Thursday, February 25, 2010

FL - Legislators say state may need to ease local sex offender restictions

Original Article


By Anthony Man

Leaders of Broward’s cities, towns and villages asked state legislators on Thursday not to scale back local restrictions on where convicted sex offenders may live.

But several Broward legislators said they were reluctant to go along with the municipalities’ request.

Most of the county’s local governments have imposed restrictions preventing registered sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of places such as schools, school bus stops, day care centers or parks where children congregate.

The result: few places for them to live, leaving pockets of homeless sex offenders.

The most notorious location in South Florida is a colony of homeless sex offenders living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Miami. Broward also has a large concentration in Broadview Park, an area near State Road 7 and Interstate 595, surrounded by Plantation, Davie and Fort Lauderdale. Officials have said the neighborhood has the highest concentration of offenders in Broward.

When the spring legislative session convenes next week, one issue on the agenda is preempting local rules on the residency restrictions, possibly overriding some local restrictions and imposing a 1,500 limitation instead.

State Rep. Hazelle Rogers (Contact), D-Lauderhill, said the tougher local restrictions sound good, but there are significant side effects.

These folks, at some time they are out of the penal system. They are out. They’ve served their time and they have to live somewhere,” she said. “Where do we house these people? They have family members that live in our cities, in our counties. Should they live under a bridge?

More important than such wide bans on sex offenders residencies, Rogers said, is making sure their activities are controlled and that “we know where they are at all times.”

State Sen. Eleanor Sobel (Email), D-Hollywood, said the current restrictions are “creating a bigger problem as we’re witnessing under the bridge in Miami.”

We know where they’re sleeping, but we don’t’ know what they’re doing during the day,” she said. “Most of us have gut reactions against sexual predators. The lowest of the low in our communities. But to outlaw them so that other cities have to take them…. It is not right. We can’t have a knee-jerk reaction to this. This needs to be a thought out social policy.”

Another side-effect of the increasingly restrictive residency rules in cities, towns and villages is that the few remaining pockets of unincorporated Broward are becoming home to more and more sex offenders, said state Rep. Evan Jenne (Contact), D-Dania Beach.

They very often become rife with child predators,” he said.
- They are not all child predators.  Why not just use the term "sex offender?"  That is more correct! I am sick and tired of people using pedophile, child molester or child predator when referring to sex offenders, when most sex offenders are neither!

State Rep. Martin Kiar (Contact), D-Davie, disagreed with his colleagues.

He said the local restrictions are designed to “make sure that these deviants are kept away from our children. These proposals in Tallahassee would weaken your ordinances.”

If the state overrides the city, town and village restrictions, setting a rule prohibiting sex offenders within 1,500 feet of schools and other kid-friendly places, Kiar said, “it will bring these deviants closer to our kids.”
- Studies show, most sex crimes occur in the victims own home, so the "deviants" are living with the child, they just have not been caught yet.  And forcing people into homelessness and hopelessness, will likely increase the risk of recidivism and another crime being committed.

Wilton Manors Mayor Gary Resnick, president of the Broward League of Cities, said as a matter of principle the state shouldn’t meddle in the decisions the local governments have made.

The solution in every city is going to be very different,” he said. “A one-size-fits-all is not going to work here.”

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

UK - Talk to Frank (If you take a photo of your own child, you may be a pedophile!)

Original Article


Meet Frank*

Frank is a security guard.

Frank works at the Bridges shopping centre in Sunderland.

Frank thinks I may be a paedophile and is prepared to call the Police to make sure I’m not.

Frank is just obeying orders…..

Here’s what happened

We were in Sunderland visiting my Dad and my Gran. My Dad had given the kids £10 each and Ben wanted to go and buy a toy so we took him into the Bridges shopping centre. While we were walking around we saw a little roundabout with a train on it. Ben loves trains and he went and clambered onto it. The train had a moustache and Sarah was laughing at the train so she told me to take a picture.

As soon as I pressed the button on my cameraphone Frank was by my side. He informed me that I couldn’t take pictures. I asked him why and he said that it was the centre’s rules as I might be a paedophile! I told him that I hadn’t seen any signs saying that photography was forbidden and he conceded that there weren’t any but he was just following his orders from the Centre Management who he would get to come down if I had a problem.

I informed him that in my opinion he was being a little over zealous in performing his duties as the child I had taken a picture of was my son and that maybe he was blowing the threat of paedophiles out of proportion. He said he wasn’t as he was just following orders from on high.

I was getting bored now but was still annoyed about effectively being accused of being a paedophile so I took the picture of Frank so that if I later wanted to make a complaint to the centre I would be able to identify him. I then wandered off to find Sarah who was in the Early Learning Centre. This is of course ironic that if he really did suspect me of being a paedophile then why did he let me go into a toy shop? And if he didn’t suspect me why then did he make such a fuss?

The other irony is that having being pulled up for using a camera I was then tracked by the centre’s security cameras – I know this because the Police knew exactly where to find me when they arrived a few minutes later. We had moved up the road into another toyshop where, while looking at toys with Ben, I was confronted by PC B*****w who informed me that there had been a complaint.

PC B*****w threatens to arrest me on more than one occasion.

PC B*****w is ill informed about his ability to delete my photographs

PC B*****w doesn’t know what a hyphen is!

So in the middle of a toyshop the confrontation starts again. I’m asked about the original photograph and again I explain that the picture is of my child, again I comment about the lack of signs informing about the “No Photography” rule and PC B*****w agrees with me. he asks why I took the picture of the security guard and accepts my explanation.

As the discussion is getting a bit heated he threatens to arrest me, saying that I’m causing a breach of the peace. Well come on, what do you expect, I’ve been accused of being a paedophile and had the Police set on me for taking a picture of my own son in a public place – can’t you work out why I’m getting a bit annoyed.

He says he has the right to delete my photographs and I explain that he doesn’t. He backtracks and says he has the right to see them. I tell him he will have to caution me first. He asks for my details which I begrudgingly give him. he asks why I am in the North East – I ask what relevance that has. He explains that he just needs to know!

PC B*****w also informs me that the Bridges shopping centre is a hotbed of paedophile activity and sexual assaults happen there all of the time. Sounds like the sort of place families with young children should avoid IF it’s actually true.

Eventually he goes off to find the security guard and tell him that he has checked me out and everything is ok! A monumental waste of Police time. The lady in the shop is appalled by the situation and admits that even though she works there she wasn’t aware of any “No Photography” policy.

Now I know that there are those who will say that I brought it on myself and I should have just kowtowed to the security guard when he told me not to take pictures. However I disagree – I believe I had every right to take a photograph of my son in a public place and frankly I’m sick of having my civil liberties eroded little by little.

In this country there is no law against taking a photograph in a public space. The shopping centre, although privately owned is still a public space. I know from experience that commercial photography requires permission from the owners but there is no law against the private individual taking a picture in a public space.

The shopping centre could impose a ban on photography within it’s environs but this should be indicated along with all the other things that are banned on the entrance to the centre. There are signs saying no smoking, no alcohol, so skateboards etc but none advertising the alleged ban on photography.

Also there is no law against taking a picture of a child or indeed a security guard in a public place. There is no right of privacy for the individual in this country. So I was well within the law to take both pictures.

Finally there is the presumption of guilt. It has been a long held tradition in this country of being innocent until proven guilty and it is beholden of the authorities to prove a persons guilt. However more and more often it is the individual that is required to prove their innocence. I took a picture of a child therefore until I can prove I am not a paedophile it will be assumed that I am.

The sensible way forward would be only to observe and if I was seen to be taking pictures of more than one child then would be the time to move in but no – in order to protect us from a minority of people everyone must be suspected and prevented from taking innocent pictures of their child. Is this really the sort of world we want to live in?

It’s ironic that at a time when almost every one has the ability to take a photograph using either a camera or a mobile phone, probably more so than ever before, then the ability to do so is slowly being eroded. Fight back – Photography is not a crime. I am not a terrorist, I am not a paedophile, I am a Photographer!

* name may have been changed

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

IN - Sex Registry List Still Has Long Way To Go Under Court Ordered Change

Original Article


By Jeff Neumeyer

FORT WAYNE - Indiana's attorney general says a uniform computer system would aid Hoosier officials in the big task of removing hundreds of names from the state's sex offender registry list.

The job has to be done, because of an Indiana Supreme Court ruling in 2009.

Indiana's high court last year agreed with attorneys for Richard Wallace, who argued the one-time child molester should not have to register as a sex offender in Indiana, because the list wasn't even in existence in the 19-80's when he committed his crimes.

The ruling said that the current provision violates the prohibition on “ex post facto ” laws in the Indiana Constitution.

The decision impacts somewhere around two-thousand offenders statewide.

Almost 300 in Allen County alone have already been stripped off the registry because of the 2009 decision.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller told Indiana’s NewsCenter, he will help set up an administrative procedure to remove names that no longer belong.

We asked officer Jeff Shimkus, the sex offender registry coordinator for Allen County, if public protection from sexual predators will suffer under this change.

Cpl. Jeff Shimkus/Allen County Police Dept.: "I still say use the registry, find out who's living in your neighborhood, don't trick or treat at their houses, obviously, don't have your kids spend the night at their houses, but the main thing is don't think that you're safe because the person is not on the registry. You still have to do the research, figure out who this person is."

Shimkus says there may be dozens of people in Allen County who pose a safety threat to children or others, who’ve never committed a crime, and thus wouldn’t be on the list anyway.

Attorney General Zoeller says it may take close to a year to get the statewide registry updated to reflect the recent court ruling.

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"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

CT - Missing sex offender armed, dangerous and wants to die, cops say

Original Article


A 37-year-old New Britain man has failed to comply with sex offender registration rules and should be considered armed and dangerous, police said.

_____, last known address of 208 Bond St., has disappeared but is making threats, police said. He is armed with a handgun and other weapons and he has a record dating back to the 1990s, police said.

_____ is traveling in a red Toyota Corolla with registration of 233 PUB. He is believed to be in body armor, has a police scanner and has made statements that he "wants to be killed and take others with him," police said.

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"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

Thrice - In Exile

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I am in exile, a sojourner
A citizen of some other place
All I've seen is just a glimmer in a shadowy mirror
But I know, one day well see face to face

I am a nomad, a wanderer
I have nowhere to lay my head down
There's no point in putting roots too deep when I'm moving on
Not settling for this unsettling town

My heart is filled with songs of forever
The city that endures when all is made new
I know I don't belong here, I'll never
Call this place my home, I'm just passing through

I am a pilgrim, a voyager
I wont rest until my lips touch the shore
Of the land that I've been longing for as long as I've lived
Where they'll be no pain or tears anymore

My heart is filled with songs of forever
The city that endures when all is made new
I know I don't belong here, I'll never
Call this place my home, I'm just passing through

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

MA - Evangelidis to run for sheriff (Want to get elected? Attack someone everybody hates!)

Original Article


MILFORD - State Rep. Lewis G. Evangelidis (Email), R-Holden, announced yesterday he is running for Worcester County sheriff.

At a press conference outside Milford Town Hall, Evangelidis highlighted his background as a former assistant district attorney, assistant attorney general and his work in the private sector before being elected to the House of Representatives in 2002.

"I am committed to being a professional, independent and innovative sheriff who will keep the families in Worcester County safe," Evangelidis said in a press release. "I believe that the job of sheriff does not end at the four walls of the jail but extends to the four corners of Worcester County."

Evangelidis, who said he has the smallest staff of any office on Beacon Hill, added, "I'm not part of the old Worcester County political machine and I have not made, nor will I make any job promises during our campaign. I will not accept campaign contributions from employees of the jail and the only criteria to be considered for a job promotion will be merit. Nothing else."

If elected, Evangelidis said he would like to reduce the number of repeat offenders by returning productive and responsible former inmates back to neighborhoods. He believes that by cleaning up the neighborhoods, more business and job growth will be available in Worcester County.

Evangelidis pledged to develop crime, drug and cyber-bullying prevention programs to be implemented in schools throughout the county. He has also pledged to crack down on disability and pension abuse at the jail.

When asked about the skyrocketing cost of incarceration, Evangelidis said that he will try to save the taxpayers' money by swiftly deporting criminals who are in our country illegally rather than house them at over $32,000 per year.

In the Legislature, Evangelidis led the battle to toughen drunken driving laws with the passage of Melanie's Law. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, Evangelidis led the battle to increase the public's access to sex offender information, to pass Jessica's Law to increase penalties for crimes against children, as well as efforts to repeal the state's outdated insanity defense laws.

To learn more about Evangelidis' campaign, visit www.lewforsheriff.

Want to get elected? Attack someone everybody hates!

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Lew Evangelidis on Sex Offender Laws

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"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

NY - Sex offenders should get settled in

Original Article



Foot-dragging lawmakers threaten plan to shut East End trailers

The trailer for homeless sex offenders in Riverside may be sticking around for a while -- even though the Riverhead Town Board passed a law last week making it illegal because of its proximity to Riverhead Free Library.

Suffolk County plans to remove the shelter and instead provide offenders with $90 daily vouchers for food and lodging. But the county Legislature has stalled a vote to free up the petty cash needed to get that program up and running.

The county originally expected to remove the Riverside trailer, and a smaller one and Westhampton Beach, by Feb. 11 and institute the voucher program, said county Department of Social Services commissioner Greg Blass.

"Now, with petty cash at current levels, several months are anticipated," Mr. Blass said, adding that if the cash does not become available, it could change the county's plans altogether. Prolonging the use of the trailers is one possibility the county may have to consider, he said.

"It is possible that we will be subject to a lawsuit from the state or a reduction in state aid if the Legislature takes no action on the plan to provide the department with petty cash," Mr. Blass said.

Until the local law was passed last week, only county laws dictated where offenders could live in Riverhead, though other Long Island towns have put their own laws on the books.

Riverhead's new rules make it illegal for Level 2 or 3 registered sex offenders, deemed the most likely to re-offend, to live within a quarter-mile of any school, park, library, beach, playground, day camp or child day care center,

Assuming the county doesn't challenge the law, the town would essentially require the county to move the trailer outside the jail.

"Some of the West End legislators think it's a good idea to have this trailer on the East End, and we are trying to tighten up our code to stop that from happening," Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said of the new legislation when the board introduced it on Jan. 20.

The town law exempts sex offenders who established their residence before Oct. 31, 2005, or sex offenders who established their residence before the law took effect.

The law calls for fines of $2,500 per offense, with each week a person is in violation constituting a separate offense. The owner of the property housing a sex offender also faces fines of $2,500 per offense or up to six months in jail.

"The Suffolk County attorney's office is reviewing the law to determine if it is legal and enforceable," said Dan Aug, a spokesman for County Executive Steve Levy.

Suffolk probation director John Desmond was more direct.

"This kind of law, like others preceding it, creates homeless sex offenders," he said in a statement. "If this law is allowed to stand, sex offenders who are homeless will have essentially nowhere to live because they predominantly seek living space in hotels, motels and boarding houses."

"The exemption provision [in the town law] is clearly bogus in that it has the obvious effect of preventing sex offenders from living anywhere in town unless they buy a house."

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

The plan to shut down the sex offender trailers was stalled at the Feb. 2 meeting of the county Legislature, when western lawmakers delayed a vote that would have provided the cash to close the facility by Feb. 11. Legislators voted 15-3 to table the measure, which would have allowed the social services department to increase its petty cash fund from $8,500 to $25,000, most of which is needed to hammer out a $90-per-night voucher system so offenders can find their own living spaces.

East End legislators Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches) and Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) opposed tabling the resolution, as did Tom Barraga (R-West Islip).

Mr. Romaine said he supports the town law and is happy to see it include libraries, which were not included in the county law. The county Legislature had previously opposed a measure to include libraries in its law, Mr. Romaine said, because that would have required the trailers by the jail to be moved.

Mr. Romaine said the county attorney told a member of his staff that the town law is not enforceable because the trailer is outside Riverhead Town.

"The trailers were originally supposed to be gone by Feb. 11 and that hasn't happened," Mr. Romaine said. "Clearly, if it doesn't happen in a month, the East End is going to be heard again."

Mr. Romaine said only about three of approximately 26 sex offenders living in the trailer were from the East End, and the rest were from western Suffolk. Despite this, he said, western legislators made no secret of the fact that they opposed eliminating the trailers because they didn't want the sex offenders living in their districts.

"They don't want their West End sex offenders living in the West End," Mr. Romaine said.

Mr. Blass said the county has begun issuing cash payments to Level 1 sex offenders as part of the program's trial run.

"We remind you that this situation emanates from New York State's decision to release sex offenders without requiring that these individuals have a valid address," Mr. Blass said.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

The Founding Fathers

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"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

TX - Austin-Area Parents Sue Over Sex Offender Check (Old article, but interesting)

Original Article
Case Outcome


Parents Say Scanning Driver's License Photo To Check Against Sex Offender Database Violates Their Rights

AUSTIN (AP) - A background check system used by many Texas schools to spot visitors who are sex offenders is being challenged by two parents who say the process violates their privacy and other rights.

Yvonne and Larry Meadows are suing the Lake Travis school district over a computer system that checks visitors against a sex offender database by scanning their driver's license. Visitors who don't consent can be turned away.

The federal lawsuit filed in November is believed to be among the first legal challenges to the policy in Texas. Houston-based Raptor Systems, which performs background checks for Lake Travis and 5,000 other schools nationwide, said it was unaware of similar lawsuits.

The Meadowses say the computerized checks violate their constitutional rights, including freedom to associate with their children at school and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. Neither are listed in the national sex offender database.

Yvonne Meadows said she objected to Bee Cave Elementary School scanning her license because she was concerned about identify theft and a private company collecting her personal information.

"Raptor sold (their system) on this 'registered sex offenders, we need to be on guard,' idea but it was primarily a visitor management system," Meadows told the Austin American-Statesman in its Monday editions.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Lisa McBride, the lawyer for the Lake Travis school district, said the district thinks its system is reasonable and fully complies with state and federal law.

Yvonne Meadows said she was refused access to school events unless her license was scanned. She filed a grievance asking the school to instead check her status against the Justice Department's online sex offender database, according to the lawsuit filed in Travis County.

The district denied the grievance, and Meadows asked the state education commissioner to review the decision. The review is pending.

Other Raptor clients in North Texas include Dallas, McKinney, Mansfield, Plano, Rockwall and Mequite school districts and Southside ISD in San Antonio.

The Austin school district has the Raptor system in most campuses, paying the company $182,000 in startup costs and an annual $50,000 service fee.

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"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

NY - Where should prisoners be counted in New York? The Upstate view

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"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin