Wednesday, January 1, 2014

ID - New Program Helps Track Sex Offenders (Increase in registration fees)

Registration fees
Original Article


By Brittany Cooper

Twin Falls - The Idaho State Police has a new program that alerts residents when sex offenders move.

You can choose a one, three or five mile radius from your home.

Meanwhile, all forty-four counties in the state are now on board with 'Offender Watch'.

When we last spoke with Staff Sergeant Doug Sugden of the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office...Twin Falls was one of 9 counties in Idaho to use "Offender Watch".

That's not the case anymore.

"All of the Sheriff's Offices have Offender Watch, which is why the fees went up to $80... when an offender registers now, he pays 80 dollars instead of 40 which helps to pay for the software," Sugden explains.

With more than 200 sex offenders in Twin Falls County, Sugden has a big responsibility.

But "Offender Watch" eases the workload.

"Say one of my offenders moves from Twin Falls to Jerome; he can import the file, it saves time, effort and will instantly send me a notification that he has moved from my area to another jurisdiction," Sugden points out.

While he says the email alert is more of a benefit for the citizens, he's pleased to see the state is on board.

"It's good that the state has picked up on that and is doing what we've been doing since 2006," he says.

We posted on our Facebook page, asking if local citizens would utilize the email alerts.

Dawn writes, "Yes, I would use it. I have children and grandchildren. Although it is usually the ones that don't register you need to worry about. It's always good to have knowledge."

Diana writes, “Yes, not because I think that all people on that list are a danger to my children, but because those who are need to know that people are paying attention. And it's not just our children... Single women, elderly women, stay at home moms, etc. are at risk."

But not everyone would.

Marie feels "it wouldn't change anything I’m doing already anyway. Plus many people on the list shouldn't be there."

On the ISP site, you can even find out when a particular registrant moves, by clicking the link, "track registrant", available on the registrant's page.

CT - LETTER: Sex offender bill is unnecessary

Stranger Danger
Original Article


The following letter was received in reaction to our recent posting “Bipartisan effort to prevent sex offenders from living near schools

To the Editor:

Oh, way to go. Way to keep the myth of stranger danger alive and well and keep parents in a state of fear and panic unnecessarily. Blanket residency restrictions do absolutely nothing toward public safety.

Virtually all child sexual abuse is committed by people who aren’t on the registry and are not the sort of offender that sentence describes. Real child sex offenders aren’t strangers lurking….they are family members and peers and authority figures of the children, people the children know, trust, and even love.

Rather than a blanket, one-size-fits-all ordinance, which has many negative consequences for former offenders and their families as well as for law enforcement, use a sensible, individualized plan.

If one of your registrants living in the community has a history of abducting child victims who are strangers to him from public places, make where he lives part of his conditions. Don’t increase the difficulty of finding suitable housing for the other 99.9% of your registered citizens.

Sandy Rozek
National RSOL Communications Committee
Reform Sex Offender Laws, Inc.

See Also:

FL - Gibson bill would ban loaning vehicles to sexual predators

White van
Original Article


By Matt Dixon

TALLAHASSEE - Knowingly allowing a registered sexual predator to use your vehicle would become a misdemeanor under legislation filed by state Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville.

It’s the fifth bill filed in the Senate that proposes changes to Florida’s sexual predator laws.

Lawmakers are planning to overhaul the system after a South Florida Sun-Sentinel investigation found holes in the state’s sexual predator laws, and the death of Cherish Perrywinkle, a Jacksonville 8-year-old murdered in June.

Donald Smith, a registered sex offender, has been in indicted on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual battery related to Perrywinkle’s death. The state had the opportunity to indefinitely detain Smith three separate times under the Sexually Violent Predators Act, but failed to do so.

Under Gibson’s bill, SB 562 (PDF), lending a vehicle to a sexual predator would be a second-degree misdemeanor. If the predator commits a murder or a crime covered by state sexual predator or sex offender laws, the owner could lose their driver’s license for one year.

Donald Smith borrowed his mother’s vehicle,” said Gibson of the bill’s motivation. “This would close a loophole.”

The bill does include exceptions, including when a sexual predator is going to work, or seeking treatment.

Along with the vehicle provisions, Gibson’s bill also establishes a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew for sexual predators. The current curfew lasts from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

We are trying to protect kids waiting at the bus stop,” Gibson said. “It really has to be about community control.”

A judge can establish a new curfew if the bill’s set hours interfere with a predator’s ability to go to work.

Her bill also requires a “risk assessment” be conducted when someone pleads guilty, no contest, or is found guilty of a crime that qualifies as a sexual offense.

The assessment will be submitted to as part of court proceedings, and include “the offender’s risk of committing another sexual offense.”

Currently, the risk assessments are conducted when a sexual predator is eligible for release from prison.

In mid-December, the Senate filed a package of additional sexual predator reforms. They include: making it easier to keep a sexual predator detained, toughens sentencing laws for those convicted of committing certain sexual offenses on a minor, and increases what convicted sexual offenders must register with the state.

At the time, Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said he wanted to “make Florida scorched earth for those who seek to harm our children.”

The House is expected to release its reform proposals during legislative committee weeks scheduled for the second week of January.