Monday, April 1, 2013

CPA / Enrolled agent

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

By Anonymous:
Dear Sex Offender Blogsite,

I noticed that at time you will post emails from RSOs that need help or advice. I am a RSO and have a Deferred Adjudication for Online Solicitation Of A Minor (sting operation). I have been off of probation for a few years, but am really having difficulty getting a job. I have always worked in accounting, but nobody will have a RSO. I do want to start my own tax business and would like to sit for the CPA examination or become an Enrolled Agent with the IRS. However, there are background checks associated with this. While I don't have a CONVICTION, I of course still have a record and am on the registry.

What I would like to know is if there is anyone out there that has become a CPA or Enrolled Agent after becoming a RSO, and if so were there any additional hoops they had to jump through to do it?

Thanks,

Anonymous


CT - IDs of Level 1 sex offenders should be kept private

Original Article

04/01/2013

By Shana Rowan

Publicizing the personal information of Level 1 sex offenders will have significant consequences, and won’t protect children from sexual abuse.

Sexual recidivism in Connecticut was 2.7 percent in 2012. Hundreds of studies corroborate this.

95 percent of (abused) children are abused by family or an acquaintance, not a stranger. (U.S. Justice Department, 2000.)

96 percent of sex crimes are committed by someone who isn’t on the registry. (Dr. Jeffrey Sandler, 2008.)

Family members and minor children of Level 1 offenders will be put in imminent danger.

Former offenders may lose their jobs and homes – both increase chance of recidivism.

If [name withheld] is guilty of the charges he is facing, punishment should be swift and harsh. The suffering of the young children abused, and their families, is incomprehensible. But treating every sex offender as though they are [name withheld] isn’t accurate or effective.

Knowledge” is fact – not emotion. “Power” comes when we are willing to accept that.


CA - Tests found major flaws in parolee GPS monitoring devices

Original Article

03/30/2013

By Paige St. John

One company's devices were deemed so unreliable that California ordered a complete switch to another firm's, citing 'imminent danger' to the public. A lawsuit ensued.

A little more than a year ago, California quietly began conducting tests on the GPS monitoring devices that track the movements of thousands of sex offenders.

The results were alarming.

Corrections officials found the devices used in half the state were so inaccurate and unreliable that the public was "in imminent danger."

Batteries died early, cases cracked, reported locations were off by as much as three miles. Officials also found that tampering alerts failed and offenders were able to disappear by covering the devices with foil, deploying illegal GPS jammers or ducking into cars or buildings.

The state abruptly ordered parole agents to remove every ankle monitor in use from north of Los Angeles to the Oregon border. In their place, they strapped on devices made by a different manufacturer — a mass migration that left California's criminal tracking system not operational for several hours.

The test results provide a glimpse of the blind spots in electronic monitoring, even as those systems are promoted to law enforcement agencies as a safe alternative to incarceration. The flaws in the equipment raise the question of whether the state can deliver what Jessica's Law (California Proposition 83 PDF) promised when voters approved it in 2006: round-the-clock tracking of serious sex offenders.

In a lawsuit over the state's GPS contracting, corrections attorneys persuaded a judge to seal information about the failures, arguing that test results could show criminals how to avoid being tracked and give parole violators grounds to appeal convictions.

The information, they warned, would "erode public trust" in electronic monitoring programs. The devices, they said, deter crime only if offenders believe their locations are being tracked every minute.

"The more reliable the devices are believed to be, the less likely a parolee may be to attempt to defeat the system," GPS program director Denise Milano wrote in a court statement.

State officials say the replacement devices have largely resolved the problems, but officials so far have refused to release test data showing what, if any, improvements were gained.

Through interviews and by comparing censored documents obtained from multiple sources, The Times was able to piece together most of what the state persuaded the courts to black out.

GPS tracking devices are designed to alert authorities if the wearer tampers with the device, tries to flee or strays too close to a school or other forbidden area. Currently, 7,900 high-risk California parolees and felons — most of them sex offenders or gang members — wear the devices strapped to their ankles.

The monitors work by picking up signals from GPS satellites and transmitting the location information by cellular networks to a central computer. Just like GPS devices used by drivers or hikers, the monitors can fail where buildings block signals or where cell reception is spotty.

But that is not the monitoring system's sole vulnerability: A Times investigation in February found that thousands of child molesters, rapists and other high-risk parolees were removing or disarming their tracking devices — often with little risk of serving time for it because California's jails are too full to hold them.

The state's testing was conducted as part of a winner-take-all contest for the nation's largest electronic monitoring contract, worth more than $51 million over six years. Industry experts said they were the most exhaustive field trials they had seen.

When statewide monitoring began in 2008, California split the work between a division of 3M Co. and Houston-based Satellite Tracking of People, or STOP. The 3M device was used to track some 4,000 parolees in all but six Southern California counties. STOP had the rest of the state, including Los Angeles.

When California later sought to switch to a single provider, 3M came in with the low bid.

For a week in late 2011, parole agents abused both companies' devices. They were dropped four feet onto concrete, wrapped in foil to block their signals and submerged as long as three hours in a swimming pool. Testers allowed batteries to run dead, cut ankle straps and traveled into areas beyond the reach of satellite and cellular phone signals.

Without revealing full details of the tests, officials declared 3M's devices so faulty that the state rejected the company's bid. When 3M protested, Milano began a second round of tests that she said showed 3M's ankle monitors posed a public safety emergency.

The state claimed that 3M's devices failed to meet 46 of 102 field-tested standards for the equipment, although the company said a fourth of the failures occurred because the state had not provided the phone numbers needed to send automated text alerts.

One agent who participated in the tests, Denise LeBard, said in a court statement that 3M's ankle monitors were "inundated with defects."

Among the problems: 3M's devices failed to collect a GPS location every minute, phone in that information every 10 minutes and forward a text message to a parole agent if a problem was detected. Without revealing how well STOP performed, the state said 3M collected only 45% of the possible GPS points.

Testers also were able to fool 3M's GPS devices by wrapping monitors in foil, something that triggers an alarm on STOP's device because it has a metal detector.

Engineers and experts within 3M's electronic monitoring division vigorously dispute the alleged faults. They accused California of rigging the tests to steer the contract to STOP.

"This is one agency's testing," said Steve Chapin, vice president of government relations for 3M's electronic monitoring division. "We have the most widely used system in the world. It's been proven time and time and time again to be very safe and reliable."

In a heavily censored declaration, Milano also disclosed a test in which the 3M ankle monitor failed to "wake" from a battery-saving sleep mode, creating uncertainty about an offender's location. She cited the rest mode issue, along with what she described as a four-year history of other problems, as grounds to order parole agents in April 2012 to immediately replace every state-issued 3M monitor in California with one from STOP.

3M argued in court that GPS signals are blocked so frequently that no ankle monitor can really distinguish between accidental and deliberate interference. Its device triggers tamper alerts only when both GPS and cell signals are lost for more than two minutes, a feature even the company said is not foolproof.

"Neither 3M nor STOP can produce a device that will read the offender's mind to determine his or her intent, so the devices can only 'assume' that a tamper is intentional," 3M said.

A Sacramento County judge in February ruled that Milano had violated state contract laws, but he upheld her decision that 3M failed state standards.

Industry experts say the issues raised with 3M are not unique to that company, and problems with the state's monitoring system probably still exist.

Peggy Conway, editor of the Journal of Offender Monitoring, said every electronic monitoring system has blind spots and weaknesses.

"There is no one perfect product," she said.

See Also:


Easter - Cardboard Testimonies


I wonder what a video like this would look like for ex-offenders and their families?

NOTE: The above are from the video with the text modified, just as an example.


MO - Public Safety or Endless Punishment? Should sex offenders be listed on a public registry for life?

Original Article

04/01/2013

By Virginia Young

[name withheld] fears he will forever occupy a shameful sliver of cyberspace known as the sex offender registry.

Type in his name in the state’s search engine, and you can see where he lives and works, the cars he drives, along with the crime he committed more than a decade ago: Possession of child pornography — then a misdemeanor.

The registry, [name withheld] said, has cost him jobs, prompted neighbors to distribute fliers about him, and led to his arrest on a trespassing charge last fall when dropping his teenage son off at school.

At 25, my life basically was over,” said [name withheld], now 36.

[name withheld], however, sees hope in proposed changes to the registry that legislators are debating in Jefferson City.

A diverse smattering of groups — from law enforcement officials to victims advocates — have argued that the current registry, which requires most offenders to register for life, is too much of a blunt instrument.

They’re all lumped into one category and they all get a life sentence,” said Rep. Don Phillips, R-Kimberling City.

Phillips, a retired highway patrolman, is sponsoring a bill that would keep minor offenses off the registry and allow nearly a third of the roughly 14,000 people on the registry to petition for removal from the list within the next 20 years.

A more far-reaching proposal, sponsored by Rep. Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair, would give all offenders on the list a chance to petition for removal from the list eventually. How long they have to wait would be determined by individual “risk assessment reports” done by mental health professionals.

Both bills have made it out of the House Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee, leaving Republican legislative leaders to decide which bill to present to the full House.

Some lawmakers have qualms about loosening requirements for the registry. Rep. Kenneth Wilson, R-Smithville, and a former police chief, said he “spent a career defending the public, and I think we’ve absolutely ignored a segment of our public, that being the victim.”

The proposals come at time when states across the nation are taking hard looks at their registries.

Most are moving toward more stringent requirements to comply with federal guidelines, said Wayne Logan, a professor at Florida State University’s law school.

There is a lot of flux right now,” said Logan, author of the book, “Knowledge as Power: Criminal Registration and Community Notification Laws in America.”

Logan said research into the effectiveness of public registries is limited, and offers mixed results.

One recent study showed that while registries can serve as a deterrent, Logan said, they can also promote recidivism by making life too difficult.

They can never get out from that shadow,” he said.

Eleven years ago, [name withheld], a former Marine, had gotten in the habit of downloading large files of heavy metal music at work from the then popular file-sharing service called Morpheus.

But one day, a human resources officer at his company summoned him to a conference room where two detectives were waiting.

He was informed that images of children in sexual acts had been found on his computer. [name withheld] claimed it was accidental. The images, he said, were embedded in the music files he downloaded and he had no knowledge of their existence.

But prosecutors didn’t buy his story. [name withheld] was charged twice — once in St. Louis County and once in St. Charles County, where police found different images on a disc that he had brought home from work.

[name withheld] pleaded guilty in both instances in exchange for probation and suspended imposition of sentence. The crime, he was told, would never go on his record.
- They always tell you this to get you to plead guilty, even if you are innocent.  Never do this, take it to jury trial.

I was young,” [name withheld] said. “I was naïve. I was scared.”

He now wishes he would have fought the charges.

Daniel Pelikan, the St. Charles County judge who presided over [name withheld]'s case, wrote in his order that “although the defendant did not intend to download and transfer the images to the compact disc, the discs were in the defendant’s custody and control.”

A few years later, new state and federal laws required [name withheld] to register as a sex offender.

Kim Kilgore, a St. Louis County assistant prosecutor who has specialized in sex crime cases for the past 10 years, said one of the images depicted a 4-year-old. And, she pointed out, they were found in a secret, password-protected file. Kilgore also said that according to a Hazelwood police report, [name withheld] admitted downloading the images.

I don’t have a problem with him being on the sex offender registry,” she said.

But should he be on it for life?

I think it’s a hard decision,” she said. “As a mom, why not? As a prosecutor, it’s very burdensome for the state to maintain a registry.”

TRIMMING THE LIST
To winnow the registry’s rolls, both bills (HB-462 and HB-589) in the Missouri House would group sex offenders into three tiers. But they would use different criteria.

Phillips’ bill would rely on the severity of the criminal charge.

People who fall in the least serious tier — convicted of crimes such as second-degree endangering the welfare of a child — could petition to get off the registry after 10 years. The second tier — those convicted of crimes such as second-degree statutory rape — could seek removal after 25 years.

The third tier would include people convicted of crimes such as forcible rape and sexual trafficking of a child. They could never get off the registry, unless they were juveniles when convicted. In that case, they could petition after 25 years.

The requests would be filed in the circuit courts where offenders were convicted. To be considered for removal, they could have no additional convictions or pending charges for sexual offenses or felonies, and they would need to have completed probation and parole, as well as a sex offender treatment program.

The Missouri Highway Patrol, which manages the list, calculated that Phillips’ bill would allow the immediate removal of about 631 people dubbed “Romeo and Juliet” offenders — generally older teenagers who had consensual sex with a minor. They would be exempted from registering if the victim was at least 14 years old and the offender was not more than four years older than the victim.

The patrol says an additional 1,111 offenders could petition immediately for removal. Over the next five years, 284 more people would be eligible. Over 20 years, 2,480 more could apply.

At a hearing in February, Phillips’ bill drew support from groups as diverse as the Missouri Sheriffs Association, the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri and Missouri Kids First, a statewide organization that works to prevent child abuse.

This is a very thoughtful response,” said Emily van Schenkhof, who lobbies for Missouri Kids First. “It really does protect children but highlights a public policy problem” with the registry.

Under the bill, juveniles convicted of sex crimes would still have to register but would not be part of the public list on the Internet.
- Nobody should be a part of an online shaming hit-list, it should be taken offline and used by police only!

County sheriffs lined up behind the bill, saying they have limited resources to track the growing list of offenders. Phillips’ bill “would make it easier to concentrate on the more dangerous offenders,” said Andrea Luntsford, a detective with the Boone County Sheriff’s Department.

MENTAL HEALTH TESTS
The alternative approach — Hinson’s bill — would use mental health exams to determine where offenders should fall in the three tiers. People deemed low-risk could apply to get off the registry in five years. Even people in the most serious tier would be eligible after 25 years, instead of facing lifetime registration.

Supporters of Hinson’s bill said it would inject science into the process and provide more meaningful information to the public, which has become numb to the registry because it includes so many people who are not real threats.
- Inject science?  If you did that in the first place, then you'd not have the registry or residency laws, since science & many studies show that they do not do what you think they do.

Sister Mary Ann McGivern, who represented the Missouri Association for Social Welfare at a recent legislative hearing, said many people on the list are unlikely to pose a risk. Some exposed themselves or peeked through windows, she said. Others possessed child pornography or had sex with a younger girlfriend when they were 18.

The registry is “a lifetime punishment for a set of behaviors most of us don’t understand,” said McGivern, who is a Sister of Loretto from St. Louis.

Critics said a new state bureaucracy would be needed to handle the risk assessments required under Hinson’s bill. A fiscal note said the cost to the state was “unknown but considered to be significant, exceeding $100,000 per year.”

Also, the state would no longer be in compliance with the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, so Missouri stands to lose federal grants. Those grants have provided $637,905 over the last three years. Much of the money funded grants to sheriffs to buy items such as digital cameras and computer equipment.

Hinson countered that sex offenders would shoulder the cost of the mental health appraisals, which he estimated would likely be “no more than a couple hundred dollars” apiece.
- And that's a couple hundred dollars many of them do not have, due to the laws you are pushing!

He also pointed to a study that estimated the current sex offender registry costs the state and local governments nearly $5 million — for example, by sending people who fail to register back to prison.
- In many cases we've seen, people get more time in prison for failure to register than the original crime.

To fight for Hinson’s approach, some offenders and their families have organized a group, St. Peters-based Missouri Citizens for Reform, and hired a lobbyist.

This is the only crime in America that’s punished endlessly,” said Sharie Keil, a member of Citizens for Reform.


VA - Virginia's Roanoke Times: Point and Counterpoint Editorial, on the sex offender registry

Click the image to view the article