Sunday, April 20, 2008

Judge frees out-of-state sex offenders, posted by Robert Paisola

FL- Judge frees out-of-state sex offenders

Posted: 20 Apr 2008 02:14 PM CDT

Interesting here is, this judge ruled that the "Commerce Clause" has nothing to do with sex offender registration. This I said when the Madera case was first brought up. Also see the discussions at SexCrimes and Sentencing Law and Policy The news report is not clear on what the judges grounds were so click on the link to the decision below.

He rules that making them register if they move to another state is unconstitutional.

4-20-2008 Florida:

An Orlando federal judge has ordered the release of two jailed, out-of-state sex offenders who moved to Florida, ruling that part of the Adam Walsh Act requiring their registration is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell on Friday ruled (U.S. -v- Powers) that the 2006 federal law requiring state sex offenders to register with law-enforcement officials when they move across state lines was largely a local issue.

The ruling, made in two unrelated sex-offender cases pending in Orlando, led to the dismissal of charges against Robert D. Powers, 43, and Tommy William Buckius, 60, both of Orlando. Powers was released Friday from the Seminole County Jail, but Buckius remained in the Orange County Jail.

Powers was convicted in 1995 in South Carolina of sexual assault, freed in 1997 and later arrested for failing to register as a state sex offender. In 2002, he registered in North Carolina but absconded in 2005 and did not register with Florida authorities when he repeatedly visited Orlando in the late 1990s and lived with his mother in 2007.

This comment implies that RSOs are supposed to register any
time they cross state lines and that is not in any law nor has the issue been raised before.

Buckius, who pleaded guilty to the attempted rape of a 13-year-old Ohio girl in 1986, was freed from prison there in 2000 and later registered as a sex offender. He previously was convicted of assault with intent to commit rape in Texas in 1973, court records show. But in November 2006, Buckius moved from Liverpool, Ohio, and did not notify local authorities of his new address. He was documented living in Orlando as early as March 2007 and arrested in February 2008.

Assistant Federal Public Defenders Michelle Smith and Stephen Langs argued that Congress lacked the authority to force state sex offenders solely convicted of local offenses to register. Powers had an IQ of 68, a second-grade reading level and did not understand state sex-offender forms he had signed, Smith argued.

They also contended both men were convicted of crimes before the new law was passed and should not be subjected to them. But federal prosecutors argued that an Attorney General's rule applied to sex offenders before the new took effect in 2007.

Known as the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, it was passed in honor of Adam Walsh, a South Florida boy killed in 1981. It was designed to help identify up to 200,000 unaccounted-for sex offenders nationwide.

Failing to register carries a prison term of up to 10 years. The law requires states to notify all sex offenders in or out of prison about the federal provision, but Florida has yet to comply with the new federal rules deadline of July 2009.

"The Adam Walsh Act was enacted with a commendable goal -- to protect the public from sex offenders," Presnell wrote. "However, a worthy cause is not enough to transform a state concern [sex-offender registration] into a federal crime."

Ironically, three other Central Florida federal judges have upheld the law's constitutionality in other cases, though one last year said he wished he could have dropped the case the next day if the suspect had registered. He sentenced the suspect to probation.

Presnell's problem with the federal law centered on the "mere unrelated travel in interstate commerce" to link it with local criminal conduct. Such reasoning would subject virtually all criminal activity to federal scrutiny, he wrote.

"Surely, our founding fathers did not contemplate such a broad view of federalism," Presnell wrote. ..more.. by Jim Leusner can be reached at or 407-420-5411.
Sex Offender Research, Recidivism and the Truth

Do Sex Offender Registration and Notification Laws Affect Criminal Behavior?


In recent decades, sex offenders have been the targets of some of the most far-reaching and novel crime legislation in the U.S. Two key innovations have been registration and notification laws which, respectively, require that convicted sex offenders provide valid contact information to law enforcement authorities, and that information on sex offenders be made public. Using detailed information on the timing and scope of changes in state law, we study how registration and notification affect the frequency of sex offenses and the incidence of offenses across victims, and check for any change in police response to reported crimes. We find evidence that registration reduces the frequency of sex offenses by providing law enforcement with information on local sex offenders. As we predict from a simple model of criminal behavior, this decrease in crime is concentrated among local victims (e.g., friends, acquaintances, neighbors), while there is little evidence of a decrease in crimes against strangers. We also find evidence that community notification deters crime, but in a way unanticipated by legislators. Our results correspond with a model in which community notification deters first-time sex offenses, but increases recidivism by registered offenders due to a change in the relative utility of legal and illegal behavior. This finding is consistent with work by criminologists suggesting that notification may increase recidivism by imposing social and financial costs on registered sex offenders and making non-criminal activity relatively less attractive. We regard this latter finding as potentially important, given that the purpose of community notification is to reduce recidivism. ..more.. by J.J. PRESCOTT, University of Michigan Law School -and- JONAH E. ROCKOFF, Columbia University - Columbia Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Sex Offender Research, Recidivism and the Truth

NH- Innocent shouldn't have to submit DNA

To cries of "war on terrorism" and "protect women and children from sex offenders," society has begun marching into a Brave New World where privacy and civil liberties go to the end of the line in hopes of achieving safety. Another corner was turned in that march last week when the U.S. government announced that it is about to begin collecting DNA samples, not just from people convicted of a federal crime, but of illegal immigrants, whose offenses are typically civil, not criminal, and anyone, citizen or not, arrested on suspicion of having committed a federal crime. The rule applies to all federal agents with law enforcement authority, including the IRS and the National Park Service.

Out with old notions like "right to privacy" and "innocent until proven guilty" and into a federal database that some people hope will eventually contain the genetic code of every person in the nation. This is a clock that must be turned back, or liberty will be lost. As Benjamin Franklin said two centuries ago in a quotation that appears in many variations, "They who give up an essential liberty for temporary security will deserve neither and lose both."

Most states already collect a DNA sample from people convicted of serious crimes, and 13 are busily building their databases by collecting samples from arrestees. In a few states, Florida, for example, police take cheek swabs of suspicious persons and people stopped for traffic violations, even if they aren't subsequently arrested, an act that seems like a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure.

Until now, New Hampshire has not routinely collected the DNA of people convicted of a crime, but that will change if the Senate approves a bill that's already passed the House. The bill requires the collection of DNA sample from felons.

While it may make sense to collect and store the DNA of some classes of criminals, repeat juvenile sex offenders, for example, or those who have committed truly serious crimes, it should not be done routinely for all felons including teenagers convicted of drug felonies who would be put in the database for life. The bill, as written, would also apply to juvenile sex offenders, though they are tried in a process that doesn't accord them all the constitutional protections afforded an adult. Once again, the bill goes too far.

There are innumerable problems with the government's expansion of its DNA database to include people who are arrested but never convicted. The government should not have the right to possess the fundamental genetic identifiers of innocent people. The DNA of people who are found innocent will supposedly be destroyed. But even if government could be trusted to destroy it, the information will appear in too many places and be too deeply embedded to be removed permanently or affordably.

The desire to expand the database also provides a big incentive for law enforcement to arrest people they don't plan to try, in order to have their DNA "just in case." Nor should any database be considered absolutely secure - as the government's ample history of lost laptop computers bearing classified information and the hijacking of the credit card numbers of people who shop at supermarkets and other stores proves. The DNA information, after all, would be accessible by myriad law enforcement officers, and the genetic data it contains will be valuable.

The DNA information is said to be in a form that wouldn't allow an insurance company to screen customers for predilection to serious disease, but that claim is in dispute and the technology to extract information is improving rapidly.

The public has two weeks to comment on the DNA policy, which is scheduled to appear soon as a proposed rule in the Federal Register. It should resoundingly tell Congress that it doesn't want government to collect and keep on file the genetic codes of innocent people. ..more.. by Monitor staff
Sex Offender Research, Recidivism and the Truth

KY- Website Entices Chatters To Solicit Sex From Minors, Then Posts Their Personal Info Online

The FBI says a civilian website dedicated to exposing potential pedophiles goes too far. But the website's creator says they're just trying to protect your children. Now the mother of a Louisville man targeted by the group talks about how the experience changed her life. WAVE 3 Investigator Eric Flack has the story.

There's no question that pedophiles online are a problem. It's a problem Xavier Vonerck, director of a website called Perverted-Justice wants to eradicate. "These people are everywhere."

The question is how far is too far to catch a predator? That's what one woman wants to know after her son's name and other personal information was posted on the site. The woman, who asked that she not be identified, says "My son's not a pedophile."

The website serves as a home base for a network of civilians who lurk in chatrooms and pose as underage kids, baiting adults into asking them for sex, often bringing up the idea before their targets do. They keep a record of the conversation, often asking for the target's phone number to set up a future meeting. That information is then verified and posted on the site, along with the target's picture and a copy of the chat session.

Her son, who used the online chat handle "KY Fire Guy," had his picture and phone number posted on the website, next to an archived chat session with a girl he thought was 13. His mother says she thinks "they trapped him into saying things he did say."

"Have you ever had sex before," he asks. The response: "yes."

"Want to when I come see you?" the firefighter says. "Sure, if you do."

Then later, it's the website staffer who says: "You're going to sex me up?"

"KY Fire Guy" writes back: "Yeah, if you can handle it baby," asking his new friend for "wild sex."

Vonerck spoke with us by phone, defending the website's tactics. "I should be able to send in a person to any one of these rooms and they should be able to say whatever they want as a 13-year-old and get no reaction."

Vonerck says "a reasonable man would not respond positively to any form of sex talk with a 13-year-old."

But FBI spokesman David Beyer told us the tactics used by the staffers at are over the line. "Anytime the public gets involved in something of this nature, they run the risk of civil liability, perhaps criminal liability. They have the potential of identifying the wrong person."

After the website posted the phone number for "KY Fire Guy," his mother says "in a period of about two to three days there were over 600 phone calls."

"KY Fire Guy" lived with his mom when he was targeted, so it was her phone number that ended up on the website, which led to people being able to find her home address. "We were told they found our address and we needed to watch our backs when we left the house."

"KY Fire Guy" has left the state. "His picture was on the Internet. It said, 'this is a pedohpile.' Wouldn't that ruin your life?"

At one point, "Ky Fire Guy" posted a response to Perverted-Justice, writing that he hated himself for what he had tried to do, and thanking the website for forcing him to seek help.

But on the night the story aired on WAVE 3, he said the website made everything up, and that he has had to change his appearance and phone number because of all the harassment. ..more.. by Eric Flack

We normally think of a trial by jury as one of the individual rights afforded to persons accused of a crime. It is also, as we have seen, a right that is institutional as well — one that belongs to the people as a whole as well as to the individual. But jury trials, as has been all too evident in dictatorships, can be meaningless unless that trial is governed by rules that ensure fairness to the individual. A trial in which the judge allows illegally seized evidence to be used, or in which the defendant has no access to an attorney, is forced to testify against himself, or is denied the ability to bring witnesses favorable to his cause, is not a trial that meets the standard of due process of law. The men who drafted the Bill of Rights knew this, not only from their experience during the Colonial era, but also from the history of Great Britain, which ever since the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 had been committed to expanding the rule of law. ..much much much more.

So, does Perverted Justice live up to it's name, I'll leave the answer to my readers?
Sex Offender Research, Recidivism and the Truth

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