Friday, October 19, 2012

AUSTRALIA - Online sex offenders register a possibility

Original Article


By Adam Davies

The publication of an online sex offender register is fraught with danger, according to a Toowoomba legal academic.

Several Australian states are watching with interest after authorities in Western Australia created a website that provides the public with photographs and certain information on the state's worst sexual offenders.

The website went live this week.

University of Southern Queensland law lecturer Craig Burgess said while he could see both sides of the argument, the website could open a Pandora's box.

"I can understand some people would like to know where sex offenders are located, but where does it stop?" Mr Burgess said.

"As a principal of law, once a person has served their time, they have served their time."

"Why should they be punished further?"

"There are certainly two sides to the story, but (it could be) an invitation for people to take the law into their own hands."

Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said that the LNP Government had not considered an online register of sex offenders but did not rule it out.

"I am not averse to the idea of looking at what WA is doing, but it is not a priority at the moment," Mr Bleijie said.

"What we have done with our laws for sex offenders, particularly child sex offenders, if you are convicted of a child sex offence and serve time in prison, and you come out and do it again, then there is a mandatory life imprisonment."

"If we want Queensland to be the safest place to raise a child, then unfortunately the best place for some of these people to be is behind bars."

Queensland Council for Civil Liberties president Michael Pope said there was no evidence to suggest the site would actually work.

"The evidence from all over the world suggests these types of sites do not work. They are dangerous," Mr Pope said.

"All it does is promote vigilantism."

"These people have served their time and should be allowed to be rehabilitated in the community."

"All this is based on the presumption that they will reoffend."

Detective Inspector Darren Smith from Toowoomba Police refused to comment on the number of registered sex offenders living in Toowoomba or how police manage those offenders.

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Sex Offender Issues

NE - Federal judge overturns parts of Nebraska sex offender law

Original Article



A federal judge has struck down (PDF) parts of Nebraska's new sex offender laws, which would have made it a crime for some offenders to use social networking sites and require them all to notify the state whenever they post on the Internet.

Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf said it wasn't his prerogative to second-guess Nebraska's policy judgments, so long as they are within constitutional parameters.

And he earlier upheld parts of the state's new sex offender registration laws despite personally believing them to be "both wrongheaded and counterproductive."

But, Kopf said, "for three sections of Nebraska's new sex offender registry law, Nebraska has violently swerved from that path."

Specifically would have:
  1. made it illegal for sex offenders whose crimes were against children to use social networking sites, instant messaging or chat rooms;
  2. required all sex offenders to subject themselves to searches and monitoring of their computers and cell phones; and
  3. to tell the government every time they posted on Internet sites or blogs.

The laws, the most recent changes to the state's Sex Offender Registration Act, were passed in 2009 but put on hold as a result of the lawsuit before they were to go into effect in 2010.

It was sex offenders themselves who sued. At a trial before Kopf in July, they testified one after another about how the changes would impact them and, in many cases, their work.

On Thursday, Omaha attorney Stu Dornan, whose firm represented the men and women challenging the laws as John and Jane Doe, hailed this week's ruling, saying the laws had left people on the Nebraska Sex Offender Registry unsure whether they could text or email family members or even turn on a computer.

He said Kopf's ruling upheld the Constitution as a document that protects even sex offenders, who are viewed by many Nebraskans, as Kopf said in his order, as the lepers of the 21st century.

"The Constitution, if it does not protect this group of people, it does not protect any of us," Dornan said.