Thursday, October 30, 2008

GA - Sex offender statute becomes tormentor

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10/31/2008

Family’s ordeal shows how Ga. law goes way too far

Andrew Norton grew up in a brutish household. His stepfather beat him and his brothers and made them watch pornography with him. Norton was forced to sleep at the foot of the bed while his mother and stepfather had sexual relations. After the state eventually intervened and terminated parental rights, Norton was placed in a foster family when he was 13.

Norton, now a married man with two children of his own, has since found solace in his family and his church, where he has been an active volunteer. But the state of Georgia that was once his protector has become his persecutor. After driving him out of four homes in the past four years, state officials now want to drive him out of his church as well.

Back when he was 12 or 13, police allege, Norton committed a sex offense against his half brother (the case is still in dispute in court, roughly a dozen years later). Unless that case is resolved in his favor, Norton will be on the state’s sex offender registry for life. And that means that Norton has no life.

The General Assembly has decreed that anyone who commits a sex offense — even a minor one — can’t live near schools, churches, swimming pools, school bus stops, day-care centers, parks, rec centers or skating rinks, or work around schools, churches or day-care centers.

In 2005, Norton and his family were ordered to leave his in-laws’ house because a school was nearby. They moved to a trailer park where they spent $1,500 to render the mobile home safe for their young children, only to be required to move again because there was a swing set within 1,000 feet.

The Nortons then found a home in Austell, where they lived for 10 months before being told to leave because it was too close to a school bus stop. When they couldn’t find another home, the family was forced to split. Norton went to a motel, while his wife and children returned to her parents’ house. Then Norton had to uproot himself again when a church was built near the motel. The reunited family has since found a rental home that complies with all the prohibitions. But officials now want to boot Norton from his church, citing a ban in state law on sex offenders serving as church volunteers.
- This is the same place ZMan lived at, the motel, and the church was not even built yet, and as soon as it was, over 40 people had to move, because a NEW church was opening up.  This is wrong!

“During these difficult times, my church community created one of the few steady environments in my life,” Norton stated in his court declaration. “Does it mean that I cannot volunteer to participate in Bible study? Does it mean that I cannot read scripture aloud at church services?”

Norton shared his saga to bolster a legal challenge to the state’s sex-offender law filed by the Southern Center for Human Rights, which contends the law criminalizes religious practice. The case will be heard Nov. 13 in U.S. District Court. The state has already lost several other legal challenges to the overarching law. Just this week, the state Supreme Court threw out a provision of the law that made it a felony for a sex offender to be homeless. Under the law, if a sex offender could not list a specific home address at a local sheriff’s office, he or she could be imprisoned for life.

Under that same law, homeowners on the sex offender list could be forced to sell their homes and move if a day-care center or church moved in near them. The state Supreme Court struck down that provision last year as a violation of property rights protected by the Fifth Amendment. In its legal challenge of the law, the Southern Center intends to argue that renters deserve the same protection.

In another inequity, the law makes no distinction between serious sexual predators and far less egregious sex-related crimes. For example, a 17-year-old who engages in consensual sex with a 15-year-old is subjected to the same severe and lifelong restrictions as a repeat child molester.

The most notable victim of that inequity was Douglas County teen Genarlow Wilson, who was sentenced to 10 years for having oral sex with a 15-year-old when he was 17.

A year ago this week, the state Supreme Court overturned Wilson’s conviction, freeing him after three years in jail. Today, he attends Morehouse College, where he hopes to play football next year. In its zeal to appear punitive, the Legislature has continued to enact hollow laws that do nothing to protect children from sex offenders. In 90 percent of such cases, the perpetrator is not a stranger who lives nearby, but a family member or family friend of the victim.

Federal law does require states to maintain registries of offenders convicted of sex crimes or offenses against children. That law also requires notification of schools, day-care centers and parents when sex offenders move into a community. However, Georgia lawmakers have carried their crusade far beyond what federal law and common sense dictate, passing the most drastic limits in the country on where offenders can live or work.

Perhaps the greatest flaw in Georgia’s approach is its stubborn refusal to acknowledge gradations in the dangers posed by sex offenders. State lawmakers did establish a board of experts to evaluate sex offenders and rank them on the risks they pose to others, but in practice the state ignores those rankings altogether.

Of offenders evaluated thus far by the Georgia Sex Offender Registration Review Board, 65 percent qualify as Level One, which means they pose little threat, says therapist Susan Strickland, who chairs the board. The board opposes any residency or work restrictions for Level One offenders.
- Good, maybe they will evaluate ZMan and remove the restrictions from him.  I'll have to let him know about this...

The board has categorized 30 percent of the offenders as Level Two, a category in which residency and work requirements are justified, according to Strickland. The remaining 5 percent of offenders are truly dangerous and should be subject to all restrictions as well as lifetime monitoring, she says.

A change in the law would allow police officers to concentrate their time and resources on tracking truly dangerous predators, some of whom have gone underground rather than comply with onerous registration rules. Instead, police find themselves hounding people such as Andrew Norton, who is trying to overcome his own heinous childhood and provide his children a better one.

— Maureen Downey, for the editorial board (mdowney@ajc.com)


MO - A former police chief is sentenced, after pleading guilty to two sex-related charges

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Wow, nice shirt. That kind of stuff will have you on the registry, oh wait, you will be on the registry. The original title of this article is "Sex crimes sentence," which to me, is them hoping nobody notices.  Well, I noticed, and welcome to my blog!

10/30/2008

MACON -- A former police chief is sentenced, after pleading guilty to two sex-related charges.

Kendrick Daniels, 29, of Kirksville, was sentenced to serve eight years in prison on a charge of first-degree child molestation and four years in prison for sexual misconduct or attempt involving a child under 15.

Daniels is a former police chief in La Plata. Daniels reached plea agreements that dropped other Macon County charges as well as a charge in Adair County.
- Of course, he's a cop, and they always get breaks!

Court records indicate that Daniels was accused of inappropriately touching two children ages six and eight, sometime between June 2005 and June 2006. Both incidents occurred after Daniels had left the La Plata Police Department.

Daniels was sentenced Wednesday under the Sexual Offender Assessment Program in Macon County Circuit Court. The sentences will be served concurrently. Daniels was ordered to the Sexual Offender Assessment Unit for at least 120 days.


IN - Sex offender seeks Supreme Court ruling on park ban

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10/30/2008

Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union warn that if Plainfield's ban on convicted sex offenders in the town parks is allowed to stand, similar bans and permanent punishment could spread across the state.

The ACLU, representing a Marion County man identified only as John Doe, have asked the state's highest court to review a September ruling by the Indiana Court of Appeals that upheld Plainfield's ban.

The state's high court is expected to decide by mid-November whether to accept the case or allow the appeals court decision to stand.

Plainfield's Town Council adopted an ordinance in 2000 that prohibits anyone on the Indiana registry of sex offenders from being in the town parks or recreation center.
- So how many children can you name, have been sexually assaulted or kidnapped from a park, or recreation facility, by a registered sex offender?  How many?  90% or more are sexually assaulted by their own parents, family or close friends.  So statistically, kids should be protected from these people, so in order to TRULY protect them, the kids should be removed from their own homes.

In 2005, Plainfield police saw an Indianapolis man they recognized as a convicted sex offender in one of the town park facilities. He was with his young son. Police later told the man about the town's ordinance and told him not to return.

Court rulings have allowed Doe to remain anonymous even though his real name and criminal history are public and listed on the registry online. He has completed a prison term and probation.
- And thus the law suit.  Punishing someone after they have already signed a CONTRACT, is in direct violation of the US and state Constitutions on ex post facto, due process, etc.

The ACLU sued Plainfield in November 2005. Since then, the town's ordinance banning convicted sex offenders from town parks has been upheld in Hendricks Superior Court and the state Court of Appeals. So Doe and other sex offenders are still prohibited from Plainfield parks.

ACLU Legal Director Kenneth J. Falk said in the recent 19-page filing with the Supreme Court that Plainfield's ordinance, if allowed to stand, has the potential for far-reaching and statewide impact.
- So I'm not following the ACLU director's view here.  Is he for the sex offender laws, or against?  I understand they are fighting for a registered (former) sex offender, but it doesn't sound good to me.

Greenwood, Lafayette and Michigan City have enacted similar bans. The ACLU has a suit pending against a Jeffersonville ordinance.

An Indianapolis ordinance passed two years ago was struck down in court as being too broad because the geographic areas of the ban covered most of the city.

Falk said the central issue in the appeal of the Plainfield lawsuit is whether access to the parks and recreational facilities is a legally defined "core value" for everyone in a community.
- Why not the fact that, where in the constitution does it say, the state has the authority to tell someone where they can and cannot live or go to?  No where!  Also, if they cannot attend these places, when are they going to get a tax break?  They are paying their tax dollars, if they have a job, to pay for parks they cannot attend, which is an unfair tax, IMO.

Plainfield claims convicted sex offenders do not have that right.
- They do have that right, the Constitution says so, the Government doesn't have the right to do what they are doing.  Read the Constitution for yourself, here is a link to it.

The ACLU claims that a permanent ban, even after an offender has completed prison and probation, is excessive punishment.

Call Star reporter Bruce C. Smith at (317) 444-2803.


MT - States Sexual or Violent Offender Registry is working

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Remember folks, it's election time, so out come the sex offender issues to garner votes, when they cannot prove, anything they have done is or will work!  Notice the headline "Registry is working?"  Yeah right!

10/29/2008

In the heat of the campaign season, the Montana Sexual or Violent Offender Registry, or SVOR, has garnered more than its share of headlines. What has gotten lost, however, is the hard work local law enforcement and the Department of Justice have done to protect the public from offenders.
- No, I don't think it was lost, they are not protecting the public.  They can pass 1 million laws, and we'd not be safer, just more of a prisoner to Big Brother!

Beginning in 1989, Montana required sex offenders to register with the state. In 1995, Montana strengthened its registration statutes and became one of very few states in the nation to also require some violent offenders to register.

Over the years, the SVOR has evolved in response to changes in federal law and concerns from Montana citizens and law enforcement. Most recently, in May 2007, Montana enacted Senate Bill 547. In addition to changes related to sentencing, community notification and other provisions, SB547 required the Department of Justice to post photographs of all sex offenders on the SVOR website.

In the months since SB547 took effect, the DOJ has worked closely with local law enforcement and other state agencies to comply with all the changes required under SB547, including posting photographs of more than 1,700 registered offenders.
- More doesn't mean better, and if these laws are "protecting" people, how come the registry continues to grow?  Sounds to me like it's not doing anything, just shaming!

Montana sheriff's offices and police departments deserve a great deal of credit for all they've done. They do much more than just submit photographs and registration information to the department's Web site.

They routinely check offenders' whereabouts.
- So why not check the whereabouts of murderers, gang members, drug dealers, prostitutes, DUI offenders, etc?

They communicate with parole officers on offender status and/or other infractions.

They notify the public when an offender changes addresses.

They investigate and recommend prosecution when an offender does not comply with state law.

And they participate in DOJ audits to ensure that all registrant information is accurate and timely.

I'm proud of law enforcement's success in combating sexual predators in Montana. By focusing our investigative know-how on the problem, our efforts have made a difference.
- Once again, you are talking about sexual offenders, so the PREDATOR word has nothing to do with it, just used out of context!  Not all sex offenders are predators, pedophiles or child molesters!

About six years ago, Montana Sheriffs and Police Chiefs supported the development of a state Computer Crime Unit designed to forensically examine and investigate computer crimes, including child pornography. Since its inception, the unit has successfully investigated approximately 150 cases of child sexual exploitation.
- So how many cases have they investigated on identity theft, hacking, cyberbullying, etc?

Montana has a number of Internet-crimes-against-children task forces designed to investigate online predators soliciting children and supplying child pornography.

Investigators in ICAC participate in online chat activities with suspected sexual predators. About 20 local and state law enforcement agencies in Montana participate in these task forces.
- Good, this is more reason why organizations like Perverted-Justice should be shut down.  Let the police do their job.  We do not need cyber vigilante terrorists!

Finally, the Department of Justice has taken proactive steps to educate young people and the adults in their lives about Internet safety.

Earlier this year, with help from the Montana Safe Schools Center at the University of Montana, the DOJ launched Safe in YourSpace, a guide to cybersafety in Big Sky Country. The site (www.safeinyourspace.org) has specific information for teens, parents and teachers. It covers a variety of topics, including Internet predators and cyberbullying. The section for teens has safety information and tips on e-mail, instant messaging, social networking and peer-to-peer networking. The new site received a Conference of Western Attorneys General award for Best Consumer Outreach.

This year, the Attorney General's Office has reached agreements with two popular social networking sites — MySpace and Facebook — to take steps to better protect young people using the sites.
- Yeah, by lumping all sex offenders into one group, and assuming they are all predators, so you require them to register their email address, and then the sites disallow sex offenders to get on the site.  Not all sex offenders who use these sites, are looking for children to molest.  Plus, any true predator who is intent on harming a child via the Internet, can make up a new email address in a couple seconds, then off they go!  So you see, it's not justified, just more punishment and shaming.

MySpace agreed to create age and identity verification technology, to respond within 72 hours to complaints about inappropriate content, and to commit more resources to reviewing and classifying photographs and discussion groups.
- So how is this "age and identity" verification working out for you?  How in the world are you going to verify someone online?

Facebook agreed to enforce "age locking" for existing and new profiles, while establishing a 24-hour hotline to respond to law enforcement inquiries.
- When are they going to "verify" the age of the kids, who are online now, who lied about their age, but are really in violation of their terms of service, and kick them off?  If the Internet is so dangerous, then their should be an age limit, IMO, just like getting a drivers license, smoking, drinking, having sex, etc!

The bottom line is that Montana has effective laws and rules on sex offenders, registration and notification. We have put together a combination of solid laws, public education and good, old-fashioned police work that is very effective.
- So where is all the statistics to show these laws "are working?"  Anybody can say it's working, but I want proof!

The Montana Department of Justice and local law enforcement agencies across the state work together — and work hard — to combat sexual predators. We take Montana's sex offender registration laws very seriously and we are proud of the Registry we have created.

Mike Batista has been the administrator of the Division of Criminal Investigation in the Montana Department of Justice since 1993.


GA - Sex Offender Law Unconstituional

Yes, this is a little old, but I've not posted this video on my blog, so here it is. You can view the Georgia label on the left of the blog, for more, or visit The Southern Center for Human Rights. I am in the process of adding my annotations to the video, which will appear shortly