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Even Sex Offenders Have Rights in Need of Protection

May 24, 2010 Comments off

mycentraljersey.com: Even sex offenders have rights in need of protection.

At first glance, the Supreme Court ruling on Monday allowing dangerous sexual offenders in psychiatric units to be locked up after they’ve completed their prison sentences until they are considered safe seems logical. After all, if they are deemed a danger to society, they must be kept away from society. That’s simple to understand. Many states use what is called civil commitment to hold dangerous sexual offenders after their prison terms have expired.

But considered further, the ruling is troubling as it dangerously blurs the line between the criminal justice system and the mental health system.

If a sex offender is in prison for a sex crime, he is being punished for his crime. If a sex offender is in a psychiatric unit following his prison sentence, then the implication is that he should have qualified for a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity. A prisoner does not become mentally ill the moment he leaves prison. The mental state of the offender should be established at the onset. If it is determined that he is a threat to the public and will continue to pose a threat by virtue of his mental state, then civil commitment should be used.

The ruling underscores the vexing problem of how we as a society need to reevaluate the categorization and treatment of sex offenders. It is enduringly difficult finding the balance between the safety of society as a whole versus the rights of an individual, especially if that individual has paid his debt to society.

“The fact that the federal government has the authority to imprison a person for the purpose of punishing him for a federal crime — sex-related or otherwise — does not provide the government with the additional power to exercise indefinite civil control over that person,” said Justice Clarence Thomas in the dissenting opinion.

While it is tempting to say to the federal government “go for it” when it comes to the open-ended confinement of sexual offenders by any means, we must be wary of a government overstepping its boundaries when it comes to removing the rights of select groups of citizens.

There is a recent — and glaring — history of a state using the mental health system to impose its will on the public. In the Soviet Union, psychiatric hospitals were de facto prisons used to punish political and religious dissenters. Let’s keep our society safe, yes, but not at any cost.

The Unconstitutionality and Inefficacy of Sex Offender Residency Laws

May 24, 2010 Comments off

Irregular Passion: The Unconstitutionality and Inefficacy of Sex Offender Residency Laws
by Sarah E. Agudo: Northwestern University – School of Law; Harvard University – John F. Kennedy School of Government

Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 102, No. 307, 2008
(download paper here)

Abstract:
Sex offenders are among the most hated members of our society. In recent years, laws protecting society from these offenders have grown increasingly broad; the restrictions have become more severe and applicable to more people. Residency laws, which dictate where sex offenders can live upon release from prison or while on parole, exemplify this trend. Twenty-two states in the United States currently have some form of residency law that restricts where sex offenders can live. For example, many states prohibit sex offenders from living within 1000-2500 feet of schools, bus stops, or daycare centers. Today, public outrage and political risk-aversion have driven these laws to the outer boundaries of constitutionality. It is likely that these recent expansions of sex offender legislation and the ensuing litigation over their constitutionality will prompt a Supreme Court decision establishing the limit on states’ control over their released offenders. Reasonable and constitutionally acceptable residency laws may well exist. The aim of this Comment is not to call for the abolition of all residency laws, but rather to promote a cogent dialogue regarding the upper bounds of their effectiveness and constitutionality in order to provide a framework for future legislation. Although, in many areas of law, democratic processes can adequately safeguard those bounds, the public outrage against sex offenders threatens to chill the usual political protections and justifies careful judicial oversight.

Criminal Justice Resources: Sex Offender Residency Restrictions

May 24, 2010 Comments off

llrx.com: Criminal Justice Resources: Sex Offender Residency Restrictions –

There are laws in more than 20 states and hundreds of communities limiting or proscribing where convicted sex offenders may live and work. See Lawsuits Test Crackdown On Sex Criminals, Stateline.org, April 18, 2008; Sex-Offender Residency Laws Get Second Look, USA Today, Feb. 26, 2007. These residency zones or exclusions are frequently imposed in conditions of probation and parole or as a facet of registration laws. They raise constitutional issues in addition to the practical problems created by shutting off access to family members, affordable housing, employment, therapeutic treatment and public services.

This article collects recent court decisions, research papers and reports that have addressed the efficacy of exclusionary zoning laws and the impact of these restrictions on sex offenders reentering their communities. For additional resources on Megan’s Law and the Adam Walsh Act, see generally Ken Strutin, Sex Offender Laws, LLRX, Sept. 28, 2007; and Sex Offender Resources (NACDL).

Case Law

Restrictions have been challenged on a variety of constitutional grounds, such as substantive due process, equal protection, right to travel, ex post facto, bill of attainder (e.g., banishment), and taking of property. See Anti-Sex-Offender Zoning Laws Challenged, Stateline.org, Dec. 9, 2006. Recent appellate decisions show how these laws fare in the gristmill of constitutional analysis, and offer insight into possible paths to Supreme Court resolution. See Exactly When And How Will Scotus Confront Sex Offender Residency Restrictions?, Sentencing Law and Policy Blog, May 14, 2008.

  • Georgia: Mann v. Dept. Of Corrections, 282 Ga. 754, 653 S.E.2d 740 (2007)
    “Although we earlier determined appellant’s property interest in his rent-free residence at his parents’ home to be ‘minimal,’ Mann, supra, 278 Ga. at 443 (2), we find appellant’s property interest in the Hibiscus Court residence he purchased with his wife to be significant. As a registered sex offender, the locations where appellant may reside are severely restricted by OCGA § 42-1-15 (a); as recognized by other states, those locations may also be subject to private limitations, see Mulligan v. Panther Valley Prop. Owners Assn., 766 A2d 1186 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2001) (discussing homeowner association covenants prohibiting sale of property to sex offenders), and we note that HN5 nothing in OCGA § 42-1-12 et seq. expressly precludes Georgia cities and counties from enacting additional restrictions. See Wernick, In Accordance with a Public Outcry: Zoning Out Sex Offenders Through Residence Restrictions in Florida, 58 Fla. L. Rev. 1147, 1163-1164 (2006) (discussing ordinances enacted by local governments in Florida that have expanded state statutory buffer zones). Nevertheless, appellant and his wife were able to find and purchase a house that complied with the residency restriction in OCGA § 42-1-15. The evidence is uncontroverted that the Hibiscus Court property was purchased for the sole purpose of serving as their home. OCGA § 42-1-15, by prohibiting appellant from residing at the Hibiscus Court house, thus utterly impairs appellant’s use of his property as the home he shares with his wife.”
  • Illinois: People v. Morgan, 377 Ill. App. 3d 821, 881 N.E.2d 507, 317 Ill. Dec. 339 (Ill. App. Ct. 3d Dist. 2007)
    “Defendant, [a convicted sex offender] . . . , was convicted following a jury trial of knowingly residing within 500 feet of a school building that persons under the age of 18 attended (720 ILCS 5/11-9.3(b-5) (West 2006). Defendant was sentenced to 30 months’ probation and fined. Defendant appeals his conviction and fines. We affirm in part and vacate and remand in part. Turning to the subsection at issue in the instant case, we adopt the reasoning and analysis employed by the Fifth District in Leroy and apply it to the subsection under consideration before us. In doing so, we find that the law is constitutional. We conclude that, in accordance with the analysis employed by the court in Leroy, section 11-9.3(b-5) does not constitute an impermissible ex post facto law. Therefore, defendant’s argument must fail.”
  • Indiana: State v. Pollard, No. 05A02-0707-CR-640 (Ind. Ct. App. May 13, 2008)
    “For all of these reasons, we hold that Indiana Code section 35-42-4-11, otherwise known as the residency statute, is an ex post facto law as applied to a person in Pollard’s circumstances. The residency statute is a criminal statute that criminalizes residency because of the resident’s status as a sex offender. In addition, the statute’s effect is punitive because it is applied retroactively to sex offenders who established ownership and property rights in a residence prior to the effective date of the statute, and because it forces them to relinquish some or all of their ownership rights or face a felony charge. Perhaps most importantly, Indiana’s residency statute does not exempt ownership established prior to the statute, provide a constitutional taking procedure, or exempt ownership impacted by later construction of a protected facility or area.”
  • Iowa: Wright v. Iowa Dept Of Corrections, No. 01 / 06–0863 (Iowa April 11, 2008)
    “Floyd Wright, who was convicted of a sexual offense against a minor in 1977, challenges the district court’s ruling that he was subject to the residency restrictions of Iowa Code section 692A.2A (2005), which prohibits sex offenders from residing within two thousand feet of certain facilities such as schools. Wright contends that he is not subject to the statute because he was not a “registered” sex offender. Even if the statute were applicable, Wright contends it would violate his equal protection and substantive due process rights and would be invalid as a bill of attainder. The district court rejected his arguments, and so do we.”
  • Missouri: R.L. v. Missouri Department Of Corrections, 245 S.W.3d 236 (Mo. 2008)
    “The same long-standing principles applied in Phillips apply in this case. As with the registration requirements in Phillips, the residency restrictions at issue in this case impose a new obligation upon R.L. and those similarly situated by requiring them to change their place of residence based solely upon offenses committed prior to enactment of the statute. Attaching new obligations to past conduct in this manner violates the bar on retrospective laws set forth in article I, section 13.”
  • Ohio: City of Middleburg Heights v. Brownlee, 2008 Ohio 2036, 2008 Ohio App. LEXIS 1739 (Ohio Ct. App., Cuyahoga County May 1, 2008)
    “Defendant John F. Brownlee, Jr. (appellant) appeals the court’s granting an injunction prohibiting him from residing within 1,000 feet of a school. After reviewing the facts of the case and pertinent law, we reverse the court’s ruling and order the injunction vacated. In the instant case, appellant bought his home in 1972; he committed the offensive acts in February and March 2003; and the statute’s effective date is July 31, 2003. Accordingly, the court erred when it applied R.C. 2950.031 to appellant, and his first assignment of error is sustained.”
  • Ohio: Hyle v. Porter, 117 Ohio St. 3d 165, 2008 Ohio 542, 882 N.E.2d 899 (2008)
    “We hold that HN1R.C. 2950.031 does not apply to an offender who bought his home and committed his offense before the effective date of the statute. The judgment of the First District Court of Appeals is reversed.”
  • United States:Validity Of Statutes Imposing Residency Restrictions On Registered Sex Offenders, 25 ALR6th 227
    “In recent years, a number of state or local statutes imposing residency restrictions on registered sex offenders have been enacted. In Doe v. Miller, 405 F.3d 700, 25 A.L.R.6th 695 (8th Cir. 2005), cert. denied, 126 S. Ct. 757, 163 L. Ed. 2d 574 (U.S. 2005) (applying Iowa law), the court of appeals held that an Iowa statute that prohibited persons who had committed a criminal sex offense against a minor from residing within 2,000 feet of a school or child care facility, did not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, was not retroactive criminal punishment in violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause, did not interfere with the right of sex offenders to travel, and did not violate the right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment. This annotation collects and summarizes those cases in which the courts have determined the validity of state or local statutes imposing residency restrictions on registered sex offenders.”

Articles

Scholars and researchers have examined the effectiveness of residency restrictions on sex offender behavior and its lawfulness as punishment.

  • Banishment By A Thousand Laws: Residency Restrictions On Sex Offenders, 85 Wash. U. L. Rev. 101 (2007)
    “Across America, states, localities, and private communities are debating and implementing laws to limit the places of residence of convicted sex offenders. Nineteen states and hundreds, if not thousands, of local communities have adopted statutes which severely limit the places where a sex offender may legally live. In this article, I trace these new laws to historical practices of banishment in Western societies. I argue that the establishment of exclusion zones by states and localities is a form of banishment that I have termed ‘internal exile.’ Establishing the connection to banishment punishments helps to explain the unique legal, policy, and ethical problems these laws create for America. Ultimately, residency restrictions could fundamentally alter basic principles of the American criminal justice system. While those supporting these laws have the interests of children at heart, the policies they are promoting will be worse for children and society.”
  • Constitutional Collectivism And Ex-Offender Residence Exclusion Zones, 92 Iowa L. Rev. 1 (2006)
    “The US has often been imperiled by the competing interests of individual states, and while past threats have most frequently assumed economic or political form, this article addresses a different threat: state efforts to limit where ex-offenders (those convicted of sex crimes in particular) can live. The laws have thus far withstood constitutional challenge, with courts deferring to the police power of states. This deference, however, ignores the negative externalities created when states jettison their human dross, and defies Justice Cardozo’s oft-repeated constitutional tenet that “the peoples of the several states must sink or swim together.” The article discusses the continued need for this tenet in the face of state expulsionist tendencies and invokes in support the Court’s decisions invalidating state laws barring entry of the poor and solid waste. In both instances, the Court, while acknowledging the exigencies motivating states, invalidated the laws because they betrayed the national imperative of dealing with challenges faced by all states. As the article establishes, a kindred understanding and resolve is now necessary as states seek to isolate themselves from the shared national responsibility of offender reentry.”
  • Controlling Sex Offender Reentry: Jessica’s Law Measures In California (SSRN 2006)
    “This paper examines current research on the effectiveness of electronic monitoring and residential restrictions in preventing recidivism amongst sex offenders in California, as well as the experiences of other states that have experimented with these techniques. The paper focuses on four questions: 1) What are the trends in California sex offense data and other states with sizable sex offender populations? 2) What does research and other state experiences tell us about the effectiveness of electronic monitoring in preventing recidivism and absconding of sex offenders? 3) What does research and other state experiences tell us about the effectiveness of residential restrictions in preventing recidivism of sex offenders? 4) In light of California’s sex offender population, and CDCR’s current methods for supervising paroled sex offenders, what challenges would CDCR and other state agencies likely face in implementing expanded electronic monitoring and residential restrictions?”
  • Does Residential Proximity Matter? A Geographic Analysis Of Sex Offense Recidivism, 35 Crim. Just. & Behavior 484 (2008)
    “In an effort to reduce sex offense recidivism, local and state governments have recently passed legislation prohibiting sex offenders from living within a certain distance (500 to 2,500 feet) of child congregation locations such as schools, parks, and daycare centers. Examining the potential deterrent effects of a residency restrictions law in Minnesota, this study analyzed the offense patterns of every sex offender released from Minnesota correctional facilities between 1990 and 2002 who was reincarcerated for a new sex offense prior to 2006. Given that not one of the 224 sex offenses would have likely been prevented by residency restrictions, the findings from this study provide little support for the notion that such restrictions would significantly reduce sexual recidivism.”
  • Has Georgia Gone Too Far-Or Will Sex Offenders Have To?, 35 Hastings Const. L.Q. 309 (2008) $
    “Given the wide range of issues that were presented by Georgia’s latest sex offender residency restriction, this note will discuss how Georgia’s new residency restriction statute, as originally written, violated (1) the Ex Post Facto Clause, (2) the Eighth Amendment, (3) Procedural Due Process under the Fourteenth Amendment, and (4) the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Lastly, the note will analyze potential issues under the Dormant Commerce Clause and other policy considerations to argue that, in practice, the use of such harsh residency restrictions might make for a more dangerous situation for children, sex offenders, and the rest of society.”
  • How To Stop A Predator The Rush To Enact Mandatory Sex Offender Residency Restrictions And Why States Should Abstain 86 Or. L. Rev. 219 (2007) “A new trend in state legislation emerged as twenty-two states entered legally unsettled waters by enacting various residency restrictions for convicted sex offenders. Legislators tout the need for such residency restrictions to reduce child sex offenders’ opportunities for contact with potential victims. However, courts disagree whether these new laws are constitutional, and research increasingly questions their utility. This Comment will first look at the primary legal questions facing the courts, examining various legal challenges to state residency restrictions and the limited research surrounding the efficacy of such restrictions. Next, this Comment will address the 2006 California ballot measure Proposition 83, which serves as a practical case study of these new restrictions and their unsettled legal ramifications. Finally, this Comment will examine Oregon’s nonmandatory residency restriction and explain why it serves as the best model for achieving the goals of protecting our children, monitoring the sex offender population, and withstanding judicial review. Ultimately, this Comment will attempt to show that research on mandatory residency restrictions may affect the way future courts rule on these restrictions. This Comment will also attempt to persuade those presently in favor of mandatory residency restrictions that more flexible, nonmandatory restrictions will increase the likelihood of achieving their stated objectives.”
  • In The Zone: Sex Offenders And The Ten Percent Solutions (SSRN 2008)
    “This Article challenges prevailing judicial orthodoxy that many sex offender residency restrictions are constitutional under the federal Ex Post Facto Clause. The paper applies the analytical framework in Smith v. Doe, the Court’s most recent case involving sex offender legislation. It also forges a new way of thinking about these regimes as land-use policies that “negatively” zone individuals out of the urban cores. The paper proposes an innovative “positive” zoning scheme, the Sex Offender Containment Zone, that zones high-risk convicted sex offenders back into the city and that is effective, humane, and constitutional.”
  • Irregular Passion: The Unconstitutionality And Inefficacy Of Sex Offender Residency Laws, 102 Nw. U. L. Rev. 307 (2008)
    “The Comment concludes that non-tailored residency laws are unconstitutional. These same laws are also unwise and ineffective in terms of their stated goals, rendering them poor policy decisions. Given their ineffectiveness and the threat they pose to fundamental rights, this Part argues that it is important that courts assess the laws rigorously and without bias, particularly because the political outlash against sex offenders is immense, irrational, and hard for legislators to reverse. Until courts correctly deem these non-tailored residency laws unconstitutional, both the rights of sex offenders and the safety of their potential victims will be at risk due to the crippling political outrage surrounding the issue.”
  • Never Going Home: Does It Make Us Safer? Does It Make Sense? Sex Offenders, Residency Restrictions And Reforming Risk Management Law, 97 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 317 (2006)
    “One of the most hotly debated issues in criminal law today is how to manage the perceived risk of sex offenders loose in the community. Beyond mandatory registration and community notification, over a dozen states, including Illinois, have enacted residency restrictions that forbid sex offenders from living within a certain distance of schools, parks, day care centers, or even “places where children normally congregate.” This Comment scrutinizes these laws to see if they make sense, and more importantly, if they make us safer. The answer to both questions appears to be no. After detailing the statistical, political, and constitutional problems that render these restrictions ineffective and unconstitutional, I shift my attention to envisioning a better system of risk management. I end by critically examining best practice methods of states across the country that more effectively allocate finite resources to identify and control high risk offenders to prevent them from harming again, while allowing the vast majority of offenders who are low risk to better re-integrate into and become productive members of society.”
  • Off To Elba: The Legitimacy Of Sex Offender Residence And Employment Restrictions, 40 Akron L. Rev. 339 (2007)
    “This article will look at why sex offenders are treated differently than other criminal offenders. Sex offenders are subject to sanctions and prohibitions above and beyond what other criminal offenders must face. Next, the article will look at some of the residence and employment restrictions placed on sex offenders to determine if they are rationally related to any legitimate government interest without overbearing the sex offender’s constitutional rights. Finally, the article will offer an alternate means of sex offense prevention that encourages sex offender assimilation back into society instead of further exclusion.”
  • Reentry And Reintegration: Challenges Faced By The Families Of Convicted Sex Offenders, 20 Fed. Sent. R. 88 (2007) $
    “Our article will focus on the adult family members of convicted sex offenders and the many challenges they face in reuniting with their loved ones post-incarceration. We will explore the general knowledge on families of prisoners and incorporate preliminary findings from our ongoing research on the experiences and needs of families of convicted adult, male sex offenders.”
  • Sex Offender Re-Entry: A Summary And Policy Recommendation On The Current State Of The Law In California And How To ‘Safely’ Re-Introduce Sex Offenders Into Our Communities (SSRN 2006)
    “This paper attempts to provide a comprehensive review of the current and pending sex offender legislation in California, examine their effectiveness or ineffectiveness and any possible loopholes, and conclude with a broad recommendation on where the state of California’s law and policies surrounding the safe release and supervision of sex offenders into the community should be heading. In doing so, the paper will rely on current statistics on sex offenders in California, policy recommendations by various organizations on this topic, media profiles and case histories of recent real-life sex crimes, and actual data from the California online sex offender registry to discover the profile of the “real” sex offender in California. This paper will also examine the roll of public outcry and moral panic in the implementation of these laws and the effect this may have had on their specific provisions and eventual effectiveness in order to provide a more comprehensive review of the impetus behind such regulations and hopefully to inform future legislation of the lessons of the past.”
  • Sex Offender Residence Restrictions: Sensible Crime Policy Or Flawed Logic?, 71 Fed. Prob. 2 (Dec. 2007)
    “Although 22 States now have laws that restrict where sex offenders can live, with 1,000 to 2,500-foot exclusionary zones being most common, research on the effects of sex-offender residence restrictions is limited. Only one study (Minnesota Department of Corrections, 2007) has specifically examined the relationship between residence restrictions and reoffending. That study was prospective, because no such law was in place where the study was conducted (Minnesota). There is a growing body of evidence, however, that residence restrictions have unintended consequences for sex offenders and communities. These adverse effects include homelessness for sex offenders; transience; lack of accessibility to social support, employment, and rehabilitative services; registry invalidity; and the clustering of sex offenders in poor, rural, or socially disorganized neighborhoods. Residence laws are often based on erroneous assumptions about sex-offender high reoffending rates and the belief that most sex offenders target strangers for victimization. In addition, they are rarely coupled with the administration of proven risk-assessment instruments and procedures. In the absence of evidence that residence restrictions are effective in achieving their intended goal of improved community safety, their unintended adverse effects may outweigh their benefits. It is crucial that research be conducted to determine whether residence restriction laws are effective.”

Reports

State legislatures and government bureaus along with civil rights and other interested groups have published reports on the outcomes of residence and employment restrictions for sex offenders.

  • IX. Residency Restriction Laws in No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws In The U.S.
    “The inability of convicted sex offenders to find housing when they are released from prison has become a significant barrier to their successful reintegration into society. This is particularly problematic for registrants who have limited resources, or for those who because of work, community, or family obligations want to live in particular locations. Residency restrictions prevent offenders from living in the areas closest to jobs and public transit, since schools, daycare centers, and parks are often built in the center of main residential areas of cities and towns.”
    (Human Rights Watch 2007)
  • Impact Of Residency Restrictions On Sex Offenders And Correctional Management Practices: A Literature Review (California Research Bureau 2006)
    “Today some communities in the United States banish sex offenders from living in their midst, resulting in a difficult dilemma: where can these offenders live, and where can they best be supervised and receive treatment, if available? This report describes local ordinances and state statutes restricting where a sex offender may reside, discusses what research has found so far about the success of these restrictions, considers the impact that these restrictions are having on criminal justice management practices and sex offender treatment regimens, and examines constitutional implications.”
  • Residential Proximity & Sex Offense Recidivism in Minnesota (Minnesota Department of Corrections 2007)
    “In an effort to curb the incidence of sexual recidivism, state and local governments across the country have passed residency restriction laws. Designed to enhance public safety by protecting children, residency restrictions prohibit sex offenders and, in particular, child molesters from living within a certain distance (500 to 2,500 feet) of a school, park, playground or other location where children are known to congregate. Given that existing research has yet to fully investigate whether housing restrictions reduce sexual recidivism, the present study examines the potential deterrent effect of residency restrictions by analyzing the sexual reoffense patterns of the 224 recidivists released between 1990 and 2002 who were reincarcerated for a sex crime prior to 2006.” See also Sex Offender Recidivism in Minnesota (Minnesota Department of Corrections 2007).
  • Sex Offender Residence Restrictions (Report to the Florida Legislature 2005)
    “Sexual violence is a serious social problem and policy-makers continue to wrestle with how to best address the public’s concerns about sex offenders. Recent initiatives have included social policies that are designed to prevent sexual abuse by restricting where convicted sex offenders can live, often called “sex offender zoning laws,” or “exclusionary zones.” As these social policies become more popular, lawmakers and citizens should question whether such policies are evidence-based in their development and implementation, and whether such policies are cost-efficient and effective in reaching their stated goals.”
  • Statement On Sex Offender Residency Restrictions In Iowa (ICAA 2006)
    “The Iowa County Attorneys Association believes that the 2,000 foot residency restriction for persons who have been convicted of sex offenses involving minors does not provide the protection that was originally intended and that the cost of enforcing the requirement and the unintended effects on families of offenders warrant replacing the restriction with more effective protective measures.”


Facts and Fiction about Sex Offenders

May 24, 2010 Comments off

corrections.com:Facts and Fiction about Sex Offenders.

“The political outlash against sex offenders is immense, irrational, and hard for legislators to reverse.”
-Sarah Agudo in the Northwestern University Law Review, 2008

Myth: Sex offenders are dirty old strangers who steal kids from playgrounds

An Ohio prison intake report on sex offenders imprisoned in 1992 revealed that 2.2 percent of child molesters were strangers to their victims, and 89 percent of perpetrators had never been convicted before.

In their 1993 textbook, The Juvenile Sex Offender, Howard Barbaree and colleagues estimated that teenagers perpetrated 20 percent of all rapes and half of all child molestations.

A 2006 report for the Ohio Sentencing Commission said 93 percent of molestation victims were well known to their perpetrators, over half the offenders victimized close relatives, and 93 percent of molesters had never been arrested for a previous sex crime.

A December 2009 study by David Finkelhor of UNH and colleagues for the US Justice Department analyzed national sex crime data from 2004. That year the estimated population of underage sex offenders was 89,000, and they had committed 35.8 percent of all sex crimes reported to police. One in eight juvenile sex offenders was under age 12. The study said that between 85 and 95 percent of young offenders would never face another sex charge.

Myth: Residency restrictions are harmless to sex offenders and protect kids

A 2005 survey of 135 Florida sex offenders by researchers Jill Levenson and Leo Cotter found that residency restrictions had forced 22 percent of this group to move out of homes they already owned. 25 percent were unable to return to their homes after release from prison. Respondents agreed in varying degrees with these statements about the impact of residency restrictions on their lives:

* I cannot live with supportive family members. 30%
* I find it difficult to find affordable housing. 57%
* I have suffered financially. 48%
* I have suffered emotionally. 60%
* I have had to move out of an apartment that I rented. 28%

The Iowa County Attorneys Association issued a position paper in 2006 opposing a 2,000 foot residency restriction against sex offenders from places where kids congregate. Among many criticisms, the prosecutors said, “Law enforcement has observed that the residency restriction is causing offenders to become homeless, to change residences without notifying authorities of their new locations, to register false addresses or to simply disappear. If they do not register, law enforcement and the public do not know where they are living. The resulting damage to the reliability of the sex offender registry does not serve the interests of public safety.”

A 2007 report by the Minnesota Department of Corrections tracked 224 sex offenders released from prison between 1999 and 2002 who committed new sex crimes prior to 2006. The first contact between victim and offender never happened near a school, daycare center or other place where children congregate. The report concluded, “Not one of the 224 sex offenses would likely have been deterred by a residency restrictions law.” The study warned that these laws isolate offenders in rural areas with little social and treatment support, with poor transportation access and with few job opportunities. The resulting increase in homelessness makes them harder to track and supervise. “Rather than lowering sexual recidivism,” the report said, “housing restrictions may work against this goal by fostering conditions that exacerbate sex offenders’ reintegration into society.”

A position paper on the current website of the Iowa Association of Social Workers says that concentrations of Iowa sex offenders are living in motels, trailer parks, interstate highway rest stops, parking lots and tents. The site notes many other unintended consequences:

* Families of offenders who attempt to remain together are effectively subjected to the same restrictions, meaning that they too are forced to move, and may have to leave jobs, de-link from community ties, and remove their children from schools and friends.
* Physically or mentally impaired offenders who depend on family for regular support are prevented from living with those on whom they rely for help.
* Threat of family disruption may leave victims of familial sexual abuse reluctant to report the abuse to authorities, thereby undermining the intention of the law.
* Threat of being subjected to the residency restriction has led to a significant decrease in the number of offenders who, as part of the trial process, disclose their sexual offenses; consequently, fewer offenders are being held accountable for their actions.
* Loss of residential stability, disconnection from family, and social isolation run contrary to the “best practice” approaches for treatment of sex offenders and thus put offenders at higher risk of re-offense.
* No distinction is made between those offenders who pose a real risk to children and those who pose no known threat.

Myth: Treatment is a waste of money on sex offenders

The New Hampshire Prison sex offender treatment program compiled recidivism data in 1999 for a national survey by the Colorado Department of Corrections. Lance Messenger, the New Hampshire program director at the time, reported a 6.2% sex crime re-arrest rate after an average of 4.8 years on parole for 204 men who completed the Intensive Sex Offender Treatment Program. The recidivism rate was 12.4% for 435 sex offenders who received no treatment and had spent an average of 8.6 years in the community. Messenger is now in private practice and recently told this writer his report did not constitute a rigorous scientific study.

A Colorado recidivism study in 2003 led by Kerry Lowden tracked 3338 sex offenders released from prison between 1993 and 2002. After three years in the community, 5.3 percent had been arrested for a new sex crime. Each month an inmate took part in the intensive therapeutic community for sex offenders behind the walls reduced by 1 percent his risk of committing a later sex crime. The report said these treatment programs “profoundly improve public safety as measured by officially recorded recidivism.”

Vermont corrections personnel tracked 195 adult male sex offenders over a six-year period ending in 2006. Those who completed sex offender treatment had a sex-offense recidivism rate of 5.4 percent.

Lorraine R. Reitzel and Joyce L. Carbonell published a meta-analysis in 2006 of nine studies of recidivism among juvenile sex offenders with a combined sample of 2,986 kids. The sex crime recidivism rate was 12.5 percent for young offenders tracked for an average of 59 months. The rate was 7.37 percent for kids who had taken a sex offender treatment program and 18.9 percent for those who had not.

Fact: Most types of sex offenders have low sex-crime recidivism

A report to the Ohio Sentencing Commission in 1989 said 8 percent of sex offenders were convicted of a new sex crime within a decade. The 10-year Ohio recidivism rate for incest was 7.4 percent.

A 1998 Canadian Government study by Karl Hanson and Monique Bussiere, entitled “Predicting Relapse: A meta-Analysis of Sexual Offender Recidivism Studies,” examined 61 research efforts between 1943 and 1995 with a combined sample of 28,972 sex offenders. The overall recidivism rate for new sex offenses was 13.4 percent during the average follow-up period of four to five years. Of the 9,603 child molesters in the combined cohort, the rate was 12.7 percent. Some of these studies dated back to the period when only stereotype serial sex offenders went to prison, thus weighting the results toward greater recidivism.

Roger Hood and three British colleagues followed 162 released sex offenders for four years and tracked 62 others for six years. Their report in 2002, entitled “Sex offenders emerging from long-term imprisonment; A Study of Their Long-term Reconviction Rates and of Parole Board Members’ Judgements of Their Risk,” found 1.2 percent were re-imprisoned for a new sex crime after two years. The report concluded, “These facts need to be more widely recognized and disseminated if there is to be rational debate on this emotive subject.”

A 2000 Iowa Corrections study tracked 233 sex offenders released in 1995 and 1996 under a new sex offender registry law. That group had a 3 percent sex crime recidivism rate after 4.3 years in the community. A similar control group of 201 sex offenders released before the registry law took effect had a 3.5 percent sex recidivism rate in the same length of time. The group supervised under the registry had a somewhat lower average recidivism risk score to begin with, and it had a higher proportion of people on probation as opposed to parole. The difference in recidivism rates was statistically insignificant.

A U.S. Justice Department report in 2003 tracked 9,691 sex offenders released from prisons in New York, California, Ohio and 12 other large states in 1994. Their recidivism rate for new sex arrests and convictions after three years on parole was 5.3 percent. 7.3 percent of child molesters with two or more prior arrests for that crime were charged anew for molesting. That compares with a 2.4 percent sexual recidivism rate for child molesters with only one prior arrest for that crime.

Karl Hanson and Andrew Harris published a 2004 report on 4,724 sex offenders in 10 Canadian and American samples ranging from 191 to 1,138 subjects. The average follow-up period was seven years after release. The overall sexual recidivism rates were 14 percent after five years, 20 percent after 10 years and 24 percent after 15 years. Incest offenders had corresponding rates of 6, 9 and 13 percent. Recidivism was defined as a new sex crime arrest or a new conviction. Counting only new convictions, the recidivism rates were generally half as high.

Karl Hanson and Morton-Bourgon published a similar meta-analysis in 2005 of 73 recidivism studies with a combined cohort of 19,267 sex offenders. After an average of nearly six years in the community they had a new sex crimes recidivism rate of 14.3 percent.

A 2005 report by Robert Barnoski of the Washington State Institute for Public Policy tracked the five-year sexual recidivism rates for 8,359 sex offenders released from Washington prisons between 1986 and 1999. Here are the results by year of release, showing the rate decreased over time.

Year
1986
1987
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992


5-Year Rate
6%
7.5%
7.5%
6%
7%
8%
6%


Year
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999


5-Year Rate
8%
6%
4.4%
3%
2%
3%
3.7%

A 2006 New York study analyzed the recidivism patterns for 19,827 sex offenders. The rate for new sex offenses after one year in the community was 2 percent. The cumulative rate increased to 3 percent after two years, 6 percent after five years, and 8 percent after 8 years.

A 2006 California study followed 93 adjudicated high-risk sexually violent predators released from civil commitment at the Atascadero State Hospital. Only 4.3 percent of these worst-of-the-worst offenders had committed new sex offenses after six years on the street.

A 2007 study by the Missouri Department of Corrections tracked 3,166 sex offenders released between 1990 and 2002. Twelve percent had been re-arrested for a new sex crime in those 12 years, and 10 percent had been reconvicted. The report also looked at sex offenders released in 2002. In the first three years on parole their sex crime recidivism rate was 3 percent. The report concluded, “Due to the dramatic decrease in sexual recidivism since the early 1990s, recent sexual re-offense rates have been very low, thus significantly limiting the extent to which sexual reoffending can be further reduced.”

An Alaska Judicial Council report in 2007 said 3 percent of sex offenders had committed a new sex crime in their first three years after release from prison.

A 2007 report by the Tennessee Department of Safety found that 4.7 percent of 504 sex offenders released from prison in 2001 were arrested for a new sex offense after three years. The sex crime recidivism rate was zero for offenders whose original crime was incest.

A 2007 Minnesota Department of Corrections study tracked 3,166 sex offenders released from Minnesota prisons between 1990 and 2002. After an average of 8.4 years in the community, 10 percent had been convicted of a new sex offense. Those released in the beginning of the study period were much more likely to reoffend within three years than those released later — 17 percent in 1990 as opposed to 3 percent in 2002.

A 2007 report by Jared Bauer of the West Virginia Division of Corrections tracked 325 sex offenders for three years after release from prison in 2001, 2002 and 2003. The recidivism rate for any return to prison, not just for sex crimes, was 9.5 percent. Only six parolees returned for new sex related crimes, including three for failing to properly register as a sex offender. The sex crime recidivism rate was slightly less than 2 percent. Only 1 percent had an actual sex crime victim.

A 2008 report by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation tracked 4,280 sex offenders paroled in 2003. In the first year 2.43 percent had been arrested for new sex crimes. The cumulative totals were 3.27 percent at the end of the second year and 3.55 percent after three years.

A 2008 study by California’s Sex Offender Management Board reported on 4,204 sex offenders released in 1997 and 1998. 3.38 percent were convicted of new sex offenses in the next decade.

Utah criminologist Larry Bench tracked 389 Utah sex offenders for up to 25 years after release. His 2008 report disclosed that 7.2 percent had been arrested for a new sex crime.

An Indiana Corrections report in the spring of 2009 found that sex offenders released in 2005 had compiled a 1.05 percent sex crime re-conviction rate in three years. The study said this rate was “extremely low” and showed “a great deal of promise.”

Stan Orchowsky and Janice Iwama authored a 2009 study for the U.S. Justice Research and Statistics Association which showed similar low sex crime re-arrest rates after three years for sex offenders released from prison in 2001. The rates by state were as follows: Alaska 3.4%, Arizona 2.3%, Delaware 3.8%, Illinois 2.4%, Iowa 3.9%, New Mexico 1.8%, South Carolina 4.0%, and Utah 9.0%. The comparison three-year national rate was 5.3 percent noted previously for inmates released in 1994.

TN: Judge Puts Man Who Hasn’t Been in Trouble for 21 Years on Sex Offender Registry

May 24, 2010 Comments off

chattanoogan.com(TN): Judge Says “John Doe” Must Register As Sex Offender.

Chancellor Frank Brown has ruled that a Chattanooga businessman must register as a sex offender, though his attorney said he has not been in trouble since moving here in 1989.

The ruling in the 32-page opinion said the man identified thus far only as “John Doe” must register as a sex offender within 15 days unless an appeal was filed.

His attorney, Jerry Summers, did file the appeal to the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

The opinion says the man was convicted of gross sexual imposition in 1983 and served three years in prison in Ohio. At the time he moved to Chattanooga, there was no requirement that he register as a sex offender.
Click to learn more…

The opinion says, “Since 1989, Mr. Doe has not been charged with or committed any sexual offense. He has established a business and been a productive member of society.” However, he received a letter from county detective Jimmy Clift at the end of March directing him to sign up on the sexual offender registry.

The opinion says the defendant “looks at the sexual registry as punitive and claims that one cannot be punished now in a new manner for something that was not punishable in that matter when the crime was committed.” (Ex Post Facto clause of the United States Constitution)

It says two states have upheld that argument, but Tennessee has not.

Chancellor Brown said, “This court of equity must follow the law. Despite understanding and acknowledging Mr. Doe’s angst that he faces registration and would be required to perform certain activities now that were not required in 1983, this trial court must follow the law.

“There is a presumption that laws enacted by the General Assembly are constitutional. The appellate authority cited above is that the Act and Amendments to the Act are constitutional. The Act is regulatory and not punitive. The Act is based upon public policy and safety of the public.”

He added, “The Tennessee appellate decisions have upheld the registration requirements. Thus, it certainly appears that Mr. Doe must register as an offender. At least, he must go through the TBI to determine if he must register. If he fails to do so, then his failure to register can be a separate criminal offense.”

WI: Peeping Toms Now on Sex Offender Registry

May 24, 2010 Comments off

postcrescent.com(WI): Tracking voyeurism and Peeping Toms in the Fox Valley.

Seven years ago, Kluck would have been charged with disorderly conduct, a generic, catchall category of crimes as minor as loud arguing. At most, he would have spent 90 days in jail and paid a $1,000 fine, and he would have maintained relative anonymity.

But a change in the law in 2003 toughened the penalties for voyeurs, or so-called Peeping Toms, by adding the behavior under the state’s invasion of privacy crime. Judges now can put offenders behind bars for nine months, fine them $10,000 and place their names on the state’s public sex offender registry.

Once again, we see the dilution of the sex offender registries from their stated purpose – to list the more high risk potential offenders. These lists just keep growing and have become a joke.

Sex Offenders Barred from Having Most Low Level Jobs

May 24, 2010 Comments off

nola.com(LA): Sex offenders could be barred from certain jobs under bill approved by Senate panel.

Baton Rouge, LA — Legislation that would prohibit sex offenders from working as drivers of cabs, limos or buses won speedy approval today from a Senate committee.

The Judiciary C Committee gave unanimous support to Senate Bill 780 by Sen. Sherri Cheek, R-Shreveport, moving to along to the Senate floor for debate.

Besides the driving jobs, the bill also would prohibit sex offenders from being employed as a “service worker who goes into residence” to provide a service — like a janitor, handyman or maid. It also would prohibit those convicted of sex offenses involving minors from operating amusement park or carnival rides.

If convicted of working in a job that is off-limits for sex offenders, the violator would be fined not more than $10,000 jailed for a minimum of five years and maximum of 10 years. At least three must be served, according to the bill.

Cheek said if the bill passes, it would go into effect when Gov. Bobby Jindal signs it, but would only apply to sexual offenses occurring after Aug. 15.

State law already bars sex offenders from working in jobs that puts them in contact with children, and prohibits them from living within specific distances of facilities that cater to them, like day-care centers, schools and arcades. Cheek said she is also looking at ways to expand the list of prohibited jobs.

Jobs “which put them in contact with children” could be defined as most any lower level job. Think about it: fast food, any customer service jobs, retail jobs, service workers, drivers…. all such jobs would be illegal for any registered sex offender to hold, which puts an incredible burden on those who are just trying to make a living and oftentimes, support a family. What type of job would you allow them to have, Sen. Cheek ? Contact your legislators !

Veteran Denied Job After Background Check Mistakes Him for Sex Offender

May 24, 2010 Comments off

fox4kc.com: Veteran Denied Job After Company Makes Background Check Mistake.

Kansas City – A metro veteran needed a job to help pay some bills and get back on his feet, but he says the opportunity to work at the Schlitterbahn water park in Kansas City, Kansas, was taken away from him after he was falsely accused of being a sex offender.

Christopher Michael Reynolds says that he was supposed to start at the water park on May 4th, but when he showed up, officials told him to leave after he was informed that he was a registered sex offender.

According to ADP, the company that conducts background checks for Schlitterbahn, Christopher Reynolds was convicted of sexual battery in Bexar, Indiana, on March 11, 2007.

But there is a big problem with the company’s background check. “When this happened, I was in Iraq, serving in the Army National Guard,” said Reynolds. Reynolds has a solid alibi with his military records, and the more he investigated, the more Reynolds learned about ADP’s investigation.

It was a mistake that Reynolds says has some serious implications.

“I was really relying on this job to get some stuff paid off, to get back on my feet,” said Reynolds, who has been out of work for months and is now living at a homeless shelter. “I came home for medical issues for PTSD and depression and have been seeing a doctor for that. When I found out I had this job, I was excited, and when I found out I lost it, I was kind of down again.”



Obviously, this is a terrible thing to happen to this man. But this is what is also happening to hundreds of thousands of people across the country as a result of these sex offender registries. They are being banished from society and barred from holding nearly any job. The Courts and legislators need to be told that these sex offender registries are resulting in economic and social obstacles and burdens for all those who are trapped on these registries. They are punitive – no question about it.