Monday, June 29, 2009

OK - Ice Cream Vendors

KXII's First News aired this story on May 26, 2009 about a proposal by Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant, to prohibit sex offenders from driving ice cream vending trucks in our neighborhoods. The measure was spurred by several high-profile cases in other states in which child predators used ice cream trucks as a means to attract potential victims. The measure was eventually signed into law by Gov. Brad Henry and will take effect July 1, 2009. Rashi Vats reports for KXII's First News (SB-1020 Summary, SB-1020)

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

TX - Gov. Rick Perry vetoes bill lifting sex offenders 21, younger from registry (Harming more children!)

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By Brandi Grissom / Austin Bureau

AUSTIN -- _____ had just started college at age 18 and was planning a career as a music teacher when he met a girl at a party and his whole world changed.

Now 25, _____ finished a four-year prison sentence instead of a four-year degree.

He is trying to get on with his life, but a year out of prison he still cannot find work and has had to move twice because he will forever carry with him the black mark of a registered sex offender.

"I was pretty much just a regular old kid in high school," he said. "And they kinda threw away the key on me."

Last week, Gov. Rick Perry (Contact) vetoed a bill that would have given people such as _____ the chance to try to have their names removed from the Texas sex offender registry. Perry said the measure approved by legislators failed to protect young victims.

For _____ and other sex offenders like him, who got involved with young people close to their own age, the veto was a disappointment and a setback.

"We were already ready to get everything settled and get our lives back," _____ said.

His life started a downhill trajectory in 2002, when he was attending _____ in West Texas, not far from Lubbock.

A girl he met at a party told him she was 16. He said she had a car and driver's license. The two hit it off, one thing led to another, and then the girl's grandmother walked in, _____ said.

He learned in court that the girl was actually 14. Had she really been 16, he could have used a legal defense that is available in cases involving consensual sex between young people whose age difference is three years or less.

_____ pleaded guilty instead of taking his chances with a jury and risking a long prison term. Still, he knew he would do time and end up on the registry of sex offenders.

"It kind of really messed my world up," _____ said.

He had never before been in trouble with the law, he said.

After his encounter with the young girl, his hopes of becoming a teacher were over.

Convicted of sexual assault, he will be required for life to put his name, address, photo and employer on the state sex offender registry.

While in prison, _____ met the woman who is now his wife. He has been free for a year, and he said their small family is doing well in North Texas, but he is frustrated that he cannot find work to support his wife and stepdaughter.

It's even been tough for him to return to school, _____ said. When he applied for automotive training, he said, the school rejected him because he was a sex offender.

"The only jobs open to offenders such as myself are trucking jobs and night-shift jobs, where you'll never see your family," he said.

This year, _____ found out about a bill by state Rep. Todd Smith (Contact), R-Euless, that could have helped him get his name off that offender list.

The measure would have allowed people such as _____, who were 21 or younger and had consensual sex with someone who was at least 14 and not more than four years younger than them, to petition a judge to remove their name from the sex offender registry.

Current law does not provide adult offenders any way to petition a judge to be removed from the list.

Smith said his bill was meant to allow law enforcement to concentrate its energy and resources on dangerous sexual predators on the offender registry by weeding out those who made youthful indiscretions.

"To the extent that list is diluted with nondangerous people, it undermines the purpose," he said.

About 55,000 people statewide are on the sex offender registry. A total of 869 are in El Paso County, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

In a response to Perry's veto, Smith wrote that the measure was one of the most "morally compelling" bills he had ever filed.

The bill cleared the House with an overwhelming majority, and was approved unanimously in the Senate.

"I believe teens involved in these relationships have committed a sin, but I don't believe -- in most cases -- that that sin should put them on a list that will literally ruin the rest of their lives," Smith wrote.

Robert Riley, first assistant public defender in El Paso County, said he sees cases such as _____'s a lot, and there should be some differentiation for offenders that are put on the registry.

"There really are horrible, heinous people, and there are other people who are young and in love or people who get drunk" and make a mistake, he said.

Unless a person is acquitted or the case is dismissed, he said, those involved in sex offenses are almost certain to end up on the registry. That makes the cases hard to settle, and it clogs the judicial system, Riley said.

"The law is intended to ensure they're not school bus drivers or teachers, but some of these people can't even get jobs as dishwashers because they have that big black mark," Riley said.

State Rep. Joe Moody (Contact), D-El Paso, was one of 28 lawmakers who voted against the bill. The former assistant district attorney said he agreed with Smith that the current registry was problematic. But, he said, the bill would not have fixed it and might have allowed some predators to slip through the cracks.

Instead of allowing for the exemption of an entire category of sex offenders, Moody said, the law should be changed to make the registration requirement based on the risk of a person committing another sex offense.

"You need to find some middle ground, where those who aren't a future danger can be moved out of the system and those who are a future danger can be watched with a closer eye," he said.

El Paso County District Attorney Jaime Esparza said Perry made the right decision in vetoing the bill.

Many cases involving two young people in a consensual relationship, he said, are resolved without a sex-offense conviction that requires registration.

If the case is not resolved, Esparza said, then usually it involved some type of criminal behavior that would merit the punishment of registration.

"The reality is they were convicted of a sex offense, and the offenses that do require sex offender registration are offenses that I think the community would want to know about," Esparza said.

Smith said he would work again to pass legislation to allow young adults involved in so-called Romeo-and-Juliet cases to eventually have the taint of the sex offender registry removed from their lives, but only if Gov. Perry changes his mind or Texans elect a new governor in 2010.

_____ said he hoped lawmakers would do something to help.

"We're all human. We all make mistakes sometimes," he said. "I really hope they pass this bill, so people like me ... we can all just get our lives back and get on with it."

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

CA - Sierra Madre adopts sex offender ordinance

View the article here


SIERRA MADRE - City officials have made Sierra Madre the latest city in the San Gabriel Valley to pass increased restrictions on where sex offenders can live.

California's passage in 2006 of Proposition 83, more commonly known as Jessica's Law, banned registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of any school or park. But a clause in the law allowed cities to enact their own, stricter restrictions.

Sierra Madre's new ordinance limits the number of sex offenders that can live in the same place. It also keeps sex offenders from loitering within 300 feet of certain safety zones where children often congregate.

Arcadia passed an ordinance in May that made 85 percent of the city off-limits to sex offenders.

In January, the Board of Supervisors, on a motion by Supervisor Michael Antonovich, adopted a sex offender ordinance for the county's unincorporated areas.

The county's ordinance effectively leaves 120 square miles of county territory available for sex offenders to live in. By comparison, the county has about 2,600 square miles of unincorporated territory, about 65 percent of the county's total area.

Other cities, including West Covina, El Monte, Alhambra, Rosemead, Pomona, San Marino and Long Beach adopted increased residency restrictions on sex offenders before the county passed its ordinance, most of them within the past year.

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

CA - California, still playing the shuffle game after many, many years!

From what I've heard, those in this state, who are homeless, are forced to move every TWO hours, to prevent COUCH surfing, and to further harass people. My God, they make these people homeless, then when they are homeless, force them to move around ever two hours. How cruel and inhumane can you get?

California has been doing the "Sex Offender Shuffle" for years now!

A registered sex offender who is telling how unjust the 290 & 288 registration is because it has forced him to be homeless. The law requires him to move every 2 hours if he is in a residence.

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

IA - Clarity sought on sex offenders New rules may go unenforced until after an explanatory conference.

View the article here


By Elizabeth Ahlin

Confusion clouds Iowa’s new restrictions on registered sex offenders just days before they take effect Wednesday.

The new rules include exclusionary zones limiting where registered sex offenders can go and alterations to Iowa’s 2,000-foot residency restriction, among other changes.

State officials have scheduled a conference to explain the rules to county law enforcement officers, but that won’t take place until July 6 and 7, about a week after the new law goes into effect.

Essentially, we’re going to be going the whole first week of the new law not really knowing what we’re enforcing,” said Chief Deputy Jim Matthai, who handles the sex offender registry in Pottawattamie County.

That lack of understanding could lead to a lack of enforcement in general.

I will not enforce much until after we have this (conference),” said Fremont County Sheriff Kevin Aistrope.

The law was signed by Gov. Chet Culver (Contact) in late May. With little more than a month to prepare, state officials were in a time crunch, said Special Agent Joe Motsinger of the Division of Criminal Investigation.

We’re working as hard as we can with the resources we have available,” said Motsinger.

While the intricacies of the law aren’t yet clear to county law enforcement officers, the basics involve new restrictions on registered sex offenders who have committed crimes against minor children.

Beginning Wednesday, anyone who falls into that category will be prohibited from entering a school, library or day care without written permission from authorities in those facilities.

Those same sex offenders also will be breaking the law if they loiter within 300 feet of any place children gather, such as swimming pools, playgrounds and public parks.

That doesn’t mean they can’t go to those places, said Motsinger, but they need to have a valid reason.

A sex offender could take his kids to the park. That’s a legitimate reason to be there,” said Motsinger. “But if the sex offender is sitting on a picnic table by himself watching little kids on the merry-go-round, then he could be approached by law enforcement.”

The new rules give police a way to monitor sex offenders all the time, not just keep track of their addresses, said State Rep. Clel Baudler (Email), R-Greenfield.

We feel this is a tremendous tool for local law enforcement to watch these people,” said Baudler. “Watch them hang out and be able to charge them immediately if they don’t have prior written permission to be in certain locations where kids are.”

The new law also affects the 2,000-foot rule, which bars registered sex offenders who have committed crimes against children from living with 2,000 feet of a school or child care center.

The rule remains in place, but it will apply only to sex offenders who have been convicted of first-, second- or third-degree sexual abuse against a minor.

That will drop the number of sex offenders subject to the restriction from about 4,300 to about 1,250, said Ross Loder of the Department of Public Safety.

In Cass County, the number of sex offenders subject to the rule is expected to drop from about 20 to four, said Billie Taylor-McLaren, sex offender liaison for the county sheriff.

A similar residency restriction in Nebraska allows cities to enact laws barring sex offenders from living within 500 feet of a school or child care center, but it doesn’t impose a statewide restriction.

Baudler, who pushed for the changes in the Legislature, said limiting the 2,000-foot rule is the right thing to do.

Quite frankly, the old law that we’re under right now did not work,” said Baudler. “It seemed tough at the time. It was not.”

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