Thursday, February 18, 2010

PA - School used student laptop webcams to spy on them at school and home

Original Article
Robbins v. Lower Merion School District (PDF)

What the hell? Are there a bunch of voyeur perverts at this school or something?


By Cory Doctorow

According to the filings in Blake J Robbins v Lower Merion School District (PA) et al, the laptops issued to high-school students in the well-heeled Philly suburb have webcams that can be covertly activated by the schools' administrators, who have used this facility to spy on students and even their families. The issue came to light when the Robbins's child was disciplined for "improper behavior in his home" and the Vice Principal used a photo taken by the webcam as evidence. The suit is a class action, brought on behalf of all students issued with these machines.

If true, these allegations are about as creepy as they come. I don't know about you, but I often have the laptop in the room while I'm getting dressed, having private discussions with my family, and so on. The idea that a school district would not only spy on its students' clickstreams and emails (bad enough), but also use these machines as AV bugs is purely horrifying.

Schools are in an absolute panic about kids divulging too much online, worried about pedos and marketers and embarrassing photos that will haunt you when you run for office or apply for a job in 10 years. They tell kids to treat their personal details as though they were precious.

But when schools take that personal information, indiscriminately invading privacy (and, of course, punishing students who use proxies and other privacy tools to avoid official surveillance), they send a much more powerful message: your privacy is worthless and you shouldn't try to protect it.

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PA - Target 11 Investigates Sex Offender Restrictions

Original Article | Listen Here

See the video at the site above.


A Target 11 investigation last week exposed the high number of registered sex offenders living in certain neighborhoods.

Now, Target 11 takes a closer look at communities and how they are dealing with the sex offender living next door.

Many communities such as Allegheny County have passed laws restricting where sex offenders may live. But those laws are increasingly coming under fire.

Often times they are being struck down by the courts, and Target 11 has discovered that has prompted some communities to turn to new measures to keep track of sex offenders.

When a new park went up in Natrona, Allegheny County, so did a flier with the names and addresses of six registered sex offenders living within a half-mile of the park.

"That's kind of scary with me having kids. We don't go to the park much but it's kind of creepy," said Jessica Rodgers, a mother who lives near the park.
- So then what is the problem?  If you go to the park, aren't you there watching your kid like a good parent should be?  If so, then what is the problem?

Target 11 tracked down the mother of one of those registered sex offenders. She said her son is being unfairly targeted. She said he got involved with a teenager a few years younger.

"I believe somebody in this Natrona area is trying to cause trouble and they don't know all the facts and they are taking it upon themselves to be judge and jury," she said.

What's happening in Natrona has happened in many communities. To deal with issues like this, Allegheny County Council unanimously passed an ordinance prohibiting registered sex offenders from living within a half-mile of a day care, recreation center park or school. But the American Civil Liberties Union (Contact) appealed the ordinance, claiming it would leave few areas in the county for sex offenders to live.

"There were some hillsides, some underpasses on highways, or Sewickley and Pine Richlands where sex offenders could go live so it's either uninhabitable or unaffordable," said ACLU attorney Vic Walczak.

And the ACLU claims there's no inherent public safety value because offenders can still visit these areas that are off-limits. They just can't live there.

Target 11 examined dozens of state and local residency restrictions across the country.

While most statewide restrictions have stood up in court, many local communities, like Allegheny County, are increasingly facing legal challenges. Many are being struck down by the courts because they're considered much tougher than state law. That's the case in Pennsylvania where offenders are only required to register.

Since the bans aren't working, Target 11 has uncovered some communities are trying something else.

Allegheny County Councilman Vince Gastgeb (Email) told Target 11 he will introduce legislation soon requiring all registered sex offenders to wear GPS tracking bracelets. Gastgeb maintains that will allow authorities to keep better track of their movement.
- And once again, violating his oath of office and the constitutional rights of others, just so he can "look tough" to the sheeple!

"I think a residency restriction gives parents a measure of comfort but with a GPS you know someone is where they shouldn't be and it's a matter of knowing versus hoping. Every one is going to be really upset if something happens to a youngster," said Gastgeb.
- Of course they will be upset, but even GPS is not going to prevent a crime from occurring, if someone is intent on doing so.  Plus, if the state or tax payers want GPS, make them pay for it!

In addition to that, Target 11 has learned that the state police will be making changes to the Megan's Law Web site. Residents will soon be able to sign up for e-mail alerts. When a registered sex offender moves into their neighborhood, they will automatically receive an e-mail.

"The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly." - Abraham Lincoln

FL - Inside the Mind of a Predator - Part 1

Original Article

It is my belief that everyone is born with a blank slate. You have a free will, and you can chose to be a heterosexual, homosexual, murderer, gang member, etc. Nobody is born a certain way, that to me is absurd.


SARASOTA - ABC 7 is exploring the complex psychology of pedophiles, men and women, who sexually abuse and molest children.

Tonight, we explore a sexual deviant condition, pedophilia, that affects hundreds of men on the Suncoast and thousands more in the state.

"You can't work anywhere you want. You can't live anywhere you want, because of this title that you have," says Mr. Smith.

"For the rest of my life I'll have a title from something I did as a teenager...for something I have no control over," says Mr. Jones.

A convicted sex offender's sentence continues even after he's served his time. "I'm leery about who I talk to. It's not easy to make friends, but I'm not out looking for friends," says Mr. Smith.

"The majority of my family wants nothing to do with me...hates me, could care less if I died," says Mr. Jones.

They can be found easily enough. Type in a city or county name and access law enforcement's database of sex offenders -- with pictures, names, and addresses.

Within the lists, there are several who maintain their innocence and several at a risk to re-offend. And others are so dangerous that you won't find them there...because they're locked away for life.

The sexual deviance known as pedophilia is a condition that many of us don't understand. When and why a person becomes a pedophile is a mystery to the therapists who treat them...and the pedophiles themselves. "Our understanding about what causes a person to become sexually interested in children is that basically...we don't know," says Sarasota psychologist Dr. Greg DeClue.

ABC 7 sat down and spoke to three psychologists -- all with more than twenty years experience in treating pedophiles -- and the first thing they tell us is that there are more questions than answers in their study, beginning with the root of the problem.

"I do typically think that it's more psychological," says Ft. Lauderdale forensic psychologist Dr. Amy Swan.
- I agree.  I think how someone is raised, who they hang out with, and their life in general determines if they will be a pedophile.  I do not think someone is born a pedophile, that to me is just insanity!  If someone grows up in a gang related atmosphere, more than likely they will join a gang, or if they hang out with drug users, they more than likely will be a drug user/dealer, I think the same applies for someones sexuality.  But, I am not an expert either.

"I think that it begins at birth. It's something that's ingrained within that person's nervous system," says Sarasota psychologist Dr. Mike Dubi.
- I disagree with this.  I do not think someone is born a murder, gay, pedophile, drug user, gang member, etc.  I believe it has to do with their entire lifestyle. Genetics "may" have something to do with it, but I even find that hard to believe.

"It looks like it's probably biological in nature, and that it's present by puberty," says Dr. DeClue.
- I disagree with this as well. So if this was true, or the paragraph above, are we going to start killing people at birth, if we think they may be a pedophile, or when they reach puberty?

The doctors say there are two essential groups of pedophiles: exclusive and non-exclusive. "The first is exclusively attracted to children. They're not interested in sexual partners that are not prepubescent children," says Dr. Dubi.

And keeping them away from children doesn't stop the desire for them. "The fantasies are deeply entrenched and typically act out their fantasies, so it doesn't matter if they have access to pornography or access to children," says Dr. Swan.

Non-exclusive pedophiles are attracted to adults. "And for whatever reason - convenience, trauma - they'll have sex with children."

ABC 7 spoke to a pedophile identified only as Mr. Jones on the phone. We asked why, when he is married and attracted to adult females, does he have a compulsion to abuse young boys. "I don't really know why. I was molested my entire life. It was as early as I can remember with different family members."

"Individuals who had been abused will continue to re-live or act out the trauma hoping to master it. So that they can put an end to it and not re-experience it," says Dr. Swan.

She says that specifically boys who are molested by men will have higher rates for molesting other boys. "It's hard to say, but I believe it's more about control...repeating what was done to me," says Mr. Jones.

Several types of therapy treatments are available for released and committed pedophiles. Doctors say the recidivism rate for sex offenders is low - 11 percent (other studies here) - if they receive weekly therapy. "It's kept me out of trouble. Kept me from re-offending so many times," says Mr. Jones.

It keeps him from re-offending, but not from thinking about it. Pedophilia presents so many questions that psychologists say it's not possible to be completely free of it.

"There's no cure to it. There's no cure in changing what someone is sexually attracted in," says Dr. Declue.

"They cannot be cured. A true pedophile, I believe, is going to be a pedophile throughout his or her lifetime," says Dr. Dubi.
- I disagree with this statement as well.

There may not be a cure for pedophilia, but there are treatments and some experiments being tested now.

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"The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly." - Abraham Lincoln

FL - Sex Offender Regulations Hearing is Delayed for Sheriff''s Approval

Original Article


By Tom Palmer

Polk County commissioner suggests adding "child safety zones."

BARTOW - Plans to strengthen Polk's sexual offender ordinance are on hold.

County Commissioner Randy Wilkinson is suggesting a change that would establish "child safety zones," which would restrict sexual offenders and sexual predators from areas near parks and day care centers.
- So Commissioner, how many sex crimes have occurred at a park or day care?

County Attorney Michael Craig was asked by Wilkinson what other counties had done.

He said the only counties that have enacted such restrictions are Miami-Dade and St. Johns.

Craig said he has forwarded a draft ordinance, including the change Wilkinson proposed, to the Polk County Sheriff's Office for review and comments.

He has not received comments yet, he said.

Craig is proposing a separate ordinance to avoid affecting the grandfather provisions in the existing ordinance that restricts where offenders and predators can live.


Adoption of the ordinance requires consideration at a public hearing.

No hearing date has been set.

Wilkinson said it was probably premature to set a hearing date until Sheriff's Office officials have a chance to review the change.

Wilkinson also said he wanted to eliminate a provision in the current ordinance that restricts how close offenders and predators can live to churches.

Craig said his poll of other county attorneys did not turn up similar restrictions.


Wilkinson said he initially supported the church setback, but has now had second thoughts.

Wilkinson said with the high number of churches in many parts of Polk County, there are cases where there's hardly any place to live legally in some cities.

Wilkinson said the only complicating factor is a case in which a church also operates an on-premise daycare center, which would fall under the other restrictions.

"The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly." - Abraham Lincoln

GA - Former Forsyth deputy sheriff sentenced on child porn charges

Original Article


GAINESVILLEMilton Scott Pruitt, 41, of Forsyth County, was sentenced today by United States District Judge William C. O’Kelley on charges of receiving and possessing child pornography.

Acting United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said of the case, “This defendant was once entrusted with protecting the public’s safety as a law enforcement officer but chose to violate that public trust by victimizing innocent children when he used the internet to receive child pornography on his home computer. To make matters worse, on at least one occasion, he also used a Forsyth County Sheriff’s computer to view child pornography while he was working. By prosecuting child pornography offenders such as defendant Pruitt, this office is working to make our community safer for our children. This sentence underscores the substantial consequences for people who possess images of children being sexually exploited.”

Pruitt was sentenced to eight years, two months in prison to be followed by 10 years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system. Pruitt was convicted by a jury on July 22, 2009, following a three-day trial.

According to Acting United States Attorney Yates and the evidence presented during Pruitt's trial: While working the overnight shift on March 15, 2007, Pruitt, a sergeant supervising other patrol deputies, used his in-car laptop computer to access child pornography stored as evidence in a Forsyth County detective’s computer file. Pruitt accessed and viewed 10 images of young children engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Pruitt’s illicit computer activity was discovered several weeks later by an employee of Forsyth County’s information technology department, who reported Pruitt's conduct to the Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office referred the case to the GBI. During a subsequent interview with a GBI agent, Pruitt admitted that he accessed and viewed the pornographic images because he was “just curious.”

Following his admission, GBI seized Pruitt’s home computer and conducted a forensic examination of its hard drive. The examination revealed more than a hundred images of child pornography and numerous Internet searches for such images.

The case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood. In February 2006, Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse, was launched. Led by the United States Attorney's Offices around the country, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet. For more information about Project Safe Childhood.

This case was investigated by the GBI and the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.

Assistant United States Attorneys Jill E. Steinberg and Brent Alan Gray prosecuted the case.

"The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly." - Abraham Lincoln

Politics as usual!

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"The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly." - Abraham Lincoln

IL - Illinois Legislature: Rep Carol Sente Wins House Approval, 90-16, to Ban Child Sex Offender Employment at “Fairs”; Conservatives, Liberals Oppose

Original Article


The Illinois House yesterday overwhelming approved legislation that would ban child sex offenders from working at local municipal fairs.

The bill, House Bill 4675, sponsored by State Rep. Carol Sente (D-Vernon Hills), zoomed through the House, 90-16-6, with bipartisan support. However, the opposition, tiny as it was, was bipartisan, too.

Opponents, for example, included liberal lawmakers House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and State Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago) and conservatives such as House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and Ron Stephens (R-Greenville).

Harris said he opposed the measure “[b]ecause of overly broad drafting and imprecise language and definitions that would be difficult to enforce and possibly unconstitutionally vague

House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie), who voted for the bill, said:

“Some voted no because they have had enough of criminalizing everything a sex offender does after they have paid a debt to society, even breathing. Some voted no because they felt the bill was vague. I voted yes because, even though I agree with all of the above, on balance the bill seemed reasonable.”

The legislation prohibits a child sex offender from managing, being employed or even being “associated” with any local fair operated by a municipality when children under 18 are present. And it seems to have more than “kiddie rides” in mind, because it also includes fairs in which “goods” are traded or displayed, such as art fairs, antique fairs, farm equipment fairs, etc.

Sente’s legislation faces an uncertain future if it reaches Governor Pat Quinn’s (Contact) desk. The Governor’s office issued the following statement on the bill: “If and when the legislation arrives on the Governor’s desk, he will review it.”

In addition to Senate, House sponsors include: Eddie Lee Jackson, Linda Chapa LaVia, Naomi Jakobsson, Arthur Turner, Cynthia Soto, Will Davis, Marlow Colvin, Andr√© Thapedi, Michael Zalewski, Deborah Mell, Daniel Beiser, Esther Golar, Jack McGuire, Jack Franks and Keith Farnham–all Democrats.

The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration.

"The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly." - Abraham Lincoln

NY - Town passes sex offender law

Original Article


Move comes as county plans to remove shelter

The Riverhead Town Board passed a resolution Wednesday night restricting where sex offenders can live within town limits.

Under the new local law, registered sex offenders cannot live within a quarter-mile of any school, park, beach, library, playground, day camp or child daycare center.

The rules exempt sex offenders who established their residence before Oct. 31, 2005, or sex offenders who established their residence before the law takes effect and who live within a quarter mile and 1,001 feet of a school, child day care center or day camp, or a quarter mile and 501 feet from a park, beach or playground.

Town attorney Dawn Thomas said the town is prepared to defend any challenges to the law that the county or state may file.

The law's passage comes as Suffolk County plans to dissolve its policy of housing homeless sex offenders outside the county jail in Riverside. Sex offenders will instead be given $90 daily vouchers to find their own food and lodgings. For now, the trailer, which houses about 20 homeless Level 2 and Level 3 offenders, remains up and running.

No one from the public spoke at a hearing that preceded the unanimous passage of the sex offender restrictions.

"The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly." - Abraham Lincoln

Child Sex Predators Caught In Police Sting

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Forensic psychiatrist: Courts fostering "POLITICAL DIAGNOSIS"

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"The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly." - Abraham Lincoln

FL - Wilkinson OK with sex offenders in church

Original Article


By Charles Gonzalez

BARTOW - County Commissioner Randy Wilkinson is behind banning sexual predators and offenders from public parks, but not churches.

Wilkinson pressed for an addition of the Polk County Sex Offender Ordinance during the Feb. 3 commission meeting, and mentioned the ordinance again during Wednesday's meeting.

Wilkinson said he believes sex offenders and predators should be allowed to go to a church if they are seeking help.

"I'm a Christian and I believe that the church can help anyone no matter what sin they have committed," Wilkinson said. "Those people need a support group and need more help than most people need."

Wilkinson, however, changed his tone when he was asked about churches that have day care centers on the property.

"If there is a day care with the church, then that's a different issue all together," Wilkinson said.

County Attorney Michael Craig said he prepared a separate draft of an ordinance that has a separation of churches from public parks. The Polk County Sheriff's Office did receive this draft, according to Craig, and commissioners agreed to wait for a response from the PCSO before adding the ordinance to the agenda.

In other news from Wednesday's meeting, Lori Edwards discussed proposed precinct changes that would improve voter convenience. Edwards, Polk's supervisor of elections, said there were some areas in the county that needed to be changed before possible neighborhood construction.

"There are some areas that don't have houses there, but there is a possibility of future building on the site," Edwards said. "We are just trying to stay ahead of that so it's not an issue if housing is put in the area."

Mark Talbott, the general manager of Republic Services of Lakeland, informed commissioners that Republic Services is planning to invest $4 million toward an upgrade. Florida Refuse will upgrade its materials recovery facility from a paper recycling center to a state-of-the-art single-stream facility.

"We are very excited about this project and are expecting to have the first bottle and can go into our new single-stream in November," he said.

According to Talbott, landfill volumes have decreased significantly over the past five years and will offer commercial recycling to all businesses in Polk County by July 2010.

"The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly." - Abraham Lincoln

OK - Senate Approves GPS Monitoring of Sex Offenders

Original Article
Related Article from "A Voice of Reason"


The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Judiciary on Wednesday approved legislation that would allow Oklahoma law enforcement officials to monitor the state’s most dangerous sex offenders through electronic monitoring devices. Senate Bill 2301 would make electronic monitoring devices mandatory for all Level Two and Three sex offenders who have been released from custody, and provides penalties for removal of the device.

Level Two and Three sex offenders are considered the state’s most dangerous, having been convicted of crimes such as rape in the first degree, kidnapping for sexual exploitation and soliciting sexual conduct with a minor.

Sen. Dan Newberry (Email), author of the proposal, said the law would enable law enforcement to monitor the whereabouts of offenders at all times. “The idea behind adding the GPS monitor is that offenders are currently released from prison into an honor system, and they still may not register as a sex offender,” said Newberry, R-Tulsa.

This removes the honor system for those who have proved that they may not be honorable. The current system represents a significant flaw in our laws on sex offenders.”

Under the measure, Level Two sex offenders would be required to wear the GPS monitoring device for a period of five years after their release from a correctional facility.

Level Three sex offenders would be required to wear a GPS monitoring device for ten years following their release.

Newberry cited a Florida State University study showing that GPS monitoring shows a significant difference in the behavior of offenders. “They found that within a group of paroled or supervised sex offenders, there were 300 attempted murders because they weren’t being monitored,” Newberry said.

They then looked at a group who were being actively monitored and found only one attempted rape over the same period of time. It’s a deterrent, and it helps people feel safer in their communities, but more importantly the offender is aware that people are watching them.” Newberry said the active monitoring system includes inclusion and exclusion zones, and that any offender entering an exclusion zone would set off an alarm resulting in a police response. Senate Bill 2301 now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

"The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly." - Abraham Lincoln

SD - Bill would allow sex offenders in shelters - But supervision required

Original Article


By John Hult

An increasing number of sex offenders are getting in trouble for seeking shelter at the Union Gospel Mission near downtown Sioux Falls.

The mission, at Eighth Street and Weber Avenue, is within 500 feet of a park, making it off-limits for sex offenders.

At a Wednesday court hearing involving the latest case, Judge Peter Lieberman told prosecutors he's seen so many similar cases that the State's Attorney's Office should instruct the mission to put up a sign warning offenders of the possible penalties if they stay there.

"This is where people go when they're down and out," Lieberman said. "Where else are they supposed to go?"

A bill now in the South Dakota Legislature would allow sex offenders to stay at homeless shelters or halfway houses within "community safety zones," defined as parks, schools, playgrounds or pools - as long as there is supervision.

There are only two full-time homeless shelters in Sioux Falls. Sex offenders are not allowed to stay at the other one, the St. Francis House, which won't house sex offenders because families with young children stay there.

The situation involving the community safety zones basically forces people onto the street, said Matt Olson of the Minnehaha County Public Defender's Office.

The bill in Pierre, Senate Bill 7, passed 34-0 on Feb. 2 and awaits a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. It is seen as a common-sense measure, according to Sen. Sandy Jerstad, D-Sioux Falls.

Jerstad and the Senate's other sponsor, Sioux Falls Republican Gene Abdallah, said they were not aware of the problem in Sioux Falls. The bill arose from a summer legislative task force.

"They've got to live somewhere, and it's better to have them under supervision than to have them living under a bridge somewhere," Jerstad said.

On Wednesday, Olson appeared in court with _____, a former Brandon resident convicted in November of attempting to set up a sexual encounter over the Internet with a detective who he thought was a 15-year-old girl.

_____ was arrested for staying at the Union Gospel Mission in late January. This week, he was arraigned on charges that he failed to register as a sex offender and for staying within 500 feet of a safety zone.

Because he's been convicted of two previous felonies, _____ was charged as a habitual offender for staying in the safety zone and faces up to five years in prison for the crime - three years more than the maximum sentence for his original solicitation charge.

_____'s case is not unique, Olson said. But finding a solution might not be easy.

The St. Francis House Board of Directors decided to bar sex offenders from its facility more than two years ago, but Executive Director Julie Becker said the shelter does try to help them find a place to stay.

That can be a difficult task.

"If they don't stay in a shelter, then they're staying on our streets and they're liable to get into more trouble," Becker said.

"The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly." - Abraham Lincoln

NE - Law Officers to Ex-offender: ‘We Can Harass You Every Day If We Want’

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"The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly." - Abraham Lincoln