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Banned from Churches, Sex Offenders Go to Court

October 7, 2009 Comments off

Google/AP : Banned from churches, sex offenders go to court.

Raleigh, N.C. — Convicted sex offender James Nichols said he was trying to better himself by going to church. But the police who arrested him explained: The church is off-limits because it has a daycare center. Now Nichols is challenging North Carolina’s sex-offender laws in a case that pits the constitutional right to religious freedom against the state’s goal of protecting the public from child molesters.

“Why am I being treated this way after trying to better myself?'” said Nichols, a 31-year-old who was twice convicted of indecent liberties with a teen girl and again in 2003 for attempted second-degree rape. “The law gives you no room to better yourself.”

At issue in Nichols’ case and a similar one in Georgia are day care centers and youth programs at houses of worship where sex offenders can come into proximity with children. Sex offender advocates agree some convicts should not be allowed around children, but they contend barring all offenders denies them support needed to become productive citizens.

“Criminalizing the practice of religion for everyone on the registry will do more harm than good,” said Sara Totonchi, policy director for the Southern Center for Human Rights. “With these laws, states are driving people on the registry from their faith community and depriving them of the rehabilitative influence of the church.”

Thirty-six states establish zones where sex offenders cannot live or visit. Some states provide exemptions for churches but many do not. In December, North Carolina state legislators barred sex offenders from coming within 300 feet of any place intended primarily for the use, care or supervision of minors.

Three months later, Nichols was arrested at his home after attending Sunday services. He said he was “floored” to learn that he had been picked up because Moncure Baptist Church has a child-care center for families attending services. “I believe wholeheartedly if it wasn’t for God, I don’t know where I’d be today,” he said. “God’s blessed me with learning how to live a better life.”

In Georgia, the Southern Center for Human Rights sued the state in part because the law there prevents offenders from volunteering in places of worship. The lawsuit brought on behalf of Georgia’s 16,000-plus registered sex offenders is pending in federal court.

Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, said preventing offenders from attending religious services is another in a series of increasingly unforgiving laws adopted across the country. Some of the laws have pushed offenders out of homes and entire communities. “This case is part of a much larger group of cases dealing with the expansive sex-offender laws,” Turley said. “The state cannot sentence someone to a life of being an agnostic or an atheist without violating the constitution.”

Some question whether the restrictive laws will lead to more crime. “It’s not clear that there’s any public-safety purpose to these laws. They continue to ostracize previous sex offenders in a way that could be dangerous in the end,” said Sarah Tofte, a legal researcher with Human Rights Watch. “If they can successfully transition to the community, to include going to church, they are less likely to reoffend.”

No Sex Offenders Allowed

October 7, 2009 Comments off

fairfieldweekly.com : No Sex Offenders Allowed – Greenwich, CT ponders restricting where registered sex offenders can go.

Greenwich has just 5 sex offenders listed on the state’s official registry. There are a total of 4,975 registered offenders in the state. Yet it is town officials in Greenwich who have been debating since February whether to approve an ordinance that would prohibit sex offenders from being near schools, parks, playgrounds and other places children congregate. The ordinance would not limit where sex offenders can live, as similar laws in other states do, but it would impose a $100 fine on a registered offender caught in the wrong place for a second time.

After unanimous approval by the Board of Selectmen, the measure moved on to the Representative Town Meeting, the city’s 230-member legislative body, where it failed twice, most recently on Sept. 21.

Robert Brady, chairman of the RTM’s education committee, said last week the three committees, including his, which rejected the measure, were concerned about its fairness and effectiveness.

“Police say it’s useless and doesn’t help them. Why on earth would the town go forward on something that’s of no use and simply a waste of money?” said Brady.

The ordinance’s chief proponent, Sam Romeo, chairman of the Community and Police Partnership Committee for the eastern end of town, bristled at Brady’s contention that Greenwich Police didn’t back the ordinance, and police spokesman Lt. Daniel Allen confirmed the department approached the town about the ordinance.

Romeo called the measure a “no-brainer,” especially given the proximity of metropolitan New York. “Though we only have five registered sex offenders in town, two minutes away there are thousands of registered sex offenders who come in and out of town all the time,” he said.
(This is why residency restrictions do not work; anyone can travel to another city or neighborhood)

Measures similar to the one being considered in Greenwich have been implemented in cities across the United States, and in Danbury, Brookfield, New Milford, Ridgefield and Windsor Locks. In Danbury, Brookfield and New Milford, signs are posted warning registered sex offenders to stay away from parks and other areas where children congregate. Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi said his town will have signs up in about two months. Only Windsor Locks decided not to post signs, but the city did send letters to its 17 registered offenders, making them aware of the ordinance.

“Look, there is obviously an extremely delicate balance between protecting the public and the constitutional rights and freedoms of individuals, whether they are convicted sexual predators or not,” he said. “The difficulty comes with the fact that this type of crime has an extraordinarily high recidivism rate. (THIS IS A FALSE STATEMENT -click to read official data)

McKinney’s contention that released sex offenders will likely offend again is contradicted by a variety of studies, according to Elizabeth Cafarella, director of public policy and communication for Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, a statewide coalition of nine community-based rape crisis centers.

Cafarella said research has shown differing recidivism rates for sex offenders, ranging from a low of 5 percent to a high of about 30 percent. But she said what has been proven is that the more stable a sex offender’s life is, including supervision and monitoring, the less likely he is to reoffend. And she says ordinances like the one being considered in Greenwich can work against stability.

“Residency restrictions can have unintended consequences, forcing offenders into rural areas where they become transient and can’t be monitored,” said Cafarella.

In fact, that’s exactly what happened in Georgia, Florida and Iowa, which have some of the toughest sex offender laws in the country. The New York Times reported in March 2006 that the number of registered sex offenders considered missing in Iowa tripled after a state law barring them from living within 2,000 feet of a school or daycare center was passed the previous September.

In 2007, CNN.com ran a story about a group of five registered sex offenders living under a bridge near Biscayne Bay after several Florida cities passed laws prohibiting them from living within 2,500 feet of schools, parks and other places children might gather. And earlier this year, USA Today reported on Georgia sex offenders taking to tent cities in the woods after the state banned them from “living, working or loitering” within 1,000 feet of places children gather.

“I was wrong, I deserved every day of my sentence,” said ex-offender Drupals in an interview last week. “But this [ordinance] goes way beyond a sentence and takes away the very things that are so meaningful to citizens; going to the park with your family on a summer’s day. I wouldn’t be able to do that for the rest of my life.”

Adam Walsh Act is a Legalized Hate Crime

October 7, 2009 Comments off

omahaguy.newsvine.com : Adam Walsh Act is a Legalized Hate Crime punishing more than child rapists.

This article was posted by this reader:
“I was a member of an adult Yahoo newsgroup. Someone posted 13 nude beach images of teenagers, which were automatically delivered to me. I was arrested for child porn in 1997. On Jan. 1, 2010 I will become a “registered sex offender” for 25 years to life because of that. The images I had totaled 13, along with 2 nude beach videos. This resulted in 2 separate indictments, making me a repeat offender for a total count of 15 counts.”

Excerpts:

First off, let’s dispel the most common myths about ‘Sex Offenders’. I despise child rapists. Sadly most readers think all ‘Sex Offenders’ are child rapists. If you are one of those readers, then you are in for a wake-up call. You have been misled for years about the ‘Sex Offender’ problem. Most of your politicians have been pandering to you, and fooled you into thinking they have helped the problem when they have really made it unmanageable.

Myth #1: ‘Sex Offenders are all child rapists’. In most states, crimes such as lewd behavior, public indecency, prostitution, even urinating in public can make you a ‘Sex Offender’.

Myth #6: ‘All Sex Offenders need monitored for decades’. The studies do not support this for non-violent offenders. One study published out of the University of Iowa states that non violent offenders who received proper treatment, were at basically the same risk as general public after only 6 years.

Myth #7: ‘Public Notification makes the public safer’. First off, 97%+ of all offenders, target people they already know, such as family, students, etc. So ‘public notification’, has little or no effect on those 97%. Secondly, the really scary ones, the ones you need to be protected from, are offenders that target random victims. They do this by going to bus stops, malls, parks, libraries, schools, etc. Those victims are NEVER safer by the public registry.

Myth #9: ‘Adam Walsh Act protects our children’. The Adam Walsh Act is nothing more than a government sponsored ‘witch hunt’, to chastise, and punish as many people as possible for the hideous crimes of a few. You do not have to have victims, and you do not have to be dangerous to be on the registry, you simply had to do something stupid.

Myth #10: ‘Adam Walsh Act is not punitive’ or ‘It’s just monitoring, so no big deal’. At one time this actually was a truth. It was called the ‘private offender registry’. Each offender was looked at on an individual basis. Non dangerous offenders were put on the private list. They were still monitored, but allowed to go on with their life. The public registry not only degrades and humiliates them, but removes numerous rights as well. Any time a politician wants to look ‘tough on crime’, he simply removes more rights from anyone on the registry.

Myth #11: ‘Adam Walsh Act is constitutional’. Congress felt that this was too much of a violation of constitutional rights. So U.S. Attorney Gonzales (later removed from office for unrelated ethics violations) declared this a ‘pressing emergency’. This is a special power of congress that allows them to pass laws without constitutional review.

Myth #14: ‘Residency Restrictions make children safer’. It’s difficult to see how this is anything more than just punishment. I can’t believe reasonable people think this makes them safer. Part, because a lot of sex offenders never offended children and don’t have a propensity to do so, part because recidivism just isn’t what people make it out to be, but also because the really scary offenders prefer to drive to someone else’s neighborhood when they abduct or assault their victims.

So why do I call it a hate crime? Because a hate crime is when you discriminate, harass, or abuse someone because of a social group they belong to. Politicians have created a social group labeled ‘Sex Offender’. They group in a multitude of offenders who never harmed anyone, but label them the same as a child rapist. Then they make it legal for anyone, anywhere, anytime to discriminate, harass, degrade, and ostracize anyone in that group.

Please contact your politicians, and tell them to support an option for child safety that truly makes children safer. This act simply abuses the constitutional rights of every person labeled ‘Sex Offender’ regardless of their risk level, or crime. Abusing a person’s constitutional rights has nothing to do with making children safer. If you understand the truth behind this, you have to agree that this will absolutely make the situation worse. Just read the news, and see the number of sex offender camps set up around the U.S. because they cannot live anywhere. Do you think those people are now ‘safer’ to society? How angry, misplaced, and anti-social do you think they are becoming? Adam Walsh CREATES monsters, not makes people safer.