Saturday, October 11, 2008

Perverted justice vigilante/decoy?

WARNING: Strong language!


CA - Another politicians using sex offenders as their scapegoat to get votes and look like they are actually doing something!

View the article here

I left my comments, but I am willing to bet, they won't stay long before they are deleted.  They don't like opposing view points!  He's running for City Council, so out come the sex offender issues, like usual!

09/29/2008

Posted by: Jessica Austin

Here is another blog entry from Mark Kirk. To learn more about Mark, please visit Mark Kirk for City Council.

Mark, thanks again for doing this! Here it is:

Jessica's Law, Part 2 - Mark Kirk


During my tenure in Government, fighting sex offenders has been a constant theme. The issue boiled to a head when I worked for the Runners, out in Phelan when the State tried to place several mentally handicapped sex offenders in a residential neighborhood. Having taught at Pinion Mesa Middle School, right down the street from the proposed location, I knew first hand the numbers of children who walked through that neighborhood on a daily basis. We rallied together with the residents of the community and eventually convinced the State to change their plans.


From that point on it seemed as though we had our mission. Fighting to protect our communities, and specifically our children, from sexual predators. This mission continued when I went to work for Gary Ovitt. We placed Megan's Law information on sex offenders on the County's website, and we started researching how we could use GPS technology to track County probationers of high concern. Shortly thereafter we created a program to place probation sex offenders on GPS tracking devices. A program completely funded by offenders, not taxpayers. This solved the problem with probationers, but it wasn't until George and Sharon Runner introduced Jessica's Law that we had an opportunity to use this technology to track those not on probation or parole. Needless to say we worked hard to qualify, and eventually pass, Jessica's Law on the ballot. In addition to GPS tracking, Jessica's Law also gave local jurisdictions more flexibility to restrict where sex offenders can live. At the County, I worked with other leaders to draft a new ordinance enhancing Jessica's Law. 300' Predator-free zones were created around schools and parks, ensuring that Law Enforcement had the tools necessary to protect our children.


If elected to the City Council, I'll fight to enact a similar ordinance in Hesperia. Unfortunately, the County Ordinance only applies to the unincorporated areas of the County, but most of our schools and parks lie within the cities. As a councilman, I will take the same strong approach against sexual predators that I have my entire life. I will work to create 'predator-free zones' that protect the most vulnerable of our society. I will make sure our law enforcement officers have the tools they need to ensure our children receive the highest level of protection.


PA - Children's safety group wants city off of Google's Street View

View the article here

I've known about this for awhile, but did not put it on my blog because I think it's pure stupidity!  The people who think this is a problem, are really living in fantasy land.  I don't think they realize that people can drive cars, bicycles, walk, use the phone book, buy a map of the town, etc.  You can find this lady's web site by entering "Stop Internet Predators" into Google.  And view the videos below.  Pure fear-mongering!! These people probably think the sky is falling as well!

10/11/2008

By Amy McConnell Schaarsmith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A national children's advocacy group is pushing to get Pittsburgh removed from the Street View of Google's map search until the technology is refined so pedophiles can't use it to pinpoint children's homes, schools and playgrounds.

Street View, an addition to Google Maps that uses vehicle cameras to take 360-degree, street-level views of neighborhoods, allows users to virtually cruise down a street and across a city. In the process, the tool shows pictures of children, toys and family cars that could tip a would-be predator to an area where children could be found and potentially victimized, according to the group, Stop Internet Predators.

Street View is available in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area and 17 other cities in the U.S.

Google has said it would consider requests to remove such images from Street View but has not yet done so, according to Stacie Rumenap, executive director of Stop Internet Predators. Until the tool can be used without potentially endangering children, it should not be allowed, she said.

"We want parents to have the opportunity to safeguard their children and for them to have the level of privacy and security they deserve," said Ms. Rumenap. "Our children's safety should always be the No. 1 concern when allowing a new technology to come into our neighborhoods, and putting the burden on parents to opt out of the system seems unacceptable."

In an e-mail statement, a spokesperson for Google said the company has taken steps to help ease concerns.

"It's important for people to understand that if they are not comfortable with the imagery available on Street View, we have easily accessible tools for flagging sensitive imagery for review and removal. We also proactively blur visible faces in Street View," the statement said. "The imagery available is the same as what one would see walking down a public street.

"Regardless, we have given our users the power to let us know if potentially sensitive imagery should remain in Street View."

The tool, which debuted last October, has not been used in any crimes against children, according to Ms. Rumenap. But her group wants to prevent any such use by persuading municipal leaders to get it removed until it can be used without displaying images identifying where children live, study and play.

Ms. Rumenap met with Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato yesterday. She has been meeting with officials, parents and teachers in Manchester, N.H., Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and Tampa, Fla., to enlist their help in getting their communities taken out of Street View, and plans to meet with such groups in Pittsburgh later this month.

She also is working with children's advocacy groups in other cities to expand the campaign beyond the four targeted cities where the tool already has been widely used.

Kevin Evanto, a spokesman for Mr. Onorato, said the county asked Ms. Rumenap for more information on her concerns and expects a follow-up meeting in a few weeks.

North Oaks, Minn., a private community of 4,500 north of St. Paul, asked the company in January to remove images of its community or risk being cited for trespassing. The company quickly removed images of the town.

Google spokeswoman Elaine Filadelfo said the North Oaks situation is unique because it is a private community and no other community -- public or private -- has made a similar request. The company removes images when individuals make the request.

Ms. Filadelfo noted that all of the images available on Street View were gathered as much as a year earlier that they were made available to the public. There are no live images available.

"We've seen a lot of good benefits from [Street View] across the country, people telling us it helped to look at a neighborhood before they moved in," she said. "Certainly we're concerned about any abuses and we review any concerns that are brought to our attention."

Google has agreed not to photograph domestic abuse shelters anywhere in the country. But it still takes pictures of children, although it has agreed to blur their faces so they can't be recognized, according to Ms. Rumenap.

"We argue that's not enough because you can still tell it's a child," she said.

In April, Franklin Park residents Aaron and Christine Boring sued Google over Street View. The tool's online photos of their home, they said, violated their privacy, devalued their property and caused them mental suffering. They are seeking more than $25,000 in damages. Google has asked for the lawsuit, filed in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, to be moved to federal court.

Staff Writer Ed Blazina contributed. Amy McConnell Schaarsmith can be reached at 412-263-1122 or aschaarsmith@post-gazette.com.


IN - Ex-cop back in trouble

View the article here

10/11/2008

Stan Maddux - For The News-Dispatch

LA PORTE - Former Michigan City Police officer Brad Stormer could be in trouble again for allegedly violating terms of the Indiana Sex Offender Registry for the second time since the summer.

Warrants are being sought for the arrest of Stormer, 47, on charges of failure to register as a sex offender and for living within 1,000 feet of a school, both Class D felonies, according to La Porte County Police.

In a report Wednesday, La Porte County Sheriff's Chief of Detectives John Boyd said information was received that Stormer was residing at 302 G St. in La Porte, but the sex offender registry did not reflect the change in address.

Under state law, sex offenders must report their new address within 72 hours of moving. Boyd said the investigation showed Stormer had been residing at the G Street address since July because that's when he opened an account with the La Porte Water Department.

The other charge stems from his home on G Street being less than 300 feet from Maple City Montessori School, a licensed day care facility.

Stormer moved to La Porte from Kingsford Heights and while living in that community was properly registered, police said.

However, Stormer was charged in June with a Class D felony for living within 1,000 feet of Kingsford Heights Elementary School.

Under Indiana law, registered sex offenders "shall not reside closer than 1,000 feet from a school, church or licensed day care facility." He posted $600 cash bond in that case, which is still pending in La Porte Circuit Court.

After locating him, Boyd said Stormer admitted failing to notify the sheriff's office of his change in address. He also told Boyd that he would make his information on the registry current, but as of Thursday had not done so, said police.

Boyd said the latest findings will be reviewed by prosecutors to decide whether to pursue more formal charges against Stormer, a machine operator at Howmet Castings in La Porte.

In 2000, Stormer was given two years of probation and ordered to register as a sex offender until 2013 for Class D felony child seduction. Authorities said he had sex with a Michigan City High School girl on several occasions in 1998.

Stormer resigned as a patrolman with the Michigan City Police Department soon after the allegations came to light.


CA - No on Proposition 6

View the article here

09/26/2008

With the state scrambling for funds, Proposition 6 would add $1 billion in confused anti-crime spending.

California just cut, borrowed and wished its way out of a $15.2-billion budget shortfall, but it still must find $8 billion to bring its severely overcrowded prisons up to constitutional standard. The state got into this fix by blindly adopting programs that swallow huge chunks of the budget but add no new money. Voters make it worse by passing tough-on-crime laws that fill up the prisons -- or would, if the prisons weren't already bursting.

This is the moment to come to our senses. The folly of automated spending increases is finally apparent. Federal judges are overseeing the prisons. Violent crime is dropping. The state has the opportunity to do a sweeping revamp both of the criminal justice system and the fatally flawed robo-budget.

Yet here comes Proposition 6, like a confused beast escaped from some other decade. Simply clueless about where California is in 2008, this supposed anti-gang measure would add new spending mandates -- nearly $1 billion to start -- and would bring the state closer to insolvency with automatic annual increases pegged to inflation. Of course, it would not raise taxes to supply the money, which would have to come from cuts in other programs, most likely the social service investments that help keep California's youth out of gangs in the first place.

It would impose new spending mandates on counties but block them from using certain funds for drug or mental-health treatment. It would mandate new jail and prison construction, as if California weren't already being forced by federal courts to ease inmate crowding. It would compel courts to treat more juvenile offenders as adults.

In addition to being a budget buster, Proposition 6 is a bureaucracy builder, creating a new state office to distribute public-service announcements about crime.

Voters can learn a valuable lesson from a 2006 anti-sex-offender measure that was so flawed it made hundreds of offenders homeless and more likely to re-offend. That initiative also failed to mention who would pay for its mandate to track ex-cons for life by satellite, so that answer has been wedged into Proposition 6, which in turn creates more problems that likely will require more ballot measures -- unless we stop this foolhardy ballot-box policing now.

The Times urges a no vote on Proposition 6.


Recidivism of Alaska Sex Offenders (Spring/Summer 2008)


Click any of the charts to enlarge them

Recidivism of Alaska Sex Offenders

Alan R. McKelvie


McKelvie, Alan R. 2008. "Recidivism of Alaska Sex Offenders." Alaska Justice Forum 25(1–2): 14–15. This article reports results of a study which compared recidivism rates of sexual offenders released from prison in 2001 with recidivism rates of a random sample of non-sex offenders also released in 2001. The study found rates of recidivism that by most measures, the rates of recidivism for sexual offenders were no higher than for offenders in general for the three years after the offenders left prison.


A recent study of sexual offenders released from incarceration in Alaska shows that for the three years after the offenders left prison in 2001, the rates of recidivism for sexual offenders were, by most measures, no higher than for offenders in general. The study, which was done by the Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Center, a subdivision of the Justice Center, compared recidivism for sexual offenders released from prison in 2001 with a random sample of non-sex offenders also released in 2001. The analysis used the three measures most commonly used to determine recidivism: incidents of remand to custody, rearrest, and reconviction on any new offense. The results are similar to those found in an earlier study done by the Alaska Judicial Council. (See Alaska Felony Process: 1999, Alaska Judicial Council, 2004.)

The following analysis is based on data from the Departments of Corrections and Public Safety and the Alaska Court System. The Alaska Department of Corrections released 232 male sex offenders in 2001. This analysis focuses on offender recidivism over the three-year period following release. Recidivism is calculated for remand—reentry to prison as a result of probation/parole/technical violations, rearrest, or reconviction for any type of crime. Overall recidivism rates and frequencies for all sex offenders and for a randomly sampled cohort of other types of offenders also released in 2001 are presented. Also given are rates according to the types of sexual offense involved in the original conviction: sexual assault or sexual abuse of a minor.

Overall, during the three-year period, 70 percent of all offenders were remanded (68% of sex offenders and 72% of non-sex offenders), 61 percent were rearrested (54% of sex offenders and 68% of non-sex offenders), and 40 percent were convicted on some charge (39% of sex offenders and 35% of non-sex offenders).

For the categories of sex offense, 63 percent of those convicted of sexual abuse of a minor were remanded, 50 percent were rearrested and 36 percent were convicted of another offense—although not necessarily a sexual offense. For offenders convicted of sexual assault, the rates were 79 percent, 63 percent, and 45 percent respectively.

In the case of rearrest for a new sex offense, there was a slight but statistically insignificant difference between the sex offender group—3.4 percent—and the non-sex offender group—1.3 percent.

Methodology

The Alaska Department of Corrections (DOC) provided the Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Center (SAC) with a data set of all releases from DOC facilities in 2001. SAC personnel filtered the set for state statutes that identify a sexual offense and require registration on the state’s sex offender registry. Once the sex offenders were identified, an equivalent number of offenders from the remaining pool were randomly sampled to provide a comparison group. Current and past information on status, movements, court cases, etc. involving the offender was also obtained from DOC.

The Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS) provided the SAC with criminal histories for the sampled offenders and the Alaska Court System provided record access to court records through the web-based interface, Court View (CV).

For this report, only first release cases were used—that is, if an offender was initially released some time prior to 2001 and returned for some reason, such as a probation violation, and then released again in 2001, that case was excluded. Also, some offenders were released more than once during 2001. The first release constituted the base measure; a subsequent release was an indication of a new arrest event.

In the rare instances of discrepancy, the date of the first event was used in the analysis. For instance, DOC and CV might have had the same date for an arrest/filing that did not appear in the criminal history. This situation generally indicated a remand to custody that did not get reported as a new court case and resulted in incarceration under the original court case—such as for parole, probation, and technical violations.

Demographics

Table 1 shows racial categories for the groups of offenders. Alaska Natives constituted 49 percent of the sex offender group and 46 percent of offenders overall. Whites were 32 percent of sex offenders and 39 percent of the overall offender pool. Table 1 also presents the breakdown for the two sex offense categories.

Table 2 shows a comparison of age and number of prior arrests and convictions for the groups of offenders. The average age of the sex offenders was significantly lower than that of the non-sex offenders. For the two sex offender categories, however, there was no significant difference in age.An analysis of prior convictions shows a significant difference between sex offenders and non-sex offenders for any prior conviction but not for sex offense convictions. The non-sex offenders had significantly more prior convictions than the sex offenders.



Rearrests for Any Crime

Table 3 shows recidivism rates for remands, rearrests, and reconvictions for the sex offenders and non-sex offenders. Non-sex offenders were more likely to be rearrested than sex offenders but for remands and convictions there was no significant difference between sex offenders and non-sex offenders.

Table 3 also shows the recidivism rates for the two sex offender categories. Those originally incarcerated for sexual abuse of a minor were less likely to be remanded than other sex offenders, less likely to be rearrested, and less likely to be reconvicted.


Rearrests for a Sex Crime

Table 4 shows the recidivism rates for the sex offenders and non-sex offenders for new sex crimes. While there is a slight difference in rearrests—3.4 percent for the sex offender group vs. 1.3 percent for the non-sex offender group—this difference is not statistically significant.

Table 4 also shows the equivalent analysis for the sex crime category grouping. Again, there is a slight but non-significant difference between the two groups.

Alan McKelvie is the director of the Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Center.


Sex offender laws criminalizing children - Unintentional wrinkle in sex offender hysteria



10/09/2008

A 15-year-old Ohio girl may have to register as a sex offender for the next 20 years – until she is 35 years old! - because she had the bad judgment to share with her friends some nude photos of herself that she took with her cell phone.

The girl's friends may also be charged in the case.

Under the federal Adam Walsh Act, which I blogged about yesterday, judges lost much of their ability to exercise common-sense discretion in cases like this. Instead, crimes must be punished based on fixed offense categories or "tiers."

The law under which the girl is charged makes it a 5th-degree felony to possess material showing a minor in a state of nudity. There is an exemption for parents or guardians who take nude photos of their own children, but no exemption for a child herself.

The legislator who wrote Ohio's Megan's Law, Republican Jay Hottinger, said this type of case was not what the legislature had in mind.

Maybe, instead of just thinking about getting votes, legislators should have been thinking a bit more carefully and deeply when they drafted all these laws, because this high school girl is far from a fluke.

As an expert on child pornography pointed out at a recent forensic psychology conference in Ireland, much of the sexually explicit imagery on the Internet is uploaded by the youngsters themselves, through such sites as Facebook, YouTube and Bebo; other images, as in this case, are sent from friend to friend via mobile phones.

Dr. Ethel Quayle, director of Europe's Combating Paedophile Information Networks in Europe (COPINE) and author of a book on Internet Child Pornography, estimated that about half of all online sexual solicitation involving children is done by the children themselves.

Dr. Qyale said the stereotype of middle-aged men grooming children for sexual exploitation is way off the mark; laws predicated on this bogeyman image are resulting in the increased criminalization of children like the Ohio girl.

The Newark (Ohio) Advocate has more on the Ohio case. The Irish Examiner reported on the forensic conference at University College Cork in Ireland. Photo credit: Hialean (Creative Commons license).