Monday, July 22, 2013

OK - Innocence, After Serving 11 Years On A Wrongful Conviction

Original Article

Diigo Post Excerpt:
In 1982, Dennis Fritz and Ron Williamson were convicted of a brutal rape and murder in a small town in Oklahoma. The victim was 21-year-old Debra Sue Carter, a waitress at the Coachlight Club. Williamson and Fritz each spent more than 11 years in prison for a crime that DNA evidence later proved they did not commit.

Before he went to prison, Fritz was raising his then-12-year-old daughter Elizabeth, alone. He decided she shouldn't visit him in prison, because he sensed she was scared. But, Fritz says, he knew his daughter loved him, and believed in his innocence.

Elizabeth was 24 when Fritz got out, and he remembers the moment they saw each other in the visiting room of the county jail, where he'd been transferred prior to his release.

WA - Most skip neighborhood meetings, get sex offender information online

Original Article

Is it just me or does the audio file sound like he is saying the neighborhood setup a community "beating?" I know that's not what he's saying, but it sure sounds like it.



In the early days of the sex offender registry program, more than 20 years ago, news that an offender was moving on to the block prompted neighborhood mobilization and sometimes even vigilantism. Today, a yawn is more likely. But defenders of the system say the program is working better than ever.
- Vigilantism is still a problem, as can be seen here and here.

The other day, the King County Sheriff scheduled a neighborhood meeting in Shoreline to answer questions about a Level 3 sex offender who registered his new address in the area. Nobody showed up. But that's not unusual.

"The attendance is usually zero to three people," said Dawn Larsen with the Washington Association of Sheriff's and Police Chiefs. She argues that attendance at those neighborhood meetings is not the best gauge of public interest. She says the state now operates a public website called Offender Watch.

"They don't show up at the meetings, but the system, "Offender Watch," actually helps to send out fliers and postcards that the meeting is coming and it also, on those postcards, tells them that they can also go online. So I suspect most folks that are interested are looking online rather than going to the informational meetings," said Larsen.

Offender Watch is a centralized, statewide database with a search function that provides real-time information about sex offenders. It allows the public to register for email alerts when a Level 2 or Level 3 sex offender moves into their area, or to track specific people.

A recent survey in Texas, which has the second largest sex offender registry in the nation, found that relatively few people were using it. Washington doesn't have good statistics on overall use of its website, except for the numbers of people who sign up for notification. More than 46,000 people have signed up in the four years it's been running and more than 710,000 notifications have gone out.
- So the title is misleading. Sounds to us that nobody cares about the fear driven web site, and is another reason why it should be taken offline and used by police only! Two percent isn't "MOST" people!

Still, that's just two percent of residents statewide getting the alerts. If the notifications are computer generated, it's possible to send them to more people. But Larsen argues that the alerts might easily be ignored if they're not requested.

"I think that's one of the things that we're finding is how much information is too much?"

The Texas survey included two curious findings about the public use of the sex offender registry there. Access was lower in neighborhoods where sex crimes happened or sex offenders were living and the most active users of the registry were victims, not of sex crimes but, of identity theft.

PA - PSP hoping to improve Megan's Law notification

Newspaper and coffee
Original Article


LANCASTER - Pennsylvania State Police are looking at how to improve notification of local police when a Megan's Law offender fails to check in as required.

That's what authorities say happened with [name withheld], who was charged Wednesday with kidnapping a 5-year-old girl July 11 from Lancaster Township and sexually assaulting her.

[name withheld], 73, of Conestoga Township, was required to check in with authorities in person four times annually for his 1990 conviction for kidnapping and child rape. He served 20 years -- his maximum sentence -- and was released in May 2010. He apparently checked in as required until this spring.

He failed to check in during a 10-day period ending May 7, according to Southern Regional Police, who charged him July 12 with the Megan's Law violation.

By then, authorities were looking at [name withheld] for the abduction.

"We make every effort to make notifications as expeditiously as possible and continually assess our operations for ways to improve efficiency and timeliness," Maria Finn, a state police spokeswoman, said by e-mail Thursday.

But there's no time frame under Megan's Law in which state police must notify local departments about a person failing to check in, she said. The agency is looking into generating automated notifications, and would have to create a system to do so, Finn said.

State police have been dealing with a notification backlog tied to the Adam Walsh Act, which required that some 12,500 Megan's Law registrants in the state register with state police between Dec. 20 and March 20.