Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Supreme Court to hear Packingham case next week

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case next week that could impact the First Amendment rights of registered sex offenders nationwide.

The Marshall Project's Andrew Cohen takes a closer look at the Packingham case.
Lester Gerard Packingham was having a really good day back on April 27, 2010. The North Carolina man had just learned that a traffic ticket against him had been dismissed, so he logged onto his Facebook account and gleefully told the world: “Man God is Good! How about I got so much favor they dismissed the ticket before court even started? No fine, no court costs, no nothing spent… Praise be to GOD, WOW! Thanks Jesus.”
At the same time, Brian Schnee, a police officer in Durham, was doing his job, working to identify registered sex offenders in the state who were accessing sites like Facebook. 
Read the full story here.


Friday, February 17, 2017

FEARLESS meets Monday

The next FEARLESS meeting will be held Monday, February 20, at St. Michael's Lutheran Church, 13232 Blondo Street, in Omaha.

Registered citizens, family and friends are invited to join the discussion and enjoy the support of others in similar, difficult, situations. This month, we'll discuss ways to cope with the fear that comes with being on the registry.

Join the conversation at 7:00 p.m. Monday.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Illinois Court Strikes Sex Offender Park Ban

An Illinois appeals court has found the state's law banning registered sex offenders from setting foot in public parks unconstitutional, because the law criminalizes innocent conduct.

The court's 2-1 ruling reverses the conviction of a registrant who was convicted of walking his dog in a park.
“We hold that section 11-9.4-1(b) is facially unconstitutional because it is not reasonably related to its goal of protecting the public, especially children, from individuals fitting the definition of a child sex offender or a sexual predator,” Justice Mary McDade wrote for the majority. “Nor is it drafted in such a way as to effect that goal without arbitrarily stripping a wide swath of innocent conduct and rights he has as a citizen and taxpayer from a person who has paid the penalty for his crime.”
Read more at Courthouse News.

Read the ruling here.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Iowa considering separate facility for aging sex offenders

The state of Iowa is considering building a facility to house and care for elderly sex offenders. According to a report in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, the director of the state's Department of Corrections, Jerry Bartruff, supports the idea.
That’s because finding places for elderly sex offenders to live after they’ve served their time in prison is very difficult, Bartruff said Monday during a community forum in Coralville. Iowa recently had three sex offenders who had served their time, but because they had no place to go, died behind bars.
Perhaps they'd have more options were it not for the state's residency restrictions.
Social workers help offenders find places to live at least 2,000 feet from schools and child care centers, as well as assist with identifying transportation, health care and a guardian, if necessary. If the offender has health needs, such as dementia, diabetes or depression, he may need nursing care. 
Read the full article here.


Report questions effectiveness of sex offender registries

Writing for the Sentinel of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, reporter Joshua Vaughn questions the effectiveness of sex offender registries -- especially since most new sex crimes are committed by first-time offenders.
The Sentinel reviewed more than 450 charged sex crime cases in Cumberland, Dauphin, Perry, Franklin and Adams counties in 2016 and found only 15 cases where the defendant was on the registry at the time of the offense.More than 96 percent of all sex crime cases in those five counties involved defendants who were not on the sex offender registry.“You can look at that and say ‘people on the registry aren’t committing sex crimes,’” Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed said.
Read more of Vaughn's report in the Sentinel.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Really, what are traveling pedophiles?

A response to New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith, who released a statement marking the one year anniversary of the passage of International Megan's Law.
According to Smith who met with a delegation from Thailand which included Ambassador Pisan Manawapal and representatives for the Royal Thai Police, gratitude for the law was expressed. Purportedly 160 convicted sex offenders tried to enter Thailand during the past year. Worldwide 1,780 notifications of “pedophile travel” were sent to 64 countries, particularly those known to be destinations for child sex tourism.Now, my first issue is with Mr.Smith’s terminology.  He seems to believe that all sex offenders are pedophiles and then, to stir the pot even more, has drummed up a scary new term, “traveling pedophile”.I would think one needs to be somewhat educated to be a state representative, but Mr. Smith may prove me wrong here.
Read more here

Friday, February 10, 2017

Committee hears testimony on LB 60

The Nebraska Legislature's Judiciary Committee heard testimony regarding LB 60. Senator Brett Lindstrom introduced the bill as a reaction to a state Supreme Court decision that allowed a mother to maintain custody of her two daughters after she married a registered sex offender. The girls' father had sued for custody.
A district court rejected the father's request, and a four-justice majority on the Nebraska Supreme Court in August upheld the ruling, finding that the father didn't prove his ex-wife's new husband posed a risk to the girls.Lindstrom's measure would shift that burden of proof to the parent or guardian who allows a registered sex offender to spend unsupervised time with a child. It starts with the presumption that living with or otherwise spending unsupervised time with a sex offender is not in a child's best interest.The bill also would require everyone with custody or access rights to be notified that a sex offender is living with or has unsupervised access to the child.
Read more about Thursday's hearing online in the Lincoln Journal-Star