interested in joining authors network, email us for more information. Looking to Help Job Seekers and Agencies

September 13th, 2012

Finding employment, even an entry level corrections position, can be a trying task even in the best of economic times. You might be surprised to hear that correctional agencies also having a difficult time filling positions. Recruiting and retaining qualified talent is one of the toughest challenges facing corrections agencies today. Bringing together job seekers and correctional agencies is the idea behind is a collaborative effort of The Council of State Governments/American Probation and Parole Association (CSG/APPA), the American Correctional Association (ACA), American Jail Association (AJA) and the Center for Innovative Public Policies (CIPP), with funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). provides in-depth comprehensive information about entry level and advanced careers in corrections. Employers are able to share relevant job posting information making it possible for job-seekers to locate job opportunities nationwide. also offers a practical and concise overview of corrections for those who are interested in the field. In addition, provides strategies to improve the effectiveness and retention of valuable correctional employees.
As the premier national website dedicated to promoting corrections careers, provides students or experienced professionals who are interested in working in corrections a valuable career tool because it:
  1. Identifies key advantages to a career in corrections;
  2. Presents an accurate and up-to-date description about the role and functions of various aspects of corrections (community corrections, jails and detention, prisons and institutions, and more);
  3. Describes the wide range of jobs and career choices for potential employees (traditional and non-traditional jobs in the corrections field);
  4. Summarizes the general requirements needed by applicants to join the profession;
  5. Highlights professionals who work in the field; and
  6. Enables job seekers to search open jobs on a full-featured, corrections-specific job board
For agencies provides the ability to:
  1. Reach a local and national audience of informed, interested and qualified candidates;
  2. Present them with detailed information about your agency;
  3. Post your jobs to the jobs board; and
  4. Search resumes of registered job seekers.
And what does this cost recruits and agencies you might ask? NOTHING. It is absolutely FREE! How cool is that? But don’t take my word for it. Check out the site at There is story on the website regarding the experience of a twenty plus year correctional professional from Maricopa County Adult Probation posted. Additionally, there is a really neat feature under “Career Resources” that allows recruits to hone in on a specific geographic area.
So my advice is go there now.Register yourself if you are a “job seeker” or your agency as an “Employer” on the site. If you are not the hiring person for your organization forward it to you Human Resources Department. One additional comment. also has a Facebook page, at . Friend them today. The more Friends the more folks hear about this, the larger the network, the better for those looking for corrections careers as well as those trying to fill the positions.

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Employment, Computers, and Sex Offender Registration: Whats the Connection?

August 4th, 2012

Technology restrictions in corrections are really never far from my mind. So when an article or study comes out that touches, even remotely on the issue, I light up a cigar and commence reading. There were three recently that caught my attention.

Two articles appeared in the June 2012 issue of Federal Probation, which on first blush appear unrelated to one another.  The first article by Christopher E. Kelly and Jamie J. Fader noted that  nearly 1/3 of the employers in their study… “had moved to exclusively computer-based application methods, accessible via either a personal computer with an Internet connection or in-store computer kiosk.” The study further notes increasing these computer based methods require more time to complete, often include requests for details about  criminal history, self-reports of criminal behavior, self-reported drug use, drug tests, and credit history, and include personality assessments. Additionally, the study suggests that many offenders may have greater difficulty correctly navigating these technology based applications or at least getting pass their screening efforts, to get an interview. The study did not specifically address the impact of technology conditions for those offenders restricted from using computers or the Internet. However, one does not have to be a rocket scientist to realize that if employers are increasing using online applications than offenders who are prohibited from accessing computers are going to be at a distinct disadvantage. The second article did not touch on employment issues . It was by Daniel B. Freedman and discussed a study exploring the long-term risk of recidivism and registration failures among sexual offenders. (I just can’t seem to get away from the topic of sex offender registration. It is like gum you happen to step in on a 100 degree day.) Briefly the study found registration failure increases the likelihood of recidivism by 64%.  Freedman notes:
Evidence is accumulating that registration failures are linked to recidivism. The substantive trends are clear, even in research that does not find a statistical association (Duwe & Donnay, 2010). What is not apparent is whether registration failures truly approximate or predict criminal behaviors, or whether instead they represent other characteristics such as intelligence, poor communication skills, or systemic differences among criminal justice jurisdictions. In addition, to postulate a link between recidivism and registration failures, on its face, is rather simplistic. Instead, the association will most likely be convoluted by multiple mediating and moderating influences (Duwe & Donnay, 2010; Losel & Schmucker, 2005). For instance, this research finds that child offenders have more registration failures.”
For those few sex offenders that read my blog, neither Freedman nor I are saying there is a cause and effect relationship here. Freedman goes on to note that this link may also be impacted by race as well as adult vs. child offenders. He concludes further research is needed.
Okay you say. Interesting but I can’t see through all the cigar smoke to see the connection between the two articles. Well, the connection comes into play with the third article written by Nina Terrero which concerned a recent study which found one in six sex offenders were using techniques created by identify thieves to avoid their legally mandated registration requirements. She notes:
According to a study conducted by Utica College and funded by the U.S. Justice Department, an estimated 92,000 of the 570,000 registered sex offenders nationwide are using the internet to live freely and undetected while seemingly abiding by “court-imposed or statutory restrictions.”
Wow. Interesting huh. I got a lot of questions. What are the implications? What is the link between registration failure and recidivism? If sex offenders increasing need computer access to get employment, which is a good thing, what about those who appear to be using the Internet to bypass registration?  What do we do, hope for the best? There are pros to allowing computer access clearly. But there now seems to be additional concern with allowing access that was not thought of before. Now we have to consider that access may be used to “fly under the radar”, which has some kind of recidivism link. Obviously, we need more research to sort this stuff out.  But for now my suggestion is for supervised sex offenders, allow access but manage that access. I know I have said this before, but check out the American Probation and Parole Association’s issue paper on this topic,  “Managing the Risk Posed by Offender Computer Use” You might also check out this recent article in Law Technology News called, “How to Impose Technological Restraints on Criminal Offender?” , written by your favorite cigar smoker. What you thought I all I was doing was eating hamburgers and working on my tan lines?  Fooled you! But speaking of cigars, I have a lit one somewhere. Be safe out there!

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How to Impose Technological Restraints on Criminal Offenders

July 31st, 2012

Updates on Sex Offender Restrictions for SNS

June 25th, 2012

This just in readers.

Indiana: Federal judge upholds IN law barring sex offenders from SNS. The case will be appealed.

Louisiana: LA has passed law that requires sex offender post on “in his profile for the networking website an indication that he is a sex offender or child predator and shall include notice of the crime for which he was convicted, the jurisdiction of conviction, a description of his physical characteristics and his residential address.”

I will probably be doing a status update very soon. Looks like things are “heating up” as it were.

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Legal Updates

Three Intriguing Cyber-Offender Questions

June 15th, 2012

I get too few comments on the Three C’s to gauge whether I am accomplishing anything beyond irritating a few sex offenders who follow and accordingly voice their opinion. I wish more probation and parole officers would shoot a comment now and than, even if it is to point out I am off base. I guess they are a wee bit shy to tell me I don’t know what I am talking about. But anyone who runs a website or writes a blog knows there are tools out there that provide insights into what folks are thinking when they visit site and how they got there in the first place. What? You really thought when you visited a website no one knew about it?  Depending upon the tools used a lot can be learned about who visits a website or for that matter a blog. But for those super paranoid,  fear not. For the most part I am not privy to the glandular identification of users . The sole exception is when one posts to the blog their originating Internet Service Provider number and e-mail used is captured.  (Click on the privacy policy of for further details)

This information collection is so a website or blog writer like myself can get an idea of what folks might be interested in or what drives them to the website. It provides us input into what interests our customers or readers. Let me give you an example. Someone does an Internet search on a term, “cigars,” and they are provided a websites listing of sites containing that word or term. From that listing they click on a particular website. Depending upon the tools used the website or blog will be provided information on the search terms used to get to a particular website. So if someone got to the Three C’s with the search term “cigars” I would likely know about it (no it hasn’t happen yet). I have had some interesting search terms for the Three C’s as well as my personal site, which I am going  share and discuss, with a non-lawyer’s expertise (I am not offering legal advice to anyone). Here are the more intriguing ones thus far: 

How Does Probation Monitor Computer Activity?

It depends on the agency. Some do computer searches or get law enforcement  assistance to do them.  Others install monitoring software. Still others rely solely on traditional techniques, such as surprise home visits. Some use polygraphs, specifically for sex offenders. Still others do online investigations and go check social networking sites to see what their offenders are doing online. I should note that in the United Kingdom law enforcement takes a central role in enforcing sexual offences prevention orders. Too many agencies I am sadden to say, ignore cyber-risk completely.  The best practice is to employ multiple techniques.

Can Sex Offenders Use or Access Social Networking Sites (SNS)?

This one also comes under the heading of “What is Facebook’s Policy on Sex Offenders?”  The answer is it depends. Some states have statutes that make it illegal for sex offenders, regardless of being under correctional supervision, from accessing these sites.  Currently, there is a lot of legal action  going on attacking these criminal statutes.  We will see how it turns out.

Additionally, it may be a specific condition of supervision that a sex offender not access a social networking site. This would mean if an offender got on a SNS without permission their supervision could be revoked.

Finally, independent of criminal statutes or supervision conditions, many SNS are banning sex offenders from using their sites. Facebook’s User Policy reflects: “You will not use Facebook if you are a convicted sex offender.” However, Facebook is no longer alone in making sex offenders unwelcome. Recently three dating sites,, eHarmony and Spark Networks signed a joint business principle statement agreeing to check subscribers against national sex offender registries. To my knowledge there have been no cases thus far decided that have ruled that a SNS can’t bar sex offenders from their site.  In summary, check the jurisdiction’s legal statutes/court decisions; correction supervision conditions; and the user agreement of the particular SNS.

Can Probation Officers Hack Your Phone?

My, are we a bit paranoid or what? I am assuming “hack” means access a mobile phone, either remotely or through breaking in without a password. The answer is not without legal authorization, which translates into a court order, warrant and/or condition, subject to your jurisdictions legal requirements.  A probation officer could search a mobile phone with your consent or with specific legal authorization, supported with “reasonable suspicion” that you have broken your conditions. They could also search under some circumstances, such as a specific condition authorizing “random searches.” They could may also search the phone pursuant to an arrest.

Now if you mean “hack” as remotely access the phone, without your knowledge, that would likely require a specific order or warrant. Additionally, I would have a tough time naming many probation officer that have the technical ability and/or equipment to accomplish this task.  The exception would be to install monitoring software on the mobile phone. That is relatively easy, requiring only access to the phone. However, there has to be some legal authorization behind such activity.  Without legal authorization it could be a violation of  law. It simply is not a routine supervision activity.


There is one conclusion that might be drawn from these collective search terms. What you ask? Well, it seems I might be an information source for the offender population. It is kind of interesting that offenders are doing research on what officers are doing in cyber-risk management. I wonder what else they are doing Internet searches on, maybe how to defeat urine screenings or polygraph examinations? Maybe with more offenders asking questions, I might get a few more comments from probation and parole officers. Hopefully, they aren’t “what the heck are you telling my offenders?” Until then I left a cigar lit somewhere. Be safe out there!

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Legal Updates, Supervision

Save the Date: American Heroes Radio May 24, 2012

May 9th, 2012

The May 24, 2012, episode of American Heroes Radio features a conversation with Art Bowker the author of The Cybercrime Handbook for Community Corrections: Managing Offender Risk in the 21st Century.

Program Date: May 24, 2012
Program Time: 1500 hours, PACIFIC
Topic: Cybercrime: Managing Offender Risk in the 21st Century
Listen Live

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Internet Restrictions Still A Viable Option

May 2nd, 2012

Louisiana, beaten but not out, is making another stab at restricting sex offenders from social networking sites after having its previous law overturned. I have repeatedly discussed this issue in the past. (See Correction’s Play Role In Keeping Sex Offenders Off Social Networking Sites and States Limit Social Networking Use: Good or Bad? ) Legislatures are one thing and sentencing courts are another.  I have previously alluded to there being a split in the federal circuit courts on computer/Internet restrictions for supervised offenders. (See Federal Case Law on Technology Conditions in Corrections and Pair of 8th Circuit Cases on Internet Prohibitions) Frequently, the decisions on these restrictions hinge on the specific fact patterns and there are nuances between the circuits and even within the same circuit on the imposition of computer/Internet restrictions. Two recent cases, one in the Eighth Circuit and the other in the the Fifth Circuit indicate that such restrictions can still be imposed on supervised offenders, provided the fact patterns support such conditions.

 United States of America v. Theodore Joseph Schaefer, No. 11-2293,  8th Circuit,  04/09/2012

Schaefer was convicted of one count of knowingly possessing child pornography and was sentenced to 97 months’ imprisonment, followed by ten years of supervised release. He appealed the following two special conditions of supervision:

The defendant shall have no contact with children under the age of 18 (including through letters, communication devices, audio or visual devices, visits, electronic mail, the Internet, or any contact through a third party) without the prior written consent of the probation office.”

The defendant is prohibited from places where minor children under the age of 18 congregate, such as residences, parks, beaches, pools, daycare centers, playgrounds, and schools without the prior written consent of the probation office.”

Schaeferchallenged the two conditions because they prohibit him from having contact with, or being near, children (including his two daughters). He further stressed that the conditions were not narrowly tailored, or reasonably related to his offense, his history and characteristics, or public protection. He further emphasized that his conviction was for possession of child pornography, not distributing or trading child pornography; he had no prior criminal history; and, the public is protected because he had unproblematic contacts withhis children while on pretrial release. The Eighth Circuit noted, the record demonstrated that the sentencing court took “an individualized basis for the special conditions of supervision, noting his motive was “to trade that [child] pornography.”. It cited a Sentencing Memo, which noted:  

Clearly, he had the intent to distribute child pornography to others. His online chats establish that he was very interested in trading child pornography with others, although due to computer glitches he found himself without anything to trade. He stated he was trying to rebuild an inventory of pornography.”

Additionally, it was noted that the sentencing court found he had “expressed an interest in going into business with this [online] friend and selling his friend’s daughter for money.” The Eighth Circuit concluded that the sentencing court had imposed the two conditions after an individualized analysis of Schaefer, emphasizing its authority to modify them under 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e) and had not abused its discretion in imposing the two conditions. 

United States v. Seth Davidson Hilliker, Case No. 11-50112. 5th Circuit,  04/13/2012

This case is noteworthy as Hillikerwas convicted of violating the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a), which had nothing to do with using a computer or the Internet. He was sentenced to 40 months of imprisonment (with credit for the 10 months already served), to be followed by 20 years of supervised release. As part of the special conditions of supervised release, he was denied all access to computers, the Internet, cameras, photographic equipment, and other electronic equipment without the permission of his probation officer, and that he not purchase or possess any sexually oriented material.

Hilliker argued that the special condition banning him from computer and Internetaccess failed to comply with statutory requirements and compromises substantial liberty interests, (2) that the special condition banning him from possessing photographic devices and electronic equipment was not reasonably related to supervised release goals, and (3) that the special condition banning him from possessing sexually oriented or sexually stimulating materials was overly broad and failed to meet due process notice requirements.

The predicate offense that led to Hilliker’s SORNA registration requirement was his 2008 conviction for attempted indecency with a child by contact. In June 2007, the victim’s father reported that Hilliker fondled the buttocks of his four year old daughter while he and his daughter were shopping at a book store. In another, unrelated 2007 incident, Hilliker was reported because he had twice fondled the buttocks of a 10-year-old female inside a thrift store. In 2003, a state trooper responded to a report of Hilliker grabbing young girls in a Kohl’s department store in Sunset Valley, Texas. In 1998, Hilliker was charged in Durham, New Hampshire, with loitering and prowling and indecent exposure and lewdness. In 1995, Hilliker was charged with misdemeanor criminal trespassing when he was found inside a middle school without permission.  None of the acts in these cases involved the computer or the Internet.

However, at the time of sentencing Hilliker provided a letter to the court noting that … “Internet pornography was a factor in clouding his judgment regarding the propriety of touching or fondling young girls in public places. ” This coupled with his fugitive background and evasions of law enforcement, as well as its finding that he was a “predator” who had repeatedly engaged in direct physical contact with minor children was used by the court to justify the above conditions. The Fifth Circuit concluded that the sentencing court had not committed plain error by imposing near absolute restrictions on computer and Internet access or imposing the other conditions and upheld the court’s sentencing.  


What is the common thread in these cases, besides they contain Internet or computer restrictions? In both cases the courts are attempting to address “risk.”  In Schaefer, the offender’s offense conduct reflected he was online intending to trade child pornographyand in one incident had also discussed with an online friend selling a friend’s daughter for money.  In Hilliker, his offense conduct had nothing to do with using the Internet but he had acknowledged he committed the offenses due to his use of Internet pornography. Restricting the Internet in both cases limits its use as a tool or catalystfor future misconduct. Legislatures would do well to allow courts and parole authorities the discretion, if they chose to impose such restrictions, without mandating wholesale prohibitions based solely on the status of “sex offender.”  I will of course keep you posted on Louisiana’s second attempt to get what so many courts are doing appropriately, ie, managing risk with appropriate legally supported conditions. Until then I left a cigar lit somewhere.

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Legal Updates

Attention: Community Corrections/Cybercrime Followers

March 30th, 2012

 The Cybercrime Handbook for Community Corrections: Managing Offender Risk in the 21st Century has been published and it out. I got my copies about a week ago. I know several folks have pre-ordered and they have their copies. You can get a good preview of the book at the publisher site, noted below. Additionally, Amazon has quite a bit of the book for review online. also has a nice intro, pulled from the back of the book. The other sites have it listed with copies available but not much of a preview.  That said, if you are looking for a deal, shop around. You can’t go wrong with the publisher site but I know some of them are posting at lower prices (used books).  The book is selling like hot cakes though so if you want a copy you better get one before the price goes up or the initial supply has to be replenished.  For now these are the sites to check it out and order.

Charles C. Thomas, Publisher, LTD

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CrimCast Podcast on Cybercrime Handbook for Community Corrections

March 19th, 2012

Check out the cyber-supervision podcast. Thank you CrimCast!

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Correction’s Play Role In Keeping Sex Offenders Off Social Networking Sites

March 18th, 2012

Recently, a federal court struck down a Louisiana state law that prohibited sex offenders convicted of crimes involving minors from “using or accessing of social networking sites websites, chat rooms, and peer-to-peer networks.” The ruling found that the law impacted the First Amendment and was unconstitutionally vague. The court further concluded that it could not be cured through administrative regulations. The law covered both sex offenders under supervision and those who had completed their sentence. Additionally the social media definition was extremely broad and could have been interpreted to include the court’s own website. Needless to say the law had some major deficiencies. Louisiana appears posed to give it another go, correcting the deficiencies noted in the decision. The question is should they?

The reality is that social media is so intertwined with living in today’s society that any prohibition is sure to have a negative impact on whether an offender can get a job, find needed services, etc. But then again the dangerousness of an unmonitored sex offender using the Internet is very real. What to do? I read an interesting piece by Eric Goldman about this issue and the pitfalls of the Louisiana law. One thing that he noted was:

The ruling doesn’t require social media sites to allow sex offenders on their sites, and they can still use the Adam Walsh/KIDS Act database to block known sex offender aliases. (Of course sex offenders may not properly report all of their aliases, a general deficiency of the self-reporting database approach). Thus, striking down this law doesn’t immediately open up all of the Internet to the sex offenders. Nevertheless, it does mean that they can use the Internet without inadvertently committing a crime.”

This got me thinking what if more sites followed Facebook’s policy on not allowing sex offenders on their sites. Could enacting laws that prohibit sex offenders who use a site against the user agreement be one piece to this legislative quagmire? Facebook’s policy no doubt came into play because of the bad press some social networking sites got over sex offenders trawling the various social networking sites. They simply didn’t want sex offenders joining up like they had on other sites. I understand why they have this prohibition. They allow minors to join, age 13-17, and wanted a “safe” environment. But what about other sites, particularly those might specifically cater to minors? Do they have such a ban? I was shocked to find out they do not. The user agreements of the big gaming sites, X-Box Online; Playstation; and Nintendo do not ban sex offenders from joining or participating. Even Disney’s Club Penguin, does not have a prohibition against sex offenders joining the site.  In fairness, these sites do bar activities that are illegal, just not individuals that have been convicted of engaging in such activities, such as sex crimes.

So the sites that are  gaming in nature and/or cater to minors do not prohibit sex offenders on their sites. Yet they serve no legitimate purpose for offender reintegration. After all, there is no employment services section on X-Box Online, at least not in the real world. I don’t think giving sex offenders “recreation” in isolation, filled with role playing as well as access to minors is a legitimate reason for allowing them on gaming sites. Interesting, Facebook, which is interconnected with not only individuals but businesses, education, causes, etc. bars sex offender from its site, because a portion of its members are minors. Don’t get me wrong. I understand Facebook’s reason and understand the risk. But there does seem to be something a miss here. Should sites start barring sex offenders from their sites in total?  I think it would start with those which have minors on them and would quickly expand to the entire Internet. After all, with the exception of adult oriented sites,  there are few sites in the mainstream that would want to be known as one of the few locations that allows sex offenders to be members.  But if we allow legislatures to make the decisions you are likely to get sites that are important in rehabilation prohibited as well.  

Legislatures need to start working with corrections department on what is the best way to manage cyber-risk. Corrections obviously has got to step up its game but I think they can come to terms with cyber-risk management.  If they don’t who then? Who is in the best position to judgement offender risk?  Probation/parole departments time to get into the 21st Century and quick belly aching about laws being passed without consideration of the rehabiliative impact.

Additionally, the focus needs to be on sex offenders under a correctional supervision not those who have completed their sentence. I also think states would then be better served by providing community corrections with the tools needed to manage the risk posed by sex offender’s online. This means giving officers the ability to restrict sites that pose a risk for re-offending behavior. It also means allowing officers to restrict hardware and software used by offenders to that which can be monitored and/searched. States should also provide the legal framework for officers to install monitoring software and to be able to conduct computer searches. States should also provide the resources, namely training, software, and hardware to officers for this to occur.

Providing blanket restrictions that just tie the hands of officers and offenders is bad policy. (Please note I am talking about offenders in the community. Note those behind bars. See Why Does Your Facebook Profile have an Inmate Number?) Let those who are experienced in corrections make decisions on managing cyber-risk. Give them guidance but not legal mandates.

Yes, I know there was provisions in the Louisiana law that allowed officers to grant permission but few if any officers are going to go out on a limb to grant an exemption to a sex offender, particularly when they have no tools to manage risk in the first place. Maybe just maybe, states would be better off in directing their corrections to come up with a cyber-supervision policy for their review and approval. I think the American Probation and Parole Association Issue paper  is a good place to start the discussion (disclaimer, I had a hand in writing it!). There are ways to manage cyber-risk. In some cases, such as gaming sites, officers are right to prohibit access. Access to other sites, particularly those that directly impact employment need to be managed not prohibited.

I also would avoid passing restrictions on individuals that have already served their sentence. I have no issue with them having to report Internet identifers as part of sex offender registration but barring them from sections of the Internet, without realizing how interconnected the world and the Internet is is fool-hearty. For repeat sex offenders, particularly those who use the Internet as a tool for exploitation, consider mandatory sentencing that precludes them from being in the real world, let alone the cyber world. Okay, time to find my cigar.

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Legal Updates, Supervision