Archive for April, 2009

Ohio County Sheriffs Rape Sex Offenders

April 28, 2009 Comments off

Ohio County Sheriffs are now imposing mandatory fees (up to $100 per year)on those who are required to register on sex offender registries across the state. See also “Forcing Sex Offenders to Pay Fees”.

We obtained this letter from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office from a reader:

The imposition of fees on the 30,000+ registered sex offenders in the state now debunks the false notion that the retro-active Adam Walsh Act lifetime registration laws are not “punitive” in nature, as courts across the state have ruled. Fining citizens up to $100 per year for each forced registration reporting is indeed punitive…without question. When will our state courts recognize this fact? What happens if a sex offender does not have $25 at the time of registration? Will they then be denied the ability to register until they pay (thereby putting them in violation of registration laws and exposing them to incarceration)?

Where are the Ohio indigency policies for those who are unable to pay these fees? How many registered sex offenders will be imprisoned because they do not have the $25 fee to pay at the required time of registration? And where are the attorneys and civil rights organizations who should be suing the state over these imposed fees? : Sex offenders Will Pay Fee to Register

Constitutionalfights spoke with the Montgomery County Public Defender office and the Montgomery County Sheriff office today:

The Public Defender is awaiting direction from the Ohio Public Defender office. We will keep you posted.
The Sheriff SORN office states that the only exemption to these imposed fees is providing proof that an individual falls below 125% of the poverty level (approx $9735 per year for one person, gross).
Any inability to make fee payments will be deferred for one year, after which they will be forwarded to the Montgomery County Prosecuter for prosecution (bill collection). Once this collection process begins, an individual would have 90 days to make full payment. Constitutionalfights never condones violation of any law, but neither do we condemn acts of civil disobedience. For instance, if every sex offender in the state refused to pay these fines for the one year period, it would certainly put the County Sheriff’s departments on notice, would heighten public awareness of the issue as it would become a state-wide news story, and would put the squeeze on the already-cash strapped Sheriff Departments across the state

OH Appeals Court Ruling on AWA

April 27, 2009 Comments off

Case No. 2007-CVH-02365 (Underlying Case No. 1996-CR-05237)

Barry C. Moran vs, State of Ohio (PDF)

Petitioner-appellant, Barry C. Moran, appeals the decision of the Clermont County Court of Common Pleas denying his petition challenging the constitutionality of his sexual offender reclassification.

Of course, these cowardly judges ruled against the appeal on every count, refusing once again to acknowledge that these new laws constitute “punishment” under the law:
“Ohio’s Adam Walsh Act is not a criminal, punitive statutory scheme and does
not constitute punishment for purposes of the double jeopardy clauses.”

Try living under these restrictions, Mr. Justices, and then tell us that it’s not punishment!

Streaker or Sex Offender ?

April 27, 2009 Comments off : ACLU lobbying for changes in nudity laws – Pranksters or sex offenders?

In the wake of last year’s naked pumpkin run, when a dozen “Naked Pumpkin Runners” were ticketed for indecent exposure on Halloween, public frustration with Colorado’s nudity laws came boiling up. Now, the American Civil Liberty’s Union is lobbying for changes that would keep streakers off of sex-offender lists and protect nudity as a constitutionally sheltered freedom of expression.

Public nudity in Boulder isn’t exactly uncommon: Last year, more than 60 cyclists biked bare to protest oil-burning cars; a CU student ran naked across campus while tripping on acid, and another, also tripping, jumped naked out of a car and rolled around in the street; a 55-year-old man took several nude jogs along Folsom Street; and a teenager streaked the Boulder-Fairview football game.

But how the nude offenders are ticketed by police — if they are ticketed at all — can vary widely, resulting in either a relatively minor offense or life-changing registration as a sex offender. : Streaker or Sex Offender? Laws Don’t Always Differentiate.

Take the case of Boulder’s annual “Naked Pumpkin Run,” a bizarre if harmless Halloween antic, where last year a dozen participants were cited for indecent exposure. Colorado’s Daily Camera reports that under state law, this is a class 1 misdemeanor and requires registering as a sex offender, whereas the charge of public indecency is a class 1 petty offense, on a par with littering or stealing a book from a library. The public indecency charge doesn’t carry sex offender status.

Sex Offender Yard Signs Unconstitutional

April 25, 2009 Comments off : Kansas judge’s order for sex-offender signs is overturned.

A state appeals court has overturned a judge’s order that a Hudson man post signs around his house proclaiming that he is a sex offender. The three-judge panel ruled Friday that Stafford County District Judge Ron L. Svaty overstepped his authority last year by placing the requirement on 73-year-old Leroy Schad.

The ruling said public humiliation such as signs doesn’t help rehabilitate sexual offenders.
The appeals court also instructed Svaty to reconsider the five years probation he imposed on Schad, noting that the sentencing guidelines called for three, and allow Schad to leave his house to buy groceries.

Iowa Sex Offender Bill Passes Senate

April 24, 2009 Comments off : Sex offender bill passes Senate unanimously, but could face GOP opposition in House.

Iowa’s sex offender laws would no longer include residency restrictions, instead using exclusionary zones and better tracking of individuals convicted of sexual crimes, following a unanimous vote in the state Senate Thursday night.

Senate File 340 ends the law banning some sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or day care. The new law would create exclusionary zones where registered sex offenders would be prohibited from working or visiting without permission.

“This legislation is strongly supported by Iowa prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and victims’ rights groups,” said Sen. Keith Kreiman, D-Bloomfield, who managed the bill on the Senate floor. “It increases supervision of violent offenders, keeps sex offenders from hanging around schools and other places where children gather, and improves the safety of our communities.”

This bill also imposes annual fees on former offenders up to $100 per year for life.

Update 25 April 2009 : : House overwhelmingly passes sex offender bill.

The Iowa House passed revisions to the state’s sex offenders laws this afternoon by a vote of 93-3.

The bill, Senate File 340, changes Iowa’s law banning some sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or day care and replaces it with exclusionary zones where registered sex offenders would be prohibited from working or visiting without permission.

Forcing Sex Offenders to Pay Fees

April 23, 2009 Comments off ( Cincinnati) : Sex Offenders Must Pay To Register In Butler Co. –
New Policy Allowed Under Ohio Law, Sheriff Says.

Sex offenders will be required to pay each time they appear for their court-ordered registration, under a new Butler County policy.

Sheriff Richard Jones said that convicted sex offenders will be billed $25 for their initial registration, each time they register a new address with the court, or verify their current address.

The policy, which goes into effect June 1, is allowed under Ohio law, Jones said, as long as offenders are not billed more than $25 per registration or $100 per year.

Now, not only are the rights of 600,000 sex offenders in this nation being violated, but “fines” are also being imposed. Yet, the courts still refuse to see any of this as “punishment”! Understand that these laws are making it virtually impossible for sex offenders to find jobs, earn money or find legal housing. Yet, many counties across the state are forcing former offenders to pay fees each time they are required to register,up to four times each year, for life.

Police Favor Sex Offender Law Changes

April 23, 2009 Comments off (Iowa) : New restrictions could ease residency limits on sex offenders.

Area law enforcement officials like the fact that legislators are considering changes to the state’s restrictions on where convicted sex offenders can live. Frankly, they don’t think the current law accomplishes much. The law is commonly called the “2,000-foot law,” and it prohibits the majority of sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools, day care centers and similar sites. But it says nothing about where offenders can go.

In many areas that means sex offenders are effectively banned from living within city limits. Law enforcement has long said that leads to people lying about their residences. That’s important because both Iowa and federal laws require convicted sex offenders to register with law enforcement. If they lie on that registration, it makes it that much more difficult for officers to track the offenders.

All that could change if legislators in Des Moines adopt changes currently being debated. The new restrictions lift the residency limits for most offenders, and institutes new restrictions that bar convicted sex offenders from going to parks, schools, and other locations where children congregate. Wapello County Sheriff Don Kirkendall likes the changes. “I am in full support,” he said. “I can see it making our job a lot easier.”
Kirkendall said that county law enforcement has handled more sex offenders than it has historically because so many are forced out of cities. That increases the workload for sheriff’s departments.

Appanoose County Sheriff Gary Anderson attended Monday evening’s public hearing at the capital and spoke to legislators in favor of the new changes. He said the proposed law gives officers “better tools” to handle the presence of sex offenders in the community.

While the law enforcement community broadly supports the changes, no one is certain whether legislators will vote to enact them. (Contact the Iowa Legislature!)

“Everyone thought before that [sex offender legislation] was going to be a help,” he said. “It wasn’t.”

How Common Sense Places Children At Risk

April 22, 2009 Comments off

Drexel Law Review, Earle Mack School of Law, by Lindsay A. Wagner

Sex offender residency restrictions (SORRs) are a manifestation of the American public’s retributivist attitudes and biased fears —attitudes and fears that ultimately result in ineffective policy choices. Over the last quarter century in the United States there has been a reemergence of “just deserts” as a generalized theory of policy. This retributivist policy is particularly salient in recent civil sanctions levied against sex offenders after their release from prison. Sex offenders, as a group, incite the public’s fear and hatred, and politicians seeking to curry electorate favor often support increasingly harsh sanctions against these “political pariahs of our day.” Most recently, in an attempt to keep communities safe, at least twenty-two states E.2d 69 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008). and hundreds of local municipalities have placed severe restrictions on where sex offenders may live after being released from prison. These restrictions typically exclude sex offenders from living within 1000 to 2500 feet of schools, parks, day care centers, and other areas where children congregate. However, research indicates that these fear-driven laws are ill-advised policy choices based on faulty reasoning. They aggravate recidivism risk factors, and hence may actually make communities less safe.

By framing these public safety laws in the context of modern criminal policy, this paper highlights the possible mechanisms responsible for the restrictions’ development and proliferation despite the growing body of research evidencing their counter-productivity. Understanding the context in which these laws have developed will help shed light on the most useful avenues of sex offender legislation reform. Instead of focusing on the constitutional rights of sex offenders, as most legal scholars have done, strategies for sex offender legislation reform need to focus on uniting the political and legal aspects of the reform effort. More effective reform can be sought through a better informed public, rather than a protective judiciary.

Appeals Court Upholds Sex Offender Law

April 21, 2009 Comments off (Akron, OH) : Appeals court upholds sex offender registration law.

The 9th District Court of Appeals yesterday upheld a state sex offender registration and notification law that is being challenged by four Lorain County men. The men argued the Adam Walsh Act is unconstitutional as applied retroactively to those who were first classified under an earlier version of the law.

The new law, which took affect last year, automatically classifies offenders in one of three tiers by their crime without considering the likelihood of whether they would reoffend. The law applies retroactively to offenders, many of whom were nearly finished with their reporting requirements under the old law.

Ruling on a lawsuit from Ronald Brooks, Abraham Bowen, Jeffrey York and Steve Keller, a visiting judge deemed that the law’s residency restrictions — prohibiting offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school — are unconstitutional. The Lorain County prosecutor’s office appealed the ruling and the men’s attorney cross-appealed, looking to deem the entire law unconstitutional.

The 9th District court sided with prosecutors, stating the men could not challenge the residency restrictions because they were not affected by them, as their homes were not located within 1,000 feet of a school. The court’s ruling also stated sexual offenders only have a case if they can show they were deprived of a protected liberty or property interest as a result of the registration requirement, which they had not done.

The 9th District cited Ohio Supreme Court decisions that stated felons have no right to expect their conduct will not thereafter be made the subject of legislation.

Attorney Jack Bradley, who represents the men, said he will review the decision and decide if they have a right to appeal to the high court, which he does not believe has made a final ruling on the Adam Walsh Act. Bradley, who represents about 50 offenders who are challenging the law, said their case could possibly be consolidated with other similar cases.

A Reader Writes…

April 20, 2009 Comments off

One of the many emails we receive from readers of our blog:

“Some things that are not always raised about these laws that our politicians pass for their votes into office:

These laws remind me of the tracking and incarceration of the Jewish people during Hitlers rule over Germany. Discrimination also comes to mind, which by the way, we do have laws in this country against discrimination in all forms. What about my rights to privacy, which the privacy act was passed in this country so we can maintain our privacy. I answer my door several times a year between my annual registration date by any and all law enforcement offices (seems like it’s over supervision). I don’t have a social life. The only thing might be an occasional night at the movie theater. I feel very uncomfortable at times even going to the store. I don’t mean to cry, but I did my time and the punishment should be finished, but it doesn’t end. It is a constant mental battle to maintain a normal way of life. The policy makers are making that even more difficult for us out here living through these laws, and I am not alone feeling this way. A lot of us feel like we are targets as well to any kind of vigilant(e) individuals. I like hearing the good news you have on your web site, it gives us (Registered Sex Offenders) hope that there are people out there with down to earth common sense. Thank You!”