Wednesday, April 30, 2008

UT - Some non-sex offenders required on Utah registry

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Again, why not just have ONE registry with ALL CRIMINALS on it, and not call it a sex offender registry?


OGDEN (AP) - Utah's sex-offender registry is expanding with the addition of people convicted of crimes that have nothing to do with sex.

Kidnapping has been added to the list of crimes that require registration, although there is an exception for parents convicted of taking their children.

Beginning Monday, the Utah Sex Offender Registry will require convicts to also provide more information.

Lawmakers say a bill passed this year is aimed at keeping the registry as current as possible.

But defense attorneys are wary of adding non-sexual crimes to the list that is called the Utah Sex Offender Registry.

The new crimes are kidnapping, child kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping and unlawful detention.

ME - Baldacci rejects Sex Offender Registry bill

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AUGUSTAGov. John Baldacci (Contact) announced today he will not sign into law “An Act to Improve the Use of Information Regarding Sex Offenders to Better Ensure Public Safety and Awareness,” according to a statement from his office.

The legislation would have narrowed the circumstances under which someone convicted of a sex crime between 1982 and 1992 would be required to register under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

According to state Department of Public Safety estimates, as many as 580 currently registered sex offenders would no longer be required to register. The legislation attempts to differentiate between dangerous criminals and individuals who are less likely to reoffend, according to the governor.

The bill “would remove from the Sex Offender Registry perhaps as many as 580 people who have been convicted of a sex crime. While the committee applied safeguards to make sure repeat offenders will remain on the list, we do not know which individuals will be removed from the registry and what level of risk they present.

“I have no doubt that there are people on the registry who shouldn’t be required to register because they no longer pose a risk to public safety,” the governor’s statement said. “But until we have a better system to judge who those people are, we should continue with our current law. When it comes to sex offenders on the registry, we should err on the side of caution.”

CA - Long Beach suspends new residency ordinance for sex offenders

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LONG BEACH - The city has temporarily suspended enforcement of its new sex offender residency ordinance, according to attorneys representing about 25 sex offenders and property owners who had filed a claim opposing the ordinance.

Sarah Stockwell, a Fountain Valley defense attorney, said that City Attorney Robert Shannon informed her this morning of the policy change, which suggests "there may be some changes to (the ordinance) before they enforce it."

"It's a minor victory," Stockwell said. "It at least gives our clients and sex offenders as a whole a temporary sigh of relief."

As of 1 p.m., Shannon had not returned a phone call seeking comment.

Stockwell and two other defense attorneys filed the claim with the city last week asking that the law be amended.

The new ordinance builds on the statewide Jessica's Law, which prevents sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools or parks. However, courts have ruled that Jessica's Law can only apply to sex offenders released from prison or jail since voters passed the law Nov. 7, 2006.

The Long Beach ordinance, which the City Council unanimously approved March 18, is broader and more limiting than Jessica's Law.

It creates 2,000-foot buffers around not only schools and parks, but also child-care centers and beaches. Furthermore, it limits the number of sex offenders who can live on a parcel of land, regardless of how many residential units there may be, to just one.

Under the law, most residentially zoned areas in Long Beach are now off-limits to sex offenders, and the ordinance affects all sex offenders, giving it the retroactive status that Jessica's Law doesn't have.

In their claim, the three defense attorneys say the ordinance is unconstitutional because of the retroactive penalties and because it may force sex offenders to sell their homes.

Also, the claim says that by prohibiting property owners and managers from renting to sex offenders, the city is asking them to violate state law.

Landlords would need to use the state Megan's Law Web site, which identifies many of California's sex offenders, in order to keep them out, but state law prohibits the site from being used to deny housing, the claim says.

The city has until June 7 to respond to the claim. If it doesn't, or it doesn't amend the law to the attorneys' satisfaction, then the attorneys plan to file a lawsuit and ask for a temporary restraining order to prevent the law from being enforced, Stockwell said.

MO - Making Sex Offender Registration Laws Retroactive

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Listen to the audio at the end.


JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's House Crime Prevention Committee heard a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the retrospective application of sex offender registration laws.
- So basically the Constitution means nothing now. This is a direct violation of Section 9 of the United States Constitution, which says "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed!"

If the amendment were to get on the Missouri ballot, voters would either adopt or reject the law that could force more sex offenders to register even if they were convicted prior to the adoption of the registration requirement.

Southeast Missouri Republican Senator Jason Crowell (Contact) is sponsoring the constitutional amendment.
- He clearly doesn't know what is in the constitution, or doesn't care. People like this, IMO, should be fired from their job, since they lied when they took an oath to uphold the Constitution. The "constitutional amendment" should read "unconstitutional amendment!"

"If we are going to have a sex offender's registration list, all sex offenders will be on that list. Not just those who commit their offense post 1995."

Any law restricting sex offenders from residing near a school or child-care facility would be applied retrospectively.

The amendment would also allow the continuation of the DNA analysis collection of felons regardless of when the felony was committed.

IA - Changes ahead for sex offender registry

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The Iowa Sex Offender Registry will take a step toward real-time public notification following the announcement of a federal grant earlier this month.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said the Iowa Department of Public Safety will receive a $269,450 technology-based grant from the Department of Justice through the Adam Walsh Act.

The federal bill is named after a 6-year-old boy who was abducted from a department store in Hollywood, Fla. in 1981. His remains were recovered about two weeks later near Vero Beach, Fla.

The youth's disappearance prompted his father John Walsh to become an advocate for victim's rights. He's known for his work to establish the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and his role as host of the "America's Most Wanted" series.

The Walsh Act could extend the time a name is kept on the registry and make more information available to the public about registered sex offenders -- including where they work and the vehicles they are likely to use.

Steven Conlon, assistant director with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said the grant money will be used for upgrades to the Iowa Sex Offender Registry. The registry is required for Iowans who have been convicted of a sex-related crime. About 6,000 residents are required to report their whereabouts each time they change addresses in, or when they leave, Iowa.

Faster address notifications

There are 17 Clay County residents on the Web site as of Tuesday. The list is updated daily.

"Right now, a registrant needs to go to the sheriff's office to either register or do a change of address," Conlon said. "Unfortunately they have to do that by filling out a form and the sheriff's office needs to mail that in. We're looking at getting that all done electronically now. Literally, if a person walks into the Clay County Sheriff's Office tomorrow to register or to change an address, we may not get that specific information for another couple of days. Once we get the system electronically in place, if the person's in there registering at 1 p.m., they could be in our database a short time later."

Conlon said the result is a more current, more accurate, more timely and more accessible Internet destination for the public.

Grassley said the grant also will allow the Iowa Department of Public Safety to add software programs that immediately validate addresses given at the time of registration. Staff members at a sheriff's office can search jail and prison records of more than 11,000 agencies throughout the United States to cross reference the offender's information with other law enforcement or criminal justice entities.

Registry changes

Future Walsh Act funding presses the state to make changes in its sex offender registry policies -- that's something lawmakers have been reluctant to do in each of the last two legislative sessions. The state currently is not in compliance with the Adam Walsh Act.

"Every July we have started losing a percentage of money we would have received," Conlon said. "The final penalty will be on July 1, 2009."

Conlon expects changes if the state agrees to comply with the Adam Walsh Act.

"I truly consider it an honor and a pleasure to have been involved in our registry, literally from day one," Conlon said. "We started working on legislation in 1994, and our registry went into effect -- went into law -- on July 1, 1995… At that time, basically, they were required to either register for 10 years or for life. That's pretty much the way our system has been up until now."

Under the federal law, the minimum registration period is 15 years, according to Conlon.

"They really subscribe to a three-tiered system approach, where you are either required to either register for 15, for 25 (years) or life, he said. "They're not mandating that the states have to have this three-tiered system, but it is suggested to bring more consistency and uniformity amongst the 50 states."

In 2005 and the Iowa Department of Public Safety started removing names from the Iowa Sex Offender Registry because they had completed their 10-year requirement.

"Literally, right now, every month, we do remove a certain number of registrants because they were only required to register for 10 years and now they have done that," Conlon said.

It would be up to Iowa lawmakers do determine if names are returned to the list in compliance with the 15-year recommendations of the Adam Walsh Act.

"There will be a fair amount of changes that will occur," Conlon said. "We are going to see more information being collected from the registrant, there will be more information available to the public, there's going to be improved tracking and awareness monitoring of the registrant's location to ensure they are registered at the location they report they are."

New information

County sheriffs would start collecting employment information for the first time under provisions of the Walsh Act.

"We don't do that now. We've heard discussions on both sides -- that it is long overdue, and that it's really not necessary," Conlon said.

"On the pro side: The people are saying; 'If I have a 14-, 15- or 16-year-old son or daughter who is working in some environment, it's their right to know who they are working shoulder-to-shoulder with,'" Conlon said. "I think the whole attempt is: We don't create or maintain an environment where a sex offender can, sort of, blend into the woodwork or hide from the public."

The Walsh Act funding will meet the Iowa Sheriffs' and Deputies' Association request to improve the tracking ability of law enforcement agencies: An offender would have three days to notify law enforcement about a change of address. They currently have five days to report the change under current state laws.

Another aspect of the Walsh Act will establish a public information database about the vehicles a registered sex offender has access to.

"The information is provided for the public to make good, informed decisions about the well-being of their families," Conlon said. "Any attempt to use this information to target or commit a crime against a registrant, obviously, is illegal and a person can and will be charged for any type of harassment, assault, vandalism, terrorism or any type of crime committed against the registrants."

The 2,000-foot requirement

The federal law doesn't address residency restrictions. Under current Iowa law, offenders must live 2,000 feet away from locations such as schools, daycare centers or parks.

"Last year, the state sheriff's association, the county attorney's association, the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault and (other groups) came out and wanted to, basically, get rid of the 2,000-foot law," Conlon said. "They suggested something like a safe zone, where it would illegal for a registered sex offender to go onto the property of a school or daycare provider without first informing the administrator of that facility about the date and time they were going to be on the grounds."

Clay County Sheriff Randy Krukow was president of the Iowa State Sheriffs' and Deputies' Association in January 2007. The organization wanted the 2,000 residency ban replaced.

"There is no correlation between residency restrictions and reducing sex offenses against children or improving the safety of children," the attorney's association said in a statement during the 2007 legislative session. "Research does not support the belief that children are more likely to be victimized by strangers at the covered locations than at other places."

At the same time, Iowa's 99 sheriffs had the task of logging and monitoring the whereabouts of their jurisdiction's sex offenders. It was a sheriff's job to make sure an offender's address was outside of the 2,000-foot limit near daycares and schools.

"I started becoming a real estate agent," Krukow said, in 2007. "The amount of time and energy on this was pretty intensive. What happened was: We more than doubled the number of people who went underground. Before, I probably had 99 percent of them registered. Of those registered, we knew where they were at, and a lot of them were employed. When this 2,000-foot law came in, we drove a lot of those underground."

Registrants who repeatedly fail to report their whereabouts to their county sheriff are subject to felony charges. Deputies arrested 28-year-old Allen Frank Mills for failure to comply as a sex offender. His listed address is 2350 Highway 18, but he was found living at 902 East Seventh St., according to a statement from the sheriff's office. Because he's been cited numerous times for failing to report an address change, Mills faces a Class D felony charge for the violation.

He was held to appear before a magistrate.