Archive for November, 2009

Illinois to Soon Implement Adam Walsh Act

November 30, 2009 Comments off

Apparently, the State of Illinois is intending to implement the Adam Walsh Act. Constitutionalfights has not been able to find any official information about this yet (perhaps the legislators are doing this in stealth mode), but we ask readers to forward any official posting about it. Readers in Illinois are encourage to write letters to their legislators here: : IL – Please Oppose the Adam Walsh Act.

Maine Lawsuits Remove Sex Offenders from Registry

November 30, 2009 Comments off : Nearly 100 removed from Maine sex offender list.

Augusta, Maine – Maine officials say nearly 100 people have been removed from the state’s sex offender registry two months after of a new law went into effect changing the registry’s rules.

People convicted of sex offenses dating back to 1982 were previously listed on the registry. But after court challenges, the Legislature changed the law so that people convicted of offenses between 1982 and June 30, 1992, no longer had to be on the list if they didn’t have any subsequent felony-level offenses.

Matthew Ruel, director of the State Bureau of Identification, told the Kennebec Journal that as of last week, 245 people had submitted applications seeking to be taken off the registry, with nearly 100 of those being removed.

Jessica’s Law too Vague to Enforce?

November 30, 2009 Comments off : Jessica’s Law too Vague to Enforce?

More than 70 percent of registered sex offenders in San Diego County are violating a state law by living too close to schools and parks.

Jessica’s Law, which was approved by California voters in November 2006, toughened sanctions against sex offenders and bars them from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park. In San Diego County, 1,266 of 1,731 offenders whose addresses are made public by the state live in those restricted zones, according to an analysis by the Watchdog Institute, a nonprofit investigative journalism unit based at San Diego State University.

That finding surprises virtually no one in law enforcement. They say the law is vague and has holes, making it nearly impossible to enforce. For example, the law doesn’t specify whether residence restrictions apply to all convicted sex offenders or only to those who were convicted or paroled after it passed. There are no penalties for violating the restrictions.

“The initiative itself was so badly written, no one knows how retroactive it is,” said Tom Tobin, a clinical psychologist and member of the state Sex Offender Management Board, an advisory group that includes law enforcement and other professionals who deal with sex crimes.

More than 90 percent of convicted sex offenders listing addresses in Chula Vista are in violation of the state residence restriction, while none violate the municipal ordinance.

Four registered sex offenders, two of whom live in San Diego County, have challenged the residency restrictions, and their case is before the California Supreme Court. The court’s ruling is expected in February.

And while residence restrictions are aimed at keeping strangers away from children, strangers commit a small percentage of child-sex offenses. The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office doesn’t track how many child molestations are committed by strangers, but the Justice Department study found that 93 percent of offenders are related to or know their victims. “Often, we’re horrified when we hear about children snatched off the street,” said Phyllis Shess, director of sex-offender management in the District Attorney’s Office. “That is statistically very rare.”

In one aspect, Jessica’s Law has increased concerns about public safety. Since it took effect, more registered sex offenders have identified themselves as transient and are harder to track.

Tobin said sex offenders in an unstable environment, such as homelessness, are more likely to commit another crime. “Why would we want to, with no apparent good reason, increase the risk of re-offending?” he asked. “The reality is we’re pushing people to the brink.”

In January, the Sex Offender Management Board issued recommendations, including one to “rethink residency restrictions.” It stated, “The vast majority of evidence and research conducted to date does not demonstrate a connection between where an offender lives and recidivism.”

Residents Want Sex Offenders Banned from Town

November 30, 2009 Comments off (NY) : Residents Want Sex Offenders Banned from Town.

Lake Luzerne – Residents Thomas Condon, Joseph Catoggio and Clinton Freeman on Davern Drive want sex offenders out of their neighborhood and away from the town.

Town Supervisor Eugene Merlino said he’s not sure the town can do that. “There’s not much the town can legally do,” he said, adding that the district attorney’s office told him if sex offenders they have served their time, they can live anywhere.

But Catoggio told the board that Colonie had recently adopted a new law that requires businesses to get a license from the town before they can house sex offenders. That way, they are regulating businesses rather than the offenders themselves. Catoggio asked the town’s attorney to look into a similar law for Lake Luzerne.

See previous post: Town Welcomes Terrorists Over Sex Offenders

Town Welcomes Terrorists Over Sex Offenders

November 30, 2009 Comments off : Amherst mulls resolution welcoming Guantanamo detainees.

The western Massachusetts university town of Amherst is mulling a resolution urging the Congress to release cleared Guantanamo Bay detainees into the United States and calling for the town to welcome those detainees into the community. The town’s Select Board voted 2-1 Monday night to endorse a warrant article titled, “Resolution to Assist in the Safe Resettlement of Cleared Guantanamo Detainees.”

“The United States has a long history of being a place of refuge and asylum for persecuted people. There’s nothing new about this,” said Gerry Weiss, one of the two selectmen supporting the resolution. “This is the tradition of the United States.”

Mark Wootton, 60, of Worthington, owner of Amherst Books, said, “I agree with those who say this is outside of the expertise of the town, but I think it’s a reasonable thing for the town to welcome or accept them if they were cleared by the courts and if they want to be here. They should be free to live here or anywhere else. Banning people from living in certain towns or places is antithetical to a democracy. They’re free to live in Worthington, too, so far as I’m concerned.”

Update: Amherst- Town Meeting approved it overwhelmingly on November 4.

Terrorists should not be banned from living in certain places, but ex sex offenders should be banned from living in certain places ?

Sex Offender Registries are Growing Fast

November 29, 2009 Comments off : Tracking Sex-Crime Offenders / Violator Registry Is Growing.

There are more than 716,000 registered sex offenders nationwide, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, a 78 percent increase since 2001, and that does not include all offenders because some crimes do not require registration. Sex-offender registries have grown even faster in the Washington area, with more than 24,000 people listed.

The focus on crimes against children that began in the Bush administration shows no sign of abating under President Obama. Federal child sexual exploitation prosecutions are up 147 percent since 2002, and the Justice Department is hiring 81 more prosecutors for these cases. Funding for task forces that bring charges in state courts rose this year from $16 million to $75 million.

But many of those offenders are now leaving prison, even as revenue-strapped states are cutting the budgets of probation departments. In Virginia, probation and parole cuts this year totaled nearly $10 million, including $500,000 for electronic monitoring of sexually violent predators. Maryland also has cut its budget.

“The burden on probation and parole officers is going to explode,” said Ernie Allen, the national center’s president.
The monitoring of virtually all sex offenders is required by law when they are on probation or parole.

Recent cases underscore a troubled registry system that has been the public face of sex-offender monitoring. An estimated 100,000 offenders do not comply with registration requirements. Law enforcement doesn’t know where many of them are.

Sipes said officers are especially worried about social networking sites frequented by children, such as MySpace, which this year said it banned 90,000 registered sex offenders. Facebook has said it is also actively trying to prevent sex offenders from joining its site.

Hysteria about these social netowrking sites has long ago been proven to be overblown.
See our postings
“Report Calls Online Threats to Children Overblown”, and “Sex Offender on Social Site = Felony”

A monitoring program installed on an offender’s computer is designed to capture every keystroke, Internet site and program, including chat and e-mail. Officials can monitor the computer remotely by logging onto a Web site or getting an e-mail if the offender does anything troublesome. Yet even this new tool is flawed. The software won’t stop an offender from sneaking a laptop, using a family member’s computer or logging on at the library. There is virtually no monitoring equipment for cellphones, BlackBerries or children’s gaming devices, which require a time-consuming and expensive forensic analysis. The monitoring equipment is expensive, so many agencies can’t afford it or use a free program that can’t retrieve deleted files.

ConstitutionalFights Summary:

1. The Adam Walsh Act and other new and expanding sex offender laws are diluting and exploding the sex offender registries to include vast numbers of citizens, which continue to grow each and every day. Meanwhile of course, more of our money is being spent on pursuing these increasing efforts.

2. Even with all the funding and resources devoted to these laws, they are proven to be ineffective as 1-in-7 offenders do not register or cannot be found. And of course, the punishments are being imposed upon those who have registered at least once, or whose locations ares known by law enforcement.

3. Focusing on proven false dangers, such as social networking, only takes away from the effectiveness of a legitimate sex offender policy.

4. Just as with residency restrictions, computer monitoring software only creates the illusion of enforcement because any offender can access a computer at many other locations – just as any offender can bus, walk or drive to a park.

Dear Santa: Are You A Sex Offender?

November 29, 2009 Comments off

Freerangekids : Dear Santa: Are You A Sex Offender?

What’s Christmas without a little overkill, this time at the hands of the U.S. Postal Service? It is acting to keep our children “safe” — and joyless! That’s the true spirit of the season, the way things are going.

The Post Office is afraid of sex offenders responding to childrens’ letters to Santa– admittedly a concern, but compared to having volunteers answer mountains of letters from needy children? As they have for decades? And what are the chances a Santa letter to a child along with some toys would wind up a horrible tragedy?

To me it’s another case of “protecting” kids that leaves the vast majority far worse off — just like when we take all the merry-go-rounds off all the playgrounds just in case someone, somewhere could fall off. We’ve “protected” the kids, yes. Mostly from a joy.

We like Freerangekids and their motto: “Giving our kids the freedom we had without going nuts with worry”…

“Do you ever…..let your kid ride a bike to the library? Walk alone to school? Take a bus, solo? Or are you thinking about it? If so, you are raising a Free Range Kid! At Free Range, we believe in safe kids. We believe in helmets, car seats and safety belts. We do NOT believe that every time school age children go outside, they need a security detail. Most of us grew up Free Range and lived to tell the tale. Our kids deserve no less. This site dedicated to sane parenting. Share your stories, tell your tips and maybe one day I will try to collect them in a book. Meantime, let’s try to help our kids embrace life! (And maybe even clear the table.)”

Sex Offender Ordinance Results in Only One Arrest

November 24, 2009 Comments off (Tampa) : Investigation – Sex offender ordinance results in only one arrest.

Video report: Sex Offender Ordinance Ineffective.

Hillsborough County, FL – Hillsborough County’s commissioners created a supposedly tough ordinance that would ban sex offenders and predators from parks and playgrounds. But in the 12 months since the county’s sex offender ordinance has gone into affect, how many arrests has the Sheriff’s Department been able to make?
“We’ve made one,” says Captain Alan Hill of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office

State Representative Richard Glorioso says the problem with Hillsborough County’s ordinance is that it contains so many exceptions, it is operationally ineffective. “Right now that person can be in that park sitting on a bench next to your kids and the officer has no authority to tell them to leave.” (because that is a violation of a citizen’s constitutional rights)

For instance, while it bans sex offenders and predators from parks and playgrounds, there are exceptions for dropping off their own child, or a friend or relatives child. Or while traveling to and from religious services, and to and from official business.

“Right now that person can be in that park sitting on a bench next to your kids and the officer has no authority to tell them to leave.” says Glorioso.

Which is why Representative Glorioso is now introducing a bill that would create a new, tougher statewide law which would close many of the loopholes in the Hillsborough County ordinance. “We do two things. First of all if you a sexual offender or predator on conditional release or probation you will not be allowed in a park, period. If you’re in the registry we create a circle of safety of 300 feet around the children where you cannot loiter,” says Glorioso. However, even under Glorioso’s bill those in the sex offender registry could still visit parks if they stay more than 300 feet away from children.

State Representative Richard Glorioso’s Bills:
CS/HB 77 – Sexual Offenders and Predators (killed in 2009)
HB 119 – Sexual Offenders and Predators (alive for 2010)

If you live in this man’s district, contact him and tell him what you think (he is your servant).

The Plague of Sex Offender Panic

November 24, 2009 Comments off : Of Myths and Monsters: The Plague of Sex Offender Panic.

If we want to address sex crimes in America, we need an honest approach. We need to seriously consider what truly works, not what simply feeds our anger and fear and makes us “feel good.” We forget sex offenders are also human beings, capable of remorse and redemption. We forget how easily we can fall into our own sins, all of which is the same in the eyes of God.

There are ways to address this issue from a realistic standpoint. We may not be able to stop every tragedy from happening, but we prevent much more sexual abuse by looking at the issue honestly. We must put aside our preconceived notions and our emotions and stick with what works. The right knowledge is power. Prevention and education programs do indeed exist, which addresses sexual abuse from a realistic and rational standpoint (such as the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center and Stop It Now!). We need to educate our youth on sexual responsibility and accountability, and not just from a fear mongering perspective. Sex education must include discussions on sex crime laws. We also need to have a balanced and healthy view of sex, meaning we can teach sexual responsibility in a tasteful manner without simply saying, “Don’t have sex or you’ll go to hell or jail.” Remember, we are a culture that needs disclaimers on coffee cups lest we burn our laps. We also need to actually talk about sex; these days when a person is struggling with sexual idolatry, they have almost nowhere to turn. Our society shuns sexual deviancy so much, even mental health professionals who work with sex offenders or deviants are shunned.

Prevention is only part of the solution; proper rehabilitation of the sex offender is a must. Of those who do re-offend, two-thirds of them will do so within the first two years of release. Thus, transitional homes and support networks (such as are keys to reducing already low recidivism rates. Social ostracism and denial of services, housing, employment, and support has already proven disastrous for our society; all those approaches achieve is reinforcing faulty belief systems of those struggling with sexual idolatry and giving ample incentive to disobey the law. A Rand Corporation study has shown every dollar spent on prevention and rehabilitation programs save up seven dollars that would otherwise be spent on running offenders through the justice system [16].

Most importantly, we need to honor victims by helping victims of sex crimes overcome the crimes committed against them. These days, if a victim forgives his or her attacker, many people look at them like they are crazy. What good does keeping victims thinking about what happened to them and the guilt and anger they feel rather than dealing with those feelings? The result is many more lives remain broken rather than healed, making them lifelong victims rather than “Thrivers.”

In our narrow focus on the “Registered Sex Offender,” we tend to forget the big picture. Appeals to emotion rather than reason helped create a legal system of perpetual brokenness for victims, offenders, and the community alike. So has the illusion of “innocence.” Your child is innocent until he is thrust into the criminal justice system for crossing a line he or she never addressed or even knew about. Ignorance is not bliss, nor is it an excuse for breaking the law. McDonald’s will give you a disclaimer for hot coffee in a cup. Yet no one is giving your child disclaimers on our legal system. If you don’t learn to be honest with your children about sexual issues, who will?

GA Supreme Court Rules Against Sex Offender

November 24, 2009 Comments off : GA Supreme Court Rules Against Sex Offender (click here for audio report)

Atlanta, GA (WABE) – A Georgia sex offender has lost his appeal to the state supreme court. State law requires sex offenders to register with the county sheriff within 72 hours of moving.

In January, convicted offender Derrick Todd Dunn temporarily located to a motel in Gordon County in northwest Georgia. Six days later he moved to a permanent home. When Dunn then registered, he was arrested for not registering the motel address.

Dunn appealed, saying registration requirements are vague, and that someone entering the state had more leeway than an offender already living in-state. In a unanimous vote, the Supreme Court of Georgia disagreed.

Christopher Paul was Dunn’s public defender. He says he’s disappointed with the court’s decision and the state’s sex offender law: “It’s at best an inartfully-drafted statute, and there’s lots of problems with the statute the way it’s currently drafted.”

Paul does not know if his client will file an appeal to the US Supreme Court.
Derrick Todd Dunn remains in a state prison where he’ll likely stay for several years.

This is not surprising coming from Georgia, as this state has some of the harshest and most draconian sex offender laws in the nation.