Wednesday, February 29, 2012

AUSTRALIA - The case against naming sex fiends

Original Article


By Michael Holcroft

The Law Institute of Victoria strongly opposes the "name and shame" push with respect to serious sex offenders.

The LIV is concerned that our children and communities are protected from serious sexual predators, but "name and shame" is not the way to achieve this.
- Mr. Holcroft works for this place, and he wrote the article, yet he puts "fiend" in the title of the article, like most reporters in Australia and the UK usually do.  For one, stop using demonizing terms like that, by you using the term and then saying you are against the "name and shame," makes you look like a hypocrite!

Being identified as a sexual predator removes an offender's motivation to rehabilitate.

Being publicly linked to a crime that is so stigmatized makes it difficult for an offender to obtain employment or accommodation.

Social ties are broken.

They are driven underground and are more likely to re-offend.

Naming and shaming could lead to public vigilante behavior.

Leave judges with discretion to order suppression.

Suppression will sometimes be ordered to protect identification of victims - some of whom may not come forward if they thought that humiliating and devastating crimes inflicted upon them would become known.

If victims do not come forward, offenders may not be punished in the first place.

Mandatory registration on the sex offenders' register and the removal of suppression orders - like other removals of judicial discretion - result in bad outcomes.

The LIV does support the sex offenders' register - but only for serious offenders, and with appropriate consideration.

In June 2011, there were 3933 offenders on the register. With 50 additions a month, there will be 5000 offenders on the register by the end of 2012 and about 6500 by the end of 2014.

I believe there are currently only 21 staff managing the sex offenders' register.

The register is awash with people who pose no risk to society - who are not serious sex offenders.

These people make it impossible to properly track the real sex offender threats.

There is a clear argument for the removal of all but serious sex offenders from the register.

Get the sexters and "Romeo and Juliet" lovers off the register.

Currently, these types of offenders are mandatorily included on the register for a minimum of eight years.

It serves no purpose, results in injustice and ruins young people's lives.
- It ruins adult lives as well.

The LIV says: leave the register, remove those who pose no real threat and then provide resources to manage and monitor those who pose a serious risk to the community.

These twin initiatives would be a far more effective way of protecting children from sex offenders - now and in the future.

CT - Deeply Flawed Sex Offender Registry Needs Rethinking

Recidivism Lies!
Original Article

It's about time someone, other than us, called out Offender Watch for their lies on recidivism.


By Tom Condon

Study shows vast majority of sex offenders don't re-offend

If you go to the state's sex offender registry, you will come away with two impressions. One is that most sex offenders are child molesters. The "Welcome" section begins; "The Department of Emergency Services & Public Protection strives to keep the children of Connecticut safe each and every day. The protection of our youngest and most vulnerable citizens is a top priority ..."

The second, and really the justification for the registry, is that sex offenders are a constant threat to re-offend. "50% of sex offenders re-offend," we learn from the presentation.

The first of these is merely misleading. There are a wide spectrum of sex offenses, from child molestation and sexual assault to prostitution and non-contact crimes such as voyeurism and public indecency.

The second, assuming we are talking about committing another sex crime, is spectacularly inaccurate. The real number of sex offenders who are convicted of another sex crime in Connecticut is not 50 percent — it is 2.7 percent. You may be surprised and you should be troubled.

The number comes from an extensive study of recidivism among sex offenders in the state (PDF) , recently completed by the Office of Policy and Management. The study tracked 14,398 men for a five-year period following their release or discharge from a Connecticut prison in 2005. In that cohort, 1,395 men had a previous arrest for a sex offense, 846 had a conviction and 746 served a prison sentence, either the one ending in 2005 or an earlier one, for a sex offense.

Looking at the 746 men who had served time for a sex crime, 27, or 3.6 percent, were arrested and charged with a new sex crime; 20, or 2.7 percent, were convicted of a new sex offense; and 13, or 1.7 percent, were returned to prison for a new sex crime. Many among the 746 committed other crimes — many for parole violations or violating the conditions of the sex offender registry — but not sex crimes.

The surprisingly low rate of recidivism among convicted sex offenders raises at least two public policy issues. Connecticut has an intensive supervision and treatment program for sex offenders, starting in prison and moving to case management in community settings. Some have criticized this approach, but some think it is making a major difference. It would be helpful to know if it is, and whether it can be applied to other kinds of criminals.

The second issue involves the sex offender registry. If the people on the registry overwhelmingly aren't the ones who are committing the new sex crimes, as the study indicates, then perhaps the registry idea needs to be reviewed.

The state's sex offender registry currently has nearly 5,400 names on it. They are not there because of the risk they pose, they are there because they committed a sex crime. The risk is assumed. But it turned out the assumption is mostly wrong.

There are, to be sure, some dangerous predators deservedly on the list. But there are also a variety of others — Internet fantasists, exhibitionists and others who are risky only to themselves.

If the registry is not protecting the public, then it might be worth weighing it against the collateral damage it imparts. Some experts have told me people will not report certain crimes such as incest to keep a family member off the list and avoid the social stigma, the modern scarlet letter.

Sex offenders trying to reintegrate into the community need decent housing and a job. Good luck. Sex offenders all too often end up in homeless shelters — and are sometimes sent back to jail for not keeping their quarterly residency forms current. A former parole board member told me of an 18-year-old was convicted for sleeping with his 15-year-old girlfriend — known as a "Romeo and Juliet" crime — who then married the girl and had a child, but couldn't go to the child's school because he was a sex offender.

Connecticut ought to consider doing what Minnesota does, which is to divide sex offenders by risk and only put the predators, the ones judged to be risks, on the public registry. And if the registry isn't providing the protection it promises, then maybe resources should be shifted to where they could do more good, perhaps to education and prevention programs in date and dorm rape, domestic violence and similar behaviors.

SC - Lawmakers OK anti-sexting bill

Original Article



COLUMBIA — Lawmakers gave initial approval Wednesday to a bill that would ban South Carolina teens from sending sexually explicit text messages.

The anti-sexting bill that was passed by a House Judiciary subcommittee would make it illegal for juveniles ages 12 through 17 to knowingly transmit sexually explicit photos. It would be a $100 fine for offenders.

The subcommittee offered little debate on the bill, which was originally introduced by Rep. Joan Brady last year. The Columbia Republican said she hopes the bill will lessen the penalty, but still teach responsibility.

Currently, a minor could be prosecuted for a felony for disseminating sexually explicit photos.

"It does not make criminals out of children who make stupid mistakes," Brady said. "We're talking about protecting young people. ... I don't think right now they realize what they're getting themselves into."

The subcommittee approved changes to the bill that would place the offenses before a family court judge, who Brady said would have more discretion than one in a circuit court.

Brady also said she hoped the bill would educate parents and help teens understand the negative emotional repercussions of messages that can sometimes constitute cyber bullying if they're forwarded along to other people.

An education component has been removed from the bill, but Brady said lawmakers were working with telecommunications companies and the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault on programs that would provide counseling for parents whose children have been arrested.

Investigators: Sex Offender Survey

Original Article

This is all good advice, but once again, not all sex offenders have harmed children.  Also, what I personally got out of this is, BE A PARENT!


Due to recent high-profile molestation stories in the news, the FOX 9 Investigators wanted to give parents information on how to protect their children from sex offenders. This is information we learned from offenders, through a survey, on how they choose and manipulate their victims.

The survey was constructed using the help of counselors and therapists who treat sex offenders. All of the people who took the survey are still in treatment.

One of the questions asked: What is the most important thing parents can do to keep their kids from being sexually abused?

Respondents said parents must learn the warning signs and should also perform background checks on anyone who cares for children.

You've heard that before -- but here's something maybe you haven't.

The second recommendation is to teach children about sex -- and the sooner the better. Each little step used by offenders pushes a child and/or leads the child into a sexual situation. If a child doesn't know what's sexual, then they can be taken advantage of. Since older children are naturally curious, abusers take advantage of that.

"This person who seems really nice and is treating them like they are teaching them or giving them information [the child doesn't] have access to, that nobody else is talking to them about. I think it is tempting for kids to sort of go along with " said Yvonne Cournoyer, program director of Stop it Now!, an advocacy group that works to prevent sexual abuse of children.

One convicted sex abuser told Fox 9 that a child who doesn't know anything about sex is at greater risk.

"In the more conservative family, the topic of sex and anything to do with that topic is very hush-hush, almost taboo. So, when anything happens, a child probably doesn't even know what is going on because it's never been brought up," said the man who spoke with the FOX 9 Investigators on a condition of anonymity.

Instructing kids about sex can be a matter of teaching them age-appropriate good touch and bad touch, but it's important to discuss it in the context of the person they know, trust, and may even like or love, rather than just focusing on strangers.

Why does that matter? Because only 6 of the 133 sex offenders surveyed were strangers to the children they abused.

"It's rarely the creepy guy down the block," advised one of the sex offenders who agreed to talk with FOX 9.

The rest of those who were surveyed were boyfriends of mothers, step parents, siblings or step siblings, friends of the family, internet acquaintances, baby-sitters, coaches or clergy.

"I think it's easier for parents to talk about the scary stranger," said Cournoyer. "Much harder to talk about that coach who is very friendly and everyone loves."

Many of the offenders said they step in and taking over some type of parenting or parental role with the children before or while violating the rights of the children in the process.

Cournoyer added, "I would even lean away from using language like 'bad guy.' I think you could even use something like, "Sometimes people don't know what's okay and not okay with children, and they might really like children and they might be very friendly and helpful at first -- but sometimes that crosses the line and becomes inappropriate. So, it's really important for you to tell me or an adult if something happens that makes you uncomfortable.'"

But how do you keep your child from being singled out by an abuser? When we asked how the offenders chose their victims, most said they simply picked whoever was available.

"Kids that come from broken homes -- shy, withdrawn, abused, whether it's emotionally or physically or sexually. Kids who are self destructive, like cutters. Kids who are neglected -- the neglected tend to crave adult attention more. All these types tend to crave adult attention because they're not getting it from home," said the second convicted sex offender who talked on the condition we don't use his name.

The strategy then involves being around to supervise. Don't let your child be the one who goes without rides home from sports practices or events, because that can give an offender an opportunity.

"A person who already had fantasies about abusing someone -- and they saw the opportunity come forth, and they took advantage of it," described Frank Weber, clinical director of CORE Professional Services.

Some respondents said they bought gifts, drugs or alcohol for their victims. They called it "grooming." Yet, the most common answer to how they hooked their victims was: They simply offered the child friendship, or offered help with family problems.

"Friendship is the primary reason and tool offenders use to abuse children," said Weber. "They are available to talk, and many children who are abused need someone to talk to."

Grooming a child to become a victim can take a long time, the survey found.

"It starts out spending more and more time together. More and more touching," said the second sex offender we interviewed. "It's a gradual build up to, toward sexual situations."

The grooming can take happen over days, weeks or months. That's the time when parents can catch the warning signs.

So what are those signs? The offenders said parents should beware of someone who:

  • spends excessive alone time with the child.
  • seems more comfortable around kids than people his own age.
  • singles out your child among a group for attention.
  • gives inappropriate gifts.
  • spends large amounts of time touching or physically playing with a child.

Yet, 92 of the 133 offenders who took the survey said no one ever questioned them about their relationships with the children that abused. Ever.

"That is astounding, and it's something that bothers me," said Weber.

Though confronting someone over suspicions is bound to be awkward, Cournoyer said in the end, that difficult conversation could save a child.

"It is better to offend an adult than keep quiet and then have a child be hurt," added Cournoyer.

The survey also asked the abusers what did they say or do to encourage their victims to keep quiet about what had been done. Many said they had to do nothing.

"The offender knew it was wrong," said Weber. "The victim knew it was wrong, but somehow, that offender is a resource for them."

He added: "Maybe that is the one person they can talk to. Maybe that is the one person who gives them rides so they can be with their friends, they can be in activities. Somehow, that person is giving them something they are not getting at home, and they don't want to lose that."

Some abusers reported telling their victim they had was a secret just between the two of them, or warned their victims they would get in trouble if they told.

The protection experts also told FOX 9 to have a "no secrets rule" in your family. Make sure your child knows that no one has the right to tell them to keep something from you -- not friends, not other family members, not clergy.

It's important to tell your child they won't be in trouble if they tell about someone who touches them in a way that is wrong. No matter how the abuse began. No matter how long it's gone on. No matter what. It is not their fault. Above all, assure them you will believe them -- especially since the surveyed abusers reported telling victims that their parents won't believe them.

"It's really frustrating at times. There are a number of cases we have dealt with where the adults believe the offender of their own children," said Weber.

It's also important to make sure your child has another adult in their life to go to in case their relationship with you has deteriorated.

Beyond educating parents, the FOX 9 Investigators' survey is also giving hope to those who oversee sex offender treatment.

"It's clear from what I've read of these results that there are offenders who want this stopped. They don't want other kids getting hurt. They can't undo what they've done, but they can contribute to this not happening again," said Michael Thompson, president of the Minnesota Association of the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. "I think that speaks to the success and improvement seen in men that engaged in sex offender treatment. I think that speaks well of treatment."

AR - How Does Arkansas Determine The Level Of A Sex Offender?

Tor - Anonymity Online

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