Sunday, July 25, 2010

MA - Michael Chinman, veteran prosecutor and candidate for Norfolk District Attorney, as usual, busts out the lies and myths about sex offenders to get elected!

Video Link

MA - Some experts say registries and restrictions not enough to stop some sex offenders

Original Article


By Maureen Boyle

ROCKLAND - Karen and Joe Gambon of Rockland keep a close eye on their two young children – and where sex offenders live in town.

That’s because a Level 3 sex offender lives down the street from their Crescent Street home, not far from the Jefferson Elementary school, and a Level 2 registered sex offender goes to their church.

I’m much more cautious,” said Karen Gambon, whose children are 5 and 8.

The Gambons and their Rockland neighbors know who the sex offenders are in town thanks to the state Sex Offender Registry. And they also live in one of a growing number of communities restricting where convicted sex offenders live or visit. Rockland bans Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, playground, day care center, church, library or elderly housing facility.

But experts say registries and restrictions may not be enough to stop some offenders, as one recent incident in town indicated.

In late June, authorities allege [name withheld], 22, a Level 2 sex offender, broke into a Rockland home through a sliding door and talked to a 12-year-old girl in her bedroom. The girl found an excuse to leave the room and woke her father for help. Police said the father found [name withheld] asleep next to the girl’s 6-year-old sister.

[name withheld] was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (sneakers), assault and battery, resisting arrest and a felony charge of breaking and entering at night. The assault charges stemmed from his scuffle with the girls’ father before police arrived.

During his arraignment in Hingham District Court, prosecutors said [name withheld] had failed to register as a sex offender after a conviction in Orleans District Court on Cape Cod. The judge ordered [name withheld], who pleaded innocent, held without bail.

Relying on registries and restricting where offenders live can give people a false sense of security and do little to protect children, experts say. And tighter restrictions could wind up causing more problems, they say.

It’s an issue that worries parents during the summer when their children are outdoors playing and during the school year as students walk back and forth to school.

The concern is that the restrictions can actually create risk factors” because they isolate offenders, said Jill S. Levenson, a psychology professor at Lynn University in Florida who has studied sex offender treatment and housing restriction laws.

Wesley B. Maram, a California psychologist who evaluates sexual predators, said laws restricting where sex offenders live are time-consuming to enforce and don’t work.

It is fairly clear: There is not an association with where a person lives versus where they offend,” he said. “There is no evidence showing living near schools or parks increases the risks to individuals.”

Communities pass laws

In addition to Rockland, about a dozen communities in Massachusetts have passed some type of rule restricting where convicted sex offenders can live and others have considered doing it.

In Weymouth, sex offenders can’t live within 1,500 feet of a school, day care center, park or recreation center. “Most of the people have willingly left on their own,” Weymouth Police Capt. James F. Mullin said of the regulation’s impact on sex offenders.

Quincy passed an ordinance earlier this year barring Level 3 sex offenders from libraries, parks and senior housing buildings.

Taunton has considered an ordinance restricting where sex offenders live but the city hasn’t passed any regulations.

The more restrictive the buffer zones are, the less housing availability there is and the more likely the offenders in that community are to be homeless and transient,” said Levenson.

That makes it tougher to track the sex offenders and could, in the long run, put more people at risk, she and others said.

The restrictions could discourage them from registering,” said Brockton City Councilor and former Police Chief Paul Studenski.

Maram, the psychologist who evaluates sexual predators, said the restrictions can isolate offenders from their families and put them in unstable living situations where they may risk re-offending.

It is forcing people underground, cutting them off from their families and stable environments,” he said. “It is making them desperate.”

Stranger crimes are few

A study by the Minnesota Department of Corrections of 224 repeat sex offenders found restricting where an offender lived would not have prevented any of the crimes. What the 2007 study did find was the repeat offenders were preying on people they knew – either through family or friends. In nearly 80 percent of the cases, the offender was a relative, acquaintance, family friend, neighbor or babysitter.

They molest children when they are able to cultivate relationships with the family,” Levenson said.

The housing restrictions not only don’t prevent sex offenders from re-offending, they give people a false sense of security, she said.

They only regulate where the offender sleeps at night,” she said. “They don’t do anything to regulate where the sex offenders go during the day.”

Restricting what convicted sex offenders do once they wrap up prison sentences can be difficult unless there are specific parole or probation restrictions imposed on them.

A lot of these folks have already done their time,” Brockton Police Chief William Conlon said. “If they are not on probation or parole, once they are released, they are free.”

Maram said restrictions may make people feel safer but most offenders know their victims.

What the restrictions do is protect property values,” he said. “It is an economic justification but not a safety justification.”

Laws can pose legal issues

Brockton Mayor Linda Balzotti said there are so many schools and parks in the city that imposing similar residency ordinances in Brockton could pose a legal problem.

For me, personally, I would need to look into it a little bit more,” she said.

Balzotti said the important thing is to know where the offenders are living. “If it would more than likely make people not register, I would shy away from it,” she said of the living restrictions. “I would prefer to know where they are. The more information you have, the better off you are.”

Restrictions on where offenders go can raise legal issues. A law in Albuquerque, N.M., banning sex offenders from libraries was ruled unconstitutional earlier this year.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, a U.S. District Court in New Mexico ruled in April that Albuquerque’s regulation would create “an unacceptable risk of the suppression of ideas” and infringe upon the First Amendment rights of the sex offenders. The ruling prohibited the city of Albuquerque from enforcing the regulation.