Tuesday, September 29, 2009

MO - Sex Offender Residency Law Concerns Parents

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COLUMBIA - The Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments today over whether residency restrictions are unconstitutional.

The unnamed sex offender claims the 2004 law requiring him to live more than 1000 feet from a school cannot be applied because he was convicted in 1999. A unique provision in the Missouri Constitution prohibits, "laws retrospective in operation."
- Unique?  Ex post facto is in ALL constitutions!

The Missouri Supreme Court held in a 2008 case the state could not force a sex offender to move if she or he had lived at the same address prior to the 2004 passage of the law.

Amendments to the Missouri Constitution that would allow this law to be applied retroactively failed in 2007 and 2008.

One parent told KOMU 8 News these rulings could be the start of a disturbing trend and could impact the safety of her children.

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"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

OH - Group issues report on sex-offender registration for juvenile offenses

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By Chris Graham

With Ohio becoming the first state to come into substantial compliance with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) that is part of the Adam Walsh Act, the Justice Policy Institute, a national organization focusing on juvenile and criminal justice issues, warned that compliance with the Act will provide little in the way of public safety benefits at substantial costs, particularly for those who must now be on sex offender registries for juvenile offenses.

To provide policymakers with more information about the negative impacts of SORNA, JPI is broadly releasing their report Registering Harm: How Sex Offense Registries Fail Youth and Communities (PDF). (This report had a limited release in 2008.) Registering Harm concludes that while the prevention of sexual violence should be a priority for policymakers and the criminal justice system, the registration and community notification of youth convicted of sex offenses is unlikely to improve public safety, can have a lifetime of negative effects on a young person, and often penalizes an entire family. Furthermore, advocates say placing youth on sex offense registries is contrary to the purpose of the juvenile justice system, and SORNA has been found to be unconstitutional and in violation of children’s rights.

There is a growing concern that this well-intentioned legislation is having serious negative consequences, particularly for young people,” said Tracy Velázquez, executive director of JPI. “Our juvenile justice system was set up to give delinquent youth a second chance; due to the very public and punitive nature of the online registries, the Act denies them this chance.”

Courts have ruled as recently as this month that SORNA is unconstitutional as it is retroactively punitive ,” added Velázquez, referring to the recent ruling by the ninth circuit court. “We know that states are being pressured to pass this legislation through threats of withholding federal dollars. However, in light of these serious civil rights issues, we urge state lawmakers to resist rushing into compliance, and to instead focus on insisting that their federal counterparts change this flawed legislation.”

Registering Harm examines the public safety implications associated with implementing SORNA, which would expand registries already established at state levels, requiring states to list all registrants on a national online database and to include children convicted of certain sex offenses. Although originally all states were required to come into compliance with SORNA in July 2009 or face losing a portion of their Justice Assistance Grant Program funds, no states were in compliance at that time and the U.S. Attorney general extended the deadline for compliance to July 2010. Most troubling, according to the report, is that under SORNA youth as young as 14 would be placed on registries, making them more likely to experience rejection from peer groups and positive social networks and therefore more likely to associate with delinquent or troubled peers. Additionally, as the Ninth Circuit Court pointed out, the registration of adult for decades-old juvenile offenses “threatens to disrupt the stability of their lives and to ostracize them from their communities,” notwithstanding years of living law-abiding and productive lives.

The report also notes that many of the offenses committed by youth are normative teenage behaviors. These behaviors are now criminalized and punished in ways that can last a lifetime. The report also concludes what similar reports, such as “The Pursuit of Safety” by the Vera Institute of Justice, also find, which is that registries do little to protect public safety, and may even endanger youth. And while states may lose federal dollars by not complying, JPI’s analysis shows that meeting the Act’s many requirements will likely cost more. SORNA implementation would leave law enforcement tasked with database management rather than community protection.

Rather than educating the public about general practices for keeping children and communities safe from sexual violence, this Act encourages a disproportionate allocation of resources and inappropriate focus on registries and the people on them,” said Velázquez. She added that in some states, people can be placed on registries for offenses such as public urination or lewd bumper stickers on their car, which would make it difficult for people using the registry to determine who could be a possible threat to their families or neighborhoods.

Key findings in Registering Harm include:
  • The Act misallocates resources to a fraction of sexual violence incidences. Registries are designed to warn the public, and particularly parents, of “stranger danger;” however, sexual assaults are seldom committed by strangers. The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that more than nine in 10 sexual offenses against children were committed by either a family member or acquaintance. In addition, 87 percent of the people arrested for a sex offense in 1997 had not been previously convicted of a sex offense and therefore would not appear on a registry. The resource misallocation caused by the expansion of registries in the Act has an especially significant impact given the budget crises faced in many states.
  • Overbroad registration or notification practices make it difficult for the public to determine who on the registry may pose a public safety threat and who doesn’t. Even the tier system of SORNA still provides little context to people who receive notification or view a public registry. In a review of all state registries, Human Rights Watch found that only five states provided enough understandable information on online registries for the public to be able to interpret the charge and the age of both the registrant and the victim.
  • Registration and notification overburdens law enforcement. State and federal laws are enacted at the local level, leaving local law enforcement agencies and corrections departments to implement and shoulder the burden of registration and notification legislation. Law enforcement is forced to dedicate a great deal of time and resources to monitoring people on the registries, finding people who have failed to register, and constantly ensuring that information on the registry is correct.
  • Registries and notification create barriers to education, employment, housing, and other social networks and outlets, making it difficult to live successfully in the community. Many states compound the barriers posed by registries with residency restrictions. This leads to increased risk of probation or parole violations or illegal behavior, which may lead to further incarceration.
  • Public dollars could be better spent on effective prevention strategies that more comprehensively address ways to reduce sexual violence and abuse. The report recommends that policymakers on federal, state, and local levels employ proactive preventative strategies like educating communities about effective ways to prevent sexual violence, which can be a more effective way of increasing public safety.

Our public policies should be driven by what works to keep people safe,” added Velázquez. “SORNA is one example of well-intentioned but unsound legislation that will have particularly toxic results, especially for youth. We need to move past emotion and rhetoric, and start putting in place more rational, effective policies for all.”

"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 - Hotels housing released sex offenders

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LANSING (WOOD) - A Target 8 investigation into the concentration of sex offenders, including some convicted of assaulting children, at a Wyoming motel billed as family-friendly prompted a legislative hearing in Lansing Tuesday.

In July, Target 8 found 60 registered sex offenders staying at the Grand Rapids Inn along 28th Street; 22 of them were listed as having assaulting children. Most of the offenders were parolees, part of the state's prisoner re-entry initiative.

"I wanted to find out from the [Michigan Department of Corrections] how they arrived at the conclusion to use this facility, what they intend to do long-term, whether other options were explored and whether or not this is being done in other parts of the state," State Sen. Wayne Kuipers (Contact, Email) (R-Holland) told 24 Hour News 8.

It is being done elsewhere in Michigan, according to Russ Marlan of MDOC. The department is compiling a full list for Kuipers and the judiciary committee he chairs, Marlan said.

And how did MDOC arrive at the Grand Rapids Inn as a spot to house prisoners for the state's re-entry initiative? That's left up to local steering committees.

"I can't say if that was the first choice, the middle choice or the last choice -- but it seems to be working for that community," Marlan told 24 Hour News 8. Working, he said, because in the history of the Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Intiative's contract with the Grand Rapids Inn, there have been no reports of incidents involving the registered sex offenders.

Sex offenders can end up in clusters because they are banned from living within 1,000 feet of schools parks and playgrounds. Kuipers, who voted for the law that makes that distance mandatory, said he understands the limited options for the state. He said he still has concerns."If you have a high concentration in the same building as a hotel/motel that's being marketed as a family friendly exstablishment, I think there's some potential problems that could occur long term," Kuipers said.
- So how long have they been there, and has anything happened yet?

24 Hour News 8 asked the corrections spokesman if the department sees concentration as a concern.

"I don't think so. I think that, as we told him, police are aware of who's living there. Parole agents are aware of who's living there. We have special services there. So it provides us the opportunity to supervise them more effectively than if they were spread throuhgout the community," said Marlan, who for six years supervised sex offenders himself as a parole officer in Detroit.

"They are very compliant," he said. "Their recidivism rates are very low, but some of the times the crimes they've committed are horrible. And they have the stigma of being a sex offender, so naturally there's some reaction to the community from that."

Sex offenders are more likely to commit sexual offenses in the future than the regular ex-offender population, but a 1990s U.S. Department of Justice study found that among sex offenders, 5.3 percent are re-arrested within three years for a sex crime. Overall, 67.5 percent of those released from prison are re-arrested within three years.
- This first statement, is false.  Studies show that to be false.  About 90% or more of all sexual crimes committed today, are by those NOT currently labeled a sex offender. And here is the link, which they failed to provide, and only quoted portions of it, here. And the 67.5 percent is for ANY crime, not another sex crime.

The parolees living at the Grand Rapids Inn have, like all parolees, served their minimum sentence.

But since Kuipers said he was told the corrections department is least likely to parole sex offenders, he wants to know that the offenders were nearing their maximum term.

"If that's not the case then that rasies some additional questions that we had for Corrections," the Holland lawmaker said.

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"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

BS of the day, from ignorant FBI agents and America's Most Wanted (Typical Propaganda!)

What is a factoid?

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"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

AL - Tracking sex offenders not an easy job

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By Renee Dials

MOBILE - There are more than 100 sex offenders in Mobile County. Chad Tucker, with the Mobile County Sheriff's Office, says keeping track with every single one isn't an easy job.

"There needs to be a verifiable address, and we take that serious enough that we send someone to the address that they claim they're going to be living at," Tucker said.

However, the job of keeping up with sex offenders may get tougher. A judge in Montgomery ruled it's unconstitutional to require a homeless sex offender to provide an address before they're released from prison.

Failure to comply means the offender is immediately taken to county jail once their released from prison.

But even when an address is given, it doesn't ensure the person lives there.

That's the situation involving _____, the sex offender arrested in Mobile last week. Authorities said _____ violated the notification act more than once.

Chris McLean is also with the Mobile County Sheriff's office. He said _____'s latest violation was just a few months ago.

"He pled guilty to several charges, including the community notification act," added McLean.

According to Sheriff's officials, there are as many as a dozen sex offenders in the Metro Jail who were recently released from prison. Because they didn't give an address, they'll stay locked up in the jail until they can get one.
- If you are homeless and probably do not have friends or family, how are you suppose to magically find a home?

State Attorney General Troy King (Contact) said he'll appeal the ruling. He said the safety of children is at stake.

King says he disagrees with the judge. According to the attorney general, the homeless can give any verifiable address, even a city park, but Tucker said that won't fly in Mobile County.

"We don't take parks as an address. Obviously, there's a dispute in Montgomery about that. Some may think the law is broad enough, but at this point we're not allowing someone to give us a park bench as an address," Tucker said.

Some are waiting to see how the challenge plays out in the courts. The state attorney general says if the ruling is upheld in the higher court he will take the issue back to the state legislature.

"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