Wednesday, September 23, 2009

NM - The New Ball & Chain

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By Dave Maass

New Mexico’s laws keep sex offenders under lock and signal

Bill Tennant’s Blackberry never stops buzzing.

It registers an alert 50 times a day. Each time, Tennant—or one of the other parole and probation officers under his command at the New Mexico Corrections Department’s response center in Albuquerque—logs on to a computer. There, they bring up a digital map of the state, which they use to track the 80 sex offenders currently under real-time electronic supervision.

The map is pink, the offenders are green blips and schools are red brick icons. During a recent demonstration, Tennant zooms in on a blip, which has flipped from green to red to indicate an offender has wandered outside his approved “inclusion” zone.
- I wonder if the "pink" and "green" are used on purpose?  See this wikipedia article.

The blip, however, is barely outside the boundary of the shaded zone, so Tennant chalks it up as within the GPS device’s margin of error. Sometimes there’s a drift, he says. Before long, the offender is back in the green, making his way down the road.

GPS technology has made it easier to monitor sex offenders 24 hours a day, whereas before parole/probation officers relied solely on field visits and phone calls. Yet, the new system does have its shortcomings. Mainly, the GPS software can only tell a parole officer where the sex offender has been, not what he has been doing. The offender could be stopping at a liquor store (a parole violation) or meeting up socially with other sex offenders (another violation).

Tennant’s recommended method for digging down is to pick two offenders a day at random and follow their paths on the electronic map to deduce patterns in their behavior.

You kind of have to use the Sherlock Holmes method to look at the data,” he says.

This active tracking kicked into high gear two years ago when the Legislature mandated that higher-level sex offenders be under active or real-time GPS monitoring for the duration of their paroles. As of 2003, parole for these offenders is a minimum of five years, a maximum of 20 years and, in 2007, lifetime parole was added for the worst offenders. The program will continue to expand and increase in cost: 147 sex offenders are due for release between now and next summer, according to a report by the New Mexico Sentencing Commission.

Those who work closely with sex offenders say electronic monitoring helps keep their clients in check, but so far is rife with technical glitches. The system is reassuring to some victims’ advocates, while others question whether the GPS monitoring really acts as a deterrent or, worse, spurs offenders to commit more heinous crimes.

Meanwhile, criminal defense attorneys and civil rights advocates—long critics of the public dissemination of sex-offender information—argue that electronic monitoring is another way in which the government is stripping these offenders of their civil rights and creating unconstitutional incarceration beyond their assigned sentences. Further, they point to federal research that indicates sex offenders are far less likely to reoffend than non-sex offenders.

And yet, as sex offenders become society’s scapegoats, these GPS devices may be the best protection these offenders have to prove alibis.

Ultimately, the debate over GPS tracking emphasizes the fundamental questions of how society deals with its most feared and unpredictable ex-convicts, and whether anything can prevent them from reoffending.

When my clients complain about it, they’ll say, ‘This GPS won’t stop me from doing anything,’” Dr. Ernesto Santistevan, who counsels sex offenders one-on-one in Santa Fe and Albuquerque through a state contract, says. “What GPS does is let them know they’re probably going to get caught.”

"TThey who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

NH - Hooksett Residents Seek Sex Offender Ordinance

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HOOKSETT - Residents of a Hooksett neighborhood upset over the release of a convicted sex offender facing new charges will go to the town Wednesday night to request an ordinance.

The residents said they're upset because _____, 45, was released on bail last week after he was charged with sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl, a charge he denies.

Neighbors said they realize that _____ will be in the neighborhood unless he's convicted of the new charge, but they want future sex offenders who seek to move to town to face tougher laws.

"We can't stop him from living there, but we definitely can set some ordinances in place, which would be great," said neighbor Gayle Gillespie.

Investigators said _____ admitted to inappropriately touching a girl in his home in August, but he now says he wasn't telling the truth. _____ was released on personal recognizance by the bail commissioner.

When News 9 spoke with _____ on Tuesday, he was defiant, saying no one could intimidate him into leaving his home.

"If they have a problem with me living here, then they can move, OK?" he said. "I mean, sex offenders need to live somewhere."

Neighbors said they're focusing their efforts on the future.

"This is not about what's happening with him living here," Gillespie said. "At this point, law-wise, this more has to do with the fact that we need to protect our children."

Even though the issue isn't on the agenda, members of the town council said they will be ready to discuss it, and they understand why neighbors are angry.

"This is the kind of thing that gets people upset," said David Ross, vice chairman of the town council.

Ross said the council considered a sex offender ordinance three years ago but decided to hold off. Now, he thinks it's worth another look.

"Is everybody going to go on the Web every night to see what these guys' movements are? No," he said. "There should be a notice going up."

The meeting started at 6:30 p.m. Residents said they will have a designated spokesperson to make their case.

Video Link | Another Video

"TThey who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

FL - Law Professor's New Book Traces History Of Sex Offender Registration

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TALLAHASSEE - As news of crimes allegedly committed by sex offenders continue to grab national headlines, a Florida State University College of Law professor has published a new book on the history of the registration of sex offenders.

Wayne A. Logan, the law school’s Gary & Sallyn Pajcic Professor, traces the evolution of criminal registration laws in the book, “Knowledge as Power: Criminal Registration and Community Notification Laws in America” (Stanford University Press, 2009). The book provides an in-depth analysis of criminal registration and community notification laws, exploring the forces driving their rapid nationwide proliferation in the 1990s through today.

The book provides the first extended examination of registration and community notification laws, examining their content, history and effects, as well as their impact on American law, society and governance,” Logan said. “In the wake of the Jaycee Dugard victimization, allegedly by a registrant in California, and ongoing budget challenges, the book raises a variety of timely issues.”

Michael Tonry, a law professor at the University of Minnesota who reviewed the book, said it “will long stand as the authoritative account of a challenging chapter in American life.”

One of the nation’s preeminent legal scholars on registration and community notification laws, Logan teaches and writes in the areas of criminal law, criminal procedure, sentencing and torts. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute and a past chair of the Criminal Justice Section of the Association of American Law Schools.

Logan’s book is one of four recently published by the Florida State Law faculty. In addition to being productive scholars, Florida State Law faculty members are active speakers and experts for professional groups around the nation, testifying both before the Florida Legislature and the U.S. Congress.

"TThey who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

MI - Child Porn Found in Briefcase of Former Court Referee

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A court referee in Grand Traverse County will get to see the court system from a different point a view: the defense table.

Dennis Mikko faces five felony counts of having child pornography. He resigned from his position as court referee last month when the investigation began.

Referees are technically not judges, but act as such. Instead of ruling on a case, they recommend a ruling to an actual judge who has the final say.

Police say the criminal investigation on Mikko began with a tip that he was having a sexual conversation with someone underage on Myspace.

Through a search warrant, police found several pictures of naked, underage girls in his briefcase at the courthouse. Police don't believe the kids are from the area.

The criminal charges shocked many in the community, especially attorneys who have presented numerous cases to Mikko over the years.

"It's really a sad day, it's been a sad few weeks for the local bar and bench when something like this happens," says Lea Ann Sterling, a Family Law Attorney from Empire.

Sterling has been on the winning and losing end of many cases with Mikko.

"In addition to just rendering a decision, he often gave a pretty harsh commentary to people," she says. "And I think there will be people in the community reacting to that."

Anyone who accepts that position, Sterling told us, understands the they're held to a higher standard.
- We'll see!

"I find it sad when anyone has fallen astray in anyway. I know that he loved his job and he doesn't have that job anymore."

Mikko also lost his second job as a paramedic with Northflight.

In a statement, Munson Spokeswoman, Barb Gordon-Kessel said, "...he has been an excellent employee; we have never had any complaints. He was suspended without pay as soon as we became aware of the situation. To our knowledge, nothing inappropriate was accessed from a computer within the Munson Healthcare network."

Mikko is currently out on bond.

Police say the investigation is not over and more charges may be on the way.

"TThey who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

CT - Warden Behind Bars

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State Police arrested a deputy warden Tuesday on charges he had sexual contact with an inmate.

Neal Kearney, 48, of Bloomfield, is charged with two counts of second-degree sexual assault.

The Bloomfield man was arrested after the 38-year-old inmate said he had a sexual relationship with Kearney.

The alleged encounters took place inside Kearney's office at the Webster Correctional Institute in Cheshire in 2008.

Kearney never used force during the encounters, according to court papers.

Kearney served as a part-time cheerleading coach at the University of Connecticut for 22 years. He resigned in April 2009, according to the school.

"TThey who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

FL - Court: Miami's Julia Tuttle sex-offender suit to be heard in Tallahassee

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In the battle between Miami and Tallahassee over the colony of sex offenders living under Miami's Julie Tuttle Causeway, round one goes to the state.

A three-judge panel of a Miami appeals court ruled Wednesday that the dispute over the sex offenders' makeshift living quarters should be held in Tallahassee, where the state Department of Transportation -- the defendant in the lawsuit -- is headquartered. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Victoria Sigler had ruled otherwise and was reversed.

The lawsuit at the center of the dispute blames state transportation administrators for placing dozens of convicted sex offenders and predators under the Julia Tuttle Causeway -- a strip of land where about 45 sex offenders live in tents, rusted automobiles and cardboard shelters.

The city contends the "shantytown," which lacks electricity, sanitation and permanent housing, has become a public health hazard.

City leaders also argue that the colony is within 2,500 feet of a city park -- which violates a city law banning sex offenders from living within that distance from anywhere children gather.

The city is asking the courts to grant a temporary and permanent injunction requiring the sex offenders to be moved from under the bridge and no longer be issued identification listing the Julia Tuttle Causeway as their permanent address.

The appeals court panel -- which included Chief Judge Juan Ramirez Jr. and judges Barbara Lagoa and Vance E. Salter -- said the state is protected by its "home venue" privilege, which allows state goverment to litigate where agencies are based.

"TThey who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

UK - This Morning - Catching Paedophiles (09/22/2009)

Once again, using pedophile and sex offender as if they are one and the same, when they are not!

Video Link

"TThey who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

OR - Cartoons not so black and white

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Fingers shaking, the man hit the keyboard as he defended his 15-year-old son – a level three sex offender.

His anger was incited by a recent cartoon that ran in the Reporter, which depicted a noose and the words “the only legal loophole fit for a level three sex predator.”

I want to reach through the computer and choke some common sense into this person,” the Oregon man said of Reporter cartoonist Jeff Johnson in a letter to the editor. He was afraid the cartoon would put his son "one step closer to the edge."

Though their aim is not to offend anyone, cartoonists have been known to be inconsiderate and to stir quite the controversy. So when I came in to the office after the paper was delivered last week, perhaps I shouldn't have been so surprised when readers compared us to the Nazis and Ku Klux Klan.

Other readers – from Kirkland and nationwide - criticized the paper itself for encouraging "vigilantism" and advocating a "hate crime." Many demanded an apology.

Del Jackson, of Ohio, said the cartoon “is one of the most reprehensible displays of journalism” he has ever seen. He also mentioned should anyone in the sex offender population suffer repercussions from “such a public advocation of vigilante justice” that he would file a lawsuit.

Many others disputed that level three offenders - those who have, by definition, already paid debt to society - are less likely to reoffend than level one offenders. An official for the Sex Offenders Solutions and Education Network (SOSEN) responded with statistics: the truly dangerous offenders make up less than 5 percent of the total number on the national registry, according to the Department of Justice; and the No. 1 cause of unnatural death among former offenders is vigilantism.

Another father commented on the Reporter Web site that his 15-year-old son has to live with the sex offender label because he flashed his front side at a passing car with some friends.

On the other hand, a few in the community, including Kirkland resident Donna Rafalski, feel that "innocent lives are destroyed by criminals," she said in a letter to the editor. Don't coddle criminals, she urged.

I was most perplexed when Kirkland resident Karen Story asked me why the Reporter allowed the cartoon to run and why we endorsed such a cartoon. My short answer: we don't. Any viewpoints expressed by our cartoonist or columnists do not reflect those of the paper.

But beyond the seemingly safe answer, Story's inquiry prodded me to find out why political cartoons really matter in a community newspaper. So I turned to our cartoonist.

All in all, I consider any opinion piece a success when it heightens the awareness of issues in our collective community,” Johnson said. “Right and/or wrong is not my aim. Getting people to discuss the issues that impact their community is. Mission accomplished.”
- So what if someone saw that, and went out and killed a level 3 sex offender?

Many cartoonists will avow that their work is fundamental to a democracy. It galvanizes opinion and raises the level of debate over a particular issue - in this case, the law regarding level three sex offenders.

No matter what opinions were expressed, the cartoon kick-started a conversation that some may not have otherwise engaged in. It shed light on the issue of sex offenders and contributed to the communal dialogue.

Did the cartoon push the boundaries of free speech? Was it offensive or over the edge? We hope not.
- Yes, it was free speech and yes I think it was over the edge!

Sometimes political cartoons are not so black and white. But we invite you to keep the conversation going and send us your thoughts.

Here is the cartoon, click to enlarge

"TThey who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

FL - County sets limits on where sex offenders can live

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By Scott Wyman

Broadview Park’s role as a haven for sex offenders is at an end.

The small working-class neighborhood has been home to almost a 100 sex offenders because unincorporated Broward was one of the last remaining parts of South Florida with no residency restrictions.

County commissioners agreed Tuesday to ban sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of schools, parks, playgrounds, day care centers and school bus stops within the small parts of Broward outside city limits. The move came despite objections from sex offenders and their supporters that they will have virtually nowhere to live.
- So here we will soon have another homeless encampment.

Criminal offenders have always lived amongst it; it is only in the age of technology that we are more aware of it,” said Jill Levinson, the chairwoman of a task force that the county appointed to study sexual offender rules. The task force criticized the idea as too severe.
- Why did they even make her part of the "task force" if they do not listen to what she has to say?

The ordinance has become a flashpoint in a larger debate that such restrictions leave little place for sexual offenders to live.

Twenty-four of the county’s 31 cities have similar restrictions. With 1,275 registered sex offenders in Broward, the demand for neighborhoods like Broadview Park is great.

Residents of Broadview Park said they wanted the same protection that other neighborhoods have. “It seems they are saying give Broadview Park to the sex offenders and let our children live under the bridges,” said neighborhood resident Janice Washburn.

Commissioners agreed. Commissioner John Rodstrom said he proposed the ordinance because residents came to him alarmed at the influx of sex offenders.
- And instead of telling them about the homeless issues, and facts, or obeying the constitution and not trampling on peoples rights, he just goes along with the mob!

It is real and it is happening because the word is out that this is the one place in the tri-county area that you can live in if you’re a sex offender,” Rodstrom said.
- How ignorant do you have to be?  Maybe they moved there because everyone else has such draconian laws, they were forced to cluster there, you ever think about that?  So with you passing more draconian laws, you are once again, pushing the problem off to someone else, instead of solving the problem...  Politics as usual though, right!

Commissioner Kristin Jacobs said she couldn’t imagine the level of fear among Broadview Park parents to “absorb the brunt of the danger.”

Children in this one particular area are at greater risk than elsewhere in the county and that is unacceptable,” Jacobs said.

Video Link

"TThey who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

TN - Man wrongly imprisoned in Tenn. for 22 years wants lump sum settlement

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NASHVILLE (AP) -- A man who was wrongly imprisoned for 22 years told lawmakers Tuesday that he needs a lump payment of damages to cover mounting costs that include caring for his uninsured diabetic wife.

_____, who was released from prison in 2002 after DNA testing showed he did not rape a Memphis teenager, spoke to the House Judiciary study committee on Tuesday. He now wants to be issued the remainder of his nearly $800,000 award as a lump sum instead of receiving his $3,400 a month payments.

Then-Secretary of State Riley Darnell said the state Board of Claims decision in 2004 to give _____ $250,000 in cash followed by the monthly payments was made out of fear that unscrupulous people would prey on the former inmate.

_____ said his wife lost her health insurance when she lost her jobs, and that both their cars have been repossessed.

"The nightmare did not end upon my release ... but has lingered," said _____, adding that he didn't like the arrangement but felt pressured to take it. "I had just gotten out of prison and really couldn't make a rational decision. I believe the case should be revisited."

_____ is one of 242 people who have been exonerated since 1992 with help form the New York-based Innocence Project.

States have different compensation policies, according to the group. New Hampshire caps awards at $20,000. Tennessee has a $1 million cap. And Texas pays $80,000 for each year of wrongful incarceration plus $25,000 for each year spent on parole or as a registered sex offender.

_____ told reporters after the hearing that he would like legislators to change the law that allowed his arrangement so he can receive the lump sum.

The chairman of the committee told _____ the only way to make those changes would be through legislative action, and suggested he find lawmakers in the House and Senate to support him.

Rep. John Deberry, a Memphis Democrat and chairman of the Tennessee Black Caucus, was the primary sponsor of the legislation that allowed _____'s initial arrangement and said he's "going to see what can be done, if anything, to alter the situation."

Rep. Jim Coley, who arranged for his constituent _____ to speak before the committee, said he's considering sponsoring legislation that would establish a court in Tennessee to decide how much an exonerated person should receive based on that individual's suffering.

"That ... makes more sense to me in making an evaluation like that," said Coley, R-Bartlett.

_____ was disabled by a police bullet in 1978. He was not convicted in that case and called himself an innocent onlooker in a shootout.

Before he received his award in 2004, Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons sent a letter to the Board of Claims informing it of several charges that had been pending against _____ when he was convicted in 1980, including three charges of aggravated rape, five burglary charges and four charges of robbery with a deadly weapon.

Rep. Vance Dennis, a Savannah Republican and member of the House Judiciary Committee, told members on Tuesday that he felt those charges should be re-examined before any action is taken on _____'s case.

However, _____ said those charges were dismissed and that the focus should be on altering the legislation holding up his money.

"This legislation has been detrimental to my healing process," he said.

"TThey who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved