Monday, September 19, 2011
By Nava Ghalili
HARRISBURG - Two specific loopholes in Megan's Law means some sex offenders in Pennsylvania could be getting away with not complying with the law, according to law enforcement.
District Attorneys and law enforcement in the area want to see the Governor sign a bill that fixes two dangerous loopholes.
Right now an out of state offender moving into Pennsylvania does not have to register their location... neither do the homeless.
A recent case of a homeless Cumberland County man gave testament to the frustration for law enforcement.
53-year-old [name withheld] was arrested for his 5th attempt of retail theft, he was also a previous sex offender that was not complying with Megan's Law, because he was homeless.
"That fact that [name withheld] can come and go as he please just because he was homeless was absurd," said Carlisle Police Lieutenant, Michael Dzezinski.
Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico said dozens of cases are dropped and offenders cannot be located each year.
"Everyday these laws aren`t passed, there are offenders that don`t have to register for Megan's Law and there is a potential for more victims," said Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico.
The bill still needs to pass the Senate before Governor Corbett can sign it.
Local law enforcement said it is taking too long to move this bill along.
A new study says those lineups you see on television crime dramas and often used in real-life police departments are going about it all wrong.
The study released Monday by the American Judicature Society is part of a growing body of research during the past 35 years that questions the reliability of eyewitness identifications under certain circumstances. That research has been taken more seriously in recent years with the evolution of DNA evidence clearing innocents of crimes they were convicted of committing, often based on eyewitness testimony.
The new study finds witnesses should not look at a group of people at once to pick a perpetrator. Instead, they should look at individuals one-by-one with a detective who doesn't know which is the real suspect — known as a double-blind lineup to avoid giving witnesses unintentional cues — preferably on a computer to ensure appropriate random procedures are used and to record the data.
A Test of the Simultaneous vs. Sequential Lineup Methods (pdf)
The study found witnesses using the sequential method were less likely to pick the innocents brought in to fill out the lineup. The theory is that witnesses using the sequential lineup will compare each person to the perpetrator in their memory, instead of comparing them to one another side-by-side to see which most resembles the criminal.
"What we want the witness to do is don't decide who looks most like the perpetrator, but decide whether the perpetrator is there or not," said Gary Wells, an eyewitness identification expert at Iowa State University and the project's lead researcher.
Wells said the results confirmed many other laboratory experiments that have found sequential lineups to be more accurate. But he said some police departments have been reluctant to change their practices, wondering if they would apply to real-life witnesses.
This study used actual witnesses who didn't know they were part of a study, but were randomly assigned to use either the sequential or the simultaneous method. It was conducted at the police departments in Austin, Texas; Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C.; San Diego and Tucson, Ariz.
The witnesses were shown mug shots of one suspect with five "fillers," or the known innocents. In the simultaneous lineups, the witnesses picked a filler 18 percent of the time, versus 12 percent for the sequential method. Witnesses picked the suspect about a quarter of the time using both methods.
Wells estimates that between 20 and 25 percent of 16,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States are using the sequential and double-blind procedures. He said those reforms have been made in the last decade, with some key departments including Denver and Dallas coming on board just this year. "There's still a long ways to go," he said. He said he hoped this study would help push reforms forward.
They say at the beginning of this video, that this man has a "long history," but then they go on to only mention one account of where he harmed a child. Doesn't sound like a long history to me.
Residents in Derry, New Hampshire are searching for answers.
They want to know how a convicted sex offender with a long history was able to move into their neighborhood.
This man looks like he has a low IQ and may be mentally challenged, and like usual, the media and the police officer in this video is making it look like all ex-sex offenders are like this person, THEY ARE NOT! No amount of laws will protect people from someone intent on committing a crime, and if you think they will, then you need to get off Fantasy Island.
Authorities in New Bedford, MA want to know why a convicted sex offender was out of jail and free to strike again.
Police say, 26 year old [name withheld] sexually assaulted a 6 year old boy at the New Bedford library on Wednesday.
Online Registry Targets False Accusers
HOUSTON - Register-her.com, a public service website, has launched providing a registry of individuals proven to make false allegations of rape and other crimes. The site creators cite the following:
A study in 1994 by Dr. Eugene Kanin of Purdue University concluded that 41% of rape allegations in America are fabricated.[1 (PDF)] Kanin's study covered a 9 year period and was conducted with the cooperation of civic government.
The Orlando Police Department made an appeal for false rape allegations to stop because they were putting a stress on police resources and creating a climate of undue fear.
The Baltimore Police Department reported that 30% of rape reports received proved to be false.
The Innocence Project reports that the primary crime for which they secure the release of wrongfully convicted individuals is rape. 153 of 268 exonerations, 57.1%, noted by the Innocence Project, were convictions for rape.
"When someone is falsely accused of rape the consequences are swift and severe," says Dr Tara Palmatier, a clinical psychologist who has counseled victims of false allegations.
"Some of my clients have lost their jobs, homes and good reputations," she adds. "When allegations are proven false, it's far too late. The damage has already been done. For the accuser there is rarely any downside risk."
Frequently the false accusers are not jailed. Many are referred to counseling, community service or probation. .
The consequences for those accused are severe; resulting in false imprisonment, damaged reputations, financial devastation, loss of employment and even suicide. Dalton, Georgia police officer Paul Sparks killed himself after a rape allegation which had no merit. Student Olumide Fadayomi attempted suicide after being falsely accused of rape, and another student, accused by the same woman, succeeded in taking his own life.
"This kind of public service is long overdue." says Register-her.com spokesman Paul Elam (A Voice For Men), who added, "The devastation of these acts continues long after the allegations are disproven."
Register-her.com is a public service provided to heighten awareness of the false allegation problem and to publicly register individuals known to have made false criminal complaints. For more information contact Candice Howe at 832-506-4578, or by email at Candice.firstname.lastname@example.org.
By NATASHA SINGER
Who's afraid of Internet fraud?
- Not me! Get people scared for their lives, then you can make money. That is how the people who sell burglar alarms make money, using fear.
Consumers who still pay bills via snail mail. Hospitals leery of making treatment records available online to their patients. Some state motor vehicle registries that require car owners to appear in person — or to mail back license plates — in order to transfer vehicle ownership.
But the White House is out to fight cyberphobia with an initiative intended to bolster confidence in e-commerce.
The plan, called the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (PDF) and introduced earlier this year, encourages the private-sector development and public adoption of online user authentication systems. Think of it as a driver’s license for the Internet. The idea is that if people have a simple, easy way to prove who they are online with more than a flimsy password, they’ll naturally do more business on the Web. And companies and government agencies, like Social Security or the I.R.S., could offer those consumers faster, more secure online services without having to come up with their own individual vetting systems.
“What if states had a better way to authenticate your identity online, so that you didn’t have to make a trip to the D.M.V.?” says Jeremy Grant, the senior executive adviser for identity management at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the agency overseeing the initiative.
But authentication proponents and privacy advocates disagree about whether Internet IDs would actually heighten consumer protection — or end up increasing consumer exposure to online surveillance and identity theft.
If the plan works, consumers who opt in might soon be able to choose among trusted third parties — such as banks, technology companies or cellphone service providers — that could verify certain personal information about them and issue them secure credentials to use in online transactions.
Industry experts expect that each authentication technology would rely on at least two different ID confirmation methods. Those might include embedding an encryption chip in people’s phones, issuing smart cards or using one-time passwords or biometric identifiers like fingerprints to confirm substantial transactions. Banks already use two-factor authentication, confirming people’s identities when they open accounts and then issuing depositors with A.T.M. cards, says Kaliya Hamlin, an online identity expert known by the name of her Web site, Identity Woman.
The system would allow Internet users to use the same secure credential on many Web sites, says Mr. Grant, and it might increase privacy. In practical terms, for example, people could have their identity authenticator automatically confirm that they are old enough to sign up for Pandora on their own, without having to share their year of birth with the music site.
The Open Identity Exchange, a group of companies including AT&T, Google, Paypal, Symantec and Verizon, is helping to develop certification standards for online identity authentication; it believes that industry can address privacy issues through self-regulation. The government has pledged to be an early adopter of the cyber IDs.
But privacy advocates say that in the absence of stringent safeguards, widespread identity verification online could actually make consumers more vulnerable. If people start entrusting their most sensitive information to a few third-party verifiers and use the ID credentials for a variety of transactions, these advocates say, authentication companies would become honey pots for hackers.
“Look at it this way: You can have one key that opens every lock for everything you might need online in your daily life,” says Lillie Coney, the associate director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. “Or, would you rather have a key ring that would allow you to open some things but not others?”
- I would rather have a key ring!
Even leading industry experts foresee challenges in instituting across-the-board privacy protections for consumers and companies.
For example, people may not want the banks they might use as their authenticators to know which government sites they visit, says Kim Cameron, whose title is distinguished engineer at Microsoft, a leading player in identity technology. Banks, meanwhile, may not want their rivals to have access to data profiles about their clients. But both situations could arise if identity authenticators assigned each user with an individual name, number, e-mail address or code, allowing companies to follow people around the Web and amass detailed profiles on their transactions.
“The whole thing is fraught with the potential for doing things wrong,” Mr. Cameron says.
But next-generation software could solve part of the problem by allowing authentication systems to verify certain claims about a person, like age or citizenship, without needing to know their identities. Microsoft bought one brand of user-blind software, called U-Prove, in 2008 and has made it available as an open-source platform for developers.
Google, meanwhile, already has a free system, called the “Google Identity Toolkit,” for Web site operators who want to shift users from passwords to third-party authentication. It’s the kind of platform that makes Google poised to become a major player in identity authentication.
But privacy advocates like Lee Tien, a senior staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, say the government would need new privacy laws or regulations to prohibit identity verifiers from selling user data or sharing it with law enforcement officials without a warrant. And what would happen if, say, people lost devices containing their ID chips or smart cards?
“It took us decades to realize that we shouldn’t carry our Social Security cards around in our wallets,” says Aaron Titus, the chief privacy officer at Identity Finder (PDF), a company that helps users locate and quarantine personal information on their computers.
Carrying around cyber IDs seems even riskier than Social Security cards, Mr. Titus says, because they could let people complete even bigger transactions, like buying a house online. “What happens when you leave your phone at a bar?” he asks. “Could someone take it and use it to commit a form of hyper identity theft?”
For the government’s part, Mr. Grant acknowledges that no system is invulnerable. But better online identity authentication would certainly improve the current situation — in which many people use the same one or two passwords for a dozen or more of their e-mail, e-tail, online banking and social network accounts, he says.
- Well, if people would stop doing this, and use something like RoboForm, then it wouldn't be much of a problem.
Mr. Grant likens that kind of weak security to flimsy locks on bathroom doors.
“If we can get everyone to use a strong deadbolt instead of a flimsy bathroom door lock,” he says, “you significantly improve the kind of security we have.”
But not if the keys can be compromised.
By THOMAS DIMOPOULOS
FORT EDWARD -- By an overwhelming majority, the Washington County Board of Supervisors on Friday repealed a local law restricting where sex offenders may live.
The county-wide 2007 law stipulated that all sex offenders could not reside or work within 1,000 feet of schools, child care facilities, parks, playgrounds and other places where children gather.
But detractors of the local law said that its restrictiveness was unconstitutional, resulted in higher costs for Social Services and Probation departments, and drove sex offenders to rural areas, doing more harm than good.
"If an ex-con is not rehabilitated, he is going to find some way to do his horrible deeds no matter where he lives," said the Rev. James Peterson, the only person who appeared at a public hearing on Friday to speak to the board regarding the law.
The pastor of the Granville Baptist Church and First Baptist Church in Whitehall said he was in favor of repealing the local law based on his experiences with a handful of sex offenders and their families. The residency restrictiveness of the county law could be unfairly restrictive to those released from prison and trying to put their lives back in order, he added.
"You cannot rehabilitate these people," argued Hartford Town Supervisor Dana Haff, who cast the lone vote against repealing the county law.
- Dana is running on personal emotions and not facts. Ex-offenders CAN be rehabilitated, and any expert who deals with ex-offenders will tell you that.
He was outvoted by 15 to 1.
Similar local laws restricting residencies had previously been repealed in eight of 17 counties in favor of a less restrictive state law.
The state Sex Offender Registration Act does not restrict where a registered sex offender may live. If the offender is under parole or probation supervision, however, other state laws may limit the offender from living within 1,000 feet of a school or other facility that cares for children.
A local law remains in effect in Warren County. The law restricts Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders - those of moderate or high risk to repeat the offense - from living or working within 1,000 feet of certain facilities where children gather.
"Right now, we're at the very, very early stages of just starting to talk about it," said Warren County Attorney Paul Dusek. "We probably should take a look at it."