Monday, February 20, 2017

Columbus Dispatch's truthful headline "Recidivism for sex offenders low" somehow didn't implode the Universe


Front page news headline finally publishes what we have been saying for decades, and it was in the Columbus Dispatch, in Ohio's biggest city. I bet it is an engineering feat to be brave enough to publish one of the best headlines EVER. 

Below is the full story. 

http://www.dispatch.com/news/20170219/ohio-state-student-slaying-anomaly-few-sex-offenders-repeat-crime

Ohio State student slaying an anomaly; few sex offenders repeat crime

By John Futty 
The Columbus Dispatch 
2/19/2017

After his conviction for attempted rape in 2011, Brian L. Golsby was required to participate in a sex-offender treatment program in prison.

The specific program he entered, how he performed and whether he was seen as a high risk for re-offending, though, are all confidential under Ohio law.

Whatever treatment Golsby received, police say it didn't stop him from the Feb. 8 abduction, rape and slaying of Reagan Tokes, a 21-year-old Ohio State University student. Golsby has been linked to the crime through DNA that was on file from his previous conviction.

Tokes' death occurred three months after Golsby, 29, was released from prison for that 2011 attack, in which he was accused of forcing a woman to perform oral sex at knifepoint in a Grove City parking lot.

The Golsby case represents the public's worst fears about convicted sex offenders — that they don't respond to treatment and will strike again if released.

But those are myths, reinforced whenever such cases get extensive media coverage, said Melissa Hamilton, a law professor who has written extensively about sex offenders.

"These incredibly horrible stories occur, the media picks them up and the public reacts," she said. "It stokes fears of sex offenders as people who are likely to re-offend. But the statistics don't support it."

Hamilton, a visiting criminal-law scholar at the University of Houston Law Center, said one of the most comprehensive studies on sex offenders was issued by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2003. It tracked more than 9,000 sex offenders released from prisons in 15 states, including Ohio, in 1994. Three years after their release, 5.3 percent of the offenders had been arrested for another sex crime.

"I wouldn't characterize that as high-risk," Hamilton said.

The sex offenders who were most likely to offend again were men whose victims were boys, not adults, the study found.

Two years ago, Ohio prison statistics showed that 11 percent of released sex offenders returned to prison on sex charges, compared with a recidivism rate of 28.7 percent for all inmates.

The Justice Department study made a similar finding: "Sex offenders in the study had a lower overall re-arrest rate than non-sex offenders."

But Scott Matson, acting deputy director of the Justice Department's Sex-Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking office, cautioned that recidivism is hard to measure because so many sex crimes go unreported.

"We don't know the true recidivism rate," Matson said.

Research has shown that treatment for sex offenders can be effective, but not all treatment programs are the same, he said.

The most effective programs, Matson said, are based on the individual needs of each offender and that offender's risk of re-offending.

That appears to be the model now used in the Ohio prison system, which worked with the University of Cincinnati Corrections Institute on a pilot program in 2012 aimed at improving its sex-offender treatment.

The idea is "to match treatment services to the risk level of the offender," said Mindy Schweitzer, deputy director of the institute. "Someone who is low risk to re-offend would receive less intense treatment than someone at moderate or high risk."

All sex offenders who enter the Ohio prison system are transferred to the Sex Offender Risk Reduction Center at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient, according to the department's written policies.

Following an assessment, each inmate is categorized by risk level. Those rated as low and medium-low risk for re-offending receive what's known as basic education programming at the reception center.

Those labeled medium-high or high risk are transferred to a prison that offers a comprehensive sex-offender program.

Department records show that Golsby was transferred from the reception center to the Madison Correctional Institution, which is identified as one of four prisons that offer the comprehensive program.

Those who refuse to participate can face discipline ranging from restrictions on commissary privileges to an increased security level.

"Though these penalties are available, the department has experienced little resistance from inmates and has had to use very few of these measures," the state's Correctional Institution Inspection Committee said in a 2015 report.

According to the department's policy document, the purpose of the treatment program is "reducing the risk of sex re-offending, thereby enhancing public safety and future risk to victims."

At the end of business Friday, department officials hadn't responded to an email message asking how the department measures whether that goal is being met.

jfutty@dispatch.com

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Cleveland 19 featuring Ohio RSOL: State committee to vote on registry changes

Great job by Ohio RSOL in this report.

Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH
http://www.cleveland19.com/story/33719861/state-committee-to-vote-on-sex-offender-registry-changes

State committee to vote on sex offender registry changes
Tuesday, November 15th 2016, 10:11 pm EST
Tuesday, November 15th 2016, 10:44 pm EST
Posted by Shelby Miller, Cleveland 19 reporter

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -
Does Ohio's current sex offender registry work? It's a question many people struggle to answer.

"That registry could create a false sense of security. It's not the only way to look at community safety," said Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence Executive Director Katie Hanna.

Just a few years after Ohio altered its sex offender registry, state Criminal Justice Recodification Committee members are set to vote on a new set of guidelines that could potentially allow judges to shorten or remove low risk re-offenders.

The proposal is scheduled to be voted on Thursday.

"What you're talking about is an 18-year-old boy who was a high school senior who had sex with his 14-year-old girlfriend who's on the registry for 25 years," said Ohio Reform Sex Offender Laws Volunteer Barb Wright.

Wright said there are more than 20,000 registered sex offenders in Ohio. 

"The law enforcement can't keep track of all the people," she said. 

Ohio uses a three-tier offender system. People are placed in each tier based on how serious their offense is. 

Tier I offenses include acts such as, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, voyeurism, and child enticement. Tier II offenses include acts such as, compelling prostitution, child endangering, and kidnapping with sexual motivation. Tier III offenses include acts such as, rape, sexual battery, and murder with sexual motivation. 

The Tier classification system requirements are as follows:

Tier I: Sex offenders must register with the County Sheriff at least once annually for a period of 15 years. In addition, must register any change of residential address, place of employment, or enrollment in a school or institution of higher education.
Tier II: Sex offenders must register with the County Sheriff every 180 days for a period of 25 years. In addition, must register any change of residential address, place of employment, or enrollment in a school or institution of higher education.
Tier III: Sex offenders must register with the County Sheriff every 90 days for life. In addition, must register any change of residential address, place of employment, or enrollment in a school or institution of higher education.
Tier III sex offenders are also subject to community notification, which means upon a change of residential address, the County Sheriff will provide notice to a neighborhood within 1,250 feet of the sex offenders residential address. The County Sheriff will also provide notice to schools, registered day-care providers, and law enforcement agencies within the 1,250 ft. radius.

"Right now the registration process is very complicated and we want to make sure it's a system that those high risk offenders aren't falling through the cracks, that they're being monitored," said Hanna. 

Hanna said the coalition hasn't taken a stance on the proposal because they want survivors involved. 

"It isn't just about community safety, which is important to us, it's about survivor safety," she said. "We need to make sure survivors are at the center of this conversation, survivors who've been directly impacted by the violence that they've endured."

The 4,000 page proposal outlines a lot of issues, including whether or not registered sex offenders can live closer to spots, like schools, parks and playgrounds. 

The possible change worries many people, but Wright said the current restrictions don't do much. 

"The offender is out free to walk the streets, so the fact that he lives within 1,000 feet of a school is really irreverent as to if he spends any time there," she said. 

Funding is also an issue with the proposal. Currently, Ohio gets about $8 million in JAG money, or Justice Assistance Grants, because of the Adam Walsh Act. Some victim services worry they'd lose funding with the proposal, but others said the state would be profiting because counties would be paying less overall within the sex offender registry.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Proposed SO registry changes would be based on risk

A nod to Ohio RSOL

http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/state--regional-govt--politics/proposed-sex-offender-registry-changes-would-based-risk/P6Dm52UOWBAPf4kcVh8xgP/

Proposed sex offender registry changes would be based on risk

Katie Wedell  Staff Writer
8:00 p.m Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016

Eight years after Ohio tightened its sex offender registration laws to comply with federal standards, a state committee is considering changes that could make it easier for sex offenders to get off the registry if they no longer are a threat to society.

Among other changes to Ohio’s criminal laws, the Criminal Justice Recodification Committee will vote Thursday on a set of changes already unanimously approved by the state’s Sentencing Commission, which is made up of county sheriffs, prosecutors, judges, victims advocates and lawmakers.

The proposals include going from an offense-based classification system, in which offenders are assigned to a tier and given registration requirements based on the criminal offense they committed, to a more risk-based system in which judges would have more discretion.

The proposed changes would also allow sex offenders the ability to petition for a change of status after years of good behavior or due to a change in their risk level due to advanced age or illness.

Continued registration requirements for elderly or disabled offenders was one issue this newspaper addressed in an October investigation into sex offenders living in nursing homes.

The investigation found that while some individuals did pose a threat to vulnerable nursing home residents, there were also cases of ex-offenders in need of care being turned away from homes because of the stigma of their registration status.

“A lot of the discussion when we initially presented this was, the person who is clearly no longer a risk,” said Blaise Katter, staff attorney for the committee.

Medical conditions and advanced age would be key components judges could look at when considering whether to release someone from registration requirements, he said.

“We’re trying to bring in some common-sense changes that will hopefully maintain, of course, the community safety, but address other issues to make the registry effective,” said Jill Beeler, appellate services director for the Ohio Public Defenders Office and a member of the committee work group that helped draft the proposed changes.

Hybrid system

Currently, judges sentencing convicted sex offenders must place them into one of three tiers based on their crimes. And based on the tier they are assigned, individuals must register their address with their local sheriff for 15 years to life.

Some states, including Minnesota and Massachusetts, have similar tiered systems, but use risk assessments to determine in which tier an individual belongs. Lower tiers carry fewer restrictions and are reserved for offenders who are not likely to reoffend.

Beeler said the system being proposed in Ohio is a hybrid of the two approaches. The recommended changes will go to the state legislature, where a bill would need to be drafted and approved to make them law.

The current tier system would be retained. Tier I requires annual registration for 15 years; Tier II is semi-annual registration for 25 years, and Tier III is quarterly registration for life.

Tier III offenders would still get mandatory registration for life, but there would be fewer charges labeled Tier III: aggravated rape or rape of a child; kidnapping a minor to engage in sexual activity; aggravated murder or murder with sexual motivation; and repeat offenses if already a Tier II or Tier III classification.

For lower-tier offenses, a judge would have discretion whether to impose registration.

Once placed into a tier, registered sex offenders would have the ability to petition to deregister or move down a tier after a specified number of years — between 5 and 15 depending on the tier. If these changes are adopted, those convicted under previous versions of the law would also have the ability to petition for a change of status.

“I think it’s a good compromise,” said Barb Wright, a member of the Ohio chapter of Reform Sex Offender Laws. The group has seen the recommended changes and approves of them, she said.

“I think in some areas it does not go far enough and we’ve expressed our concerns,” Wright said.

She’d like to see more retroactive applications so that someone recently convicted under the current law would have recourse to get their registration status changed.

Another recommendation of the committee is to remove all residency restrictions, such as barring sex offenders from living near schools.

“Empirical data shows there is no evidence to support that residency restrictions impact public safety; conversely, restrictions place significant burdens on offender’s ability to establish a support network and housing in order to become a productive member of society,” according to a summary of the proposed changes provided to this newspaper.

The committee is also calling for the implementation of a statewide offender database system “to replace the patchwork county-by-county system that has significant flaws and gaps.”

This newspaper’s investigation found inconsistencies in the amount of information available to the public on the registry pages maintained by county sheriffs. Some nursing homes said the lack of information made it difficult for them to assess if someone applying to live there posed a risk.

State Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood, who previously said he liked the idea of a more risk-based system and would like to see more detailed information available on the public registry, is eager to dig into the committee’s recommendations.

“There are some encouraging aspects such as judges having more discretion and looking at risk,” he said. “There’s a lot of detail that’s going to require a lot of vetting.”

Funds at stake?

When the Adam Walsh Act went into effect in 2006, states were given three years to update their laws to be in compliance.

Any states that missed that deadline and continued to be out of compliance faced an annual 10 percent cut in federal Justice Assistance Grants, used to fund local courts, crime labs, jails and other law enforcement programs.

Ohio was the first state to come into compliance with Senate Bill 10 in 2008. It moved the state from a risk-based system of classifying sex offenders to the current tier system that is based exclusively on the offense committed.

“I think there was a belief that many states would follow because there was a real motivation to move toward this offense-based system,” Beeler said.

Instead, Ohio is one of only 17 states currently in compliance with the federal law.

Beeler said there is a recognition by the committee that the proposed changes could take Ohio out of compliance and lead to a loss of federal funding.

“We feel like the cost of our current registration system is more than the dollars we would lose,” she said.

The money withheld from states that are not in compliance is split between the states that are, and paid in the form of bonus grants.

In fiscal year 2015, Ohio law enforcement agencies received a total allocation of $7.8 million in JAG money, plus a $106,000 bonus.

A loss of 10 percent plus the bonus would be about $880,000 annually, slightly more than the state spends each year on its share of 88 county sheriffs’ salaries.

“Those grants have actually been reduced over time,” Beeler said. “So 10 percent of that grant money is much less than the cost that we’re spending on our current system.”

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Halloweenitis is now replaced with Electionitis with Mahoning Co. Sex Crimes Persecutor Natasha Natale & Rep. Sean O'Brien

I'd like to see some cases of kids being molested as a result of allowing registered citizens to vote in person. I voted at a school (it was closed for the day), and guess what? NOTHING HAPPENED! The only folks who got screwed is the voters as we had to decide which scumbag was the lesser of two evils.

http://www.newsnet5.com/news/local-news/oh-cuyahoga/investigation-more-than-70-sex-offenders-are-registered-to-vote-at-cleveland-schools

INVESTIGATION: More than 70 sex offenders are registered to vote at Cleveland schools

Megan Hickey
11:45 PM, Nov 9, 2016

CLEVELAND -
While registered sex offenders in the state of Ohio are prohibited from living with 1,000 feet of a school or daycare facility, they are not prohibited from actually entering schools.

A News 5 investigation revealed that at least 77 Cleveland sex offenders are registered to vote in the city’s elementary and high schools. 

The majority of those offenders were convicted of crimes against children. Most victims were between the ages of 11 and 14, with some victims as young as 5. 

Unless a sex offender is currently under some form of community control, Ohio law is otherwise silent on a sex offender’s ability to enter schools and interact with children. 

While Cleveland schools were closed Tuesday for the election, several parents noted that large groups of children continue to play on school property long after the final bell and on their days off.  

“I really feel like that’s putting more than just kids in danger,” said Cleveland mother Mary Lawrence, whose daughter attends one of the more than 40 elementary and high schools where sex offenders are registered to vote. 

Pat McDonald, Director of the Cuyahoga Co. Board of Elections, acknowledged that the issue has raised concerns from voters and some school superintendents. 

“I would encourage them to vote by mail or come down here and vote in person to alleviate any potential conflicts or any potential issues,” he said.

But McDonald noted that he can’t actually require sex offenders to do so. 

Ohio is one of a handful of states that allows convicted felons to vote, and unlike nearby Indiana and Illinois, does not have such voting requirements. 

Former Mahoning County sex crimes prosecutor Natasha Natale told News 5 she considers it a perfect storm of bad conditions. 

“It just takes a second for something to happen,” Natale said. “And even it if doesn’t happen at the school it could be something where you’re triggering that mechanism in their brain, where they’re going to leave and commit some subsequent act that could harm a child.”

Natalie is teaming up with Rep. Sean O’Brien (D-Bazetta), to draft a bill that would bar sex offenders from entering schools and daycare centers for any reason. 

“It’s just not worth the risk, why put them in that situation?” said O’Brien, who plans to introduce the bill early next year. 

O’Brien stressed that sex offenders would still be allowed to vote by mail or in person at the board of elections.  
_______________________________________

Megan Hickey wasn't the only one who wrote such an article, however. Damon Maloney of WKBN 27 wrote the same fearmongering article in 2014. TWO YEARS AGO. Plagiarism, maybe?

http://wkbn.com/2014/11/04/polls-in-schools-new-laws-could-limit-who-gets-inside/

Ohio law doesn’t stop sex offenders from voting in schools
By Damon Maloney
Published: November 4, 2014, 12:06 pm  Updated: November 4, 2014, 9:50 pm

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Where you vote depends on where you live.

Casting a ballot for a lot of people means going to a precinct located inside a school, during the day, when children are learning.

27 Investigates uncovered startling facts about some of the precincts assigned to registered sex offenders for Election Day. At least one local prosecutor and lawmaker believe the assignments can put children’s safety in jeopardy.

“That’s their turf and that’s where they feel safe,” said Natasha Natale, Mahoning County’s sex crimes prosecutor.

Ohio law doesn’t stop sex offenders from voting in schools. Yet, laws do ban many sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of child day care centers, pre-schools and schools.

Prosecutors say there is too much risk allowing registered sex offenders near or in schools where children are present.

“It’s illogical. It defies logic. I think we need to be pro-active and not wait for a situation where a child is victimized,” Natale said. “There is a recidivism rate that is concerning when it comes to sex offenders.”

Natale has prosecuted some of the most heinous sex crimes involving child victims in Mahoning County. She also has studied the method and operation of sex offenders.

“It can be subtle, slight, psychological… emotionally powerful,” Natale said. “Defendants have stated where it’s something to where it’s even impulsive. It’s something they have difficulty controlling.”

27 Investigates analyzed pages upon pages of Ohio’s sex offender registry and then voter registrations. According to the state’s registry, there are about 179 registered sex offenders in Youngstown. This election cycle, at least nine are registered voters assigned to a school precinct.

In Warren, at least 10 are assigned to a polling place located inside of a school. And In Salem, at least one is assigned to a school precinct.

27 Investigates found that some registered sex offenders have cast in-person ballots in recent years, but not necessarily at the polling place they’re assigned to now. Home addresses can change, which can move a person’s voting location. Precincts also can be dropped or added.

Natale has partnered with State Rep. Sean O’Brien, D-Bazetta, to tighten up what they consider to be a loophole in the law.

“We’ve sat down and talked about drafting a new law, which would put sex offenders where they would have to vote at the board of election or vote by absentee ballot,” O’Brien said.

Other states, including Illinois. require sex offenders to vote early or use absentee ballots. Natale and O’Brien said if Ohio followed in similar footsteps, it would protect voter rights and the peace of mind of families when their children leave home bound for a productive day at school.

O’Brien said it will most likely be next year before any type of legislation is introduced.

________________________________



There is a common factor in both articles-- Natasha Natale, Mahoning County’s sex crimes prosecutor. Who is this idiot? What education is she referring to? I think she's watching too much reruns of SVU, personally. And why is this poduck, backwater hillbilly persecutor even quoted? Does she have AG aspiration in the future once Mike DeSWINE is ousted? What I do know is she is an idiot.



Lets not forget Rep. Sean O'Brien, who has been pimping this bad legislation in both of these articles. Feel free to write him and tell him your thoughts on this issue.

Representative Sean O'Brien
District 63
77 S. High St
10th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
Phone (614) 466-3488
Fax      (614) 719-3965
http://www.ohiohouse.gov/sean-obrien/contact

Friday, October 21, 2016

Lawmakers: Sex offenders in nursing homes issue begs for answers

Ohio RSOL and Derek Logue of OnceFallen.com are mentioned in this article. However, I'm not happy that the reporter feels the need to add irrelevant details about Logue's background.

http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/lawmakers-sex-offenders-nursing-homes-issue-begs-for-answers/ZirXSbeC0nIcdj7ykPkQqO/

Lawmakers: Sex offenders in nursing homes issue begs for answers

Katie Wedell  Staff Writer
3:53 p.m Friday, Oct. 21, 2016

Laws on sex offenders in nursing homes

California: If a person on the sex offender registry is being released into a nursing home, the Department of Corrections or other government agency must notify the home. Otherwise, the registered offender must self-report before becoming a client of any care facility. Homes must notify all residents and employees.

Illinois: Nursing facilities must do a “needs” screening prior to admission that includes a mental evaluation and a criminal background check. That assessment is reviewed by a forensic psychologist who creates an “Identified Offender report” detailing risk level and security concerns. That report goes to the home, local police, an ombudsman and the Department of Public Health, which must track offenders in nursing homes and report to lawmakers annually. Sex offenders can’t have roommates in care facilities.

Iowa: A bill to require notification of nursing home residents about sex offenders died in legislature. Another to create a specialized facility for Tier II and Tier III offenders was introduced in 2015 but hasn’t moved out of committee.

Massachusetts: Law bars anyone classified as a level III offender — based on a risk assessment — from living in any care facilities. At least one resident has successfully challenged this law in court.

Minnesota: Registered offenders must notify nursing homes of their status. Additionally, a law enforcement officer must prepare a “fact sheet” for the facility stating the offender’s criminal history, risk level, and profile of likely victims. That sheet must be distributed to all residents if the offender is admitted.

Ohio: Nursing homes must check the sex offender registry before admitting a new resident and must notify other residents or their family members about the care plan for that offender.

Oklahoma: Passed law in 2008 to create specialized nursing home for offenders, but no bids were submitted and it was never built. Notification law requires homes to check registry, notify the state health department if an offender is moving in and post conspicuously a notification that a resident is a registered sex offender.

Oregon: Registered sex offenders must inform a nursing home of their status prior to admission.

Virginia: Care facilities must register with the state police to recieve notifications if a sex offender moves within the same or contiguous ZIP code; determine prior to admission if a potential resident is a registered offender; and have every resident sign an acknowledgement that they know how to check the registry. There is no law that requires a home to tell residents about offenders being admitted. In a fact sheet, the department of health said, “If a facility determines that a sex offender is already a resident of the facility, affirmative notice to other residents is not required by law; nor is it advised.”

Ohio lawmakers want to take a closer look at how the state monitors sex offenders living in nursing homes, and some advocates support changes to how those on the offender registry are classified.

“You brought a problem to light that I really didn’t think about. I just want to look at what other states are doing and what Ohio can do to protect the other residents of the nursing homes and also to protect the individual that’s (on the registry),” said state Rep. Ron Maag, R-Lebanon.

A Dayton Daily News investigation published last week found that 136 sex offenders are living in 43 nursing homes in Ohio. The newspaper identified failures in the safety net intended to balance the needs of all patients with a responsibility to shield them from danger.

Others responding to the investigation said it’s a complicated issue in need of more study.

“The question is what do we do with these people,” said state Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering. “You obviously have people who are in need of nursing home care who happen to be sexual predators. And what is the alternative for them?”

The investigation explored an idea other states have proposed but none have implemented — creating specialized nursing homes for those on the sex offender registry.

Critics said that approach would isolate offenders from family and friends while creating a prison-like setting.

“I’m of the belief that when a person serves their time that should be the end of it,” said Derek Logue, who is on the Ohio registry for a first-degree sexual abuse conviction involving a juvenile in Alabama. He advocates for the rights of those on the registry through his website OnceFallen.com.

“(Registered citizens) should go to the same place everybody else gets to go,” when it comes time for nursing home care, he said.

State Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood, said he’d like to explore changes that could address safety concerns without creating totally separate facilities, including potentially a higher licensure level for homes housing the most at-risk offenders.

Logue, who lives in Cincinnati, argues for doing away with the registry completely. Other advocates for reform say there are best practices that would decrease the number of offenders publicly labeled for life, while ensuring that those who pose the greatest dangers are properly monitored.

“I think the push has to be for more and better information on fewer registrants,” said Barb Wright, a member of the Ohio chapter of Reform Sex Offender Laws.

Risk levels

The reform group has pushed for a model similar to those used in Minnesota and Massachusetts, where offenders are placed into tiers not based solely on their crimes, but on an assessment of a number of risk factors.

Minnesota assigns registered individuals to levels I (low risk of re-offending) to level III (high risk) based on an assessment performed when they leave prison or move in from another state.

A committee considers multiple factors including criminal history, behavior while incarcerated, and relationship to the victim. They also can consider “whether the offender demonstrates a physical condition that minimizes the risk of re-offense, including but not limited to advanced age or a debilitating illness or physical condition,” according to the state statute.

An offender may appeal the decision or request that their risk level be changed after three years, so those who become ill or disabled can petition to get a lower level assignment.

Only those labeled as level III, or most at risk of re-offending, are listed on Minnesota’s online public registry and are subject to community notification.

According to the Minnesota Department of Corrections, about half of all registered offenders living in the state have been assigned risk levels. Of those, approximately 57 percent are level I; 31 percent are level II; and and 12 percent (about 360 individuals) are level III.

“It’s sort of a problem I think we have with dealing with sexual predators in general. There’s such a wide range of behavior that what might be appropriate for one group is not appropriate for others,” Lehner said of the current tier system in Ohio, which puts offenders into tiers I through III based solely on the crime they committed.

Crime details

Ohio used to perform a risk assessment to determine whether a sex offender was likely to repeat an offense, said Wright. In 1997, Ohio began listing offenders according to offense.

Supporters of reform say these risk-based approaches would give nursing homes more information about a potential resident, while making sure that only those who pose the greatest risk to others are subject to the public stigma and collateral damages of the registry — including patients in need of care being rejected from nursing homes.

Rep. Butler said he’d like to see more details on the registry, including age ranges of victims.

In one case examined by this newspaper, a Stark County nursing home acknowledged it would have handled the care of a registered sex offender differently if staff had known that he previously attempted to rape a 92-year-old in a Cleveland facility. One week into his stay at the second home he raped an 85-year-old resident and is now in prison.

Butler also approves of a more risk-based tier system and said the Ohio Criminal Justice Recodification Committee currently is studying something similar. The committee is expected to make recommendations for changes to Ohio’s criminal code early in 2017.

“It’s better to have the judge or corrections officials, who know the situation, have the discretion so it’s not a cookie-cutter type approach,” he said.

Unsafe homes?

Roger Evans, of Brookville, said he’d never thought about the issue of sex offenders in nursing homes, but has seen how vulnerable his loved ones have become as they age while he’s navigated the complicated world of nursing facilities.

“We’re still working our way (as a society) through how to deal with aging,” Evans said.

His father spent the last year of his life in a VA nursing facility and his mother-in-law is currently a resident at Walnut Creek Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Kettering.

Evans, 70, worries that the rising costs of high-quality facilities mean many without the economic means are left in understaffed, and possibly unsafe, homes.

The newspaper’s investigation found nearly half of the Ohio homes that currently house sex offenders have a rating of 1 (on a 5-point scale) on the Medicare.gov nursing home comparison tool. Lower ratings indicate repeated health and safety citations on state inspections and can indicate inadequate staffing levels.

Although there are many regulations in place designed to hold nursing homes accountable for quality care, Evans wonders how much monitoring actually is going on when most homes are understaffed.

“You’ve got 25-to-30 people on a floor and each of them needs, in some cases, 24-hour care,” he said.

Rep. Maag also questioned what can be done to make sure those who could pose a risk are properly monitored.

“OK, so I know this person’s a sex offender, I’ve notified the residents of the home, but it looks like there should be some other method of monitoring that patient to make sure they don’t (re-offend),” he said.

“That sounds good when they say they’re doing (hourly checks) but they’re not doing that, I’m sure, because they’re not getting paid for it.”

Staying with the story

I-Team reporter Katie Wedell conducted a months-long investigation that uncovered problems involving sex offenders living in nursing homes. We will provide updates on this issue as lawmakers explore potential changes to Ohio law.

Laws on sex offenders in nursing homes

California: If a person on the sex offender registry is being released into a nursing home, the Department of Corrections or other government agency must notify the home. Otherwise, the registered offender must self-report before becoming a client of any care facility. Homes must notify all residents and employees.

Illinois: Nursing facilities must do a “needs” screening prior to admission that includes a mental evaluation and a criminal background check. That assessment is reviewed by a forensic psychologist who creates an “Identified Offender report” detailing risk level and security concerns. That report goes to the home, local police, an ombudsman and the Department of Public Health, which must track offenders in nursing homes and report to lawmakers annually. Sex offenders can’t have roommates in care facilities.

Iowa: A bill to require notification of nursing home residents about sex offenders died in legislature. Another to create a specialized facility for Tier II and Tier III offenders was introduced in 2015 but hasn’t moved out of committee.

Massachusetts: Law bars anyone classified as a level III offender — based on a risk assessment — from living in any care facilities. At least one resident has successfully challenged this law in court.

Minnesota: Registered offenders must notify nursing homes of their status. Additionally, a law enforcement officer must prepare a “fact sheet” for the facility stating the offender’s criminal history, risk level, and profile of likely victims. That sheet must be distributed to all residents if the offender is admitted.

Ohio: Nursing homes must check the sex offender registry before admitting a new resident and must notify other residents or their family members about the care plan for that offender.

Oklahoma: Passed law in 2008 to create specialized nursing home for offenders, but no bids were submitted and it was never built. Notification law requires homes to check registry, notify the state health department if an offender is moving in and post conspicuously a notification that a resident is a registered sex offender.

Oregon: Registered sex offenders must inform a nursing home of their status prior to admission.

Virginia: Care facilities must register with the state police to recieve notifications if a sex offender moves within the same or contiguous ZIP code; determine prior to admission if a potential resident is a registered offender; and have every resident sign an acknowledgement that they know how to check the registry. There is no law that requires a home to tell residents about offenders being admitted. In a fact sheet, the department of health said, “If a facility determines that a sex offender is already a resident of the facility, affirmative notice to other residents is not required by law; nor is it advised.”

Monday, October 17, 2016

Registrant in Ohio describes how he struggled to find a nursing home

I didn't write the headline below, and if you read my last post, I'm not really fond of this Dayton Daily News series. However, this story describes the difficulty in finding a nursing home while being forced to register.

http://www.mydaytondailynews.com/news/news/convicted-rapist-says-his-care-hurt-by-his-offende/nsqzK/

Convicted rapist says his care hurt by his offender status
Sex offender who lives in Columbus nursing home talks about difficulties in getting housing.
NEWS By Katie Wedell - Staff Writer 14

Posted: 11:00 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016

COLUMBUS — Carlos Campos has long suspected his status as a registered sex offender contributed to problems getting quality care.

Campos in 1979 was convicted of kidnapping, rape, attempted rape and having a weapon under disability.

In her testimony during his trial, the 15-year-old victim recounted how Campos and another man forced her into their car and assaulted her for two hours, according to news accounts. He spent 22 years in prison, followed by several additional stints for parole violations.

Campos, 68, is now a resident of Bryden Place, one of a handful of nursing homes in Ohio that house multiple sex offenders. He uses a wheelchair due to a gunshot wound to his spine in 1973, and has been in and out of nursing homes because of body sores that become infected.

He shares a room at the Columbus home where he has lived since August 2015.

Speaking from his bed in early September, Campos acknowledged Bryden Place wasn’t his first choice of nursing homes. It is far from his home in Wood County and he has other complaints about the conditions, care level and menu.

Still, he’s grateful they were willing to take him.

“No nursing homes in Wood County would accept me so they sent me here,” said Campos, who wanted to be closer to family in northeast Ohio. “But thank God I’ve got a place to stay out the weather. I’ve got hot water and soap to wash up and clean clothes.”

Offenders like Campos — some with far more serious medical needs — have few options in Ohio. As their numbers continue to grow, the state is faced with a vexing issue: how to balance providing care to those who need it while protecting a vulnerable population from someone in the next room or down the hall whose criminal history might include child molestation, sexual battery or rape.

At least one state — Oklahoma — tried creating specialized facilities for sex offenders in 2008 when its legislature passed a measure calling for bids to operate a secure facility that would keep offenders separated from other residents.

However, no bids were submitted and the facility wasn’t built, according to Wes Bledsoe, an advocate for quality nursing home care in that state.

In Ohio, about 44 percent of the 136 sex offenders living in nursing homes reside at just five facilities — two of them with an overall rating of 1 (far below average) or 2 (below average) on the 5-point scale Medicare.gov uses to compare nursing homes. Two others were given a rating of 3 (average) and one — Scenic Pointe Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Millersburg — received a 5, the highest rating.

Bryden Place, where Campos lives, has an 1 rating, though many of its cited deficiencies have been corrected, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which operates the website.

Bryden Place, with 18 registered sex offenders, has more residents on the registry than any other nursing home in Ohio.

The former Carlton Manor in Washington Court House previously had the largest sex offender population, but it was shut down in 2014 following multiple failed inspections.

Carlton Manor’s demise demonstrates the compounding issues homes fear can happen if they take in sex offenders, advocates for the nursing home industry say.

“The places that are going to be willing to take the difficult patients are those that may struggle to attract less difficult people,” said Peter Van Runkle, executive director of the Ohio Health Care Association. “What you find is that in addition to sex offenders, they probably have folks with other behavioral issues in those facilities. When the surveyors come in they’re going to find issues because of that population, so that causes them to get a bad survey, which drives down their star (Medicare rating).

“It’s a circular sort of thing.”

Some have suggested protective measures that include placing offenders on locked floors or in units used for dementia patients and others who are at risk of wandering off.

But others question whether such a precaution would put even more patients at risk.

“If a facility says we’ll take the sex offenders and we’re going to put them in our locked unit, well if the residents in the locked unit have dementia and are less able to report and prevent and defend themselves, I would think that would not be the right choice,” said Bev Laubert, Ohio’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman.

The ACLU of Ohio said separate, locked facilities are not a practical solution because the people housed there would be kept further from their home, friends and relatives.

Gary Daniels, chief lobbyist for the ACLU, said the offender database should be purged to eliminate the profiles of people who no longer pose a danger to others.

“What this really calls for is a change in our statewide sex offender laws,” he said. “There should be allowances … flexibility in the law that allows somebody, perhaps a judge, to go back in and revisit.”

Campos was told in August he no longer needs to register. His profile, including the details of his crime, has been taken off the Ohio online registry.

Campos said he didn’t mind complying with the registry requirements but feels the law shouldn’t continue to punish those who have served their time.

“They are made to keep you in check and make sure that you’re doing the right thing,” he said. “The laws weren’t made to adversely affect you.”

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Dayton Daily News reporter Katie Wedell figures shaming nursing homes accepting registrants counts as investigative journalism

When the Dayton Daily News announced they were doing a "series" exposing registrants living in nursing homes, somehow I knew the series would end with the reporter feeling the need to list every nursing home in the state accepting registered citizens

That in itself is an affront, but reporter Katie Wedell's reports get worse:


"Ohio has a duty to protect its most vulnerable citizens, many of them frail or disabled. But safeguards enacted to keep sex offenders in check are more difficult to enforce when the predator is down the hall.

A Dayton Daily News investigation found that 136 sex offenders are living in 43 nursing homes in Ohio, where an intricate safety net is supposed to balance the needs of all patients with a responsibility to shield them from danger."


"We uncovered stories about assaults and attempted assaults in nursing homes across the state – from a 48-year-old paraplegic who raped an elderly woman; to a man who paid a developmentally disabled woman 75 cents to perform sex acts on him; and even a 45-year-old sex offender who attempted to rape a nurse.

Some sex offenders in nursing homes are barely mobile and not capable of harming their neighbors, but many remain capable of committing crimes."

You know what is omitted from this report? Whether the other two cases she mentioned had anything to a registrant. (I'm willing to guess they were not.) 

The bottom line: Shame on Katie and the Dayton Daily News for writing this crap. My worry is how this story might hurt the residents of these few programs willing to accept registrants no thanks to one of the featured guests in the report, Rep. Courtney Combs. Shame on him too. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Somewhat off-topic: Jury acquits Parma man who made fake Facebook page mocking police department

Someone really can't stand the Parma PD, so he make a page mocking them. The Parma PD, having even less of a sense of humor, arrested this guy and charged him with a felony. The jury's decision was a victory for free speech.

As part of the parody of the Parma PD, the following was posted:




And after the blogger's arrest, he posted this:

http://www.cleveland.com/court-justice/index.ssf/2016/08/jury_acquits_parma_man_who_mad.html

Jury acquits Parma man who made fake Facebook page mocking police department

By John Harper, cleveland.com
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on August 12, 2016 at 10:17 AM, updated August 12, 2016 at 4:32 PM

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The man charged with a felony for making a fake version of the Parma Police Department Facebook page in March was found not guilty Thursday.

Anthony Novak, who faced a felony after being arrested for creating a page mocking the department, walked out of the courtroom free after one day of testimony. 

"Today I feel totally relieved," Novak said Friday. "I didn't realize how much stress this was creating in my life until it was over. I was pretty much nervous for five months."

A jury unanimously found that Novak didn't violate the state's disrupting public services law. Police and prosecutors argued that the page led to public confusion that distracted 911 dispatchers who took calls from people confused by the page.

Novak said he intends to sue the police department and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office over the case, claiming they violated his First Amendment rights.

"I absolutely want them to pay for this," Novak said. "The whole ordeal was absolutely ridiculous. They shouldn't be allowed to get away with something like this."

At trial, dispatchers testified that the department's call center received 10 calls about the Facebook page in a 12 hour period after the page went online.

Novak created and posted the fake Facebook page for less than a day in March. He copied the masthead and logo from the department's real Facebook page, then made subtle changes. It gathered fewer than 100 followers before he took it down. 

In the about section he replaced the slogan "We know crime" with "We no crime." He copied a job posting on the page and rewrote a section to say "minorities are strongly encouraged not to apply."

Another post touted a law against feeding homeless people, and another advertised that the Parma Police Department would begin offering abortions. 

Days later, police arrested him at a corner store in Parma and he was charged with disrupting public service, a fourth-degree felony. He spent three days in county jail and his electronic devices, including a laptop and two video game consoles belonging to both him and his roommate, were seized from his apartment.

A Cuyahoga County grand jury indicted Novak in April, prompting criticism from the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. 

Defense Attorney Gary Vick said he focused on the police department's comments about the contents of Novak's posts, a narrative parallel to the department's assertion that the post distracted emergency resources.

"They claimed that those calls disrupted their dispatch function even though the function of dispatch is to take calls and deal with the public," Vick said. 

Neither the arrest warrant issued or the Parma police press release announcing Novak's arrest in March focused on any disruption of police activity, Vick said. Instead, the news release touted derogatory comments directed at the police department from others online.

Novak's arrest led to a backlash against the department online. Hundreds posted comments denigrating the police department leadership for its decision to charge Novak in the case. 

The department and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office now join a series of public agencies nationwide that have failed at prosecuting people over social media activity.

American Civil Liberties Union Attorney Elizabeth Bonham said she was surprised the case made it as far as it did. 

"In terms of a criminal trial, this issue is so clearly protected by the First Amendment that the criminal proceedings shouldn't have even come this far in the first place," Bonham said.  

There were never any attempts made to settle the case before trial, Vick said, and Novak never had an interest in settling.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Federal appeals court upholds judge's lowest possible sentence in child-porn case

From Cleveland.com

http://www.cleveland.com/court-justice/index.ssf/2016/06/federal_appeals_court_upholds.html

Federal appeals court upholds judge's lowest possible sentence in child-porn case
By Eric Heisig, cleveland.com
Follow on Twitter
on June 29, 2016 at 2:29 PM, updated June 29, 2016 at 4:23 PM

CINCINNATI, Ohio — An appeals court on Monday rebuffed the U.S. Attorney's Office's attempt to overturn a Cleveland federal judge's decision to give the lowest possible sentence to a man who downloaded and shared child pornography.

U.S. District Judge James Gwin sentenced Ryan Collins in February 2015 to five years in prison after he polled the jury. The jury said that it thought Collins should serve a sentence of a little more than a year for his crimes.

The U.S. Attorney's Office appealed the sentence, saying it was improper for Gwin, who was appointed to the bench by President Bill Clinton in 1997, to give a sentence based on a jury poll. But the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati rejected the appeal, saying that the judge gave many other reasons for the lower sentence.

The decision is a blow to federal prosecutors, who have expressed frustration over the basement sentence given to Collins, who refused to take responsibility after investigators found more than 1,500 child pornography files on his computers and evidence that he shared files with others.

In a statement, Acting U.S. Attorney Carole Rendon said, "Although we are disappointed with the 6th Circuit's decision and disagree with the sentence that was imposed in this case, we respect that the court has ruled on the matter."

(You can read the full decision here: https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/2929497/Collins-Opinion.pdf)

Under federal law, a judge can sentence a defendant to up to 20 years in prison if he or she is found guilty of child porn distribution. The probation office had said a guideline sentence for Collins, a Dalton resident with no prior convictions, should be even higher.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan at sentencing asked Gwin to give Collins, 33, the maximum allowed.

But in an opinion authored by Senior Judge Ralph Guy Jr., the court ruled that judges are allowed to hand down sentences that are above or below the probation office's recommended guidelines if they disagree from a policy standpoint. Guy wrote that Gwin reasoned that the guidelines in this case show "how off the mark the Federal Sentencing Guidelines are."

Gwin's sentence is just one example of a larger discussion regarding mandatory minimum sentences and the way federal sentences are calculated.

The judge has also studied the disparity between the probation office's recommended sentence and what jurors feel is a just sentence. He wrote a paper for the Harvard Law & Policy Review, published in February 2010, that said juries in 22 cases recommended sentences that were significantly lower than the probation office's recommendations.

Robert Cheren, Collins' attorney, praised the 6th Circuit's ruling. He said Gwin's survey "was just one piece of the puzzle, and it was an important piece because it reflects community sentiment."

Collins is serving his sentence at a federal prison in Lisbon.

Updated with comments from Rendon and Cheren.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Study shows certificates work to create job opportunities

Again, not really SO related but it is still relevant

http://ccresourcecenter.org/2016/05/25/new-study-suggests-certificates-of-relief-are-working-to-create-jobs/

Study shows certificates work to create job opportunities
May 25, 2016 Joshua Gaines

A new empirical study [CLICK HERE for the study] provides important evidence that “certificates of recovery/relief” can be effective in facilitating employment opportunities for people with a criminal record.  Two University of South Carolina criminologists have concluded that employers in Ohio are willing to look beyond the criminal histories of job applicants who have been issued a Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE) from a state court. The study, which involved sending fictitious resumes to over 300 employers in the Columbus area, found that individuals with a felony drug conviction were more than three times as likely to receive a job interview or offer if they had received a CQE.

Although the study’s findings are described as preliminary, they fill an important gap in our knowledge of the effectiveness of Ohio’s CQE, and by inference of similar certificate schemes in other jurisdictions.  Such schemes have to date been justified on the basis of assumptions and anecdotal evidence, with little hard data to vouch for their potency.  The abstract follows:

Securing stable, quality employment is one of the most robust predictors of desistance from offending. Yet, obtaining gainful employment is difficult for ex-offenders due to the stigma of a criminal record. In recognition of employment-related barriers to re-entry, some state legislatures have created certificates of recovery/relief, which lift occupational licensing restrictions, limit employer liability for negligent hiring claims, and aim to ensure employment decisions about certificate-holders are made on a case-by-case basis. The present study presents the results of the first empirical test of the effectiveness of such certificates. Using an experimental correspondence design, fictitious applicants applied to entry-level jobs advertised in the Columbus metropolitan area using fabricated resumes with identical names, educational backgrounds, employment experience, and skills. Because the only differences between the resumes were the type of criminal record and the presence of a Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE), the results isolate the specific impacts of criminal records and certificates on employment opportunities. Results indicate that, for job seekers with a one-year-old felony drug conviction, having a certificate of recovery increases the likelihood of receiving an interview invitation or job offer more than threefold. Importantly, certificate-holders and their counterparts with clean criminal backgrounds were equally likely to receive an interview invitation or job offer.

These promising results, while only a small sample, suggest that certificates of recovery/relief may be an effective avenue for lessening the stigma of a criminal record for ex-offenders seeking employment.  The findings are striking because even though an Ohio CQE removes mandatory collateral consequences and protects employers from negligent hiring claims, Ohio law (unlike New York’s) does not require employers to give CQEs any effect at all.  It seems, then, that “forgiveness-based” models of criminal record mitigation, which acknowledge a person’s criminal history while appropriately contextualizing it, can do far more to enhance employment prospects than many have supposed.  The results of the study may be surprising to those who favor a “forgetfulness-based” model, which relies on limiting public access to a person’s criminal history.

Similar judicial certificate schemes exist in California, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York (whose certificate has served as a model for many states), North Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Vermont.  Though the legal effect of these certificates varies widely from state to state, they are generally intended to serve as an official acknowledgment of rehabilitation that can be relied upon by employers.  (Our 50-state comparison of the consideration of criminal records in licensing and employment, available here, provides an overview and comparison of the certificate laws of each state.  Further detail can be found in individual state profiles.)

Although there is no federal certificate law, U.S. District Court Judge John Gleeson (now retired) crafted and issued his own Certificate of Rehabilitation earlier this year in lieu of expunging the conviction of a woman he had sentenced years earlier who was unable to find lasting employment.  Judge Gleeson wrote in his order:

The forgiveness model, which preserves the public record of a conviction, is gaining favor in the reentry community for both functional and philosophical reasons. . . . Where expungement relief is unavailable or otherwise unhelpful, I believe a certificate of rehabilitation can significantly alleviate the collateral effects of a criminal record by emitting a powerful signal that the same system that found a person deserving of punishment has now found that individual fit to fully rejoin the community.

Although the University of South Carolina study gives reason for optimism that employers in states with robust certificate schemes are receiving these “powerful signals” and acting accordingly, the national picture may not be quite so rosy.  Recent studies on the effectiveness of New York’s certificate scheme that were based on anecdotal and interview evidence suggest that the state’s certificates are falling short when it comes to encouraging employment opportunities, notwithstanding the independent effect given them in New York’s nondiscrimination law.

You can read more about Ohio’s Certificate of Qualification for Employment (and other Ohio relief mechanisms) in our Ohio guide to restoration of rights.  Our 50-state comparison of the consideration of criminal records in licensing and employment, available here, provides an overview and comparison of the certificate laws of each state.