Saturday, April 27, 2013

WI - Sturtevant Considering Sex Offender Ordinance

Original Article

04/26/2013

By Heather Asiyanbi

Neighboring communities like Racine and Caledonia have ordinances governing where sex offenders can live. Sturtevant trustees are looking into having one as well.

Sturtevant trustees are looking into whether or not they should adopt an ordinance governing where sex offenders can live.

Trustee Chris Larsen said Tuesday during the Continual Committee meeting that he got the idea after learning about a similar ordinance in Caledonia and reading in The Journal Times about the efforts to pass one in the City of Racine.

"I just want to make sure that Sturtevant doesn't become the dumping ground for sex offenders in eastern Racine County," he said. "I'd like feedback on whether or not I should continue researching."

The ordinance Larsen is proposing would only apply to offenders determined by a court to be sexually violent who are released under the state's 980 commitment petition. That statute allows the state at the end of a convicted offender's prison sentence to petition the court to commit the offender to the Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center in Mauston, WI.

Sturtevant Chief Sean Marschke cautioned trustees to be sure the state would have to comply with local ordinance.

"If the state doesn't have to comply with our ordianances with these cases, then it's not worth pursuing," he said.

Patch contacted the Department of Human Services to find out if the state does have to comply with local ordinances.

"Yes, the state does," wrote Claire Smith in an email response to our note.

In Caledonia, the following rules apply for violent offenders released under the state's 980 petition:
  • At least 1,000 feet from a school, church, park, athletic field, trail, playground, conservation district, or H.F. Johnson Park (which is managed by the city); and
  • At least six blocks away from other sex offenders.

For those not under supervised release but required to register with the Department of Corrections' sex offender registry, they must live:
  • At least 2,500 feet away from schools, churches, parks, athletic fields, trails, playgrounds, conservation districts, or H.F. Johnson Park; and
  • At least six blocks away from other sex offenders.
- So does that make any sense? Those deemed dangerous (980's), must stay 1,000 feet away, while those less dangerous have to stay 2,500 feet away?  It seems that should be the other way around, unless we are reading something wrong?

Village President Steve Jansen agreed Larsen should continue his research.

"I'd like to see some more research into whether or not this makes sense for us," he said.


AUSTRALIA - West Australian police officers charged with criminal offences

Original Article

04/27/2013

By ASHLEE MULLANY

WA police officers have been convicted of nearly 250 criminal offences over the past five years including sex crimes against children, serious assaults, burglary and dangerous driving.

Figures obtained by The Sunday Times from WA Police Internal Affairs show 347 charges have been laid against 100 officers after complaints from the public and internal investigations since 2008.

The database reveals 11 officers have been convicted of a string of offences in the 2012-13 financial year, including a senior sergeant failing to stop after a crash, dangerous driving, stealing as a public servant and aggravated assault.

More than half the criminal charges for the past five years were for misusing police computers, which includes illegally using the police database to uncover personal details.

Other charges included disorderly conduct in a police station, refusing a breath test, forgery and burglary. Some officers were penalised for failing to store their firearms properly.

WA Police Union president George Tilbury said the figures amounted to less than 2 per cent of the police workforce.

"Police officers are also members of our community and they are not immune from societal influences," he said.

"Police do a difficult, dangerous job and deal with stress and trauma that most people would never encounter in a lifetime. Criminal conduct is not condoned, but there are often mitigating factors and every case should be assessed in isolation."

Of the 68 officers convicted of 248 charges, five were handed prison sentences for their crimes, including dangerous driving causing death, stealing and unlawful use of police computers.

Another officer was jailed for 10 counts of indecent dealing and six of sexual penetration of a child under 16.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Allan Adams said WA Police had a strong focus on the "ethical health" of the agency.

He said it published information on charged officers when it was in the public interest.

"Any information that alleges misconduct by any police officer is thoroughly investigated and where evidence identifies criminal behaviour to the required standard the matter is progressed in line with the DPP Prosecution Guidelines," Insp Adams said.

"The public interest is always carefully considered in our endeavours to be open and accountable."

Release of the figures comes after a Bunbury police officer pleaded guilty this week to assaulting a man in a hotel carpark. The court was told the off-duty officer approached a man he believed was going to break into a car last month and forced him to the ground. He received a spent conviction and a $4500 fine.


IN - Federal Court Rules Sex Offenders Cannot Be Denied Access to Facebook

Original Article

04/26/2013

By Donald Scarinci (WebSite)

Unfortunately, what people think should happen and what the law requires are not always the same. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently made headlines when it ruled that an Indiana statute that bans most registered sex offenders from using social networking websites, like Facebook, was unconstitutional.

The controversial law specifically prohibits certain sex offenders from “knowingly or intentionally using: a social networking web site” or “an instant messaging or chat room program” that “the offender knows allows a person who is less than eighteen (18) years of age to access or use the web site or program.” The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana challenged the statute on behalf of a class of unidentified sex offenders.

Ultimately, the Seventh Circuit overturned the law on First Amendment grounds, after concluding that the Indiana law was not narrowly tailored to serve the state’s interest. “It broadly prohibits substantial protected speech rather than specifically targeting the evil of improper communications to minors,” the opinion in John Doe v. Prosecutor (PDF), Marion County, Indiana states.

The appeals court also noted that “the Supreme Court has invalidated bans on expressive activity that are not the substantive evil if the state had alternative means of combating the evil.” In this case, the court found that there were other ways for the state to curb inappropriate communication between minors and sex offenders. It specifically noted that Indiana has other existing laws that punish “inappropriate communication with a child” and communication “with the intent to gratify the sexual desires of the person or the individual,”

The court further highlighted that laws infringing on First Amendment rights must be narrowly tailored. “Subsequent Indiana statutes may well meet this requirement, but the blanket ban on social media in this case regrettably does not.”

According to Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, the state is reviewing the opinion and considering its legal options, including appeal. From a legislative perspective, Sen. John Waterman, who authored the overturned law, has pledged to come up with a new way to protect children from sex offenders online that will pass constitutional scrutiny.


VA - Murdered man Hopewell’s first homicide of the year

Original Article

04/26/2013

By Greg McQuade

HOPEWELL (WTVR) - Hopewell Police are investigating the first homicide of 2013 inside a home on Buren Street.

A man confronted an intruder and shots are fired, but police don’t think this is a random crime.

Buren Street in Hopewell. A place with tidy homes flying American flags and where neighbors watch out for each other.

But the quiet calm was shattered early Friday morning. An armed intruder breaks into 915 Buren just before 6 in the morning.

[name withheld], who lives in the home, confronts the person. Moments later gunshots ring out. The 41-year-old dies inside with his mother just feet away.

Neighbor Justin Parke says he heard gunfire just a few houses away.

When I heard it I was right there in my living room watching television. It was like boom…boom…boom,” says Parke.

There is a probability here that the victim was not the intended target,” says Hopewell Police Chief, John Keohane. “Right now for the residents it does not appear to be a random act of violence in their neighborhood.”

One neighbor who didn’t want to be identified says she is leaving when her lease is up in June.

It’s too close for comfort. It’s scary. Really scary. My heart goes out to the parents or whoever has been suffering but it is heartbreaking.”

Long time neighbors like Isabel Vartanian are worried about a killer on the loose.

We need Hopewell to be like when I was growing up. Scares me to death. Definitely,” says Vartanian . “It breaks my heart to see that somebody was murdered right here.

[name withheld] was a registered sex offender with the Virginia State Police since 1995, but Hopewell’s police chief emphasizes the shooting was not related.
- And how does he know that when the case is not over yet?

At this point there is nothing to believe that him being on a sex offender registry has anything to do with this homicide,” says Chief Keohane.

For Vartanian, she just wants the person who pulled the trigger caught soon so she can rest easier.

We never had any crime growing up. We were safe and did not have hate.”

Late Friday afternoon Hopewell police were still processing the crime scene and investigators were interviewing persons of interest.

The Chief of Police says detectives are following strong leads in the case. If you know anything about [name withheld]'s death you’re asked to call Hopewell Police at 804-541-2222.


NY - Judge strikes down Warren County sex offender residence restrictions

Original Article

04/26/2013

By JON ALEXANDER

QUEENSBURY - A state Supreme Court judge has tossed Warren County’s sex offender law, concluding that the restrictions on where convicted sex offenders can live and work ran counter to state law.

The county Board of Supervisors in 2006 passed the local law that banned sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of playgrounds, schools and public parks for their entire lives.

State law bans sex offenders from living in proximity of places frequented by children only until they’ve completed parole.

Warren County state Supreme Court Justice Robert Muller ruled Wednesday in favor of an unidentified Queensbury man who was told last year he couldn’t move in with his mother in Queensbury.

While they may be well-intended, statistics show they don’t make anyone safer and they further stigmatize former offenders,” said Kathy Manley, “John Doe’s” Albany-based attorney.

Manley’s client was convicted in 2010 of sexual acts with a minor who was under 16, and he served two years in prison, according to court documents.

Local laws like Warren County’s were adopted over the past decade in places throughout the state and have since repeatedly been struck down when challenged in court, because they are superseded by state law.

Warren County opted to not contest the lawsuit and send it to a lengthy, and potentially costly, court battle because similar local laws had fared poorly in state court.

The decision is consistent with many court decisions from other counties,” said County Attorney Martin Auffredou. “The decision sort of speaks for itself.”

The laws keep sex offenders from finding work and medical and psychological treatment, essentially subjugating them to poverty and a lack of treatment, Manley said.

Auffredou suspended enforcement of the law in February after “John Doe’s” lawsuit was filed.

The county Board of Supervisors has taken no steps to override the local sex offender law, instead allowing the Supreme Court ruling to uphold or strike down the proximity ban.