Sunday, November 22, 2009


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"That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing." - Martin Luther King - United States Constitution | Bill of Rights

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved

CA - Not In My Backyard

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Documentary focuses on Sex Offenders - KCLU special report explores effects of “Jessica’s Law

THOUSAND OAKS - They sleep under bushes and bridges and in trash dumpsters in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. They are homeless sex offenders on parole and there’s a growing army of them throughout California.

KCLU News will broadcast a one-hour documentary called “Not in My Backyard” at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19. Produced and reported by KCLU Special Projects Reporter John North, the program will explore two provisions of “Jessica’s Law” --- residency restrictions and GPS tracking of sex offender parolees.

The documentary also looks at GPS monitoring of sex offender probationers by the Ventura County Probation Department. It features interviews with parole agents, probation officers, a California Department of Corrections official, the California Sex Offender Management Board chairperson and several homeless high-risk sex offender parolees.

According to the professionals who supervise and oversee the management of sex offenders, the stress caused by being homeless increases the risk that they’ll commit another crime.

The statewide public safety issue is the result of “Jessica’s Law.” Approved by 70 percent of California voters in November 2006 as Proposition 83, a get-tough-on-sex-offenders initiative, “Jessica’s Law” has residency restrictions that have created a 2,000-percent increase in homeless sex offender parolees.

The restrictions mandate that convicted child molesters cannot live within a half-mile of a school or park where children gather and all other convicted sex offenders can’t live within a lesser distance of 2,000 feet. In many urban areas of the state, these “predator-free zones” preclude most compliant housing and, consequently, the sex offender parolees become homeless.

KCLU is the National Public Radio station serving Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. KCLU broadcasts at 88.3 FM in Ventura County and at 102.3 FM and 1340 AM in Santa Barbara County . KCLU is a public service of California Lutheran University.

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AR - Laws Push Sex Offenders Into High Density

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NORTHWEST — Residents of Jimani Apartments on Lowell Road in Springdale share the complex with four registered sex offenders, all assessed as individuals with relatively high probability of re-offense, according to the Arkansas Crime Information Center Web site.

Changes in state laws in 2003 and 2007 created small concentrations of sex offenders throughout Northwest Arkansas near many residential neighborhoods. Laws restrict how close sex offenders can live to businesses and institutions.

Certain offenders can’t live within 2,000 feet of a school, public park or a licensed day care center,” said Detective Leonard Graves, Fayetteville’s representative on the Northwest Arkansas Sex Offender and Violent Crime Task Force. “That starts eliminating a lot of a city.”

A city like Fayetteville, with about 65 schools and day care centers and numerous small parks, doesn’t have much space left that is eligible, Graves said.

Springdale has a larger number of offenders living in its city limits than other towns in Northwest Arkansas. Affordable housing is the attraction, said Detective Jared Pena, Springdale’s representative on the task force. “We tell them what areas they can live,” Pena said. “They have to find a place they can afford.”

No law requires a perspective landlord to tell a renter about his neighbors — even if he knows. It’s renter beware.

Management at the Jimani Apartments said they did not know why the four sex offenders live there and the owner was out of town and not available for comment.

The task force keeps tabs on offenders on a daily basis. The force is made up of officers from the Benton, Carroll, Madison and Washington counties sheriff’s offices, Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers, Siloam Springs and Springdale police departments, the U.S. Marshal’s Service and the Arkansas Department of Community Corrections.

John, a convicted sex offender who wanted to remain anonymous, didn’t have to register when he was paroled years ago. John was convicted of first-degree sexual abuse.

The sex offender assessment committee tagged John as a level 3 offender. Level 3 indicates a high risk of re-offense by the offender and has higher levels of notification to neighbors when he moves. John has tried to be reassigned to a different level, but has not been successful, he said.

Every year there’s more restrictions,” he said. “When I got out of prison, I could live anywhere I wanted to. Now I’m on the registry for the rest of my life. If I was a murderer who was paroled, I wouldn’t have to do anything now.”

It’s been 20 years since John was paroled. He spent 10 years on probation after his release. He has never been in trouble since leaving prison, he said. His good behavior, however, didn’t mean anything when he moved the last time, from an apartment building to a house next door.

People left nasty notes in my mailbox, they put a sign in my yard, they broke out windows trying to get me to move,” John said. “My neighbors told me it wasn’t them. They said it was people who didn’t know me.”

Arkansas set up its database after the passing of the Sex and Child Offender Registration Act in 1997. Those convicted of a sex crime, or those found not guilty of a sex crime on the grounds of mental disease or defect, must register. They are required to register in each law enforcement jurisdiction where they live, attend school or are employed.

The state Sex Offender Assessment Committee places an offender in one of four categories. The categories determine the type of public notification required. Information on high level 2 offenders is available from the state and on the registry Web site. Individuals in the offender’s neighborhood who fall within the offender’s target group, or families with members in the group, are notified.

Notification is required to be given face to face by law enforcement officers to people living in the offender’s neighborhood for level 3 and level 4. However, those moving into a neighborhood near an offender are not required to be notified, including renters at apartments.

Stricter laws forcing people out of more neighborhoods are not the answer, said Paula Stitz, manager of the Arkansas sex offender registry. Tougher laws in other states have led to situations such as in Miami, where sex offenders live under bridges, Stitz said.

New legislation in Florida eliminated most of Miami as a living site for sex offenders, according to a story by the Associated Press. In 2007, five male sex offenders started living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway when they couldn’t find a place to live. The number of offenders living under the bridge and nearby grew to 52 by March 2009.

That’s not a good situation,” said Marc Klaas, founder of KlaasKids, a foundation formed to prevent crimes against children. Polly Klaas, Marc Klaas’ daughter, was kidnapped from her home in California and murdered in 1993 when she was 12 years old.

Sex offenders in close contact tend to network and exchange information that could lead them to committing another sex crime, Klaas said.

It doesn’t help with the No. 1 priority,” Klaas said. “Making sure crimes like these don’t happen.”

"That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing." - Martin Luther King - United States Constitution | Bill of Rights

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved

IN - How likely are sex offenders to re-offend?

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Studies suggest rates lower than popularly believed.

SOUTH BEND  — Sex offenders are often seen as incurable deviants who lurk in the shadows, waiting to prey on unsuspecting innocents.

But the term "sex offender," is actually much more complex, experts say, and a myriad of misconceptions exist about common traits associated with the population.

Not only that, but according to recent studies, recidivism rates for sexual felons may be lower than most people believe.

"The public doesn't quite understand recidivism," says Dr. Adam Deming, a psychologist and director of the Sex Offender Management and Monitoring Program. "They tend to believe all will recidivate."
- And why do they believe that?  Because the media and politicians continually cite bogus or outdated statistics, why?  Maybe so they can continue to "look tough" on crime and get the votes they need?

"It varies tremendously," adds Dr. Jeff Burnett, a Mishawaka doctor who specializes in sex offender treatment, psychological evaluations and psychosexual assessments.

Community members often want to be cautious and conservative when assessing the danger of sex offenders because sexual assault and abuse can be so devastating.

But that caution, Burnett says, can at times lead to an overestimation of the risk.

Before delving into exact recidivism rates, it's essential to first define the word.

In some studies, recidivism is explained as a reconviction for a sexual offense. In others, it relates to an offender being charged with a new sex offense. Other statistics measure recidivism based on arrests for any new type of crime, and some gauge recidivism based on violations of conditional release requirements.
- My definition of recidivism, for sex offenders, is the commitment of a new sexually related crime.  Many are rearrested for technical violations, but not new sex crimes.

The different ways to measure recidivism make the simple question of how often sex offenders re-offend not so simple.

Length of time is also important to consider when reviewing recidivism, notes a 2004 recidivism study conducted by Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada. The study included parts of the United States.

"For all crimes ... the likelihood that the behavior will reappear decreases the longer the person has abstained from that behavior," the study said.

In a 1994 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the study found if sex offenders were re-arrested for a new sex crime, it was likely to happen within the first 12 months of their release.

In the first three years of being released, the study found that 5.3 percent of sex offenders had been rearrested for a sex crime.

The more recent Canadian/U.S. study showed overall recidivism rates based on re-convictions, were 14 percent after five years, 20 percent after 10 years, and 24 percent after 15 years.

"Most sexual offenders do not re-offend over time," the study found. "This may be the most important finding of this study, as this finding is contrary to some strongly held beliefs."

In short, after 15 years, 73 percent of sex offenders had not been charged or reconvicted of another sex offense.

All offenders are also not equally likely to reoffend.

Child molesters are 13 percent more likely to reoffend than rapists, according to the study.

In addition, Brunett lists three risk factors leading to a greater chance of recidivism. Offenders whose victims are male, unrelated to them, or a stranger are more likely to repeat their crimes.

Age of the offender also plays a role. The older the sex offender, the less likely they are to reoffend.

"Younger people are more impulsive," Burnett notes.

Other misconceptions include that all sex offenders were abused as children. In reality, only one third of sex offenders have abuse in their past, Burnett says.

And although cases where strangers sexually assault victims are usually more publicized, Deming points out that victims much more often know their perpetrator.

Recidivism rates of sex offenders are also not set in stone, according to the recent Canadian/U.S. study.

"The rate of sexual reoffense is quite likely to change over time due to social factors," the study says, "and the effectiveness of strategies for managing this population."

"That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing." - Martin Luther King - United States Constitution | Bill of Rights

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved

FL - Thank You to Pure Mercy for helping out the Julia Tuttle residents (God Bless You!)

Pure Mercy Web Site
Julia Tuttle on Twitter

This organization/charity cooked a ton of food for over 39 homeless offenders living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway, and gave them a grill to cook out on.  That is so awesome!

About Us:
David - My father was an Independent Baptist pastor in Pinellas County for most of my life. I was saved at the age of 9, and baptized some time later. I was in church every time the doors were open and attended a couple of different Christian schools. Needless to say, I grew up in a home where “Living Right” was required, because “people were watching.” Just because I grew up in a pastor’s home and worked in the church, didn’t mean that I paid as much attention to what my father and other pastors said from the pulpit as I should have. I was never really challenged to make what my father believed real in my life or to study and find out what I believed.

I became interested in pornography when I was about 14 or 15. My interest soon became an addiction. This continued, even while attending 3 different Bible Colleges, and throughout my first marriage. Not being satisfied with what I saw and read, I began a series of affairs during that marriage. Still not satisfied, I acted out in a number of other ways, each a little bolder than the last. This included strip clubs, lingerie shops, and prostitutes. As I look back God was trying to get my attention gently for years. For instance, a prostitute and I had a couple of near misses with the police department. I also experienced the embarrassment of calling my father, the pastor, and borrowing money to pay for one of my forays to a local lingerie shop because my credit card was declined. Naturally, he expected an explanation. Not surprisingly, my marriage soon failed, although I didn’t care because I was in the middle of my third affair at the time. Obviously, I was slow to catch on to what God was trying to say to me.

Bobbi - I grew up in New York, the youngest of 4, in an upper middle class home. Mom had accepted Christ later in life, and Daddy was an atheist, not accepting Christ until I was in my twenties. Like David, I accepted Christ as a child, so church and God were always a part of my life, but only as far as it suited me. This lifestyle set me up for unwed motherhood, a failed marriage, and personal disgrace. I played the part well, you know, church on Sunday, but anything goes the other days. In 2003, I moved what was left of my family here to Florida to be near my sisters and my mother. I just knew this was going to turn my life around. Well it did, but not how I planned it! After some serious indiscretion on my part, God was finally able to get my attention.

David - My “fun” lifestyle came to a screeching halt when God was forced instead to smack me upside the head with a 2x4. Many call this 2x4 the “Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department”. What finally got my attention was my arrest for improperly touching a teenage girl that I was tutoring. By God’s grace, my charge was minor. However, it was not without cost. Monetarily, the cost was at least $10,000. But it cost much more than that. It cost my family and me some friends, it caused strain in my family and it has cost me a couple of job opportunities. However, because of His amazing grace and mercy, God chose to bless me, by bringing me back into a close relationship with Him. First I had to come to a place where I realized that I would never be able to find what I was searching for outside of Him. When I gave my desires to God, wholly and completely, He began to heal me from the addiction through the pure mercy that I found in His unconditional love.

Bobbi - About the same time, December 2003, I finally surrendered to the Lord’s sovereignty as a result of a very real encounter with Him. On my way to church that day, I felt the unmistakable challenge from Him: Would I relinquish to Him everything, even my children? Whether I was truly born again before that, I do not know, nor do I suppose it matters. What I do know is, since that day, I have chosen to submit to His will in every area of my life. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that this submission has been easy. Matter of fact, anyone who knows me, knows better.

One of the things I submitted to the Lord was my singleness. I reached the place where I sincerely submitted His right to send the man of His choosing, or no man at all. To be honest, I expected this to be a long way off in the future. I thoroughly enjoyed my life in the church Singles group. Some of the friendships I found there are a blessing to me, even to this day. One of the special friendships was with David. We knew each other in the group and had many friends in common. Then, we had occasion to begin praying for two mutual friends who were dating. This mutual concern drew us closer as friends. One evening, God led David to share with me his struggle, and his vision for future ministry. He has since told me that he expected me to turn tail and run. But the Lord prompted me to act differently. I chose instead to give him a big hug, and a promise to pray for him.

David - Like Bobbi, I had surrendered my singleness to God and was fully expecting to stay in the Single’s ministry for the rest of my life. Really, who would want someone like me? The night that Bobbi gave me that first hug, changed that whole perspective and revealed to me the love Christ had for me. One Wednesday night, as I came into the church Fellowship center for dinner, a sudden, heart-wrenching thought hit me. “How many of the men and families in this room have been hurt by someone’s involvement in pornography or other sexually addictive behavior? How many men are in danger of doing what I’ve done or have already done it?

Bobbi - I began to pray for David, his ministry, and as any good member of a singles’ group would, for his future wife. I prayed that God would prepare them both for His Kingdom purpose. Something strange began to happen in my heart. It was as if God was preparing me, because I was that woman. Okay, so that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I left a couple of minor details out of my history. That failed marriage I glossed over? It ended when the state troopers came to remove my ex-husband from our house because, unknown to me, he had molested my daughter from the age of 13 until 15. And, since I moved here to Florida, my teenage niece came to live with me, under similar circumstances. So, all this is to say, that the ravages of sexual sin have been a recurring theme in my life, one that I hope and pray none of you ever have to face. But, praise God, He has brought me through, to a place of forgiveness and to an abundant life, beyond anything I could have hoped for. Believe me when I tell you this: the last man I wanted to marry was one with a past like David’s! Like I said, God brought me through it; however, I had no intention of going back. But, as is often the case, God had other plans. About a month after I began praying for David’s future wife, and having a sinking feeling it was me, God opened David’s eyes.

David - Like I mentioned before, I’m sometimes slow to catch on to things; however, sixteen months after that first hug we stood in front of our family and friends and committed the rest of our lives to each other. One of the miracles in all of this is that Bobbi’s daughter, with whom we had shared my story, was willing to look past it and stand as her maid of honor. Another incredible blessing to me personally came this past Christmas when she introduced me to her West Wing coworkers as her stepdad. I would have never imagined that God could redeem the huge mess I had made of my life and allowed me to experience such blessings.

As our relationship has deepened, we have realized the uniqueness of where we both have been. This thought has turned into a burden to share with others what God has brought us out of. We are convinced that sexual addiction is one of the things holding the church back, that it is one of Satan’s footholds in the lives of the men of the church. This is due in part to the deep shame and unforgiveness that so often accompanies sexually addictive behavior.

Recently, God has extended our healing by allowing us to become involved in Celebrate Recovery. We often wonder if something like this would have helped either of us earlier on. Regardless, Bobbi and I have spent much time in prayer and God has lead us to begin a ministry that would provide support for men, and their families, whose lives have been torn, and their hearts broken, by this hidden addiction. This ministry is called Pure Mercy as we believe that by God’s grace and His Pure Mercy hearts and lives can be healed.

If you have been hurt by this addiction, our hearts go out to you and we want to help. Maybe you know someone that is struggling with this or maybe you are the one needing someone to stand beside you in this battle, someone who understands how you feel, and how you got to this place you never intended to be.

"That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing." - Martin Luther King - United States Constitution | Bill of Rights

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues, All Rights Reserved