Archive for October 21, 2009

Senators Attempt To Defund Justice Ex Post Facto

October 21, 2009 Comments off : Senators Attempt To Defund Justice Ex Post Facto.

This article relates to prosecutions of terrorists. Our question: why is this violation of Ex Post Facto getting more attention than is the similar Ex Post Facto violation related to sex offender registries via the Adam Walsh Act?

In a piece of legislation that has been written and is currently under consideration by the United States Senate, Senators Lindsey Graham, Joseph Lieberman and John McCain have promoted S.Amdt. 2669 to H.R. 2847, the Defunding Justice Amendment, which would forbid the Executive Branch from using courts established under the Constitution to prosecute criminal suspects accused of being connected to just one particular set of crimes. The amendment declares that no government funds can be used to conduct trials of suspects accused of connection to the attacks of September 11, 2001.

You may not like the people accused of participation in the September 11, 2001 attacks (nor sex offenses) . Given what I know about them, I’m not fond of them myself.

In a free country, however, such prejudice is not supposed to be allowed to interfere with the conduct of any criminal trial, no matter how serious the charges. The Defunding Justice Amendment violates a fundamental aspect of the Constitution’s system of fair trials: The ban on ex post facto laws.

Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution forbids ex post facto laws, meaning that Congress is not allowed to pass laws that change the rules of the law regarding an event after the event has taken place. That means that a legal act cannot retroactively be declared illegal, but it also means that the system of prosecution and punishment for a criminal act cannot be altered after the criminal act has taken place.

Disregard of that fundamental principle of American justice is not just unfair. It is downright unpatriotic. that declares that anyone accused of the particular criminal event you’re alleged to be involved in would be put through a specially-established set of tribunals that don’t comply with constitutional standards of justice.

Man Can’t Find a Legal Place to Live

October 21, 2009 Comments off : Murphy’s Law: Sex Offender Can’t Find a Legal Place to Live in Broward.

The more we learn about Ronald Murphy’s case, the sadder it is. We first told you about him last week. Then we met the man this weekend. And yesterday a source with knowledge of the case told us that Murphy’s stuck living on a bench in Delray Beach, in part, because his family in Broward County has refused to let him live with them.

But mostly, he’s stuck there because he’s registered not just as a sexual offender but as a sexual “predator” — meaning he gets a super-sized batch of statutory restrictions. Read them here if you’ve got an hour to kill.

He can’t live within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop, a provision designed to keep him away from children, even though the crime that got him in this predicament was the rape of an adult woman he met in a public park.
Murphy has no money, so building an estate in Southwest Ranches — or some similarly rural section of Broward — is not an option. It’s “nearly impossible” to find a legal location in the county for guys like Murphy to live, says the source (who asked not to be named) especially since neighborhoods that contain appropriate halfway houses have a way of suddenly building playgrounds in parks, whereby they disqualify themselves from being an area where offenders can live legally, which is what happened at one potential location, Fort Lauderdale’s Mission of St. Francis.

So that puts Murphy squarely in no-man’s-land: the bench outside his probation officer’s office in Delray Beach.

Megan’s Law: Assessing Practical ,Monetary Efficacy

October 21, 2009 Comments off

Megan’s Law: Assessing the Practical and Monetary Efficacy (PDF file)
Published by National Criminal Justice Reference Service
Federal funds provided by the U.S. Department of Justice

Executive Summary:

The research that follows concerns the various impacts of community notification and registration laws (Megan’s Law) in New Jersey. Although this report includes a variety of interesting findings and many ideas that will be explored upon post grant period, this research was embarked upon, in general, to investigate:

1) the effect of Megan’s Law on the overall rate of sexual offending over time;
2) its specific deterrence effect on re-offending, including the level of general and sexual offense recidivism, the nature of sexual re-offenses, and time to first re-arrest for sexual and non-sexual re-offenses (i.e., community tenure); and
3) the costs of implementation and annual expenditures of Megan’s Law.

These three primary foci were investigated using three different methodologies and samples. Phase One was a 21-year (10 years prior and 10 years after implementation, and the year of implementation) trend study of sex offenses in each of New Jersey’s counties and of the state as a whole. In Phase Two, data on 550 sexual offenders released during the years 1990 to 2000 were collected, and outcomes of interest were analyzed. Finally, Phase Three collected implementation and ongoing costs of administering Megan’s Law. The following points highlight the major findings of the three phases of the study:

  • New Jersey, as a whole, has experienced a consistent downward trend of sexual offense rates with a significant change in the trend in 1994.
  • In all but two counties, sexual offense rates were highest prior to 1994 and were lowest after 1995.
  • County trends exhibit substantial variation and do not reflect the statewide trend, suggesting that the statewide change point in 1994 is an artifact of aggregation.
  • In the offender release sample, there is a consistent downward trend in re-arrests, re-convictions and re-incarcerations over time similar to that observed in the trend study, except in 1995 when all measures spiked to a high for that period. This resulted insignificant differences between cohorts (i.e., those released prior to and after Megan’s Law was implemented).
  • Re-arrests for violent crime (whether sexual or not) also declined steadily over the same period, resulting in a significant difference between cohorts (i.e., those released prior to and after Megan’s Law was implemented).
  • Megan’s Law has no effect on community tenure (i.e., time to first re-arrest).
  • Megan’s Law showed no demonstrable effect in reducing sexual re-offenses.
  • Megan’s Law has no effect on the type of sexual re-offense or first time sexual offense (still largely child molestation/incest).
  • Megan’s Law has no effect on reducing the number of victims involved in sexual offenses.
  • Sentences received prior to Megan’s Law were nearly twice as long as those received after Megan’s Law was passed, but time served was approximately the same.
  • Significantly fewer sexual offenders have been paroled after the implementation of Megan’s Law than before (this is largely due to changes in sentencing).
  • Costs associated with the initial implementation as well as ongoing expenditures continue to grow over time. Start up costs totaled $555,565 and current costs (in 2007) totaled approximately 3.9 million dollars for the responding counties.
  • Given the lack of demonstrated effect of Megan’s Law on sexual offenses, the growing costs may not be justifiable.