Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Chris Norwood defends his crappy pro-Adam Walsh Act article

Thank you ReFORM-AL readers for trying to educate this fool, Chris Norwood of the Daily Home, but he's stubborn as, well, an Alabamian, so he posted a response. Don't let up, slam this chump with the truth:



Our View: Sex offender law helps balance safety and justice
Mar 20, 2012 | 608 views | 1 1 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Response to a Sunday article about reforms in sex offender reporting laws drew some surprising responses in the comments section of this newspaper’s website.

Some of the changes were about doubling the number of times per year convicted sex offenders are required to register with law enforcement, and some dealt with ways in which some of the offenders can be relieved of the requirement to register altogether — such as an older offender who is living out his last years in a nursing home, or someone who was convicted of having consensual sex with an underage person, if the age difference was no more than four years. Exemptions may also be made for juvenile offenders after 25 years.

The increased requirement for registering not only increases the burden on the offenders, but also doubles the workload on those keeping tabs on the offenders.

Some of those commenting insist that most convicted offenders are not dangerous to others, and provide links to data that tend to support that argument. But even those numbers suggest that about 13 to 20 percent of child molesters reoffend, and 19 to 23 percent of rapists. While “most” don’t, those are still disturbingly high percentages.

Another mentioned the difficulty offenders have in finding employment and supporting themselves.

Also mentioned was an elderly man in Florida allegedly beaten to death because someone thought he was a sex offender in a tragic case of mistaken identity. The writer was one of several opposed to having registries.

States have online registries that allow people to check to see who and where registered sex offenders live based on name, city, zip code or county. Alabama’s registry can be found at http://dps.alabama.gov. At least one website, www.familywatchdog.us, offers an interactive map, based on the address entered that shows the residences of offenders in the area.

We think having those registries available can help people make better-informed decisions regarding safety in the community, but we are pleased to see exemptions being offered for some of the least dangerous offenders.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Another article with the obligatory "protects kids" catchphrases for the AWA

More AWA propaganda. Feel free to comment:


New legislation closes loopholes, promotes child safety
by Chris Norwood

 March 18, 2012

According to the Alabama Department of Public Safety, there are 185 convicted sex offenders currently living in Talladega County, and 190 in St. Clair County. New legislation passed last year will change the way they have to live and double the number of times they must check in for verification of compliance.

According to Talladega County Assistant District Attorney Christina Kilgore, the state of Alabama adopted national standards for community notification in 2006, but the current version of the sex offender registration and notification act (SORNA) became law on July 27, 2011.

“The new act repealed several parts of the previous act to close some loopholes,” Kilgore said. “And the law itself states that its purpose is not to punish the offenders more, but to protect the public and promote child safety.”

One of the biggest loopholes closed by the new act involves sexually motivated offenses that may not normally be classified as sex offenses.

“Say you have a burglary in the first degree where someone breaks in and rapes the victim. They would be convicted of burglary in the first degree, which is not a sex offense. Under the new law, he would still be required to register once he got out of prison,” Kilgore said.

Another major change involves when an offender has to register. Previously, he did not have to until he was released from prison. Under the new law, he will have to register as soon as he is convicted or found guilty.

“We’ve already had a case here where that was an issue,” Kilgore said. “A man pleaded guilty and was out on bond, but he didn’t register.”

Convicted sex offenders must now register with the sheriff of the county and the police chief of the municipality (if applicable) where he lives, works or goes to school. Offenders cannot change their names unless the name change reflects a change in marital status or religion.

Under the old law, offenders were required to verify their residence only in their birth month and six months later. Under the new act, they have to check in during their birth month and every three months. If an offender becomes homeless, he is required to check in every week.

A convicted sex offender cannot live within 2,000 feet of a school, childcare facility, former victim or victim’s immediate family member (including grandparents, parents, spouses, children or grandchildren).

Under the old law, residence was established if the offender either stayed in the same place for three consecutive days or spent 10 or more days there in the same month. According to Kilgore, the new law adds “failure to spend three days away from the residence without notification unless the offender is incarcerated, in a medical facility or in a mental facility. If they’re planning on being away, they must also notify and complete a travel permit at least 21 days in advance.”

The new law also bars offenders from coming within 100 feet of any of their victims or their victims’ families, and adds college and university campuses to the places where offenders are not allowed to loiter. An offender must have a valid driver’s license or identification card.

The bill also strengthens communications between law enforcement agencies.

The other major change in the new law is that certain offenders can petition the court to be exempted. An offender who has become terminally ill or permanently immobile can petition the circuit court to lift the living restrictions. People who are convicted of consensual sex crimes (where there was no force but the victim was under age, such as rape or sodomy in the second degree) can also ask for exemptions. The law requires that the victim be at least 13 and the offender must be no more than four years older. The new law also provides employment relief in these cases, as well as for juvenile convictions after 25 years.

Offenders cannot work in schools, day cares or any vendor that supplies schools or day cares.

Records will be maintained for 75 years after the adjudication of the case, Kilgore said.

Lastly, the law bars harboring an offender who may not be compliant. “You can’t warn them or provide transportation, disguises or aid in counseling.”

Victims must notify the state Attorney General’s Office if they want notice of release and residence. 

In addition to one case where a defendant failed to register after pleading guilty, Kilgore said mainly what she has been seeing are “petitions for relief in consensual offenses. People are asking for relief that was not available under the old law, but none of them have had hearings yet. We’ll see other aspects of the law go into effect over time, too, but everyone was trained in the new act several months ago. It will definitely put more on the compliance workers in terms of workload.”

Investigator Owen Walton, who handles sex offender registration for St. Clair County, said he has definitely seen his own workload increase. “Adults are required to register every three months instead of every six, and they all have to register in Pell City. If you actually live in Pell City, you’re going to be checking in eight times per year. It’s still too early to say how effective this will be, but it’s a good tool. It lets us keep a closer eye on them, handle them better.”