Tuesday, July 5, 2011

MI - Changes to Michigan's sex offender registry tying up law enforcement

Original Article


MICHIGAN (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Michigan's new sex offender registry requirements are in effect. Offenders now have to provide more information to police and some who had been on the registry will be taken off.

However, implementing the new requirements is tying up law enforcement agencies.

The new offender verification period started on July 1st, and local law enforcement says they are using two to three times more staff than in a normal verification period.

The effort is taxing administrative staff, their computer networks and even the online sex offender registry.

With the new requirements in place all of the roughly 47,000 registered sex offenders in Michigan need to register again in person and provide much more information than they have in years past.

The new information is telephone numbers, cell phone numbers, employment information, vehicle information,” said Trooper Rich Bell, Michigan State Police.

All social media accounts, screen names and passwords must also be provided. Trooper Rich Bell says it's a cumbersome process.
- Passwords?  I doubt that, but if it's true, surely the ACLU will intervene, if someone complains, and get this blocked, it's clearly unconstitutional.

We've had some complications with the dependability of the system that we're using just due to the burden of additional information we're inputting,” said Bell.

With tens of thousands of sex offenders needing to re-register by July 15th, city, county and state police are all swamped.

Friday I was in the Grand Rapids Police Department,” said Bell, “we did more than 130.”

However, for many juvenile and minor sex offenders, Public Acts 17, 18 and 19 means they will no longer have to register.

In May, Newschannel 3 spoke to [name withheld] about her son [name withheld], who was under 14 when he was convicted.

He's supposed to be on the registry until 2033 for something he did when he was nine years old,” said [name withheld].

However, when we tried to check to see if [name withheld]'s son was still on the registry, it was down.

It could be the result of all the information we're inputting,” said Bell.

But Bell says, between the additional information now required and the new focus on more dangerous sex offenders, all the efforts will pay off.
- Doesn't sound to me like they are focusing on dangerous sex offenders, but all sex offenders.

Sex offenders who fell off the public registry on July 1st are still on a database that police can track, but they can petition to be removed. Level two and three sex offenders have until July 15th to re-register, level one offenders have until January 15th.

The following are links to the acts covering changes to the registry.

IL - Father of slain state trooper asks Quinn to sign murder registry law

Original Article

Like we've said before, why pick and chose certain crimes to make a money wasting registry for, why not create one registry for ALL criminals?


By Larissa Chinwah

The father of an Illinois State Police officer mowed down during a high speed police chase 25 years ago in Itasca, is imploring Gov. Pat Quinn to sign a bill requiring first-degree murderers to register their whereabouts with local law enforcement for 10 years after their release.
- Why not for life like most sex offenders?

The state Senate unanimously approved the bill in May.

In his letter to the governor, Bill Kugelman, whose son John Kugelman was killed while on duty, said the bill is needed to “not only keep track of these predators, but to have them reminded, for every day of their lives, what they had done.”

John is but one of many fallen (law enforcement officers) whose killers are treated better than those left behind to grieve their loss for the rest of their lives,” Kugelman wrote in his letter dated July 1. “And then to take in account the ordinary citizens who have lost loved ones to murderers, the injustice is multiplied over & over.”

John Kugelman had been a member of the Illinois State Police for about 3½ years when he was killed during a high-speed police chase in November 1986. [name withheld], who was 17 at the time, led police on a high-speed chase through Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg and Elk Grove Village before he mowed down John Kugelman. The state police officer had stepped onto the shoulder of Route 53 near Irving Park Road in an attempt to stop the chase. [name withheld], formerly of Elk Grove Village, had taken off when police attempted to pull him over for speeding. [name withheld] did not take his foot off the accelerator when he ran Kugelman over, according to court testimony.

Johnny did what they teach you in school: he had a roadblock set up and he pointed his weapon at the vehicle,” said Bill Kugelman, a retired Chicago Fire Department battalion chief. “They pointed their car at him.”

[name withheld], who was found guilty in 1997 of murder and sentenced to 32 years in prison, was released in 2002. Bill Kugelman had worked for years to prevent the early release of his son’s killer, at one time presenting a petition of 55,000 signatures opposing clemency.
- 5 years? Why was he released so early? He should've received life in prison, IMO.

This year is the 25th anniversary and the bill came up at the right time,” said Bill Kugelman, who was also instrumental in implementing the state’s arsonist registry. “It’s time to get this out and make this guy register. Why should he live peacefully somewhere?
- Um, because he did his time and is now a free man maybe?

Sponsored by state Rep. Dennis Reboletti, a Republican from Elmhurst, the bill is known as “Andrea’s Law.” Andrea Will was an Eastern Illinois University student murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1998. He was released from prison after serving half of his 24-year sentence. If approved by Gov. Quinn, it is estimated between 400 and 500 first-degree murderers currently on parole would have to register with the state police. The Internet database would include mug shots and addresses, similar to the state’s sex offender registry.

IN - Teen faces prison after sex doll prank goes awry

Original Article

Why is this even in police hands? This should've been handled by the principal only. The injustice system is a friggin' joke!


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — When 18-year-old [name withheld] put a blow-up sex doll in a bathroom stall on the last day of school, he didn't expect school officials to call a bomb squad or that he'd be facing up to eight years in prison and a possible felony record.

The senior prank gone awry has raised questions of race, prosecutorial zeal and the post-Columbine mindset in a small Indiana town and around the country, The Indianapolis Star reported in its Tuesday editions.

Legal experts question the appropriateness of the charges against [name withheld], and law professor Jonathan Turley at George Washington University posed a wider question about [name withheld]'s case on his legal blog.

"The question is what type of society we are creating when our children have to fear that a prank (could) lead them to jail for almost a decade. What type of citizens are we creating who fear the arbitrary use of criminal charges by their government?"

A janitor at Rushville Consolidated High School saw [name withheld] run away from the school May 31, and security footage showed a person in a hooded sweatshirt and gloves entering the school with a package and leaving five minutes later without it, according to court documents.

Administrators feared explosives, so they locked down the school and called police. K9 dogs and a bomb squad searched the building before finding the sex doll.

"We have reviewed this situation numerous times," Rush County Schools Superintendent John E. Williams told the newspaper last week. "When you have an unknown intruder in the building, delivering an unknown package, we come up with the same conclusion. ... We cannot be too cautious, in this day and age."

[name withheld] was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, and institutional criminal mischief, a felony that carries the potential of two to eight years in prison.

"I know there has been plenty of pranks done at that school," said [name withheld]'s mother, [name withheld]. "I went to that school. When I heard what they was charging him for, my heart just dropped."

Joel Schumm, a professor at the Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis, questioned the validity of the charges.

"Their reaction is understandable, but use the school disciplinary process," he said. "Don't try to label the kid a felon for the rest of his life."

The Rush County Prosecutor Philip J. Caviness told The Associated Press that he doesn't intend to seek a prison term for [name withheld], but said school officials acted appropriately and that the charges are warranted.

"I'm pretty comfortable with the charges that we've filed," he said.

Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts focused on [name withheld]'s case recently in his nationally syndicated column, suggesting that [name withheld]'s case was another example of unfair treatment for a black youth without a wealthy family.

[name withheld]'s father brushed off that suggestion when Pitts asked him about it, and [name withheld]'s mother declined to discuss that point with The Star.

[name withheld]'s attorney, Robert Turner, also downplayed race, suggesting that the size of the small blue-collar city an hour southeast of Indianapolis played a role.

"I don't think they do this sort of thing very often," Turner said. "Had this happened in Indianapolis ... they would not have had this kind of charge filed."

[name withheld]'s mother said [name withheld] wants to attend college, but is worried about the case.

"It's stressful for [name withheld]," [name withheld] said. "He doesn't know where his life is going to end up. He has been looking — I'll just put it this way: He's scared."

FL - Casey Anthony - Not guilty of daughters death

Oh no, Nancy Disgrace and Jane Valez-Mitchell are going to be ticked. :)

Video Link

UK - Does 'befriending' sex offenders stop new crimes?

Original Article


By Bob Howard

Paedophiles and other sex offenders are the subject of regular public outrage and demands for longer jail terms, but could "befriending" them be the best way to stop them committing more crimes?

"I said to myself my worst nightmare is someone who offended against very young girls because my nieces are those ages. Sure enough, that's exactly what I got."

Sarah from London is a volunteer working with a category of former prisoners few of us would feel comfortable meeting at all, let alone on a regular basis.

Along with four others she regularly meets a man convicted of serious sex offences against children who has since been released back into the community.

She's part of a "circle" which befriends but also monitors offenders. The idea came from Canada where a survey by the country's prison service found it reduced re-offending by 70%.

The first circles (Facebook) in the UK were formed in 2002 and there are currently 63 running across England and Wales. It is based on the premise that while some offenders have friends and family to return to when they come out of prison, others have not and the more isolated they are, the more likely they are to re-offend.

Sarah says she was partly inspired to volunteer by the press coverage surrounding the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

"There was a lot of press talking about paedophiles, lots of big splash front pages saying 'evil'. I started to think there's got to be a way to stop this from happening in the beginning."

Sarah joined her circle through child protection charity The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, one of several organisations which run circles in the UK. Volunteers receive 20 hours of instruction and are supported by a liaison officer.

They meet offenders discreetly in local cafes where they talk about everything from what could lead to re-offending to finding work and fitting back into society.

Emotionally charged

Before the first meeting, they are told a lot of detail about the crimes and background of the offender. The meetings with the group - 4-6 volunteers plus the offender - are for about an hour, once a week, for the first few months, with the whole programme lasting one or two years. Each member of the group typically speaks to the offender on the phone at least once a week.

Despite her initial concerns, Sarah has been able to work with two offenders, both of whom have been imprisoned for offences against girls under 14. Sarah found the first encounter was highly emotionally charged.

"There's a lot of trepidation. You never know how you're going to react. Your first instinct is to feel disgust and revulsion over what they've done."

Sarah believes by questioning offenders about their behaviour and helping them settle back into everyday life she has helped to keep them from re-offending. In the case of the offender she is currently working with, Sarah believes her group has helped him turn round a long history of offending behaviour.

"I don't consider myself a bleeding-heart liberal. I'm someone who looks at the big picture and tries to find a solution. As far as the police tell us he hasn't offended in five years. He doesn't want to re-offend again, he doesn't want to create any more victims."

Grooming spotted

The Lucy Faithfull Foundation says of the 35 offenders who have taken part in their circles project so far, only three have been found to have re-offended.

In one of these cases, volunteers in East Anglia say they became suspicious of the offender's behaviour. Circle volunteer Ian says from the start they felt there was something wrong.

"He was telling us things which just didn't sound right. We reported it. The police reckoned he was grooming a young boy."

The offender was subsequently sent back to prison.

Donald Findlater, director of research and development at The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, says great care is taken in choosing which offenders are selected. A determination to change their behaviour pattern is key.

"Not all sex offenders are suitable for a circle. Professional staff need to assess that the individual is committed to leading a good life and keen to get support in doing this."

He feels in the vast majority of cases the circles have been effective.

"I have no doubt that circles are making a tangible difference to the lives that sex offenders lead and to the safety of the public."

Circles are part of a wider programme to rehabilitate sex offenders. The National Offender Management Service offers treatment to around 1,200 sex offenders a year in prison and the same number who have been released back into the community.

Many experts with experience in rehabilitating sex offenders agree circles have potential to stop re-offending, but they are only part of the overall effort to stop further crimes being committed.

"Circles have a lot to offer, particularly in cases of very socially isolated sexual offenders or offenders," says David Middleton, professor of community and criminal justice at De Montfort University, and former head of the government's sex offender strategy and programmes.

"However they are not a substitute for experienced and well trained professionals."

The circles projects are part funded by government money channelled through local police, probation and offender management budgets. This frustrates some victims group who feel more money should be directed at those who have been abused.

Many are also highly sceptical that sex offenders can be rehabilitated. Peter Saunders, chief executive of the National Association of People Abused in Childhood, feels while circles may have some value, there are more reliable ways of monitoring offenders.
- Like what?

"Abusers cannot be trusted at their word. We tend to favour the idea that these kind of offenders need to be electronically tagged for a very long time."