Friday, August 23, 2013

NJ - Megan’s Law amendment restricting passports approved by House Foreign Affairs Committee

International Megan's Law?
Original Article

08/02/2013

By MEGAN GOLDSCHMIDT

U.S. sex offenders convicted of crimes against children are currently not limited on where they can travel internationally, but soon that may be changing.

A new amendment to Megan’s Law that restricts the passports of U.S. citizens convicted of sex crimes against children was unanimously approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Aug. 1.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-Robbinsville) wrote the amendment which is now part of the U.S. State Department authorization bill H.R. 2848. The bill is expected to be on the House floor in September.

Jeff Sagnip, Public Policy Director for Smith, said that since the amendment is attached to that specific bill, the likelihood of it being approved increases.

The amendment grants the Secretary of State discretion to limit the valid duration of passports for convicted sex offenders listed on the National Sex Offender Registry, or to revoke the passport of an individual convicted by a court of a sex offense in a foreign country.

Sagnip said that the Secretary of State and State Department would also be monitoring potential travel of sex offenders who obtain a new passport.

We know that Thailand is a high area for sex trafficking. So if a registered sex offender obtained a passport and was planning a trip there, the department would look into it and be monitoring that person. If they see that person as a risk on that trip, they could act,” Sagnip said.

According to Smith, authorizing the State Department to restrict passports of registered sex offenders has the ability to deter and protect.

Predators who have been convicted for sexually exploiting children have used long-term passports to evade return to the United States and have moved to a third country where they continue to exploit and abuse children. By requiring child sex offenders to renew their passports, more regularly, we can curtail the current 10-year window of unchecked travel and offer greater protection for vulnerable women and children around the world,” Smith said.

The amendment is linked with Megan’s Law, legislature named for Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old from Smith’s district in Hamilton who was kidnapped, raped, and brutally murdered in 1994. Her assailant was a convicted, repeat sex offender living across the street, unbeknownst to families in the neighborhood. The law requires public notification of convicted sex offenders living in the community. Smith supported a federal Megan’s Law which became law in 1996.

The amount of travel by known predators is staggering,” said Smith, who has worked for years with the Kanka family to promote legislation that would protect children from sex offenders, “A report released by the Government Accountability Office found that nearly 4,500 registered sex offenders apply for U.S. passports each year. Since a passport is valid up to 10 years, some offenders can remain unwatched for years.”

Smith wrote similar legislation in 2010 called The International Megan’s Law. The bill established a model for international law enforcement notifications when convicted child sex offenders pose a danger to children in a destination country. The bill passed the House in 2010, but the Senate failed to act on the bill.

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WA - Kent tells 10 group homes: Move out sex offenders or face fines

Sex offender housing
Original Article (Video Available)

Since when did having a roof over your head become illegal? And do they think because more than one ex-sex offender lives there that they are planning some mass molestation of children or something? Come on!

08/23/2013

By Hana Kim

KENT - It’s an ultimatum that could put 70 sex offenders back on the streets. The city of Kent is threatening to shut down 10 group homes that are breaking city code.

But most of the sex offenders are not budging, saying they have no where else to live. Each group homes faces a $500 fine per day starting in September and Kent’s mayor says the city will fight it out in court if they have to.

It’s the 6th largest city in Washington and in Kent more than 300 sex offenders now live in the city.

These guys need a place to stay,” said group home manager Eddie Weber.

Weber manages six of the 10 homes the city is trying to shut down. His properties have been operating for years as clean and sober homes. Once the city realized multiple sex offenders were living together, the eviction notices went out in May.

Mayor Suzette Cooke
Suzette Cooke
The existence of group homes housing sex offenders is illegal,” said Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke.

The Department of Corrections knows they are here, everyone who came here had to be approved to be here so we are trying to follow the rules,” said Weber.

Weber says he oversees 50 sex offenders who have nowhere to go but the streets, including many level 3 sex offenders who say a stable home keeps them in line.

I would say so yes because here I have structure,” said one sex offender.

Everybody has availability of apartments or other living situations where they could go to,” said Cooke.

The idea that it’s easy for these people to find housing is ludicrous,” said Weber.

Some residents can empathize but says it’s still scary to know that as many as 10 sex offenders are living under one roof in some cases.

I have two little kids so it’s a concern,” said Kent resident Felicia Tanner.

It’s so much of a concern that Tanner often uses an app on her cell phone often to track sex offenders.

But at least one neighbor is defending the group homes saying the city should leave them alone as long as the sex offenders are behaving. “If neighbors are comfortable with it why would anybody else care about it.”

The city of Kent not only cares but is now threatening legal action.

Five hundred dollars a day or going to King County Superior court taking them to court on it,” said Cooke.

Weber says he is not budging.

For now until I don’t have any ground to stand on,” said Weber.

Weber also says that because many of his sex offenders are going through rehab they have a legal right to stay in his program.

His next step is to try to get the feds involved. Until then he will face $3000 a day starting in September because he says the sex offenders will be more dangerous if they are forced into the streets.

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