Saturday, July 19, 2014

VT - Sex offender registry under fire again

Original Article


By Jennifer Reading

MONTPELIER - It's another black mark for the Vermont Sex Offender Registry.

"There are errors. And they should not have been there," said Doug Hoffer, D-Vt. Auditor.

Hoffer says the system needs work. A performance audit by his office found critical errors in 253 offender records. That's 11 percent of the total registry.

"The Legislature has said very clearly that they wanted information to be available to the general public, as is the case in other states," Hoffer said. "And we all have a right for the information to be accurate. Not only for the people in the community, but for the offenders."

The registry is a tool for law enforcement and the public to keep track of sexual predators living in the community. That's something Chelsea Merrill, 21, couldn't do for a while. Her abuser, _____, was convicted of lewd and lascivious conduct. He targeted her for five years while she was a child. Yet his photo wasn't on the public registry until recently. And she worried he'd find more victims.

"That he will offend again," she said. "That he will get close to another child and feel comfortable with them. And this will happen again."
- So are you saying that if his/her photo is online then they won't re-offend?  The problem is, most do not re-offend in the first place!

An audit conducted in 2010 found the system was rife with errors. Hoffer says four years later, the Legislature tasked his office with a follow-up examination.

His team uncovered:
  • 11 registration errors where offenders were either incorrectly added, omitted or still online after their deaths.
  • 179 errors related to how long an offender should stay on the registry.
  • 71 mistakes regarding which offenders' information should be posted online.

Hoffer says these mistakes undermine the credibility of the registry. It's managed by two people within the Department of Public Safety's Vermont Crime Information Center or VCIC. But the auditor says state courts and corrections also play a role.

"They have not worked together as well as they could," Hoffer said.

"The program is still a work in progress," said Jeffrey Wallin who heads the VCIC.

Wallin says since the audit's conclusion in mid-May, almost all the mistakes have been fixed.

Many of them were a result of human error from manual data entry, a problem the center has been working to streamline. Last February, VCIC unveiled new software called OffenderWatch to help automate data entry. Despite a few technology glitches, Wallin says it's improved the accuracy of the registry.
- It doesn't matter how expensive or nice the program is, as long as you have humans entering data, then there is always potential for human errors.

"Right now the public can be fairly confident in the registry," Wallin said. "We are always looking to improve. Provide better information, better service and better response to the community, but also to the individuals listed."

Moving forward Hoffer has recommended the courts, corrections and VCIC reconvene a working group to hash out their communication breakdown. It's a suggestion the auditor's office also made after the 2010 audit.

"And they did. And then they kind of let it go," Hoffer said. "So they certainly need more coordination between them."

And victims like Merrill say fixing these mistakes should remain a top priority.

"If it was one of their kids, would they want to know if their neighbor was a sex offender or had done such a crime with a child? Would they want their kid walking to school past their neighbor's house every day knowing that they live there?" Merrill said.
- So why don't you walk to the bus stop with your child?  You know, be a parent!

In 2009, Vermont lawmakers approved a measure to post sex offenders' addresses to the online registry. The move was contingent on a favorable audit. Problems discovered in 2010 prevented that from happening. This audit was a second chance. But more errors likely mean the addresses of sexual predators will remain under wraps.

Audit Reports:


Mark said...

"That he will offend again," she said. "That he will get close to another child and feel comfortable with them. And this will happen again." And this is the monumental stupidity of America. So, plastering photos of sex offenders on the internet will stop an offense? If a person truly wants to have sexual contact with underage persons, the plastered photos of them is not going to stop that person. Regardless of how stupid this statement is, narrow-minded, myopic and absolutely emblematic of the American mind-set that allows legislators to enact laws that they themselves will not be subject to.

Mark said...

Hey Mr. Mayor: do not think for one moment that you are fooling me sir! You, and your ilk knew, or reasonably knew your ordinance was not legally correct and binding, but you all go ahead with it and then make statements like: "In essence, we thought we were doing the right thing when we passed this ordinance to make things more restrictive." In short Mr. Mayor, you and your ilk just wanted to "stick it" to residing sex offenders and hope they would leave tow. That said, your actual and the actual motivation of your team was PUNISHMENT by covert action. And now it has caught up to you and your ilk. Perhaps you can enact ordinances to prevent a sex offender from walking down the street, or not to enter a supermarket at all, or completely deny them access to a shopping mall because of your twisted myopic fear that all sex offenders are raving animals.

Mark said...

This Commonwealth is truly insane. Whenever there is some sort of media hyped crime, Beacon Hill goes right to work to enact garbage laws like it will stop anyone from committing a crime. This is one of them though not from Beacon Hill, but from the little children law makers of other cities and towns that think just like big brother Beacon Hill.

Tom said...

My first thought upon reading this "article" was how inflammatory it is: using the word Predator, scaring people about how dangerous this woman thinks sex offenders are. Then the old term came to mind: Yellow Journalism. There is an overwhelming amount of yellow journalism where it concerns those of us on the registry. And, no offense to any women here, it seems to mainly come from women journalists when they report on registrants. Thank god we have people like Janice Belucci and Ms. Skenazy who think the registrant hysteria is ridiculous.

Tom said...

It's really amazing. While the rest of the country is starting to realize that the sex offender hysteria is nonsense and starting to change their laws, uptight new england still has its head firmly planted in its posterior. Have we ever evolved past witch hunting up here? And, again, no offense to women reading this, but it's another woman spearheading fear-mongering legislation with lots of male approval. When are the fear-mongering and scare tactics going to end? I'm sure there's a money angle in this ridiculous legislation. There always is.

Frankly, I'm pretty sick of it. 95% of us on the registry are no danger to anyone. Yet, they treat ALL of us like we're hiding in the bushes waiting to steal one of their kids. Stupidity is the one constant in the USA. Now, please don't get me wrong, I am NOT a misogynist, I've just noticed more and more of these Nancy Grace type women going nuts about sex offenders these days. Thank god we have women in RSOL. It helps show that men are not the only ones fighting for the abolishing of all this unconstitutional legislation and prejudicial treatment of people who made one mistake in their lives and are forced to pay for it repeatedly for the rest of their existence.

Happy, Joyous and Free said...

Tom, I agree with you 100%. This is yellow journalism, pure and simple. A number of women journalists are feminist supporters to a greater or lesser extent. It's also a sympathy ploy to their readers. Being a woman, I understand why, but these articles are demeaning to everyone. Janice and Lenore are amazing people to meet and talk to, BTW, and I am glad they are working to fix the issues with the registry and the accompanying hysteria.

Mark said...

Yet another example of "class" warfare i,e,: the FEMINIST movement and their quest to emasculate ALL men. And what better platform do this with, is sexual offenders. Therefore all men are animals and need to have the equipment removed. "Just sayin. . . ."

Tom said...

Thanks for the thoughtful responses. Yes, I see this sort of stuff all the time. In my opinion, feminists hurt the female gender as much as hardcore mysogynists hurt the male gender. There is a woman named Anita Sarkeesian who attacks video games because they are demeaning to women. She focuses on hyperbole and logical fallacies without bothering to fact check. She is no different than the woman who wrote this article. They thrive on riling up the public and scaring them.

Why? Because it's all about the money. The defense industry owns the prison industry and the police state. There is a financial interest in misleading the public and keeping them jumping at shadows. It feeds the fear and squelches any opposition. Once people have a boogeyman (registrants, terrorists, etc.), then they don't dare oppose the loss of their own rights in the name of security. Ben Franklin is rolling in his grave. People need someone to hate and fear: Witches, Jews, Black People, Asians, Homosexuals. And the media feeds their paranoia because they, too, are owned by the Corporate Police State we live under in America.

Pretty sad.

Tom said...

Bill, I couldn't agree more.

But, as long as there is money to be made from lies, propaganda, and hysteria feeding, this travesty of justice will continue. On average, from all combines studies, the recidivism rate for sex offenders in America is under 5%. But, you won't hear that from politicians, police, or the media who all benefit financially from the lies.

In my state of NH, former Attorney General Kelly Ayotte outright lied to our state government by citing a debunked Canadian study saying sex offender recidivism is 94%. The study was outed for cooking data and exaggerating results. But, that didn't stop her crusade to get her "Child Predator" bill passed which augmented the Adam Walsh act regarding tier registration duratons from: 10yrs - Tier 1, 25yrs - Tier 2, and Lifetime - Tier 3, to Tier 1 - 15yrs, Tier 2 and 3 LIFETIME. Most people fall under Tier 2 and she knew that. She committed perjury and violated the constitution of both the state and the federal govt. But, I guess that makes her no different than 99% of the politicians in our country.

Now, she's our state senator and doing more damage in Washington by trying to push us into a World War as soon as possible to fatten her purse and please her defense industry owners.

Bill Barney said...

All offender registries I know of rely on the offender for the source of their information so how accurate is the information to begin with.
Sexual offenses by strangers is between 3 & 15 percent depending on age, sex and publication. Let's say 10 percent. Of the 10 percent 3 to 7 percent were on the registry so we will use 5 percent. This means the registry protects your child from .5%. If I am wrong on my math or logic please let me know. If I am right the registry if it worked at all would protect your child from 1/2 of a percent off those who desire to harm you kids. Ask yourself is it worth the billions of tax dollars spent to enforce it? Is it worth the destruction of the lives of American families?

Bill Barney said...

I do not know the sex offense rates of other countries. But even if you knew these rates you could not compare them to the U.S. because our laws are vastly different. It is far better to look at child sexual abuse in this country before the registry and compare that to offense rates after the registry. You will find that sex offense charges have increased since the registry became a law in most states in 1996. The registry proponents say this is not an indication that the registry does not work but an indication that it does by raising awareness. Spin to WIN. It is much better to use the facts of low stranger danger offense rates compounded by low registry re offense rates. As of yet I have run into no spin to counter this. Redirection....yes, personal attacks.....yes, band from blog...yes.

Bill Barney said...


Matthew said...

There is an excellent paper written by a Ph.D regarding this whole issue that is truthful and dispels many myths and misleading media generated propaganda, It's a must read!

scholarly ambition said...

There were as many sex offenses in the 60's; for that matter the 30's or before, as there are now. Nothing anybody did then made any change in the "numbers". It is the appearance of "doing something" for the political or financial benefit of whoever is championing the cause. And that, I think is as bad as whatever the crime itself. The therapists say they is "no cure", but they take hundreds of dollars for sessions, and are laughing all the way to the bank. Not all offenders will ever offend again, or might have been wrongly convicted. Of three quarters of million registered, that means 712,000 will never offend again, according to figures by law enforcement themselves. That is the problem; too many people have been put in one category. And so one time offenders (94%) are suffering the undeserved retribution and condemnation of the 6% that are possibly truly dangerous. But, that bolsters the point; if they are that dangerous, why not keep them locked up? Moreover, if they are that dangerous are you telling me that letting them out and making them register their address is "good enough". None of this makes any sense when you really think about it. Seriously, the way to appear to fix this, and remember you're not fixing anything, is to pay for and provide counseling for the offenders that want it, and design a path to get off the registry, so that the motivation of the offenders becomes getting off the registry. What do you suppose their attitude and behavior is when they are on a registry for life? And if we must have a registry, their housing should be subsidized so we can have more control of where they live in a practical sense. So there's some food for thought.

getting closer to the street said...

The direction of oppositon is the administrator director of megans law of suffolk county long island . With the freedom of infomation act this is free to the public reguardless of local police protection county or state or now federal that is evidabie For more of a financial program than a protection program now or after mandated regulations . And lets not forget Mr. Walsh that now disagrees with the registration format after law suits are heading his way for the exploitation of those of time served are in harms way along with their familes that some sufferd death than recovery in this free but capitolistic form of justice that neither Laura Ahearn, her family in law and politics are also in the public domain of the freedom of information act that are trying to change the laws and lock in disrupting and corruption of legislation, state and supreme court judges passing un-constitutional laws nation wide, and globley . PEACE . END THE PUBLIC REGISTRY . After time served .

scholarly ambition said...

I have found more ways for sex offenders to help themselves and not offending again, in a day on the internet, than any of the current laws do in force today. In fact, the laws and pictures on websites of offenders, and believe it or not, the very counseling the court requires of offenders, is not only counter productive, but INCREASE recidivism from where it is now, about 5%. This further proves my point that this is a total waste of tax money. There are studies (you have to dig for them), that show the most effective change for a former sex offender is, staying, sober, finding housing, finding employment, and to begin to build your self image again. These registries make most of those impossible. I wish a news station; or an investigative reporter with balls, would report the truth.

Sex Offender Issues said...

Many files and studies here:

AngPow23 said...

Jessica's Law is undermining public safety by promoting a homeless culture. Read article here :

Jessica's Law and the Homeless Culture