Monthly Archives: February 2007

Residency restrictions map and an interesting observation

Using this table from USA Today, I created a map of the United States, showing states that have residency restrictions in force. However, I was using a trial version of the software and it printed a watermark right over the legend in bold. I’ve decided not to attach it to this post. So if someone wants to see the map, click on the link after the jump

What is interesting (and can be gleaned from the table itself) is that almost all of the 10 smallest states in the country do not have any residency restrictions in place. It seems that these states have realized (or perhaps not) the problems that would arise with implementing residency restrictions. As a colleague joked the other day, you cannot be arrested for possession of a narcotic in this state without also being within 1500 feet of a school, park, library… the same would go for residency restrictions for sex offenders.

Amero sentencing postponed

Per The Norwich Bulletin, Julie Amero’s sentencing has been continued to March 29.

Superior Court Judge Hillary Strackbein agreed Monday, court documents show, to postpone Friday’s sentencing for Julie Amero, 40, the Windham woman convicted last month on four counts of risk of injury to a minor. Her sentencing will take place March 29 in Norwich Superior Court, where she faces 40 years in prison.

Attorney John F. Cocheo, who represented Amero at trial, requested the postponement to allow time for a new attorney and consultant to familiarize themselves with the case.

In his letter to the court, Cocheo said attorney William Dow has become involved in the case, along with sentencing consultant Clinton Roberts. Cocheo could not be reached for comment Monday.

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Caseloads

I know some of you readers work in states other than Connecticut, so I want to conduct an informal poll. What are your average caseloads? How many cases do you carry at a time (on average) and how many cases a year (on average)? This is an exercise purely for me, not for any publication. I just want to get an idea of what PDs in other states are carrying (actually if I have any CT readers, you can leave a comment too!).

Leave a comment and convince your friends to, too!

Edit: Bumped to the top. Thanks to SL & P, PD Stuff, CDW.

Sentencing statistics for CT sex offenders

The Office of Legislative Research has released a comprehensive report on sex offender prosecutions and sentences. It details the crimes that sex offenders are currently incarcerated for and the number of sex offenders serving a conviction for each type of offense, split up into lengths of sentences.

The question posed to the OLR was as follows:

You asked for statistics on the (1) disposition of certain criminal prosecutions and (2) sentences inmates convicted of these crimes are currently serving. The crimes you are interested in are risk of injury; first-, second-, and third-degree sexual assault; aggravated first-degree sexual assault; first- and second-degree promoting prostitution; enticing a minor; obscenity as to minors; and employing and promoting minors in obscene performances.

According to the report, there were 1205 prosecutions for sex offenses in FY 05-06. Out of those, 34 were dismissed by the Court, 629 were nolled, 155 were found not guilty, 330 were found guilty and the rest weren’t prosecuted (7). Now keep in mind that nolles may include those defendants who pled to something other than the originally charged offense. Also, the number of prosecutions doesn’t represent the number of people prosecuted, but the number of counts prosecuted.

Here is the breakdown by offense and length of sentence:

Crimes

Sentences in Years

 

< 1

1-4.
5

5-10

10.
1-15

16-20

21-30

31-50

55-or More

First-degree sexual assault

3

22

212

99

50

36

27

7

Aggravated first-degree sexual assault

0

2

5

8

3

3

3

0

Second-degree sexual assault

12

83

88

12

7

2

0

1

Third-degree  sexual assault

1

29

14

1

1

0

2

0

Risk of Injury

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Second-degree promotion of prostitution

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Obscenity as to minors

0

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

Employing minors in obscene performances

0

0

0

1

1

1

0

0

Promoting minors in obscene performances

0

0

2

0

0

0

0

0

As you can see, the majority of the sentences are in the 1-10 years range with the most common offense being Sexual Assault in the First Degree.

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Illinois to hold conference to discuss effects of residency restrictions

Tucked away in the last line of the USA Today story [see detailed post below] is the news that Illinois plans to hold a conference in April to discuss the effects of sex offender residency restrictions. The state is inviting officials from other states to participate in this conference. This should definitely be one to watch.

Sex offender residency restrictions getting a second, closer look

This USA Today article chronicles the growing skepticism of residency restrictions passed by several states. Three states – Iowa, Oklahoma and Georgia – are actively considering changes to their residency restrictions.

[OK State Rep Lucky] Lamons is among a growing number of officials who want to ease the “not-in-my-backyard” policies that communities are using to try to control sex offenders. In the past decade, 27 states and hundreds of cities have reacted to public fear of sex crimes against children by passing residency restrictions that, in some cases, have the effect of barring sex offenders from large parts of cities. They can’t live in most of downtown Tulsa, Atlanta or Des Moines, for example, because of overlapping exclusion zones around schools and day care centers.

Now a backlash is brewing. Several states, including Iowa, Oklahoma and Georgia, are considering changes in residency laws that have led some sex offenders to go underground. Such offenders either have not registered with local police as the laws require or they have given fake addresses. Many complain they cannot find a place to live legally.

The push to ease residency restrictions has support from victims’ advocates, prosecutors and police who say they spend too much time investigating potential violations.

The general concerns about harsh residency restrictions are the same everywhere:

  • Sex offenders do not register or give fake addresses and go rural/underground
  • This disappearance of sex offenders actually makes it more dangerous for the citizenry.
  • Restrictions do not distinguish between the low-risk and the high-risk.
  • Low risk offenders also end up being “banished” from cities and towns.

In Illinois, the need for housing for paroled sex offenders is “close to crisis levels”. Due to residency restrictions, parolees often have no place to live and because of that they cannot be paroled. This increases the burden on the prisons.

Some of the steps taken by the states mentioned above are seemingly in the right direction:

  • Iowa —Legislators began holding hearings in January on the effectiveness of a 2002 law that bars sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or day care facility. Sen. Keith Kreiman, Democratic co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, says he expects the law to be revised but not repealed. “It is very politically risky to even hold hearings,” he says, because lawmakers who change the rules could be called “soft on crime.” State figures show sexual-abuse convictions have remained steady since the law took effect, but the number of sex offenders failing to register has more than doubled. Sen. Jerry Behn, a Republican who wrote Iowa’s law, says it may be overly broad. He says he’s talking to colleagues about how to focus on “true predators.”
  • Oklahoma —Like Lamons, other legislators say they’ll try to narrow their state’s restrictions. “Let’s apply them to those who are the highest risk to society,” says state Rep. Gus Blackwell, the Republican majority whip. Sgt. Gary Stansill, head of the Tulsa Police Department’s sex-crimes unit, says the current law applies to too many offenders and that he spends “way, way too much of my time” trying to enforce it. He says he investigates as many cases of sex offenders not registering as he investigates rape reports. He considers less than 10% of the state’s 8,000 convicted sex offenders to be high-risk and is lobbying lawmakers to focus on them.
  • Georgia —Republican state Rep. Robert Mumford, vice chairman of a judiciary panel, says he plans to propose a bill to scale back the state’s law. With the backing of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association, he suggests removing many bus stops and churches from the list of areas where offenders are banned.
  • Kansas —On Feb. 12, the state Senate passed a bill that extends for another year Kansas’ moratorium on local governments restricting where sex offenders can live.

Previous related posts:

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Julie Amero transcripts online

The Norwich Bulletin has obtained and made available a copy of the transcript in the Julie Amero trial. The transcripts can be obtained here [column on the right]. If I didn’t have volumes of transcripts to read for work, I’d read them immediately. However, there are several other bloggers who are reading the transcripts and have posted comments:

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