Wednesday, February 23, 2011

TN - Sex offender clusters spread across Mid-South

Original Article

So why are some neighborhoods "crawling" with sex offenders?  Because the very laws being passed, that is why!

02/21/2011

By Lori Brown

MEMPHIS (WMC-TV) – Do you think your neighborhood is immune from sex offenders? You could be wrong. Some neighborhoods are crawling with them.

Weeks ago, Action News 5 covered the story of a man who tried to assault a young girl walking home from school. Neighbors then said they weren't surprised, because many of their neighbors were sex offenders.

Clarence Johnson lives on Alma Street, near Klondike Elementary.

"My niece and I, we was getting off the bus, and right in front of my eyes, these grown guys were soliciting my niece, right in front of me," she said. "This guy…right in front of my face. I couldn't believe it."

At least one sex offender lives on Johnson's block, while another lives one block down, and dozens more within a mile of his home. In fact, 100 sex offenders within a mile and half of where Johnson's niece goes to school.

"The lady who used to stay at this house over here, her daughter was sexually assaulted," he said. "She couldn't have been more than four or five years old."

Johnson's neighborhood is like a lot in the Mid-South. The Tennessee Sex Offender registry shows 21 sex offenders within one mile of Overton Park. Meanwhile, 23 live within a mile of Douglass Elementary School, 38 live within a mile of the University of Memphis, 55 live within a mile of the Greenlaw Community Center downtown and 63 live within one mile of LeMoyne Owen College.

In the state of Tennessee, a sex offender who has committed an offense against a child can't live within 1,000 feet of a school. The TBI lists 58 sex offenders within a mile of Guthrie Elementary. Action News 5 found one offender, convicted with aggravated rape of child, who at 1,045 feet, lives just beyond that limit – if you travel by street.

But if you measure the distance in a straight line, he lives roughly 740 feet away. The man was convicted of aggravated rape of a child and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. But since he lived at the address before he was convicted, the law says he can be there.

"By the law, we can't do anything," said Lt. Beth Hyman of the Memphis Police Department's Sex Crimes Bureau.

However, Hyman says there is something you can do: find out who you are living next to.

"I do it myself, to see what offenders are living in my area," she said.

That knowledge means power, and protection.

"Predators are going to prey on your kids," Hyman said. "If you're not paying attention to where your kids are, they can be a victim."


CO - Group working on behalf of sex offenders

Original Article

02/21/2011

By Stephanie Collins

Do sex offenders deserve to have their voice heard? A group called Advocates for Change works to reform laws for those convicted of a sex offence, it something victims' advocates find hard to understand.

"My son is doing very well, going to school full time and goes to church every Sunday," says Susan Walker whose son has been out of prison for the last couple years.

He had sex with an underage girl, without her consent, "He asked to have sex with her and she said no, she was drunk and fell asleep and he had sex with her," Walker explains

Walker is a member of Advocates for Change, they say her son is one of the lucky ones who had an indeterminate prison sentence but got treatment and got out.

"What that was supposed to mean was that they serve their bottom number, then go through the treatment program within Department of Corrections, then be released under lifetime supervision on the outside," says Annie Wallen, when explaining indeterminate sentences, she's also a member of Advocates for Change. She adds that, "The Department of Corrections has changed how they implement that and treat it as a lifetime sentence," meaning sex offenders are serving longer sentences.

Victims' advocates have a hard time understanding a group that advocates for sex offenders, Joyce Aubrey was sexually abused as a child, "It's frightening as a survivor of a sexual assault and someone who volunteers daily to work with sexual abuse survivors."

Aubrey's concerned more about the victims than the offenders, "The victims are re-victimized by being exiled from their families and the perpetrators are supported by spouses and other siblings, it's a victim blaming crime."

Right now lawmakers are working on a bill to re-authorize the Sex Offender Management Board, which determines treatment and monitoring of sex offenders. Advocates for Change have an issue with some of the language in the bill, "What should be in statute is this board should exist, but not a philosophy that says that no one with a sex offense can be cured," says Walker.

Victims' advocates and some lawmakers are concerned about how to do that and still protect the public, "They are a threat to our community if not properly managed and monitored," says Republican Representative Bob Gardner, El Paso County.

A reading is scheduled for the Sex Offender Management Board Reauthorization Bill Tuesday morning. Advocates for Change say they'll be there.


AR - Panel advances tougher Arkansas sex offender rules

Original Article
HB-1408

02/22/2011

By CHUCK BARTELS

LITTLE ROCK - A House committee passed a bill Tuesday tightening restrictions on sex offenders at moderate risk of reoffending, despite testimony from prison officials who said the tougher rules could send offenders underground and make them less likely to report to local law enforcement and get treatment.

The bill would bar Level 2 sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school, public park, youth center or day care facility. Currently, only Level 3 and Level 4 offenders, who are believed to be the most likely to commit more crimes, have those restrictions.

The purpose of this bill is simply to protect our children,” said Rep. Karen Hopper, R-Mountain Home. She noted it would only apply to Level 2 offenders who were at least 18 years old and whose victims were 14 years old or younger.

Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery supported the bill, saying it would allow authorities to keep a closer eye on sex offenders who have been released from prison. He acknowledged the portion who commit more crimes is low but said that shouldn’t keep lawmakers from supporting Hopper’s bill.

My argument would be it’s because they’re watched. They’re watched, they’re labeled, they’re put on the website. Everywhere they go people, hopefully, know who they are,” Montgomery said.

About 3,000 of Arkansas’ 10,500 sex offenders have been classified as Level 2. About half of them would be affected by the bill.

Arkansas Correction Department spokeswoman Dina Tyler said the bill could have the unintended consequence of making it harder for police to find the offenders. To back up her point, she cited studies done in three states.

The latest research shows that residency restrictions don’t help. And in some instances, in many instances, they may actually make things worse because what they do is ... push sex offenders farther into the shadows, into the hinterlands,” Tyler said.

Restrictions have left the prison system with 1,400 inmates — sex offenders and other criminals — who can’t find a place to live even though they qualify for parole. The sex offenders alone who can’t find a residence cost the state $1 million per year, she said.

David B. Eberhard, director of the state Community Correction Department, backed up Tyler’s comments.

This is going to adversely affect our ability to find housing” for sex offenders up for release, Eberhard said.

Little Rock attorney Jeff Rosenzweig, president of the Arkansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, reminded the committee that similar bills failed in 2007 and 2009. The bill would allow Level 2 sex offenders who already own homes to stay in them even if the homes don’t meet the requirements. But Rosenzweig said offenders who aren’t homeowners would have to move.

If you’re a renter, you’re screwed under this bill,” Rosenzweig said.

John Wesley Hall Jr., a past president of the defense lawyers’ organization, said the bill would result in more crime by discouraging sex offenders from getting supervision.

Tyler also said many small towns have no housing that isn’t within 2,000 feet of a school or a park, which would force offenders to move to bigger communities where they’re not as easily watched.

We don’t want them in the shadows,” she said.

There was no roll call on the committee’s vote, which included a number of “no” votes. Committee Chairman Rep. Darrin Williams, D-Little Rock, declared that a majority had voted in favor of a “do pass” recommendation.


MA - Plymouth committee says no reason for local sexual offender regulation

Original Article

02/23/2011

By Frank Mand

They find no evidence of connection between recidivism and residency

PLYMOUTH - A special committee made up of Town Meeting Precinct Chairs has come out against local sex offender regulations with special residency or loitering restrictions.

The committee's report - delivered to the Board of Selectman Tuesday night - was prompted by a 2009 town meeting article that argued that without such a regulation Plymouth could become a refuge for sex offenders, and that playgrounds, school yards, and other facilities needed extra protection from predators.

The committee "took no initial position" their final report noted, but sought objective information from as many credible sources as possible.

They reviewed the available literature, consulted Plymouth Police Chief Michael Botieri,and interviewed a number of experts and concluded that the regulation, as written, would offer residences no additional protection and risk a variety of "constitutional complications."

They further concluded that Plymouth was not the kind of community that offenders would find attractive, that the idea that convicted offenders would be likely to reoffend was based on "myths" about sex offenders, and that - with only a handful of communities adopting local sex offender regulations (and none of which abutted Plymouth) the town was not at all likely to be the preferred destination of sex offenders fleeing those communities.

The eight-member committee unanimously voted against reccomending a sex offender bylaw with either a residency or a loitering restriction.

For more information on the proposed regulation, and the findings of the committee, look to an upcoming issue of the Old Colony Memorial.


AK - Former police officer (Anthony Rollins) guilty of sexual assaults

Original Article

02/22/2011

By CASEY GROVE

Former Anchorage police officer Anthony Rollins left court in handcuffs following his conviction Tuesday for four rapes while in uniform and on duty between 2008 and 2009.

Rollins faces 20 to 30 years each for the four first-degree sexual assault convictions when he is sentenced June 10, according to sentencing guidelines.

A state Superior Court jury also found Rolllins, a 13-year decorated police officer, guilty on multiple counts of second-degree sexual assault, including assault on a fifth victim, criminal use of a computer and official misconduct.

Six women testified Rollins forced them into sex acts or touched them sexually against their will. And while convicting Rollins on 18 counts, the jurors acquitted him of second-degree sexual assault and official misconduct involving an alleged victim from 2006.

Rollins, 43, had pleaded not guilty to all 20 counts.

"Goodbye," Rollins said Tuesday to a friend as a courtroom guard led him away in handcuffs. He had a tear in his eye just before walking out an open door.

One of the victims gave a one-word statement when asked how it felt to hear the guilty verdicts.

"Bittersweet," she told a reporter.

Another victim cried and squeezed her family as sunlight bathed the area outside the courtroom.

A supporter of Rollins, thought to be a family member, left the courtroom sobbing and in the arms of friends. His attorney did not comment on the verdict.

PROSECUTOR RELIEVED

Prosecutor Sharon Marshall said Tuesday she was relieved the jury convicted Rollins. Marshall said she felt that the jury took their time and Rollins got a fair trial.

Marshall also said she was glad the jury believed at least five victims' statements.

"I'm pleased that they saw that these girls were telling the truth," she said. "They needed to know that somebody heard them when they said no, and that a police officer can't do this."

Marshall said the 12-day trial wracked her nerves.

"You keep going to sleep, thinking, 'Did I miss something? Should I have said something differently? Should we have argued something differently?' "