Tuesday, March 20, 2012

NY - Woman engaged to sex offender: registry ruined our life

Original Article

03/20/2012

By HILARY LANE

ONEIDA (WKTV) - A woman engaged to a man who committed a sex crime is calling for the New York State Sex Offender Registry to be eliminated.

Shana Rowan's fiance committed a sex crime in 2004 and served four years in jail. Now her fiance's name is cemented in the New York State Sex Offender Registry forever and Rowan says it is impossible for them to move on.

"As long as the registry exists, I am always going to be living in fear," said Rowan. "I already had my car vandalized. My car is on the registry since he drives it. My neighbors won't talk to us, they think we are scum, and I never know how long my relationships are going to last. I never know if they are going to find out and think that he is scum and decide I am not worth it."

Rowan has now dedicated her life to advocating for families of sex offenders tormented by the registry and openly talks about these issues on her blog: iloveasexoffender.blogspot.com

"We don't believe sex crimes shouldn't be punished. We don't believe it is okay. We are not condoning it," said Rowan. "All we are promoting is safety and equality for families. All families. Part of that is allowing families of registrants to be safe in their homes."

Richard Ferrucci, Senior Investigator for the District Attorney's Office, said the Sex Offender Registry is vital to society.

"The public has the right to know these people were dangerous, probably still are dangerous, or can be dangerous in the future to young children," said Ferrucci. "Children don't really have a means to protect themselves. By having a means to access information that is out there about crimes these people commit is paramount to keep their children safe."


MI - Michigan report proves states are bloating the registries!

Original Article

So they are admitting they bloat the registry by leaving people who move out of state.  Kind of proves the point in the title of this blog!

03/20/2012

By Melissa Anders

LANSING — Michigan State Police has improved its sex offender registries after a 2005 audit report (PDF) found they contained inaccurate and incomplete data.

Several changes have been made to the system and the department has complied with the audit’s recommendations, according to a follow-up report (PDF) released Tuesday by Michigan’s Auditor General.

Ensuring the accuracy of the sex offender registry was important to MSP so we’re pleased that our hard work has paid off,” spokeswoman Shanon Banner said.

Since 1995, convicted sex offenders in Michigan have been required to submit information to the sex offender registry accessible by law enforcement agencies. The registry is maintained by the MSP, but law enforcement agencies statewide are required to identify offenders and ensure their registration.

A public registry became available online in 2000. Not all offenders on the law enforcement list are included in the public registry. Juvenile offenders, for example, are not on the public list. There were 39,883 offenders on the registry as of November 1, 2011.

The public registry includes the offender’s name and aliases, offense information, photo, registration details, physical characteristics, address and campus information, and details on the offender’s vehicle and place of employment. It can be searched by name, estimated age, city, zip code, and county or within a 1 mile radius of a certain address.

The original audit, which examined records from October 2001 through August 2004, found that Michigan State Police didn’t have procedures to verify offenders’ names and addresses as submitted by local law enforcement agencies, and didn’t match data from its criminal history records to identify offenders not on the registry.

Inaccurate and incomplete information may give the public a false sense of security,” the audit stated. “MSP relies heavily on the self-reporting of sex offenders and the public to help ensure that sex offender information is accurate and complete.”

The department now uses address verification software and interfaces with the Secretary of State driver’s license records and the MSP criminal history records database.

The audit also found that the registries did not include offenders who were in prison, had moved out of state or had confirmed false addresses. Those offenders are now included in the registry.
- See the text in the title of this blogThey are basically confirming that they bloat the registry by leaving people on the registry who no longer live in the state.  Now, imagine if all states do this?  You can see how the numbers would go up drastically.   So, do we really have about 750,000 offenders in this country, or is most of it due to people moving from one state to another and not being removed from the state registry they no longer live in?  For example, lets say you had 50,000 offenders in two states, which is 100,000 offenders.  Now, if 30,000 of them moved from one state to another, you'd still have 100,000 offenders, but by the above, it would look like you now have 130,000 offenders, and this is just two states.  Now imagine if all states do this!

Two full-time employees managed about 35,000 sex offender records in August 2004, according to the audit. The sex offender unit now has nine full-time positions that monitor some 40,000 records. Banner did not know how many, if any, of those positions are currently vacant.


CA - PEOPLE v. DRYG

Original Article

Excerpt:
On July 20, 2004, appellant entered a negotiated no contest plea to three felony sexual offenses committed on or about August 13, 1998: unlawful sexual intercourse with minor who was more than three years younger than appellant (§ 261.5, subd. (c)) (count one), sexual penetration of a person under 18 years of age (§ 289, subd. (h)) (count two), and oral copulation with a person under 18 years of age (§ 288a, subd. (b)(1)) (count three). Before accepting the plea, the court advised appellant that he would be required to register as a sex offender.3 The plea agreement included a grant of probation conditioned upon one year in county jail.

See Also:


This item is posted automatically via IFTTT when new items are added to Delicious


MI - Even sex offenders have rights

Original Article

03/19/2012

By Darcie Moran

A recent investigation by USA Today showed the Justice Department has sought to detain 136 men they have labeled as “sexually dangerous” past their sentences.

As a woman, my first thought when reading this article was, “good.” Sexual predators need to be kept off the streets.

It is difficult to care for the rights of those accused of horrible crimes such as rape, child pornography and more. However, as a U.S. citizen, I worry when our government oversteps their explicitly defined powers. There needs to be a middle ground between letting these men go free and detaining them in an unconstitutional manner.

According to the USA Today article, these 136 men were imprisoned for various degrees of sexual offense and were determined to be a danger to others if released. Some of the cases involve “hands-on” sexual offenses, while others involve behavior such as graphic phone calls. Allegedly, many prisoners have been held for years past their sentence without being brought before a judge.

Sexual predators are some of the most disgusting and selfish human beings, and forcing women to have sex or molesting a child should earn anyone a life sentence. However, because of our current judicial system, this often is not the case. Although sentences for these crimes vary from state to state, in Michigan a life sentence for a sexual offense such as rape is only used in cases of rape in the first degree. All other cases of rape earn between two to 15 years with or without a fine, or a fine without prison time.

Despite the disgusting acts that can earn a person the title of “sex offender,” we have a judicial system in place for a reason. If the government can put a label on an individual and detain them without a judicial hearing, it won’t be long until the government is using this loophole to detain innocent citizens.

This runs along the same lines of freedom of speech. If U.S. citizens allow the government to limit speech we find offensive, eventually all speech is put in danger of being limited. If U.S. citizens allow the government to use questionable terms to imprison others, everyone is in danger of being imprisoned for a questionable reason.

Unfortunately our prison system is focused more on detainment than rehabilitation. Those deemed “sexually dangerous” should be put in programs focused on rehabilitation, and their cases should again be brought before a court.

There are constitutionally sound ways to detain a citizen, but holding them indefinitely without a mandatory hearing does not bode well for innocent citizens.

The government needs to keep the “sexually dangerous” off the street, but they need to do it in a way that doesn’t threaten the rights of innocent people.


MT - Out from under the bridge - Advocates working to curb sex offender homelessness

Original Article

03/20/2012

By Amy Sisk

Cars drive several feet above the registered addresses of sex offenders in Missoula every day.

Of Missoula County’s 649 registered sexual and violent offenders, four are registered under bridges — two under Orange Street and two under Reserve Street.

Another two live at the Super Wal-Mart. Two more live on the Kim Williams Trail. An additional 10 are registered as “transient” and don’t have addresses.

That’s not really what the people intended when they said they wanted to have a sex registry,” said state Rep. Ellie Hill, D-Missoula, who’s working on legislation to provide housing for sex offenders. “It’s the right thing to do to ensure that a sex offender on probation succeeds, not just for the safety of the community, but for the safety of themselves.”

When offenders get discharged from prison, they often struggle to find housing, said Hill. Without adequate support, they can once again fall through the cracks, putting them at a higher risk of re-offending and costing the community thousands of dollars.

Hill isn’t alone in her mission to get sex offenders off the streets. Others in Missoula also see problems with the current situation.

Sue Wilkins, executive director of Missoula Correctional Services, said money can be a major obstacle in securing housing.

A large percentage of (sex offenders) are single and need to find an apartment like anyone else,” she said. “A lot of them have low-income jobs, so money is a big piece of trying to find a place.”

Missoula Correctional Services addresses housing affordability for offenders by teaching inmates budgeting skills that emphasize saving, Wilkins said. The nonprofit also works with offenders to prepare them for job interviews and requires those in its pre-release program to secure jobs before they can be discharged.

But for many offenders, money’s only half the challenge. Some landlords refuse to rent to people with a criminal background, said Eran Fowler Pehan, executive director of the Poverello Center.

Missoula’s rental vacancy is so low, and the market is so competitive,” she said. “Landlords don’t have to rent to people with criminal backgrounds. They can choose other tenants, and they often do.”

Beki Hartmann, director of the Associated Students of the University of Montana’s Off-Campus Renter Center, has had several students who are also sex offenders walk into her office for advice.

I think that when they come here and talk to me, they’ve been looking for quite a while and keep getting rejected,” she said. “The only resource I can give them is to tell them that about half the properties in Missoula are managed by private landlords, and many private landlords do not do background checks or credit checks.”

Sex offenders who struggle to find housing can stay at the Poverello Center if they are Level 1 and 2 offenders — those with a low to moderate chance of re-offending. Pehan said Level 3 offenders — those the state deems at a high risk of re-offending — struggle the most. They cannot access many support services in Missoula, including those the Poverello Center offers such as advocacy and help with housing applications.

What will work for Missoula will really depend on what our community wants,” Pehan said.

Community members have a variety of ideas. Hill proposed a bill in the Montana House last year that encouraged the Department of Corrections and local entities to develop housing options for sex offenders. The bill passed the House but failed in its final reading in the Senate.

Hill is running for re-election and plans to reintroduce the legislation. She expects it to pass both chambers.

She added that she sees permanent supportive housing as a viable solution. This could consist of a facility resembling Missoula’s Valor House, which has 17 units available for veterans who were previously homeless, she said.

But others aren’t sure a housing complex is the best option.

Do you congregate all these people in one location?” asked Wilkins. “I don’t know that that’s so healthy. I also don’t know that there would be any neighborhood that would feel that was a good idea.”

Wilkins said she doesn’t know the best solution. But she’d like to see the community explore a plan that would temporarily fund the housing of someone who would otherwise be homeless. Once the recipient can afford rent, the subsidy would help another person. That way, offenders could stay living in the same location and not have to give up their home to the next participant in the program.

One funding option lies in the state’s general budget, said Andrea Davis, executive director of Homeword, a Missoula nonprofit that promotes affordable housing. There’s a line item in the budget for a housing trust fund, but it’s currently unfunded.

If the state decided to make housing for sex offenders a priority, legislators could allocate money to the trust fund to support something like permanent supportive housing, Davis said.

We could do that, which is the beauty of having our own money without having to use federal money,” she said.

The federal government offers several programs that subsidize housing for low-income individuals. But Davis said these are competitive, and applicants with criminal records are often at a disadvantage.

Others in Missoula are working on a long-term plan to find a lasting answer. Councilman Jason Wiener and about 10 other community members have spent the past year talking to Missoulians and others across the state and country to develop a strategy to combat homelessness. He said the group will present a draft of Missoula’s 10-year plan in the middle of the year.

One idea is to collect a pool of money that landowners can draw from to supplement part of the initial payments required when a person rents a house. That would reduce the burden many homeless people face when they have to put down first and last months’ rent in addition to a security deposit, he said. Landowners would have to voluntarily contribute to the pool to use it.

Wiener added that this plan would work if landowners were willing to accept people such as sex offenders without preconditions. But he knows that idea might not receive much support.

It’s pretty hard to make the case that you’re going to house everybody without the government being the housing partner of last resort,” he said.