Tuesday, December 18, 2012

CA - Lake Forest may repeal sex-offender ban today

Original Article

12/18/2012

By SARAH de CRESCENZO

LAKE FOREST – After a yearlong ban, registered sex offenders may be allowed back in city parks Tuesday.

The City Council is set to vote for a second and final time on a resolution repealing an ordinance passed unanimously in December 2011 – at the urging of the Orange County District Attorney's Office – banning convicted offenders from city parks.

Earlier this month city leaders began the process of reversing the ban. On Dec. 4, the council voted 4-0 in favor of the repeal, citing the cost of defending against lawsuits.

Lake Forest is one of four cities in Orange County named in a lawsuit filed anonymously by a registered sex offender who alleged that the ban violates his constitutional rights. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff committed his offense more than 15 years ago and is now married with children.

A recent ruling by the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of Orange County also played a role in the city's decision to backtrack. The ruling reversed the conviction of a registered sex offender who violated a county law similar to Lake Forest's.

In that ruling, a three-judge panel said the county law is superseded by state law.

Outgoing Councilman Mark Tettemer abstained from the vote earlier this month, arguing that the council should wait for incoming officials Dwight Robinson and Adam Nick to be seated.

The vote Tuesday will be among the first taken by Nick and Robinson, who were sworn into office at the end of the Dec. 4 meeting.

Lake Forest is one of 16 Orange County cities that have passed laws banning registered sex offenders from parks.

District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and county Supervisor Shawn Nelson crafted the county ban, passed by the Board of Supervisors in April 2011.

Since then, Rackauckas and his staffers have attended dozens of meetings encouraging cities to adopt similar restrictions.

The Lake Forest council meeting begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 25550 Commercentre Drive.


MA - Massachusetts still carrying out witch hunts? - Council bans sex offenders at parks

Original Article

12/14/2012

By Alan Burke

Peabody: Mayor's ordinance passes with unanimous vote

The Peabody City Council has passed unanimously an ordinance forbidding sex offenders from areas including parks, playgrounds, recreation centers, beaches, pools, gyms, sports fields and sports facilities.

The action, a final vote on the bylaw, was taken in what seemed record time last night, with nary a word of opposition.

Speaking in favor of the ordinance, which he originated, Mayor Ted Bettencourt recalled a “troubling” incident last summer where parents at Cy Tenney Park were alarmed to find two Level 3 sex offenders at the facility collecting bottles and cans. They were further stunned to learn after calling police that there was no law or bylaw to prohibit the offenders from the park or from any areas where children gather.
- Well the very laws you are passing forces many into homelessness, and they were probably that, and collecting the stuff to get money to survive.  So did they harm any children?  Apparently not!

It stunned others, as well, and the School Committee, where the mayor is chairman, took the first vote calling for an ordinance to keep such people away from children.

I’ve received many calls from parents,” Bettencourt said. “And many calls from grandparents.” In keeping children safe, he stressed, “the proposed ordinance is an important tool. ... There’s nothing more important that we can take up.”

The ordinance is based on one passed previously in New Bedford, “where it has worked well,” the mayor said. It applies to those who have committed specific crimes, including assaults on children. While the state has applied no such restrictions, Bettencourt noted that 40 cities and towns have done it on their own.

Lynn also has a similar ordinance.

I just want to compliment you for putting this before us,” council President Jim Liacos said. “I was only surprised that we didn’t already have something in place.”

A number of parents and officials looked on as the vote was taken, including school board members Dave McGeney, Ed Charest and Tom Rossignol.

The unanimous vote speaks for itself,” McGeney said afterward. “I’ve heard nothing but support for this.” He estimated that it has widespread approval across the city. “I go with what Jim Liacos said. I think everyone was surprised that we had nothing like this on the books before.”
- This is why ex-sex offenders MUST speak out.  If they only hear stuff from people for the law, then it will pass, but if you speak out, then maybe they won't.

I think it was the right thing for our city,” Bettencourt said following the vote. “The City Council did right by the citizens.”

Earlier, some had expressed fears that the law would entangle the city in lawsuits and ultimately be overturned. In some cases, civil rights advocates have worried that with so many restricted areas, some offenders might find themselves virtually unable to move about. Others believe that offenders, having served time for their crimes, should not be restricted.

Anticipating objections, the city took several weeks before submitting an ordinance. It includes language, for example, that does not limit the offender’s ability to exercise a First Amendment right to attend church or synagogue. Additionally, offenders cannot be prohibited from contact with their own children.

Those who violate the law would face fines, and their parole or probation officers would be notified.

See Also:


Which Websites Are Sharing Your Personal Details?

Original Article

To identify what personal information gets passed to other companies when you log in to popular websites, The Wall Street Journal tested 50 of the top sites (by U.S. traffic) that offer registration, excluding sites that required a real-world account, such as banking sites. The Journal also tested 20 selected other sites that focus on sensitive subjects such as dating, politics, health, or children’s issues, and our own site, WSJ.com. Click here to read more about the methodology. Results for each site are below. Sites are ranked by popularity, based on comScore's numbers. Sites not in comScore's top 1,000 are marked with a "*".


Facebook Said To Have Sexting App In The Works

Original Article

I can foresee more registered sex offenders coming next year. So are they going to allow children to use this? If so, then wouldn't that be promoting child porn?

12/17/2012

By Adam Popescu

Guess who just might be the newest addition to the sexting community? Facebook. That's right, the nearly 9-year old company is growing up. Big time.

The house that Mark Zuckerberg built is reportedly set to launch a new standalone app aimed at competing with Snapchat, a disposable photo and video chat service best known for... well... sexting.

Technically, the service is about creating private, “self-destructible” picture and video messages that users can send and choose the amount of time that the photo will be available for viewing. After the allotted time, the content deletes itself from the sender’s and receiver’s phone, and from Snapchat's server. Like it never happened. You can imagine the appeal to those who want to send "cheeky" images.

Details for the release are still sketchy (Facebook's official response to ReadWrite's inquiry was: "We're not going to comment on rumor and speculation."). But we do know that Snapchat boasts a community that sends 50 million photos per day, and Facebook is likely betting its users, 1 billion people, who upload about 300 million photos a day, want to play. Although this app would a stand-alone product, operating like Facebook's Instagram app, the coming service would be able to draw from a huge user base.


WA - Troubles persist on predator island

Original Article

12/15/2012

By Christine Willmsen

Numerous interviews and hundreds of pages of public records tell a story of chronic misconduct by some employees at the state's Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island, including suspected abuse of overtime and paid leave that may have involved as many as 85 workers.

The state's $48 million Special Commitment Center, which detains and treats Washington's most dangerous sex offenders, has been plagued by costly absenteeism, employee fraud and flawed employment screening, The Seattle Times has found.

Relying on hundreds of pages of recently obtained public records and numerous interviews, The Times learned of suspected abuse of overtime and paid leave that may have involved as many as 85 employees at the Special Commitment Center (SCC) on McNeil Island, near Tacoma.

Two employees alone were paid $32,000 in overtime for work never performed, documents show.

Referring to several specific cases, former SCC superintendent Kelly Cunningham said: "They got paid for work they didn't do — that's theft of state resources."

So far, none has been punished for any payroll infractions because a state Auditor's Office investigation into the matter — after nearly two and a half years — is still not completed.

The SCC, which has 371 employees, has had a troubled history with staff at the remote location. In comparison to employees in the state's prison system, workers at the McNeil Island facility have been disciplined for misconduct this year at a rate four times higher.

Since January, the SCC has fired eight employees, suspended four and slapped 26 others with letters of reprimand or other discipline for misconduct unrelated to the auditor's probe. Among those fired: a high-ranking manager who turned in a made-up investigative report, staffers accused of viewing pornography on their work computers, and two employees who forged doctor's notes to cover up their absenteeism.

Earlier this year, The Times' four-part series "Price of Protection" revealed the state had wasted millions of dollars because of lack of oversight, unchecked defense costs and delayed commitment trials. The state spends about $170,000 a year for each of the 297 sex offenders on McNeil Island.

The SCC has also been marred by a long-running federal probe into illegal drugs and child pornography that resulted in employees and sex offenders being sent to prison. Federal agents continue to investigate contraband entering the facility.

Evidence of abuses

Chronic problems at the SCC came into sharper focus in 2009, when its new superintendent, Cunningham, was asked to cut staff and expenses as the state budget crisis peaked. As he looked for ways to save money, he was surprised to see the center paying about $150,000 a month in overtime.


MI - Child sex abuse education law passed

Original Article

12/14/2012

LANSING - A law aimed at helping to prevent the sexual abuse of children is on its way to the governor's desk after being passed Friday by the Michigan Legislature.

Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, was one of the sponsors along with Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan, and Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor.

"Erin's Law" is named after Erin Merryn, a sexual abuse survivor from Illinois whose advocacy in her home state led to passage of a similar law there in 2011. After going public about abuse by a family member, Merryn made it her mission to try to ensure that children have the age-appropriate education so they can recognize and talk about sexual abuse.

Senate Bills 1112 (PDF), 1113 (PDF) and 1114 (PDF) require school boards to adopt and implement policies addressing child sexual abuse and call for creation of a task force to make recommendations on how best to prevent the problem.

Under the law schools can adopt age-appropriate curriculum, train school staff on child sexual abuse and adopt policies concerning informing parents on the warning signs of abuse. Parents are to be made aware of the curriculum and can "opt out" if they do not want their children involved.

Similar laws have been enacted in Maine, Indiana and Missouri, and legislation has been introduced in several other states, including Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania.


CA - Judge considers sex offenders' use of social media

Original Article

12/17/2012

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge will hear arguments in San Francisco Monday morning on a motion to block a voter initiative's requirement that California's 73,000 registered sex offenders must give police a list of their online screen names and Internet service providers.

The provision is part of Proposition 35 (PDF), a ballot initiative intended to crack down on sex trafficking. The measure was approved by 81 percent of state voters in November.

U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson will consider a bid by two anonymous offenders and a group called California Reform Sex Offender Laws for a preliminary injunction suspending the measure until a full trial is held on their civil rights lawsuit challenging the provision.

Henderson last month issued a temporary restraining order blocking the requirement for the time being, saying that the lawsuit raised "serious questions" about whether the provision violated the constitutional First Amendment guarantees of free speech.

The plaintiffs, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, contend the requirement infringes on their right to discuss law reform and other topics online anonymously. They also argue the requirement violates their due process right because it is allegedly overly broad and unclear.

The lawsuit does not challenge other provisions of Proposition 35 that increase sentences and fines for people convicted of sex trafficking.

The initiative drive was led by Chris Kelly, a former Facebook chief privacy officer, and Daphne Phung, the founder of a group called Californians Against Slavery.

They have said the disclosure requirement is intended to "help combat the rampant use of the Internet and social media for sexual exploitation of minors and women."

At Monday's hearing, Henderson will also consider a bid by Kelly and Phung to join the state Attorney General's Office as official parties in the case to defend the initiative.

The Attorney General's Office has told the judge that state officials will not be able to enforce the requirement until March.

Henderson could either rule on the motions from the bench or issue a written decision at a later date.


Why discriminate against sex offenders only?

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

By Elizabeth Carter:
There are almost 700,000 registered sex offenders across the country, and experts say the system is overwhelmed. It is a vexing issue. How do you balance proactive policing with the constitutional rights of sex offenders once they’ve served their punishment and are free to go? The registry is double jeopardy for those who completed their sentence before the registry existed. On July 25, 2008, the Alaska Supreme Court declared Sex Offender Registration Act unconstitutional. We all know how much money the government makes yearly off of criminals. That means creating these registries just so innocent people will be motivated to commit a crime by killing or assaulting sex offenders. Politicians and the media make a big ordeal about keeping our children safe, well sex offenders are not the only people harming our children.

Each year the number of children who die in America is staggeringly high. However, numbers always seem to confuse the mix so to take it a step further, I’ve provided some totals. In 2005, there were 555 cases of infanticide in the United States. All were victims under the age of 5 and all were murdered, with 60 per cent of them dying at the hands of their parents. Add that to the 250 innocent children between the ages of 5 and 14 who were murdered during that same year and the blood count soars to unspeakable numbers. These are children killed senselessly at the hands of another out of anger, panic, revenge or in a desperate attempt to end perceived suffering. The bottom line is that factual accounts show that thousands of children are dying on our own soil every year for reasons such as abuse, neglect, murder, alcohol and drugs.

Since the government refuses to reform the SOR they need to make the same stipulations on child abductors, child murderers, child abusers, etc.. DO NOT discriminate against sex offenders only. To make my point, if something were to happen to my child I would rather have them sexually assaulted than murdered; at least I would still be able to hold my child and tell them how much I love them. NOTHING is worse than a parent having to bury their child and knowing they will NEVER, EVER see them again. Hopefully you catch my point.

Thank You,

Elizabeth Carter