Tuesday, June 18, 2013
This is exactly like the Halloween mass hysteria that is carried out each year.
By Scott Waltman
A measure that would keep sex offenders away from the fairgrounds during the annual Brown County Fair likely will be considered by county commissioners in the weeks to come.
Larry Lovrien, Brown County state's attorney, proposed the resolution. Commissioners took no action during their Tuesday meeting.
There are many fair events, from 4-H activities to carnival rides, that are geared toward children, he said. At the same time, there are vendors and volunteers who work at the fair who are on the sex offender list, he said. The aim of the proposal is to keep the fairgrounds safe for kids.
To accomplish that, Lovrien suggested that commissioners consider declaring the fairgrounds a public park or playground each year during the fair. After the fair, the grounds would cease to be a park or playground, according to a sample resolution he gave commissioners.
Were the fairgrounds to be declared a public park or playground, it would be considered a community safety zone, Lovrien said. By law, sex offenders aren't allowed within 500 feet of community safety zones.
Lovrien said there hasn't been a way for the sheriff's department to address the problem of sex offenders at the fair in past years. But he also said it's not his intent to have those people arrested the first time they're spotted at the event. He said he would ask the sheriff's office to tell sex offenders to leave the first time. If there were subsequent problems, they could be arrested and charged, he said.
Under Lovrien's proposal, signs designating the fairgrounds as a community safety zone would be put up at entrances during the fair to deter sex offenders from going on the grounds.
There are some details that would need to be worked out with the resolution. For instance, Lovrien said, the 500-foot restriction would impact a housing development just north of the fairgrounds. But, he said, he thinks a solution could be found for that problem.
CINCINNATI - An Ohio appeals court has upheld a provision that allows some minors convicted of sex offenses to be required to register as sex offenders beyond their 21st birthday.
The ruling stems from the appeal of a 16-year-old Cincinnati boy convicted of a sex charge, with a sentence requiring him to register as a sex offender until he's at least 24 years old.
The teen's attorneys had argued the requirement was a violation of his constitutional rights.
The 1st District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati disagreed in a ruling last week, saying that juvenile offenders do not have a fundamental right to be free from punishment after the age of 21.
The decision upholds a provision of the Adam Walsh Act, named for a 6-year-old boy killed in Florida in 1981.
- Of which it was never proven that Adam was sexually assaulted and instead of punishing murderers, they punish ex-sex offenders? Oh and John Walsh admitted dating an underage Reve, so why is he not on the sex offender registry?
By Mark Albert
With less than two weeks to go until a court-imposed deadline for proposals for less restrictive alternatives to Minnesota's current program for civilly committed sex offenders, one of the sex offenders who is part of the class-action lawsuit that forced the recommendations vows to "sue my way out the front door."
"I have remorse, I'm sorry for what I did, I'm sorry I grew up as a hateful person," explained [name withheld], a 41 year-old from Minneapolis who the state has determined is a "sexually dangerous person" and has been committed since 2005.
"But I love life, I love people, I love my family. I want to go home to my family. I want to be a productive member of society," [name withheld] said during an interview recently at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program facility in Moose Lake.
"I'm filing a civil rights complaint. I'm going to sue my way out the front door," [name withheld] said.
[name withheld] is one of the 669 sex offenders - all men except for one woman - committed to MSOP; they represent about four percent of the state's 17,500 registered sex offenders.
The MSOP sex offenders are part of a federal lawsuit (PDF) that has been certified as class-action that has brought the state closer than ever to reforming the program, which is supposed to offer treatment to persons deemed to be "sexually dangerous" or who have a "sexually psychopathic personality."
Since 1993, not one "client," as the sex offenders are called, has ever successfully finished treatment and completely graduated from the program.
"Two decades have shown that they've been a failure in their treatment, in their attempt at providing treatment," declared [name withheld] another civilly committed sex offender in Moose Lake who was convicted of raping a woman in 1989. He has been confined in MSOP since 1993.
Anne Barry, deputy commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Human Services which runs the MSOP, acknowledges the lack of provisional discharges.
"I don't think that we're satisfied that we've moved enough people through phases of treatment," Barry said in an interview.
"There need to be some changes if we are going to actually either move more people into the community who have been appropriately treated or if we divert some of those people who would otherwise come to us," said Barry.
DHS is awaiting the recommendations from the Sex Offender Civil Commitment Task Force, which is set to finalize its recommendations at a meeting Nov. 29th and present them to the department, the court, and the Legislature by Dec. 3.
"I can see no reason why we would not follow their recommendations," Barry told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.
The largest reforms may require Legislative action; the next session begins in January.
"In addition to our responsibility to make sure that, in fact, we're treating people, we also have a responsibility to the public safety," Barry said. "So there is pressure from all over the place."
Of the 669 sex offenders committed to the MSOP, only 10 - one percent - are in the final phase before they petition a judicial panel for a provisional discharge, according to DHS.
Minnesota has the highest number of civilly committed sex offenders per capita of any state.
Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of the sex offenders in the MSOP are classified as Level 3, which the Department of Corrections defines as the "highest public risk" of re-offending.
- (06/17/2013) After Legislative Inaction, Sex Offender Task Force Presses On (Video available)
- (06/17/2013) Less Restrictive Alternatives Considered for Sex Offenders (Video available)
- (06/17/2013) Violence Inside State Sex Offender Program Could Mean Prison Transfer (Video available)
BALTIMORE (AP) - A man who successfully petitioned Maryland's highest court to be removed from the state's sex offender registry is still on the list.
That's according to the lawyer for the unidentified man, who has filed a motion for contempt.
The man identified in court documents as John Doe pleaded guilty in 2006 to sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl in 1984. The Court of Appeals ruled in March that he couldn't be placed on the sex offender registry because it didn't exist when the crime was committed.
Nancy Forster, the man's lawyer, said she's appalled that the state's Department of Public Safety is ignoring the state's highest court.
The department and the Maryland attorney general's office declined to comment on the case.
The Prison Service has five jails that house only sex offenders after the number of offences nearly doubled in the last decade, it has been revealed.
The prisons are Whatton in Nottinghamshire, Bure in Norfolk, Usk in Wales, Albany on the Isle of Wight and the newest – Ashfield in Pucklechurch near Bristol. At the same time, over 50 per cent of inmates in prisons at Wakefield, Parkhurst, Maidstone and Little Hey in Cambridgeshire are convicted sex offenders.
The focus on the dedicated prisons came after the former BBC presenter Stuart Hall started his 15-month sentence for touching young girls inappropriately (an allegation of rape was kept on the court file). Some have said the sentence is too lenient but Hall's lawyers argued that he was no Jimmy Saville who had abused 100 times more people than Hall. He had done "no more, no less" than touch or attempt to touch the girls, although one was nine years old at the time.
The emphasis on the prisons could become more intense as people come forward with allegations of abuse by celebrities or people in positions of power. TV actors and presenters, PR 'gurus', radio presenters, possibly even rock stars, are coming under the spotlight for their alleged behaviour of up to 40 years ago.
The Ministry of Justice has set up a Sex Offender Management Board to oversee how sex offenders are dealt with and treated.
A Prison Service spokesperson was quoted in the Times as saying: "There are a number of benefits from housing sex offenders together, with specialist resources, security and highly trained staff ensuring that they are held in a safe but challenging environment where they are more likely to admit to their offences."
By KARI PLOG
The Puyallup City Council could take final action Tuesday night on an ordinance banning sex offenders and violent felons from living together in residential areas.
The ordinance also would require a special permit for business owners who want to open a halfway house.
The council will revisit the issue following a 10-month public process that included a temporary moratorium on such housing in the city and passage of a state law granting local governments more power over housing regulations for former inmates.
City Councilman John Hopkins said he expects the city’s action will reflect the position of residents, who have overwhelmingly supported stricter regulations.
- So if the majority of the residents wanted everybody to be shot on site, would you support that as well?
“It’s our job as council members to provide as much protection as we can to the citizens of Puyallup,” Hopkins said Monday.
Last year, local property owner Larry Parson planned to open a shared living space for veterans near 23rd Avenue and Shaw Road — a venture he acknowledged could attract newly released prisoners, including sex offenders.
After strong outcry from neighbors, the City Council imposed and later extended a moratorium on halfway houses that would be occupied by two or more sex offenders or violent felons. That moratorium is set to expire in August.
- This shows how little politicians know about the issues. Ex-sex offenders mostly police each other so as to not get more punishment laws passed and to keep them out of trouble, but by passing a law like this one, you are forcing people away from each other, which could potentially cause someone to re-offend, but we already know that ex-sex offenders have one of the lowest recidivism (re-offense) rates out there, based on facts.
Parson has said that critics have turned his idea to offer low-cost housing to disadvantaged veterans “into something unrecognizable.”
If adopted, Puyallup’s ordinance would prohibit two or more offenders from living together in any residential zone within city limits. It also would require the property owner of a so-called “significant impact business” — specifically, shared housing, airports, fireworks plants or hazardous waste sites — to secure a permit. It would be subject to a public hearing to possibly impose additional conditions, such as insurance.
Washington cities have more input on halfway houses after Gov. Jay Inslee signed a law last month preventing two or more former inmates who use state-issued rental vouchers from sharing an apartment unless they’re renting a unit on an approved list.
Also, the state Department of Corrections must notify local jurisdictions when properties inside local boundaries are added to that list, and local officials can request removal of housing providers.
The first reading of the city’s ordinance was held in February.
“We want to have as many tools to deal with this where it has negative influence in our neighborhoods,” Mayor Rick Hansen said. “One way to do that is to have some say in where (halfway houses) are located within our city.”
Justifications for the rules include negative effects of group housing on property values and the possibility of former inmates re-offending, according to the ordinance.
Safety is at the center of the debate, both for neighbors and for halfway house residents, whose security could be “compromised due to public outrage,” the ordinance says.
- (06/19/2013) Puyallup sets rule for offender homes - The Puyallup City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday night that bans two or more sex offenders or violent felons from living together in residential areas within the city limits.
By Mark Albert
Created by court order, frustrated by Legislative inaction, and determined to fulfill its mission by a year-end deadline, Minnesota's Sex Offender Civil Commitment Advisory Task Force met Monday for the first time since lawmakers at the Capitol adjourned last month, pressing forward with redesigning the state's troubled program for civilly-committed sex offenders.
"Everybody's pretty clear this is going to change and it has to," declared task force vice chair James Rosenbaum, a retired federal judge.
Chair Eric Magnuson, the former chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, was equally blunt when he stated, "It's pretty clear that if this system is not changed, it will cost the state of Minnesota millions of dollars more."
Each of the state's 687 committed sex offenders cost taxpayers about $120,000 a year. This year, the tab will be roughly $82 million, with an average of 50 more sex offenders civilly committed each year, according to state estimates.
The task force was created by a federal judge to determine less restrictive alternatives to the current all-or-nothing secure treatment facility structure; find ways to reduce the current population, shifting some to halfway houses or group homes that currently don't exist; and overhaul screening criteria for who is committed and who is released.
- It's not a "treatment" facility if nobody ever gets released, it's just another prison!
The task force came into existence as part of a lawsuit filed by the committed sex offenders, who argue the Sex Offender Program is unconstitutional because, in practice, virtually no one is actually treated and released, thereby creating an indefinite incarceration system even after the offenders have served their criminal sentence.
In the history of the current sex offender program, only one offender, 65 year-old [name withheld], has been provisionally discharged; he is currently at a group home in south Minneapolis under the supervision of the Dept. of Human Services.
Minnesota has the highest per capita number of civilly-committed sex offenders of any state.
The task force had made recommendations to the Legislature (PDF) in December for less-secure alternatives. A bill (SF 1014) passed the Senate in the closing days of the 2013 session, but the companion legislation (HF 1139) stalled in the House.
"It's political theater sometimes and not fact-finding," lamented Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester), who carried the House bill and sits on the task force. Seeming to take a swipe at the caucus leadership in the DFL-controlled House, Liebling said, "Leadership had to make a decision that people were going to kind of hold hands and go forward. That didn't happen."
Rep. Jim Abeler, a Republican from Anoka, added, "It seems like in the end, both sides got cold feet and it's, it's just too bad."
A court-ordered evaluation (PDF) earlier this year found one out of every eight committed sex offender clients sampled were not placed in the appropriate treatment phase and that "large group size and frequent staff changes interfered with client progress," along with treatment "thresholds" that "may be too high."
In a detailed response (PDF), MSOP administrators said they have began implementing a series of reforms to its treatment programs and staffing.
But it remains for lawmakers to alter who gets committed, who gets released and where they are placed - or some believe the courts may do it for them.
By Ventura Criminal Defense Lawyer
Those convicted of sex crimes have long been a straw man for elected officials looking to bolster their political clout. Every time a politician wishes to appear “tough on crime,” one of the easiest avenues is pushing new sex offender legislation through the California House and Senate.
But, while new sex offender regulations may be popular with the public, they are not always good policy, often hampering the livelihoods of individuals who would have otherwise simply paid their debt to society and moved on to be productive citizens. The latest piece of sex offender legislation to hit California is the bill SB57 (PDF), and it could mean beefed up penalties for sex offenders who are found to have removed or disabled court-ordered tracking devices.
Under the auspices of SB57, paroled sex offenders who cut off or otherwise tamper with a GPS ankle bracelet would be penalized with up to six months in the county jail for a first offense. Tinkering with a GPS tracker a second time could land sex offenders in jail for a year. Running afoul of SB57 for a third time would be a felony for which sex offender parolees could be returned to prison for as long as three years.
“This bill imposes a strong deterrent,” Senator Ted Lieu, the author of the bill, announced to his colleagues moments before the California Senate passed SB57 with a unanimous vote, according to the L.A. Times.
But is more prison and jail time really the solution lawmakers have been looking for? Thousands of sex offenders are now being released to county authorities for supervision pursuant to a recent federal court ruling that required California to do something about its burgeoning overcrowding problems in state prisons.
Yet, the jails in many California counties are already brimming beyond capacity, leading counties to filter more offenders into home supervision programs. Simply returning more sex offenders to jail or prison for nonviolent offenses is a circular action that would exacerbate the problem home monitoring was designed to alleviate.
SB57 is not law yet, and it will next move to the California Assembly for consideration. However, considering its momentum in the Senate, the bill will likely face little significant opposition in the other chamber of the California legislature.
SB57 is not aimed at anyone who tampers with a GPS monitoring device; it singles out sex offenders for heightened punishments. The new bill is not unique in imposing draconian punishments for sex offenders even for nonviolent crimes committed after release from prison.
If you have been accused of a sex crime in California, there is no doubt that you are facing a battle that will literally impact the rest of your life. Once convicted of a sex crime, collateral consequences like the enhanced punishments of SB57 will follow you to the end of your days.
Even so, you have rights, and a strong legal defense can be an effective way to negate the worst repercussions of a sex crime charge. Talk to a California criminal defense attorney to learn more about fighting sex crime allegations.