Wednesday, March 30, 2011
"Constitutional Authority Statement (CAS): This bill is missing a Constitutional Authority statement and therefore should not be considered by Congress."
The restrictions, if passed at May 2 annual Town Meeting, would bar sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools, day care centers, parks, recreational facilities and elderly housing.
Exemptions are included for offenders already owning or renting within the zones and for cases when a new, protected site opens nearby. Those exemptions are rescinded for offenders who get convicted of new sex crimes.
Violators face a $150 fine and a 30-day window to move for a first offense, and a $300 fine and notification of parole and probation officers and the offender registry board for a second.
Sex offenders would also not be allowed into day care centers, elderly housing, recreational facilities, parks and centers for those with mental disabilities without permission."
Rep. Lon Burnam, a Fort Worth Democrat who is easily one of the most liberal members of the House, approached the dais in a House committee hearing and threw everyone into chuckles.
"I'm not trying to improve my conservative voting record,"
Burnam said, causing gales of laughter in the room, "but I'm pleased to understand that I have the support of the Texas Association of Business on this bill."
The conservative TAB is not known for its love of liberals, as they're often on completely opposite sides of issues such as taxes and tort reform. No doubt TAB has cursed Burnam on more than one occasion, and he has given them the legislative middle finger more than a few times himself.
But on this, they appear to be on the same page.
Burnam's bill would wipe from public sex offender registries the names and addresses of people who employ sex offenders.
The information was made public in 2009 after a media outlet asked the Texas Department of Public Safety to release it. The DPS asked the Texas AG if they had to, the Texas AG said yes, and it went onto the registry.
Now, places of business are on a public listing of sex offenders and the people who hire them.
The bill would keep the information available to probation officers and DPS, but not to the general public.
Proponents of the bill say that it prevents businesses from hiring registered sex offenders, which increases their chances of offending again.
Nobody stepped up to oppose the bill. TAB didn't show up at all.
Understandably, businesses would want this bill to pass because employers get harassed and boycotted and punished for hiring people they believed in hiring, and this would protect them from that.
Hence, TAB's reported support of the bill. It's likely not because they want to help Lon shore up his conservative credentials - not that anyone would have the delusion otherwise. But lawmakers will take support where they can get it, and TAB is a powerful ally to have. Usually.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Original Article: http://www.news-leader.com/article/20110326/NEWS12/103260357/-1/NEWS09/Observers-friends-describe-woman-s-decline?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Special%20Reports|s
Written by Kathryn Wall 12:00 AM, Mar. 26, 2011 |Family, friends and counselors who knew Alison Peck said in court Friday she was working hard to get her life back on track in the year after pleading guilty to statutory rape.
Peck, formerly a teacher at Greenfield, admitted to a sexual relationship with a student. She was given five years' probation, with a suspended sentence of five years in prison, but that suspension was revoked Friday in a hearing prompted by Peck's failure to register as a sex offender during her probation.
Peck says she's now pregnant with her boyfriend's child. She has not received any kind of prenatal care but thinks she's about three months along.
The child will likely be born behind bars, a fact that upset her former counselor, Kris Hamilton.
Hamilton, the licensed professional counselor who directed the sex offender program Peck was ordered to complete, said during the hearing Friday that the former teacher spent the first year of the program making good strides and seemed active in the program.
Peck now faces five years in prison for the probation violation and will have to complete sex offender programs there.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
They know not what they do. Three words says it all....so very sad.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Defendant Keith Lee Burns was convicted of traveling interstate and knowingly failing to update his sex offender registration as required by the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act ("SORNA"). 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a) (2006) ("failure-to-register statute"); 42 U.S.C. §§ 16913 (2006). On appeal, Burns challenges his conviction on constitutional delegation, ex post facto, and venue grounds. After careful review, we reject each challenge and affirm Burns's conviction. On January 9, 2004, Burns was convicted in a Virginia state court of possession of obscene material. Following that conviction, Burns registered as a sex offender in Virginia on January 23, 2004. - Sex Offender Issues
See comments for this article at Updated 3:15 PM PDT, Tue, Mar 22, 2011
Copyright City News Service
First Published: Mar 22, 2011 3:04 PM PDT
Seven men who lived less than half mile from school moved as a precaution
The seven men were staying at the Anchorage Motel in the 9800 block of Fairfax Boulevard, according to the Virginia Sex Offender Registry. Five of the seven were convicted of sexual crimes against children, according to the registry.
The men were placed in the motel by the Virginia Department of Corrections, which has used it to house inmates after their release.
Fairfax City officials were aware the men were housed at the motel, said Fairfax High School Principal Dave Goldfarb, who issued a letter to parents and teachers at the 2,000-student school about the offenders.
"City of Fairfax Police Chief Rick Rappoport has told me that the police department was aware of the presence of these offenders and worked closely with their parole officers to monitor their activities," Goldfarb wrote in the March 11 letter.
"Nevertheless, it has been the city's position that the placement of any sex offenders in close proximity to a school presents an avoidable risk to students and an unnecessary distraction to offenders attempting to re-enter communities as reformed citizens."
City of Fairfax officials contacted Virginia's probation and parole division to voice concerns.
"Everyone deserves a second chance," Mayor Rob Lederer said. "But there also needs to be a balance against the concerns of our community."
Larry Traylor, a corrections department spokesman, said his agency does its best to place reformed offenders in areas where they can be supervised.
"If one of these guys comes out of prison with no support, no family and no means, we will locate a place for them to live rather than simply put them on the street where they can't be monitored," Traylor said. "Public safety is our job, and we do our best to take every precaution in where we place these individuals, but we are very limited as to what is available to us, and putting them in a hotel is better than just letting them go without any supervision."
Azahr Hassan, who has been manager of the Anchorage Motel for 15 years, isn't sure what all the commotion is about.
"These guys never gave us any trouble and we never had any trouble with rules and regulations," said Hassan, who rents rooms at the 58-room motel for between $65 and $70 per night. "They were just like anyone else."
Goldfarb's letter said the motel "will no longer be used as a temporary transition point for any sex offender."
Traylor said his agency is stuck "between a rock and a hard place" when it comes to housing reformed sex offenders.
"They are no longer inmates," he said. "Placing them in a hotel where you can keep tabs on them still seems like a better idea than just sending them out without any supervision."
But Fairfax City's police chief said having offenders near a school is not the best idea.
"I think clearly the spirit of the law is to put some distance between offenders who are working hard to make a successful re-entry and students who are getting an education," Rappoport said.
The whereabouts of the relocated offenders has not been revealed because of privacy issues, but the men are required to register individually once they get new residences.
Sen. Claire McCaskill
Rep. Russ Carnahan
December 12, 2010
National and State Sex Offender RegistriesCost of Implementing SORNA
There are 716,750 registered sex offenders on the registries and that number increases daily. What started out as 39 original offenses requiring registration has now blossomed to 189 which include urinating in public, streaking, possession of child pornography, sexting, exposure, molestation, Romeo & Juliet teen relationships, false accusations by an angry ex-wife or girlfriend, rape, solicitation, on-line sexual chat, etc.
The states are now mandated by Congress to implement Title 1 of the Adam Walsh Act, SORNA (Sex Offender Registration & Notification Act) or lose 10% Byrne Fund Money. Two states and two tribal nations are the only ones that have complied.
There are three immediate problems with going forward:
There are many documented studies by credible sources showing that the registry is a failed system and in no way protects one child or adult. Most of these folks are not recidivist and the low percentage indicates proves this. As John Walsh said, "The registry is not being used as it was intended so let's get rid of it and focus on the 10,000 violent offenders and track them.
Why not take the 10% Byrne Fund Money and use it instead to help registrants find jobs, find housing, get meaningful counseling to get them reunited with their families in the same home. The collateral damage to the wives, children and parents of the registrants causes other families to refrain from reporting sexual offenses. Who wants to have to post a sign in their yard or have their address made public across the nation?
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Bill aims to toughen laws against child sex offenders
Diane Allen said Monday morning during a State House news conference with Lunsford and others advocating for tougher sentences on sex offenders. The measure, known as Jessica's Law, after Lunsford's daughter, would impose a mandatory 25-year term ...
See all stories on this topic »
Monday, March 21, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
by Paul Demko
Published: March 18,2011
Time posted: 2:06 pm
Tags: Donovan Frank, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Keith Langseth, Tony Cornish
The fundamental flaws of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program have long been known. Despite operating for nearly two decades and spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, the program has never successfully rehabilitated and released a civilly committed sex offender.
Consequently, the number of individuals involuntarily enrolled in the program has skyrocketed over the last decade. In 2003 there were just 199 civilly committed sex offenders in Minnesota. As of Jan, 1, that number had ballooned to 656 - a more than 300 percent increase. The population of the program is expected to double again in the next decade. The timing of that dramatic growth is not coincidental. In November 2003, 22-year-old Dru Sjodin was abducted and murdered by a sex offender who had been released from a Minnesota prison earlier that year.
In the wake of that high-profile crime, then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed an executive order stating that no civilly committed sex offender could be released unless ordered to do so by the courts. The result? Minnesota now has by far the highest per capita sex offender civil commitment rate in the country.
That fact alone might not elicit much interest, since violent sex offenders do not rank very high on the list of folks whose well-being society worries about. But the escalating costs associated with detaining so many individuals for an indeterminate period of time have attracted increased scrutiny in recent years. It costs $120,000 annually to house and treat civilly committed sex offenders. That is roughly four times the cost of keeping them locked up in prison. Overall costs for the MSOP peaked at $75 million in 2008 and have since retreated slightly, primarily because of staffing reductions.
That does not even take into account capital costs. Last year Pawlenty requested $89 million in bonding dollars to expand the MSOP’s Moose Lake facility, but the Legislature appropriated only about half that amount. Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, referred to the facility as “Pawlenty’s pervert palace.” The MSOP anticipates running out of beds in 2013.
But a damning report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor released earlier this month shines new light on why the civil commitment program has failed to deliver on its mission of rehabilitating sex offenders. “We finally have official acknowledgement that the program is substandard coming from an authoritative arm of the state government,” said Eric Janus, dean of the William Mitchell College of Law and a longtime critic of the MSOP. “I think it’s a picture of a program that is broken at the most fundamental levels.”
Arguably the most revealing details in the report concern personnel problems in the MSOP and their likely detrimental effect on treatment. The program has had three executive directors and four executive clinical directors over the past seven years. For a 14-month period in 2007-08, the top clinical post was vacant. Staffing issues are particularly pronounced at the Moose Lake facility. As of January, half of the eight supervisory clinical positions were vacant, according to the auditor’s report. That’s actually an improvement over the recent past, when as few as two of the positions were filled. As of November, 17 of 68 nonsupervisory clinical positions were vacant. All but one of the unfilled posts was at the Moose Lake operation. By January the number of vacancies there had dropped to five.
It is inherently difficult to find qualified sex therapists who want to devote their professional lives to working with violent offenders in a remote part of Minnesota, the auditor’s report notes. But it also points out that “clinicians may not want to work for MSOP because of its reputation for program instability and not releasing any clients.”
That lack of stability and staffing appears to have limited the opportunities for patients to receive effective, sustained treatment. Clients participating in treatment at Moose Lake, for instance, were receiving six hours of group therapy a week in 2010, according to the auditor’s report. By contrast, inmates participating in sex offender programs run by the Department of Corrections receive an average of 12 hours of treatment each week. And in-patient clients at Alpha Human Services, the state’s only private, residential sex offender treatment program, receive 20.5 hours of group therapy per week. The void left by this paucity of treatment is sometimes filled in rather dubious ways by MSOP residents. One client participating in treatment reported watching 77 hours of television in one week.
The auditor’s report also noted that some security measures used by MSOP staff members could be hindering advances in treatment, particularly at Moose Lake. For instance, because of concerns about inappropriate touching, clients are no longer allowed to shake hands with staff members or each other. Investigators with the auditor’s office were told that such policies create an “us versus them” attitude between clients and staff that is counterproductive.
There is no doubt that the MSOP is dealing with an exceedingly difficult population, many of whom have no hope of ever advancing through treatment. A random survey of clients by MSOP staff in 2010 found that the median number of victims per resident was 11.5 (although many of these incidents were never criminally prosecuted). Twenty percent of clients refuse to participate in treatment. In addition, about one-sixth of those civilly committed are believed to have IQs below 80 and cannot participate in standard group therapy.
But if the program cannot eventually establish some record of success in providing effective treatment to sex offenders, the courts could intervene. That is because such civil commitment programs were deemed constitutionally sound by the courts only because their primary purpose is therapeutic rather than punitive. “The courts accepted those promises and, on the basis of those promises, upheld the constitutionality,” Janus said. “What we know now is that there is a 15- to 20-year pattern of inadequate executive implementation that belies the veracity of the promises that were made by the state.”
If the courts do ultimately intervene, there are two likely courses that could play out. A judge could demand that changes be made to the program and monitor the results. That is how it worked in Washington, with the state’s civil commitment program operating in receivership for 13 years. The other possibility is that a judge could simply determine that the state statute is unconstitutional. “If they strike the law down, then of course the whole thing goes away,” Janus said.
But there is little evidence that the judiciary is anxious to strike a legal blow in favor of the state’s worst sex offenders. Olmsted County District Court Judge Kevin Lund has repeatedly raised questions about the constitutionality of the MSOP given its lack of therapeutic success in recent years. “These facilities are simply detention facilities,” the judge said in 2007. But his is a lonely stance. A case from Lund’s courtroom challenging the constitutionality of the civil commitment program went before the Minnesota Court of Appeals in 2008, but was rejected.
The Minnesota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is also litigating a civil case on behalf of six MSOP clients challenging confinement conditions at the Moose Lake facility.
Basically the lawsuit argues that practices like strip searches and transporting clients in shackles are unnecessarily punitive. “The more punitive you become, the less of a therapeutic environment you have,” said Teresa Nelson, legal counsel for the ACLU, “and really you’re betraying the whole legitimate basis of the program.”
But last month a federal magistrate judge recommended that summary judgment be granted in favor of the Department of Human Services and the Department of Corrections and that the case be dismissed. The ACLU is appealing that determination to U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank.
The auditor’s report offers 16 recommendations for how the DHS can improve the civil commitment program in hopes of avoiding judicial intervention. Even before the report was released, the agency had begun to adopt some of the changes suggested. For instance, the MSOP is under a directive to provide more hours of therapy for participants in the program. Quarterly reports now must be filed with the DHS showing how many hours of treatment are being provided. In addition, a psychiatrist has been hired to ensure that patients at the facility have access to psychiatric care.
The Legislature is also taking steps to implement changes recommended in the auditor’s report. Rep. Tony Cornish, chairman of the Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee, introduced legislation this month that would implement indeterminate sentences for some sex offenders. It would apply to individuals who have a pattern of harmful sexual conduct, including at least one conviction for felony criminal sexual conduct. Under Cornish’s proposal, such individuals would receive a sentence of up to 60 years, but the commissioner of corrections would have the authority to release them sooner.
“If you go into Joe’s Bar back home and you ask people what you should do with [violent] sex offenders, you’ll end up probably with a range anywhere from life without parole to castration to the death penalty,” said Cornish, R-Good Thunder, at a hearing on the bill on Wednesday. “I don’t say that to sensationalize, but overwhelmingly the public expects us to do something drastic with the people we’re talking about in these categories of sex offenses.”
The bill passed out of committee on a unanimous voice vote. If implemented, indeterminate sentencing would almost certainly result in much longer prison sentences and consequently fewer referrals for commitment to the MSOP. But given that it would not apply to all of the sex offenders currently serving prison sentences, the potential benefits would lie at some point well into the future.
“We’re facing a huge decision point right now in that we’re going to have to stick one heck of a lot of money into the sex offender program,” Cornish said at the hearing. “It doesn’t solve it by any means, and there are still some questions to be answered.”
BAY CITY — The city saw a marked decline in the number of most property crimes last year, with fewer complaints of theft from buildings, motor vehicles, purse snatching and retail fraud.
Getting rid of Romeo and Juliet cases should jump-start a broader debate on how to refine and improve an overreaching requirement that no longer serves its intended purpose.
One To See Change Past Posts
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On a Personal Note
As you know, many young men and women lives across the nation are being destroyed by incarceration, life-time registry and restrictive laws that do more harm than good. For those individuals, there is no second chance.
Below is a personal letter to President Obama:
* * * *
“Dear President Obama,
I truly agree with your sentiments that individuals, such as ex-felons, should be able to receive a second chance at life. Since we all know that one can veer off that path of life and travel along rough, rocky terrain, sometimes running off and ending up in some ditch. We all have made our fill of mistakes and sometimes those held a costly consequence that changed life forever. So we lived through it, trying harder to make things right with family, friends and those around us, but what about those who aren’t able to make things right even if they tried…because they’re labeled as too dirty, a leper, a person who is rejected from society and home.
But what if they’re a seventeen year old and had sex with a fifteen year old, consensual at that? Or they’re a teen that had gotten so enraged after a breakup that he sent out naked pictures of his girlfriend on his cell phone or email? Or an individual urinates where someone just happens to see them?
All are wrong and a travesty but do they deserve the life of no second chance with a registry that ends all. They are labeled, no jobs, no where to live…they have been deemed a menace to society, a plague. These certain circumstances, and many other situations similar to these, I believe still deserve a second change.
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
After my son’s early release and two years of prison, I thought I had handled that fact graciously knowing after serving his time he would be able to get that fresh start, that second chance. He was an exemplary inmate, GED, college courses and vocational classes. Little did I know that a second chance on the outside was the farthest from the truth? He now struggles and lives in a trailer park sharing a trailer with another and surrounded by others in the same rocking boat, one to float endlessly in shark infested waters. I see him little because of probation requirements (he couldn’t live with us because we were 800 feet near a school). My family is afraid of what would happen to them if he lived with them…vigilantism. My son has no other place to stay since others condemn him of his crime that is screamed from the highest rooftop. Sex offender, sex offender!
Not all sex offenders are pedophiles or predators but some are simply young kids that make one stupid and rash decision that eventually changes everything, and they have no idea what they’ve done until their life is never their own. Exactly, where is that second chance for those sex-offenders who are lumped together with pedophiles and predators? Now, it makes me sick to think of my son’s future and many like him that are on the registry and many with no second chance…ever. I am asking you as a mother and as another concerned citizen of the United States that these laws are looked at again and taken into serious consideration in what they are doing to the Constitution of the United States, not for sex offenders in general but the future rights of every citizen, before anymore are put into effect. They unjustly strip an offender of their rights and place them in a guillotine that can be easily set off by anyone and at anytime. Where is the second chance for ex-sex offenders in the present, pending and future laws?”
* * * *
What truly saddens me is the weakness and deterioration of what the sex offense issue is doing to our once, great nation. Across Europe, others are seeing the injustice and disregard of rights, but we ignore this problem and it makes me wonder where humanity is heading….
We have become a hysterical society in which our latest witch-hunt is a sex offender--no matter his/her crime.
Below is a email sent from a foreign advocate to a father of a sex offender:
* * * *
“The tragic story of your son's death is just so sad that it's difficult to explain how. It was very hard to read your letters. It seems almost unbelievable that this can take place in a democracy! From our point of view, there is no justice in this. Not in any way: not for you, your son, the former girl friend – or even the state.
It is an abusive legal system. It seems barbaric. And we are so very sorry that this takes place. That's why it's so important for us to try to neutralize the debate with this…, hopefully making some changes. ….. to show the every day life of the sex offenders, trying to show how they keep on being punished, even after served prison time…..But we will for sure tell the story of the injustice that your son has been exposed to.”
* * * *
I appreciate everyone's commitment and backing to protect everyone's civil rights, plainly as noted in the Constitution of the United States and is presupposed, giving ALL men are “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.”