Newsletter - March 2011


Stop Child Predators
Advisory Board

Mark Lunsford
Chairman

Joanna Acocella
Vice President of Federal Relations at Apollo Group, Inc.

Meryl Chertoff
Legislative relations professional, attorney and community volunteer

Viet Dinh
Georgetown University Professor of Law and former Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy at U.S. Department of Justice

Timothy Hughes
Senior Inspector for the U.S. Marshals Service

Brian Jones
Senior Counsel at Dow Lohnes

Joseph Kakaty
Chief Marketing Officer for College Loan Corporation

Roderick R. Paige, Ed.D.
Former U.S. Secretary of Education
(2001-2005)

Executive Team

Cary Katz
Chairman

Stacie Rumenap
President

John Falb
Treasurer & Member of the Board

Amy Thienel
Communications Director

Table of Contents

President's Message
This month Stop Child Predators investigates sex offender management various arenas. Read about new legislation introduced by different states to handle the growing number of convicted sex offenders. Some states' measures are more extreme than others, but what is important is that lawmakers are prioritizing children's safety.
> Read More

SCP president writes for GOPUSA: US Marshals, Local Law Enforcement Get It Right On Child Protection
Now that President Obama and Congress are negotiating tough decisions on how best to balance our nation's finances, it is imperative that lawmakers recognize the need for law enforcement to have the funding necessary to protect our children.
> Read More

New Jersey Makes Headway in Child Protection Legislation
As Packers and Pittsburgh fans gather to cheer their teams on to victory in this year's Super Bowl, something much more sinister than the wearing of cheese or the snapping of "terrible towels" is occurring behind the scenes.Many parents and state lawmakers have grappled with the sexting epidemic among teenagers around the country. "Sexting" is the term used to refer to the sending of illicit images through text-messaging service or email. Many times, a young person will send an image to one recipient, from whom it can be disseminated to a very large audience. If that young person is a minor, then the simple act of sending a text message can be considered producing and distributing child pornography, and therefore a sex-offense that requires registration and carries life-long consequences, as well as possible jail time.
> Read More

Different Roads to Keeping Kids Safe: Trends in Sex Offender Management
States all over the country are beefing up laws addressing how best to enforce sex offender registry requirements and manage the growing number of convicted sex offenders, according to StateNet, a website that tracks activity in state legislatures nationwide. Some of those trends include implementing different forms of Jessica's Law, which requires mandatory sentencing for violent sex offenders and GPS monitoring of parolled offenders. Others include implementing the statues included in the Adam Walsh Act, a 2006 federal law which includes location restrictions and community notification as well as registration with local law enforcement, among other provisions. Additionally, some states are seeing even newer trends emerge such as preemptive notification before a sex offender relocates into a new state, chemical castration, and identifying markers on state IDs like driver's licenses. All of these measures may seem controversial, but they are widely supported in the states where the legislation has been introduced.
> Read More

President's Message

This month Stop Child Predators investigates sex offender management various arenas. Read about new legislation introduced by different states to handle the growing number of convicted sex offenders. Some states' measures are more extreme than others, but what is important is that lawmakers are prioritizing children's safety.

Later we delve, in more detail, into a new sexting law introduced by New Jersey lawmakers, decriminalizing a first offense by a teenager. New Jersey is a battleground for children's safety right now, as Jessica's Law is reintroduced to the state Senate. Read on to hear about our new coalition partners in the Garden State and the exciting work we are doing there to pass Jessica's Law and make sure violent sex offenders who prey on children receive mandatory sentences. If you have not already, please SIGN OUR PETITION to urge NJ lawmakers to pass Jessica's Law.

Also - read my OpEd for GOPUSA, an online news outlet, in which I discuss the work being done by the U.S. Marshals Service and their collaboration with local law enforcement to bring sex offenders to justice. I was able to visit the Miami-Dade sex offender unit and witness the amazing work those officers are doing.

Don't forget to check us out on Facebook and Twitter to find the most up-to-date content in your state.

We hope you enjoy reading our newsletter as much as we enjoy sharing our successes with you. If you have any questions or comments, you can reach me at srumenap@stopchildpredators.org.

Sincerely,


Stacie Rumenap

SCP president writes for GOPUSA: US Marshals, Local Law Enforcement Get It Right On Child Protection

Now that President Obama and Congress are negotiating tough decisions on how best to balance our nation's finances, it is imperative that lawmakers recognize the need for law enforcement to have the funding necessary to protect our children.

Take, for example, the amazing work of the U.S. Marshals Service: they always get their man. Since 2006, after the passage of the Adam Walsh Act, the Marshals Service has dragged an astonishing number of fugitive sex offenders from swamps, dumpsters and other sordid hideouts. The Marshals Service has initiated over 7,900 sex offender investigations, according to Stacia Hylton's testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee's recent hearing on reauthorization of the Adam Walsh Act. This crucial Act strengthens nationwide standards for sex offender registration, and makes the failure to register with authorities a federal crime, which is why the Marshals Service is now rounding up fugitive sex offenders. Hylton, the new director of the Marshals Service, told Committee members that 1,448 warrants have been issued for federal registration violations while 1,203 warrants have been issued for other registration violations; 1,124 Adam Walsh Act fugitives have been captured. In all, the "fugitive hunters" of the Department of Justice have arrested 43,709 fugitive sex offenders since the law's inception in 2006.

Click here for more information.

Even though the Marshals Service did not receive additional funding to carry out the mandate until 2008-two years after the Act named the Marshals Service as the lead federal investigating agency-the Marshals still made capturing sex offenders their priority from the start.

In October 2006, the Marshals Service conducted Operation FALCON III (Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally) in partnership with hundred of state and local law enforcement entities. In one week, they apprehended over 1,600 sex offenders nationwide. They safely recovered one missing child and arrested a sex offender while he was babysitting three young children. The Marshals went on to conduct similar FALCON operations in 2007, 2008 and 2009, during which 5,677 sex offenders were arrested.

I had the opportunity to attend a press conference in Boston during FALCON's 2009 operation, in which the Marshals Service announced that 558 arrests had been made and 910 warrants cleared in Massachusetts from June 1 - 30. That effort resulted in one of the area's largest-ever fugitive initiatives, focusing on capturing individuals wanted on felony charges, including sexual predators and fugitives wanted for crimes of violence. Locally, Operation FALCON consisted of approximately 120 federal, state and local law enforcement officers, from 29 different agencies, working together throughout the month-long period.

Florida is another state where the U. S. Marshals Service is a pillar of community safety.

Barry Golden, an investigator with the U.S.M.S., invited me to visit the Miami Sexual Crimes Bureau within the Miami-Dade Police Department last September. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to spend a day with law enforcement and learn first hand about the registration process for sex offenders. These officers mean business.

These men and women will tell you any day of the week that next to an active shooter-that's 'cop speak' for a violent shooter who is feared to strike again in the near future-sex offenders who fail to register or who provide inaccurate information to authorities are right at the top of the "most wanted" list as a serious threat to the public, particularly children. Of course, investigations prioritize the "worst of the worst."

On the particular day I spent at the Sexual Crimes Bureau I witnessed the registration of two sex offenders, one of whom was a convicted child sex offender. The registration process included questions to verify the offender's identity, such as name, date of birth, probation officer's name, and so on. The officer also asked about employment and electronic identifiers like email addresses. You could sense the offenders' frustration as they fielded questions that they felt to be unnecessary or inconvenient. Inconvenience seems like a strange consideration for men who brutally victimized a young child and a woman.

The questions proceeded, and seemed routine until each offender was asked if he owned a boat. The officer later explained to me that, to no one's surprise, sexual predators are savvy when it comes to luring children, and a boat can be enticing to an unsuspecting child. Consequently, including boat ownership as part of the registration process, law enforcement officials can be much better equipped when a child goes missing.

In the end, the two offenders were compliant at best. So the officer entered their finger prints, had them sign a form and told them to come back in March.

This experience reminded me of Director Hylton's remarks to Congress in which she said over 43,000 fugitive sex offenders have been arrested since the passage of the Adam Walsh Act. During the hearing, I was surrounded by surviving parents whose children were the victims of sexual predators. To many people, that number is just a statistic. To surviving parents, that number represents the countless children, who, thanks to the Adam Walsh Act, are sleeping soundly in their beds at night.

I was recently asked what advice I would offer to convicted sexual offenders, considering the enforcement and funding of the Adam Walsh Act. For any sexual predator reading this article, I offer three simple tips: (1) When arriving in a new state, register immediately with local authorities; (2) Obey registration requirements; (3) If you cannot comply with tips #1 or #2, know that the U.S. Marshals Service and local law enforcement agencies will find you and will send you to jail.



New Jersey Makes Headway in Child Protection Legislation

Many parents and state lawmakers have grappled with the sexting epidemic among teenagers around the country. "Sexting" is the term used to refer to the sending of illicit images through text-messaging service or email. Many times, a young person will send an image to one recipient, from whom it can be disseminated to a very large audience. If that young person is a minor, then the simple act of sending a text message can be considered producing and distributing child pornography, and therefore a sex-offense that requires registration and carries life-long consequences, as well as possible jail time.

States are taking different tacks when approaching this increasingly serious problem. For instance, in Ohio a bill has been introduced into the state legislature that would carry criminal charges for teens caught sexting. Other states, including New Jersey, are heading in a different direction that is more about education than punishment. They believe that sexting teens are unaware of the likely consequences of their actions, and through education programs are unlikely to commit a similar offense again. Consequently, anyone convicted of a first offence under the new laws, may avoid jail time, criminal charges, and a sex-offender registration requirement through their adult lives, through education programs and counseling.

Although no one wants to appear lenient to deal swiftly with the serious issue of child pornography, a less severe option is likely a better course of action, since proper education and monitoring by parents would possibly prevent many of these crimes, not to mention the majority of teenagers are not "intending" to create and disseminate child pornography.

Additionally, SCP's Mark Lunsford and Stacie Rumenap will travel to New Jersey in early March to brief members of "Team Joan" on statewide efforts to pass sentencing requirements for child sex offenders in New Jersey.

Led by Rosemarie D'Alessandro, Team Joan is a group of concerned parents fighting for tougher child sex offender laws. They were instrumental in passing "Joan's Law" in 2004, which makes life in prison without parole the minimum penalty for predators who molest and murder a child. The law is named for Joan D'Alessandro, Rosemarie's seven-year-old daughter who was raped and murdered in 1973 by a high school science teacher to whom she was delivering Girl Scout cookies.

Now, Team Joan and "Team Jessica" are coming together to pass "Jessica's Law" in New Jersey, a bill that seeks to increase sentences for sex offenders to 25 years to life and includes prison time for persons who harbor them.

The bill can be found here.

You can offer your support for Jessica's Law by contacting Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz and Senator Tom Kean, the bill's sponsors. Call Munoz at (908) 918-0414 and Kean at (908) 232-3673 and thank them for spearheading the effort to keep New Jersey's children safe from child predators.

And don't forget to SIGN OUR PETITION to show your support for tougher sentences for convicted child sex offenders.



Different Roads to Keeping Kids Safe: Trends in Sex Offender Management

States all over the country are beefing up laws addressing how best to enforce sex offender registry requirements and manage the growing number of convicted sex offenders, according to StateNet, a website that tracks activity in state legislatures nationwide. Some of those trends include implementing different forms of Jessica's Law, which requires mandatory sentencing for violent sex offenders and GPS monitoring of parolled offenders. Others include implementing the statues included in the Adam Walsh Act, a 2006 federal law which includes location restrictions and community notification as well as registration with local law enforcement, among other provisions. Additionally, some states are seeing even newer trends emerge such as preemptive notification before a sex offender relocates into a new state, chemical castration, and identifying markers on state IDs like driver's licenses. All of these measures may seem controversial, but they are widely supported in the states where the legislation has been introduced.

Arkansas Representative Jon Woods is working to step up the requirements for sex offender registration, requiring offenders to register before they relocate, not after, as the law currently requires. House Bill 1009, "An Act To Provide for Public Notification of Sex Offenders Registered in Another State," would do just that. Current law in Arkansas requires out-of-state sex offenders to notify local authorities within the first ten days of moving into "The Natural State." The new bill would require sex-offenders to notify authorities ten days before moving. Many of them would be codified in the registry as Class 3 offenders, a status that carries with it residency restrictions. In this way, Arkansas law enforcement would be able to prevent sex offenders from living too close to schools, parks or day-care facilities, and be better able to notify communities in which sex offenders are moving.

While Arkansas uses registries and notifications to better deal with new sex offenders, Virginia hopes to manage the increasing costs of incarceration and civil confinement with a chemical castration bill introduced into the state House this year. Typically, a civil confinement program would allow for a sex offender who is deemed very likely to re-offend to be confined in a mental institution for longer than his or her sentence. Chemical castration, in concert with counseling and other services, is meant to help prevent recidivism and allow for sex offenders to be released into society after serving their sentence. Currently in Virginia, a dangerous predator must have known family or friends to whom he or she can be released from prison and into their custody - otherwise the offender is kept in civil confinement, costing the state up to $80,000 per year.

Marking a sex offender's driver's license is a less severe measure, but one garnering no less outcry as it gains momentum in states around the country. A surviving father of a victimized daughter, Moe Dubois is spearheading the effort to pass the measure in California. Similar laws have passed in Alabama and Tennessee and are now being considered in Maryland, Georgia and Kentucky. Driver's license markings have gained support because they would enable law enforcement officials to more completely evaluate a situation at a routine traffic stop. Those who oppose the measure say it will only serve to further marginalize convicted sex offenders, since a driver's license is the standard form of identification used for everything from writing a check to buying beer. Some states, including California, which has garnered recent media attention, is considering a mark that would only be visible under a blacklight or other technology exclusive to law enforcement officials. This would allow a greater ability on the part of law enforcement to make sure that sex offenders are following residency and other requirements but still protect the privacy of those with the mark.

As states face the challenge of how best to manage the growing population of convicted and released sex offenders, it is clear that the trend is to get tougher and tougher on those who prey on our nation's children.




For more information concerning the initiatives in your state, or if you would like Stop Child Predators' assistance in drafting, testifying for, or supporting legislation in your state, please visit our website at http://www.stopchildpredators.org and/or call us at (202) 234-0090.