Saturday, October 6, 2012

AZ - Federal Sex Offender Laws: Arizona, Many Other States Don't Meet Standards

Original Article

10/04/2012

By SEAN MURPHY

Nearly three dozen states have failed to meet conditions of a 2006 federal law that requires them to join a nationwide program to track sex offenders, including five states that have completely given up on the effort because of persistent doubts about how it works and how much it costs.

The states, including some of the nation's largest, stand to lose millions of dollars in government grants for law enforcement, but some have concluded that honoring the law would be far more expensive than simply living without the money.

"The requirements would have been a huge expense," said Doris Smith, who oversees grant programs at the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. Lawmakers weren't willing to spend that much, even though the state will lose $226,000.

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, named after a boy kidnapped from a Florida mall and killed in 1981, was supposed to create a uniform system for registering and tracking sex offenders that would link all 50 states, plus U.S. territories and tribal lands. When President George W. Bush signed it into law, many states quickly realized they would have to overhaul their sex offender registration systems to comply.
- It has never been proven that Adam was murdered by a known or unknown sexual offender or even if sexual assault was involved, it's all assumptions, and yet they are punishing all sex offenders for the deeds of a murderer?

Some lawmakers determined that the program would cost more to implement than to ignore. Others resisted the burden it placed on offenders, especially certain juveniles who would have to be registered for life. In Arizona, for instance, offenders convicted as juveniles can petition for removal after rehabilitation.

The deadline to comply with the law was July 2011. Thirty-four states have still been unable to meet the full requirements, and five of those have decided they won't even try. Arizona, Arkansas, California, Nebraska and Texas will instead forfeit 10 percent of the law-enforcement funding made available through the Justice Department.
- Which is basically bribery.

In Texas, a Senate committee conducted two years of hearings and recommended that the state disregard the law, citing concerns about juvenile offenders and other new mandates. The committee's report acknowledged the loss of an estimated $1.4 million. But that figure paled when compared with the cost to implement the changes, which could have exceeded $38 million.

The Arizona Legislature drew a similar conclusion, rejecting the law in 2009 after a committee determined it would cost about $2 million to fulfill all requirements – far more than the estimated $146,700 in grants that would be withdrawn.

California, the nation's most populous state, risked losing nearly $800,000 in funding this year, but a 2008 estimate put the cost of complying at $32 million.

The five states that have given up on the program still have the option to reapply for the withheld money. The 29 states that are in partial compliance have asked to have their withheld money released to help them meet conditions of the law.

Richard Kishur, an Oklahoma City counselor who has worked with sex offenders for more than 30 years, said his biggest reservation was that the law categorized offenders by the crime they commit, not the risk they actually pose.

"What we need to do is be rational about it and apply resources to people who are dangerous and quit wasting our money and time on people who aren't dangerous," Kishur said. "The law is making a lot of people's lives miserable because a lot of it should apply to psychopathic murderers instead of people who are situational and opportunistic offenders who aren't real likely to offend."

Proponents of the law had hoped it would ease the risk that states with less-stringent registration would become havens for sex offenders.

Mark Pursley, who managed sex offenders for nearly a decade at the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, recalled hearing offenders discuss moving to states with relaxed rules.

"They were very in tune with what requirements were in different states, and they would frequently migrate to other states," said Pursley, who is now retired.

[name withheld], a convicted sex offender from Oklahoma who now works for a nonprofit agency that helps recently released felons, said he understands the need for consistent registration rules. But he cautioned that registration alone will not stop them from reoffending.

"It doesn't do anything to stop crime," said [name withheld], who was convicted in 2005 of indecent liberties with a child and served nearly two years in prison. "A true pedophile, if they're going to offend, they're going to offend, whether or not they live one mile or 10 miles from a school."


Jamaica - Sex offender law strengthened

Original Article

10/06/2012

A set of regulations to give teeth to the Sex Offenders' Registry has been tabled in the Senate.

The regulations also propose that a sex offender is required to have with him at all times, a certificate of registration of sex offender while he is away from his main residence.

It says that if a sex offender finds his way from his main residence without his certificate of registration of sex offender on his person, he is guilty of an offence and is liable upon summary conviction in a Resident Magistrate's Court to a fine of up to $1 million or 12 months in prison.

The regulation further proposes that a registry be established in each parish. It also says that subject to Section 32 (2) and 34 (PDF) of the Sexual Offences Act, where a sex offender reports his intention to travel outside Jamaica, the registrar shall notify the immigration authorities of Jamaica of the offender's intention to travel outside Jamaica before the date on which the sex offender is to travel.

The Sexual Offences Act was signed into law on October 20, 2009. With the advent of the Sexual Offences Act, a man who is found guilty of rape as well as any person who commits a grievous sexual assault or aids and abets a grievous sexual assault can face a sentence of life imprisonment. Marital rape is also covered under the act as an offence committed only by a husband against his wife.

Section 29 (PDF) of the act provides for a Sex Offenders' Register and a Sex Offenders' Registry.

See Also:


VA - Virginia among states not following sex offender registration law

Original Article

10/05/2012

By Nick Dutton and Victoria Lushbaugh

RICHMOND (WTVR) - A federal law passed to track sex offenders is not being followed in several states, including Virginia.

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, named after the boy abducted from a Florida mall and killed in 1981, was passed in 2006.
- It has never been proven Adam was murdered by a known or unknown sex offender, or if sexual assault was even involved.

The goal of the law was to link sex offender information from one state with other states to create one, easy to access database.

However, states now said it is too time consuming and costly to overhaul their existing compliance systems. They also said it negatively impacts juvenile offenders, who in some states, can petition to remove their names after rehabilitation.

All states were supposed to comply with this act by July 2011, but 34 states, including Virginia, have been unable to meet the full requirements — and some have given up.

If states do not comply, they forfeit 10-percent of the law enforcement funding provided by the justice department.
- Which is basically bribery.

But states like Texas said when they compare the funding with the cost to comply, they are financially better off disregarding the law.

A spokesperson for Virginia State Police said the only thing holding the Commonwealth back from being substantially compliant is the issue regarding minors. However, if the minor is tried as an adult, they are entered in the sex offender database.


MO - Women Sex Offenders in the Ozarks Tend to Get Lighter Sentences Than Men

Original Article

10/05/2012

By Joanna Small

A US Department of Justice study shows female sex offenders tend to get more lenient sentences than men who commit the same or similar crimes, and the same goes for perpetrators in the Ozarks.

SPRINGFIELD - There's not a lot of hard data about this but there are anecdotes. Courts tend to be more sympathetic towards women offenders. Their sexual crimes are rarely violent and most often statutory with older teenage victims. One mother tells us that shouldn't matter.

"Our boy is a hero for going through the court system."

We first talked to this Ozarks mother a year and a half ago when [name withheld] faced three counts of felony statutory rape in two Ozarks counties for having sex with a 14-year-old.[name withheld] 's set for sentencing on two of the counts at the end of the month.

"Being she's a woman I don't know if it's going as hard as if she was a man. I feel like a man gets put in jail right away and she should have been put in jail right away," the mother tells us.

Instead [name withheld] posted a $10,000 bond, twice, and moved just five miles from the family. And she'll stay there if she gets probation as her attorneys have requested.

"It's been really hard; I would not wish this upon an enemy. My family was all torn apart."

Mom may be right to be concerned. A ten-year long study of the US Department of Justice shows female sex offenders tend to get lighter sentences. Although the same percentage of offenders for both sexes tend to do jail time, women typically do less. Men's sentences are between 6 and 31% longer than women's for the same or similar crime.

"I think if you look at the community there are still stereotypes that women don't pose as much a threat as men," explains Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson.

Maybe that's why then 23-year-old teacher [name withheld] got five years probation for having sex with a student in three different counties. Only after probation violations and failing to register as a sex offender twice was she sentenced to prison time.

[name withheld], charged with raping and sodomizing a 10-year-old boy for two years, got seven years. Patterson says the offenders gender is moot when he seeks a sentence, yet: "There's a misperception that males are not as traumatized by sex acts performed or by psychological effects after."

"Because it happened to be a woman with a boy the world tends to pat a boy on the back and not have that much sympathy for him, but at the same time he's a child and she's an adult," the mother from the beginning of our story concludes.

We took a look at a few similar statutory rape and sodomy cases in the Ozarks where the offenders were men. [name withheld] is serving 20 years in prison for sex acts with a child under 14-- remember [name withheld] got seven.

[name withheld] got four years for sex with a 14-year-old, while [name withheld] originally got probation.

Patterson also tells us many sex offenders were themselves victims at one time in their lives, and women abused as children tend to elicit more sympathy in sentencing than men who were abused.

See Also:


OK - Oklahoma May Lose Federal Funds For Not Complying With Sex Offender Law

Original Article

10/05/2012

By Havonnah Johnson

OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma is losing federal funds because the state isn't complying with an international standard to track sex offenders.

The Adam Walsh Act creates an international tracking system so that if someone committed a sex crime as a juvenile, they could be tracked in adulthood and across state lines. Oklahoma is one of more than 30 states that haven't complied.

"I think it's a good idea every state should comply with the international law, I agree with it," Ryan Albright said,

Most parents do agree with it, but complying with the Adam Walsh act means The Department of Corrections would have to update its systems, which could cost Oklahoma hundreds of thousands.

"Thirty-four states total haven't complied with the Adam Walsh Act. That tells me there are real problems with the Adam Walsh Act," said attorney David Slane.

Every state's compliance was expected by 2006. The goal is to create a national sex offender registry to track offenders across state lines and set criteria for posting offender data online.

"Of course you like to have some uniformity among the states when it comes to the sharing of information the particulars and the details wind up being a call that the legislature has to make," said Trent Baggett, an expert on the District Attorney's Council.

Oklahoma lawmakers haven't changed existing laws to force juvenile sex offenders to register as adults, which would make the state partially compliant.

"The penalty we incurred (last year) was between 400-500 thousand dollars, but a lot of that money was recouped so that we could move toward implementation," Baggett said.

Oklahoma has to become substantially compliant to not lose federal funds. If the state is not compliant by years end the loss in federal grants for law enforcement is an estimated $300,000. The Department of Corrections said the matter is out of the agency's hands and compliance is more of a legislative issue.

If the state is not compliant with the law by the end of the year, we stand to lose an estimated $300,000 in federal grants for law enforcement.

See Also:


TX - Texas opting out of federal sex offender list

Original Article

10/06/2012

By Renee C. Lee

Six years after a bill establishing a national sex offender registry was signed into law, Texas is among five heavily populated states not participating, citing high costs to implement the program.

Nearly three dozen states have failed to meet all the conditions of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act because of concerns about how it works and how much it would cost. Texas, Arizona, Arkansas, California and Nebraska have opted out of the national registry completely.

With the deadline long past — states were to comply by July 2011 — Texas officials are willing to risk losing about $1.4 million in grant money that would help local agencies enforce the law.
- Grant money or bribe money?

State lawmakers say the federal funding falls far short of the estimated $38 million needed to modify the state's existing program in order to participate.

Members of the state Senate Criminal Justice Committee made the decision following an interim meeting two years ago after hearing testimony from law enforcement officials.

We couldn't afford the national program,” said Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. “The local law enforcement doesn't have the money and the state doesn't have the money.”

Others argue the risk to Texas children outweighs the additional cost.
- That is easy to say when it's not your own money. So if you are so concerned, why don't you donate your own time and money?

I think it's ridiculous,” said Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio. “All of the hard work that some of us are trying to do to protect our children, to keep them safe from being sexually assaulted. And here we go again, where the Republicans, so they don't have to raise taxes or any type of revenue, have decided not to participate in this program on the backs of our children. I'm disappointed and I'm upset about it.”
- Are you really trying to "protect" children or your own career and reputation? And it's politics as usual, blame the Republicans or someone else.

Uresti rejected the argument that $38 million was too much for the state to spend to bring its sex offender database into compliance with federal law.

The penalty for not complying is 10 percent of Byrne grant funds, provided to law enforcement agencies for various crime prevention efforts.

The states that have decided to not honor the law still may reapply for withheld money. Twenty-nine other states that are in partial compliance have asked to have their withheld money released to help them meet conditions of the law.

Named for the son of “America's Most Wanted” host John Walsh, who was kidnapped from a Florida mall and killed in 1981, the law was supposed to create a uniform system for registering and tracking convicted sex offenders. Soon after President George W. Bush signed it however, many states realized they would have to overhaul their sex offender registration programs to comply.
- It was never proven that Adam was killed by a known or unknown sex offender, or even if he was sexually assaulted, yet they assume that to be true. He was murdered by a sick individual, who they "claim" was Ottis Toole, but there is no real proof of that either. So here we have a law passed on assumptions, not real facts, like most laws these days. Punish all ex-sex offenders due to what "one" murderer did? That is like punishing all thieves for something a DUI offender did, yeah, doesn't make sense.

States were required to comply by 2009, but the U.S. attorney general gave states an extension to 2011 after many objected to a requirement that all juveniles 14 and older who had committed aggravated sexual assaults register for 25 years.

About 70,000 sex offenders were registered in Texas as of August, according to the state's Department of Criminal Justice.

Texas juveniles are required to register for 10 years after they leave the juvenile system. The state, however, gives judges discretion to waive or remove a juvenile from the register. They also can defer a decision until after the juvenile successfully completes therapy. Those options would be removed under the federal law.

The law also categorizes offenders by crime and not by the risk they pose.

To comply, Texas would have to add certain offenses that require registration under the federal law. The state also would have to eliminate its use assessment to determine each offender's risk to the community. Offenders are registered as either low, moderate or high risk.

Allison Taylor, executive director of the Council on Sex Offender Treatment, testified that Texas has been working to narrow the sex offender registry to dangerous sex offenders and the federal law would undo this work.

Proponents of the federal law had hoped it would ease the risk that states with less-stringent registration would become havens for sex offenders.

Whitmire said the state's system is effective, but lawmakers will need to figure out how to ensure that only the most dangerous offenders are on it. Many offenders are registered because they had consensual sex with a minor, he said. In Texas, the age of sexual consent is 17.

Texas lawmakers also should consider repealing language that prohibits de-registering low-risk offenders, he said. Adult offenders are required to register for life.

Ana Yáñez-Correa, executive director of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, said the state made the right choice to ignore federal law. She said Texas probably is one of the toughest states on sexual offenders, so there's no need to waste money changing the system.


WA - Our house has been burned down

The following was sent to us via the contact form and posted with the users permission.

By Anonymous:
I'm a former RSO off the registry for about a year and a half. My house was burned to the ground in rural Washington state. The victim in my case and father of my daughter threatened in March to burn my house with me and my 2 daughters and brother all inside. We were not home when it burned, although it was burned in the middle of the night and my car was at the house. The cops are acting like me and my family burned it because we are low income and I am a former RSO. We had nothing to do with it and lost everything. The lawyer I spoke with said they are planning to arrest us. I don't know what to do, I just got my life back and then lost everything! They won't even investigate the victim and they don't even know the cause of the fire yet! But we are supposed to have burned our own house! The cops broke my daughters computer when they searched my brother's car when we got home after the fire and now our insurance company assigned a special investigator so they won't have to pay the claim! My family has been through HELL! And my brother and I may end up going to jail for something we didn't do! This happened on October 4th.