Saturday, June 23, 2012

UK - High-tech sex offender tracking on way

Original Article

06/23/2012

By ANDREA VANCE

The Corrections Department is sourcing cutting-edge satellite technology from the UK in time to keep tabs on serial sex offender the Beast of Blenheim.

[name withheld] is to be released from jail on September 1 despite parole board fears he will reoffend immediately, creating a huge headache for Corrections.

Two Corrections staff visited Britain last week to examine global positioning technology (GPS) used to track at-risk offenders out in the community.

Corrections chief executive Ray Smith said the department was ''full on working on it'' to bring the technology here. The monitoring had proved ''pretty effective'' in Britain, he said.

''We are very keen to get this into place as quickly as possible . I expect the [Corrections] minister [Anne Tolley] to be talking a bit more about this in the coming month or so."

''There is no question that it's coming and I think it is going to be a great next step for tracking the people that we are most worried about.''

[name withheld], 65, was sentenced to 25 years behind bars for a catalogue of sexual and violent crimes over a 25-year period including rape, stupefaction, indecent assaults, bestiality and wilful ill-treatment of a child.

The Probation Service has applied to the High Court to have [name withheld] placed under an extended supervision order for more than a decade. The case is due to be heard next month.

If that fails, the government won't need new legislation to roll out GPS tracking. Existing law allows Corrections to monitor the whereabouts of an offender using whatever technology is available at the time.

Tolley said the government was tightening up on supervision orders, and GPS tracking would be part of this.

''For the majority of offenders they work well but for a small number it could be safer to use technology, to know where they are at all times,'' she said. ''We need to remain one step ahead of these people, and GPS tracking should be a great tool for Corrections staff.''

Although she did not want to name specific offenders, she said the tracking would give the public peace of mind.

Plans were underway to build high-security units to house the most dangerous sex offenders, but this election pledge was never intended to deal with Murray. Tolley was also considering establishing a sex-offenders register.

Corrections began a GPS trial in late 2010 but had to abandon it last year because the technology was too cumbersome.

Smith said they need to ensure the devices did not lose range or drop out. He said it had other benefits, such as allowing authorities to keep track of patterns of behaviour.

''When we worry about the higher-risk people, it's the patterns of behaviour rather than what happens on one day and I think to be able to follow that will give us a lot more information.''


IL - Illinois’ sex-offender fee generates little money

Original Article

Charging someone a fee for a service they do not want, or face prison time, is basically extortion!

06/22/2012

By DAVID MERCER

CHAMPAIGN — When the Illinois Sheriffs Association pushed two years ago to raise by tenfold the annual fee law enforcement agencies charge registered sex offenders, Executive Director Greg Sullivan hoped he was about to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars for a new statewide tracking system.

That hasn’t happened.

The General Assembly and Gov. Pat Quinn in 2010 changed state law to allow towns and counties to charge a $100 annual fee, but only a relative handful of local agencies have taken advantage.

Most agencies, Sullivan said Friday, have had enough trouble collecting the old $20 annual fee, much less 10 times that amount.

If they’re not collecting the fee now, why raise it?’’ he asked.

The tracking system, Offender Watch, now lacks the $450,000 a year Sullivan had hoped to raise to pay for it. The system now lacks most of the money that was intended to run it — last year, the annual fees raised only $13,000 — and Sullivan fears he may have to shut the new system down.
- Good, we do not need an online shaming hit-list in the first place, but, this shows that police and others will use FEAR to attempt to motivate people to send in their cash!

Illinois has almost 15,300 registered sex offenders, according to Tracey Newton of the Illinois State Police. About 4,400 of them are in Cook County.

The higher fee, under the new law, is divided between the local agency and the state, including $30 of every $100 collected for the new tracking system. The system, according to Sullivan and the AG’s office, is far more sophisticated than other state law enforcement data systems.

But even the old standard Illinois fee of $10 — low compared with many states — has been seldom collected. Local agencies opt instead to allow offenders to register — and get them into the system — rather than turning away those who claimed they couldn’t pay, according to Cara Smith, deputy chief of staff for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

We just found a lot of agencies that weren’t collecting across the board,’’ she said. “And they want to know where these guys are.’’

Streator in central Illinois became the latest town to enact the higher annual fee when the City Council agreed this week.

If it’s there, we might as well take advantage of it because we have the administrative expense of (keeping the registry) anyhow,’’ Streator Mayor Jimmie Lansford said.

But he acknowledged many of the 50 registered sex offenders in the town of 14,000 may not be able to pay, or may just decide not to. And the law, he acknowledged, has no real punitive teeth for those who don’t pay.

We may get some money, we may not get any,’’ Lansford said.

If Mt. Vernon in southern Illinois is any indicator, the result will likely be some, but not much.

The small town raised its annual fee at the beginning of the year and has so far collected $1,300 from its 56 registered sex offenders, police Chief Chris Mendenall said. Under the law, just under $400 of that belongs to the city, a tiny sliver of the police department’s annual $5 million budget.

Compliance isn’t real high,’’ Mendenall said.

While a lot registered sex offenders across the state never paid the $10 fee when it was the maximum, a $100 fee would be genuinely out of reach for many, according to Amy Campanelli. She oversees the Cook County Public Defender’s Office suburban operations and sits on the state’s Sex Offender Management Board. Convicted sex offenders’ job prospects are usually dim, she said.

For our clients, who are indigent, that’s a lot of money,’’ she said.

Sullivan is skeptical of many sex offenders’ claims of indigence.
- Maybe they don't want to pay your extortion fee?

But the sheriffs association is now backing a new bill, sponsored by state Rep. Norine Hammond, R-Macomb, that would allow local agencies to set up payment plans for those who need them. For offenders who sign an affidavit saying they can’t afford to pay, payment through community service would be an option.