Legal Watch

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Can we get some new leaders in Georgia please. Georgia Supreme Court says no to lifetime GPS for those on the registry Court strikes down lifetime electronic monitoring of sex offenders

The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday struck down a law requiring dangerous sexual predators who have completed their sentences to wear electronic monitors for the rest of their lives. 


The requirement violates the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches, Chief Justice Harold Melton wrote for a unanimous court. 

If a dangerous sexual predator were still on probation, the outcome could be different, the court said. That’s because such an offender who is still under a criminal sentence has a diminished expectation of privacy. 

But offenders who have served all their time in prison and completed their probation should not have to attach an electronic monitoring device on their bodies so law enforcement can look for evidence of a crime against them without a warrant, the court said. 

Collecting information about an individual 24 hours a day and seven days a week “constitutes a significant intrusion upon the privacy of the individual being monitored,” Melton wrote. It is “patently unreasonable,” the chief justice added. 

Jason Rydberg, who teaches criminology and justice studies at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, said more than 30 states allow for GPS tracking of sex offenders. “But what’s rare is for it to be applied on offenders for life,” he said. 

As to whether it’s an effective deterrent, the results are mixed, said Rydberg, who has researched the supervision of sex offenders by electronic monitoring. “The rates of those re-offending are similar if they’re on GPS tracking or not,” he said. 

The state Supreme Court ruled in favor of Joseph Park, who was convicted in 2003 in Douglas County of child molestation and sexual exploitation of a minor. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison. 


Shortly before Park’s release from incarceration, the Sex Offender Registration Review Board conducted a risk assessment to determine how likely it was that Park would engage in another crime against a minor or commit another dangerous sexual offense. The board put Park in its highest-risk category — a “sexually dangerous predator.” 

The Sex Offender Registry Review Board has classified about 983 sex offenders at such a high-risk category, executive director Tracy Alvord said. That’s 9 percent of all sex offenders classified in Georgia. 

When Park received such a classification, it meant he had to wear an electronic monitor linked to a GPS system for the rest of his life. But he can now remove it because of the court’s ruling. 

His, lawyer, Mark Yurachek, said he was pleased with the outcome. 

“We believed that even if this statute was passed with the best of intentions by the Legislature, it was a gross intrusion on the rights of a man who had already admitted his responsibility for a crime and served out his sentence without incident,” he said. “We very much appreciate the Supreme Court’s ability to separate itself from the emotions of the issue and render a judgment which merely applied the Constitution to the statute.” 

In a concurring opinion, Justice Keith Blackwell agreed with the result but noted the Legislature could still address the issue. 

“Nothing in our decision prevents the General Assembly from authorizing life sentences for the worst sexual offenders, and nothing in our decision prevents the General Assembly from requiring a sentencing court in the worst cases to require GPS monitoring as a condition of permitting a sexual offender to serve part of a life sentence on probation,” Blackwell wrote. 

State Rep. Chuck Efstration, who chairs the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee, said he expects the Legislature to respond to Blackwell’s concurrence. 

“I certainly think that the General Assembly should consider changing the law to ensure this monitoring can be legally enforced,” the Republican from Dacula said. He added that he didn’t know whether there was enough time left to accomplish that this current legislative session.

Democrat-Controlled Minnesota House Passes Bill to Allow Child Sex Offenders, Murderers to Work in DHS Programs

The Minnesota House passed a bill Monday in a vote along party lines that would allow residents convicted of a number of felonies to work in programs overseen by the Department of Human Services.

The bill, House File 2265, was authored by Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL-St. Paul) and passed out of the House in a 73-54 vote.

Pinto’s bill would require the DHS to consider granting a “set aside or variance” for “an individual who was disqualified for a crime or conduct listed under section 245C.15, subdivision 1” and if more than 20 years have passed since the individual was either sentenced or committed the crime.

The bill would apply to positions that require a DHS background check, such as Personal Care Attendants (PCAs), services for Minnesotans with disabilities, and Non-Emergency Medical Transportation drivers.

Crimes listed under section 245C.15, subdivision 1, include:

  • Felony-level stalking
  • Drive-by shooting
  • Malicious punishment of a child
  • Solicitation of children to engage in sexual conduct
  • Murder of an unborn child in the first degree
  • Kidnapping
  • Domestic assault by strangulation
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Spousal abuse
  • Domestic assault
  • Murder in the first, second, and third degree

In a press release, Deputy Minority Leader Anne Neu (R-North Branch) noted that these crimes “would fall under the crimes that must be considered for a set-aside or variance.”

“This bill opens the door to allowing literal murderers and child sex offenders to work alongside Minnesota’s most vulnerable citizens with no guarantees or safeguards that they have been rehabilitated and ready to rejoin the workforce,” she said, though she does point out that there are some crimes that are “exempted in the bill,” such as criminal sexual conduct.

“Too often this session, Democrats have been focused on restorative justice by any means necessary, even if it puts Minnesotans at risk,” Neu added.

The bill will now head to the Senate for consideration, where it is sponsored by State Sen. Richard Cohen (DFL-St. Paul).


HF 2265 1st Engrossment - 91st Legislature (2019 - 2020) Posted on 04/01/2019 05:42pm

Current Version – 1st Engrossment

Line numbers1.

A bill for an act
relating to human services; modifying the permanent bar to set aside a background 
study disqualification;amending Minnesota Statutes 2018, section 245C.24, 
subdivision 2.


Section 1. 

Minnesota Statutes 2018, section 245C.24, subdivision 2, is amended to read:

Subd. 2.


Permanent bar to set aside a disqualification.


(a) Except as provided in 
paragraph (b), the commissioner may not set aside the disqualification of any individual 
disqualified pursuant to this chapter, regardless of how much time has passed, if the individual 
was disqualified for a crime or conduct listed in section 245C.15, subdivision 1.

(b) For an individual in the chemical dependency or corrections field who was disqualified 
for a crime or conduct listed under section 245C.15, subdivision 1, and whose disqualification 
was set aside prior to July 1, 2005
 more than 20 years have passed since the discharge of 
the sentence imposed or, if the disqualification is not based on a conviction, more than 20 
years have passed since the individual committed the act upon which the disqualification 
was based
, the commissioner must consider granting a set aside or variance pursuant to 
section 245C.22 or 245C.30 for the license holder for a program dealing primarily with 
adults. A request for reconsideration evaluated under this paragraph must include a letter 
of recommendation from the license holder that was subject to the prior set-aside decision 
addressing the individual’s quality of care to children or vulnerable adults and the 
circumstances of the individual’s departure from that service
 This paragraph does not apply 
to a person disqualified based on a violation of sections 609.342 to 609.3453; 617.23, 
subdivision 2, clause (1), or subdivision 3, clause (1); 617.246; or 617.247

  • (c) When a licensed foster care provider adopts an individual who had received foster 
    care services from the provider for over six months, and the adopted individual is required 
    to receive a background study under section 245C.03, subdivision 1, paragraph (a), clause 
    (2) or (6), the commissioner may grant a variance to the license holder under section 245C.30 
    to permit the adopted individual with a permanent disqualification to remain affiliated with 
    the license holder under the conditions of the variance when the variance is recommended 
    by the county of responsibility for each of the remaining individuals in placement in the 
    home and the licensing agency for the home.


Project Safe Childhood is the Department of Justice initiative launched in 2006 to combat the proliferation of technology-facilitated crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children.  The threat of sexual predators soliciting children for physical sexual contact is well-known and serious.  The danger of perpetrators who produce, distribute and possess child pornography is equally dramatic and disturbing.  There is often an international dimension to these crimes – for example, some offenders travel to victimize children outside of the United States or view live video streams (in addition to recorded still and video images) of children being abused in foreign countries.

The department is committed to the safety and well-being of every child and has placed a high priority on combating sexual exploitation of minors.  Through a network of federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies and advocacy organizations, Project Safe Childhood attempts to protect children by investigating and prosecuting offenders involved in child sexual exploitation.

The department expanded Project Safe Childhood in May 2011 to encompass all federal crimes involving the sexual exploitation of a minor, including sex trafficking of a minor and crimes against children committed in Indian country. Failure to register as a sex offender offenses now also fall within the ambit of Project Safe Childhood.

Project Safe Childhood is implemented through partnerships with numerous stakeholders,  including: U.S. Attorneys’ Offices (USAOs) and the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys; the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task forces; federal law enforcement partners, including the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS); advocacy organizations such as the National Institute of Justice; and state, local, tribal and military law enforcement officials.


Because of Project Safe Childhood, the number of federal prosecutions involving child sexual exploitation has increased significantly.  These prosecutions have resulted from an increased number of international, federal, state, local and tribal investigations.

In fiscal year 2014, USAOs obtained 3,248 indictments against 3,422 defendants for offenses involving the sexual exploitation of minors.  This represents a 31 percent increase in the number of indictments over fiscal year 2010.  These crimes have ranged from production of obscene visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct to receipt, distribution, possession and/or production of child pornography to the direct physical, sexual abuse of a minor.

Since the launch of Project Safe Childhood, thousands of children depicted in child pornography have been identified through enhanced law enforcement coordination, multi-jurisdictional collaborative efforts and additional contributions by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).

Since the inception of Project Safe Childhood, CEOS, in partnership with the FBI, HSI and the USPIS, has developed and coordinated many nationwide and international operations targeting the production, distribution, receipt and possession of child images.  For instance between fiscal years 2013 and 2015, 14 nationwide operations were conducted, resulting in the investigation of over 2,600 individuals in the United States and generated leads against more than 8,000 foreign suspects.  Many of these cases are prosecuted by USAOs throughout the nation, often in conjunction with trial attorneys and additional resources from CEOS.

As part of Project Safe Childhood, the department has collaborated with international law enforcement partners to secure the arrest of child pornography producers and collectors around the world.  In Operation Delego, for example, CEOS helped identify a global child pornography network and facilitated the arrest of offenders in 14 countries on five continents.  Several major international law enforcement investigations – such as Operation Joint Hammer and Operation Nest Egg – have successfully dismantled multiple international child pornography organizations.  In doing so, the department has coordinated efforts with international law enforcement agencies such as Eurojust, the judicial cooperation arm of the European Union, to ensure that every available resource is put to use.  These alliances also ensure that child pornography distributors, collectors and producers around the world are identified, apprehended and held accountable for their actions.

In 2016, the department released a new National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction, a roadmap to building on our successes and tackling new challenges during the next several years.  Formulated over the course of a year by an interagency working group, this strategy harnesses the expertise of law enforcement at all levels, as well as the experience and knowledge of non-governmental stakeholders.  It identifies innovative ways in which the federal government and its partners can address child exploitation.  And it reaffirms our unwavering commitment to ensuring that all children in America are able to reach their potential in a nation that protects them from violence and abuse.  This follows on the department’s original national strategy, which helped formalize key partnerships, streamlined prevention and prosecution efforts and improved regional and interagency collaboration in order to maximize all available resources.

Project Safe Childhood has also been highly effective in apprehending and convicting offenders who have traveled or attempted to travel across interstate or foreign borders with the intent to either sexually abuse a minor or engage in other illicit conduct.  Many defendants have held positions of public trust – ranging from an elementary school principal to a State Department-affiliated special agent.

Since the inception of its CyberTipline in 1998, NCMEC has processed more than 8.4 million reports (nearly half of those in 2015) related to incidents of child sexual exploitation, the majority of which relate to activities connected to child pornography and the internet.  Since the CyberTipline was created, NCMEC has seen a dramatic increase in the number of reports received.


In 1998, the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Juvenile Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) recognized the significant risk of technology-facilitated child exploitation.  In response, OJJDP developed the ICAC Task Force Program.  The purpose of the ICAC Task Force Program is to help regional, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies acquire the knowledge, equipment and personnel resources they need to prevent, investigate and stop sexual crimes against minors.

The ICAC Program has facilitated the training of more than 500,000 law enforcement professionals since its inception, providing valuable techniques related to investigating, prosecuting and preventing technology-enabled crimes against children.

There are 61 ICAC Task Forces across the country, each composed of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.  These task forces represent more than 3,500 federal, state and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies.

Since the program’s inception in 1998, the ICAC Task Forces have reviewed thousands of complaints of alleged child sexual victimization.  In fiscal year 2015, ICAC Task Forces conducted more than 54,000 investigations that resulted in the arrest of more than 8,500 individuals.


In July 2006, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (AWA) gave the USMS three main missions: investigate registered sex offenders who violate the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act; assist state, local, tribal and territorial authorities in locating and apprehending non-compliant sex offenders; and identify and locate sex offenders who are displaced as a result of a major disaster.  The USMS instituted the National Sex Offender Targeting Center, located in Arlington, Virginia, to achieve its mission under the AWA in 2009.

Between May 1, 2010 and May 1, 2015, the USMS opened 16,320 investigations of convicted sex offenders for violations of AWA and arrested 2,671 individuals on federal sex offender registration charges.  USMS closed by arrest 23,986 state/local warrants charging failure to register during that period, and based on USMS’s investigations, federal prosecutors obtained 2,375 convictions.

The USMS’s National Sex Offender Targeting Center has partners with several agencies, including the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Justice’s Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART) Office to identify 18 U.S.C. § 2250 violations by tracking sex offenders who travel in and out of the United States and fail to comply with the mandated registration requirements.

The National Sex Offender Targeting Center coordinated with INTERPOL to create a system to notify DSS of U.S. sex offender travel to regional security officer areas of responsibility.  The agreement with DSS and INTERPOL is an important step forward in expanding the USMS’s participation around the world to meet the growing challenges of tracking non-compliant sex offenders who travel internationally.

Recent operations have required international law enforcement to use all available investigative measures to overcome child sexual exploitation offenders’ use of sophisticated technologies, such as anonymizers and encryption. USAOs work jointly with CEOS’s High Technology Investigative Unit to prosecute cutting-edge, nuanced child exploitation crimes.  CEOS also trains Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSAs) and other partners in child exploitation prosecution, publishes a quarterly newsletter and distributes a case digest to AUSAs and federal agents.  CEOS is at the forefront of campaigns aimed at combating international child sex tourism, such as the Innocence Lost Initiative.

AUSAs from USAOs across the country are trained annually regarding Project Safe Childhood statutes and policies at the National Advocacy Center in Columbia, South Carolina.  In addition, national training took place in April 2016 in Atlanta and attracted approximately 1,400 attendees from state, local, non-profit, tribal, international and federal agencies.


Technological advances have encouraged child sexual exploitation offenders, especially those operating online, to an unprecedented degree.  For every new technology that fills a need for law-abiding citizens, online child sexual exploitation offenders will find a malicious use.  Among the most daunting and prevalent is offender utilization of anonymization networks, including Tor and Freenet, to obscure their identities.  Because of the perceived anonymity, the most prolific and sophisticated offenders feel empowered to share enormous quantities of the most vile child exploitation images on a multitude of Internet bulletin boards.

Many of the most dangerous child sexual exploitation offenders have increasingly migrated to organized group enterprises, where they can collaborate with other like-minded offenders to perpetrate their offenses.  These group activities are disturbing because they serve to validate, normalize and encourage sexual behaviors directed towards children that are widely condemned by society at large.  These groups also assist in thwarting law enforcement by sharing encryption and anonymization practices, or the best venues to place ads promoting commercial sexual abuse of minors.  

Even after child pornography producers are identified and convicted, their recordings still circulate online and elsewhere for the continued consumption by other like-minded offenders; therefore, the danger of the production, distribution and possession of child pornography remains multifaceted and disturbing for victims all over the world.

Project Safe Childhood relies upon the ongoing efforts and relationships between law enforcement agencies, nonprofit entities (including schools), advocacy organizations and many others to protect and defend children against sexual exploitation and abuse.  In order for Project Safe Childhood to continue to fulfill its mission, all partners will need to continue to work collaboratively to keep pace with those who seek to harm any child.