Monday, February 20, 2012
By Jessica Machetta
Lawmakers are proposing thinning out the state sex offender registry so that only dangerous offenders would be listed for public distribution.
- Good, that is how is should be in the first place, but, if you think about it, those who are so dangerous they need monitoring, should have been evaluated by professionals, then sentenced to longer in prison, or civil commitment. Then we would not need the registry in the first place. Someone intent on committing a crime, will do so, regardless of the registry or any other law.
Chairman of the Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee Rodney Schad (R-Versailles) is proposing the state go to a tiered system, ranking sex offenders by how dangerous they are or how likely they are to re-offend.
He says the committee has been working with experts over the past 18 months and has heard enough testimony to know that the registry does not reduce recidivism, does not keep people from re-offending, and does not keep communities safer.
- I thought the registry was about letting the public know, not reducing recidivism or keeping the public "safe?"
“With our current registry, the public is not able to sort out who the true threats are,” Schad says. “In addition, for those on the registry, the successful reintegration into the community is increasingly difficult. Indeed, some studies have found that some provisions of our current registry lead to more crime, not less. Any probation officer will tell you that the stability in work and living arrangements increase the chances of successful reintegration.”
Schad says assessing offenders and placing them on a tier system would identify those who are a true threat.
“Risk level tools are inexpensive and effective,” he says. “Tiers should be based on actuarial information … and we should limit online notification to only high-risk offenders.”
Schad also wants to move resources to monitor former offenders who are at high risk.
Clinical Psychologist Dean Rosen is one such counselor who assesses how dangerous sex offenders are. He has treated and evaluated sex offenders for family courts and social services, determining their risk of dangerousness, risk of re-offending.
Rosen says there are a lot of stigmas attached to sex offenders that are simply not true, such as the statistical fact that most victims know their offenders. Another is that many of those who possess child pornography are looking for victims. Rosen says the majority of those offenders have never and would never make contact with anyone. He admits it’s tough to get the public to believe otherwise.
Sheriff of Cape Girardeau County and President of the Missouri Sheriffs Association John Jordan agrees, saying the current registry gives people a false sense of security. He used the analogy of holding a box of 100 spiders when in fact only a few of them are poisonous. He too admits the registry process is something that needs changing, but “It scares folks when you do it.”
Schad’s bill (PDF) “Requires the classification of sexual offenders, establishes the Sex Offender Classification Board, creates the Sex Offender Classification Fund, and changes the laws regarding sexual offender registration.”
Missouri Citizens for Reform and Missouri Family Network testified in favor of the measure; no one spoke in opposition.
The Department of Public Safety, Missouri Sheriff’s Association, and Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence spoke for informational purposes only and suggested improvements to the bill.
For instance, Colleen Coble with the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence suggests that a provision of the bill that identifies offenders who were “No threat of force” not include those who have drugged their victims, or “who chose a vulnerable victim who was not able to consent.”
Coble also stressed the importance of victims’ need to be notified if an offender is removed from the registry.
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Ask yourself this, why are they homeless in the first place? Many are probably homeless due to the very laws being passed, which prevents them from getting a job and/or home.
By Diane Moca
OAK CREEK - Police say homeless sex offenders are hard to track and have been found hanging out at places less than half a mile from a school.
"They could be living anywhere, and we wouldn't know it," said Detective Ann Golombowski.
Police and the public are supposed to know where registered sex offenders live through Wisconsin's Sex Offender Registry.
Officers say they are frustrated by a big loophole in the registry.
"I don't like the idea that they don't have to have an address because of course it's harder to track them," noted Det. Golombowski.
A Wisconsin Appeals Court ruled homeless sex offenders do not have to follow the law requiring them to report their address.
Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards called the ruling "ridiculous."
The court said only a small amount of offenders would be affected.
"How do we know that?" challenged Det. Golombowski. "We don't know that. We don't know how many... I think there's more than you think."
Police say [name withheld] served time for having sex with a 13-year-old and is supposed to report his address to the registry every year.
But the detective says [name withheld] is "homeless," so he's only required to reveal the town where he happens to be during a weekly phone call.
CBS 58 went looking for [name withheld] at places where he had been spotted before with no luck.
Police say he lives in his truck, and they've seen him or his unoccupied vehicle stuffed with his belongings six times from January 2011 to January 2012.
"We probably had more contacts with him now that he's homeless than when we were making checks on him," explained Det. Golombowski.
She said [name withheld] has proven more elusive.
The detective said she noticed his name suddenly appear in the registry's listings for Oak Creek.
"I contacted the state. When did this guy move in? I want to do a face-to-face with him. His charge is second degree sexual assault of a child, and he's living in an area he's not allowed to live. Right after that it got changed. He's homeless again," she described.
CBS 58 went to the address [name withheld] previously listed and met his mother, who said he stays with a friend in West Allis.
Neighbors say they've seen [name withheld] at his mom's house, which is on a block full of kids and right behind an elementary school.
"He walks around, goes back; I think I've seen him shovel snow once in a while," said Bob Duvnjak.
Police say [name withheld] had sex with a 15-year-old when he was 20 years old, even after a court ordered him to have no contact with the girl.
The detective said [name withheld] should have to report his friend's address in West Allis instead of declaring he's homeless.
"A lot of them go underground because they don't want to have to be coming in," she noted.
The detective said California sex offender Adam Eckard stopped by her police station after he got a ride into town.
"He's a drifter; he's hitch hiking in Iowa, and two people that live in Oak Creek decide to pick the guy up and bring him home with them. He has been arrested in four states for sex offenses against children," said Det. Golombowski.
Police say they checked a national crime database and found nothing but prior convictions, so he walked out of the police station.
"He likes to expose himself. He likes to masturbate in front of kids, and he's out and about," she lamented.
The detective said she dug around for a couple days and discovered he was wanted in Utah for not reporting his address, but it was too late.
"He's already out of here. He's back in Illinois," she described.
That's why she hopes the United States will create a proposed national sex offender registry to track all of them, including the ones the detective says served very little prison time before sentencing laws changed.
"It was minimal, and I was like: You gotta be kidding!"
Motion to suspend Rules in order to take up HF-2394 (Lohmer) Relating to public safety; requiring community notification when a person is released from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program; passage of HF-2394.
- House backs Lohmer bill requiring sex-offender notification
- Minn. House passes sex offender notification bill (Bill Passed)
Maybe I missed it, but I don't see anything that says they are "removing" residency restrictions.
By Mary Ann McGivern
The Missouri legislature is debating a bill, HB 1700 (PDF), that would end restrictions on where convicted sex offenders can live. It would remove juveniles from the public registry. It would create four tiers of registrants, ranging from those least likely to re-offend to those who are assessed to be a continued threat to public safety. It would publish the top two tiers on a website, but not their workplace addresses. It would provide paths to get off the registry, which right now, is a lifetime listing.
Missouri's registry, like most across the country, has grown large. It has 16,000 names, including the foolish who urinated in the vicinity of a parking lot security camera, enraptured high school partners (one of whom is 18) and dangerous predators. The sheer number as well as the range of crimes makes the list as it is useless.
The Crime Prevention & Public Safety committee has held numerous hearings and meetings about the registry in the last year. Committee members agree that neither housing restrictions (like living no closer than two blocks from a school) nor public website listings enhance public safety.
While the intent of Congress in creating the registry was to inform the public instead of extending punishment on the offender, the registry is a continued public shaming, an enormous burden to families and a severe obstacle to employment. What business wants to be listed as a place where a sex offender works?
The assessment to place persons in tiers would rely on counselors trained to use assessment tools to measure the likelihood of future behavior. It would use risk, not past behavior, to determine rank.
One of the consequences is that Missouri could lose $500,000 in federal money. States not in substantial compliance with the Adam Walsh Act (SORNA) will lose 10 percent of highway patrol aid. Whether the feds would consider the above to be substantial compliance is the question. Another consequence could be that legislators are accused of being "soft on crime" and voted out of office.
Hopefully this case will turn out like the recent one in Louisiana?
By Russ McQuaid
Federal lawsuit seeks access to social media for sex offenders
Indianapolis - An Indianapolis sex offender has filed a federal lawsuit challenging his lifetime ban from social media sites like Facebook.
The offender, named anonymously as John Doe, was convicted of two counts of child exploitation in 2002. He was incarcerated through 2003 and released in 2004.
The suit claims John Doe is suffering socially and professionally because of the ban.
"He is a businessperson and as a businessperson he would like to participate in the business networks that allow you to get your name out and network with other people," said Ken Faulk, American Civil Liberties Union. "Is that person going to be bared from communicating in the 21st Century? That seems to be a significant price to pay to violate the First Amendment."
Marion County Sheriff John Layton is charged with maintaining the sex offender registry.
"This is an extension of an incarceration. If the judge has ruled that this is a lifetime report, that this person is on here for life, this is an extension of that jail time itself in one way or another taking freedoms away from people who decided to violate and go against society," said Layton.
On Tuesday, a federal magistrate will hear a motion for John Doe to keep his identity secret while fighting the First Amendment access case. The suit also seeks class action status to represent more than 1,100 registered sex offenders in Marion County.