Wednesday, February 27, 2013

NY - Letter: Don't hire victims group to police

Suffolk Legislature
Suffolk Legislature
Original Article

02/26/2013

USA FAIR (Families Advocating an Intelligent Registry) is a not-for-profit corporation formed by family members of people on the sex offender registry. We believe that the vote by the Suffolk County Legislature to disperse registrants from two trailer camps to existing homeless shelters makes sense ["Legislators to shut trailers, order new checks by police," News, Feb. 6].

What would make even more sense, in the broader effort to improve sex offender management, would be to repeal the residency restrictions that have contributed to this homeless problem in the first place. Hopefully, the courts will do this soon.

What does not make sense is to sign a three-year, $2.7 million contract with Parents for Megan's Law, a victims' advocacy organization, to intensify checks on Suffolk's 1,016 registered sex offenders. This organization has no sex offender management experience. Advocates for victims play an important role in our democratic process, but they should not be given quasi-policing powers.

If the Suffolk County police need help to do this important job, why not use the money to add officers?

However, if Suffolk County really needs to outsource this task, County Executive Steve Bellone should conduct a competitive bid process. Only then will the taxpayers know if the most qualified organization was hired at the best price.


DC - US Sentencing Commission releases big new report on federal child porn sentencing

Original Article

02/27/2013

As reported in this official press release (PDF), this morning "the United States Sentencing Commission submitted to Congress its comprehensive report examining federal sentencing policy in child pornography cases." Here is more from the press release, which serves as a partial summary of the 468-page (Full Report -PDF) report:

Excerpt:
Although still only a small percentage of the overall federal caseload, child pornography prosecutions have grown significantly during the past decade and now account for nearly 2,000 federal cases each year. That growth reflects the increasing role of the Internet in child pornography offenses. Before the Internet, law enforcement officers had significantly curtailed the child pornography market in the United States.

Significant technological changes in offenders’ conduct have occurred since the federal penal statutes and sentencing guidelines for child pornography offenses were last amended comprehensively a decade ago. Child pornography offenders today typically use Internet technologies such as peer-to-peer file-sharing programs that enable offenders to distribute, receive, and collect child pornography images more easily and in greater quantities than when the current penalty structure was established. Several penalty enhancements in the guidelines for child pornography offenses,such as use of a computer, now apply to typical offenders. As a result, prison sentences for defendants convicted of federal child pornography offenses have almost doubled in the last decade to approximately five years for possession and 11 years for receipt and distribution.

Judge Saris concluded, “Because of changes in the use of Internet-based technologies, the existing penalty structure is in need of revision. Child pornography offenders engage in a variety of behaviors reflecting different degrees of culpability and sexual dangerousness that are not currently accounted for in the guidelines.”

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