Friday, March 18, 2011

NE - Tighter restrictions for sexual predators, offenders

Original Article


By Emily Nohr

Nebraska lawmakers are considering tighter regulations for people convicted of sex crimes.

Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins proposed a bill that would prohibit sexual predators from lving within 500 feet of a park.

The bill defines a park as “ground or floor space of at least 2,500 square feet.” Current state law restricts sexual predators from living within 500 feet of schools and licensed day cares.

The Sexual Predator Residency Restriction Act defines a sexual predator as an individual who committed an aggravated offense and has victimized a child under the age of 18. Sexual predators must register as sex offenders.

Bloomfield said he introduced the bill on behalf of children of Nebraska, especially those who live in towns that border Iowa.

In 2006, the Iowa Legislature passed stricter residency regulations for registered sex offenders. Because of Nebraska’s weaker laws, Bloomfield said, those people have moved to Nebraska border towns, like South Sioux City.

Before Iowa changed its residency requirements, South Sioux City, Neb., was home to six sexual predators, Bloomfield said.

Today, the Nebraska State Patrol online sex offender registry lists 32 registered sex offenders currently living in South Sioux City, a city of about 13,300 people. More than 20 of those, Bloomfield said, are sexual predators, people who have victimized children under the age of 18.

The web site, however, does not list whether a person is a sex offender or a sexual predator. While both must register as sexual offenders, only sexual predators are convicted of victimizing children under the age of 18.

The bill’s language and the public’s inability to check if their neighbors are sexual predators raised some concern among senators.
- So what about a registry to check all other criminals? See here for more info.

We have to make sure this is an enforceable law,” said Sen. Colby Coash of Lincoln.

Scot Ford, South Sioux City’s chief of police, backed the bill, asking senators to look at it as a public safety issue.

We don’t want our parks to become a hunting ground,” he said.

Valerie Oakleaf, a resident of McCool Junction, said the bill is necessary in communities that may no longer have schools or licensed day cares.

This would definitely help in keeping children safe in smaller communities,” she said. “It keeps children safe…when that restriction may not exist elsewhere.”
- No, no it doesn't.  It's a placebo to make you feel safe, but actually does nothing to "protect" anybody.

Representatives from the League of Nebraska Municipalities and the Nebraska County Officials Association also testified in favor of the bill.

But the bill also had four opponents.

MN - Minnesota Sex Offender Program still plagued with problems, according to a new report

Original Article


By Paul Demko

The fundamental flaws of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program have long been known. Despite operating for nearly two decades and spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, the program has never successfully rehabilitated and released a civilly committed sex offender.

Consequently, the number of individuals involuntarily enrolled in the program has skyrocketed over the last decade. In 2003 there were just 199 civilly committed sex offenders in Minnesota. As of Jan, 1, that number had ballooned to 656 - a more than 300 percent increase. The population of the program is expected to double again in the next decade. The timing of that dramatic growth is not coincidental. In November 2003, 22-year-old Dru Sjodin was abducted and murdered by a sex offender who had been released from a Minnesota prison earlier that year.

In the wake of that high-profile crime, then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed an executive order stating that no civilly committed sex offender could be released unless ordered to do so by the courts. The result? Minnesota now has by far the highest per capita sex offender civil commitment rate in the country.

That fact alone might not elicit much interest, since violent sex offenders do not rank very high on the list of folks whose well-being society worries about. But the escalating costs associated with detaining so many individuals for an indeterminate period of time have attracted increased scrutiny in recent years. It costs $120,000 annually to house and treat civilly committed sex offenders. That is roughly four times the cost of keeping them locked up in prison. Overall costs for the MSOP peaked at $75 million in 2008 and have since retreated slightly, primarily because of staffing reductions.

That does not even take into account capital costs. Last year Pawlenty requested $89 million in bonding dollars to expand the MSOP’s Moose Lake facility, but the Legislature appropriated only about half that amount. Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, referred to the facility as “Pawlenty’s pervert palace.” The MSOP anticipates running out of beds in 2013.

But a damning report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor released earlier this month shines new light on why the civil commitment program has failed to deliver on its mission of rehabilitating sex offenders. “We finally have official acknowledgement that the program is substandard coming from an authoritative arm of the state government,” said Eric Janus, dean of the William Mitchell College of Law and a longtime critic of the MSOP. “I think it’s a picture of a program that is broken at the most fundamental levels.”

Sex Crimes and the City: the aftermath of Jessica's Law

Original Article


By Rina Palta

Listen - Rina Palta's documentary "Sex Crimes and the City: the aftermath of Jessica's Law" pulls back the curtain on a part of society we'd rather ignore. The documentary confronts the truth about whether California's great designs for monitoring convicted sex offenders have made us safer ... or if the very laws we've written to protect us have left us more vulnerable.

ABC NEWS, LOS ANGELES: A suspected child predator is behind bars but L.A. deputies fear there could be more victims…

TMJ4 NEWS, MILWAUKEE: Now a TMJ4 exclusive. A man tried to lure a girl into his car…

MSNBC: It’s the summer of abductions, and it’s breaking America’s heart…

WKRC, CINCINATTI: Well this is really a parent’s nightmare. There is someone targeting children on the streets of this community.

In many ways, sex offenders are America’s most feared criminals.

WKRC, CINCINATTI: The description here is a white male 40 to 50 years old. He is bald wearing thick-rimmed, black glasses and driving a light-colored van, white, perhaps silver or gray with dark, tinted windows…

MSNBC: The fact of the matter is there are a number of people walking the streets right now that are considered to be mentally ill and they prey upon others. They are predators.

There’s something fundamentally dark and disturbed about a person who would molest a child or rape an adult. Something pathological that’s beyond repair, that’s so completely out of synch with society that it’s hard to comprehend.

GOLDENFLAME: It’s almost like being a spy. You appear to be one thing, but secretly you’re something else.

Sex offenders are fathers, cousins, neighbors, teachers. A full 90% of violent sex crimes are committed by a person who the victim knows. So how do we protect ourselves and protect the children in our communities?

Here’s what we’ve done in California. We’ve said, “Okay, let’s think about this rationally. There are 63,000 known sex offenders living among us. These are predators, they’re perverts. They’ve done it once, they’ve gone to prison for a sex crime, they could do it again. Let’s track them. Let’s make sure we control where they live. Let’s keep them away from kids. It just makes sense that protecting ourselves from these people will keep us safer.”