Friday, December 23, 2016

Sex offenders say Illinois parole system is broken

A group of registered sex offenders have filed a federal lawsuit in Chicago, saying residence restrictions keep them in prison even after they've been granted parole. They say the restrictions amount to life sentences.
The trouble begins with the courts’ interpretation of the sentencing law, which permits parole terms from three years to life at a court’s discretion.Rather than setting determinate parole periods within that timeframe, however, state courts routinely sentence sex offenders to indeterminate parole, the complaint states.When a sex offender serves that time outside prison, he earns credit towards termination of his parole.But when the offender is not able to leave prison because he cannot legally live in any of his proposed “host sites,” he can never earn termination of his parole, effectively sentencing him to life in prison, according to the lawsuit.
Read the full story from the Courthouse News Service.

Colorado county forced to disband internet sting unit

The Denver Post reports that a Colorado District Attorney's office was forced to disband its child sex offender internet investigation unit, after a complaint from a defense attorney.
A grievance filed by defense attorney Phil Cherner with the Colorado Supreme Court Standing Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct about the CHEEZO operation led to the unit being disbanded.
At issue are ethics rules for Colorado lawyers that state: An attorney shall not lie, deceive or engage in subterfuge. The subterfuge rule applies to any employee of a lawyer’s office, according to state ethical guidelines.
The investigators, a husband and wife, misrepresented their ages, posing as children, during the course of their operations.

Read the full story here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

New evidence that US sex offender laws increase crime

Writing at qz,com, Steven Yoder explains how U.S. sex offender policies -- such as residency restrictions, public notification, and sex offender registries themselves -- increase ctrime.
In a study released in July 2016, researchers from the California and Canadian justice departments looked at more than 1,600 California sex offenders on probation or parole. Overall, the group’s sex-crime recidivism rates were low–less than 5% during the five-year follow-up period. But those who were homeless were over four times more likely to commit a repeat sex crime than those who weren’t. “Collectively, transient status seems to be associated with higher sexual recidivism rates,” the researchers concluded. That’s likely because those who lack stable homes, jobs, and social connections are more prone to reoffend. 
That is one of several examples Yoder cites of how these laws are counterproductive.

Read more here.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Holiday Travel Tips for Sex Offenders

Before going over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house for the holidays, registrants may need to notify the authorities of their travel plans.

One of the numerous requirements of the Sex Offender Registration Act is that every Nebraska registrant must notify authorities before he or she embarks on a trip longer than three days. The notice must be given within three working days before the trip.

Although some county officials ask for the address of your destination(s), you are not obligated by Nebraska law to share that information with your resident county.

If you travel within Nebraska, you must notify your local county of your “temporary domicile.” In Nebraska, a temporary domicile means any place at which the person stays for a period of at least three consecutive working days.

So, if you’re traveling from Omaha (Douglas County) to grandma’s house in Grand Island (Hall County) for a week, you must notify the Sheriff's Office in both counties.

As a Nebraska registrant, if you travel to another state, it is your responsibility to know what that state’s legal requirements are; otherwise you could be facing a felony. Some states’ requirements are statewide, and others are by county and city. In some states you could have 3-10 days before you must register the location at which you are staying, and in some areas it could be within the first 24 hours.

Each state is different, and fully-researching the laws of your destination is imperative. Not only may you be required to follow their local registrant laws, you could be required to register. For example, if you visit the same Florida location for five or more consecutive days, or any place within the state for 30 days aggregate during any calendar year, you must register. Then, when you return home, you remain on the Florida registry. For life (regardless of the duration of your Nebraska registry).

Traveling internationally is a bit stickier, but information about your destination country and its requirements may be found here:

No matter your destination, if your trip required you to report it, you must contact your county sheriff when you return.

Contacting both your local registration office and the registration office in the state/county you are visiting, even when traveling intrastate, may save you some trouble. A phone call to your destination's local authorities is recommended, ensuring you know how they interpret/enforce the local laws. Often this will be a fairly informal process, but the burden falls on you to understand and follow the registration requirements.

This information is not legal advice, and should not be considered as such. Please check the laws of your originating and destination cities every time you travel, as laws may change.

Friday, December 16, 2016

FEARLESS Panel at National RSOL Conference

FEARLESS, a support resource for registered citizens, their family and friends, started in Nebraska and has taken hold across the nation.

A FEARLESS panel discussion was featured at the 2016 National RSOL Conference.

The next Nebraskan's Unafraid FEARLESS meeting will be held Monday, December 19, at 7:00 p.m., at St. Michael's Lutheran Church, 13232 Blondo St., Omaha. Join us!

New Research on Sex Offender Housing and Mobility

A new study, published in the American Journal of Criminal Justice, looks at housing patterns of registered sex offenders 15 years after conviction. 
Study summary: Richard Tewksbury, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Louisville, and Elizabeth Ehrhardt Mustaine, a sociology professor at the University of Central Florida, teamed up with doctoral student Shawn Rolfe to build upon previous research that Tewksbury and Mustaine did together on sex offender housing. The earlier study, published in 2006, found that the majority of registered sex offenders changed residences after conviction but that only some had difficulty finding housing that was comparable to where they lived prior to conviction.
For the new study, the three researchers examined the housing conditions of 212 of the sex offenders who had been investigated for the earlier study, which focused on a metropolitan community in Jefferson County, Kentucky. The authors wanted to see whether and how offenders’ circumstances had changed 15 years after their initial arrest and a decade after the previous study.
Read more here.

Monday, December 12, 2016

CASOMB Releases Educational Video on Sex Offender Registry

The California Sex Offender Management Board has released an educational seven-minute video on the sex offender registry. Some of the information is California-specific, but much applies to all states. It's well worth watching and sharing.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Courts push back on child safety zones

Federal courts seem to be taking an increasingly dim view of "child safety zones" -- areas where registered sex offenders are prohibited from being.

So says Jacob Sullum, who writes at about two recent decisions which struck down a state law in North Carolina and a local ordinance in Indiana. Between those decisions and the recent 6th Circuit decision finding that Michigan's registry is punitive, perhaps the tide is turning against at least some aspects of these laws.

Sullum concludes his essay:
After years of deferring to pretty much anything legislators did in the name of protecting children from sexual predators, the federal courts are finally beginning to ask whether these laws make sense in light of the goals they are supposed to achieve.
Read the full article at Reason.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Court strikes down NC presence restrictions

A three-judge panel has affirmed a lower court ruling that portions of North Carolina's law restricting where registered sex offenders can be is unconstitutional.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit issued its decision on Wednesday.

In this case, the statute in question made it a Class H felony (punishable by “a presumptive term of imprisonment of 20 months) for sex offenders to “knowingly be” at any of the following locations:
(1) On the premises of any place intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors, including, but not limited to, schools, children’s museums, child care centers, nurseries, and playgrounds.
(2) Within 300 feet of any location intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors when the place is located on premises that are not intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors, including, but not limited to, places described in subdivision (1) . . . that are located in malls, shopping centers, or other property open to the general public. [Or]
(3) At any place where minors gather for regularly scheduled educational, recreational, or social programs.  NCGS 14-208.18(a).
The court held, first, that the provisions of subsection (3) are unconstitutionally vague; “neither an ordinary citizen nor a law enforcement officer could reasonably determine what activity was criminalized by subsection (a)(3).”
David Post has more on the decision in the Washington Post.
Read the decision here.