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The Adam Walsh Act: Before Its Inception - Part-3

109th Congress, Hearing before the, House Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security on June 9, 2005: PROTECTION AGAINST SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN ACT OF 2005, AND THE PREVENTION AND DETERRENCE OF CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN ACT OF 2005

Bills under Consideration in This Hearing

HR-2318 Protection Against Sexual Exploitation of Children Act of 2005

HR-2388 Prevention and Deterrence of Crimes Against Children Act of 2005
It is important to note here that these two bills dealt with INCREASING the penalties for sex crimes ON THE FEDERAL LEVEL, and, to somehow -for crimes which ended in the death of a victim- reduce the court's appellate time frame to bring closure for the families of victims.

Two points need to be made: 1) Increasing the FEDERAL penalties is a waste of time since the majority of crimes are committed on the state level. (This may have been a carrot to get these issues bundled with the first two hearings on registration and tracking issues); 2) Appellate court issues have nothing to do with registration and tracking of offenders either. Clearly these two bills did not belong bundled with the first two hearings, and the only visable purpose was to create hysteria and get lawmakers to pass the other bills, in hearings 1 and 2.

The purpose here is to continue documenting events leading up to the Adam Walsh Act. Selected portions of this particular hearing follow, Mr. Green (WI)(was acting Chairman):

Mr Scott: Opening Remarks
Mr Scott's OPENING STATEMENT (pg-3):
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and I appreciate you convening this hearing. But as usual, every 2 years we are pontificating about child crimes and dramatically increasing Federal sentences, and we are doing so despite the fact that crimes against children prosecuted in Federal Court constitute a miniscule percentage of such crimes and represent none of the horrendous crimes against children that have been in the media in recent months.

There is no evidence that Federal prosecutions of crimes against children has any significant impact on these horrendous State crimes against children, nor do we have any evidence that either State or Federal law for crimes against children are too lenient.
Indeed, we recently dramatically increased Federal sentences for crimes against children in the PROTECT Act. We have not had enough time or enough cases to determine whether or not these draconian increases in Federal sentences has had any effect on crime.

We are moving forward dramatically increasing Federal sentences, also in the worst possible way, through increased mandatory minimum sentences. Mandatory minimum sentences only affect those offenses or those offenses or those who have a role in an offense which would warrant a less severe sentence, since those who warrant the mandatory minimum or even a more serious sentence get those under the sentencing guidelines. I call attention to the recommendations released today by a group of bipartisan philosophically diverse scholars and high level current and former public policy makers, including former Attorney General Ed Meese, and former Deputy General Phil Hayman indicating that sentencing policies should provide for proportionality and sufficient flexibility to reflect differences in the role and background of the offenders.

These increases are occurring at a time when the evidence from the Department of Justice is that for sex offenders the recidivism rate is lower than other offenders in general with a 5 percent recidivism rate for new sex offenses and a 3.3 percent recidivism rate for child molesters recidivating with a new offense of that nature. I will ask this study and four others from other sources be made part of the record.
Mr. SCOTT. Also the evidence reveals that the low recidivism rate is cut in half with sexual abuse treatment. While recidivism is bad, 3 to 5 percent rates with the prospect of that being cut in half do not suggest that the situation is hopeless, yet there is nothing in any of these bills to ensure treatment for these offenders who seek treatment or are already receiving sentences and will be leaving prison soon. The bills before us suggest that it is better to wait for the victimization to occur and then apply draconian penalties.

One of our speakers at an earlier hearing on the subject, criminologist and law professor Frank Zimmer of the Berkeley School of Law pointed out that treating all offenses and offenders the same and mandating life sentences for repeat offenders regardless of the crime, may actually endanger more children than it helps. He expressed the concern that putting the offender in the position of concluding that once a crime is completed or attempted, he is facing a minimum of a life sentence, he will more likely conclude that the best chance of avoiding detection would be to kill the victim and the witness.

This is very strange because Mr. Keller brought nothing to the hearing, all he does is mentioned who else is going to testify, then the following two paragraphs.
Mr Keller's ORAL TESTIMONY (pg-5):
In November of 2002, Mr. Crist was elected Florida’s first Republican Attorney General. For the past 21⁄2 years, Attorney General Crist has led the fight to establish longer prison sentences for criminals who sexually molest children and to require tracking devices once they do get out. Attorney General Crist understands that the best way to protect young children is to keep child predators locked up in the first place, because someone who has molested a child will do it again and again and again.

For example, earlier this year, two young Florida girls, 9-yearold Jessica Lunsford and 13-year-old Sarah Lunde were abducted, raped and killed. Both men who confessed to these horrific crimes were convicted sex offenders and career criminals. Mr. Crist takes these crimes personally and has traveled here to Washington today to help do something about this nationwide problem. Mr. Attorney General, we are honored to have you with us today. We applaud your efforts to protect the young people of Florida and we look forward to your testimony today.

Ms Parsky's ORAL TESTIMONY (pg-6):
Therefore, I commend you for holding this hearing today. One of the most prevalent manifestations of the growing problem of child exploitation and sexual abuse crimes is the escalating presence of child pornography. There has been explosive growth in the trade of child pornography due to the ease and speed of distribution and the relative anonymity afforded by the Internet. The distribution of child pornography has progressed beyond exchanges between individuals and now includes commercial ventures. We should be ever mindful that each image of what we call child pornography graphically depicts the sexual abuse of an innocent child.

Further, once on the Internet, the images are passed endlessly from offender to offender and are perhaps used to whet the appetite of a pedophile to act out the deviant fantasies of the image on yet another child thereby continuing the cycle of abuse. Child pornography offenses as well as other child exploitation offenses involving enticement of minors to engage in illegal sexual activity, travel to engage in illegal sexual activity with a minor, or transportation of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity often implicate interstate or foreign commerce, and, therefore, are often prosecuted ecuted under State law, child sexual abuse on Federal lands such as a military base or an Indian territory may be prosecuted under Federal law. Accordingly, Federal laws prohibiting sexual abuse has an important role in combating these crimes.

It appears that her purpose was to raise issues about online child pornography, which is a problem then as well as today in 2011. One other point, the bills under consideration in this hearing had nothing to do with child pornography.

Finally, her main purpose, although not mentioned in her oral testimony, but is in her Prepared Statement, was to show DOJ support for Mandatory Minimum Sentences.

Mr Charlie Crist (Florida's Attorney General): ORAL TESTIMONY
Mr Crist's ORAL TESTIMONY (pg-11):

The problem of sex crimes against children has been a blight on society for far too long, but it seems to have exploded onto the national consciousness as a result of a series of recent high profile cases. Sadly, several of these cases have occurred in my own State. I believe this is more a consequence of our State’s appeal to newcomers than it is an indication of any systemic problem unique to Florida, but it has made us acutely aware of the complexities of the issue.
Florida had stopped providing sex offender therapy within its prisons, so that when someone is paroled, while they may take therapy -in the community- therapy takes time and during that time they are a higher risk to the community. Florida accepts that risk, as do many states, based on the belief that "Sex Offender Therapy" is costly and not effective. However, this is an erroneous belief, and Dr. Berlin -in a earlier hearing- provided proof that therapy reduces risks to the community. The failure of states to provide in-prison therapy, makes them -in part- responsible for some of the recidivism of offenders paroled back into the community.
Florida is home to some 34,000 registered sex offenders, approximately 5,000 of whom are classified as sexual predators. The odds are that in every neighborhood in every city, there is a sex offender living down the street. It is highly likely that every Floridian, and probably every American, drives past the home of a sex offender on a regular basis without even knowing it.
I believe it is no accident that our founding fathers stressed the importance of safety and security by placing in the very first line of the United States Constitution the mandate that the very purpose of our Government is to, ‘‘ensure domestic tranquility.’’ Little we do as public servants will really matter if we do not do something to prevent our most innocent citizens from falling victim to the unspeakable horrors committed by sex offenders and sex predators. The experts tell us that someone who has molested a child will do it again and again.
Beginning with the tragic abduction and murder of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia in Sarasota only 16 months ago, Florida has taken numerous steps to protect children from the monsters who would prey upon them.
Crist, Florida's AG, has not fully informed Congress with respect to the murder of Carlie Brucia. Joseph Smith who was ultimately convicted of Carlie's murder, had NO HISTORY of any sex offense and -in fact- he was on probation for other crimes when he killed Carlie. At the time Florida had a serious problem with folks on probation. Further, his comment "Experts tell us..." is contrary to the expert testimony of Dr. Berlin in a hearing a few days before this one.
In Florida, we have directed our prevention and education initiatives at both parents and children. One of our most important steps was taken 3 weeks ago with the help of an outstanding corporate citizen, Pitney Bowes. On May 17, Pitney Bowes’ chairman and CEO Michael Critelli and I unveiled an enhanced State website that for the first time, it lets parents and other Floridians zero in on registered sex offenders who live nearby. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement maintains a database of 34,000 registered sex offenders and sexual predators, one of the largest of its kind in the Nation. For the past 10 years, a website maintained by that agency has allowed Floridians to search for sex offenders as well as predators. This has been an extremely useful service, but it was limited. Parents could find out which sex offender were registered to live in the same town or zipcode, but unless a parent was familiar with every street in that zipcode, it was not always possible to know just how close the offender might live.
There is something missing here, Carlie was abducted and killed somewhere way away from her home, so what good would a registry do. I think we are seeing the bamboozle of Panel Members with this testimony. If anything what he says is, the registry is useless to stop this kind of crime, hopefully Panel members saw this.
As I said earlier, the case of Carlie Brucia which occurred in Sarasota 16 months ago, an 11-year-old girl being abducted from a carwash parking lot was played over and over again on national television. That was followed by a case that occurred including the Jessica Lunsford case where Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite has led the effort, along with Congressman Mark Foley, to try to stop those kinds of things from happening on a national level and I applaud their effort.
There was another case that got a lot less play. This occurred in Deltona, Florida, Volusia County. It affected 6 innocent Floridians who were beaten to death with baseball bats in the wee hours on August 6 of last year.
That case had nothing to do with anything related to a sex crime or a former sex offender, why even mention it? See below:
Those cases involving Carlie Brucia, Jessica Lunsford, Sarah Lunde in the Tampa Bay area where my family resides, and the 6 innocent Floridians in Deltona, Volusia County, Florida, all had a common theme and a common thread. The common thread was that each and every one of these cases had somebody who had already been in prison in Florida. They had served their time and gotten out, they had been placed on probation, given a second chance, been on the privilege of probation—it is a privilege that our criminal justice extends. They all violated probation. At the time they violated, they go before a judge, and the judge has to make a determination of whether or not that person should go back to jail or stay free.
It appears, and this is NEW news to me, that Florida had problems with their system of probation, and those problems contributed to the deaths of children in that time frame. Also, he is saying that, Florida's prison system is not doing its job of rehabilitating those incarcerated. Florida did not have any sex offender therapy program in their prison system. It does appear that the State of Florida, because of failures within their prison system (lack of sex offender therapy programs) and with their probation system (which was in shambles at the time News Reports from that era) clearly contributed -to a significant degree- to the deaths of these three children.
Regrettably, in each and every one of those cases, the judges decided to let them stay out. And in Sarasota, he saw Carlie Brucia, in Citrus County, Jessica Lunsford, in Hillsborough County, Sarah Lunde, and in Deltona, Volusia County, those six innocent Floridians. We must do more to make sure we lock these bad people up and protect the citizens of our State and our country.
Crist's focus is, people on probation, many who are very violent. This focus coupled with news reports of the problems Florida was having with its system of probation is NEW information in 2011 and contributory to the deaths of children in Florida in that era.

Carol Fornoff, Mother of a child murdered in 1984: ORAL TESTIMONY
Ms Fornoff's ORAL TESTIMONY (pg-16):
It is important to point out that, Ms. Fornoff's child was killed in 1984, yes a horrendous act, but that crime was relevant to earlier laws -20 years prior- and having her testify today in 2005 appears out of place to 2005. So why was she asked to testify? The following will explain:

After dinner on Wednesday evening, May 9, 1984, both Christy Ann and Jason had been invited to go jumping on the trampoline. Jason went but Christy had just had a cast removed from her ankle. So instead, she went to collect on her newspaper’s route at the apartment complex near our home. Christy delivered papers at the complex everyday. It was two, just two short blocks from our house. Nevertheless, it was getting dusk, so I went with her. She rode her brother’s bike while I walked alongside with our little dog.

At the first apartment that Christy visited, I was stopped by a neighbor who wanted to talk about our cute dog. Christy went on to the next apartment alone, and I followed a few minutes later. When I got there, the bike was outside, but there was no Christy. I started calling her name, but there was no answer. Our dog started to get so nervous. After a few minutes I ran home and came back with my daughter’s boyfriend. We went to the apartment and asked. They said Christy had been here, but she had left about 10 minutes ago. While I knew that Christy wouldn’t leave her brother’s bike, I ran home again. My husband had just arrived at home and I told him that Christy was missing. He immediately called the police and then went to the apartment complex and began knocking on doors. Outside of one apartment, people standing nearby told him, don’t bother knocking on that door, that is the maintenance man and he is looking for Christy.

Shortly after, the maintenance man joined Roger in the search for Christy. That night, police helicopters with search lights examined every corner of our neighborhood. Our son drove up and down everywhere in the area on his motorcycle. Christy’s newspaper collection book was found over a fence by the apartment complex but no one found Christy. Two days later, a policeman knocked on our door. Christy’s body had been discovered wrapped in a sheet lying behind a trash dumpster in that apartment complex. We were absolutely devastated. We had began hoping against hope and couldn’t believe that our beautiful daughter was dead. Christy’s body was taken to a morgue so an autopsy could be performed.

On Sunday, which was Mother’s Day, we were able to view Christy’s body. Mother’s Day has never been the same since. 10 days after Christy’s body was found, the maintenance man at the apartment complex, the same man who had been looking for her that night, was arrested for her murder. Christy had been sexually assaulted and suffocated.

In 1985, the maintenance man was convicted of Christy’s murder and sentenced to death.

The conviction was upheld in a lengthy opinion by the Arizona Supreme Court. The killer raised many more challenges but his last State appeals were finally rejected in 1992. By that time, we already felt that the case had been going on for a long time. It had been 7 years. We couldn’t imagine that the killer would have any more challenges to argue. But in 1992, the killer filed another challenge to his conviction in the United States district court. That challenge then remained in that one court for over 7 years. Finally in November 1999, the district court dismissed the case.

Few years later the Federal Court of appeals for the Ninth Circuit sent the case back to the district court for more hearings. Today, the case remains before that same Federal district court. It has now been over 21 years since Christy was murdered. By this fall the case will have been in the Federal courts for longer than Christy was ever alive. I cannot describe to you how painful our experience with the court system has been. I cannot believe that just one court took over 7 years to decide our case. We want to know will his conviction be thrown out? Will there be another trial? I cannot imagine testifying at a trial again. And would they even be able to convict this man again?

Note: In Ms. Fornoff's Prepared Testimony, in hearing record following her Oral Testimony, she mentions several other similar cases from years ago, and also submits several news articles.
One of the bills up for consideration: HR-2388 "Prevention and Deterrence of Crimes Against Children Act of 2005" is about the court's appellate process for offenders who have murdered someone. 21 years -so far- for the offender who murdered Ms. Fornoff's child. also, that applies to anyone convicted of murder not just sex offenders.

So, the real question is, why was that bill coupled with others about sex offender registration and sex offenses in 2005 and thereafter?
Politics can be a dirty business: There is no doubt that coupling Ms. Fornoff's description of a child's murder and finality in the court system (which does deserve addressing, in a separate forum and separate unrelated hearing about court processes.) with sex offender registration type issues, will kill any testimony that sought to effect change in the system of registration and tracking of sex offenders. Effectively, Mr. Scott's evidence submitted at the start of this hearing is all but negated by this horrendous crime.
Strategy was at work here, resolving all the individual issues didn't appear to be the goal! Rep. Sensenbrenner chaired this hearing and requested these folks to testify. Folks may remember, in 2006 when it was time to vote on the Adam Walsh Act, it was Rep. Sensenbrenner who asked for the rules to be suspended, claiming that bill was not a controversial issue. Today 2011, it is still a national controversial issue for millions of Americans. Congress has rules and methods that clearly do not allow justice for the issues Congress faces. Such thwarting or circumventing of justice needs to be eliminated. This is the story of one!

John Rhodes, Assistant Federal Defender, Montana. : ORAL TESTIMONY
Mr. Rhodes's ORAL TESTIMONY (pg-38):
Mr. Rhodes' testimony focused on Tribal needs and federal sex offenses not relevant to SORNA registration issues, my main topic in this review.

Above are the significant portions of this hearing transcript with my comments.

Studies Mentioned in Testimony
Within the 300-page PDF file (Hard for some to load) these studies are included, copied page by page, but they are hard to read, so here are links to the same studies on the Internet, much easier to read:

Recidivism of Sex Offenders (2001 CSOM) (page-70 pdf pg-76)

Sex Offenders (1998, Dennise Orlando: Special Needs Bulletin) (page-90 pdf pg-96)

Ten-Year Recidivism Follow-Up of 1989 Sex Offender Releases (2001, State of Ohio Dep't of Rehabilitation and Correction) (page-110 pdf pg-116)

Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison in 1994 (2003, Bureau of Justice Statistics) (page-140 pdf pg-146)

REPORT OF THE NATIVE AMERICAN ADVISORY GROUP (2003, US Sentencing Commission) (page-188 pdf pg-194)

Recidivism Among Treated Sexual Offenders and Matched Controls (2000, Jan Looman, Jeffrey Abracen, Terry Nicholaichuk) (page-237 pdf pg-243)

Criminal Offenders Statistics (US Dep't of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics) (page-290 pdf pg-296)

Sex Offender Research, All Rights Reserved! © 2011

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