In 1947 California became the first state to implement a public sex offender registry. Today with over 93,000 people, our state has more registered sex offenders than any other. The laws are meant to keep kids safe but some local parents may be shocked to find out that even common adolescent stunts such as sexting or risque Facebook pictures can sentence a teenager to a life on the list.
Saturday, November 3, 2012
By Mark Wilder
CAMDEN (WSFA) - Former State Representative James Thomas has been convicted of having sexual contact with a student under the age of 19.
Thomas was convicted in Wilcox County Court this morning at around 10:30, Judge Jack Meigs, presiding.
Judge Meigs placed Thomas in the Wilcox County Jail pending sentencing on December 13. As a part of the conviction Thomas must now register as a sex offender with notification.
On Thursday jurors began deliberating the fate of the former legislator accused of sexually abusing a 17-year-old honor student at the school where he was principal.
In closing arguments Wilcox County District attorney Michael Jackson said former Democratic Rep. James Thomas of Selma forced the female student to touch his penis and talked provocatively to her behind the closed doors of Wilcox-Central High School's principal's office.
Defense attorney Lewis Gillis of Montgomery asked jurors to find Thomas innocent. He said the woman's testimony was filled with inconsistencies with her earlier statements and with other witnesses.
The woman, now 19, testified Thomas kissed her, caressed her hair and put her hand on "his private parts."
Circuit Judge Jack Meigs declined a motion to dismiss charges.
HOUSTON (AP) - The city of Houston has reached a $3.1 million settlement with a man who spent more than 17 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit.
[name withheld] was wrongly convicted and sentenced to 60 years in prison on the basis of what the city now describes as a faulty analysis of DNA evidence by the city crime lab.
[name withheld] was freed on the basis of new DNA evidence in 2004. He was ineligible for state compensation, though, because the city was appealing a $5 million federal jury verdict returned in 2009.
Friday's settlement ends [name withheld]'s legal battle. Mayor Annise Parker says that "anyone with any compassion has to offer a heartfelt apology."
John Shott, new CJAB coordinator, and Adult Probation Chief Sally Barry (Email) presented a $3,329 grant to update software in order to help implement the Adam Walsh Act and Megan's Law. While the State Police will send letters to all currently registered sex offenders, it will be up to the County to register new offenders, which will take 45 minutes-1 hour, in order to collect fingerprints, photographs, DNA...at Central Booking, the only approved County site other than the State Police. It would not be cost effective to transport offenders in County custody to the State Police. If an offender is currently under supervision of a County APO, they shall collect the registration information and forward to the PA State Police. Since Central Booking has the needed $30,000 Clean Machine, it would be impractical to book offenders at Adult Probation or the prison. This unfunded mandate will add another burden to a department that costs the County $500,000 annually while bringing in less than $300,000 annually. Further, the reporting requirements of the Act are retroactive for all offenders. Finally, new offenses like open lewdness and statutory sexual assault must be documented. The Act takes effect 60 days from December 20, 2012.