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Archive for September, 2008

Utah Judge Rules Sex Offender Law Unconstitutional

September 30, 2008 Comments off

Salt Lake Tribune (Utah) : Clearfield sex offender can be anonymous online, judge rules.
09/29/2008

A federal judge has ruled that a state law requiring sex offenders to reveal their Internet screen names and passwords to the Utah Department of Corrections violates the constitutional rights of a Clearfield man.
U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell concluded that the man – identified as John Doe in court documents – retains his First Amendment right to anonymous online speech. The ruling bars the state Corrections Department from requiring Doe to reveal his online identifiers, which include names used in Internet chat rooms and instant messaging.

The judge stressed that her decision, which was handed down Thursday, applies only to Doe. She also noted that an analysis of the constitutionality of the law would be different for people who – unlike Doe – are on parole for their sex crimes.

The ruling is apparently the first in the nation to address whether sex offenders have the First Amendment right to speak anonymously online. It has no effect on the requirement that sex offenders register with the state.

The decision centers on a state law that took effect on July 1 requiring Utah’s nearly 7,000 registered sex offenders to turn over certain Internet information, including screen names and passwords to social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace.

It is unclear if the decision could allow others on the sex registry to challenge the requirement once they are no longer on parole. The Utah Attorney General’s Office is reviewing the ruling.

In her ruling, Campbell pointed out that nothing in the new law prevents the Corrections Department from linking protected anonymous online speech to a registrant and said that investigators have other tools, such as subpoenas, to unmask suspects in Internet sex crimes. In addition, she wrote, legislators could amend the law if the state wants Doe’s Internet information strictly for law enforcement purposes.

Montgomery County Ohio Prosecutor Corruption

September 25, 2008 Comments off


DaytonDailyNews : Heck, aide admit liability for violating law.
WHIO TV: Local Prosecutor Admits To Federal Law Violations.

(25 Sept 2008) Just months after the Ohio Attorney General was forced to resign amidst sex and corruption charges, Montgomery County Prosecutor, Mathias H. Heck Jr. admitted to corruption today. These are two Ohio officials who are responsible for enforcing the Adam Walsh Act /SORNA laws in Ohio, which violate the constitutional rights of 30,000 Ohio citizens.

DAYTON — Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias H. Heck Jr. and his administrative assistant, Greg Flannagan, admitted liability for violating federal law that prohibits certain government employees from participating in political activity, the Office of Special Counsel said Thursday, Sept. 25.

The special counsel’s investigation revealed that Heck routinely conveyed his expectation that subordinates contribute money to the local Democratic Party and time to political campaigns, in defiance of federal law. The special counsel charged that Heck and Flannagan used their official authority to interfere with or affect the results of elections, the office of special counsel said.

Heck admitted that he solicited contributions for local Democratic Party fundraisers from six employees of the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office. Flannagan admitted collecting the cash and checks for these fundraisers from prosecutor’s office employees,” the special counsel’s office said. “Although Mr. Heck denied knowing that the Hatch Act prohibited the solicitation of political contributions from employees, as both an attorney and a long-time elected official, he should have known that whenever public employers place conditions on public employment requiring employees to become involved in partisan political activity, they put at risk the basic freedoms of speech that are protected by our Constitution.”

“The people and employees of the prosecutor’s office expect and deserve more from their elected officials,” said U.S. Special Counsel Scott Bloch. “Politicization of government offices and pressuring subordinates to contribute to political causes are testaments to why Congress enacted this law and are behaviors that simply will not be tolerated.”

As part of the settlement, Heck agreed not to seek employment with either a different state or local (county) agency for a period of 18 months unless such employment is to an elective office. Flannagan agreed to accept a five-day suspension without pay.

In consideration for their admissions of liability and their agreement to accept these penalties, the Special Counsel has agreed to dismiss the complaints. The motion for dismissal is currently pending review before a judge. After the judge dismisses the case, if either Heck or Flannagan fail to live up to the plea agreement, the Office of Special Counsel may refile and seek to have them prosecuted.

The Hatch Act strictly prohibits some state and local employees who have duties in connection with federally funded programs from being candidates in partisan elections. Until 2007, the county prosecutor’s office, with Heck as prosecutor, received federal funds to support some of its enforcement programs.

The penalty for a proven violation of the act by a state or local employee normally is removal of the employee from his/her position by the state/local agency and debarment from state/local employment for the following eighteen months, or forfeiture of federal grant funds by the state/local agency in an amount equal to two years of the salary of the employee. However, because MCPO no longer receives federal funds, the available options for a meaningful penalty in these cases were limited.

This man should be removed immediately from his elected position and disbarred ! Call his office at 937-225-5757 and insist that he resign ! And call the Ohio Ethics Commission to complain at http://www.ethics.ohio.gov/, 800 589 5256 – Office of Disciplinary Counsel,
202 482 9300 – US office of Government Ethics, 800 854 2824 – US Office of Special Counsel
Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office: http://www.mcpo.com/
Mathias Heck profile: http://www.ndaa.org/ndaa/profile/mathias_h_heck_sept_oct_2006.html
http://www.ndaa.org/ndaa/profile/mat_heck_nov_dec_2003.html
Mathias Heck Political Fund: http://www.campaignmoney.com/political/527/mathias_h_heck_jr_campaign_fund.asp

OH – Sex Offenders Near School Under Construction

September 25, 2008 Comments off

sexoffenderissues.blogspot.com : Sex Offenders Near School Under Construction.
wlwt.com Cincinnati : New School Could Have Sex Offenders As Neighbors.

This is yet another example of societal hysteria and inane legislation. They decide to build a new school in a bad neighborhood and now want to remove any nearby sex offender from this bad neighborhood and from the adjacent homeless shelter. See video below.

CINCINNATI — When the new $62-million School for the Creative and Performing Arts opens in Over-the-Rhine next year, it will have 1,300 students from across the city. It could also have as many as 19 sex offenders living nearby.

“Well, it’s outrageous. It concerns me and I’m sure it concerns most parents,” Cincinnati City Councilman Jeff Berding said. Ten of them live within a quarter-mile of the school, while nine more told authorities that they live across the street at the Drop Inn Center, a homeless shelter.

“There are laws on the books that we should enforce to make sure this can’t happen,” Berding said. (But these laws have been ruled to be unconstitutional, Jeff.)

But the law in question won’t allow it. That’s because the 19 men committed their crimes before passage of the current law that bans them from coming within 1,000 feet of schools. That means those 19 sex offenders are exempt from the law, and unless they commit another crime, cannot be forced to move.

Meanwhile, the Drop Inn Center’s executive director said that the nine men who said they live at the center don’t live there. “We do not house sex offenders at all. It’s against the law,” Pat Clifford said. (Oh really? I thought the registries were a sure-fire way to track all sex offenders…hmm)

“Does a sex offender go to the public library downtown? Can you say, yes or no, whether a sex offender has been in a public library? You don’t know. You can’t prove yes or you can’t prove no. Is a sex offender in Washington Park right now? I can’t prove it. It’s a public place,” he said.

Previous studies have shown that despite laws requiring offenders to register their address, the address given can easily be wrong. Some have even registered parking lots near the Ohio River as their home.

Cincinnati Public Schools said they work closely with Cincinnati and Hamilton County to ensure the safety and security of school children. (which is really the whole crux of the issue. Parents need to take their own responsibility to protect their children from all kinds of dangers – not limited to sex offenders)

IN: Appeals Court Upholds Sex Offender Ban

September 24, 2008 Comments off

Indystar.com: Indiana Appeals Court Upholds Sex Offender Ban.

Plainfield, Indiana has won the latest round in the long-running lawsuit filed by a convicted sex offender who was banned from the town’s parks. The Indiana Court of Appeals today released a 20-page ruling that upholds the town’s 2002 ordinance prohibiting persons on the state registry of sex offenders from going into Plainfield parks and recreation facilities.

While the ban on sex offenders in the parks does have a punitive aspect, the court said it is not unconstitutional, as the plaintiff, identified only as John Doe, tried to claim in his suit.
The appeals court said Plainfield did not violate the portion of the Indiana Constitution that guarantees rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to everyone.

Plainfield Town Manager Rich Carlucci said today that the purpose of the ban on registered sex offenders in the parks is to keep them away from children playing in the park.

The appeals court decision upholds a ruling in March this year by Hendricks Superior Court Judge Robert W. Freese, who had granted summary judgment for Plainfield and upheld the town’s ordinance.

Doe and his son visited Plainfield parks and recreation areas in 2004 and 2005, according to the court.
Doe sued Plainfield in November 2005, which began nearly three years of twists and turns in the legal case.

This is unbelievable; making walking in a park illegal for certain groups of people is outrageously unconstitutional in every way.

Banishment of Sex Offenders: Individual Liberties

September 23, 2008 Comments off

Social Science Research Network: Banishment of Sex Offenders: Individual Liberties, National Rights and the Dormant Commerce Clause, Environmental Justice, and Alternatives by Shelley Ross Saxer, Pepperdine University – School of Law
September 11, 2008

Abstract:
Sex offender residency restrictions effectively banish these locally undesirable and dangerous individuals from our communities because we fear that they may reoffend in our neighborhoods. The practical effect of banishment through residency restrictions must be understood in the context that there are few places in modern day America to which a sex offender may be banished that is isolated from the rest of society. Rather than being excluded and thrust into some undeveloped wilderness, sex offenders are banished through residency restrictions to neighboring counties or states and into poor, minority neighborhoods where they often live in boarding houses with other sex offenders. Federalism concerns arise when states or municipalities attempt to exclude hazardous waste disposal from within the state, and judicial and legislative efforts to banish sex offenders to other states may also run afoul of Dormant Commerce Clause principles, which operate to discourage states from such protectionist activities.

Banishing sex offenders through residential restrictions, both legislative and private, impacts individual liberty, our national structure, and social policy considerations. Although most sex offenses are committed by relatives or acquaintances of the victims, rather than by strangers, our public policy approach has been to focus on the stranger sex offender. This Article offers a legal analysis of the adverse impacts these restrictions impose on the constitutional rights of the sex offenders and the rights of our communities, which for economic or political limitations do not have the appropriate representation to mitigate these consequences. Finally, because there is not yet evidence to support the efficacy of residency restrictions on sex offender recidivism, this Article concludes that state and local legislators should seriously reexamine the current trend of using residency restrictions to address concerns about sex offender recidivism. Instead, public policy decision makers should look toward alternatives, such as individualized risk assessment and management of these individuals, so that public resources can be properly directed to confine, monitor, and treat those sex offenders most likely to commit serious reoffenses.

Sex Offender Registries Under Fire

September 23, 2008 Comments off

abajournal.com : Crime Registries Under Fire:
Adam Walsh Act mandates sex offender lists, but some say it’s unconstitutional.

Two years ago, Congress passed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.
Included in the Walsh Act is the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which establishes a national sex offender registry and creates three clas­sifications of sex offenders. The most serious group is required to register within three days after moving to a new state or face up to 10 years’ imprisonment. The law also makes it mandatory for states to maintain an online registry accessible to the public.

Most federal courts—spurning critics who contend that Congress exceeded its authority by encroaching on state and local control—have upheld SORNA.

But at least two courts this year have sided with the critics and invalidated some or all of the registry law. In both rulings, the courts referred back to a line of U.S. Supreme Court cases from the 1990s that limited the federal government’s reach into state law. Meanwhile, a third federal court temporarily halted the new law until it had a chance to hear arguments on the issue.

More is at stake than just the sex offender registries, observers say. Americans have become accustomed to national crime registries, and courts could throw them into doubt. “Not surprisingly, given our increasing sense of informational entitlement and disdain for criminal offenders, we are seeing registration and notification laws spread to other subgroups, such as domestic abusers,” says Florida State University law professor Wayne A. Logan, author of the forthcoming book Knowledge as Power: A History of Criminal Registration Laws in America.

Also up for grabs is the future of the U.S. Supreme Court’s line of federalism cases.

…The Walsh Act is the most far-reaching and may present the perfect opportunity for the Supreme Court to sink its teeth into such laws, Logan says.

The act “represents a ze­nith in federal demands on states with re­spect to registration and community notification,” he says. “Among other things, the law significantly expands the scope of registration eligibility and requires, for the first time, use of in-person verification and a conviction-based registration classification scheme. The states are expected to make major changes to their regimes, at significant trouble and cost.”

A Sex Offender is SOMEONE’S Child!

September 23, 2008 Comments off


cleanuptheregistryohio.blogspot.com : A Sex Offender is SOMEONE’S Child!

You will not find photos like these on any Sex Offender registry!
Do you have similar photos like these? Family photos; everyone has them! As parents we are so proud of our children and always showing them off at any given opportunity.

Do you see a ‘sex offender’ emerging out of any of these pictures? Is he scarey to you? Someone you think you should protect your child from? How about the imfamous word ‘perv’?! How about ‘PRED-A-TOR’, because he’s on the registry?!

If this was YOUR child’s photos and he were convicted as a sex offender and placed on a registry for a consensual sex act with his girlfriend, how would YOU feel?

Aren’t you just a tiny bit, just a wee-bit ‘peeved’ that you are being deceived to believe that an individual like my son is suppose to be a threat to your child?
Don’t you feel a bit taken advantaged of by your politicians that you vote for, keeping your family ‘safe’ from ‘predators’, when they include individuals like my son?
I’m not saying the sex offender registry is not a good tool, well, it use to be a good tool~ because now, you have individuals like my son in the same category of those that ARE a danger to your child~and now, well, you don’t know who they are!! They are all the same….just listen to any politician advocating for ‘tougher’ sex offender laws and restrictions.

Exposing Lies About Sex Offender Recidivism

September 23, 2008 Comments off

offenderstatistics.blogspot.com : Official California Report to the Legislature and Govenor’s Office.

Section 3: SEX OFFENDER RECIDIVISM (pdf)

Data at a Glance:

3.55% of sex offenders on parole with CDCR had committed new sex offenses by the time the conclusion of their three-year parole period.

• A ten-year follow-up study of 879 sex offenders in the state of Ohio reported that when using sex offense conviction as the outcome measurement, of 34 % of sex offenders who have re-offended, only 8 % were re-committed for a new sex crime, plus 3 % for a technical violation judged to be related to a potential new sex crime, while the other 22% reoffended for non-sexual offenses.

Solid information about the recidivism of sex offenders is one of the key building blocks for good policy and effective practice in sex offender management. If it were not for the concern that an identified sex offender may offend again in the future and create another victim, the questions about how to best manage sex offenders living in California communities would not be of such intense interest. Knowing how likely it is that an individual sex offender or a certain type of sex offender might re-offend can drive many decisions. Similarly, knowing what interventions actually reduce the chances that a sex offender will re-offend is also extremely important.

Existing data indicates that the majority of sex offenders do not re-offend sexually over time (Harris & Hanson, 2004). Additionally, research studies over the past two decades have consistently indicated that recidivism rates for sex offenders are, in reality, lower than the re-offense rates for most other types of offenders. In a longitudinal study that followed 4,742 known sex offenders over a period of 15 years, 24% were charged with or convicted of, a new sexual offense (Harris & Hanson, 2004). The U.S. Department of Justice found that 5% of 9,691 sex offenders released from prisons in 1994 were re-arrested for new sex crimes within three years. Recent research data from California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation indicate that fewer than 4% of the convicted sex offenders released to parole in 2003 were returned for a new sex offense over the course of a three year period of living in the community under parole supervision (CDCR Research, 2007).

Colorado Deciding Whether to Implement AWA

September 23, 2008 Comments off

Denverpost.com: Colorado sex-crime database perplexes.

When President Bush signed the Adam Walsh Act into law, it required states to contribute to a national database of sex offenders with more current and stringent registration requirements.

But states and American Indian tribes are having a tough time implementing some of the requirements of the 2006 law — such as making the names and addresses of juvenile sex offenders available on the Internet.

In Colorado, officials have met for more than a year to decide whether to comply with the Adam Walsh Act by July or lose $240,000 in federal funding. And it may be worth losing the money since it could cost more to fulfill the law’s requirements.

“I think at this point, the committee has not reached a final conclusion,” said Chris Lobanov-Rostovsky, program director of Colorado’s Sex Offender Management Board. “We are looking at the fact that this is an unfunded mandate. The other issue is that the committee and the state are committed to doing what is best for safety and victim protection. And looking at this act, is it going to further the cause?”

The Justice Policy Institute, a Washington think tank that promotes alternatives to prison incarceration, has estimated that the law would cost Colorado $7.8 million to implement.

This fall, the committee is expected to present a preliminary recommendation to Gov. Bill Ritter to decide on compliance. “The money is not necessarily there, and does it make sense above and beyond that even if the money were there?” Lobanov-Rostovsky asked.

In Colorado, sex offenders are classified based on risk to the community. And not all states have the same charges or same coding for offenses, but they all have to become uniform under the act. “We would have to shift over to a charge-based system,” Lobanov-Rostovsky said. “We would have to change our sexual-assault statutes, and those are some of the challenges.”

One of the biggest controversies for states to deal with is whether to upload information about juvenile sex offenders into the database, such as their address, the school they attend and a photograph.

“We are extremely disturbed that we could be putting kids as young as 14 on this database,” she said. “What we would like instead is for people on the registry not to get this sort of ostracism and get them the services and opportunities to help reduce recidivism.”

Nastassia Walsh said a national sex-offender registry is not the answer and that money should be spent on rehabilitation or other crime-fighting programs. “There really is no evidence to show that this is an effective way to enforce public safety,” she said. “It is just political rhetoric to keep kids safe, but it is turning into a logistical nightmare.”

Even sex offenders are entitled to protections of Constitution

September 19, 2008 Comments off

ReviewJournal.com ( NV) : EDITORIAL: Upholding our rights

Even sex offenders are entitled to protections of Constitution.

Sex offenders are an unsympathetic lot, and deservedly so. But if the government is allowed to trample and shred the constitutional rights of even the tiniest, most shunned segment of the population, how long before authorities decide to take away yours?

U.S. District Judge James Mahan took the state of Nevada off that slippery slope Wednesday when he prevented the retroactive application of a law that would have reclassified more than 2,000 registered sex offenders.

The statute, approved last year to meet the standards of the federal Adam Walsh Act, aimed to reclassify sex offenders based on the crimes they’ve committed, rather than their perceived risk of re-offending. As a result, hundreds of Tier 1 offenders who’ve completed prison terms, stayed out of trouble for years and been considered no threat to public safety suddenly would have been labeled Tier 3 offenders. Their photos and personal information would have been posted on the state’s sex offender Web site, they would’ve had to check in with authorities every 90 days, and a few would have had to wear GPS monitoring devices. Many feared losing their livelihoods and their rebuilt reputations.

Judge Mahan correctly ruled that applying the law retroactively violated the Constitution’s due process and double jeopardy protections. A decision on whether the law can be constitutionally applied to future convictions is pending in state court.

“We know that it’s a brave thing to do to make a decision that affirms the rights of sex offenders,” said ACLU of Nevada staff attorney Maggie McLetchie, whose organization brought the challenge to federal court on behalf of several plantiffs. “It’s about the limits on the power of government.”

Amen. Aside from the constitutional concerns, there were legitimate public safety issues as well. How could the law-abiding public be expected to measure the risks to themselves and their families if, overnight, the number of Tier 3 sex offenders in Nevada grew from about 160 to more than 2,500? Would their children really be in danger if one day their neighborhood was deemed free of dangerous molesters and rapists, but the next day the state said there were two on the same street?

The ACLU and the federal court deserve a lot of credit for protecting not just the rights of sex offenders, but of all citizens.