Thursday, September 27, 2012

Do Registries Help?


While law enforcement groups have championed SORNA and cheerlead for compliance in every state, some counter that more stringent sex offender laws and longer registration periods could violate offenders’ constitutional rights.

SORNA’s three-tier registration system lumps statutory rape convicts with violent sexual predators, attorney Katherine Godin of the Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union noted in a May 12 memo to state lawmakers there.

“Under the (Adam Walsh Act), an 18-year-old who has sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend will be branded a sex offender for the rest of his life and will be seen as posing the same threat to the community as someone who commits rape or first-degree child molestation,” Godin wrote in the memo.

States toughening their treatment of convicted sex offenders may lull residents into a false sense of security, the Rhode Island ACLU argues, by ignoring the statistical likelihood that children will be abused by a family member or close family friend.

“In fact, this community notification system distorts the fact that most sex crimes are not committed by some scary man lurking in the bushes,” Godin wrote. “Instead, 97 percent of child sex abuse victims up to 5 years old knew the offender prior to the offense.”

Academic studies show that offenders placed on public registries reoffend at roughly the same rate as those convicted before the registries were maintained, said M. Lyn Exum, an associate professor of criminal justice and criminology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

“I think there is this scarlet-letter stigma that is carried with this, and whether that’s good or bad, that’s a moral judgment,” Exum said. “There’s not compelling scientific research to show that individuals on sex offender registries have lower recidivism rates.”

Studies show that 5 percent of registered sex offenders will be convicted of another sex crime within three years of their registration. In a 15-year span, about a quarter of sex offenders will reoffend.

In some studies, the number of registered offenders convicted of a subsequent sex offense was slightly lower than the number of non-registered offenders.

“Those on the registries do offend less, but it’s a very small percentage,” Exum said. “In the research world, we say those percentages are not statistically significant.”

Nearly half of registered sex offenders said being listed on a public registry has limited their job prospects and cost them friendships, according to self-reported survey data.

“A significant minority report being attacked — being tracked down and confronted in such a way that they were physically assaulted,” Exum said.
Maybe Dr Exum needs to see these blogs: RSO/SO Murders/Killings -and- RSO/SO Vigilantism
While the public may need information about sex offenders in their communities, some scholars and civil liberties groups say those offenders deserve the opportunity to turn their lives around.

“In some ways, you’re sort of cutting off your nose to spite your face,” Exum said. “You’re putting these people on a registry and making it harder for them to reintegrate, which could increase the chance that they recidivate.” ..Source.. Opinions of attorney Katherine Godin of the Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union - and- Dr. M. Lyn Exum University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

If Drunk Drivers Were Treated like Sex Offenders

September 2012:

Learned of this and had to save it. Author unknown.

Nobody likes sex offenders. People aren't very fond of drunk drivers, either. Drunk drivers have a much higher recidivism rate than sex offenders, and are much more likely to kill or injure someone than sex offenders. So let us imagine, for a moment, that they are given similar treatment.

You are caught running a red light. The policeman who pulls you over discovers you been drinking, and arrests you for drunk driving. The judge sentences you to a $1000 fine and 60 days in jail. Recognizing your drinking problem, you participate in a voluntary alcohol treatment program, join AA, get sober, and never drink again, let alone drink and drive.

Drunk driving tragedies have been in the news a lot over the past year, and the public wants to toughen up on drunk drivers. A law is passed requiring anyone convicted of drunk driving after the year 2000 to be put on a non-public registry for five years from the date of their conviction. The registry exists so if there are any hit-and-run accidents, the police know who to check out as suspects first.

You are now required to report to the police station once a year to give them your address, driver license number, license plate numbers, and vehicle descriptions. You must report any changes in information within 5 days. If you fail to report, you can expect 2 years of incarceration on a felony charge. Thank goodness you only have to do this for two more years!

As a reaction to an especially messy drunk driving incident that got many people up in arms, everyone convicted of drunk driving after the year 2000 is restricted from living within 1000 feet of the nearest bar or store which sells alcoholic beverages. Your state legislature also decides that its RDDs (registered drunk drivers) will need to be on the police registry for ten years from the date of their conviction. This takes a big bite out of the state budget, so RDDs are expected to pay $500 per year to offset the cost.

Your house is within range of two liquor stores. You have to move far out of town, forcing you and your wife to find new jobs. It a scramble, and Santa isn't as generous this year. Your children, who had to change schools mid-year, are not happy. And now you are stuck on that registry until 2013!

Early 2008
The national government has imposed a minimum of 2 years in prison for any drunk-driving charge, and a maximum of 10 years if there has been damage to property or personal injury. Failure to register now carries a stiffer penalty of 5 years in prison, with no parole in either situation. RDDs originally convicted of personal injury incidents must now re-register four times a year, at a cost of $250 per visit. Failure to register carries the same penalty as a new offense. Your family celebrates the fact that this time, the changes do not affect you.

Thanks to politicians who all want to look tough on Drunk Drivers, living restrictions are expanded to include any place where people congregate to drink. All RDD-owned vehicles must have pink license plates so others will know that a possibly drunk driver is behind the wheel. Another federal law forbids any current RDD from owning certain types of vehicles. No studies have actually confirmed this, but it is believed that people who own these vehicles are more likely to drive while intoxicated.

You own one of these restricted vehicles. You are allowed a month to sell it or face a felony charge and two years incarceration. You lose a lot of money in the process, and can only afford to buy a clunker. You also have to move again, because there is a Kiwanis Club just over the hill. The only place that qualifies is a run-down trailer park filled with other RDD̢۪s (registered drunk drivers). Your kids and wife are frequently harassed by schoolmates and neighbors whenever they drive anywhere, and the car is often vandalized. The kids are regularly getting into fights at school, and your oldest shows signs of serious depression.

Early 2009
Two studies have shown Drunk Driving accounted for nearly 260 child deaths each year, and 700 serious child injuries. The federal government, in an effort to protect these poor children, passes the Cindy Sweet Act, named after a child who became a paraplegic after one such incident, which mandates that all states create a public, web-based registry listing ANYONE who has had ANY type of alcohol-related conviction since the year 2000. This registry includes the RDD̢۪s home and work addresses, his/her photograph, description of his/her vehicle and of course the vehicle license plate numbers that have been convicted of personal injury charges must install breathalyzers, at their cost, into each vehicle they drive, that send radio reports back to their local police station for monitoring. A positive breathalyzer is grounds for immediate arrest.

You lose your job, because your employer refuses to be listed on the registry, and nobody else will hire you in spite of your excellent employment history. The road to the trailer park is lined with signs like Baby Killers and Beware! Child Murderers! Others are much cruder. Your eldest tries to commit suicide, and is placed in a treatment center. Unable to take any more of this, your spouse packs up the younger kids and moves out, with your blessing. You move into a two-bedroom trailer with five other RDDs, to conserve what little money you manage to earn from odd jobs. Interestingly, not one of your trailer-mates have ever driven drunk. But they all get the same treatment.

Penalties for new offenses, and for failing to register, have doubled. RDDs are no longer allowed to drive on the interstate, for public safety reasons. The breathalyzer-and-license-plate requirements are expanded to include any vehicles owned by family members, because the RDD might have access to them. Also, all these vehicles must have a GPS installed for law enforcement to track whether it is safely parked in your driveway or parking lot between 6 p.m. and 5 a.m., since those are the hours most bars are open.

The new requirements have caused you and most of your trailer-mates to lose what little income you make, because you had night jobs. In desperation, everyone chips in to buy two bottles of good rum the first drink any of you have had since your convictions. Passing around the bottles, you all get roaring drunk, climb into your breathalyzer-enhanced vehicles, turn on the engines, and wait. Within minutes, police arrive and take all of you into custody. You are guaranteed to be in prison for five years or more. But at least you are warm, and dry, and have steady jobs.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

ALERT: CERTAIN Registered Sex Offenders and The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) Reauthorization Act of 2010

9-11-2012 National:

CAPTA Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act was a federal law first enacted in 1974. CAPTA is a law likened to a spider web, in that, it has fingers that tie it into any form of proceeding affecting a "Child." And, until 2010, in the 111th Congress, it did not tie into "registered sex offender" laws.

In 2010, when CAPTA was up to be reauthorized, -a few lines of code- was tucked into the bill making it applicable to certain registered sex offenders, under certain circumstances, REPEAT, under certain circumstances ONLY. As best I can tell, the RSO must be involved in a court or other proceeding (non criminal), where the court is required to make a decision in the best interests of the child. ex: Probate proceedings, Child Custody, Visiting Rights, Divorce, Adoption, Termination of Parental Rights, and I'm sure there are others which escape me right now.

WHY have folks not heard about this? The federal law was amended in 2010, and many states have not yet decided how they will implement it. Yes, this is another of those federal laws which dock the state federal funds if they do not implement it, and a federal agency decides if, a state, after enacting it, is or isn't in full compliance, which then determines if the state is docked federal funds.

Today States are in a transition period! Please see this Michigan news item from 5-1-2012: Sex offenders could lose parental rights under law signed by Gov. Rick Snyder. In Oklahoma House Bill 3049 "Sex offenders; prohibiting certain sex offenders from residing with minor children; effective date." passed and will become law.

How will the federal law affect registered sex offenders? This is the most difficult part, it depends on how a state enacts the federal law. So far, in the two states mentioned, RSOs are affected differently. Your state decides how it will enact CAPTA. Local lawyers are the only folks who can PROPERLY advise you, or even tell you, if you will be affected. And, as of today, remember not every state has addressed CAPTA yet!

OK, what did the 111th Congress insert into CAPTA (S-3817)?
(I) in subclause (III), by striking ‘‘; or’’ and inserting ‘‘;’’; and
(II) by adding at the end the following:
‘‘(V) to have committed sexual abuse against the surviving child or another child of such parent;
‘‘(VI) to be required to register with a sex offender registry under section 113(a) of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (42 U.S.C. 16913(a));’’;
I have provided links to the bill in the 111th Congress, if you are brave enough to read it, it is a monster bill, like I said, a spider web into many other laws; have at it.

It might be easier to read this, which explains CAPTA overall, then search it for the insert I mentioned above, still a daunting task. Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) Reauthorization Act of 2010. More about CAPTA 2010 can be found HERE

OK, every RSO -in the state where you live- need to find out how your state -has or will enact- this federal law. Watch the news for your respective areas. And never forget, if the law does not affect you today, it could if your family situation changes in the future (i.e., divorce, visitation rights for previously divorced folks, etc.).

Whatever folks find, please let me post it here for other folks to learn from.

Thanks, and have a good day and a better tomorrow.

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