Wednesday, February 13, 2013

TX - Portland Sex Offender Ordinance

Original Article

02/13/2013

By Janine Reyes

CORPUS CHRISTI - The city of Portland has come up with a way to address concerns about convicted sex offenders living in their city. Assistant City Manager Randy Wright tells us Its an ordinance that is in effect in about 200 Texas cities.

While more than 800 sex offenders live in Corpus Christi, Portland has just two.

Since Portland is much smaller than Corpus Christi, we wanted a closer look at these numbers.

Here's what we found, Portland has a population of more than 15,000 people, with just two registered sex offenders, only one actually lives in city limits.

By comparison, the 78416 zip code in Corpus Christi has a population of more than 16,000, so its fairly comparable in size, but, there are 57 registered sex offenders living there.

If we look at an even smaller area of the city, 78408 in Corpus Christi has a population of almost 11,000, with 67 registered sex offenders.

"I think what we say is that our interest is in families, our interest is in the safety of our citizens," Assistant City Manager Rand Wright explained of the ordinance when we asked if they were removing the welcome mat for sex offenders.

Five years ago, the city council decided to get tough on registered sex offenders by passing the ordinance that restricts sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools, day cares and other sex offenders.

A map of the city shows just how limited living options are for sex offenders.

When the law first went into effect, they could not force current sex offenders to leave, but over time that's exactly what happened.

Wright says when council passed the law, more than 5 offenders lived in Portland.

Now, only two come up on the state website when you type in the 78374 zip code. "Actually, we have one that lives inside the city limits now," Wright explained.

Residents convicted of a sex crime while living there have to follow the same strict guidelines. Wright says their ordinance recently forced one man out of town.

"They would have to move outside of the exclusionary area and that happened," Wright said describing a recent situation. That man used to live in a subdivision off Broadway, but once he was convicted of a sex crime and had to register as a sex offender, police measured the distance from his house to this park and because he was within a 1,000 feet, he had to go.
- So the law is an ex post facto (unconstitutional) law!

But, in Corpus Christi, we took Lantana street for example, there's a sex offender who lives in a house just 400 feet away from an elementary school, 200 feet away from another registered sex offender, and 500 feet from another sex offender. In that neighborhood alone, there are 4 registered sex offenders. They live not only hundreds of feet from each other, but also by Gibson Elementary School.

That's where we found Letty Rodriguez picking up her kids. She says she'd like to see a similar ordinance passed in Corpus Christi. "Especially now without the crossing guards or anything like that, yeah, that's definitely something every neighborhood should have," Rodriguez told us.

But city leaders in Corpus Christi don't necessarily agree with Rodriguez.

Even if Corpus Chisti leaders were to pass that ordinance today, current sex offenders would not need to move. They would be grandfathered in. If they relocated, then they would have to follow the ordinance guidelines.

Part two of our Sex Offender Ordinance Investigation will highlight responses from Mayor Nelda Martinez and the Chief of Police on this ordinance. Both say Corpus Christi does not need to follow Portland's lead.


MA - Finegold backs tougher sex offender laws

Original Article

02/13/2013

By Matt Murphy

BOSTON — With anecdotal evidence suggesting computer crimes on the rise and children facing increased risks on the Internet, a bill introduced in the Senate this session would expand the state’s asset forfeiture laws to allow prosecutors to go after the computers, cell phones, cars and homes of child predators convicted on child pornography and enticement charges.

The effort to update the law in the mold of 22 other states follows what prosecutors described as “among the worst cases of child abuse ever prosecuted” when referring to the case of [name withheld], a Wakefield resident and Level One sex offender accused of raping 13 children who he and his wife babysat in their home.

The [name withheld] case has also spawned calls from lawmakers for reforms of the Sex Offender Registry Board.

Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover, and Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian are teaming up to push an expansion of the state’s asset forfeiture laws to include criminal convictions on child pornography and enticement cases, hoping to divert any revenue collected to computer crime investigation and prosecution.

As a parent you want to do everything you can to protect your children. Like most kids, my kids are on their iPad, their iTouches and it’s scary out there. I think we need to give the law enforcement people, the district attorney and attorney general the tools they need to prevent these heinous crimes,” Finegold said yesterday, sitting down in his office with Koutoujian to discuss the bill he has filed this session.

Under state law, prosecutors can seek judicial approval to seize the assets of defendants convicted on controlled substance or human trafficking offenses, but not child pornography. The bill would extend the current law to include those types of cases, generating a modest revenue stream to help fund what Koutoujian described as underfunded and understaffed computer crimes units.

The money collected through property seizures of cell phones, computers, cars, and in some cases homes used in the commission of the crime could also be used under the proposal for victim services and digital literacy education programs for families.

I don’t believe this is going to be any kind of cash cow,” Koutoujian said.

According to the Massachusetts Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce, the State Police in 2012 made 16 arrests, received 134 tips, conducted 44 investigations and performed 318 forensic examinations in Middlesex County alone on child cyber-crimes. Statewide, there were 60 arrests, 1,553 investigations and 483 computer exams in 2011.
- And how many convictions? Just because you are arresting tons of people doesn't mean they are all convicted or guilty!

It’s terrifying that one out of every seven children who are regular Internet users will receive a sexual solicitation on the Internet and that’s why we need to push for legislation like this,” Finegold said.
- And what they don't tell you is that most are solicited by peers, not some stranger.

Finegold said he and his wife were researching day care options for their one-year-old son when the [name withheld] story broke. “It shocks the system,” Finegold said.

As many as 22 other states have similar laws on the books, including neighboring Connecticut. Koutoujian said the threat of asset forfeiture could also serve as a deterrent.
- Yeah right, it's not a deterrent for drug dealers / users, so why do you expect us to believe it will be here?