Month: July 2011

The War on Sex Offenders

It has never been officially called a war; nevertheless the multitude of laws governing sex offences and sex offenders is mountainous.

Overview of the widest reaching Sex Offender Laws

1994 – The Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act is passed as part of the Federal Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. This law requires states to implement a sex offender and crimes against children registry.

1996 – Megan

Rebuttal to “Get SMART: Complying with Federal Sex Offender Registration Standards”?

Each year heinous crimes are committed against children and women. A small percentage are committed by repeat offenders, whereas according to the DOJ about 95% of new sex crimes are committed by persons who have never been convicted of a previous sex crime. The question at hand is whether a national registration scheme could prevent heinous crimes like the Foxwell incident or any other crime.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ):[SORNA] provides a comprehensive set of minimum standards for sex offender registration and notification in the United States. SORNA aims to close potential gaps and loopholes that existed under prior law and generally strengthens the nationwide network of sex offender registration and notification programs.”

While this quote is profound, is it based on a lie? The public has been led to believe that 100,000 sex offenders are AWOL. But if you’ve been following the nationwide sweeps that the Federal Marshals service has been making you already know that that number has been blown way out of proportion. The second part of the lie was exposed above in stating that 95% of new sex crimes are committed by people not on the registry.

Then there is a profound question that legislators need to think about before implementing the AWA. That question is, “Is it legal”? After Ohio implemented the AWA a fire storm of legal challenges led that state to lose millions of dollars fighting on the wrong side of the law. In the end the Ohio Justices ruled in two separate cases, (Bodike) and (State v. Williams) that the AWA violated separation of powers and that it is punitive. Will other states rule this way? Time will tell. But the larger question is will SCOTUS rule the same as the Ohio supreme court? If they in time do rule the same way then it will prove that legislators were working in opposition to the founding principles of the United States.

D.C. Will not be AWA Compliant

The District will not meet a July 27 deadline to fall in line with a federal mandate designed to create a national sex offender registry, likely causing the city to lose $250,000 in grant money that it uses for crime prevention.

If the city continues not to act, it could stand to lose about $1 million from the feds over the next four years. Tuesday is the last chance before the deadline for the council to act on legislation introduced by the mayor in May that’s designed to bring the District into compliance with the five-year-old Adam Walsh Act. After Tuesday, the council won’t meet again to vote on legislation until mid-September.

At-large Councilman Phil Mendelson, who is handling the mayor’s bill as head of the public safety committee, told The Washington Examiner that he’s not rushing.

“We’ll continue to look at the legislation over the next couple of months,” Mendelson said. “We need to look beyond the deadline and at what’s the right policy.”

The District won’t likely be the only jurisdiction not to meet the deadline for the controversial federal requirements, which include tracking for at least 25 years on a nonpublic sex offender registry youths as young as 14 who are convicted of violent rapes. Only seven states are in compliance with the act, although many — including Virginia — are working closely with federal officials to meet the deadline. Some states, such as Maryland, aren’t interested in changing how they handle juvenile sex offenders.

There’s also the issue of cost.

Earlier this month, the District’s chief financial officer determined that implementing the legislation would cost more than $700,000 in the first year, and $78,000 for every year that follows.

The city’s “funds are not sufficient” to make the legislation a reality, the CFO wrote to the council. The CFO’s assessment also confirmed the city would lose the federal grant money, which in the past has been doled out to groups such as the gang-fighting nonprofit group Peaceoholics.

Beyond the cash, there’s also the potential cost of having sex offender laws that are less rigourous than other states, police union chief Kris Baumann said.

“It’s a small price to pay for us not to become a haven for sex offenders,” Baumann said.

Mendelson said that won’t happen.

“My impression is that our current law is pretty good and this is about closing a few details,” Mendelson said.