Saturday, June 20, 2009

OFF TOPIC - Kitty Wake Up! (Leave me the "F" Alone!)

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

Over Reacting - Excerpts from Penn & Teller's Bulls--t! (Season 6 Episode 8 "Stranger Danger")

WARNING: Contains adult language, viewer discretion is advised!

Free Range Kids Blog

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

Another Shade of Gray - Some Surprising Truths about the Sex Offender Situation

NOTE: The text below is copyrighted and posted with permission by the author.  Do not put it on your blog or web site, without their permission.

How do we begin to address such an emotionally charged topic? A subject that by and large, is distasteful to most, and directly problematic to all too many. There are few social issues existing today that carry such widely impacting relevance, and are at the same time plagued by such an abundance of myth, misconception, misinformation, myopic motivations, outright lies, and above all – a critical shortage of accurate statistical data.

It would make the most sense to commence with some pertinent, probably somewhat surprising facts - real facts, based on true, complete, and accurate presentation of information revealed by the most extensive studies ever conducted on convicted sexual offenders. Ironically, the United States Department of Justice, the originator of the largest and most comprehensive study, would likely benefit much more by the results coming out, in effect, the opposite of what was revealed. Herein lies one of greatest intrinsic challenges in dealing with child sexual abuse – much of our perception, reaction, statute, and social viewpoint are based not on the truth, but on myth. As an example, it is widely accepted as fact that sex offenders are extremely likely to re-offend. In reality, with the singular exception of murderers (probably because they are usually imprisoned for life or executed,) individuals that have committed sexual crimes against children – once prosecuted, are the least likely group of criminals to commit a similar crime again. (See U.S. DOJ Study @ Where much of the perceptive distortion may come from, is the actual fact that most offenders against children have committed multiple offenses prior to being caught the first time. This element of truth has routinely been twisted to serve the agendas of a host of entities and organizations that benefit greatly from the public maintaining a universal fear and revulsion of sex offenders.

In this case, it’s an insidious instance of “throwing out the baby with the bathwater.” By reacting legally and socially based on mistaken assumptions, we expend a hugely disproportionate amount of our efforts, energies, and resources on incarcerating, monitoring, supervising, and tracking a population that is relatively harmless. There is not a recognized, significant study instrument existing today, that indicates a recidivism (re-offense) rate higher than 5% among this group of criminals, and some come in as low as 3.4 %! Many will immediately contend that this still constitutes a high enough risk level to warrant the current policies, laws, rights violations, and overall hysteria, “to protect the children!!” Where the myopic rubber meets the road here, is that as sentences, regulations, restrictions, and monitoring have increased, so proportionately has the number of absconded (whereabouts unknown) offenders - and equally significantly, the number of dead and missing children. How is this helping anyone, in any way?

Most are aware that “Meagan’s Law” is the precedent for the majority of today’s sex offender registries, monitoring, and community notification structures nationwide. What may come as a surprise is that there is absolutely no empirical evidence whatsoever that Megan’s or other like-minded laws have prevented anything, or protected anyone, ever. Many law enforcement professionals have gone on record bearing this out. While it has occasionally assisted in the apprehension of a few of the 2 – 5 % of individuals that did choose to re-offend, it can also be argued that those same resources could be applied to better screening, therapy, and public awareness processes, in order to lower that number even more and better detect warning signs - rather than wasting money and punishing many undeserving individuals for the sins of the few. It is difficult to even conceptualize the depths of Mrs. Kanka’s (Megan’s mother) grief or the scope of her family’s loss, and one would hope that very few would ever have to experience that level of tragedy. What must nonetheless be said is this: Laws should never be initiated by grieving families of victims for the above reasons. Having no basis in statistical fact, a “good idea on paper” has turned out to be ineffective, often unconstitutionally restrictive, and in effect counter-productive to its intended purpose (recidivism rates are the same as they were prior to the enactment of any of these laws.) The federal government’s typically inept reaction to this abject failure has been to create “SORNA” (legislation also initiated by an impacted family,) which is just more of the same, on a larger, more comprehensive scale. It reminds one of the tale of the watermelon vendors, selling melons for half of what they paid for them. After a season of losses, they concluded that a larger truck was necessary, so they could make it up next year in increased sales volume! We will not further protect our children by enveloping them in a blanket of false security. Rather, we must face facts and change course drastically if we hope to achieve a real difference – the need is clear for more exhaustive research, and more fitting, productive responses based on truth, not special-interest-serving fear-mongering.

Another hugely unproductive myth is that of “Stranger Danger.” Whether it be in public places, like malls and parks, on the streets, at the movies, wherever – your children are almost 95% safer at any of these locations, than they are in your own home, and the company of family, friends, and others that you actually “know,” and believe to be relatively safe. The explanation is simple – the overwhelming majority of child-related sex offenses are committed by someone known to the parents and the child - not “strangers.” While no one would advocate neglecting safety measures while in public, this merely illustrates yet another dangerous, counter-productive fallacy, that by its very nature, is likely contributive to an ongoing failure in the prevention of offenses that would be less likely to occur in an environment of accurate information.

A Perfect Storm

It’s important to clarify exactly how and why there are so many misconceptions, so much irrational fear and hatred, and such an unhealthy overall climate, which unintentionally contributes to worsening the problem. Simply put, there is a self-perpetuating cycle of misinformation, fear-mongering, knee-jerk reactions, and “feel good” legislation - all of which combine to create an exceptionally ineffective environment on every front of this “war.” It begins and ends with the news media, and our society’s apparent misconceptions about their true purpose. If we keep in mind that most of the media’s actual primary goal is, and always has been, to sell advertising, the overall picture might make more sense. It should come as no surprise that society possesses a certain morbid cultural curiosity around subjects that generally have very little or no direct relevance to most of us. For example, there seems to be something about fire that attracts our collective attention. The same goes for natural disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes, half the globe away. We’re constantly subjected to comprehensive coverage of the horrific of every kind, even though it generally has absolutely no practical impact on any of us, and that we have no intention of doing anything for or about. This seems to be exceedingly apparent with sexually based offenses, especially those committed against children. Almost like peeking at a scary movie through our fingers, we sit transfixed, unable to turn away – despite the heinous and revolting nature of what we’re viewing.

This is precisely what much of the media want and expect of us, and creates the most value benefit for them, in the form of advertising dollars - generated in direct proportion to the size of their audiences. The media have no desire whatsoever to report on what’s most relevant, important, or beneficial to you. Make no mistake, it’s all about the money, and always has been. Increasingly sensational (and often disturbing) stories go hand in hand with larger revenue potentials from bigger audiences.

The evolution and emergence of such an unfortunate dynamic has directly resulted in a precariously misinformed public, having been deliberately misled for profit, at an almost unimaginably high price. Because we’re told to believe that convicted sex offenders are inherently dangerous people that should be watched, regulated, supervised, and avoided if possible, we’re not looking where we should be for danger – within our own circles of family, friends, caregivers, and acquaintances. Meanwhile, we ostracize, revile, demean and disenfranchise a statistically harmless group of human beings.

Thus, the cycle continues with ubiquitous, sensationalistic misinformation, nurturing largely irrational and generally unjustifiable fear, contempt, repugnance, and hatred, all of which results in a devastatingly wasteful misdirection of energies and resources. With the public kept in a constant mindless frenzy of emotional reactivity (often due to atypical but high profile, particularly gruesome incidents,) the stage stays set for grandstanding politicians to step up – spouting rhetoric all having the same ring, “sex offenders are bad people, and we MUST protect our children from them, at ANY COST!”

The glaring error in this is that the vast majority of new-victim sexual offenses are not, repeat, not committed by already convicted sex offenders. Consequently as stated earlier, valuable resources are wasted on a relatively non-dangerous population. Still, the pundits rant on for their own political gain, probably fully cognizant of the pointlessness of what they propose, in order to garner more votes, gain leverage, or trash more level-headed, civil-rights-minded opponents. This prompts generally useless, often Draconian legislation that protects no one, and prevents nothing, but indeed looks “tough on crime” in the media. Public misinformation is then further reinforced, because, surely the lawmakers must know what they’re doing, right? Wrong. The statistics here, while undeniably true, are almost astounding, simply because they appear so foreign from what the media, policies, attitudes and overall current climate would suggest. Figures don’t lie, but liars apparently do figure.

We now come to the next insidious, cancer-like piece of this poisonous pie: The Criminal Justice System. More numerous and stricter laws equal more walls, more bars, more guards, more probation and parole officers - MORE MONEY. With over 700,000 convicted sex offenders living and working among us, some very attractive opportunities present themselves to the ambitious in many professions. After all, who will come to the defense of a sex offender, even when it may involve his or her (the “her” contains a hypocrisy worthy of an entire additional article,) constitutional rights remaining intact? “They don’t deserve rights,” is a fairly common belief among many, largely due to the mass hypnosis continually perpetuated by the media and law enforcement, for their own benefits, not yours. Sex offenders, due to safety concerns, often require special, more expensive housing in jail and prison facilities, higher-priced custody situations for necessary segregation, and smaller scale, more expensive transport, for the same reasons. They often receive longer sentences, and are making up an ever-growing segment of today’s institutional populations. Again, more facilities, jobs, and money for everyone, at the taxpayers’ expense. So, why do the authorities continue to ignore relevant research and real facts? Because it’s profitable to do so. What price does this carry, beyond just dollars and sense? Our children, and many law abiding citizens pay it every day, in decreased safety, misplaced trust, and losses of freedoms.

And finally, we must consider the therapeutic sector’s impacts, interests and implications in this idiotic ideology. One might mistakenly assume that therapy providers would endeavor to act in society’s best interests in order to minimize recidivism rates. Wrong again. Here is yet another area where financial interests outweigh the greater good. Psychologists that treat sex offenders are generally contracted through states’ and counties’ criminal justice systems, and therefore subject not just to intense scrutiny from law enforcement such as probation and parole departments, but actually often must waive standard confidentiality procedures, and even conform their programs to requirements set by authorities. There have been numerous cases, some successful, some thrown out, of offenders being further prosecuted for disclosing additional victims or offenses in “private” therapy sessions. In return for sacrificing professional practices, experience, and ethics, treatment providers are rewarded with almost guaranteed success through lucrative contracts that provide them with a steady stream of long-term, compliant “customers.” So, the actual “customer” becomes the state or county, while offenders and taxpayers foot the bills for substandard, compromised – and consequentially less effective – “treatment.” All this is in seeming opposition to the standard mantra that “there is no cure,” so what actually is the point? It would appear to be an exemplary application of the Orwellian concept of “Double-think,” wherein government and society allow themselves to believe two directly conflicting ideas at the same time, in order to benefit financially and politically. The major costs, obviously, are that the safety and well-being of our children, as well as the constitutional rights of over a million Americans and counting, are being line by line sacrificed to get your vote and strengthen and grow already ineffective systems.

How Do We Fix It?

The solution is two-fold. From the perspective of society and for the victims’ well-being, it is necessary to develop better awareness programs, geared toward warning signs, trauma indicators, and common techniques and typical set scenarios used by offenders to “groom” their potential victims. The most widespread fallacies must be dispelled, such as that of “stranger danger,” vs. “next-door-neighbor danger,” and replaced with solid foundational information, that may actually help prevent offenses, and protect children.

With respect to convicted offenders themselves, more accurate and universal risk-assessment tools must be developed, based on empirical evidence that already does indeed exist, and has thus far just been ignored, or at best, not properly mined. Perhaps the greatest advancement we could make to help decrease the overall aggregate amount of child sexual abuse is to confront the general public with the facts – convicted sex offenders are not inherently dangerous, and their deviances can be successfully managed. This in turn will hopefully engender an environment wherein offenders can come forward to seek the help they need, because again and contrary to popular belief, most are not devoid of conscience, and struggle with deviant behaviors prior to being caught – and are simply not willing to be subjected to the current social branding and vilification that inevitably accompany such disclosures. Instead, they are almost forced to choose to try to deal with their problems on their own, and are consequently likely to commit many more offenses then they would with proper treatment.

It is not being suggested that all be forgiven, and no consequences come to bear, but rather we endeavor to balance them with solution-oriented results in mind, as opposed to the current atmosphere of utter contempt and hatred. We stand at a critical crossroads right now, both socially and legally – we had best tread carefully.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

TX - Perry vetoes 37 bills, including 'Romeo and Juliet'

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AUSTINGov. Rick Perry (Contact) on Friday vetoed a "Romeo and Juliet" sex offender measure along with 36 other bills passed by the Legislature this year – including bicyclist protection legislation and a partial ban on toll road ads by the state Transportation Department.

Near the end of his deadline for signing or vetoing legislation from the 2009 session, Perry also rejected bills to require television manufacturers to recycle old TVs and to create a pilot program letting buses in urban areas use highway shoulders during peak traffic times.

The governor also vetoed a measure that would have clarified when Child Protective Services caseworkers may enter a child's home or remove a child from school in suspected child abuse cases. Social conservative groups complained that the proposal gave too much authority to the state agency.

Perry signed legislation that gives schools more leeway to buy electronic versions of learning materials – including CDs, online content and downloaded files. School districts also would be able to use state textbook funds to buy laptop computers and wireless reading devices.

State Board of Education members and social conservative groups had been urging Perry to veto the measure, contending textbook funds should be used only for traditional hardback books. Responding to their concerns, he issued an executive order giving the board a voice in selection of e-book materials.

Perry said the measure "will further propel Texas schools into the 21st century."

The Romeo-and-Juliet legislation by Rep. Todd Smith (Contact), R-Euless, easily passed the House and Senate, which considered it a "teenage lovers" bill.

It would have allowed defendants to petition a judge to exempt them as a registered sex offender under strict guidelines, including that the age-based offense was consensual. In addition, the victim would have had to be at least 13 and the defendant no more than four years older than the victim.

In his veto message, the governor said while the proposal "was intended to more narrowly define who could seek a court's exemption from sex offender registration, I believe the bill fails to adequately protect young victims."
- So why not elaborate on this some more?

The bicyclist protection measure would have required that drivers give bikes, motorcyclists, pedestrians and other "vulnerable road users" at least a three-foot berth when passing them. Commercial vehicles would have had to leave six feet of space.

The partial ban on advertising and marketing of toll roads passed the House and Senate after sponsors said the Transportation Department was wasting tax dollars to boost traffic on toll roads in the state.

The legislation would have restricted ads to informational purposes only.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

GPS Devices Not a Silver Bullet, States Say

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Feb 1, 2009, By Jim McKay, Justice and Public Safety Editor

GPS monitoring — embraced as a simple technological solution for tracking the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders — is proving to be something less than a silver bullet for state and local public safety agencies.

Convinced that GPS monitoring was the answer to the sex offender problem, judges and lawmakers began mandating the technology for high-profile parolees. Beginning in 2005, the technology was widely deployed as means to ensure that offenders complied with the terms of their release, such as staying a safe distance from schools or a victim’s home.

Monitoring systems typically consist of a GPS receiver/portable tracking device, radio frequency transmitter, stationary charging unit, cellular telephone and computer software to review GPS data. The devices allow officials to track the parolees’ whereabouts — when everything works properly and when offender cooperates.

But there are problems with the way the technology is used and monitored. False alarms number in the thousands in some jurisdictions, straining manpower and casting doubt on the viability of GPS as a tracking tool for high-profile felons.

In Arizona, a 2007 legislative study found more than 35,000 false alerts by 140 subjects wearing the GPS-monitoring devices.

In California, the percentage of transient parolees, those who’ve been declared homeless, has increased by 900 percent since a law was passed that included GPS as part of the solution. Now, officials say, they’re guessing about where the offenders are because more have become transient and the GPS monitoring can be unreliable, especially when the offenders lack real housing where they can charge the devices.

And in Connecticut, officials are pushing for a state-run monitoring facility to keep track of offenders being monitored by GPS after numerous false alarms involving several subjects, including one whose case prompted action.

Though public safety officials typically agree that GPS is a valuable tool, they say it’s not a replacement for personal contact with the subject, his co-workers, family and friends that keeps the offender honest.

Released, Arrested, Released
Connecticut’s move for a proposed monitoring facility resulted from a recent re-arrest of a sex offender.

After serving 24 years in prison for multiple sexual assaults, _____ was released and put on probation in September 2007. _____ was confined to his sister’s residence and required to wear a GPS anklet that tracked his whereabouts. In September 2008, _____ was re-arrested after allegedly violating conditions of his parole by leaving the property.

However, _____ and his lawyer contended that the GPS unit provided a false alert. In fact, they contend that during the one-year period after _____’s release, the unit sent more than 40 false alarms.

Pro Tech Monitoring Inc., a subcontractor for G4S Justice Services, eventually wrote a letter to the court that said it couldn’t say conclusively that _____ had left the property, according to _____’s lawyer, John Kaloidis. Two days after _____’s arrest, the warrant was withdrawn.

A tech went to the home where my client is and said there was a problem with the device,” Kaloidis said. “[The signal] bounces off cell phone towers, and there are certain points it can bounce off. It didn’t find the street where my client was and bounced him to the next street over.”

Pro Tech didn’t return phone calls and e-mails to discuss the case.

There were also other problems with the tracking device and its monitoring that added up to the false alerts.

Once, _____ was plotted on GPS to have been more than 400 feet from his residence at 12:59 p.m. Just seconds later, he was plotted at the residence, according to a report by the Court Support Services Division of the Connecticut Judicial Branch.

It would happen in the middle of the night when he was sleeping,” Kaloidis said. “The family had to put the phone near his bed because they were tired of being awakened by probation officers saying, ‘_____, where the hell are you?’

The tracking device assigned to _____ is a two-piece unit consisting of a transmitter (a battery-operated GPS device worn on the ankle) that emits a radio signal to a portable-tracking device (PTD), a small box that’s worn on the offender’s waist. The PTD receives radio signals and position information from the GPS device through satellites. The PTD transmits location information to a monitoring station in real time through a cell phone.

_____’s unit was programmed to sound an alarm if he ventured outside the vicinity — a Pro Tech representative marks the property’s perimeter into the PTD to program the area in which the parolee is required to remain.

The subject is responsible for wearing the PTD on his belt and for keeping batteries in the transmitter. A dead battery or putting the PTD in a pants pocket would send an alert. Bill Carbone, executive director of the Connecticut Supreme Court Services, said those issues could have caused some of the alarms. “But I don’t think you can just point to the one area where he wasn’t wearing the unit in the place where you get the best service. This happened a lot of times.”

Kaloidis said the devices might not have been programmed correctly. “I think when they went to the house they didn’t properly calibrate the machine,” Kaloidis said. “The four corners of the property weren’t marked.”

Then there was what Carbone characterized as impermissible actions by Pro Tech staff. “I would call it unacceptable that we would get a verbal then a written response [confirming that _____ had left the property], then two days later have the company reverse it,” he said.

A Connecticut Court Support Services report acknowledged a general misconception about GPS and sex offender supervision, and frustration for law enforcement officials who must deal with voluminous false alerts.

The report acknowledged that probation officers’ work hours don’t extend into the nighttime and weekends, and probation officers must respond to alerts while off duty. If the officer is out of cellular range or not near a computer, he or she may be unable to review the tracking data.

The report recommends assigning a secondary officer to high-profile cases to cover for the primary officer when he or she is unavailable. It also recommended a monitoring center to screen GPS and electronic-monitoring data and alerts at all times.

We are determined to have some sort of call center in Connecticut that will monitor the offenders, receive the initial alert and serve as a screen prior to the officer knowing about the alert so they aren’t bothered on a 24-hour basis,” Carbone said, acknowledging the obvious waste of manpower spent tracking false alerts.

Understanding its Limitations
All sources interviewed for this story said GPS is a legitimate tool for law enforcement, but its limitations must be understood, and it must be used correctly. “It’s got to be centered in the context of all the other information available to the officer, including the reports from treatment, family and so forth,” Carbone said.

Policymakers should understand that having a GPS device on subjects doesn’t mean they’re monitored all the time. “A lot of people think if you’re on GPS somebody is sitting at a computer and they know your whereabouts all the time,” Carbone said. “They’re not aware of the influence of weather and other interferences with the system and the cell tower issues.”

The Connecticut Court Support Services report noted that in an ideal environment GPS can be very accurate, but in difficult topography or in bad weather, tracking errors and signal loss can disrupt accuracy and consistency.

California relies heavily on GPS monitoring, despite the false alarms and failures, since a new law was put into effect that tries to keep sex offenders away from schools.

Jessica’s Law prohibits convicted sex offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of a school or park. In November 2008, an appeals court ruled that the law amounts to additional punishment, although the law was left in effect for the time being.

Critics contend that the law is making sex offenders harder to track because some, either intentionally or not, are becoming homeless.

And the trouble with homeless sex offenders is there may be nowhere to recharge the unit’s batteries. “GPS units need to be plugged into a wall,” said Robert Coombs, director of public affairs for the California Sex Offender Management Board. “So it is a real problem that these guys have gone transient, and unless we let them into our public libraries or Starbucks or any other place where they can plug in, we’re not going to be able to maintain this problem.”

Before the 2008 law passed, 88 registered sex offenders were homeless. That number has risen to more than 1,000 since then, and it’s because the law focuses on GPS, Coombs said.

Officials say the offenders are being tracked with the GPS, but critics say that’s not enough. “Those of us who work with victims and offenders know that just because you know where a guy is, doesn’t mean you know what he is doing,” Coombs said. And that’s assuming the devices are working correctly, and they sometimes don’t, he said.

This is actually the melding of two technologies,” Coombs said. “One is GPS, which is essentially getting that signal from satellites, and the other is cellular technology, which is then transferring that data to the nearest cell phone tower. The weaknesses of those two technologies are compounded by bringing the two together.”

Coombs said parolees can venture out of the satellites’ range by entering buildings or a dense urban location. “Places like schools, hospitals, government buildings,” he said. “You walk into the Capitol building here in Sacramento (Calif.) and you lose satellite reception.”

Coombs said there have been instances in California where an offender was on a train or bus heading to a mandated treatment facility and his satellite reception was lost.

Additionally the offender is counted on to charge the device’s batteries and make sure he’s wearing it on his belt and not in his pocket. “These are folks who we’ve already identified as having trouble following rules or schedules,” Coombs said. “They may intentionally fail, because by not charging it, they know they’re not being tracked. ‘If I don’t charge this thing for two hours, there’s no evidence of where I’ve been.’

It’s a Fad?
Sources said policymakers have made promises about the technology that won’t hold up. “In our business, they invent these things, they advertise and the attorney sells the judge, ‘Rather than put my client in jail, put him on the GPS,”‘ said Mike Goss, deputy chief of the Maricopa County, Ariz., Adult Probation Department. “It’s a snazzy thing; it’s become sort of a fad.”

In Washington state, there has been resistance to GPS monitoring. In 2006, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs opposed proposed legislation — which passed — to expand the use of GPS because of experiences with faulty readings when offenders move inside steel buildings, tunnels or outside when it’s snowing, according to Don Pierce, the association’s executive director.

We believed, and still believe, that GPS monitoring should be used when it’s appropriate and not simply across the board,” Pierce said. “We were concerned, and still are, that GPS monitoring is viewed as a panacea and will prevent future crime. It isn’t, and it won’t.

The belief that GPS monitoring could replace any other types of supervision, such as visits from the probation officer, conversations with family, counselors and so on, is a dangerous one. “It’s best used as a corroboration tool,” Coombs said. “When you have a routine parole meeting and the guy says, ‘Well, I haven’t been in a certain location,’ [such as an exclusion zone] you can verify that.”

But the technology won’t keep people out of trouble if they’re prone to trouble. “It’s only as good as the approach used to implement it,” Coombs said. “If you think the technology is going to protect children because [the offender] can’t go near schools, then you forget that children exist in places other than schools.”

Arizona eschewed the two-piece units in favor of a one-piece device and has had fewer false alarms, Goss said. “Now, the one piece that straps on the leg is a real small unit and it’s all self-contained.”

In late 2008, Rhode Island was about to launch a GPS-monitoring program that might be more accurate than technology being used now. It was pioneered by a local private company.

The consensus is that GPS has a role, but its limitations must be understood. “There’s a very legitimate and important role for GPS, but it’s one tool in the toolbox,” Carbone said. “Policymakers need to be better informed so there’s not a rush to use GPS because they think it’s like LoJack.”

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

NY - Sex Offender Bill (Pertaining to sending out emails when an offender changes registry info) Passes Assembly

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Residents will soon receive e-mail notifications when changes are made to sex offender registry

Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava (Email) (R, I, WF – Gouverneur) today announced the passage of legislation in the Assembly that mirrors legislation for which she has been advocating that enables residents to sign up for e-mail alerts when level 2 and 3 sex offenders move into their communities.

I understand keeping our children safe from sexual predators is of the utmost importance. This legislation will enable quick and efficient e-mail notifications to be sent to residents whenever sexual predators move into their communities,” said Scozzafava.
- Not all sex offenders are predators like you seem to think.

While the current sex offender database is available to all New York state residents, it can be difficult to monitor ongoing changes. Residents will now be able to go to the Department of Criminal Justice Service (DCJS) web site and choose to receive updates whenever sex offenders change their status, such as an address.

With advancements to technology, creating e-mail notifications just makes sense. Residents should not have to spend their time monitoring a registry to determine whether or not a sexual predator has moved into their neighborhood. Instead, they should be able to spend time with their loved ones and have the peace of mind knowing that they will be alerted to any changes,” concluded Scozzafava.

Assemblywoman Scozzafava first introduced Assembly bill 5803 in February 2007 calling for the establishment of such e-mail notifications.

Editor's Note: The Senate version of this bill, S1362-C, passed the Senate by a clear majority in May of this year. This bill is on its way to the Governor and should soon be signed into law.

Click the image to enlarge, or the link above to view the bill

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

CA - Newly Enforced Law Puts Sex Offenders Closer to Your Backyard

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By Cindy Nixon

A state law designed to protect the public from sex offenders, is now drawing outrage from those impacted by it.

For more than a year, landlord Gary Womack housed 14 sex offenders in this Tehama County home and two others like it.

In February, parole officers kicked most of the residents out, forcing them closer to places where children are often found.

The officers were responding to Proposition 83, passed by California voters in 2006.

The proposition prohibits more than one sex offender living under the same roof in a single family home.

Now many of those offenders are in violation of Jessica's Law, living in tents right near your backyard.

The parole officers we spoke to in Tehama County say residents are safe because registered sex offenders have to wear ankle bracelets that monitor their whereabouts.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)