The Porter County Sheriff's Department invests a lot of time and money in maintaining the county's sex offender and violent offender registry.
But starting May 1, the department will charge fees to offenders to recoup some of the costs of keeping track of them.
Offenders -- such as convicted child molesters and rapists who are required to register -- will have to pay a $50 annual registration fee. Offenders who move will pay a $5 change of address fee.
Because the registry is part of a state mandate, Indiana law allows counties to implement the fee. State law also dictates who must register for the local lists.
"We've had to create a position to track and register these offenders. New equipment and manpower is needed to do this, and that's the reason for the fees," said Lt. Chris Eckert, police spokesman.
With 125 to 150 offenders to keep track of, several of whom move each month, the fees are expected to raise $6,000 to $10,000 annually. Ten percent of the fees will go back to the state, and the remainder will remain with the Sheriff's Department.
The registry is designed to let residents know if a sex offender or violent offender is living near them. To see the registry, visit portercountysheriff.com and click on sex offenders. [ED: So now sex offenders are going to have pay for the privilege of having vastly fewer rights and suffering continuous legally sanctioned harassment. This is reminiscent of the Nazis charging the Jews for the damage caused by Kristallnacht in which hundreds (of Jews) were killed and terrorized and their homes and businesses destroyed.]
METHUEN, New Hampshire — A School Committeeman is proposing some schools hang fliers showing the faces of the city's most dangerous sex offenders on its walls to help children protect themselves.
Committeeman Evan Chaisson wants to put these fliers showing Level 3 sex offenders' names, photographs, personal information and crimes inside locked glass cases in the main offices of schools. He wants the posters to be seen by students in grades five and up.
He says it will help students recognize the offenders if they ever see them in person.
"They're at the age where they could understand what a sex offender is," Chaisson said.
Chaisson's comments came after school officials moved a bus stop located in front of the home of a man who, according to police, may have to register as a sex offender.
Methuen has four registered Level 3 offenders, which are considered to be a "high risk" to re-offend, according to the state's Sex Offender Registry Board. The fliers of these men's faces have made it into some public areas, including the Nevins Memorial Library — but not in public schools.
Besides hanging the fliers in a spot where they cannot be tampered with, Chaisson said, teachers could incorporate the information into their curriculum.
"We could incorporate, maybe, into the health programs and their DARE programs and stuff like that," Chaisson said.
"I think it's a great idea," said Robin Gordon, a member of the Methuen High School Parent Teacher Organization. "Too often kids ... they think strangers are going to look different than your next-door neighbor. It could be your next-door neighbor. It could be anybody."
Superintendent Jeanne Whitten has "mixed feelings." Officials need to be careful not to frighten children, she said.
"These are scary faces, and the text is very scary," she told the School Committee. "We have to do this with great sensitivity and thoughtfulness."
"But on the other side of the coin," she said during a recent interview, "you want kids to be aware."
Whitten noted principals have binders full of the Level 3 sex offenders' postings. That information is available to school staff, but it's not put on display for students to see.
The principals will soon discuss Chaisson's proposal, Whitten said.
The city has 43 Level 2 sex offenders, which are deemed a "moderate" risk of re-offending. People can get information on those offenders by requesting it from the Police Department or through the Sex Offender Registry Board. Level 1 offenders are considered to have a "low" chance of re-offending, and their information is not publicly available.
Staff members at Nevins Memorial Library — the city's public library — post Level 3 sex offender fliers on the kiosks around the building, near where they hang advertisements for community events.
"The Police Department asked us to a long time ago," said library Director Krista McLeod. "We feels it's public information. We just feel that people need to be informed."
Library patrons have not had much of a reaction to the fliers, at least that McLeod is aware of.
"I'm sure that people see them, but I've never had any concerns one way or another," she said. "For the most part, I think people probably think it's a good idea."
But is it right?
If school officials are going to hang sex offender fliers, they should incorporate some education about predators at the same time, said Doreen Arcus, a University of Massachusetts Lowell associate professor of psychology with a specialty in childhood development.
"To just have these fliers up, I think, runs the risk of being threatening to students," Arcus said. "Unless it's part of a whole effort designed to help them put it in context and to help them develop the good boundaries and good safety skills, and to empower them."
"At least we're all on the same page," he said. "We all have the children at heart here."
Educators should teach students to recognize potential predators and to know what to do when they encounter one, Arcus said.
It's not good to simply make children think "there's danger lurking on every street corner," and they run the risk of "immobilizing" students if they simply hang fliers without doing anything else, she said.
"Because you don't want kids walking around being scared all the time — that's not good for them," she said.
School staff members need to be mindful that some students are victims of sexual abuse, and teachers often do not know who those students are, Arcus added.
"For a child who has him or herself been sexually molested, to see these faces leering off school walls can be a very stressful experience," she said. "And although we don't like to think that our children have had those histories, there is a substantial number of children who have."
Arcus said she wouldn't like to see the posters hung in schools without being counterbalanced by positive messages about who is there to protect them.
Nancy Scannell, director of policy and planning at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, raised similar points.
"Obviously, we support, totally, the notion of providing kids and communities with every tool possible to keep themselves safe," she said.
But efforts like this can have unintended consequences when "they're implemented piecemeal," she said.
"We're very concerned about the possibility that there could be a posting of a family member of a child in the school," Scannell added.
The society believes parents are best suited to discuss sex offenders with their children. Also, students can get a false sense that the sex offenders on the fliers are the only people they need to be aware of, Scannell said.
She said Chaisson's proposal "requires some discussion" and there is no easy answer on what is best to do.
Veteran School Committee member Robert Vogler said hanging fliers should be part of a broad educational effort.
"It has to be done not to instill a certain amount of fear in the kids," he said.
The state Department of Education could not say whether other schools have posted these fliers in their buildings, saying it was a local issue.
[Ed: Run children! Run for your lives! The boogeymen are coming to get you!]
New South Wales, Australia
In the past years, 10 men have been kept in NSW prisons months after they finished doing their time. Their sentences have expired but the Government brands them "high-risk, hard-core" offenders, and the courts have ordered further detention.
All are serious sex offenders - men with a long history of raping or sexually assaulting women, girls or boys in abhorrent crimes.
It has been a year since the introduction of the Serious Sex Offender legislation, which allows the detention or close supervision of serious sex offenders past their release date "for the safety and protection of the community". The legislation is designed to encourage them to undertake treatment, which is believed to reduce the chance they will reoffend.
The new law has caused a debate over the best way to deal with sex offenders - whether they should be freed at the end of their sentence, locked up forever or released only after successful treatment.
The Government defends its tough stance but others are unconvinced about the law's effectiveness. The real test will come after those men who have agreed to treatment seek release.
Already the Government has applied to keep two of the men, who have enrolled in the recommended treatment program, in jail for up to five more years when their detention ends.
When it was introduced, the Government said the scheme was designed for "a handful" of serious offenders who had not tried to rehabilitate in prison. The intent was to allow them to be placed under long-term supervision, or "in only the worst cases, kept in custody".
Only one of the 10 men kept in prison since the law was introduced - Neville Francis Hadson - is living in the community under strict supervision, after four extra months in prison.
Another, Raymond Barry Cornwall, was released on supervision last December but removed his electronic anklet within an hour of being freed and is serving a sentence for this breach.
The first of the men subjected to the new law, Kenneth Davidson Tillman, was kept under surveillance by private investigators from 6am to 6.30pm for 12 days when released, before he was returned to detention after an appeal.
Those who have been detained are expected to finish approved treatment programs, available only in custody, to reduce their likelihood of reoffending before they are considered for release.
But Tillman's case has reportedly been taken up by the UN Human Rights Committee. The legislation has strong opposition from the civil rights lobby.
The public has "charged emotional views" about sex offenders, says Cameron Murphy, president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties. "Many of the measures sound good, make people feel good, but I'm struggling to see how they in effect assist the community," he says.
Detention is additional punishment which undermines the criminal justice system, Murphy says, and it is the human right of prisoners to know their maximum prison term at the time of sentence. In effect, people are being incarcerated not for something they have done, but something they might do in the future.
Not so, says Howard Brown from the victims support group VOCAL. They are not being punished for possible future offences but for their failure to seek treatment in the past. In a democracy "the needs of the greater [community] sometimes supersede the needs of the individual", he says.
Murphy counters that, if we want sex offenders detained for life, we should debate this publicly, but the full punishment should be known at the time of sentence.
It is not the first time the NSW Government has detained people past their sentence. However, the legislation to detain the killer Gregory Wayne Kable in 1994 was later ruled unconstitutional.
Legislation to detain serious offenders in Western Australia withstood a High Court appeal in 2004, against the dissenting opinion of Justice Michael Kirby. He invoked the spectre of 1930s Germany, before saying: "In Australia, such punishment … is not available for crimes that are feared, anticipated or predicted to occur in the future, on evidence that is notoriously unreliable and otherwise would be inadmissible, and by people who do not have the gift of prophesy."
Queensland and Victoria also have legislation allowing for the detention of serious offenders.
NSW's deputy senior public defender, Andrew Haesler, SC, says Victoria leads the way with its program of preparing offenders for release, with planned and funded supervision and psychiatric treatment.
Some states in the US provide for mandatory "chemical castration" - medication that reduces testosterone levels, hence suppressing sex drive. Others have followed New Jersey in adopting "Megan's law", which allows for the public to be notified about the location of released sex offenders.
In Britain, sex offenders are sometimes kept under strict surveillance. Canada and New Zealand have similar schemes.
The NSW law has been criticised as an example of the Government wanting to be seen as tough on crime, but not spending the money to support it or offering alternative approaches.
Sex offenders are being targeted, suggests Dr Stephen Allnutt, a psychiatrist and conjoined senior lecturer at the University of NSW, because the public find their offences "quite abhorrent". But statistics show they actually reoffend less often than other criminals.
Among those classified in the worst category of sex offenders, 45 per cent will reoffend within 10 years. But within only two years 47 per cent of other offenders will have returned to prison, the Supreme Court was told in one of the cases.
Probably those most likely to commit further crimes when they come out of prison are untreated drug offenders, says Haesler, who has represented serious sex offenders fighting detention orders.
"I don't condone what my clients do, just because I am a defence lawyer. But we've got it wrong in locking them up for ever and ever."
The Government stands by its decision to target sex offenders only. "High-risk sex offenders who have not made any attempt to rehabilitate whilst in prison pose a very real threat to the public," says a spokesman for the Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos.
While many factors turn someone into a sex offender, the profiles of the 10 men detained under the new law have similarities: alcohol abuse, relationship problems, broken homes, intimacy issues and - often - being the victim of sexual abuse.
Statistically, someone might fall into the group of high-risk offenders, sharing many of the risk factors, but there is no way of telling whether they will reoffend, says Linda Valenta, president of the Australian & New Zealand Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abuse.
Asked if she would mind living next to a known sex offender, Valenta says abuse is close to home for many people. "A lot of people probably already do live next door to people who are abusing."
But treatment is proven to reduce recidivism rates by between 15 and 30 per cent, she says.
Brown is less optimistic, comparing sex offenders to alcoholics, who are never cured but can sometimes abstain.
Some psychologists believe treatment doesn't work, and argue that more treated than untreated offenders reoffend because they lie when they realise they can "graduate" only if they parrot the lines fed to them by therapists.
But even those pressured into treatment often change their attitude and receive real benefits from it, Valenta says.
Research shows recidivism is high for treatment dropouts. Interrupted treatment may make offenders worse by introducing them to bad role models and a range of new, sexually deviant behaviours and fantasies.
However, another study found those who deny their offences and accept no treatment reoffend less than others who seek treatment.
Allnutt warns about the reliability of such studies because for ethical reasons there are no control groups that receive "placebo" treatment.
The Custody-based Intensive Treatment program runs in the prison system for offenders deemed to present the highest risk of reoffending. They do no chores and do not socialise; their sole focus is the program.
David Bright, a research fellow at the University of NSW, helped set up the program in 1999 and led changes to it in 2005. He says the course aims to change prisoners' risk factors.
"Men who offend against children, for example, will often have attitudes that allow them to reoffend - that children enjoy sexual contact with adults, or that children or teenagers are allowing them or consenting to sexual activity," he says.
"We can look at changing their attitudes towards women or towards children and sex."
Most men who agree to treatment are not doing it because they are dissatisfied with their lives or remorseful. They seek parole or better conditions. Even so, many of them have to wait for a vacancy: the program only has 40 places.
" The program has gained momentum and gained credibility, particularly with the new legislation, which I think that has motivated (in inverted commas) a lot more men to seek the program or at least to agree to it," Bright says.
A study of 104 offenders who completed the program and were released found they reoffended #at less than the rate expected, given their risk factors.
A Government spokesman claims research has shown the program reduces sexual offending by 75 per cent. Some of the 10 men targeted by the legislation had previously refused to enrol in the program. Others had started it, but then dropped out.
[Ed: The English-speaking world continues to lead the pack of sex hysterics worldwide!]