Friday, October 28, 2011

The "SMART" Office needs to be sued for false advertising

When the Adam Walsh was passed into law in 2006, the so-called SMART Office was also created. I don't know why people are so fascinated with acronyms, but of all the acronyms, they chose one that has the least symbolism for a group dedicated to pimping a bad law, namely the Adam Walsh Act.
"SMART" stands for Sex-offender Monitoring, Apprehending, Registration, and Tracking office. So far, sex offender policies have been anything but smart. Maybe it is time we take a little look at this "SMART" Office and judge for yourself if this Office is as "SMART" as it claims to be.

“The SMART Office: Open for Business”

In a press release, The SMART office proudly proclaims it is "open for business." 

"In December 2006, the SMART Office officially opened for business when President Bush appointed Laura L. Rogers, a career prosecutor, as the Director. Ms. Rogers served as a Deputy District Attorney in San Diego, California for nine years, a Senior Attorney at the American Prosecutors Research Institute’s National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse for five years, the Director of the National Institute for Training Child Abuse Professionals for three years and an Adjunct Law Professor at George Mason School of Law for the past four years." This career description for Laura Rogers sounds awfully familiar. In fact, it reminds me of a certain loudmouth TV talking head who famously claimed she "never met a false rape claim" during the Duke Lacrosse case. But I digress.

The SMART Mission Statement:

To assure that convicted sex offenders are prohibited from preying on citizens through a system of appropriate restrictions, regulations and internment.

I love how they use the term "Internment." I immediately think of the Japanese Internment Camps of World War II. Could she have been alluding to the infamous Julia Tuttle Causeway debacle? Subsequent SMART Office Mission statements have removed the offensive word.

In 2009, Laura Rogers testified before the AWA Reauthorization Hearing in 2009. Lets hear her testimony for a minute:

Here we see Laura stumbling and fumbling and bumbling. It is clear she does not even understand how  the Adam Walsh Act even works. She was asked if a 19 1/2 year old and 15 year old having consensual sex would lead to being forced to register. Laura replied that it depends on how each state codes the law, or, as she put it, "there are a lot of issues that would have to be examined, depending on how its charged in a particular jurisdiction." Well, that defeats the purpose of the Adam Walsh Act, because the point of the law was making a "uniform standard" of sex offender laws across the US. She was asked again, and Laura fumbled more times than a butterfingered football player. Finally some speaker from Louisiana answered her question, 25 years on the registry for the scenario described.

It was not long before Laura Rogers stepped down and replaced with Linda Baldwin. Lets look at Linda Baldwin's bio:

Prior to joining the U.S. Department of Justice’s SMART Office, Ms. Baldwin served as a project manager for the New York State Unified Court System’s Office of Court Administration, where she planned and implemented ground-breaking problem-solving court initiatives on behalf of the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Court Operations and Planning. During her seven-year tenure, Ms. Baldwin implemented and expanded statewide initiatives for New York State’s sex offense, mental health and drug treatment courts.
As part of her work on the New York State Sex Offense Court Initiative, Ms. Baldwin organized training programs designed to teach and promote best practices for managing the high risk population of sex offenders. She also led an effort to create the Initiative’s Mission Statement and Key Principles, which were designed to guide and promote uniformity among these courts. Ms. Baldwin personally provided technical assistance to the first five sex offense courts in New York State.
Prior to joining the New York State Unified Court System, Ms. Baldwin spent eight years in private practice, concentrating in commercial litigation, real estate and zoning law. She began her legal career as a law clerk for New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Gary S. Stein after receiving her law degree from Columbia University School of Law in 1993.

So she began in the field of  COMMERCIAL litigation and zoning law. What does that has to do with sex offenders, aside from residency laws? I've always wondered how people with no prior experience are given such jobs in the first place, but then again, politicians are rarely experts in the laws they pass. A look at those initiatives raise red flags-- polygraphs and "stakeholder meetings" (what ,can you buy stock in sex offender laws?) are issues of concern. Ironically, Baldwin's home state of New York has decided to opt out of Adam Walsh Act compliance.

The SMART Office website is up and down more often than a yo-yo. Their job is to pimp the AWA so I'm not surprised to find a lack of info on the AWA's shortcomings and rulings against it are mentioned on the website. I'm sure more hilarity will ensue with the Adam Walsh Act Reauthorization Act of 2011.

There is nothing smart about the SMART Office. They should be sued for false advertising. Better yet, I have a more fitting acronym:


The STUPID Office. Now that sounds about right.

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