Archive for June, 2009

City Loses in Sex Offender Case

June 30, 2009 Comments off : City Loses in Sex Offender Case.

Montpelier, Vt. (AP) – A judge has blocked the city of Barre from enforcing an ordinance that would have required a convicted sex offender to move.

29-year-old Chris Hagan had been ordered by city officials to move under a new ordinance passed last year that blocks convicted sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools or other places children gather. The preliminary injunction issued by Washington Superior Court Judge Helen Toor blocks the city from forcing Hagan to move at least until the full case is heard in court.

Hagan has been getting help from the American Civil Liberties Union’s Vermont Chapter. Hagan was convicted of lewd and lascivious conduct over a contact with a 15-year-old girl that occurred when he was 18.

No State in Compliance with Adam Walsh

June 29, 2009 Comments off : No State in Compliance with Adam Walsh Act as July Deadline Approaches.

Over-generalization within each Tier and not evaluating each individual’s risk of re-offending have created this drastic change in numbers. For example, “Sexual Battery” is a Tier III offense. In the Ohio Revised Code, 2907.03-Sexual Battery comprises 12 different types of acts, some specifically involving children, some not necessarily so. As in the case of Tammy Welton, mentioned above, she was most likely guilty of violating Section 2907.03 (A)(11) “(A) No person shall engage in sexual conduct with another, not the spouse of the offender, when any of the following apply: (11) The other person is confined in a detention facility, and the offender is an employee of that detention facility.” But ORC 2907.03 also includes sexual offenses against a child by a parent or guardian (A)(5). No bearing is placed on consensual versus non-consensual sexual acts.

The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV) also has concerns about the Adam Walsh Act. Their stance is that “… over-inclusive public notification can actually be harmful to public safety by diluting the ability to identify the most dangerous offenders and by disrupting the stability of low-risk offenders in ways that may increase their risk of re-offense. Therefore, NAESV believes that internet disclosure and community notification should be limited to those offenders who pose the highest risk of re-offense.”

What Can Be Done
The government approved the Adam Walsh Act and put laws into place quickly, without evaluating the consequences. Yes, we need protection for our children against sexual offenders, especially those of a predatory nature. The Adam Walsh Act is a start, but should be modified to control the appropriate offenders and reduce some of the increased, unnecessary burdens it created. Some things for lawmakers to consider when recreating the Adam Walsh Act include:

-Add more Tiers to the present three Tier system to account for lower level sex offenders and those who pose less risk to society, and to have the grouping of offenses within each tier more similar

-Differentiate between sex offenders with adult victims and with child victims

-If a person has completed their punishment for a sex-related offense and commits a new offense, consideration must be given to the likelihood of them committing another sexual offense before giving them a second punishment for a crime they already paid for

-Juvenile aspects should be reworked to avoid possible permanent trauma to non-violent low-risk teenage sex offenders

-Each individual’s circumstance should be evaluated and the risk of re-offending taken into account before classification into a Tier

-On previously sentenced cases (still completing their sentences), plea bargains should be examined so as not to nullify the validity of the contract.

TX Gov. Vetoes Reasonable Sex Offender Bill

June 29, 2009 Comments off : Smith blasts Perry for vetoing sex offender bill.

State Rep. Todd Smith has an op-ed piece in today’s Star-Telegram criticizing Gov. Perry for vetoing one of his bills. Smith also suggests that Perry didn’t properly understand the bill before he vetoed it.

SB 3148 would have allowed certain low-level sex offenders to petition a judge to be removed from the state’s sex offender registry. The bill passed through the Legislature relatively easy and faced little organized opposition.

“Gov. Rick Perry vetoed one of the most morally compelling bills I have ever filed in the Texas House,” Smith wrote.

Perry said in his veto statement that he couldn’t sign the bill because “sex offenders would be eligible to petition a court for an exemption from sex offender registration, regardless of the age of the victim.” However, Smith’s bill only applied to cases where an offender was convicted of having consensual sex with someone who was at least 14 and not more than four years younger than the defendant.

“Perry apparently believes that every teenager who has a consensual relationship with someone more than three years, but less than four years younger should be labeled for life as a sex offender,” Smith wrote.

Exile of Sex Offenders in Iowa

June 28, 2009 Comments off : Sex offenders look forward to end of exile.

For three years, the convicted sex offender has been living in a room at the Ced-Rel Motel on Highway 30. The low, red-and-white building 4 miles west of Cedar Rapids has become a haven for those convicted of sex crimes in the years since the Iowa Sex Offender Registry was established in 1995.

Iowa law, until July 1, forbids sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or day-care center. The rule pushes them into remote places like the Ced-Rel, or campgrounds, rest areas and truck stops.

New legislation, which goes into effect on Wednesday, eliminates the 2,000-foot residency rule for all but violent offenders.

If you are afraid of ex sex offenders, you would be a fool to want ex offenders forced to live in isolated zones such as these. : Do-over needed: Sex-offender law based on myths.

First, this new law (as it presumes better public safety) is still predicated on the same old clinically and factually disproven myths. One is that sex offenders always reoffend. This is false, as proven by a federal study using 2004 data for Iowa that shows about 3 percent of registered sex offenders reoffend sexually, even though about 45 percent have or will commit other general crimes. The national statistic for general criminal recidivism is 68 percent. Many general criminal offenders have several convictions for similar crimes, but the average sex offender has about 1.5 sex-offense convictions, according to federal statistics and a state report.

Another myth concerns “stranger danger.” Iowa law was written in apparent contempt for known facts about society and sexual abuse. Data show that 87 percent of all child sexual abuse is committed by a first-time offender, 95 percent of the time by a family member, teacher, priest or a close family friend or neighbor. Adult rape reflects a similar profile 64 percent of the time.

Finally, the new law takes those with the more criminally ridiculous “sex offense” charges, such as public urination and teenage consensual sex, off the registry, but does two wrongs to the public. It continues making restoration, reintegration and stability of former offenders difficult if not impossible, and it violates constitutional guarantees.

The concept of rehabilitation includes the ability to reintegrate to society after incarceration. For former sex offenders, being persecuted and repressed makes society less safe, and it defeats the supposed public-safety purpose of the informative, administrative regulation the original federal registration laws intended.

Iowa legislators were under pressure to comply with the federal Adam Walsh Act, which sets minimum standards for sex-offender registration and notification, or risk losing federal law-enforcement funds.

Federal pressure like that on states defeats the 10th Amendment’s guarantees of state sovereignty and the power of the people’s self-determination – a step toward fascism. It also affects certain personal-guarantee issues, in terms of the right to have a place to live, the right to personal liberty and the right to equal protection under the law that is afforded every other former convict.

Almost 100 percent of child sex abuse is not “stranger danger.” To stop sexual abuse, Iowa should proactively engage in available programs of prevention combined with community treatment of offenders and a prison sex-offender treatment program truly designed to help people habilitate better thought and behavior patterns for a better life. That will help eliminate the victimization of children and adults that happens mostly because some people have treatable, untended biopsychosocial problems.

Brandon’s Story

June 25, 2009 Comments off : Texas Teen Sentenced To Sixty Years in Prison For Consensual Sex.

“I will never forget that day in June when I heard Judge Banales say, “You are hereby sentenced to 60 years in the Texas Department of Corrections”. My legs felt like spaghetti, my hands went cold. I had no moisture in my mouth. I was numb all over. I wanted to throw up. I could hear my mother’s horrific cries in the background. I turned to see her and I saw my father holding her and my grandmother tightly. He was so scared, I could tell. There were other ladies that were also crying. They felt for my mom, and possibly for me. The judge told my dad if he didn’t quiet my mother, he would have her arrested. My mother had a look of fury in her eyes when they met with mine. I knew right there and then that her love and commitment as a mother would induce a fight for justice. The bailiff was so nice to me. He kept asking me if I needed some water. I couldn’t talk. All I could hear was my mother’s cry, over and over. I couldn’t even hug her goodbye.

When I was 17 years old, I made a mistake, a mistake that will haunt me and my family for the rest of our lives. I had consensual sex with a girl whom I believed to be much older. I was young and immature, drinking and smoking pot like many other teens at our school. I never intended to hurt anyone. I am not a dangerous predator or a violent rapist. I am a young man who has been given a punishment far beyond what is reasonable and just.

Two detectives approached me and asked me if I had sex with Michelle. I answered “yes, why?” They handcuffed me and took me to the Corpus Christi Police Department. I had no attorney present, nor my mom or dad. I was scared out of my mind. They told me that if I did not write out a statement, and sign it, that I would go to prison. I had never been in any trouble with the law before. I did what I was told because I was scared, did not want to go to prison, and did not know what else to do. Once the statement was signed, I was told that Michelle was only 12 years old. I wanted to throw up. I didn’t know whether to believe them or not. She looked much older than 12. Amanda told us that she was 16. My little sister was 12 years old at the time and that made me feel awful. I was sent upstairs and booked into jail. I called my mom at work and told her that I had been arrested for aggravated sexual assault and the bond was $20,000.

About 8 hours later, my mom and dad picked me up from the jail and took me home. My mother was crying and very upset, asking me “how could you do this?” I was crying so hard and grabbed my mom and told her to look into my eyes and listen to me. My mom always knew when we were not being truthful by our eyes. I explained to her that I did not know Michelle was 12 and that I was sorry for my behavior.

We hired an attorney. He told me that if we had a jury trial in this case that I would be looking at a long prison sentence, possibly life. I took the 10 year adjudicated probation offered by the district attorneys office. Life as I knew it was over. I could not go anywhere around kids, even my own nieces and nephews. A 9:00 curfew was imposed along with many, many other conditions and restrictions. Lie detector tests, sex offender treatment, probation appointments, and expenses were piling up. I was depressed, angry and bitter.

While on probation, I tested positive for drug usage a total of 3 times. I was also 10 minutes late one night when they came to my house to check on me. I was on a waiting list to go into a substance abuse treatment program for depression and marijuana usage. There was only one place I could go due to my charge. The waiting list was 1 year. The people kept telling my mom that I was not a serious drug user like the heroin or cocaine addicts who needed a bed more than I did. I was bumped to the bottom of the list. I never in my wildest imagination thought a judge would sentence me to 60 years in prison.

There were two other guys, with similar situations, in the same court, but different sentences. One was sentenced to 30 years, the other 20 for non-violent, consensual relationships. And so now, here I sit in a Texas prison writing a book on teen crushes, costly mistakes, and a cruel judge. I have faith in God above. He is my true attorney. I will fear no one but Him. I am thankful that Michelle’s sister, Amanda, has come forward and admitted the truth about that night. The fact that I did not know Michelle was 12, the fact that I am not a dangerous criminal. We were all young, immature, and made bad choices. Certainly, those choices did not warrant 60 years of prison time.

Now I have this stigma that I will live with every day for the rest of my life. My family and I have endured such embarrassment and mental anguish throughout this entire ordeal. I miss my family. I have always dreamed of being an uncle. I have a two year old niece that I have never met. I would love to hold her and play with her. I’d like to buy her a puppy. I know I will come home one day. God bless each and every one who reads this story. Please pray for me………..Brandon”

(Sadly, this is not an uncommon story. We can attest for the brutal and heartless treatment the judicial system imposes on those arrested, and their families, throughout the process. We pray for Brandon and his family and we hope his story will wake up many of those who read of these insane laws , but have not yet taken any action to fight against them.)

SORNA and the Tenth Amendment

June 25, 2009 Comments off : Sex Offender Registration (SORNA) And The Tenth Amendment.

Doug Berman points to an interesting opinion from the Supreme Court of Missouri. It raises some complicated standing issues under the Tenth Amendment and begs the question of whether a state itself has an interest in enforcing state constitutional provisions specifically designed to protect state citizens from the state government. Here’s the background.

The federal government adopted SORNA – the Sexual Offenders Registration and Notification Act – which requires that sex offenders register in any jurisdiction where they live. The Attorney General determined that the law was retroactive – offenders convicted before the law was adopted are nonetheless required to register. (The federal bench has already held that this sort of retroactive application does not violate the U.S. Constitution’s ex post facto clause.) The federal government does not orchestrate this registration. In Missouri, for example, offenders register with a state agency. Various offenders sued in Missouri state court arguing that, because their conviction predated the registration legislation, the state was violating the state constitutional bar on ex post facto laws. The lower court ruled in favor of the offenders. On appeal, the Supreme Court held that registration was not subject to state constitutional limitations because federal law mandated respondents to register.

Let me issue the usual caveat. I am most certainly not a constitutional law expert. But it strikes me that if the State of Missouri is the party doing the registration, the state’s conduct ought to be regulated by state constitutional law – unless federal law trumps. It’s not that offenders are required to register by federal law; it’s that the act of registration is being conducted by the State of Missouri. Missouri may argue that they’re compelled to conduct this registration – whether or not it would be constitutional under state law – because of federal supremacy. But it strikes me that Missouri might have a colorable Tenth Amendment claim here – if it chose to bring it – because the federal government is comandeering the state’s machinery to do its work. As a result, it might well be unconstitutional to compel Missouri to collect this information. Missouri can continue to collect the data, of course, but it would be doing so by choice. And then, logically, the registration procedure would be subject to state constitutional law.

The problem, in this instance, might be standing. The Eighth Circuit in U.S. v. Hacker, for example, recently held that individuals do not have standing to enforce the Tenth Amendment. (There is a circuit split on this issue.) But the Eighth Circuit did suggest there might be a small space for individual standing:

We note that at least one appellate court has speculated that a private party could assert a Tenth Amendment claim by showing that its claim “align[s] with the state’s interest.” Parker, 362 F.3d at 1284 (citing Mountain States Legal Found. v. Costle, 630 F.2d 754, 761 (10th Cir. 1980)).

So my question, long winded as it may be, is this: does the state constitution’s guarantee of individual rights (here, its ex post facto provision) constitute a “state interest” such that the individual’s assertion of this interest – notwithstanding a state attorney general who prefers not to enforce it – is actually in perfect alignment with the state’s interest? Or do we understand a state interest to be whatever the elected officials prefer to support at any given time, irrespective of the constitutionality of the AG’s preferences under state law?

ME Trumps City Sex Offender Law

June 25, 2009 Comments off : State overturns city sex offender law.

Westbrook , Maine: A new state law that establishes boundaries for where convicted sex offenders can live will overturn the more stringent restrictions put in place by Westbrook officials two years ago.

In the municipalities that choose to enact the new law, which will take effect in September, registered sex offenders will be prohibited from residing within 750 feet of a school or any municipally owned building generally used by children.

Westbrook’s ordinance restricts any registered sex offender whose crime was committed against an individual under 18 from living or working within 2,500 feet of a school, child care center or home, park, playground, bowling alley or any other location frequented by children. The ordinance bars these sex offenders from the most densely populated residential and business districts in the city, including all of downtown.

US Supreme Court to Decide Civil Comittment

June 23, 2009 Comments off : US Supreme Court to Decide Federal Civil Commitment Law.

The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday that it would decide whether Congress may adopt a federal law that keeps sex offenders in custody indefinitely after they complete their prison sentences.

The high court agreed to hear an Obama administration appeal seeking to reinstate a 2006 law providing for the continued detention of “sexually dangerous” convicted federal inmates who have served their prison terms. (Obama wants to lock these people up indefinitely after they have completed their sentences).

A U.S. appeals court based in Virginia struck down the law for exceeding the limits of congressional authority and intruding on police powers Constitution reserves for the states, many of which have similar laws.

The law had been challenged by five inmates who had been kept in custody at a federal prison hospital in North Carolina after their sentences ended.

The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments and issue its ruling in the case during its upcoming term that begins in October.

Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison

June 18, 2009 Comments off

United States Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs Nov. 2003 Report

“Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison in 1994”

Rearrest for a new sex crime

Within the first 3 years following their release from prison in 1994, 5.3% (517 of the 9,691) of released sex offenders were rearrested for a sex crime. The rate for the 262,420 released non-sex offenders was lower, 1.3% (3,328 of 262,420). The first 12 months following their release from a State prison was the period when 40% of sex crimes were allegedly committed by the released sex offenders.

Recidivism studies typically find that, the older the prisoner when released, the lower the rate of recidivism.
Results reported here on released sex offenders did not follow the familiar pattern. While the lowest rate of
rearrest for a sex crime (3.3%) did belong to the oldest sex offenders (those age 45 or older), other comparisons between older and younger prisoners did not consistently show older prisoners’ having the lower rearrest rate. The study compared recidivism rates among prisoners who served different lengths of time before being released from prison in 1994. No clear association was found between how long they
were in prison and their recidivism rate.

Before being released from prison in 1994, most of the sex offenders had been arrested several times for different types of crimes. The more prior arrests they had, the greater their likelihood of being rearrested for another sex crime after leaving prison. Released sex offenders with 1 prior arrest (the arrest for the sex crime for which they were imprisoned) had the lowest rearrest rate for a sex crime, about 3%; those with 2 or 3 prior arrests for some type of crime, 4%; 4 to 6 prior arrests, 6%; 7 to 10 prior arrests, 7%; and 11 to 15 prior arrests, 8%. Rearrest for a sex crime against a child

On average, the 4,295 child molesters were released after serving about 3 years of their 7-year sentence (43% of the prison sentence). Within the first 3 years following release from prison in 1994, 3.3% (141 of 4,295) of released child molesters were rearrested for another sex crime against a child. The rate for all 9,691 sex offenders (a category that includes the 4,295 child molesters) was 2.2% (209 of 9,691). The rate for all 262,420 non-sex offenders was less than half of 1% (1,042 of the 262,420).

Released child molesters with more than 1 prior arrest for child molesting were more likely to be rearrested for child molesting (7.3%) than released child molesters with no more than 1 such prior arrest (2.4%).

Again, these Federal Studies refute the common lie that sex offenders have an enormously high recidivism rate.

D.C. Makes it Easy to Murder Sex Offenders

June 18, 2009 Comments off : D.C. Adds Mapping Function to Sex-offender Registry.

Washington D.C. – police have added an interactive mapping function to their online sex-offender registry. Police say the new application allows users to search for offenders within geographic areas. For instance, people can search the radius around a specific address, school or licensed day care center. The registry provides offenders’ photographs as well as their home, work or school addresses. Specific addresses are not listed; only their addresses at the block level are available.

All to make it easier for those who want to commit vigilante violence against ex offenders. Nice going, D.C. ! Here’s hoping you folks get sued when the first ex offender is killed by a nutcase.