Thứ Năm, 4 tháng 9, 2014

FL - Why were service members targeted in local sex stings?

Original Article

08/26/2014

By Noah Pransky

Former Army JAG tells 10 Investigates the Air Force is breaking the law by participating in local sex stings where no military members are involved.

PINELLAS COUNTY - Not only have Central Florida law enforcement officers violated federal rules in conducting "To Catch a Predator"-inspired sex stings, but 10 Investigates has learned they may also violate longstanding federal law that prohibits the use of military resources to enforce state laws.

While Tampa Bay-area law enforcement agencies continue to refuse to turn over public records from questionable "predator" roundups, 10 Investigates has learned through court records that a member of the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations (OSI) has been a regular member of Central Florida undercover stings for more than a year.

In a recent deposition, the agent indicated his goal was to try and trap service members who might be willing to break the law. But he also admitted to targeting -- and helping arrest -- civilians as well. According to an operation plan from a recent Pinellas County sting, the agent, William Glidewell, acted as a "chatter," communicating with potential investigative targets online. He was put up in a Clearwater Beach hotel for four days and reported to the sting's lead agencies, the Clearwater Police Department and Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

"It's odd that you would have a military (investigator) being so treated like civilian law enforcement," said Charles Rose, a Stetson Law professor and retired Army JAG Corps member. "You cannot assign military personnel -- on orders -- to a (local law enforcement) organization."

10 Investigates previously showed how the sex stings were taking valuable resources away from other areas of law enforcement and frequently targeted young men who were merely looking for women their own age.

NY - Sex Offenders Housing Restrictions Are Pointless

Sex offender housing
Original Article

08/25/2014

By Jesse Singal

On Thursday, Joseph Goldstein of the New York Times reported thatDozens of sex offenders who have satisfied their sentences in New York State are being held in prison beyond their release dates because of a new interpretation of a state law that governs where they can live.” In short, since 2005, sex offenders in the state can't live within 1,000 feet of a school, and a February ruling from the state's Department of Corrections and Community Supervision extended that restriction to homeless shelters.

Because the onus is on sex offenders to find approved housing before they’re released, Goldstein reported, they've been left with very few options, especially in densely-populated New York City, where there are schools everywhere. This has led to an uncomfortable legal limbo and sparked at least one lawsuit (so far) on behalf of an offender who is still in custody even though he was supposed to be out by now.

The unfortunate thing about this situation is that laws designed to restrict where sex offenders can live are really and truly useless, except as a means of politicians scoring easy political points by ratcheting up hysteria. There are many tricky social-scientific issues on which there are a range of opinions and some degree of debate among experts, but this isn't one of them. Among those whose job it is to figure out how to reduce the rate at which sex offenders commit crimes (as opposed to those whose job it is to get reelected, in part by hammering away at phantom threats), there is zero controversy: These laws don't work, and may actually increase sexual offenders’ recidivism rates.

Maia Christopher, head of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, sent Science of Us a policy paper her organization has prepared on this issue (it’s not yet online, but should be later this week). ATSA’s views on housing restrictions for sex offenders are completely straightforward: The group “does not support the use of residence restrictions as a feasible strategy for sex offender management” because of a lack of evidence they do any good.

The paper notes that these laws have proliferated—“[a]t least 30 states and hundreds of cities” have them—because of some basic misunderstandings about how sex crimes are committed. There’s a collective American fixation on the creepy image of a sex offender salivating just beyond the playground fence, but that’s just not how things usually work.

Rather, these crimes are generally committed by someone known to the victim—93 percent of the time when it comes to child victims, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics—and the majority take place either in the victim’s home or the home of someone they know. “Therefore,” the authors write, “policies based on ‘stranger danger’ do not adequately address the reality of sexual abuse.”

NJ - Twenty years later, has Megan’s Law delivered?

Maureen Kanka
Maureen Kanka
Original Article

08/24/2014

It’s been 20 years since New Jersey’s Legislature passed Megan’s Law. The two decades since have been filled with legal challenges and disappointment it didn’t accomplish what many thought it would. It’s what happens when politics and emotion team to shortcut the legislative process.

The law is named for Megan Kanka, who was raped and killed in 1994 when she was 7 after being lured into the home of a twice-convicted sex offender, Jesse Timmendequas, who lived across the street from the child.

Her parents, Maureen and Richard, lobbied the Legislature for a law to require registration of sex offenders; it was named after their daughter. It went into effect just months after her horrible death.

Typical of legislation rushed through, New Jersey’s version has been much challenged. Other states and the federal government took their time and did it better. In New Jersey, there is a back story involving Republican Garabed “Chuck” Haytaian, who was Assembly speaker and wanted to replace Frank Lautenberg in the U.S. Senate. His colleagues saw the law as an opportunity.

In his campaign ads, Haytaian bragged he “fast-tracked Megan’s Law.” Both chambers of the Legislature were controlled by Republicans, and so was the Governor’s Office. They wanted to see Lautenberg, a Democrat, beaten. Haytaian came within 3 points of winning.

Emotion and political ambition are not a good combination for strong, effective legislation — the usual vetting and debate got lost. After its passage, it was tied up in court for years, a lot of it because of unforeseen problems. As much as we hate it, there is a reason the legislative process is slow and deliberate by design.

In 2009, a study by the state Department of Corrections and Rutgers University concluded Megan’s Law doesn’t deter sex offenders in New Jersey. The report says it makes it easier to find them because of registration, but you don’t need a report to tell us that. It also said the cost of carrying out the law — the report used $5.1 million, the cost in 2007 — may not be justified.