Monday, September 30, 2013

OR - Sex offenders in Oregon: Commenters debate effectiveness of sex offender registry

Sex offenders in Oregon
Original Article

09/30/2013

By Maxine Bernstein

State and federal sex offender laws are clearly a hot-button topic -- already drawing strong opinions from commenters in advance of The Oregonian analysis scheduled to run Tuesday.

The Oregonian told readers that the package of stories was coming this week and that was enough to prompt an outpouring.

A sampling:

Gresham resident Tom Madison, who leads a group called Oregon Action Committee, is a registered sex offender active in a national movement to fight mandatory registration laws.

Madison, 61, argues that the laws are ineffective and unfair and keeps those convicted of sex crimes from being able to "move on with their lives."

He was convicted of prostitution, attempt to compel prostitution and third-degree sexual abuse in Washington County in June 2000 and completed probation five years later. He was ordered not to have contact with female minors and must register annually and with each change of address.

"Let them reintegrate back into society. If someone has paid their debt to society, why would anybody still be accountable to the state?" he asks. "It just smacks of a kind of fascism, a kind of authoritarianism."

He's active in a national group called Reform Sex Offender Laws, seeking to remove at least 90 percent of the people on the registry.

"We've got to get smart about this. Get rid of 90 percent of the registrants right off the bat, so law enforcement doesn't have to waste its time," he said.

Madison lobbied against the new law that Oregon lawmakers adopted last session that allows offenders to petition the state parole board to stop registering after a certain number of years following the end of their parole or probation supervision. He thinks the relief should be automatic, if an offender doesn't get re-arrested after a certain number of years.

A woman who gave her name only as Christine said she lived in Sellwood and had told both Lake Oswego and Portland police about a convicted sex offender out of Nevada who hadn't registered in Oregon and was often visiting her neighbor's apartment.

She said police had few resources to address the matter, and she moved out of Oregon.

"We also need a more efficient system of tracking them because just throwing police officers at it isn't the total solution either,'' she wrote in an email.

Mark McKechnie, executive director of Youth, Rights & Justice in Portland, says sex offender registries would be more useful if they were limited to the highest risk offenders. He contends law enforcement agencies could more effectively monitor and track those at the highest risk to re-offend if the registry weren't so crowded with juvenile and other low-risk offenders.

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MO - Reforming Missouri’s sex offender registry

Senator Brad Lager
Senator Brad Lager
Original Article

09/28/2013

By Brad Lager (Website)

Missouri’s sex offender registry was created back in the mid-1990s as part of a nationwide movement. The concept is simple: require offenders convicted of specific sexually related crimes to enter their personal information into a public database that citizens could then search to see if there were offenders living in their area. Unfortunately, with government, nothing is ever simple, and managing a responsible sex offender registry has proven more difficult than ever expected.

The sex offender registry is an important tool in keeping our communities safe. Many sex offenders, especially violent ones, are at a high risk of committing a similar crime. The challenge, however, is that not all sex offenders are the same, and the laws dictating who has to register have become so broad that they now encompass crimes as brutal as the sexual abuse of a child and as innocuous as getting caught urinating in a public park after dark.

By treating all these crimes as equal, we’re condemning some people to lifelong punishments that may far outweigh their offense. One dumb decision as a teenager, and a person is stigmatized for the rest of their life.

A perfect example was given during this debate. A senior in high school (he was 17) begins dating a freshman (she was 14). They become sexually involved, and during the course of the relationship he turns 18. Upon learning about the two teenagers, her parents pursued charges of statutory rape against the boy, despite the relationship being completely consensual and having started when both were technically minors. The boy was ultimately convicted and thereby forced to register on the sex offender list. Fast forward 15 years. The high school sweethearts have married and have two children. He is a great husband, and a loving and caring father who takes his family to church every Sunday. The all-American family, except for the fact that the husband is still listed on Missouri’s sex offender list, lumped in with people who’ve sexually abused children and raped women. The saddest part of this story is that the relationship that the father is allowed to have with his kids (events he can legally attend, etc.) is heavily governed and limited by state law.

Because of stories like this, this year, the Legislature passed House Bill 301 (PDF), which was an attempt at reforming Missouri’s sex offender registry. In my opinion, this legislation made it too easy to get off the list and thankfully, the governor vetoed it. Regardless, it did begin a conversation we should continue having.

It is time to instill some common sense into this broken system. We must find a balance that both protects the public from true offenders while allowing those who pose no future risk to go through a legal proceeding, after a certain period of time and under very specific situations, that would provide a path to having their names removed from the registry. Finding that middle ground won’t be easy, and reform will take time, but as a nation and a state that prides itself on justice, we have a duty to see that the punishments under our legal system fit the crime.

Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah, represents Senate District 12, which includes northern Clay County and the cities of Smithville, Kearney and Holt, in the Missouri Legislature. He can be reached at 573-751-1415 or brad.lager@senate.mo.gov.


CA - The Doctors - Halloween Sex Offender Ban - Hysteria continues year after year!

Halloween sex offender hysteria continues year after year!
We are not sure why this show would be reporting on sex offender law issues except to maybe get more ratings or something?

Keep in mind that Halloween is the safest day of the year for children, from what we've read, and there hasn't been any (maybe one) cases of where a child was sexually harmed by a known or unknown sex offender, it's all hype and hysteria over emotions and nothing else.

Also, the "sexologist" uses the "pedophile" term, as most ignorant people do, and also says the recidivism rate is 50%, which is a lie! It seems that if she was an "expert" and did some actual homework, she'd see what she said was a flat out lie, and not all ex-sex offenders are pedophiles which she seems to think. Just because she is a "sexologist" doesn't mean she is a sex offender expert.


Video Description:
The Doctors express their viewpoints on an ordinance that bans registered sex offenders from putting up Halloween decorations and dispensing candy to trick-or-treaters.

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FL - ACLU: Florida Sex Offender Reform Should be "Based on Facts, Not Fear"

FearOriginal Article

09/30/2013

By Kyle Swenson

For legislators - especially the ones looking to earn tough-on-crime points - it's open season on sex offenders. Following a Sun Sentinel investigation that found a high number of re-offenders among the worst of the worst, Tallahassee has elbowed everything else to the side, clamoring to find new ways to cool down the frayed nerves of a frightened public.

But as new ideas for handling sex offenders keeping popping up, it's time we look at where the line between safety-at-all cost and constitutional rights come into play.

Take No Porn for Pervs. Last week, we wrote about how Sen. Kelli Stargel and Rep. Katie Edwards were pushing off legislation that would make it illegal for sex offenders on probation to view, access, own or posses "obscene, pornographic, or sexually stimulating visual or auditory material."

First off, the whole idea behind the bill is the light-on-stats assumption that porn viewing correlates with sex offenses. But really, the prospect of the government wagging a definitive finger over what material someone can and can't view - that seems like a dangerously slippery slope.

The Florida American Civil Liberties Union has actually been looking into the situation. Last week, they gave New Times the following statement.

"The intention that the bill authors state they had in filing the legislation - the reduction of recidivism for former offenders - is an important one. But there hasn't been any evidence presented to suggest that this change to Florida law would support that important goal. Also, by expanding the universe of banned materials to any material that could be 'sexually stimulating,' the bill would make the law vague and subject to inconsistent and abusive application. Reducing recidivism and ensuring public safety requires looking at genuine policy solutions based on facts, not fear."

But really, No Porn for Pervs is just the beginning. Since the Sun Sentinel's initial report, there's been a steady torrent of updates, each piece jacking up the political pressure for the state TO DO SOMETHING. Last week, legislators held hearings to air out new ideas. Although some of the responses seem like concrete steps toward improving the system, others are a little troubling.

For example, we can probably all agree that it would be a good idea to increase the supervision on all sex predators released from custody, or to expand who is evaluated under the state's Jimmy Ryce law, the provision that aims to identify the greatest public threats for civil commitment.

But the same panel also kicked around the idea of expanding the definition of sex offenders, but provided no specifics.

A 50 year minimum sentence is also on the table - sounds appealing, but can the criminal system handle it?

And most disturbing, there's the idea that prosecutors should be allowed to pursue civil commitment even when state psychologists don't think it's appropriate. That means giving the law-and-order arm of the state an override option when they don't agree with what medical professionals have to say.

At this point, these are all just ideas that haven't yet been workshopped into specific legislation. But as No Porn for Pervs shows, lawmakers are pulling the trigger quick on this stuff. We're in a heightened atmosphere of panic right now over sex offender issues, the exact hothouse conditions for cultivating some extremism-in-defense-is-no-vice policy which we might regret in cooler times.


AUSTRALIA - People want more from sex offender register

Disinformation
Original Article

09/30/2013

By AMANDA BANKS

More than one in four people believe WA’s public sex offender register does not go far enough in identifying the details of paedophiles (sex offenders), according to preliminary results from a groundbreaking research project into the national-first website.
- When is the media and wanna-be reporters going to learn the true meaning of pedophile? Not all ex-sex offenders on the registry are pedophiles. True pedophiles are rare, not the norm like they try to make it out to be.

Early results reveal 27 per cent of people who have responded to a survey as part of a study by Edith Cowan University’s Social Justice Research Centre believe all convicted child sex offenders should be listed on the website and inadequate details are provided in identifying paedophiles (sex offenders).
- Just because someone sexually abused a child doesn't mean they are a pedophile, based on the definition and not personal feelings and ignorance.

The survey has also revealed 20 per cent of about 100 respondents to the questionnaire believe the public register stigmatises offenders by invading their right to privacy (Wikipedia) and the website will encourage vigilante behaviour. This group also believed child sex offending was not common and those who committed these types of offenders and crimes were no different to other types of crimes.

Professor Caroline Taylor, head of the ECU School of Psychology and Social Science Foundation, said generally people found the sex register website easy to use.

But Professor Taylor said responses to the survey revealed the community still lacked awareness about the prevalence of child sex abuse and its long term consequences for victims.

Professor Taylor said it was of concern that the initial survey results suggested about one in five respondents did not believe child sex offences were any more serious than any other crime and were ignorant of the lasting consequences for victims of the offences.

She said the survey had only been completed by about 100 people and she was hoping up to 1000 responses would be lodged to assist the study.

It is just a golden opportunity for people, regardless of their stance, to actually have their say and talk about why they feel it is a good idea or not a good idea,” Professor Taylor said.

It is a good opportunity for people in a totally anonymous environment.”

The sex offender register went online on October 15 and was visited an average of 500 times a day, or had more than 90,000 hits, in the first six months of operation.

The register includes three tiers that provide levels of access and information about categories of child sex offenders and dangerous repeat sex offenders. Legislation introduced with the register also includes penalties for vigilante behaviour and republication of information from the website.