Wednesday, January 25, 2012

TX - 4 Reasons Why Your Small Business Should Hire An Ex-Convict

Original Article

01/13/2012

By Jhaneel Lockhart

A criminal record is usually not the kind of qualification most employers have in mind when looking for new hires.

But some managers know that formerly incarcerated employees can add value to their companies.

Mark Peters, CEO of Butterball Farms, Inc., a national supplier of specialty butters, regularly hires former prisoners and says companies should consider giving these workers a chance.

He's launching a study and wants other companies to participate in it to examine the benefits and challenges of those who have spent time behind bars, according to WWMT Newschannel 3.

While many employers remain skeptical about hiring ex-offenders, others extol the benefits of adding these members to your staff. Here are four reasons, in addition to the social benefit, why you should consider rehabilitated offenders.
  1. They'll be looking out for you since you looked out for them.

    Since most people who have spent time in prison find it difficult to get jobs and re-enter society, they'll likely be extremely grateful and loyal to any employer who gives them a chance.

    “There's plenty of people I can hire that don't care if they work for me or the guy down the street,” said Peters. “I'd rather have somebody who's really engaged and helping my organization be successful. So if I help someone else be successful, they're a lot more interested in helping me be successful.”
  2. The training they received in prison may be transferable to your job.

    Many people who spend time behind bars are able to receive vocational training and participate in certification programs for GEDs and college degrees, which can help prepare them for employment and provide valuable skills that transfer across fields. It might also mean they are familiar with discipline and hard work.
  3. They'll stay with you longer.

    People who have been incarcerated greatly value their jobs when they get hired, according to the Travis County Offender Workforce Development Program in Texas. Their website says, "The ex-offenders in our program have demonstrated a commitment to leading an honest and responsible life. Finding employment is not easy for them--once hired they are not likely to quit--they are highly motivated to become long-term employees."
  4. There could be tax incentives for employers.

    Business who hire ex-felons within one year after they are convicted or released from prison may qualify for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit which gives employers a maximum of $2,400 for each adult hired. Read the fact sheet here (PDF) for more information.


SCOTUS sorts through applicability of SORNA in Reynolds

Click the image above to read the article


Carnal Knowledge

This was sent in to us via the contact form and posted with permission.

By RC:
can some1 please help me with maby getting my record expunged? i got the charge win i was 19 years old for a girl i dated for a year .. iam 27 now a kid on the way and i every time i think iam getting ahead this thing bites be in the but .. i have alot of good people willing to talk on my behalf about my character .. i really just wanna live my life and not have this stop me from being successful and moving on.ive been sitting at the DA,S office tring to sit down with him and i talk to a couple of lawers but it seams like no 1 want to deal with me .. if any 1 could give me some info to help me out that would be great .. thanks


MT - Court rules that juveniles can be required to register as sex offenders

Original Article

01/25/2012

By MATT VOLZ

HELENA — A federal appeals court has ruled that juveniles whose identities are otherwise protected can be required to register as sex offenders.

The 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals denied the argument by three Montana Native Americans who said they shouldn't be required to register as sex offenders for crimes committed when they were boys.

They cited the confidentiality provisions of the Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act.

The three-judge panel upheld a lower court's ruling Wednesday that said Congress intended to exclude certain juveniles from those confidentiality provisions when it created the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. The judges say the registration requirement is constitutionally sound.

Juvenile justice advocates say the ruling is short-sighted and represents an erosion of confidentiality protections given to youth offenders.


UT - Bill allowing some sex offender off register early approved

Original Article

01/25/2012

By Ladd Brubaker

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would allow a limited group of offenders to petition a court to get off Utah's sex offender registry after five years was approved Tuesday by the Utah House Judiciary Committee on an 8-4 vote.

Rep. Jack Draxler, R-North Logan, who is sponsoring HB13, said it gives those convicted of the "two least egregious (sexual) offenses" a chance to get off the state registry if a judge determines they're no longer a threat to society.

"I am trying to bring some opportunity for redemption from someone who's really paid the price and tried to get their life back in order," Draxler told committee members.

But other legislators expressed concerns that many who might be eligible under the proposal would be more serious offenders whose charges had been reduced by plea arrangements. Others worried that victims would be unnecessarily re-victimized.

In presenting his proposal, Draxler repeated the case of a convicted sex offender that he mentions often.

About 10 years ago, a 19-year-old man who had sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend was convicted of unlawful sexual activity with a minor. The couple later married and now has four children.

But because he has been required to be listed on the Utah Sex Offender and Kidnap Offender Registry for 10 years, he cannot go to the park with his children, attend his child's parent-teacher conferences and there are restrictions of where he can work and live.

Speaking in opposition to the bill, Mel Wilson, who represents the Utah Council for Victims of Crime, said, "This is one of the most difficult issues that we have presented before us in the criminal justice system."

"We're very sympathetic to the issue," he said, but added that the victims' council decided the bill does not adequately address the issue.

Wilson said council members looked over numerous probation reports and figure that of 250 offenders on the registry for the two offenses under the bill, "very few would fit what we called the Romeo-and-Juliet scenarios — only about two."

As of July 15, the sex offender registry listed 47 offenders who've been convicted of unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old, and 218 convicted of unlawful sexual activity with a minor (ages 14 or 15).

Not all would qualify under Draxler's proposal. Eligible offenders must have completed any treatment the court may have ordered and must have no subsequent convictions, except for traffic offenses.

To be eligible, offenders also must have complied with all registration requirements.

Draxler said he will work with opponents of the bill to address their concerns before it goes to the full House.


MI - Should Teens Be Jailed for Sex Offenses? A Growing Parental Rebellion Says No

Original Article

01/25/2012

By Abigail Pesta

Parents are fighting laws that imprison teens for sex. Prosecutors say kids should obey the law. Meet one young Romeo who didn't—and spent six years in jail.

Francie Baldino, a mother of two from Royal Oak, Mich., can tell you the day she became an activist against America’s sex-offender laws. It was the day her teenage son went to prison—for falling in love with a teenage girl.

The prison term was unthinkable,” says Baldino. “He was just a dumb kid.”

Her son, Ken, was an 18-year-old senior in high school when he was arrested for having sex with his girlfriend, a 14-year-old freshman, in 2004. The age of consent in Michigan is 16. He got sentenced to a year in jail and three years’ probation. After that, when the two teens resumed their relationship—violating his probation—he got five to 15 years.

His mother is part of a surprising rebellion that has now spread to all 50 states: parents fighting against sex-offender laws—the very laws designed to safeguard their children. These parents argue that the laws are imposing punishments on their high-school sons that are out of proportion to the crime.

Baldino’s son, for instance, spent more than six years behind bars and today must wear a GPS device the size of a box of butter. Sometimes, he says, it loses its signal and sets off an alarm. “That’s really helpful when I’m at work,” says the blue-eyed 26-year-old, who wears stud earrings and works at a door-and-window store.

The cases these parents are fighting are highly complex, charged with emotion, and rarely black-and-white. The questions are profoundly difficult: Should the scales of justice be weighted in favor of the young? Is a sex crime somehow less terrible, if it involves teens?

No one keeps a tally of how many cases fall into this category nationwide. But there is one measure of the scale of the movement: there are now more than 50 organizations—at least one in every state—battling against prosecutions like these. Baldino’s group is Michigan Citizens for Justice, which she says includes more than 100 parents. Another group in Michigan, the Coalition for a Useful Registry, has around 150 parents as members, it says. Organizations in other states report similar numbers. One of the largest, Texas Voices, claims some 300 parents as members.

The cases they are fighting are highly complex, charged with emotion, and rarely black-and-white. The questions are profoundly difficult: Should the scales of justice be weighted in favor of the young? Is a sex crime somehow less terrible, if it involves teens? The judge in the Baldino case, Fred Mester, openly acknowledged the complexities. Referring to his own high-school days when handing down the prison sentence in 2005, he said, “Half my senior class … were dating freshman girls, and I suspect half of them would be in here today.”

Prosecutors say it’s simple: kids should obey the law, and parents need to keep their children under control. Paul Walton, a chief assistant prosecutor in Michigan, says Baldino’s son had only himself to blame: he was an adult, and he chose his own actions. “The court isn’t imposing restrictions because it’s fun—it’s the law,” Walton says. “You can disagree on the age of consent, but the law says that prior to that age, a person doesn’t have the ability to consent.”
- Mr. Walton, just wait until one of your children is slammed with the label, then let's see how you react.

Baldino is quick to say that she doesn’t advocate underage sex. And both she and her son admit he broke the law. He “did stupid things,” she says, including getting in a physical fight with his girlfriend’s father one evening in 2004—a fight that began the chain of events that led to the police being called, and his arrest for underage sex.

Baldino argues simply that the law should treat teenage lovers differently from pedophiles or violent sexual predators. “The punishment is too extreme for kids,” she says. “It’s a system that’s not working.”

ON A RECENT RAINY AFTERNOON, Francie Baldino steps into her kitchen and pulls out a favorite photo of her son as a toddler, dressed in a bee costume. Then she sits down at the table and describes the events that sent him to prison.

Baldino was a remarried mother of two when her son, Ken Thornsberry (who uses his father’s surname), met a girl named Emily Lester at a local Tower Records. The two teenagers were living with their fathers in the wake of divorce; both were struggling to find their footing at home and at school, says Baldino. They attended different high schools, but started spending all their free time together. Eventually, they slept together, although they certainly didn’t announce that to their parents.


CT - Lawmakers discuss sex abuse reporting laws

Original Article

01/24/2012

By Mark Davis

Hartford (WTNH) - The scandal surrounding Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky has prompted colleges and lawmakers around the country to take a closer look at laws requiring people in certain professions to report when they suspect or witness child abuse.

"Remaining silent in the face of the kind of abuse that occurred at Penn State shocks the conscience,"said Commissioner Joette Katz, Department of Children & Families.

Connecticut State lawmakers heard Tuesday that it appears that college coaches are not among the dozens of professions listed as 'Mandatory Reporters' of child sex abuse under Connecticut law.

"Our research following this scandal reveals, however, that Connecticut's mandated reporting law...does not apply to youth, college, or university coaches," said Katz.

In fact, the University of Connecticut, which is nationally famous for its basketball program, apparently has no policy. The Board of Trustees is scheduled to vote Wednesday on establishing a child abuse reporting policy at UConn.

"My son went to the Jim Calhoun basketball camp," said Rep. Diana Urban, Select Committee on Children. "I, of course, assumed that the UConn campus would have in place a policy to keep my son safe and apparently they don't."

Current law, specifically requires high school coaches to report abuse, but coaches at the college level were apparently left off the list when the law was originally written.

In addition to school coaches, other 'Mandatory Reporters' include people in child care, all medical people, teachers, principals and guidance counselors, members of the clergy and social workers.

However, lawmakers also heard Tuesday that many people on the list don't really know what their responsibilities are.

"Your responsibility is, if you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected; you must, by law, pick up the phone and call the D.C.F. Hotline," said Jeanne Milstein, CT Child Advocate, "or make sure that a report is made to the hotline."

The law requires that you call the Department of Children and Families hotline rather than the police. That's one change they are talking about making.


GA - Proposal calls for sex offender nursing home

Original Article

01/24/2012

By Marc McAfee

MILLEDGEVILLE - Neither the Governor nor the Georgia Department of Corrections would elaborate Tuesday on a plan to reopen a closed facility to house elderly sex offenders.

The proposal would spend $6 million to renovate the former Bostick State Prison, a Milledgeville facility that closed in 2010.

Treatment for elderly sex offenders is often more expensive in the regular system, and a specialized facility would service a population most nursing homes won't touch.

In a hearing last Wednesday, Corrections Commissioner Brian Owens said medicaid money could be used to treat the 150 inmates. It's not clear whether the renovated facility would keep the same amount of security infrastructure as the former prison.

"The governor believes this is the safest and most efficient way to ensure inmates needing medical care receive appropriate treatment while also keeping convicted offenders off Georgia's streets," read a statement from Governor Nathan Deal's office.

Several Milledgeville residents told 11Alive any jobs would be welcomed by the community. They said sex offenders already lived in the general prison populations around Milledgeville, and as long as they stay inside the gates, there shouldn't be any controversy.

"Most of them are going to be sickly and elderly and not able to hardly walk or get around anyway," said former corrections worker Richard Grable. "So there isn't any way they're going to pose any harm or threat to the community or the kids out in the community anyway."
- So why can't they stay at a regular nursing home then?  It's just more government waste of money.

For the proposal to move forward, it would need approval from the state legislature.


FL - Sex offender numbers rise in Florida

Original Article (With Video)

Keep in mind, this comes from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who have a vested interest in inflating the numbers, money..... Also see this item for more. You see, the states have duplicate entries for offenders, some have moved to a state, then left the state, but their listing stays on the registry, and some have died, but are still on the registry. Think about it. If they removed the people who do not live in the state anymore, or who are deceased, the fear mongering number would be a lot less. They get paid more money for the number of people on the list. Offenders move all the time, due to the draconian laws, so imagine how many duplicates you could have if an offender moved to three different states, and a long with all his/her aliases, could bring the list up drastically, and this is a fact, but nobody seems to be addressing this issue, why?  Plus, the NCMEC only contacted police departments by phone to get the numbers, which I'm sure is not very reliable.

See Also: Bloated Registries - Why? So they can shock people from fear to get funding, etc?

01/24/2012

JACKSONVILLE - New data from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children shows the number of registered sex offenders in the country is increasing, and Florida ranks high on the list.

Florida has the third highest number of registered sex offenders in the country at about 58,000. California and Texas are ranked Nos. 1 and 2.

Trevor Brandl, who has a 2-year-old daughter, was surprised by a search of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's sex offender database in reference to his home.

"In a two-mile radius, 30 offenders or predators found. That's shocking," Brandl said.

When he heard that Florida is No. 3 in the country for sex offenders, he found it disturbing.

"To see Florida so high, it's a little scary," he said.

Kecia Harris was also unaware of how many sex offenders live by her.

"It's very scary, alarming," she said. "It makes me afraid for my nephew. If I want to have children, I might relocate."

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that the number of registered sex offenders has gone up 23 percent in the last five years. The 58,000 registered sex offenders in Florida represent 0.3 percent of the state's population.
- And why has this number gone up?  Is it due to new people being arrested for stupid stuff, or offenders committing new crimes, or people dying and not being removed, or duplicate records in the database with different spellings, etc?  After all, the data is entered by a human, which is prone to mistakes and different spellings, etc, or due to a person having multiple aliases.  You notice, they don't justify why the increase, they just say it has increased, and leave it up to the public to assume it's due to more people being arrested, which I'm sure is most likely not the case.

Channel 4 crime analyst Ken Jefferson believes the numbers are up because a lot of emphasis is being placed on sex crimes. He said that no matter where you live, it's important to know who is a sex offender.

"If he was arrested for a sex offense against a child, you want to keep your children away from that area, make them aware and educate them," Jefferson said.

As a parent himself, Jefferson said other parents need to check the FDLE website on a regular basis because every time sex offenders move, the site is updated.

"As often as you feel it necessary, be it weekly, be it monthly, whatever, because they're moving around quite often," he said.


AR - Sympathy for the devil

Original Article
Visit Arkansas Time After Time

01/25/2012

By David Koon

Police and other experts say some of our laws on sex offenders may be doing more harm than good.

Say the words "registered sex offender" to almost anyone in Arkansas, and the thought that will likely leap to mind is "child molester" — possibly accompanied by the image of a greasy-haired pervert cruising playgrounds in a panel van with a bag of candy on the seat beside him. There's no arguing with an image like that once it sets up shop in a person's head. No use even trying.

The truth, though — as with the truth in any dark corner of society that most folks would rather not think about — is a lot more complicated.

In fact, the crimes that will land you on the registry are numerous (see sidebar on page 16) — from knowingly infecting someone with HIV to promoting prostitution to being a Peeping Tom — with many of them having nothing to do with children per se.

For example: Because Arkansas is required to enforce the sex offender restrictions placed by other states on offenders who relocate here, there were a number of female prostitutes from Louisiana — where prostitution is a registry-level offense — on the Arkansas registry a few years back, evacuees from New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Thinking about pulling the classic college prank of "streaking" naked through a public place? If there happen to be any children present and you get caught, you're more than likely looking at a mandatory 15 years as a sex offender. We've been told there's at least one man on the registry because, if you can believe it, he likes to have sex with the umbrella hole of picnic tables. There's another on the registry whose only known victims are dogs.

While the oddball cases are rare, and the majority of those on the list are men who fit anyone's definition of deviant criminal, the term "sex offender" encompasses much more than "child molester."

When we spoke to the manager of the Arkansas Sex Offender Registry in early January, there were 11,268 registered sex offenders in the state of Arkansas: 10,944 men, 324 women. The total grows sometimes by three or four every day; between 800 to 1,000 names have been added every year since the registry was established by the state legislature in 1997.

Of those listed offenders, 2,067 were not yet assessed (mostly inmates, who are required to register on their way into prison if convicted of a sexual offense, but aren't formally classified until they get out). Another 1,084 were Level 1 "low risk" sex offenders. A total of 3,839 were Level 2 "moderate risk" offenders, 4,012 were Level 3 "high risk" offenders and 266 were Level 4s, which are specified by statute as "sexually violent predators." The Level 4s are mostly the ones that keep even hardened cops up at night.

From a drab office in Pine Bluff, the Arkansas Department of Correction's Sex Offender Screening and Risk Assessment (SOSRA) program is doing groundbreaking, internationally-recognized work delving into the minds and motivations of those convicted of sexual crimes, using a combination of technology and old-fashioned interrogation techniques to separate the one-time offenders from the human monsters at the upper end of the scale, so that they can be more accurately assigned to one of the four levels (see sidebar on page 19) that determine the depth and breadth of community notification. It's a proven system, and works well enough that law enforcement agencies all over the world have sought SOSRA's advice.

Still, even the experts in Pine Bluff will tell you that some of the well-intentioned things Arkansas does with SOSRA's numbers once they're assigned — most notably residency restrictions, which can drive offenders far from the support networks, work opportunities, and treatment options that might help them avoid committing another crime — may actually be making us less safe in the long run.


AR - The scarlet letter - An offender and his victim struggle together with the realities of registration

Original Article

01/25/2012

By David Koon

Carrie Moore and her husband, "Adam," (they asked that we conceal his name to protect his employment) understand all too well about the burdens placed on a sex offender and his family. Married for almost 10 years — he and his wife have two children now, and live a comfortable, middle-class life in a semi-rural home in Central Arkansas — Adam is classified as a Level 3 sex offender. When Carrie was 14 and he was 21, they started a relationship through a mutual friend that eventually led to Carrie getting pregnant. Carrie was well developed for her age and both insist that neither knew how old the other was until the relationship was several months along. Adam said he tried to break it off when he found out how young Carrie was, but she kept calling, and they decided to continue. When Carrie became pregnant and was forced to tell her parents about the relationship, Moore's mother went to the prosecuting attorney, and Adam was arrested for statutory rape, a charge later reduced to sexual misconduct.

"We've lived together since then," Moore said. "We've been together ever since I was 14. We've had two children. Technically, he's not allowed to be within 2,000 feet of the victim, but I'm the victim. He lives with me, so we're breaking the law every day."

Adam said he doesn't know exactly why he was assessed at a Level 3 status by SOSRA (at the suggestion of the reporter, Carrie recently requested a copy of her husband's assessment report from SOSRA, but hasn't received it as of this writing), but Adam notes that he was "young, and had a little bit of an attitude" during his assessment, which he thinks might have had something to do with the level he was assigned.

Carrie Moore said she isn't trying to say that the relationship between her and Adam was right at the time it began, pointing out that if her 13-year-old daughter tried to date a man in his 20s, she'd have problems with it. But she said she wouldn't change the past if she could, even knowing how it all turned out. Adam worked two jobs to support her and their child while she finished high school and then college, where Carrie earned a B.A. degree, allowing her to get what she said is a well-paying job.

Carrie said having her husband on the sex offender registry — a fact they didn't tell their kids until this year — has been hard. They live under a dark cloud. Periodically, local law enforcement officers come to the house, requesting to search the premises and examine the family computer. Recently, their daughter came home in tears after a classmate who'd seen the online Sex Offender Registry listing about Adam told the girl that her father was a rapist and that she should be taken away from her parents by the state. Two years ago, Carrie and Adam said, Adam was suddenly let go from what he'd thought was a stable job with a local company after someone at work saw his page on the registry.

"They said they didn't want him working there anymore," she said. "They sent a copy of the Sex Offender Registry print-out with his final paycheck."

Because of his sex offender status, Adam can't attend any events at his children's school without prior approval from the local police, and only then with a law enforcement monitor sitting within arm's reach at all times. At Christmas last year, Adam was arrested and threatened with prison for attending his daughter's holiday play at school after a local police officer saw him there (both Carrie and Adam insist they didn't know until then that he couldn't attend events at the school that were open to the public).

The Moores have applied for a pardon from the governor's office three times, and have been denied every time. They'd filed yet another request when we spoke at their home in late 2011. Sentenced to be on the registry for a mandatory 15 years, the soonest Adam can even begin petitioning the court to be removed will be 2015.

As parents, Adam and Carrie said they see the need for strong laws concerning sex offenders, and understand that a case like theirs — with the offender and victim getting married and living together long-term — is rare. Still, they said they believe there should be some kind of review process to let certain offenders off the registry before the 15 years is up, if they can show they're not a threat to the community. "Do I think that 14-year-olds should be able to have sex with 21-year-olds and then the 21-year-olds not be held accountable for it?" Carrie asked. "That's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that I think that after a certain time period, if you've established that you have a relationship and it wasn't just a one-night stand or a fling, at some point there's a review board that can look at that."

Adam said he often feels guilty about what being on the sex offender registry has meant to his children. "I know you have to draw the line between sympathy and right and wrong," he said. "I know you have to have [laws governing sex offenders] in place. But I can't go to their school, I can't go to their plays. I can't go to anything that has to do with the school. I guess I am allowed to go, but I have to call and ask if they have somebody who can babysit me ... I've been married for almost 10 years. I'm not interested in children in any kind of bad way. I'm interested in if my children are succeeding. It's kind of hard for a kid to think you're on their team if you can't be there."