Posts Tagged ‘sex crimes’

Another Death Caused By Adam Walsh Act

March 10, 2009 Comments off : Teenager commits suicide after ‘sexting’ a nude photo to her boyfriend made her life a misery.

…Another death attributed to the Adam Walsh Act. Sounds like an extreme accusation? Not really, when you consider that only after the Adam Walsh Act implementation have these kinds of cases been prosecuted.

Sex Offenders Rights Must Be Observed

February 19, 2009 Comments off : Editorial | Rights of sex offenders must be observed.

Rights balancing is a tricky business, and sometimes it’s just easier to look the other way. That’s what happened when a Boston court sentenced Jeffrey Shields to civil detention last week as a sexually dangerous person. In this case, the court pulled a trick straight from “Minority Report” and locked up Shields, an ex-felon, to prevent him from committing future offenses.

For starters, the civil detention of past criminals comes eerily close to a double jeopardy violation because the state is inferring future crimes from past behavior. In essence, a person goes to jail for a crime, gets released and gets sent to a high-security civil detention center. The only reason it’s not legally double jeopardy is that it’s a civil rather than a criminal sanction, but that distinction is dubious at best. Whether they are in a prison or a detention center, the people in question are still behind bars.

In most cases, the state is merely using the guise of civil detention to unethically tack on years to a sentence beyond what the initial criminal court had determined fair. In particular, this toys with the idea that there is a just punishment for each crime. If, as a society, we feel that sex offenders are not serving enough time in prison, we should raise sentences, but instead we are looking for back doors.

The simple fact is that we do not lock sex offenders up for life, and there’s probably a good reason for that. As hard as it is to come to terms with when staring evil in the eyes, we are a society that fundamentally believes in the idea of just desert. We believe that prisoners pay their debt to society and then start again with a clean slate. That’s what helps us cope with crimes and believe that human beings, no matter what they’ve done in the past, are capable of redemption. It’s also why our prison system has so long incorporated the idea of rehabilitation.

Nevertheless, society has given up on sex offenders, deeming them incapable of recovery. While Shields was the first person sentenced to civil commitment under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, thousands have been put in civil detention facilities since the 1997 Supreme Court decision in Kansas v. Hendricks, which allows for the indefinite civil incarceration of sex offenders.

When the rights of past felons come in conflict with the safety of society, it makes sense to err on the side of protecting innocent people. But in doing so, we can’t escape from the uncomfortable reality that even sex offenders have rights.

Sex offenders are some of the most repugnant members of society, and we certainly need protection against them. We just can’t let that protection come at the cost of our ideals.

It’s time to move back toward the center.

9 More Teens Charged with Child Pornography

January 14, 2009 Comments off

A new survey that found one in five kids have sent sexually explicit photos to other kids. It has become a disturbing trend and police who find kids that have done that are charging them with creating and distributing child pornography. This is yet another reason to repeal the Adam Walsh Act laws, as they were very poorly conceived and do much more damage to families than they can possibly benefit our society. : High Schoolers Accused Of Sending Naked Pictures To Each Other.

GREENSBURG, Pa. — Three teenage girls who allegedly sent nude or semi-nude cell phone pictures of themselves, and three male classmates in a Greensburg Salem High School who received them, are charged with child pornography.

Police said the girls are 14 or 15, and the boys charged with receiving the photos are 16 or 17. None are being identified because most criminal cases in Pennsylvania juvenile courts are not public.

“It was a self portrait taken of a juvenile female taking pictures of her body, nude,” said Capt. George Seranko of the Greensburg Police Department. Police said school officials learned of the photos in October. That’s when a student was seen using a cell phone during school hours, which violates school rules. The phone was seized, and the photos were found on it, police said. When police investigated, other phones with more pictures were seized.

Police said the girls are being charged with manufacturing, disseminating or possessing child pornography while the boys face charges of possession. : Police blotter: Teens prosecuted for racy photos.

What: Teenagers taking risque photos of themselves are prosecuted for violating child pornography laws.
When: Florida state appeals court rules on January 19.
Outcome: A 2-1 majority upholds conviction on grounds the girl produced a photograph featuring the sexual conduct of a child.

Technically, those images constitute child pornography. That’s what 16-year-old Amber and 17-year-old Jeremy, her boyfriend, both residents of the Tallahassee, Fla., area, learned firsthand. (Court documents include only their initials, A.H. and J.G.W., so we’re using these pseudonyms to make this story a little easier to read.)

On March 25, 2004, Amber and Jeremy took digital photos of themselves naked and engaged in unspecified “sexual behavior.” The two sent the photos from a computer at Amber’s house to Jeremy’s personal e-mail address. Neither teen showed the photographs to anyone else.

Court records don’t say exactly what happened next–perhaps the parents wanted to end the relationship and raised the alarm–but somehow Florida police learned about the photos.

Amber and Jeremy were arrested. Each was charged with producing, directing or promoting a photograph featuring the sexual conduct of a child. Based on the contents of his e-mail account, Jeremy was charged with an extra count of possession of child pornography. (Ohio) : Newark Teen Girl Charged with Child Pornography.

NEWARK — A 15-year-old girl is accused of distributing nude photos of herself to other minors, and one state legislator is questioning whether she should be labeled a sex offender.

The Licking Valley High School student was arrested Friday after school officials discovered the materials and brought in the school’s resource officer for a police investigation.

After spending the weekend incarcerated, she pleaded deny Monday to both charges: illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material, a second-degree felony; and possession of criminal tools, a fifth-degree felony.

The child pornography charge for a convicted adult requires a Tier II sexual offender classification, but for a juvenile of this defendant’s age, the judge has flexibility, said Jennifer Brindisi, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.

State Rep. Jay Hottinger, R-Newark, wrote the state’s Megan’s Law bill, the predecessor of the Adam Walsh Act, and said this case was not something the legislature envisioned.

“Clearly it was in an illegal act,” he said Tuesday. “Clearly it was an unacceptable act, and there needs to be consequences from that, but we need to make sure the punishment is a reasonable punishment.”

Licking County Assistant Prosecutor Erin Welch said Monday the investigation into the incident remains open, including exploring whether charges will be filed against the minors who received the photos.

If the prosecutor’s office elects to bring those teens into court, they could be facing a different section of the same charge pending against the sender of the pictures and classification as sex offenders, as well.

According to Ohio law, 2907.323(A)(3) states anyone possessing material that shows a minor in a state of nudity is guilty of a fifth-degree felony. The violation also might qualify the juvenile as a Tier I sexual offender, which requires annual registration for a decade.

Brindisi said the Adam Walsh Act reduces much of the discretion allotted to judges in Megan’s Law and transformed sex-offender classification to an offense-based system.
“It’s pretty black and white,” she said.

Report Calls Online Threats to Children Overblown

January 13, 2009 Comments off

New York Times (Jan. 13, 2009) : Report Calls Online Threats to Children Overblown.

The Internet may not be such a dangerous place for children after all.
A task force created by 49 state attorneys general to look into the problem of sexual solicitation of children online has concluded that there really is not a significant problem.

The findings ran counter to popular perceptions of online dangers as reinforced by depictions in the news media like NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” series. One attorney general was quick to criticize the group’s report.

The panel, the Internet Safety Technical Task Force, was charged with examining the extent of the threats children face on social networks like MySpace and Facebook, amid widespread fears that adults were using these popular Web sites to deceive and prey on children. But the report concluded that the problem of bullying among children, both online and offline, poses a far more serious challenge than the sexual solicitation of minors by adults.

“This shows that social networks are not these horribly bad neighborhoods on the Internet,” said John Cardillo, chief executive of Sentinel Tech Holding, which maintains a sex offender database and was part of the task force. “Social networks are very much like real-world communities that are comprised mostly of good people who are there for the right reasons.”

The 278-page report, released Tuesday, was the result of a year of meetings between dozens of academics, experts in childhood safety and executives of 30 companies, including Yahoo, AOL, MySpace and Facebook.
The task force, led by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, looked at scientific data on online sexual predators and found that children and teenagers were unlikely to be propositioned by adults online. In the cases that do exist, the report said, teenagers are typically willing participants and are already at risk because of poor home environments, substance abuse or other problems.

In what social networks may view as something of an exoneration after years of pressure from law enforcement, the report said sites like MySpace and Facebook “do not appear to have increased the overall risk of solicitation.”

Attorneys general like Mr. Blumenthal and Roy Cooper of North Carolina publicly accused the social networks of facilitating the activities of pedophiles and pushed them to adopt measures to protect their youngest users. Citing studies that showed tens of thousands of convicted sex offenders were using MySpace, they pressured the networks to purge those people from their membership databases.

Bail Conditions of AWA Unconstitutional

January 12, 2009 Comments off SDNY Magistrate Finds Non-Discretionary Adam Walsh Act Bail Conditions Unconstitutional in Child Pornography Possession Case. U.S. District Court • Southern District of New York

In United States v. Arzberger, 08 cr. 894 (AKH/JCF), 2008 WL 5453739 (S.D.N.Y. December 31, 2008), the defendant, who faced charges of receipt and possession of child pornography, opposed the government’s motion to modify the terms of his bail by adding certain non-discretionary conditions set forth in the Adam Walsh Amendments to the Bail Reform Act, including a curfew, electronic monitoring, a direction to avoid contact with any potential witnesses and prohibition from any dangerous weapon. Arzberger challenged the provisions as unconstitutional under the Fifth and Eighth Amendments, both facially and as applied, and that they violated the Separation of Powers Doctrine.

In a lengthy decision, Magistrate Judge Francis first reviewed the sparse precedents on the issue (three of the four of which had found the Amendments unconstitutional), and then analyzed each proposed condition separately under the Due Process clause. He concludes: “The Adam Walsh Amendments are unconstitutional on their face to the extent that they would impose conditions that infringe protected liberty interests without providing the accused with an individualized assessment of the need for such conditions.” The court rejected the defendant’s facial challenge under the Eighth Amendment, held the as-applied challenge under the Eighth Amendment was premature, and also held that the Adam Walsh Amendments do not violate the Separation of Powers Doctrine.

It is heartening to see reason prevail in an area of the criminal law that one Sixth Circuit judge wrote in a dissenting opinion is approaching the hysteria of the Salem Witch trials. In United States v. Paull, No.07-3482 (6th Cir. January 9, 2009), as highlighted on Professor’s Berman’s website here, Judge Merritt filed an opinion that dissents from the court’s decision to affirm a 17.5 year sentence in a child pornography possession case. Judge Merritt begins:

As a recent October 23, 2008, Wall Street Journal article by Amir Efrati points out, our federal legal system has lost its bearings on the subject of computer-based child pornography. Our “social revulsion” against these “misfits” downloading these images is perhaps somewhat more rational than the thousands of witchcraft trials and burnings conducted in Europe and here from the Thirteenth to the Eighteenth Centuries, but it borders on the same thing. In 2008 alone the Department of Justice has brought 2,200 cases like this one in the federal courts.

(Note: it should be noted that the opinion of this magistrate was a dissenting opinion in this case but is important none-the-less)

Sex Offender Data

January 11, 2009 Comments off

While more information regarding statistical myths and falsehoods is posted in our “Truth over Myth” posting in this blog, we felt it was constructive to post this additional official data to once again reiterate that much of the information found online is simply not true. (most of these documents are PDF files).

U.S. Department of Justice Statistics: Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison in 1994 (latest available):

“Within 3 years following their release, 5.3% of sex offenders (men who had committed rape or sexual assault) were rearrested for another sex crime.”

U.S. Department of Justice Statistics: Criminal Offender Statistics
Sex offenders were about four times more likely than non-sex offenders to be arrested for another sex crime after their discharge from prison –– 5.3 % of sex offenders versus 1.3 % of non-sex offenders.

Child victimizers
* Approximately 4,300 child molesters were released from prisons in 15 States in 1994. An estimated 3.3% of these 4,300 were rearrested for another sex crime against a child within 3 years of release from prison.

State of Michigan, General Recidivism: Parole Board Statistics: 1990 through 2000:
Sex Offenders 2.46% average recidivism.

State of Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction -Ohio Official Sex Offender Recidivism Data:
Recidivism rate for child -victim sex offenders (outside family) for a new sex-related crime in Ohio is 8.7%
The recidivism rate for all sex offenders for a new sex-related crime in Ohio is 8.0%

Child Victims:
60% of boys and 80% of girls who are sexually victimized are abused by someone known to the child or the child’s family (Lieb, Quinsey, and Berliner, 1998). Relatives, friends, baby-sitters, persons in positions of authority over the child, or persons who supervise children are more likely than strangers to commit a sexual assault.

The National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted Runaway and Thrownaway Children : Official Most-Recent Study Statistics from The National Criminal Justice Reference Service: “results DO NOT indicate an increase in child abductions by strangers”

The Victimization of Children and Youth: A Comprehensive National Study (University of North Carolina, University of New Hampshire):
“The great majority of sexual victimizations were perpetrated by acquaintances”

U.S. Census statistics do not record statistics related to crime.
“The Census Bureau releases some statistics on the criminal justice system in our data on government employment and finance, but none on crime, criminals, or victims.”
Any statistics you read about sex offenders from U.S. Census statistics is a blatant falsehood.

Furthermore, there is no accurate count of sex offenders within the states or nation, but the numbers are estimated to be approximately 665,000 U.S. citizens who have been convicted of some “sex crime”. That’ s about one person in 455 U.S. citizens, folks.

Registering Harm: A briefing book on the Adam Walsh Act

January 9, 2009 Comments off

Justice Policy Institute- Registering Harm: A briefing book on the Adam Walsh Act

Congress passed the Adam Walsh Act, a federal law that requires states to include children as young as age 14 on registries — often for the rest of their lives — in an attempt to protect our children from sexual violence. But the Adam Walsh Act won’t keep our children safe. Instead, this law will consume valuable law enforcement resources, needlessly target children and families, and undermine the very purpose of the juvenile justice system. Thankfully, states can opt out of compliance with this law, and make smart investments in programs and policies that will actually protect our children and our communities.

Why expanding registries won’t protect our children.

Congress’ well-intentioned effort to protect our children by expanding sex offender registries won’t work because registries fail to recognize the complex realities of sexual offending. A large percentage of sex offenses are committed by people known to the victim — including family members. A U.S. Department of Justice study shows that, among youth who were victims of sexual violence, almost half (49 percent) of youth under age six and 42 percent of children ages six to 11 in the study were sexually assaulted by a family member. Overall, the study concluded that 34 percent of youth victims (0–17 years old) were sexually assaulted by a family member and 59 percent were assaulted by acquaintances. In other words, only 7 percent of youth victims in this study were assaulted by strangers. Since most people who commit sex offenses are “first-time offenders,” meaning that they have never been convicted of a sex offense, the majority of people committing sex offenses would not already be on the registry. Having a registry can therefore create a false sense of security within families and communities, who might rely on the registry to identify people who may be a threat to their safety.
Being on a registry can hinder a person’s ability to access rehabilitative services needed to lead a productive life and engage in appropriate, legal behavior. Registries can impede access to employment, housing and education, which have been shown to be an integral part of the re-entry process and a necessity for young people who are trying to turn their lives around. Instead of funding preventative programs, registries burden our already over-taxed law enforcement resources and create public safety hazards.

The Adam Walsh Act consumes resources that should be spent on programs proven to protect our children and communities The Adam Walsh Act requires states to register more people and keep track of them for even longer periods of time, without the availability of substantial additional federal funding. All states currently have some form of registry and community notification, but fully implementing AWA poses significant financial and logistical challenges. As an unfunded mandate, the AWA provides little federal funding for implementation and stands to cost states more than they will receive in federal funding. AWA requires states to participate in a national registry and to disseminate the registry widely throughout communities. States that intend to comply with AWA should be prepared to finance new software and technology costs to fully implement the registry.

The Adam Walsh Act needlessly targets children and families

In the push to target people that may actually pose a significant danger to the public, youth convicted of sex offenses have been swept up in legislation that publicly brands them as sexual predators. Research has shown, however, that juvenile sexual offending is very different from adult sexual offending, and that youth are not committing the majority of sex offenses.

The Adam Walsh Act compromises public safety

Reliance on registries creates the illusion that parents can protect their children from sexual violence simply by checking an online database. A survey of mental health professionals found that 70 percent of those surveyed felt that “a listing of sex offenders on the web would create a false sense of security for parents who might feel that they can protect their children simply by checking a web site.” Despite registry requirements and stiff penalties for not registering, registries are often inaccurate and out of date. The result is misdirected apprehension and the alienation of people who live at an address listed on the database, but who have never been convicted of any crime.

In every state, the first-year cost of implementing the Adam Walsh Act outweighs the cost of losing 10 percent of the state’s Byrne grant money. The Justice Policy Institute calculated estimates of the potential costs of coming into compliance with Title I of the Adam Walsh Act based on the fiscal impact drafted by one state. States that complete individual, comprehensive analyses based on their unique statutory and law enforcement characteristics may arrive at different figures. Regardless of individual state differences in statutes, technology, and law enforcement resources, the added staff and technology needed to come into full compliance with the AWA is sure to exceed the Byrne funds that would be lost by not complying.

In the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission’s Fiscal Impact Statement for Proposed Legislation, Senate Bill No. 590 – ID# 08-0244808, the state found that implementing a registry and notification system that would be in compliance with the Adam Walsh Act would cost $12,497,267 in the first year of implementation.

Justice Policy Institute: Cost for states to comply with AWA

Groundbreaking Sex Offender Court Ruling

December 19, 2008 Comments off (UK) : Sex offender wins groundbreaking court ruling. Dec 19 2008

A Sex offender has won a groundbreaking ruling that his “indefinite” placement on the sex offenders register with no right of review breached his human rights.

The test case of Angus Thompson came before three judges at the High Court in London.

Lord Justice Latham, Mr Justice Underhill and Mr Justice Flaux said the current system denied him the chance to prove in a review he no longer posed a risk of reoffending.

The judges ruled that Thompson was entitled to declarations that the scheme was incompatible with his right to private and family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.

But he added: “I find it difficult to see how it could be justifiable in Article 8 terms to deny a person who believes himself to be in that position an opportunity to seek to establish it.”

Lawyers had argued that Thompson should be entitled to attempt to come off the register and stop having to notify the police of his personal details, including whether he intended to travel abroad.

Pete Weatherby, appearing on behalf of Thompson, argued that he should be entitled to periodic reviews.

Thompson was sentenced in November 1996 to five years in jail on two counts of indecent assault on a female and other offences of actual bodily harm. The court heard he has since been released and he has not been in any more trouble.

The Ultimate Lie of Adam Walsh

December 16, 2008 Comments off

Google News : Fla. police close books on ’81 Walsh killing.

Today was exposed the ultimate lie behind the abduction and murder of Adam Walsh in 1981.

The man police now officially blame for his death was neither a sex offender nor a child molester. Ottis Toole died in prison more than a decade ago with no criminal history of sex offenses. He was a serial murderer. And furthermore, there has never been a shred of evidence of any sexual assault of Adam Walsh.

The ultimate lie exposed is that even with today’s draconian sex offender registration laws, the murder of Adam Walsh would not have been prevented because Mr. Toole would not have been a registered sex offender at the time.

On December 16, 2008 The Hollywood Police Department in Florida, announced that Ottis Toole was found to be guilty of the kidnapping, death and decapitation of Adam Walsh. They have since closed the case. No sexual assault was alleged.

Yet Adam’s father, John Walsh gained fame on the back of his son’s murder, and through subjecting his bitter hatred toward sex offenders of any degree. His rise to fame has come at the expense of imposing much pain into the families of hundreds of thousands of Americans who have committed sex offenses, most of which are not violent or predatory in nature.

And in the meanwhile, John Walsh admitted on CNN’s Larry King show on July 15, 2003 that he had a sexual addiction problem:

WALSH: I couldn’t deal with it. .. you know, women can be an addiction, and you have to deal with it…
KING: So you understand men who have that problem?
WALSH: Oh, I had it for years and didn’t think I had it.
KING: Everyone was shocked that you so freely admitted it when the story broke, because most guys in that situation — show me the proof, or, you know, give me the DNA.
WALSH: I think you’ve got to be a man about it. You’ve got to step up to the plate. If you’ve made a mistake, apologize for it, admit it. If you did something wrong and you hurt somebody, admit it. I don’t get the denials. Look at what it did to other people that denied it.
I made a mistake. I made a lot of mistakes. And I hurt — but, you know, that’s the way I was raised, if you do something wrong, you know, stand up, be a man and admit it. And I admitted it, and I apologized, and I’m doing the best I can.

I guess the grace of redemption only applies to Mr. Walsh…

Sex Offender Registries Often Inaccurate

December 15, 2008 Comments off : Sex offender registries often inaccurate, Justice Department says.

WASHINGTON — Sex offender registries are often inaccurate and incomplete, undermining public knowledge about some of the nation’s most reviled criminals, Justice Department investigators warn.

The national sex registry is missing information on 22 percent of state-level sex offenders, the federal investigators found. Even as sex registry information becomes more widely accessible via the Internet, investigators sound alarms about the databases used to monitor the nation’s 644,000 registered sex offenders. The concerns coincide with more fundamental questions about whether the stigmatizing registries go too far.

Sex offender records are “inconsistent and incomplete”, investigators concluded.
“Neither law enforcement officials nor the public can rely on the registries for identifying registered sex offenders, particularly those who are fugitives,” investigators noted.


“We found that the registries that make up the national sex offender registration system, the FBI’s National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR) and OJP’s National Sex Offender Public Registry (NSOPR) portal, are inaccurate and incomplete and cannot be relied upon by law enforcement or the public for identifying registered sex offenders.”

“In addition, the public cannot rely on the NSOPR portal as a complete and accurate registry to identify registered and non-compliant sex offenders in their communities. We believe that, when implemented, the SORNA guidelines will improve the quality of data in the sex offender registries, but will not correct all of the problems we noted.”

View Justice Department Report here (PDF file).

What is quickly brushed over in this report is the inaccuracies. Incorrect information is often posted, listing home addresses of non-sex offenders as being the home of a sex offender, and exposing these families to harm. Incorrect information about an offender’s crime is often listed on these registries. And the most dangerous offenders are the fugitives mentioned who are not even registered. Therefore, these registries are largely ineffective and dangerous.


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