Monday, March 18, 2013

MA - Rep. James Arciero: All sex-offenders should be on registry

Original Article

03/18/2013

By Evan Lips

WESTFORD - It's no secret that knowledge is king, and state Rep. James Arciero is looking to crown the public with that power in the form of an online sex-offender registry that lists all perpetrators.
- This is just another politician who is exploiting fear, children and ex-offenders for his own gain, in our opinion.  If he was truly wanting to "empower" the people, why doesn't he just push to put all ex-felons on an online shaming hit-list for all to see?

Currently, only information on Level 3 sex offenders is available to the public.

"I want citizens to be able to empower themselves," Arciero said Saturday.

It's not the first time the Westford Democrat has introduced a bill aimed at loosening the information laws related to low-level and mid-level sex offenders. Last spring, he found 36 co-sponsors willing to sign on to a bill that would have made information on Level 2 offenders available online.

That piece of legislation left the House Judiciary Committee in a favorable light. Now Arciero wants to give it more punch.

"I was always told that Level 1 offenders were not dangerous, but now my eyes are opened," he said, citing a recent Fox 25 special report showing that about 1,737 out of 2,693 Level 1 sex offenders in Massachusetts have committed crimes against children.
- So was that one time?  And how old were they when the crime occurred?  They don't tell you that for a reason.  Many were probably children themselves, and they also don't tell you if it was a one time deal or if they went on to commit more related crimes.

Arciero said if the state adopts his proposal, it could also be in line to receive more than $600,000 annually in federal funding. States that elect to post all offender information online, in step with the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, are eligible for grant money.

Arciero said the initial event that drove him to criticize current offender-information laws occurred in 2009. That was the year a 16-year-old girl living in his hometown of Westford was sexually assaulted by a man who had grown up in town, moved to Florida, then later moved back to Westford. His record in Florida was readily available for viewing, but not in Massachusetts.

"We were outraged," he recalled. "When neighbors Googled him, they found a boatload of information."
- So why don't they say what the crime was and if the person in question is a Tier 1, 2 or 3?  That "boatload" of information could be for anything not related to the crime in question, but hey, that's politics!

In Massachusetts, information about Level 1 sex offenders is only available to law-enforcement agencies. For information on Level 2 offenders, residents can file an in-person information request via their local police department.

That's not enough for Arciero, who has found a staunch supporter in Chelmsford resident Laurie Myers.

Myers, a former rape-crisis counselor, founded the victims-advocate group Community VOICES (Facebook) in 2004.

"We need to give people every tool possible," Myers said Saturday. "We just want to make this information available to people who want it."

Arciero also has the backing of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association and Gov. Deval Patrick, who filed his own piece of legislation last year demanding to bring the state into compliance with the Adam Walsh Act.

Chelmsford Police Chief James Murphy has said he supports giving the public access to all sex-offender information.
- So what about access to all ex-felon information?

Arciero also has support from the other side of the political aisle. Locally, Republican state Rep. Marc Lombardo of Billerica said Sunday there's no reason the information should not be public.

"It makes sense to ensure residents know who lives in their neighborhoods," he said. "If we can help kids in this state by putting this information online, I think it's the right thing to do."
- Like we said above, if you want to let residence know who lives in their neighborhoods, then why not put all criminal records online?

On Beacon Hill, the calls for posting sex-offender information grew louder after the December arrest of [name withheld], the Wakefield man charged with 100 counts of child sex abuse at the unlicensed day-care business operated by his wife. In 1989, [name withheld] was convicted of three counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14, netting him Level 1 sex-offender status.

In Fitchburg, Democratic state Rep. Stephen DiNatale said Sunday he supports Arciero's proposal but added that sex-offender information must be constantly updated.

"God forbid the wrong address is posted and someone throws a Molotov cocktail into the wrong window," he said, adding that vigilantism is his only concern. "The information must be updated on a regular basis and maintained properly."
- So what if a vigilante throws a Molotov cocktail into the correct house?  Vigilantism is a major problem across the country, and is exactly why this information should be taken offline and used by police only.

As a former training and community-services director for the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board, DiNatale said that regardless of what happens with Arciero's bill, he's glad it has helped spur some dialogue on the issue.

He said he's certain that if Arciero's bill is signed into law, it will "definitely be appealed by some individual over the fact that the information is being actively disseminated."

Yet, Arciero pointed out that he's calling for the information to be available for those looking for it, not necessarily posted in public places, like the lobbies of police departments.

"It's a judgment call by the registry board if they are likely to re-offend," Arciero said. "I think citizens need to have information to make their own judgment calls."
- Then post all criminal information online!  That or murderers, gang members, drug dealers / users, thieves, DUI offenders, corrupt politicians, etc, etc.


VA - Protecting public from sex offenders

Original Article

03/18/2013

Privatization of sex-offender treatment programs might not head everyone’s list of significant issues, but it’s highly important to civil libertarians.

Indeed, the very practice of keeping sex offenders behind bars after their criminal sentences have been served is an issue fraught with civil rights and constitutional questions. After someone has “paid his debt to society,” isn’t he free to go about his lawful business?

Yes…and no.

Because recidivism among sex offenders is high, states have found another way to keep offenders off the streets, called “civil commitment.” Once an offender has served his criminal sentence, he can be brought before a civil court to determine whether he remains a threat to society. If the court says yes, the offender is sent to a secured rehabilitation facility.
- If you are defining recidivism as any new crime, then yes it may be high due to the draconian nature of the laws and ex-offenders being arrested for technicalities, but if you are talking about re-offense of another sex crime, that statistic is low and there are many studies out there to prove that, if you'd look.

The practice protects society from offenders who likely would commit additional crimes. But because there is so much public fear about sex offenders, pushing prosecutors and courts into action, it also risks targeting those who are not a threat. And it blurs lines between criminal and civil authority, as well as between justice and injustice.
- Well the fear is due to the media, politicians and other organizations who exploit fear, children and ex-offenders for their own personal gain. Due you believe everything you read on the Internet? I sure hope not.

Courts have held that the practice is constitutional if continued incarceration is for treatment and not for punishment.
- So, in the state of Virginia, how many have been committed and how many have been released?  It seems that would be one thing you would have looked into.

It was the punishment issue that caused Virginia to reject a proposal to transfer Virginia’s treatment facility from public to private management.

Rather like the first private proposal to take over operation of Virginia’s public port, two bids to take over the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation came to the state unsolicited.

One bid was rejected because officials decided that the private prisons operator focused too much on incarceration and not enough on treatment (“Va. won’t privatize sex offender treatment program,” The Daily Progress, March 16). This was precisely the concern that civil libertarians had raised when the privatization issue first surfaced.

The second bid was rejected because it was too costly, proposing to charge $2.4 million a year more than Virginia spends to run the facility itself. Public management is more efficient that private enterprise in this case.

Across the nation, meanwhile, incarcerating sex offenders for treatment has become a huge expense. States began these programs when their economies were thriving. But a combination of economic decline and mission creep — the tendency to remand more and more offenders to these programs under relaxed standards — has rendered the programs more expensive than anticipated. Yet leaders fear the political backlash that eliminating or reducing them would cause.
- Of course, they don't have the balls to defend the Constitution and people's rights due to the mass hysteria they have helped spread.

So far, Virginia seems to have avoided this particular hazard. But it is worth noting that the danger of escalating costs exists — especially if Virginia falls prey to the temptation of increasing civil commitments due to political pressure rather than impartial justice.


UK - Hundreds of North children arrested over sex claims

Original Article

This just goes to show you how out of hand this whole sex offender hysteria has become.

We wonder if all the people in the general public who say we should shoot sex offenders on the spot, or worse, if they'd be okay with murdering a child who has been slammed with the label? What if that child was your own?


03/17/2013

Hundreds of children have been arrested in the North over sex crimes, with experts blaming online pornography

A shocking number of children have been arrested in connection with sex crimes in the North, with experts blaming online pornography.

In some cases those arrested were as young as six, a Sunday Sun investigation has revealed.

Our probe shows how almost 500 children aged 17 and under were arrested for sexual offences according to police data, 20% of which were formal investigations into reports of rape.

Of those arrested, more than 140 were 13 or younger - with 40 of those being on suspicion of rape.

Charity bosses told the Sunday Sun that they have seen a national trend of an increase in these types of crimes.

One North MP last night said the alarming figures painted a picture of “childhood innocence destroyed”.

However, only a handful of those arrested were convicted of offences. Nationally, only 400 people aged between 10 and 17 were convicted of sexual offences between September 2011 and September 2012.

This amounts to just 7% of the 5,700 convictions for sexual crimes committed by offenders of all ages over the same time period.

This is because a large number of them are below the age of criminality, which in this country is 10, whereas in some cases the accused will have accepted cautions, or the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will not have pursued a prosecution.

Experts blamed the shocking figures on the increasing availability of hardcore pornography on phones and the internet.

A spokesperson for the NSPCC said children they work with often appear to be acting out what they have watched.

And young people were more exposed to the “powerful influence” of online pornography than ever before, according to Pat Buckley, NSPCC service centre manager for Newcastle and Middlesbrough.

She said: “There does appear to be a link between incidents of this nature and watching hardcore porn, although more longer term research is needed."

We should also not forget that the young people perpetrating this serious abuse have often themselves experienced significant emotional deprivation and other forms of abuse.”

While the vast majority of those reported for sexual assault in the North were boys or male teens, a handful were teenage girls. Other offences investigated among the region’s children included making indecent photographs, indecent exposure and incest.

In more than 100 of the incidents probed by police, the alleged victim was 10 or under.

North Tyneside MP Mary Glindon said the Sunday Sun’s investigation, in particular the cases where those arrested had not even reached adolescence, painted a picture of “childhood innocence destroyed”.

Mrs Glindon, who sits on an all-parliamentary party group on body image, argued the mainstream media also had to take some responsibility for the disturbing figures.

It’s not just the internet,” she claimed. “Even with something as popular as the X-Factor, everything’s so sexual. It leads children into thinking, what’s next? Young children just don’t look like young children anymore,” the Labour MP said.

Simon Hackett is professor of applied social sciences at Durham University.

He has led academic research into children who have sexually abused, and has worked as a practitioner in child welfare. “In my research, 50% of victims had experienced abuse themselves.”

If you’re trying to find trigger behaviour, looking at porn has been a very significant influence.”

Early sexualisation can be a trigger for this kind of offending behaviour.”

Northumbria reported 273 incidents of youths being arrested for alleged sexual assaults against people under 18 over three years, while in Cleveland the figure was 71.

A spokesperson for the force said the number of children under 13 arrested for sexual offences had decreased over the last three years, though figures across the North remained steady.

North Yorkshire reported 79 youths arrested for sexual assault, while Cumbria made 56 arrests. Durham only supplied information for last year, when 22 arrests were made.

Adults who are concerned about behaviour towards a child or young person should call police or social services or contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.

Confidential help for children is available from Childline on 0800 1111.