Thursday, May 9, 2013

TX - House passes ‘2 strikes’ child sex offender bill

Original Article

05/09/2013

By Glenn Evans

A bill that would deal people convicted of violent sexual crimes against children a lifetime prison sentence is in the Senate after unanimous passage Tuesday in the Texas House.

This requires a two-strikes-and-you’re-out policy,” said Rep. Travis Clardy, one of four authors of House Bill 1302 (PDF), including Marshall Rep. Chris Paddie.

If there is a second offense, where they are convicted of sexual violence against a child under 14, that’s it. We’re not going to release those people back into society. They have proven what they are, and we’re not going to have them out on the streets.”

The lifelong prison term, which does not allow the possibility of parole, is half of the bill awaiting assignment to a committee in the Senate.

The measure also bans people from several jobs after one conviction for sexual violence against a child.

Such people would be allowed to drive a bus, taxi or limousine. They would not be allowed to work in any service job that requires them to enter a home, and they could not operate amusement park rides.

This hopefully limits access to children of those people who have proven themselves to be untrustworthy,” said Clardy, R-Nacogdoches.

The measure is called Justin’s Law in memory of the murdered 12-year-old son of a Cherokee County woman.

Authorities believe the child was murdered by a twice-convicted sex offender who lured him into his leased taxi three years ago in Louisiana.
- Believe or know?  Believing something doesn't make it true!  So you are making a draconian law based on a belief and not facts!  Or are we missing something here?

The tragic story behind this law shows that we the need the toughest punishments for the most heinous sexual offenders,” Paddie said Wednesday. “Justin’s Law will ensure that these offenders are no longer able to prey on our children and should help put parents’ minds at ease.”

Sexual offense laws already prevent convicted people of living near places frequented by children, such as schools or playgrounds. They largely leave it up to employers, however, to decide whether to ban those applicants and conduct background checks.

Under SB 1302, local law enforcement would provide the list of prohibited jobs to people convicted of violent sexual crimes against children when they join a sexual offender registry. Prison officials also are required to provide the no-job list to parolees.

The bill reached the Senate on Wednesday after passing the House by a 144-0 margin Tuesday. It awaited a committee assignment Wednesday night, but Clardy anticipated the Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee a likely placement.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s information officer did not respond to a request Tuesday for information on the bill’s assignment.

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee has a similar measure, one that enhances misdemeanor promotion of prostitution to felony level if the person being prostituted is younger than 17.

House Bill 32 (PDF) would raise the maximum prison term on a second conviction for promotion of prostitution — a misdemeanor commonly called pimping — from one year to two years regardless of the age of the person being prostituted.

If that person is younger than 17, the maximum prison stint rises to 10 years, a third-degree felony level.

House Bill 32 also raises the maximum term for aggravated promotion of prostitution, defined as controlling two or more people being prostituted, from 10 years to 20 if any being prostituted are younger than 17.

The measure, which won 147-0 House passage on April 17, has not been scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate committee.

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OH - 3 (Ryan Cozart, Ariel Smith & Sara Craig) arrested in murder of sex offender in Meigs County

Ryan Cozart, Ariel Smith & Sara Craig
Original Article

05/09/2013

By Lisa Robbins & Courtney Khondabi

UPDATE:
Law enforcement officials identified the victim as 57-year-old [name withheld] of Pomeroy, Ohio. It appears he was stabbed and assaulted, however the exact cause of death has not been released.

Three are charged in connection with [name withheld]'s murder: Ryan Cozart of Racine, Ohio who is charged with the murder; Ariel Smith of Portland, Ohio and Sara Craig also of Portland, Ohio are both charged with complicity to commit murder.

Detectives report [name withheld] knew the trio but it is not clear what sort of relationship they had. Police believe the trio went to [name withheld]'s room, stabbed and assaulted him and then stole his car. Deputies arrived on scene after midnight.

About 1:50 a.m. Cozart and Craig returned to the hotel in the victim's car and were arrested. Investigators later picked up Smith at a house in Portland.

The scene was described as gruesome and bloody. It took detectives hours to check several locations including Meigs Motel room 22. A motive has not been determined.

Wallace is listed as a sex offender in Ohio. Investigators have not said whether or not his criminal past had anything to do with his murder.



MA - Foxborough Selectman Implores Judiciary Committee to Approve Sex Offender Registry and Notification Act

James DeVellis
Original Article

05/09/2013

By Jeremie Smith

Foxborough selectman James DeVellis testified Tuesday at the State House to offer his perspective - as the town’s elected official – of the merits for Massachusetts to enact the Adam Walsh Act (Sex Offender Registry and Notification Act).

Foxborough selectman James DeVellis was in Boston Tuesday testifying before the Judiciary Committee at the State House on behalf of the town and the victims of the [name withheld] sex abuse case to implore the state to enact the Adam Walsh Act (Sex Offender Registry and Notification Act).

I informed the Judiciary Committee of the [name withheld] issue that we are dealing with [in Foxborough] and the three questions that I was asked by [name withheld] victims,” DeVellis said.

DeVellis said the first two questions victims asked him were “how can a member of our community molest and rape probably hundreds of kids over decades without notice or action?” and “how do these victims come to the authorities years ago and be told either [statute of limitations] has expired or [name withheld] is in Florida now and out of jurisdiction?

We later came to find out [name withheld] continued on [in Florida] where he left off in Foxborough and as a teacher in Florida was caught doing it there with very little notification back and forth,” DeVellis said. “Both these questions Foxborough is struggling with but it is in the past and I am not looking for answers from the Judiciary Committee on these two questions.”

What DeVellis is looking for is the answer to the victims’ third question to the town, “What [are Foxborough officials] going to do to help assure this can never go undetected again in our town?

DeVellis hopes the answer includes the Commonwealth enacting the Adam Walsh Act.

I implored the Judiciary Committee to approve the Adam Walsh Act so our police, teachers, selectmen and parents have the tools to protect our kids in the most efficient way possible with the help of reporting and labeling sex offenders,” DeVellis said.

DeVellis explains Adam Walsh was a young boy abducted at a Florida shopping mall and later found murdered.
- And it was never proven he was sexually abused or that an ex-sex offender did the crime either.

In summary, the Act, which is also referred to as SORNA (Sex Offender Registry and Notification Act) allows states to categorize, track, notify and in the end protect our children at a higher level throughout the country,” DeVellis said. “Many states have enacted this but Massachusetts has not.”

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MA - Norfolk County DA Morrissey Testifies on Sexual Predator Bill

Original Article

05/09/2013

By Nate Homan

The following was sent to Patch from David Traub, Press Officer/Director of Communications from the Office of Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey

Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey was at the State House this week, standing with Rep. Tackey Chan to push their bill to force convicted predators to provide their email addresses and other online information when they register as sex offenders.

As we investigate crimes, we see cases where defendants started with electronic contact, under false names or false identities, with their eventual victims,” Morrissey said. “This is an effort to curtail that kind of activity from those previously convicted of sexual assaults.”

Morrissey said the legislation should improve public safety in two ways.

First, it will be useful for law enforcement. When a sex offender does comply with the new requirement, it will create a meaningful resource to cross-check online identities without having to subpoena user information, Morrissey said. When a sex offender does not comply, and an online identity traces back to them while police are investigating another crime, there would be an immediate right of arrest on the failure to register charge – even if police did not yet have probable cause to arrest on the central crime under investigation.

Second, part of the premise of community supervision of sex offenders is that recidivism can be reduced by keeping the post-conviction offender away from behaviors and patterns of thought that precede re-offense. “Creating false identities in order to communicate on-line under false premises should resonate as obvious bellwether behavior,” District Attorney Morrissey told the Joint Committee on the Judiciary at its May 7 hearing on House Bill No. 1252 (PDF).

There has been a revolution in the way we communicate in the years since the Sex Offender Registry was designed and implemented in Massachusetts, but the registry has not evolved in kind,” District Attorney Morrissey said. “When the national enabling legislation known as Meghan’s Law passed in 1994, the public wasn’t communicating through email or social media.”

Representative Chan said “The legislation expands the way we protect our families from potential danger by sex offenders. So much of our lives are connected through the Internet and identities we created. We must update our laws to reflect the high technology world we live in."

Morrissey has been pushing for the change since 2007, when he was serving as Quincy’s State Senator. He said New Hampshire enacted an analogous measure in 2009.

Morrissey and Chan received bi-partisan support of 19 other legislators who co-sponsored the bill, including Sen. John F. Keenan, Sen. Brian Joyce, Rep Paul McMurtry, Rep. Louis L. Kafka, Rep. William Galvin, Rep. Bruce Ayers, Rep. James Murphy and Rep. John H. Rogers.

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FL - Red signs don't rehabilitate

Original Article

05/08/2013

By Christiana Cobb

Last week as I was scrolling through my "newsfeed" on Facebook, I came across a friend’s post about a law in Bradford county, Florida requiring released sex offenders to place a red sign outside of their homes saying: “Public Notice: (the name of the person convicted of a sexual offense) is a convicted sexual predator and is living at this location.”
- It's not a law, it's a vigilante sheriff going beyond the law to name and shame so he can get his name in the paper and on TV.  Is he going to be held accountable for when someone dies due to some other vigilante harassing or harming an ex-offender, their family or children?

I commented on my friend’s status as she praised the new law and I said I had to disagree.

I am not saying that sexual predators don't disgust me.

I often struggle with the thoughts questioning how those involved in sex crimes live with themselves, especially those who violate children.

With all the studying I’ve done about the sex trafficking of young girls, boys, women and men, and knowing women who have been sexually abused, I am one of the first to say that our prison systems have wronged the victims of those crimes, but but how will posting red signs outside of the homes of people who have been convicted as sex offenders solve anything?

One of my first thoughts was: If I were one of the people living in the neighborhood, seeing that sign would only make me, and whoever visits me, paranoid.

To be blunt, sometimes ignorance is bliss and if I lived there, I know for certain my fear would get the best of me and ordinary safety precautions would turn into paranoia, judgment and outlandish behavior toward that person, out of fear.

I could just see it now: Outrageous home security, no eye contact and, if I had children, I would never let my children step foot near their home, let alone actually being a good neighbor and inviting them into mine.

There are already laws set in place in terms of the protocol for those convicted as sex offenders once they are released from prison such as Megan’s law.

Every state has some version of Megan’s Law, which requires law enforcement to make information of released sex offenders available to the public, but each state decides exactly what information is made available.

In California, the public has access to an online search to locate those convicted as sex offenders in their neighborhood, however, there are some whose information is only known by law enforcement and not on the site.

In 2013, there are many people with access to a computer, either for personal use or in a library and if one wanted to know the information about their neighbors, they could retrieve that information, but one has to want it.

Florida uses the Klaaskids Foundation, which is very similar to the site in California which informs the public who seek information about convicted sex offenders in the area.

Privacy is no longer part of the vocabulary of one who has been convicted of a sex crime because all of their information, short of a social security number, can be obtained by those who wish to know.

Also, in prison, sex offenders, especially those who were convicted of child molestation, are most at risk for being killed by inmates and the trauma they probably suffer at the hands of other inmates, is arguably punishment enough.

However, in Bradford County, they are now subjected to a big, red eyesore of a sign visible to whoever passes their home.

My friend who posted the picture from the story said posting red signs outside of convicted sex offenders homes was a great idea and California should have the same law to protect its residents, especially the children.

Seeing that she is a mother, I completely understand where she is coming from for the need to protect her child, but how much can we continue to dehumanize people?

A big, red sign outside of your home is a constant reminder to the convicted offender of what they did. The judgment from the neighborhood is never going to encourage the offender to even attempted to get out of their past and start a new life.

Although many may feel people like that will never change, I don’t see how a statement like that can be made when we don't give offenders a chance to rehabilitate through programs or tactics.

Why would anyone want to change if they are constantly being reminded of mistakes or the horrible problems of their past?

For example, if someone who just got out of prison for selling drugs applied for a job, they would check that box for having been convicted of a crime, which would lessen their chances of getting the job — so why wouldn't they just go back to selling drugs for a living?

In all honesty, for parents concerned about the safety of their children, as they should be, then it is the responsibility of the parents to use the resources at hand to see if they live near sex offenders. If they don’t feel comfortable, then it’s up to them to move.

Because this information is broadcasted to the neighborhood and whoever comes by, that could threaten the safety of the resident of the home.

What is to stop people from attacking the person convicted of a sex offense in the name of justice for those violated?

The police officer quoted in the New York Daily News about the issue said vigilante attacks are unlikely, but I beg to differ.

People are passionate about this subject especially if those violated were children and what is it that would stop them from taking “revenge”?

Broadcasting the status of those in the neighborhood will not help those convicted as sex offenders and bring disruption.

The red signs that seek to help bring awareness only create a place of fear for neighbors who anxiously live their lives trying to secure themselves from their neighbor the released sex offender and a place of shame for the person convicted of a sex offense who should be focusing on rehabilitation instead of the judgment from residents in the neighborhood.

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Encrypt your files using True Crypt


OR - Portland's NIMBY Elite

Original Article

05/08/2013

By Pamela Fitzsimmons

When registered sex offender Thomas Henry Madison of Gresham, Ore., turned up six months ago at a neighborhood meeting protesting a sex offender clinic, he was tossed out.
- He was tossed out because people don't want to hear anything except their opinions.

That protest was in the Inner Southeast Portland enclave of Sellwood/Moreland, and those neighbors succeeded in shutting down the clinic.

Last week, Madison was back at a different neighborhood protest – this one fighting the new location of that same clinic, Whole Systems Counseling. It’s now open in Outer Southeast Portland in a working-class neighborhood. These residents let Madison have his say.

They also made it clear that while they don’t like inheriting Sellwood/Moreland’s problem, they also don’t want to dump it on some other neighborhood. They would like to find a solution.
- Like we've said many times, no matter where they place the treatment facility, someone will start a mob.

Inner and Outer Southeast Portland are flip sides of the same city.

Inner Southeast Portland attracts New York Times restaurant critics. The neighborhoods found in the Inner Southeast, such as Sellwood/Moreland, merit their own walking maps. Sellwood/Moreland is home to antique shops, galleries, pubs, restaurants, a movie theater, a farmer’s market. Reed College nestles along its border.

Outer Southeast Portland attracts snubs and ubiquitous, strip-commercial development found in any American city. The specific neighborhood where Whole Systems Counseling opened includes a trailer court, mobile home park and apartments. The clinic is in Plaza 125, which looks like the typical small-office complex where you would find a dentist, an attorney, an ob/gyn. There’s plenty of parking.

When Whole Systems Counseling was located in Sellwood/Moreland, it was in a nondescript building at 7304 SE Milwaukie Ave. Residents were concerned that the Boys and Girls Club was nearby at 7119 SE Milwaukie, and a Montessori pre-school was at 7126 SE Milwaukie.

But it’s also a lively, well-traveled stretch of Milwaukie Avenue. It brims with people – pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists – all potential witnesses who could discourage criminal activity. These are not just any people, either; they are middle-class and upper middle-class professionals. The kind of people who, if they – or their sons and daughters – were victimized in a violent crime, would receive immediate attention.

By comparison, the new location of Whole Systems Counseling in Outer Southeast Portland looks like the kind of neighborhood where someone might get the idea that they could get away with a crime.

That was the concern of the 50 or so residents who gathered last week in the board room at David Douglas High School, not far from the clinic.

Is there anyone here who thinks it is OK for a sex offender clinic to be located by kids?” asked Chris Piekarski who led the meeting.
- Not all ex-sex offenders have harmed children.  You are just putting them all into one basket.

Madison raised his hand. Many of the men and women in the room had the weary appearance that comes after putting in a day’s work. Madison looked crisp and chipper, like a man going into a job interview. He was one of the few men in the room wearing a tie.

He stood before the residents and told them that he wanted to put out all the facts about sex offenders.

Madison didn’t volunteer that he was a registered sex offender until he was later asked. Instead he delved into studies and statistics.

Ninety-four percent of brand new sex crimes are committed by people not on the sex offender registry … not the few over here at Whole Systems…,” he said. “More than 90 percent of sex crimes are committed by people in the family.”

Madison eventually led up to this declaration: “It is all of us that commit sex offenses.”

That’s when Piekarski asked him if he was a registered sex offender.

Yes, I am a registered sex offender,” he said.

There was a brief gasp from the audience, and a woman cried out that she was a victim. Another woman reached out to comfort her, and the audience quickly calmed down. They let Madison continue.

It was only when he veered off into what he really came to talk about – he belongs to a group that wants to do away with sex registration entirely – that the audience turned on him.

We’ve heard enough of this,” one man shouted, and Madison sat down.

State Rep. Jessica Vega Pederson spoke briefly about HB 3509 (PDF) she has sponsored that would allow counties to govern where sex offender clinics can be located.

It seems like a gesture that probably won’t have much impact if it passes. These clinics are going to be located somewhere.

Members of the audience struggled with what to do. Piekarski pointed out that one of the local TV news shows had portrayed them negatively. The show had focused on the fears of the clinic’s owner, Johneen Manno, who said windows had been shot with a BB gun.


Nobody at the meeting took credit for the vandalism, and Piekarski reminded them not to support that kind of activity.

It just makes us look like kooks. …. ‘Those people in east Portland are so immature … they are criminals and hooligans.’ … Violence is not acceptable …,” he said.
- Wow, the typical blame others mentality.  Some in East Portland may be mature, but so are you, in our opinion.

Finally, one woman rose. It would be great, she said, if they could step up as a group and find a solution for the clinic. She wondered if the clinic had deliberately chosen their neighborhood because there is a large number of residents who don’t speak English.
- Well, if you live in this country, you should speak English, in our opinion.  And do you really think that is the reason they moved there?  That is just the typical BS to make somebody look racist.

I hate to say this, but it’s a needed service. … Don’t be a NIMBY…,” she said. “It’s not appropriate for anybody’s back yard.”

She is right, but if it has to be in somebody’s backyard make it a prosperous one.

For too long, violent crime has been borne primarily by the poor and working class. The good people of communities like Sellwood/Moreland seem like the kind of folks who gladly embrace politicians who promote rehabilitation over incarceration. It’s an easy concept to support when felons settle in poor neighborhoods. But wouldn’t they stand a better chance at rehabilitation in a nice neighborhood?
- I don't think it matters if it's a poor or rich neighborhood, as long as the treatment is doing it's job.  And again, the fact is, most ex-sex offenders do not re-offend, so the crime in that county would not be due to ex-sex offenders but probably gang bangers, drug dealers and DUI offenders.  Do you raise this much hell for crack houses and other places in the neighborhood?  We doubt it.

If it takes a village to raise a child, maybe it takes a village of well-educated, broad-minded liberals to watch over and rehabilitate a sex offender.
- No it doesn't "take a village" to raise a child.  It takes one responsible adult.

In which case, the people of Sellwood/Moreland and the Inner Southeast should come to the aid of their less fortunate brothers and sisters in the Outer Southeast.

Perhaps the sex offender clinic could relocate near Reed College, considered one of the most intellectual colleges in the U.S. It could be a merger of academic theory, philosophy and hard-core reality. The life of the mind meeting the temptations of the flesh.

As a bonus, the school’s president is John Kroger, former Oregon attorney general and a fan of Jeremy Bentham, the 19th Century philosopher who influenced prison and law reform.

Among other ideas, Bentham believed that public humiliation could be useful in deterring deviant behavior. He might have found sex offender registries and clinics practical crime prevention tools.
- Just because someone believes in something doesn't make it right.  Many countries believe in cutting your head off, fingers, or putting you to death for some small crime, doesn't mean it's right.

It would be something for Reed’s intellectuals and Whole Systems’ clients to explore.


CA - Restrictive Residency Rules and the Illusion of Public Safety

Original Article

05/05/2013

By Patti Giggans

There are risks of increasing restrictive residency rules for sex offenders while reducing their access to resources, and monitoring.

The latest strategy to restrict where convicted sex offenders live is to create parks where none exist to force registered sex offenders to move out of a neighborhood. The City of Los Angeles plans to build three pocket parks in the communities of Harbor Gateway and Wilmington. California state law prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a park, playground school or a daycare center. Some states restrict living within 1,000 feet or near certain bus stops. There are similar residence restrictive laws in every state along with sex offender databases and community notification of where offenders live, known as Megan’s Laws. The unintended result of super-restrictive sex offender zoning makes it impossible for sex offenders to find stable housing and forces them to cluster and crowd together in motels and apartment buildings, or sometimes under bridges creating homelessness, often away from family or other potentially positive supports. There is concern that these over-restrictive policies can backfire and actually increase recidivism.

Located in southern Los Angeles, Harbor Gateway, a community of about 40,000 people, has one of the city’s highest concentrations of registered sex offenders: 86 registered offenders live in a 13-block area. The park will be created in a space the equivalent of a backyard on a grassy corner large enough to fit a jungle gym and a couple of benches. The park is being explicitly created to restrict offenders from congregating in the area not necessarily to create green space for kids to play. No one can fault the community for its concern for safety especially of its children or blame its civic leadership for wanting to do something about it. Restrictive living and working rules keep multiplying with the goal of public safety. But do these living restrictions improve public safety or exacerbate the potential for re-offending? As there are fewer and fewer places for offenders to live and work they will continue to resort to clustering or worse: go underground. Creating housing instability can limit employment opportunities and access to social services and social support. Visibility, surveillance, accountability, treatment and support are some of the protective factors that can help an offender stay on the path of non-offending and reduce recidivism.

Convicted sex offenders and registrants are all painted with the same brush of pariah and monster, so it is very challenging for communities to think beyond the criminal justice lens to include public health approaches. But might we be risking being blinded by the illusion of safety when we don’t explore the complexity and the diversity of these offenders and call for research on what really works best. There is little room for political leadership to ask these important questions. Forcing offenders to go missing or go underground by promoting overly restrictive residence and employment restrictions may very well be one of those illusions of public safety that can backfire and create more risk and increase recidivism.

Patti Giggans is the Executive Director of Peace Over Violence. Peace Over Violence is dedicated to building healthy relationships, families and communities free from sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence. She is also the Vice-President of the Board of Directors for 1in6.


OR - Bill would give break to some young sex offenders

Original Article

05/08/2013

By LAUREN GAMBINO

SALEM (AP) - Some young offenders convicted of having sex with underage partners would be able to request the crime be removed from their records under a bill narrowly passed by the Oregon House on Wednesday.

Voting 31 to 27, the House sent the bill to the Senate with little discussion.

Under the bill, in order for adult offenders to apply to have their records erased, coercion or force could not have been used in the sex act. Other conditions include completion of all required court-ordered programs and treatments.

Proponents say the current punishment for such sex offenders does not fit the crime. Opponents say people convicted of sex crimes often reoffend and should not be able to have their records expunged.
- Well the facts are that ex-sex offenders have a low re-offense rate despite what the opponents think.

"Individuals who commit sex offenses ... this isn't their first time and it won't be their last," said Crook County District Attorney Daina Vitolins, who opposes the bill on behalf of the Oregon District Attorneys Association.
- For some it may be true, but a vast majority it's just plain false.

To say an act is consensual when it involves a person who is too young to give consent is indefensible and minimizes the law, Vitolins said.
- And ruining kids for life is wrong!

The age of consent in Oregon is 18.