"One out of three children are abused by the time they're 18," says Pennie Farrell, L.C.S.W., Ph.D., a practicing sex offender treatment provider. On this short video learn the truth from her about how close most sex offenders are to their victims and who among them are treatable, if any.
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
A helpful reader alerted me to a notable Second Circuit panel opinion today in US v. Robbins, No. 12-3148 (2d Cir. Sept. 3, 2013) (available here), in which the court hints that federal sex offender registration laws might at some point be subject to new Commerce Clause challenges in the wake of the Supreme Court's work in the "Obamacare" cases. Here is how the opinion in Robbins gets started:
In August 2011, after traveling from New York to Nevada, defendant-appellant Robbins knowingly failed to update his registration as a sex offender, as he was required to do under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”), 42 U.S.C. § 16913. He subsequently pled guilty to violating 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a), which makes it a crime for someone who is required to register under SORNA to travel in interstate commerce and knowingly fail to update his registration. Despite his plea, Robbins retained the right to challenge the constitutionality of the statutes he admitted violating, and he brings just such a challenge here.
This Court has previously held that Congress acted within its powers under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause when it enacted SORNA. See United States v. Guzman, 591 F.3d 83 (2d Cir. 2010). Since then, however, the Supreme Court has revisited and further clarified — if that is the appropriate word — the reach of Congress’s power “[t]o regulate Commerce . . . among the several States.” U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 3; see Nat’l Fed’n of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius, 132 S. Ct. 2566 (2012) (“NFIB”). Robbins invites us to revisit our holding in Guzman in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in NFIB.
We decline Robbins’ invitation not because his arguments all lack force, nor because the constitutionality of SORNA — particularly when applied within the states — is beyond question, see United States v. Kebodeaux, 570 U.S. ___, No. 12-418, slip op. at 5 (U.S. June 24, 2013) (Roberts, C.J., concurring in the judgment) (“The fact of a prior federal conviction, by itself, does not give Congress a freestanding, independent, and perpetual interest in protecting the public from the convict’s purely intrastate conduct.”), but because the constitutionality of SORNA as applied to Robbins remains unaffected by any limitations on Congress’s Commerce Clause power that may be found in NFIB. Still bound by the precedent set in Guzman, we therefore AFFIRM Robbins’ conviction.
NM - Former New Mexico Probation Officer (Gordon Chavez) Pleads Guilty to Sexual Assault and False Statement Charges
ALBUQUERQUE - Gordon Chavez, 35, a former probation officer with the New Mexico Department of Corrections Division of Probation and Parole, pleaded guilty today in federal court in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to charges related to the sexual assault of a probationer whom he supervised. Chavez pleaded guilty to one count of violating the victim’s right to bodily integrity when he touched her against her will. Chavez also pleaded guilty to one count of making material false statements to the FBI when he denied both inappropriately touching females whom he supervised and asking for naked photos of them.
According to court documents, Chavez, a long-time probation officer, engaged in escalating sexually inappropriate behavior toward the victim, a woman under his supervision since May 2012. As part of probation and parole, the victim was required to attend mandatory meetings at Chavez’s office. During one of those meetings on November 26, 2012, Chavez fondled the victim’s breast through and underneath her shirt without the victim’s consent. Chavez was later captured on a recording apologizing for his actions.
During that same November 26, 2012 meeting with the victim, Chavez also instructed the victim to bring revealing photos of herself on her cellular phone to the next office visit scheduled for November 30, 2012. When the victim brought clothed photos of herself, Chavez specifically asked her to bring naked photos. That conversation was also captured on a recording.
On December 4, 2012, FBI agents conducted a recorded interview of Chavez during which he denied inappropriately touching any female under his supervision. He also denied asking any female under his supervision for naked photographs.
During the plea hearing, Chavez acknowledged that his actions toward the victim were wrong and against the law. Chavez further admitted that he lied to the FBI when he was interviewed about his conduct toward females whom he supervised.
As part of the plea agreement, in addition to a prison sentence, Chavez will forfeit his law enforcement certification. A sentencing hearing has not yet been set.
This case was investigated by the Albuquerque Division of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Baker for the District of New Mexico and Trial Attorney Fara Gold of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.
By Dianne Frazee-Walker
Most law-abiding citizens would agree that sex-offenders should be locked-up and the key thrown away or once a child molester is released from prison they should be registered and never be allowed to be around children again.
The purpose of sex-offender laws is to protect the public, but what about when human rights are violated to the point where laws are doing more harm than good?
This is what happens when laws are not categorized according to the level of offense or age of the perpetrator.
As a result of barbaric sex-offender laws that are way overdue for updating, people under 18 convicted of sex offenses, some as young as 8, face decades or even a lifetime of stigma, discrimination, and suffocating restriction.
Jacob C. has lived his life suffering the consequences of archaic sex-offender policies since the age of 11 when he was convicted of sexual misconduct for touching his sister’s private area. The juvenile conviction was for a common adolescent behavior prompted by sexual curiosity about the opposite sex.
Jacob served 3-years for his offense, then was placed in a foster home because he was ordered to have no-contact with his sister. Jacob’s life was sabotaged before he had a chance to make things right. He was forced to live without a mother and became a registered sex-offender and his punishment didn’t stop there.
Jacob’s status as a registered sex-offender has followed him for the rest of his life.
|Rep. Chris Kelly|
The phony “tough-on-crime” environment could prevent Missouri lawmakers from doing what they should to reform the state’s sex-offender registry.
There is no question that the registry needs work. It has been operating since the mid-1990s, when federal and state governments created “Megan’s Laws” in response to the murder of a 7-year-old in New Jersey. Megan Kanka was killed by a convicted sex offender who lived across the street.
At the federal level, Megan’s Law is officially known as the Sexual Offender (Jacob Wetterling) Act of 1994. It requires people convicted of sex crimes against children to notify local law enforcement of a change of address or employment after release from custody.
When sex offender registries were created, the World Wide Web was booming. It offered promise as a tool for the public to track criminals who had committed sexual crimes against children. Parents were told how to log on to a state website for registered sexual offenders. There, with the click of a mouse, they could find a map of their community with red arrows indicating where sex offenders lived.
A lot has happened in the world since 1994: 9/11; Osama bin Laden; New Orleans destroyed and rebuilt, to name but a few of them. Missouri’s sex-offender registry, however, remains the same.
Studies disproving the effectiveness of such registries have proliferated. Extensive research has been conducted on the types of sexual offenders who will repeat their crimes, and the frequency — or more often, infrequency — that it happens.
A study by the state of Michigan showed that an average of just 3.5 percent of registered sex offenders repeat their crimes. The other 96.5 percent do not. As a group, sex offenders have among the lowest recidivism rates (More here) in the criminal justice system.
It’s the monsters who get the headlines and make politicians afraid of the repercussions that would come from supporting efforts to reform the registry to be more reflective of reality.
The reality is that being listed on the registry can destroy a person’s life. In some cases, that’s fine. It’s hard to sympathize with a child rapist, or any rapist for that matter. But for others, being listed on the registry can lead to trouble finding jobs and housing and send neighbors and friends running.
Missouri keeps registrants on the list forever, no matter how young they might have been when they offended or the severity of their offense. This is overkill, particularly in light of some of the evidence that not all “sex offenders” are likely to be repeat offenders.
It’s time to get unlikely repeat offenders off the state’s registry so they can get on with their lives. Missouri lawmakers took a step in that direction this year when they passed HB 301. It would remove from the sex offender registry all the names of those whose crimes were committed when they were under age 18.
It was a remarkable victory for the “smart on crime” movement that the Republican-dominated Legislature put together a bipartisan coalition to pass the bill. This is one area where the Missouri Legislature has made good strides in recent years, passing judicial reforms that should reduce corrections costs, for instance, and beginning work on a rewrite of the state’s criminal code.
But Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat who built his reputation as attorney general as being “tough on crime,” vetoed the bill. In vetoing the bill, Mr. Nixon said it did not distinguish between relatively minor offenders and those who used force or violence in their crimes. He said it was wrong to remove a class of offenders from the site without regard for their crimes, and noted that the offender website had 4.2 million visitors last year, making it an important public information tool.
We agree with Mr. Nixon that the bill is imperfect, but those imperfections must be kept in perspective with the value of the entire bill.
It has been estimated that HB 301 would cut about 870 names from more than 13,000 on the Missouri registry’s website.
The offenders would still be listed on the registry for law enforcement access and anyone from the public who requests the information, but the bill would allow offenders to petition for complete removal starting five years after the end of their sentences. That seems fair.
Critics call the registries “vigilante charters,” and cite cases such as that of William Elliot, a Maine teenager and a Romeo-Juliet offender — his girlfriend was not quite 16 and he was a teen himself when the two had consensual sex. Mr. Elliot was killed by a pedophile-hunter after being located on an offender list.
Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, favors overriding the governor’s veto even though the bill needs to be improved. But he doubts there is enough political will for the override.
“Everyone’s afraid of the commercial that says ‘You’re soft on sex offenders,’ ” Mr. Kelly said.
Lawmakers are elected to do tough jobs, not to take politically narrow and comfortable positions to position themselves for re-election.
They should side with Mr. Kelly.
Override the veto in September and finish the reform next year.
JOHNSON (WISH) - A Capital police officer was arrested after police say he kissed and touched an 11-year-old girl during a party.
Scott Litten, 43, of Anderson, was preliminarily charged with sexual battery. The charges were then upgraded to child molestation.
A release says around 7:53 a.m. Sunday, police responded to the 5700 block of South County Road 550 East in Johnson County because two adults wanted to report a child molestation incident from the previous night.
Police interviewed an 11-year-old girl who told police while in the swimming pool, she was kissed and touched inappropriately by Litten.
Police say Litten is on paid administrative leave. If a probable cause affidavit alleges that a felony crime was committed, he will be taken off paid leave.
Litten has been a Capital police officer since July 2002.
TX - Father who beat to death man he caught raping his five-year-old daughter will NOT face charges because of Texas state laws on deadly force
By JAMES NYE
A Texas father who discovered a man raping his five-year-old daughter and beat him to death with his bare hands will not be charged with homicide under state law.
A Lavaca County grand jury decided not to press charges against the 23-year-old father in the June 9th death of [name withheld], 47, who was killed inside a remote shack after he was caught molesting the young girl.
Under Texas state law, deadly force is authorized and indeed, justified in order to stop an aggravated sexual assault and coupled with the fact that the harrowing 911 calls made by the father back claims he even tried to save the pedophile's life led to the grand jury's decision.
Lavaca County sheriff's deputies said that the father, whose name has not been released to protect the little girl's identity, sent her and her brother to feed the family's chickens.
The boy rushed back to tell his dad that someone had grabbed his sister and taken her to a small secluded shack and the father rushed towards his daughter's screams and arrived to find them both with their underwear off.
Flying into a rage, the father beat [name withheld] unconscious, but attempted to call 911 for the rapist after he had made sure his daughter was safe.
Sheriff Micah Harmon had said in June that he was not willing to press charges against the father, rather the case would be presented to a grand jury.
At the time, Harmon said that the man was 'very remorseful' and didn't know at the time he had killed [name withheld].
'You have a right to defend your daughter,' Harmon told CNN at the time. 'The girl's father acted in defense of his third person. Once the investigation is completed we will submit it to the district attorney who then submits it to the grand jury, who will decide if they will indict him.'
Indeed, the father is heard profanely screaming at a dispatcher who couldn't locate the property.
Becoming increasingly frazzled, the father at one point tells the dispatcher he's going to put the man in his truck and drive him to a hospital before sheriff's deputies finally arrive.
V'Anne Huser, the father's attorney, sternly told reporters several times during a news conference at the Lavaca County courthouse that neither the father nor the family will ever give interviews.
'He's a peaceable soul,' Huser said. 'He had no intention to kill anybody that day.'
The attack happened on the family's ranch off a quiet, two-lane county road between the farming towns of Shiner and Yoakum.
Authorities say a witness saw [name withheld] 'forcibly carrying' the girl into a secluded area and then scrambled to find the father. Running toward his daughter's screams, investigators said, the father pulled [name withheld] off his child and 'inflicted several blows to the man's head and neck area.'
Emergency crews found [name withheld]' pants and underwear pulled down on his lifeless body by the time they responded to the 911 call.
The girl was taken to a hospital and examined, and authorities say forensic evidence and witness accounts corroborated the father's story that his daughter was being sexually molested.
'Under the law in the state of Texas deadly force is authorized and justified in order to stop an aggravated sexual assault or sexual assault,' District Attorney Heather McMinn told reporters in June.
'All the evidence provided by the sheriff's department and the Texas Rangers indicated that's what was occurring when the victim's father arrived at the scene,' she said.
Authorities said he expressed regret at the killing at the time, and no evidence so far has led them to doubt his story. The girl's grandfather agreed it had been an accident.
'My son. Sorry,' the grandfather told the Victoria Advocate in broken English. 'It was an accident.'
Lavaca County Sheriff Micah Harmon added: 'He was very remorseful. I don't think it was his intent for the man to die.'
Residents of the small Lavaca County town were largely in support of the father, saying the victim deserved it.
Sonny Jaehne, a Shiner native, told the Victoria Advocate: 'He got what he deserved, big time.'
Friend Mark Harabis reiterated this: 'I agree with him totally. I would probably do worse.'
'The family will have to deal with that the rest of their lives, no matter what happens to the father. Even if they let him go, he and his child will have to deal with that the rest of their lives.'
How many laws named after dead children do we need? You can have 1 million laws, but it won't stop someone who is intent on harming another human being!
By Ashley Harding
JACKSONVILLE - An online petition calling for better laws to protect children from sex offenders named for an 8-year-old Jacksonville victim is gaining signatures.
"Cherish's Law" would carry the name of the girl abducted from a Walmart, raped and murdered in June. [name withheld], the man charged in her murder, has a long criminal history of sexual abuse toward young children.
Late Monday afternoon, the petition calling for stricter laws on repeat sexual offenders has more than 1,600 signatures. By 9:30 p.m., there were nearly 2,000 -- the goal set for the petition drive.
"We can't let our children become victims. The petition is out there. Sign it online," said organizer Sara Magill. "Why does the court system keep letting them go through again and again and again? I don't get it. I think there's people with lesser charges who stay in jail for a long time and this is so serious."
In two days, criminal justice experts and members of the public will meet here at City Hall for a legislative town meeting to help answer that very question. The meeting will be hosted by Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Nassau County, who says the statistics are shocking.
- I noticed you said they were shocking but didn't elaborate any further. What statistics? If you are talking about re-offense rates, they are in the single digits, below 6%.
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, more than 15,000 sex offenders are currently incarcerated in Florida. The Florida Department of Corrections also provides probation and parole services for more than 7,000 offenders. Thousands of those cases involved victims younger than 12.
Adkins says one of the things lawmakers will consider is the issue of parole once sex offenders are released from jail.
"We're going to look specifically as to what is involved in community supervision; who's conducting the supervision," said Adkins. "Are they actually trying to understand what these individuals are thinking to determine if they are a public safety risk? Or are they simply, making contact and checking off their list?"
Mark Lunsford (Child Porn, Son), whose daughter Jessica was kidnapped and killed by a sex offender back in 2005, said that current laws are good ones, they just need to be better enforced. A law named after his daughter requires lifetime monitoring of sex offenders.
"We can advocate for what is created," Lunsford said of the current petition drive. "We can advocate for that and keep up with it, and find out if it's working."
- (09/02/2013) Cherish's law: Push for change
- (09/05/2013) Ron Book Jr. (Lauren Book) is pimping Cherish's Law
Catherine L. Carpenter
Southwestern Law School
September 1, 2013
Imagine if you were held accountable the rest of your life for something you did as a child?
This is the Child Scarlet Letter in force: kids who commit criminal sexual acts and who pay the price with the burdens and stigma of sex offender registration. And in a game of “how low can you go?,” states have forced children as young as nine and ten years old onto sex offender registries, some with registration requirements that extend the rest of their lives.
No matter the constitutionality of adult sex offender registration – and on that point, there is debate – this article argues that child sex offender registration violates the Eighth Amendment’s (Wikipedia) prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment (Wikipedia). Once a sex offender, always a sex offender is not an apt adage when dealing with children who commit sexual offenses. Low recidivism rates and varied reasons for their misconduct demonstrate that a child’s criminal sexual act does not necessarily portend future predatory behavior. And with a net cast so wide it ensnares equally the child who rapes and the child who engages in sex with an underage partner, juvenile sex offender registration schemes are not moored to their civil regulatory intent.
Compounding the problem is mandatory lifetime registration for child offenders. This paper analogizes this practice to juvenile sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, which the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional in Miller v. Alabama (PDF) and Graham v. Florida (PDF). This article argues that mandatory lifetime registration applied to children in the same manner as adult offenders is cruel and unusual punishment because it violates fundamental principles that require sentencing practices to distinguish between adult and child offenders.
Scrutiny of child sex offender registration laws places front and center the issue of what it means to judge our children. And on that issue, we are failing. The public’s desire to punish children appears fixed despite our understanding that child offenders pose little danger of recidivism, possess diminished culpability, and have the capacity for rehabilitation. In a debate clouded by emotion, it is increasingly clear that juvenile sex offender registration is cruel and unusual punishment.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 57
Keywords: juvenile, sex offender registration, cruel and unusual punishment, Megan's law
|Rep. Eric Hutchings|
If someone is sentenced to 2 years in prison, then after 2 years, treatment or not, they should be released. If they didn't get treatment, then that is the Department of Corrections fault! Keeping someone beyond their time is wrong and a violation of their rights!
By Brooke Adams
A dramatic increase in the number of sex offenders incarcerated in Utah over nearly two decades is raising questions about how the state deals with such crimes and concerns about whether all inmates are able to get needed treatment before they return to their communities.
The number of sex offenders in state custody has more than doubled — to 2,194 or 31 percent of the prison population — since 1996, the last year Utah lawmakers approved an increase in treatment funding. Although Utah’s incarceration rate is significantly lower than that of other Western states and the U.S., it leads surrounding states when it comes to the percentage of prison inmates who are sex offenders.
One reason for that: Lawmakers have taken a tough stance on sex offenses, setting stiff penalties, such as a law passed in 2008 that set a 25-years-to-life penalty for child rape.
"Our culture has a very strict credo, a moral sense, of what is appropriate sexually and what is not appropriate sexually," said Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns and a member of the Criminal Justice Appropriations subcommittee. "That may be why we incarcerate a little bit more."
The state’s approach also has historically been shaded by the view that "once a predator, always a predator" — a misconception that may finally be poised to shift with the accumulation of evidence that shows treatment works, Hutchings said.
"The discussion is not over, but it’s happening in earnest," Hutchings said. "The mind-set for a long time has been what are we going to get by putting this money into treatment. Why not focus instead on mandatory minimum sentences and keeping these people locked away."
The numbers reflect that philosophy of warehousing inmates.
Today, more sex offenders in Utah are sent to prison rather than placed on probation, and they serve longer sentences. In 2012, for example, 92 percent of first-degree felony sex offenders went to prison, up from 72 percent in 1988. During that period, the length of time served has doubled.
Sex offenders "are going to have longer length of stays, go to prison at a higher rate and thus make up a greater portion of our prison population," said Jacey Skinner, director of the Utah Sentencing Commission.
Utah inmates convicted of first-degree felony sex offenses who were released from prison during the past five years had, on average, served 7½ years. But some serve far longer. [name withheld], a child sex offender, is scheduled to be released this fall after spending nearly 20 years in prison. There are 71 first-degree felony sex offenders who have received natural life sentences from the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole — a number that will likely increase since some inmates in that category have not yet had rehearings, according to Steve Gehrke, Corrections spokesman.
Still, "The reality is we are talking about a very large group of people at the prison who are some day going to get released," said Jonathan Ririe, a Utah psychologist who works with sex offenders in the community. And that makes investing in treatment, as well as supervision outside of prison, critical, he added.
But the number of treatment slots for sex offenders — 200 at the Utah State Prison and the San Juan County jail, which operates a program for state inmates — has remained unchanged.
For the past 17 years, the state has allocated $1 million a year for treatment of incarcerated sex offenders, a sum that also covers personnel costs.
With limited slots, entry into the 18-month program is sometimes delayed and may result in an inmate being incarcerated longer or, in the case of those charged with lesser-degree felonies and serving shorter sentences, leaving prison — due to terminating rather than being paroled — before completing a program. Some inmates are removed from programs because of rule violations, thus interfering with their ability to finish treatment. Those inmates are typically required to complete treatment as a condition of parole.
At a Prison Relocation Authority Committee hearing in July, Utah Department of Corrections Director Rollin Cook said the fact that some inmates are leaving prison without completing a program "scares me a little bit."
"I don’t know about you, but that’s not enough," Cook said of the available treatment beds.
It may become a more acute problem in the future as officials try to schedule treatment for inmates with lengthier sentences to coincide with parole and termination dates.
"A lot more offenders are coming to prison with longer sentences," said Jim Hatch, spokesman for the parole board. "Since we don’t want them participating in treatment until there is a possibility they could be released, they may wait a long time before they get into treatment. A lot of offenders are just beginning long-term sentences, so they won’t be involved in treatment for a long time."
Camille Anthony, a member of the prison committee and pro-tem member of the pardons board, said she won’t set a release date unless a sex offender has had a shot at treatment. That’s because numerous national studies as well as evaluations in Utah show that treatment reduces recidivism of sex offenders.
One Utah analysis of inmates who completed treatment showed about 20 percent returned to prison within a year, compared with 42 percent of those who did not complete treatment. In both groups, most offenders returned because of parole violations rather than because they committed new crimes.
A 2003 Bureau of Justice Statistics report (PDF) found that sex offenders were less likely than non-sex offenders to be rearrested for any crime. That report also found that 5.3 percent of all sex offenders were rearrested for a sex crime within three years of being released. The percentage was even lower — 3.3 percent — for child molesters.
Ririe said it is "frustrating" that Utah’s approach has been to continually adopt more stringent sentencing guidelines that lump sex offenders together rather than adopting a system that appropriately categorizes offenders by risk factors and allows judges and the parole board a greater role in assessing them individually.
"The Board of Pardons is a very cautious and reasonable group of individuals who do not make rash decisions," Ririe said. "If they recognize someone is dangerous, they are going to hold them longer. By [the Legislature] taking the ability to make judgments from judges and [the board], their hands are tied."
First District Judge Kevin K. Allen made a similar point Thursday during a prison relocation committee meeting. Allen said criminal-court filings are flat, yet Utah’s prison population continues to increase — which he attributed in part to lawmakers’ decision to increase the severity of criminal penalties, Utah’s indeterminate-sentencing scheme and the lack of alternatives to incarceration for some offenders — including sex offenders.
With sex offenders, "most of those guys are going to prison," Allen said. "When we think of sex crimes, we think of the most heinous [offenses]. But there is a huge spectrum of these things. Take a 20-year-old having sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend. He is probably going to prison because I don’t know where else to send him."
Without minimizing the huge impact such crimes have on victims, in many instances the behavior doesn’t define who the offender is, Ririe added.
"From a society perspective, we are very quick to lump these guys together in terms of black and white. They committed an offense, so they are all bad," he said. "The fact is, the vast majority are husbands, fathers, brothers, grandfathers, neighbors — people who, up to the moment the offense was discovered, were generally well-respected by people around them."
Lawmaker Hutchings said the accumulation of evidence during the past decade that shows treatment works is likely to result in alternative options and expansion of specialized programs for sex offenders, particularly for juveniles. For adults, implementing new programs "may be more complicated because more parts [of the corrections system] are in flux right now."
That said, "We’ve now had enough time to track these other programs around the nation and know if these programs are going to make a difference," Hutchings said. "And the answer is yes, they will. Now it’s a matter of determining the way to do it to have the safest results for the citizens of Utah."