Tuesday, December 17, 2013

FL - Lawmakers file sex predator legislation

When will "tough" be "tough" enough?
Original Article


By Sally Kestin and Dana Williams

Florida senators filed four bills Tuesday cracking down on sex predators in what they described as an aggressive, bipartisan effort to make Florida "the most unfriendly place in America for sexually violent criminals."

The legislation increases prison sentences and probation terms for certain sex offenses. It also changes the rules under which sex offenders can be confined after their criminal sentences end, and requires stricter monitoring of offenders and predators in the community.

Lawmakers began working on the legislation after a Sun Sentinel investigation in August revealed that nearly 600 sex offenders committed new sex crimes after being considered under Florida's predator law and set free. The law allows the state to keep predators locked up after their prison sentences end if prosecutors can prove they are likely to attack again.

"When confronted with clear evidence that current laws and administrative systems are not working well enough, the leaders of our Senate committees ... are proposing swift and comprehensive action," said Senate President Don Gaetz.

He called the bills "a centerpiece of our joint House and Senate agenda'' that is expected to pass in the early days of the legislative session that starts in March.

The bills would:
  • Add new felony sex offenses that require a person to register as a sexual predator or sexual offender.
  • Require registered sex offenders to report more information, including internet screen names, professional licenses, volunteer work and immigration status.
  • Punish offenders who fail to report certain registration information or who knowingly provide false information.
  • Increase length of sentences for certain crimes involving adults attacking children.
  • Require the Department of Children & Families to train members of the team that recommend offenders for continued confinement.
  • Add a prosecutor, law enforcement officer and victim advocate to serve as advisors on the team. Sen. Eleanor Sobel, a Hollywood Democrat, said the bill "retools the way the state identifies sexually violent predators to give a louder voice to victims and law enforcement."

Too many repeat sex offenders have slipped through, lawmakers found after holding a series of hearings in the fall. One of them, _____, is awaiting trial for abucting, raping and strangling an 8-year-old Jacksonville girl.

"There is clear evidence the laws we have on the books are not working well enough," said Sen. Chris Smith, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat. He added that the legislation would "deliver some reassurances to parents that our communities and neighborhoods would be safer."

See Also:

UK - David Mitchell Charged With Dewsbury Sex Offender's Murder

Original Article

So why are all the media outfits showing the murdered sex offenders mug shot and not the murderers? Are they attempting to justify murder or something?


A man has now been charged with the murder of a missing Dewsbury sex offender.

_____ was reported missing on the evening of 11th December and has not been seen since.

He was last seen on CCTV in Huddersfield Bus Station, along with another man.

Yesterday detectives recovered suspected human remains in the area of the river Colne adjacent to Colne Vale Road in Milnsbridge.

Underwater search teams, dog teams and specialised search officers are still investigating the scene.

David Mitchell, 46, is due before Huddersfield Magistrates Court later this morning charged with his murder.

Senior Investigating Officer Superintendent Scott Wood said: "We have now charged 46 year old man David Mitchell of Manchester Road at Cowlersley in Hudderfield with Murder and he is due to appear before Huddersfield Magistrates Court later this morning."

"A post mortem examination of the suspected human remains recovered from the Colne Vale area of Huddersfield will take place shortly and a formal indentification will follow."

"I am continuing to appeal for anyone who can assist in our investigations and the movements of _____ between 9:20am on Wednesday 11 December 2013 and Saturday 14th December 2013."

"If you can assist, please contact the non emergency number on 101 or Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555 111."

See Also:

WV - Operation Lump of Coal found 54 sex offenders out of compliance

Lump of coal
Lump of coal
Original Article

It should be called "Operation Goose Step" in our opinion!


BECKLEY - A major four-day law enforcement blitz aimed at verifying compliance of more than 317 registered sex offenders currently residing in five southern West Virginia counties found 54 offenders out of compliance, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, U.S. Marshal John D. Foster, and West Virginia State Police Capt. Brad Mankins announced during a press conference in Beckley, W.Va.

The initiative, known as Operation Lump of Coal, is a multi-agency law enforcement effort targeting registered sex offenders to determine individual compliance with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, also known as SORNA. Led by the U.S. Marshals Service’s Cops United Felony Fugitive Enforcement Division (CUFFED), Operation Lump of Coal targeted 317 registered sex offenders and found 263 to be in compliance. A total of 54 individuals were determined to be out of compliance within the Southern District of West Virginia during checks conducted on Dec. 9-12 of this week.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said, “Registering as a sex offender is not optional. It’s not something that offenders can simply put on the back burner or casually get around to completing whenever they feel like it. It’s mandatory.” Goodwin continued, “I’ve made prosecuting sex offenders who violate federal registration requirements one of my office’s top priorities. Today I want to reiterate that message: If you are out of compliance, we will track you down and we will bring you to justice.”

Operation Lump of Coal was initiated by members of the West Virginia State Police, in cooperation with the U.S. Marshals Service’s CUFFED Division. The four-day law enforcement sweep covered Mercer, McDowell, Monroe, Summers and Wyoming counties.

One registered sex offender out of compliance is one too many,” U.S. Marshal John Foster said. “The U.S. Marshals Service is thoroughly committed to tracking down fugitives who attempt to evade the law.”

Operation "Goose Step"
In August, a similar law enforcement sweep known as Operation Coal Dust was initiated in Boone, Lincoln and Logan counties. Operation Coal Dust conducted compliance checks on 209 registered sex offenders and found a total of 10 individuals out of compliance.

Also, in December 2012, a compliance sweep dubbed Operation River Cities, aimed at Cabell, Mingo and Wayne counties, netted 18 arrests after nearly 300 checks were conducted.

As a result of the three regional operations, a combined total of more than 1000 offender compliance checks have been made.

The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act is part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-248). SORNA provides a comprehensive set of minimum standards for sex offender registration and notification in the United States.

GA - Georgia putting gay people behind bars?

Government bedroom intrusion
Government bedroom intrusion
Original Article


By Mark Kernes

CHEROKEE COUNTY - Way back in 1997, _____ and another guy and two women were getting it on in a hotel room, though not the way you might think: The consensual sex was between _____ and the other guy—no word on what the two women were doing—and somehow, the local cops got wind of the gay hookup and busted _____ for violating Georgia's sodomy statute. This being 1997, the law under which _____ was charged was the one upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court's 1986 decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, which had specifically affirmed Georgia's statute.

_____ pled guilty to the charge and got probation, but he managed to violate that and was convicted of the violation and sentenced in January, 1999 to a prison term—illegally, as it turned out, because the Georgia Supreme Court had ruled that, despite Bowers, Georgia's anti-sodomy statute was unconstitutional in circumstances where the alleged violation was part of "private, adult consensual activity"—but the trial court ignored that, and _____'s attorney was apparently unaware of it, so _____ wound up serving several years behind bars.

But part of _____'s sentence was that after his release he was required to register as a sex offender, and always report his address to law enforcement officials in whatever locale he was living at the time.

That worked out fine for a few years, but in 2009, _____ moved into his mother's home to take care of her while she was being treated for cancer, and he failed to provide the local police with his new address. That little oopsie got him convicted in May, 2009 of violating the sex offender registration laws, and a judge sentenced him to 30 years in prison, though he'd only have to spend two of them behind bars, but be on probation for the rest.

Trouble is, by 2009, Georgia's sodomy statute had been voided by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned Bowers, so _____ was put in the interesting position of being sentenced for violating a statute whose jurisdiction he only came under because he'd committed an act that, by 2009, was no longer considered illegal. And once again, _____'s attorney failed to argue that the case against _____ should be dismissed because his original conviction had been found to be unconstitutional.

Fortunately, _____ got a new attorney, who argued that _____ was only convicted because his previous counsel had been ineffective, and therefore, his sentence should be overturned. The trial court denied the new trial motion, and the Georgia Court of Appeals upheld that denial, claiming incredibly that _____'s original liaison in the hotel room was not "private," and therefore, Lawrence didn't apply to his case.

Even as the Court of Appeals was considering _____'s case, the defendant sued in Pickens County Superior Court to get his original sodomy conviction vacated, arguing that his actions were no longer considered illegal under any law—but though a local judge agreed with _____'s argument and vacated his conviction, the Georgia Court of Appeals overturned that ruling because of some alleged "procedural irregularities."

Finally, after the Court of Appeals affirmed his sentence for offender registration violation, _____'s attorney took the case to the federal district court, and on December 9, U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg ruled that _____, who'd already served his two years in prison, need not continue to be subject to the 28-year probation to which he'd been sentenced.

"The state cannot give legal effect to a conviction under an unconstitutional criminal statute," Totenberg wrote. "Convicting _____ for failing to register as a sex offender solely because he was previously convicted under the unconstitutional anti-sodomy statute would amount to 'state-sponsored condemnation' of constitutionally protected behavior," citing both Lawrence and the more recent MacDonald v. Moose, which struck down a similar Virginia anti-sodomy statute which was still on the books, thanks to that state's religio-conservative attorney general Ken Cucinelli, who just lost his bid for the governorship.

Judge Totenberg also denied the state's argument that because _____ had pled guilty to the sodomy, he was barred from challenging the offender registration conviction. In her ruling, the judge noted that it would violate "fundamental fairness and due process of law to allow a guilty plea to waive a constitutional challenge to the use of a conviction based on constitutionally protected, private consensual sexual conduct that cannot be criminalized." And as for the Court of Appeals' claim that _____'s conduct was not "private" under the law, Judge Totenberg took them to task for failing to apply their own 2000 ruling in Mauk v. State, where they stated that "a private place is a place where one is entitled reasonably to expect to be safe from casual or hostile intrusion or surveillance." That ruling had overturned an earlier standard that held that if more than two people were present for the sexual act, that automatically made it not private.

While it's unclear whether Georgia will appeal Judge Totenberg's ruling, the decision should give heart to other sex offenders whose only "crimes" were that they had sex with someone of their own gender.

NY - Judge refuses to release Navy veteran serving 40 years in prison for raping his daughter (Chaneya Kelly)... even though she now admits she was LYING

Chaneya Kelly
Chaneya Kelly
Original Article


A man serving 40 years for raping his eight-year-old daughter has lost his bid to be released from prison, even though the alleged victim has insisted for the past 15 years that the crime never happened, and that she only said it had because her drug-addicted mother threatened to beat her.

Navy veteran David Kelly, now 54, was found guilty of raping, sodomizing and sexually abusing his daughter Chaneya in their Newburgh, New York home in 1998. He remains at Green Haven Correctional Facility and is only eligible for parole in 2018.

His daughter, who is now 25, says the attack never happened - and that she lied because her drug-addict mother forced to beat her unless she said her father abused her.

Chaneya, who has battled the courts to release her father ever since recanting her accusations the following year, penned a series of apologetic letters to him.

But now it appears her father has lost his review and after a thorough investigation, the CFEAJ has determined that Kelly was not wrongfully convicted.

'I’m absolutely devastated,' said alleged victim Chaneya Kelly, who first told her story to NBC News in August.

'My father didn’t rape me, and I don’t know why they just won’t believe me.' She vowed to continue fighting on behalf of her father, and has written a letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo saying she was 'completely insulted' by the re-investigation.

'Every time I told them that my father did not commit any of the malicious crimes he was convicted of,” she wrote in the letter, “they treated me as if I was lying.'

She explained the reason for telling the lies that ultimately put her father behind bars.

'I didn’t want to get beat so I made up a lie that I'd take back anyday. I regret everything I said,' she said in one letter from 2002, which has been seen by the New York Post.

'It's just that I didn't want to get beaten by a "drunken" mother.'

She added that she should be the one serving a lengthy sentence, rather than her father.

'I feel guilty when I talk about it. I feel that I should be in prison instead of you,' she wrote.

In another letter from October 2006, which is signed 'Daddy's Big Girl', Chaneya said she wished she 'could change the past'.

The letters were used as part of the appeals process but the verdict remains the same.

The New York State District Attorney reinvestigation included extensive interviews with nearly everyone involved in the original prosecution.

'Every conceivable effort has been undertaken to find the unvarnished truth regardless of how or whom it impacts,' the report states.

Daryl Kelly’s attorney, Peter Cross, disagrees. 'Anyone who looks at the facts of this case will see that Daryl is obviously innocent,' said Cross. 'Based on information I’ve gathered since this report was written, it is provably biased.'

One of the individuals interviewed by the state committee sent Phillips a letter saying the report contains 'misleading and inaccurate quotes,' and an expert he hired sent Phillips a letter calling the committee’s rejection of Chaneya’s recantation 'unscientific.'

The district attorney association’s report lists various reasons to support its conclusion that Daryl Kelly is guilty:
  • A judge evaluated the same evidence 15 years ago and has already decided the recantation wasn’t credible.
  • In a recorded prison phone call, prosecutors found it disturbing that Kelly once greeted Chaneya by saying, “Hey, sexy."
  • Kelly lied about being awarded a purple heart when he was in the Navy, showing his true character.
  • Experts caution to be wary of recantation, especially in a case like this. 'The relationship between the defendant and his recanting accuser — father and daughter — is renowned at law and in social science as one most likely to breed a false recantation,' said the report.
  • Most of all, the report claims that despite Chaneya’s insistence that she wasn’t raped, her story is not credible, saying she 'can neither explain why she falsely advanced such a horrible allegation, nor why she adhered to it for so long and repeated it to so many different people.'

James Winslow, Kelly’s original trial attorney in 1999, is quoted extensively in the DAASNY report, suggesting that Kelly might be guilty and that the case against him was strong.

Speaking to NBC News, Chaneya said: 'I'm 25-years-old and I made this mistake when I was nine-years-old - but it's never too late to try and right your wrong.'

Her father was barred from any contact with his children after being convicted by a jury of multiple counts of rape and serious sexual assault.

Kelly, who has always maintained his innocence, had never been convicted of a felony before.

'All I think is, one day the truth will set me free. All I have to do is hold on,' Kelly told NBC News.

In October 1997, while Kelly was living with his wife Charade and their five children in Newburgh, he says he was attempting to rid himself of a drug habit in order to take better care of his family.

But he said his wife's own drug habit had spiraled to the point where she turned to prostitution in order to feed her addiction.

Chaneya, the Kellys' eldest child, says that one morning before school her mother asked her whether her father had ever 'touched' her.

'I was like, "What do you mean, did he touch me?" And she was like, "Did he touch you in your no-no spot?" And I would repeatedly say no,' the now 25-year-old said.

According to Ms Kelly her mother threatened to beat her if she did not 'tell me the answer that I want to hear'.

She said she told her mother her father had molested her to avoid being beaten, even though it wasn't true.

Kelly was taken in for questioning on October 29 1997. There was no definitive forensic evidence to prove Chaneya had been raped, but the little girl and her mother's story - together with some suspect answers Kelly provided during questioning - were enough for officers to charge the father of five.

He refused a plea deal that would have made him eligible for parole in six years, and within a year was sentenced to up to 40 years following a trial by jury.

His daughter was sent to live with her grandmother, a Pentecostal minister, and six months later Chaneya told her grandmother her father had never raped her.

Pat Thomas took her granddaughter to Kelly's attorney who videotaped the child's recantation.

Her mother, Charade, also submitted a sworn affidavit to the court which said she threatened to beat her daughter until she said her father raped her.

A judge refused to vacate Kelly's conviction, deciding the recantation appeared forced.

Kelly, who remains in jail to this day, began studying law and has filed multiple appeals.

His daughter visited him in prison when she persuaded the courts to allow her to have contact with him at the age of 15.

'The first thing my dad did was that he hugged me and he told me that he loved me and... that he doesn’t blame me for anything,' she said.

Dr. Roy Lubit, who interviewed Chaneya, found her for the appeal 'highly credible' and sent his report to DA Phillips.

Lubit said that he believed Chaneya’s recantation, say there was 'no corroborative evidence of the alleged abuse.'

He cited the lack of psychological trauma, the consistency of her recantation over time, and the lack of grooming of the alleged victim by the perpetrator.

'“To a reasonable degree of medical certainty CK’s recantation of her allegation her father sexually abused her when she was 8 years of age is not only credible but true,' wrote Lubit. 'The basic scenario leaves more than reasonable doubt that the child was sexually abused by her father.'

Chaneya's mother has said she is now drug-free and confirms her daughter's story, blaming a drug binge for her threats.

Frank Phillips, the Orange County District Attorney and chief prosecutor when Daryl Kelly stood trial, has emphasized that Kelly was found guilty by a jury.

He said in an interview it was 'not unique' for the victim of a sexual crime to want to protect the abuser by withdrawing their accusation.

His office and the detective behind the original police investigation in Newburgh both declined to comment.

WI - Fear governs sex offender policies

Letter to the editor
Original Article


DE PERE - Do we allow fear to override our judgment when it comes to safety? When looking at current residency restrictions toward sex offenders in Green Bay, it appears that the answer is yes.

It goes without saying that it is our duty to promote the safety and well-being of children and other vulnerable persons from sexual crimes. However, the fear and stigma around sex offenders has led us to enact policies that offer a false sense of safety. There is no evidence from research indicating that residency restrictions promote safety and reduce recidivism.

There is evidence, however, that these restrictions increase homelessness (an already significant problem in Green Bay), limit the ability to effectively monitor sex offenders, reduce the overall ability to successfully reintegrate sex offenders into the community and ultimately lead to increased chances of recidivism.

In order to protect children from becoming victims, it’s time to look at the facts and advocate for more effective policies regarding sex offenders living in the community.

Joseph Torres

Should false rape accusers be sued?

Wrongly accused
Original Article

They should be charged with a crime and prosecuted for it. They could have ruined a persons life forever, and sadly, this happens all the time as you can see by clicking the "WRONGLYACCUSED" label above.


By Roxanne Jones

Editor's note: Roxanne Jones is a founding editor of ESPN The Magazine and a former vice president at ESPN. She is a national lecturer on sports, entertainment and women's topics and a recipient of the 2010 Woman of the Year award from Women in Sports and Events. She is the co-author of "Say It Loud: An Illustrated History of the Black Athlete," (Random House) and CEO of Push Media Strategies.

(CNN) -- Eighty years -- that's about how long it took the state of Alabama to posthumously pardon the last three of nine men who were falsely accused and wrongly convicted of raping two white women on a train. They infamously were called the Scottsboro Boys, because the nine black men were just 12- to 19-years-old when they were arrested in 1931.

It turned out that the women, Ruby Bates and Victoria Price, had lied to police about the rapes. At one of the trials, Bates recanted her testimony, saying she had made it all up. Still, the all-white jury convicted the boys, one after another.

Forty-three years later, a similar story: This time it was Delbert Tibbs, who died recently of cancer. Tibbs spent nearly three years in prison in Florida after he was convicted in 1974 of a rape and murder that he had nothing to do with, according to the Florida Supreme Court.

Ancient history, you say? We've moved past those shameful days of unequal justice, you insist. Think again.

In 2012, according to the FBI, nearly 87,000 "forcible rapes" were reported. That's down 7% from the number of rapes reported in 2008. Law enforcement agencies estimate that the number of false rape accusations ranges from 2% to 8% annually, or between 2,000 and 7,000 cases each year.

Exact numbers are difficult to track because of the lack of in-depth research on false rape cases and because of the varying definitions of what constitutes an "unfounded" rape claim. It can mean the alleged victim did not try to fight off the suspect or suffer injuries, was not threatened with a weapon or the victim and perpetrator had a previous relationship.

Law enforcement experts agree that rapes are widely underreported, and no one is suggesting that violence against women isn't a serious problem. But experts do not dispute that false rape accusations can and do happen. Many of those innocent men end up in prison or with lives shattered.

TX - Former Harris County deputy (Donald Wayne Tipps) indicted for sexual assault

Donald Wayne Tipps
Donald Wayne Tipps
Original Article


By Kevin Reece

HARRIS COUNTY - A Harris County grand jury has indicted a former HCSO deputy for sexual assault and official oppression for an alleged rape last August.

The alleged victim reported the incident to Houston Police immediately and contacted KHOU 11 News to take the unusual and brave step of making her allegation and her name public.

All I want is justice and that’s all I can say,” Lisa Rodriguez told the day after the incident four months ago.

Prosecutors now identify that deputy as Donald Wayne Tipps. He resigned from the force the day after the allegation was made.

The woman says that Tipps arrived at her Cloverleaf area apartment August 13th to investigate allegations that she had made threatening phone calls to a relative. Rodriguez says she informed the deputy she had an outstanding warrant for assault in Galena Park. Rodgriguez claimed Tipps ushered her into a back bedroom and offered to ignore the warrant if she performed oral sex. The woman’s two young daughters and a niece were in the next room.

Now with his indictment official, prosecutors made their own public plea, asking if other women have similar complaints against the former deputy. Rodriguez, at the time of our initial report in August, said neighbors were making similar allegations against Tipps.

I can’t say whether there are or aren’t (more victims) just generally if there is anybody out there that wishes to come forward we’re willing to hear from you,” said Assistant District Attorney Lauren Byrne with the Harris County District Attorney’s Civil Rights Division. “Just if there’s anybody out there that has any additional information about deputy Tipps or that may have been a victim of deputy Tipps we would encourage them to come forward and either call our office or Crime Stoppers.”

The Crime Stoppers number, where people can leave anonymous information, is 713.222.TIPS.

PA - Ephrata man (John Hall Jr) gets probation for making citizen's arrest on sex offender

John Hall Jr
John Hall Jr
Original Article

The title of this article is misleading, as usual. The man was put on probation for impersonating a public servant.



An Ephrata man who made a citizen's arrest in 2011 of a Denver teenager later charged with sexual assault will serve probation and complete community service for impersonating a public servant.

John Hall Jr. was accepted Monday into a two-year alternative-sentencing program that calls for probation, 2 years of community service and fines.

Hall, 43, was charged in July 2011 with placing handcuffs on 19-year-old _____ after he heard _____ confess to sexually assaulting a boy.

East Cocalico Township police, after a two-month investigation, charged _____ with felony sex crimes. _____ is now serving an 8-to-16-year prison term.

Police, however, with approval from the county district attorney's office, charged Hall with a misdemeanor count of impersonating a public servant.

Hall displayed a badge and claimed to have jurisdiction to arrest _____, an arrest affidavit shows.

Along with the sentence, a local judge ordered the badge be destroyed.

"I don't, for any minute, consider this behavior to be trivial," Lancaster County Judge Dennis Reinaker told Hall. "You undermined the public confidence and trust in people like those two officers back there."

Reinaker gestured to East Cocalico police Officers Jonathan Zaun and Steven Savage, who worked the case.

Hall said little in court, aside from answering the judge's questions with "Yes" or "No."

"Hopefully, you learned a lesson from this," Reinaker told Hall.

"Yes, your honor," replied Hall, a large man in a gray suit.

Hall insisted from the start that he was exercising his legal right.

Hall claimed the victim, a 13-year-old boy who lived nearby, told Hall that _____ had sexually assaulted him.

District Attorney Craig Stedman alleged that Hall then "lured" _____ to a home in Denver Valley Estates and essentially coaxed a confession from him on July 23, 2011.

Police said the right thing to do would have been to contact police immediately after hearing of the alleged crime.

Hall, according to the affidavit, displayed a badge to the responding police officers.

"Hall said he worked for the federal government and stated he had jurisdiction to make an arrest," one officer wrote in the affidavit.

Police initially charged Hall with false imprisonment, but dropped the charge and replaced it with impersonating a public servant.

Hall also was charged with driving on a suspended license for driving to the police station to discuss the case.

In court Monday, prosecutor Ande Gonzalez went over all the conditions that Hall must complete in the program to have the charges expunged from his record. Those conditions include a $650 program fee, undergoing a mental-health evaluation and maintaining a full-time job.

Hall had been free on unsecured bail.

_____ was sentenced in March to the negotiated 8-to-16-year term for illegal sexual contact with a pair of teenage boys.

See Also:

I discovered that the purpose of imprisonment is not about rehabilitation--it is about punishment.

User story
The following was sent to us via the USER STORY form and posted with the users permission.

By ACitizen:
In 1985, I was convicted of 1 count each of sexual contact with my stepdaughter and her friend. They were both under 14. Though we as a family had tried to get therapy and counseling, we found that newly-passed laws prevented help or therapy--it was to be a criminal matter instead.

I discovered that the purpose of imprisonment is not about rehabilitation--it is about punishment.

After paroling, in the late 80s,, I then endured the constant changes in sex offender registration laws that coursed through California throughout the 90s, including the 3 Strikes Law passed in the early 90s.

In 2001, I decided that only thing for me to do would be to move to a new state in order to remove the lifetime requirement that had existed in California starting in 1948. I researched all state sex offender registration laws of the remaining 49 states, discovering that there were quite a few states (at that time in 2001) who had time limits on their registrations. I decided to move from California to start a new life.

[To Be Continued... Maybe]

PA - Bill redefining child abuse in Pennsylvania moves to Gov. Tom Corbett's desk

Child abuseOriginal Article


By Charles Thompson

The state House of Representatives quickly passed three additional bills Monday in a growing child protection package that supporters say will stand as one of the crowning achievements of the 2013-14 legislative session.

Today's key vote was passage of House Bill 726, a bill that rewrites and expands the legal definitions of child abuse.

Supporters hope the changes will give county caseworkers and police tools to intervene more quickly in more cases, with the effect of extending help to families who need it and, where appropriate, stopping abusers before kids are hurt or killed.

The update was identified as one of the state’s most pressing needs by a blue ribbon task force empaneled after former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s arrest on child sex abuse charges in November 2011.

I do think that the way you define child abuse is where things start,” said Dr. Cindy Christian, medical director for the Philadelphia Department of Human Services and a leading child abuse expert at Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania.

Existing definitions, Christian said, “have not worked and have left children vulnerable."

Statistics bear that out.

According to data compiled by The Center for Children and Justice, in 2011 just 1.2 of 1,000 Pennsylvania children were deemed victims of child abuse. Nationally, that rate was 9.1 per 1,000, a difference many attribute to the definitions in place here.

For years, children and youth caseworkers… have been forced to leave children in situations that were unsafe because the power of the law was not on the side of the child,” said Rep. Scott Petri, the Bucks County Republican who sponsored the definitions bill.

The biggest change in the new bill is actually a deletion.

Child abuse findings in Pennsylvania would no longer require demonstrations of serious physical injury, a threshold defined as including "severe pain... or impairment of a child’s physical functioning."

The bill passed Monday replaces that language with “bodily injury… through any recent act or failure to act.”

It also adds a number of de facto triggers that, when committed intentionally, knowingly or recklessly, are automatically considered abuse:

  • Kicking, burning or cutting a child under age 18.
  • Forcefully shaking a baby under one year old.
  • Interfering with a child’s breathing.
  • Causing a child to be present in a residence being used as a meth lab.
  • Knowingly letting a child with a sex offender.

The bill also contains language designed to ensure that all assault convictions in criminal court where children are the victims are routinely shared with county children and youth services agencies, to ensure those convicts are flagged as abusers too.
- So will they be on an online child abuser registry?

Coupled with other updates in who gets listed on the state's database - which helps keep identified abusers out of schools, day care centers and other functions where they have regular contact with children - and still-emerging changes in how suspicions of child abuse are reported, the package’s supporters say it works together to make Pennsylvania a safer place for children.

But Monday's bill is the centerpiece.

"We’ve been living for too long in a state where children were suffering broken bones, lacerations and burns, and we said: ‘This wasn’t an act of child abuse,’” said Cathleen Palm, a founder of The Center for Children and Justice.

These changes are really about getting sooner to the aid of children who are experiencing some level of physical injury.”

Other bills approved Monday include

House Bill 321, which upgrades the crimes related to child pornography, and requires a sentencing enhancement for those possessing, distributing or producing child pornography.

The task force on child protection had noted that at present, sentences for child pornography ranged too widely across the state, sometimes ranging as low as probation, which members felt was not appropriate.

House Bill 414, a bill that requires county judges to screen parties to any child custody hearings for past findings of child abuse, and to take those histories into consideration in any decisions.

In all the General Assembly has now sent eight bills to Gov. Tom Corbett for enactment this fall, with another round – including the update to the state’s reporting requirements – expected next year.

Corbett is expected to sign the bills Wednesday, after his office completes a review of the final language.

Child advocates made some concessions in negotiations this fall, in the interest of maximizing support for the definitions rewrite.

For example, Palm noted driving drunk with child passengers in the car, or dealing illegal drugs with a child present were dropped from the final language as automatic child abuse indicators.

Advocates for parental rights successfully lobbied for inclusion of language specifying that parents still have the right to use reasonable force to discipline children, as long as they aren’t willfully causing injury.

Nor can an abuse finding be lodged against a household simply because of “environmental factors,” like a low-income family who can’t afford three meals a day or has had utilities cut off because of an inability to pay.

Excitement over passage of Petri's bill was also tempered Monday by the extension of the law's effective date to January 2015, though drafters say that time is necessary to train, county caseworkers, police, medical workers and others on the changes being adopted, and to allow for scheduled upgrades to state Department of Public Welfare computer systems.

The positive in that, Palm said, is it gives lawmakers time to finish work on another key part of the package: expanding the list of who must report suspected cases of child abuse and clarifying what and to whom they are required to report.

That bill is currently hung up over how to treat lawyers’ attorney / client privileges, though some House and Senate aides say they expect those differences will be resolved by early next year.

NJ - Assembly committee approves bill restricting criminal background checks

Criminal background check form
Original Article


By David Levinsky

TRENTON - New Jersey lawmakers advanced a controversial measure that would ban many employers from performing background checks or asking if a job applicant has any criminal convictions until after the candidate has been conditionally offered the position.

The Assembly Labor Committee voted 6-3 along party lines Monday to approve the bill for a possible floor vote by the full Assembly.

The Opportunity to Compete Act (PDF) would prohibit businesses with at least 15 employees from performing background checks during the interview process. It would permit checks on candidates who are conditionally hired, but would require them to provide written notice of their intention to do so as well as notice of their rights and protections.

Employers would be able to consider in their decision convictions for the most serious crimes, such as murder, attempted murder, robbery, burglary, arson or sex offenses, regardless of when the crimes occurred. For other crimes, the employer would be barred from weighing into their decision offenses that occurred longer than 10 years ago.

Disorderly-person offenses and pending criminal charges could also be considered if they occurred within the last five years. Juvenile offenses and offenses that have been expunged, pardoned or legally nullified may not be considered.

Law enforcement and fire services would be exempt from the proposed mandates, which would not supersede any other state or federal laws. Violations by businesses would be subject to fines ranging from $500 to $7,500.

Supporters of the bill said it is desperately needed to ensure that people convicted of crimes are not branded for life and that reformed convicts are given the opportunity to contribute. They noted that an estimated one out of four adults nationwide have criminal records.

One of the greatest barriers for a second chance is the barrier for employment,” the bill’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman, D-15th of Ewing, said Monday during the Labor Committee’s hearing on the bill.

The bill’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Ray Lesniak, D-20th of Elizabeth, said providing employment opportunities was crucial to reducing recidivism in criminal offenders.

An ex-offender who has the door for employment slammed in their face will not be an ex-offender for long. They’ll be a repeat offender,” Lesniak said.

Opponents of the measure were mostly representatives of various business groups, which argued that it would create unwanted paperwork and might also put businesses at a greater risk for lawsuits.

Most said that they would support a bill banning inquiries about criminal convictions on job applications, but that the proposal restricting inquiries until after a candidate has been conditionally hired goes too far.

To try to legislate this is difficult. There’s no cookie-cutter approach to what this legislation intends,” said Michael Egenton, senior vice president of government relations for the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.

This gives little consideration to the fact that every workplace is unique, and the demands for each job differ,” said Stefanie Riehl, assistant vice president for the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.

Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, R-12th of Plumsted, also expressed concerns about the potential negative impact on businesses.

It just seems there are more and more regulations coming down on the business community,” Dancer said during the hearing.

But an official from Barnabas Health testified that its experience with hiring at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark has been positive since the city created a similar law restricting background checks by employers in November 2012.

Ten other states have passed similar legislation to help convicted offenders find work, said Cornell Brooks, CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

He called the proposed legislation “the most business-sensitive in the nation” while still addressing the need to remove employment impediments for criminal offenders.

These people face insurmountable barriers. They file job application after application without ever being considered,” Brooks said.

PA - Supreme Court throws out parts of Megan's Law

Original Article



HARRISBURG (AP) - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out portions of the state's sex-offender registration law on Monday, telling lawmakers they violated the constitution's requirement that bills that become law must be confined to a single subject.

The justices ruled (PDF) that a set of changes made to Megan's Law in 2004 was not constitutional, noting that the legislation also included such measures as a two-year statute of limitations on asbestos actions, the jurisdictional parameters of park police, and revisions to real estate law.

The court then put its decision on hold for three months to allow the Legislature to find a remedy.

"We will stay our decision, as we have done under similar circumstances, in order to provide a reasonable amount of time for the General Assembly to consider appropriate remedial remedies, and to allow for a smooth transition period," wrote Justice Debra Todd for the five-justice majority.

As revised in 2004, Megan's law created a searchable online database of offenders, set new punishments for offenders who did not register, and added luring and institutional sexual assault to the list of offenses that require 10-year registration.

It also set notification rules for out-of-state offenders who move to Pennsylvania, altered duties of the Sexual Offenders Assessment Board, and established community notification about sexually violent offenders.

Todd said the single-subject rule, which dates to 1864 and has recently been a factor in several high-profile cases, gives people confidence they can weigh in before a bill is passed, and helps lawmakers know what they are voting on ahead of time.

"When an act of the Legislature violates the single-subject rule, all of its provisions are equally repugnant to the constitution, and, thus, equally void," Todd said.

Chief Justice Ronald Castille filed a lone dissent, saying it was a close question but that he would have upheld the law.

"Any law passing through the enactment process is the result of salutary legislative compromise and the single-subject rule is not intended to completely discourage such compromise," Castille wrote.

Steve Miskin, a spokesman for the House Republican caucus, noted that revisions to Megan's Law enacted two years ago that brought Pennsylvania into compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act were drafted with an eye toward the case the court just decided.

"We think just about all of them have been enacted in the Adam Walsh law," Miskin said. "I'm not sure about 100 percent. Pennsylvania's Megan's Law is still in effect."

Gov. Tom Corbett's spokesman said he was disappointed in the decision and hoped to work with the Legislature to address the issues raised by the decision.

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