Monday, March 12, 2012

NH - Sex Offender Laws Are Based On Rage and Fear

Fear Mongering
Original Article

03/12/2012

By Chris Dornin

Nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford was kidnapped from her Florida home, raped and buried alive in February 2005. Lawmakers filed the 82-page Jessica Lunsford Act in her memory on April 1. Gov. Jeb Bush signed the new law on May 2. That’s light speed for any legislature. It passed unanimously in both houses.

The most draconian sex offender code in America at the time had a mandatory 25-year minimum sentence for any sex crime against a child under age 12. The bid was life without parole for perpetrators older than 17.

Bill O’Reilly of FOX News urged viewers to push their governors for even tougher laws to protect kids. “This is literally a life-and-death battle to save our youngest and most vulnerable citizens from abuse, torture, and murder,” O’Reilly warned. “I hope you'll do your part.”

New Hampshire and 16 other states had passed versions of Jessica’s Law within a year. That’s how sex offender laws get made. By rage and fear in a hurry.

People who prey on children are the most dangerous criminals in our state, targeting our most precious and vulnerable citizens,” Gov. John Lynch told the New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee. “It is time for us to send a clear message in New Hampshire. If you prey on children, we will send you to prison, and we are going to keep you there for a long time.”

Rep. Peter Batula, prime sponsor of the predator bill, said the state needed to keep from becoming “a haven for sexual predators to move over the borders.”
All based on lies!

NH Attorney General Kelley Ayotte told senators about 17 repeat sex offenders who had gotten off too lightly. She testified that the sex offense recidivism rate for pedophiles “is between 90 and 94 percent. Offenders who sexually abuse children have a lifelong problem that is not amendable to treatment.”
- And that is his personal opinion, not the facts.  The facts are, most sexual offenders do not go on to commit another related crime.  Like mentioned above, it's all based on fear, bogus "facts," and personal opinions.

Sex offender laws have bred a universal hysteria about sex offenders by branding them all as equally and intolerably dangerous. The Michigan public registry law promises to help the public know about sexual predators living near them “who, by virtue of relatively high recidivism rates among such offenders and the devastating impact that sex crimes have on society, pose a serious threat to society.”
- Again, lies.  The recidivism rate of ex-sexual offenders is lower than any other criminal.

The US Justice Department made the same argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark Alaska v John Doe case. The court ruled that the Alaska public registry is not an ex post facto punishment. In their amicus brief, the feds said sex offenders pose a huge threat because of their high recidivism rates and the injury they inflict on children.
- Pure hysteria and lies.  Sex offenders have low recidivism rates, and not all sex offenders are child molesting, pedophile predators, which this leads you to believe.

New Hampshire State Sen. David Boutin sponsored a bill two years ago to encourage police departments to use active public notice when sex offenders are released into a neighborhood. He filed the legislation to please constituents hoping to drive all the sex offenders from his home town. [name withheld], a man on the sex offender registry there, had been charged with a new sex crime. When [name withheld] made bail, his neighbors started a website against him with these and similar comments:

"You show true restraint by not beating the tar out of this lowlife." Chris Johnson

"I hope you guys get rid of the bastard. What a piece of crap." MTgirl

"This is an incestuous family of whack-jobs and psychopaths, and it makes me feel good to know they are going down." Steve

"Hang'em high and let the sun set on em. Only in a perfect world right? Haha" Josh T

Sheeple
Boutin echoed those feelings in Senate testimony for his legislation. "Late September of 2009 a convicted child sex offender heinously struck again and was charged with felonious sexual assault against a 7 year old Hooksett girl," Boutin told lawmakers. "Quick adoption of this bill and dissemination of notification guidelines to local law enforcement will go a long way towards preventing another sexual assault, with regrettable consequences for the victim, family and community, who all share in the burden of the pain."
- How is passing more feel good laws going to "prevent" anything?  It won't!  But you can pretend it will so you can look good to the sheeple who believe it as well.

Boutin failed to mention that the prosecutor had already dropped the case against [name withheld] for lack of evidence. A neighbor had accused [name withheld] of molesting his own niece, who still lives with [name withheld], his wife, and his brother in law. The bill died on the Senate floor, even in an election year

A growing body of research calls into question the wisdom of all this crusading against sex offenders. Dr. Karl Hanson, a corrections researcher for the Canadian Department of Public Safety, is a pioneer in the risk assessment of sex offenders. He has also co-authored numerous studies of sex offender recidivism, including several meta-analyses that followed large groups of offenders over many years. One of his projects found a 13.4 percent sex offense recidivism rate after five years. Another reported a 14.3 percent after six years. A third found a 14 percent rate after five years, 20 percent after 10 years and 24 percent after 15 years.

Recent American studies suggest even lower rates. One by Sarah Schelle of the Indiana Department of Corrections, entitled “Juvenile Recidivism, 2010 (PDF),” said that only two of 71 juvenile sex offenders released in 2007 had committed new sex offense within three years. That’s a 2.8 percent sex offense recidivism rate, although the sample size was small and the tracking period was shorter than Hanson used. The comparable rate for hundreds of adult sex offenders in Indiana the same year was 1.05 percent three years after release.

A report in July 2011 led by Mark Rubin of the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service followed 900 sex offenders released from prison or probation in Maine between 2004 and 2008. Within three years after release 3.8 percent had been convicted of a new sex crime. The study entitled “Sexual Assault Trends and Sex Offender Recidivism in Maine, 2010” can be found online by clicking here (PDF).

Rubin told the Portland Press Herald the public still thinks sex offenders have high re-offense rates. “There’s really no data to support that theory,” he told the newspaper.

A report in March 2012 by the State of Connecticut tracked 746 sex offenders for five years after release from prison in 2005. Only 3.6 percent had been charged with a new sex crime, 2.7 percent were convicted, and 1.7 percent had returned to prison for that new crime. The author of the report, Ivan Kuzyk, noted these low rates contradict a conventional wisdom that sex offenders have very high sexual re-offense rates. “The real challenge for public agencies is to determine the level of risk which specific offenders pose (to) the public," Kuzyk said. Here is the full report (PDF).

I wrote a piece for Corrections.com a couple of years ago entitled “Facts and Fiction about Sex Offenders ”, which summarized similar low American sex offense recidivism rates in study after study: 1.2 percent after two years in Britain; 3 percent after 4.3 years in Iowa; 8 percent after a decade in Ohio; 5.3 percent after three years in a 15-state federal study; 3 percent after three years in Alaska; 4.7 percent after three years in Tennessee; 2 percent after three years in West Virginia; 3.38 percent after 10 years in California; 7.2 percent after 25 years in Utah; 2.3 percent after three years in Arizona; 3.8 percent after three years in Delaware; 2.4 percent after three years in Illinois; 1.8 percent after three years in New Mexico; 4 percent after three years in South Carolina. My article on this literature is still available elsewhere on corrections.com.

Hanson said the earliest Canadian and American sex offense recidivism studies found unusually high rates because the investigators looked only at high- and medium-risk populations. Most were repeat offenders to begin with. Hanson is familiar with the recent U.S. studies, but questions some of those low numbers because parolees in states like Iowa and Alaska can return to prison after a new sex offense without counting officially as re-offenders.

I know that first-hand,” Hanson said. “The way they capture their data underestimates the recidivism. And not all repeat offenders go back to prison. Or they might return in a different state.”

In an unlikely alliance, victim advocates have begun standing up for sex offenders in litigation and battles over legislation. Atty. Margie Slagle (Web Site) wrote an amicus brief representing the Cleveland and Texas rape crisis centers in the Williams v Ohio case. They intervened on the side of the plaintiff, a sex offender challenging the public registry law before the Ohio Supreme Court as an ex post facto punishment. Slagle helped Williams to win last summer. Below is a passage from her brief.

While protecting Ohioans from sex offenders is a compelling interest-and indeed, it is the core mission of the amici- none of the changes implemented as part of Ohio's AWA has been proven to achieve that goal. Research shows that the law's more burdensome requirements on law enforcement, the public, and sex offenders can cause higher levels of recidivism and thus pose increased danger to the community. More onerous sex offender registration and community notification laws threaten to harm the very people they are intended to protect and to undermine goals of community safety and treatment of offenders. These laws perpetuate myths and create a false sense of security.

Research demonstrates that victimization can be reduced when sex offenders successfully reenter the community. These changes also put law enforcement agencies, already in budgetary crises, in the position of spending precious dollars on monitoring low risk individuals with a limited impact on public safety. Thus, any argument that Ohio's AWA is simply a remedial law designed to protect children and the public from sexual abuse and sex crimes is seriously flawed. Ohio's AWA is not based on empirical evidence or proven research, but on fear and misinformation.

In an interview, Slagle said prosecutors and other officials pander for votes by playing the sex offender card. “The sad truth is we leave parents and children more vulnerable when lawmakers pass laws based on myth and not facts,” she said. “The public registry makes thing so difficult for them. Part of rehabilitation is getting them accepted back into the community.”

Hanson said the research fails to support claims that the public sex offender registries deter sex crimes or prevent recidivism. “The recidivism rates before and after implementation of registries are essentially the same,” he explained. “When policies are going to affect other people, it is worth collecting data first.”

Chris Dornin is a former New Hampshire State House reporter and the founder of Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform. In the interest of full disclosure, he helped to kill Sen. Boutin’s active notification bill.


MN - Minnesota can't keep sex offenders locked up forever

Rep. Tina Liebling
Original Article

03/12/2012

By Tina Liebling

The three judges of the Supreme Court Appeal Panel that supervises the Minnesota Sex Offender Program recently approved the provisional discharge of an MSOP client, only the second in the program's history. A provisional discharge is not a release. Provisional discharge places the client in a residential treatment facility under 24-hour surveillance with a GPS monitor and continued treatment, not roaming the street alone.

Despite this, the decision has prompted loud opposition from some Republican legislators and their leadership. They have attacked Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson and Gov. Mark Dayton for their decision not to oppose the provisional discharge. These political attacks play on fear but, ironically, they make us all less safe.

The MSOP is not a prison. These people completed a prison sentence and were then civilly committed as what’s termed a “sexual psychopathic personality” or “sexually dangerous person.” The law allows the state to confine the person again because the purpose is treatment — not punishment — and that treatment status is why they are called “clients” rather than “prisoners” or “offenders.”
- My question is, why did they not receive treatment in prison? Why wait until they have served all their time, then force them into a civil commitment center for many more years? Yes, to me, that is punishment, and a waste of money.

However, until now commitment to the MSOP has been a one-way ticket. In the 20 years that the program has existed, no one has ever been discharged. The longer we go without any treatment “successes,” the more likely a court will say that this is not a treatment program, but is simply an illegal way of re-imprisoning offenders who have already served their time. If that happens, the courts could order the release of all 635 MSOP clients.

The MSOP program is expensive and growing fast. It costs Minnesota about $115,700 a year to keep one person in the MSOP, compared to $31,400 a year for a prisoner in the Minnesota prison system. In 2003 the MSOP had only 199 clients, but by 2011 there were roughly 635. The MSOP budget has risen from $18.5 million in 2003 to $70.4 million this year, over 300 percent. The Department of Human Services projects that if the system remains unchanged, it will have more than 1,300 clients by the year 2021. With adjustments for inflation, MSOP will then cost more than $200 million per year — money that will not be available for other forms of public safety or for education, health care, or other needs.

We all share the goal of keeping our communities safe, but when even a tightly controlled provisional discharge brings accusations that the community is being placed at risk, it is difficult to defend the program against accusations that it is a sham, much less reform the program to make it more effective and less costly.

While we might like to lock up some sex offenders forever to prevent further crimes, we can't do that legally to people who were convicted under older law, and we can't legally lock them up for treatment if that treatment somehow never works for anyone. We can expand available prison sentences for future offenders and have done so, but that doesn’t affect those already convicted under older laws.

We must do a better job of preventing sex crimes and of distinguishing those who are truly dangerous from those who can be safely — and less expensively — managed in the community. We need more resources for prevention, community supervision and treatment of lower-level offenders, and treatment during the prison term.

Minnesotans face tough choices. If our goal is to keep MSOP clients locked up forever, we are on thin constitutional ice that will eventually break. That would be far riskier than a provisional discharge now. If our goal is better community safety, partisan political attacks won’t get us there.


AR - Arkansas Re-Entry Resource Fair


FL - From Julia Tuttle bridge to Shorecrest street corner: Miami sex offenders again living on street

Original Article

03/12/2012

By CHARLES RABIN and SCOTT HIAASEN

Two years after dozens of sex offenders who’d lived under the Julia Tuttle Causeway were moved into apartments, offenders recently released from prison sleep on a Miami street.

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Ostracized by harsh residency laws and barred from taking shelter under a bridge, as many as two dozen homeless sex offenders are now setting up camp nightly on a tiny slab of sidewalk in the Shorecrest residential neighborhood in northeast Miami.

With no roof over their heads, no beds to sleep on, the men gather by 10 each night at the southwest corner of Northeast 79th Street and 10th Avenue, on the concrete near a vacant lot owned by the city of Miami. They are usually gone and out of sight by 6 the next morning.

State probation officials are aware of the sidewalk camp — in fact, the men there say their probation officers directed them to the corner after leaving prison. Because of a strict Miami-Dade County law, the camp is in one of the few areas where sex offenders may legally reside.

But Miami officials are now considering a lawsuit against the state Department of Corrections, complaining that what they initially accepted as a temporary landing spot for released inmates has become a permanent fixture.

I am extremely disappointed in the lack of progress and to discover that the sex offenders are now erecting tents in the public right of way at the location, a sign that they intend to make this location more than just their temporary reporting area,” city Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who represents Shorecrest, wrote the Department of Corrections last week.

Ron Book, the chairman of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust, also blasted the corrections department, which has declined requests to alert the Trust — which provides services for the homeless — before letting ex-cons out to live on the street.

I’m shocked. It makes me crazy. We worked very hard to make sure this crap didn’t happen again,” said Book, a lobbyist who also was a vocal advocate for the Miami-Dade County ordinance preventing sex offenders from residing near schools.

State prison officials say they are monitoring the offenders at the 79th Street camp, but insist that they are not instructing offenders to move to the site.

We are not telling probationers to go live there,” said Ann Howard, spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections. “We can’t tell them where they can live.”

Before sex offenders are released from custody, the corrections department does check on their future residences, to ensure that they comply with state and local laws limiting where sex offenders can live, Howard said. But Miami is a “difficult” location, because the county’s residency law for sex offenders is so strict.

The problem stems from a Miami-Dade County ordinance that bars sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school, exceeding the state’s 1,000-foot restriction. The county passed the law two years ago to eliminate a patchwork of even stricter laws — creating buffer zones around parks, daycare centers and even school bus stops — passed by several cities.

About five years ago, the laws forced more than 100 sex offenders to camp under the Julia Tuttle Causeway for nearly three years, with the blessing of the corrections department, which monitors felons on probation.

The Tuttle camp drew criticism from around the country before it was cleared out and fenced off, scattering the felons around Miami-Dade. But the county’s law still renders many spots off limits to sex offenders, funneling them into a handful of areas, such as the Shorecrest street corner that meets the rules.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Miami-Dade in 2009, arguing its ordinance makes it impossible for sex offenders to find a place to live, endangering children even further because the public and police can’t keep tabs on their whereabouts. The case was thrown out, and an appeals court determined that the law was within the county’s authority.

Visits to the Shorecrest camp last week found more than a half-dozen men gathered on the sidewalk near 79th Street. The corner is listed as the home of some 24 “transient” sex offenders in the registry maintained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Some spend the night dozing off in folding chairs. Others stay in their cars. One man lives in a tiny orange-and-green tent, protected by a zipper.

With no bathrooms, the men urinate in the corner of a field a few feet away.

All wear GPS bracelets on their ankles, to alert their probation officers if they stray too far away during the night. The encampment is on a desolate strip of 79th Street, between two fenced-in vacant lots, but only a few blocks from the residential neighborhoods of Belle Meade to the south and Shorecrest just north.

I thought it was going to be a place with a roof. But no, it was here on the street,” said [name withheld], 49, married with a 17-year-old son. Peeping out from his tent, Vargas said: “There’s no bathroom, nowhere to take a shower. If I were not here, they’d send me back to prison.”

Said another man, a 49-year-old who declined to give his name: “People ride by and look at us like we’re animals or dogs. We sleep in chairs. It’s dangerous and scary, but we sleep. I don’t want my mom coming out here to see me, she can’t take it.”

Though state prison officials have denied directing newly released offenders to the camp, several of the felons told police that they went there after receiving a piece of scrap paper from their probation officers with the address of the intersection when they were released from prison, according to a memo by Miami Police Cmdr. Manuel Morales. Six of the men told a Miami Herald reporter that they were directed to the area by probation officers.

This completely contradicts the previous statements made by the Corrections Department representative,” Morales wrote. “It is obvious that the state of Florida Corrections Department did not gain any wisdom from the Julia Tuttle bridge fiasco. I fear that if the issue remains unaddressed we could face an alarming influx of sexual offenders being assigned to our neighborhood streets.”

Dozens of other sex offenders live in apartments in the Shorecrest neighborhood. In all, 114 registered sex offenders live within one mile of the intersection of Northeast 79th Street and 10th Avenue, according to the FDLE.

Sarnoff, for one, believes the city should take the state to court. Though Miami police have been aware of the encampment for a while, the commissioner said it was supposed to be temporary, until permanent shelter was found. Last week he wrote a letter to the corrections department saying he was “extremely disappointed in the lack of progress.”

Now, Sarnoff is preparing a resolution seeking city commission approval to file a lawsuit to prevent the corrections department from directing inmates to the Shorecrest streets. The proposal is expected to be addressed at the commission’s March 22 meeting.

But the measure does not address the larger question: How can cities prevent sex offenders from setting up camps if the ex-cons can’t find housing?

After the Julia Tuttle camp was disbanded in 2010, the Homeless Trust spent almost $1 million on temporary housing for more than 100 displaced felons. The Trust provided rent subsidies for about three to five months, but only to those who tried to find work or job training, Book said.

We attempted training and job placement, but they didn’t want to go,” said Book. “We’re not a welfare agency. That’s not what we do. There were people who thought we would pay their rent forever.”

In 2008, the Homeless Trust reached a wide-ranging agreement with the county jail system, the courts, the public health system, the Department of Children & Families and area mental health providers to ensure that the Trust is alerted before a homeless person is released, so the Trust could try to find housing or other services.

As part of the agreement, the Trust also asked state prison officials to alert the agency six months before releasing any felons — including sex offenders. But officials with the corrections department refused to sign the deal, Book said.

Book, after learning about the 79th Street camp from a Herald reporter, sent a Trust staffer to inspect the site on Thursday night. He said the agency will try to find housing for some of the sex offenders, but he can’t give them priority over others in need of shelter.

There are places these guys can go,” he said. “They do not need to be out on the street.”


FL - 'Brittany's Law' fails in state Senate; inspires new strategy for woman behind it

Original Article

03/12/2012

By Rikki Klaus

PORT ST. LUCIE - Barbara Martin fights back tears as she reads through her niece Brittany Carleo's diary. The 17-year-old's entries allude to the sexual abuse, drug use and emotional turmoil the Port St. Lucie girl says she painfully endured over months.

Martin says she's resolved to keep fighting until Brittany's last wish comes true.

It's called Brittany's Law. If enacted, it would hold arrested sex offenders in custody, until a judge deemed they're no longer a threat to the community. It would also give victims the chance to speak out in court.

"It's not just for Brittany," insisted Martin. "It's for everybody's safety."

The proposal spurred from the sexual abuse Martin says Brittany suffered at the hands of [name withheld], 42. [name withheld] was the father of Brittany's boyfriend.

In 2006, just after getting out of jail, [name withheld] shot Brittany at Tropical Smoothie Cafe on Port St. Lucie Boulevard in Port St. Lucie. Brittany was working at the restaurant. [name withheld] then turned the gun on himself. Both died.

Brittany's Law was just a bill. Last week, it failed during session in the state Senate.

"It didn't pass for budget reasons; it was in the Senate. But it went through the House without any opposing votes. Just another delay. It will go through," said Martin.

Martin is on a mission to affect change, with a whole new strategy. She's trying to gain support from America's Most Wanted's John Walsh, to be more vocal, to even picket if necessary. She's contacted TV host Nancy Grace and is planning a Facebook page.

"There has to be a law to stop sex offenders from doing it," said Martin. "That's what she wanted."

And according to Martin, that's what Brittany will get.


GA - Cobb woman (Jennifer Marie Shipley) charged with falsely reporting kidnap, rape

Jennifer Marie Shipley
Original Article

02/24/2012

By Christopher Seward

A Marietta woman who claimed she had been kidnapped and raped over two days last month has been arrested and charged with making the incident up.

Smyrna Police said it canceled a lookout for two suspects and arrested Jennifer Marie Shipley, 32, on Thursday. She was taken to the Cobb County Adult Detention Center, where she remained Friday. Police did not give a motive for Shipley's actions.

Police sought the public's help last week in the kidnapping and rape of the woman, who previously had not been identified.

The woman claimed she was forced into a car at gunpoint on Jan. 17 when she was walking along Windy Hill Road near South Cobb Drive. The car was described as a 1990s gold Chevrolet Caprice.

The woman told police she was taken to an unknown location, where she was beaten and raped. She said she was released two days later.

Police had released sketches of “the suspects.” One was described as a black male with dreadlocks in his early 20s, 6 feet 2 and 140 pounds. The other suspect was described as a Latino male in his early 20s with short, black, spiked hair, 5 feet 2 and 150 pounds.

Police said they had obtained evidence that led to Shipley’s arrest but did not provide details on the evidence. She was charged with one count of making a false statement.