Thursday, January 7, 2010

NY - Assemblymember Hoyt and Senator Stachowski Propose Amendments to the Sexual Offender Management and Treatment Act

Original Article

More propaganda and exploitation of sex offenders and peoples fear, to get elected and to look good to the sheeple, all the while, doing nothing to prevent crime or protect anybody. Just adding more placebo's to the mix!

12/30/2009

Assembly member Hoyt (Contact) (D-Buffalo/Grand Island) and Senator Stachowski (Contact) (58th District), are announcing proposed amendments to the Sexual Offender Management and Treatment Act of 2007 (SOMTA) that will strengthen the existing law in order that the Attorney General’s office can more effectively petition for civil confinement of repeat sex offenders like _____.

Hoyt said, “Civil Confinement was enacted to protect the public from sex offenders who are unable to control their behaviors. In order for the law to work more effectively changes are necessary that call for a collaborative evaluation process with other state agencies and a closer examination of those sex offenders whose past behaviors indicate the presence of a mental abnormality and therefore are in need of supervision

Senator Stachowski, who represents the area where _____ currently resides, said, “Mr. _____'s release into society clearly indicates that our civil confinement system needs to be fine tuned, at least when we consider the potential for a repeat offender to commit these horrendous acts time and again. This is a law and order issue as well a mental health issue, and I'm hopeful my colleagues in the Senate will share our sense off urgency on this matter."

_____ is a three time convicted sexual offender who also violated his parole by refusing to attend counseling. He currently lives in Buffalo and is about to be released on parole again. The Office of Mental Health, which performed _____’s case evaluation, never referred him to the Attorney General’s office for a civil management petition. While inquiring into the matter Hoyt discovered that there are a number of cases that the Office of Mental Health does not refer.

According to the Attorney General’s “The Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act: The First Year,” report 1,603 cases were referred by the Department of Corrections to the Office of Mental Health for evaluation for possible civil management. Of that, only 173 were ever evaluated by a psychiatrist at OMH’s direction and only 139 of those were referred to the Attorney General’s office for consideration of a civil management petition.

Under the current law, sex offenders referred by the Department of Corrections undergo a three step process administered by the Office of Mental Health. The first is a multi-disciplinary team review. This is a paper review that examines the criminal and supervisory history, presentencing reports and institutional history. Based on that review, the team may recommend that the case be examined by a three member case review team. The case review team may then recommend the offender be examined by a psychiatrist and then, if two of the three team members agree, the case is referred to the Attorney General’s office with a recommendation to file a petition for civil management.

Hoyt’s and Stachowski’s proposed amendments would do the following:
  • All repeat sex offenders are automatically referred to the three person case review team 120 days before their release
  • The case review team will be comprised of representatives from three different agencies, the Office of Mental Health, the Department of Criminal Justice Services and the Office of the Attorney General. It will maintain the current standard of two of the three team members being psychiatric examiners
  • The case review team will be administered under the Department of Criminal Justice Services because they are a disinterested state agency in regards to the civil management process and have purview in areas of criminal justice, public safety, release of prisoners and the management of sexual offenders

Joining Assemblymember Hoyt and Senator Stachowski in sponsoring these amendments were Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte and Assemblyman Mark Schroeder.

Assemblywoman DelMonte (D-Lewiston) said, “The Civil Confinement law was passed with the expectation and purpose of keeping dangerous sexual predators off our streets and away from our children. Over and over we have seen predators who are prime candidates for civil confinement be released back into our communities. I am hopeful that by amending the Sexual Offender Management and Treatment Act these dangerous individuals will remain civilly confined and out of the communities where our children live, play and go to school.”

Assemblyman Schroeder said, "Obviously the system needs to be improved if there is even a possibility that dangerous predators like _____ can be released into society, I am confident that these amendments will put in place measures to prevent repeat offenders from slipping through the cracks and endangering children again."

Hoyt concluded, “The cost of allowing repeat offenders like _____ to go free outweigh any cost of civilly confining them now. The emotional, psychological and physical tolls that they take on their victims and the community will only haunt us in the future as we try to repair the damage they have done.”

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FL - Homeless sex offenders banned from cold-weather shelters

Original Article

More proof the laws are punishment. So basically the city of Miami is saying they would rather you die in the cold than have shelter? That is what it looks like to me!

01/07/2010

By JULIE BROWN

Clad in a thin hooded sweat shirt, _____ trembles uncontrollably behind the wheel of his beat up Chevy.

His gas tank is empty, but he can't muster the strength to walk the two miles to buy fuel. With South Florida in the grip of a record-setting cold snap, he and other sex offenders and predators who live under the Julia Tuttle Causeway huddle in their cars, nylon tents and wooden shacks.

"We need help," _____ said, teeth chattering.

There's little relief in the forecast. The National Weather Service reports temperatures will move into the 70s on Friday but that a strong Arctic cold front is expected to arrive Friday night bringing cold temperatures -- again.

Those living under the Tuttle say they've been forgotten -- save for a few souls who delivered blankets and generators a few weeks ago.
- And thank goodness for these kind folks, whomever they were.  I think Pure Mercy has done this, and someone said the city of Miami brought some blankets.

This week, they say they were turned away by the county's homeless shelters because they are sex offenders. Under state law, sex offenders can't live within 1,000 feet of schools, day-care centers, parks or other areas where kids congregate. Miami-Dade has stricter requirements -- a 2,500-foot ban.

After six days in a row of bone-chilling temperatures, they have run out of gas for the generators. Some say it's just as well; few of them have space heaters.

Ron Book, head of Miami-Dade's Homeless Trust (Contact), concedes that as sex offenders and predators, they aren't able to stay in the shelters.

"They could probably search out some hotel, but they need resources for that," Book said Thursday.

The county has had workers out there handing out blankets, he said, but there's little else he can do that he hasn't already tried.

Finding landlords who will accept them is increasingly difficult, and some -- though not all -- of the offenders refuse to leave.

Depending on whom you ask, from 34 to 70 sex predators and offenders still live under or near the bridge. Book has placed 40-45 of them so far, and he says his agency will continue its effort.

"I feel bad, but they should talk to their probation officers -- they are the ones who put them there," Book said.
- That may be true, but they were put there by laws YOU lobbied for, so you put them there as well!

Later this month, the Miami-Dade County Commission will consider an ordinance that may ease the boundary that prohibits sex offenders and predators from living 2,500 feet from where children congregate.

The new ordinance will instead create child safety zones, whereby convicted molesters would be banned from loitering 300 feet from schools and child-care centers. It would also negate the hodgepodge of local laws that vary from city to city in the county.
- That would affect all sex offenders and not all sex offenders are child molesters!

_____, a resident who wouldn't give his last name, lives in a tent on the south side of the bridge.

"The wind whips through here. We thought they would move us out but they said no," he said.

Volunteers from Pure Mercy, a faith-based charitable group from Pinellas, visited at Christmas, handing out grills, a new generator, gasoline, food and clothing.

Executive Director David Lind said it was the third time they visited, and residents now think of him and his wife as if they were their mother and father.

"I don't think anybody deserves to be punished for their entire life," Lind said. "These guys did what they did, there are very few who don't admit what they did. In essence, it seems like they are being punished by society by being stuck in a corner."

Forecasters say it's highly unlikely the weather will be life threatening for those living under bridges or on the street.

Book, who was in a Super Bowl Host Committee meeting Thursday morning, said that in the past, during hurricane evacuations, the offenders have been offered beds in jails, but they've declined to stay there.

_____, a sex offender who served 18 years in prison, said they were told that emergency shelter is offered to them only during a hurricane.

"Even if I leave, how will I live? I have no job and no car to get there," said _____.

_____ knows that many people don't feel sorry for him and the other sex offenders and predators; he concedes that some of their crimes are unspeakable.

But after spending nearly two decades behind bars, he says he feels more ostracized than cold-blooded killers.

"How is this making society safer?" he asked, pointing to the monitor he must wear so that authorities know where he is every day.

Many of them just remove the monitors or let them run out of power, so that they can go into hiding to find warmth, he said.

As a gust of wind blows off the intercoastal waters, _____ sips his cold coffee and considers what he will do to keep warm the next few days.

"It's been so cold that at times it seems like the water is standing still."


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MO - Town's top officer faces child sex charges

Original Article

01/06/2010

By JIM SALTER

FREDERICKTOWN - The top police officer in a remote Missouri town, a giant of a man who was also a Boy Scout leader, has been accused of sexually assaulting two boys, videotaping the acts and then destroying the recordings.

Kenneth Tomlinson II, 42, was arrested Tuesday and charged with 16 counts of sodomy. Authorities say he admitted having sex with the two boys, who are now 12 and 14. Tomlinson was jailed in Cape Girardeau County on $100,000 cash-only bond. Court records indicated he did not yet have an attorney.

Tomlinson joined the police department in Fredericktown — a community of 4,100 about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis — as a patrolman in 1997. He was promoted to captain, the top job, in April.

Mayor Danny Kemp, who said he was "floored" by the news of the captain's arrest, said the progress Tomlinson made while supervising six full-time officers was impressive.

"He turned the department around," Kemp said, inside his office just off the town square. "He was a great leader."

But Vicky Manche, who owns an A&M Restaurant downtown, said teens derisively referred to Tomlinson — described by one city worker as 6-foot-2 and about 450 pounds — as "Baby Huey."

"They ought to string him up," Manche said. "It's really pitiful when you put your trust in somebody and this happens. My grandsons are Boy Scouts so this hits close to home."

Manche's grandsons were not part of Tomlinson's troops, and it was not known if the alleged victims were either.

The two boys told authorities that the sexual abuse began last spring. One boy is 12, but was 11 when it began, he said. The other is 14.

A probable cause statement from the Missouri State Highway Patrol said Tomlinson admitted to having sex with the boys and videotaping some of the acts. The statement said Tomlinson and the boys viewed the video on the camera screen, then he destroyed the recordings.

Joe Mueller of the Boy Scouts of America's Greater St. Louis Council said he didn't know if the victims were members of Tomlinson's Boy Scout or Cub Scout troops. He said Tomlinson had led the troops in Fredericktown since 1998. His association with scouting has been revoked, Mueller said.

"Our heart goes out to the families of the children involved in the allegations," Mueller said. "We have made it a fundamental part of our organization to protect youth members and adult leaders as well."

Kemp said Tomlinson had no previous criminal record. He has been placed on unpaid leave from the department until the case is adjudicated. Sgt. Jason Gordon has taken over as interim leader of the department.

At the Mills Barbershop across from City Hall, owner Jane Mills said some of those getting haircuts found the allegations too difficult to talk about. Those who discussed it were mostly in shock, she said.

"It's very concerning because he's a policeman and a scout leader," she said. "It's very sad, and it's an embarrassment that something like this could happen."


AZ - Border Patrol agent sentenced in pornography case (Another "Good Ole' Boy" not required to register!)

Original Article

01/07/2010

By Kim Smith

Agent to serve probation as part of plea bargain

A 32-year-old U.S. Border Patrol agent was sentenced to four years’ probation today for furnishing obscene material to a minor, a felony.

A Sahuarita resident told police last February that two of her children, ages 10 and 13, said Flavio Maldonado had shown them pornography on his home computer. The 13-year-old also said Maldonado had touched her inappropriately while sitting in front of a bathroom mirror and on another occasion.

Maldonado was indicted on two counts of furnishing obscene or harmful items to minors, one count of sexual abuse of a minor under 15 and one count of molestation of a child.

Maldonado pleaded guilty in November to one count of furnishing obscene items to minors as part of a plea agreement that stated he could be placed on probation or receive up to 3.75 years in prison.

Deputy Pima County Attorney Carolyn Nedder on Thursday told Judge John Leonardo of Pima County Superior Court that the victim’s mother now says she overreacted when she called police. She insists her son accidentally saw the pornography and her daughter’s breasts were accidentally touched.

The alleged incident in front of the mirror wasn’t discussed in court Thursday, but after the hearing Deputy Pima County Attorney Susan Eazer said the victims’ mother and Maldonado have offered a medical reason for it.

Nedder told Leonardo that if he was inclined to place Maldonado on probation, he should be required to register as a sex offender and to be supervised by probation officers who work specifically with sex offenders.

Although one portion of a psychological-sexual evaluation, which is based on self-reporting, indicates Maldonado isn’t likely to re-offend, Nedder said the overall evaluation determined the likelihood of Maldonado re-offending is “moderate-to-high.”

The person who conducted the test indicated Maldonado’s behavior is typical of child molesters who “groom” their victims, Nedder said.

Defense attorney Richard Kingston told Leonardo that Maldonado’s actions were innocuous; he thought the boy was asleep while he watched the pornography. Kingston also stressed the results of the test that showed Maldonado wasn’t likely to re-offend.

Maldonado told Leonardo he’d never do anything to hurt the children and he regrets everything that has happened.

I’ll make sure nothing like this ever happens again,” Maldonado said.

Leonardo placed Maldonado on probation because of his lack of criminal history, his employment history, the mother’s input and the low-risk test result.

The judge declined to require Maldonado to register as a sex offender, but will decide in March if he should be placed on a special sex offender caseload. He also will decide whether Maldonado should be allowed unsupervised visits with the children.
- You see, the law states if you do such and such crime, you are a sex offender and must be on the registry, yet he gets a break, unlike the rest of the general public!

Maldonado, who was stationed in Nogales, was originally reassigned to administrative duties, but is now on unpaid suspension.


IN - Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides another ex post facto challenge to sex offender law requirements

Original Article

01/06/2010

By Marcia Oddi

In Gary M. Hevner v. State, filed late this afternoon, a 6-page, 5-0 opinion, the Supreme Court concludes: "Because of the ex post facto provisions of the Indiana Constitution, the trial court may not order Hevner to register as a sex offender," reversing the trial court decision, which had been affirmed by this March 31, 2009 NFP Court of Appeals opinion.

In today's opinion, Justice Rucker writes:

We consider a claim that the Indiana Sex Offender Registration Act (“the Act”) constitutes retroactive punishment forbidden by the Ex Post Facto Clause contained in the Indiana Constitution because it requires the defendant to register as a sex offender, when the Act contained no such requirement at the time the defendant committed the triggering offense. * * *

At the time Hevner committed his crime, a person convicted for the first time of possessing child pornography was not considered a sex offender and thus was not required to register as such. * * * While Hevner was awaiting trial in 2006, the Legislature repealed Ind. Code § 5-2-12-4 and recodified the statute at Ind. Code § 11-8-8-4.5. See Pub. L. No. 140-2006, §§ 13, 41. Effective July 1, 2007 – before Hevner was convicted but after he was charged – the legislature amended the statute to require anyone convicted of possession of child pornography to register as a sex offender regardless of whether the person had accumulated a prior unrelated conviction. * * * Thus, at the time of his conviction, Hevner was required to register as a sex offender. * * *

As a general rule, a court must sentence a defendant under the statute in effect on the date the defendant committed the offense. Biddinger v. State, 868 N.E.2d 407, 411 n.6 (Ind. 2007). Between October and November of 2005, when Hevner committed the crime of possession of child pornography, only persons convicted of a prior possession offense were required to register as sex offenders under the Act. By the time of Hevner‟s trial and sentencing the Legislature had amended the Act making it applicable to first time offenders. As applied to Hevner the Act violates the prohibition on ex post facto laws contained in the Indiana Constitution because it imposes burdens that have the effect of adding punishment beyond that which could have been imposed when the crime was committed. * * *

Because of the ex post facto provisions of the Indiana Constitution, the trial court may not order Hevner to register as a sex offender. And for the same reasons we discussed in State v. Pollard, Hevner is not subject to prosecution for violation of Ind. Code § 35-42-4-11, the residency restriction statute. * * *

However, having been convicted of possession of child pornography, a sex offense at the time Hevner committed his crime, he is subject to conditions of probation that “have a reasonable relationship to the treatment of the accused and the protection of the public.” Hale v. State, 888 N.E.2d 314, 319 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008), trans. denied. We cannot conclude that prohibiting Hevner from residing within 1,000 feet of school property is an unreasonable condition.

We reverse that portion of the trial court‟s sentencing order directing Hevner to register as a sex offender. This cause is remanded for further proceedings.


The "God Complex" of PJ's Xavier and all the other so called "voices for the children?"

Video Link | God Complex - Wikipedia


FL - Man Charged With Holding Fla. Woman Captive 4 Days (More proof the sex offender laws do nothing to prevent crime or protect anybody!)

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NM - Third Robertson High football player pleads guilty to hazing

Original Article

01/06/2010

By Taryn Bianchin

A third Robertson High School football player has now pleaded guilty in connection to a 2008 hazing incident where younger teammates were sodomized with a broomstick.

Wednesday _____ pleaded guilty to three felony charges and will most likely be put on probation. Under the deal, his lawyer says if they don't like the sentencing they can back out and go to trial.

_____’s plea will be a boost to prosecutors as they prepare to present their case against the rest of the football players, and alleged ringleader _____. Without the plea, the other remaining players may have been tried separately, making it harder to prosecute.

_____'s lawyer says it's only fair that his client get no more than the sentence _____ originally received. _____ was ordered to serve community service and probation for his involvement in the incident.

"He was the only respondent that no one identified as holding or touching a broom," the lawyer said of _____.

Family members of the victims are not happy with the plea, nor with the decision _____ not have to register as a sex offender. They asked why out of three boys that have entered plea agreements, only one has been sentenced to jail time.

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NE - Nebraska Registry Flooded With Low-Risk People

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SC - Here We Go Again

Original Article

01/07/2010

By Will Moredock

As the Legislature convenes, we ask: Why bother?

You know the General Assembly is ready to convene for its 2010 session when legislators start prefiling bills and you have that sinking feeling that when they go home in June not a damned thing is going to be better for this god-forsaken state. Our legislators will do anything to distract themselves, to distract the public, to pretend to be doing something to earn another term in Columbia. The artifice of governance goes on year after year and we never figure out which shell the pea is hiding under – and that it doesn’t matter any way.

Charleston Rep. Wendell Gilliard (Contact) has a reputation for grandstanding and making much ado over little. His latest stunt is perhaps his craziest. (I will resist the obvious pun which this story so richly deserves.) He wants to allow guests at Charlestown Landing and other state parks to be able to collect pecans for five dollars a bag and then apply that fee toward the general budget. Of course, that budget got cut by hundreds of millions of dollars this past year. Does Gilliard really think he is solving a problem with this harebrained fund-raising scheme?

If that idea is silly, Sen. Chip Campsen’s (Contact) bill is downright insidious – insidious because it will allow our lawmakers and the public a smug sense of self-satisfaction, while doing almost nothing to protect the most vulnerable members of society.

Campsen wants to ban registered sex offenders from internet social networking sites for the purpose of protecting underage children from sexual predators. The bill, patterned after one in New York State, involves turning names of registered sex offenders over to social network managers, who then cancel their accounts.

Worthy goal, to be sure, and you really must admire Campsen for standing up to the powerful sexual predator lobby and saying, Enough is enough. And I have no doubt that our courageous General Assembly will fall in behind the senator from Mount Pleasant in telling sexual predators that our children are off limits. The Post and Courier has even gotten into this crusade with a recent column by editor emeritus Barbara Williams. Yes, she’s against sexual predators, too!

After this law is passed – as I am sure it will be – I wonder what new steps our fearless leaders will take to make South Carolina children safe. They will certainly have their work cut out for them.

S.C. has one of the highest teen smoking rates in the nation, yet spends less than any other state on programs to prevent children from using tobacco. S.C. ranks eighth in the nation in teen birthrate; not surprising since our lawmakers would rather give sexually active teens Jesus than condoms.

S.C. students still rank 49th or 50th annually in SAT scores and the number of S.C. students eligible for free and reduced-price meals ranks second-highest in the nation. In fact, the Palmetto state was recently number one for the number of households with people who go without food, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s a lot of children going to school hungry.

In other surveys, S.C. had the highest school dropout rate in the nation and ranked 41st in overall achievement, based on test scores related to reading and math performance, high school graduation rates and Advanced Placement exams.

In the annual report from the Every Child Matters Education Fund, S.C. ranked 45th in the nation on overall child well-being. The ranking was based on 10 criteria, including infant death rate, death rate of older children, births to teen mothers, births to women receiving late or no prenatal care, children living in poverty, uninsured children, juvenile incarceration rate, child abuse fatalities, and per capita child welfare expenditures. Nowhere did the study factor in the the threat of sexual predators on the Internet – the great danger that seems to keep Chip Campsen and Barbara Williams awake at night.

Another irony in Campsen’s bill is that children cannot encounter sexual predators online if they do not have a computer and S.C. ranks 44th in the nation for Internet access in the home. Slightly less than 60 percent of South Carolina homes had Internet access last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Computer access in S.C. public schools is also among the lowest in the nation.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Campsen were as worried about providing Internet access as he is about dirty old men hanging out on social networking sites? But he probably considers lack of Internet access to be a way of protecting children from predators.

With leadership like Gilliard’s and Campsen’s I am confident we will soon feel much better about our budget and the future of our children. And feeling better is what’s important.


WA - 12 Percent of Adjudicated Youth Report Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities During 2008-09

Original Article

01/07/2010

WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An estimated 12 percent of adjudicated youth (3,220) in state operated and large locally or privately operated juvenile facilities reported experiencing one or more incidents of sexual victimization by another youth or facility staff in a survey mandated by the Prison Rape Elimination Act, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, announced today. About 2.6 percent of youth (700) reported an incident involving another youth, and 10.3 percent (2,730) reported an incident involving facility staff.

The National Survey of Youth in Custody (NSYC) limited reporting by youth to incidents occurring in the last 12 months or since their admission to the facility, if less than 12 months. Sexual victimization is defined as any unwanted sexual activity between youth and all sexual activity between youth and staff. About 4.3 percent of youth (1,150) reported having sex or sexual contact with staff as a result of force; 6.4 percent of youth (1,710) reported sexual contact with staff without any force, threat, or other explicit form of coercion.

Males were more likely than females to report sexual activity with facility staff (10.8 percent compared to 4.7 percent), but less likely than females to report forced sexual activity with another youth (2.0 percent compared to 9.1 percent). Overall, 91 percent of youth in the facilities in the survey were males; 9 percent were females.

Approximately 95 percent of all youth reporting staff sexual misconduct said they had been victimized by female facility staff. In 2008, 42 percent of staff in juvenile facilities under state jurisdiction were female.

Nearly half of the youth victimized by another youth reported they had experienced physical force or threat of force (46 percent), 30 percent had been offered favors or protection, and 17 percent had been given drugs or alcohol. Among youth victimized by facility staff, more than two-thirds (69 percent) did not report any force, threat of force, or offers of favors, protection, drugs, or alcohol to engage in the sexual activity. Nearly 20 percent of youth sexually victimized by another youth reported being injured in the incident, compared to five percent of youth victimized by staff.

All estimates of sexual victimization are subject to sampling error. A 95 percent-confidence interval including an upper and lower bound was constructed around each survey estimate to provide the range of values could have occurred if different samples were drawn.

To fulfill requirements of the Prison Rape Elimination Act, BJS identified 13 facilities as "high rate." These 13 facilities had a confidence interval with a lower bound that was at least 35 percent higher than the average rate among facilities categorized by type of consent. Six facilities had victimization rates of 30 percent or more.

BJS also identified 11 facilities as "low rate" based on the low percentages of youth who reported incidents, and the upper bound of the 95 percent-confidence interval was less than half the average rate among facilities. Five of the low rate facilities had no reported incidents of sexual victimization.

The NSYC was conducted between June 2008 and April 2009 in 166 state owned or operated juvenile facilities and 29 locally or privately operated facilities, yielding 9,198 completed interviews from adjudicated youth. The survey was administered using an audio computer-assisted self-interview instrument (ACASI) on touch-screen laptop computers in a private setting.

Administrators in each facility determined the type of consent required for youths. In loco parentis (ILP)--"in the place of a parent"--was required in 63 facilities. In the remaining 132 facilities, consent from the youths' parents or guardians (PGC) was required. In addition, survey staff had to receive assent from the youth prior to conducting the interview. Approximately 80 percent of sampled youth in ILP facilities and 40 percent in PGC facilities participated in the survey. Overall, 54 percent of sampled youth completed the sexual victimization survey.

The report, Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities Reported by Youth, 2008-09 (NCJ 228416) was written by BJS statisticians Allen J. Beck, Paige M. Harrison, and Paul Guerino. Following publication, the report can be found at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=2113.

For additional information about the Bureau of Justice Statistics' statistical reports and programs, please visit the BJS Web site at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov.

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Assistant Attorney General Laurie O. Robinson, provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has five component bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime. In addition, OJP has two program offices: the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART). More information can be found at http://www.ojp.gov.


MI - An ‘ornery’ judicial view of Mich. sex offender laws

Original Article

01/07/2010

By David Alire Garcia

Retiring judge says 'root problem is that our registry includes so many more people than it needs to include'

Retiring Van Buren County Circuit Judge William C. Buhl is a rarity among Michigan’s mostly reserved black robe set.

When things bother me, I get tired of people talking and saying this is horrible and not doing anything about it,” he said near the beginning of an in-depth interview covering his frustrations with the state’s sex offender laws.

In his southwest Michigan county, after nine elections — and never even drawing an opponent in any of them — you might think Buhl is mostly immune to the political considerations of taking on an unpopular cause. And you’d be right. But that immunity to the raw political consequences of his views has also convinced him that he has no choice but to speak his mind.

I figure after all these years on the bench, people actually sometimes listen to you,” he mused. “I’ve got a voice and I can speak out when others can’t.”

It’s not that his fellow jurists are mute, Buhl added, just that when it comes to criticizing how Michigan handles sex crimes and especially the state’s burgeoning sex offender registry, most other elected judges legitimately worry about losing their jobs if they do likewise.
- Yes, and I believe this as well.  It's not about what is right or wrong, fair and constitutional, it's about saving their own reputation and career, and not upholding their oaths of office.

That same temerity goes for elected lawmakers, Buhl said. He cites an educational event for legislators in Lansing sponsored by the Coalition for a Useful Registry last spring. Buhl sits on the coalition’s professional advisory board. The March event featured several different information stations, each one aiming to give state senators, representatives and their staff a better understanding of how the current system works — and its shortcomings.

I heard repeatedly, ‘Oh, we’ve got to go slow on this. We can’t do very much. Oh, it’s poison. We just don’t dare,’” Buhl said in a mocking tone. “They’re all just scared to death of it.”

Raw politics

It’s that fear that has pushed lawmakers to include anyone convicted of any of the state’s criminal sexual conduct laws on the online registry, as well as many other enhancements since the registry was created in 1994. Today, the state’s registry stands as one of the country’s broadest and most inclusive.
- Yeah, and just wait until their own son, daughter or someone else in their family gets slammed with the label, then it will be too late.  It's called Karma!

He said he’d like to narrow the scope of offenses that currently land individuals on the registry for a minimum of 25 years — and he said he’s not alone.

I think that I speak for a majority, the vast majority of the judiciary,” Buhl asserted.

The reason Buhl speaks for a mostly silent majority of elected judges in Michigan — if you believe his assertion — can be summed up in one word: politics.
- No, I don't think it's "politics!"  It's just people who took an oath, not defending that oath and the constitution, to save their career and paycheck, that is what it's about! Plus, if you speak out for the sex offender laws, you get voted into other aspects of government.

It’s just scary stuff when it comes to people going to the polls and opponents will happily exploit any position you take on it that can be twisted to look like you kinda like pedophiles,” he said.

In fact, that’s what he says happened to former State Rep. Alexander Lipsey. In 2002, Lipsey, a Democrat, was defeated in an election for a Kalamazoo-based seat in the Michigan Senate by Republican Tom George (Contact), now a candidate for governor.

George’s supporters were beating up Lipsey because he voted against going public with the registry,” Buhl recalled, noting that George himself refrained from the attack. Buhl said Lipsey was right to vote against the catch-all registry, but that didn’t matter in the end. “They unfairly accused him of being on the side of child molesters and he was defeated.”

Five years later, Lipsey was appointed to a vacant circuit judge position in Kalamazoo by Gov. Jennifer Granholm (Contact), but that Senate race became part of what Buhl calls his personal “growth process” on the flaws with the current law.

A view from the bench

The cases that regularly came to his courtroom were also part of that process. He describes one that he said made the biggest impression on him.

I had a 17-year-old who was socially immature with a 15-year-old girlfriend that was just in love with him. And she pursued him. And the parents on both sides didn’t want them together. But despite their wishes — and this girl was far more mature than he was — they got together, and then, of course, had sex,” Buhl said.

The boy was given probation for violating the state’s criminal sexual conduct law, but was still required to be placed on the housing- and employment-denying online sex offender registry for a quarter century. “I thought, what a travesty. This kid can’t even get a job at McDonalds.”

Since then, he’s seen many similar cases. “When we have people married to their victims (PDF), with children that are a product of their crime, and they have to worry about whether they can go watch their kids’ soccer games at school, it just struck me as just wrong,” he said. “And the more I saw it, the angrier I got about it.”

Fast forward to a current case on the judge’s docket — one that also makes him angry but for a different reason.

I have a guy right now pending sentence on his seventh failure to register,” he said, noting that registered offenders must check-in quarterly with law enforcement or face further penalties. “I finally said, ‘I want to know what he did to get on the registry.’ Well, it turns out he was a 13-year-old sexually abused child that asked a six-year-old to touch his penis. And he went through the juvenile system, was treated and has never had a sex-related offense since.”

He added that “there’s no indication that he’s a sexual predator or anybody to worry about but he is a blithering idiot that will fail to register again.”

It’s cases like that one, Buhl said, that clutter his courtroom and many others across the state.

Like other advocates for reform, Buhl said part of his efforts are geared toward playing defense, stopping what they consider to be bad legislation. He pointed to two examples from 2009.

The first was a proposal to redefine “school safety zones” to include all bus stops. Registered sex offenders are currently barred from living or working within 1,000 feet of such a zone. “That would have been a nightmare first to figure out,” he said, “because they change every year.

The second example was a proposal to include all day cares as off-limits school safety zones to offenders.

The way they defined day care would include almost every church that I’ve ever known,” he said. “If they include churches, they would basically render most communities, most municipalities off-limits for the registered sex offender.”

The current state-of-affairs gets worse, Buhl said, because “nobody goes back to the root problem here and the root problem is that our registry includes so many more people than it needs to include.”

Reforming the system

As for the judge’s wish-list of reforms, he pointed to three main ideas.

The first would institute a new process for evaluating — and treating — underage sex offenders.

I think we ought to treat them like we do juvenile offenders,” he said. “Have them petition into a court that takes jurisdiction over them like we petition juveniles … and put them through an educational course as to the legal and the life affecting consequences of sex, of child rearing, of child support, of sexually transmitted diseases, and just force them to endure that. Then graduate them and that’s the end of it,” he said. “Because they’re gonna do it, they’re gonna be doing it.”

The “it” Buel is referring to is, of course, underage sex.

For other accused sex offenders, Buhl suggests a new screening process and “have people put on the registry only if they’re people we need to worry about” such as violent rapists or child predators. In other words, Buhl says, “narrow the sex offender registry to people who truly are people we fear.”

Beyond a better process, Buhl said Michigan should junk the school safety zones altogether.

They’re silly little artificial rings that make it impossible to work with people,” he said. “We have all these people who can’t live here and they can’t work there.”

He said the employment and housing restrictions that go along with the school safety zones often make near impossible to make offenders employable, paying taxes and restitution.

Lastly, Buhl thinks lawmakers should reconsider the uncomfortable but legally significant differences between criminal sexual conduct and “penetration” — an automatic felony.

I would treat sexual penetration the same way we treat sexual contact, and that is we don’t make it a crime when two 15-year-olds fornicate, we don’t make it a crime two 15-year-olds are all over each other sexually except for penetration,” he said. “The minute there’s any kind of penetration whatsoever, finger, doesn’t matter, bang, you’re into a 15-year felony. Whether it’s contact or penetration, when they’re under 16 it ought not be criminalized.”

Entering the last year of his judicial career, this self-described “ornery cuss” is crystal clear about the problems he sees, and the reforms he’d like to see. But that doesn’t mean he’s unaware of the long-shot odds reformers like him face.

In fact, he almost seems resigned to losing.

We all know that it’s terrible and yet it won’t be changed,” he said with a sigh. “I figure, OK, I’m jousting with windmills. I know that the odds of getting anything done are so slim. But I can’t sit and do nothing,” he added. “I just can’t.”