Friday, April 20, 2012

CA - Long Beach Police Officer (Noe Yanez) Arrested for Possession of Child Pornography

Noe Yanez
Original Article


Authorities announced Thursday the arrest of Long Beach police officer, Noe Yanez, for possession of child pornography following an internal investigation by the department.

Not only are the actions of this officer a violation of the law, they are a violation of the community’s trust, and a violation of the principles of this department,” stated Chief Jim McDonnell in a statement. “The men and women of this department take great pride in the good work they do every day with the community and we will not allow the actions of this one officer to compromise that relationship.”

Yanez, a nine-year veteran, was arrested and booked for possession of child pornography Thursday. Currently, it is unclear where the officer was stationed.

Police allege that Yanez first came into contact with the minor during the course of his employment with the department and began contacting the minor via text messages.

As the communication between the two progressed, Police allege that he solicited inappropriate photographs of the victim. Sometime in April, the victim reported the incident to a school resource officer and LB police began an immediate investigation.

According to officials, significant resources–including multiple search warrants–were used to uncover the extent of contact between Yanez and the victim.

At this time, the department is not releasing any further information, including where Yanez was stationed, Lisa Massacani, Long Beach police public information officer, told Patch.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Justice System Integrity Division will handle the criminal prosecution, according to a statement from LB police.

The officer in question has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the criminal and internal affairs investigation, and is currently being held at the Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail. His bail amount has not yet been set.

Sex Offenders in Society

Original Article

In the effort to protect the public from sex offenders...
The issue of how to treat sex offenders causes unease for many people. Highly publicized crimes of the most heinous nature have understandably led to aggressive state and federal sanctions for sex offenders. These policies include sex offender registries, residency restrictions, and ineligibility for types of employment and licensing.

...reactionary policies have resulted in unjust and unsafe consequences.
Unfortunately, these reactionary policies not only lead to unjust sentences, but they also detract from public safety. First, many severe restrictions apply to both minor and serious offenders—teenagers who moon someone can be subject to some of the same consequences as rapists, including restrictions on where they can live and mistreatment from neighbors who recognize their names on a registry. Second, applying tough sanctions without regard to offenders’ actual risk makes the community less safe by diverting police attention away from dangerous people to people who may have only committed youthful indiscretions. Third, sex offender policies assume that sex offenders have high recidivism rates, yet the rates are relatively low—according to one study (PDF), only 5.1% of sex offenders are re-arrested for a new sex offense in the three years following release. If anything, reactionary policies encourage recidivism by barring ex-offenders from employment and housing.

Justice Fellowship advocates for fair and restorative treatment for sex offenders.
Justice Fellowship advocates for common sense treatment for sex offenders so that law enforcement can focus on truly risky people; minor offenders can experience just sentencing; and all offenders have the opportunity to experience rehabilitation and restorative justice. Promising reforms include narrowing the requirements for who must be listed on sex offender databases and who must be subject to residency and licensing restrictions. Lawmakers must carefully consider the effects of sex-offender laws on offenders’ ability to live productive lives. The church also must recognize that sex offenders, like other offenders, can be restored to society—and these individuals need the church to support their journey to restoration.

See Also:

How Should We Deal with Sex Offenders?

Original Article

One of the most vexing problems facing our society, and more particularly the Church, is how to deal with sex offenders. As one pastor expressed it to me, “Jesus taught us to be forgiving. However, He also has made me the shepherd of my flock, and it is my responsibility to protect them from the wolves.”

As a parent, I am horrified with each press report of an abducted child. I can only imagine the pain those families feel. None of us want that to happen to any more children. Jesus taught us that “Whosoever shall hurt one of these little ones that believe in me, it would be better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were cast into the sea. (See this post)” Of course, Jesus didn’t advocate that we actually throw molesters into the sea. However, it is fair to say that most people, even most Christians, think that is the minimum they deserve. Fear of such horrifying incidents has led so many people to support tougher penalties for sex offenders.

Focus on the Real Threats to Safety
Unfortunately, the sex offender statutes are written so broadly that they lump many people convicted of relatively minor offenses in with the hard core sex offenders. Most states require all those convicted of a sexual offense to register with the local police and prohibit them from living anywhere near a school, day care center or park. We certainly want to keep child molesters away from children. The problem is that the term “sex offender” is so broad that it includes people we are mad at as well as those we fear will harm children or vulnerable people.

For instance, teenagers who “moon” someone as a prank or a 17 year old that has consensual sex with his girlfriend are deemed sex offenders for the rest of their lives. They have to register with the police and are restricted in where they can live forever. This is an extreme penalty for a youthful prank or premarital sex.

Applying these tough sanctions without regard to the actual danger posed by the offenders actually makes us less safe. The laws force law enforcement to spend a great deal of time and money keeping tabs on those who committed youthful indiscretions, when the police should be allowed to concentrate on monitoring hard core sexual offenders.

In addition, overly broad definitions of sex offenders divert public attention from those who truly pose a threat. In many states all individuals on the sex offender list are posted on the web and appear on maps of registered sex offenders. This causes tremendous fear among the public because they don’t realize that their neighbor may only be on the list because they went skinny dipping as teenager over 30 years ago. The lists and maps don’t distinguish between youthful indiscretions and those who are a real threat. So, the public assumes the worst.

In a very dangerous confluence of bureaucratic inefficiency combined with zeal to warn the public about sex offenders, some agencies have listed innocent people. Their names were the same or similar to convicted sex offenders, and the bureaucrats didn’t bother to sort them out. In January 2008, the State Controller audited New York’s registry and found that one-fourth of the records they surveyed had mismatched driver's license information. Even worse, details of licenses for the wrong people were given out as those of offenders.

We need to change the laws so that the tough sanctions are focused on offenders who have committed horrible crimes rather than on innocent people or teenagers who have acted up.

Stringent Residency Restrictions Backfire
Probation agents and police officers tell me that, though well intended, residency restrictions have made it harder to keep track of sex offenders. In many urban areas, every square foot of the city is off limits because a school, day care center, churches or other place where children gather is within the restricted zone. In California, offenders cannot live within 2000 feet of any school or park. How does an ex offender comply with the law? Many end up sleeping under bridges, in parks or behind trash bins in industrial areas. As a spokesperson for Florida Department of Corrections told USA Today, "If we drive these offenders so far underground or we can't supervise them because they become so transient, it's not making us safer." (More Videos Here)

Minnesota studied the impact of residency restrictions and concluded that:
[t]here [was] no evidence in Minnesota that residential proximity to schools or parks affects re-offense. Thirteen level three offenders released between 1997 and 1999 have been rearrested for a new sex offense since their release from prison, and in none of the cases has residential proximity to schools or parks been a factor in the re-offense. Level III Sex Offenders: Residential Placement Issues (PDF)

Yet, despite the evidence to the contrary, legislators keep trying to expand the reach of sex offender laws. In Virginia one proposal would prevent them from ever entering a church. While that is not the intent, the proposed bill would ban sex offenders from “the premises of any child or day care center or any other type of school both during and after school hours.” Since many churches have a day care center or school on the premises, this bill would ban offenders from church even when children were not present.

No Easy Answers
To understand the many complex issues surrounding sex offenses, I highly recommend that you read “No Easy Answers” a report by Human Rights Watch. It counteracts many myths surrounding sex offenses. One of them is that “[s]ome politicians cite recidivism rates for sex offenders that are as high as 80-90 percent. In fact, most (three out of four) former sex offenders do not reoffend and most sex crimes are not committed by former offenders.” (More Recidivism Studies Here)

The report provides real life examples of the overreach of the statutes. One profiled offender said,
"What the registry doesn’t tell people is that I was convicted at age 17 of sex with my 14-year-old girlfriend, that I have been offense-free for over a decade, that I have completed my therapy, and that the judge and my probation officer didn’t even think I was at risk of reoffending. My life is in ruins, not because I had sex as a teenager, and not because I was convicted, but because of how my neighbors have reacted to the information on the internet."

But the report doesn’t just criticize. It also gives examples of policies that protect the public by concentrating on those who pose the greatest risk. For instance, Minnesota’s community notification law provides that, “The extent of the information disclosed and the community to whom disclosure is made must be related to the level of danger posed by the offender, to the offender’s pattern of offending behavior, and to the need of community members for information to enhance their individual and collective safety.”

I serve on the Prison Rape Elimination Commission with Jamie Fellner, the director of the U.S. program at Human Rights Watch. She is a brilliant and passionate defender of vulnerable people. Her summation of what our priorities should be in dealing with sex offenders hits the mark: “Children deserve laws that work. And former offenders need laws that allow them to rebuild their lives because when they succeed in safely rejoining their communities, we are all safer.”

I have listed many resources below that will help inform you about the complex issues surrounding sexual offenses. There are also several helpful resources, including some Christian ministries that work to bring healing to sex offenders, their victims and communities, available on Justice Fellowship’s sex offender website.

I have heard it said that sex offenders are modern day lepers. That is probably pretty accurate. And we know that Jesus didn’t shun lepers. Instead, He loved them and healed them. He expects us to do the same.

See Also:

In His service,
Pat Nolan
Vice President, Prison Fellowship

Who are the Victims: A National Perspective

Click the image to view the article

MO - Are sex offense laws too broad?

Rep. Rodney Schad
Original Article


By Maggie Clark

Over eight years in the Missouri House, Republican Representative Rodney Schad has gotten numerous phone calls, letters, and emails from registered sex offenders and their families about the damage the registry has caused in their lives — the harassment, persistent unemployment, and community ostracism. Three years ago, Schad decided to start researching the state's registration policy, and what he found surprised him.

"There's no way to tell who's dangerous and who isn't," says Schad. "[People] look up their address and see 10 offenders living or working near their house." In his view, the list is becoming bloated and less helpful to ordinary citizens than it should be.

To try and refine who actually shows up on the public registry, Schad crafted legislation to create a tier system so that only the most dangerous offenders are listed publicly. Currently, anyone convicted of any type of sex crime, from public urination to child molestation, is placed on the list.

The bill also creates an appeals process, so that offenders can petition to be removed from the registry after 10 or 20 years, depending on their crime, and removes all juvenile sex offenders tried in juvenile court from the public registry. The bill has passed the Republican-led House of Representatives both this year and last year with bipartisan support because, Schad says, "every one of our representatives has these offenders in their districts." It remains to be acted on in the Missouri Senate, which has not concluded its 2012 session.

This proposed change to Missouri's registry comes just as the state has moved into compliance with the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), a portion of the Adam Walsh Act passed by Congress in 2006. That law is aimed at protecting children from predators by collecting sex offender data in a national public registry and requiring those people listed in it, including juveniles, to report their movements to law enforcement. But even though the federal compliance deadline has passed, only 15 states have substantially complied. (Missouri is one of them.)

Many states have decided not to comply because their legislators oppose lifelong registration for some juvenile sex offenders, one of the requirements of SORNA. Other states have found that even though noncompliance comes with a 10 percent cut to federal justice assistance grants, the cost of compliance would be much higher.

Finding a balance

Missouri is not the only state pushing back against the strictest registry requirements. Georgia, which had one of the toughest sex offender laws in the nation, scaled back its registration requirements in 2010 for people who had committed crimes such as false imprisonment or non-sexual kidnapping. This immediately removed 819 people from the registry, according to the Atlanta Journal- Constitution.

In Ohio, which was the first state to go along with the Adam Walsh Act in 2007, the state Supreme Court has struck down three controversial portions of SORNA compliance legislation in the last two years: the lifetime registration of some juveniles, the application of the more restrictive Adam Walsh Act penalties to offenders sentenced under previous, less strict laws, and community re-notification requirements for offenders previously sentenced.

"What you're seeing with Missouri and other states that are coming into compliance," says Elizabeth Pyke, director of government affairs at the National Criminal Justice Association, "is that they're trying to get to that balance between what they feel is a good system for their state and what keeps them in line with the national rules."

Even though Ohio's Supreme Court has struck down key provisions of the law that put the state into compliance with the Adam Walsh Act, the state attorney general's office, which administers the sex offender registry, says that these decisions have not affected overall compliance with Adam Walsh requirements.

For Missouri, compliance with the act means that the state will get to keep the full amount of its federal justice assistance grant for fiscal year 2012. But if Schad's legislation becomes law, Missouri will come out of compliance and lose about $600,000.

Support for the list

In Greene County, in southwest Missouri, Sheriff Jim Arnott and Prosecutor Dan Patterson have voiced concerns to the legislature over changes to the registry. Arnott insists the registry as it stands is a valuable law enforcement tool, and both Patterson and Arnott say people convicted of forcible sex crimes should remain on the public list for life.
- What about murderers, or DUI offenders who have wiped out an entire family?  Better yet, why not put all felons on an online registry so we know everyone who lives around us?  Fair is fair, right?

But Schad and the Missouri House decided that taking lower level offenders off the public registry would not be a threat to public safety. Most of the offenders on the registry, Schad says, committed their offenses when they were "young, dumb, and stupid." Many were charged with public urination or exposing themselves while they were drunk, offenses with penalties that include sex offender registration. "All those [minor offenses] are lumped together with the guy that raped a baby," Schad says.

And when it comes to compliance with the Adam Walsh Act, the cost outweighs the benefits, Schad believes. More than half of the state's registered sex offenders did not list an employer in their registration, which means many of them are likely to be unemployed, according to the Missouri Highway Patrol, the agency responsible for maintaining the state's registry. "If we can help these people find good jobs," Schad says, "that would more than save [the $600,000 grant amount]."

Tide still trending toward punishment

Even though opposition to the harshest sex offender policies is brewing, the more common story is still more punishment, not less. The Louisiana House passed a bill this week to exclude sex offenders convicted of computer-related offenses from social networking sites. The Arkansas parole board is considering banning registered sex offenders from using the Internet, and New York has recently distributed sex offenders' email addresses to online gaming companies which are then disabling offenders' accounts.
- This is true, and yet they continue to say the laws are civil and not punitive, which is a load of BS!  The laws are all about punishment, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out.

And amid the looming threat of federal funding cuts, the Illinois Senate approved a $20 million expansion to the state's registry in an effort to comply with the Adam Walsh Act.

But many opponents of broad sex offender laws argue that the laws are based on fear, not science. Sex offenses have one of the lowest rates of recidivism of any type of crime. Only 3.5 percent of sex offenders were reconvicted (PDF) of a subsequent sex crime within three years of their release from prison, according to a study from the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics.