Wednesday, May 30, 2012

CANADA - Police suggest not posting about alleged sex offenders

Original Article

05/30/2012

By Nancy MacPhee

SUMMERSIDE — The public should be extremely cautious if posting information on social media sites about alleged criminals and their crimes, say police.

The warning comes after recent postings on Facebook regarding an alleged sex offender living near an East Prince school. The original source of the posting is not known but several people have reposted the warning and commented.

We’re actually saying nothing at all,” said Summerside police deputy chief Sinclair Walker. “If there was a person of high risk in our community then we have a protocol in place. We have a high-risk offender committee on the Island to deal with that sort of thing and the public would be notified.”

Asked what classifies an individual as a high-risk offender, Walker said, “Usually they are classified when they leave the prisons but I can’t get into this at all.”

He did confirm his department has received a number of calls as a result of the postings on social media sites.

The high-risk offender committee consists of representatives from the Crown’s office, all Island police agencies and the province’s director of policing services.

Walker sits on the committee. The committee makes a recommendation but it is the police chief in that jurisdiction who decides if a public notice is issued.

I can say I did see the information on Facebook. I know, myself, personally, I would not be putting that kind of stuff on there,” added Walker. “If it’s not true, it’s libelous because they’re printing it.”

Neither Walker nor East Prince RCMP Sgt. Kent MacKay could divulge if the individual in question is registered on the National Sex Offender Registry.

That’s because it is against the law to divulge who is on the registry.

The registry database is housed and maintained by the National Police Services Network under the stewardship of the RCMP. Accredited police agencies in every province and territory are able to access the database either directly or indirectly through their provincial or territorial sex offender registration centre.

Police in the various jurisdictions are responsible for inputting the data and enforcing of the registration provisions.

The public doesn’t have access to the sex offender registry,” said MacKay. “It’s for police information. That is part of the act. Initially, there is a public record from the court. Subsequent to that, no one is allowed to release information about anyone or identify anyone that could be on the sex offender registry.”

Police do know if a registered sex offender is living within their jurisdiction.

Part of the obligation under the act is that if someone is under the registry, anytime they move, they must report their change of address to the nearest sex offender registration centre,” added MacKay.


IN - Sex offenders fight for right to use Facebook

Original Article

This ban is clearly unconstitutional. If someone used Facebook or some other social network to solicit a child for sex, then it's reasonable to prevent them from using it, as long as they are on probation or parole, once they are done with their sentence, then they should be able to do as they wish. If they commit another crime, then convict them and lock them up, just like we do any other person. We don't prevent DUI offenders from visiting any place that serves alcohol or from getting in a car. This is nothing more than an unconstitutional law and discrimination based on a personal "belief" that someone is a danger without any proof.

05/30/2012

By CHARLES WILSON

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Registered sex offenders who have been banned from social networking websites are fighting back in the nation's courts, successfully challenging many of the restrictions as infringements on free speech and their right to participate in common online discussions.

The legal battles pit public outrage over sex crimes against cherished guarantees of individual freedom and the far-reaching communication changes brought by Facebook, LinkedIn and dozens of other sites.

"It's going to be really, really hard, I think, to write something that will achieve the state's purpose in protecting children online but not be restrictive enough to be unconstitutional," said Carolyn Atwell-Davis, director of legislative affairs at the Virginia-based National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Courts have long allowed states to place restrictions on convicted sex offenders who have completed their sentences, controlling where many of them live and work and requiring them to register with police. But the increasing use of social networks for everyday communication raises new, untested issues. The bans generally forbid offenders to join social networks or chat rooms or use instant-messaging programs — just a few of the online tools that civil liberties advocates say have become virtually indispensable to free speech.

After hearing challenges, federal judges in two states threw out laws or parts of laws that they deemed too stringent. In Nebraska, the decision allowed sex offenders to join social networks. And in Louisiana, a new law lets offenders use the Internet for shopping, reading news and exchanging email. A case filed against Indiana's law is under review.

Authorities insist the bans address a real problem: the need to protect children from pedophiles who prowl online hangouts visited by kids.

"It's hard to come up with an example of a sexual predator who doesn't use some form of social networking anymore," said Steve DeBrota, an assistant U.S. attorney in Indianapolis who prosecutes child sex crimes.

Ruthann Robson, a professor of constitutional law at the City University of New York, said the bans could eventually be taken up by the Supreme Court if the justices decide there's a constitutional question.

"If we think that the government can curtail sex offenders' rights without any connection to the actual crime, then it could become a blanket prohibition against anyone who is accused of a crime, no matter what the crime is," Robson said.

Supporters of the bans say they target repeat offenders such as a Maryland man charged with extorting a 16-year-old girl Indiana girl to perform sexual acts during video chats. He was free on bond when he was accused of doing the same thing to more underage girls.

[name withheld], 21, of Mechanicsburg, Md., was sentenced to 33 years in federal prison in January after pleading guilty to seven counts of production of child pornography.

Xavier Von Erck, founder of Perverted Justice Inc., a (vigilante) group devoted to exposing online sexual predators, said it doesn't make sense for judges to let pedophiles troll the Web for more victims but revoke the voting rights of people convicted of lesser crimes. He called that "judicial hypocrisy."
- Who gives a crap what this idiot thinks? He's not a police officer, lawyer or anything else, he's only a basement dwelling loner who loves to hang out in kiddy chat rooms and talk about sex. It's also been said that he may have solicited child molestation as seen here. This group should be put out of business and let the police do this job, not a group of vigilante idiots.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which is challenging Indiana's 2008 law, argues that it's unconstitutional to bar sex offenders who are no longer in prison or on probation from using basic online services.

"To broadly prohibit such a large group of persons from ever using these modern forms of communication is just something the First Amendment cannot tolerate," said Ken Falk, legal director of Indiana's ACLU chapter.

The case is scheduled for a court hearing Thursday. The main plaintiff, referred to in the suit only as "John Doe," was convicted on two counts of child exploitation in 2000 and released from prison in 2003, according to federal court documents.
- We need someone who was not convicted of using the Internet to solicit children for sexual purposes to be filing the lawsuit, otherwise it'll probably get thrown out of court.

The man cannot send questions to televised debates or comment on news stories on local websites because doing so requires a Facebook account, the ACLU contends. Neither can he communicate with his out-of-state family members using the social network or post his business profile on LinkedIn.

The plaintiff is also forbidden to supervise his teenage son's Internet use or investigate questionable friend requests sent to his child, the ACLU claims.

Prosecutors argue that social networking sites aren't the only forms of communication.

"The fact is that telephones still work. People including registered sex offenders may still congregate, discuss, debate and even demonstrate," Indiana Deputy Attorney General David Arthur wrote in a brief.

Television and radio are still widespread and offer numerous call-in shows. Newspapers still accept letters to the editor, he added.

The ACLU says precedent is on its side. The lawsuit cites a February ruling in Louisiana in which U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson found that the state's prohibition was too broad and "unreasonably restricts many ordinary activities that have become important to everyday life."

Louisiana lawmakers passed a new law this month that more narrowly defines what sites are prohibited. News and government sites, email services and online shopping are excluded from the new rules, as are photo-sharing and instant-messaging systems. The measure takes effect Aug. 1.

But courts continue to wrestle with the issue in Indiana and Nebraska, where a federal judge in 2009 blocked part of a law that included a social networking ban. A second legal challenge by an Omaha-area sex offender is set for trial in July.

"I think policymakers are struggling to come up with the right policy that makes sense," Atwell-Davis said. "There's no silver bullet."

Related:


Female sex offenders protected by the criminal justice system

Original Article

05/30/2012

Female sex offenders receive lighter sentences for the same crimes than males says a study recently published in Feminist Criminology, a SAGE journal and the official journal of the Division on Women and Crime of the American Society of Criminology.

Embry and Lyons looked at the sentences that male and female sex offenders received for specific sex offenses and found that even after the implementation of sentencing guidelines to ensure equality in sentencing, on average male sentences were between 6% and 31% longer than female sentences for the same or similar crimes.

"It appears as if the criminal justice system actually treats women more leniently than men," wrote Randa Embry and Phillip M. Lyons, Jr., authors of the study.

The researchers explained this disparity by discussing the American idea that "women are weaker and, therefore, must be protected at all times regardless of their status as victims or offenders."

Embry and Lyons analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Justice's National Corrections Reporting Program from the years 1994 to 2004. Sex offenses included rape, statutory rape, sexual assault, child sexual assault, and forcible sodomy.

"This leads to the supposition that women, regardless of the departure from social and gender norms committed in concurrence with the offense for which they are being sentenced, continue to be viewed as individuals who should be protected by the justice system," wrote the researchers. "Obviously, as a social institution, the criminal justice system is reluctant to break those social norms and gender roles in response to atypical gendered behavior."


If you love a sex offender, you're not alone

Video Description:
My response to the May 30 New York Times article, "Public-Place Laws Tighten Rein on Sex Offenders" and call to action for family members and loved ones of registered sex offenders. ALL FAMILIES MATTER!


CA - Sex offenders face dwindling spaces in public

Original Article

05/30/2012

By Ian Lovett

HUNTINGTON BEACH - Convicted sex offenders are barred from surfing at the famous pier in this Orange County city.

In nearby Dana Point, they are prohibited from casting a fishing line in the harbor.

And if they wander into a public park in Mission Viejo, they could be shipped back to jail for six months, following the city council’s vote this year to ban them from a host of places where children congregate.

We need to protect our kids,” the Orange County district attorney, Tony Rackauckas, had told the Mission Viejo City Council. “The danger is very real.”
- This man, IMO, has to make himself look good to the people, and I'm willing to bet he is up for, or has it in his future, to run for some higher officer, so he has to make his resume look good.

Orange County finds itself at the epicenter of a new wave of laws restricting the movement of sex offenders. The county government and a dozen cities here have banned sex offenders from even setting foot in public parks, on beaches and at harbors, rendering almost half the parks in Orange County closed to them. Ten more cities are considering similar legislation.

And Orange County is far from alone. In recent years, communities around the country have gone beyond regulating where sex offenders can live and begun banning them outright from a growing list of public places.

From North Carolina to Washington state, communities have designated swimming pools, parks, and school bus stops as “child safety zones,” off limits to some sex offenders. They are barred from libraries in half a dozen Massachusetts cities and from all public facilities in tiny Huachuca City, Ariz.

Child safety zones are being passed more and more at the city and county level,” said Elizabeth Jeglic, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “It’s becoming more and more restrictive. They’re not only limiting where sex offenders can live, but they’re limiting their movement as well.”

The proliferation of such restrictions reflects the continued concerns of parents and lawmakers about potential recidivism among sex offenders. But the implementation of these restrictions has increasingly raised questions about their effectiveness, as well as their fairness.

Opponents have dismissed “child safety zones” as unenforceable, saying they are designed to make politicians look tough on crime and drive sex offenders from the area, not make children safer.

These are cheap laws that can be passed to make people feel good,” said Charles P. Ewing, author of “Justice Perverted: Sex Offense Law, Psychology, and Public Policy.”

Irene Pai, a lawyer with the Orange County public defender’s office, said “child safety zonesgive parents a false sense of security, punishing many offenders who are not dangerous without actually stopping predators from entering parks.

Pai said she had a stack of cases involving people who were arrested for urinating in public in the 1970s and pleaded guilty to indecent exposure without realizing they would have to register as sex offenders.

The very notion that a park ordinance could in any way protect children, more than an attentive caregiver’s presence or any other way we protect our children, is absurd,” she said.

[name withheld] was convicted of indecent exposure in 2001. Since then, however, [name withheld] said he has gotten married and turned his life around.

But he now pauses at the idea of having children of his own, because he knows he could not even take them to the park to play catch.

Sometimes I wonder, is there any compassion?[name withheld] said. “I know I don’t deserve compassion. I broke the law. I get that. But these laws set people up to fail more.”
- Well the prison and fear-mongering businesses need the Merry-go-round to continue pushing people into and out of prison to keep the money flowing, and to help their own careers and reputations.

In some cities, law enforcement has done very little to enforce child safety zones. In Albuquerque, where some sex offenders have been banned from libraries since 2008, with some exceptions, the police have never even issued a trespass notice, a prerequisite to an arrest.

Thus far, the park bans here have led to just three convictions across the entire county.

Still, Rackauckas said he was satisfied that the laws were serving as a deterrent.

We’re not going to know how many kids were not molested or groomed for later sexual contact as a result of this law,” he said.
- Exactly, it's something you can get passed, that you can never have true statistics on, so you look "tough" on crime and help your resume.

At La Bonita Park in La Habra, parents largely supported the ban.

I feel better bringing my 2-year-old grandson to the park now,” said Barbara Bellen, 51.
- Well, that is a false sense of security, because if someone was intent on committing a crime against an adult or child, they will.  No law will stop them.

And, once one community has enacted “child safety zones,” they often spread quickly to nearby towns, as municipal governments fear becoming local havens for sex offenders.

In Lake County, Fla., earlier this year, county commissioners — surrounded by communities with tough laws targeting sex offenders — responded with some of the most dramatic restrictions anywhere, including a law prohibiting sex offenders from coming within 300 feet of a park, school or playground.

We wanted to assure our residents that if they took their kids to the playground, they wouldn’t have to worry about someone in the parking lot across the street watching them,” said Leslie Campione, a county commissioner.

Even so, in Lake County a lower-level offender like [name withheld] would be allowed visit the park as often as he liked, because the ban applies only to those whose crimes were against minors.

Not so in Orange County, where the prohibitions are among the most severe yet, aimed at all sorts of offenders.

Sex offenders here can apply to the Orange County sheriff’s department to be allowed into a county park. So far, 15 applications have been submitted; all but one has been denied.

One applicant requested access to Dana Point Harbor to continue working as a commercial fisherman. Another was a locksmith who did work at businesses at the harbor and said he had a clean record during 28 years living in the area. A third wanted to attend a memorial service for his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, who had recently died.

All three requests were turned down.

Since Orange County set up its “child safety zones,” 12 cities in the county, two other counties in California and two cities in Arizona have all done the same.

With the exception of Irvine, Calif., all of them have applied the ban to all registered sex offenders.

Joe Carchio, a city councilman in Huntington Beach, where a park ban went into effect in December, said he feels bad for lower-level offenders whose convictions many years ago prevent them from bringing their children to Little League. Still, he wishes he could have made the restrictions even broader.

In a lot of ways, it is a feel good law; it makes people feel safe,” Carchio said. “You make choices in this world, and I guess the choice that individual made is one that is going to follow him for the rest of his life.”


Residence Restriction Legislation, Sex Crime Rates, and the Spatial Distribution of Sex Offender Residences (09-2011)

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