Thursday, June 3, 2010

CA - Chelsea's Law passes Assembly unanimously

Original Article (Listen)

06/03/2010

By Michael Gardner

Next stop will be Senate committee that shies away from stiffer sentences

The state Assembly on Thursday unanimously approved Chelsea’s Law in an effort to keep convicted child molesters behind bars longer.

The 65-0 vote moves the bill to the Senate, where its biggest hurdle lies ahead at its first stop: the Public Safety Committee.

The committee has a general policy, although at times it has been sidestepped, to shelve measures that could aggravate prison overcrowding and further drain the already over-tapped state budget. It also has a reputation for resisting more prison time, preferring alternative approaches that stress rehabilitation.

Chelsea’s Law was inspired by Poway teenager Chelsea King, who was raped and murdered in February. Convicted sex offender John Albert Gardner III later pleaded guilty to murdering Chelsea and Amber Dubois, a 14-year-old Escondido girl. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Carried by Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (Contact), R-San Diego, Assembly Bill 1844 would require a life sentence without parole in some sex crimes against children. It would also double certain other sentences, extend the time spent on parole for some offenses and prevent predators on parole from entering parks where children are present without prior permission of authorities.

Assemblywoman Lori Saldana (Contact), D-San Diego, abstained from the vote. She choked up as she spoke, noting that a member of her family had been raped. She recalled how some of her legislative efforts to correct flaws stalled in the Public Safety Committee. In an interview, she said that “as a neutral party” she could better help reshape the measure so it can overcome the anticipated resistance in that committee.

Saldana also said she wants to review possible amendments, such as better-defining parks to make sure a ban is workable.

Said Fletcher, “I am open to refinements to make this a better bill. We want a good piece of public policy that will better protect children ... The commitment is the same: to protect children from violent sexual offenders.”

The Assembly vote was the second related victory for Fletcher this week. On Wednesday, the Assembly unanimously approved his legislation that prohibits the shredding of a parolee’s “field file,” which provides extensive information about the ex-convict’s behavior and movements, as well as how parole agents responded to possible violations of conditions.

Parts of Gardner’s file were shredded, under state policy at the time. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger then stepped in, ordering the prisons agency to stop the practice. But Fletcher and others want the ban put into law. so that it cannot be arbitrarily changed without legislative approval.

State Inspector General David Shaw (Contact), as part of his stinging condemnation this week of how the state handled Gardner’s parole, said in his report that some of his investigation was stymied by destroyed records.

We weren’t able to go back and look forensically” at the records, Shaw said in a subsequent interview. He did not endorse the legislation, having not ready it. But, Shaw added, “I would support a recommendation that they not be destroyed.”

Assemblyman Hector De La Torre (Contact), D-South Gate, a co-author of Assembly Bill 2295, said, the destruction of the files “impeded the work of law enforcement and jeopardizes the safety of families.”

Sen. Mark Leno (Contact), a San Francisco Democrat who chairs the Public Safety Committee, declined to comment, saying he didn’t want to prejudice the looming hearing.

There remains a small core of opponents who are expected to urge the Senate to block the measure.

In earlier letters submitted to the Assembly Public Safety Committee, they addressed some of the cost issues as well as other concerns.

Francisco Lobaco, legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union, noted that the measure’s one-strike provision is a penalty normally reserved for murderers. He called that sentence “disproportionate and excessive.”

Banning parolees from parks is “irrational” given that it “will submit thousands of individuals to additional criminal penalties without improving public safety,” Lobaco wrote in his letter dated April 16.

A day earlier, Liberty Sanchez, a lobbyist for public defenders, wrote “locking up every child molester for life without the possibility of parole will not create a safer California. To the contrary, we believe that this measure will tie up already scarce resources thereby preventing law enforcement from focusing on those individuals who do pose a risk to society.”

Sanchez chastened Fletcher for treating all sex offenders the same by introducing blanket penalties. “Sex offenders need to be treated, assessed and where appropriate re-integrated into the community so that they will not re-offend,” states her letter.

Fletcher has already accepted one change, exempting minors from the “one strike” provision that mandates a life sentence without the possibility of parole for those convicted of serious sex offenses against children.

The U.S. Supreme Court last month ruled that a teenager, whose crime does not involve murder, must have “a meaningful opportunity to obtain release.” Locking up those under 18 for life for non-murders violates the Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment, the court ruled.

Costs remain unclear, but generally the full impact will not be felt for several years.

The state’s prison agency estimates that the per-year price would gradually climb as more predators are kept behind bars longer and are subject to stricter parole conditions. Its projects costs of $54 million a year by 2030.

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst issued vague estimates, citing the unavailability of precise sentencing and parole data.

The Legislative Analyst report said the measure “would likely result in increased criminal justice system costs” that range from tens of millions initially to hundreds of millions of dollars longer-term as more prison beds are needed.

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OH - Former cop (Jack Packett) jailed for sex assault

Original Article (Listen)

06/03/2010

By Kimball Perry

Retired Cincinnati police Lt. Jack Packett ended his career with a good record but now he's a felon and convicted sex offender who is off to prison for two years - a sentence his victim said in court Thursday is far too lenient.

"I would like to see him get the electric chair but I know that's not going to happen," the developmentally disabled woman told Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Jerome Metz.

Packett, 67, of Delhi Township, was accused of forcing the woman to perform sex acts on him but accepted an April plea deal where he admitted to four counts of sexual touching and accepted a two-year prison term.

"I thought he was my friend," the victim told the judge. "I knew he was a police officer but then he hurt me. I feel I can't trust people any more. ... I cry sometimes when I think about where he touched me."

"I am worried that he will do that to me again," she continued. "I just don't want Jack to hurt me or anyone else again."

Assistant Prosecutor Gus Leon said he allowed the plea deal and agreed to the prison sentence partly because the victim would have had difficulty testifying as a witness if the case went to trial.

Packett, originally charged with rape and other charges that carried 70 years in prison, met the woman while working for Meals on Wheels.

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NY - Officials encourage residents to keep the pressure on county regarding sex offender trailers

Original Article (Listen)

06/02/2010

By Hallie D. Martin

REMSENBURG — Local elected officials on Tuesday night encouraged residents to keep the pressure on Suffolk County to close the trailers that house homeless sex offenders in Riverside and Westhampton, and demand that officials spread that burden around the county.

Jay Schneiderman, the Suffolk County legislator whose district hosts both trailers, told the group of about 100 people at the Remsenburg/Speonk Elementary School that they have to keep the pressure on politically, legislatively and with lawsuits.

We don’t stop until we sleep at night,” he said, “and we can’t sleep at night now.”

Tuesday’s gathering comes on the eve of a Suffolk County Legislature meeting on June 8, where that elected body is expected to vote on overriding a veto of a homeless sex offender housing plan. Tuesday’s meeting was hosted by members of the Remsenburg/Speonk Parent Teacher Association and the Citizen Advisory Committee-West, who handed out packets containing the contact information for the 18 county legislators. The packet also included a sample letter that encourages those elected officials to override the veto and a list of who voted for and against the bill.

The East End community has been protesting the homeless sex offender trailers since they were placed next to the Suffolk County Jail in Riverside and off Old Country Road in Westhampton three years ago. Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy said earlier this year that the trailers would close and Suffolk’s Department of Social Services, the agency responsible for finding housing for the county’s homeless population, would transition to a voucher program, but that never happened as the legislature refused to fund the program.

Last month, the legislature approved a bill introduced by Presiding Officer Bill Lindsay that outlined a new plan to house the homeless sex offenders. It calls for the Department of Social Services to come up with a plan in 30 days to house no more than six offenders in non-residential sites throughout Suffolk County, with one in each township or legislative district. It also stipulates that the shelters be monitored at all times and the homeless offenders at those sites receive rehabilitation services.

But Mr. Levy vetoed the bill last week, saying that it would prevent the Department of Social Services from doing its state-mandated job of housing the homeless.

Michael Pitcher, a legislative aide for Mr. Lindsay, said after Tuesday’s meeting that Mr. Lindsay expects to have the 12 votes needed to override Mr. Levy’s veto.

Mr. Schneiderman and Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine both voted for the bill although they admitted Tuesday that it wasn’t perfect. Still, they said it at least offered an option other than housing all of the homeless sex offenders in Southampton Town.

But Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, who attended Tuesday night’s meeting, said she is conflicted about the bill and doesn’t trust the county. She said the town is better off with the voucher program, even though it is not perfect, because it will result in the immediate closing of the trailers. She said it is the best option currently on the table, adding that she has little faith that the county will come up with another plan.

Until I see it,” she said, “I won’t believe it.”

Ruth Agranoff has lived in Westhampton Pines, a senior community next to the Westhampton homeless sex offender trailer, for four years. She asked officials Tuesday if the trailer would be moved under the Lindsay bill, as it is next to a residential neighborhood, and whether or not a playground can be built nearby.

Mr. Schneiderman said the playground would have to be a public one, and he agreed that the Westhampton trailer was too close to homes. “I don’t believe that site would meet the standard,” he said.

Doreen Barry, another Westhampton Pines resident, asked why the Westhampton trailer is not included in the lawsuit that Southampton and Riverhead towns filed against the county last year. That suit argues that the Riverside trailer should be moved since it is too close to areas where children congregate.

You really don’t care about the Westhampton trailer,” she charged.

Ms. Throne-Holst said that wasn’t the case, noting that officials wouldn’t be at the meeting if they didn’t care. She also said she will immediately look into amending the lawsuit so that the Westhampton trailer is included, adding that she wants lawmakers and the community to be on the same page.

Mr. Romaine responded that they were not divided.

Anna, we’re united,” Mr. Romaine shouted. “The trailers must go!

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ARC RADIO - BREAKING NEWS!!!!- OHIO DECISION ON AWA

Related Article

Where: ARC Talk Radio

When: Thursday, June 3, 2010 (9 p.m. EST)

Call in: (724) 444-7444 - Code: 29521#

Please join us tonight for a very special show regarding the Ohio Supreme Court decision today, June 3, 2010 which ruled the Adam Walsh Child Protection Act (AWA) “invalid” for those individuals registered and convicted prior to its effect on January 1, 2008 when it became law. (Tonight 9:00 p.m. Eastern)

Attorney Margie Slagle from the Ohio Justice Policy Center will be joining ARC Talk Radio to discuss the decision and what this all means for those effected by this courts decision.


ARC Hosts,

Kevin and Mary
http://www.arctalkradio.com

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OH - Help Christian Get His Life Back!

Web Site (Listen)
You can download the case documents here

Freedom at last! In the supreme court case, The State of Ohio v. Bodyke, the court has ruled in favor of Christian Bodyke, declaring the methods in which the Adam Walsh Act was implemented unconstitutional.

Please help with any donations possible to start his new life and the lives of many others.

After months and months of waiting Christian did what many would not. He took his case to the supreme court and fought for his life.

Unable to work outside of his county from fear of imprisonment due to the registry, his employement oportunities were none. Everything he previously saved was spent on the battle of this endevor. Christian had a hard time raising a family with what little oportunities he had.

Without the support of his wife of 28 years who stood by his side through it all Christian would not be where he is today.

Christian's crime was with an adult. The AWA would class him in the same group as rapists and pedophiles putting a target on his back and punishing him for crimes he did NOT commit. Christian is NOT a rapist or pedophile.

Christian is a model citizen and is still paying for a mistake made over 10 years ago.

Christian is an appellant in one of three appeals consolidated by the Sixth District. He is an individual who was classified initially under Megan’s Law and reclassified according to the Adam Walsh Act. Christian asserted six propositions of law. Those propositions aver that the application of the AWA to offenders whose crimes were committed before the AWA’s effective dates violates

He also asserted that the AWA, as applied to sex offenders whose cases were adjudicated under the provisions of Megan’s Law, violates due process and constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment and against impairment of contracts.

Please donate if this case has affected you in any way.

Due to financial hardship that Christian has endured in the past few years any donation would be greatly appreciated.

I know that Christian is well deserving of having a free life and is too proud to ask for help. As his eldest of two sons I sincerely oblige anyone and everyone to help in any way possible.

Thanks to everyone for their love and support.


OH - Ohio Supreme Court Rules Sex Offender Law Unconstitutional

Original Article (Listen)
Ohio Supreme Court Ruling
Video of the ruling

06/03/2010

Court Rules Law Violated Separation Of Powers

COLUMBUS -- The Ohio Supreme Court ruled the legislature violated the constitution when it forced state officials to change the classifications of sex offenders.

Ohio was the first state to substantially put into place a new sex offender registration and notification system required by the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. That law, which was enacted in 2006, sought to better coordinate and expand states sex offender registries.

In a 5 to 1 ruling, the court said that Ohio’s implementation violated the separation of powers among government branches. It said the legislature was forcing the executive branch to revisit decisions made by judges.

Under the Adam Walsh law, offenders were classified by tiers based on the offenses they committed. Before that, Ohio used Megan’s Law.

That law allowed judges to hold a hearing and use some discretion when assigning offenders to categories such as “sexually-oriented criminal” or “sexual predator”.

The court’s ruling means sex offender convicted before the law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2008, will now revert back to the classifications they received under the old Megan's Law. Sex offenders convicted after that date will have to deal with the new, tougher requirements imposed under the Adam Walsh law.

The state’s attorney general office said it does not know how many offenders would be affected by the ruling.

The court’s case focused on three men convicted of sex crimes in 2007. The men underwent formal hearings called for under the old law and were assigned categories that required post release registration with the sheriff in the county where they live.

However, in November 2007 they received letters from the attorney general (Contact) saying the law had been changed and, as of Jan. 1, 2008, they would be considered Tier III offenders. The re-classification subjected them to more stringent registration and community-notification requirements.

The court’s ruling marked the second legal setback to efforts by state lawmakers to apply the tougher Adam Walsh law.

"Today's decision does not address or invalidate our overall efforts to protect the public by passing the Adam Walsh Act," said State Sen. Tim Grendell (Email), chairman of the judiciary committee on criminal justice.

Justice Robert Cupp was the only judge to voice dissent. He said lawmakers did not interfere with court decisions in the Adam Walsh Act, but simply ordered the attorney general to transfer offenders from one classification to another based on a set of fixed criteria.

"Rather than burden the courts with sifting the hundreds or thousands of sex offenders to which new and different requirements apply, the General Assembly assigned that administrative task to an executive officer, the attorney general," Cupp wrote.

In a unanimous March decision, justices found the new Ohio law's wording on community notification conflicted with its intention.

Writing for the majority, Justice Maureen O'Connor said the earlier judges' decisions were binding. She said only courts can change the decisions of courts.

"It is well settled that a legislature cannot enact laws that revisit a final judgment," O’Connor wrote. "We have held for over a century that 'the Legislature cannot annul, reverse, or modify a judgment of a court already rendered."'


AZ - Predators and Prey - Are today's tough sex-offender laws and registries doing more harm than good?

Original Article

05/20/2010

By Tim Vanderpool

There's a house in my neighborhood that's mostly like any other, with its tidy trim, its agave-dotted yard and its slightly askew metal mailbox. Anyone living nearby has driven past it hundreds of times without a second glance.

In this house dwells a man few of us have ever seen, though we already know his face, and we know a bit about his past.

You see, we were told by U.S. mail. The card arrived one morning, with the man's picture and a warning. A sex offender had moved in, we read. This has made for interesting, if tentative, conversations beneath the old mesquites lining our narrow sidewalks.

Should we take precautions against this man who exposed himself to a minor 10 years before? If so, what precautions? Or do we greet our well-announced newcomer as we would any other, with a smile and a nod?

Some months after the stranger moved in, this otherwise unremarkable home has become a testing ground for suppositions long and perhaps too faithfully held. At least by me.

According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, there are 14,549 registered sex offenders statewide, and 1,574 in Pima County. Most are clustered in poorer parts of town.

Want to know how many sex offenders live in your neighborhood? Simply go online. The faces are right there to see, some defiant, some woebegone, a few quite frightening, others seemingly baffled.

But know this as well: Statistically, sex offenders don't tend to recommit near their homes.
- This is not true.  Most sex crimes are committed by someone the victim knows, like a mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, close friend, etc. See below!

If that doesn't make you feel any better, consider these numbers: According to the federal Center for Sex Offender Management, between 60 and 80 percent of young victims are molested by a friend or relative. More than 75 percent of female rape victims were assaulted by current or ex-husbands, dates or live-in partners. Only about 30 percent of rapes are ever reported, and most perpetrators will never spend a day in jail.

It's believed that sexual crimes against children are also vastly underreported; researchers estimate that less than 10 percent of sex offenders are under law enforcement or court supervision. That leaves 90 percent who have never been caught.

In other words, the guys on the postcards are probably less of a worry than the guys who are not.

But there's another point to be made: True sexual predators count for just a small fraction of those convicted of sex crimes, and hype over sensational cases has prompted a flurry of hard-fisted laws that increasingly snag innocent and trivial offenders in their web.

They can be the college freshman hooking up with some minor at a beer bash, or the guy caught whizzing on a tree, or the husband in a custody battle who gets pegged as a molester by his soon-to-be ex-wife.

Depending upon the circumstances, all of these "perps" can be marked for life. Try getting a job or an apartment or a decent life with "sex offender" on your resume.

All sex crimes are obviously not equal. There truly are monsters out there—predators and child molesters and sociopathic freaks. But those they have attacked aren't their only victims. In a very real way, they've made victims of us all.

Another neighborhood, not far away. He'll talk if I don't use his name. We sit outside under a concrete canopy, and we measure our words. Because he's a man of faith, I'll call him Father Ted. By request, I won't offer a description, except to say that he's a big man, bearing that wily hybrid of street smarts and hard religion common to Gospel Rescue Missions. With which, it happens, Father Ted was affiliated after pulling a year in an Oregon jail for narcotics.

I should also mention that I've tried several times to arrange interviews with registered sex offenders, working through counseling agencies and halfway houses, with no success. Little surprise that none of those men—and nearly all are men—care for more of a spotlight than they already command. I suppose I could visit the faces on the Internet, but in those grim mug shots, they do not look like fellows who wish to be bothered. So I go for the next best thing, which is Father Ted.

He operates a sprawling, melancholy Tucson apartment complex that rents exclusively to ex-cons, including a half-dozen sex offenders at any given time. "That's the most I can have," he says, "before the neighbors start screaming."

To Father Ted, this suggests a bit of hypocrisy. "They complain that I bring an unsafe element into the neighborhood. Now I'll tell you what—for five years, we've tried to get a dope house around the corner busted. When they finally busted the house, everybody else in the neighborhood acted like they didn't know the guy was a dope dealer—when he'd already been busted for dealing in that house a couple of years before."

Even so, every time the folks around here get reminded that Father Ted has sex offenders on the premises, they make his life miserable. So, along with his tenants, Father Ted prefers a low profile.

This does appear to be a tight operation. No dope, no booze, no women. Obviously no kids. And anyone hoping to relocate here is first treated to a fierce tête-à-tête. "They all sit down and have an intense little interview with me," says Father Ted. "I don't take stalkers. I don't take repeat offenders, regardless of what the (DPS) website says. When the guys are coming here from prison, I look over a lot more stuff than just whether they can pay for a bed."

These offenders face an equally rigorous regime from probation officers. "They have to fill out a form every week saying where they're at, when they're going to be there, when they're going to get home," Father Ted says. "Not to exaggerate, but they almost have to tell the cops when they're going to take a shower, because if their surveillance officer shows up here, and they're in the shower, and there isn't an answer at the door, these guys in (intensive probation) get in trouble for not answering the door."

Still, Father Ted's tenants have it better than many others. According to a 2007 report by Human Rights Watch, residency restrictions in several states effectively banish registered sex offenders from most communities. They can be prohibited from living with their families or returning to their own homes after prison. Some offenders in Miami, says the report, have taken to dwelling beneath bridges—one of the few areas where they're allowed under city residency restrictions.

As we talk, I gaze around this broad, dusty drive dotted by cottages. Metal chairs fill a few porches. On some of those chairs, men in T-shirts sit and gaze at the mid-morning sun. There's a grapevine that brings such men to this quiet place, and it weaves among probation officers and social workers and ex-cons and guys still in the joint. Here, life is a constant inquiry—cameras dot the property, and probation officers are thick—but it beats some fleabag hotel on Benson Highway. It's definitely better than living under a bridge.

According to Father Ted, law enforcement likes his establishment because so many offenders are bunched together. That makes keeping tabs a lot easier. And Father Ted doesn't pity most guys who come to him. Still, there are a few for whom he feels sympathy.

Such as the 24-year-old who had a 17-year-old girlfriend. He worked two grunt jobs. The girlfriend was live-in. So was her mom, in the second bedroom.

The mom was scoring free rent, until she wasn't. "Girlfriend got pregnant, and the mom turned him in," says Father Ted. "She was losing her free rent, because they needed her room for the baby."


Murder vs. Inappropriate Touching

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SD - Grandma Concerned About Sex Offender Clusters

Original Article (Listen)

If you want something done, then talk with the state legislature to repeal the residency restrictions, then offenders would not be forced to cluster in some areas.

06/02/2010

A Sioux Falls grandma says 64 registered sex offenders live within a one mile radius of her home.

She says she wants something done.

Tonight we ask the six men running for governor if anything can be done.

It's a concern that seems out of place in this quaint Sioux Falls neighborhood.

"The number is so large that it's hard to keep track of who is who.." Pam Saboe lives in central Sioux Falls; her home is a haven for her young grandchildren. But Pam has some neighbors who scare her to death. "There are 64 registered sex offenders within one mile of my home..."

The closest one is a half block away.

Current state law says sex offenders can't live within 500 feet or a school or park, but does not say anything about high numbers of sex offenders all living in roughly the same area.

Tuesday night, we hosted the five Republicans for governor and asked them, can anything be done beyond the existing 500 foot rule?

Dave Knudson: "It may have a by product of concentrating living areas for sex offenders but I think it's more important to protect schools and sex offenders."

Scott Munsterman: "That's an area that I don't have a lot of expertise in and I'm certainly going to need to do more research as well as talk to people that have been impacted by the current state law as well as criminal investigators and our law enforcement folks."

Dennis Daugaard: "I know some studies have been made of the consequences of our 500 foot law and it is a problem when you have those laws focus sex offenders in our area. I'd be open to studying alternatives to this."

Ken Knuppe: "To be honest with you, you're the first person to ever ask me that question. I'd have to look into it. If there's something more than can be done then yeah, we need to be doing it."

Gordon Howie: "I think by and large, the legislation that's been passed has been good legislation and we just have to continue to make progress and take advantage of opportunities where we can."

Pam Saboe hopes opportunities can be found. "We aren't comfortable even letting our children play outside by themselves.." She says she is so worried about a sex offender targeting one of her grandchildren that she has considered moving, upset that she would have to. "Why do we need to move because of the concentration of sex offenders?"
- You don't! The very laws that have been passed, is what is causing the problem! Also, what about all the murderers, gang members, DUI offenders, drug dealers/users, and all the other criminals you know nothing about? Many of them harm people more than sex offenders do, but the hysteria is spread by the media and politicians.

It's gotten so bad for Pam Saboe, she's built a tall privacy fence around her property as a buffer between her yard and the rest of the neighborhood.

Tonight we also asked Democratic gubernatorial candidate Scott Heidepriem about the issue of sex offender concentration in Sioux Falls.

He says the only solution would be to legally mandate how many offenders can live in a given area. but then he added this: "It would be impossible to do, I don't know how you would enforce that of course the first sex offenders to arrive in that area before it becomes a cluster would have their rights protected but others would not."