Thursday, February 16, 2012
By Dick Aldrich
Jefferson City - A Missouri House committee is considering legislation that would greatly reduce the number of persons on the state's sex offender registry and restrict public information about those that remain.
The legislation, filed by Rep. Rodney Schad, R-Versailles, comes after hearings during the fall in several locations around Missouri, during which the House's Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee heard hours of testimony from registered sex offenders and their families about the undue burden faced by those on the registry.
- Good job folks!
Schad told members of the committee Wednesday that inclusion on the sex offender registry does little to rehabilitate those who need the help the most.
"In short, there's no evidence that the public is being protected by the public registry in its current configuration," said Schad. "With our public registry, the public is not able to sort out who the true threats to society are."
- And think about it, if all those who were found dangerous, by professionals, before sentencing, then they'd be civilly committed so they can get the help they need, then the online shaming hit-list could be taken offline and used by police only, like it originally was.
The legislation would create a graduated scale of sexual offenses for inclusion on the registry. There would be four levels of offenders and it would exempt some from public display on the sex offender website, although information on all persons convicted of sex crimes will be maintained in a database available to law enforcement.
Those convicted of more serious crimes will still be listed with their picture on the public site. But the offenders' work and or school addresses, and a physical description of the offender's car will no longer be included in the information available for public viewing.
"Unfettered online access to registry information facilitates, if not encourages, neighbors, employers, colleagues and others to shun and ostracize former offenders, diminishing the likelihood of their successful reintegration into the community," said Schad.
- Sure does, see here and here.
The legislation establishes a board to oversee the operation of the registry and the movement of offenders into the proper categories. While no one in the audience at the hearing spoke against the bill and its premise, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety did have reservations about the broad option.
"Changes should be done through the court room," said James Klahr, legislative liaison for DPS. "The courts are best equipped to deal with these cases, as opposed to an independent board."
But Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis, a criminal defense attorney argued that judges in different locations are prone to making very different decisions based on the same evidence depending on the areas of the state they serve and whether or not they are elected or appointed.
- That is what we hire them for. If we had cookie cutter laws, then we'd not need a lot of people in the injustice system.
"People who are in the position to remove citizens from the registry shouldn't have to worry about retaliation in the form of getting elected," said Colona. "And I don't know how else to do that other than removing the process from the judiciary."
There are currently more than 12,000 people on Missouri's sex offender registry. Their crimes run the gamut from rape and murder to consensual sex involving minors. Schad said previously that the number of people on Missouri's rolls has increased dramatically in the last four years as the state tries to keep up with increasingly stringent federal guidelines.
"We've grown in the last four years, about 4,000 offenders on the registry," said Schad after a hearing earlier this year. "That's just unacceptable. We may have ruined another 4,000 lives."
- I concur.
Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Tim McGrail, the administrator of the state's sex offender registry, said the legislation makes "dramatic changes" to Missouri statutes on the sex offender registry, saying that the state would be far out of compliance with federal sex offender regulations.
McGrail told the committee that law enforcement worries about offenders from other states coming into Missouri to take advantage of standards that are less than the states where they currently reside.
"They go looking for states that are less strict as far as the sex offender registry," said McGrail. "By passing this legislation, you'll open the door for many offenders from other states to move to Missouri."
The committee didn't take a vote on the bill, giving members time to contemplate changes to the bill before taking a final vote. A vote on the bill could come as early as next Wednesday, the next scheduled meeting of the committee.
Let's not forget this oldie, where Bobby claims to be an exorcist. So why doesn't he bust out his mojo and exorcise the demons from LA? LOL!
BATON ROUGE (AP) — A federal judge threw out on Thursday a Louisiana law that bans certain sex offenders from Facebook and other social networking sites, calling the prohibition an unreasonable restriction on constitutionally protected speech.
The law, which took effect in August, made it a crime for anyone convicted of a sex offense against a minor or of video voyeurism to use networking websites, chat rooms and peer-to-peer networks. Lawmakers, backed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, said the ban was designed to keep sex offenders from preying on children in online forums.
U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson, based in Baton Rouge, said the prohibition went too far.
“Although the act is intended to promote the legitimate and compelling state interest of protecting minors from internet predators, the near total ban on Internet access imposed by the act unreasonably restricts many ordinary activities that have become important to everyday life in today’s world,” Jackson wrote in his ruling.
The ACLU of Louisiana sought to overturn the law on behalf of two sex offenders identified as John Doe and James Doe.
The organization said the terms used in the law barred the sex offenders from browsing any website that allows users to create profiles about themselves or that has chat rooms, instant messaging and e-mail — sweeping in everything from news websites to job search sites.
During a hearing a few months before his ruling, Jackson noted the statute would appear to ban the sex offenders from using the federal court website.
The attorney general’s office defended the statute, which was sponsored in the Legislature by Rep. Ledricka Thierry, D-Opelousas. A spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond Thursday to a question about whether the attorney general’s office would appeal Jackson’s ruling.
- ACLU Sues To Protect First Amendment Rights on the Internet (PDF)
- Jindal Blasts Judge For Facebook Sex Offender Ruling
She has some good answers, but from Wikipedia and Emory web sites, she is NOT an expert in sexual abuse. I could be wrong, but I don't see it. If that is the case, this would be like asking a brain surgeon how to fix a car.
Psychologist Barbara Rothbaum, director of the Trauma and Anxiety Recovery Program at Emory University School of Medicine, answers questions on the topic of sexual abuse of children, what parents should do, and hope for healing. Watch this interactive session.
Click the link below to view the article. The photos are a little hard to read, so you might have to contact the blog owner or the Human Rights Watch.
UK - Chamber of Commerce chief ' (Derek Chartres) raped schoolgirl on his bed while his wife (Pearl Chartres) lay next to them and watched'
|Derek & Pearl Chartres|
By Chris Parsons
A senior Chamber of Commerce figure and former RAF police officer raped a schoolgirl while his wife lay on the bed watching, a court heard today.
Derek Chartres, 59, allegedly watched pornography and engaged in sex acts in front of schoolgirls and is also accused of raping a girl under 16.
The former Chamber of Commerce president is accused of a string of sex acts against two girls, while his wife Pearl, 51, denies aiding and abetting the rape after she allegedly lay on the bed and watched.
The alleged offences took place between 1982 and 1984 when Chartres, from Newport, Isle of Wight, committed the offences on the two schoolgirls, who are now both women in their 40s, telling one it was 'sex education'.
One of the women complained to police in 2010 that Mr Chartres raped her when she was a schoolgirl in the couple's bedroom, while his wife lay on the bed and watched.
One girl, who recalled being around 11 at the time, told police how Mr Chartres would watch pornographic videos in her presence and had once kissed her intimately.
She said Mr and Mrs Chartres asked if she liked sex and engaged in sex acts in front of her. They once had full sex in front of her calling it 'sex education', according to prosecutor Roderick Blain.
She said she also remembered Mr Chartres kissing her, which she found 'disgusting'.
In a DVD interview conducted by police, played to jurors, the other victim said Mr Chartres watched pornographic videos and rubbed her leg.
On another occasion Mr and Mrs Chartres had full sex in front of her in the couple’s bedroom, she claimed.
She said: 'I could not believe what I was seeing.'
Under cross examination from Mr Chartres’s barrister, Robert Bryan, she agreed she could not be sure how old she was when the alleged offences took place.
Mr Bryan put it to the woman that she had 'made everything up'. However, she told the court everything she had said about the couple was the 'absolute truth'.
Mr Chartres, managing director of business logistics and support company The Business Services Group and a former officer in the Royal Air Force police, helped found a youth version of the Chamber of Commerce called Young Chamber.
He faces one charge of committing indecent assault, one of committing gross indecency with a child under the age of 14 and one of raping another girl under 16.
His wife, on trial alongside her husband this week, is accused of aiding and abetting a rape and indecent assault.
The couple are jointly charged with four counts of committing indecency with a child under the age of 14. They deny all charges.
The defence was due to start its case on Thursday.
The case at Portsmouth Crown Court continues.
A cop was found dead after being arrested on suspicion of child porn offences, it was revealed today.
Police Sergeant John Skilling, 50, was discovered in his car in an exhaust-filled garage.
He had been arrested in September on suspicion of making, possessing and distributing indecent images of children.
Sgt Skilling had been running Gloucester Police's schools unit before officers swooped on him. He was found dead on November 20 last year.
The force said in a statement: "We can confirm that on September 13, 2011, a 50-year-old serving police officer was arrested at his home."
"The man was released on police bail pending further inquiries. He was immediately suspended but subsequently left the constabulary of his own accord."
"On the morning of November 20, 2011, he was found deceased at his home address. His death is not being treated as suspicious and the coroner was informed."
"We are satisfied, at this time, that the individual arrested did not commit any offences during the course of his work."
Sgt Skilling, from Hucclecote, was well known around schools for giving talks on cyber-bullying.
He had worked as head of Gloucestershire Police schools unit until less than a year before his death when he was moved as part of a cost-cutting force re-shuffle.
A full inquest into his death is due to be held on March 13 in Gloucester.
CT - Report finds low recidivism rate amongst convicted sex offenders, but the media and politicians continue to ignore this fact!
Maybe, just maybe, they will start paying attention to the facts now, and not just what feels good and/or public opinion?
By Uma Ramiah
Once sex offenders in Connecticut are released from prison, they are unlikely to be sent back for another sex crime, according to a report released Wednesday (PDF) by the state Office of Policy and Management.
Of 746 sex offenders released in Connecticut in 2005, five years later, less than 4 percent had been re-arrested and charged with a new sex crime.
"What's really relevant here is that the population is really small," said Ivan Kuzyk, author of the report and director of the CT Statistical Analysis Center at OPM. "It's kind of remarkable to me. I hadn't expected the rates to be so low."
- Of course, everyone has drank the koolaid fed by the media and politicians for so long, they believe recidivism is high, when it's not, and study after study shows this.
After arrest, 2.7 percent of those 746 men were convicted of another sex offense; 1.7 percent went back to prison to serve time for that new sex crime.
The data, Kuzyk writes, flies in the face of conventional wisdom that says all sex offenders are likely to re-commit a sex crime, and then head straight back to prison.
"There hasn't been a rational and reasonable discussion about sex offenders," Kuzyk said. "But now we know that not every single one of them is going to reoffend. And we can get a better understanding of who these people are."
Michael Lawlor, undersecretary for criminal justice at OPM, pointed to the potential for reaching this small, high-risk group through an existing criminal justice system and social services intervention.
"As it turns out, there are things that can be done with this population with very significant results," he said, while previewing the report last week.
- And public shaming and residency restrictions are not one of them, those have the reverse effect of what they say they will accomplish. They force people into homelessness, joblessness and no hope, and when you do that, the likelihood of someone committing another related or unrelated crime, goes up drastically.
With this kind of data, Lawlor said, the state might be able to single out those at highest risk of returning to prison for a sex specific crime, prioritize them and target them with special services.
- Wow, are finally seeing the light? Maybe, only time will tell. People who work with ex-sex offenders, and the many advocates online, have been saying this for years.
"The idea is you can actually do things to them while you've got them to reduce the chance of them getting re-arrested," he said.
What those compiling data for the report weren't able to do, Kuzyk said, was pore through the detailed files of each of the offenders.
"You can't go through more than 700 records -- that's just cost-prohibitive," Kuzyk said.
But with this data, the state can now go back and determine whether the small population of reoffenders was, for example, under supervision by the state when they committed another sex crime. Or what specific type of sex crime they committed.
"If you've got less than 20 guys, you can move forward and do a qualitative analysis of their commonalities," Kuzyk said. And that should make it easier to identify high-risk offenders.
In treating and supervising sex offenders, the state's criminal justice system relies on the Department of Correction, a web of parole and probation officers, victim advocates and nonprofit service providers. According to the report, which pulled data from each of these groups, a specialized treatment plan is developed for each offender.
But until three weeks ago, there was no place for released sex offenders to go.
"There were no secure sex offender beds for high riskers getting out of prison," Lawlor said in his comments last week. "They were often just being dropped off by bus in Hartford or New Haven, ending up in homeless shelters. And that's the worst place for a sex offender to be."
Then, a 2008 provision of Public Act 08-01 required the state to build a residential facility for sex offenders released from prison. See sections 19 and 20. Despite objections from the town of Montville, a 24-bed facility for sex offenders opened last month on the grounds of the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center.
"Housing and supports are really important to keep them from re-committing," Lawlor said.
A larger report analyzes the arrests, convictions and imprisonment of 14,398 men for five years after their release from prison in Connecticut in 2005. A majority -- 78.6 percent -- were re-arrested within five years. And 49.8 percent of those re-arrested were convicted and sent back to prison. The recidivism rate among the 746 sex offenders for non-sex crimes was slightly lower at 40.2 percent.
The report's appendices go deeper, looking at five separate sex offender categories based on offenders' prior arrests, convictions, sentence histories and identification by the Department of Correction as sex offenders.
Looking at histories, prior convictions and arrests is crucial, Kuzyk said. As the report notes, offenders often commit sex crimes but are able to avoid sex charge convictions through a plea bargain. There are also cases where victims are unwilling or unable to come forward with testimony.
- And instead of cookie cutter laws, like the Adam Walsh Act and SORNA, when someone commits a sexual related crime, they should have experts evaluate the person and their history to determine the sentence and treatment, not just sentence them based on the cookie cutter laws.
"Sometimes, these guys will end up pleading guilty to a related, nonsexual crime. But who's a greater risk to public safety? Someone who was just convicted, or someone who was able to avoid conviction but remains high risk?"
Among the 1,712 men identified in at least one of the five subgroups, arrest on a prior sex charge was the best predictor for being sent back to prison for a new sex crime.
"This is all about trying to assess future risk based on who you were in the system," Kuzyk said.
Recidivism rates don't change much year to year, Kuzyk said. So he's hoping to move the department to looking at smaller subgroups, like this one, on a yearly basis.
Lawlor called the report the first of its kind in Connecticut. "And as I understand it, this may have been a virtually unique analysis in the country," he said.
TX - Attorney: False allegations by Kimberly Smith led to Amber Alert and father to be arrested for a sexual assault he did not commit
By Scott Gordon
Girl released into custody of family members Monday night
Jessica Smith, the 11-year-old Fort Worth girl who was the focus of an Amber Alert, admitted that her mother concocted a story about her father molesting her, which enraged her mother and led to the nationwide search, the father’s attorney said Monday.
The Smiths are in the middle of a nasty divorce and child custody fight.
NBC 5 has learned the girl made the admission to a school counselor on the same day police said her mother, Kimberly Smith, assaulted her and then disappeared with her that night.
Arrest warrants and affidavits claim Smith attempted to smother her daughter and threatened to kill Jessica and herself the day before Jessica was abducted. Read the full PDF documents here.
The two were found Sunday, hungry and exhausted, in a remote area of northern New Mexico, police said.
Jessica’s father, Phillip Smith, was charged with assault after the girl made the graphic allegations that he had assaulted her.
Phillip Smith’s attorney, Tom Pappas, of Dallas, said he expected prosecutors to drop the case as early as Tuesday.
"Clearly, the mom ran because she forced Jessica to fabricate these allegations and was about to be uncovered -- or had been uncovered,” Pappas said.
Melody McDonald, a spokeswoman for the Tarrant County district attorney’s office, said the charges still stand but the new information is being reviewed.
NBC 5 doesn't usually name alleged victims of sexual assault. But in this case, Jessica Smith recanted the allegations, and the revelation sheds new light on what led to the Amber Alert.
"It's unfortunate her mom put her through this and put her center in all this stuff and then did the crazy stuff she did,” Pappas said. “We're glad she's all right."
Jessica Smith will stay with grandparents for now, but her father hopes to regain custody within days, the attorney said. Jessica was released to the custody of family members late Monday night.
"He loves his daughter,” Pappas said. “The only thing he wanted is she's safe. As long as she's safe, everything else can be resolved."
Fort Worth police are awaiting the extradition of Kimberly Smith, who is being held in New Mexico.