Wednesday, November 13, 2013

'One out of Five Known Exonerations is for a Crime that Never Happened'

Original Article


Here's a fascinating tidbit from the latest newsletter of the National Exonerations Registry with the same title as the headline of this post:

In most known exonerations, the wrong person was convicted of a crime that did occur. In a rapidly growing minority, however, the defendant was convicted of a crime that never happened – such as the recent exoneration of Jacob Trakhtenberg (profiled below).

No-Crime Exonerations by Type of Crime
No-Crime cases now account for 22% of known exonerations. The largest numbers occur among child sex abuse cases (109), followed by homicides (39), adult sexual assaults (34) and drug cases (28).

But exonerations for homicide and sexual assault are far more common than those for child sex abuse and drug crimes. If we consider No-Crime exonerations as a proportion of all cases, we see a very different picture: They account for three quarters of child sex abuse exonerations, just over half of the drug cases, but only small minorities of exonerations for homicide or sexual assault.

Causes of No-Crime Exonerations
No-Crime exonerations are most common in cases where the occurrence of a crime can be faked by a single person – most often the alleged victim.

TX - Familiarity with and uses of sex offender registries

The Texas sex offender registry began in 1991 to provide information about sex offenders living and working in communities throughout the state. Texas has the second largest state registry with over 72,600 active offenders (V. Castilleja, personal communication, October 18, 2012). The registry notifies the public of the presence of convicted sex offenders, and with that information, citizens can take protective action to reduce the likelihood of future sex crimes. In order for the system to prevent sex crimes, residents must access the registry and take preventative measures if offenders are present in their neighborhoods.

Click the image to view the PDF document

OK - Sex offenders are now less offender-y?

Morning paper and coffee
Original Article


Oklahoma’s sex offender registry is about to get a lot shorter due to a state Supreme Court ruling that prohibits the Department of Corrections from retroactively applying sex offender laws.

In 2007, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a new measure that created a three-tiered risk assessment level. That law requires sex offenders to be placed on the registry for 15 years, 25 years or life, depending on their assessment levels.

The problem focuses on offenders who had been convicted, sentenced and placed on the registry prior to the law being approved. In some cases, offenders were ordered to register as a sex offender for 10 years, but DOC officials were using the 2007 law to increase an offender’s time on the sex offender registry.

Now, as many as 2,000 to 3,000 offenders may be entitled to have their names removed from the list thanks to a lawsuit OKC attorney David Slane filed against the corrections department. The DOC lists about 7,700 names on the registry.

However, Slane isn’t optimistic corrections officials will act with due haste.

Instead, the local attorney predicts most of the offenders will have to receive a court order removing their name from the registry.

PA - Judge made right ruling on juvenile sex offenders

Original Article


In the twilight of his career, York County Common Pleas Court Judge John C. Uhler recently cemented his legacy as a legal lion of Pennsylvania with what might amount to a landmark ruling.

It was the right ruling — deeply grounded in constitutional principles. Unfortunately for the judge, though, it’s probably not one that will make him popular among the lock-’em-up-and-throw-away-the-key crowd.

In fact, the decision will likely be unpopular among the many people who believe sex offenders should receive death sentences — or at least life without parole.

Indeed, some sex offenders should never again see the outside of a prison cell.

But what about juveniles who commit sex crimes?

Should they — following their time in juvenile detention and treatment — be sentenced to what amounts to a lifetime of strict parole requirements?

In a 41-page opinion invalidating the recently passed Pennsylvania Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), Judge Uhler said no. He determined the lifetime registry and reporting requirements for juveniles are unconstitutional and punitive.

In his decision, the judge relied heavily upon a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that invalidated automatic life-without-parole sentences for juveniles involved in homicides.

Judge Uhler wrote that “children are constitutionally different from adults for sentencing purposes … (because of their) diminished culpability and great prospects for reform.”

He noted that research shows recidivism among juvenile sex offenders is quite low.
- And it's low for adults as well.

In Pennsylvania, juvenile courts were created “to provide guidance and rehabilitation for the child and protection for society, not to affix criminal responsibility, guilt and punishment.”

Thus, requiring juvenile offenders who have served their sentences to comply for life with a litany of SORNA guidelines — providing police with extensive information about employment, school enrollment, addresses, social media accounts, etc., and mandating that some offenders report to police every 90 days — is punitive, said the judge.

Granted, some juveniles who have committed egregious sex crimes should face such Megan’s Law-like reporting. But some of these mandates exceed what is required under Megan’s Law.

And what about teens accused of so-called “Romeo and Juliet” type statutory rape, where the age gap between the participants defines the crime? Such offenses probably don’t warrant a lifetime on a sex-offender registry.

York County District Attorney Tom Kearney is rightly appealing Judge Uhler’s decision. As he said, the county court decision needs to be tested at the appellate level.

Yes, it does.

And it should be upheld.

See Also:

WI - Sex Offender Speaks Out

Speak out!
Original Article


GREEN BAY (WFRV) - In his first one-on-one interview since getting out of prison, registered sex offender _____ says he's trying to move on.

"I'm ashamed of what I did, but it's done. Everybody makes mistakes. You just move on. You try to move on," _____ said.

_____ spent 7 1/2 years in prison after being found guilty of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl.

Shortly before his release, Green Bay's Sex Offender Residency Board gave the okay for _____ to live with his parents on Green Bay's eastside. However, after outcry from neighbors, the Board overturned their decision.

Since that ruling, _____ has been listed as "homeless".
- So instead of living in a stable residence with his parents, they'd rather him be homeless?

"They should be able to know where I am without having to worry. If I have a place of residence that they can get on their computers and look up and say, 'ok he's living at this address. Okay. That's fine. We know where he is'. My being listed as homeless, nobody knows where I am. They don't know where I'm going to be putting my head for the night," _____ told Local 5's Wendy Fleury.

However, a loophole discovered in a Green Bay ordinance is allowing _____ to stay with his parents nearly everyday, even though authorities said no.

That loophole allows _____ to stay up to three consecutive nights at a home without establishing residency.

It's something Green Bay Alderman Tom De Wane wants changed immediately.

"It's something our attorneys seemed to put in our ordinance. It's not nothing our Council did or anything like that. So we got to somehow find out what happened, why this happened and figure out what our attorneys are doing," De Wane said.

While _____ attends several group meetings a week, he says his past conviction is a constant struggle.

"I always question that and I'm doing my darndest to make sure I don't [reoffend]. It's not something I'm proud of. I'm really ashamed of what I did. I wish I never did it."

_____ is scheduled to appear before the Green Bay Sex Offender Residency Board tomorrow (Wednesday). He will again request the Board to allow him to live with his parents.

He says he just wants to move on with his life.

"I have family right here. They're willing to provide me a place to live while I'm looking for a job. I don't plan on staying here the rest of my life. I just want to stay here until I find a job and find a place of my own."