Monday, January 4, 2010

UK - New scanners break child porn laws

Original Article


By Alan Travis

The rapid introduction of full body scanners at British airports threatens to breach child protection laws which ban the creation of indecent images of children, the Guardian has learned.

Privacy campaigners claim the images created by the machines are so graphic they amount to "virtual strip-searching" and have called for safeguards to protect the privacy of passengers involved.

Ministers now face having to exempt under 18s from the scans or face the delays of introducing new legislation to ensure airport security staff do not commit offences under child pornography laws.

They also face demands from civil liberties groups for safeguards to ensure that images from the £80,000 scanners, including those of celebrities, do not end up on the internet. The Department for Transport confirmed that the "child porn" problem was among the "legal and operational issues" now under discussion in Whitehall after Gordon Brown's announcement on Sunday that he wanted to see their "gradual" introduction at British airports.

A 12-month trial at Manchester airport of scanners which reveal naked images of passengers including their genitalia and breast enlargements, only went ahead last month after under-18s were exempted.

The decision followed a warning from Terri Dowty, of Action for Rights of Children, that the scanners could breach the Protection of Children Act 1978, under which it is illegal to create an indecent image or a "pseudo-image" of a child.

Dowty told the Guardian she raised concerns with the Metropolitan police five years ago over plans to use similar scanners in an anti-knife campaign, and when the Department for Transport began a similar trial in 2006 on the Heathrow Express rail service from Paddington station.

"They do not have the legal power to use full body scanners in this way," said Dowty, adding there was an exemption in the 1978 law to cover the "prevention and detection of crime" but the purpose had to be more specific than the "trawling exercise" now being considered.

A Manchester airport spokesman said their trial had started in December, but only with passengers over 18 until the legal situation with children was clarified. So far 500 people have taken part on a voluntary basis with positive feedback from nearly all those involved.

Passengers also pass through a metal detector before they can board their plane. Airport officials say the scanner image is only seen by a single security officer in a remote location before it is deleted.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "We understand the concerns expressed about privacy in relation to the deployment of body scanners. It is vital staff are properly trained and we are developing a code of practice to ensure these concerns are properly taken into account. Existing safeguards also mean those operating scanners are separated from the device, so unable to see the person to whom the image relates, and these anonymous images are deleted immediately."

But Shami Chakrabarti, of Liberty, had concerns over the "instant" introduction of scanners: "Where are the government assurances that electronic strip-searching is to be used in a lawful and proportionate and sensitive manner based on rational criteria rather than racial or religious bias?" she said.

Her concerns were echoed by Simon Davies of Privacy International who said he was sceptical of the privacy safeguards being used in the United States. Although the American system insists on the deletion of the images, he believed scans of celebrities or of people with unusual or freakish body profiles would prove an "irresistible pull" for some employees.

The disclosures came as Downing Street insisted British intelligence information that the Detroit plane suspect tried to contact radical Islamists while a student in London was passed on to the US.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's name was included in a dossier of people believed to have made attempts to deal with extremists, but he was not singled out as a particular risk, Brown's spokesman said.

President Barack Obama has criticised US intelligence agencies for failing to piece together information about the 23-year-old that should have stopped him boarding the flight.

Brown's spokesman said "There was security information about this individual's activities and that was shared with the US authorities."

NE - The Dangers of a Bigger Sex Offender Registry

Original Article


By Matt Kelley

The names of low-level sex offenders in Nebraska were posted online today under a new law, which took effect despite a lawsuit trying to stop it.

A class-action lawsuit filed by convicted sex offenders has been seeking to prevent the state from publishing their names, saying the new rule punishes them retroactively and will do more harm than good. The plaintiffs had won a temporary stay, but that was lifted today and the names went up.

The previous law notified communities of high-risk offenders only. The new rule forces every sex offender in Nebraska to register for a minimum of 15 years. An attorney for the plaintiffs argued that some of his clients pled guilty to less-serious offenses and would have made different choices if they had known these ramifications would come later.

"Now they're going to be all lumped together with a broad brush and I think that's going to dilute the registry and drive them underground," Attorney Stu Dornan said.

I've argued in this space many times about the dangers of including in the registry people who did not commit violent offenses or who have proven themselves rehabilitated. If we include all sex offenders on the registry, we're stretching state resources too thin to monitor a huge group of less-risky individuals, and we're continuing to punish people who have served their time and should be allowed to rebuild lives. Forcing them to register just extends the sentence, eliminates opportunity and causes us to miss warning signs from people who do post a threat.

The lawsuits are still active in federal court, and two facets of the law are on hold after federal judge Richard Kopf called them "probably unconstitutional." These provisions would allow state agents to monitor computer use by sex offenders and banned them from using social network sites.
- If the constitution meant anything, then yes, it would be deemed unconstitutional!  So with a majority of the laws being passed by legislature, who are ignoring their oath of office.

Kopf upheld most of the laws, however, including the rules that went live today, though he said he didn't like it:

"I am not a fan of laws like this one," U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf wrote. "If I had my druthers, I would enjoin the entire law and not just the portions that are probably unconstitutional."

"I am pretty sure that this enactment will divert attention and money from policing the monsters (and God knows there are plenty of monsters out there). I also worry that this law will incite a virulent form of vigilantism against the hapless."

Both articles via the always informative Sex Offender Issues
(Thanks Matt!)

NE - Controversial Change to Sex Offender Registry Takes Effect

Original Article

Be prepared for a ton of new law suits coming down the pipe. The people in legislature are clearly violating their oath of office by passing unconstitutional laws, and you can bet, people will sue, thus plunging the state into further debt!


By Meghan Youker

PAPILLION (KPTM) — The name of every sex offender in Nebraska is now available online, no matter how serious their crime. Monday a Sarpy County District Court judge lifted an order issued last week, which had prevented the Nebraska State Patrol from posting that information on the Internet.

A click of the mouse and the public now has quick access to the names, photos, and addresses of about 1,400 Nebraska sex offenders once considered by the state to be at low or moderate risk for re–offending. That's regardless of what kind of life the person has lived since. "Attorney General Bruning (Contact) and the Legislature created these two laws, LB 97 and LB 285, to protect kids and families. Today we took another step forward in that effort and we're confident that in the long run, when this is all over, that these new laws will be upheld and be constitutional," said Chief Deputy Attorney General David Cookson.

Changes to the Sex Offender Registry Act are being challenged in both state and federal court.

Monday inside courtroom number six, a Sarpy County District Court judge reversed his colleague's decision, ruling sex offenders wouldn't be "irreparably harmed" by the web postings while lawyers argue the constitutionality of certain parts of the law in court. "They've already paid their dues. They have a new law now that changes the landscape from what it was before, where they had the right to avoid being on the Internet and the state found a number of them to be low risk or moderate risk and now they're all being lumped together," said the plaintiff's attorney Stu Dornan.
- So I guess not being able to find a job, keep a job, find a home, keep a home, be made homeless is not "irreparably harm," them what the hell is?  Those passing these laws, should be made to live by the same laws, then tell me it's not punishment!  What goes around comes around, it's called Karma.

The new system also increases the number of crimes that require registration and boosts the amount of personal information posted. Plus the duration of a person's listing is now based solely on the convicted offense. At a minimum, it's 15 years for a misdemeanor.

Critics say it opens people who pose no danger up to public scrutiny. "The impact on their families, on their ability to earn a living, their ability to travel. This law is very restrictive," Dornan said.

The changes were passed by the Legislature last year and were supposed to go into effect January 1. Last month, a federal judge temporarily halted enforcement of two other parts of the law that would allow authorities to monitor sex offender's computer usage and ban them from social networking sites like My Space and Facebook.

MD - Some Md. Lawmakers Want Tougher Penalties for Sex Offenders

Original Article

Just the typical knee-jerk reaction to a heinous crime. No matter what law the politicians pass to look good to the sheeple, and get votes, it will not prevent this kind of crime, nor any crime. It gets votes though.


SALISBURY - The death of Sarah Haley Foxwell has some lawmakers pushing for tougher penalties for child sex offenders. Some say they are even considering the death penalty in certain cases.

Right now a registered sex offender, 30-year-old _____ of Salisbury has been charged with kidnapping 11-year-old Sarah, whose body was found Christmas day in a wooded area of Wicomico County. Some people question why _____ was not still behind bars at the time of Sarah's abduction.
- He has been charged with the crime, but not convicted yet, and still, they are jumping to conclusions in the usual knee-jerk fashion.  Tell me, what kind of law would prevent this kind of crime from occurring again?  None!  Yes, it's tragic and the person, once convicted, should be punished, but passing more laws punishing all offenders as if they are the one who killed this girl, is just insane!

"How many opportunities do you get to violate the law along the same track?" asked state Del. Norman Conway, D-38B. "I think that ought to be minimal."

Conway said lawmakers need to discuss tougher penalties for sex offenders. He is even considering pushing for the death penalty for some violent sex offenders. Under current state law, those convicted of a first-degree sexual offense or rape must serve a minimum of 25 years, with no chance of parole. Some people say that punishment is not enough.

"There needs to be a stronger penalty," said Salisbury resident Bob Eaton. "It is time that we waive cruel and unusual punishment and send a message to people who do these types of acts."
- Well, if you "waive" it, make sure you do it for ALL criminals.

"Whether we should make the current law more harsh should be dependent on a case by case situation," said Arlene Spack, another Salisbury resident.
- That would be an ex post facto law, which is forbidden by the constitution.  Hell, if everyone doesn't care about their rights, lets just burn the constitution and become a communist country.  Might as well, it seems everyone is okay with eradicating someone else's rights, until it affects them.

Democrats and Republicans across the Eastern Shore say they plan to work together to stiffen penalties for child sex offenders, includes examining sentencing and sharing registration information with neighboring states.

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Can the government civilly commit sex offenders?

Original Article


By Marc W. Pearce, JD, PhD, and Leah C. Skovran, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

On Jan. 12, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in United States v. Comstock, a case that raises questions about the federal government's authority to civilly commit sex offenders.

In 2006, Congress enacted 18 U.S.C. 4248 as part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. Section 4248 authorizes the federal government to civilly commit “sexually dangerous persons” who are already in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Using this authority, the federal government can extend the confinement of these persons even after they have completed their prison sentences.

The Walsh Act defines “sexually dangerous persons” as those who “engaged or attempted to engage in sexually violent conduct or child molestation” and suffer “from a serious mental illness, abnormality or disorder” that would cause them “serious difficulty in refraining from sexually violent conduct or child molestation if released.” Several states, including Kansas, have enacted laws to facilitate the civil commitment of similarly defined individuals. Like section 4248, the states' “sexually violent predator” commitment statutes have been used to confine sex offenders who have completed their prison terms continuously and indefinitely — a result that has been both praised as an innovative way to protect the public “from a small, but dangerous class of criminal” (e.g., Maleng, N., 1992) and criticized as a misuse of the institution of civil commitment for nontherapeutic purposes (for example, by a 1999 report from APA's Task Force on Sexually Dangerous Offenders).

The Supreme Court has held that the Kansas statute does not offend the Constitution's Ex Post Facto and Double Jeopardy Clauses, nor does it violate sex offenders' substantive due process rights by authorizing commitments in the absence of mental illness. Applying these holdings, lower courts have determined that section 4248 likewise does not violate these constitutional principles (see United States v. Comstock, 2007).

But section 4248 raises a new set of questions that have divided courts of appeals.

In United States v. Comstock (2009), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit concluded that Congress lacked the authority to enact section 4248. Noting that “the states have long controlled the civil commitment of the mentally ill” through “the exercise of ... general police and parens patriae powers” that the federal government lacks, the Fourth Circuit found that section 4248 cannot be sustained as a legitimate exercise of the specific powers granted to Congress under the Constitution. In United States v. Tom (2009), however, the Eighth Circuit reached the opposite conclusion, holding that “the statute is a responsible exercise of federal power over individuals subject to continuing federal jurisdiction.” The Eighth Circuit found that, because Congress had authority under the Commerce Clause to criminalize the criminal conduct of the defendant (who had crossed state lines to engage in sexual acts with a minor), it “has the ancillary authority under the Necessary and Proper Clause to provide for his civil commitment so that he may be prevented from its commission in the first place.”

The Supreme Court will resolve the disagreement between the courts of appeals in an opinion that will be issued sometime this year. If the court determines that section 4248 is unconstitutional, “sexually dangerous persons” held under that statute will likely have to be released from federal custody. In late 2008, more than 60 such individuals were confined in the federal prison complex in Butner, N.C., alone. These people may be susceptible to civil commitment under state law, and more states might enact their own versions of the commitment procedure if section 4248 is struck down.

If, on the other hand, section 4248 is upheld, the federal government will have expanded authority to legislate in the field of civil commitment — a field that generally has been left to the individual states. Thus, the Supreme Court's forthcoming decision in Comstock should be of interest to psychologists — particularly those whose practice involves the assessment or treatment of sex offenders.

CT - Economy Isn’t Only Concern For Defense Attorneys

Original Article



Changes on tap in DUI, sex offender and juvenile cases

As we transition into the second decade of the millennium, Y2K horror stories have been replaced with continuing forecasts of economic doom, downsizing, and high unemployment rates.

Indeed, the financial stability of the Judicial Branch seems to teeter on the tip of the governor’s pen. As a result, I think we can expect much change in where and how we practice law. The Branch will likely close GA courthouses in Bristol, Norwalk, and other towns, and several courthouse libraries. While still largely in the conceptual phase, wider spread use of videoconferencing and e-filing seem inevitable in our criminal courts. I also think we will see a regional consolidation of motor vehicle dockets with extended hours into the evenings and possibly on weekends. Judicial efficiency and conservation will be the trend in 2010, and for the foreseeable future.

Given current unemployment rates, the Public Defender’s Office will continue to handle 80 percent of the criminal docket. Pro se defendants are on the rise, too, leaving the private bar to compete for a dearth of paying clients. Competition encourages clients to fee shop, and lures lawyers further from their niche practices and geographic areas, leading them to accept cases they would have previously referred out.

Add all that to the rising cost of business and it’s safe to say hard times still lay ahead for criminal defense practitioners. As a collateral consequence, I suspect there will be a rise in habeas petitions and appeals.

While abolitionists hit their stride in 2009 with the passage of an historic bill to abolish Connecticut’s death penalty—a measure vetoed by Gov. M. Jodi Rell—it is unlikely we will see another full-court press on the issue until 2011, when Rell is out of office. The work of death penalty opponents will be to maintain the votes they have garnered in the House and Senate, and to support candidates opposed to capital punishment.

This certainly won’t be easy in the face of the Cheshire murder trials slated to begin in January. While the trials of defendants Stephen Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky will likely surge public opinion in favor of capital punishment, the exorbitant taxpayer cost will be in the spotlight and should promote a cost/benefit analysis disfavoring the death penalty.

Decriminalization Possible

An upside of the downward economy may also be seen in the emerging trend to decriminalize minor offenses including the possession of small amounts of marijuana, possession of alcohol by minors, and lower level larcenies.

We have seen the legislature raise the limits for larceny offenses last year and the age of juvenile court jurisdiction. Sixteen-year-olds will funnel into the juvenile system this January; 17-year-olds are scheduled to enter the juvenile system in 2012. There’s a nationwide trend to decriminalize minor offenses committed by juveniles. That reduces collateral consequences for our youth, prosecution costs, and public defender and probation caseloads, all the while generating income through fines. I suspect Connecticut will take note.

At the same time, a trend is afoot on the federal, state and local levels to impose harsher penalties and longer-term registration requirements on sex offenders. Be on alert for the passing of the Sexual Offender Notification Registry Act (SORNA) tied to federal funding and mandated for implementation in 2010. SORNA delivers retroactive draconian registry provisions and severely enhanced penalties for sex offenders. But it may find resistance or delay as it packs an unfunded, expensive punch to already devastated state budgets.

Proposed state legislation also seeks to impose sex registry requirements on non-required felony convictions where there is a factual basis of a sex offense—in essence to undercut plea and charge bargaining that sidestep registration. Municipalities in Connecticut are seeking to ban registered offenders from public parks, playgrounds, public facilities and beaches. The effect of these measures will be to increase trials in sex offender cases and drive many convicted offenders underground to avoid the stigmas and impractical dictates of registration.

Several areas of law have changed in the past year, with a few standouts. The state’s DUI laws were amended effective Oct.1 with significant changes to the per se provisions of Connecticut General Statutes 14-227b that will surely lead to constitutional and due process challenges. Connecticut can also expect change as the state begins replacing the Intoxilyzer 5000s with the Dräger 9250, a more accurate breath testing device.

Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court expanded Crawford v. Washington (2004), by holding that the admission of sworn toxicology lab certificates violated the petitioner’s Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses against him at trial. In Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, the certificates were deemed akin to “affidavits…or similar pretrial statements that declarants would reasonably expect to be used prosecutorially” falling into the “core class of testimonial statements” covered by the Confrontation Clause. The ruling requires the prosecution to have lab analysts testify at trial, and has potentially far-reaching implications for the admission of forensic and medical reports prepared for the purpose of prosecution.

Juvenile Transfers

Another noteworthy trend observed in 2009 was the emergence of due process considerations in juvenile transfers to the adult docket and in the continuation of protective orders in domestic violence cases. The state Appellate Court in State v. Fernandes held that the juvenile statutes created a liberty interest entitling the juvenile to a hearing prior to transfer confirming that rights conferred by statute cannot be deprived absent due process of law. The state Supreme Court has granted certiorari on the issue; this will be one to keep an eye on.

In State v. Fernando A., the state Supreme Court held that while a domestic violence defendant is not entitled to an initial evidentiary hearing on the issuance of a protective order at arraignment, the defendant is entitled to a subsequent evidentiary hearing on the continued necessity of the protective order. The defendant must make the request at the initial hearing, and the state will carry the burden of proof by a fair preponderance of the evidence. The decision leaves open a lot of gray area; I think we can expect the scope and nature of the hearing to be hotly contested by both sides this year.

Judge Patrick Carroll III, the state’s deputy chief court administrator, re-instituted the Criminal Practice Commission, a collaborative group of representatives from all sides, to address issues and concerns relevant to our practice. One outgrowth of this commission is the new Practice Book Rule 40-13A, effective Jan. 1, providing defense counsel, upon written request, with copies of all statements, law enforcement reports and affidavits in the state’s possession or its agents’ in 45 days. Defense counsel may not disclose a hard copy of the materials to their clients without permission of the court or prosecuting authority. A subcommittee of the commission has been created to address issues concerning immigration detainees; attention needs to be paid here as to how non-citizens are being treated and detained in Connecticut.

Finally, we can expect decisions this year from the state Supreme Court in two very important cases. The first is State v. Julian Lockhart, in which the defendant calls for the mandated electronic recording of police interrogations. The second is the disturbing Appellate Court ruling in AFSCME Council 4, Local 1565 v. Department of Correction, et al. In the latter, the Appellate Court affirmed an arbitration award that allowed a factual finding of guilt to be made against a person who applied for and was granted accelerated rehabilitation, a special form of probation that results in the eventual elimination of conviction records. The inference of guilt has broad implications for criminal defendants in eviscerating the benefits of the accelerated rehabilitation statute, and is particularly dangerous for non-citizens who could suffer devastating immigration consequences as a result.

As Y2K proved, doomsayers be damned. The criminal bar will persevere through these tough economic times through efficiency, conservation and ingenuity. It promises to be an exciting year full of long anticipated decisions, change and new legal challenges. While the poor economy has many downsides, I believe it may also present new opportunities and welcome changes. •

Jennifer L. Zito is a solo criminal defense lawyer with a practice in Meriden.

LA - Police: Woman files false rape report

Original Article


A 24-year-old Shreveport woman was arrested over the weekend on charges she lied to authorities about being beaten and raped.

Krystle Scott, of the 4400 block of Danny Wimberly, was booked into City Jail on Saturday on one count of filing or maintaining false public records, said Bill Goodin, Shreveport police spokesman.

Scott filed the report New Year’s Eve saying she was assaulted by someone she knew, according to police. Detectives later determined the woman suffered no injuries and the accusations were false.

DE - Delaware Lawmaker Proposes Tough New Sex Offender Laws

Original Article


By Jeremy Tucker

DOVER - Over the past few weeks, Delmarva residents have been shocked by the crimes that have been committed against children. One Delaware lawmaker said elected officials must now act to combat child predators.

Sussex County Rep. John Atkins (Email), D-District 41, plans to introduce several measures into the General Assembly next year aimed to protect children.

According to Atkins, one measure would require repeat high risk sex offenders to have the words "sex offender" stamped on their drivers' licenses.
- So, how would having sex offender stamped on this mans license, prevented the crime he committed?  He could have been wearing a big "sex offender" on his shirt, and it still would not have prevented the crime.

Another bill would not allow prison terms for sex offenders to be cut short. Atkins pointed to the case of _____, the Salisbury, Md. man who is charged with kidnapping Sarah Foxwell. According to Delaware's Department of Justice, _____ was sentenced to seven years in prison for rape in Delaware, but six of those years were suspended.

And yet another plan would require sex offenders who target children younger than 12 to be chemically castrated if they are over the age of 21.

Atkins said he may also introduce another piece of legislation requiring the worst sex offenders to place a special license plate on their car designating them as sex offenders.

Solomon Bay of Dover said, "I'm definitely all for it. With my kids here it's sad what some people actually want to do to children."

Delaware lawmakers return to work at Legislative Hall in Dover in just over a week. And Atkins' proposals are likely to strike up fierce debate.

In a written statement Thursday, Delaware ACLU (Contact) Director Drewry Fennell told WBOC-TV ,"Any changes to the law must be constitutional and should carefully distinguish between dangerous offenders and those who pose little or no risk. Overly broad legislation is costly to enforce; and harsh penalties may discourage reporting of crimes, particularly when the offender is a relative or otherwise known to the victim."

Video Link

Study: Third of juvenile sex offenders target other kids

Original Article


By Wendy Koch

More than a third of sex crimes against juveniles are committed by juveniles, according to new research commissioned by the Justice Department.

Juveniles are 36% of all sex offenders who victimize children. Seven out of eight are at least 12 years old, and 93% are boys, says the study by the Crimes Against Children Research Center (Contact) at the University of New Hampshire.

The report comes as states toughen penalties for adult sex offenders and wrestle with how to handle juveniles.

"They are different from adult sex offenders," says study co-author David Finkelhor. They are more likely than adults to commit sex offenses in groups, and their victims are younger and more likely to be male.

Finkelhor says only about 10% of juvenile offenders have signs of "sexual preoccupation," an indicator of a pedophile. He says teen offenses include date rape. In the case of offenders age 12 or 13, it is often sexual experimentation with younger kids.

Early sex education is key to teaching boundaries and preventing such experimentation, Finkelhor says.

The study, based on 2004 law enforcement data, finds that juvenile sex offenders commonly target children younger than they are. Their numbers increase sharply at age 12 and plateau at 14. Female offenders are younger.

"I've seen the whole spectrum," from serious and even sadistic crimes to 16-year-old boys having sex with 13-year-old girlfriends, says psychiatrist Fred Berlin, founder of the Johns Hopkins Sexual Disorders Clinic. He says research shows the vast majority of juvenile sex offenders don't become adult ones.

He says too many end up on sex offender registries. "They shouldn't be stigmatized for the rest of their lives," Berlin says.

Some states have tried to lessen punishment for older teens having consensual sex with underage ones. Most do not list juveniles on their online sex offender registries.

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, however, requires states to adopt uniform registry rules or risk losing certain federal funds. The act, passed in 2006, requires teens 14 and older to register if they commit serious sex crimes, which can include touching the genitals of someone younger than 12.

Offenders have to register every three months; failure to do so is a felony. The Justice Department says only Ohio has put the law into effect.

AK - Alaska tries to comply with federal sex offender law

Original Article


By Christine Kim

ANCHORAGE - It's been more than three years since Congress passed a law ordering stricter laws for sex offenders, but Alaska is still not meeting those federal standards.

The deadline to comply with the requirements of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, or SORNA, was July of 2009. But because Ohio was the only state to meet those requirements on time, the deadline has been extended to July of this year.

Alaska faces unique legal and geographic barriers to complying with the law, but backers say doing so will make the state safer.

"That integrative process is good," said state Rep. Anna Fairclough (Email). "Because then, all states are looking out for particular individuals showing up and applying to jobs in schools or trying to have access to young children."

SORNA is part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. It aims to create a national sex offender registry and toughen penalties on those who fail to register, including the estimated 100,000 sex offenders who are not living where they're supposed to be.

Sex offenders, however, aren't the only ones having trouble meeting SORNA's requirements.

"There are 49 other states who haven't complied, and there's a reason," Fairclough said.

The federal law would apply to all sex offenders, including those with convictions before SORNA was enacted. This contradicts Alaska's Constitution, which bars retroactive laws.

Additionally, SORNA uses a three-tier system to classify what kind of act sex offenders committed. Alaska uses a two-tier system.

Another complication is that SORNA requires perpetrators to register and update information in person. Depending on the tier, a sex offender may have to report every three months -- a point of difficulty in the Bush.

"A large proportion of Alaska offenders that are registered on that sex offenders list in our state are in rural communities," Fairclough said. "And so there's a different travel pattern that would be expected from them."

In fiscal year 2009, Standing Together Against Rape reported almost 3,000 crisis calls. The organization was involved in more than 590 child assault investigations.

STAR's director, Nancy Haag, says over the years she's seen a rise in the number of cases.

"I think anything we do to make the community safer is an important and valuable investment," Haag said. "I know that it's also an expensive investment, but I think that from the recent reports from the governor, that he's welcoming whatever he can do to make this a safer community in terms of sexual assaults."

When Gov. Sean Parnell (Contact) announced his 2011 budget proposal in mid-December, a top priority was ending domestic violence. Parnell's proposal sets aside $7 million to pay for public safety officers in remote villages and a new position in the Department of Law to address the problem.

"I think we need to work at making the federal law the best that it can be," Fairclough said. "And if it needs to be revised, I think that we need to speak with our congressional representatives, talk to our senators and say what challenges Alaska faces, and how are those similar to the other states."

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