Thursday, June 13, 2013

Failure to Register: Are Violations Overblown?

Original Article

06/13/2013

“As a crime of omission, each failure to report ordinary life events is an opportunity for registrants to commit a new felony.”

Over the last two decades, registration for sexual offenders in the US has become the law of the land. It seems intuitive that tracking known sexual offenders should reduce sexual abuse, but with data indicating that sexual offense recidivism (PDF) is much lower than widely believed and as many as 95% of arrests for sexual abuse are first time offenders (PDF), there are legitimate controversies about the sex offender registry, as well as valid questions about how efficacious it is to register and track known sexual offenders (PDF).

A growing body of research (PDF) indicates sexual offender registration is not very effective in reducing sexual offending. There are persuasive arguments that the registry results in more harm than good (PDF), especially for juveniles (PDF). A number of organizations have been particularly critical of registration for juveniles (PDF), most recently Human Rights Watch. David Prescott wrote about juvenile registration in a recent SAJRT blog. Some scholars suggest the sex offender registry is not making society safer but, rather, is the misguided result of government abdication to moral panic.

The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) requires strict registration requirements and includes severe penalties for failure to register (FTR). Many states are not in full compliance with SORNA, in part because of the burdensome cost of compliance and, perhaps, because the classification system required by the Adam Walsh Act is not supported by research (PDF). Still, significant public resources are expended to ensure compliance with registration. But, the question remains: is FTR actually a risk factor for reoffending?


LA - I am not a sex offender

Original Article

You will notice all the harassment, inability to get a job, housing, and other issues these people faced due to being on the registry, and yet it's okay for the over 750,000 others who are forced on this list to be harassed, beaten or murdered?

06/13/2013

By IRIN CARMON

Archaic, discriminatory laws branded people for life and put their names on registries. Now they're getting justice

On the street since the age of 14, a girl became addicted to drugs. At 17, she was arrested for prostitution. Though there was no force and no minors involved, she was placed on the sex offender list in Louisiana, branding her ID with the words, landing her on an official website and forcing her to notify her neighbors.

At 23, she was clean. She followed the rules society had for her; she said, ‘I’m going to change my life,’” said Deon Haywood, the executive director of Women With a Vision, a grass-roots community nonprofit in New Orleans.

But being branded as a sex offender, the legacy of an archaic law that branded the sale of oral or anal sex as a “crime against nature,” was only going to stand in her way. Thanks to a groundbreaking legal settlement this week, spearheaded by Haywood’s organization and a team of civil rights attorneys, that’s about to change, with 700 people convicted under the law about to be removed from the registry.

For decades, there have been two kinds of prostitution convictions in Louisiana: the kind that got you a misdemeanor charge, and the kind that got you a felony and landed you on the sex offender list. The latter, known as “crimes against nature,” began as a traditional anti-sodomy law and survived on the books as criminalizing the solicitation of oral and anal sex for money — that is, just agreeing to sell those sex acts for money. Police had discretion over who got what charge.

In practice — and particularly in New Orleans, whose police department is currently under a federal consent decree for discriminatory practices — that has meant the disproportionate charging of people of color and LGBT people for “crimes against nature.” The Department of Justice report on discrimination in the New Orleans Police Department noted that “in particular, transgender women complained that NOPD officers improperly target and arrest them for prostitution, sometimes fabricating evidence of solicitation for compensation. Moreover, transgender residents reported (PDF) that officers are likelier, because of their gender identity, to charge them under the state’s ‘crimes against nature’ statute — a statute whose history reflects anti-LGBT sentiment.”

According to the Center for Constitutional Rights, 79 percent of those registered under the “crimes against nature” statute are African-American; 75 percent are women. As of 2011, 97 percent of the women on the sex offender list in the state were there because of a “crimes against nature” conviction. For already vulnerable people, the impact of such a registration can be devastating: “People affected by this law have been barred from homeless shelters, physically threatened, and refused residential substance abuse treatment because providers will not accept registered sex offenders at their facilities,” noted the Center for Constitutional Rights in a release on the settlement.

The first federal suit against the law, brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights, Andrea J. Ritchie and the Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic of Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, claimed that it violated the Equal Protection Clause, because it treated a certain class of offenders differently for the same crime. In the interim, the state Legislature repealed the law, but that didn’t help people who had already been convicted under it. On March 29, 2012, the United States District Court Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans ruled against state officials, noting that “the issue presented in this case is not about approval or disapproval of sexual beliefs or mores. It is about the mandate of equality that is enshrined in the Constitution.” That, too, did not apply universally and retroactively, leaving hundreds of people out in the cold. The attorneys filed a class action lawsuit accordingly, and this week, the state announced it would settle by removing the approximately 700 people convicted of “crimes against nature” from the list.

Baher Azmy, the legal director at the Center for Constitutional Rights, told Salon that the major hurdle had been putting the burden on the state to take people convicted of “crimes against nature” off the list, rather than asking that hundreds of often-disadvantaged people file in court one at a time. “This is not a population that is super empowered in the state of Louisiana,” said Azmy with some understatement.

Haywood says the people she works with now have a chance to slowly put their lives back together. “We have clients who are grandmothers … We had a client who got the charge over 20 years ago, got married, tried to put her daughter in an exclusive daycare. They refused her because of her ID,” she said. “We had a mother who turned her children over to a family member because of the damage caused by being on the list. We had women who experienced violence because they were on that list.”

Some of these people were convicted despite not actually engaging in illegal sex work. It was enough just to make a verbal agreement while approached on the street by an undercover police officer, leading the “crimes against nature” statute to be called “a talking crime” by advocates.

The settlement doesn’t mean the records will be expunged; background checks will still reveal that the individual has been on the sex offender list in the past. Still, there will be no new additions and no registry fees, requirements and visible stigma.

Says Haywood, “I challenge those people who say that change can’t happen in the South. Because it did. And don’t say the little man can’t win, because we did.”


NY - After Innocence: Jeffrey Deskovic Was Incarcerated At 17, Exonerated At 33

Jeffrey Deskovic
Original Article

Why do they collect DNA if they almost never use it?

06/11/2013

By LAURA CANDLER

Jeffrey Deskovic was 16 when one of his female classmates, Angela Correa, was found murdered in the woods in their hometown in upstate New York. He says he didn't know her well, but she was always friendly to him in the school hallways. At the girl’s funeral, Jeffrey broke down in heavy sobs and visited her wake multiple times. It was there that some people started to suspect that he might have had something to do with the murder.

Three weeks after the crime, the police approached Deskovic and asked him to submit to a polygraph test. He agreed, not knowing that the polygraph business was run by an officer of the local Sherriff’s Department. Later, that officer testified that he’d been hired to “get the confession.”

Jeffrey took the polygraph test and was questioned for nearly seven hours with no lawyer present. They gave him nothing to eat. Interrogators told Deskovic that he was guilty of the crime, fed him information about Angela’s death, and provoked him into confessing for the murder he did not do. At the end of the interrogation, he curled up in a fetal position on the floor, crying, and made a false confession.

Based on that confession, Deskovic was convicted of murder and rape and sentenced 15 years to life in prison.

I lost most of my friends when I was convicted,” Deskovic said in an interview with WUNC at the Innocence Network Conference in April. “I had a couple of friends that stuck with me for a couple of years, but…you end up essentially by yourself. My mother was the only one who consistently came to see me, but in the last six years I was lucky if I saw her once every six months.”

In 2006, the Innocence Project decided to take on Deskovic’s case. The Innocence Project is a national organization that litigates for wrongfully convicted people on the basis of DNA evidence and whose work has led to the exonerations of hundreds of innocent people nationwide.

Deskovic’s case became stronger when DNA evidence collected at the original crime scene turned out to match another inmate in one of New York’s prisons named Steven Cunningham, who was convicted of murdering another woman. Based on this evidence, lawyers with the Innocence Project helped overturn Deskovic’s original conviction at his retrial, and Jeffrey was released in September of 2006. It was a moment he’ll never forget.

The judge told me that the conviction had been overturned and I was free to leave,” Deskovic recounted. “I got ready to get up to leave the courtroom, and after I took a step, the enormity of the moment kind of hit me. I was just overcome. I mentally couldn’t accept that this was over.”

When he stepped outside of the courtroom, the press was waiting.

I gave an off-the-cuff two and a half hour spiel of everything I ever I wanted to say over the years but could never quite get anyone to hear me. Those were my first words of freedom. I stepped to the microphone, and I actually asked ‘Is this really happening?’

But Deskovic had a long road ahead. He hadn’t gone to college. He’d never even been on the internet or used a cell phone. He’d never paid rent. He was 33 years old and had to learn basic skills that most adults take for granted. While he had a little support from his mother, they often ended their conversations in fights. Jeffrey became despondent and terribly lonely, struggling deeply with how to fill his time.

As the days passed, Deskovic started accepting speaking engagements, something that felt empowering to him. He enrolled in college and started writing newspaper columns about his experience.

After he received compensation from the state for his wrongful incarceration, Deskovic started the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice, to assist others who’ve been wrongfully convicted. The Foundation investigates cases of wrongful conviction both with and without DNA evidence, and they also provide support for exonerees once they leave prison.

Deskovic earned a masters degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice on May 28 of this year.


GA - Cops Plead Guilty to Helping Plant Drugs on Woman Sexually Harassed by Judge (Bryant Cochran)

Bryant Cochran
Original Article

06/11/2013

By Clarence Walker

A judge responded to an assault victim by demanding sex in exchange for 'legal favors.' She filed a complaint, and he sent cops to plant meth in her car.

With a plot out of a Hollywood movie or a gripping Lifetime TV show, a mesmerizing drama of sex, power, frame-ups, planted drugs, and lies unfolded in real life in Georgia when two Murray County sheriff's deputies recently pleaded guilty in federal court for their part in a scheme to send an innocent woman to prison. Now both deputies await sentencing on charges of obstruction of justice and perjury stemming from an FBI civil rights investigation into the odd goings-on Down South.

The woman in question, [name withheld], had filed a complaint with the Georgia Judicial Qualification Committee alleging that Chief Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran solicited sex from her in return for legal favors. Shortly after [name withheld] filed her complaint, she was arrested on August 14, 2012 in sleepy Chatsworth, Georgia, and charged with possession of methamphetamines.

"My client was set up and framed with methamphetamine drugs by Judge Bryant Cochran, whom she had accused of soliciting her for sex in exchange for legal favors in a case she had in Cochran's court," attorney McCracken Poston told the Chronicle.

Poston, a former Georgia state representative from nearby Ringgold with a reputation as a crack attorney, is representing [name withheld] in a civil lawsuit against Murray County. And [name withheld] isn't alone. Since this scandal broke, three women who worked in Cochran's court have filed a separate lawsuit against the judge and the county claiming Cochran sexually harassed them while county officials negligently failed to protect their rights.

"The judge, two deputies, and a handyman named C.J. who is employed at Judge Cochran's property conspired to plant the drugs on my client. And if the frame-up hadn't been discovered my client would've been facing 25 to 30 years in prison," Poston said, echoing the allegations made it the lawsuit.

Although the drug charge was dismissed a week later at the request of investigators when the frame-up wax exposed, [name withheld] is still suffering the consequences of her false arrest. Under Georgia law, it takes one year for the charge to be removed from [name withheld]'s record, and the arrest has already cost her.

"My client was denied a much higher paid job due to the felony drug charge on her record and what the judge and cops did to her. Nobody should have to suffer like that," Poston said.

Lust and Privilege at the County Courthouse

According to [name withheld]'s lawsuit -- and largely supported by the record in judicial proceedings so far -- she went to the courthouse on April 9, 2012 in regard to an assault on her by three persons the previous day. When [name withheld] arrived at Cochran's office, he requested that she meet with him alone, preventing her sister, who had been an eyewitness to the assault, from attending or providing a corroborating statement.

"While privately sitting in chambers with Cochran, I related details about the assault," [name withheld] said in the lawsuit.

But Cochran was more interested in the state of her marriage, the suit alleges, whether or not she had cheated on her estranged husband, and whether the persons who assaulted her "have anything on her to hurt her divorce from [name withheld]." While shying away from particulars of the assault, Cochran made repeated comments about "how pretty[name withheld] was and then veered into even more uncomfortable territory.

"My wife doesn't take care of my sexual needs and I need a mistress to have sex with I can trust," [name withheld] said Cochran told her. He had "a real boner" for her and wanted her to return to his office the following week, he added flirtatiously, the lawsuit alleges.

[name withheld] played along as if interested in his offer, the suit alleges, and then Cochran upped the ante by asking [name withheld] to send him a photo of herself in a seductive way to let him take a "sneak peek" at what he was going to get. After giving [name withheld] his private cell number, Cochran, with a fixed stare at [name withheld]  gave her a direct order: "Come back on Wednesday with a dress and no panties so we can have sex."



'Apostrophe laws' named for kid victims on the wane

Original Article

06/12/2013

By Rick Hampson

When Amanda Moore concluded that her daughter's killer was a drug addict wrongly paroled and wrongly allowed to remain free, she did like many parents before her: she proposed legislation to spare others the same fate. She named it for her child: Amelia's Law (Facebook, Web Site).

For the past two decades, parents who've lost children in horrible ways have tried to memorialize them in law, and Americans usually have honored their wishes.

Dozens of state and federal statutes are named for children who died too soon: Megan's Law and Jessica's Law, the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. There's Kendra's Law, Leandra's Law and Lauren's Law, three Jacob's Laws and at least three Laura's Laws.

But, as Amanda Moore has discovered, support for many of these child victim memorials, or "apostrophe laws," is waning.

Few such bills now before lawmakers promise to have anything like the impact of a Megan's Law, which gives the public access to information about sex offenders.And some probably won't become law at all:

In Tennessee, a tight state budget has blocked Amelia's Law, which would make parole tougher for serious offenders, and Dustin's Law, which would honor a son killed in a collision with an intoxicated driver by imposing stiffer DUI penalties.

In South Carolina, Emma's Law and Jaidon's Law both are stalled. The first, which would require ignition locks for some first-time DUI offenders, faces objections that it's too harsh; the second, to weaken child custody rights of drug-addicted parents, runs against a state policy favoring family reunification.

In Indiana, Sheena's Law — named for a daughter killed by a neighbor in an apartment complex and designed to allow renters who've been crime victims to break their leases — has been thwarted by landlords who say it could be abused by tenants to get out of leases.

For grieving parents seeking to redeem their loss, such rejection is agonizing. "I just wanted to do something positive," says Deborah Kiska, who backed Sheena's Law. "People needed to know that my daughter stood on this earth."

A LAW TOO FAR
There are several reasons why the popularity of child victim memorial laws may have peaked:

1. The recession and its aftermath have made officials across the political spectrum hesitant to increase costs, including those stemming from new criminal cases, more prisoners and longer sentences.

Amelia's Law and Dustin's Law have stalled because they'd each cost Tennessee hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

California, which faces a federal court order to reduce prison overcrowding, is one of several states trying to lower its inmate population. Vanita Gupta, ACLU deputy legal director, says that while legislators want to honor crime victims, "States are too broke to afford emotion-criminal justice policymaking."

2. The drop in the crime rate — violent crime in the U.S. has decreased in 15 of the past 17 years — has made tougher laws, like those often named for child victims, less politically compelling.

"The atmosphere has shifted," says Marc Maurer, director of the Sentencing Project, a group that advocates alternatives to incarceration.

In a sign of the times, California's landmark "Three Strikes" sentencing law, enacted in 1994 with support from parents of several children murdered by repeat offenders, was softened last year in a referendum. More than 3,000 felons serving life terms under Three Strikes became eligible to seek a reduced sentence; the state could save tens of millions yearly in prison costs.

3. The lower-hanging fruit has been picked.

The most obvious and popular legal changes designed to protect children already have been adopted, leaving would-be memorializers the less significant or more controversial.

The former include proposals like Laura's Law in Nevada (to provide families of fatal accident victims with broader civil remedies against EMTs in some cases of gross negligence) and Stephanie's Law (to provide "panic buttons" for Massachusetts group home workers).

The latter include tougher gun laws, a goal that eluded parents of children lost to gun violence long before a group from Newtown, Conn., unsuccessfully advocated federal background checks.

Skip Griffin, a University of Nevada-Reno criminologist, says sympathy gets parents only so far in politics. "Punishing really bad people is easy," he says. "Guns is something else. A lot of people own them."

A lot of people also make a mistake and learn from it. But, in contrast to the traditional apostrophe law focus on repeat predators, two of the now-stalled proposals — Emma's Law and Dustin's Law — target some first-time DUI offenders.

Another example of the hurdles facing parents is Cristina's Law, a proposal named after a New Jersey teen killed last year by a co-worker at a supermarket.

The killer had previously expressed murderous thoughts in online posts, and the law would require employers to check job applicants' social media sites during background checks.

But Cristina's Law's chances may be crippled by a growing concern about online privacy. The New Jersey Assembly last year passed legislation to ban employers even from asking potential hires if they have an online presence and from making them disclose user names and passwords.

4. Many legal and other academic experts say that what the ACLU's Gupta calls "lawmaking by anecdote," in which parents' emotional appeals trump more dispassionate assessments, is a bad way to make law — especially criminal law.

Griffin, the Reno criminologist, says parents can distort a policy debate: "Who's going to say no to them? How do you say, 'We can't afford this.' All they have to say is who they are and what they support. They don't have to be able to speak like Barack Obama. Their story is enough."

Mauer, of the Sentencing Project, recalls a radio debate with Mike Reynolds, who was a driving force behind California's Three Strikes law. His daughter Kimber had been murdered by a repeat offender on parole who was wanted for a series of other robberies and assaults. "You only want to argue so much with them, given what happened to them," Mauer says.

Griffin has studied the Amber Alert system for reporting missing children (named for Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old abducted and murdered in Texas in 1996). He says such lawmaking can amount to "crime-control theater," which makes voters feel good and politicians look good, but doesn't accomplish much.

Mauer cites, as another example of that, some public sex offender registries, which "may give us a distorted perception of where most child sex abuse takes place."

"You may tell your kid, 'Don't play on that street, a sex offender lives there,'" he says, although statistically the greater threat is not a stranger but someone known by the child who lives close to home, or in it.

IMPASSIONED SUPPORT
Those who've advocated child memorial laws say parents have a uniquely valuable perspective.

"If you've lived in the world of violence, like we have, you realize certain things," says John Walsh, host of the TV program America's Most Wanted since its inception in 1988.

His son Adam was kidnapped in a shopping mall in Florida in 1981 and murdered. Walsh lobbied for the 2006 federal law named for Adam, which required the most serious sex offenders to update their whereabouts every three months and created a national sex offender registry. (In 1994, Wal-Mart had named the missing child protocol in its stores "Code Adam" after the boy.)
- And it was never proven that Adam was sexually assaulted or if the offender was a known or unknown sex offender as well.  So instead of making a law punishing murderers he went after sex offenders?

Academics who criticize such law-making "live in a rarified environment," says Marc Klaas, whose 12-year-old daughter Polly was kidnapped and strangled in 1993, giving impetus to California's Three Strikes law. "Their alternate universe is never touched by these types of crimes. No one gets paroled to a university campus."

Yet critics of memorial laws have a point: Although it might be designed to benefit society, at heart the law is about the child. As Maria LoBrutto, the mother proposing Cristina's Law puts it, "We have to do something to keep Cristina's name alive."

And, on some level, they do it for themselves. "It's not really us, to be giving speeches," says Maria's husband, Eddie, a carpenter. "But fighting for our daughter, that's what's keeping us going, helping us cope with what we're going through."

Amanda Moore knows what he means.

AMELIA'S STORY
What's worse than standing at the spot where your daughter died minutes earlier? This: Police at the scene telling you they're very familiar with the driver of the other car, and one officer saying, "This was not an accident. This man murdered your daughter."

That's how Amanda Moore says she first heard of [name withheld], 44, who on Aug. 15, in Maryville, Tenn., drifted across three lanes of traffic while doing 73 in a 55 zone.

He slammed head-on into a car driven by Moore's daughter, Amelia Keown, a 16-year-old high school junior heading home after class to pick up her pom-poms for dance team practice.

Two nights after Amelia's funeral, sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of her home in the country outside Knoxville, Moore says she had two impulses. One was to forget what the cop said, because she didn't want to be angry. The other was "to know how bad a guy he really was."

The second won out. Minutes later she was at her computer, checking crime databases for Perkins, who'd died the day after the crash.

What she discovered over the next few days shocked her: Perkins' record included 21 felony convictions, including theft, drug possession and delivery, violation of probation, contempt of court, evading police, escape and robbery.

In 2009, he was sentenced to 12 years for aggravated robbery. He was released after serving four, even though Perkins' prison records indicated that in interviews he never expressed remorse for his crimes and that he tested positive for drugs in prison.

Although he'd been arrested for shoplifting after his release, fined and placed on probation, court documents did not indicate he was on parole, and thus liable to have it revoked.

Perkins had been in six car accidents in two years, including five in the past nine months, two of them head-on. He blamed several on mechanical failure, and he never was tested for drugs. His parole officer was never notified.

On the day he plowed into Amelia, tests showed, Perkins had methamphetamine and a toxic level of oxycodone in his system.

"Every day when I learned something new, it was like another kick in the face," Moore says. "But I said, 'She's not gonna be forgotten.' She's not just another little girl killed on the highway."

Determined to keep people like Perkins off the street, Moore assembled a 200-page indexed copy of his record in a three-ring binder with Amelia's photo on the cover.

She gave copies to state legislators and enlisted sponsors and supporters for a bill to toughen the state's sentencing law.

She ended up having to settle for a more modest proposal. It would increase from three to four the number of parole board members needed to release an inmate convicted of certain felonies, and make more probation and parole officers' case notes available to the public.

But the bill was stopped this year by its estimated annual cost — $668,800 to house inmates who'd otherwise be paroled. "It all came down to money," she says. "Is that more important than public safety?"

Moore, 39, works in computer sales. She and her husband are raising another daughter. The political winds may be against her, but she says she'll be back to the state capital next year, again trying to make sure Amelia was not just another girl killed on the highway.


Documentary filmmakers are seeking interviewees for a film on child porn and Internet offenders

Facebook Source (Web Site)

Dear Illinois Voices Supporter,

We are passing along this announcement in case any of you are interested. If this is something you would like to participate in or get more information about, please contact the producers using the email and phone number provided below. Illinois Voices has no further information about this project.

Announcement:
Documentary filmmakers are seeking interviewees for a film on CP and Internet offenders. They are interested in meeting with families and offenders who have these specific type offenses. They have requested a national awareness posting as well as a specific push to Boston as they are going to be in that area in the next week or so. The criteria are given below as well as a contact email and telephone number.

If you contact them, tell the filmmakers Deb and Alex that you are responding to an announcement initiated by Gail of the Florida Action Committee.

Profiles of potential interviewees for documentary, End of Love
  • Young men (25 and under) caught by law enforcement with child pornography on their computers/hard drives who began looking at adult Internet pornography and eventually encountered child porn.
  • Youth and adult men entrapped in chat rooms by law enforcement and convicted of child porn and/or attempted sex with a minor.
  • Youth charged with child porn because of sexting.
  • Parents/family members of youth convicted of the above crimes.
  • Youth and adult men who have an Internet pornography addiction that has impacted their families and intimate relationships.

Contact:
producers@endoflovefilm.com
Phone: 802-324-2098


LA - Iberia Parish sex offender round up (Yea Ha!)

Original Article

06/12/2013

By Darren Robert

The Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office conducted a sex offender round up Wednesday. News 10's Darren Robert was with Deputies and found out information concerning the arrests of registered sex offenders in the parish.


LA - Hundreds to be stricken from La. sex offender registry after class-action suit's settlement

Original Article

06/12/2013

By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN

NEW ORLEANS - Hundreds of people who were convicted of soliciting oral or anal sex for money under Louisiana's "crime against nature by solicitation" law will have their names removed from the state's sex offender registry following the settlement of a class-action lawsuit.

U.S District Judge Martin Feldman on Tuesday approved the settlement agreement between the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights and Louisiana Attorney General James "Buddy" Caldwell's office.

Feldman ruled last year that nine plaintiffs who were convicted of the offense must be stricken from the registry. Plaintiffs' lawyers argued the ruling should be applied to roughly 700 others in the same position.

Alexis Agathocleous, one of the lead plaintiffs' lawyers on the case, said the registration requirement for people convicted of violating the law disproportionately punished black women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

"We are gratified that the state has agreed to vindicate the rights of hundreds of people who continued to be unconstitutionally registered as sex offenders," he said in a statement.

The settlement doesn't apply to people convicted of soliciting sex from a minor or anyone who was convicted of another sex offense subject to registration. State officials have up to 30 days to make an initial determination of who is entitled to be removed from the registry.

Feldman ruled last year that state lawmakers had no "rational basis" for requiring people to register as sex offenders if they were convicted of violating the law. The judge said the plaintiffs wouldn't have had to register if instead they had been convicted of soliciting sex for money under the state prostitution law.

The state Legislature amended the 200-year-old law in 2011 so that anyone convicted of a "crime against nature by solicitation" no longer will be required to register. But the legislative change didn't apply to hundreds who already were registered.

During a hearing in December 2012, a lawyer representing Caldwell's office argued that the recent change in state law leaves the potential class members without any valid claims. Feldman refused to dismiss the class-action suit, however, and expressed frustration at the pace of the process for deciding whether people already had a right to have their names removed from the registry

"I am incredulous and very concerned about why this process has been dragged out against the backdrop of politics for so long," the judge said.


FL - Tracking transient sex offenders problematic in central Florida

Original Article

Well when you make such draconian residency laws that cause offenders to not be able to find housing, and put the registry online which prevents them from getting jobs, what do you expect? You are creating the problem you are complaining about! You force them into homelessness and joblessness, living under bridges or elsewhere.

06/12/2013

More than 230 convicted sex offenders in central Florida are almost untraceable.

Gov. Rick Scott signed House Bill 585 (PDF) on June 5. The bill adds additional requirements for sex offenders when they register in the state.

For a growing group of sex offenders, however, these requirements are unattainable and there is very little law enforcement can do about it.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida is home to 1,184 transient sex offenders; 121 live in Orange County, the third greatest concentration of any county

Miami-Dade County ranks No. 1 with 315 transient sex offenders, followed in second place with Broward County at 219 transient sex offenders.

All convicted sex offenders, including transient sex offenders, are required to register with the county sheriff and list an address.

In most cases, the address of transients is nothing more than a major intersection or wooded area near a road.

Of the 121 transient sex offenders in Orange County, nine list their address as the "Woods near Old Winter Garden Road / Tremont Street" and five more list their address as "Old Winter Garden Road / Kirkman Road."

"This presents a challenge for law enforcement because they do not adhere to conventional methods of tracking," said UCF Criminal Justice Professor Ken Adams. "We tend to deal with sex offenders one way, and homeless people another."

In a report to the Florida Legislature, the State Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability noted that monitoring homeless sex offenders is problematic because it is time-consuming to verify their location and provide required public notice.

The report also noted some offenders may claim a transient address to avoid legal requirements and restrictions.

In counties with relatively small transient sex offender populations, tracking is easier.

In Seminole County, the FDLE lists only four transient sex offenders and according to the sheriff's office, "they (sex offenders) register the camps they stay at as their home address and investigators visit them at that location, just as if it were a house or apartment."

While Seminole County has a small number of transient sex offenders, Volusia (49), Brevard (35) and Orange (121) are presented with a much greater challenge. Enforcement of living locations and monitoring of activity is considered by many in law enforcement as virtually impossible. Conventional methods of tracking, such as license plates, email and social network activity is rendered ineffective when it comes to transient sex offenders who in most cases do not have such things.


PA - State releases first youth recidivism report

Original Article

Yet another report showing that ex-sex offenders have a low re-offense rate when considering additional sex crimes.

06/11/2013

By Lauren Daley

The Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission released the first comprehensive study (PDF) of youth offenders in the state.

Entitled Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice Recidivism Report, the study's goal was to create a "recidivism benchmark" to measure the effectiveness of the state's Juvenile Justice Enhancement Strategy. The idea behind the strategy, according to a press release from the state, is that "recidivism rates can be reduced through the implementation of evidence-based practices."

In the study, recidivism is defined as "a subsequent delinquency adjudication or conviction in criminal court for either a misdemeanor or felony offense within two years of case closure."
- When you include everything, then of course the rate will be a lot higher, but if you look at only re-offense for another sex crime, the rate is very low, as shown below.

In 2007, cases were closed on 18,882 youth who had been under the supervision of a county juvenile probation. Within two years of that time, the study reports, 3,827 youth were subsequently adjudicated delinquent or convicted in criminal court for a new misdemeanor or felony offense. This equates to a 20% — or 1 in 5 — statewide recidivism rate.
- We are so sick and tired of hearing the "1 in 5" statistic.  Almost every single time a study is done, this statistic is thrown out there.

According to findings, recidivism rates ranged from 0% (in Clinton and Sullivan Counties) to 45% (in Clarion County). In Allegheny County, the recidivism rate was 16%, with 1,603 juveniles with a case closed in 2007 and a total of 257 recidivists.

The study also notes that expunged cases "create a significant limitation" to the study because when a case is expunged in Pennsylvania "all of a juvenile’s identifying information pertaining to that case is 'erased' and is therefore not available for analysis." Allegheny County had 181 expunged cases.

Here are some other the findings from the report:
  • One in five juveniles recidivated within two years of their 2007 case closure.
  • 80% of repeat offenders were from “disrupted’’ family situations — situations where parents might be deceased, separate or divorced, or never married. Twenty percent of repeat offenders, meanwhile, were from families where the offender's biological parents were married.
  • The younger a juvenile was at the time of their first referral to juvenile court, the more likely he or she was to recidivate.
  • Youths under supervision for sex offenses recidivated at a rate of 14 percent. About 2 percent of sex offenders committed another sex offense.
  • Boys are three times more likely to return to the system then girls.
  • Drug offenders and property offenders were most likely to commit the same types of crimes when they re-offend.


PA - Woman (Gabrielle Drexler) scorned pleads guilty to perjury in false sexual allegations against Lower Merion police officer

Gabrielle Drexler
Original Article

06/12/2013

By JENNY DeHUFF

A grand jury summed up its conclusion of a three-year investigation into claims a local woman was sexually harassed by a Lower Merion police officer in May 2011 with the words, “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

Those words spoke volumes in Montgomery County Court Wednesday when Gabrielle Drexler, 28, pleaded guilty to perjury in a case that could have ended a Lower Merion police officer’s career.

Before Common Pleas Judge William R. Carpenter Wednesday, Drexler pleaded guilty to perjury, a third-degree felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.

In May 2011, a Montgomery County grand jury began investigating Drexler’s allegations of indecent assault, stalking and other related offenses by a member of the Lower Merion Police Department.

According to prosecutors, the initial claims were made in a very emotional and very public way – in front of the televised Lower Merion Township Board of Commissioners on May 18, 2011 (Video Below).

During that meeting, a tearful Drexler alleged that an officer groped her breasts in August 2010, sent her unwanted e-mails and would often park his patrol cruiser outside her house, stalking her.

The investigation lasted nearly six months, and when a Montgomery County detective first contacted Drexler, she claimed she had proof of her allegations in the form of e-mailed messages sent to her from the officer that she retained.

Yet, two copies Drexler provided to the district attorney’s office contained discrepancies, with the later e-mail containing additional language that the first did not.

What turned out was, as proof of the officer stalking, Ms. Drexler retained e-mails from him and turned them over to the police,” said Assistant District Attorney John Gradel, lead prosecutor in the case.

Now, the thing about the e-mails was, she – on her own computer – added sentences, which, if believed, would have resulted in that officer’s arrest. They were basically confessions to what she was alleging.”

According to the grand jury presentment obtained by The Times Herald, in one e-mail, Drexler added the sentence, “I am sorry for groping and trying to kiss you as you backed away in confusion that day at the park…I knew you were my dream girl…

The officer’s alleged statements were basically confessions to that sexual assault and would have been used against the officer at his trial,” said Gradel.

The pair had a consensual relationship for a period of months, and at some point, Drexler learned the officer was married with children and the relationship soured.”

When questioned about the discrepancies in the e-mails on the witness stand, Drexler reportedly lied to the grand jury, claiming that they “just mysteriously appeared.”

In the days after she made the allegations, Drexler filed civil claims against the Lower Merion Police Department and the township in the millions of dollars for violating her rights.

Gradel said the officer lost seniority as a result of the accusations against him.

He went from the head of the line in promotion to the back of the line,” he said. That officer’s duties have since been restored to patrol.

Sentencing in this matter has been deferred for 90 days to allow time for a pre-sentence investigation to commence.

Video from 2011 (Source)


MO - Man (Eugene L. Daven) Threatens to Kill Neighbor Who is on Sex Offender Registry, Police Say

Eugene L. Daven
Original Article

Yet another example, of the many, for why the registry should be taken offline and used by police only.

06/12/2013

By Joe Scott

The neighbor told police Daven has harassed him and his family since discovering his sex crime against a child.

A St. Charles County man faces criminal charges after he threatened to shoot and kill a neighbor because he is on the sex offender registry.

Eugene L. Daven, 52, was charged Saturday with unlawful use of a weapon, harassment and third-degree assault.

A St. Charles County deputy said Daven was yelling and cursing at his neighbor Saturday and threatened his life.

I’ll put a bullet in you. I’ve got a gun,” Daven said. He then went inside and came out with a gun and pointed it at his neighbor.

I’m going to shoot you through the heart because you touch little kids,” Daven told his neighbor, according to a court document.

The neighbor told a St. Charles County Sheriff’s deputy that since Daven discovered he is a registered sex offender, he has been harassing him and his family and telling everyone that he is a child molester. The man had been convicted of having sex with a 14-year-old.

The deputy found two bb guns in Daven’s home, and one matched the description given by the neighbor.

As Daven was being booked, he told officers, “When I get out I’m going to kill that (expletive).”

Daven posted a $15,000 bond and was released from jail Tuesday. He has been ordered to have no contact with the victim.