Thursday, June 6, 2013

VT - Sex offenders get visit from police

Original Article


By Adam Sullivan

ROYALTON - Vermont State Police Detective Sgt. Barbara Zonay and her partner are making house calls Wednesday.

"We are going to make sure that everybody is in compliance. They have to list an address with the sex offender registry and that way we know where everybody is," Det. Sgt. Zonay said.

The pair is going door-to-door, checking on registered sex offenders in the towns of Braintree and Bethel. Sex offenders are required to register with the state to be listed on the online database. They are also required to update their information at the closest state police barracks on an annual basis. These detectives, and others around the state, follow up on a regular basis to make sure the information is accurate.
- If you are not on probation/parole, don't answer any of their questions nor let them in. They are there to only verify you live there, nothing else. But, we are not legal experts either, so use your best judgement, but don't let them violate your rights.

"We do them randomly. We can do them at any time. Different places do them at different times," Det. Sgt. Zonay said.

Vermont's Sex Offender Registry was established in 1996. The online database contains the names, towns and crimes committed. The registry does not list exact addresses, but police know where they live. Currently there are 1,445 on the state's online registry.

"We have a list of 50 or 60 in Orange County and Windsor County total. But we break them up into smaller groups, that way it is manageable," Det. Sgt. Zonay said.

Of the eight registered sex offenders checked on Wednesday, four were found to be living exactly where they are supposed to be. Three were not home at the time and the state police will follow up. The eighth was not in compliance at the beginning of the day due to an address error. But after being contacted by police, the necessary changes were made.

A recent check in Addison County found that 53 out of 56 offenders were complying with their online obligations. The coordinator of Vermont's registry did not have immediate numbers for statewide compliance rates, but officials say recent improvements to the database -- which includes more information and increased access for law enforcement -- is improving compliance rates. Det. Sgt. Zonay says it's making the public safer. "It is definitely a reason to do it and to make sure that the sex offenders know that we are paying attention too," she said.
- Most ex-offenders are compliant and obeying the laws in the first place, so it doesn't contribute to making people any safer, you are just trying to justify the registry and the violation of their rights. The registry and Gestapo checks have nothing to do with the compliance rates.

And police are doing it one offender at a time.

IL - Ban on sex offenders at restaurant playgrounds goes to Quinn

Original Article


By Kurt Erickson

SPRINGFIELD - Add restaurant playgrounds to the list of places where sex offenders aren't welcome in Illinois.

Under legislation headed to Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk, sex offenders no longer would be allowed to loiter in the play areas of private businesses.

State Rep. Frances Ann Hurley, D-Chicago, sponsored the proposal after an incident last year in Cook County in which a sex offender had been eyeing young children playing at a fast-food restaurant.

Hurley said the measure doesn't ban sex offenders from restaurants, however.

They can still have their double cheeses. They can still drive through. We've narrowed it to such that it is just the playground area,” Hurley said. “I actually talked to some sex offenders who were concerned they couldn't get their nuggets. That wasn’t the point of the bill.”

Sex offenders face numerous restrictions about where they can live, where they can go and where they can work in communities throughout Illinois.

Along with having to register with local police in order to keep track of where they live, sex offenders cannot reside or loiter within 500 feet of a school, playground or a facility providing programs directed toward children under age 18.

Sex offenders also cannot operate any type of business in which he or she photographs, videotapes, or takes a digital image of a child. They also are banned from handing out candy at Halloween, wearing a Santa Claus costume or dressing in an Easter Bunny costume when kids are around.

They also cannot operate ice cream trucks.

The governor is expected to sign the legislation into law.

We did not take a position on this bill, but are supportive of efforts to protect the state’s children,” said Quinn spokesman David Blanchette.

The legislation is House Bill 3023 (PDF).

OH - Legal team: Scale back UA's sex offender laws

Original Article



Upper Arlington's legal department has directed city officials to scale back local restrictions on sexual offenders in order to avoid constitutional challenges.

In 2008, Upper Arlington City Council amended local laws to require convicted sex offenders to register with law enforcement for the duration of their lives. The local laws also restrict offenders from working within 1,000 feet of any school, preschool, daycare facility, public park or swimming pool, library or playground.

Last Monday, lawyers in the Upper Arlington City Attorney's Office told current council members that recent rulings by the Ohio Supreme Court have found similar requirements are "punitive" punishments that go beyond the sentences imposed against sex offenders and can be deemed unconstitutional.

As a result, the city attorney's office instructed council to remove employment restrictions and lifelong registration requirements from city code.

If approved by council, convicted sex offenders who live or work in Upper Arlington still would be required to register with law enforcement, but they only would have to do so as long as stipulated by their court sentences for the offenses.

Additionally, the city's legal team recommended that council eliminate Upper Arlington's restriction against sex offenders being employed within 1,000 feet of schools, preschools, daycare facilities, public parks and swimming pools, libraries or playgrounds.

Currently, the employment prohibition covers about two-thirds of the city.

"This is to stave off that type of (constitutional) challenge and maintain these as civil actions done proactively to protect the public," Assistant City Attorney Thad Boggs said. "It comes down to making sure our ordinance is civil and in line with the (Supreme Court's) decisions, and not more severe than the state."

Council members, including Vice President Frank Ciotola, said Upper Arlington purposely passed more stringent laws against sex offenders in 2008 because they wanted to increase protections for children and others in the community.

However, Boggs and Upper Arlington City Attorney Jeanine Amid Hummer said a recent string of Supreme Court rulings opens up the city's laws for challenges by public defenders and groups such as the ACLU.

"We did our diligence and we looked at it at that time," Hummer said. "We bring this to you because we believe that if our ordinance is challenged ... that we will not prevail."

Council is expected to address changes in the city's sex offender laws possibly as soon as June 10.

During Monday's council conference session, Upper Arlington Police Chief Brian Quinn said he didn't know exactly how many convicted sex offenders currently live or work in the city, but he said it was "under 10."