Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Former U.S. House Speaker Hastert sentenced to 15 months in prison

Former U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was sentenced Wednesday to 15 months in prison for violating banking laws. 

Hastert was accused of making illegal cash withdrawals after agreeing to pay $3.5 million to keep secret sexual abuse allegations from Hastert's days as a high school wrestling coach in Illinois.

The Chicago Tribune reports the judge had harsh words for the 74-year-old Hastert during Wednesday's hearing.
U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin called Hastert a "serial child molester" and said he would have given a lengthier prison term if not for Hastert's age and declining health.
Hastert was not charged with a sex offense, but admitted to those accusations.
Shortly before learning his sentence, Hastert had admitted for the first time that he sexually abused boys decades ago when he was the wrestling coach for Yorkville High School. 
Hastert approached the microphone in court and apologized to those he victimized, saying he "mistreated athletes." Durkin then asked directly if Hastert sexually abused the victims.
"Yes," Hastert finally said.
 The 15 month sentence was more than the six months prosecutors had asked for. Hastert's attorney had requested a term of probation, citing Hastert's age and ill health.

When he was in Congress, and during his time as speaker, Hastert pushed for harsh sentences for child molesters.
In Congress, Hastert supported the Child Abuse Prevention and Enforcement Act of 2000, which among other measures, sought to prevent and punish the sexual abuse of minors.
And in 2003, when Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart was recovered after being kidnapped, sexually assaulted and held captive for nine months, Hastert took a strong stance in a statement.
"It is important to have a national notification system to help safely recover children kidnapped by child predators," he said. "But it is equally important to stop those predators before they strike, to put repeat child molesters into jail for the rest of their lives and to help law enforcement with the tools they need to get the job done."

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Government seeks dismissal of IML lawsuit

The federal government has filed a motion seeking dismissal of the court challenge to International Megan's Law. 


The government’s motion is based upon allegations that the plaintiffs in the case lack standing and that the challenge to the addition of a unique identifier to passports is not yet ripe.
“The government’s Motion to Dismiss the IML lawsuit must be taken seriously,” stated CA RSOL president Janice Bellucci. “The motion, however, is not based upon legal precedent but instead upon wishful thinking.” In its motion, the government argues that plaintiffs lack standing because “they do not face a certain impending injury.”

You can read the full text of the motion to dismiss here.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Kansas Supreme Court overrules itself in series of rulings on sex offender registry

In a confounding series of rulings Friday, the Kansas Supreme Court overturned three of its own decisions in ultimately ruling that lifetime registration for convicted sex offenders is not punitive.

From the Kansas City Star's report:
In three separate opinions issued Friday, the court found 2011 changes to the sex offender registry law cannot be applied retroactively to offenders convicted before the law took effect.But then in a fourth opinion, also released Friday, the court found that those rulings were incorrect.Attorneys across the state said they couldn’t recall a situation where the court reversed itself in rulings issued on the same day.
Read more here, here, and here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Protecting the right of registered citizens to travel

The ability of registered citizens to travel internationally - already a hit-or-miss proposition – figures to be further impeded with the recent passage and pending implementation of International Megan’s Law.

The Registrant Travel Action Group (RTAG) has been formed to fight laws affecting the right of registrants to travel internationally, and to serve as a source of information about federal and state laws.

Here is a link to the organization’s website. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Registry scars kids for life

In an op-ed for The Crime Report, Center on Youth Registration Reform founder Nicole Pittman writes of the horrendous toll being on a sex offender registry – even ones that are not public - does to children who are forced to register.
Approximately 200,000 of the more than 800,000 registered citizens in the United States were juveniles when they were first listed.
They experienced social isolation, and were often physically banished from their homes and communities by invisible barriers. As adults, they struggled to find jobs because of their status and were required to regularly check in with law enforcement. Failure to report even a minor change in their life situation could result in a felony charge that would send them to prison.
Of the kids I interviewed, one in 5 had attempted to take their own lives. Many I never had the chance to talk with succeeded in doing so.
As with adult offenders, the vast majority of juvenile offenders will not commit new sex crimes. Pittman points out there is no benefit to listing children on the registry.
Tracking hundreds of thousands of registrants for entire lifetimes is a costly burden to law enforcement. The conservative Washington, DC-based R Street Institute recently conducted an economic analysis  revealing this practice costs as much as $3 billion a year and has virtually no economic or societal benefit.
Decades of research definitively show it’s ineffective at best, and counterproductive at worst. Meanwhile, 11 states and the District of Columbia have never subjected kids to registration—with the same or lower new offense and recidivism rates.

Many states are beginning to reconsider the practice of listing children on sex offender registries. It remains to be seen whether any reforms take root, and whether reform extends to adult as well as juvenile registrants.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Work-From-Home Employment Opportunity

Registered Citizens have an employment opportunity with a company called HomePro. The company provides at-home telemarketing reps to do mostly survey work. It's not a difficult job, and it can be a stepping stone to better opportunities, as it is generally easier to find a job if you already have a job. 

The company began in Illinois, but it can now hire people from anywhere in the U.S.

Here is what HomePro says about the minimum qualifications:

1. Must have a good, reliable computer (Windows 7 or higher).

2. Must have a good, high-speed internet connection (Cable internet, DSL, etc. Unfortunately, 4g probably won't work). All calls are made from the computer, so no phone is necessary.

3. Must have a quiet place in their home from where they can work.

4. Must be able to read and follow a script and have a pleasant phone voice.

5. We're looking for people who are willing to work, have flexibility in their schedule, and are willing to commit to at least 20 hours per week.

6. Parole/probation is fine, as long as they are legally able to use the computer and internet (including email).

7. We do not inquire about background, and we do not do background checks.

The work schedule varies depending on the needs of the client. Currently, HomePro is doing a lot of afternoon/evening work, but again, that can vary week to week. All workers are hired as employees, not contractors. HomePro currently pays $8.50/hour.

Anyone interested should complete an application on the website (click here). If you have questions, send an email to HomePro is looking to add at least 20 people in the next few weeks.

Is Law Enforcement Making Your Community More Dangerous? Learn About It Tonight at FEARLESS

Be at FEARLESS tonight and learn about the findings of University of Nebraska at Omaha research into the many varying ways Nebraska state law is enforced at the local level. Some highlights:

  • Implementation of Nebraska law on Registered Citizens varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Often, implementation practices influence the attitudes of children and other family members toward police.
  • It is possible that law enforcement behavior negatively affects public safety because some of their practices might encourage re-offending.
Lisa Sample, PhD, Reynolds Professor and Masters Program Coordinator at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at UNO, will present her research findings at FEARLESS tonight, Monday, April 18. Please join us for this informative session at 7 p.m. at Saint Michael Lutheran Church, 13232 Blondo Street, Omaha. We meet in the lower level -- come in through the east entrance.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Judge denies request to halt implementation of IML

While the lawsuit against International Megan's Law continues, a federal judge has refused a request to halt implementation of the law.

Courthouse News Service reports on the decision by U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton.
Following a hearing last month, U.S. District Chief Judge Phyllis Hamilton on Wednesday rejected a motion to halt implementation of the law, saying that while domestic travel may be a fundamental right, there is no such right to international travel.     Moreover, she wrote, a timeline for implementation isn't even in the works at this point, and the State Department said it isn't prepared to start placing identifiers on U.S. passports. The department says its best estimate to begin marking sex offenders' passports is sometime around the end of 2016.
Janice Bellucci, president of California Reform Sex Offender Laws, is representing plaintiffs in the case. Read her response to Judge Hamilton's decision here.

Click here to read Judge Hamilton's full decision.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Family of inmate killed in Tecumseh prison riot sues state

The family of one of the inmates killed in last year's riot at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institute has filed a wrongful death suit against the state. The Lincoln Journal-Star reports the family of Shon Collins is seeking $1.2 million in damages.

Shon Collins, 46, was one of two sex offenders beaten to death -- presumably by other inmates -- late May 10 or early May 11 at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution. His mother filed a wrongful death claim against the state earlier this year, alleging the prison’s employees and administrators were responsible because they failed to contain, control or stop the 11-hour riot.
“His untimely death was the result of neglect due to one or more of the following reasons by the employees of the facility: failure to protect, failure to sufficiently staff, failure to warn, or failure to properly manage the facility,” his mother, Susan Collins, wrote in the tort claim filed in late January.
She continued: “The officials at the Tecumseh Prison and at the Nebraska State Department of Corrections knew there was a problem with overcrowding and under-staffing, which also led to Shon Collins’ untimely death.”

UNO Professor, FEARLESS Shine a Light on Nebraska Law Enforcement Practices

Vague state laws often open the door to local enforcement abuses.

There are wide variances in how state laws applying to Registered Citizens are enforced from county to county in Nebraska, according to research by Lisa Sample, PhD,  Reynolds Professor and Masters Program Coordinator at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Nebraska state laws on Registered Citizens do not make anyone safer (in fact they make communities more dangerous), and local enforcement practices are a patchwork of activities, some of which might be questioned on legal grounds.

Dr. Sample will present her findings at FEARLESS on Monday, April 18. Please join us for this informative session at 7 p.m. Monday, April 18, 2016 at Saint Michael Lutheran Church, 13232 Blondo Street, Omaha. We meet in the lower level -- come in through the east entrance.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

State says it will appeal decision to not list 13-year-old on sex offender registry

The Nebraska Attorney General's office says it will appeal a judge's decision to not list a 13-year-old boy on the state's sex offender registry.

The boy was 11 when he was adjudicated for criminal sexual conduct in Minnesota. He subsequently moved to live with family in Nebraska and the state moved to list the boy on the sex offender registry. Last month, Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf ruled the state could not do that. The state plans to appeal that decision.
Josh Weir, the family's attorney, called the attorney general's decision to appeal shameful; "An absolute waste of time, energy and resources."
Had he stayed in Minnesota, the boy would have been on a part of the registry available only to law enforcement. In Nebraska, all names on the registry are public.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Abolish registry - for everyone

In a provocative essay in Counterpunch, Judith Levine and Erica Meiners argue that the laudable push to remove juveniles from sex offender registries does not go far enough. They say the registries should be abolished for everyone - adults as well as children.
We need to care about children—both those who commit harm and those who experience of harm. But we must not build movements that collude with a system that deems only some people—due to age, race, sex, gender expression, sexuality or criminal status—worth of compassion, justice, and life. For justice and for an end to violence, it’s time to abolish the sex offender registry.
Levine and Meiners also connect efforts to reform or abolish sex offender registries with the wider criminal justice reform movement.

Read the full essay here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Great read: The ballad of Fred and Yoko

From the Arkansas Times, a wonderful account of the life of a homeless registered sex offender and Beatles aficionado. Check out the remarkable story of Fred Arnold, who died last December after he was struck by a van.
"The fact that he was on the sex offender list does not minimize his worth as a person."

Saturday, April 2, 2016

How accurate is the sex offender registry?

Many people believe that sex offender registries protect their families from sexual predators. But how accurate is the information on the registries? That’s the question posed by an article the Argus-Leader of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The newspaper reports that Dakota RSOL Family Solutions recently sent letters to every address on the registry, other than those who aren’t in jail.
Of the 2,100 letters the group sent out, 166 were returned. That’s about 8 percent.Of those, 63 were returned “not deliverable as addressed,” another 70 were labeled “no mail receptacle.” Three letters came back “vacant,” seven were returned from South Dakota Employment, two were refused, another three were stamped “moved” and four returned letters said the addressee had deceased. Fourteen others came back for unknown reasons.
 The advocacy group is not the only one that has trouble with incorrect addresses – so does the agency that keeps track of registered citizens.
 Each month, the DCI sends out letters of its own, although not to every address. In January, 12 of the agency’s 246 address verification letters – about 5 percent - were returned, Rabern said. About seven percent of the February letters came back – 15 of 215.
State officials disclaim any responsibility for address errors. Still, one might ask how many unsuspecting people across the nation might have their address mistakenly listed on a sex offender registry. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Florida sex offender's sentence commuted

In a good news story from Florida, a 37-year-old man who was initially charged with a "Romeo-and-Juliet" offense when he was 20, has had his sentence commuted. Florida's governor and cabinet granted conditional release to Carlos Manuel Delgado - more than 13 years before his sentence was to end.
In a rare action, Florida’s top elected officials voted Tuesday to commute Delgado’s sentence and allow him to go free. This is only the fourth sentence commuted in the last five years, according to state records.
Delgado will have to spend six months in a halfway house and complete six months probation, and if he completes that time offense-free, officials say they plan to grant him a full pardon. That would relieve him of the obligation to register as a sex offender. How many others are on Florida's sex offender registry for similar offenses?

Read the full story from the Bradenton Herald.

Read more here:

Judge considers request to halt implementation of IML

A U.S. District Judge has yet to rule on a request for a preliminary injunction to halt implementation of the International Megan's Law. Courthouse News Service reports that Chief Judge Phyllis Hamilton heard arguments Wednesday in San Francisco.

Attorney Janice Bellucci is representing plaintiffs in the lawsuit seeking to overturn the law, which requires the government to place a "unique identifier" on the passports of certain registered sex offenders.
   Bellucci argued that the passport identifier is unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds.     While a passport constitutes government speech, the identifying mark would constitute compelled speech, she said.     "If the government limited that identifier to people who've been convicted of child-sex trafficking or tourism, we'd be okay with that," Bellucci said.     "But just because somebody is on a sex-offender registry does not indicate that they're likely to engage in trafficking or tourism."
The law also requires the Department of Homeland Security to notify foreign governments when a registered sex offender visits their country.

Judge Hamilton did not immediately rule on the request for a preliminary injunction.