Monday, October 28, 2013

AL - Sex offender speaks out against Alabama bill that would regulate sex offender clusters

Community Notification Flyers
Community Notification Flyers
Original Article

10/28/2013

By Mike Cason

MONTGOMERY - A registered sex offender is doing what he says few other offenders will do, speaking out against a bill that would further restrict where they can live.

Derek Logue opposes a bill that would make it illegal for sex offenders to live at the same residence without a live-in monitor and a license from the sheriff. Legislators and a prosecutor in Autauga and Chilton counties say the licensing and monitoring are needed to protect the public from having large numbers of offenders in one place.
- If you want to prevent a large number of offenders from living near each other then remove the residency restrictions that are creating the clusters in the first place!

Logue says it’s already hard enough for them to rejoin society after leaving prison. They can’t live or work within 2,000 feet of a school or daycare.

There’s not a lot of hope for us,” Logue said. “But transitional housing at least gives people some stability. What you want is to have a chance to reintegrate back into society.”

Logue said they need stability during the first couple of years after prison and said that's when they are more likely to commit another crime. He said the bill would effectively block halfway houses and group homes that could help offenders and reduce recidivism.

Officials in Chilton and Autauga counties say their priority is public safety.

C.J. Robinson, chief deputy district attorney for Autauga, Elmore and Chilton counties, said 49 sex offenders have lived at the same Chilton County address since 2010. An average of about 10 live there on most days, Sheriff Kevin Davis said. They live in trailers behind a small church. It’s not in a dense neighborhood, but there are houses scattered along the two-lane highway near Triumph Church, which is outside Clanton.
- And how many new sexual crimes have been committed by these folks?  Apparently none or we are sure they would have mentioned it!

Robinson said nothing in state law prohibits such a concentration of sex offenders. Laws pertaining only to Birmingham and Jefferson County restrict sex offenders from living together there.

Robinson compiled his numbers from notices the district attorney's office receives when a registered sex offender moves into the county. He points out that only two of the 49 men committed their crimes in Chilton County.

More than half of the 49 were convicted of rape. Most of their victims were minors, including many who were children.

Sheriff Davis said the men have not caused a problem. Robinson said he doesn't want to wait until they do.
- If you look at the facts and not your own emotions, you'd see the recidivism rate is already very low, so the chance of someone committing a new sex crime is very slim to none!

I don't have the luxury to morally sit and wait until we have a child or a woman victimized by one of these men,” Robinson said in an email. “They have no ties to Chilton County and I would like to see them return to from where they came. We will take our troubled souls back, other counties should tend to their own as well. This community wants to send a message that we are not a landfill for the rest of the state to dump their sexual predators on.”
- We're sure if you had a large number in your own county you'd be saying you didn't want them either!

Ricky Martin, pastor of Triumph Church, declined an interview request from AL.com.

Logue said he doesn't know Martin or know about the program, but says the fact that the men haven't caused a problem seems noteworthy.

"Despite how they may feel about this group of people, it seems like the program is pretty successful," Logue said.

Bill pre-filed for January

Rep. Paul Beckman
Rep. Paul Beckman
Reps. Kurt Wallace, R-Maplesville and Paul Beckman, R-Prattville, are sponsoring House Bill 21, pre-filed for the legislative session that starts in January. It would define a lot where two or more unrelated sex offenders live as a “residential sex offender cluster.” It would make it illegal for a sex offender to live in a cluster that was not licensed by the sheriff. It would make it illegal for a person to own or operate an unlicensed cluster.
- And how much is the license going to cost?  Surely this will be knocked down by the courts?

In addition to the place in Chilton County, Beckman said multiple sex offenders live in trailers on a piece of land in Autauga County.

We’re right now trying to protect the public,” Beckman said. “And the public is saying to us right now in Chilton County and in Autauga County, ‘We don’t want to take care of other people’s sex offenders.’
- If no crimes are being committed, then how are you protecting the public?

Wallace proposed a similar bill during this year’s legislative session, but it failed.
- And surely this one will as well?

Logue spoke against that bill at a public hearing. He plans to return to speak against the new bill next year.

Most registered citizens are too afraid to speak out,” Logue said. “Somebody has to be a voice because so few of us are willing to speak out.”

Logue pleaded guilty to first degree sexual abuse in 2001 in Franklin County. His victim was an 11-year-old girl. He was released from prison in 2003 and lives in Cincinnati.

Logue operates a website called Once Fallen.com and advocates for reforms of laws that limit where sex offenders can live and work. He supports punishment for sex crimes but says punishment should not continue after an offender has served his time.

Proponents of HB21 say sex offenders living together could negatively influence each other and make it more likely they will commit another crime.
- And that is strictly based on emotions and not facts.  Do they think ex-offenders are going to plan some mass molestation or something?  Give us a break!  Other offenders want to stay clean and so they keep each other in check, not the other way around.

"I don't like the idea that like minds are all together," Beckman said.
- Like in congress?

Logue takes issue with that and says sex offenders are not a homogeneous group.

We’re not all pedophiles,” Logue said. “We’re not all rapists.”

Proponents of HB21 say they would not oppose sex offenders living in facilities that effectively counsel or treat them, although they say they know of no such program. The bill would authorize the Alabama Department of Mental Health to promulgate rules for residential sex offender clusters.
- Sounds like a conflict of interest to us.

David Jackson, chief operating officer for the department, said it does not certify treatment programs for sex offenders.

Concern about unintended consequences

A lawyer for a nonprofit organization that advocates for criminal justice reforms said there could be unintended consequences of restrictive laws that make it hard for sex offenders to find homes and jobs.

First and foremost, I don’t think anyone disagrees that our first priority as a society should be to protect our children,” said Ateeyah Hollie, who works for the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta. “While I appreciate the lawmakers attempt at doing so, my main concern is that they do so in a practical manner that won’t further endanger our community.”

"The more restrictive we get with these residency and employment restrictions, the more likely we’re going to increase recidivism, which I don’t think is the lawmakers’ intent.
- Well we think that is their intent, so they can keep the prison system raking in the money!

Hollie said instability in residency and employment are key factors in recidivism.

Hollie spoke against the bill Wallace proposed during this year’s legislative session. She has not read the new bill.

Registration and residency restrictions on sex offenders gained national attention in the 1990s. Congress and states passed what were called Megan's Law, named after a 7-year-old New Jersey girl who was assaulted and murdered by a neighbor who was a convicted sex offender.

A 2012 report funded by the National Institute of Justice, "Sex Offenders: Recidivism and Collateral Consequences," examined the effect of sex offender registration and notification laws on recidivism.

The researchers found that the laws had limited effect on recidivism. The report said sex offenders have an overall low rate of recidivism but that some are high-risk, and that laws would be more effective if they targeted the high-risk offenders instead of all sex offenders.

Logue said some of the restrictions on residency and work amount to continual punishment after a prison sentence ends.

When a person has served his time and they get out they should be given an opportunity to become a productive member of society,” Logue said. “We don’t treat murderers the same way. We don’t say murderers can’t live within 2,000 feet of another human being. That would be silly.”

Logue said there are effective rehabilitation programs.

"If we're really serious about trying to prevent reoffending, we should be doing things that we know work," Logue said. "Rehabilitation is not popular, but it's the right thing to do."

Wallace and Beckman said their bill would allow Alabama counties flexibility on how to handle sex offender clusters because it would be up to sheriffs to decide whether to license them.
- And we are sure nobody would get a license also.

"Until somebody comes up with a program that can be sanctioned by the state that proves we can improve the frequency of these guys reoffending, I'm just going with what I say is common sense," Wallace said.
- You already have a ton of studies that show recidivism is low already, in the single digits, so what else do you want?  You are just exploiting the issue for your own political gain, in our opinion.


Halloween Sex Offender Hysteria Pure Horror Fiction

Halloween sex offender hysteria
Original Article

10/28/2013

Focus should be on documented dangers, not myths

In the midst of nationwide coverage on Halloween safety tips, those who study sex offender laws are frustrated with what they call “a myth-based approach” on the supposed dangers posed by registered former sex offenders to trick-or-treaters on Halloween night.

Many places have enacted bans and special requirements targeting former sex offenders. The laws vary from prohibiting registrants from decorating their homes or wearing costumes, to placing police-issued warning signs on their doors, to keeping all house lights off until 12 AM November 1.

Halloween Crime Statistics
Halloween Crime Statistics

We agree that parents and children alike should exercise caution and be vigilant to potential threats on Halloween, just like any other day,” said Shana Rowan, Executive Director of USA Families Advocating an Intelligent Registry, a group founded by family members of sex offenders and promoting evidence-based policies. “However, disproportionate focus on sex offenders is unfounded. There is not a single record of a child being sexually abused by a registrant by means of a Halloween ritual, however other risks such as vehicle-pedestrian accidents are highly elevated on Halloween. In fact, Dr. Jill Levenson of Lynn University in Florida found in her 2009 study, “How Safe are Trick or Treaters?” that child sex abuse by a stranger accounted for less than 0.2% of all Halloween crimes, but theft, property damage, and assault were markedly higher than other days of the year.”

Ms. Rowan emphasized that most former sex offenders have families and children of their own, another reason she says Halloween laws increase the chance of violence on the offender’s family members. “Given the propensity for property and violent crimes on Halloween night, I can speak for many family members with a loved one on the registry when I say that we genuinely fear for our safety in our own homes.”

To help illustrate just how unlikely it is that a child will be victimized by a sex offender on Halloween, Ms. Rowan created the following graph using data from Dr. Levenson’s report (PDF).


MD - Is the sex offender registry providing incorrect info?

Morning paper and coffee
Original Article

Of course it is, the data is entered by humans who are prone to making mistakes. But, it only shows you where they sleep for a couple hours per night and doesn't prevent crime or really protect anybody, it only opens people up to vigilantism.

10/22/2013

By Joce Sterman

ABC2 INVESTIGATORS UNCOVER A FLAW IN HOW THE STATE'S SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY TRACKS INMATES IN CUSTODY. THE MISTAKES WE'VE UNCOVERED SHOW NOT ONLY IS THE STATE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR NOTIFYING WHEN OFFENDERS ARE RELEASED FROM LOCAL JAILS, BUT THAT THE FAILURES TO UPDATE THE REGISTRY PUT PEOPLE AT RISK.

In September people looking for convicted sex offender _____ wouldn't think they’d have to look hard to find him. The Maryland Sex Offender Registry said he was in jail. But ABC2 Investigators discovered the registry you rely on was wrong .

_____ himself helped us confirm the registry was incorrect. During a visit to his house in Glen Burnie, _____ told us, “I’ve been home. I haven't been locked up."

_____ had been living at home since records show he was released from the Anne Arundel County Detention Center on May 21. But that jail is exactly where the Maryland Sex Offender Registry said he was still living three and a half months later.

_____ is one of many sex offenders found on the streets and undetected on the registry. The news was disappointing to Anne Arundel’s Pat Parrish. She says she checks the state registry twice a week, looking for potential offenders in her neighborhood.

Paranoid person
Paranoid person
"You've got to keep your eye on them, know where they're at," Parrish said.

The retiree is so familiar with the registry that over the summer she used it to identify and turn in a sex offender she saw taking a boy into the woods by her home. As Parrish scrolls through the pictures, she says she only takes comfort when she spots one word next to an offender: incarcerated.

"That person is in jail, so we don't have to worry about them," Parrish said.

But ABC2 Investigators found reason to worry, finding dozens of sex offenders whose registry pages were wrong about where they lived. Some of the offenders were listed as behind bars although they had actually been out of jail for weeks or months.

_____ is one example. He was convicted of a third-degree sex offense and was listed as living at the Prince George’s County Detention Center. But multiple records show he was actually free.

The profile for _____ was also incorrect. _____ a convicted rapist who will be on the registry for life, was listed in the Baltimore County Detention Center as of early September. But we found he’d been on the street since his release in July.

_____ is a lost inmate who still hasn't been found. The registry shows there’s now a warrant for his arrest. He’s been labeled as an absconder.

We took our findings from cases like _____ and _____ to Lisae Jordan, the Executive Director of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
- So why them and not the police?

With the registry, the errors you've uncovered here, we're grateful that you found them because that's really a problem," Jordan said.

It’s a systematic problem ABC2 News discovered by putting a sampling of Maryland's 1,500 incarcerated offenders through various government databases. The state's registry may have listed them as being in jail, but we used the Maryland Inmate Locator, Maryland Judiciary Case Search, the victim notification service VINE and even individual phone calls to detention centers to determine offenders we believed were no longer in custody were in fact out on the street.


"When we tell the public here's information about where these sex offenders are, that information should be correct and it's really appalling that it's not," Jordan said.

Russell Butler, the Executive Director of the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center, says he was disturbed by our findings. He believes the failure to give victims, and the public, current and correct information about offenders could put people at risk.

If this is a person who has harmed you, they may want retribution," he said. "They may want to re-victimize you, so you need to know they are out on the street."

Jordan also expressed confusion as to why it was so difficult to keep track of offenders, telling ABC2, "I don't understand why this is happening. These are people who are in state custody. We should know where they are."

In the sample group we supplied to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, 20 percent of the inmates we found were actually on the street had been in state facilities, so there should have been little problem updating the registry.


Media tries to justify ex-offender being beaten to death?


UK - Man wrongly accused of being pedophile burned alive

Stephen Norley & Lee James
Stephen Norley & Lee James
Original Article

This is more proof of why the online hit-list (registry) should be taken offline and used by police only!

10/28/2013

BRISTOL - A man wrongly accused of being a pedophile was beaten unconscious, set on fire, and killed by two neighborhood "vigilantes."

Investigators say the brutal violence in the Bristol, England neighborhood appears to be the result of a vicious rumor mill and a misguided police investigation.

According to the Daily Mail, 44-year-old _____ was arrested in July after being accused of taking "inappropriate" images of neighborhood children.

But after an investigation, police determined that _____ was actually taking pictures of kids he suspected of vandalizing his prized garden.

Despite being released by police with no charges, the Daily Mail reports that two neighborhood men decided to enact their own justice against the disabled _____.

Just two days after his release, _____ was viciously beaten by two 24-year-olds. The two suspects then dragged the unconscious _____ outside, where they set him on fire and killed him.

One of the attackers has pleaded guilty to murder, while the other has admitted his role in helping in on the attack. Both are awaiting sentencing.

Investigators say there was no evidence that _____ was doing anything wrong and was ultimately the victim of viscous rumors and misguided hostility.

See Also:


Is there any help for an offender being harassed/threatened?

Letter
The following was sent to us via the contact form and posted with the users permission.

By RS:
My fiance is a sex offender. He was 17 & charged with sex with a minor (she was 14) and he was emancipated by his dad. He got in a lot of trouble stealing cars, etc... so he got 2 yrs. in county and 10 in prison. Served his time and got out march 31,2010. Has not been in any trouble. We stay to ourselves. Anyways, the little town we stay in is becoming a lot of trouble for us. Being harassed by locals all hours. Constant knocking, threats of death and more. Of course we want to move but no money. The sheriffs dept has failed us. More or less has refused help. Says we need to catch them ourselves. Says we are making it all up. Tells us to shut up. As soon as they know it is us calling they take 1 or more hours to show up or not at all. Is there any help out there for my fiance and me?


IL - Man freed in rape case mistakenly arrested for not registering as sex offender

Brother and sister
Original Article

If he was exonerated, then isn't the crime in which he was accused of off his record? If so, why did the police think he was unregistered when he didn't need to in the first place?

10/28/2013

By Cynthia Dizikes

A man who was exonerated last month in an alleged 2002 rape at the Daley Center was briefly jailed Sunday because police thought he was an unregistered sex offender, according to his lawyer.

Russell Ainsworth, who represented _____ in his wrongful conviction case, said the Berwyn Police Department held _____ for about two hours, until Ainsworth was able to get to the station and provide documents proving the conviction had been thrown out.

"He is not required to register as a sex offender because he is not a sex offender," Ainsworth said.

It was not clear Sunday why _____'s name shows up on the Illinois sex offender registry website. His status was listed as noncompliant for failing "to maintain accurate registration records as required by law."

The registry is maintained by the Illinois State Police. Spokeswoman Monique Bond said she could not immediately comment on the specifics of the case. Berwyn Police Cmdr. Joe Santangelo said the arrest was made as part of a routine sex offender compliance check. He said he planned to review the arrest Monday but believed the situation involved a records glitch.

_____'s sister, _____, said her brother and she were getting ready for church when Berwyn police officers knocked on her door a little before 8 a.m. _____, who spent years trying to prove her brother's innocence, said the police told her they were looking for _____.

"When I opened the door, they busted past me and then walked through the home to the kitchen," _____ said. "(My brother) just had on his pajama pants drinking his coffee, and they had him in handcuffs."

She said she tried to explain to the police that her brother's conviction had been vacated and that she had the paperwork to prove it, but they arrested him anyway.

_____, 58, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for an alleged May 2002 rape of a county employee at the Daley Center. But last month, Cook County prosecutors made the stunning announcement that they doubted the credibility of the woman who brought the allegations against _____ and no longer believed the sexual assault even took place.

_____, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and has a low IQ, was released from prison Sept. 10 after 11 years in custody. Since that time, _____ has been living with his sister and her daughter in west suburban Berwyn.

Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for the Cook County state's attorney's office, said Berwyn police contacted the office about _____'s case after they arrested him Sunday.

The state's attorney's office told police that _____'s conviction had been vacated and that he was not required to register as a sex offender, said Daly, who added that she did not know how _____'s name ended up on the site. The state's attorney's office is not required to notify state police of exonerations, she said.
- And that is a problem that needs to be fixed!

"He shouldn't have been on the (sex offender) website," Daly said.

Ainsworth said the Berwyn Police Department told him that _____ had been caught up in a sex offender sweep because he showed up as unregistered.

Police released _____ around 10 a.m. and notified all Berwyn police officers of the situation, Ainsworth said.

_____ said that since her brother's release, they have been trying to adjust to his life at home and his medication schedule and that the arrest Sunday did not help.

"We didn't think that every time we turned around and opened our door, there were going to be police there," _____ said. "I mean, come on, when is it going to be over?"

See Also:


TX - Compliance checks (User submitted)

Letter
The following was posted via the email form and posted with the users permission.

By Anonymous:
I have a question concerning compliance checks. I am a RSO in Texas and every Halloween the local law enforcement shows up at my house to do a compliance check. I am no longer on any kind of court ordered supervision and I understand my rights as far as answering any questions they ask during a compliance check. Basically, I tell them that I am not going to answer any of their questions and that my registration is up to date. I do all of this from inside of my doorway, as I understand that I lose a lot of my rights when I step outside of my doorway.

My question is this: If they are JUST doing a compliance check and they do NOT have either a search warrant or arrest warrant, can they order me to step outside of my house during the compliance check? How should I handle this? Thanks...


FL - Audit finds low recidivism, critiques reliance on inflated Static-99 risk estimates

Fragile Flower
Fragile Flower
Original Article

10/27/2013

By Karen Franklin, Ph.D.

Dan Montaldi’s words were prophetic.

Speaking to Salon magazine last year, the former director of Florida's civil commitment program for sex offenders called innovative rehabilitation programs "fragile flowers." The backlash from one bad deed that makes the news can bring an otherwise successful enterprise crashing down.

Montaldi was referring to a community reintegration program in Arizona that was derailed by the escape of a single prisoner in 2010.

But he could have been talking about Florida where, just a year after his Salon interview, the highly publicized rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl is sending shock waves through the treatment community. Cherish Perrywinkle was abducted from a Walmart, raped and murdered, allegedly by a registered sex offender who had twice been evaluated and found not to meet criteria for commitment as a sexually violent predator (SVP).

Montaldi resigned amidst a witch hunt climate generated by the killing and a simultaneous investigative series in the Sun Sentinel headlined "Sex Predators Unleashed." His sin was daring to mention the moral dilemma of locking up people because they might commit a crime in the future, when recidivism rates are very low. Republican lawmakers called his statements supportive of "monsters" and said it made their "skin crawl."

Black Swan
Black Swan
Montaldi's comments were contained in an email to colleagues in the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, in response to the alarmist newspaper series. He observed that, as a group, sex offenders were "statistically unlikely to reoffend." In other words, Cherish Perrywinkle’s murder was a statistical anomaly (also known as a black swan, or something that is so rare that it is impossible to predict or prevent). He went on to say that in a free society, the civil rights of even "society's most feared and despised members" are an important moral concern. A subscriber to the private listserv apparently leaked the email to the news media.

The Sun Sentinel series had also criticized the decline in the proportion of paroled offenders who were recommended for civil commitment under Montaldi's directorship. "Florida's referral rate is the lowest of 17 states with comparable sex-offender programs and at least three times lower than that of such large states as California, New York and Illinois," the newspaper reported.

Audit finds very low recidivism rates

Sun Sentinel Fear Mongering?
Fear Mongering?
In the wake of the Sun Sentinel investigation, the Florida agency that oversees the Sexually Violent Predator Program has released a comprehensive review of the accuracy of the civil commitment selection process. Since Florida enacted its Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) state in 1999, more than 40,000 paroling sex offenders have been reviewed for possible commitment. A private corporation, GEO Care, LLC, runs the state’s 720-bed civil detention facility in Arcadia for the state's Department of Children and Families.

Three independent auditors -- well known psychologists Chris Carr, Anita Schlank and Karen C. Parker -- reviewed data from both a 2011 state analysis and an internal recidivism study conducted by the SVP program. They also reviewed data on 31,626 referrals obtained by the Sun Sentinel newspaper for its Aug. 18 expose.

All of the data converged upon an inescapable conclusion: Current assessment procedures are systematically overestimating the risk that a paroling offender will commit another sex offense.

See Also: