What happened to news articles about sex offender issues?
ACTION ALERT: Folks that find local articles on sex offender issues,
please forward the link so we can post for other folks. Please send links to eAdvocate@yahoo.com
New Bill in Congress Affecting Sex Offenders (Text Coming, keep checking)

July 31, 2015

Sex offender says lifetime registration is unconstitutional

7-31-15 Indiana:

VALPARAISO | A Porter County man is challenging the constitutionality of an amended law increasing the time he must register as a sex offender from 10 years to his entire life.

Scott Miller said the Indiana Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that the amendment violates a prohibition in the Indiana Constitution against retroactively applying the law in certain cases like his own, according to the petition.

The prohibition applies when the offender is not a sexually violent predator, was required to register for 10 years when released from incarceration and was subsequently required to register for life as a result of amendments to the Indiana Sex Offender Registration Act, the petition says. He said all these requirements apply to his case.

Miller, through his Portage-based attorney Andrew Spica, is asking the court to absolve him from the requirement to register any longer as a sex offender.

The request is set for hearing at 2 p.m. Sept. 11 before Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa.

The Porter County prosecutor's office had not yet filed its response as of Thursday.

Miller said he pleaded guilty Dec. 3, 1999, to child molesting between November 1996 and September 1997, according to his petition. He was sentenced to eight years behind bars, with six years suspended and to be served on formal probation.

When released from prison on Nov. 30, 2000, Miller said he was told he had to register as a sex offender for 10 years. State law was then amended July 1, 2001 to increase the registration period for his conviction to life.

Miller said his 10-year registration period ended Dec. 1, 2010, but he has continued to comply.

The Indiana Supreme Court ruling exempting his type case was handed down Jan. 10, 2013, he said. ..Source.. by Bob Kasarda

Above case cites the following 2010 case

Appeals court: Second region sex offender not required to register


INDIANAPOLIS | For the second time in less than a month, the Indiana Court of Appeals has declared it unconstitutional to require a Northwest Indiana man to register as a sex offender.

Terry Hough, 48, of Portage, was convicted of rape in 1993 in Pennsylvania. He served nearly four years in prison, completed his parole obligations in 1998 and then moved to Indiana.

Hough's conviction came prior to enactment of sex offender registration laws in either Indiana (1994) or Pennsylvania (1996). Porter Superior Judge Roger Bradford previously ruled forcing Hough to register would be an unconstitutional, retroactive punishment.

Republican Attorney General Greg Zoeller appealed that finding. In a 3-0 ruling, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded Bradford got it right.

The appeals court acknowledged changes since made to Pennsylvania law would compel Hough's registration if he lived there. But as an Indiana resident, Hough is protected from retroactive punishment by the Indiana Constitution, the court ruled.

"To require that Hough register as a sex offender for a conviction pre-dating the enactment of (Indiana's Sex Offender Registration Act) would violate Indiana's constitutional prohibition against ex post facto laws," Judge Paul Mathias wrote.

On Nov. 8, a separate three-judge Court of Appeals panel ruled Jerome Burton, of Hammond, convicted in 1987 of a sex crime in Illinois, is not required to register because his conviction came prior to creation of the Illinois and Indiana sex offender registries.

Zoeller spokesman Bryan Corbin said the attorney general's office is reviewing the rulings to decide whether to appeal to the state's highest court.

"The Indiana Supreme Court has held that the Indiana Constitution limits some of the circumstances in which the offender registration laws apply. So the courts are continuing to consider, case-by-case, the boundaries of those limits," Corbin said. "As state government's lawyer, the Indiana Attorney General's Office has a responsibility to help courts sort through these complex questions." by Dan Carden

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July 30, 2015

Michigan judges get more leeway in sentencing

7-30-15 Michigan:

LANSING – In a decision that could have a far-reaching impact on current and future cases going through the court system, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the state’s sentencing guidelines that mandate prison terms are unconstitutional, and that judges should use them only in an advisory capacity.

The ruling set off a range of reactions, with many prosecutors expressing outrage, while many judges hailed the decision as long overdue.

The ruling stems from the case of Rahim Lockridge, who was sentenced to 8-15 years in prison after being found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. He was charged with strangling his wife Kenyatte Lockridge on Sept. 19, 2011, in Southfield — the culmination of more than a decade of a volatile marriage. He was charged with first-degree murder, but a jury convicted Lockridge of involuntary manslaughter.

Oakland County Circuit Judge Nanci Grant said she went above the sentencing guidelines because of the violence — not only to the victim, but also to the couple’s three children who witnessed the assault — and the fact that Lockridge had violated court orders by even being in the house.

He appealed the sentence, claiming that Grant tacked on 10 months more than the minimum sentencing guidelines called for based on evidence that wasn’t part of the case heard by the jury. He claimed that deviation was a violation of his Sixth Amendment right to a trial by jury.

Citing a recently decided U.S. Supreme Court case, the Michigan Supreme Court agreed, in a 5-2 decision, saying the state’s sentencing guidelines were an unconstitutional restraint on judicial discretion. The justices did, however, uphold Lockridge’s sentence of 8-15 years.

“Because sentencing courts will hereafter not be bound by the applicable sentencing guidelines range, this remedy cures the Sixth Amendment flaw in our guidelines schemes by removing the unconstitutional constraint on the court’s discretion,” the majority wrote in its decision. “Sentencing courts must, however, continue to consult the applicable guidelines range and take it into account when imposing a sentence.”

The two dissenting Supreme Court Judges Stephen Markman and Brian Zahra said the majority ruling will open the floodgates of inmates appealing their sentences, as well as render juries as mere bystanders in criminal justice proceedings.

“Sentences thus will become more a function of the personal attitudes and viewpoints of 586 judges and less a function of the perspectives of the citizenry as a whole,” they said in their dissenting opinion. “The guidelines were intended to produce a system in which similarly situated defendants would be sentenced in a reasonably similar manner, rather than having one defendant sentenced by Judge Maximum Mike to a 12-year term and another defendant sentenced by Judge Lenient Larry to a 4-year term. This pursuit of sentencing uniformity and consistency as the lodestar of our justice system has now given way to a rule of deference to the widely disparate judgements of 586 judges.”

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper predicted the ruling would throw the judicial system into chaos for a while.

“This is going to result in a great deal of disparity in sentencing,” Cooper said. “It’s going to make a mess on both sides of the aisle and that’s not fair to anyone.”

But Oakland County Judge Jim Alexander said that guidelines are supposed to be a road map and not a hard and fast mandate.

“We’re going to have to get used to it. We’re going to have more discretion,” he said. “You can’t get total consistency when you’re dealing with human beings.”

Livingston County Prosecutor William Vaillencourt, a director in the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan, said the sentencing guidelines, passed by the Legislature in 1999, have been a safety valve.

“The justification for sentencing guidelines was to reduce disparities and to give judges concrete and binding rules,” he said. “But now the courts will be able to freely depart up or down, as long as the underlying sentence is a reasonable one.”

State Rep. Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth, chairman of the House Criminal Justice Committee, said the decision was not a surprise, especially after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. But it comes at a time when the Legislature is grappling with sentencing reforms.

“The consensus is that mandatory sentencing is not fulfilling the promises that we thought it would, and the impact on crime has been negligible. We have more people incarcerated than our neighboring states and it’s costing us $2 billion a year,” he said. “We have to take a look at criminal justice reform across the spectrum. And this decision bolsters the argument that changes need to be made.”

As for Cooper, she takes little solace in the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the sentence in the Lockridge case.

“I won the case, but lost the war,” she said. ..Source.. by Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press Lansing Bureau

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Appeals court dismisses charges against sex offender

7-30-15 Wisconsin:

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A state appeals court has dismissed charges against a sex offender, ruling he can possess photos of children he cut out of magazines and newspapers.

Prosecutors charged Albert Chagnon last year with 23 counts of intentionally photographing a minor without consent. Chagnon was about to be released from prison when a guard discovered a notebook in his pants containing photographs of fully-clothed young girls cut out of magazines or newspapers.

Chagnon argued that the charges should be dismissed because he didn't take the photographs. The 4th District Court of Appeals agreed with him on Thursday, saying state law doesn't cover Chagnon's conduct.

A spokeswoman for the state Justice Department, which handled the appeal for the state, didn't immediately return a message. ..Source.. by WEAU.com

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White House speeds up (and opens up) online petitions

7-30-15 Washington DC:

The White House's We the People site is supposed to help the government hear your calls for change, but that isn't quite how it worked out: backlogs meant that it took ages to respond to petitions. You'll be glad to hear that the service is getting a much-needed tune-up, though.

As of today, the White House plans to respond to any petition that hits the 100,000-signature goal within 60 days "wherever possible." There's also a new team dedicated solely to making sure that the right people see a petition, which should help cut through some of the bureaucratic hierarchy.

The feds are taking some additional steps to open up the platform, too. It's posting the code for We the People to Drupal and GitHub in the hopes that other organizations (ideally, including other governments) can use it to create their own petition systems.

None of these improvements guarantee that the White House will actually say "yes" to petitions, of course. Just ask those whose hopes of a pardon for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden were shot down at the same time as the White House unveiled its We the People reforms. This effort should still be a big help for relatively safe causes (think of the smartphone unlocking petition), but don't be surprised if it mostly leads to hearing quicker "nos" on hot-button topics. ..Source.. by Jon Fingas

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July 29, 2015

Is There a Need for Internet Access in Prisons?

7-29-15 National:

Without access to the internet, convicts released from their prison sentence find it hard to integrate themselves back to a community that continued to exist without them. Their participation in the civilian community is put in jeopardy because they are made so unaware of changes in the world.

Deprived of the online world, these prisoners are held back to relatively older methods of communication, like snail mail. Out of all the states, only four allow some form of limited internet access, a striking statistic. A large number of people argue that internet access counts as a basic human necessity, much like food and water, and the denial of it is a rejection of human rights.

This argument was only made stronger when a certain prisoner named Michael Santos, who finished his 25 year prison sentence three years ago, said that individuals from the outside should have access to firsthand account of life inside prison itself. Without access to the internet, prisoners are completely shunned from the “outside world”, denying them even merely an exposure to it online. Not only does this disrupt chances for proper rehabilitation when they are released, it also silences them in any worldwide conversation that they should be part of.

Denying their voice allows the world to forget they exist. As Santos recounts his experiences in prison life, he tells of a band of prison guards who brutally abuse prisoners. Although he and many other inmates witnessed these direct denials of human rights, the issue remains under-reported. Abuse of power by prison guards themselves involves 2.2 million incarcerated persons, and even half of sexual abuse claims in these American prisons were placed against the prison guards.

It is interesting to see how the pattern of removal of access to modern technology is an act intended to abuse by dictatorship. Without the internet, the voice given by social media is disrupted, leaving no connection for countless opinions to be shared.

It is, however, a point to be discussed whether prisoners should be given the same capacity to report abuse cases as the civilian population. Although this remains a ground for debate, it is important to notice how prisoners who illegally get access to internet use this voice. As Tech Behind Bars went over hundreds of social media accounts owned by prisoners through prohibited possession of cellphones, it was found that their online activity is simply meant to reflect prison life or the prisoner themselves. Still, these cellphone bans are followed to reduce risk of sex offenders and gang activity.

Ultimately, although incarcerated, prisoners are still offered a freedom of speech. Whether the internet is a fundamental human right is a tricky ground to stand on at the moment, but the fact remains clear. Denying prisoners to even a censored version of current affairs negates their ability to survive in a world that has continued without them and disallows them to cope with life in imprisonment.

The “revolving door” aspect, where prisoners find themselves back in prison within three years after their release, is only being strengthened because of their lack of education and skills. Without the ability to handle computers and the proper understanding of the internet, they are left unemployed and more likely to find themselves back in prison. We must understand that the right to the use of the internet allows them to learn and grow. This continuing degradation of prisoners is a crisis that must be faced because it does not only hurt them, but the entire society as a whole. ..Source.. by An experienced criminal defense attorney Kenneth Padowitz, P.A.

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Judge dismisses Nikko Jenkins' suit against prison

7-29-15 Nebraska:

A Lincoln judge has dismissed Nikko Jenkins' self-filed lawsuit against the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services for denying him mental health services before he got out and killed four people in Omaha.

Lancaster County District Judge Lori Maret wrote in a four-sentence order Friday that Jenkins had failed to serve the Corrections Department, as state law requires.

In November, Jenkins filed the civil rights lawsuit alleging that his mental stability had deteriorated during 2½ years in solitary confinement at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution and that he was suffering from severe psychosis when prison officials released him from a solitary confinement cell straight into society.

He was seeking $1.7 million.

While in prison, Jenkins had asked for mental health treatment -- in writing -- 38 times. He asked for psychiatric hospitalization six times, and three times for civil commitment. All were denied.

Within weeks of his release, he killed four people in Omaha over a 10-day stretch and later pleaded no contest to four counts of first-degree murder and other charges.

The state is seeking the death penalty, but the sentencing phase is on hold to see if the law to remove the death penalty goes into effect Aug. 29. ..Source.. by Lori Pilger

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July 28, 2015

ACTION ALERT: A New Bill in Congress Affecting Sex Offenders

7-28-15 Washington DC:

Sponsor: Sen Shelby, Richard C. [AL] introduced on 7/27/2015 a new bill S-1867 titled "A bill to protect children from exploitation by providing advance notice of intended travel by registered sex offenders outside the United States to the government of the country of destination, requesting foreign governments to notify the United States when a known sex offender is seeking to enter the United States, and for other purposes."

This is a bill similar, or the same as, "International Megan's Law," BUT BUT because the text of the bill hasn't been posted, we do not yet know what its reach is. However, the title and Press Release gives us some idea of its nature. Sen Shelby's Press Release follows:

WASHINGTON, DC – Monday, July 27, 2015 – U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today introduced S.1867, legislation to protect children from exploitation by establishing an international notification system to provide advanced notice of travel by registered sex offenders to destination countries. This legislation is a companion to H.R. 515, which was introduced by U.S. Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ).

“International Megan’s Law strengthens our nation’s current sex offender targeting system to ensure that we are doing all we can to protect children around the globe from exploitation,” said Senator Shelby. “Crimes against children are a plague on our society, and we must continue our work together to eradicate them. Better coordination and communication between all levels of law enforcement at home and abroad is an essential element to this effort. This legislation streamlines domestic and international efforts and establishes new procedures to help us achieve one goal: to prevent heinous crimes against children.”

International Megan’s Law:
  • Requires convicted child sex predators to have a unique passport identifier to ensure that they can be identified at the border as they travel internationally in the event that a notification was not sent.
  • Establishes the “Angel Watch Center” at the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that all destination countries receive a notification that a convicted child sex predator is traveling to their country. The Department of Homeland Security’s responsibilities at the border and their unique relationships with border officials around the world will enable Angel Watch’s charge.
  • Formalizes the process for the United States Marshals Service's Sex Offender Targeting Center to provide advanced notice of travel by all registered sex offenders to destination countries using the Interpol notification system.
  • Coordinates communication between the newly established Angel Watch Center and the well-established United States Marshal’s Service Sex Offender Targeting Center and streamlines the international notification system to ensure that no registered sex predators are lost in the system when leaving the United States.
  • Designates the Angel Watch Center as responsible for receiving notifications of convicted sex offenders entering the United States.

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High court: Sex offender can challenge GPS monitoring

This is a catch-up case which was missed in March 2015.
3-31-15 North Carolina:

The justices said the state's highest court must reconsider whether North Carolina violated Torrey Dale Grady's constitutional rights when it ordered him to wear the ankle bracelet beginning in 2013

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a North Carolina sex offender should have another chance to challenge an order that he wear a GPS monitoring bracelet around the clock and for the rest of his life.

The justices said the state's highest court must reconsider whether North Carolina violated Torrey Dale Grady's constitutional rights when it ordered him to wear the ankle bracelet beginning in 2013.

North Carolina is among at least eight states that have a system for lifetime monitoring for convicted sex offenders. More than 40 states impose some kind of monitoring as a condition of probation or release from prison.

Grady was convicted of a second-degree sex offense in 1997 and then again of taking indecent liberties with a child in 2006. The second conviction qualified Grady as a repeat offender. After serving nearly three years in prison, Grady was ordered to start wearing the GPS bracelet 24 hours a day in 2013 so officials could keep track of his movements.

Grady argued that the state's lifetime GPS monitoring system is unreasonable because it allows state officials to enter his home — with or without his permission — to maintain a GPS monitoring base station. Grady also complains that he must charge the bracelet every day by plugging it into a wall outlet for four to six hours at a time.

State courts rejected his claims, but the Supreme Court said the monitoring qualifies as a search under the Fourth Amendment's ban on unreasonable searches and seizures and likened it to its last case on GPS devices three years ago.

"The state's program is plainly designed to obtain information," the court said in an unsigned opinion. "And since it does so by physically intruding on a subject's body, it effects a Fourth Amendment search."

In 2012, the court ruled that placing the tracking units on cars to follow their movement is a search. That case did not decide whether attaching the devices without a search warrant violated the Constitution. On Monday, the justices said in their unsigned opinion that the state court should weigh whether North Carolina's tracking of sex offenders is reasonable.

State officials argued that Grady's complaints are based on outdated descriptions of the monitoring program. They said he presented no evidence of the interruptions to his daily life, how often officials must visit his home or what use North Carolina makes of the information it collects from the ankle bracelet. ..Souce..

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July 27, 2015

Boy Sentenced to Jail Because of Large Penis

7-27-15 Russia:

A Russian court tried a 13-year-old as an adult based on the size of his genitals

A Russian court ruled that a Ukrainian boy who claims he’s 13 be tried as an adult based on the size of his penis, according to The Moscow Times. Tomas, whose last name was not released to protect his identity, was arrested on suspicion of stealing a cellphone in March—an accusation he denies.

The teen had moved to Moscow that same month to live with his aunt. His family claims he was 12 at the time of the arrest and has produced Ukrainian documentation that he used to cross the Russian border as proof. But authorities think he is older and ordered a medical examination to determine his real age. Based on the size of his penis and teeth, prison doctors told the court they believe he is actually 16 or 17.

It’s an important distinction. Individuals 16 and over can be tried as adults in Russia, and that age comes down to 14 in the case of more serious crimes like rape and murder. As a result, Tomas has since been sentenced as an adult and was sent to jail. His family has challenged the ruling, and the regional prison service has agreed to review his case. ..Source..

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