Monday, March 4, 2013
MD - Sex offender doesn't have to register - Judges rule it violates Constitution, ex post facto laws and is additional punishment!
By JESSICA GRESKO
A ruling Monday from Maryland's highest court calls into question a state law that requires some people to register as sex offenders for crimes committed decades ago.
The ruling means at least one man will have his name removed from the sex offender database, but other offenders may also be able to challenge their inclusion.
Maryland first created a sex offender registry in 1995, and more than 8,300 people are now in the database. Lawmakers strengthened sex offender laws in 2009 and 2010, and one of the changes made required registration for some people who committed crimes before the database's creation.
On Monday, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a man who as a junior high school teacher in the early 1980s had inappropriate contact with a 13-year-old student. The man pleaded guilty to abuse in 2006 after a former student came forward, and he went to prison for about two years.
As a result of provisions that went into effect in 2009 and 2010, the man was required to register as a sex offender. That's because while he committed his crime before the registry existed, he pleaded guilty after it was in place. He was also required to re-register every three months for the rest of his life.
A majority of the seven judges sitting on the court ruled that the man should not be required to register, but they disagreed as to why.
Three judges said in a 41-page ruling that requiring the man to register violates the Maryland Constitution. The Constitution prohibits "ex post facto" laws, which retroactively dole out punishments that weren't in place at the time an act was committed.
Two more judges agreed the man should not have to register but rested the decision both on the Maryland and U.S. Constitutions. One more judge said the man shouldn't be required to register because it wasn't part of his plea agreement. A final judge would have upheld a lower court ruling requiring the man to register.
One of the man's attorneys, Pat Cresta-Savage, said the ruling was "definitely a victory" for her client, but how it will affect others "remains to be seen." She said it seems individuals will have to challenge their inclusion on a case-by-case basis.
David Paulson, a spokesman for the Maryland Attorney General, said the office is reviewing the ruling. The office could decide not to challenge the ruling, to ask the court to reconsider or to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
See the video at the link above.
JACKSONVILLE - Four registered sex offenders were evicted from a Westside home Monday after code enforcement officers told them the house they were living in was not in compliance.
"Most people in Jacksonville don't see what sex offenders go through. Everything you see on TV is negative, but not all sex offenders are preying on children," said one sex offender evicted from the house who didn't want to be identified.
He said the city is making it harder for him and other offenders to get back on their feet. Since his release from prison in September, he's been living at the house, along with six other sex offenders who pay $600 a month each.
He said he called the code compliance office Monday morning to report a problem with the plumbing and the electricity. Instead, when officers walked in the door, their attention was drawn to something else.
"The first thing he said when he came in is he said there are too many people living in the house, the square footage isn't correct, and they'll have to get some of the people out of the house," the evictee said.
He said the places where sex offenders can live are limited in Jacksonville, and he thinks more programs should be in place to help. Code enforcement officers at the housing facility wouldn't comment Monday about the decision to evict, but instead issued us a statement.
They said the occupants were given a citation for illegal rooming inside the house and have 30 days to correct the problem. No more than five unrelated people can live in a single family house.
- What difference does it matter if the people are or aren't related? If it was a family then this wouldn't be an issue.
Code compliance officers said it's not their responsibility to relocate the occupants, only to make sure that the house is safe.
The evictee said the decision has only created more challenges for him in a society that's quick to judge and slow to forgive.
"I'm trying to get my life back together and so are offenders, but the city ordinances and housing predators are making it that much harder," he said.
By Steve Karnowski
A federal court expects Minnesota to address the continuing concerns about the constitutionality of a program that keeps many sex offenders locked up past the end of their prison sentences, the head of a task force charged with proposing improvements said Monday.
MINNEAPOLIS — A federal court expects Minnesota to address the continuing concerns about the constitutionality of a program that keeps many sex offenders locked up past the end of their prison sentences, the head of a task force charged with proposing improvements said Monday.
In an interview with The Associated Press, former Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson said the state has already started making some of the task force's proposed changes for creating less-restrictive alternatives to the state's high-security treatment facilities in St. Peter and Moose Lake.
"I don't mean to be alarmist, but I think the federal court really expects that something will happen. ... There is some sentiment, I think, at the Legislature that there is no urgency to this, that the worst that will happen is that the federal court will step in and solve the problem. And that, I think, is really misguided thinking," Magnuson said.
He said the task force doesn't see its job as lobbying for specific proposals, but that lawmakers shouldn't make the mistake of thinking they don't need to act.
"The last thing you want to do is have a federal judge take over any part of your state operations," continued Magnuson, who was chief justice from 2008 to 2010. "Because they're not in a position to be sensitive to nuances. They carve with a broad sword and not a scalpel. And they will simply say 'OK, it's got these defects, and fix them now, and I don't care how much it costs.'"
The Minnesota Sex Offender Program has survived several court challenges before. The current lawsuit, a class action on behalf of more than 600 people in the program, contends the way it works in practice fails to pass constitutional muster. The plaintiffs say they lack realistic opportunities for winning their freedom even if they successfully participate in treatment, so their indefinite commitments amount to punishment for crimes they haven't committed.
Settlement talks are expected to continue at least into the summer.
Minnesota is one of 20 states that have civil commitment programs for sex offenders, Magnuson said, and it has by far the highest per-capital commitment rate in the country. Only one person has ever had a successful conditional discharge from the program. So, the court ordered the state Department of Human Services to appoint the task force to come up with recommendations for the Legislature.
Magnuson said they're not going to recommend the release of sex offenders, but they are taking a closer look at how people get into the program, how they're handled while in it and how they might get out of it.
The task force issued its first set of recommendations in December, calling on the Legislature to provide adequate funding for less-restrictive residential and outpatient facilities and treatment programs while still meeting the needs of public safety.
"So far, the Legislature hasn't taken them up but we expect that that may happen relatively soon," Magnuson said.
Magnuson said the task force may come up with additional recommendations along those lines during the current session. But given that the Department of Human Services has already begun looking at what facilities might be out there for less-restrictive settings, he said, none of the current proposals require major legislation.
That might change, he said, when the task force considers two other topics, both of which deal with the process by which offenders enter the program and the standards and processes that might let them graduate out of it. Some potential proposals include a more consistent system for determining which sex offenders warrant civil commitments and establishing minimum qualifications for lawyers who handle commitment cases, he said.
The task force expects to issue its final report by the end of the year.
"We're just trying to figure put the best recommendations for the system that we can make. And who does what with them is beyond our charge," Magnuson said.
You can see more videos of where ex-offenders, families and children speak out here and here.
This video was NOT made to satisfy self righteous hypocrites. It is simply another way I will use to glorify God.
Lets not forget that Bill O'Reilly had his own sexual harassment law suit in which he paid off the accuser (Court Documents). I wonder what he would say if he wasn't able to do that and he wound up on the sex offender registry, loses his job, and is seen as a monster?
Mark Lunsford mentions in the video that he was able to hear his daughter calling for someone to help her? How is that possible? Oh, and he's good at crying on queue!
And lets also not forget that when Jessica Lunsford went missing, it was mentioned that child porn was found on Mark Lunsfords computer, but nothing was done about it because they say "he had been through enough!"
And his own son (Joshua) was charged with molesting an underage child (Video Below) and got a slap on the wrist of 10 days in jail and doesn't have to register. Wow, money sure helps you get out of bad situations!
By Michelle Mondo
Since she was paroled in November after more than 12 years in prison for a crime she maintains never happened, Anna Vasquez has learned that being a registered sex offender means never truly being free.
No doubt, Vasquez said, she's happy to be out of a cell, waking up in her own bed, sitting on the porch, watching fireworks on New Year's Eve.
But the stringent parole restrictions, even tougher for sex offenders, she must adhere to have gnawed at her optimism.
She said she has lost out on job offers, is constrained in where she can drive, can't visit certain family members and is blocked from going to a church, some of what would help her readjust from prison life.
On Saturday, Vasquez wasn't allowed to attend the screening of a partly completed documentary and a panel discussion about her case and the ongoing efforts to win exoneration for her and her three co-defendants, who always have professed their innocence.
The event, part of CineFestival at the Guadalupe Theater, was within 500 feet of a school, making it off limits to a sex offender.
“I'm not a child molester,” said Vasquez, 37. “I do understand the restrictions; it just sucks that I'm under that blanket. There are some sick people out there, and it's upsetting to me that I'm looked at like that, too.”
Last year, one of the four women's two accusers publicly recanted, saying the bizarre sexual assault never happened. Her testimony had helped convict Vasquez and three friends: Cassandra Rivera, 38, Kristie Mayhugh, 40, and Elizabeth Ramirez, 38. They were accused in 1994 by Ramirez's two nieces, then 7 and 9. The younger niece, now 25, has changed her story; the older sister has not commented. San Antonio Express-News stories in 2010 delved into the conflicting testimony and questionable evidence presented at the trials.
Ramirez, who was tried separately and sentenced to 37½ years in prison, isn't eligible for parole for another two years. Vasquez, Rivera and Mayhugh entered prison in 2000 to serve 15-year sentences.
As the only one out of prison on parole so far, Vasquez has taken on the mantle of spokeswoman for the efforts, led by The Innocence Project of Texas, to clear all four women.
On the good days since her release, Vasquez doesn't dwell on what she's lost since 1994.
“It's sitting down with my family, sitting on the porch, cutting the grass, going to H-E-B even and shopping. Yesterday, I was cleaning out this little storage room. That was a good day,” she said.
She tries to focus on the three goals she hopes to achieve in her first six months out of prison: get a driver's license, find a job and buy her own car. So far, she's reached the first one, but the other two are more difficult than she realized.
On the bad days, when she's turned down for a job or told she won't get to CineFestival, Vasquez is reminded that she still can't live the life she wants.
“This conviction defines her,” said her attorney, Mike Ware. “She can never be free until this wrong is made right, and despite her being on parole, she's not free of that.”