Archive for January, 2009

Iowa : Sex Offenders Banned from Public Places

January 31, 2009 Comments off

WCF Courier (Iowa) : Sex Offenders Banned from Public Places.

DES MOINES — Sex offenders would be restricted from loitering or being present — rather than residing — near places where children play or gather under changes being proposed by state public safety officials.

Ross Loder, lobbyist for the state Department of Public Safety, told a legislative panel his agency is working with justice department officials to craft legislation that will comply with new federal sex-offender requirements — including a provision to repeal Iowa’s 2,000-foot residency restriction and convert to presence and loitering restrictions that focus on where offenders are while they’re awake instead of while they’re asleep.

Among the provisions would be language to shift the focus from restricting where sex offenders can reside to establishing exclusion zones where they could not be present without permission or loiter within 300 feet of a restricted area, he said.

Aside from the claim that the requirements deter offenders from registering their addresses, authorities said it is addresses only a small portion of sex crimes against children. Only 1.5 to 2.5 percent of molestation cases involve a stranger, Ferguson said. In the vast majority of cases, the perpetrator is family member, step-parent or friend of the family, he said.

Aside from the obvious Constitutional abridgment of rights which comes from banning a group of citizens from any presence in a public place, they go on to admit that 97 – 98% of sex crimes against children come from family and acquaintances. So the proposed legislation could have absolutely no affect on over 98% of these crimes.
Soon in Iowa, if you are a sex offender and you walk your dog through a park or library or school grounds, or if you take that short-cut through the park to get home, or you jog past that daycare center….you’re going to prison!

Juvenile Sex Offenders Can’t Live Near Schools

January 30, 2009 Comments off

File this one under the “stupid” category: : House endorses more limits for young sex offenders.

HELENA, Mont. (AP) – The House solidly endorsed a bill Friday that would prevent juvenile sex offenders from living near schools, public parks, or daycares.

The measure was endorsed 91-9. Before moving to the Senate, it must still pass one more largely ceremonial reading in the House.

The bill would extend the same limitations in place for adult sex offenders to juveniles rated most likely to re-offend.

Republican Rep. Ray Hawk of Florence (idiot) is the bill’s sponsor. He says the need for it came to his attention when he learned a juvenile offender was living within 30 feet of a school playground in his district.

The bill is House Bill 55.

So if I have this correct, juvenile sex offenders can attend the school, but they cannot live near it. Okay, I got it! Sounds like typical inane government.

Court Links

January 29, 2009 Comments off

This is a reference resource for links to:
Individual State Courts
Individual State Courts of Appeals
United States District Courts
United States Courts of Appeals

Individual State Courts & Courts of Appeals (the best compilations found of links to state courts)

United States District Courts and United States Courts of Appeals (includes a map search to find your district court)

Federal Court Blogs:

MI State Law Kills Man

January 28, 2009 Comments off (Grand Rapids) : Man found dead in cold was turned away from shelters in past because he was sex offender.

GRAND RAPIDS — A man found dead on the streets Monday had tried in recent weeks to gain admittance to at least one of two Heartside missions, but was denied a bed because he is a registered sex offender.

Officials say its possible Thomas Pauli might be alive today except for a state law prohibiting him from establishing a residence even for one night within 1,000 feet of a school, in this case, Catholic Central High, also located in the Heartside district.

“It’s heartbreaking. I have a hard time even talking about it,” said Marge Palmerlee, executive director at Degage Ministries.

There are no exceptions to the so-called Megan’s Law, which sets boundaries and restrictions for those on the list.

Added Shaffer, “These men and women are clearly ‘The Scarlet Letter’ folks of our day. And where do they go? I have no answer.”
Mr. Pauli was convicted of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in 1991, over 17 years ago.

Court: State Must Release Sex Offenders

January 27, 2009 Comments off (Iowa) : Court Says State Must Release Sex Offenders.

January 26, 2009–The Iowa Department of Corrections says it must immediately release more than a dozen sex offenders from prison. The move comes following a pair of Iowa Supreme Court rulings made last week.

Prison officials kept fifteen sex offenders locked up for not completing their treatment program. But the state’s high court ruled the department can only suspend an inmates’ “earned time” if their offense was committed after January 2001. The decision means the fifteen offenders have served their time.

Officials say all fifteen will be released in the next 48 hours. (editorial) : Constitution protects even sex offenders. The lesson in this sudden release of 15 inmates should not be obscured by the nature of their crimes: Constitutional rights belong to everyone, and Iowa’s courts deserve credit for recognizing that.

Every one of these people should sue the state!

Judge: Photos of Sex Offender May Not be Published

January 26, 2009 Comments off

IrishTimes ( Belfast) : Photos of Sex Offender May Not be Published.

The High Court in Belfast: In his ruling, Mr Justice Stephens distinguished between the wider debate on whether or not it was right to publish detailed information about sex offenders when they are to be released and the narrower debate on whether it was in the public interest to publish recognizable photos of the individual in question.

High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland, Queen’s Bench Division Callaghan -v- Independent News and Media Ltd

Judgment was given by Mr Justice Stephens on January 7th, 2009:

An un-pixelated photograph of sex murderer Kenneth Callaghan, from which he could be identified, cannot be published. Mr Callaghan has served 21 years of a life sentence and is due for supervised release, and Mr Justice Stephens ruled that the publication of such a photograph, by disrupting his supervision and support regime, would increase the risk to the public by increasing his risk of re-offending.

He granted a separate order that no photograph of any prisoner in the Prisoner Assessment Unit of the Northern Ireland Prison Service could be published without 48 hours’ notice.

Mr Justice Stephens considered the Human Rights Act 1998, incorporating the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law; the expectation of privacy as outlined in Mosley -v- Newsgroup Newspapers; the balancing exercise required between competing convention rights; the specific position of photographs in the media as discussed in Douglas Ors -v- Hello Ltd Ors and Von Hannover -v- Germany; Articles 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and 2 (right to life) in the convention and the right to freedom of expression.

He distinguished between the “wider debate” on whether or not it was right to publish detailed information about sex offenders when they are to be released into the community, as occurs in the United States under “Megan’s Law” and the “narrower debate” on the specific question of whether it was in the public interest to publish recognisable photographs of this individual.

Counsel for the Northern Ireland Office referred to several research publications, including the Harvard Law Review (posted on this blog) and a report of the NSPCC entitled Megan’s Law: Does it protect children?, and called Prof Bates Gaston, chief psychologist of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, to give evidence.

Her evidence, supported by the research publications, was that successful integration of offenders into the community and the consequent reduction of risk of harm to the public, depended heavily on stable accommodation and employment for the offender.

“She stated . . . that public information such as contained in Megan’s Law does not reduce the risk of harm to the public, but rather increases the risk of re-offending and therefore of harm to the public. In particular, identification to a local community disrupts the two key elements of accommodation and employment,” Mr Justice Stephens said.

He therefore ruled that a restriction on publication of unpixelated photographs was a proportionate response and necessary in a democratic society.

He also found that the publication of photographs of other prisoners in the Prisoner Assessment Unit would be likely to be an interference with the statutory responsibility of the Northern Ireland Office with regard to such prisoners, and made orders prohibiting the publication of such photographs without 48 hours’ notice to the Northern Ireland Prison Service.

The full judgment is on

This is more evidence that while Europe is moving in the direction of more freedom and democratic rights, the U.S. is moving in the opposite direction.

Judge Throws Out Sex Offender Residency Restrictions

January 24, 2009 Comments off (NY) : State judge throws out Rockland’s housing law for sex offenders.

A state Supreme Court judge sitting in Rockland today invalidated Rockland’s law restricting where sex offenders can live. Justice William Kelly, in an eight-page decision, found that state has specifically taken the responsibility for sex offenders.

Kelly also wrote the state law specifically empowers local probation officers to decide where sex offenders can live without any borders. He also cited a similar decision banning residency boundaries in New Jersey by a judge in the Garden State.

Kelly nullified Rockland’s 2007 law. As the first decision on the pre-emption issue, Kelly’s ruling becomes precedent and could nullify 80 similar laws across the state that establish some boundaries in which sex offenders cannot live.

In Rockland, for example, sex offenders were prohibited from living, working, and loitering within 1,000 feet of schools, day care centers, libraries or any facilities. Kelly’s decision would dismiss misdemeanor charges against up to 13 sex offenders living in prohibited areas.

Oberlander’s lawyer, David Goldstein, raised the legal arguments. He said the 1,000 feet or any boundary is arbitrary and meaningless as far as protecting the public.

“The state law of letting probation officers use their discretion is more effective,” Goldstein said. “The county law was an over-reaction with a nebulous 1,000-foot magical line.”

He said Kelly’s decision on the pre-emption issue has implications statewide and could overrule other residency laws.

Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act

January 24, 2009 Comments off

Why the Federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act Raises New Constitutional Questions.
Corey Rayburn Yung, John Marshall Law School, Chicago
Harvard Journal on Legislation, Vol. 46, 2009

In 2003, the United States Supreme Court issued its only two opinions regarding the constitutionality of sex offender registration and notification statutes. The two opinions, Smith v. Doe (“Smith”) and Connecticut Department of Public Safety v. Doe (“DPS”), upheld the Alaska and Connecticut registry and notification laws against Ex Post Facto Clause and due process challenges. Three years later, the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”) was passed as part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. The federal statute was very different from the state statutes that the Court reviewed. Most notable among the differences was the creation of the federal crime of “failure to register” which was punishable by up to ten years imprisonment. Despite the significance of the disparities between the state and federal laws, district courts across the country have virtually rubber stamped the criminal provisions of SORNA as constitutional. The district courts’ reasoning has been almost entirely based upon superficial, mechanical applications of the Court’s decisions in Smith and DPS. This article contends that most district courts have been severely misguided in reading the two Court opinions and the statutory provisions of SORNA. Consequently, this article concludes that either Congress should amend SORNA or courts should strike down portions of SORNA on Ex Post Facto Clause, due process, and Commerce Clause grounds.

Keywords: Sex Offenders, Registration, Notification, SORNA, Adam Walsh Act, Ex Post Facto, Due Process, Commerce Clause

To view the complete document, click the “download” link at the top of the link.

VA Require State to Notify Sex Offenders of Laws

January 21, 2009 Comments off

Virginia State Legislature : Bill summary as introduced:
Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry. Provides that the State Police shall publish on the publicly available Internet sex offender database and mail to all persons for whom registration is required the text of all general laws affecting such persons solely because of their inclusion in the Registry. The State Police shall publish and mail the text of all such laws upon their enactment, if such laws are emergency acts, or upon the adjournment of the reconvened session following the regular or special session at which such laws were enacted.

This is as it should be. With the litany of laws being imposed upon sex offenders, at minimum, the State must be held responsible for notifying registered sex offenders of the new laws when they are enacted. It is unfair to assume that every registered sex offender will research (or even understand) new bills and laws which may apply to them.

GA Continues to Show its Obsession With Sex Offenders

January 21, 2009 Comments off

GA Continues to Show its Obsession With Stripping Away All Constitutional Rights from Every Sex Offender.

Georgia General Assembly : Senate Bill SB 14 – Local Boards of Education; no person on the national/state sex offender registry shall be eligible for election/service on board…

A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Code Section 20-2-51 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to election of county board of education members, persons ineligible to be members or superintendent, ineligibility for local boards of education, and ineligibility for other offices, so as to provide that no person who is on the national or state sex offender registry shall be eligible for election to or service on a local board of education; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

Section1 “(e) No person who is on the National Sex Offender Registry or the state sexual offender registry shall be eligible for election to or service on a local board of education.”

Granted: it is very unlikely that a sex offender would be elected to such a position, but isn’t it the right of the electorate to decide? And doesn’t a sex offender have the right to run for election?