Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Geospatial Technologies Help Track Real-Time Movements of Sex Offenders

Original Article

01/29/2013

Convicted sex offenders continue to move freely within communities, including in restricted areas, despite laws designed to limit their movements. A new study, by Alan Murray from Arizona State University and colleagues, uses new tracking techniques to better understand the actual movements of sex offenders. This information can help develop effective strategies to promote public safety.

The findings are published in a new book, "Crime Modeling and Mapping Using Geospatial Technologies," published by Springer.

Sexual offenses, especially those committed against children, are of concern to both the public and policy makers. In response to these concerns, local, state and federal legislators in the US have passed a series of laws designed to reduce interaction between children and these potentially dangerous individuals. To date, the vast majority of research on sex offenders and residence restrictions deals with issues of housing availability and affordability. Very little work has focused on sex offender mobility, and residence trends in particular.

Murray and his team analyze sex offender residential movement patterns over a two and a half year period in Hamilton County, Ohio. They used geographic information systems and a developed exploratory system (SOSTAT) to uncover spatial behavioral patterns, which give important insights into offender reintegration, their mobility within communities and the implications of restrictions on both offenders and the community.

Their analyses showed that sex offenders appear to be a very mobile group. Over the two and a half year period, 65 percent of registered offenders changed residences. Although there was a noticeable trend towards fewer offenders living in restricted zones overall, worryingly, nearly a third moved from non-restricted areas into restricted zones.
- Of course they are mobile!  It's due to the insane residency laws which prevent them from living almost everywhere, so they have to continually move.

The authors conclude: "Over the years, changes in laws governing post-release activities of offenders were designed to monitor and track this group of individuals. Our study highlights that, despite these increasingly stringent laws, sex offenders move freely about communities and continue to reside in restricted residential areas. This mobility suggests that current policies may require modification to achieve their intended goals."

This example of the value of spatial analysis for crime analysis is featured in a new book Crime Modeling and Mapping Using Geospatial Technologies edited by Michael Leitner of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge (USA). The book tackles various types of crime and places them in a geospatial context. As well as posing interesting questions on crime in such a context, the chapters also discuss applications and implementations of geographic information systems.


AR - House panel OKs sex-offender bill

Original Article

01/29/2013

LITTLE ROCK (AP) - A House committee has advanced a bill that would ban dangerous sex offenders from some facilities in Arkansas state parks.

The bill by Republican Rep. Stephanie Malone of Fort Smith passed on a voice vote in the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

Malone's bill would prohibit the most extreme categories of sex offenders from being present at swimming pools or playgrounds at state parks.

State parks officials sought the legislation.


MI - Michigan may expand online sex offender registry to include more crimes involving minors

Original Article

01/29/2013

By Jonathan Oosting

LANSING - More sex offenders may soon be popping up on Michigan's online registry.

The state Senate today unanimously approved a bill that would expand the online registry to include certain additional crimes involving minors.

Lawmakers previously overhauled the Michigan Sex Offender Registry Act in 2011 to come into compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which required the state to separate sex offenders into three tiers and mandated specific reporting requirements for each.

Under current law, the Michigan State Police must post online registry data for all Tier II and Tier III offenders convicted of crimes such as rape or creation of child pornography.

Senate Bill 44 (PDF), now headed to the House for consideration, would also require the state to post data for Tier I offenders convicted of a single crime involving minors.

Specific offenses that would be added to the website include knowingly possessing child pornography, indecent exposure when the victim is a minor, unlawful imprisonment or restraint of a minor and surveillance of a minor who is undressed or wearing only undergarments in a situation where he or she has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

"It was brought to my attention that there are some people in Tier I who could be a danger to children," said Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, who sponsored the legislation. "Certainly somebody that has committed one of these acts and been convicted should be on the list so parents and grandparents can protect their children from somebody who happens to be in the area."

Jones introduced a similar bill last session. It too was approved by the state Senate, but it failed to see a vote in the House during a busy lame-duck session. Citing today's unanimous Senate vote, Jones said he expects his bill to reach the governor's desk this time around.


HI - Hawaii Lawmakers Aim to Strengthen Laws Against Sex Offenders Targeting Children

Original Article

01/29/2013

Nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford was kidnapped from her home in Florida by 46-year-old John Couey after he broke into her home at 3 a.m. in 2005.

Couey, a convicted sex offender who lived nearby in a trailer, raped Jessica over three days before brutally murdering her by burying her alive in two garbage bags. After confessing to the crimes, he was sentenced to death on charges of first degree murder, kidnapping and capital sexual battery.

Jessica's father, Mark Lunsford, helped get passed new legislation that makes life tougher for convicted sex offenders. The legislation was named the Jessica Lunsford Act allows law enforcement to more closely track sex offenders, can require sex offenders to wear electronic tracking devices and mandates increased prison sentences.

Other states passed "Jessica's Law" mandating a minimum sentence of 25 years and maximum life in prison for first time sex offenders who attack children. (See specifics of the legislation)
- From a biased blog site.

Hawaii is not tough enough on child predators, according to Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom, who wants to change that. The East Oahu Republican introduced Jessica’s legislation in this session and hopes Hawaii will become the next state to mandate that sex offenders who abuse children will spend at least 25 years in prison.

SB 799 (PDF) and SB 1223 (PDF) require electronic monitoring for those who sexually assault of a minor and it establishes mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years for felony sexual assault of a minor.

"It is unacceptable that Hawaii, whose lawmakers are always talking about doing things 'for the Keiki' have long neglected basic protection of our children against sexual predators," Slom said. "Some think even a 25 year minimum sentence is too lenient but it is better than Hawaii's current 2 year sentence. Nationally, several organizations have taken note of our indefensible position. Even though it is late, now must be the year we act and tell the monsters who prey on our children we will stop you."

Senators Gilbert Keith-Agaran, Michelle Kidani, Clarence Nishihara, Brian Taniguchi, Glenn Wakai and Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, signed on as co-introducers of the legislation. The Honolulu city prosecutor's office will be supporting similar legislation, according to spokesperson Dave Koga.

Political Commentator Bill O'Reilly has made a push for Jessica's Law to be enacted in every state. A map on his web site shows Hawaii is one of just 6 states that has lax laws for child sex offenders.

In a commentary on his web site, O'Reilly said: "These outrageous crimes could have been prevented, which is why I am calling on every state in the union to pass a version of 'Jessica's Law.' The legislation is named after little Jessica Lunsford, who was just 9 years old when her life was brutally ended by a sexual predator who had previously been convicted of sex crimes against a child. The crime forced Gov. Jeb Bush and the Florida legislature to mandate stiff minimum sentences for child abusers, who had all too often been slapped on the wrist by lenient judges."
- Most sexual crimes are committed by those not on any registry and by people the victim knows, so this would not "prevent" anything!

"There is simply no question that Jessica's Law will save lives, and similar laws need to be instituted in every state. ... This is literally a life-and-death battle to save our youngest and most vulnerable citizens from abuse, torture, and murder."