Friday, July 29, 2011

5 years later, states struggle to comply with federal sex offender law

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
July 28, 2011 11:12 a.m. EDT
With John and Reve Walsh watching, President George W. Bush signs the Adam Walsh Act on July 27, 2006.
With John and Reve Walsh watching, President George W. Bush signs the Adam Walsh Act on July 27, 2006

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What's Next? Who's Next?

As Criminal Laws Proliferate, More Are Ensnared

Eddie Leroy Anderson of Craigmont, Idaho, is a retired logger, a former science teacher and now a federal criminal thanks to his arrowhead-collecting hobby.
With the growing number of federal criminal statutes, it's become increasingly easy for Americans to end up on the wrong side of the law. Kelsey Hubbard talks with WSJ's Gary Fields about the impact.

In 2009, Mr. Anderson loaned his son some tools to dig for arrowheads near a favorite campground of theirs.

Unfortunately, they were on federal land. Authorities "notified me to get a lawyer and a damn good one," Mr. Anderson recalls.

There is no evidence the Andersons intended to break the law, or even knew the law existed, according to court records and interviews. But the law, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, doesn't require criminal intent and makes it a felony punishable by up to two years in prison to attempt to take artifacts off federal land without a permit.

Faced with that reality, the two men, who didn't find arrowheads that day, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and got a year's probation and a $1,500 penalty each. "We kind of wonder why it got took to the level that it did," says Mr. Anderson, 68 years old.

Wendy Olson, the U.S. Attorney for Idaho, said the men were on an archeological site that was 13,000 years old. "Folks do need to pay attention to where they are," she said.

The Andersons are two of the hundreds of thousands of Americans to be charged and convicted in recent decades under federal criminal laws—as opposed to state or local laws—as the federal justice system has dramatically expanded its authority and reach.

As federal criminal statutes have ballooned, it has become increasingly easy for Americans to end up on the wrong side of the law. Many of the new federal laws also set a lower bar for conviction than in the past: Prosecutors don't necessarily need to show that the defendant had criminal intent.

On the Wrong Side of the Law

See a breakdown of the rise of federal sentences by the type of offense.

An Act for the Punishment of Crimes

U.S. National Archives, Washington, D.C.
The first federal criminal statute, signed into law on April 30, 1790, includes only a handful of offenses: treason, counterfeiting, piracy, and murder, maiming and robbery in federal jurisdictions. It fit on to two sheets of parchment, each around 27 inches by 22 inches, and was handwritten in iron gall ink.
The law is currently kept in a vault in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. See a digital copy, or click here to read the text.
These factors are contributing to some unusual applications of justice. Father-and-son arrowhead lovers can't argue they made an innocent mistake. A lobster importer is convicted in the U.S. for violating a Honduran law that the Honduran government disavowed. A Pennsylvanian who injured her husband's lover doesn't face state criminal charges—instead, she faces federal charges tied to an international arms-control treaty.

The U.S. Constitution mentions three federal crimes by citizens: treason, piracy and counterfeiting. By the turn of the 20th century, the number of criminal statutes numbered in the dozens. Today, there are an estimated 4,500 crimes in federal statutes, according to a 2008 study by retired Louisiana State University law professor John Baker.

There are also thousands of regulations that carry criminal penalties. Some laws are so complex, scholars debate whether they represent one offense, or scores of offenses.

Counting them is impossible. The Justice Department spent two years trying in the 1980s, but produced only an estimate: 3,000 federal criminal offenses.

The American Bar Association tried in the late 1990s, but concluded only that the number was likely much higher than 3,000. The ABA's report said "the amount of individual citizen behavior now potentially subject to federal criminal control has increased in astonishing proportions in the last few decades."

A Justice spokeswoman said there was no quantifiable number. Criminal statutes are sprinkled throughout some 27,000 pages of the federal code.

There are many reasons for the rising tide of laws. It's partly due to lawmakers responding to hot-button issues—environmental messes, financial machinations, child kidnappings, consumer protection—with calls for federal criminal penalties. Federal regulations can also carry the force of federal criminal law, adding to the legal complexity.

With the growing number of federal crimes, the number of people sentenced to federal prison has risen nearly threefold over the past 30 years to 83,000 annually. The U.S. population grew only about 36% in that period. The total federal prison population, over 200,000, grew more than eightfold—twice the growth rate of the state prison population, now at 2 million, according the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics

Tougher federal drug laws account for about 30% of people sentenced, a decline from over 40% two decades ago. The proportion of people sentenced for most other crimes, such as firearms possession, fraud and other non-violent offenses, has doubled in the past 20 years.

The growth in federal law has produced benefits. Federal legislation was indispensable in winning civil rights for African-Americans. Some of the new laws, including those tackling political corruption and violent crimes, are relatively noncontroversial and address significant problems. Plenty of convicts deserve the punishment they get.

Roscoe Howard, the former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, argues that the system "isn't broken." Congress, he says, took its cue over the decades from a public less tolerant of certain behaviors. Current law provides a range of options to protect society, he says. "It would be horrible if they started repealing laws and taking those options away."

Still, federal criminal laws can be controversial. Some duplicate existing state criminal laws, and others address matters that might better be handled as civil rather than criminal matters.

Some federal laws appear picayune. Unauthorized use of the Smokey Bear image could land an offender in prison. So can unauthorized use of the slogan "Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute."
The spread of federal statues has opponents on both sides of the aisle, though for different reasons. For Republicans, the issue is partly about federal intrusions into areas historically handled by states. For Democrats, the concerns include the often lengthy prison sentences that federal convictions now produce.

Those expressing concerns include the American Civil Liberties Union and Edwin Meese III, former attorney general under President Ronald Reagan. Mr. Meese, now with the conservative Heritage Foundation, argues Americans are increasingly vulnerable to being "convicted for doing something they never suspected was illegal."

"Most people think criminal law is for bad people," says Timothy Lynch of Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. People don't realize "they're one misstep away from the nightmare of a federal indictment."

Associated Press
Driver Bobby Unser got a criminal record after being lost in a blizzard.

Last September, retired race-car champion Bobby Unser told a congressional hearing about his 1996 misdemeanor conviction for accidentally driving a snowmobile onto protected federal land, violating the Wilderness Act, while lost in a snowstorm. Though the judge gave him only a $75 fine, the 77-year-old racing legend got a criminal record.

Mr. Unser says he was charged after he went to authorities for help finding his abandoned snowmobile. "The criminal doesn't usually call the police for help," he says.

A Justice Department spokesman cited the age of the case in declining to comment. The U.S. Attorney at the time said he didn't remember the case.

Some of these new federal statutes don't require prosecutors to prove criminal intent, eroding a bedrock principle in English and American law. The absence of this provision, known as mens rea, makes prosecution easier, critics argue.

A study last year by the Heritage Foundation and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers analyzed scores of proposed and enacted new laws for nonviolent crimes in the 109th Congress of 2005 and 2006. It found of the 36 new crimes created, a quarter had no mens rea requirement and nearly 40% more had only a "weak" one.
Associated Press
Justice Anthony Kennedy, pictured, recently voiced concern over a statute.

Some jurists are disturbed by the diminished requirement to show criminal intent in order to convict. In a 1998 decision, federal appellate judge Richard Posner, a noted conservative, attacked a 1994 federal law under which an Illinois man went to prison for three years for possessing guns while under a state restraining order taken out by his estranged wife. He possessed the guns otherwise legally, they posed no immediate threat to the spouse, and the restraining order didn't mention any weapons bar.

"Congress created, and the Department of Justice sprang, a trap" on a defendant who "could not have suspected" he was committing a crime, Judge Posner wrote.

Another area of concern among some jurists is the criminalization of issues that they consider more appropriate to civil lawsuits. In December, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considered liberal, overturned the fraud conviction of a software-company executive accused of helping to issue false financial statements. The government tried "to stretch criminal law beyond its proper bounds," wrote the Circuit's chief judge, Alex Kozinski.

Civil law, he said, is a better tool to judge "gray area" conduct—actions that might, or might not, be illegal. Criminal law, he said, "should clearly separate conduct that is criminal from conduct that is legal."
Occasionally, Americans are going to prison in the U.S. for violating the laws and rules of other countries. Last year, Abner Schoenwetter finished 69 months in federal prison for conspiracy and smuggling. His conviction was related to importing the wrong kinds of lobsters and bulk packaging them in plastic, rather than separately in boxes, in violation of Honduran laws.

According to court records and interviews, Mr. Schoenwetter had been importing lobsters from Honduras since the mid-1980s. In early 1999, federal officials seized a 70,000-pound shipment after a tip that the load violated a Honduran statute setting a minimum size on lobsters that could be caught. Such a shipment, in turn, violated a U.S. law, the Lacey Act, which makes it a felony to import fish or wildlife if it breaks another country's laws. Roughly 2% of the seized shipment was clearly undersized, and records indicated other shipments carried much higher percentages, federal officials said.

In an interview, Mr. Schoenwetter, 65 years old, said he and other buyers routinely accepted a percentage of undersized lobsters since the deliveries from the fishermen inevitably included smaller ones. He also said he didn't believe bringing in some undersized lobsters was illegal, noting that previous shipments had routinely passed through U.S. Customs.

After conviction, Mr. Schoenwetter and three co-defendants appealed, and the Honduran government filed a brief on their behalf saying that Honduran courts had invalidated the undersized-lobster law. By a two-to-one vote, however, a federal appeals panel found the Honduran law valid at the time of the trial and upheld the convictions.

The dissenting jurist, Judge Peter Fay, wrote: "I think we would be shocked should the tables be reversed and a foreign nation simply ignored one of our court rulings."

Robert Kern, a 62-year-old Virginia hunting-trip organizer, was also prosecuted in the U.S. for allegedly breaking the law of another country. Instead of lobsters from Honduras, Mr. Kern's troubles stemmed from moose from Russia.

He faced a 2008 Lacey Act prosecution for allegedly violating Russian law after some of his clients shot game from a helicopter in that country. In the end, he was acquitted after a Russian official testified the hunters had an exemption from the helicopter hunting ban. Still, legal bills totaling more than $860,000 essentially wiped out his retirement savings, Mr. Kern says.

Justice Department officials declined to comment on Messrs. Kern and Schoenwetter.
Charlie Litchfield for The Wall Street Journal
Would-be inventor and felon Kirster Evertson: 'If I had abandoned the chemicals, why would I have told the investigators about them?'

One area of expansion has been environmental crimes. Since its inception in 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency has grown to enforce some 25,000 pages of federal regulations, equivalent to about 15% of the entire body of federal rules. Many of the EPA rules carry potential criminal penalties. Krister Evertson, a would-be inventor, recently spent 15 months in prison for environmental crimes where there was no evidence he harmed anyone, or intended to.

In May 2004 he was arrested near Wasilla, Alaska, and charged with illegally shipping sodium metal, a potentially flammable material, without proper packaging or labeling.

He told federal authorities he had been in Idaho working to develop a better hydrogen fuel cell but had run out of money. He had moved some sodium and other chemicals to a storage site near his workshop in Salmon, Idaho, before traveling back to his hometown of Wasilla to raise money by gold-mining.

Mr. Evertson said he believed he had shipped the sodium legally. A jury acquitted him in January 2006.

However, Idaho prosecutors, using information Mr. Evertson provided to federal authorities in Alaska, charged him with violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, a 1976 federal law that regulates handling of toxic waste. The government contended Mr. Evertson had told federal investigators he had abandoned the chemicals. It also said the landlord of the Idaho storage site claimed he was owed back rent and couldn't find the inventor—allegations Mr. Evertson disputed.

Once the government deemed the chemicals "abandoned," they became "waste" and subject to RCRA. He was charged under a separate federal law with illegally moving the chemicals about a half-mile to the storage site.

"If I had abandoned the chemicals, why would I have told the investigators about them?" said Mr. Evertson in an interview. He added that he spent $100,000 on the material and always planned to resume his experiments.
Prosecutors emphasized the potential danger of having left the materials for two years. "You clean up after yourself and don't leave messes for others," one prosecutor told the jury, which convicted Mr. Evertson on three felony counts. Prosecutors said clean-up of the site cost the government $400,000. Mr. Evertson, 57, remains on probation, working as night watchman in Idaho.

In a statement, Ms. Olson, the Idaho U.S. Attorney, said that by leaving dangerous chemicals not properly attended he endangered others and caused the government to spend more than $400,000 in clean-up costs. "This office will continue to aggressively prosecute" environmental crimes, she said.

Critics contend that federal criminal law is increasingly, and unconstitutionally, impinging on the sovereignty of the states. The question recently came before the Supreme Court in the case of Carol Bond, a Pennsylvania woman who is fighting a six-year prison sentence arising out of violating a 1998 federal chemical-weapons law tied to an international arms-control treaty. The law makes it a crime for an average citizen to possess a "chemical weapon" for other than a "peaceful purpose." The statute defines such a weapon as any chemical that could harm humans or animals.

Ms. Bond's criminal case stemmed from having spread some chemicals, including an arsenic-based one, on the car, front-door handle and mailbox of a woman who had had an affair with her husband. The victim suffered a burn on her thumb.

In court filings, Ms. Bond's attorneys argued the chemical-weapons law unconstitutionally intruded into what should have been a state criminal matter. The state didn't file charges on the chemicals, but under state law she likely would have gotten a less harsh sentence, her attorneys said.

Last month, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled Ms. Bond has standing to challenge the federal law. By distributing jurisdiction among federal and state governments, the Constitution "protects the liberty of the individual from arbitrary power," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court. "When government acts in excess of its lawful powers, that liberty is at stake."

During oral arguments in the case, Justice Samuel Alito expressed concern about the law's "breadth" by laying out a hypothetical example. Simply pouring a bottle of vinegar into a bowl to kill someone's goldfish, Justice Alito said, could be "potentially punishable by life imprisonment."
—Tom McGinty and Louise Radnofsky contributed to this article.
Write to Gary Fields at and John R. Emshwiller at


Friday, July 22, 2011

Too Little... Too Late...

Brian Dickerson: Nonviolent sex offenders ensnared in state's red tape

When his name went on Michigan's Sex Offender Registry for having consensual sex at 17 with a fellow student at Bloomfield Hills' Andover High School, Justin Fawcett despaired that his life was over.
Who would ever hire him? Who would want to date him?

David and Gayle Fawcett had spoken to other parents with children on the registry and knew Justin's fears were not exaggerated. But David Fawcett implored his son not to give up hope.

"I told him people had begun to recognize that it made no sense to put people like him on a registry that was meant for sexual predators," David Fawcett recalled. "I told him that he needed to be patient. ... The law would be changed."

David Fawcett was right: The law was changed, and late last month, the Michigan State Police mailed Justin a letter informing him that, as of June 30, his name would be removed from the public registry.
The letter said he might even be eligible to get completely off the list.

There's just one problem: Justin Fawcett has been dead for more than seven years.
Justin Fawcett never shared his father's confidence that Michigan would change its sex offender registration law before the stigma of being publicly branded a sex criminal had ruined his prospects for a normal life. His
parents found him dead of an overdose in his bedroom when he was 20.

Now, you'd think a state police department that prides itself on knowing every little thing about the movements of Michigan's 40,000 sex offenders -- where they live and work, what kind of car they drive, when and where they go on vacation, whether they've recently joined Facebook -- would notice when one of those people ceases to exist.

And you might think that the police agency would be especially attentive when the thing that triggers a registered sex offender's death is the shame and stigma associated with that status, particularly when the dead teenager's father testifies before the state Legislature and his son's well-publicized death becomes a rallying point for citizens, lawyers, judges and lawmakers seeking to change the registry law.

But if you thought either of those things, you've overestimated Michigan's capacity to keep track of its sex offenders -- an ever-expanding polyglot that includes everything from promiscuous teens like the late Justin Fawcett to public urinators to violent rapists.

Karen Johnson, the manager of the Sex Offender and Registry Enforcement Unit who signed the letter addressed to Fawcett, did not respond to my repeated requests for an explanation. But State Police spokeswoman Shanon Banner said a deceased offender isn't removed from the department's master registry unless the offender's family mails a death certificate to the registry enforcement unit -- a step she speculated had not taken place in Fawcett's case.

"There's no process by which a name is automatically removed from the registry when the offender dies," she said.

Nor are Justin Fawcett's parents the only victims of the state's sloppy record-keeping. The letter dispatched to their deceased son is just one particularly embarrassing miscue in an administrative meltdown that has left most of the state's registered sex offenders in a dangerous bureaucratic limbo for the last month -- publicly flagged as "non-compliant" while an overwhelmed State Police department sorts out their obligations under Michigan's newly amended registration law.

Lots of information required

Nearly everyone convicted of a sexual offense in Michigan is required to register their address, employment and other personal data with their local police department and verify it in person at least once a year. Much of that information is listed, along with the offender's photograph and details of his or her crimes, on a public Web site maintained by the State Police.

All those offenders are affected by statutory changes that state legislators adopted earlier this year to assure that Michigan remains eligible for millions of dollars in federal funding.

The changes in Michigan's law provide some offenders, including teenagers who landed on the registry for nonviolent offenses like Justin Fawcett's, an opportunity to petition the court for an early exit.

But they also require all registered offenders to provide police with additional information, including phone numbers and immigration documentation. In addition to offenders' addresses, the registry will soon list the addresses of their employers and the make and model of their cars.

Registered offenders who fail to report any change in their living arrangements, employment, vehicle ownership, or educational status within three business days are subject to arrest.

Red tape from updates

The letter Justin Fawcett received was one of tens of thousands mailed by the state to alert registered offenders that they needed to update their files in person no later than July 15.

But lawyers and offenders I talked with this week say that local police departments were unprepared for the resulting deluge, and that many offenders who complied with the new requirements in a timely way are still identified on the public sex offender registry as "non-compliant."

In a random search of more than 100 offenders in four metro Detroit ZIP codes Thursday, every single offender whose file I reviewed was identified as "NON-COMPLIANT" or "ABSCONDER."

"What's an employer supposed to think when he finds that the State Police have publicly identified one of his workers as a non-compliant sex offender?" asks Cheryl Carpenter, an Oakland County attorney who said she has taken calls from more than a dozen offenders concerned about inaccurate Web site listings.

"We did underestimate the volume of information we had to process," State Police spokeswoman Banner conceded. "We underestimated how well (offenders) were going to carry out their new duties."

Banner said the enforcement unit had designated every sex offender in the state "non-compliant" when the new law took effect July 1 and had intended to change their status as their information was updated. Late Thursday, after I noted that every offender whose file I examined was still listed as non-compliant, Banner told me that the enforcement unit had changed all their statuses to compliant -- a change my own inspection confirmed.

Carpenter said the State Police have been courteous and helpful in correcting errors she has brought to their attention. Barb Lambourne, co-founder of a support group called Citizens for Second Chances, echoed her assessment.

"The State Police have been very cooperative," she said. "I think this has just been an administrative nightmare for them."

Banner said the overhaul required by the new law has enabled the State Police to identify many errors in the registry, including the inclusion of deceased offenders.

"Obviously, the registry is only useful if the information listed there is accurate," she said. "If anything positive comes of this, it is that this process is cleaning up a number of problems."

BRIAN DICKERSON is the Free Press' deputy editorial page editor. Contact him at 313-222-6584 or

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Took 30 years, We Can Learn!

McMartin Preschool abuse-case fiasco led to new child interview techniques

Published: Thursday, Jul. 21, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 1A
Last Modified: Thursday, Jul. 21, 2011 - 11:06 am
The legacy of the notorious McMartin Preschool case of the 1980s is playing out this week in Sacramento.

As the principal of a private elementary school in Citrus Heights stands accused of molesting his students, authorities are warning the school's parents against aggressively questioning their children about the man they affectionately know as "Mr. Bob."

It is the exact opposite of what police asked parents to do during the McMartin case, in which members of a Southern California family who ran a highly regarded preschool in Manhattan Beach were charged with numerous acts of sexual abuse.

In that case, following an initial accusation from one mother, police sent form letters to more than 200 parents at the preschool, urging them to question their children about possible sexual abuse. Many parents, as well as therapists aiding in the investigation, asked the children provocative questions that led to wild accusations involving underground tunnels and satanic rituals. The case unraveled in court, and eventually all charges were dropped.

"We learned everything from McMartin," said John Myers, a Pacific McGeorge School of Law professor whose specialty is investigating and litigating child abuse cases. "It was the case that launched the modern era of psychological research" on proper ways of interviewing youngsters who may have been abused, he said.

Authorities this week shut down Creative Frontiers preschool and elementary school pending an investigation into sweeping allegations that principal Robert Adams molested children over the past 14 years. He has not been arrested, and on Wednesday he declared his innocence.

"I am shocked at the allegations that have been made against me and the school, but I welcome a full investigation," Adams said in a brief and emotional appearance with his lawyer, wife and daughters in front of the Sacramento Superior Courthouse.

"I am sad, mostly, for the trauma this has created for these children, closing the school in this manner. But I assure you I'm very confident that nothing inappropriate has happened."

His attorney, Linda Parisi, suggested that a former volunteer at the school, Irma Mertens, triggered the investigation in retaliation for the school's decision not to hire her as a full-time staffer

Mertens did report an alleged incidence of abuse, claiming she walked into the school office last summer and saw Adams touching a young girl in a sexual manner. But investigators said others also have made accusations.

The state Department of Social Services, in a complaint filed in support of revoking the preschool's license, accuses Adams of "inappropriate physical and sexual contact with female children" on "numerous occasions" beginning in 1997. The complaint cites two specific allegations, including the one by Mertens, and other more general accusations. Those include Adams touching children's bodies under their shirts and down their pants, and lying with female children on a mat in a secluded area.

Interview techniques key

As confused parents and children tried to make sense of the developments, police have begun carefully questioning youngsters about their experiences at Creative Frontiers. Police are still reviewing evidence obtained during searches of Adams' home and school, and say they are moving "methodically."
The Citrus Heights Police Department "continues to receive new significant information relating to these allegations," said a news release issued Wednesday.

Parents contacted by The Bee described Adams, who ran swim schools for kids prior to founding Creative Frontiers, as affectionate but not inappropriate with students. They said they were devastated by the allegations.

"We are all very surprised," said one mother who did not want to be named for fear of identifying her daughter. "He just seemed very sincere. I would never think of him doing these things. But what we are hearing sounds really bad, so it's confusing."

Properly questioning youngsters is the key to finding truthful information that could either put a molester in prison or exonerate a wrongly accused person, said Myers. But interviewing children about sexual abuse can be tricky, he and others said.

Young children, they said, are vulnerable to "suggestive questioning," in which the interviewer coaches a child into saying things that incriminate the accused person.

"Parents, by definition, are going to ask their children leading questions in these cases," said Myers. "The fear is that if parents or others talk to these kids and then they are interviewed by a professional, they will repeat what they told their parents. You can't unring the bell."

In the McMartin case, according to transcripts, parents and therapists asked children such leading questions as "Can you remember the naked pictures?" and "Did he touch you on the bottom?" Interviewers told youngsters they were "smart" if they answered yes to certain questions and "stupid" if they denied abuses by the McMartin staff.

The case, which spawned a national hysteria about child sexual abuse, was such a disaster that it sparked new investigative techniques that today are the gold standard, said James Wood, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas, El Paso. Wood has written extensively about McMartin and has served as an expert witness on child abuse.

In response to the McMartin debacle, authorities across the country established "child advocacy centers" with special rooms where youngsters can be questioned by trained psychologists or law enforcement specialists.
"In the Sacramento case, ideally they would say something like, 'Tell me about Mr. Bob. What are the things you like or don't like about him?' " Wood said. "Interviewers are not supposed to tell them what other kids said, thank them or praise them or condemn them for their answers."

Interviews should be conducted as soon as possible after an accusation surfaces, said Wood, and parents should not further question their children.

"It sounds like the Sacramento officials are doing the right thing," said Myers. "This kind of response is light years ahead of what it was when the McMartin case was decided."

Yet, similarly horrifying cases still slip into the courts, he said.

Lawyer: 'No sex abuse'

Wood served as an expert witness in the case of a Fort Worth, Texas, schoolteacher who in 2007 was accused of sexually abusing several of his female students.
The case created a public and media frenzy.

"It set off a panic, and one by one parents started coming forward, saying they believed their children had been molested," said Wood.

"After awhile it became clear that these kids, who initially denied that anything happened, had changed their stories" under questioning by parents and others. All charges eventually were dropped, but the teacher lost his reputation and his job, Wood said.

As the investigation continues into Creative Frontiers, parents are scrambling to find new schools for their children. Some of the youngsters attended Creative Frontiers during the regular school year in addition to participating in summer camp.

Parisi on Wednesday sought to portray her client's school as an institution that has been needlessly harmed by police announcing a probe without filing any charges.

"That school is a treasure to the community," Parisi said, adding that Adams has received many calls of support from families and former students. "It was an educational model."

"There was no sex abuse going on at that school," Parisi declared.

The mother who described Adams as sincere said her daughter has attended Creative Frontiers for more than two years and is upset that she no longer can go to class.

"The kids are taking it hard," she said. "They had to leave their school all of a sudden, and they didn't even get to say goodbye to each other. Now we have to find somewhere else to place them."

The parent said she has "vaguely" and gently questioned her daughter and has no evidence that she was ever harmed at school.

"All she knows is that Mr. Bob lost his license, and she just hopes that he's able to find it soon."

Read more:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Now Judges are ABOVE the law???

Divided Supreme Court rules justices can decide the same case at two levels

By: Gilman Halsted, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram  

A split ruling Tuesday in a sexual assault case reveals the sharp divide among state Supreme Court Justices about the rules for recusal.

For the past decade, Dimitri Henley has been trying to get a new trial based on new evidence that suggests the victim in the sexual assault he was convicted of may have consented to have sex with him and two other men. In his most recent effort he asked the court to disqualify Justice Patience Roggensack from ruling on the case because she had ruled in the same case as an appeals court judge in 2002. State statute prohibits judges from ruling on the same case in both a lower and a higher court. Keith Findley of the Wisconsin Innocence Project represents Henley.

"We argued that it violates due process to have a system when an individual justice makes their own decision about whether they're biased or impartial and there's no way to review that very personal decision,” he says. “Providing no way to review that essentially elevates an individual justice above the law."

But Justice Roggensack joined the four justice majority this week in ruling that recusal is a personal decision that the other justices cannot interfere with. The court split 4-3 on another recusal issue last year when voting against a rule to require justices to recuse themselves from cases involving people who contributed substantial sums to their election campaigns. Findley called this latest ruling a troubling one.

"It really looks like the majority appears to be tone deaf to the legitimate constitutional concerns and the mounting public concern about this court's ability to act in an impartial and balanced manner,” he says.
Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson writing for the dissent says Justice Roggensack has violated the ancient maxim that no person should be the judge of their own cause.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ohio Supreme Court Declares Sex Offender Registry Punitive!!!

Court: Law applied to convicted sex offenders violates constitution

Wednesday, July 13, 2011  09:28 AM

The Columbus Dispatch

The legislature's attempt four years ago to apply a new law to already-convicted sexual offenders violated the Ohio Constitution, the state Supreme Court ruled today.

Imposing enhanced registration and community notification requirements in the 2007 Ohio Adam Walsh Act against defendants whose crimes were committed before the effective date of that law violates a constitutional prohibition on the General Assembly enacting retroactive laws, the justices declared.
The 5-2 decision, which reversed a ruling by the 12th District Court of Appeals, was written by Justice Paul E. Pfeifer.

"The General Assembly has the authority, indeed the obligation, to protect the public from sex offenders," Pfeifer said. "It may not, however, consistent with the Ohio Constitution, 'impose new or additional burdens, duties, obligations, or liabilities as to a past transaction.' "

Joining the majority opinion were Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor and Justices Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, Judith Ann Lanzinger and Yvette McGee Brown.

Justice Terrence O'Donnell authored the dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justice Robert R. Cupp.
O'Donnell cited several previous decisions in which the Supreme Court decreed that sex offender registration and community notification requirements are not criminal sanctions intended to punish offenders, and thus the Constitution's ban on retroactive application does not apply.

"The Ohio General Assembly has adopted legislation in accordance with legislation enacted by the United States Congress in an effort to create a national, uniform system of sex-offender registration," he said. "Our long-standing precedent recognizes the legislature's authority to make policy decisions for reasons of public safety and public welfare.

"Moreover, having considered the constitutionality of prior sex-offender-registration statutes, this court has consistently held both that those statutes constitute a civil regulatory scheme designed to protect the public from known sex offenders and that the statutes may be retroactively applied to individuals who have committed sexually oriented offenses in the past."

O'Donnell said the ruling is "out of sync" with federal court decisions upholding actions similar to those taken by the legislature.

Ohio has more than 25,000 registered sex offenders. It was not immediately clear how many would be affected by the new ruling.

Today's decision came on the appeal of George Williams of Warren County, convicted in December 2007 for engaging in sexual conduct with a minor an offense that occurred before the Adam Walsh Act took effect. Williams asked the judge to sentence him under the previous sex offender classification setup, known as Megan's Law.

The judge rejected that motion and classified him under the more stringent Adam Walsh Act as a Tier II offender, which required him to register with the sheriff in his home county and in any other county in which he worked or attended school, every 180 days for the ensuing 25 years.

Williams appealed, but was turned down by the 12th District Court of Appeals.

Pfeifer noted that in earlier Supreme Court decisions on previous changes in the sex offender law, justices upheld the changes because they were more remedial than punitive, and thus the constitutional ban on retroactive laws did not apply. But the changes in the Adam Walsh Act made them punitive, and therefore unconstitutional.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

No one is safe....

Tonya Craft’s Ex, Parental Alienator Joal Henke, Shows Kids Will Lie About Sexual Abuse To Hurt Target Parent

Written by: Chris
Tonya Craft
Tonya Craft
False sexual abuse allegations are an appalling mainstay in child custody cases today. They cause immense damage to the falsely accused parent and to the children. The false accuser usually doesn’t care who they hurt so long as they get the kids as a result. The courts and government are quick to side with the false accuser, demanding that a careful investigation be done and in the meantime the children will live with the parent making the accusations.
These “investigations” are often nothing but a witch-hunt that takes multiple years to fizzle out. By that time, the children involved are often suffering badly from the lack of a parent who loves them. The falsely accused parent has often not only lost years with his children but has lost his job, career, home, savings, reputation, and quite possibly a new marriage, too. Usually none of this is remedied. The falsely accused parent doesn’t even receive an apology from anyone. Some “mother’s rights” groups don’t care about any of this and view false sexual abuse allegations as a sure-win strategy of choice because they are willing to do anything to get children away from their fathers, even when it results in psychological damage to the children. But the recent case of Tonya Craft may give reason for them to change their positions. That’s because it is a case in which the mother was falsely accused of sexual abuse by her ex-husband, a malicious parental alienator of the most vile sort named Joal Henke.

Blindly Taking Sides Against Accused Parent Is A Mistake

The casual observer not versed in the pathological behaviors of the courts, government, and abusive parents would tend to take either the government’s side or the accusing parent’s side. Such people are quick to jump on the “execute the child molester” bandwagon, often simply after hearing allegations with no proof other than reports of what a child is claimed to have said to a government investigator.
This is a serious mistake. Children, particularly toddlers through early elementary school kids, can be coached to lie or even worse against a parent. The “even worse” can be a lot worse. If you doubt this, consider the case of Dr. Rick Lohstroh whose ten year old son was trained to kill his father and shot him in the back with a handgun owned and supplied to him by his malicious mother, Deborah Geisler. A ten year old ought to know that shooting a gun into the back of another person is wrong, yet this one did it to his father because his mother taught him to do so.
Being familiar with how family law courts work, how alienating and personality disordered parents think and behave, and the many far from rational witch hunts that result from somebody uttering the words “child sexual abuse”, I’ve come to the conclusion that often a child’s claims of sexual abuse are fabricated or distorted. A parent, a law enforcement official, a therapist, or some combination of these three wants a particular answer. It’s not hard to convince a young child to give the wanted answer. Sometimes it is done with malicious intent, other times it is through sheer incompetence. Either way, the result can be a child falsely accusing a parent that never harmed the child and whom the child loves dearly.
Furthermore, government investigators are notorious for asking leading questions that manipulate witnesses, especially naive children, to get the answers they want. Even when they do not answer as desired, the investigator can create the appearance of the desired answer by altering evidence including modifying lengthy transcripts of interviews that few people will spend many hours to carefully review. As more and more people are dragged into the roles of witnesses, reality is quickly replaced by some sick fiction in which nearly everybody questioned has a story about how the accused is obviously a child molester. Many of these people would rather hang an innocent than to risk being tainted by failing to drive an accusatory knife into the back of the government’s target. Mass hysteria overcomes responsible behavior.

Being Charged With A Crime Is Far From Being Guilty

Even when somebody is charged with a crime and put on trial, sometimes it turns out the entire thing is an abusive sham in which either the wrong person is accused or there was never any abuse against the children. More accurately, there was no abuse up until the time which the government got involved and psychologically tormented the children in the name of “investigating” baseless accusations. This is exactly what happened in the case of Tonya Craft.
Tonya Craft was a kindergarten teacher in Georgia. At first, it was her young daughter who was accused of molesting other children. Then the allegations grew and shifted to blame Tonya for molesting her own daughter and other children.
Her kids were removed from her and placed with her ex-husband who conveniently happened to be one of her accusers. She was investigated, arrested, charged, and tried. Yet in May 2010, two years into her nightmare, Tonya Craft was found innocent of all 22 charges of sexually molesting three children including her own daughter.
Why is that? It’s because she was falsely accused by other parents who didn’t like her, including her ex-husband Joal Henke who appears to have been engaging in parental alienation child abuse by encouraging and teaching their daughter to falsely accuse her mother of sexual abuse. The jury could see the evidence was worthless, the prosecution’s witnesses lacked credibility, and the judge and prosecution were in obscene collusion. This is exactly why a jury is needed in any case involving child abuse allegations. If it had been left to corrupt Judge Brian House, Tonya Craft would have been found guilty.
Judge Brian House
Judge Brian House
The Craft case was a kangaroo court disaster every which way, from start to finish. Investigators repeatedly broke the protocols on how to interview children to get accurate answers. The prosecution team lead by Chris Arnt and Len Gregor arranged for improper questioning of the children and brainwashing of Craft’s own daughter to testify against her. The prosecution also hid exculpatory evidence.
Even the judge was complicit in the misconduct. Judge Brian House was Craft’s ex-husband’s former divorce attorney, given this he should have clearly recused himself but he did not. Then House let a tainted jury be seated that included Craft’s former brother-in-law.
Yet despite all of this, the jury could see there was no legitimacy to the case against Craft. One hopes they will have much more to say publicly about the appalling performance of the courts and government in this case as it will take a great deal of public outrage to ensure this never happens again.

Joal Henke’s Actions Constitute Parental Alienation Child Abuse

What Joal Henke did by coaching his daughter to falsely accuse her mother is parental alienation child abuse. There is no question in my mind that Henke is a child abuser given his actions. No parent should ever encourage or coach a child to lie against the other parent, especially not to cause them to be charged with a crime. Getting increased custody is no excuse for such actions.
Even if the impact on the other parent is not considered, such actions are severely detrimental to the children. Can you imagine what their little girl may think about herself when one day she realizes she put her mother in jail and ruined her life? Adults may say “the child is not to blame” but do you honestly think the child is going to feel that way? Kids tend to blame themselves and in this case, the blame is over something very major.
Joal Henke is a sleazy person at best as you can tell from his court testimony in the trial:
Joal Henke is someone who is not easily shamed. For example, when Tonya was suing him for divorce several years ago, he denied her claims that he was having affairs with other women until he was confronted with strong evidence of him engaging in adultery. He had a “change of heart” when he realized he was caught.
Interestingly, when confronted with that material on the witness stand during Tonya’s trial, he claimed to not have been aware that there was evidence of his adultery. That, of course, was perjury, but it was a minor instance to some of the other things he did while under oath.
Henke’s greatest “I just remembered” feat of perjury, however, came with his allegation during his April 23 testimony when he claimed that on the way to court that morning, he had “recalled” an alleged “lesbian” incident involving Tonya and a friend of hers. (That and other whoppers are included in this media link from WRCB-TV for that day.)
First, one does not “just remember” something like what he had described. Such an event would be the kind that he would have told police and prosecutors up front. Second, it also tells us about the prosecutors and “judge” Outhouse that they would have let Henke enter this testimony in the first place, and that from the trial testimony, “Alberto-Facebook” clearly was anxious to make sure Joal made the allegations.

Would Shared Parenting Have Helped Avoid The False Accusations?

As bad a person as Joal Henke appears, one questions if he would ever have engaged in this level of parental alienation if he and Tonya Craft shared child custody more evenly. In their 2004 divorce, the typical sexist pattern of giving full custody to the mother and limited visitation to the father was ordered by the court. Further, it appears even this was not working out well:
In 2004, Ms. Craft, following the couple’s divorce, was granted full custody. In June 2008, when the criminal charges against her surfaced, Mr. Henke requested in court and received full custody of the children. Since then, Ms. Craft has had supervised visitation with her son and no contact with her daughter.
The couple for years has had bad blood, court documents show. There are three large files on their ongoing custody disputes in the Hamilton Circuit Court Clerk’s office.
The files show typical shared-custody disputes such as not dropping off the children on time or not allowing phone calls between the children and parents.
Recent court filings have focused on Ms. Craft’s ongoing legal troubles, including numerous files and documents sealed from public view.
Tonya Craft didn’t deserve what was done to her. More importantly, the children didn’t deserve it. But there should be little question that the government siding with Craft over her ex-husband prior to the false allegations probably had something to do with Joal Henke wanting to help frame her for a fictitious crime in order to have some time with his kids. Shared parenting with a 50/50 time split with the courts refusing to budge from this without a criminal conviction (or some other arrangement mutually agreed to by both parents) would probably have vastly improved the circumstances for everybody. That includes the children, parents, community, and the befuddled taxpayers who footed the huge bill for the judicial and prosecutorial atrocities.
Craft and Henke have reached a secret temporary agreement on child custody. A long-term custody arrangement awaits a court decision no earlier than July 22, 2010.

Judicial and Prosecutorial Misconduct

There are calls for an FBI investigation of the prosecutor’s office for its misconduct. It would be well-deserved, but the FBI probably lacks enough investigators to go after all the abusive and corrupt judges and prosecutors playing these sorts of illegal tricks. The courts of the United States, particularly those influenced by nepotism, money, greed, and the bottom-feeding majority of family law attorneys are a mockery of justice. However, investigating, disbarring, and prosecuting the judge and prosecutors in this case might dissuade at least a few others engaged in similar practices.

False Sex Abuse Cases Elsewhere

Outrageous prosecutions of innocents on trumped up charges are not isolated to backwards areas of Georgia. These kinds of things have happened in big cities like San Diego and Los Angeles, too. These atrocities have spanned many years, many of them starting in the 1980?s or 1990?s and not resulting in innocent people finally being released until the 2000?s.
Obviously, despite debacles such as the Wade and Akiki cases in San Diego, the McMartin Pre-School case in Los Angeles, and the Fells Acres Day Care Center case in Massachusetts , governments have learned nothing and continue to abuse parents even when the accusers have a vested interest in seeing them ruined and their accusations should be viewed with great suspicion.

James Wade

One of the most notable child sexual abuse fraud cases is that of James Wade who was falsely accused of raping his daughter Alicia Wade. A serial child rapist Albert Raymond Carder already being prosecuted for crimes against children in the same neighborhood was the actual perpetrator, but prosecutor Elizabeth Jane Via denied this even when the judge in the case directly queried her about this possibility. This family was split into pieces as the San Diego government raced against time to adopt out the daughter after having paid therapist Kathleen Goodfriend to brainwash her to falsely accuse her father, something that took a year to do given the girl’s strenuous objections to her father’s involvement and statements that some unknown man had climbed through her bedroom window to attack her.
In a videotaped interview, Alicia was asked with whom she would feel most safe. “My mom, dad, and brother,” she answered. The transcript of the tape, however, chopped the reference to the father. A child-protection official later acknowledged that he never bothered to review the video.
Alicia’s therapist was Kathleen Goodfriend of the La Mesa Village Counseling Group, who worked on the case entirely without supervision. Like the social workers now pawing through the Wades’ lives, Goodfriend ignored the evidence and assumed more or less automatically that Jim Wade had been the attacker, although his daughter continued to staunchly deny this in their sessions. Receiving more than $11,000 in state monies for this case alone, Goodfriend began relentlessly to brainwash Alicia Wade, now totally isolated from her family, pressuring her into naming an “acceptable perpetrator”. That is, her father.
The Grand Jury eventually subpoenaed Goodfriend’s notes, which contained many comments about how Alicia “liked” her therapist. But Alicia’s own testimony makes it clear that the child wanted only to go home. The Grand Jury was also alarmed that Goodfriend taught the child about masturbation “without any parental input or apparent interest by the child”.
While Goodfriend worked on Alicia’s mind, the Wades’ social workers were working on her future. They rejected Alicia’s grandparents, aunts and uncles, the pastor of the family church and the father’s attorney as possible custodians for Alicia because of their “allegiance with the parents”. One social worker told Alicia’s grandmother not even to waste her time coming to San Diego because her son James was guilty of raping Alicia, who would not be coming home to anyone in the family. Instead, they were sticking the girl in a foster home and the social worker and Goodfriend would be controlling all access to it.
Children are put into foster homes as quickly as possible because that act opens the floodgates of federal funds. Foster parents receive $484 a month for a child from ages 5 to 18, almost twice the amount a welfare mother receives for her own offspring. Special care cases can bring up to $1,000 a month. And all funds are tax free. Some foster parents are concerned and caring, but others are entrepreneurs in what the Grand Jury called “the baby-brokering business”. They depend on the goodwill of social workers to get and keep the little human beings who keep the government checks coming.
ADA Chris Arnt
Prosecutor Chris Arnt
The prosecutor in the Wade case, Elizabeth Jane Via, outright lied to the court and was directly responsible for much of the misconduct in the case. The jury recommended she be investigated for misconduct. But surprise, Via reportedly works for the County of San Diego’s abusive District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis in 2010.
Prosecutors who engage in such misconduct often escape without a scratch. So don’t be surprised if House, Arnt, and Gregor escape free of any consequences for their shockingly abusive conduct against Tonya Craft. The government itself will likely not raise a finger to hold them accountable for their actions. Hopefully voters will do so instead, perhaps by recall elections or other means.

Dale Akiki

Not long after the Wade case, in 1993 the San Diego government helped solidify its reputation as an abuser of law and persecutor of innocents via the Dale Akiki “Sunday school satanism” witch hunt. This deeply disturbing story features a community crusade to destroy an innocent man’s life, this time with claims about how Dale Akiki, a disabled and disfigured man who volunteered at Faith Chapel Church, sexually molested the children in his care and somehow murdered an elephant and giraffe in front of Sunday school children, made them drink the blood, and then mysteriously disposed of the carcasses so nobody could find them.

Adam Lee’s documentary on the persecution of Dale Akiki

As public defender Kate Coyne revealed, the DA prosecutor in charge of the case hand-picked therapists who then proceeded to brainwash the children to get the answers the government wanted. The County of San Diego government and its agents of persecution, including Rady Children’s Hospital and many therapists, were eventually held responsible for their misconduct via a confidential settlement estimated at around $2 million.

Bakersfield Witch Hunt

Some may have taken comfort in Dale Akiki being a disfigured man who made an obvious target for false accusations. If so, they were mistaken. There have been plenty of other false prosecutions of innocent people. Some of the cases have been built up into hysterical dimensions with several people involved in a “sex ring” abusing many children. Sadly, many of these people ended up railroaded even worse than what happened to Craft, Wade, and Akiki.
Some have spent decades in prison due to overzealous government officials who insisted upon throwing people in prison at all costs, regardless of the truth. The 2008 documentary Witch Hunt tells the stories of several families in Bakersfield, California, who were cruelly railroaded for crimes that never occurred.
Among the comments of viewers on the Internet Movie Database page for Witch Hunt, this one is representative and rightly raises the point that anybody can be a victim of a child sexual abuse witch hunt:
America can only remain a free nation if the judicial process is fair, untainted, and subject to review. During the early 1980?s, it seems that the residents of Bakersfield, CA sacrificed their judicial rights for the illusion of Law And Order. WITCH HUNT is a riveting documentary about a group of citizens who became the target of a joint task force of Law Enforcement and Social Services that illegally and immorally usurped their power. The State’s position was that this police and social service unit provided an opportunity for sexually abused children to be heard, and allow the law to apprehend and punish their abusers. However, as the the film clearly demonstrates, Child And Family Services, with the aid of an overzealous police force, were able to orchestrate children’s testimony, and allowed the local government to create a non-existing threat to the community. Bakersfield became a city under siege by pedophiles-perverted by “Sexual Weapons Of Mass Destruction”. WITCH HUNT shows that these ‘dedicated and thoughtful public servants’ invented a phony threat to the community, and then rode it for all it was worth. This ‘Response To Evil’ allowed them to parade before the media and appear to be ‘Tough On Crime’, when really they did nothing but railroad innocent citizens by using Child And Family Services to badger and bully innocent children until they gave them the ‘sexual horror’ that they craved. In no way should this film be viewed as a fair and balanced treatment of child molesters, but what this documentary shows us is that Law Enforcement and Social Service Agencies are able to foster a climate of hysteria which might allow citizens to give up an unbiased legal system for the illusion of Safety. In the commentary to the film, we find that when Child and Family Service personnel were told by the children that ‘nothing happened’, the impressionable children were badgered and bullied and told that they were ‘in denial’. What is truly alarming is that, given these conditions, this gross travesty of justice could happen to any of us.

Trailer for “Witch Hunt”

Government Refuses to Learn

Governments claimed they learned from the many satanic abuse and sexual abuse frauds they pulled on the public in the 1980?s and 1990?s. But now the Tonya Craft case shows that this simply isn’t true. It is clear that anybody with a malicious ex can have his or her life ruined and children harmed because of false allegations mishandled by an abusive government that truly does not care about guilt, innocence, or protecting children.
Mother’s rights groups would do well to remember that. It’s time they dropped their sexist rhetoric and started to put the truth and well-being of children ahead of their anti-father agendas. Otherwise, it is likely there will be many more parents, including many mothers, wrongfully suffering the fate of Tonya Craft and the many other people who have been falsely accused and maliciously prosecuted to satiate the desires of others to see them ruined.

Federal Lawsuit for $25 Million

After her acquittal, Tonya Craft decided she must act to hold accountable those who falsely accused her and participated in generating false evidence. She filed a $25 million lawsuit in federal court in Rome, Georgia, against the county government, the therapists, and the parents of the children who were coached to falsely accuse her. The list includes Sandra Lamb, Sherri and Dewayne Wilson, her former husband Joal Henke, his current wife Sarah, Kelli McDonald, Sgt. Tim Deal, Catoosa County, Catoosa County Sheriff Phil Summers, Suzi Thorne, Stacy Long, Laurie Evans, the Childrens Advocacy Center of the Lookout Mountain Judicial District, and the Greenhouse Childrens Advocacy Center. The judge and prosecutors wrongfully enjoy immunity for their alleged violations of legal standards and the law, so they cannot be named in the lawsuit.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Many sex offenders unemployed, increasing risk of re-offending

By NICOLE MARSHALL World Staff Writer

On a list of more than 330 registered sex offenders in Tulsa, nearly 40 percent are listed as unemployed, disabled or retired, records show.

Authorities say that it can be difficult for sex offenders to find a job. And with residency restrictions that make a majority of the city off limits, such instability can increase the risk of re-offending for some offenders.

"It is difficult to find employment just because of the misconceptions that every sex offender is a child molester or that every sex offender is a rapist and that is not the case," Tulsa Police Sgt. John Adams said.

"If they don't find employment and don't find housing there is not a lot else for them to do besides just hang out. If they can't find a job, they can't pay for counseling."

Law officers and legislators alike would like to see a study on Oklahoma's laws governing sex offenders to ensure that they are working as intended.

Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa, has requested an interim study on the issue at the request of law officers and members of the Oklahoma Coalition for Sex Offender Management.

Randy Lopp, a licensed professional counselor who is a member of the group, said the study was requested in the interest of public safety in Oklahoma.

He said that most people agree that there are definitely some sex offenders who require the strictest monitoring regarding where they live and work. However, not all of the offenders required to register fall into that category.

The law states that sex offenders cannot "work with or provide services to children or to work on school premises, or for any person or business who offers or provides services to children or contracts for work to be performed on school premises." It also prevents sex offenders from working on ice cream trucks.

Tulsa's list of sex offenders shows that many get jobs in the food industry. Lopp said that many of them also do landscaping, mowing and day labor.

"It is difficult for folks to find a job. We encourage people to keep trying and tell them that looking for a job is a full-time job. They are also often underemployed. Employers are just fearful of hiring any offenders, not only sex offenders," Lopp said.

"Obviously, the whole problem with the sex offender issue is trying to find a place to stay and a place to work is very hard. There is research out there that shows this creates a lifestyle instability," Lopp said. "That makes it difficult to maintain any kind of standard of living. If they can't be near family or support it increases the risks re-offending, rather than decreasing the risks."

Study urged on effects of federal law

Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa, has requested a study on the effects of the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act and its impact on Oklahoma's public safety.

Passed in 2006, the Act organizes sex offenders into three tiers, creates a national sex offender registry and instructs each state and territory to apply the same criteria for posting offender data on the Internet. That data includes the offender's name, address, date of birth, place of employment and photograph.

The request for an interim study was made to address these concerns, a letter from McDaniel shows:

  • The act requires that states have a tier system placing registered sex offenders in tiers. High-risk offenders must register for life, moderate-risk offenders for 25 years and low-risk offenders for 15 years. The act requires that the tiers be based on the offense of record, rather than risk of re-offense.
  • The act requires the registry to include the offender's place of employment. This could have an impact on the offender's ability to find stable employment. A lack of stable employment may increase the offender's risk to the community.
  • The act requires states include children as young as 14 on registries, often for the rest of their lives.
  • Failure to comply with the act would prevent Oklahoma from obtaining Byrne Justice Assistant Grant funding. However, The Justice Policy Institute finds that the first-year cost of implementing the act outweighs the cost of losing the grant.
  • The interim study may also address other issues such as residency restrictions, which has some unintended consequences.