Sunday, December 15, 2013

WA - Washington sex offenders, ACLU sue to hide low-level offenders' identities

Original Article



My family would lose everything.”

That’s the argument made by a King County sex offender terrified his name will be publicized if the State Patrol releases the sex offender registry it maintains.

A married father of two convicted of sex crimes in 2009, the man is one of two low-level sex offenders brought forward by the American Civil Liberties Union in a lawsuit aimed at stopping the state from releasing the names of 21,000 registered sex offenders residing in Washington.

At issue in the lawsuit are “level one” offenders, convicts judged by police evaluators to pose the least risk of further sex crimes. The names of offenders deemed more likely to commit additional sex crimes – “level two” and “level three” offenders – are already broadcast on free, public websites maintained by state law enforcement.

Filing the potential class action lawsuit earlier this month, attorneys for the offenders contend their identities and addresses should not be released to a Franklin County woman who has requested the entire database under the state public records act.

Attorneys for the State Patrol argue that the database – like the criminal convictions underlying the registry – isn’t protected by state privacy law and should be released. They also note the database has previously been released to numerous civic and media organizations, including the YMCA.

On Thursday, a King County Superior Court judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking the release of the database until the case can be fully heard. Such orders are the norm in public records disclosure lawsuits – there wouldn’t be much point to it if documents are released before the case is decided.

Represented by the ACLU and private attorneys, the offenders contend they should be able to live in the relative privacy afforded them by the “level one” classification.

Aside from administrative differences which lower the registration burden placed on them, level one offenders enjoy one big benefit over their higher-level contemporaries – their photos, names and crimes aren’t listed on the county sex offender sites. Additionally, while their past crimes are still reported to schools they attend, but police aren’t empowered to notify the community they live in.

That lower level of notoriety is earned by scoring well on a review conducted by law enforcement, and by meeting the obligations placed on them.

In a statement to the court, the King County man – “John Doe B” in the lawsuit – contended he’s complied with probation, reported any violations of his treatment plan and has avoided sanctions from his parole officer and counselor. Still, he could lose his job and shame his family if the larger community was better informed about his past.

Knowing the public opinion about sex offenders, and the bias and hatred that many people have toward registered sex offenders, I’m worried about mental and physical abuse to my family and myself,” the man said in a Dec. 5 statement to the court.

Filing the lawsuit in King County Superior Court, attorneys for the offenders argued the State Patrol should not release its statewide database to Donna Zink, a resident and former mayor of Mesa. Reports in the Tri-City Herald and elsewhere indicate Zink has been attempting (Video Below) to compile a comprehensive list of Washington’s registered sex offenders.

In a statement Friday, ACLU of Washington staff attorney Vanessa Hernandez argued publicizing the database endangers offenders.

Being identified publicly as a sex offender puts individuals at risk of being harassed, assaulted, or losing jobs and housing,” Hernandez said via an email sent by an ACLU spokesman. “The government should follow the state’s sex offender registration law, which says that names of these individuals should not be released automatically to the general public.”

The Ethics of Chemical Castration (Part One)

Original Article


By John Danaher

Chemical castration has been legally recognized and utilized as a form of treatment for certain types of sex offender for many years. This is in the belief that it can significantly reduce recidivism rates amongst this class of offenders. Its usage varies around the world. Nine U.S. states currently allow for it, as well as several European countries. Typically, it is presented as an “option” to sex offenders who are currently serving prison sentences. The idea being that if they voluntarily submit to chemical castration they can serve a reduced sentence.

Obviously, this practice raises a number of empirical and ethical questions. Does chemical castration actually reduce recidivism? Is it ethically right to present a convicted sex offender with a choice between continued imprisonment or release with chemical castration? Is this not unduly coercive and autonomy-undermining?

In their recent paper “Coercion, Incarceration and Chemical Castration: An Argument from Autonomy”, Douglas et al look at both of these questions. They consider the history and current use of chemical castration, as well as the autonomy-related concerns its use raises. Contrary to the prevailing view, they argue that the conditional offer of chemical castration can actually be autonomy-enhancing, not undermining.

I am going to take a look at their argument in this series of posts. In the remainder of this post, I consider the different forms of chemical castration and the evidence for and against them. I then address the common argument that the conditional offer of chemical castration to an already convicted sex offenders is morally problematic. In part two, I’ll consider Douglas et al’s contrary argument.

NY - St. Lawrence County Sheriff office violating state law?

UPDATE: Someone sent us the link to the presentation that is accessed by clicking the image below, which is showing the "50%" statistic, but if you go to the sheriff web site and click the link there, it goes to another presentation that shows different statistics, which is here.

The St. Lawrence County Sheriff's office is posting Level 1 offenders on their web site and also posting the usual "50% of sexual offenders reoffend" nonsense. See our previous posts on Offender Watch lies and disinformation.

Click the image to view their presentation

This is what the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services posted on their website.

"By law, only Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders are listed on the public directory. This directory now posts multiple photographs of registered sex offenders, as they become available, to provide New Yorkers with additional information to keep their families safe."

So is the St. Lawrence sheriff department breaking the law?

We have a spreadsheet of many of these counties who use Offender Watch, and many have changed their bogus statistics, or at one time they did, so we will recheck them to make sure. If you want to see all the counties who use Offender Watch, go here. We've noticed they do not list New York as using their software, but they do, apparently!