Monday, December 10, 2012
So when is the sex offender moral panic and witch hunt going to stop? Every single year politicians are passing more and more laws to further punish, demonize, exile and ostracize ex-sex offenders, been doing it for many years now, and wasting tons and tons of tax payer money, and we wonder why we are about to jump off the cliff?
By Jona Ison
CHILLICOTHE — Recent Supreme Court decisions likely will result in some changes to past classifications and sentences for sex offenders.
The decisions were released along with several other Ohio Supreme Court decisions as part of a year-end transition process. The decisions clarify some issues regarding the changeover from Megan’s Law to the Adam Walsh Act regarding sentencing and classifications of sex offenders.
In one case, the court’s decision clarified that any sex offense committed between the July 2007 repeal of Megan’s Law and the January 2008 effective date of the Adam Walsh Act shall be classified under Megan’s Law. An earlier ruling by the court had determined the law under which offenders are classified is determined by when the act was committed, not when the conviction occurs.
In a different case, the court ruled that when offenders are classified under Megan’s Law and violate address notification rules under that law, the offender must be sentenced under the penalty provisions of Megan’s Law, not the Adam Walsh Act.
However, another case ruling determined any indictments charging a violation of notification requirements of the Adam Walsh Act of offenders classified under Megan’s Law continue to be valid. The court reasoned the indictments were valid because the two laws have identical address change notification requirements.
Ross County Prosecutor Matt Schmidt said the rulings “seem consistent” with past rulings. As the state moved from Megan’s Law to Adam Walsh, there was a flurry of changes back and forth.
“It’s created a massive headache,” Schmidt said.
At first, all offenders were re-classified under the Adam Walsh Act (which carries a three-tier classification), but then a court ruling determined that was unconstitutional. As a result, those offenders had to be reverted back to classification under Megan’s Law.
The Megan’s Law classification system requires a sexual classification hearing and the judge determines the classification of the offender, such as sexual predator.
The new rulings, however are unlikely to create such a large issue.
Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk (Facebook) anticipates his office will see some motions filed on past cases, but not an overwhelming amount.
“I’ll imagine we’ll see a few,” Junk said.
Cases where any of the issues are present will not automatically be altered. Defendants will need to file a motion for a change.
“It’s not our jobs to hunt them down and inform them of the changes in the law,” Junk said.
Sex offenders seeking more information about the rulings and how to file something in their case can contact their individual attorneys or the Office of the Ohio Public Defender at 800-686-1573 or visit www.opd.ohio.gov.
By Eric Nicholson
In May, the Texas Observer profiled [name withheld], a 25-year-old Plano man struggling to find a job and otherwise coping with life on the Texas Department of Public Safety's sex offender registry.
His crime? Molesting his 8-year-old sister -- when he was 12.
[name withheld]'s case illustrates a flaw in the state's rules for handling sex offenses perpetrated by juveniles, the absurdity of which has been previously documented. In 2009, when the Houston Chronicle examined the issue, there were 3,600 registered sex offenders who were juveniles when their crime was committed. Eleven of those were required to register at the age of 10.
This all stems from the 1991 law that established sex offender reporting requirements and made registration mandatory for adults and juveniles. Tweaks have since been made to the law, allowing juvenile sex offenders to petition a judge to remove juvenile sex offenders from the registry, but mandatory registration, which lasts for 10 years, under current DPS rules, remains.
The rule is perplexing, both since it means that the punishment for a crime committed as a child extends well into adulthood and because the Texas Department of State Health Services concludes that "there is no compelling evidence to suggest the majority of juveniles with sexual behavior problems are likely to become adult sex offenders."
In [name withheld]' case, his inclusion on the registry has more or less ruined his life. He enrolled at Texas Tech but later dropped out after he began receiving death threats following the inclusion of his name and picture on a local TV news report about sex offenders. He got a job on a construction crew after dropping out but was soon let go. His next gig, traveling around the country and putting up wind turbines, took him to Washington for a month, where he was convicted for failing to register as a sex offender. (It's not directly addressed in the Texas Observer story, but that's presumably why he was required to remain on the registry beyond the 10 years, until the age of 31). He eventually got married and had two kids, but he still couldn't find a job.
The future's a little brighter for [name withheld] now. The Texas Observer reported Friday that [name withheld] successfully petitioned to have his name struck from the list.
By John Knefel
Thanks to the war on drugs, the war on terror and general public apathy about civil liberties, police can stomp all over your rights.
Talk to someone who has never dealt with the cops about police behaving badly, and he or she will inevitably say, “But they can't do that! Can they?” The question of what the cops can or can't do is natural enough for someone who never deals with cops, especially if their inexperience is due to class and/or race privilege. But a public defender would describe that question as naïve. In short, the cops can do almost anything they want, and often the most maddening tactics are actually completely legal.
There are many reasons for this, but three historical developments stand out: the war on drugs provided the template for social control based on race; 9/11 gave federal and local officials the opportunity to ensnare Muslims (and activists) in the ever-increasing surveillance and incarceration state; and a lack of concern from the public at large means these tactics can be applied, often controversy-free, to anyone who resists them.
What follows are 10 of the innumerable tactics the police can use against a population often incapable of constraining their behavior.
By John Crandall
Seal Beach City Council will meet in closed session Monday to talk about possibly dismantling the ban on sex offenders at parks and beaches. Los Alamitos has no plans to end its ban, mayor says.
The Lake Forest City Council voted to reverse its ban on sex offenders in city parks on last week, and Seal Beach might do the same.
The Seal Beach City Council will meet in closed sessions Monday to discuss the possibility of ending a city law that prohibits sex offenders from Seal Beach recreation areas: parks, the pier, the jetties, the beach and beach parking lots.
In March, the Council created the ordinance, which made the act a misdemeanor, on the urging of the Orange County District Attorney's Office.
“We followed along with the very strong suggestion of the County D.A.’s Office that we impose a ban on sex offenders,” said Mayor Mike Levitt in a phone interview with Patch Wednesday. “On Monday, we’re going to consider whether we were a little premature in doing it.”
According to Levitt, proponents of the ordinance told Seal Beach officials that if all cities along the coast created similar legislation, “it would be a safer beach for everyone.”
“At the time, I thought it was a good idea,” Levitt said. “It would be safer for the majority of the citizens of Seal Beach and the visitors."
Levitt said he wanted to reserve judgment on possibly dismantling the law until the Monday meeting.
“I’m not going to be really saying anything (on the reversal) at this point," he said. "I don’t want to prejudge."
The Los Alamitos City Council has no plans at this point to reverse its ordinance banning sex offenders in city parks, according to Los Al Mayor Troy Edgar.
By Cristina Maza
In March of 2013, a new law will be implemented in the state of California that ensures that every time a sex offender creates an online profile he or she has to disclose this information to local law enforcement within 24 hours. While some may cheer that Proposition 35 (PDF), also known as the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act Initiative, is a step forward to curb the impunity of sex offenders on the web, many have failed to consider the implications that a law like this could have for non-sex offenders.
As an article on this new law rightly pointed out, Proposition 35 will create a situation in which a select group of people will have their online anonymity prohibited and will be forced to publicly connect their online identity with their real life one. Given the uproar recently about Facebook’s privacy laws, people are obviously concerned about the fact that they are being forced to reveal their identities whenever they engage in any kind of online activity and that their personal details could be exposed without their knowledge.
While many may support the idea of online freedoms being revoked for those who have committed a heinous crime, it leaves one wondering whether it is only a matter of time before other social groups that law enforcement deem “threatening” are also forced to do the same. Where do we draw the line?
Recently, I wrote an article for PolicyMic about the important role the internet is playing in political mobilization and civic participation around the world. One of the main reasons that the internet has the heavy flow of traffic that it does, is because it is theoretically an anonymous medium through which people can engage in discussion about a variety of topics without having to reveal their identities.
Many times people avoid discussing politically charged issues face-to-face for fear of conflict. Removing the right to remain anonymous could adversely affect the way people use the internet for political or other forms of civic engagement.
A law like Proposition 35 not only highlights the ambiguity of online privacy laws, but puts a striking emphasis on the fact that our actual identities are increasingly connected to our online ones, whether we like it or not. While theoretically the viewing of child-porn may be curbed if online profiles are disclosed, isn’t it far more important to monitor the real life behaviour of sex offenders after they are released from prison than to ensure that they are buying the right type of online products from the right suppliers?
Somehow, I fail to understand how being aware of the Amazon user name of a sex-offender is making me, as a woman, any safer. Perhaps more energy should be put into therapy and rehabilitation than into enforcing a law that could create a precedent for violating the privacy of other citizens.
- California Proposition 35, Sex Trafficking Initiative, Blocked By Judge
- Proposition 35 And Why Anonymity Is Good For You
|Senator John Cornyn|
See question at the end of the post.
By Rudy Koski
On Friday President Obama signed a new law to crackdown on child sex offenders. The measure was pushed through congress by Texas Senator John Cornyn who also secured money for an Austin based special cybercrime fighting unit that tracks predators.
This past spring a man from the Metroplex was arrested near the corner of congress and Cesar Chavez. He was allegedly waiting for a 13-year old boy who he met on the internet.
However, the teenager was actually an undercover investigator with the Attorney General's Office. The case is still pending in Travis County District Court.
- So instead of the FBI or local police conducting investigations, we now have the AG doing it?
The special cybercrimes unit is part of a task force that searches for sex offenders. Friday morning, Attorney General Greg Abbott and Texas Senator John Cornyn announced the unit will continue to receive federal funding as part of a new law sponsored by the senator.
According to the Attorney General about 1500 arrests have been made by the unit since 2003.
"When we created this unit, I thought the message getting out to child predators would cause them to not to use the internet to assault children anymore but I'm amazed to see that some of the people we arrested we had arrested previously," Abbott said. "In fact the way our cybercrimes unit works they visit over the internet with some of the predators, and we were stunned once that one of the predators exchanging information with us said, we got to be careful about this because you know the Attorney General is looking into things like this, and so it shows the extremes some of these criminals will go to."
- They may be using the Internet to set up a meeting, but the "assault" never occurs, so your statement about them "assaulting children" is not exactly true, they didn't "assault" anybody.
The Internet Crimes against Children task force gets about half a million dollars in federal funding. State lawmakers, when they return to Austin next month, are expected to be asked to provide more money.
Senator Cornyn also said the new federal law increases the punishment for possessing child pornography to 20 years in prison and will also help stream-line investigations.
"This document (PDF Below) may prove to be the basis for getting ICAC Task Forces de-funded. Since ICAC task force investigations are usually multi-jurisdictional these standards were implemented to ensure the integrity of the investigation so it could be prosecuted in ANY jurisdiction. i.e. the investigative tactics must be legal in EVERY jurisdiction, if the tactics used aren't legal in every jurisdiction, then the investigation is "below standard" and could lead to grant money being revoked."
- Judge dismisses one online sex sting case, claims no victim was involved so no crime committed
- ICAC - Internet crimes against children program - Operational and investigative standards (PDF)
Laws meant to "protect" children are ruining their lives! So if she immediately deleted the photo, then what's the problem?
A 12-year-old student was detained by police after accidentally taking a photo of a half-naked classmate in a locker room. Though she immediately deleted the picture, she was reportedly arrested and handcuffed by the police the next day.
The unidentified student said on Thursday that she wanted to photograph herself with a friend using one of her iPhone’s two cameras, but accidentally selected the wrong lens, according to an ABC report. The result, she claimed, was an unintentionally racy picture of another young girl.
"She was just pulling down her pants, but not all the way – barely," the girl said.
The girl said she immediately deleted the picture she snapped by mistake in front of the girl involved. But on Friday, she was arrested for illicit photography.
The girl was pulled out of class at the Alice Johnson Junior High in of Harris County, Texas. Police reportedly handcuffed her, put her into a patrol car and took her into custody.
"They took me to the cop car and told me to put my hands behind my back," the 12-year-old told KRIV.
"I'd say this is akin to a child being kicked out of school for buying an aspirin," attorney Jack Carroll said. "It reminds me of the overreactive, overzealousness by school districts."
The girl has been suspended from school for three days and is being sent to an alternative school for another 30 days; her family is appealing the latter sentence.
Police refused to comment on the investigation because of the involvement of minors.
By Janice Broach
A University of Memphis student was charged with making a false report Thursday, accused of lying about a sexual assault near campus.
Students are shocked. They can't believe someone would do that, unnecessarily scaring a lot of people.
"I think it's really bad people making up stuff like that," student John Kelsey said. "I mean it's a serious matter, the things like that she accused somebody of doing."
Memphis police charged 19-year-old University of Memphis student Anne Campbell with making up a story about being sexually assaulted by an unknown man on Mynders, a busy street right where many students live with a couple of fraternity houses right in the shadow of the university.
Students were shocked to hear it was all made up.
It created a lot of fear in students who got a text or email from the university warning them of the reported attack.
"I was scared," student Savannah London said. "I'm not from around here. I didn't know what to do. My family was really nervous for me."
According to Anne Campbell's Facebook page she is in the class of 2015. She is studying English and Spanish at the University of Memphis. She went to Millington Central high. And her 20th birthday is Sunday. She is charged with filing a false police report.
"I was scared really quick and then something like this happens, she just made it up," said student Caronina Carmichael.
While students are relieved, they are not letting their guard down.
Anne Campbell is still behind bars. Police have not released a motive for the false report about the alleged sexual assault.