to register at 21, the age at which the juvenile court loses jurisdiction over an offender -- except when it comes to the registry, Burns said.

"The only penalty that sticks beyond the juvenile system in and of itself is registration," she said. "We hope with (the court calling the registry) punishment, perhaps the court will find ... that you cannot impose a lifetime punishment on children or a person when the court that imposed it only has jurisdiction on a person 'til 21."

The use of the word "punitive" in the ruling has been a source of hope to opponents of the registry, who disagree with case law that says sex offender registration does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment because it is a civil remedy intended to protect the public.

Critics of the registry say it perpetuates fears that strangers are most likely to commit sex offenses on children, when research shows the most frequent perpetrators are relatives and acquaintances. Victim advocacy groups and policy think-tanks cite volumes of academic research and a Department of Justice study (PDF) to support the argument that registries are not a cure-all for preventing sex crimes against children.

"It's such a misleading statement to send to the public that we somehow have a notion of where all sex offenders are and that we can keep the public safe from them because we have a registry," said Elizabeth Barnhill, executive director of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault. "It's fueled by awful things that happened to children and very understandable, but unfortunately that's not a fix that makes sense for most offenders."

Sex crime prevention begins in the home, she said, by instructing parents of the warning signs and teaching children not just about good touches and bad touches, but also about basic respect.

"Primary prevention is very long-term work that involves a cultural shift in terms of how we deal with children, what we teach children, the messages communities send toward children and women," she said. "There are still a lot of cultural norms that allow for the victimization of people who are vulnerable."


OR - Neighbors Say Fence is No Protection

Original Article

09/27/2011

By Heather Turner

CORVALLIS - They say good fences make good neighbors, but in the case of one Corvallis neighborhood that might not be true.

Construction on a new fence was completed Monday afternoon at a home that houses three sexual offenders. One of them is a sexual predator. But neighbors say all the fence does is give a false sense of security.
- And the sex offender registry and residency restrictions are a false sense of security as well.

A fence typically provides security and privacy, but for Maria Juarez, who lives right next door, it might as well be invisible.

"The fence is not making me feel safe at all. I am standing here in my door and I still see them and even as they're sitting I can see their face and I know that they can see me," Juarez said.

For her, the fence doesn't do much. She's even given up gardening.

"Very unsafe, and very fearful, I've been feeling very sick physically," said Juarez.

Others who live nearby agree.

"I think that some people may feel a false sense of security. I don't feel any security at all with the fence," said Ramona Fricke.

So Tuesday, the neighbors took their concerns to the Benton County Board of Commissioners for a second time.

"I'm just asking for more help from the commissioners to try to get the state and Renew Consulting to be proactive and help address the situations," said Peter Fricke.

Renew Consulting managers are surprised that their new fence hasn't eased the concerns of neighbors. They hoped it would provide a sense of security and privacy for all.

On the other side of the house, Sandra Lyn Care Homes is having problems of its own with the sex offenders next door.

"My residents, they won't leave their bedroom windows open anymore, they don't want to go for walks, they don't like being out in the yard because of the neighbors gawking at them from the porch," Sandra Altheide, Sandra Lyn Care Homes owner.

Some of her female residents have even talked about moving elsewhere if the three sex offenders with mental illnesses continue to live next door.


ID - Man taking photos of his own grandson in the park, automatically deemed a pervert without facts!

Not the actual person
Original Article

07/27/2011

By Carlos Miller

The older, white man was seen photographing children in a public park in Idaho, so it didn’t take long for an overprotective mother to chase him off.

She then called the cops, who in turn alerted the media, who quickly posted articles warning citizens about this dangerous man lurking in the park with his camera, running off after being confronted.

It turns out, the man was just photographing his grandson.

And the only reason he left the park was because the woman was yelling at him.

So police had to redact their statement to the media.

This is how LocalNews8 originally reported the story.

Pocatello Police are warning people of a suspicious man spotted taking pictures of children at Ammon Park.

Police say parents spotted the man photographing their kids, and when they confronted him the man ran off.

He is described as an older white man with white hair and a beard. He was wearing a western-style button-down shirt and blue jeans and was driving a tan/brown van.

If anyone has information about this man, police would like them to call police dispatch at 234-6100.

And this is how they explained it afterward in the updated version.

Lt. Paul Manning said the man in question called in the Pocatello Police Department himself, saying he was at the park taking pictures of his grandson. The man also said that he did not run away, but simply walked away from a woman who had gotten very close to him and was yelling at him. Manning said police are no longer worried about the man and he is not suspicious.

The hysteria of adults photographing children in public has reached epidemic proportions.

Earlier this week, we reported on a New York man who was threatened by a mom's boyfriend, then warned by cops not to take photos of kids, even though it was never proven that he had taken photos of the kids.

And before that, a pair of photographers were told they were not allowed to photograph children swimming in the frog pond at Boston Common, which Boston Common later apologized for on its Facebook page.

And earlier this year, New Jersey lawmakers tried to pass a law that would have made it illegal to photograph children in public without parental consent.

If parents are so worried about pedophiles, then they should look within their own families or circle of friends, not the stranger with the camera.

According to Wikipedia, which always cites their research:

Offenders are more likely to be relatives or acquaintances of their victim than strangers.[98] A 2006–2007 Idaho study of 430 cases found that 82% of juvenile sex offenders were known to the victims (acquaintances 46% or relatives 36%).[99][100]

We have to accept the fact that kids are part of society. If you take them out in public, there's a chance they might be photographed. Just as any adult might be photographed.

The real issue is how these parents become aggressive towards photographers as we have seen.

I'm not a parent but I know some parents speak boldly about what they would do if they caught somebody photographing their kid.

I can assure them that I would not back down if confronted. I guarantee that. I'll even wait for the cops to get there while videotaping the whole interaction.

But I do try to avoid photographing kids for this reason. And frankly, unless it's a good photo journalistic photo (or if I'm with family and friends), I have no desire to photograph kids anyway.

But I will also not be the one to run away if confronted by one of these self-righteous parents.

And I doubt I'm alone.

So only time will tell before one of these parents gets arrested for assault.