Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ron Book Show Rescheduled

Notice to any wanting to call in or listen to the interview that was supposed to air on ARC tonight with Ron Book. He has asked to move the interview to Thursday night. So the show will be on ARC Thursday, July 2nd at 8:30pm. Please join us to hear him excuse himself for being part of making RSFOs homeless in Miami. Hope to see a lot of us there.
Phone Number: (724) 444-7444
Call ID: 29521

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Why There Won't Be a "Sandra's Law"....And Why There Should Be

Article written by "Jonathon" Recently sent to me by Mary of RSOL Virginia. It's extremely well written and thought provoking. Posted with permission. THanks Jonathon and Mary.

Why There Won't Be a "Sandra's Law"....And Why There Should Be

The details of Sandra Cantu's murder are as horrible and heart-rending as anything we have seen. Sandra's fate was as terrible as that of Adam or Jessica, and yet you will not see the pundits or Sandra's family campaigning for the passage of Sandra's Law.

The problem is that the circumstances of Sandra's murder do not lend themselves to simple solutions, or to posturing on the part of self-proclaimed protectors of children. Sandra was not killed by a registered sex offender (the police are to be credited for not jumping to that conclusion). No registry would have prevented her death. The circumstances of Sandra's murder are far more the norm for such things than are the "stranger danger" scenarios used to justify the enactment of the AWA or Jessica's Law.

Sandra was killed by someone whom she and her family trusted. Statistics show that about half of all child abductions are by a parent, and about a quarter are perpetrated by a friend or close associate of the family. These are the abductions most likely to result in the death of the child.

I recently decided to try my hand at writing model legislation to replace the deeply flawed Adam Walsh Act. I haven't gotten very far. The first question I asked was what the best statistics on sex offender recidivism actually are. To that end, I visited the National Sex Offender Management web site where I found a number of studies attesting to the fact that sex offenses are under-reported, and that "many" sex offenders have committed additional offenses for which they were not caught.

Many of the studies concentrated on rape and child molestation as the offenses of choice. Rape, before the national sex hysteria, was almost universally recognized as a crime of violence. It's about the violence and the domination, not the sex. As such, I would expect it to have recidivism rates approaching those of violent crimes in general, namely 50-75%. Child molestation, may indicate true pedophilia on the part of the perpetrator. As this goes to the heart of how the person is wired sexually, one may assume it to be resistant to change. This doesn't mean that pedophilia cannot be treated or managed, or that all pedophiles reoffend. It simply means that one may expect this to be a tough nut to crack. In fact, Dr Fred Berlin, a nationally recognized expert on sex offenses and sexual trauma (a REAL one, not a John Walsh) has had remarkable success in treating high-risk sex offenders, including pedophiles. To the best of my knowledge (and I have an advanced degree in psychological counseling), shaming and ostracism are not valid therapeutic tools for ANY condition.

Many of the studies claimed that, when unreported crimes are taken into account, sex offender recidivism may rise to the level of 30-50%. The statement that "all sex offenses are under-reported" must be viewed in the context that ALL crimes are under reported. This includes drug dealing, drunk driving, burglary, you name it. When under-reporting is factored in, sex offenses rise to recidivism levels approaching the LOWER limits of the percentage range for crimes of all kinds. About two thirds of all drunk drivers, for example, re-offend. This means they are RE-ARRESTED or RE-CONVICTED. Shall we assume that they are caught every time they get behind the wheel with a snoot full? What would be the "actual" recidivism rate for drunk driving if under-reporting is factored in?

Recidivism and danger to the community cannot be looked at in a vacuum. They must be considered as they related to the entire spectrum of illegal activity. Do we assume, as the announcer intones on Law and Order SVU that "sexually related crimes are especially heinous?" Are they really more heinous than selling your kid crack? Than running over him with your car when you are intoxicated? Than assault? Than murder?

Because of a need to precisely define what is a sex offense for purposes of study, most legitimate studies appeared to stay away from such things as Internet offenses. The term "sex offense" actually encompasses a vast and highly heterogeneous universe which, like the real universe, continues to expand. This suggests that the actual management of sex offenses and sex offenders may be a rather complex undertaking, not the "one size fits all" approach used by the AWA and other legislation.

Society (that means politicians and the press) has decided that we need a huge and costly - and publicly accessible - sex offender management system. They have decided that everybody needs to be on the list. Even as studies in New York, New Jersey, and elsewhere have demonstrated that Megan's Law has done nothing for public safety, there are those who will continue to cry, "if it saves one child, it will be worth it." Well, it hasn't saved one child. It is, however, taking funds and personnel away from programs that DO save children, and DO make their lives better. Virginia, for example, is cutting back on education while it continues to expand the registry. As the registry grows, and as more people on it are declared "violent" by legislative whim, more state troopers are spending their time monitoring sex offenders, not on the highway where their presence actually saves lives. In an era when states are running out of funds and cutting back on essential services, the registry remains fully funded, even as many politicians now privately admit that it has become next to useless.

Sandra's Law should be the replacement for the Adam Walsh Act. Sandra's Law would be based on facts and science, not myth and politics. Sandra's law would follow the principle recommended by most real experts, namely watch some people smarter, not all people longer. Sandra's Law would actually enhance public safety while allowing those who truly want to rehabilitate and to rejoin society to do so. In all likelihood, the size of the registry under Sandra's Law would be greatly reduced, and public access limited. Under Sandra's Law, ALL funds saved through restructuring the sex offender management system would be channeled into programs directly benefiting children.

Sandra's death was a terrible tragedy, and absolutely nothing we can do will change that. She deserves a legacy, too. Can you think of a better one?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Couple Acquitted After Serving 14 years in Jail Are Still On the Registry in Ohio

Ok, so what does it take to get off the Registry? These people were acquitted after serving over 14 years in jail but can not get their names off the Registry. This problem exists nationwide. Some people have had their convictions over turned, their cases expunged and even are now dead ( I recently heard of someone who has been dead more then a year and he is still on the Registry here in Maine. I am waiting to hear from the person who knew him to get details so I can expose this travestry here in the Blog). they are all still on the Registry. One of the problems is the Federal Government goes $ for each name on the Registry. Therefore there is no incentive to remove a name once it goes on the list. This is just one of the many problems with the whole system.

Order required to remove Allen, Smith from offender list

Brad Dicken

Article here

ELYRIA — It will take a court order to get Nancy Smith and Joseph Allen off the county’s sex offender registration list.

The pair was acquitted Wednesday of charges they had molested 4- and 5-year-old children on Smith’s Head Start bus route in the early 1990s.

Smith and Allen, who have long proclaimed their innocence, were convicted in 1994 and spent 14½ years in prison before being freed on bond by Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge earlier this year so he could resentence them because of a flaw in their original sentencing entries.

But Burge said Wednesday that his review of the trial transcript and the evidence in the case led him to conclude that the convictions were unjustified.

Sheriff’s Capt. Rich Resendez said Thursday that his office can’t take Smith, 52, and Allen, 56, off the sex offender list until told to do so by Burge.

“We need to be notified by the court,” he said.

Burge confirmed Thursday that he has issued no such order. K. Ronald Bailey, Allen’s attorney, said he will likely need to ask Burge to issue the order.

“We probably have to send them something,” he said.

Allen was required to register as a sex offender when he was released on bond in April. Smith had not been required to do so when Burge freed her on bond in February. But after Allen registered, Smith did so as well.

The pair is also still listed in a state database of sex offenders.

Resendez said neighbors of Smith and Allen, both of whom were staying with relatives in Lorain, were notified in late April that Smith and Allen were living near them.

County Prosecutor Dennis Will, who did not return a call seeking comment Thursday, has said his office is reviewing Burge’s decision and will likely appeal. Will had agreed there was an error in the original entries that imposed five consecutive life prison terms on Allen and sent Smith to prison for 30 to 90 years.

But, Will argued, it was an error that should have been corrected with a new sentencing entry, not a full resentencing hearing. The 9th District Court of Appeals later dismissed Will’s appeal of that decision.

Bailey and Jack Bradley, Smith’s attorney, have said they don’t believe that even if prosecutors convince an appeals court that Burge made an error that his acquittal of Allen and Smith could be reversed.

Bailey said he also will likely seek some compensation for Allen from the state for the years his client, whom he has represented for free since 1997, spent behind bars.

Kim Kowalski, a spokeswoman for Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, said that anyone who believes they were locked up for a crime they didn’t commit would have to convince a judge to “determination of wrongful imprisonment” in a civil case.

If that happened, Kowalski said, the judge would determine how much money to award.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Studies Show That Residency Restrictions Do Not Work

I came across this article tonight. I thought I would post and hope that maybe the closed minded residents of Westbrook might read it and learn something? Doubtful but one must hope that somehow some reason might finally get through to them.

Doubt cast on residency restrictions for sex offenders

Several studies have shown that laws restricting where convicted sex offenders can live don't make children safer.

Sunday, June 14, 2009
BY MONICA VON DOBENECK mdobeneck@patriot-news.com


People fear sexual of fenders, especially any whose offense is directed at children.

So it's maybe understandable to see why Middletown has joined a list of Pennsylvania communities that restrict where convicted sex offenders can live. The problem is that several studies seem to show such laws don't make children safer.

Lauren Taylor is executive director of the Sexual Offenders Assessment Board, which evaluates everyone accused of a sex crime to determine their risk to society. Taylor is no apologist for sex offenders and would not dictate to municipalities . But she visits municipalities considering such laws at their invitation to arm them with the facts she has gathered.

"Research shows there is no correlation between residency restrictions and reducing sex offenses against children or improving the safety of children," Taylor said.

"If you're going to do it, make an informed decision instead of letting emotions lead you to a decision that is meaningless in the goal you are trying to reach," she said.

Rodney Horton, president of Middletown Borough Council, said he has read those studies and understands the argument. But he believes Middletown's law, which keeps offenders 500 feet from places children gather, sends a message. The borough passed its law on Tuesday. It's like the laws some cities pass requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen guns, even though those laws are unlikely to stop gun violence, he said.

"We're sending a message that sex crime, especially toward children, is a major issue," he said. "When a community has endured many offenses like Middletown has, you can't sit idly by."

He particularly referred to the case of Charles Koons, 39, who is charged with molesting 13 boys ages 4 to 14 between 2002 and 2008.

Some argue that residency restrictions make people less safe, not more.

A study by the Iowa Department of Public Safety showed that the number of offenders unaccounted for doubled after a residency restriction law went into effect. Studies in Colorado, California and Minnesota showed residency restrictions have no effect on the chance that someone convicted of a sex crime might be arrested again.

State Police Lt. Douglas Grimes, who is in charge of Pennsylvania's Megan's Law Web site, said police officers "strive to know where the threats are," which becomes harder if sex offenders are forced to move or become homeless.

Probation officers can restrict where sex offenders live, but they base decisions on individual circumstances, he said.

Offenders who are in psychological treatment are nearly half as likely to offend again, according to the Center for Sex Offender Management. Residency restrictions can keep them from the family, employment and treatment that makes them less likely to break the law.

A federal judge overturned an Allegheny County law, saying it interfered with the state's obligation to try to rehabilitate offenders. His decision is under appeal.

Lemoyne Borough Council has a law that makes it unlawful for sexual offenders to live within 500 feet of any school, child care facility, common open space, community center, public park or recreational facility.

Harrisburg officials have considered similar restrictions but have not enacted any ordinances.

It's important not to lump all sex offenders together, Taylor said. Those the assessment board calls sexually violent predators make up only about 2 percent of those on the Megan's Law Web site. Others might be men who had a consensual relationship with a teenager or a single instance of indecent assault with an adult while drunk.

"They run the gamut," she said. "And it's not the ones on the list you need to worry about" because most of the people arrested for sex crimes have no record. Authorities can keep a closer eye on those already on the list, she said.

Watch Out another Stupid Bill

Can you just imagine? You're an older lady and you and your boy friend take frisky photos of each other. But this law says you are not capable of being in your right mind, so your friend is now going to go to jail and he's a sex offender? These law makers need to get a clue! Stop criminalizing human behavior. And btw being 60 doesn't make you feeble minded. My grand dad died at 96 and he was more clear headed and with it then most 50 year olds.

Decent Exposure?

I’ve been peeved all month about the latest panic: “sexting.” More and more states are bringing child-porn charges against teenagers who take racy pictures of themselves and send them electronically to lovers or pals. Child pornography is a far more serious crime — in terms of penalties, anyway — than is having actual sex. Sentences run to years per image, and after prison the person must register as a sex offender, a kind of life sentence in itself.

You might call sexting a dunderheaded act — who knows where your immortalized nipples might end up — but also a victimless “crime.” Yet here is the amazing part: Child-porn law is based on the minor’s inability to consent to being photographed; the model is ipso facto a victim of the photographer. Sexting, in which the model is also the photographer, is a crime in which a person can be both perpetrator and victim at the same time.

U.S. sex law is like a black hole: Once reason falls in, it can never re-emerge.

Can all this get any stupider? Just as I was asking myself this question, a post arrived from sex therapist Marty Klein’s blog, Sexual Intelligence, confirming that it could:

Massachusetts state representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein (D-Revere) has introduced a bill making it a crime for anyone over 60 to pose nude or sexually for a film or photo. The person taking the photo — whether a lover, artist or commercial porn maker — would also face jail time.

Adding insult to injury, the proposal amends a bill designed to punish those who make child pornography. It treats fully functional adults who happen to be over 60 the same as children under 18; it explicitly takes away their right to consent to be photographed in a lascivious way.

What Klein doesn’t mention is that the bill precludes consent not only by “an elder” but also by “a person with a disability.” Massachusetts law defines an elder as someone over 60; a “disability” is “a permanent or long-term physical or mental impairment that prevents or restricts the individual’s ability to provide for his or her own care or protection.” The bill is an obvious violation of the First Amendment, says Florida Constitutional lawyer Marc Randazzo, who notes that among the consent-stripped could be his own mother, whom he describes as a 60-plus sexually active “knockout” with a lung condition. Representative Reinstein, by the way, is 38.

We can hope this idea languishes in committee — and, if not, is ridiculed to death. Yet, once impassioned, Reinstein does not rest. Her 2006 proposal to honor the Fluffernutter as the state sandwich failed; it is back on this session’s calendar. Now that senior advocacy groups have informed her “elder exploitation and pornography is on the rise,” she told the Boston Herald, the necessity of her new bill is a “no-brainer.” This is an indisputable fact.

It is axiomatic that anything you want to outlaw is widespread, on the rise or both. Once reported, the proliferation of said pernicious activity will be re-reported until it becomes “fact,” with or without substantiation. Like elder porn, sexting is alleged to be widespread and increasing. Among many others, CBS News recently told its audience that “roughly 20 percent of teens admit to participating in ‘sexting,’ according to a nationwide survey by the National Campaign to Support Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.” It called sexting “shockingly common.”

Is 20 percent shocking or common? Is the number even accurate? Journalist Debbie Nathan did what every reporter should: She checked the source. Turns out the datum was derived from a grand total of 653 survey respondents ages 13 to 19. These kids were among a randomly selected subgroup of a self-selected pool of 375,000 teens and young adults who have told a polling outfit called TRU that they’re willing to answer online surveys. Of the young people TRU sent questions regarding their electronic sex lives, 90 percent chose not to respond. But 653 teens were moved to disclose, and about one-fifth said they sent sexy self-portraits to lovers and friends.

Bill Albert, the Campaign’s chief program officer, defends the survey’s credibility but stresses that it “represents just one point in time. For all we know, the practice could be decreasing.” Yet sexting prosecutions are proliferating as fast as sexting is rumored to be. And by the time Reinstein’s bill reappears, granny porn will also be recognized as a serious public safety threat, warranting strong laws to combat it. Mark my word.

It is easy to make fun of the Keystone Komstocks who write and enforce vice laws. Yet this recent pair of virtue-rescue missions deserves serious attention because the same misguided principle lurks behind both efforts.

That is, anyone who displays her body in a sexual way cannot possibly be doing so on her own volition. Somebody somewhere must be coercing her to remove her clothes, dance around the pole or aim the camera and press “send.” That the disrober-aimer-sender is usually female only compounds the suspicion that she is not in possession of her own mind and body.

Nearly three decades ago, pro-sex feminists defeated two municipal ordinances enshrining the idea that pornography is violence against women. Adults generally have refused to be protected from self-exhibition for fun or profit. Voyeurism is also a popular entertainment: Commercial pornography, one of the enduring legacies of the sexual-liberation movement, is flourishing. Sexting, you might say, is a 21st-century offspring of both these phenomena. For better or worse, pornographic tropes, including the defining elements of exhibitionism and voyeurism, are part of the lingua franca of teen sexual self-expression. And the digital revolution has turned every girl, boy, woman, man or transperson into a potential pornographer.

These truths are evidently disturbing to America’s upholders of decency. Turning their attentions from adults to children, they’ve vastly expanded the universe of minors in need of supervision. Everywhere, the sexual age of consent has risen from 13 or 14 to 16 or 18. Clipped at the bottom, the age of sexual majority might now be shorn at the top — at 60 — and around the edges, where bodies and minds have differing abilities.

Older and disabled people have long been infantilized, and sexual neutering is part of it. They (or should I say we; I’m 56) are considered cute, weak and dim — also attributes of innocence, which is to say ignorance and incompetence. This condescension shows itself in various forms of discrimination, which has led to the designation of the disabled and people over 40 as “protected classes” — legal categories of people, such as racial or religious minorities, who may suffer discrimination based solely on who they are.

But legal protection often is distorted into legal protectionism. As in anti-sexting and elder-porn laws, that usually means protecting people from themselves.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine a 16-year-old taking a semi-nude picture of herself and sending it to her 17-year-old boyfriend would be prosecuted under child-pornography laws,” Bill Albert told me. Neither, apparently, did Vermont’s legislators. They are now scrambling to carve out an exception to state child-porn laws that decriminalizes the consensual exchange of graphic images between people 13 to 18 years old.

Although skeptics are already worrying that “predators” will get in on the sexting game, I predict the amendment will pass. Vermont has been more lenient to juveniles than have other states. But at the same time, we can expect to see more sexual behaviors criminalized — and more classes of people protected from what might be their own desires. This year, in clauses regarding sex-crimes victims, the phrase “or a person with a mental illness or disability” has been inserted after “a child 13 years of age or under.” That could be a good thing, guarding people who really need it, and Vermont’s legal definition of mental disability is far narrower than Massachusetts’. But who will define the consent of the disabled? And what will we be shielded from next? Baby-boomer porn?

And then, what will the next legal do-over look like, as the state attempts to scrub its politically motivated, unnecessary and harmful sex-crimes laws of their unintended consequences?

Westbrook Jumps on the State For Passing LD 385

Well finally Westbrook has spoken up. They of course are horrified that the state will nullify their over reaching residency restrictions. But I for one think we should all write letters to Westbrook to thank them for putting them in place. Because by doing so they forced the State to sit up and take notice. The State knows they stand to lose the whole Registry because it is being used to punish people who have done their time. Right now there are several cases before the court that we are waiting to hear what they rule. The contention is that it is against the Maine State Constitution to pass laws that hand out additional punishment after someone has already served their time. That's called Ex Post Facto. Both the US and the State constitutions forbid these kinds of laws. So by passing both LD 1157 & LD 385 the State was trying to do damage control and prove the Registry is not being used as punishment that it is only regulatory, like having to register your car.
Below I highlighted a quote in red. In the town counselors own words they state the goals behind their law. It is plain outright banishment! No person deserves that, once the time is over they need to be able to get on with putting their life back on track, to led a law abiding life and not get in trouble again. The registry instead promotes fear and hatred, and promotes vigilantism. While not doing anything to protect a child.

State overturns city sex offender law

By Leslie Bridgers
Reporter - American Journal

WESTBROOK (June 25, 2009): A new state law that establishes boundaries for where convicted sex offenders can live will overturn the more stringent restrictions put in place by Westbrook officials two years ago.[0]

In the municipalities that choose to enact the new law, which will take effect in September, registered sex offenders will be prohibited from residing within 750 feet of a school or any municipally owned building generally used by children.

Westbrook’s ordinance restricts any registered sex offender whose crime was committed against an individual under 18 from living or working within 2,500 feet of a school, child care center or home, park, playground, bowling alley or any other location frequented by children. The ordinance bars these sex offenders from the most densely populated residential and business districts in the city, including all of downtown.

Westbrook officials, who unanimously enacted the ordinance in September 2007, said this week they were unaware of the new law, but not pleased to hear about it.

Council President Brendan Rielly said rules restricting where sex offenders reside is “exactly what should be handled locally,” by officials who know the needs of their communities.

“I think that’s not a really smart use of their time in Augusta,” he said.

“For the legislation to just wipe this away, clearly they do not represent their constituents and that is extremely troubling,” said Councilor John O’Hara.

Both senators who represent Westbrook, Philip Bartlett and Joseph Brannigan, voted in favor of the bill, which passed 22-12. The bill passed through the house without a vote, and Rep. Tim Driscoll, D-Westbrook, said he didn't remember any debate about it. Rep. Ann Peoples, D-Westbrook, did not return a call from the American Journal.

Westbrook’s debate about the ordinance lasted months, went through several revisions and elicited testimony from both sex offenders and victims of sexual assault.

The resulting ordinance, which was supported by the city’s police department, prohibited sex offenders from living or working in the vast majority of the city, save about 2 1/2 miles of Methodist Road, a half mile of Bridgton Road, a half mile of Duck Pond Road and two-thirds of a mile of Brook Street.

About 30 offenders living and working in the city were grandfathered and didn’t have to leave their jobs or homes. Today, Police Chief Bill Baker said, 37 sex offenders live in Westbrook and 15 offenders work in the city. All of them are monitored by the department.

Baker said he is disappointed about the state law, but does think it's a good idea for rules about sex offenders to be the same from one community to the next. He said he'd like the city to adopt the new restrictions soon, in order to start making the necessary enforcement changes in the department.

The bill signed by Gov. John Baldacci this month gives towns and cities the option of enacting local ordinances to prohibit sex offenders from living within 750 feet of a school or other public property primarily used by children. The law is not mandatory and does not automatically apply to every municipality. However, it will supersede any town or city ordinances that are more restrictive, and municipalities will not be allowed to keep or enforce ordinances that are more restrictive.

The catalyst for the law was pressure from the federal government for uniform categories of sex offender laws at the state level, according to Rep. Joe Wagner, D-Lyman. Maine has a waiver that gives the state until July 2011 to hammer out those categories, and he fully expects the issue of restrictive boundaries to be revisited when the categories are debated by legislators during the next session. Wagner said he hopes legislators look at urban and rural areas separately and “they can be adjusted accordingly.”

As originally written, the bill, called An Act To Ensure a Uniform Comprehensive State Policy Regarding Residency Restrictions for Sex Offenders, sponsored by Sen. Anne Haskell, D-Portland, proposed no restrictions on where sex offenders could live. The bill that was eventually passed, Haskell said, was a compromise among the Maine Municipal Association, the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Department of Corrections.

Legislators in favor of the original law not to allow boundaries say statistics show that restricting where sex offenders live does not make children safer, but does the opposite.

“They have a tendency to drive offenders underground,” Haskell said about residency restrictions. “Then you don’t know where they are, which is a more dangerous situation.”

In addition to driving sex offenders off the radar, Haskell said, strict ordinances create a false sense of security.

Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, chairman of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, said he’s attended forums around the country on the subject and heard experts give the same testimony over and over again about the ineffectiveness of residency restrictions on sex offenders.

“It doesn’t give you what you want,” he said. “The argument for having restrictions is purely emotional.”

Gerzofsky said no matter where sex offenders live, they always have the option of driving to another town and parking in front of a school where no one knows who they are. When residents and parents are aware of who they are and where they live, there’s more pressure for them to stay in line, he said.

“I’d put them all downtown across the street from the police station,” Gerzofsky said. “The more people you have staring at you, the more likely you are to behave.”

The parties involved in coming up with a compromise for the bill said no one ended up fully satisfied with the final result.

Kate Dufour, legislative advocate for the Maine Municipal Association, said the original bill would not have allowed cities or towns to have any restrictions on where sex offenders lived or worked – a pre-emption of local control that, she said, “was going way too far.”

Adding the ability for municipalities to establish a 750-foot boundary was the compromise reached, but Dufour said that was far from what she was arguing for.

“Our communities are so diverse,” she said about the municipalities in the state, and because of that, these kinds of laws should be established by “the people who know best what goes on in them.”

Elizabeth Ward Saxl, executive director of the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said her organization believes that neither state nor local officials are the right people to be establishing residency restrictions for sex offenders. She said it should be the job of the probation officers and done on a case-by-case basis, rather than by law.

However, Saxl said, she’s glad to see towns and cities consider the issue and take protecting their residents against sexual assault seriously.

Both Rielly and O’Hara said they will turn to the city’s attorneys to see if there’s any way they can keep the current ordinance in place.

However, Mayor Bruce Chuluda said he wasn’t surprised about the state law and thought the ordinance the council passed was too restrictive.

“I think these folks need to be able to live and work within a community,” he said. “There needs to be some realistic boundaries.

But councilors said they didn’t want that community to be Westbrook. Rielly said had it been constitutional to ban sex offenders from the city entirely, he would have been in favor of doing so.

“If by protecting children we infringe on some so-called rights of criminals,” Rielly said, “I’m fine with that.”

Reporter Ann Fisher also contributed to this article.

Based in Westbrook, Reporter - American Journal Leslie Bridgers can be reached at 207-854-2577 or by e-mail at lbridgers@keepmecurrent.com .

ARC Announces anImportant Radio Show, Please listen

For those that don't know there is an internet Radio show called ARC ( America's Reality Check). They have a variety of guests ranging from authors, mother's of teen RFSOs, Lawyers, Professors etc. Well next Tuesday June 30th they have a special guest. Ron Book will be on live to speak and answer questions. If you are not familiar with who Ron Book is, he is the lawyer/lobbyist who has campaigned for the 2500 ft residency restrictions that have forced many RFSOs to have to live under a bridge in Miami. The other irony to this stituation is that he is also the head of Miami's Homeless Trust. Questions can be send to the e-mail below. Please be respectful when calling in. How he is treated will reflect on the whole RFSO community. But it should be interesting to hear him defend himself and these laws. Tune in Tuesday. For more information on Ron Book Click this LINK.

Hosted by: RealityUSA
Time: 06/30/2009 08:30 PM EDT
Episode Notes: Join us on TUESDAY NIGHT special show at 8:30pm est. Where are guest will be Ron Book who is a Miami attorney and lobbyist from Florida. In 2004, in one of Mr. Books proudest moments, he was awarded the Alvah Chapman Humanitarian of the Year Award for his 12 years of service to the homeless in Miami-Dade County. We at this time are excepting emails from all with questions that we will ask on the show that night. Please keep the questions decent/proper and please have respect to the guest as we hear his side of the issue. Email your questions to AMERICANSREALITYCHECK@GMAIL.COM

For all episodes you can call in or you can get on your Computer or laptop and Listen to the show and participate too.

Phone Number: (724) 444-7444
Call ID: 29521

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Newspaper Article on LD 385, We Need to Be Ready to Fight

Even though the Governor signed LD 385 we need to be ready to fight new bills come September. The towns are not happy with the State telling them what to do. Funny thing is the town of Westbrook isn't even mentioned in this article though the reporter comes from there. Westbrook has such restrictive ordinances on the books that RFSOs living there are on virtual house arrest. They literally have to walk to their car and drive out of town to even go to the supermarket or risk getting arrested. Residency restrictions have not been shown to have prevented one child from being abused. Let's pass laws that prevent abuse not laws based on hysteria!
New state law trumps local sex offender rules
By Ann Fisher
Reporter – The Reporter
link to article

WATERBORO (June 24, 2009): A new state law that establishes boundaries for convicted sex offenders overturns stricter ordinances in Lyman and Waterboro, infuriating local officials.[0]

In the municipalities that choose to enact the new law, which will take effect in September, registered sex offenders will be prohibited from residing within 750 feet of a school or any municipally owned building generally used by children. Waterboro and Lyman both have local ordinances that prohibit registered sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school.

The bill signed by Gov. John Baldacci this month gives towns and cities the option of enacting local ordinances to prohibit sex offenders from living within 750 feet of a school or other public property primarily used by children. The law is not mandatory and does not automatically apply to every municipality. However, it will supersede and town or city ordinances that are more restrictive, and municipalities will not be allowed to keep or enforce ordinances that are more restrictive.

Sen. Jon Courtney, R-Sanford, whose district includes Waterboro and Lyman, said he was “outraged that the state would pre-empt our local ordinances. The state has had multiple opportunities to address this issue before and hasn’t. In the face of the state’s failure to act, many towns and cities have enacted their own ordinances. Lyman and Waterboro are prime examples. Now, the state wants to step in and impose from on high a maximum safe zone of 750 feet? This is a matter for local people … to decide – and many of them have.”

The catalyst for the law was pressure from the federal government for uniform categories of sex offender laws at the state level, according to Rep. Joe Wagner, D-Lyman. Maine has a waiver that gives the state until July 2011 to hammer out those categories, and he fully expects the issue of restrictive boundaries to be revisited when the categories are debated by legislators during the next session. Wagner said he hopes legislators look at urban and rural areas separately and “they can be adjusted accordingly.”

As originally written, the bill, called An Act To Ensure a Uniform Comprehensive State Policy Regarding Residency Restrictions for Sex Offenders, sponsored by Sen. Anne Haskell, D-Portland, proposed no restrictions on where sex offenders could live. The bill that was eventually passed, Haskell said, was a compromise among the Maine Municipal Association, the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Department of Corrections.

“We’re not really thrilled with the way it came out,” said Dennis Abbott, chairman of the Waterboro Board of Selectmen. “We’re looking at how we’re opting in to the new law.”

Former Waterboro Selectman Evan Grover, who was in the forefront of the effort to enact Waterboro's strict ordinance, said, "I'm very disappointed with any compromise or effort to reduce the boundaries we set and approved with Waterboro voters. Waterboro voters were very clear with their vote on this issue and 'home rule' should definitely apply with this ordinance. We need to be less concerned with the rights of sex offenders and more concerned with the rights of our children and other law-abiding residents."

Legislators in favor of the original law not to allow boundaries say statistics show that restricting where sex offenders live does not make children safer, but does the opposite.

“They have a tendency to drive offenders underground,” Haskell said about residency restrictions. “Then you don’t know where they are, which is a more dangerous situation.”

In addition to driving sex offenders off the radar, Haskell said, strict ordinances create a false sense of security.

Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, chairman of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, said he’s attended forums around the country on the subject and heard experts give the same testimony over and over again about the ineffectiveness of residency restrictions on sex offenders.

“It doesn’t give you what you want,” he said. “The argument for having restrictions is purely emotional.”

Gerzofsky said no matter where sex offenders live, they always have the option of driving to another town and parking in front of a school where no one knows who they are. When residents and parents are aware of who they are and where they live, there’s more pressure for them to stay in line, he said.

“I’d put them all downtown across the street from the police station,” Gerzofsky said. “The more people you have staring at you, the more likely you are to behave.”

“Unfortunately, when researching, 2,500 feet was the trip wire for court challenges in Pennsylvania and New Jersey,” said Wagner, who was part of a working group formed to reach the compromise by the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

Because the large distance means there would be so many overlapping concentric circles around offenders in urban areas like Portland, the fear, said Wagner, is that offenders would not register or move to rural areas.

“Twenty-five hundred feet is a little bit short of a half mile,” said Wagner. “The working group said 1,000 feet is better than three footballs fields away. At this point it’s a victory in terms of getting the state to achieve the municipalities’ ability to adopt" compared to the original bill.

Abbott also said there is a big difference when dealing with urban and rural communities when essentially cordoning off an area to make it off limits.

“Seven-hundred and fifty feet barely gets you to Old Alfred Road,” he said, referring to the road that is a short distance from both the Waterboro Elementary School and the Massabesic Middle School. Both schools sit on land flanked by Old Alfred Road on one side and Sokokis Trail (Route 5) on the other. Because of the land area on both schools' grounds, there are not many houses within a 750-foot area, but there are beyond that boundary.

Massabesic High School on West Road is surrounded by even fewer houses. The town’s stringent sex offender ordinance was sparked in 2006 by the unannounced presence on West Road of a registered sex offender, Joseph Tellier, who has since died. Residents were up in arms when they learned Tellier lived within 1,000 feet of the schools. His victim, whom Tellier had beaten, raped and left for dead in 1990, lived in the next town.

"With the new boundries in place, Joseph Tellier could have lived in the same house without issue," said Grover. "Unacceptable."

According to Wagner, the new parameters would only apply to felony offenders whose victims are under the age of 14.

In a letter released before the amendment passed, the Waterboro Board of Selectmen said, “Our community officials were not notified or consulted when placing a potentially dangerous offender next to our district school. The victim was never warned that the man who had committed such heinous crimes against her would be living just minutes from her home just one town away. We were concerned for the safety of our residents and implemented an emergency ordinance to prevent a similar situation in the future.”

In the letter, the Waterboro board said, “Residents of Waterboro enacted a sex offender ordinance with well over 90 percent of our voters approving the measure. Our residents were very aware of what they voted for and were concerned for the safety of our children when the Department of Corrections placed an offender within sight of a district school.”

Courtney didn’t mince words about the situation: “Once again, Augusta is flouting local control.”

Said Grover, "Our lawmakers should be working on reducing the tax burden and leave decisions such as constitutionality of an ordinance up to the court system."

Reporter Leslie Bridgers also contributed to this story.

Based in Westbrook, Reporter – The Reporter Ann Fisher can be reached at 207-854-2577 or by e-mail at afisher@keepmecurrent.com.

SOSEN Video Using Stills, Announcing their Video Project

In this video SOSEN members announce their plans to make a documentary detailing the situation in Miami Florida. As soon as the video is released I will have a copy. I am not sure if I can post it or not but it will be available to groups and others to view. I will let everyone know as soon as it is finished.
This was posted on a forum I belong to by Anita, used with her permission. Thanks Anita!

Dear Julia Tuttle, The Mother of Miami, do you weep?

You, who gave so generously for the prosperity of millions of people by creating this Causeway to Miami, what has become of your endowment?

Did you ever envision that one day, those who became the leaders of this magnificent metropolis would create a city of such wretchedness that even God must be weeping. And they call it, Civil Law. And they call it, Home. Some even call it, Deserving.
What would YOU call it?

I call it a Disgrace to your honorable name. I call it Inhumane. I call it a slur against your Legacy. The city of Miami has created its own Misery City. They have forever tarnished the history of The Julia Tuttle Causeway. The poor souls who are forced to live underneath this now infamous Bridge, They weep. Their families weep. We weep. God weeps. Is this what the lawmakers call, "The Path to Redemption"?

You are called, The Mother of Miami. Surely you weep for what has become of your heritage. Who else will weep with us and recognize how valuable is the dignity of the Human spirit?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Another Shade of Gray

A very good essay about what to do about dealing with Former Offenders and the laws that have been passed in spite of Constitutional and Human Rights Issues. The author of this piece is about to have a book on this subject publish and wrote this as a condensed summery. I am posting this with his written permission. Please respect his copyright and do not re post or blog this without his written permission, which can be obtained by writing to him at sowriter@yahoo.com

Another Shade of Gray

Some Surprising Truths about the Sex Offender Situation

How do we begin to address such an emotionally charged topic? A subject that by and large, is distasteful to most, and directly problematic to all too many. There are few social issues existing today that carry such widely impacting relevance, and are at the same time plagued by such an abundance of myth, misconception, misinformation, myopic motivations, outright lies, and above all – a critical shortage of accurate statistical data.

It would make the most sense to commence with some pertinent, probably somewhat surprising facts - real facts, based on true, complete, and accurate presentation of information revealed by the most extensive studies ever conducted on convicted sexual offenders. Ironically, the United States Department of Justice, the originator of the largest and most comprehensive study, would likely benefit much more by the results coming out, in effect, the opposite of what was revealed. Herein lies one of greatest intrinsic challenges in dealing with child sexual abuse – much of our perception, reaction, statute, and social viewpoint are based not on the truth, but on myth. As an example, it is widely accepted as fact that sex offenders are extremely likely to re-offend. In reality, with the singular exception of murderers (probably because they are usually imprisoned for life or executed,) individuals that have committed sexual crimes against children – once prosecuted, are the least likely group of criminals to commit a similar crime again. (See U.S. DOJ Study @ www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/rsorp94.htm.) Where much of the perceptive distortion may come from, is the actual fact that most offenders against children have committed multiple offenses prior to being caught the first time. This element of truth has routinely been twisted to serve the agendas of a host of entities and organizations that benefit greatly from the public maintaining a universal fear and revulsion of sex offenders.

In this case, it’s an insidious instance of “throwing out the baby with the bathwater.” By reacting legally and socially based on mistaken assumptions, we expend a hugely disproportionate amount of our efforts, energies, and resources on incarcerating, monitoring, supervising, and tracking a population that is relatively harmless. There is not a recognized, significant study instrument existing today, that indicates a recidivism (re-offense) rate higher than 5% among this group of criminals, and some come in as low as 3.4 %! Many will immediately contend that this still constitutes a high enough risk level to warrant the current policies, laws, rights violations, and overall hysteria, “to protect the children!!” Where the myopic rubber meets the road here, is that as sentences, regulations, restrictions, and monitoring have increased, so proportionately has the number of absconded (whereabouts unknown) offenders - and equally significantly, the number of dead and missing children. How is this helping anyone, in any way?

Most are aware that “Meagan’s Law” is the precedent for the majority of today’s sex offender registries, monitoring, and community notification structures nationwide. What may come as a surprise is that there is absolutely no empirical evidence whatsoever that Megan’s or other like-minded laws have prevented anything, or protected anyone, ever. Many law enforcement professionals have gone on record bearing this out. While it has occasionally assisted in the apprehension of a few of the 2 – 5 % of individuals that did choose to re-offend, it can also be argued that those same resources could be applied to better screening, therapy, and public awareness processes, in order to lower that number even more and better detect warning signs - rather than wasting money and punishing many undeserving individuals for the sins of the few. It is difficult to even conceptualize the depths of Mrs. Kanka’s (Megan’s mother) grief or the scope of her family’s loss, and one would hope that very few would ever have to experience that level of tragedy. What must nonetheless be said is this: Laws should never be initiated by grieving families of victims for the above reasons. Having no basis in statistical fact, a “good idea on paper” has turned out to be ineffective, often unconstitutionally restrictive, and in effect counter-productive to its intended purpose (recidivism rates are the same as they were prior to the enactment of any of these laws.) The federal government’s typically inept reaction to this abject failure has been to create “SORNA” (legislation also initiated by an impacted family,) which is just more of the same, on a larger, more comprehensive scale. It reminds one of the tale of the watermelon vendors, selling melons for half of what they paid for them. After a season of losses, they concluded that a larger truck was necessary, so they could make it up next year in increased sales volume! We will not further protect our children by enveloping them in a blanket of false security. Rather, we must face facts and change course drastically if we hope to achieve a real difference – the need is clear for more exhaustive research, and more fitting, productive responses based on truth, not special-interest-serving fear-mongering.

Another hugely unproductive myth is that of “Stranger Danger.” Whether it be in public places, like malls and parks, on the streets, at the movies, wherever – your children are almost 95% safer at any of these locations, than they are in your own home, and the company of family, friends, and others that you actually “know,” and believe to be relatively safe. The explanation is simple – the overwhelming majority of child-related sex offenses are committed by someone known to the parents and the child - not “strangers.” While no one would advocate neglecting safety measures while in public, this merely illustrates yet another dangerous, counter-productive fallacy, that by its very nature, is likely contributive to an ongoing failure in the prevention of offenses that would be less likely to occur in an environment of accurate information.

A Perfect Storm

It’s important to clarify exactly how and why there are so many misconceptions, so much irrational fear and hatred, and such an unhealthy overall climate, which unintentionally contributes to worsening the problem. Simply put, there is a self-perpetuating cycle of misinformation, fear-mongering, knee-jerk reactions, and “feel good” legislation - all of which combine to create an exceptionally ineffective environment on every front of this “war.” It begins and ends with the news media, and our society’s apparent misconceptions about their true purpose. If we keep in mind that most of the media’s actual primary goal is, and always has been, to sell advertising, the overall picture might make more sense. It should come as no surprise that society possesses a certain morbid cultural curiosity around subjects that generally have very little or no direct relevance to most of us. For example, there seems to be something about fire that attracts our collective attention. The same goes for natural disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes, half the globe away. We’re constantly subjected to comprehensive coverage of the horrific of every kind, even though it generally has absolutely no practical impact on any of us, and that we have no intention of doing anything for or about. This seems to be exceedingly apparent with sexually based offenses, especially those committed against children. Almost like peeking at a scary movie through our fingers, we sit transfixed, unable to turn away – despite the heinous and revolting nature of what we’re viewing.

This is precisely what much of the media want and expect of us, and creates the most value benefit for them, in the form of advertising dollars - generated in direct proportion to the size of their audiences. The media have no desire whatsoever to report on what’s most relevant, important, or beneficial to you. Make no mistake, it’s all about the money, and always has been. Increasingly sensational (and often disturbing) stories go hand in hand with larger revenue potentials from bigger audiences.

The evolution and emergence of such an unfortunate dynamic has directly resulted in a precariously misinformed public, having been deliberately misled for profit, at an almost unimaginably high price. Because we’re told to believe that convicted sex offenders are inherently dangerous people that should be watched, regulated, supervised, and avoided if possible, we’re not looking where we should be for danger – within our own circles of family, friends, caregivers, and acquaintances. Meanwhile, we ostracize, revile, demean and disenfranchise a statistically harmless group of human beings.

Thus, the cycle continues with ubiquitous, sensationalistic misinformation, nurturing largely irrational and generally unjustifiable fear, contempt, repugnance, and hatred, all of which results in a devastatingly wasteful misdirection of energies and resources. With the public kept in a constant mindless frenzy of emotional reactivity (often due to atypical but high profile, particularly gruesome incidents,) the stage stays set for grandstanding politicians to step up – spouting rhetoric all having the same ring, “sex offenders are bad people, and we MUST protect our children from them, at ANY COST!”

The glaring error in this is that the vast majority of new-victim sexual offenses are not, repeat, not committed by already convicted sex offenders. Consequently as stated earlier, valuable resources are wasted on a relatively non-dangerous population. Still, the pundits rant on for their own political gain, probably fully cognizant of the pointlessness of what they propose, in order to garner more votes, gain leverage, or trash more level-headed, civil-rights-minded opponents. This prompts generally useless, often Draconian legislation that protects no one, and prevents nothing, but indeed looks “tough on crime” in the media. Public misinformation is then further reinforced, because, surely the lawmakers must know what they’re doing, right? Wrong. The statistics here, while undeniably true, are almost astounding, simply because they appear so foreign from what the media, policies, attitudes and overall current climate would suggest. Figures don’t lie, but liars apparently do figure.

We now come to the next insidious, cancer-like piece of this poisonous pie: The Criminal Justice System. More numerous and stricter laws equal more walls, more bars, more guards, more probation and parole officers - MORE MONEY. With over one million convicted sex offenders living and working among us, some very attractive opportunities present themselves to the ambitious in many professions. After all, who will come to the defense of a sex offender, even when it may involve his or her (the “her” contains a hypocrisy worthy of an entire additional article,) constitutional rights remaining intact? “They don’t deserve rights,” is a fairly common belief among many, largely due to the mass hypnosis continually perpetuated by the media and law enforcement, for their own benefits, not yours. Sex offenders, due to safety concerns, often require special, more expensive housing in jail and prison facilities, higher-priced custody situations for necessary segregation, and smaller scale, more expensive transport, for the same reasons. They often receive longer sentences, and are making up an ever-growing segment of today’s institutional populations. Again, more facilities, jobs, and money for everyone, at the taxpayers’ expense. So, why do the authorities continue to ignore relevant research and real facts? Because it’s profitable to do so. What price does this carry, beyond just dollars and sense? Our children, and many law abiding citizens pay it every day, in decreased safety, misplaced trust, and losses of freedoms.

And finally, we must consider the therapeutic sector’s impacts, interests and implications in this idiotic ideology. One might mistakenly assume that therapy providers would endeavor to act in society’s best interests in order to minimize recidivism rates. Wrong again. Here is yet another area where financial interests outweigh the greater good. Psychologists that treat sex offenders are generally contracted through states’ and counties’ criminal justice systems, and therefore subject not just to intense scrutiny from law enforcement such as probation and parole departments, but actually often must waive standard confidentiality procedures, and even conform their programs to requirements set by authorities. There have been numerous cases, some successful, some thrown out, of offenders being further prosecuted for disclosing additional victims or offenses in “private” therapy sessions. In return for sacrificing professional practices, experience, and ethics, treatment providers are rewarded with almost guaranteed success through lucrative contracts that provide them with a steady stream of long-term, compliant “customers.” So, the actual “customer” becomes the state or county, while offenders and taxpayers foot the bills for substandard, compromised – and consequentially less effective – “treatment.” All this is in seeming opposition to the standard mantra that “there is no cure,” so what actually is the point? It would appear to be an exemplary application of the Orwellian concept of “Double-think,” wherein government and society allow themselves to believe two directly conflicting ideas at the same time, in order to benefit financially and politically. The major costs, obviously, are that the safety and well-being of our children, as well as the constitutional rights of over a million Americans and counting, are being line by line sacrificed to get your vote and strengthen and grow already ineffective systems.

How Do We Fix It?

The solution is two-fold. From the perspective of society and for the victims’ well-being, it is necessary to develop better awareness programs, geared toward warning signs, trauma indicators, and common techniques and typical set scenarios used by offenders to “groom” their potential victims. The most widespread fallacies must be dispelled, such as that of “stranger danger,” vs. “next-door-neighbor danger,” and replaced with solid foundational information, that may actually help prevent offenses, and protect children.

With respect to convicted offenders themselves, more accurate and universal risk-assessment tools must be developed, based on empirical evidence that already does indeed exist, and has thus far just been ignored, or at best, not properly mined. Perhaps the greatest advancement we could make to help decrease the overall aggregate amount of child sexual abuse is to confront the general public with the facts – convicted sex offenders are not inherently dangerous, and their deviances can be successfully managed. This in turn will hopefully engender an environment wherein offenders can come forward to seek the help they need, because again and contrary to popular belief, most are not devoid of conscience, and struggle with deviant behaviors prior to being caught – and are simply not willing to be subjected to the current social branding and vilification that inevitably accompany such disclosures. Instead, they are almost forced to choose to try to deal with their problems on their own, and are consequently likely to commit many more offenses then they would with proper treatment.

It is not being suggested that all be forgiven, and no consequences come to bear, but rather we endeavor to balance them with solution-oriented results in mind, as opposed to the current atmosphere of utter contempt and hatred. We stand at a critical crossroads right now, both socially and legally – we had best tread carefully.

Copyright 2009- sowriter@yahoo.com