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Sagem Morpho delivers first Rapid Remote Fingerprint ID system in US to Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement
Sagem Morpho, a leading developer of biometric solutions, today announced that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is the first public safety organization in the United States to deploy a statewide fingerprint identification system dedicated to remote rapid identification.
The Sagem Morpho Rapid ID system enables Florida public safety officers in the field or other remote locations to positively identify sex offenders, probationers, and individuals with Florida criminal records in less than 15 seconds.
Sagem Morpho, which develops highly accurate Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems (AFIS) for public safety agencies worldwide, leveraged its high-speed biometric coding and matching technology, commercial off-the-shelf servers and non-proprietary, standards-based software to create the stand-alone Rapid ID system for FDLE. Originally mandated by Florida’s Jessica Lunsford Act, the FDLE Rapid ID was launched in October 2006 and is part of Florida’s Integrated Criminal History System, also know as FALCON. FALCON involves the integration and enhancement of Florida’s Computerized Criminal History and Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems.
“The Rapid ID system has already proven to be of significant value to our partner criminal justice agencies,” said Penny Kincannon, FDLE CIO. “We plan to expand this technology statewide to other venues such as patrol vehicles for roadside stops, jails for inmate entry and release, and courtrooms to confirm if DNA already exists on file for a convicted felon.”
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
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While you are at it, check out BadCopNews.com. Video available at the site.
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS) ― Police agencies from coast to coast are furious with a new Web site. RateMyCop.com has the names of thousands of officers, and many believe it is putting them in danger.
Officer Hector Basurto, vice president of the Latino Police Officers Association, recently learned about the site. "I'd like to see it gone," he said in a report by CBS station KOVR-TV in Sacramento.
"Having a Web site like this out there puts a lot of law enforcement in danger," he said. "It exposes us out there."
Kevin Martin, vice president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, agrees. "Will they be able to access our home addresses, home phone numbers, marital status, whether or not we have children? That's always a big concern for us," he said.
Creators of the site say no personal information will be on the site. They gathered officers' names, which are public information, from more than 450 police agencies nationwide. Some listings also have badge numbers along with the officers' names.
The site helps people rate more than 130,000 officers by rating them on authority, fairness and satisfaction, site cofounder Rebecca Costell said in a statement.
She adds, "Our Web site's purpose is to break the stereotype that people have that cops are all bad by having officers become responsible for their actions."
The site is so new that many police agencies in California's Bay Area are not aware of it. San Francisco police say they have no connection with the site and would not take any of its comments seriously.
Police associations that represent more than 100,000 police and sheriffs in California are now seeking legislation to see if they can eliminate the site altogether. They say that officers who are rated face unfair maligning without any opportunity to defend themselves.
The CPCA will work with other law enforcement associations to pursue legislation to stop the Web site. Constitutional attorney and former San Francisco Police Commissioner Peter Keane said eliminating the site is difficult due to the First Amendment.
"Any kind of publication is protected as long as it's not publishing privileged information," he said.
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Looks like the homeless population is exploding now, due to these draconian laws. Here, in Florida, and all across the country!
STOCKTON - Parole agents are struggling to track homeless sex offenders in large part because of Jessica's Law restrictions.
He admits he is a convicted sex offender, but "Bill" did not want to reveal his real name or his sex crime. He did, however, want to speak out about the restrictions of Jessica's Law.
"It's not good, for me and it's not good for the public," he said.
- So much for speaking out. Surely he said more than this. The media hides the other side of the story from the public.
Under the provisions of the voter-approved Jessica's Law, convicted sex offenders may not live within 2,000 feet of any school or park. "That leaves very few places for offenders to live," said California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Gordon Hinkle.
Eight registered sex offenders were recently removed from their temporary homes at a Stockton motel and are now living on the streets. The corrections department discovered there were some instances where two parolees were living in the same unit. Hinkle said that based on the department's interpretation of the law, a sex offender is not allowed to live with another person other than a family member while on parole.
"While it's not our obligation to find housing for them, we were able to find housing for 32 of the 40 registrants," said Hinkle.
He confirmed that eight sex offenders are now officially transient. "It's not in the best interest of public safety when they go transient," said Hinkle. "It does make them more difficult to track."
Hinkle says many of the homeless sex offenders are monitored with GPS tracking devices, but admitted they are more likely to re-offend.
"Often times when they're transient they're having difficulty just surviving from day to day," Hinkle said.
"Bill" said some of his former neighbors at the motel may have already violated their parole.
- Why? They don't care to let you know why, they lead you to assume they committed another sex crime. They probably violated probation due to the draconian laws making it impossible to live anywhere.
"I heard some of them are back in prison," he said. "It's not good I don't think because there's going to be many of us out here that the public isn't going to enjoy having us all out here like that."
Last month the state revealed that in a 15-month period, there was a 44 percent increase in the number of sex offenders who officials can't find.
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So do these people even seek the advice of EXPERTS who deal with sex offender issues on a daily basis, or assume they know more than anybody else? Do EXPERTS sit in on these discussions? No... Why not?
ST. PAUL – Repercussions continue five years after Dru Sjodin was kidnapped and killed by a sex offender released from prison months earlier.
The 2008 Minnesota Legislature still is tweaking sex offender-related laws, like it has since 2003.
Bills advancing this year include those to reduce counties’ costs, help track sex offenders after they get out of prison and add to what constitutes a sex crime.
The most controversial may be a proposal by Rep. Dave Olin (Email), DFL-Thief River Falls, to make it a crime to deposit semen on an unwilling victim.
Douglas County Attorney Chris Karpan said he wished the bill would have been law last year, when he was forced to file a lesser charge than he wanted because existing law does not consider the offense a serious crime.
Karpan said a Douglas County man was with two 14-year-old girls when he masturbated, depositing semen on one of them.
The only option he had available was a gross misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure.
“What he did was much worse for her,” Karpan said.
Added Assistant Goodhue County Attorney Erin Kuester: “Could there be anything more offensive on a child’s body?”
The situation probably would not happen often, Olin said. In fact, in his long tenure as Pennington County attorney he never would have a need for such a law, he added. The crime would be a felony.
Kuester said five states have such a law.
DFL Rep. John Lesch (Email) said as a St. Paul prosecutor he has doubts about the Olin bill, calling for more work before it passes.
Olin’s proposal was one of several heard Tuesday by the House Public Safety and Civil Justice Committee. All received approval, but some need to be heard by other committees before receiving a full House vote.
Among the issues debated was one directly connected to the Sjodin case. Soon after Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. of Crookston was arrested in the kidnapping, the state Corrections Department dramatically increased the number of sex offenders it recommended putting in state hospitals after they complete their sentences.
The state is adding 400 beds to the Moose Lake State Hospital for sex offender treatment, a reaction to increased commitments. Keith Carlson, executive director of the Minnesota Intercounty Association, predicted another 400 beds will be needed soon as an ever-increasing number of sex offenders are sent to hospitals.
Carlson said a handful of sex offenders were committed to hospitals a year before 2003, but more than 200 have been hospitalized in some recent years. Generally, sex offenders who are hospitalized never are released, so the state and counties often must pay until they die.
- So if they are never released, what is the incentive to seek treatment? Above you mention sex offender treatment, then here you mention they are never released, so which is it?
Counties pay much of the cost related to committing a sex offender and continue to pay a portion each year the person remained hospitalized. Olin said a sex offender he prosecuted in the 1980s, soon after he became Pennington County attorney, remains in a state hospital at a county cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Carlson said counties’ commitment-related costs have risen more than 11-fold since the Sjodin case began.
A bill is advancing to lower some of those county costs. It would allow some sex offenders to remain in prison while courts are deciding whether they should be indefinitely committed.
That proposal would dramatically reduce counties costs. A state hospital costs near $370 a day, while costs in prisons are a fraction of that, Carlson said.
- Because in prison, there is no medical treatment, or VERY little, if any!!
Rep. Karla Bigham (Email), DFL-Cottage Grove, proposes a measure to make it easier to track some sex offenders after they are released from prison.
Current law contains a loophole allowing a prisoner who expects to be homeless after release to avoid telling state officials where he will live. State law requires the most dangerous sex offenders to provide updates about where they live so area residents can be notified.
Bigham’s bill would require a sex offender to tell authorities, before he is released, in what community he expects to live.
- So if you are in prison, how in the hell are you going to know where you will be living? You are assuming they have help on the outside to find a place. So I guess these people will NEVER be released because they are not magic!
Annmarie Oneill of the Public Safety Department said the need to change the law arose recently when a prisoner refused to let her department know where he would live.
“Obviously, that was a grave concern,” she said.
Bigham’s bill also would clarify that a sex offender from another state needs to follow Minnesota law, even if he has fulfilled all requirements of the other state.
A bill by Rep. Joe Mullery (Email), DFL-Minneapolis, would clarify the sex crime statute of limitations after a judge in a Stevens County case said it is not clear. The law is supposed to allow a sex crime suspect to be charged up to nine years after the incident or three years after it is reported, whichever is later.
Stevens County Attorney Charles Glasrud said he ran into that problem, and the judge appeared to be suggesting that the Legislature change the existing law’s wording.
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RICHMOND - The House and Senate agreed Tuesday to stretch their already extended session until Thursday while a new dispute over public safety issues cast doubt on whether a budget package would be ready by then.
Reconvening for the first time since they missed their Saturday adjournment deadline, unsmiling lawmakers trudged back into the Capitol hoping a budget deal was imminent.
On Monday, the dozen House and Senate budget negotiators made a breakthrough on what had been the most contentious differences between them: teacher pay, expanding prekindergarten access and higher education funding.
On Tuesday, however, the House and Senate spent most of the day at odds over funding for public safety programs. Chief among them was $1.25 million to fund two regional projects to catch adults who solicit children for sex over the Internet.
The online predator measure, known as Alicia's Law, is named for a Pennsylvania teen who was brought to Virginia by an online predator, raped and tortured. Its sponsor is Del. Brian J. Moran of Alexandria, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
The House insisted on $1.25 million, which the Senate had not included in its latest offer. Tuesday night, however, the Senate submitted a new proposal that included the funding to crack down on Internet sexual predators.
House negotiators plan to respond to that proposal Wednesday morning.
The House also demanded that the Senate pick either funding for drug courts or prisoner re-entry. The Senate chose prisoner re-entry.
Other unresolved issues include $180 million from the state's general operating fund that had been rerouted to transportation. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine wants to restore it to core services such as public safety, health care and education, but House budgeteers want to keep the cash for transportation.
Also no agreement has been reached on a bond package for public education, mental health services and parks.
The latest extension of the regular session means the one-day reconvened session held each year to consider the governor's amendments and vetoes will be moved back one week--from April 16, the first anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre--to April 23.
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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY (Bay News 9) -- Hillsborough County has made a move that will require the sex offenders living in a Tampa mobile home park to move out again.
Code enforcement now says the men living in Juli's Mobile Home Park in the Palm River neighborhood are violating a zoning issue.
"In that particular zone a professional residential facility is not a permitted use," said Jim Blinck, with Hillsborough County Code Enforcement.
Blinck said the area is zoned as industrial, and even though the county allowed a variance for residential use, it still doesn't allow for a group home or transitional housing.
Nancy Morias who subleased the park and runs the program said she's pulling out and is no longer affiliated with the property.
According to Blinck, that means the men could move back in as individual renters.
Morias said the county is using the code violation as a way to harass the men and said most will probably move out.
If they don't the owner could be fined.
Morias is considering another location for a similar facility and plans to talk to the governor about rehabilitating sex offenders.
Carla Bowling, who lives across the street, said she's beyond frustration.
"If they're going to get rehabilitated, let's do it but not around family," Bowling said.
Bowling said her emotions have been up and down about the status of the sex offenders and predators living next her.
Last week the group was told to move out for violating an ordinance prohibiting sexual predators from living within 300 feet of a school bus stop.
Then they moved back when their attorney found out it wasn't true.
Despite this latest ruling, Bowling said she doesn't believe they'll be forced to go.
"Do I believe that or get excited?" Bowling said. "No, not until they are all moved out."
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So what about being labeled a sex offender? This was a sex crime, or potential one, just like the internet stings done.
LITTLE ROCK - The state police director properly dismissed a state trooper who admitted seeking a three-way sex encounter between his wife and two women in a car he had stopped for driving with expired tags, the Arkansas State Police Commission decided Friday.
Roderick L. Trotter Sr., 46, who served with Troop A based in Little Rock, was fired in December by Col. Winford E. Phillips, state police commander.
The dismissal stemmed from complaints filed by the two women following a traffic stop on U.S. 67-167 in North Little Rock about 11:30 p.m. Sept. 29. Both women testified at a hearing Tuesday on Trotter's appeal to the commission of his firing.
Phillips testified at the hearing that his action followed a dismissal recommendation by a review board of state police officers, and — after reviewing for himself the file on an internal investigation — he reached the same conclusion.
"It bordered on soliciting prostitution," Phillips said. He recalled that the command review board, in its recommendation for dismissal, said Trotter's actions were "unprofessional and unacceptable."
After a hearing that lasted nearly two hours, the seven-member commission deliberated behind closed doors for about a half-hour before voting unanimously to uphold the firing.
Trotter can appeal the commission's decision to Pulaski County Circuit Court, but his lawyer, J. Leon Johnson, said no decision had been made on an appeal.
Johnson argued that his client was not treated the same as other troopers in what he said were similar situations.
"Everybody has a right to be treated the same way," Johnson told the commission, citing other instances where discipline stopped short of dismissal but involved male troopers and women — including one in which a trooper had sex in a patrol car.
- Funny how they say this when it's a cop, celebrity or someone famous, but the average Joe, it doesn't apply.
Johnson said that the other cases were "maybe not as bad as what (Trotter) has admitted to," but added that this was the first disciplinary matter involving Trotter, while at least one other case involved repeat violations.
The driver who was stopped testified that Trotter kept pace with her car, staying alongside for several miles, before he dropped back and pulled her over, using the patrol car's flashing blue lights. She said she anticipated the stop because she knew her car's license tags were expired.
After Trotter had obtained her driver's license and a state-issued identification card from her passenger — whose baby daughter was riding in a safety seat in the rear — the trooper returned to his patrol car, the driver said. His proposition was put to her first, she said, when she went back to provide him with her car's registration slip.
"Is that your girlfriend up there?" the driver said Trotter asked. "Me and my wife are looking for someone to have a threesome with."
The trooper wrote out a ticket but then tore it up and gave the pieces to her, the driver said. The torn pieces of the ticket were among evidence submitted at Tuesday's hearing.
After Trotter and the driver returned to her car, the driver said, Trotter wanted to watch the two women share a kiss. After their protests were ignored and they complied, he obtained their telephone number, gave them his, and told the driver, "I need you to call me so we can set this thing up."
State police staff lawyer Ken Stoll told the commission in his closing argument that such conduct by a police officer could not be tolerated.
"This conduct is highly reprehensible," Still said. "It not only tarnishes Trooper Trotter, but every trooper wearing the uniform."
Johnson, however, said in his final argument that "you have to be consistent — and there hasn't been consistency in this case."
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A measure allowing the death penalty passes committee. It faces a likely fight in the full Senate.
Colorado could put child rapists to death under a bill that won a Senate committee's approval Monday and would put the state on par with just five others that allow the execution of such sex offenders.
Prosecutors could try for the death penalty in cases in which rape victims are 12 or younger, where DNA evidence is present and where the perpetrator has been previously convicted of a sex offense against a child.
The harsher sentences might run afoul of the Constitution — the U.S. Supreme Court will weigh in on the issue this year — and could discourage victims from reporting abuse by relatives, according to critics, who include victims' rights advocates.
But some of the most terrible offenders simply deserve death, said sponsor Sen. Steve Ward, R-Littleton. He referred to a Louisiana man who raped his 8-year-old stepdaughter and became the first such offender in the nation to receive a death sentence.
"The crimes we're looking at are particularly heinous," Ward said.
Colorado public defenders, who oppose the bill, originally estimated that it would make about 260 people a year eligible for the death penalty. It was unclear what an amendment, which limits the bill to repeat offenders, would do to that estimate.
In Louisiana, the one state that has sentenced child rapists to death, prosecutors have made capital cases of only two out of 180 eligible cases.
Constitutional challenges immediately followed the first of those two sentences, and the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule by June whether death is cruel and unusual punishment for felons who have not taken a life.
Senate Judiciary Committee members voted 5-2 to send Senate Bill 195 to the chamber's appropriations committee, which will weigh its as-yet-unknown price tag.
Critics of the bill say that current sentences, which in many cases amount to life in prison, are harsh enough.
Colorado sends child rapists and other serious sex offenders to prison for between four years and life, with the duration largely left to a judge's discretion.
Of the 1,200 people now incarcerated for the most serious sex crimes, only eight have received parole in the past decade, said Doug Wilson, Colorado's chief public defender.
Colorado joins Alabama, Missouri and Mississippi in seeking death for child rapists this year.
Montana, Oklahoma and South Carolina have passed similar laws since 2006, and Louisiana and Texas both approved such legislation in the mid-1990s, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center.
As high-profile cases such as the rape and murder of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford of Florida — namesake of the popular Jessica's Law — draw attention to crimes against children, many politicians have grown eager to get tough on offenders, Dieter said.
The climate, he said, is tilting toward harsher penalties such as lifetime monitoring and housing restrictions for sex offenders.
"It's hard to vote against being tough on such offenders," Dieter said. "And whether the death penalty makes sense or not is sometimes obscured."
The number of inmates on Colorado's death row — one — ranks among the lowest in the nation of prisoners sentenced to death. The state last executed an inmate more than a decade ago.
Ward said that although his bill garnered bipartisan support in committee, it will likely face a fight this year.
"If this passes this year, great," Ward said. "I think it's an important discussion for us to have."
Jessica Fender: 303-954-1244 or email@example.com.
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And a lot of these teens will be labeled a sex offender for life as well.
Among Infections, Cancer-Causing HPV Is Most Common
CHICAGO (AP) - At least one in four teenage girls nationwide has a sexually transmitted disease, or more than 3 million teens, according to the first study of its kind in this age group.
A virus that causes cervical cancer is by far the most common sexually transmitted infection in teen girls aged 14 to 19, while the highest overall prevalence is among black girls - nearly half the blacks studied had at least one STD. That rate compared with 20 percent among both whites and Mexican-American teens, the study from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.
About half of the girls acknowledged ever having sex; among them, the rate was 40 percent. While some teens define sex as only intercourse, other types of intimate behavior including oral sex can spread some infections.
For many, the numbers likely seem "overwhelming because you're talking about nearly half of the sexually experienced teens at any one time having evidence of an STD," said Dr. Margaret Blythe, an adolescent medicine specialist at Indiana University School of Medicine and head of the American Academy of Pediatrics' committee on adolescence.
But the study highlights what many doctors who treat teens see every day, Blythe said.
Dr. John Douglas, director of the CDC's division of STD prevention, said the results are the first to examine the combined national prevalence of common sexually transmitted diseases among adolescent girls. He said the data, from 2003-04, likely reflect current rates of infection.
"High STD rates among young women, particularly African-American young women, are clear signs that we must continue developing ways to reach those most at risk," Douglas said.
The CDC's Dr. Kevin Fenton said given that STDs can cause infertility and cervical cancer in women, "screening, vaccination and other prevention strategies for sexually active women are among our highest public health priorities."
The study by CDC researcher Dr. Sara Forhan is an analysis of nationally representative data on 838 girls who participated in a 2003-04 government health survey. Teens were tested for four infections: human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause cervical cancer and affected 18 percent of girls studied; chlamydia, which affected 4 percent; trichomoniasis, 2.5 percent; and herpes simplex virus, 2 percent.
Blythe said the results are similar to previous studies examining rates of those diseases individually.
The results were prepared for release Tuesday at a CDC conference in Chicago on preventing sexually transmitted diseases.
HPV can cause genital warts but often has no symptoms. A vaccine targeting several HPV strains recently became available, but Douglas said it likely has not yet had much impact on HPV prevalence rates in teen girls.
Chlamydia and trichomoniasis can be treated with antibiotics. The CDC recommends annual chlamydia screening for all sexually active women under age 25. It also recommends the three-dose HPV vaccine for girls aged 11-12 years, and catch-up shots for females aged 13 to 26.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has similar recommendations.
Douglas said screening tests are underused in part because many teens don't think they're at risk, but also, some doctors mistakenly think, '"Sexually transmitted diseases don't happen to the kinds of patients I see."'
Blythe said some doctors also are reluctant to discuss STDs with teen patients or offer screening because of confidentiality concerns, knowing parents would have to be told of the results.
The American Academy of Pediatrics supports confidential teen screening, she said.
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City officials will decide Thursday on whether the city will change how it regulates pets and sex offenders.
According to the agenda for Auburn City Council's upcoming business meeting, the council is scheduled to vote on proposed changes to the city's dog ordinance and to a local law restricting registered level-three sex offenders.
The dog ordinance has seen a handful of changes since the amendments were first proposed. Regulation of specific breeds were introduced before city officials opted to take them out. The new ordinance will still include a six-foot limit for dog leashes if passed in its current form.
The council's vote on the city's sex offender regulations will follow a a public hearing on the matter. The current law prohibits level-three offenders who have been convicted of crimes against minors from living or loitering within 500 feet of any day-care facility, school or park. The amendment would make the law apply to all level-three offenders, not just those convicted of offenses against minors.
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MANSFIELD -- The thrice-rejected proposal to limit where certain sex offenders can live in the city will get another look, the City Council decided Monday.
The council asked the city staff to draft a proposal that would force registered sex offenders who preyed on children to live at least 1,000 feet from playgrounds, schools and other places youngsters usually gather. Staff also will explore ways to notify neighbors when a sex offender moves nearby.
The council wants to have a public hearing and the first of three votes at its March 24 meeting. The council's support follows a request of resident of a neighborhood that was upset when a sex offender moved in.
The council action came less than two months after Mayor Barton Scott resigned rather than endure a recall election. Scott's dogged pursuit of a sex-offender ordinance inflamed a growing rift with the council.
Scott had pushed for a 2,000-foot limit, which most council members feared would be too restrictive and expose the city to legal challenges. Many residents also said it would force too many sex offenders into too few places, clustering them near a few unfortunate residents.
Steven Kyle said his Walnut Creek Valley neighborhood has changed since a man convicted of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl moved two doors down from him.
"It really has set off a wave of emotion in the community," he told the council. "We're still grappling with the fact that none of us were given any notification about it."
The residents said they understand that residency limits would not apply to sex offenders' current homes.
Councilman Darryl Haynessaid Mansfield needs a local ordinance to bridge a gap with state law. The state's 1,000-foot barrier on sex offenders only applies to those on probation or parole.
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A Massachusetts-based company hopes to provide the Midland County Sheriff's Office with a biometric scanning device, officials said Monday.
BI2 Technologies.com is seeking federal funding to provide law enforcement entities with the devices to be used to identify missing persons, convicted felons and sexual predators by scanning their iris, or the colored part of the eye.
BI2 Technologies.com contacted local entities seeking support for the grant, Chief Deputy Ed Krevit told the Commissioners' Court at its Monday meeting.
The chief deputy said, in the case of sexual offenders, information would be stored in the national database. It could be used to identify those who might have altered their fingerprints, or those who have not registered after recent relocation, Krevit said.
"It would create a situation which will be more efficient to track them nationwide," he added.
The device can pinpoint the unique tears people get in the colored part of the eye, BI2 spokesman Tom Weldy said.
"While there are 72 points looked at for a fingerprint, the iris has 225 points," Weldy said, adding that the device is 12 times more accurate.
Mecklenburg County in North Carolina is the first to use iris scanning for sexual offender registry, Weldy said.
Galveston County currently uses the device to track down missing children, he added.
If the grant is approved, nearly 600 sheriff offices nationwide -- including Midland County -- would receive enough money to purchase the device and all its applications, Weldy said.
Krevit said the BI2 currently is looking to see if the software is compatible with the county's.
If it is, iris scanning may be added to the county's booking process, he added.
Weldy said company officials will be heading to Washington, D.C. today to push for the grant.
To learn more about iris scanning, log onto www.bi2technologies.com.
NH - Court deals a blow to sex-predator bill - Concord | People can’t be charged with child porn if images are digitally created, court rules
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CONCORD – A state Supreme Court decision forces Attorney General Kelly Ayotte and Gov. John Lynch (Contact) to scale back a proposed crackdown on predators who use the Internet to prey on children, Ayotte said Monday.
The state cannot charge someone with child pornography if the images used were digitally created and did not represent an "actual child," according to the ruling.
Ayotte told the Senate Judiciary Committee the bill (SB 495) is still badly needed to increase penalties for those who peddle child pornography and close a loophole to make it a crime to expose oneself to a child with the use of a webcam."None of these are mandatory penalties, judges are still left with discretion," Ayotte stressed.
Gov. John Lynch called for this legislation by creating a task force Ayotte led that worked for nearly 18 months.
"We will not allow sexual predators to hide in the shadows of cyberspace. We must modernize our laws to protect our children from the threats of the 21st Century," Lynch said.
"It is clear these laws are outdated and insufficient in many respects."
This proposal splits the child pornography law into three separate offenses of possession, distribution and manufacture.
Each separate offense would carry enhanced penalties for repeat offenders.
Someone convicted of possessing child pornography can now face up to seven years upon a first offense; this proposal would increase that to as long as 15 years in prison.
Under current law, someone convicted for making child pornography a second time can face up to 15 years in state prison under current law. This plan would have the same person facing up to a life sentence in state prison.
The proposal requires convicted sex offenders to register their e-mail and online identity.
But Michael Iacopino, who heads up the New Hampshire Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said the measure violates First Amendment rights of defendants and seeks to deny them due process.
"It is unconstitutional and unnecessarily creates an unfair balance in the criminal justice trial process," Iacopino wrote in a legal brief for the Senate panel.
"The bill needs significant revision in order to survive constitutional scrutiny and to ensure that due process is provided to citizens accused of these offenses."
Iacopino said it can cost defendants up to $100,000 to defend themselves against a child pornography allegation.
Meanwhile, a lawyer from the Motion Picture Association of America said without changes, this could lead to prosecution for depiction of child sex scenes such as in "The Kite Runner" and "Juno."
Jeanne Herrick said movie studios typically use adult body doubles in these sex scenes and urged the Senate to remove the word "simulated" from the proposed, child pornography law.
"We believe that the statute as drafted captures more than necessary," Herrick warned.
Ayotte said she thought the lobby's fears were unwarranted and said she saw no need for the change.
Hudson Police Chief Richard Gendron said he thought prosecutions would drop once a Southern Hillsborough County law enforcement task force formed and started cracking down on cases in late 2006.
"We don't see this every changing," Gendron said. "We see it getting worse because there are more and more people online trying to solicit sex with children."
Merrimack County Attorney Daniel St. Hillaire and Enfield Police Chief Richard Cray also pressed support for the bill.
"With the creation of the Internet, a whole new predator has emerged," said Cray who heads the Association of New Hampshire Police Chiefs.
"Their intentions are clear. They come to harm our children."
Kevin Landrigan can be reached at 224-8804 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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LEE'S SUMMIT - A former police officer pled guilty to enticing a child over the Internet and attempted statutory sodomy in Platte County on the day his trial was scheduled to begin.
Timothy W. Leighty, 36, of Lee's Summit, admitted that he solicited sex from someone he believed to be a 14-year-old girl. The "girl" was actually a detective with the Platte County Sheriff's Department.
Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said, "We have prosecuted too many men for child enticement, and every one of these cases is disturbing. However, it is especially troubling when a former law enforcement officer uses the Internet to solicit sex from someone he believed was a young girl."
According to Zahnd, on July 26, 2005, shortly after 11:00 a.m., Leighty sent an unsolicited instant message to a Platte County Sheriff's Department detective assigned to the County's Cyber Crimes Unit. The detective was masquerading as a 14-year-old girl in a Yahoo chat room.
Leighty initiated an Internet chat, which quickly became sexual in nature. Among other things, Leighty asked about the girl's sexual experience and offered to buy her something in exchange for a sexual favor.
Leighty later told the "girl" he wanted to meet her at a location in Platte County to engage in sex. At 3:40 p.m. that day, Leighty arrived at an undercover location where he was stopped by Platte County detectives and arrested.
Leighty had been an officer with the Warrensburg Police Department. He had resigned from the department several years prior to the 2005 crime.
Platte County Sheriff Richard Anderson said, "As someone who has been a member of law enforcement for more than 40 years, I am always disappointed when a police officer or former officer violates the public trust. Fortunately, other very honorable members of law enforcement stood in the way of this man's attempt to sexually abuse a child."
Zahnd said Leighty pleaded guilty without any agreement from the State. He faces up to seven years in prison on the child enticement charge and four years on the attempted statutory sodomy charge. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 15.
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VALPARAISO - Former Hebron Town Council President and former Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Michael Haughee turned himself in at the county jail Monday morning to begin serving a one-year term for sexually assaulting a woman who uses a wheelchair.
Haughee had hoped to avoid going to jail until his appeal has been decided.
Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper agreed Thursday to consider his request to delay the sentence, but had not issued a decision by the 10 a.m. Monday deadline he was to turn himself in at the jail.
Harper later denied the delay. She wrote that bond was released in the case and said Haughee did not request an appeal bond.
A jury found Haughee guilty in January on felony counts of sexual battery and criminal confinement and a misdemeanor count of interference with the reporting of a crime. A disabled Hebron woman said Haughee showed up at her apartment Feb. 18, 2006, and forced a kiss on her, began groping her chest and prevented her from using her telephone to call for help.
Harper sentenced Haughee to one year in jail, which can be completed in half that time with good behavior. Upon his release, he is to spend a year on formal probation, register for 10 years as a sex offender and undergo HIV testing, sex offender treatment and a mental health evaluation.
The 56-year-old also is prohibited from having any further contact with the victim.
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I don't want to live next door -- not even down the block -- from a bank robber, a wife beater or an arsonist. I don't care to associate with tax cheats, repeat drunk drivers, burglars, drug dealers or murderers.
I'd rather not have pedophiles or rapists in the neighborhood.
I know we can't keep them in prison forever, but I don't want criminals around me when they get out.
Let them move in somewhere else -- your town, not mine.
If that won't work, at least I want to be informed when they move into the community so I can pressure them with leaflets, phone calls, maybe even picket signs outside their houses to persuade them to go away.
Now that I have your attention, let's talk about a realistic way to deal with men (and a few women) who are convicted of sex offenses, serve their jail or prison sentences and then are released.
No one offers an answer about where these people should live. "Not here" is easy. "Where, then?" is difficult.
We treat people who commit sex offenses differently than all others who break the law.
There is no registry system for wife beaters or burglars. No one passes out leaflets when a drug dealer comes home from jail.
Is your neighborhood safe when a person with a dozen drunken driving offenses lives down the street? Should there be a registry? Leaflet campaigns?
Local and state police logs printed in this newspaper make it clear that people who commit these crimes once are just as likely to repeat them as are many of those convicted of sex crimes.
Only sex offenders are listed for life in an on-line registry. Sometimes, police go door-to-door with flyers telling neighbors a sex offender has moved into the community.
Let me be clear: I share the disgust for people who prey on children for sex and I do not seek to minimize the seriousness and ugliness of their crimes. I recognize that research shows that some -- certainly not all -- of these offenders remain threats even after they have completed their jail or prison sentences.
The problem with Maine's sex offender law is that it treats all sex offenders identically. All must register with the state -- forever. Their names, addresses and photos are online -- forever. Click a few buttons and you can learn where they live and work.
The listing and leafleting make it difficult, sometimes impossible, for people who have completed their prison or jail sentences to find a place to live and to re-enter the community, to seek and keep a job. The problem becomes especially difficult when former offenders want to rejoin families who have been waiting for them while they were in jail.
Vigilante campaigns -- posters, community meetings and picketing -- add to the problem. Sometimes, vigilantes are violent.
That was the case in 2006, when Stephen Marshall, 20, drove from his home in Nova Scotia to Maine to kill two men whose names he found on the sex offender registry. One of the men, Joseph Gray of Milo, was on the registry for having sex with a seven-year-old girl. The other, William Elliott of Corinth, was jailed for four months when he was 20 because he had sex with his girlfriend before she turned 16.
Gray, a Vietnam veteran, was convicted in Massachusetts in the early 1990s. After serving his time, he married and moved to Maine. There is no evidence that Gray committed further crimes after being released from prison.
U.S. Justice Department statistics show that fewer than 6 percent of released sex offenders commit new crimes. Those who do re-offend do so within the first year after getting out of jail.
A reasonable approach to dealing with sex offenders would recognize that some are a greater danger to society than others. It also would recognize that those who complete their sentences need to re-integrate into society.
Perhaps released sex offenders would be required to register with police for a year or two. Maybe longer. Internet posting could be limited to those who committed violent crimes or preyed on children. Names could be removed if there were no further offenses.
How does the public benefit from requiring men such as Elliott to register as sex offenders for life? Should Gray have remained on the list after years without another offense?
It is easy to brand people for life, to list them on the Internet, to drive them from your neighborhood or your town. It's more complex to develop a rational policy that protects the community and treats ex-offenders fairly.
- And this is what they are using, it's easier to do what they are doing instead of actually dealing with the problem. Take the easy way out.
I share the disgust at those who endanger children -- either sexually or by careening drunkenly in speeding cars on our streets.
Lifetime shunning may be right for some. It's wrong for many.
David B. Offer is the retired executive editor of the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel. E-mail email@example.com.
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Maldonado’s plan is open to vigilantism and impossible to enforce
We have no doubt that state Sen. Abel Maldonado (Contact), R-Santa Maria, is sincerely motivated by a desire to protect children, but his proposal to require special license plates for convicted sex offenders is ill-advised and, because it could give children a false sense of security, possibly even dangerous.
We also take issue with Maldonado’s reasoning. He believes that because sex offenders often use their vehicles as instruments of crime they should be singled out for special treatment.
Applying that same logic, shouldn’t we require OFENDER plates for repeat drunken drivers? Drive-by shooters? Hit-and-run drivers?
As Maldonado points out, sexual abuse has devastating lifelong consequences for victims and their families. We respectfully point out that having a child killed or maimed by a drunken driver is also devastating. If we’re going to go down this road to protect the public— especially our children—shouldn’t we apply this concept equally?
The answer is no, we shouldn’t apply it at all because there are too many problems with a proposal such as Maldonado’s.
Here are some:
- The law would be impossible to enforce. What’s to stop a sex offender from borrowing a car or, for that matter, from switching license plates? Children —and adults, for that matter—could be lulled into thinking drivers pose no danger because they don’t have special plates, when they are indeed convicted sex offenders.
- It would encourage vigilantism. The law would include a provision punishing people who harass sex offenders because of the plates. Even so, some would no doubt see it as an invitation to vandalize the car and/or harass or harm the driver.
- Because the majority of sex offenses are committed by a friend or relative of the victim—not by a stranger—the law would not be effective in preventing most cases.
Unfortunately, California already has one law cracking down on sex offenders that’s proven ineffective and impossible to enforce. Jessica’s Law, passed by California voters in 2006, put more restrictions on where sex offenders can live and, as a result, experts say that more sex offenders are homeless, making them harder to track and a greater danger to the public.
Also, a provision requiring global-positioning devices for ex-offenders will cost millions of dollars — but it’s unclear who has to foot the bill.
Given the state’s financial mess, we don’t need another law that will wind up costing more money to achieve questionable results.
If there is money available, let’s spend it on educating children on how to protect themselves, on counseling victims of sexual abuse—so they don’t grow up to become abusers themselves —and on enforcing laws already on the books, rather than passing a new law that would be ineffectual at best and harmful at worst.
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Gimme, Gimme, Gimme! And I think sex offenders should be given tax breaks for not being able to use libraries, parks and other places they are paying taxes for.
SOUTHBURY — Scott McClure has checked the criminal histories of every one of the 4,659 men and women on the state's sex offender registry, and only a handful have as many serious convictions as his new neighbor, David Pollitt.
That alone should qualify McClure and other residents of the Fox Run Drive, Forest Road and Wolf Pit Drive neighborhood for a property tax break, he argued Monday night.
McClure was the first of about two-dozen residents to state their cases before the Board of Assessment Appeals, a committee of volunteers that will have a possible precedent-setting decision to make in the coming weeks.
The residents want the appeals board to lop as much as 17 percent off their tax assessments because they claim the value of their homes dropped when Pollitt, who spent nearly 25 years in prison for rape, moved to his sister's home in their neighborhood last fall.
There is no legal precedent in Connecticut for reducing a person's property tax assessment because they live near a registered sex offender. Southbury may have to dismiss the appeals on a technicality, because Pollitt didn't move to town until Oct. 12. The new home values went into effect Oct. 1.
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SANTA ANA - A special grand jury found no evidence of criminal negligence by Orange County sheriff's deputies in the death of a jail inmate who authorities say was beaten by other inmates, a prosecutor said Friday.
District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said the grand jury was unable to corroborate inmates' claims that a sheriff's deputy told them that John Chamberlain was a pedophile and encouraged them to beat him.
Chamberlain, a 41-year-old computer technician, was being held in jail on charges of possessing child pornography. Nine inmates have been charged in Chamberlain's death.
No deputies will be charged, but the nine-month investigation uncovered serious lapses in jail policy that will likely result in administrative discipline against an unspecified number of sheriff's employees.
Two assistant sheriffs lost their jobs last week after Acting Sheriff Jack Anderson received a private presentation from the grand jury.
More could lose their jobs, Rackauckas said, adding that the county penal system needs to "clean up our act."
"We're not done. We need to move forward into the next step, which is to make sure that all the people who have been guilty of malfeasance of office answer for that, at least with respect to their jobs," he said.
The grand jury probe is the latest blow for the sheriff's department, which has undergone constant upheaval in its leadership since former sheriff Michael Carona was indicted on federal corruption charges last fall.
Carona, who has since retired to focus on his defense, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
An assistant sheriff who temporarily took over the department after Carona's indictment was fired last week, and another assistant sheriff resigned the same day. Neither gave a reason for leaving.