Archive

Posts Tagged ‘residency restrictions’

Ohio Supremes Ban Retroactive Use of Sex Offender Law

July 14, 2011 Comments off

Court: Sex offender law not retroactive

COLUMBUS, Ohio, July 13 (UPI) — A law on registration and community notification for released sex offenders cannot be applied retroactively, the Ohio Supreme Court said Wednesday.

The justices ruled 5-2 the 2007 Ohio Adam Walsh Law can only be applied to offenders who committed their crimes after it became effective, The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch reported. The court reversed a decision by a state appeals court.

“The General Assembly has the authority, indeed the obligation, to protect the public from sex offenders,” Justice Paul Pfeifer said. “It may not, however, consistent with the Ohio Constitution, ‘impose new or additional burdens, duties, obligations, or liabilities as to a past transaction.'”

Justice Terrence O’Donnell in the minority opinion said the court has said in previous rulings that requiring sex offenders to register and providing community notification in some cases are civil sanctions, not criminal penalties.

Ohio Supremes Ban Retroactive Use of Sex Offender Law: Hundreds of previously-convicted sex offenders will be affected

The Ohio Supreme Court, in a ruling published today, has declared that imposing “enhanced” sex offender registration and community notification requirements on previously-convicted sex offenders, as required by the Ohio Adam Walsh Act (AWA) which was contained in 2007’s Senate Bill (SB) 10 is a violation of the Ohio Constitution.

“When the General Assembly adopted the AWA by enacting 2007 S.B. 10,” stated a Ohio Supreme Court press release, “it included statutory language requiring that, regardless of the date on which a defendant’s crime was committed, state courts sentencing sex offenders on or after July 1, 2007 must apply a new three-tiered AWA offender classification scheme and must include in the defendant’s sentence registration and community notification requirements set forth in the AWA that are more severe than similar provisions in the prior, Megan’s Law, version of the statute.”

The decision was based on Article II, Sec. 28 of the Ohio Constitution, which states in part, “The general assembly shall have no power to pass retroactive laws.” Similar wording can be found in the U.S. Constitution as well, where one clause in Article I, Sec. 9 reads, “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto [“after the fact”] Law shall be passed.”

The case at issue was State v. George Williams, where the defendant had been convicted for engaging in sexual conduct with a minor—conduct which took place prior to July, 2007, although Williams was convicted on the charges in December, 2007, after SB 10 had been passed.

“Prior to his sentencing hearing,” the Supreme Court’s press release stated, “Williams entered a motion asking the trial court to sentence him under the Megan’s Law sex offender classification scheme that was in effect on the date of his offense, rather than under the AWA classification scheme. The trial court overruled Williams’ motion. Pursuant to the AWA he was classified as a Tier II offender, which required him to register with the sheriff in his county of residence, and in any other county in which he worked or attended school, every 180 days for the next 25 years.” Under Megan’s Law, his registration and reporting requirements would have been limited to 10 years.

Williams appealed that ruling under the ex post facto/retroactivity clauses of both the Ohio and U.S. Constitutions, as well as arguing violation of the U.S. Constitution’s due process clauses and its ban on double jeopardy.

Another portion of the AWA, which would have allowed the Ohio Attorney General to reclassify sex offenders without the necessity of judicial approval, was overturned by the same court just over one year ago.

The Ohio Supreme Court’s 5-2 decision, authored by Justice Paul E. Pfeifer, overturning the AWA was largely based on the fact that while several state decisions had held that the registration requirements of Megan’s Law were considered remedial rather than punitive in nature, “Following the enactment of SB 10, all doubt has been removed: R.C. Chapter 2950 [the AWA] is punitive,” Justice Pfeifer stated in the majority opinion. “The statutory scheme has changed dramatically since this court described (in [State v.] Cook) the registration process imposed on sex offenders as an inconvenience ‘comparable to renewing a driver’s license.’ … And it has changed markedly since this court concluded in [State v.] Ferguson that R.C. Chapter 2950 was remedial…

“Based on these significant changes to the statutory scheme governing sex offenders, we are no longer convinced that R.C. Chapter 2950 is remedial, even though some elements of it remain remedial…,” the high court concluded. “We conclude that SB 10, as applied to Williams and any other sex offender who committed an offense prior to the enactment of SB 10, violates Section 28, Article II of the Ohio Constitution, which prohibits the General Assembly from enacting retroactive laws.”

“The Ohio Supreme Court decision in Williams does a really good job of explaining how in light of these internet websites that we now have, and community notification and criminal penalties attaching and more periodic registration in person with a sheriff there, all of these measures are looking more and more and more like punishment and less and less and less like a driver’s license,” one attorney analyzed, “and as that shift has happened, it’s become more like criminal punishment, and really, the Ohio Supreme Court is the first top court in a state to characterize it that way.”

Kinsley said that through her discovery motions in the case, it had been revealed that hundreds of people in Ohio will be affected by today’s decision, and will now be able to get on with their lives without the stigma of appearing on sex offender websites.

Court: Law applied to convicted sex offenders violates constitution

The legislature’s attempt four years ago to apply a new law to already-convicted sexual offenders violated the Ohio Constitution, the state Supreme Court ruled today.

Imposing enhanced registration and community notification requirements in the 2007 Ohio Adam Walsh Act against defendants whose crimes were committed before the effective date of that law violates a constitutional prohibition on the General Assembly enacting retroactive laws, the justices declared.

The 5-2 decision, which reversed a ruling by the 12th District Court of Appeals, was written by Justice Paul E. Pfeifer.

“The General Assembly has the authority, indeed the obligation, to protect the public from sex offenders,” Pfeifer said. “It may not, however, consistent with the Ohio Constitution, ‘impose new or additional burdens, duties, obligations, or liabilities as to a past transaction.’ “

Joining the majority opinion were Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, Judith Ann Lanzinger and Yvette McGee Brown.

Justice Terrence O’Donnell authored the dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justice Robert R. Cupp.

Today’s decision came on the appeal of George Williams of Warren County, convicted in December 2007 for engaging in sexual conduct with a minor an offense that occurred before the Adam Walsh Act took effect. Williams asked the judge to sentence him under the previous sex offender classification setup, known as Megan’s Law.

The judge rejected that motion and classified him under the more stringent Adam Walsh Act as a Tier II offender, which required him to register with the sheriff in his home county and in any other county in which he worked or attended school, every 180 days for the ensuing 25 years.

Williams appealed, but was turned down by the 12th District Court of Appeals.

Pfeifer noted that in earlier Supreme Court decisions on previous changes in the sex offender law, justices upheld the changes because they were more remedial than punitive, and thus the constitutional ban on retroactive laws did not apply. But the changes in the Adam Walsh Act made them punitive, and therefore unconstitutional.

The Ohio Supreme Court could have new rules when it comes to registering sex offenders…unless the crime was committed before 2007.
Advertisements

Call to Action : OH Legislature Going at it Again – Part 2

February 4, 2011 Comments off

It appears that a similar bill was introduced in the Ohio Senate in Nov. 2010. Senate Bill 316 was proposed by Senators: Seitz, Miller, D. Wagoner, Grendell, Turner, and Smith.

Senate Bill 316 is “to clarify for an offender or delinquent child who had SORN Law duties under the SORN Law in effect prior to January 1, 2008, the offender’s or child’s duties under the current SORN Law and the duration of those duties and to declare an emergency.”

Those who are concerned about this attempt to retroactively re-capture (onto the sex offender registries) all offenders whose crimes pre-dated the 2008 law change, should immediately contact these Senators to voice your opposition.

SB 316 Sponsors:

Bill Seitz (R)
Phone: (614) 466-8068
Email: SD08@senate.state.oh.us

Mark Wagoner (R)
Phone: (614) 466-8060
Email: SD02@senate.state.oh.us

Tim Grendell (R)
Phone: (614) 644-7718
Email: SD18@senate.state.oh.us

Nina Turner (D)
Phone: (614) 466-4583
Email: SD25@maild.sen.state.oh.us

Shirley A. Smith (D)
Phone: (614) 466-4857
Email: SD21@maild.sen.state.oh.us

The intent of SB 316 and HB 77 is to:

“Create a list of all the sex offenders who were reclassified via the 2010 Bodyke ruling, notifying them all by mail, and forcing them into court one at a time to have a judge issue a new Adam Walsh Act sentencing order. It would re-reclassify all of these individuals into the AWA tier scheme, adding thousands to the registry, many for life.”

Both of these bills will be debated within the respective House & Senate Criminal Justice Committees. Readers should contact the members of this committee in order to voice your opposition to these bills.

Senate Criminal Justice Committee (re: SB 316)

http://www.ohiosenate.gov/committees/standing/detail/judiciary-criminal-justice.html


Tim Grendell (R)
Chair

Larry Obhof (R)
Vice Chair

Nina Turner (D)
Ranking Minority Member

Eric Kearney (D)

Frank LaRose (R)

Peggy Lehner (R)

Scott Oelslager (R)

Joe Schiavoni (D)

Mark Wagoner (R)

House Criminal Justice Committee ( re: HB77)

http://www.house.state.oh.us/index.php?option=com_displaycommittees&task=2&type=Regular&committeeId=98

Criminal Justice
Name Party Position Name Party Position
Lynn Slaby R Chair Roland Winburn D Ranking Minority Member
Bill Hayes R Vice Chair Nancy J. Garland D Member
Louis W. Blessing, Jr. R Member Connie Pillich D Member
Danny R. Bubp R Member W. Carlton Weddington D Member
William P. Coley, II R Member Sandra Williams D Member
Joseph W. Uecker R Member


Ron Young R Member

Call to Action : OH Legislature Going at it Again

February 3, 2011 Comments off

CALL TO ACTION:

Ohio Legislators are going at it again. Just six months after having been soundly defeated in the June 2010 Bodyke vs. Ohio Supreme Court ruling, seven Ohio House Representatives have proposed new legislation to retroactively revise Ohio’s sex offender laws to re-capture all offenders who committed crimes before 2008 onto the rolls of the sex offender registry.

Those concerned about this proposed legislation must contact the seven Representatives immediately to express their opposition to this bill. If we are forced to do so, ConstitutionalFights will return to the battlefield to help defeat this latest attempt by the Ohio Legislature to violate the constitutional rights of 30,000 Ohio citizens.

The newly proposed bill, House Bill 77 of the 129th General Assembly would amend and repeal parts of the existing Ohio sex offender statutes to:

“clarify that SORN Law definitions of sexually oriented offenses, child-victim oriented offenses, tier classifications, public registry-qualified juvenile offender registrants, and related terms include the specified offenses regardless of when they were committed and to provide for court reclassification of offenders and delinquent children who committed their sexually oriented offense or child-victim oriented offense prior to January 1, 2008, and had SORN Law duties based on that offense into one of the tier classifications of the current SORN Law.

View proposed HB 77.

Bill Sponsors:

REPRESENTATIVES:
Hackett Garland Blessing Combs Grossman Hottinger Patmon

Bob D. Hackett, Representative
State Representative (R)
District: 84
Term: 2nd
Term Limit: Eligible to run for another two-year term
Address:
77 S. High St
11th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6111
Phone: (614) 466-1470
Fax: (614) 719-6984
Email: district84@ohr.state.oh.us

Nancy J. Garland, Representative
State Representative (D)
District: 20
Term: 2nd
Term Limit: Eligible to run for another two-year term
Address:
77 S. High St
10th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6111
Phone: (614) 644-6002
Fax: (614) 719-6959
Email: district20@ohr.state.oh.us

Louis W. Blessing, Jr., Speaker Pro Tempore
State Representative (R)
District: 29
Term: 4th
Term Limit: Eligible to run for another two-year term
Address:
77 S. High St
14th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6111
Phone: (614) 466-9091
Fax: (614) 719-3583
Email: district29@ohr.state.oh.us

Courtney Combs, Representative
State Representative (R)
District: 54
Term: 5th (includes appointed and elected terms)
Term Limit: Not eligible to run for another two-year term
Address:
77 S. High St
13th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6111
Phone: (614) 644-6721
Fax: (614) 719-6954
Email: district54@ohr.state.oh.us

Cheryl L. Grossman, Assistant Majority Whip
State Representative (R)
District: 23
Term: 2nd
Term Limit: Eligible to run for another two-year term
Address:
77 S. High St
14th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6111
Phone: (614) 466-9690
Fax: (614) 719-6962
Email: district23@ohr.state.oh.us

Jay Hottinger, Representative
State Representative (R)
District: 71
Term: 3rd
Term Limit: Eligible to run for another two-year term
Address:
77 S. High St
12th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6111
Phone: (614) 466-1482
Fax: (614) 719-3971
Email: district71@ohr.state.oh.us

Bill Patmon, Representative
State Representative (D)
District: 10
Term: 1st
Term Limit: Eligible to run for another two-year term
Address:
77 S. High St
11th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6111
Phone: (614) 466-7954
Fax: (614) 719-0010
Email: district10@ohr.state.oh.us

We seek legal professionals who are willing to engage in a lawsuit against the State of Ohio should this legislation be put into law. We also still seek legal professionals who are willing to engage in a lawsuit against the State of Ohio regarding the Bodyke Supreme Court ruling of June 2010 for damages of those 30,000 former offenders who were maintained on the sex offender registry 2-1/2 years after they should legally have been removed.

We must collectively hit these legislators squarely in the “front teeth” this time to assure that we do not experience what we experienced between 2008 and 2010.

International Megan’s Law Must be Killed in Congress

July 5, 2010 Comments off

See related posts:
The International Megan’s Law of 2010
HR1623 International Megan’s Law
International Megans Law Moves Forward in US House
Sex Offender Law Could Go Global

The proposed International Megan’s Law must be defeated in Congress.

It has undergone several revisions and it’s bill number has changed. But this International Megan’s Law bill (if passed) would virtually ban any registered sex offender from traveling outside the United States. You need to read and learn about this bill and fight vigilantly to kill it.

Bill Summary:
“H.R. 5138 would protect children from sexual exploitation by mandating reporting requirements for convicted sex traffickers and other registered sex offenders against minors intending to engage in international travel, providing advance notice of intended travel by high interest registered sex offenders outside the United States to the government of the country of destination, requesting foreign governments to notify the United States when a known child sex offender is seeking to enter the United States.”

We at ConstitutionalFights.org abhor sexual exploitation and abuse of any kind. But we similarly abhor laws such as this, which singles out one group of offenders for extreme punishments and restrictions which amount to constitutional infringements upon their liberty in this great country. Former offenders have the same dreams and desires others have of traveling to other parts of the world. What would you think if the government told YOU that you could never travel outside the US without restrictions, and government monitoring?

From Terry at JusticeinJersey.org:

When I met with Rep. Chris Smith’s office (they had 2 attorneys) I was handed a new copy of bill H.R. 5138 and told that they had revised it. We talked about the revisions and since then I have been reading it line by line for intent and objections. I have sent them three pages so far and am 1/2 way through the bill. I just came across another hidden point which is disturbing and I believe we all should be writing to our Senators and all of the representatives on The Congressional Appropriations Committee.


  • A Fee, not to exceed the amount of $25 will be charged by ICE to all sex offenders as a processing fee. However, this fee can be increased thereafter, not earlier than 30 days after consultation with the appropriate congressional committees.
    • This is an unlimited pool of money from hardworking sex offenders to pay for the additional resources and to other counties. They are also asking for 250,000 (a quarter mil) as start up money from the our taxpayers in addition to providing resources, money, and technology to other countries.
    • While they also state that this fee shall be waved if the sex offender demonstrates to the satisfaction of ICE, pursuant to a fee waiver process established by ICE, that the payment of such fee would impose and undue financial hardship on the sex offender. (how could one prove hardship when planing to travel internationally? Most SOs fall just above the income line to be able to qualify.)
When I spoke to the Representatives of Congressman Chris Smith’s office, I was assured that the bill was changed to go after the worst of the worst based on risk based evaluations performed by ICE. If that were true this bill would not constantly say just “sex offender” instead of saying “high risk sex offender as identified by ICE through risk based evaluation testing.”

Of course, this bill applies to all registered sex offenders (as written) whose offense involved a minor. And this fee is just one objectionable point in this legislation. The restriction and monitoring of any ex offender who desires to travel internationally is the main point of objection.


Please write your Senator(s) and the Congressional Appropriations Committee

Appropriations Committee Members

Democratic Members

Senator Portrait DANIEL K. INOUYE
Hawaii, Chairman

Defense (Chairman), Commerce, Justice, Science, Homeland Security, Labor, HHS, and Education, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, State, Foreign Operations
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait PATRICK J. LEAHY
Vermont

State, Foreign Operations (Chairman), Commerce, Justice, Science, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior, Transportation/HUD
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait TOM HARKIN
Iowa

Labor, HHS, Education (Chairman), Agriculture, Rural Development, Defense, State, Foreign Operations, Transportation/HUD
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait BARBARA A. MIKULSKI
Maryland

Commerce, Justice, Science (Chairman), Defense, Homeland Security, Interior, State, Foreign Operations, Transportation/HUD
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait HERB KOHL
Wisconsin

Agriculture, Rural Development (Chairman), Commerce, Justice, Science, Defense, Interior, Labor, HHS and Education, Transportation /HUD
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait PATTY MURRAY
Washington

Transportation/HUD (Chairman), Defense, Energy and Water Development, Homeland Security, Labor, HHS and Education, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait BYRON DORGAN
North Dakota

Energy and Water Development (Chairman), Agriculture, Rural Development, Commerce, Justice, Science, Defense, Interior, Transportation/HUD
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait DIANNE FEINSTEIN
California

Interior (Chairman), Agriculture and Rural Development, Commerce, Justice, Science, Defense, Energy and Water Development, Transportation/HUD
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait RICHARD J. DURBIN
Illinois

Financial Services and General Government (Chairman), Agriculture and Rural Development, Defense, Labor, HHS and Education, State, Foreign Operations, Transportation/HUD
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait TIM JOHNSON
South Dakota

Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (Chairman), Agriculture, Rural Development, Energy and Water Development, Interior, State, Foreign Operations, Transportation/HUD
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait MARY L. LANDRIEU
Louisiana

Energy and Water Development, Financial Services and General Government, Homeland Security, Labor, HHS and Education, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, State, Foreign Operations
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait JACK REED
Rhode Island

Agriculture and Rural Development, Commerce, Justice, Science, Energy and Water Development, Interior, Labor, HHS, Education, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait FRANK R. LAUTENBERG
New Jersey

Homeland Security (Interim Chairman),Commerce, Justice, Science, Transportation/HUD, Energy and Water Development, Financial Services and General Government, Labor, HHS and Education, State, Foreign Operations
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait BEN NELSON
Nebraska

Legislative Branch (Chairman), Agriculture and Rural Development, Financial Services and General Government, Interior, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Commerce, Justice, Science
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait MARK PRYOR
Arkansas

Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Science, Labor, HHS and Education, Legislative Branch, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait JON TESTER
Montana

Energy and Water Development, Financial Services and General Government, Homeland Security, Legislative Branch
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Specter Thumbnail ARLEN SPECTER
Pennsylvania

Labor, HHS and Education, Agriculture and Rural Development, Defense, Homeland Security, State, Foreign Operations, Transportation/HUD
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Republican Members

Senator Portrait THAD COCHRAN
Mississippi, Vice Chairman

Defense (Ranking), Homeland Security, Agriculture and Rural Development, Energy and Water Development, Interior, Labor, HHS and Education
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait CHRISTOPHER S. BOND
Missouri

Transportation/HUD (Ranking), Agriculture and Rural Development, Defense, State, Foreign Operations, Energy and Water Development, Financial Services and General Government
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait MITCH MCCONNELL
Kentucky

Agriculture and Rural Development, State, Foreign Operations, Commerce, Justice, Science, Defense, Energy and Water Development, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait RICHARD C. SHELBY
Alabama

Commerce, Justice, Science (Ranking), Energy and Water Development, Defense, Homeland Security, Labor, HHS, Education, Transportation/ HUD
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait JUDD GREGG
New Hampshire

State, Foreign Operations (Ranking), Commerce, Justice, Science, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior, Labor, HHS and Education
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait ROBERT F. BENNETT
Utah

Energy and Water Development (Ranking), Agriculture and Rural Development, Defense, Interior, State, Foreign Operations, Transportation/HUD
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON
Texas

Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (Ranking), Commerce, Justice, Science, Defense, Energy and Water Development, Labor, HHS and Education, Transportation/HUD
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait SAM BROWNBACK
Kansas

Agriculture and Rural Development (Ranking), Homeland Security, State, Foreign Operations, Commerce, Justice, Science, Transportation/HUD, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait LAMAR ALEXANDER
Tennessee

Interior (Ranking), Commerce, Justice, Science, Energy and Water Development, Labor, HHS, and Education, Financial Services and General Government, Transportation/HUD
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait SUSAN COLLINS
Maine

Financial Services and General Government (Ranking), Agriculture, Interior, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Transportation/HUD
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait GEORGE VOINOVICH
Ohio

Homeland Security (Ranking), Commerce, Justice, Science, Energy and Water Development, State, Foreign Operations, Transportation/HUD
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters

Senator Portrait LISA MURKOWSKI
Alaska

Legislative Branch (Ranking), Commerce, Justice, Science, Homeland Security, Interior, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs
Visit website
Financial Disclosure Letters


Please let us know once you have called, emailed or written to the committee and your senator. You should also write to Representative Chris Smith, 2375 Rayburn HOB, Washington, DC 20515.


Thank you so much for your time and attention to this important matter.

Terry
www.JusticeInJersey.org
RSOL State Coordinator
NowJustice4All@gmail.com

Two NH Sex Offender Bills Killed

May 27, 2010 Comments off

corrections.com: Two NH sex offender bills killed.

The New Hampshire State Senate last week tabled and thus killed HB 1628, a bill to encourage police to actively notify the neighbors whenever a sex offender is released into their midst. A dozen opponents, including several sex offenders, had packed the senate public hearing on the legislation.

In response, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-1 to kill the bill politely by sending it to interim study in an election year. A co-sponsor of the bill, Sen. Sheila Roberge (R-Bedford), voted to effectively defeat her own legislation after hearing the evidence against it.

There was no debate on the later Senate floor motion to table. Whatever infighting led to that outcome happened behind closed doors. After the vote, one senator said people were worried about the consequences to the families of sex offenders if neighbors got into the habit of welcoming every sex offender harshly.

I certainly expected an emotional floor fight in the senate chambers. Sen. Robert Letourneau (R-Derry) missed the committee vote, but he co-sponsored the bill and would have voted for it. Close split decisions are rare in senate committees and often lead to donnybrooks on the senate floor. All 24 senators received an email from me the night before the final vote with a copy of an op ed I had just published in the Laconia Citizen. The full text appears at the bottom of this update.

I’m sorry to say the Senate killed HB 1484 the same way, a bill to bar towns from imposing residency restrictions against sex offenders. I heard conflicting reasons from senators and sources close to the governor for the surprising vote to table this fine legislation. It had sailed through the House and left Senate Judiciary Committee with a 5-0 ought-to-pass endorsement. The sponsors tentatively plan to resubmit the bill for next year. (contact your senators !)

Losing this favorable legislation was palatable in an election year. Only five towns have adopted these residency restrictions, and several have chosen not to enforce them in light of a district court decision last August. It shot down the Dover residency restriction against sex offenders as a violation of fundamental property rights.

Shh…Georgia’s Sex Offender Law Changed Last Week

May 27, 2010 Comments off

Atlanta.creativeloafing.com: Shh! Georgia’s sex offender law changed last week.

It’s gotten surprisingly little attention, but much of Georgia’s harsh and arguably unconstitutional sex offender law was effectively tossed out last Friday.

That’s when Gov. Sonny Perdue signed House Bill 571, the near-total rewrite of the 2006 state law authored by Christian Coalition head-turned-politician, Rep. Jerry Keen, R-St. Simon’s. HB 571, in turn, was introduced and shepherded through the Legislature by new House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.

So, as of Friday, what’s changed ? Well…

* Sex offenders can’t be forced from their homes or apartments if a park or daycare opens nearby.

* Judges now have discretion to exempt some registered sex offenders from restrictions on where they’re allowed to work.

* Sex offenders are no longer be prohibited from taking part in such church activities as choir and Bible study.

* Homeless sex offenders no longer risk going to prison for failing to have a fixed address.

* Folks won’t be added to the sex-offender registry for a misdemeanor.

The new law also — and this is a biggie — allows judges to remove convicted sex offenders from the state registry after they’ve completed their sentence.

Perhaps just as importantly, the new law provides for sex offenders to be evaluated in terms of their relative risk to the public. For the past few years, the only distinction the law made was in the case of “sexual predators” — serial rapists and child molesters. Everyone else was dumped into the same basket, regardless of whether they’d been convicted of stalking or having sex with an underage girlfriend.

Law-enforcement officials, from the GBI to local sheriffs, have long asked legislators to create a mechanism to differentiate between dangerous pervs and folks like Wendy Whitaker, our cover subject from 2006, who has remained on the state registry despite the fact that she was convicted under a law that was subsequently overturned.

Which brings us to the new law’s shortcomings. For one, it doesn’t address the issue of school bus stops. You’ll recall that, under Keen’s law, sex offenders were prohibited from living near a “designated school bus stop.” That provision was enjoined by a federal judge, however, after it was realized that school systems frequently change bus routes and that there’s no official designation process for bus stops. At this point, I can’t imagine the state would continue to fight to salvage a provision that’s never been enforced.

More troublesome is the fact that the new law applies only to sex offenders convicted since July 2008, meaning it still won’t help folks like Whitaker. Those and other improvements to the law will have to be shaped by future lawsuits.

We say, bring ‘em on !

View Georgia General Assembly HB 571 here.
05/20/10 – House Date Signed by Governor

Summary:
A BILL to be entitled an Act to change and enact provisions of law relating to classification of sexual offenders, sexual offender registration, and restrictions on sexual offenders’ residences, workplaces, and activities; to amend Code Section 5-6-35 of the O.C.G.A., relating to appeals requiring an application for appeal, so as to make such Code section applicable to appeals reviewing a decision of the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board; to amend Article 1 of Chapter 10 of Title 17 of the O.C.G.A., relating to procedures for sentencing in criminal cases, so as to provide that, classification shall be by the sentencing court rather than the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board; to amend Article 2 of Chapter 1 of Title 42 of the O.C.G.A., relating to classification and registration of sexual offenders and regulation of the conduct of such offenders, so as to revise provisions relating to registration; to provide for an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

Readers in states other than Georgia need to pay attention to this report. Only when the people fight these laws will lawmakers back down. If you are not actively participating in the fight against these abusive sex offender laws, then you are part of the problem!

TX: City Council Expands Sex Offender Residency Restrictions

May 26, 2010 Comments off

kens5.com (TX): Boerne city council votes to expand sex offender boundary lines and prohibited lists.

In a vote of 4-1, Boerne City Council made it unlawful for registered sex offenders to reside within 1500 feet of places where children gather.

Prior to this, state law prohibited registered sex offenders from going within 1000 feet of just schools or parks. Boerne has expanded that list to include public and private playgrounds, daycares, public libraries, and more.

The vote came after an hour and a half of debate. One councilman called it a very decisive issue for the city. The community seemed split down the middle in their support for it or against it.

Those against it argued it would severely limit the areas in which registered sex offenders could live. Thus, it would create a cluster of sex offenders. That would lower property values in those areas, and make it unsafe for the children who already live in those areas.

Another big argument against the ordinance was that it was not ethical or even an effective way to protect children. The councilman who voted against it said, “The threat to our children is so much less the guy in the trench coat hiding under the street light. As it is, it’s the people they already know. The vast majority of crimes to children are committed by the people they know.”

Council also voted to increase the fine for anyone who violates this ordinance from $500 to $2000.

As reported, about half those residents understand that these residency limits do not work, and cause unintended negative consequences for the city. Sadly, their city council is still ignorant about these facts and is still hand-picking low-hanging political fruit from the tree.