Saturday, April 30, 2011

Protect your kids from Facebook stalkers and cyberbullies with SocialGuard

Original Article

04/27/2011

CheckPoint Software has introduced a new member of its ZoneAlarm product family. ZoneAlarm SocialGuard has a narrow focus: its sole aim is to monitor children's Facebook accounts in order to alert parents to suspicious activities such as cyberbullying, Internet grooming and inappropriate content.

SocialGuard works alongside existing security software, including ZoneAlarm's own free firewall software, to provide real-time alerts should potentially dangerous activity be detected on up to five monitored Facebook accounts. The parent can then review the alert and take whatever action he or she deems to be appropriate.

CheckPoint is keen to stress that ZoneAlarm SocialGuard is not a general purpose spying tool, giving parents unfettered access to their children's Facebook accounts. Instead it respects the child's privacy by only providing alerts to suspicious activities based on a number of criteria: cyberbullying, friend requests from strangers, inappropriate content (including links), age concerns and hacked accounts. All other activity is ignored, and the parent has no other access to the child's Facebook account.

These alerts are, by default, emailed to both child and parent, and ZoneAlarm SocialGuard requires that both email address and password for each Facebook account is entered in order to set up the initial connection between the two. This is a one-time only action, and in most cases will require the child's co-operation in the form of either releasing the password or entering it into the program.

The application also allows parents to review the child's list of friends, providing extra information about each friend to help the parent identify them as trusted. It also scans previous content as well as providing protection going forward.

ZoneAlarm SocialGuard is available as a free download of a 7-day trial for Windows XP, Vista and 7. The software is currently available for an introductory rate of $1.99 per month, or $19.99 per year.


WI - Sex Offender to Continue Fight with Village over Residency

Original Article

04/28/2011

By Carl Engelking

Despite previous court rulings, man's attorney plans to take his case to the state Supreme Court.

A registered sex offender who village officials say is violating Menomonee Falls' residency rules hopes to take his case to the state Supreme Court.

Since 2009, [name withheld] has been unsuccessfully challenging the village's finding that he is violating an ordinance that prohibits sex offenders from living within 1,500 feet of facilities or properties used by children, such as schools and day care centers.

In 2000, [name withheld] was a 22-year-old manager at Hardee’s on Main Street in Menomonee Falls. A 14-year-old girl came to the restaurant with two other friends to apply for the job. [name withheld] brought the girl back into the manager’s office, unzipped his pants and asked her to perform oral sex on him. [name withheld] told police at the time he thought she was 15 or 16 years old, according to the report.

After the incident occurred, the girl was hired at Hardee’s. She told officers that [name withheld] asked her to perform oral sex on him again and made other sexual comments to her while she was working, according to the report.

[name withheld] was convicted in 2001 of second-degree sexual assault of a child. He received six months in jail and 60 months of probation; the probation was discharged in 2007 and according to Wisconsin Circuit Court records, he has no other criminal record.

There is no question that [name withheld] lives within the village's so-called child safety zone.

But the issue is a bit complicated because [name withheld] started living in the zone, in an apartment on Main Street, four years before the ordinance was passed in 2007. A grandfather clause in the ordinance allowed offenders to continue living at their current address, even if it was located within the child safety zone.

But in November 2008, [name withheld] moved less than a mile away — to Menomonee River Parkway — to live with his wife's parents. Once he moved, Falls police said he was in violation of the ordinance and issued him a $1,100 citation.

On Wednesday, the state appeals court upheld a Waukesha County Circuit Court ruling that [name withheld] indeed violated the ordinance.

His attorney, however, argues that since [name withheld] has been living in the zone since before the ordinance was passed he should be allowed to continue to live within the zone even though he changed his address.

He gets booted out of his apartment and goes to live with his in-laws within the same protection unit. So how has the threat increased to anyone?” asked [name withheld]’s attorney, Daniel Fay.

We have these ordinances because they look good. But look in any neighborhood within 1,500 feet of a school. How many drunk drivers live in that area? Who represents a bigger threat to the kid on a bicycle?” Fay asked.

The Menomonee Falls Municipal Court in May 2009 found [name withheld] guilty of violating the village's ordinance, and ruled that [name withheld]’s grandfather status did not travel with him when once he changed residences. That ruling was appealed but upheld in circuit court and the appeals court.

Fay said the ordinance doesn’t specifically prohibit a sex offender from moving from one location to another within a safety zone. He said the court rulings went beyond what was written in the ordinance, which he said is prohibited if the ordinance itself isn't ambiguous.

We’ll pursue this at the Supreme Court level. What do we have to lose?” Fay said. “My job is to test the system; it’s not to get along with the system.”

Village Attorney Michael Morse said the other courts correctly interpreted the language in the ordinance. He said the grandfather clause of the ordinance refers to a “residence” not “resident.” In other words, a specific home can be "grandfathered," but not the offender himself.
- This lawyer apparently doesn't know anything he's talking about.

Comments from eAdvocate (See here)
"OK, so any residence were a former sex offender lived, and since has moved out, is protected forever, and any other former sex offender can move into that residence at any time in the future. Right? So, the ordinance sets up a patchwork-quilt of residences were sex offender can move in at any time in the future. Yes? Or, NO? If no then the grandfather clause pertains to the offender and not the residence; or is punitive in nature."

I think the opinion stands for itself and it’s well written, and we believe the court’s decision is correct,” Morse said.

During a Circuit Court hearing, the village contended that allowing [name withheld] to move under the grandfather clause would undermine the purpose of the ordinance, which is to prevent sex offenders from living near children.

This is not a punitive law, this is a regulatory law. It was drafted with the goal of protecting children,” Morse said.
- I don't care how many times you or anyone else says this, it's punitive, period!

According to data from the state’s sex offender registry, [name withheld] is still registered at the Menomonee River Parkway address. He was forced to move after his lease was terminated at his Main Street apartment in 2008. His wife suffers from serious medical issues, so they moved in with her parents on Menomonee River Parkway.

Menomonee Falls Police Capt. Mark Waters said [name withheld] could technically receive a citation every day that he continues to live at his current residence. He said the department typically waits until cases clear the courts to pursue further enforcement. Waters said they are in discussions with Morse on whether to issue another 30-day notice to [name withheld] based on Wednesday's appeals court ruling.

Generally, we’ll wait for the court to hear that citation,” Waters said. “And if he is fact found guilty, he is eligible to get a citation each day. But our goal is for compliance of the law not to rack up citations.”

Fay said the ordinance is overbearing and unpractical for sex offenders who have not been in any trouble with the law and are following mandatory guidelines. He said [name withheld] is essentially homeless if he is forced to vacate his current home.

The bottom line is, ‘Where do want these people to move to?’ ” Fay asked. “What are we going to do with these people who are convicted of crimes? Maybe set up our own little country for them like we did with Australia.


OK - Proposed Oklahoma law could force some sex offenders in a mobile home park to move into tents

Original Article

This is nothing more than legislative vigilantism (see here), and this will make things worse, not better. Studies have been done to show that when offenders live together, they don't conspire for ways to harm more people, but monitor each other and kick the bad offenders out, see here.

04/30/2011

By ANN KELLEY

The Oklahoma House and Senate this week passed Senate Bill 852, closing a loophole used by Hand Up Ministries to house multiple registered sex offenders in its 69 mobile homes and 50 travel trailers in south Oklahoma City. The measure is awaiting approval from Gov. Mary Fallin.

[name withheld] came to Hand Up Ministries five years ago out of prison with no money, no job and no place to lay his head.

He was a middle-age, registered sex offender, having been convicted in 1998 of molestation and attempted rape.

[name withheld], 64, lives in a mobile home park operated by Hand Up Ministries in south Oklahoma City. The park is being targeted by legislation intended to limit the number of sex offenders living there, but it might inadvertently turn it into a tent city.

I had nothing and no place to go right out of prison,” [name withheld] said. “No one wants a sex offender living next door to them, but where are we supposed to be? We have this place to help us, and now the politicians want to take it away from us.”

About 250 sex offenders live in the 14-acre park at 2130 SE 59.

The House and Senate this week passed Senate Bill 852, closing a loophole used by Hand Up Ministries to house multiple registered sex offenders in its 69 mobile homes and 50 travel trailers. The measure is awaiting approval from Gov. Mary Fallin.

Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, said no one is shutting the ministry, but it will be required to abide by the law that prohibits more than one sex offender from living in the same home. Jolley, the bill’s author, said the ministry might have to scale down its operation, and some will have to find other places to live.

I’m not overly concerned,” Jolley said. “From my standpoint, that’s not my problem. My problem is to protect the people they live around.”

Tent meeting

Residents of the mobile home park gathered Thursday evening around a large, open tent squished between two mobile homes. Many carried Bibles, prayer cards and a look of worry about where they would live if they have to leave.

The Rev. David Nichols, Hand Up Ministries founder and director, told the men no one will be forced out, but about two-thirds will have to live in tents on the site until other housing can be found.

[name withheld], 58, said he will likely be one of those living in a tent, but he doesn’t plan to leave.

I’m thankful this place is here, because I’d be living under a bridge if it weren’t,” he said.

[name withheld] was convicted of lewd acts with a child and released from prison four months ago.

Nichols said those that have paid their program dues regularly likely will be allowed to continue to live in the mobile homes and trailers while others camp. Residents are required to contribute $100 a week to the program, which covers rent, utilities and help with transportation and other expenses, he said.

He said as many as 70 men a week have been unable to pay their program dues, but their expenses are subsidized by dues paid by the others until they can get on their feet and get a job.

Nichols said another solution would be to recruit more ex-convicts who are not sex offenders into the program. Those men could share the three-bedroom mobile homes with one registered sex offender. This would allow the ministry to generate program fees to fund additional housing, he said.

Nichols said he’s been accused of using the ministry as a front for a moneymaking venture.

Someone at the Capitol said this place was making $250,000 a month, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Nichols said. “Every nickel goes back into the ministry, and there isn’t much left over after the bills are paid.”

Nichols said he draws a $3,000 monthly paycheck from Hand Up Ministry but will likely have to give that up until the housing situation improves for the men.

Jolley said he questions whether it’s an actual ministry because it’s not supported by a church or a charitable organization. He has not visited the trailer park, he said.
- A ministry doesn't have to be supported by a church or organization, come on...

Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said in December his department determined that only 56 of the registered sex offenders living at the mobile home park are from Oklahoma County. The remainder came from other areas of the state, and 20 are from another state.

He said 140 were classified as level three offenders, the highest designation assigned to those who pose a serious risk to the community.

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OH - Officials in Summit County share budget fears

Original Article

It's called, Fear Mongering for money!

04/29/2011

By Stephanie Warsmith

County, local governments could lose millions in funding from state. Sheriff predicts fewer checks on sex offenders

About one in four sex offenders in Summit County has been caught out-of-compliance with registration requirements during checks by sheriff's deputies.
- Do you have the facts to back this usual "1 in 4" statistic? Plus, many people count this as recidivism, which it's not, it's a technical violation, but if you believed the media and self-serving politicians, you'd think all of them were out committing other sexual crimes, which they are not.

These sweeps might stop if the cuts to local government funds proposed in the state budget stand, Summit County Sheriff Drew Alexander said Thursday.
- (Sarcasm On) Oh the horror!  The zombie sex offenders are going to be freely roaming our streets molesting everyone in site! (Sarcasm Off)

Alexander said the Sexual Predator Unit would be one of the programs significantly reduced if he has to reduce his department's budget by more than $2 million and cut 32 employees — mostly deputies.

''I'm not sure how much we can protect with these cuts,'' Alexander said during a round table discussion.

Alexander was among several elected officials from cities, townships, villages and county agencies in Summit County who expressed concerns over the potential impact of the state budget during an event at the John S. Knight Center in Akron.

Local state lawmakers who attended cautioned that the budget could change as it moves through the process in the next two months. State Sen. Tom Sawyer (Video), D-Akron, said about 1,500 amendments to Gov. John Kasich's proposed budget were introduced in the Ohio House on Thursday.

''It's useful to hear from you, but it will be a substantially changed document,'' he said.

Kasich's proposed two-year budget includes a 49 percent reduction in local government funds for counties and municipalities and a 54 percent drop in the amount of money provided to local governments for the reduction in tangible personal property tax. Republican lawmakers also have introduced legislation that would eliminate the estate tax, which is another significant revenue source for local governments.

Not a 'handout'

Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic said local government funds were the result of an unofficial agreement between local and state officials in 1934. He said the state cut property taxes to give struggling residents a break and agreed to give local governments a share of sales tax revenue to make up the funding loss.

''This isn't a handout,'' Plusquellic said.

Over the years, the type of revenue going into local government funds has changed and the amount being doled out has been frozen or decreased, but never to the extent currently being considered, Plusquellic said.

''It is an outrage to have our state government break a handshake deal,'' he said.

Plusquellic thinks Ohio should change its Constitution, like California did, to dedicate a stream of revenue to local governments.
- People who are willing to change the Constitution, should be fired, IMO!

Brian Nelsen, Summit County's director of finance and budget, said the county stands to lose about $5.2 million in local government funds and $1.1 million in tangible personal property taxes.

Nelsen said Kasich and his Cabinet have said the budget would decrease unfunded mandates, but he said they would increase in certain areas. He said the budget would reduce state funds for indigent offenders and medically fragile children — expenses that counties would have to assume.

If the state cuts happen, Nelsen said, the county would need to reduce its budget by about $5.5 million, about 10 percent, by cutting salary, pension and Medicare costs.

The biggest cut would be to public safety, with nearly $3.9 million coming from the sheriff, jail, prosecutor's office, probation department and courts, Nelsen said.

Alexander said the county has about 1,000 registered sex offenders, and sweeps routinely find 20 to 25 percent out of compliance with registration regulations.
- Yes, out of compliance, technical violations, not new crimes.

With the cutbacks, Alexander said, the county would begin doing the minimum required by law — registering offenders — and no longer would have detectives conducting sweeps.

Alexander said he also would have to shut down part of the jail, which could result in overcrowding — potentially endangering deputies and inmates.

Court programs at risk

Summit County Common Pleas Judge Patricia Cosgrove said the state funding cuts would force the court to decrease probation officers, eliminate or significantly reduce the re-entry and drug court programs, and decrease mediation programs, including one that seeks to reduce foreclosures.

Several smaller communities in Summit County also are concerned about possible reductions.

Fiscal Officer Joanne Murgatroyd said Coventry Township stands to lose $569,000 in local government funds. She said staffing cuts to make up for this would ''cripple'' the township, so a replacement or additional levy might be needed.

''To move the funding problem from the state to the local level does not seem to make any sense,'' she said.

Jim Nelson, a Bath Township trustee who heads the Summit County Township Association, said townships also are concerned about the potential loss of estate taxes. He said this would bring an ''earthquake to our communities.''

State Rep. Vernon Sykes, D-Akron, a ranking member of the House Finance Committee, attended part of the forum before heading to Columbus. He said there has been ''a lot of commotion'' about the state budget.

He thinks some changes will be made, including with school funding, but he is ''not as optimistic'' about changes to local government funding.

''It's a change in priorities,'' he said.

State Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Akron, said he thinks Summit County — because of its collaborations with other government agencies — can be held up as a model of efficiency. He said he will look at the unfunded mandates Nelsen mentioned and would like to see a decrease on the burden to local governments in the state budget.


POLL - Have you or a family member been affected by a sex offender law?

This is a poll we started a year or so ago, and is going to remain open. If you have not done so already, please take a little time to answer the questions.

NOTE: This is for ex-sex offenders and/or family members.

Once you are done, you can view the Poll Results (380 responses as of 04/30/2011).

Thanks for your time,

Sex Offender Issues

P.S. Make sure you check out the "TAKE ACTION" items also.

Click the image to view the poll