Thursday, April 4, 2013

TX - Laws to track sex offenders go social

Original Article


By Erin Mulvaney

Texas lawmakers working to toughen laws that police the daily lives of sex offenders are taking their fight online with bills aimed at social media and the Internet.

"With the evolving technology and increasing number of cyber crimes and crimes committed against the vulnerable, the goal is to extend the same policy we have for sex offenders now to the Internet," said Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio. "It's a good, old-fashioned case of being pro-active on crime."
- If that was the case, then he'd also make murderers, gang members, identity thieves, and other ex-felons announce their criminal past on their social profiles as well.  Our opinion is this is just another politicians trying to make a name for himself by exploiting fear, children and ex-offenders.

To that end, Martinez Fischer filed House Bill 23 (PDF), which would require registered sex offenders who use social media to include their registration information, including offenses and home addresses in the profile information accessible to other users.
- And since Facebook has in their terms of service that ex-sex offenders cannot use their site, this is basically denying them the right to use social networks.

The bill is one of nearly a dozen filed in Austin this session, aimed at the roughly 72,000 registered sex offenders across Texas.

Among them are proposals to eliminate parole for repeat sex offenders and reinforce the authority of cities to restrict where registered sex offenders can live.

Since about 2005, Texas and other states have sought to tighten laws governing sex offenders' daily lives, mostly targeting mandatory minimum sentences and restricting where they can live and work. Such laws were passed before that year.

Opponents of such measures argue that registrants are unfairly being stigmatized and their rights restricted too broadly. Efforts should be focused on those likely to re-offend and to decrease the number of people on sex offender registries, said Mary Sue Molnar, executive director of Texas Voices for Reason and Justice.

"I think there are always a few who believe toughening up sex offender laws will make a difference," Molnar said. "They are not looking at the real solution or the real problem."

CT - Gun offender registry would be concealed from public

Original Article

Either we should have an online registry for all ex-felons, or none!


By Ed Jacovino

HARTFORD - The bipartisan package of gun control, mental health, and school security measures that cleared the General Assembly overnight also creates a statewide registry of people convicted of a slew of gun crimes.

But that list would be kept for police use only, and wouldn’t be publicly available under the state’s freedom-of-information laws -- even though much of the data on the registry would be public information anyway.

That’s unlike the state’s sex-offender registry, which residents can access online to see whether any people convicted of sex crimes live in their neighborhood or near their child’s school.

The legislature has a lengthy list of bills before it to shut down transparency in this state,” said Chris Van de Hoef, a lobbyist for the Connecticut Daily Newspapers Association. “Add this registry, which is loaded with information I assume the public would be interested in, to the list of information the legislature wants to keep secret.”

Supporters of the gun control legislation, including Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, described the registry as the first of its kind in the country. City police chiefs have asked for it for years, and now the legislature has delivered, he said.

The registry would take effect in January. People convicted of crimes using a deadly weapon would have to file their fingerprints, criminal record, and home and email addresses with the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection within 14 days of being released from any prison sentence.

Those on the list would have to re-register every year by going to their local police departments and verifying or changing the information. And people on the registry who change their name or move also would have to notify the state about the change.

During debate on the bill Wednesday, Sen. Robert J. Kane, R-Watertown, questioned why the list would be private.

Why wouldn’t we have that information available to our public?” he asked.

Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, indicated he would be open to making the list public in a future bill. But that would have to be debated at another time, he said. The bill the Senate approved limited access to the registry to police.

The purpose of this was as a tool for law enforcement,” Williams said.

Kane responded, saying the list should be public.

I think it’s important because we’re talking about bad guys here,” he said. “I think the public has a right to know.”

See Also:

UK - Police officer Steven Kellock put on sex offenders register

Steven Kellock
Original Article


A police officer who sexually assaulted a 15-year old girl in an Edinburgh cinema during a church trip, has been placed on the sex offenders' register.

Steven Kellock, 40, pled guilty to touching the girl on her arm, legs and breasts over her clothing and touching her stomach under her clothing.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard the assault took place at the Vue Cinema at the Ocean Terminal on 16 December 2012.

The former Lothian and Borders Police constable will be sentenced in May.

The girl was part of an 18-strong group from an East Lothian church, who were on an outing to see the film "The Hobbit".

Kellock, a church elder, had driven her and some others to the cinema as the girl's father, a friend of his, had been unable to.

Fiscal Depute, Pauline Shade, said Kellock sat next to the girl then began stroking her leg.

The fiscal said: "At that point she was not concerned, she thought of it as being a friendly gesture and nothing else".

Kelleck then moved his hand to her upper thigh. "At this point the girl felt things were going too far and became uncomfortable", Ms Shade said.

Car journey
The teenager tried to move further away from Kellock by turning her back on him.

He stopped touching her for a while and she did not tell a friend what was happening.

He began touching her on the arms and legs and then placed his hand under her top and rubbed her stomach.

The fiscal said the girl got up and went to the toilet, but when she returned, Kellock again began touching her arms and legs. She pretended she had to go and answer her mobile, but when she came back he continued to stroke her arm.

On the car journey back, when the car stopped at a petrol station, the girl texted a friend and told her what had been going on. The friend contacted girl's parents and they phoned the police.

The fiscal said that when Kellock reported for duty on 19 December, he was told of the allegations and suspended from duty.

Ms Shade added that Kellock claimed to be full of remorse for the hurt caused to the girl, her family and his family.

Sheriff Roderick Macleod deferred sentence for background reports until May, but ordered Kellock to register as a sex offender.

IA - ‘Romeo and Juliet’ sex offenders could see shorter parole sentences under legislation advancing in Iowa House

Original Article


By Jason Noble

Teenagers convicted of sex crimes for engaging in consensual relationships with younger teens could have their lifetime parole lifted under legislation advancing in the Iowa House.

The bill is being pushed by a Davenport man who was convicted of lascivious acts with a child following what he describes as a short, consensual relationship with a 13-year-old high school freshman while he was an 18-year-old high school senior in 2008.

The conviction has placed [name withheld], who appeared before lawmakers in a series of hearings on Wednesday, on lifetime parole, requiring him to check in regularly with a parole officer, limiting his contact with his own son and effectively banning him even from family functions in which children are present.

I’m wanting to move on with my life and I’m wanting to raise my son,” said [name withheld]  who’s now 23. “That’s the main cause for me being up here – to raise my child.”

Under Senate File 385 (PDF), [name withheld] and offenders with similar backgrounds could receive an early discharge from lifetime parole, removing the restrictions on their movements and interactions with children. It also could allow their removal from the state sex offender registry.

The process would run through the courts system, giving judges discretion to allow or deny the discharge and offering victims an opportunity to testify. To be eligible, offenders would have to complete sex offender treatment and be rated as a low risk to reoffend.

Democrats and Republicans alike were largely in favor of the change. Bill handler Joel Fry, R-Osceola, described it as a necessary correction to aspects of current law that burden young offenders for life.

This bill is an (attempt) to try and rectify some legislation that took place a number of years ago that cast a very wide net,” Fry said. “Many people have gotten trapped under this law, and there are not able to be with children today and not able to get certain occupations or jobs because of that.”

The measure won approval in both a House public safety subcommittee and the full Public Safety Committee on Wednesday. It’s already passed the Senate, meaning approval on the House floor could move it to Gov. Terry Branstad to be signed into law.

NM - Governor signs sex offender registration bill

Original Article


SANTA FE (AP) - Gov. Susana Martinez has signed legislation that will require convicted sex offenders who move to New Mexico to register with authorities for the crimes they committed in other states.

The governor said Wednesday the new law closes a loophole that had allowed some out-of-state sex offenders to avoid registration in New Mexico. The measure also will require offenders to supply authorities with more information, including their email addresses and monikers used on social networking site.

The new law takes effect in July.

Currently offenders must register with law enforcement if they've been convicted of certain sex crimes in New Mexico or the equivalents of those crimes in other states. However, a state Supreme Court ruling last year highlighted problems in determining whether out-of-state crimes fall under New Mexico registration requirements.

TX - Conservative Think Tank Supports Less Sex Offender Disclosure

Original Article


By Emily DePrang

Texas lawmakers have filed more than a dozen bills this session that augment or add restrictions to the behavior of registered sex offenders, of whom Texas now has over 72,000. That’s normal—sex offenders don’t have a lot of constituent clout and making them list their status on a driver’s license or social media profile is a low-cost, low-risk way to look tough on crime.

What’s unusual is that the Texas Senate recently passed a bill that would remove employer information from the public registry. Senate Bill 369 (PDF) is by Houston’s Democratic state senator John Whitmire. Right now, you can look up an offender’s name, race, height, weight, hair color, eye color, shoe size, home address, birth date, and employer name and address. Dropping the last two wouldn’t be for the good of offenders, but of the businesses they work for.

The employer didn’t commit an offense,” says Marc Levin, director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for Effective Justice. “There’s a lot of concern about employers being harassed, vigilantism. Certainly there are a lot of studies showing that families of sex offenders have been subject to harassment and even criminal activity.”

Levin says the House version of the bill, HB 879 (PDF), also met enthusiastic support in committee.

The risk that a sex offender may reoffend is actually lower if they’re employed,” Levin says, so along with protecting employers, the reform may increase public safety.

But that kind of pragmatism is a slippery slope toward reality-based policy. No research has ever suggested, let alone proved, that public sex offender registries prevent crime or reduce recidivism. (Check out “Life On the List,” our cover story from last June, for extensive documentation of what the list doesn’t do.) And research does show that the perennially popular laws restricting offenders’ movement, employment, schooling and home hinder successful reintegration.

The registry continues to swell, and all that monitoring takes public money and law enforcement time and attention. So will the TPPF, a free-market think tank that has supported a variety of right-on-crime reforms, ever oppose the registry itself?

We haven’t gotten into the question of whether we should have one,” Levin says. “But there is a concern that the registry encompasses too many people that aren’t predators to be effective.”