Tuesday, May 7, 2013

PA - Bucks lawmaker wants broader community notification for registered sex offenders

Frank Farry
Original Article


By Jo Ciavaglia

A Bucks County lawmaker wants the state’s sexual offender community notification law broadened to include where registered sexually violent predators work and receive behavior health treatment.

Rep. Frank Farry, R-142, on Tuesday said he plans to speak with the executive director of the House judiciary staff to look at what options are available to give local communities more ability to regulate where sex offender treatment centers are located.

Obviously you don’t want it in proximity to residential areas or places where children congregate,” he said, adding he doesn’t have a timeline for introducing a bill.

Farry’s district includes Hulmeville, where residents recently learned about the existence of an outpatient center that treats sex offenders, including sexually violent predators. The center, Resources for Human Development, had been operating for a year without the knowledge of local officials or police or a use and occupancy permit.

Megan’s Law gives states the discretion to establish criteria for community disclosure, but they are compelled to make private and personal information on registered sex offenders publicly available.

Pennsylvania has no restrictions on where centers that treat sex offenders or sexually violent predators can be located.

The state’s Megan’s Law website lists the home and employer addresses of all registered sex offenders and sexually violent predators, but community notification is required only where a sexually violent predator or sexually violent delinquent child lives.

At a minimum, Farry said, outpatient centers treating sexual offenders should be required to notify local police and government officials that they are conducting business in a community. He plans to investigate whether other states have enacted broader public notification or distance provisions for sex offender treatment centers.

Pennsylvania has 403 registered sexually violent predators on parole or probation, according to the Megan’s Law website, which is maintained by Pennsylvania State Police. Five are registered as living in Bucks County including one incarcerated at Bucks County prison; Montgomery County has 28 registered SVPs (as they are known), including 17 who are inmates at Graterford prison.

Resources for Human Development is one of four behavioral health providers in Bucks County with state certification to treat individuals deemed sexually violent predators, according to the Pennsylvania Sexual Offenders Assessment Board, which licenses the centers.

Hulmeville council members on Monday said that RHD’s director claims no sexually violent predators are currently in treatment at its Reetz Avenue office. The center treats other individuals with deviant sexual behavior, including convicted sexual offenders.

RHD also provides other human and behavioral services, including programs for recovering substance abusers, the homeless and people with intellectual disabilities. It operates other treatment centers for people with “problematic sexual behaviors and family abuse” in Montgomery County and Philadelphia, and referral sources include probation and parole offices.

The newspaper was unsuccessful Tuesday in reaching Meghan Dade, executive director of the state’s Sexual Offenders Assessment Board.

Pennsylvania defines a sexually violent predator as a sexual offender who has been determined by the court, after evaluation by the Sexual Offenders Assessment Board, to have a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes the person likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offenses.

Under the law, SVPs, once released from prison, are required to attend monthly outpatient counseling sessions for the rest of their lives in a program approved by the state assessment board.

MA - Close loopholes in sex offender registration

Original Article


A reasonable person would believe that a person convicted of a sex crime would have to register as a sex offender. But that's true for all of them, as a recent case in Massachusetts illustrates.

[name withheld] recently pleaded guilty to indecent assault and battery on a person over the age of 14 and received two years of probation. The more serious charge of rape was dropped. The judge granted [name withheld]'s lawyer's request that [name withheld] not have to register as a sex offender.

State laws in Massachusetts and some other states allow some sex offenders who plead guilt or no contest, or who are not sentenced to jail time, to avoid the Sex Offender Registry Board.

It's legal loopholes like these that make victims advocate Laurie Myers' blood boil. She believes giving judges the discretion to let a convicted sex offender avoid the registry flies in the face of the sex-offender law's intent: to inform the public about sex offenders living in their community.

"I've seen this loophole used many times, and it's pretty much a get-out-of-jail-free card for offenders," Myers told us last week. "They got a break with their sentence, because the only way to qualify is to get probation. They didn't serve any jail time, then they're relieved of the obligation to register."

She also believes the Sex Offender Registry Board can do a better job categorizing sex offenders -- Level 1 is less likely to reoffend, Level 2 might reoffend and Level 3 is more than likely to reoffend -- because judges often might have only the specifics of the case before the court, rather than a more complete history of the offender. The board, on the other hand, considers more than 20 factors when classifying a sex offender.

"All of the victims we work with don't want another person to be victimized," Myers said. "The whole registration part of it is almost, to them, as important as the sentence ... or lack thereof."

State legislatures must close these loopholes. Convicted sex offenders don't need an escape clause from a law developed to keep the public informed about potentially dangerous people living next door.

WI - Sex-offender bill passes Assembly

Original Article


MADISON - The Wisconsin state Assembly has passed a bill requiring registered sex offenders to notify school officials before going onto school grounds.

The measure (AB-11) passed Tuesday on a 95-1 vote. Rep. Fred Kessler, D-Milwaukee, was the lone no vote.

Bill sponsor Rep. Joel Kleefisch said the goal is to give schools information about the presence of sex offenders that they don’t get now. He says many people don’t realize it’s not already the law for sex offenders to let schools know when they will be in a building, recreation area or other piece of property.

First-time violators would be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, publishable by up to nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine.

No one registered to lobby against the bill.

See Also:

CO - Law considered to make it harder for sex offenders to remove names from registry

Original Article


By Mark Meredith

DENVER - It’s a list that’s meant to protect communities and punish convicted sex offenders but some believe it’s too easy for former criminals to remove themselves off the state registry.

It mortifies me and it terrifies me,” said Marilyn Spittler in an interview with FOX31 Denver after learning her ex-husband, a convicted sex offender wanted to remove his name of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s public list.

Spittler contacted KDVR after learning [name withheld], who was convicted of a sex crime in the 1990s, had petitioned Douglas County in April to remove his name from the state offenders list through a judge’s permission.

I was shocked. I had no idea that it was even possible to petition the court,” Spittler said after learning about her ex-husband’s request. The request though, according to data from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, may be more common than many people are aware.

According to a CBI spokesperson, since 2006, over 2,300 people have been removed from the state’s registry. Now, at the request of Marilyn Spittler, state lawmakers are considering changing the rules and allowing a district attorney to block the request for removal from the list.

I would like to remove my name, given that opportunity,” [name withheld] said in an interview with FOX31 Denver in early April. More than a month later, [name withheld] has since removed his request to have his name cleared by a judge.

Since his release, [name withheld] has complied with state laws and provided law enforcement with updated pictures and addresses. [name withheld] has even notified his neighbors about his status in order to remain in compliance with sex offender laws.

I think that over twenty years, I’ve given to the community a lot and I’m ready to move on,” added the 54-year-old businessman.

On Monday, a draft of amendment was released that would modify state law and make it harder for previously convicted offenders to remove their names.

As of late Monday afternoon it was not introduced by lawmakers because of unrelated discrepancies.

PA - Hulmeville residents vow to continue efforts to rid town of sex offender treatment center

Original Article


By Jo Ciavaglia

Hulmeville Council members say they were told an outpatient treatment center that is state licensed to treat sexually violent predators currently does not have any clients that meet that definition.

But the news did little to calm the nerves of at least 100 residents who packed Monday’s borough council meeting room to demand action to evict Resources for Human Development.

Many didn’t know that the center — which treats deviant sexual behavior and sex offenders — existed until recently. Most called the current location — in a largely residential area — inappropriate.
- And it was never a problem, until now?

Some vowed to picket and patrol the area surrounding the Reetz Avenue office building on nights when counseling meetings are held. Others requested police presence at the building on the center’s meeting nights. Nearly 160 people on Monday night signed a petition calling for the building’s landlord to evict the center.

Resident David Goodman says his 8-year-old son is scared to go to the bus stop alone now.
- Because you've put fear into his heart.

What are we going to do to protect the community,” he added.

Another resident claimed that the center’s clients loiter on the property and nearby streets after the meetings.
- What's wrong with that? People usually congregate after meetings.

I almost feel like they’re casing the neighborhood,” one woman said.
- Wow, you need to get a life!

TX - House OK’s ‘Justin’s Law’ for repeat sex offenders

Original Article


Legislation to impose tougher penalties for repeat sex offenders is advancing in the Texas House.

Nacogdoches Republican Travis Clardy’s House Bill 1302 (PDF) received initial approval Monday via voice vote.

The proposal toughens state sex offender laws by making it an automatic sentence of life without parole for a second conviction involving a violent sexual assault of a child under 14. The bill covers violent crimes such as sexual assault, sex trafficking and kidnapping.

On Monday, Clardy summed up the proposal: “two strikes and you’re out for life.”

The bill, dubbed “Justin’s Law,” was prompted by the 2010 death of 12-year-old Justin Bloxom. Prosecutors say Bloxom was kidnapped and killed in Louisiana by a twice-convicted sex offender who drove a cab and used text messages to lure the boy into his taxi.

Clardy’s bill also prohibits repeat child sex offenders from working at amusement parks or seeking employment as cab, bus, or limo drivers. Similar proposals filed in the boy’s name have already been passed in Louisiana and Oklahoma.

The Texas bill still needs to clear a final House vote before moving to the Senate.