Thursday, February 24, 2011

ARC Radio - Mary Duval on the congressional hearing of the Adam Walsh Act (2011)

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NY - A newspaper got it right for a change (Schenectady Daily Gazette)

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IL - Bill would let some young sex offenders be removed from registry

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SPRINGFIELD - So-called "Romeo and Juliet" legislation pending in the Illinois House would ease the penalties for young sexual offenders caught up in illicit romance.

The measure, sponsored by state Rep. Robert Pritchard, R-Sycamore, would allow sex offenders who were not more than four years older than their victim and whose victims were at least 14 years of age to petition to remove themselves from the state's sex offender registry.

"'Romeo and Juliet' deals with young people who perhaps made an error, certainly violated a law, and as a result changed their lives forever," Pritchard said today in a criminal law committee.

If people found guilty of sex offenses were removed from the sex offender registry, they would also be freed from the requirement prohibiting them from living or loitering near schools, school bus stops, and parks.

But some opponents of the bill, including state Rep. Dennis Reboletti, R-Elmhurst, a former prosecutor, said that taking discretion away from prosecutors in such cases softened the crime too much.

The State's Attorney would receive notice of cases prior to the hearing and be allowed to present evidence that the offender's name should stay on the registry. The court may deny motions for removal, in which case the offender would have to wait two years to retry their petition for removal.

According to the language of the bill, it would not apply to "an act of sexual conduct by the use of force or threat of force" or "a victim who was unable to understand the nature of the act or who was unable to give knowing consent."

Bills dealing with sex offenders are commonplace in the early weeks of Illinois legislative calendar, but the majority are aimed at making restrictions harsher.

The bill passed out of committee and will be debated on the House floor.

The bill is HB1139.

Recidivism Rates: Factoid -v- Reality

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UK - Netherton woman (Susan Lynch) convicted of murdering convicted sex offender during "vigilante" attack

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By Chloe Griffiths

A MAN and woman were convicted of killing a convicted sex offender during a “vigilante” attack after drunkenly confronting him about his sordid past.

Susan Lynch, 39, was found guilty of murdering [name withheld], 31, by stabbing him in the leg at her home in Netherton.

Her co-accused Samuel Dunne, 49, was cleared of murder but convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter after the Liverpool Crown Court jury ruled he was part of a joint enterprise attack on Mr [name withheld], who had learning difficulties.

Mr [name withheld], who was convicted of sexual assault in 1996 and made the subject of a hospital order, probably died within 10 minutes of being stabbed in the left thigh.

But he was left lying in a pool of his own blood for about two hours while his attackers attempted to cover up his murder.

Neil Flewitt QC, prosecuting, said: “We would always maintain that the motive behind this attack, the targeting of Mr [name withheld], was because of his past. That amounts to an aggravating feature. There is an element of vigilantism.”

High Court judge Mr Justice Holroyde agreed that the pair were “taking the law into their own hands”. Lynch and Dunne and their two co-accused, Lindsey Hutchins, 23, and David Bennett, 36, were also found guilty of conspiring to assault Mr [name withheld] on the night of November 13, 2009 and perverting the course of justice.

While Lynch, of St Augustine’s Way, and Dunne, of Bedford Road, Bootle, showed no emotion as the verdicts were delivered, Hutchins, of Muttocks Rake, Seaforth, shook her head. During the six-week trial, jurors heard how Hutchins, the mum of a 20-month old daughter, had begun a relationship with Mr [name withheld] in the weeks before his death, after initially seeing his brother Barry.

The court heard Barry was jealous of their relationship and used a fake email address to email Hutchins. In a series of emails he masqueraded as the brother of a 14-year-old girl abused by Mr [name withheld]. He told Hutchins: “He’s an evil t***. Do you want to be known as the friend of a sex beast? The evil t*** ruined my sister’s life.”

Despite Hutchins quickly suspecting it was Barry who was sending the messages, she maintained contact with both men. On the night of his death, Hutchins invited Mr [name withheld] to Lynch’s home where she had been drinking throughout the day. Dunne, who was known as Budgie, and Bennett, of Condron Road North, Litherland, were also there drinking.

Mr Flewitt told jurors it was not “easy to piece together exactly what had happened” inside the house, but by 00.39am Mr [name withheld] lay dead or critically injured. In the fatal attack he was kicked, punched and ultimately knifed.

But during the trial each of the accused attempted to point the finger of blame at each other with Lynch and Dunne both accusing each other of inflicting the fatal blow. But jurors ruled it was Lynch who had inflicted the fatal knife wound to Mr [name withheld].

Following the verdicts, her barrister David Steer QC said there was little he could say as she continued to “deny involvement” in the murder.

Andrew Menary QC, defending Dunne, said he accepted the offence was aggravated by the “vigilante type motive”. All four were being sentenced today.

MI - Bills would revamp sex offender list

Original Article


By Ken Kolker

Hearing Wednesday was first step in process

LANSING (WOOD) - Convicted sex offenders testified Wednesday at a state Senate hearing -- the first step in a process that could radically change Michigan's sex offender registry.

"The sex offender registry is outrageous and nothing but a huge witch hunt," testified a woman, who told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee she was convicted of sexual contact, a misdemeanor, landing her on the list for 25 years.

Another woman said her son cut his wrists after somebody he knew discovered he was on the list for having consensual sex as a young boy.

"He was a child. They don't know better," she said. "Their brains are not developed enough to know."

A man said he lost his job at General Motors, and that neighbors don't invite him to graduation parties after he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor sexual touching. "I'm not a pedophile lurking around schools or bus stops," he said.

The hearing was over a pair of Senate bills, co-authored by Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, to revamp the sex offender registry and put the state in compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act, which is meant to make registries more uniform across the country.

"We need to act soon, and we're going to do that," Jones said.

A Target 8 investigation found many of the state's 42,000 offenders are painted with the same brush, making it difficult to pick out the potentially dangerous.

The proposed legislation -- Senate bills 188 and 189 -- would separate offenders into three tiers, with the most serious on Tier 3.

"They will be on the registry for life," Jones said. That tier would include offenders convicted of sex crimes against young children.

The least-serious, so-called Tier 1 offenders, would be able to leave the list early -- if they stay out of trouble for 10 years.

"Ten years with no problems, they will exit the list," Jones said.

Also among other big changes: "Romeo and Juliet cases" involving consenting teens would no longer make the list -- as long as they are separated in age by no more than four years. Such offenders already on the list would have to petition a judge for removal.

And, juvenile offenders would no longer make the public list -- at all. Now, juveniles convicted of the most serious offenses -- first- or second-degree sexual assault -- show up on the list when they turn 18.

But, some say the changes aren't enough. Charles Peltier, of Livingston County, testified his son is on the list for misdemeanor sexual touching as a teenager -- even though a judge expunged his sex offense. Under the new law, such offenders wouldn't necessarily leave the list.

He said the registry forced his son to leave Michigan for a state that doesn't include misdemeanor sex offenders on its list.

"When they first came out with this law, it was like taking a machete to do open heart surgery, instead of a scalpel. It's the shotgun effect," Peltier told 24 Hour News 8.

The state must approve the changes by April 1 or face the loss of more than $1 million in federal law enforcement funding, said state police, adding they expect more changes in the future.

"I think we can then go in and look at some of the areas where we can further tweak the legislation to get more of these people off, that don't really belong on the registry," Sgt. Chris Hawkins said.