Archive for May, 2009

Registry Adds Hurdle for Offenders Seeking Jobs

May 31, 2009 Comments off (Houston) : Registry Adds Hurdle for Offenders Seeking Jobs.
(note how the term “predator” is misused in the headline of this story)

In today’s economy, finding a job is tough for most people. But imagine what it would be like if you had the equivalent of a scarlet letter attached to your job applications.

A Rosenberg man who has been out of work for several months says that since the state recently added new information to its revamped online sex offender registry, it’s been more difficult for him to get a job.

Employers, who might have been willing to give the 25-year-old registered sex offender a chance, now refuse to hire him because they don’t want their business name and address listed on the registry, said Gordon, who asked that his last name not be used to protect his privacy.

The Texas Department of Public Safety added employment, school and occupational license information to offenders’ profiles about six months ago as part of a $1.2 million redesign of the online registry, which includes a new e-mail notification feature. DPS officials said states are required to post such information under federal law.

Making the information available to the public has struck a chord with registered sex offenders and their advocates who say it’s unnecessary and poses another hardship for offenders who want to be productive citizens. Crime victim advocates, however, argue the information is an another tool to protect the community.

Mary Sue Molnar, a founder of Texas Voices, a sex offender advocacy group, said more information means less safety if sex offenders can’t find work or lose their jobs. She said she gets e-mails daily from offenders and their loved ones asking for help.

“This is not keeping the public any safer,” said Molnar, whose son is a convicted sex offender. “It’s a feel-good law. It’s a tremendous problem. We want them to reintegrate into society and lead productive lives, and they can’t do that when they don’t have jobs.”

She said state and federal laws should distinguish between dangerous and non-dangerous sex offenders (but they do not do so). She said many sex offenders pose no risk to the community. Some are low-risk offenders who were in consensual relationships and the offender didn’t know the victim was under age. In some cases, they are married to the victim and they have children. Having their employer and school information online can be devastating to their families, she said.

Gordon, who is listed as a moderate risk on the state’s registry, agrees with Molnar. He is serving eight years of probation after accepting a plea deal on aggravated sexual assault of a child charges in 2004. He said he had a consensual relationship with a teenager who said she was 19. He believes only dangerous sex offenders should have employer and school information posted on the registry.

Gordon, who lives with his parents, said he is up front with employers about his criminal history and has had other jobs since his conviction. He said he follows all the requirements of his probation, including sex offender treatment. All he needs now is a job.

The information posted on the registry is required under the Adam Walsh Act signed by President George W. Bush in 2006. The act established a national sex offender registry and states were given three years to implement the law. The state attorney general has the authority to issue guidelines in interpreting and implementing the law.

More Ohio Counties Charge Sex Offenders

May 29, 2009 Comments off : Lorain County to charge sex offenders to register.

It’s a new trend throughout the state, and so far sheriffs in 18 other counties have implemented similar programs, Stammitti said. He expects other sheriffs will follow because of budget problems throughout the state.

If an offender makes less than 125 percent of the federal poverty level — $13,537 annually for an offender who is single with no dependents or $27,562 for an offender in a family of four — they won’t be required to pay, Stammitti said.
The fees will go into effect July 1.

Read more here:

Re-Living the Scare Films of the 60’s

May 28, 2009 Comments off

Some of our readers may be old enough to remember the “scare” documentary movies from the 1950’s and 1960’s. Black and white short films about drug use or sexually-transmitted disease, such as “Reefer Madness” and “SexMadness” were the archetypal exploitation films of the era, which were intended to scare the public (in particular, children, as they were shown in school classrooms).

This generation has our own exploitation “scare” tactics in the name of online sex offender registries and the apparent threats parents are made to believe that on every street there is a “predator” who wants to have sex with their child.

But perhaps it is useful for us to learn from our history. As such, we can understand that the social pendulum swings back-and-forth on social panic topics. In the 1990’s it was drunk driving. Today it is sex offenders. But back in the 1950’s and 60’s they had their own social panic about sex offenders and child molesting. We strongly urge you to watch the two films below “Boys Beware (1961)” and “The Child Molester (1964)”. There is much to learn from watching them.


Florida’s Sex Offender Mess

May 28, 2009 Comments off : State needs to fix the sex offender mess.

The task force charged by the Broward County Commission with finding a way out of the conundrum created by sex offender residency restrictions has listened to experts, crunched numbers and discussed a dismaying array of unintended consequences.

By its second meeting on Tuesday, none of the task force members were defending the notion that draconian restrictions actually protected children from sex offenders.

They discussed better solutions than laws that forced registered sex offenders into homelessness; that left parole officers with no alternative but to send them to live under a highway bridge; that encouraged sex offenders to cluster in neighborhoods with less restrictive ordinances.

They talked about the documented failure of these laws in other states. They talked about laws, instead, that would keep sex offenders from loitering around places where children congregate. They talked about re-zoning industrial areas to allow sex offender housing.

They talked about restrictions that fail to distinguish between less dangerous offenders and sexual predators.
They pushed beyond the emotional stuff and dug for what made sense.
It was the kind of thoughtful examination needed to sort out a complicated and volatile problem.

Except, it comes too late. Most of South Florida’s cities (and Miami-Dade County) have already passed 2,500-foot restrictions around schools, parks, day care centers, even school bus stops. The County Commission holds sway over less than three square miles of unincorporated Broward.

Broadening Sex Offender Labels

May 28, 2009 Comments off : Neb. lawmakers approve new rules for sex offenders.

Lincoln, Neb. (AP) – Nebraska lawmakers have approved a number of changes that are designed to make it easier for the public to track sex offenders.

Under the measure (LB285) lawmakers passed on Thursday, crimes including incest, sexually assaulting an inmate and sexual enticement using computers would land offenders on the state’s sex-offender registry.

The law would be retroactive for people convicted of those offenses since 1997.

The proposal follows the 2006 passage of a federal law meant to create a national system for registering sex offenders.

“Under LB 285, the list of registry offenses would be expanded to include: incest, unlawful intrusion, sexually related child abuse offenses, sexual assault of an inmate or protected adult and sexually motivated offenses. The new registry and notification requirements would apply retroactively to all sex offense convictions entered on or after January 1, 1997″

Final Reading Copy of Bill

Constitutionalfights has been warning of this. Once one group of citizens is permitted to be publicly shamed and persecuted (even retro-actively) in the way that these online registries do, it will soon be extended to other groups of citizens. Already there are bills in some states to add drug, animal cruelty and drunk driving offenses to online registries.

Public a No-Show at Sex Offender Meeting

May 27, 2009 Comments off (Wisconsin) : Public a No-Show at Sex Offender Meeting.

Manitowoc County law enforcement attempted to share information about a convicted sex offender’s release into the community, but local citizens did not attend the meeting at the Manitowoc Police Department Tuesday evening.

This story tells you something, doesn’t it?
No matter how much we infringe upon the rights of former sex offenders, it really comes down to personal responsibility of parents.

Editorial : Improper “Sex Predator”

May 27, 2009 Comments off

Tired of the media’s inaccurate portrayal of sex offender laws as applying exclusively to “sexual predators”
– by

If you read or watch any news report related to sex offender laws in the United States, you have surely heard the word “predator” used repeatedly and improperly. The fact that these so-called journalists misuse this term so universally is disturbing enough. But the perception that their inaccuracies create is an even greater danger.

Of course you cannot assume these ever-increasing, newly-crafted, “blanket” sex offender laws apply only to those horrible “predators”. In each and every case, residence restrictions, life-long reporting requirements, home visits, registration fees and nearly every other sex offender law applies to all sex offenders. This is the fundamental flaw in the concept of these laws (including the Adam Walsh Act); they do not differentiate between low risk and high risk ex-offenders.

All of these pariah laws are doing nothing to protect public safety. In fact, studies are showing that these laws are counter-productive to community safety, as they drive ex offenders to extremes where they are set up to fail and have no reason not to re-offend. If he cannot get a job, is forced out of his family house because it is too close to a school or park, and everyone in his community views him as a monster, what reason does he have to be law-abiding?

Even the term “sex offender” is used as a means to stir panic and fear in our neighborhoods. This term allows the government and law enforcement to label hundreds of thousands of people in this nation who have made just one bad mistake in their lives to a life-long branding as a “sex offender”.

Are those who were convicted a decade ago branded with the label “drunk driver” for life? No.
Is the man who was arrested 12 years ago for domestic abuse labeled by the law for life as the “wife beater”. No. How many people in this country have been arrested for drug abuse (or offenses) ; and are they branded with the label of “drug offender” for the remainder of their lives? No.

Ex Offenders who have a sex offense in their history are the only group we allow to be labeled in such a way , for life. This will explain why Constitutionalfights often uses the term “ex offender” rather than “sex offender”. We urge readers to correct the misuse of the terms “predator” and “sex offender” wherever and whenever they are able to do so.

RI Replaces One Sex Offender Law With Another

May 26, 2009 Comments off (Providence, R.I.) – Senate bill would ban sex offenders from venues used by children.

Cranston — So far there’s been no silver-bullet resolution of the controversy over housing convicted sex offenders at a local homeless shelter, but the public outcry has prompted one response — a possible change in state law.

Sen. Hanna M. Gallo, D-Cranston, has sponsored a bill that would make it a felony for anyone convicted of first- or second-degree child molestation to set foot in a playground, daycare center or school.

If adopted, the bill would amend a law the General Assembly adopted only last year, eliminating language that bars convicted sex offenders from living within 300 feet of a school because the restriction was recently found to be unconstitutional.

The 2008 law was challenged by former Central Falls City Council member Luis Gil, who pleaded guilty in February to two counts of third-degree sexual assault. Gil argued, among other things, that the restriction amounted to an unconstitutional taking of his property because he would have been forced to move. Superior Court Judge Joseph F. Rodgers Jr. agreed, writing in his decision that the residency restriction amounts to a taking “without just and adequate compensation.”

Gallo said her bill is not a solution to the issue of sex offenders staying at Harrington Hall — a homeless shelter that is about a quarter-mile from a playground and about a half-mile from the nearest school. But she said it at least sets limits that do not exist in the current law and should act as a deterrent.

The bill calls for up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000, if a convicted first- or second-degree child molester is found guilty of setting foot on one of the protected properties.

(Again, the government is banishing a group of citizens from public places)

Banning Citizens from More Places

May 20, 2009 Comments off : Bill would further define limits for sex offenders.

Chapel Hill, N.C. — Registered sex offenders could be banned from more places under a bill in the General Assembly that would change the existing rule that keeps them 300 feet from places primarily catering to children. Under state law, sex offenders cannot be at schools, children’s museums, day cares, playgrounds or other locations intended for children.

House Bill 1317 would specify additional places from which registered sex offenders would be banned, such as a movie theater showing a G- or PG-rated film.

Leigh Sparacino, a Chapel Hill mother, said she will also watch the bill, but she thinks restrictions likely won’t do anything more to protect her daughter.

Statistically, she has a much greater chance of being injured or molested from someone she knows personally – a family friend or a teacher or a coach, or something like that,” Sparacino said.

Sex Offender? You’re Banned from Colleges

May 20, 2009 Comments off : New sex offender restrictions.

If you are a sex offender in Alabama, forget about continuing your education. It is now illegal for you to be on or near a university campus

Governor Riley signed new restrictions on where sex offenders can live into affect Monday. The new law prevents convicted sex offenders from living with 2,000 feet of a college or university. Its a change from current Alabama law which applied to sex offenders living near elementary, middle and high schools. In addition to adding universities and colleges, the new law also prohibits sex offenders from loitering within 500 feet of school bus stops.