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Eleven months behind bars didn't take the entrepreneur out of “Girls Gone Wild” founder Joe Francis, who said he plans to continue with his bust-baring empire.
“This whole situation was a total farce — I didn’t do anything and the brand will survive and be bigger then ever,” Francis, 33, told FOXNews.com Thursday in his first official post-jail appearance at a Beverly Hills press conference.
“I am a very ADD, hyper-focused person and when I was locked in that cage, I was able to analyze everything and gather a great deal of new ideas," he said, announcing plans to release a magazine with a bonus full-length DVD on April 15 and a tequila in June.
The sex video mogul, estimated to earn over $29 million annually for his business, also said he received a great deal of inmate attention in the slammer.
“I was treated like a rock star, a total hero,” said. “But never in my life will I go anywhere near Panama City. The judge imprisoned me illegally — this whole situation is absurd.”
Francis was released from jail on Wednesday after pleading no contest to one count of felony child abuse and two misdemeanor prostitution charges in Bay County, Fla.
On behalf of his company Mantra Films, Francis also pleaded no contest to two additional child abuse counts. As the allegations against him were classified as “abuse," Francis will not have to register as a child sex offender.
“I was held in incarceration illegally and accepted a plea deal just to get out of jail,” Francis said. “I am innocent; I have committed no crime whatsoever. The two 17-year-old girls that sued me falsified forms and their IDs. The material shot was never used or passed on.”
Francis believes that officials in Panama City have held a “vendetta” against him since 2003 and considered him a “scum-sucking low-life that wasn’t welcome in their city.” He also dismissed reports that he bribed a public servant and explained his arrest for three counts of a controlled substance as “prescription medication” that he took to the correctional facility.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
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Following in Mark Lunsford foot steps?
BRUNSWICK -- A Georgia family that lost the little boy it loves is now divided over a lawsuit filed in connection with his slaying.
The lawsuit centers around 6-year-old Christopher Barrios whose body was found discarded on the side of a South Georgia road on March 15, 2007.
A year ago, volunteers and police were scouring the woods in Brunswick holding out hope they would find Christopher alive. They did not.
Police have charged three members of the Edenfield family, George Edenfield, along with his parents, Peggy and David Edenfield, with the child's slaying.
The suspects lived near the mobile home where the child lived with his father in Brunswick. However, Christopher's mother, LaTrina Keith, said that should not have been the case and she has filed a lawsuit.
The lawsuit, which was filed in court this week, calls for the owners of the Canal Mobile Home Park to pay up for the boy's death.
The suit states that the owners knew the trailer park was home to convicted child molesters and other persons who could harm young children.
The lawsuit said the owners knew George Edenfield was a convicted sex offender and that management had received numerous complaints about the man.
"You have duty as a land owner who is charging people to provide a safe premises in which people live. The Edenfield's hardly constitute providing a safe premises for a little child to walk around in," said Keith's attorney, Brent Savage.
However, that is not the portion of the lawsuit that has upset Christopher's grandmother, Sue Rodriguez. She said the second part of the lawsuit is against the Georgia Department of Children and Family Services for placing Christopher with his dad, who the lawsuit said is a registered sex offender.
"I'm mad. I don’t care that she sues the trailer park -- that's on her. But, don’t talk trash about my son. He was a man, and a good man. She better not talk trash about my baby," Rodriguez said.
Neither the state nor the trailer park owner wanted to comment on the lawsuit.
Boy's mom feeling rejected by family
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She says they have excluded her from funeral preparations.
BRUNSWICK - Two sides of Christopher Michael Barrios Jr.'s family are squaring off in a war of words that has escalated since the 6-year-old was found dead and wrapped in a plastic bag off a rural Glynn County Road on Thursday.
Speaking publicly for the first time, Barrios' mother, Latrina Keith, lashed out at the boy's father and legal guardian, Michael Barrios Sr., and the rest of his Brunswick family for failing to properly watch over the boy and for not giving her a role in ongoing funeral arrangements.
The other side shot back Friday afternoon by describing Keith, 27, of Savannah, as a mother who ignored her son the past two years but who now wants media exposure in the aftermath of Christopher's March 8 kidnapping and subsequent death.
"It's like the baby's missing, the baby's dead, and now they want to be family," said Sue Rodriguez, the boy's paternal grandmother. "It's too late."
Glynn County police have arrested four suspects in the case: David and Peggy Edenfield, their son George David Edenfield, and family friend Donald Dale. All will be charged with murder, police Chief Matt Doering said.
Keith, contacted by phone Friday at her mother's Brunswick home, said she last saw her son alive about May 2006, a day they spent going out to eat, to the movies and playing arcade games.
She said she's angry and frustrated that members of the Barrios family and Rodriguez will not return her phone calls or answer their doors when she knocks.
The family should have done a better job of watching Christopher the day he was abducted in the Canal Mobile Home Park where he, his family and the Edenfields resided, Keith said.
"But right now is not the time to be nasty because he's my son, I gave birth to him," Keith said.
Keith said she was also initially taken into custody over his disappearance.
Keith said she was picked up by Savannah police about 4:40 a.m. March 9 and told she would be charged with kidnapping. She said police thought she might have abducted her son.
And while that theory was quickly dismissed, Keith said she was then arrested and placed in the Glynn County Detention Center on an unrelated charge. She was released on Wednesday and is staying in a Brunswick hotel.
The Glynn County Sheriff's Office said Keith was arrested on a charge of theft by conversion and was released after posting a bond of $5,304.
Keith's mother, Sharon Mathis, told The Times-Union the charge was related to her daughter taking furniture without paying for it prior to her move to Savannah.
Keith also has a 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son with a different father.
Mathis said her daughter and Christopher's father, Christopher Michael Barrios Sr., were never married but lived together until separating about two years ago.
He obtained custody of the boy and wouldn't allow her to see him during that time, Mathis said.
But Rodriguez disputes that, saying instead that Christopher's mother and grandmother showed no interest in the boy until news spread about his disappearance.
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Should boys and girls be treated differently when it comes to underage sex?
In 1997, 35-year-old Mary Kay LeTourneau was arrested for having sex with her then 13-year-old student. At her trial, she was pregnant with their child.
It was the first of many highly publicized cases of teachers who had sex with their much-younger male students.
Sandra Beth Giesel, 42, had sex with her 16-year-old student. And 24-year-old Debra LaFave had sex with a 14-year-old.
Pamela Rogers, 29, who was on probation for having sex with her 13-year-old student, went to jail for then sending him a cell phone video of herself dancing erotically.
Although each of these female teachers was criminally prosecuted, many people view the women's sex crimes very differently than they view similar crimes committed by men.
Both Rogers and LaFave have fan Web sites. Their admirers write things like, "I want to go back to high school!" and "That boy is a hero … got to be the luckiest kid on earth."
One LaFave site includes a tribute video set to the Van Halen song, "Hot for Teacher."
Movies and television often portray having sex with an older woman as an exciting conquest. The Comedy Central show "South Park" shows police officers impressed that an elementary school student slept with an attractive teacher. One cop jokes to the another, "The crime is she isn't doing it with me!"
When one of ABC's "Desperate Housewives" slept with a high school student, all season the student was shown as a lucky guy, never as someone who Eva Longoria's character Gabrielle was sexually exploiting.
There are differences between men and women, but is there something about that difference that makes it less serious when a woman sleeps with a younger boy? Studies do show that most teenage boys who had sex with older women say that the sex was voluntary and the experience positive.
Certainly parents treat their boys and girls differently. According to one survey, 61 percent say there is a double standard when it comes to sex.
Bob and Tara Hoffman, who live in San Diego, give their son much more freedom than their daughter.
Matthew, who is 15, gets to go out around the city with his friends and stay out late, with hardly any questions asked, while Kelsey, even though she is two years older, is grilled.
"Unfortunately, girls are more vulnerable," said Bob Hoffman. "And so we're very protective of Kelsey when she goes out there into the world."
Kelsey doesn't think it's fair. "My friends are questioned and grilled when you know, I'm not even sure if my parents even know all the people my brother hangs out with."
Tara Hoffman admits her daughter doesn't feel like this is fair. "And guess what? It's not fair," she said. "It is different standards, but she's my daughter."
"There's definitely a double standard," said child psychologist Lisa Boesky. "Parents tend to see their girls as fragile, vulnerable, more in need of protection … When it comes to their boys, there's kind of this message of, 'Be careful out there.' They may even purchase some condoms for them, or basically tell them to be safe and don't get anybody pregnant."
But this double standard is a mistake, say many researchers, because boys are vulnerable too.
Although most boys who had sex with older women said the experience was positive, those same boys are also more likely to have emotional and sexual problems later.
"They may drink a lot, they may get into drugs, they may start seeing prostitutes, they may gamble … they may be sexually dysfunctional," said New York psychologist Dr. Richard Garner, who treats victims of sex abuse. "A whole string of things like that, none of which seem in their own mind to be related to the idea that they were sexual victims, which is very hard for a boy to say he was."
And that, he says, is why many boys say the experience was positive.
"To say I was sexually victimized is to say, 'I'm not male' and boys aren't likely to do that."
Gartner says sex with an adult may be just as bad for boys as it is for girls.
Single Legal Standard
Regardless of what science or popular opinion say, the law makes no distinctions. When adult woman are caught having sex with younger boys, they are usually punished just as severely, sometimes more severely than men.
- What a load of BS! No they are not, it's totally the opposite.
While LaFave got house arrest and probation, Geisel went to prison and Rogers is in prison now. And most likely all of these women will be on the sex offender registry for the rest of their lives.
And the most famous female teacher who had sex with a student, Mary Kay Letourneau, served seven years in jail.
Yet in a perfect illustration of how our laws and our culture are out of sync, when Letourneau married the boy after she got out of prison, the media treated it like a Hollywood wedding, gushing over the groom's Armani tux and the bride's white Christina Couture gown.
Not the ending you expect for what the court called an "egregious" and "profoundly disturbing" case of second-degree statutory rape.
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This man received a major slap on the wrist.
The Florida Bar on Thursday announced the state's Supreme Court has disciplined a former North Miami city attorney who pleaded guilty last year to charges related to having sex with a 16-year-old prostitute.
Barry Kutun, 66, will not be able to practice law until October 2009. Then, his law license will be reinstated but he will be on probation with the court for three more years.
Kutun -- a former state representative and candidate for Miami Beach mayor and Florida governor -- was arrested in 2006 for having consensual sex with an underage prostitute at his mid-Miami Beach condo. Kutun had maintained he thought the girl was an adult.
Kutun was fired from his $170,000-a-year job as North Miami city attorney after prosecutors filed charges in the case.
Kutun accepted an agreement with prosecutors last year in which he pleaded guilty to child abuse in exchange for house arrest and probation but no prison time. A judge withheld adjudication, which means Kutun is not a felon, but he was required to enter a sex-offender treatment program.
Kutun's attorney previously told The Miami Herald his client has no plans to run for public office again.
''His days of service to the community are over,'' attorney Richard Sharpstein said in September.
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PIERRE – A new South Dakota law that goes on the books July 1 will require people to register as sex offenders if found guilty of purposely infecting sex partners with the AIDS virus.
Two people in the state have been convicted in recent years of intentionally infecting others with HIV. The maximum prison term for the crime is 15 years in prison.
- The time here should be the same as murder, IMO. That is basically what this is.
People convicted of most sex offenses already must give their names, addresses and other information to law agencies for inclusion on the registry.
Failure to register as a sex offender or verify that status twice annually is punishable by up to two years in prison.
The sex offender registry is a public record and can be viewed on the Internet.
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The house Judiciary (Non-Civil) passed out SB 1, sponsored by Senator Eric Johnson (Email) (R-Savannah). This bill prohibits any person who is required to register as a sexual offender to intentionally take photographs of children under 18 years old. The idea was brought to Senator Johnson from a constituent in Richmond Hill.
"This bill," said Johnson, "gives our children another level of protection against sexual predators. Just like you wouldn't want the fox to guard the henhouse, we definitely don't want child molesters to have easy access to our kids."
The bill now sits in the House Rules Committee waiting to be voted on by the House of Representatives.
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A Minnesota House committee approved "Emily's Law" this afternoon (HF699). Filed by Rep. Bud Nornes, it's nicknamed after 2-year-old Emily Johnson of Fergus Falls, who died a day after she was sexually assaulted and then thrown against a wall by the 13-year-old son of the daycare provider.
Currently in Minnesota, persons as young as 14 can be charged as adults.
"Why is our daughter laying in the ground and this person is in a group home?" asked Lynn Johnson at the House Public Safety and Civil Justice Committee hearing this afternoon, shortly before the committee approved the bill on a 12-to-6 vote. She said the young man charged with manslaughter in the case, was just 19 days from his 14th birthday.
"In Kansas and Vermont, it's 10. In Missouri and Colorado, it's 12," said her husband, Travis, who rattled off a list of states with ages for being tried as an adult younger than Minnesota's requirement.
He disputed opponents of the bill, who said 13 year olds may not know the difference between right and wrong. "Why must the brain be fully developed before one is held accountable for his actions?" Travis Johnson said.
Doug Johnson, the Washington County Attorney, testified against the bill, saying if children were tried as adults, they could be released sooner than if they entered the juvenile justice system. He said the boy who assaulted the Johnson's toddler, "would be out of the system before he was 18" had he been tried as an adult.
"If you send a kid to prison as an adult, you're going to get nothing when he comes out other than a future criminal," he said.
Another opponent said juveniles in prison as adults are eight times more likely to be sexually assaulted as adults and are more likely to commit suicide.
A psychologist, Sue Foss, testified that until age 15, adolescents are "not able to pick up cues" that adults are, saying an adolescent is more likely to consider a crying child to be deliberately trying to annoy. "Thirteen year olds don't have the capacity of adults or modify their behavior to avoid future negative consequences," she said, adding that that doesn't mean they shouldn't be held accountable for their actions.
According to state public defender John Stuart said there are no 14 or 15 year olds currently in state prison.
Rep. Debra Hilstrom,DFL-Brooklyn Center, who served on a sexual offender task force, said "the goal for me at the end of the incarceration period is to make sure there isn't one more victim. Less than 25 percent of the people who are incarcerated as an adult get sex offender treatment even if they're ordered to by the court."
Hilstrom said she didn't get the information she needed to make sure that "these parents get what they're asking for."
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What about labeling him a sex offender? Oh yeah, he's a cop, I almost forgot.
A former Waxhaw police officer is free after reaching a plea agreement in a rape case against him.
Andrew Vasilije Lukic, 27, pleaded guilty March 3 to one felony count of a crime against nature, according to filings in Union County District Court. Crimes against nature cover a range of sexual offenses, including nonconsensual sex, District Attorney John Snyder said.
In exchange for Lukic's plea, prosecutors dropped two more severe charges: second-degree rape and second-degree sex offense.The assault on a female acquaintance occurred at an Indian Trail party in June while he was off duty, according to the Union County Sheriff's Office. Lukic resigned from Waxhaw's police force.
Lukic, 28, received 30 months' probation, with prison time possible if he violates parole, Snyder said. The plea agreement was reached "in accordance with the wishes of the victim," Snyder said. He declined to elaborate.
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BAKERSFIELD -- Local sex offenders say they are fed up with yet another round of proposed restrictions on where they can live.
The ordinance being drafted by the Kern County Board of Supervisors would enhance Jessica's Law, passed in 2006, and would limit newly paroled sex offenders from living near school bus stops, churches, daycare facilities, and other places where children gather. The ordinance would apply to all offenders regardless of whether they committed crimes against children.
"I don't expect pity," Hamilton Oser, a man who has been on the sex offender registry for 10 years, said.
"But I expect fairness. I expect freedom, what this country is based on."
Oser turned himself in to authorities in 1997, admitting to a lewd act with a minor seven years earlier. His admission led to an eight-month jail sentence and a lifetime on California's sex offender registry, an issue many sex offenders call excessive punishment.
"Haven't I done my time? Haven't I paid my price? How is it that one incident can totally define a person's character?" he asked.
The outcry for even tougher restrictions began after community activists found locations like the El Don Motel and Bakersfield Lodge were housing dozens of newly paroled sex offenders, since the state could put them nowhere else.
Sex offenders are concerned further residency restrictions will force them to live in the middle of nowhere. The U.S. is one of eight countries with public sex offender registries, and is the only country with residency restrictions on sex offenders, according to Human Rights Watch.
Over the last year, the debate was focused on whether the state could house multiple offenders in the same location, according to Gordon Hinkle, spokesperson for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. But now, even that may not be enough to appease residents.
In January, state officials met with the community regarding residency restrictions on sex offenders.
An estimated 1,500 registered sex offenders live in Kern County, and around 80 per cent of those live in Bakersfield.
Residents in smaller towns say residency restrictions are forcing sex offenders to outlying areas, Tehachapi police chief Jeff Kermode said during the January meeting.
That prompted cities like Taft and Shafter to enact their own ordinances limiting where sex offenders can live, and now the county is considering its own restrictions.
NATIONWIDE ISSUE HITS HOME
The manner in which residents handle neighbors who are registered sex offenders vary by community.
In the last year, there have been multiple reports of violence nationwide by citizens against sex offenders, although there have been no reports of this in Kern County.
Instead, the activism has been mainly limited to flyers containing sex offenders' information being posted on churches or handed out to residents, or pranks committed against offenders' homes.
Oser recalled one recent event, in which his children were handed flyers with his information at their school bus stop by a parent.
"The lady at the bus stop passed a picture of me around without knowing my circumstances, and passed it to other kids right in front of my kids," he said.
He claims his house was subsequently littered with eggs several weeks later, believing that the children who received the flyers were resonsible.
"Where's the justice for my kids?" he said.
When asked about a recent account of a female victim who came to Bakersfield to post flyers about her attacker at his church, he offered some advice for what people should do.
"Hold me accountable for my actions, not my wife and kids, not my house," he said.
A SEX OFFENDER'S STANCE
Oser says the time for sex offenders to keep quiet about the way they're treated by politicians and neighbors needs to end.
He said explaining what he did to his children was one of the hardest things to do in his life, but it helped him atone for his mistake.
He believes that politicians will not stop at sex offenders; that they will continue with registries for drug dealers, murderers and arsonists.
"Let them know that this isn't you," he said, referring to fellow registered sex offenders.
"What [strangers] want to say about you, whatever you did in the past doesn't define you as a person."
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State Corrections official says restrictions on where sex offenders may live won't provide security.
LONG BEACH - A new city law that restricts where registered sex offenders may live won't create the security it was designed to, Gordon Hinkle, an official for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, asserted Wednesday.
The City Council unanimously passed the ordinance Tuesday night in response to fears of residents in an Alamitos Beach neighborhood where 15 registered sex offenders had been living in one apartment building.
- So why is everyone afraid? Because the media and politicians blow everything way out of proportion, for ratings and so they get brownie points so they can be re-elected or look like they are doing something for once.
"This ordinance may have very likely made their community more unsafe," Hinkle said. "This is definitely going to create an increased problem finding housing anywhere for parolees living in Long Beach. ... Now you're going to see more sex offenders registering as transients."
Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal of the 2nd District, where the apartment building at 1149 E. First St. is located, said she takes umbrage with the idea that "clustering" sex offenders who are on parole in one location, which Hinkle has said improves parole officers' ability to monitor their activity, is somehow better.
"I truly believe it's a red herring," Lowenthal said. "I believe they are trying to instill fear in our city and our community.
"If there are transients that result from any level of work that parole is engaged in, it is because (parole officers) have given up on these sex offenders."
The city ordinance builds on existing state laws to prohibit more than one registered sex offender from living in an apartment or duplex building, or single-family home.
The law also restricts sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools, parks, child-care centers and other locations where children congregate, prohibits offenders from loitering within 300 feet of such places, and limits offenders to only one per motel room, among other rules.
The council is expected to give the ordinance final approval next week, after which it would go into effect. Sex offenders who are already in violation of the new ordinance when it takes effect will have six months in which to comply with the law.
Under Proposition 83, Jessica's Law in California, convicted sex offenders released from prison since November 2006 aren't allowed to live closer than 2,000 feet from K-12 schools or parks. Sex offenders on parole also aren't allowed to live together in a single-family dwelling unless they are legally related by blood, marriage or adoption.
However, state laws don't take into account proximity to child-care centers or multiple sex offenders living in different apartments in the same building.
Of the 67,710 sex offenders living in California, 2,879 were registered as transient in January, an increase from about 2,000 listed as transient in 2006 before the passage of Jessica's Law, according to a report released last month by the California Sex Offender Management Board. Of 3,884 sex offenders on parole in December, 718 had declared themselves transient, which is four times more than a year earlier, the report says.
According to city officials, about 800 registered sex offenders live in Long Beach, 300 of whom are on parole. Officials have reported that 80 percent of the city's sex offenders wear GPS tracking devices.
On the Megan's Law Web site, where sex offenders' names, addresses, descriptions, sex crimes and often photos are available, 660 offenders are listed in Long Beach. Not all sex offenders must register with Megan's Law.
While the state isn't required to house sex offenders on parole, it does so in order to better track them. Putting sex offenders together like in the Alamitos Beach apartments allows parole officers and local law enforcement to keep a better eye on them, Hinkle said.
Long Beach's new law may make that job more difficult, he said.
"If every city passed an ordinance such as this, it would start to get literally impossible to place any parolee that's a registered sex offender," Hinkle said.
But Lowenthal said she doubts the benefit of putting sex offenders who are attempting to reform and reintegrate into society with people facing similar struggles.
"It is not good for them to be among their own," Lowenthal said. "The clustering doesn't do them any good, the clustering does not do neighbors any good."
Hinkle said the council should have a different focus than creating ordinances.
"My concern is that they're passing ordinances instead of helping find solutions for the parolees," Hinkle said. "They should be offering up areas in their city that they would deem appropriate."
Lowenthal said she and city officials have offered to work with Corrections officials to do just that, but so far haven't been well received. Sex offenders can find other living options here, she said.
"You can't tell me that there's no place in Long Beach where they can find housing," Lowenthal said.
- Well, why don't you go out and try to find a place! And when you do, see how long they stay before the neighborhood starts the lynch mob, and the cycle continues...
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Sexual offenders will not be allowed to log on to MySpace or other social networking Internet sites under legislation advanced in House on Wednesday (March 12).
- Not all sex offenders who used MySpace and other social networking sites, are trolling for children. They are just following the bandwagon to look like they are doing something.
Rep. Karla Bigham (Email), DFL-Cottage Grove, is carrying the bill backed by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office.
In addition to prohibiting registered predatory sex offenders from assessing or using social networking sites, the bill permits law enforcement officials to conduct unannounced searches of computers used by sex offenders placed on intensive supervised release.
- Again, you mention above "sex offenders", then here you mention "predatory sex offenders!" So which is it?
The Attorney General’s Office points to recent studies in detailing the problem of sex offenders online — half of teens ages 13-18 frequently communicate online with people who’ve they’ve never met, cites one study.
- So are they other children or adults? From many of the recent studies that have came out lately, this is all hype and blown WAY out of proportion. Just take a look here.
“The Times-Picayune” newspaper in New Orleans states that between 1996 and 2004 the FBI opened almost 12,000 cases nationwide involving sex predators trying to lure minors through the Internet chat rooms and other links.
- I do not believe this. Where is the link to the study? And who did the study? See the above for many RECENT studies which disprove this.
Among concerns expressed by House Public Safety and Civil Justice committee members over the legislation was whether it was broad enough.
Rep. Chris DeLaForest (Email), R-Andover, expressed a desire to the language expanded.
For instance, DeLaForest questioned whether it would be legal for a registered sex offender to post their own Web page under the bill.
- Their own web page is not a social networking site, now is it? No!
An Attorney General’s Office official opined that they probably could.
“I’d encourage expanding it (the prohibition) to broader Internet use,” said DeLaForest.
- Hell, why don't you just ban them from the Internet, and the rest of the world???
Other lawmakers expressed a desire to see the bill fine tuned.
The legislation was passed to the public safety finance committee for further consideration.
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So where is this money coming from? Thin air?
RICHMOND — House and Senate budget negotiators yesterday finalized a $77 billion, two-year spending proposal that lawmakers will take up today when they return to the Capitol.
"It was a hard budget and hard economic times," said Sen. R. Edward Houck (Email), Spotsylvania Democrat. "I think one of the things that happened in this particular budget conference is there were a lot more philosophical differences."
A projected revenue slowdown is expected to leave a $980 million shortfall in the budget through June 30 and nearly $2 billion by June 2010. Lawmakers reached the agreement after extending the General Assembly session for the third time in four years.
The 12 budget negotiators made a handshake deal after resolving differences on public safety.
The Senate dropped a $4.6 million demand for jail-diversion programs for prisoners finishing their sentences. In exchange, the House agreed to appropriate $7 million for 14 drug courts.
The package grants $2.6 million for regional jail expansions in western Virginia and Rappahannock and $1.5 million for Alicia"s law, a program that targets adults who solicit children for sex over the Internet. The law is named for Alicia Kozkeiwicz, who was kidnapped and sexually assaulted by an online predator when she was 13.
The negotiators said they were flooded with calls from supporters across the country, including Alicia"s mother.
"Every time you bring a computer into your home, you provide online predators with access to your children," said Delegate Brian J. Moran of Alexandria, the leader of the House Democratic Caucus.
On Monday, he made an emotional plea for the funding. "Law-enforcement officers have not had the resources to combat these crimes, but today we have taken a major first step by expanding two regional task forces to investigate and arrest these offenders," Mr. Moran said.
Also under the agreement, state employees, state-supported college faculty and state-augmented local government employees get a 2 percent raise this fall and another 2 percent raise in July 2009. Teachers also are included.
"Negotiations were hard-fought," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles J. Colgan, Prince William County Democrat. "This was my 17th time as a budget conferee. I can remember when it took longer, but never when we worked harder."
Gov. Tim Kaine (Contact), a Democrat, received $22 million for his initiative to expand a pre-kindergarten program, but the House refused to adopt his proposal to widen income-eligibility requirements.
"We did 100 percent of the free-lunch kids," said Delegate Phillip A. Hamilton, the Newport News Republican who sits on the negotiating team. "I would think the governor would be pleased with the pre-K."
Kaine spokesman Gordon Hickey said the governor "is pleased that it is being expanded at all."
Also not funded was the governor's Virginia Share proposal to offer health insurance to small-business employees. The program called for one-third of the insurance costs to be split equally by employee, the worker and the state.
Negotiators cut $100 million in aid to localities over two years from what was outlined in the budget Mr. Kaine introduced in December and directed the governor to slash $35 million from state agencies, with the exception of higher education.
The plan also reserved $42 million to reform the state's mental-health system — a direct response to the April shootings at Virginia Tech.
Negotiators added 600 Medicaid waivers for mentally disabled people to receive community-based services, such as in-home nursing care, to avoid placing them in state institutions.
To close part of the budget shortfall, lawmakers pulled $296 million from the state's reserves, commonly known as the "rainy day fund."
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Crowley Police officers hit the streets Tuesday, making sure that convicted sex offenders are following the law.
Crowley Police joined forces with Louisiana Probation and Parole Officers to conduct a "SCORE" or sex offender registration and evaluation check.
The goal of the program is to make sure offenders who have been released from jail or are on probation, are living at their registered addresses and are following the law.
Chief Gibson tells TV ten that today's check showed thirteen registered offenders in compliance with state law.
Gibson says "we're doing this for the aspect of taking care of our public, making sure that our citizens know we do care, we are concerned about these types of incidents, we just ask that everybody, you know, if you have a problem with a sex offender living in your area or questions, please give us a call and we'll be glad to work with you from there."
Investigations have been opened into the status of five other offenders in the Crowley area.
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So when are you going to take sex offender documents offline as well? Same issues apply here as well. This is done with medical records for privacy, so ALL court documents should be the same, all personal identifiers are removed (blacked out), and taken offline.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court has adopted rules cutting off public access to court records now available on the Internet.
When the rules go into effect on June 10, online access to court documents in the Supreme Court and district courts would be limited to court dockets only.
"The individual pleadings and other recorded documents filed of record in state court actions shall not be publicly displayed on the Internet," according to an order signed by Chief Justice James R. Winchester and four other justices.
The order, released on Tuesday, described the new rules as an effort to balance the rights of privacy of individuals and public access.
Besides eliminating Internet access, the order puts new restrictions on what information the public can access from legal documents filed with court clerks.
The ruling was criticized by Joey Senat, past president of FOI Oklahoma and a journalism professor at Oklahoma State University, and Mark Thomas, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Press Association.
"It sounds like a knee-jerk reaction to technology that gives the public greater access," Senat said.
Thomas said the rules will allow court clerks to make money off copying fees and cause an inconvenience to the public. "I think the court and the court clerks are underestimating the popularity of electronic access to court records," he said.
Justice Steven Taylor dissented and two justices issued a separate opinion disagreeing with part of the decision.
The new rules mandate that lawyers omit "personal identifiers" from all court documents, including home addresses, dates of birth, taxpayer identification numbers, Social Security numbers, names of minor children and financial account numbers.
"What I disagree with is the instantaneous restriction of public access to current public court documents on line," Justice Yvonne Kauger wrote in a separate opinion. She was joined by Justice James Edmondson.
"The court made this decision with input only from the court clerks. Others directly affected by the decision - the bar, the bench, the Legislature, the public - were not consulted," Kauger wrote.
She said the court recently increased court costs by $15 to improve computerization of all 77 county clerk dockets.
"However, as a result of this order, not only is the court taking a giant, 30-year leap backwards to a time when the personal computer was nonexistent, the public is now paying for access to a system which is made inaccessible by the order," Kauger wrote.
Senat said the order did not explain why the court feels a lot of information previously available should now be omitted from court documents.
"This is giving far too much weight to what they consider to be sensitive or private information," he said. "Some information is certainly personal, but that doesn't make it private."
- So hell then, let's put every bodies medical records, home addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, and everything else online. Then watch the criminals come out and play!!!
Thomas said the rules open the door for a private company to begin selling information for a profit to people who do not want to go to the courthouse, "go through a metal detector, stand in line and take out their wallet" to pay for copying records.