Archive for March 2, 2010

NY: Prevent Sex Offenders From Managing Buildings

March 2, 2010 Comments off NY Bill Would Prevent Sex Offenders From Managing Buildings.

Sex offenders face many restrictions in their daily life, but now some New York legislators are hoping to add another one: prohibiting sex offenders from holding positions such as building manager or superintendent where they would have keys to many different apartments. The Epoch Times has more:
In light of the recent reports about William Barnarson, Assemblyman Kellner has introduced legislation to prevent this in New York, and Sen. Schumer plans to stop sex offenders, who often cross state lines to avoid detection, from holding keys to multifamily apartments across the country.
“Unfortunately it’s completely legal for a convicted sex offender to become the superintendent or a building manager in any multifamily apartment building in New York, and the jobs almost always provide the offender with keys to the renters’ apartments in the buildings. Given the large number of sexual offenders in New York—there are 6,000—this is an issue that has to be dealt with immediately.”
Barnason had served over 10 years in jail for sexually assaulting and raping girls as young as 5 years old, and while working as a superintendent of three multifamily apartment buildings, had propositioned female tenants for sexual favors in return for help with their rent.
Assemblyman Kellner added that sex offenders have been banned from other professions and building managers should be added to the list.

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Green Bay Sex Offender Ordinance Takes Toll on City

March 2, 2010 Comments off Green Bay sex offender ordinance takes financial toll on city.

Green Bay prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools, parks and other places where children gather. It’s an expensive ordinance and one that has raised questions about whether it’s worth the cost. The state spends more than $220,000 a year to house convicted sex offenders after they are released from prison at the state’s Transitional Living Program house, according to the Department of Corrections.

It also pays nearly $4,000 a month for each offender housed at the Brown County Jail after prison release who cannot find a place to live. It can become costly — convicted sex offender Geitano Schmidt, 50, stayed at the Brown County Jail for five months before he was approved to move.

Those costs include payments to an agency that drives offenders around to look for housing.

Green Bay’s sex offender residency ordinance prohibits sex offenders from living in nearly 90 percent of the city. The ordinance was approved in 2007 because of concerns that most of Brown County’s listed adult sex offenders lived in Green Bay. An analysis that year by the Green Bay Press-Gazette of the state’s Sex Offender Registry found 65 percent of adult sex offenders in the county lived in Green Bay.

The increased cost hasn’t translated into increased safety for city residents.

Authorities refer about 200 sexual-assault cases to the Brown County District Attorney’s Office, a number that hasn’t changed much since the ordinance passed. However, sex offenders refusing to register with the state has more than doubled since the city ordinance went into effect in 2007, according to the state Department of Corrections.

Authorities referred 41 cases of noncompliance to the Brown County District Attorney’s Office in 2009, according to the state corrections department. That number jumped from only 14 cases in 2007 and is more than the 38 cases referred in 2008.

“It’s a result of the residency restriction because convicted sex offenders can’t find a place to live so they would rather go underground,” said Tom Smith, Corrections sex offender registration specialist.

Noncompliance is a refusal to provide correct information, including an address. Refusing to register is a felony that carries a $10,000 fine and up to six years in prison. “They’re giving up,” Smith said. “They want to comply but can no longer comply because of the restrictions that are held over their head.”

Safety zones and loitering ordinances around parks, schools and day cares are some alternatives to the city ordinance, Smith said.

Donna Ysebaert of Green Bay expressed concerns over copycat ordinances by surrounding municipalities and potential overcrowding at the Brown County Jail. She said if people support the ordinance, they can’t complain about taxpayers footing the bill.

Jed Neuman supervises 52 probation and parole agents in Brown County. The sex offender ordinance isn’t necessary, he said, since agents already require similar restrictions regarding housing and contact with minors. “They’ve had to become real estate agents. It really makes our jobs quite difficult,” he said.

Agents have to pick up offenders each morning when they stay at the Brown County Jail to help them look for housing, then drop them off each evening. Agents have reduced their caseloads to remain effective at protecting the public and rehabilitating the offenders, he added.

Gary Hein of Green Bay said the sex offender ordinance prevents people from being able to contribute to society. “They’re forcing them to be criminals because they have to lie about where they’re living,” he said.

MD Legislators Try to Limit Voting Rights of Sex Offenders

March 2, 2010 Comments off Is state wise to treat all sex offenders the same?

I doubt it will be noted anywhere but here — because the bill was withdrawn Monday— but to give you an idea of the extent to which members of the Maryland General Assembly will go to protect “we, the public,” please consider House Bill 656. It would have prohibited convicted sex offenders from going to Maryland schools even to vote on Election Day.

I found this while searching through the dozens of bills that have been filed in Annapolis in this election year, ostensibly to tighten loopholes in the state’s sex offender laws.

HB 656‘s sponsors included the following delegates: Impallaria, Boteler, Costa, Dwyer, George, Kach, Krebs, McComas, McDonough, Miller, Schuh, Shewell, Sossi and Stocksdale. (I would use their first names, but I don’t want to embarrass them.)

The bill, indexed under “sex offenses,” would have required “an individual who is a felon to vote only by absentee ballot.” It would have prohibited “a felon from voting at a polling place.” And it would have “limited a provision of law allowing specified registered criminal offenders to enter onto school property for the purpose of voting only to registered offenders who are not felons.”

That last reference – “specified registered criminal offenders” – is a reference to sexual offenders; they’re the ones we keep on an Internet registry that would grow larger, covering offenses that occurred up to 25 years ago, under legislation in the General Assembly this winter.

HB 656 would have protected Maryland schoolchildren even when they aren’t in school, Election Day. The bill got an unfavorable report after first reading and a hearing last month, and it was listed as withdrawn on Monday. So it’s not happening. But still, it provides more evidence of the strikingly transparent effort to score points with voters by exploiting public fears about the men and women among us convicted of sexual offenses. There are already numerous laws on the books restricting them from all kinds of activities – even their own children’s school events – and their names, photographs, addresses and offenses are listed on the state registry for the world to see. And still it’s not enough for the pols in Annapolis, who use the issue to prove their tough-on-crime bonafides.

Within the last week, I’ve received numerous comments from readers about this, and I’m surprised – and delighted -to report that the majority seem to see through the politicizing of this criminal justice issue. They question the effectiveness of the sex offender registries, and that includes some readers who are in law enforcement. There’s good reason for that — the majority of offenses, for instance, are committed by first-time offenders, and first-time offenders aren’t in the registry – but in the current hysteria, that doesn’t even seem to be a question in Annapolis.

Among those who’ve responded to my last two columns on this subject have been people convicted of sexual offenses, or their relatives — a constituency almost never heard from, and for practical reasons; they’re in the state’s sex offender registry and they have no desire to draw any more attention to themselves.

Sunday, I received an e-mail from a 56-year-old offender I’ll call Rick for the sake of this column. He asked not to be identified, saying he was concerned about the effect of further publicity on his teenage children and the reaction of his neighbors in a Baltimore suburb. He told me about his offense — sex with a minor in 2002, and a guilty plea on a third-degree sexual offense — and I checked it out. That has been his only crime, Rick said, and the records support him.

He, like other offenders, has been watching the news out of Annapolis as legislative leaders try to, among other things, expand the Internet registry to include older crimes and those committed by juveniles. Rick thinks that, instead of expanding the registry, the state ought to narrow its focus and concentrate money and resources on the most serious cases that pose the greatest risks to the public.

“Why can’t Maryland use the evaluation skills of professionals already in its employ and assign proper designation of recidivism danger to sex offenders?” Rick wrote in an e-mail.

“I completed all punishment and monitoring without incident. I haven’t had as much as a parking ticket, but due to a terrible decision on my part I am still paying, and will continue to pay, in ways that go far beyond my original sentencing. I completed the ordered sex offender treatment program and avoid any situation where I can be perceived as putting someone in danger.

“I cannot go to the park with my teenage children. I can’t join my local Y. I can’t go to my children’s school without getting written permission. I am on the registry for life, and now the politicos of our state are piling it on.

“We are not all monsters. Many are in loving relationships. Many have served their sentences, are honestly remorseful, have repented, and are trying to desperately move on with their lives and be productive citizens. All sex offenders are not serial offenders. They are not all predators.”

But right now we don’t seem to make much distinction and, if the registry expands, to comply with federal law, it seems reasonable to assume that money and resources will go into that effort rather than into performing the psychological triage to identify the real threats and make a real difference in public safety.

Since the Maryland Legislature removed this bill from their web site, we post here an image capture of the bill. Click on thumbnail image to view enlarged image.

Bill Synopsis:

Requiring an applicant for voter registration to specify whether the applicant is a felon; requiring that specified information concerning voting by felons be provided to an applicant for voter registration; requiring an individual who is a felon to vote only by absentee ballot; prohibiting a felon from voting at a polling place; and limiting a provision of law allowing specified registered criminal offenders to enter onto school property for the purpose of voting only to registered offenders who are not felons.

  • Sponsored by:
  • Delegate Rick Impallaria, District 7
  • Delegate Joseph C. Boteler, III, District 8
  • Delegate Robert A. Costa, District 33B
  • Delegate Don H. Dwyer, Jr., District 31
  • Delegate Ron George, District 30
  • Delegate Wade Kach, District 5B
  • Delegate Susan W. Krebs, District 9B
  • Delegate Susan K. McComas, District 35B
  • Delegate Pat McDonough, District 7
  • Delegate Warren E. Miller, District 9A
  • Delegate Steven R. Schuh, District 31
  • Delegate Tanya T. Shewell, District 5A
  • Delegate Richard A. Sossi, District 36
  • Delegate Nancy R. Stocksdale, District 5A
  • WY Senate Advances Sex Offender Bills

    March 2, 2010 Comments off Wyoming Senate advances sex offender bills.

    Cheyenne, Wyo. (AP) – The Wyoming Senate has given preliminary approval to House bills setting tougher sentencing and living restrictions for sex offenders.

    The Senate on Monday gave preliminary approval to House Bill 83. It would prohibit registered sex offenders from moving into residences within 2,000 feet of schools and also set other restrictions.

    The Senate also gave preliminary approval House Bill 64. It would set a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison for anyone 21 years old or older convicted of first-degree sexual abuse against a child 12 years old or younger.

    Both bills have already passed the House and would need two more approvals in the Senate before heading to Gov. Dave Freudenthal for his signature.

    Update March 2, 2010: Wyoming Senate modifies sex offender bill

    The Wyoming Senate has voted to ease proposed restrictions on how close to schools registered sex offenders could live under a bill moving through the Legislature. The Senate on Tuesday approved House Bill 83 for the second time and accepted an amendment proposed by Sen. Bruce Burns, a Sheridan Republican.

    Burns’ amendment would reduce the bill’s restriction on sex offenders moving into residences or lingering near schools from 2,000 feet down to 1,000 feet. Burns noted that Wyoming is a state of very small towns. He says that a restriction on living within 2,000 feet of schools would mean that registered sex offenders couldn’t live in many towns.

    Letters: Sex Offender Registration

    March 2, 2010 Comments off (SD): Letters: Sex Offender Registration.

    “I have been fighting the irrationality of sex offender registration in South Dakota for 14 years, and because state legislators don’t have the guts to do any deep down changes, I will have to fight the insanity until I’m not able to fight it anymore.

    For years I have asked for proof that registration prevents crime and have gotten none. I wrote to all but one of the state Judiciary Committee members. That makes 19. I testified over the phone this summer to the panel that studied this issue, and I’ll tell you that 99 percent of those who spoke to the panel testified for radical change. What we are going to get is next to nothing.

    Government is unresponsive to people. Maybe people have that figured out, and that’s why they don’t even bother getting involved in the process. I don’t blame them, but as for me, I’m addicted to fairness. I abhor double standards. I despise selective enforcement and arrogance.

    How logical is it to be on the sex offender registry for 15 years with no repeat offense and told you never can get off? How logical is it for us to give drunks second to infinity chances to go out and kill? It is absolute craziness to me.

    If you’ve been on the registry for 10 years with no repeat offenses, you should get a second chance. Period.

    The Constitution says nothing about categorizing one offense as worse than another.

    Deep down in my gut I know that my child’s chance of being killed by a drunk driver is a lot higher than her being abducted or molested.”