Sunday, October 7, 2007

Why the contents of your computer should not be admissible as evidence in court

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It does occur, just check out this one example. I don't fully agree with this entire article, but it does bring up good points. Mark Lunsford at the time Jessica went missing, had child porn on his machine, and they dismissed it, but another man, is in prison for the same thing. Why isn't Mark Lunsford in prison as well? I don't think images in the Internet cache should be admissible, but if pictures or videos are in other folders, like "My Documents", then the user knew what the image was and saved it, IMO.

Do you know exactly what's on your computer's hard drive? The average computer user doesn't have a clue. Yet you can be convicted of a crime and sent to prison, even labeled as a "sex offender" for life, based on what's stored on your disk, including email attachments, browser cache and other files you may not even know are there.

As a former police officer, I'm all in favor of coming down hard on true Internet predators, these guys we're always hearing about who use the Internet to find vulnerable children and lure them into sexual relationships. And even if they never actually met or touched the kids, anyone who engages in sexual chat or email with minors probably presents a risk and should be stopped.

However, as an IT professional and long-time heavy user of the Internet, I'm afraid our enthusiasm for justice is causing us to cast much too wide a net on the 'Net. All so-called "sex offenders" are not created equal, whether we're talking about the 19 year old kid who has a consensual relationship with a 16 year old girlfriend and finds himself behind bars and required to register as a sex offender for life, or whether we're talking about the guy who forms an online relationship with a 16 year old who pretends to be 21 or the one who thinks he's downloading (obnoxious but legal) adult porn and instead finds kiddie pictures mixed in with it.

The truth is, the way the Internet works, there is no way that an illegal photograph on someone's computer should be admissible as evidence in court, any more than the results of a polygraph should be. Both are just too unreliable.

Just today, I clicked on a Google link while looking for the solution to an error message that was occurring on a laptop computer. Before the Help forum page I was trying to access, an advertising page appeared. That happens a lot and usually it's just annoying. This time the ad was for a porn site and it was disgusting. It wasn't child porn -- but it could just as easily have been. And then that picture would have been in my browser's cache, and if I were a technically unsavvy average user, it might have stayed there for months. And if I worked at a big company or a university, tech support personnel working on my computer sometime in the future could run across that picture, turn me in, and cause me to lose my job, my liberty and my future because of it.

Think that sounds far-fetched? Think it's never happened? I think, given today's laws and today's technology, it would be naive to imagine that it hasn't -- or that you couldn't be the next victim of this popular form of "zero tolerance."

MO - Homeless agency scrambles after learning chief is sex offender

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This is just cruel! Even a blind person gets treated inhumanely. This world is sick!


MOBERLY - A group formed a month ago to assist the homeless is facing its first major public relations mess after finding out its president is a convicted sex offender.

Hands Across Missouri plans to buy a full-page ad to run Tuesday in the Moberly Monitor-Index, explaining the group's mission and naming newly elected officers - part of what the group is calling "damage control."

"We felt this could easily destroy what we're trying to do to fight homelessness," said Ivy Taylor, the group's vice president. "We want to reassure people this is a legitimate organization of concerned and responsible citizens."

A routine background check last week showed that the group's president, Harold South, 42, of Moberly, served four years in prison for two counts of statutory rape and one count of statutory sodomy in 1997. The victim in the case was a 13-year-old female relative.

"It was an incredible blow, and it's very disturbing. In the last two days I've prayed about it and cried about it," Taylor said.

Organization members voted South out of his position Thursday during an emergency meeting, during which South spoke for 30 minutes defending himself. Four members of the group quit because of the action against South.

South, who is blind, is registered with local officials as a sex offender and is listed on the Missouri State Highway Patrol Web site as compliant with all the conditions of his parole, including a provision that he not live within 1,000 feet of a school or day-care center.

Randolph County Sheriff Mark Nichols said it didn't appear South was banned from contact with children, and he said he hadn't received any complaints about South.

"I can understand why the public would see that as a concern because of his offenses," Nichols said.

South told the Columbia Tribune that he didn't tell the organization about his offenses because he thought they were well known in the community.

"I hope to continue to live in Moberly," he said. "If not, I'll move on somewhere else. But I really do love Moberly, and I believe in what we're trying to do here."

Hands Across Missouri was formed in response to the plight of Patricia Gehring, 24, her two children ages 4 and 3, and her mother. The four were found living in a tent in Moberly's Rothwell Park.

The group raised $1,309, moved the family into temporary housing and attracted the attention of talk-show host Steve Wilkos. Wilkos is expected to visit Moberly to sponsor a fundraiser for the family and tape a show that will be aired later.

South said he invited Gehring and her children to stay in a storage room on his property, but she refused.

MN - Counties getting stuck with bills for sex offenders

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A steep increase in the rate of sex offenders required to stay incarcerated for treatment after their prison terms is racking up expensive bills for Minnesota counties.

Such "civil commitments" have spiked considerably since the 2003 kidnapping and murder of college student Dru Sjodin by a previously convicted sex offender, Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. The civil commitment process can take more than a year, with the county where the offender was convicted paying for hearings, psychological evaluations and other expenses.

If the process winds up with the offender committed to a treatment center, counties also pay for a share of that cost until the offender is deemed "cured." None of the sex offenders civilly committed to the regional treatment centers in St. Peter or Moose Lake have ever been released.

It can all get pricey. For Dakota County, the costs for room-and-board at the two state treatment centers have more than tripled in three years - an increase from $229,000 in 2004 to a projected $741,000 this year. By 2010, the county could pay nearly $1 million annually.

What hasn't increased, despite the referrals from the Department of Corrections, is state funding to help shoulder the burden. Counties in the Twin Cities metro area are accusing the state of backpedaling on its obligation to pay 50 percent of the costs of housing the sex offenders at treatment centers at least until the civil commitment hearings are over - a process that can take more than a year.

"Although the law says it's supposed to be a 50-50 share, we're paying 100 percent because there's no state money allocated for this," Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said. "And that's not appropriate. We're left holding the entire bag."

After the December 2003 arrest of Rodriguez, Corrections Commissioner Joan Fabian directed that the department begin referring all high-risk sex offenders to prosecutors - 236 in that month alone, compared to 13 referrals total in all of 2002.

"In the interest of public safety, (Fabian) wanted to make sure that everyone took a second look at Level 3 offenders, that no one had fallen through the cracks," said Corrections Department spokeswoman Shari Burt. Even offenders already released from prison were referred for commitment.

The referrals have tapered somewhat since 2003, but still remains 20 times as high as they were six years ago.

While commitment hearings unfold, the county must pay about $387 per day to keep the offender incarcerated.

In Ramsey County, those costs are expected to total $670,000 this year, on top of the $370,000 the county will pay to house sex offenders who've already been committed. It's a fivefold increase in two years. Washington County will pay about $300,000 this year - more than 12 times the tab of three years ago.

"It affects your whole budget, because everything has to be squeezed a little tighter," said Daniel Papin, Washington County director of community services.

State statute says costs are to be split 50-50 between county and state, but "the state's responsibility for reimbursement is limited to the amount appropriated for this purpose." In other words, the state's off the hook if the Legislature doesn't set aside funds - and it has not done so in seven years.

Brian McClung, spokesman for Gov. Tim Pawlenty, said the administration is aware of the financial burden for counties, but "public safety is paramount," he said. He noted that the Department of Corrections is making an effort to notify counties of referral at least 12 months before the end of an offender's sentence, so that prosecutors can start the civil hearings while the offender is still behind bars.

A law passed earlier this year also requires counties to begin the commitment hearings within four months of getting the referrals - another attempt to bring down the holding expenses for counties.

"Instead of letting them sit on their desk, they need to process them in a timely fashion," said state Sen. Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, who chairs the Health and Human Services Budget Committee. "There are some counties that have been doing that all along, and they have very low costs."

Backstrom said he agrees with the intent of keeping the public safe. But he said civil commitment hearings are as complex and time-consuming as prosecuting murders.

"It's a good thing that these cases are being referred to the county attorneys' offices," he said. "But we need more funding."

OH - Ohio Supreme Court To Take Up Sex Offender Residency Law

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This case will be streamed live 10/10/2007 around 11am, watch it here. Or watch archived documents here.


CINCINNATI (AP) - One state appeals court has ruled that part of the Ohio law barring convicted sex offenders from living near schools is unconstitutional; another state appeals court has upheld the law.

The Ohio Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday to resolve the conflict.

The question is whether a law that prohibits sexually oriented offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school can be enforced against a person who owned such a home before the law was passed, and whose offense occurred before the law was passed.

The Supreme Court is reviewing the case of Gerry Porter, who bought and began living in a house in the Cincinnati suburb of Cheviot in 1991. He was convicted of misdemeanor sexual imposition in 1995, and of sexual battery in 1999.

Cincinnati lawyer David Singleton, the executive director of the Ohio Justice & Policy Center, says the case hinges on the issue of property rights. He acknowledges that Porter's case may not be one that evokes sympathy from a majority of citizens.

"The constitution did not ask how popular Mr. Porter is, it asks are his vested property rights being impaired?" Singleton said. "That's the question. Because you know what, if you can do this to Mr. Porter, if you can tell him he doesn't have a right to live in his own home, then you don't have a right to live in your own home and I don't have a right to live in my own home."

In 2003, the Ohio Legislature enacted the 1,000-foot rule, and in 2005 amended it to allow officials in counties, townships and municipalities to pursue eviction proceedings against sex offenders.

Officials determined that the back corner of Porter's lot was 983 feet from St. Jude Elementary School and ordered him to move out. Singleton argued that the state cannot enforce the law retroactivity, but a Hamilton County Common Pleas Court ruled against Porter and that ruling was upheld by the 1st District Court of Appeals.

The appeals court reasoned that even though Porter was forced to stop living in his home, the move did not divest him of his substantive property right because it allowed him to maintain ownership of the house, which he could rent to someone else.

However, the appeals court noted that its decision conflicted with one from the nearby 2nd District Court of Appeals, which found the residency restriction was unconstitutional.

"It's not like we have no law on our side at all," Singleton said. "We've got this great opinion out of Dayton, the district court there."

In that case, the appeals court reversed the ruling of the Miami County Common Pleas Court that said Charles Dover, who pleaded guilty to attempted gross sexual imposition in 1998, had to move from the home he had lived in for almost 30 years.

That appeals court said the Ohio law did affect a substantive right and was unconstitutional.

Whatever the Supreme Court decides, the ruling will impact only a few people.

"This case only concerns someone who both purchased his home and committed his offense before the law went into effect," Singleton said. "It's a very narrow issue. It's not the bulk of sex offenders in Ohio. Probably the bulk of them are renters or they committed their offenses after the law went into effect."

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a brief supporting Porter. The Ohio attorney general's office supports Green Township and Hamilton County.

Arguments will be at the Darke County Courthouse in Greenville, part of the Supreme Court's twice-a-year program of holding sessions away from Columbus.

AL - Demand increasing for background checks

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It’s not uncommon for people to be concerned about the guy sitting next to them: the worker in the next cubicle, the guy down the street, the youth director at church.

In an effort to protect loved ones, many people want to know more about the people around then. Sometimes, they turn to background checks.

“We are seeing broader acceptance of doing background checks for corporations, state and city governments and volunteer organizations,” said Bill Whitford, senior vice president for Screening and Authentication Services for ChoicePoint, a national information company which provides a variety of security services.

“After things like the college shootings in West Virginia, there was talk of doing checks on students. People are concerned who they are interacting with.”

The greatest concern comes with volunteers and sports groups who have interaction with children.

Whitford said ChoicePoint does checks on coaches, yet the issue is a sticky one.

“Doing coaches searches is not new, but it’s going through an acceptance stage. The thought is, ‘I’ve known this guy. He’s coached my kid for the last five years.’ But you have to be concerned about those type of interactions. You just never know.”

ChoicePoint has 50,000 clients nationwide, from mom-and-pop to Fortune 100 companies. The company does different types of background checks and the thoroughness depends on the client, which depends on the type of job the person will be doing. A Fortune 500 retail chain might not need the same information as a financial services sector employer.

ChoicePoint has a national database with more than 200 million records, enabling a search to be done across multiple jurisdictions. Often persons who are convicted of a sex crime will cross county or state lines to seek employment.

Whitford said you can’t rely on national sex offender Web sites and one or two courthouse checks alone when researching backgrounds, especially when the people being checked live in close proximity to other states. Dothan is situated in just such a location.

“Our checks catch a lot of people who are mobile. A lot of sex offenders don’t register. What our search does, it gives you a great way to look at sex offenders as well as those in the National Criminal Database,” he said.

There is no one national database system for all offenses, Whitford said. Records on those charged but not convicted are harder to search, with thousands of city, county, state, and federal courts throughout the United States.

The cost per check can range from “the low single digits for volunteer organizations up to $100 to $200 per person,” Whitford said, depending on the time and effort involved. Nonprofits and volunteer organizations often get a discount.

Background checks are also important for liability reasons. The wrong kind of employee can tarnish an organization’s reputation.

“If you don’t catch someone who hurts a child, usually it is not just one child. Usually it is multiple,” Whitford said. “And the bad thing about sex offenders, people often say he was a great guy.”

OH - Sex-offender ghettos

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Get-tough laws force predators to move but do little to make kids safer

David W. Slack lives in exile in rural Morrow County, driven by the law from his home of 20 years in Delaware.

He was the first registered sex offender in Ohio to be taken to court and forced to move because he lived too close to a school.

Supporters of the restrictions say they are a common-sense response to a serious societal problem.

But Slack didn't molest a stranger from the nearby school. He assaulted a child who lived in his home -- a relative of his longtime female companion.

Studies show that about 90 percent of sex crimes against children are committed by someone known to the child, such as a family member, coach, camp counselor or teacher. That percentage is consistent in Ohio and across the country, experts say.

For that reason and others, critics of residency laws say cases such as Slack's show that get-tough lawmakers are misguided if they think children are safer because they restrict where registered offenders live. The laws won't protect children living with potential attackers.

That point is likely to be aired this week when the Ohio Supreme Court hears the first constitutional challenge of the state's residency law on Wednesday.

In 52 cases prosecuted through to sentencing from April through December 2005 handled with assistance from the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, all the child victims knew their abusers.

Not one was a stranger.

Slack molested a 7-year-old relative of his companion, Marie Peyton, while the girl lived with the couple. The pair has reared five of Peyton's relatives, including two boys who moved with them after Slack was forced from the Delaware home because it is 650 feet from Woodward Elementary School. Peyton still owns the house and rents it out.

Photographs of the relatives decorate the walls in the living room of the home they now rent in Chesterville and fill the family photo albums.

Slack should not have had to move, said Peyton, who doesn't believe residence restrictions protect children.

"What happened, happened at home. It didn't happen out in the community," she said.

The new ghetto

Ohio is among 22 states with laws restricting where sex offenders may live. A 2003 law prohibits sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools, and a new state law effective July 1 adds preschools and day cares.

Newark is among nine central Ohio communities with additional restrictions. There, sex offenders may not live within 1,000 feet of city parks and the municipal swimming pool, either.

The Licking County seat is among a growing number of communities in central Ohio and across the state that have exceeded state law in the past two years by approving local ordinances further restricting where registered sex offenders may live.

One visible consequence is that when sex offenders cannot live in some places, they cluster in others.

Newark resident Elizabeth Chandler lives in an enclave of registered sex offenders in a neighborhood north of downtown. Clinton Street, in particular, has become something of a sex-offenders row.

They are strung all along the street, and one homeless sex offender even listed his address as beneath a Clinton Street bridge.

As the mother of three young girls, Chandler tries to keep track of the registered sex offenders living in her neighborhood.

It's difficult. More keep moving in. Chandler didn't realize that a couple of others had moved into a rooming house two doors down from the house that she and her family rent on Hudson Avenue.

She did know about six who share a rooming house one street over on Clinton. From her front porch, she watches them when they walk back and forth along the alley that connects her street and theirs.

"I don't like it," she said. "I don't let the girls come out and play unless I'm out here."

Her children have learned the rule. One emerged from the house as Chandler was being interviewed by The Dispatch and pointed out that there was a stranger on the front porch. Chandler nodded to the child. "That's exactly what I've taught them," she said.

So many sex offenders have moved into Chandler's neighborhood of rundown rental houses because it is one of the few areas where they can go, legally. Other areas don't permit them.

Newark Law Director Douglas E. Sassen is something of a real-estate agent for sex offenders.

He inherited the duty when Ohio enhanced its residence-restriction law by giving legal officials in counties, municipalities and townships the authority to pursue evictions.

Since the local law took effect in March 2006, Sassen has mailed about 75 letters informing sex offenders that they were living in forbidden areas.

Sometimes, sex offenders call his office before moving to make sure the new location complies with the law.

"This is a very transient population," Sassen said. "We encourage people, 'When you move, call us and we'll let you know whether you are allowed to live there or not.'

"If we can make it easier for them to come into compliance with the law, we are perfectly happy to do that."

Once a week, Sassen or an employee clicks on the Licking County sheriff's Web site, which lists all registered sex offenders, and checks for those with Newark addresses. He keeps names and addresses on individual sheets in a binder. He checks the addresses against a software mapping program that the city engineer installed on his laptop computer. The software measures the distance from an address to a school or other restricted area.

One afternoon, Sassen had a couple of telephone messages waiting on his desk. Some sex offenders had called asking for address checks.

"That is a satisfactory address," he said, peering at one that popped up on the screen of his laptop, "though presumably some of the residents would not be excited about that." The address is 1,164 feet from the property edge of Roosevelt Middle School.

Among about 250 registered sex offenders countywide, about 100 live in Newark. Among them, probably three to five are violating the law at any given time, Sassen said.

One was Michael Crozier, who was released from prison two months after Newark's law took effect last year. He said he has had to move three times. Living with his mother wasn't allowed because she lives too close to a day-care center, he said, and he tried living with his sister, but she lives too close to a school.

He found geographically acceptable lodging at the rooming house on Hudson Avenue, two doors down from Elizabeth Chandler.

"It's unfair," Crozier said. "You're shoved out; you're pushed away."

Chandler would shove them farther if she could.

"They ought to take them to one side of the town and leave their asses over there," she said. "Stick them in a locked community."

Second thoughts

Last month, a federal judge ruled that the Ohio residence-restriction law could not be applied retroactively to a sex offender whose crime preceded the law's effective date of July 31, 2003.

A sex-offender homeowner has filed the constitutional challenge that the Ohio Supreme Court will hear this week.

Both cases turn on the same issue: Does the state constitution permit the retroactive application of residence restrictions to pre-2003 sex offenders?

The state Supreme Court case is significant because it's the first time the high court has agreed to address the constitutionality of any aspect of the state's residence-restriction law, said David A. Singleton, executive director of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center.

"This will be a landmark case, however it turns out," he said.

Singleton represents suburban Cincinnati sex offender Gerry R. Porter Jr. He was forced to move from the home that he has owned since 1991 because it is 983 feet from St. Jude Elementary School. He, his wife and two sons moved into a rented apartment in October 2005. Someone burned down the house they owned on Easter Sunday of 2006 (no one has been charged), and they plan to rebuild and move back if permitted.

Porter committed his crimes at his home before the law took effect. He was convicted in 1995 of misdemeanor sexual imposition for touching the breasts of one female relative and in 1999 of felony sexual battery for having sex with another.

The Ohio Supreme Court is expected to settle conflicting rulings by state appeals courts.

The 1st District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld a judge's ruling that Porter had to move. That's at odds with a ruling by the 2nd District Court of Appeals in Dayton that Miami County sex offender Charles M. Dover, also convicted before 2003, could not be evicted from the home he owned before the law took effect.

Singleton said he has a 7-year-old daughter of his own and is no apologist for sex offenders. If residency restrictions actually protected his daughter and other children, he said, he would favor them.

"There is not a shred of evidence to suggest that the laws do anything to protect children," he said. "There is a growing consensus in the treatment, law-enforcement and victim's-rights communities that these laws are feel-good, fear-driven political measures that actually make the community less safe."

In Iowa, even the county prosecutors and sheriffs have urged the repeal of the state's 2,000-foot residency-restriction law after finding that since enforcement began in 2005, the number of sex offenders reported missing from the registry has roughly doubled.

"No one can demonstrate how that improves child safety," said Corwin Ritchie, executive director of the Iowa County Attorneys Association.

The association representing Iowa's 99 county prosecutors has joined the Iowa Sheriffs and Deputies Association in lobbying the state legislature for the past two years to repeal the residence law and replace it with "safe zones" around schools and similar places that sex offenders could not enter without written permission.

Iowa lawmakers haven't budged.

"Several legislators have admitted they are fearful of the politics, that an opponent would say, 'Senator X is weak on sex offenders because he voted to repeal the strongest law ever enacted,' " Ritchie said.

Colorado and Kansas decided against residence-restriction laws after examining Iowa's experience and listening to researchers testify at hearings about the unintended consequences of such laws.

Rather than impose blanket restrictions, it's better to identify sex offenders by risk level, appropriately restrict them on a case-by-case basis and provide more treatment and supervision, said Jill S. Levenson, a professor at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.

"There is no simple solution to a very complex problem like sexual violence," said Levenson, who is on the executive board of the Association for Treatment of Sexual Abusers and has published extensive research on sex-offender residence laws.

"Quick fixes are not going to solve the problem," she said.

Yvette McGee Brown, president of the Center for Child and Family Advocacy in Columbus, also is skeptical of residence restrictions.

"It doesn't solve anything," she said. "Children are everywhere. The more appropriate response is to give parents the tools to know how to protect children."

The former Franklin County juvenile court judge also fears the residency laws could make it harder to prosecute sex crimes against children. Plea agreements are common in sexual-abuse cases, because prosecutors are reluctant to traumatize children all over again by putting them on the stand to confront the accused abuser. But the accused abusers may be reluctant to accept plea deals in the future if they know it will mean a sex-offender label and restrictions on where they can live, McGee Brown said.

"Every time (lawmakers) pass 'let's-get-tougher laws,' they make it tougher to convict pedophiles," she said.

Delaware County Prosecutor David Yost supports residency restrictions.

"Keeping sex offenders away from schools is just an obvious thing to do," Yost said. "I'm concerned that a lot of people in public policy are being put off by the argument that there's no evidence that these kinds of restrictions help. There are times we have laws and there is not empirical proof that they help something, yet we don't throw common sense out."

What's next?

Some Ohio lawmakers would like to add more restrictions. A proposal by Sen. Kevin J. Coughlin to require sex offenders deemed most dangerous to bolt green fluorescent license plates to their vehicles is pending in the Senate Judiciary-Criminal Justice Committee. So is a proposal by Sen. Keith L. Faber to permit the civil confinement of certain sex offenders after they finish their criminal sentences.

Elizabeth Chandler hopes to move. Hudson Avenue is dangerous not just because of the glut of sex offenders, she said, but because of drug dealing and crime.

Meanwhile, in Morrow County, David Slack looks forward to the day he is free to move again, too. He is classified as a sexually oriented offender, meaning he must register his address for 10 years. He'll be off the sexual-offender registry in about three years and able to live where he chooses.

WI - Village to look at sex-offender ordinance

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The Village Board will look at an ordinance restricting where registered sex offenders can live in the village at its next meeting Oct. 16.

The matter was on the agenda Tuesday, but with two trustees absent, John Laimon and Dan Miller, the board agreed to defer discussing the matter until its next meeting.

Village President Chuck Nichols requested putting the matter on the agenda for discussion. Several communities in the state and across the United States have been enacting such ordinances.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Sex Offender Registry, 15 registered sex offenders live in the 53072 ZIP code area. Of those, six live in the village, and nine live in the City of Pewaukee, according to the registry.

Village Attorney Mark Blum, in a letter to Nichols, said the City of Franklin and the Village of Menomonee Falls have enacted such ordinances. The City of Milwaukee Common Council has considered the idea, but it faces a veto from Mayor Tom Barrett, Blum wrote.

"The purported rationale for those ordinances is that sex offenders are deemed to be a serious threat to public safety, and once sex offenders re-enter society, they demonstrate a significant propensity for recidivism such as to create a danger to children," Blum wrote.
- This is a lie. If you'd read up on the facts you would see this. Here is some State Recidivism studies you might want to check out, all show LOW RECIDIVISM RATES!

Restrictions in such ordinances, he continued, are based on the proximity to such places as daycare centers, parks, public swimming pools, libraries, schools, athletic fields and other recreational facilities.

Under the Franklin ordinance, sex offenders are prohibited from residing within 2,000 feet of such facilities.

Blum noted that constitutional questions have been raised about such ordinances and "whether the residency restriction truly achieves the desired result in protecting children and reducing the rate of recidivism for sexual offenders."

Blum said there is research that indicates that residency restrictions do not reduce sex offenses.

Research has shown sex offenses are frequently committed by a relative or acquaintance of the victim, Blum said, citing research conducted by the Iowa County Attorneys Association in Des Moines, Iowa.

"They further observed that the residency restriction has resulted in some offenders being homeless," he said.

Blum, who said he is not an expert in this area, recommended to the board that if it decided to pursue the matter, it should set up a subcommittee to review some of the information and "then decide whether the sex-offender ordinance is in the best interest of the community and ultimately legally defensible," he wrote.

Nichols could not be reached for comment by press time Wednesday morning.