Thursday, July 12, 2012

MI - Sexual Predator Or Teen Indulging In Consensual Sex?

Original Article

07/12/2012

By Judy Molland

In many states, the law makes little distinction between these two scenarios.

Take the case of [name withheld], of Royal Oak, Michigan, who was an 18-year-old senior in high school when he was arrested for having sex with his girlfriend [girlfriend name withheld], a 14-year-old freshman, in 2004. The age of consent in Michigan is 16. He got sentenced to a year in jail and three years of probation.

The Daily Beast reports that when he got out of the county jail in 2005, he was 19 years old, and had a GED and a new job with his father’s contracting company. He stuck to his probation terms and didn’t see [girlfriend name withheld]. That lasted for the first few months, but then she contacted him, and he started secretly seeing her. Big mistake: the two teens resumed their relationship, which was a violation of his probation, and [name withheld] got another five to 15 years.

After spending more than six years behind bars, [name withheld] today must wear a GPS device that weighs almost a pound. The 26-year-old is also listed on the sex-offender registry, which notes his home address and other personal information, for 25 years.

All this for falling in love as a high school teenager and acting foolishly?

Parents Nationwide Rebelling Against Sex-Offender Laws
[name withheld]’s mother, Francie Baldino, outraged that her son was sent to prison for behaving like a “dumb kid,” is part of a burgeoning movement that has spread to all 50 states: parents fighting against sex-offender laws, which they say are imposing punishments on their teenagers that are completely out of proportion to the crime.

From The Daily Beast:

No one keeps a tally of how many cases fall into this category nationwide. But there is one measure of the scale of the movement: there are now more than 50 organizations—at least one in every state—battling against prosecutions like these. Baldino’s group is Michigan Citizens for Justice, which she says includes more than 100 parents. Another group in Michigan, the Coalition for a Useful Registry, has around 150 parents as members, it says. Organizations in other states report similar numbers. One of the largest, Texas Voices, claims some 300 parents as members.

Romeo and Juliet Laws
To address sexual relations in which all participants are below the age of consent, or which involve an offender close in age to the minor, some states have enacted so-called “Romeo and Juliet laws.” (You may remember that Juliet was a mere 13; Romeo’s age is not clear, but probably over 18, since he was already an accomplished swordsman.) These laws carve out different treatment of statutory rape offenses involving individuals close in age.

Not all states have adopted “Romeo and Juliet” laws, and such laws operate differently in many of the states which have adopted them. In some states, they allow a defense against criminal charges for statutory rape. In other states, they shift the offense to a lower level, such as a misdemeanor. In some places, Romeo and Juliet laws reduce the level of punishment for the offense – imposing only probation or a fine, or eliminating the requirement to register as a sex offender, for example.

In addition, the age of consent for sex varies by state, between 16 and 18, so sex can be a crime in one state and not another.

50-Year-Old Molesting A 14-Year-Old Not The Same As 2 Teens Having Sex
So when does a youngster become an adult? In the U.S., a person can own a gun at 18, but may not be able to drink or vote until the age of 21.

But the bottom line is that the law needs to change nationwide, so that all states distinguish between a 50-year-old molesting a young girl, and two teens having sex.

What do you think?


Step right up folks, I have the next big thing to cure all your paranoid needs, for a small fee of course!

Like in the old days where "Snake Oil Salesmen" were everywhere, so are they in today's society!

They take advantage of the fear that has been helped spread by the media (for ratings), politicians (for votes and donations), and organizations (to make a quick buck), knowing their products are basically placebos or junk that will not work, but who cares, as long as it makes them money!

They continue to exploit ex-offenders, fear and children to push their products. Like Brinks does with their home security cameras. They find a boogieman to take advantage of to scare you into buying their product(s).

Well today, sex offenders are what these salesmen are selling, and they are making a ton of cash!

The sex offender residency laws do not prevent crime or protect anybody, they just force ex-offenders from their homes, away from their support circles, and in many cases, into homelessness.

The sex offender registry does not prevent or deter crime, nor does it protect anybody, it's merely an online hit-list for vigilantes to use, or fodder people can use to claim you "sexually abused" them or their child so that they get what they want and you go away!

Plus it wastes millions, if not billions of tax payer dollars while doing nothing that it was intended to do.  In a time where this country is in a recession, we should not be passing insane laws based on personal feelings and ignoring the facts that they don't work!  But you know, it's politics as usual!

So step right up, pay the small fee, and I promise I'll pass more laws to further exile ex-offenders just so you feel "safe!"

WHAT A BARGAIN!


Social networks scan for sexual predators, with uneven results

Original Article

07/12/2012

By Joseph Menn

Users could be unnerved about the extent to which their conversations are reviewed.

On March 9 of this year, a piece of Facebook software spotted something suspicious.

A man in his early thirties was chatting about sex with a 13-year-old South Florida girl and planned to meet her after middle-school classes the next day.

Facebook's extensive but little-discussed technology for scanning postings and chats for criminal activity automatically flagged the conversation for employees, who read it and quickly called police.

Officers took control of the teenager's computer and arrested the man the next day, said Special Agent Supervisor Jeffrey Duncan of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The alleged predator has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges of soliciting a minor.

"The manner and speed with which they contacted us gave us the ability to respond as soon as possible," said Duncan, one of a half-dozen law enforcement officials interviewed who praised Facebook for triggering inquiries.

Facebook is among the many companies that are embracing a combination of new technologies and human monitoring to thwart sex predators. Such efforts generally start with automated screening for inappropriate language and exchanges of personal information, and extend to using the records of convicted pedophiles' online chats to teach the software what to seek out.

Yet even though defensive techniques are now available and effective they can be expensive. They can also alienate some of a site's target audience -- especially teen users who expect more freedom of expression. While many top sites catering to young children are quite vigilant, the same can't be said for the burgeoning array of online options for the 13- to 18-year-old set.

"There are companies out there that are doing a very good job, working within the confines of what they have available," said Brooke Donahue, a supervisory special agent with an FBI team devoted to Internet predators and child pornography. "There are companies out there that are more concerned about profitability."
- Yes, exploiting fear and children makes for profits, and that's why many companies are getting into the fear business.  It's always about money.

The smartphone factor
Two recent incidents are raising new questions about companies' willingness to invest in safety.

Last month the maker of a smartphone app called Skout, designed for flirtation with strangers in the same area, admitted its use had led to sexual assaults on three teenagers by adults. The venture-backed firm had not verified that users of its now-shuttered teen section were under 20, giving predators easy access.

Also in June, a teen-oriented virtual world called Habbo Hotel, which boasts hundreds of millions of registered users, temporarily blocked all chatting after UK television reported that two sex predators had found victims on the site and that a journalist posing as an 11-year-old girl was bombarded with explicit remarks and requests that she disrobe on webcam.

Former employees said site owner Sulake of Finland laid off many in-house workers earlier this year, leaving it unable to moderate 70 million lines of daily chat adequately. Sulake said it had kept 225 moderators and is still investigating what went wrong.

The failures at Skout and Habbo shocked child-safety experts and technology professionals, who fear they will lead to a renewed panic about online safety that is not justified by the data.

By some measures, Internet-related sex crimes against children have always been rare and are now falling (as are reports of assaults on minors that do not involve the Net). Most sex crimes against children are committed by people the children know, rather than strangers.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children processed 3,638 reports of online "enticement" of children by adults last year, down from 4,053 in 2010 and 5,759 in 2009.
- And how many did they process that were other children doing the solicitation?  A study was done before that showed most kids are approached by other kids, not strange adults.

Even those companies with state-of-the-art defenses spend far more time trying to stop online bullying and attempts to sneak profanity past automatic word filters than they do fending off sex predators.

Still, as the Skout case showed, there are several recent trends that have heightened the concerns of child-safety experts: the rise of smartphones, which are harder for parents to monitor; location-oriented services, which are the darling of Net companies seeking more ad revenue from local businesses; and the rapid proliferation in phone and tablet apps, which don't always make clear what data they are using and distributing.

Expensive defenses
A solid system for defending against online predators requires both oversight by trained employees and intelligent software that not only searches for improper communication but also analyzes patterns of behavior, experts said.

The better software typically starts as a filter, blocking the exchange of abusive language and personal contact information such as email addresses, phone numbers and Skype login names. But instead of looking just at one set of messages it will examine whether a user has asked for contact information from dozens of people or tried to develop multiple deeper and potentially sexual relationship, a process known as grooming.

Companies can set the software to take many defensive steps automatically, including temporarily silencing those who are breaking rules or banning them permanently. As a result, many threats are eliminated without human intervention and moderators at the company are notified later.

Sites that operate with such software still should have one professional on safety patrol for every 2,000 users online at the same time, said Sacramento-based Metaverse Mod Squad, a moderating service. At that level the human side of the task entails "months and months of boredom followed by a few minutes of your hair on fire," said Metaverse Vice President Rich Weil.

Metaverse uses hundreds of employees and contractors to monitor websites for clients including virtual world Second Life, Time Warner's Warner Brothers and the PBS public television service.
- So we are starting a new organization?  The Internet Police!

Metaverse Chief Executive Amy Pritchard said that in five years her staff only intercepted something terrifying once, about a month ago, when a man on a discussion board for a major media company was asking for the email address of a young site user.

Software recognized that the same person had been making similar requests of others and flagged the account for Metaverse moderators. They called the media company, which then alerted authorities. Other sites aimed at kids agree that such crises are rarities.

Naughty users, nicer revenues
Sites aimed at those under 13 are very different from those with large teen audiences.

Under a 1998 law known as COPPA, for the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, sites directed at those 12 and under must have verified parental consent before collecting data on children. Some sites go much further: Disney's Club Penguin offers a choice of viewing either filtered chat that avoids blacklisted words or chats that contain only words that the company has pre-approved.

Filters and moderators are essential for a clean experience, said Claire Quinn, safety chief at a smaller site aimed at kids and young teens, WeeWorld. But the programs and people cost money and can depress ad rates.

"You might lose some of your naughty users, and if you lose traffic you might lose some of your revenue," Quinn said. "You have to be prepared to take a hit."

There is no legal or technical reason that companies with large teen audiences, like Facebook, or mainly teen users, such as Habbo, can't do the same thing as Disney and WeeWorld.

From a business perspective, however, there are powerful reasons not to be so restrictive, starting with teen expectations of more freedom of expression as they age. If they don't find it on one site, they will somewhere else.

The looser the filters, the more the need for the most sophisticated monitoring tools, like those employed at Facebook and those offered by independent companies such as the UK's Crisp Thinking, which works for Lego, Electronic Arts, and Sony Corp's online entertainment unit, among others.

In addition to blocking forbidden words and strings of digits that could represent phone numbers, Crisp assigns warning scores to chats based on multiple categories of information, including the use of profanity, personally identifying information and signs of grooming. Things like too many "unrequited" messages, or those that go unresponded to, also factor in, because they correlate with spamming or attempts to groom in quantity, as does analysis of the actual chats of convicted pedophiles.

The highest scores generate color-coded "tickets," with those marked red requiring the quickest response from moderators.

Facebook's software likewise depends on relationship analysis and archives of real chats that preceded sex assaults, Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan told Reuters in the company's most expansive comments on the subject to date.

Like most of its peers, Facebook generally avoids discussing its safety practices to discourage scare stories, because it doesn't catch many wrongdoers, and to sidestep privacy concerns. Users could be unnerved about the extent to which their conversations are reviewed, at least by computer programs.

Catching one in 10?
In part because of its massive size, Facebook relies more than some rivals on such technology.

"We've never wanted to set up an environment where we have employees looking at private communications, so it's really important that we use technology that has a very low false-positive rate," he said. In addition, Facebook doesn't probe deeply into what it thinks are pre-existing relationships.

A low rate of false positives, though, also means that many dangerous communications go undetected.

Some adults have used Facebook to target dozens of minors before assaulting one or more and then being identified by their victims or the victims' parents, court records show.

"I feel for every one we arrest, ten others get through the system," Florida's Duncan said of tips from Facebook and other companies.

Another pillar in Facebook's strategy is to limit how those under 18 can interact on the site and to make it harder for adults to find them. Minors don't show up in public searches, only friends of friends can send them Facebook messages, and only friends can chat with them.

The gaping hole in the defense of Facebook and many other sites popular with teens is that minors can easily make up a birth date and pretend to be adults -- and adults can pretend to be minors, as happened with Skout, which declined an interview request.

Technology is available for verifying the ages of Web and app users. One of the providers is Aristotle International Inc, which offers a variety of methods, including having a parent vouch for a child and make a token payment with a credit card to establish the parent's identity.

Yet even in the wake of the Skout disaster, no site aimed at minors has hired Aristotle for age checks. "We could do real parental consent with 14-year-olds, but no one has asked," said Aristotle Chief Executive John Phillips.

Such checks would cost money and alienate teens who don't want their parents involved.

Barring a wave of costly litigation or new laws, it is hard to see the protections getting much tougher, experts said. Instead, the app and location booms will only add to the market pressure for more freedom on youth sites and greater challenges for parents.

"For every Skout that shuts down, there are ten more that popped up yesterday," said the FBI's Donahue. "The free market pushes towards permissiveness."


PETITION - U.S. House of Representatives: Do Not Ruin Anymore Families By Passing the Child Protection Act of 2012

Original Article

About This Petition:
We are focused on bringing awareness to the collateral damage suffered by the families of registered former sexual offenders. For years we have endured law after law being passed to criminalize what began in California in the 1930s as a registry of 11 types of offenses and is now raised to more than 189 "crimes!"

While proponents of the sex offender registry scramble to find even one case where the registry has protected a child, the children of registrants, numbering into the hundreds of thousands, suffer daily. One study found the following:

When asked, children of registrants stated that because their family member was listed in the public registry:
  • 47% had suffered harassment by others
  • 59% were ridiculed by others
  • 52% suffered teasing by others
  • 22% were physically attacked by others
  • 65% feel left out with other children
  • 77% suffer depression
  • 73% feel anxiety
  • 63% suffer from fear
  • 13% have suicidal tendencies
  • 80% have anger issues

When you read statistics like these we have to ask:

Are we neglecting the welfare of these children or perhaps much worse, encouraging such behavior leading to children becoming social outcasts due to the public registry.

We must demand more education and fewer laws!


FL - Housing Consultant for Offenders

Below is only one site in Florida for finding ex-offenders housing, and you can find more here.

NOTE: We do not know these organizations/people, they are just links sent to us by the owners, or other people over the years. It's up to you to judge for yourself.


Click the image to visit the site


Travel Waivers (User Submitted)

The following was sent to us via the contact form and posted with the users permission, and yes, we will add a new label. We will attempt to be monitoring new news articles from Google about this, here, and if anybody else has any links to start us out on this topic, please feel free to use the contact form to email us, or leave a comment here with the links.

By Anonymous:
Hi. I'm a former offender and find your site an invaluable source of information.

I'm Canadian, with a single conviction from roughly 7 years ago. I'm wondering if you could add a new "label" to your website called "entry waiver."

I understand in order to visit the USA with a record, you have to have an entry waiver. I can find very little evidence as to the success that SO's have had with getting one. My understanding is that if you had multiple convictions, your chances are near zero. I'm wondering about the chances for people with a single SO conviction before I spend $585 of my hard earned money on something with little chance of success.

Thanks, and keep up the good work.


TX - Two lawmen (Thomas Harmon DeMont and Joe Garcia)accused of using authority for sex acts

Thomas Harmon DeMont
Original Article

07/12/2012

By Mike Glenn

A Jacinto City police captain and a former Brazoria County sheriff's deputy both used their authority as law enforcement officers to commit sexual assaults, officials said.

Capt. Thomas Harmon DeMont, 49, was arrested Wednesday after he was charged with indecency with a child.

On Tuesday, ex-sheriff's deputy Joe Garcia, 37, surrendered at the Brazoria County Jail after a grand jury there indicted him on sexual assault and official oppression charges.

DeMont, now on administrative leave from the department, is accused of exposing himself in April to a 13-year-old girl, according to the criminal complaint filed against him.

The girl had been having problems with a boy at her school, and her mother had sought help from a police officer she knew only as "Sgt. Tom" of the Jacinto City Police Department.

On April 11, DeMont met with the girl at her uncle's apartment. Her mother remained outside.

The teenager later told investigators DeMont gave her a blue pill that he claimed would help her relax.

"She took the pill and began to feel dizzy and sleepy," according to the criminal complaint.

DeMont then exposed himself to the girl and asked her to commit a sex act, the complaint stated. The girl ran outside.

She later told investigators DeMont threatened to kill her family if she reported what happened, the complaint stated. He also sent the girl several text messages telling her that her family members were now in danger.

Houston police juvenile sex crimes detectives contacted Jacinto City police and asked if a "Sgt. Tom" worked there.

DeMont, the officer they talked to, told them there was no "Sgt. Tom' on the rolls. But, the HPD detectives checked the girl's cellphone records and confirmed he sent her several text messages after the alleged assault. She also identified DeMont in a photo lineup, according to the criminal complaint.

DeMont, a Missouri City resident, remains in custody at the Fort Bend County Jail with bail set at $50,000, officials said.

Joe Garcia
Garcia, the since-fired Brazoria County deputy, is accused of sexually assaulting a woman he met at the scene of a March 30 vehicle accident, Brazoria sheriff's officials said.

They said Garcia volunteered to drive the 24-year-old woman to her friend's home in Brazoria. Sheriff's officials said he assaulted her soon after they pulled up to the house.

A sheriff's deputies investigation corroborated the woman's account of the incident. Garcia was fired April 10.

On Monday, Garcia surrendered after a Brazoria County grand jury indicted him on charges of sexual assault and official oppression.

He was released from the Brazoria County Jail after posting $50,000 bail.


NY - Lockport seeks repeal of sex offender zones

Original Article

07/12/2012

By Thomas J. Prohaska

Attorney says '06 law is unenforceable

LOCKPORT - With local sex offender buffer zones being invalidated by judges from Newfane to Long Island, the City of Lockport's attorney called on the Common Council on Wednesday to repeal Lockport's law.

John J. Ottaviano asked the Council to call a public hearing on the repeal of the law passed in 2006. If the Council votes to do so next week, the hearing would be held Aug. 1.

"In the interim, there will be instructions given to our Police Department not to enforce it," Ottaviano said. "I believe it's unenforceable. The courts are pretty clear."

Local, state and federal judges from one end of the state to the other have thrown out any local law that's tougher on sex offenders than the state's own rule, which applies only to Level 3 sex offenders, the most dangerous classification, and only if they are on probation or parole.

"It's not something we're happy about," Lockport Police Chief Lawrence M. Eggert said. "Will there be an impact? I think there's enough of the law left where hopefully there's no interaction [between offenders and children]."

"This legal ruling that we're going to be asked to consider is tough on the community," said Alderman Kenneth M. Genewick, R-5th Ward. "I want to look into it more."

According to the Lockport police website, there are six Level 3 offenders in the city, but none of them are on probation or parole. Thus, they will no longer face restrictions on where they can live.

The state says Level 3 offenders who are under supervision are not allowed to live within 1,000 feet of a school, park, playground, or other place where large numbers of children gather. Ottaviano said the legal principle of pre-exmption has been used to throw out tougher laws. It means that if there's a state law in place on a subject, no local government is allowed to be more restrictive.

Lockport's website also lists 13 Level 2 offenders and 25 Level 1 offenders. Its law sets a 1,000-foot buffer, for all classifications of sex offenders.

North Tonawanda, which has a quarter-mile, or 1,320-foot, buffer zone, was hit with a lawsuit last year from a Level 3 sex offender who was staying in prison after his sentence was up because he couldn't find a legal residence in the city.

Niagara Falls has a 1,500-foot buffer that so far has not been challenged in court.

Earlier this year, Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III upheld a ruling by Newfane Town Justice Bruce M. Barnes, who dismissed charges against a sex offender charged with violating that town's 2,000-foot buffer zone law. Barnes found the law invalid, and Murphy agreed.

Pre-emption, Murphy wrote, "is particularly necessary in order to avoid what has been termed 'the race to the bottom,' where local municipalities vie against each other to enact ever more restrictive legislation to push convicted sex offenders into residency in neighboring communities with less restrictive proscriptions."

In the past year, federal judges have overturned sex offender buffer zone laws in Geneva and in Suffolk County. Previous decisions by various judges shot down laws in Albany, Rockland, Saratoga, Rensselaer, Rockland and Schenectady counties.

The state Division of Criminal Justice Services has a "Myths and Facts" page on its sex offender registry website. It says, "Myth: Residency restrictions make communities safer."

"It is unclear if they make communities safer or not," the website continues.


NJ - False security on sex crimes: Bill would require notice on Facebook, but would it do any good?

Original Article

07/12/2012

Can you imagine scrolling through Facebook updates and seeing a friend’s name, followed by, “is a sex offender?”

That’s essentially what state Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman envisions. The Republican from Somerset County is proposing a law that would require every sex criminal to share that status on social networking sites — just as they’re required under Megan’s Law to register with authorities, who must notify neighbors.

This bill, modeled on a recently enacted Louisiana law, is in some ways redundant. Facebook already forbids convicted sex offenders from using its site. And in New Jersey, anyone convicted of a sex offense in the past 18 years is already under parole supervision for life. As a rule of that parole, they’re forbidden from using any social networking sites. Some are barred from using a computer for anything at all if they used one to commit their offense. Bateman’s law would extend some restrictions to sex offenders convicted before 1994.

The problem is this: The law isn’t likely to save any children. Megan’s Law is popular because it gives parents a sense of control over their children’s safety. It is tough to argue that parents should not have the right to know when a sex offender is living next door, or chatting with their children in a Facebook group.

But there is no evidence these kind of restrictions actually work. Sex offenders who do repeat can get around these barriers with ease. They can break the rules, travel to a neighboring town without reporting it and victimize children there. They can use a phony name on Facebook. And remember that most sex offenders are never caught, so they face none of these restrictions.

As well-intentioned as it is, Megan’s Law was found not to make much difference, according to a 2008 study in New Jersey. It has failed to reduce either new first-time sex offenses or prevent repeat offenses. So why would extending it to the online world be any more effective?
- Since they do not provide a link to the study mentioned, I can only assume this is the study they are talking about (PDF).

This proposed law is part of the relentless search for security against sex criminals — and as another scarlet letter, it’s probably futile. The bill is more about gaining political mileage than improving public safety.

If these laws provide a false sense of security, they may even do damage. Talking to children, supervising their online activities and teaching them to be on guard is more likely to help.