Thursday, May 25, 2017

Podcast explores job security for ex-felons and registered sex offenders

The latest Solitary Nation podcast explores the vexing problem ex-felons -- especially registered sex offenders -- have finding steady employment.
Host, Matt Duhamel talks with Carolyn Esparza about his horrific experience with a Pacific Northwest employer over his criminal record from 10 years ago. Moving from Utah to Washington to take a full-time position with the company,                    , Matt faced major backlash within a matter of days due to his past. Though he admits he only provided the half truth about his crime, both Matt and Carolyn agree that the company and their CEO,             , handled the situation poorly.
Click here to listen to the Solitary Nation podcast.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

On the risk posed by those who view child porn

Forensic psychologist Karen Franklin writes a thought-provoking blog post about the prevalence and potential dangers of online pornography.

She also writes that those who view child pornography don't pose a high risk of committing contact sexual offenses.
The fact that reported child sexual abuse has continued to plummet in recent years despite the meteoric rise in child pornography argues against any direct causal link between child porn and hands-on offending. But direct research on child porn consumers is tricky, because such people are less than keen to reveal themselves. This has forced researchers to focus on those who have been apprehended, likely skewing data toward the more deviant and criminally-oriented. 
Despite this limitation, the cumulative data bring good tidings: Overall, men who have been arrested and/or convicted for child pornography offending pose a very low risk to the public. 
Aggregating nine extant studies on reoffense risk using meta-analytic methods, prominent pedophilia researcher Michael Seto and colleagues found that, on average, a man who has been caught with child porn has about a 3.4% chance of committing another non-contact offense. The risk he will actually molest a child is even lower, around 2%.
These extremely low risk levels -- especially for child pornography offenders with no known history of hands-on offending -- is further evidence that much of their misconduct is driven by curiosity and internet-enhanced impulsivity. Once caught, all but the most deviant learn their lesson and apparently refrain from further misconduct
You can read Franklin's post here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Lawsuit against Idaho registry includes more than 130 plaintiffs

A lawsuit filed last year on behalf of 104 registered sex offenders challenging provisions of Idaho's sex offender registry has expanded to now include 134 plaintiffs.

The lawsuit alleges the state's sex offender registry laws violate several constitutional guarantees -- including double jeopardy, due process, equal protection, religious freedom, and cruel and unusual punishment.
The plaintiffs come from across the state and country. Most were convicted of sexual offenses in the 1980s and 1990s. One of their major complaints is that amendments since then to Idaho’s sex-offender registry laws amount to retroactive punishment, which is unconstitutional.
Read more about the lawsuit in the Idaho Statesman.

Sanity returns to Missouri, at least for now

Hundreds of registered sex offenders in Missouri will be able to remove GPS monitors, thanks to a court injunction against a state law that took effect on January 1. 

As reported in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
The Department of Corrections Board of Probation and Parole said it installed 364 GPS ankle monitors on sex offenders in April because of new security requirements. This was done even though lifetime monitoring was not part of their sentencing agreement.
Officials told them the retroactive requirements are part of a revised state criminal code that went into effect Jan. 1. Offenders who either were found guilty or pleaded guilty to various sex crimes based on an act committed on or after Aug. 28, 2006, were subject to the added security measures.
Read the full article here.

MN sex offenders ask Supreme Court to rule on civil commitment

A group of registered sex offenders in Minnesota is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule whether that state's civil commitment program violates the U.S. Constitution.
In a petition filed Friday, attorneys representing the offenders allege that the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) infringes on their fundamental due process rights by operating a program without the basic safeguards of the criminal justice system -- effectively turning the MSOP into a "life sentence." Offenders, the petition argues, lack timely access to the courts and the opportunity for regular reviews to determine whether they still pose a danger to the public or deserve to be released.
Read more here.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Legislature approves harsher human trafficking penalties

The Nebraska Legislature has approved a bill (LB 289) that stiffens penalties for human trafficking. As reported in the Omaha World-Herald:
State lawmakers last week passed a bill that dramatically increases penalties for those who create the supply and demand for human trafficking. A minimum of one year in prison is likely for panderers and solicitors in such transactions. If children are exploited, both the pimps and johns could spend the rest of their lives in prison.
No senators voted against the bill, though some did raise questions about it, including whether or not it will be effective.
“As a general rule, where there is a demand, a supply will develop,” said State Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus, a former prosecutor. “It may be a bit of a deterrent, but a solution it probably isn’t.”
Advocates and experts say they are unaware of research that would show whether tougher punishments produce a noticeable drop in trafficking activity. While more scientific studies on human trafficking are being done, it’s still a growing area of research, one said.
Read more in the Omaha World-Herald.

Text of LB 289

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Fmr. Congressman pleads guilty; now sex offender

In the news, former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner faces a prison term after pleading guilty in federal court to sending obscene text messages to a minor. 

Regardless of the sentence he receives in September, Weiner will have to register as a sex offender, becoming subject to the same draconian laws he helped pass when he was a Congressman.

In a heartfelt letter in the New York Daily News, Josh Gravens welcomes Weiner to his new life as a registered citizen.
I hope you have a great deal of money saved up. You will need it. Lucrative employment and housing options are nearly nonexistent for those forced to have their worst moments forever enshrined in what is our modern-day scarlet letter list: the public sex offender registry.
Even with access to money and connections, you will still share in the stigma that more than 800,000 other people in this country face daily (others registered include those who peed in a park, older teen with younger teen scenarios, kids as young as 9 or 10, those entrapped by officers pretending to be women online using bait-and-switch, as well as the more commonly assumed reasons for registration — assault, rape and child abuse).
You will probably have restrictions on where you can live and where you can physically be or drive. So many areas are potentially off-limits: parks, schools, places near a daycare or movie theater. Remember, you helped to pass these laws. Will people be any safer now that they are to be enforced on you?
No, society won't be any safer because Anthony Weiner -- or anyone -- is a registered sex offender. Hopefully he'll be able to return to leading a productive life after completing his sentence.