Wednesday, February 9, 2011

NY - Congressman Chris Lee Resigns After Shirtless Photo Posted on Internet

Original Article

02/09/2011

By MATTHEW JAFFE and JOHN PARKINSON

New York Republican Reportedly Sent Revealing Photos to a Woman He Met on Craigslist

Rep. Chris Lee, R-N.Y., resigned from Congress after a report emerged that he had sent flirtatious e-mails, including one with a bare-chested photo of himself, to a woman he met on Craigslist.

Lee is married and has a child.

"It has been a tremendous honor to serve the people of Western New York. I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents. I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all. I have made profound mistakes and I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness," Lee said in a statement Wednesday night.

"The challenges we face in Western New York and across the country are too serious for me to allow this distraction to continue, and so I am announcing that I have resigned my seat in Congress effective immediately."

On Wednesday, the gossip website Gawker posted a story tat included the e-mails allegedly exchanged between Lee and the unnamed woman. According to the story, a single 34-year old woman from Maryland posted an ad on Craigslist's "Women for Men" section on Jan. 14. Soon afterwards a man named Christopher Lee replied, identifying himself as a 39-year-old divorced lobbyist.

In the exchange that followed, Lee reportedly sent the woman an e-mail including a photo of him with his shirt off, flexing his arms and chest. The woman later broke off her correspondence with Lee when she did an online search for him and determined that he had lied about his age and his job, the Gawker story reported.

Lee is a Republican congressman representing the 26th district of New York. He and his wife Michele have a young son named Johnathan, according to a biography on his website.


PA - Pennsylvania House approves bills to strengthen state Megan's Law

Original Article

02/09/2011

By KARI ANDREN

Two measures aimed at closing loopholes in Pennsylvania's Megan's Law sex offender reporting law were approved this morning by the state House.

One bill would require homeless sex offenders to register their whereabouts with the Pennsylvania State Police every 30 days. Lawmakers approved that bill, by state Rep. Garth Everett, R-Lycoming, by a 198-0 vote.

The other measure, by Rep. Ron Marsico, R-Lower Paxton Twp., would send homeless sex offenders who fail to register with the state police to prison for two years.
- So since most homeless people have to walk places and do not have money, I guess most will be put into prison?

Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware, questioned whether a two-year prison sentence was a proportionate punishment for failing to file a registration form.

"We have a finite corrections budget and we have a big budget problem and when you take up a bed in a jail for two years for someone who failed to file a registration form as opposed to someone who (committed a more serious offense), you're taking up precious resources" that could arguably be used elsewhere," Vitali said.

Supporters of the measure said the bill is something law enforcement officials want and that it strengthens the protections under Megan's Law.

House lawmakers approved the bill 197-1. Both bills now head to the state Senate for consideration.


CA - Weighing wisdom of law forcing sex offenders into homelessness

Original Article

02/09/2011

By Michael Fitzgerald

In 1995, [name withheld], then a member of the Conway Gangstas street gang, participated in a gang rape and murder. He didn't pull the trigger, but he was an accessory.

Now [name withheld], having served a 14-year prison sentence, is out on parole. He claims he is Christian, eager to rejoin society and to live a productive life.

"I feel like what's done is done," said [name withheld], 32. "I did my time. It made me a better man."

It also made [name withheld] a registered sex offender.

[name withheld] contends ill-conceived provisions of Jessica's Law, as well as obstacles imposed by local parole authorities, are thwarting his effort to rebuild his life.

His situation - besides its particulars - raises the question of whether voters overreacted and created new problems by passing Jessica's Law.

California's Prop. 83 (PDF), passed in 2006, prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 yards of schools or parks, among its other provisions.

Voters are right to fear sex offenders. But 2,000 feet is more than one-third of a mile. Almost every city dweller lives within one-third of a mile of a school or park.

[name withheld], jobless and unable to pay rent, says numerous relatives offered him a place to stay. His parole officer had to refuse. The homes are near parks or schools.

So [name withheld] lives in his car.

Fitted with a GPS ankle monitor that tracks his whereabouts, he parks his 1988 Volvo on a side street near the fairgrounds. There he must remain, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

[name withheld] has lived on the street since November.

"I just wrap up in my blanket and try to make it through the night," he said.

Saying he wants to find a job, [name withheld] further complains that restrictions imposed locally by his parole agent complicate his search.

He used to get occasional day labor from a local labor hall. Workers, however, must report by 5 a.m. [name withheld] is not free to leave his spot until 6 a.m.

He got a night shift job as a manager with Multiple Records, a local hip-hop label and concert promotions outfit. His parole officer forced him to quit.

In part, [name withheld] chose his lot. He attends San Joaquin Delta College by day, working toward a degree in business. He could drop out and seek a day job. He chooses college.

But not homelessness.

"I worry from time to time," [name withheld] said of the unsafe street. "But I just try to put my faith in God that He'll keep me safe, despite the odds."

Any parole agent will tell you reintegrating parolees into society works better if they live with relatives. And psychiatrists say they cannot successfully treat sex offenders who lack a stable environment.

According to the state Attorney General's Office, as reported recently in the press, before Jessica's Law passed there were only 88 homeless registered sex offenders; by August, there were approximately 5,064.

"I can tell you, yes, there's a problem with this particular issue," said Cassandra Hockenson, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. "But we can't do anything about this."

The courts can.

A challenge to Jessica's Law went to the state Supreme Court. The court directed local courts to decide the constitutionality of the residence restrictions. Cases are working their way through local courts now.

[name withheld] has twice violated parole. He says his violations were technical, not serious breaches, such as committing a crime or testing dirty for drugs.

He feels thwarted.

"I know the world is not a fair place," [name withheld] said. "But I feel like nobody understands or cares I was trying to do right but that they were trying to put obstacles in my path to make me give up."

A supervisor in the local parole office said [name withheld] is just chafing at necessary parole conditions.

"Mr. [name withheld] just doesn't like to have any other outside control over his life," said Susan Kane, supervisor of the Delta GPS Sex Offender Unit and boss of [name withheld]'s parole agent.

"As I explained to him," Kane said, "we're very supportive of his reintegration to the community. But he has to do it within parameters in order to ensure the public is protected."

[name withheld]'s criminal history suggests he's likelier to commit crime at night, Kane said. Hence the curfew.

What about the 6 a.m. roadblock to the 5 a.m. labor hall? Kane said her office periodically re-evaluates cases.

"We will take another look at his case ... and if he's doing well, we will definitely ... re-evaluate his conditions."

In my opinion, any obstacles to parolees working a legitimate job ought to be removed sooner rather than later. Thwart them at every turn, and they're going to give up and return to crime.

As for Jessica's Law, is it in society's interests to create a growing army of homeless registered sex offenders living on the edge? Clear thinking, not just fear and loathing, should go into the answer.


OH - New Sex Offender Law Vote

Not sure exactly when this video was originally created, or the law passed, but the video was just posted to YouTube.