Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Time for The People of Wisconsin to Speak!

All these bills are what we would call here in the Organization, BAD BILLS, they will cost the taxpayer in the long run and will cost entire families as well.  We need to call our Representatives to let them know that these bills are going to cost us more money than our state can afford and none of them have proven to protect anyone, children especially.  Infact these bills could actually HURT children by the way they can be implemented and enforced.

AN ACT to create 301.475 of the statutes; relating to: notification requirements for persons who must register as sex offenders and who are on school premises and providing penalties.

AN ACT to amend 973.01 (2) (c) 2. a.; and to create 939.635 of the statutes; relating to: crimes against children committed by certain persons and providing a penalty. - this one is especially nasty...

AN ACT to renumber and amend 948.055 (2) (a) and 948.055 (2) (b); to amend 948.055 (1); and to create 939.32 (1) (cr) and (de), 948.055 (2) (a) 2., 948.055 (2) (b) 2. and 971.23 (11) of the statutes; relating to: evidentiary recordings of persons under the age of 18 engaging in sexually explicit conduct and certain sex offenses against children and providing penalties.

Wisconsin's version of the Thought Police, from the bill: "Under current law, the crime of causing a child to view or to listen to sexual activity, requires that the victim be under the age of 18. Under this bill, the victim may either be under 18 or be an individual who the person perpetrating the crime believes or has reason to believe is under 18.

Call and write your Assemblymen and Senators here in WI

You can find them here:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It's about time....

Well, what do you know? Virginia Beach public school officials have wisely decided to ditch a pricey sex-offender screening program before tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars were wasted on such lunacy.
(Of course, this enhanced security system did nab a pizza delivery guy with a record of sex offenses who was trying to - get this - deliver pizzas to the office of a middle school, which had ordered them.)

It's tempting to applaud educators for this bold display of common sense. We'll resist that temptation, though, because they explained that the program was scrapped because of tight finances and not because the sex-offender-detector essentially addressed a problem that doesn't exist.

The security system is designed to run the names of every school visitor through a national sex offender list. When there's a match, school officials are notified and the miscreant can be led away in handcuffs.

Smart, since we all know that sex offenders flock to schools because of the notoriously lax security.

Actually, that's not true. Not only is it often a felony for a convicted sex offender to venture onto school property, but most schools also already follow strict procedures designed to keep all strangers away from the kids. It usually involves locks and intelligent human beings who require visitors to show ID, sign in and out, and have a legitimate purpose for their visit.

The computer system would have cost $120,000 the first year and $36,288 annually if it had been installed in all Beach schools. What a waste. Especially when you consider that the starting salary for a teacher in the city is $38,597.

I'm old school when it comes to education. I think scarce resources ought to be spent on teachers, not gadgets designed to do little more than give overly nervous parents a false sense of security.

The pilot program was tried in three Beach schools this spring. The lone hit was the pizza man with a criminal past who was caught while dropping off a few extra-cheese delicacies to the Larkspur Middle School office.

It's true he wasn't supposed to be on school property. But were the kids in danger as he came through the door carrying a stack of greasy boxes? No. Do we even know that his crimes involved children? No. Was he charged with a felony for his actions? No.

School officials say they summoned the commonwealth attorney's office and the state and local police. It was decided that because the school ordered the pizza and the driver was simply doing his job, this was not a case that ought to be prosecuted.

What do you know? More common sense. This time from law enforcement.

We all want to keep kids safe. Truth is, schools do a remarkable job of keeping strangers from roaming the hallways. Anecdotally speaking, it seems kids are more likely to be harmed by classmates, teachers or coaches.

It isn't just Virginia Beach that fell for this security system. Chesapeake public schools installed a sex-offender detector system at the start of last school year. That one cost a whopping $268,400 and, according to news reports, hasn't even caught a shady pizza man yet.

By the way, Chesapeake used federal stimulus loot to pay for that system. Any wonder so few jobs were created by that massively expensive program out of Washington?

Naturally, some parents were delighted with the added layer of security. Others saw it for what it was - a windfall for private security firms, an empty gesture on the part of schools.

Here it comes. Any minute now, someone is going to trot out the tired "If it saves just one child, it's worth it" argument. Spare us. If we follow that logic, we should hire personal bodyguards for students.

Geez. I hope that doesn't give anyone an idea.

Kerry Dougherty, (757) 446-2306,

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What a Gross Abuse of Taxpayer funds...

Fon du Lac DA appeals 'hickey' ruling

The Fond du Lac County District Attorney's Office is appealing a judge's decision to throw out a case involving a 17-year-old Fond du Lac boy allegedly giving a 13-year-old girl a "hickey" on her chest.

Circuit Court Judge Gary Sharpe on Aug. 19 did not find probable cause in the case of second-degree sexual assault of a child after listening to testimony from the girl.

Upon conviction, the Class C felony carries a potential maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, 15 years extended supervision and lifetime registry as a sex offender.

Capt. Steve Klein confirmed the Police Department referred the Class C felony to the DA's Office. Detective Pat Primising investigated the alleged assault.

When making his ruling at the preliminary hearing, Sharpe said, "To say this case is overcharged is an understatement," according to a transcript.

Appeal request

District Attorney Dan Kaminsky said his office has submitted the matter to the Attorney General's Office, requesting the AG's Office file an appeal.

According to the one-page criminal complaint:

On June 18, the sister of the 13-year-old girl called the boy to bring over a soccer ball to play with. The boy then asked the 13-year-old girl to come into his car with him.

Inside the vehicle, the two kissed. The boy gave the girl a hickey on her right breast, and the girl gave the boy a hickey on his neck.

The boy then asked to receive oral sex. The 13-year-old told him no and stated she did not want to have sex with him.

Primising interviewed the teen at his Fond du Lac home. The teen did not allow the detective to take a swab from his mouth to compare DNA.

The teen also allegedly admitted to dating a 14-year-old girl.

The boy's attorney, Michael O'Rourke, said his client denies the contact with the 13-year-old.

"The issue I find much more disturbing is that they (the DA's Office) charged this case in this manner. I mean, a 40-year felony for two teenagers giving hickeys to each other? I understand she is 13," O'Rourke said. "But he is only 17. There is a four-year age difference.

"Even if he did give her a hickey on her breast and that might technically equal second-degree sexual assault of a child, should we be charging that? That's where I find it disturbing."

O'Rourke said if the state is serious about the charge, the DA's Office wants a conviction that would place his client on the sex offender registry, an outcome that would ban the boy from certain jobs and from living in parts of communities.

O'Rourke suggested that the case could have been charged as fourth-degree sexual assault or disorderly conduct. The teen has no criminal history, he said.

Citing Supreme Court rules, Kaminsky declined to discuss why Assistant District Attorney Devra Ayala pursued the charge suggested by the Police Department.

"Unlike my counterpart (O'Rourke), I will not violate the Supreme Court rules by discussing issues on this case in public at this stage," Kaminsky wrote in an email. "It is unethical to attempt to sway public opinion to gain advantage in litigation. Perhaps you (The Reporter) should do a story on attorneys who actively seek publicity in violation of this rule and perhaps without client consent in violation of rules 20:1.4 and 20:1.6."

At the preliminary hearing, Ayala told Sharpe, "it is the court's duty to decide whether the elements have been met," then alluded to plea deals and the 17-year-old's history.

"This is a case which we can flush out and decide how to resolve later, but there are concerns with (the 17-year-old's) past history which aren't necessarily relevant for this hearing and his behavior with other young females, other 13- and 14-year-old girls, so that is why the state chose to resolve this this way," said Ayala, according to the transcript. "How we resolve it is to be seen down the road."


O'Rourke said Ayala's statement implies the DA's Office overcharged the case on purpose in order to negotiate.

"That is kind of a damning statement in my opinion," O'Rourke said. "He is facing a 40-year felony. That's pretty good incentive to negotiate. If he is denying he did it and they (the DA's Office) say they will give him a misdemeanor, any attorney has to say, 'Do you want to take the offer or roll the dice on being a sex offender the rest of your life?' People will plead to things they are innocent of under that kind of pressure."

Sharpe said there was insufficient evidence to justify prosecution of a Class C felony.

Ayala said she could show the court a photo of the hickey but it would need to be sealed. She also offered the case be reopened so an officer could describe the location of the mark.

Sharpe did not allow the extra testimony and said he was not interested in viewing the photos, according to the transcript.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Don't Touch!!! The New Age of Teaching....

When Did a Big Hug Become a Bad Thing? 

By Rae Pica

There was a time when the conventional wisdom was that we needed four hugs a day to survive, eight hugs a day to maintain, and 12 to grow. Later, as media reports of sexual assault cases spread like viruses, along with fear of lawsuits, educators and children were schooled in "bad touch" versus "good touch" (a hug was one of the latter). Now, more and more, we have no touch.

America has always been a low-touch society, but this is getting ridiculous. When teacher education programs begin advising its students to put up a high-five when a kid requests a hug, and teachers' unions instruct educators to refrain from touching kids at all, as reported in a recent Education Week blog, it's time to take a step back and reassess our priorities.

According to an article on the website of the Council for Exceptional Children, the Pennsylvania State Education Association offers the following guidelines on the use of touch: (1) consider the age, sex, and perception (maturity) of the child, (2) use touch only to praise or comfort, (3) ensure there is another adult present, and (4) briefly touch only the shoulder or arm.

Can't you see it now? A young child (how does that apply to guideline number one?) is crying and desperately in need of comfort (that meets guideline number two). But your co-teacher is out on the playground with some of the other children (number three isn't possible!), so you tentatively pat the child on the shoulder (phew, number four applied!) and say, "There, there." The child isn't remotely comforted, but you can rest assured that you've followed guidelines and are in no jeopardy of being sued for child abuse.

But isn't this child abuse? According to Frances Carlson, author of Essential Touch: Meeting the Needs of Young Children, physical contact can be more important to sustaining life than food and water! As she told me in an interview for Body, Mind and Child, children need physical contact in order to thrive and grow in every aspect of development. She cited research indicating that when children are denied touch, they fail to grow physically and to develop the emotional and social skills they need to succeed in early childhood and in life.

Dr. Lisa Fiore, Director of Early Childhood Education at Lesley University, who joined Frances and me for the discussion, pointed out that it's not just in school that children aren't getting the touch they need. Our changing society has resulted in "people engaging in activities requiring less physical contact every day."

When we consider the amount of time children are spending in front of television and computer screens, the lack of opportunity for old-fashioned rough-and-tumble play, and reports of children as old as four and five being pushed in strollers (meaning their hands aren't even being held), we begin to realize just how seldom the child's need for touch is being met.

Ironically, my guests pointed out that when men teach young children, the little ones are more likely to have their touch needs met because men engage in more physical play than women do. They're also more likely than female teachers to have a hand on the child's back while engaging in conversation. But, sadly, it is the touch from the male teacher that is most suspect of all.

Ms. Carlson recommended that, rather than no-touch policies, schools begin to establish "touch" policies that explain the boundaries of what touch looks like in education settings, and that help teachers and parents understand that denying children touch is as problematic as denying access to rest, water, or the bathroom.
Dr. Fiore ended by asking, "Wouldn't it be lovely to embrace touching in the classroom as appropriate and developmentally necessary?"

Wouldn't it be lovely, indeed, if we could put the children's needs ahead of our fears? Even if we discount the research, along with conventional wisdom, we at least should ask ourselves: if we're craving a hug, is a high-five really gonna cut it?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Registry Causes Recidivism??? Really??? No Way!!! *sarcasm*

Two new pieces in Journal of Law & Econ examine efficacy of sex offender registries

August 31, 2011

Cover This new press release from the University of Chicago Press Journals reports on two newly published articles examining the effectiveness of modern sex offender laws. Here are highlights:

Two studies in the latest issue of the Journal of Law and Economics cast doubt on whether sex offender registry and notification laws actually work as intended.

One study, by J.J. Prescott of the University of Michigan and Jonah Rockoff of Columbia University, found that requiring sex offenders to register with police may significantly reduce the chances that they will re-offend. However the research also finds that making that same registry information available to the broader public may backfire, leading to higher overall rates of sex crime.

Meanwhile, another study by University of Chicago Ph.D. student Amanda Agan finds no evidence that sex offender registries are at all effective in increasing public safety....

Using data from 15 states over more than 10 years, Prescott and Rockoff examine the evolution of sex offense rates as states passed and began to enforce their registration and notification laws....

Prescott and Rockoff find that a registration requirement without public notification reduces reported sex crime substantially, most likely through better police monitoring and more effective apprehension of recidivists. For a state with an average-sized registry, a registration requirement reduces crime by about 13 percent from the sample mean. The drop in crime gets larger as registries grow larger, indicating that registry laws lower crime by discouraging registered offenders from re-offending, as opposed to discouraging potential first-time offenders.

In contrast, public notification laws, such as the listing of released offenders on the Internet, may actually undo some or all of a registry's crime-reducing power. While Prescott and Rockoff discover that the threat of being subjected to notification deters some potential first-time sex offenders from committing crime, released offenders appear to become more likely to do so. In fact, adding public notification to an average state's registration law leads to slightly higher levels of total reported sex crime. Taken as a whole, the research shows that while police registration discourages sex offender recidivism, public notification actually encourages it.

Why would public notification encourage sex offenders to re-offend? Perhaps because they have little else to lose. In particular, notification can make the threat of prison less effective....

Agan finds no evidence that sex offender registries are effective in increasing public safety. Her study used three different types of analysis to test the effectiveness of sex offender laws. First, she compared arrest rates for sex crimes in each U.S. state before and after registry laws were implemented and found no appreciable changes in crime trends following the introduction of a registry.

Second, Agan tested whether registries discourage convicted offenders from re-offending. To do that, she looked at data on over 9,000 sex offenders released from prison in 1994. About half of those offenders were released into states where they needed to register, while the other half did not need to register. She could then compare crime rates in the two groups.

She found little difference in the two groups' propensity to re-offend. In fact, those released into states without registration laws were slightly less likely to re-offend. "The results show that an offender who should have had to register appears to behave no differently, or possibly worse, than on who did not have to register," she writes. "If anything, registered offenders have higher rates of recidivism."
Third, Agan looked at census blocks in Washington D.C. to see if higher numbers of sex offenders in a given block correspond to higher rates of sex crime arrests. She found that crime rates in general, and sex crimes in particular, do not vary according to the number of sex offenders in the area....

She concludes that sex offender registries do little to increase public safety, "either in practice or in potential."
Both these pieces appear in the February 2011 issue of the Journal of Law and Economics.  The Prescott and Rockoff piece, which is available on-line here, is titled "Do Sex Offender Registration and Notification Laws Affect Criminal Behavior?".   The Agan piece, which is available on-line here, is titled "Sex Offender Registries: Fear without Function?".