Thursday, August 22, 2013
MS - Teen (LeJerrious A. Perkins) charged with killing dad; officer (Jasper Cortez Pittman) booked as accessory and on sex charge, Greg Antonio Fortenberry charged with murder
By HOLBROOK MOHR
JACKSON - A 14-year-old Mississippi boy has been charged with murder in the slaying of his father, and a police officer charged as an accessory to the killing is also charged with sexual battery of the boy.
The boy and two others — 17-year-old LeJerrious A. Perkins and 26-year-old Greg Antonio Fortenberry — are charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, arson and conspiracy to commit arson in the death of [name withheld] of McComb.
Jasper Cortez Pittman, a 25-year-old Brookhaven police officer, is charged with accessory after the fact of murder, sexual battery, third degree arson and conspiracy to commit arson.
An affidavit filed in Pike County Justice Court said the officer is charged with the sexual battery of the 14-year-old slaying suspect.
District Attorney Dee Bates said the body of the 53-year-old [name withheld] was found late Sunday or early Monday near the officer's home near McComb, a town of about 12,700 people in south Mississippi.
[name withheld] had been stabbed in the neck, according to affidavits filed in Pike County Justice Court.
The arson charges are related to the suspects burning [name withheld]'s truck to destroy evidence, according to the affidavits. The truck was found in the woods near a home of one of Pittman's relatives, the affidavits said.
Bates said both teens are charged as adults, which is customary under Mississippi law for juveniles charged with crimes that carry the possibility of a life sentence.
Bates said he couldn't provide any other details about the case.
The Pike County Sheriff's Department referred questions to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations. MBI spokesman Warren Strain said the case is "under investigation and it would be premature to release any information at this point."
It was not immediately clear whether any of the suspects had attorneys.
A message left at the Brookhaven Police Department wasn't immediately returned.
|Monica Nieves and Juan Quezada|
Yet another example of the large list of ex-sex offenders, family and children who have been harmed due to the online registry. This is why the online hit-list should be taken offline and used by police only.
A Harlingen couple is facing criminal charges after being accused of brutally beating a convicted sex offender.
Harlingen police arrested 31-year-old Monica Nieves and her 19-year-old boyfriend Juan Quezada.
Investigators told Action 4 News that it all happened on the 200 block of East Madison Avenue.
Police said Nieves slapped and attacked the man while Quezada jumped in to punched him.
Both of them told police that they did it because the man was a sex offender.
Officers charged Nieves and Quezada with assault. Their bond was set at $1,000 dollars.
Authorities are asking people concerned about sex offenders or other criminals to contact the police instead of taking matters into their own hands.
- Hell, with only a $1,000 bond, what incentive does someone have to contact police instead of taking the law into their own hands? You are not setting a good example!
ST. PAUL - Lawyers filed motions Thursday asking a federal judge to declare the Minnesota Sex Offender Program unconstitutional, move the people in it to less restrictive facilities and appoint a court officer to oversee the program.
The filings came in a class-action lawsuit on behalf of more than 600 sex offenders who were committed to the treatment program indefinitely after completing their prison sentences. They're not free to leave the program's prisonlike facilities in St. Peter and Moose Lake.
The program has been under fire because of continuing questions about its constitutionality and high costs. Only one patient has ever been successfully released from the program since its creation in 1994. A Department of Human Services review board recently recommended two more offenders for provisional release, which would require court approval.
In Thursday's motions, the plaintiffs asked U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank to declare a key statute governing the program unconstitutional as it's been applied. They said it's all but impossible to meet the state's discharge standards. They also want the state to immediately provide less restrictive alternative treatment facilities and re-evaluate each plaintiff to see if they qualify for them. They also want a special master appointed to oversee the program and ensure that it is staffed adequately to give each patient the opportunity to graduate to freedom.
A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 15.
"We have received and will carefully review the plaintiffs' motions, which were filed today in compliance with court imposed deadlines," Anne Barry, the state's deputy commissioner of human services. "We have been making progress toward addressing concerns about the Minnesota Sex Offender Program and have taken several steps that balance client needs with public safety."
Dan Gustafson, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the program is essentially a life sentence.
"No one ever gets out," Gustafson said.
By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) - A federal judge has struck down a Colorado city's ordinance that restricts where registered sex offenders can reside, ruling that it conflicts with a state law requiring parolees to be reintegrated into society.
U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson in Denver ruled that the city of Englewood, a Denver suburb, could not impose restrictions that "leave essentially no place for such offenders to live for all intents and purposes."
The city's ordinance barred convicted sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools, parks or playgrounds, or within 1,000 feet of day-care facilities, recreation centers and trails, swimming pools, bus stops and school routes.
Jackson noted in his 24-page opinion that cities may impose reasonable constraints on where sex offenders can live, but he said Englewood and five other Colorado cities with similar laws have gone too far.
"In theory, every city and county could enact a similar 'not in my backyard' ordinance and effectively ban sex offenders ... from the entire state," he said.
A number of local governments and states across the country have enacted laws banning sex offenders from living near parks and schools, including California, Texas, Kentucky, Florida and Georgia.
- So, just because other states are violating the Constitution and their oath, doesn't mean others should follow suit.
The ruling stemmed from the case of [name withheld], a former soccer coach who was sentenced to seven years on probation after pleading guilty to having an unlawful sexual relationship with an underage girl who was one of his players.
[name withheld] was sentenced to two years in prison after violating his probation by continuing to see his victim. He completed his sentence and other requirements and was ultimately paroled.
He then purchased a home in Englewood. But when he registered as required with police in the suburb of 30,000 people south of Denver, he was told that his residence was within a restricted area.
- Never purchase a home until you have it checked out by police first, or you will be losing a lot of money, as in this case.
A lawsuit challenging the restrictions was brought on his behalf by the Colorado chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. Mark Silverstein, the ACLU's legal director in Colorado, said cities that pass such laws provide "a false sense of security" to their residents.
"Instead, they make communities less safe by interfering with offenders' efforts to reintegrate into safe, stable, and supportive environments," Silverstein said. "And when town after town enacts similar restrictions, it poses the risk that sex offenders are driven underground and disconnected from treatment and supervision."
Jackson said the ordinance pushes offenders into neighboring communities, creating a conflict with "the state interest in the uniform treatment, management, rehabilitation, and reintegration of sex offenders during and after state supervision."
Officials from Denver also complained that Englewood's policy was forcing offenders into their city, he added.
Silverstein said the ACLU has challenged similar laws in other states, but the Colorado case was different because the agency charged by the state legislature with monitoring paroled sex offenders publicly opposed the measures in Englewood and other towns.
"What sets this apart is the Sex Offender Management Board urged them (municipalities) not to enact theses ordinances," he said.
Englewood's deputy city manager, Michael Flaherty, said the city's legal staff was reviewing the opinion before deciding its next step.
- (08/23/2013) Englewood Reviews Options After Ruling On Sex Offender Ordinance
- (08/22/2013) Moms weigh in on Englewood sex offender ordinance
- (08/22/2013) Ruling could undo restrictions on sex offenders (Video Below)
People will always take advantage of a situation, and when you continue to hype the hysteria and lies about ex-sex offenders, this will continue to happen.
By Mark Leland
MADISON - There are more signs of wasted taxpayer money coming out of an audit of the state's supervised release program for sex offenders.
That audit was prompted by a FOX 11 On Special Assignment investigation, which highlighted inflated rent being paid by the state to house sex offenders on supervised release.
For example the Department of Health Services was found to be paying $2,500 a month rent for one home in Green Bay. That rate according to rental listings was nearly five times the going rate for its west side neighborhood.
Now a review of the Department of Health Services' program by the state's Legislative Audit Bureau is recommending several ways to save taxpayers money.
"The audit identifies a couple of alternatives that we are going to take very seriously in terms of the role that we take with landlords and how we build leases or construct leases. Perhaps there's a better way to negotiate leases, perhaps there's a better way for us to negotiate on a case-by-case basis," said Kevin Moore, deputy secretary of the Department of Health Services.
Moore says the department is just now reviewing the 44 page audit report.
The audit highlights not only high rental costs, but also inflated monitoring and transportation costs for sex offenders occupying the rental properties.
"This is absolutely taxpayer money being wasted," said State Senate President Mike Ellis of Neenah, who requested the audit based on FOX 11's On Special Assignment investigation.
"We are looking at it, you have been looking at it, and now that we've seen it...why wasn't this taken care of in house?" Ellis asked.
The state audit agreed with FOX 11's findings that rental costs to house sex offenders were elevated in many circumstances.
It also found the Department of Health Services paying dramatically higher rates for monitoring and transporting sex offenders on supervised release.
The audit shows DHS currently pays nearly $70 an hour for monitoring and transportation. Compare that to the roughly $31 an hour the department of corrections pays for transportation. And when unscheduled transportation is needed, DHS pays even more--$91 an hour.
Last year the state agency spent nearly $1.3 million for the monitoring and transportation of 28 sex offenders on supervised release.
"We view audits as tools for improvement, and so we think that these are opportunities for us to improve our processes and procedures," said Moore.
Among the recommendations by the Legislative Audit Bureau, DHS is asked to establish written policies to identify potential residences for sex offenders, keeping cost and location in mind.
DHS also needs to work to reduce housing costs, and take steps to reduce monitoring and transportation costs.
The audit recommends DHS report options to facilitate discharge from the program for sex offenders on supervised release that no longer need to be housed.
The audit found a dozen sex offenders in the program have been living in state paid rentals for more than 5 years.
"There's something wrong with the process because this should not be an eternal option because it's costing taxpayers too much money," said Ellis.
Ellis estimates laws may need to be changed to insure better oversight of the program. But based on the recommendations he immediately sees taxpayer money being saved.
"I think just to start with putting multiple offenders in a single dwelling they could save a million dollars right there," said Ellis about one possible cost-saving option.
The Department of Health Services is directed to implement the recommendations by the audit bureau, and then report back to the legislative committee by April of next year on the progress being made.
Ellis says he will demand answers sooner than that.
The Joint Legislative Audit Committee plans to hold a public hearing to review the audit findings in the coming weeks.
The original FOX 11 On Special Assignment report into the cost of housing those sex offenders can be viewed here.
"The audit is a major step in the right direction to work towards reducing the cost of this program and apply some new practices to maintain better efficiencies when providing services for individuals on supervised release," said State Sen. Rob Cowles, R-Allouez, co-chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.
|Jillian Shea Moore|
By Jeff Gill
A North Hall woman was charged Wednesday with falsely reporting she had been raped and stabbed in her home.
Jillian Shea Moore, 24, is accused of false report of a crime, a misdemeanor, and making a false statement, a felony. She is free on $6,000 bail from the Hall County Jail, according to a Hall County Sheriff’s Office press release.
The charges stem from a July 31 incident at Moore’s home in the 5700 block of Avalon Commons Way, southwest of Clermont.
The sheriff’s office responded just after 9 a.m. concerning a report of a sexual assault.
When deputies and investigators arrived, they found Moore had a minor stab wound to her abdomen. She told authorities she had been raped and stabbed by a masked black male in her home, who then stole jewelry items and fled.
She was taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville and treated for an injury that wasn’t life-threatening.
The sheriff’s office, along with Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents, began an investigation.
They later determined “Moore was not the victim of a crime and that her stab wound is consistent with being self-inflicted,” the release states.
The sheriff’s office said the case drew considerable attention in North Hall, with some residents frustrated “over what they perceived as a lack of information about the case.”
In a prepared statement, Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch said: “It’s important to understand that we walk a very fine line in cases like this. On one hand we have to ensure that we’re protecting a person presumed to be the victim of a terrible crime by pursuing all leads and seeking to bring the perpetrator to justice, while ensuring the safety of the community at large.”
“On the other hand, if the facts lead us to believe that the case is unfounded, we have to properly establish that while reassuring citizens that their community is safe. Until all the facts were known in this case, we simply could not lean too heavily in one direction or the other.”
“To do so would have been either a terrible injustice to the presumed victim or created an even greater alarm in the community.”
Couch went on to say that “this has been an unfortunate situation for (Moore) and her family, as well as the local residents, and it’s our hope that we will all soon be able to move forward as a community.”
Moore’s family released this statement through Gainesville attorney Graham McKinnon: “The events of the past few weeks have been extremely painful for our family. We stand by Jillian with love and prayers and we ask the community to provide the same support for our family.”
“Clearly this is a tragedy,” McKinnon said.
He added that “from what we’ve seen, it appears that Jillian had a bad reaction to some prescription medicine she was taking, and she is now actively seeking the help she needs” at an inpatient mental rehabilitation facility.
By GRANT McCABE
A former policeman accused of historical sex abuse is critically ill in hospital after being attacked outside court.
James Ainsworth is said to have been set upon during a break in his trial at the High Court in Glasgow on Wednesday afternoon.
The 61 year-old received CPR in the street as paramedics battled to save his life following the incident which happened around 1pm.
Ainsworth was rushed to the city’s Southern General hospital where he remains in a critical condition.
A suspect is now in custody and a judge yesterday ordered a full probe into the incident and how it occurred.
Ainsworth, of Largs, Ayrshire, was on trial accused of a string of offences against a number of individuals dating back to the 1960s.
The case began on Monday and testimony was heard from several witnesses.
The attack is said to have taken place during the lunchtime adjournment on Wednesday.
Police initially attended to Ainsworth, who was lying on the ground just yards from the front door of the High Court.
A man, thought to be the attacker, was escorted back into the building by two officers.
An ambulance soon arrived on the scene while the area – close to Glasgow Green – was taped off.
One eye-witness said: “Almost every court police officer was on the scene when it became apparent what was happening.”
“The man on the pavement was not moving and was clearly in a very bad way. There were also items scattered nearby.”
“Paramedics treated him on the street for around 30 minutes including giving him CPR. Another man, who could have been a witness to it all, was also doing what he could to help.”
“CID officers were also soon on the scene. It is just is not something you expect to see outside a court building in broad daylight.”
It is not thought any weapon was used in the attack. Blood could still be seen at the area where the incident happened yesterday.
Reporting of the incident had been banned for 24 hours while a decision was made what to do with the case against Ainsworth.
Prosecutor Kath Harper yesterday moved to halt the trial stating it “seemed unlikely” that Ainsworth would be fit to attend court “in the near future at all”.
Miss Harper also said: “Mr Ainsworth is in intensive care at the Southern General. His injuries are life threatening and he remains unconscious.”
“He was put into a medically induced coma. Sedation was lifted and doctors are awaiting a reaction.”
“Medical staff are unable to give any prediction for recovery.”
The jury was discharged after Judge Lady Scott said Ainsworth had to be taken to hospital for an “emergency admission”.
She added: “This may come as a shock and I hope you do not find it too distressing.”
Prosecutors can re-raise proceedings against Ainsworth should he be fit to return to the dock in the future.
Prior to jurors returning, Lady Scott said the events were a “matter of concern for the court”. She earlier stated “security issues might arise” after what took place.
She yesterday told the court: “I will want to see a full inquiry and a report into what is happening.”
Lady Scott said the matter has also been referred to one of Scotland’s top judges – the Lord Justice General – who also awaits the outcome of a probe.
Police Scotland confirmed a 31 year-old man is in custody and is due to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court today.
By Jack Fleischman
The series of articles on sex predators was interesting, but way off.
I have represented numerous persons in Jimmy Ryce cases all over the state, rarely lost, and none of my former clients has re-offended. Your article plays on the misconception and fears of the public — much like the creation of the "within 2,500 feet" living restriction that is nothing more than a dog and pony show for the public by politicians, and can create more problems than good by destabilizing living conditions; thereby actually creating a higher chance/risk factor for that small group that may re-offend.
The science I have been shown over the years is that less than 3 percent of the population of sex offenders ever re-offend — so 97 percent will not. The cases in your article fall into that small group. The repeat population of alcoholics that drink and drive may be higher than a sex offender re-offending — should there be a program to commit them considering the damage they inflict?
The reality is that the science behind the evaluations is no better than flipping a coin. Some defendants are great at hiding their obsessive thoughts — others not — and some don't even belong in the commitment center. There may also be some innocent men in the center.
The bottom line — in my opinion — is that unless every person convicted of a sex offense is sentenced to life, there is no program in the world that can safeguard the public 100 percent.
The public would be better served and our tax money better spent, in lieu of the commitment program, by requiring mandatory lifetime parole if a sex offender is released, with funding for special units in each county to track and monitor offenders on a daily and regular basis.
- We disagree with the lifetime parole and daily monitoring.
A former Akron police detective has pleaded guilty to five sex-related offenses involving juveniles.
Bob L. Pankonien Jr., 52, will be sentenced Sept. 25 by Summit County Common Pleas Judge Lynne Callahan. He pleaded guilty to pandering sexually oriented matter, three counts of illegal use of a police computer and a single count of receiving stolen property.
Pankonien was originally facing a 19-count indictment that included sexual offenses against juvenile.
Prosecutors dismissed more serious counts of sexual battery and gross sexual imposition, involving boys and girls he was previously acquainted with.
Pankonien was placed on leave without pay pending the outcome of the criminal case when he was indicted late in 2012. He has since left the department.
|Jimmy Watson Jones|
By Anny Sivilay
A rape case going back to late 2006 wrapped last week, when LeFlore County District Judge Jon Sullivan formally sentenced retired Arkoma police officer and former Moffett police chief, Jimmy Watson Jones to 30 years in prison for raping a child. The sentencing followed the recommendation of the jury who found Jones guilty after a three day trial that was held in June.
Jones, 65, of Arkoma was charged of rape by instrumentation of a preteen girl between Oct. 2006 and Feb. 2007. Jones has repeatedly denied any sexual contact with the child or having had any sexual contact or inappropriate touching of the two witnesses, who are now adults.
At the time of the crime Jones had reportedly already retired from law enforcement, having served with the Arkoma Police Department from 1983-85, a Sequoyah County Sheriff's Department reserve officer and jailer from 1985-89, and then Moffett police chief from 1991-95.
A trial in May ended in a mistrial when a witness reportedly spoke about a matter the judge had previously excluded from the record.
Jones will have to serve 85 percent of his 30-year sentencing in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections before becoming eligible for parole, equating to 25 and half years, and a fine of $10,000.
Judge Sullivan ordered Jones to post-sentence supervision of 4 and half years or the remainder of his sentence, whichever is shorter, per the suggestion of Margaret Nicholas, Assistant District Attorney, and attorney Rob Cowan, Oklahoma Indigent Defense System.
Jones was also ordered to compensate the victim with $250, another $250 to cover cost of his pre-sentencing investigation, and $1,000 for the OIDS representation and court costs.
Judge Sullivan informed Jones his duty and restrictions upon being release from prison, which is to register as a sex offender and the restrictions placed on regarding his places of residence.
By Hurst Laviana
Former Sedgwick County detention Deputy David Kendall was bound over for trial Wednesday on charges that he raped two jail inmates last year and sexually propositioned four others.
At the close of a three-day hearing in which all six inmates testified, District Judge Joseph Bribiesca ruled that there was probable cause to believe that Kendall, 23, committed crimes ranging from aggravated sodomy to misdemeanor sexual battery.
Although the ruling means prosecutors can move forward with their case against Kendall, the hearing also produced evidence to suggest that the incident that led to the charges may have been staged by a 34-year-old former Crips gang member.
The former gang member testified Monday that Kendall entered his cell on the night of June 3, 2012, cuffed his hands behind his back, pressed what he said was a Taser against his back and raped him. After Kendall left the cell, the former gang member testified, he began kicking and screaming to let the other guards know that he had been raped. DNA evidence later showed that Kendall did have sex with the inmate that morning.
Wednesday’s testimony included statements from two inmates who said the rape victim concocted the story. One said the victim had consensual sex with Kendall that morning and then grabbed the deputy’s handcuffs and put them on.
“That guard did not rape him; I know that for a fact,” inmate Chad Benoit told a sheriff’s detective shortly after the incident. “Basically it was a fabricated story.”
“He said he set him up,” inmate Gregory Nicks testified, recalling a conversation he overheard the rape victim having. “He said he came into his room and they agreed to have consensual sex. … He proceeded to let Mr. Kendall have sex with him, and when he was finished, he reached down, he took his cuffs and cuffed himself up and started screaming rape.”
Defense lawyers argued throughout the hearing that after the first staged incident, the other five victims came forward with their own stories of sexual abuse in the hopes of receiving a share of millions of dollars in compensation that might be at stake. The inmates collectively have filed claims against Sedgwick County seeking more than $20 million.
Three inmates were called to the stand as defense witnesses on Wednesday, but two of them refused to cooperate.
“I know too many people in the jail,” said Benoit, 38, after taking the stand. “Being in this courtroom now, I’m in extreme risk.”
After Bribiesca tried to explain to him that he had a legal obligation to testify, Benoit said he had lost his memory.
“I used a lot of drugs, so I don’t remember anything,” he told Bribiesca. “I don’t know anything.”
Bribiesca then allowed defense lawyer Charlie O’Hara to introduce a statement that Benoit gave to a detective shortly after the incident. In that statement, Benoit told the detective that he had known the victim for years.
Benoit told the detective that the victim hoped to cash in on the incident through a civil lawsuit
“It don’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out,” he told the detective.
Prosecutors C.J. Rieg pointed out that Benoit told the detective at the end of the interview, “I think the whole thing was a setup deal. That’s my opinion. I don’t know. I don’t know.”
Nicks, 33, was a more cooperative witness, but he was only able to tell about a conversation he overheard as the victim was describing the rape to another inmate.
The last inmate called to the stand, Tyrone Hudson, also tried to invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to testify.
“I don’t have nothing to testify on behalf of Mr. Kendall,” he told Bribiesca after taking the stand. “I plead the Fifth. I don’t want to incriminate myself.”
After meeting privately with Hudson in his office, Bribiesca ruled that Hudson did have a right to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Bribiesca also ruled that any statements that Hudson may have given to investigators were unreliable and inadmissible. He did not say why.
The state’s final witness in the hearing was detention Lt. Lasanda Linzy, who provided some details about the events of June 3, 2012.
She said jail records show Kendall went into the inmate’s cell about 3:45 a.m. on June 3 after seeing the inmate sitting on his bunk with a blanket around his neck. Thinking that the inmate was suicidal, Kendall went into the cell and was immediately attacked, Kendall said in a report he filed about the incident.
Kendall said in that report that he pushed the inmate’s hands away and managed to get a handcuff on one wrist. He said he then pushed the inmate onto his bunk and secured the second handcuff before leaving the cell and locking the door behind him. Kendall said the inmate got up and kicked the door while shouting obscenities and threatening to “nail” him.
Other deputies who responded found the inmate naked and handcuffed in his cell saying he had been raped by Kendall, Linzy said.
By Sarah Newell Williamson
UPDATE: Social networking ban for NC sex offenders remains in effect
GREENSBORO - Some area law enforcement agencies are speaking out against Tuesday’s North Carolina Court of Appeals ruling (PDF) that a law prohibiting registered sex offenders from using social networking sites is too broad and illegal.
“They need to rewrite the law if the concern is it’s too broad,” said Randy Jones, spokesman with the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office. “We need to have protection for our kids. These people are online, in social chat rooms.”
According to the 2008 law, it’s a felony for a sex offender to use a website that allows minors to become members or create or maintain pages on the website.
A convicted sex offender contested his case, arguing that the law violated his free speech, freedom of expression and freedom of the press under the First and 14th amendments. It is the first constitutional challenge to the law heard before the court, according to the ruling.
The defendant argued that the statute is too broad, treating all sex offenders the same, regardless of the severity of the crime they committed, whether a computer was used and without regard of how likely they were to commit a crime again.
Under the statute, convicted offenders could not use Amazon, Google or even the Food Network’s website because the sites allow social profiles, message boards, photo sharing and derive revenue from ads.
“It fails to target those offenders who pose a factually-based risk to children through the use or threatened use of banned sites or services,” the ruling reads. “It burdens more people than necessary to achieve its purported goal.”
The three-judge Court of Appeals panel ruled unanimously. The Court of Appeals is the state’s intermediate appeals venue. Attorney General Roy Cooper, whose office represented the state in the case, said lawyers will ask the state Supreme Court to hear the case. Since it was a unanimous ruling, justices aren't obligated to take up the appeal.
Guilford County Sheriff’s Col. Randy Powers said the ruling won’t have a big impact in Guilford County, because it deals with many first-time offenders, rather than those who have been convicted.
The sheriff’s office is still concerned about the Court of Appeals’ ruling, though.
“The question will be, does the (state) Supreme Court take the case or not?” Powers asked.
If the Court of Appeals ruling stands, Powers said he and Guilford Sheriff BJ Barnes have talked about trying to speak to a local legislator about amending the current law or writing a new one that would better address the issue, so convicted sex offenders would not have access to chat rooms and social networking websites where they can prey on children.
As for any future online activity convicted sex offenders may be involved in, Powers said that will be addressed as it arises.
“Hopefully, there will be another statute amending this one, or a new one will be passed,” he said. “This will not stop us from making arrests for people soliciting (children) online.”
- It shouldn't. Let people use the service, they have a right to, but if they commit a crime, then arrest them. Duh!!
“It needs to go on to the Supreme Court,” said Randy Jones, spokesman with the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office. “Sex offenders are using social networking for predatory actions.”
- Some are, but not all, and the law targets all ex-sex offenders.
The Alamance County Sheriff’s Office Crimes Against Children Task Force monitors sex offenders online, Jones said, to see if they are involved in illegal activity. He said the task force is not watching the offenders’ spending habits.
“You wouldn’t find us going after the people who look at the Food Network’s website,” Jones said. “I haven’t seen anyone charged (for social media use) unless we’re already investigating them.”
Many people charged with sex crimes are repeat offenders, Jones said, which is why he’s concerned about the ruling. They also sometimes target several people at once.
- That is simply not true, based on the facts and not ones own personal opinion.
A few years ago, Jones recalls one suspect in his 40s who was posing as a 16-year-old online, targeting 51 people at once.
The Burlington Police Department will continue to investigate convicted sex offenders’ online activities as best it can under the Court of Appeals’ decision, said Assistant Chief Chris Verdeck.
- Sex offender social media change worries parents
- Court strikes down law banning sex offenders from social media
When are we going to stop cherry picking crimes that get a registry and put all ex-felons on an online registry we can all search to see all the criminals who live around us? If it's okay for ex-sex offenders and now possibly gun offenders, then it's good enough for all criminals.
By Sarah Matheson
NEW YORK - The public could be given access to an online gun offender registry, similar to the sex offender registry, if City Council approves extending access outside of the NYPD.
The registry would provide photos, names, and addresses of people released from prison for gun-related offenses in the last four years. Eventually the registry could go statewide.
The NYPD currently uses a citywide gun offender registry, which was implemented under legislation sponsored by City Council Member Peter Vallone Jr. upon the request of Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2006.
It includes offenders who were convicted of illegal possession of a loaded handgun, possession of three or more illegal handguns, possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, possession of an assault weapon, and possession of a disguised firearm.
Vallone will introduce an amendment to existing legislation that would extend registry access to the public at today’s City Council stated meeting (Thursday, Aug. 22). If approved, Vallone said the legislation could come into law by January.
Vallone said he had also been working with other public officials to make the registry statewide.
“An informed public is a safe public,” Vallone said, speaking at a press conference on the steps of City Hall on Wednesday, Aug. 21.
- That is simply a false statement. Just because people have information doesn't mean they are safe, besides, if that is true then why isn't the government transparent like we were promised?
- Sounds like the same old "statistics" we hear people say over and over again.
Last year a dozen people were arrested for not complying with the requirements of the city’s gun offender registry, Vallone said. He said people on the registry were among some of the city’s most violent offenders.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. joined Vallone and other public officials at the press conference on Wednesday, Aug. 21.
In Diaz’s annual State of the Borough speech in February, he had proposed a statewide public registry of gun offenders. He said it was one of many innovative ways to curb gun violence in the city.
- Another false statement. It won't curb gun violence, but you keep dreaming!
He said Vallone’s amendment would let the public find out who in their neighborhood was potentially dangerous, and who they should keep their children away from. “I think it would go a great way for preventative measures,” he said.
- Once again, it's "for the children!" Come on, it's the same old song and dance we've all heard a thousand times. If they really wanted to "protect the public" and children, then they'd release all criminal records to a public registry we can all search. Guns don't just harm children, they also harm adults, but we all know that already.
State Senator Jeff Klein, an original cosponsor of Megan’s Law in 1995, which led to the New York’s public sex offender registry, was also at the press conference. He said he was working to push gun registry legislation through the State Senate.
“We have to make sure we crack down on illegal guns. I think this is one way we can eliminate illegal guns in our city and our state,” he said.
- Eliminate guns? LOL! Keep on dreaming!
Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito said the registry would provide people with information to keep their families safe.
“Our communities are plagued with gun violence,” she said.
- And why is that? Passing more and more laws won't magically make it all go away! In the end, it will only make matters worse, we believe.
Registration requirements continue for four years after offenders are released from prison. If an offender fails to tell the NYPD they have changed address, it is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by one year in prison.
- Why not for life like the sex offender punishment laws?
New York City was the first city in the nation to introduce a Gun Offender Registry Act, and was followed by Baltimore in 2007. Washington, D.C., Chicago, and New Orleans are other cities that have introduced registries, Vallone said.