Sunday, April 12, 2009

It Matters to Me



We asked why criminal justice reform matters to you, and you spoke up. Have something to add? Post a video response here or email your digital video to info@innocenceproject.org.





UK - Obama brother accused of UK sex assault

View the article here
An opposing article
Obama's brother denies sexual assault

Obama is NOT his brothers' keeper!

04/11/2009

By Gloria De Piero

Samson denied British visa after incident with teen girl in Berkshire

AMERICAN president Barack Obama's half brother was REFUSED a visa to enter the UK after being accused of an attempted sex attack on a young girl in Berkshire.

The News of the World can reveal that Kenya-based Samson Obama tried to get into Britain on his way to Washington for his family's big day, the historic inauguration in January.

But eagle-eyed immigration officials at East Midlands Airport, using the latest biometric tests, discovered he was linked to an incident here last November. The hi-tech database revealed that Samson - who manages a mobile phone shop just outside Nairobi - was the same man arrested by British police after he approached a group of young girls, including a 13 year-old, and allegedly tried to sexually assault one of them.

He then followed them into a cafe where he became aggressive and was asked to leave by the owner. That's when police were called and Samson was arrested.

He supplied officers with his mother's address in Bracknell but gave them a false ID, claiming to be Henry Aloo, believed to be a genuine asylum seeker.

Mum Kezia, 67, has lived in Bracknell for six years. She married the US president's father Barack Obama Senior in Kenya when she was a teenager.

Following Samson's arrest he was fingerprinted but not charged, then left the country. However, all his details were stored on the Home Office's new database of prints and biometric details. And that's what finally pinpointed Samson's link to the world's most powerful leader - as he tried to slip back into Britain to visit relatives en route to the swearing-in ceremony.

The White House was informed and a Home Office source told the News of the World: "This was obviously an extremely sensitive issue when it was flashed up by the database.

"But the system is designed to flag up people who have come to the attention of the police in the UK and are then trying to return."

It is thought that Samson - one of the President's 11 half brothers and sisters by his father who had four partners - managed to travel on to Washington by boarding a connecting flight to the US from East Midlands.

He was able to do so despite not having a UK visa because he remained in transit and never left the airport. A stewardess from nearby Nottingham told her local newspaper how she met him on his flight to America. Dawn Stewart, of Sherwood, described how Samson told her his nickname was Abo and said he was on his way to the US capital for the presidential swearing-in.

She recalled: "I asked him how he feels being the brother of the next president and he said, 'I can't tell you the depth of excitement we feel.'

"I asked what Barack was like as a teenager and he said he was always charismatic and calm."

The flight attendant said Samson claimed he had never travelled before and proudly showed her a headed letter from his half-brother requesting his three-week visa to the USA.

Last night a Home Office spokesman confirmed Samson Obama was refused a visa after immigration officers noticed one of the documents he supplied with his visa application was false. That led to further inquiries.

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: "We consider all visa applications based on their merits. We will oppose the entry of individuals to the UK where we believe their presence is not conducive to the public good.

"The UK's border controls are among the toughest in the world. All visa applicants are fingerprinted and checked against watchlists. Using this hi-tech system we have detected more than 5,600 attempts to use false identities since December 2007.

"Our officers in 135 countries are working with law enforcement agencies and airlines to clamp down on forged passports and visas."



CA - Lancaster to house 'sensitive needs' inmates

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04/11/2009

By Ann M. Simmons

Against the will of the city, state officials have decided to convert a local prison reception center into a long-term facility for sex offenders, ex-gang members and the like.

Despite strong opposition from the city of Lancaster, state officials have decided to move forward with plans to convert a local prison reception center into a long-term facility to house hundreds of "sensitive needs" inmates, including sex offenders and former gang members.

Scott Kernan, undersecretary of operations for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said his agency had given "thoughtful consideration" to the city's concerns. But the need to provide permanent and safe housing for a statewide backlog of 1,500 sensitive needs prisoners must take precedent, he said.

Beginning next month, the state will move inmates deemed at-risk living among the general prison population into the new accommodations, equipped to provide ongoing rehabilitative services.

Lancaster officials argue that the Antelope Valley is already home to some of the highest per-capita concentrations of parolees and juvenile probationers. They fear that establishing a long-term facility for inmates considered "the worst of the worst" would only attract their associates to the area.
- Give me a break!  What kind of "thinking" is that?  They have to be placed somewhere, if they are truly dangerous.

They also worry that it could hurt the city's efforts to curb crime, which last year saw an overall 10% drop.

Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said he was disappointed but not surprised by the state's decision to put the welfare of inmates ahead of the community's concerns.
- What?  And this is the mayor?

"The Antelope Valley has been raped by the corrections department since the prison was built," Parris said.
- Yeah right.  Stop the fear-mongering and grandstanding!



NH - Unlike for sex offenders, there's no registry for killers

View the article here

04/12/2009

By ALBERT McKEON

Once released from jail, convicted sex offenders must register with their local police departments as a means of allowing the public to monitor their whereabouts.

Any Web site that uses a state or federal registry of these parolees displays the fruits of this process: Maps of almost anywhere in the country pinpoint where a sex offender lives and the level of crime committed.

Soon, for instance, the registry will detail that Mont Vernon has a new resident: _____, who was released this month after serving 15 years for seven counts of felonious sexual assault. A public furor erupted after it was learned that the courts failed to act on a petition to have _____ civilly committed as what is classified as a sexually violent predator.

This stands in contrast to when most convicted killers finally re-enter public life: These parolees register only with their parole officers. No database exists on the Internet, and thus many people might go about their lives unaware that a murderer resides down the street.
- And even if they did, it would be another nightmare for the police to worry about, and more fuel to the fire to start the lynch mob.  But, I agree, if sex offenders must be on a registry, then why not all other criminals?  It's only fair!

This difference in treatment of the parolees prompts just as many questions as answers, including the larger philosophical debate over why sex offenders are followed more closely if killing is generally viewed as the more serious crime.

"The assumption is out there . . . that sex offenders are driven to their behavior and are highly likely to repeat," said Peter Cordella, chairman of St. Anselm College's criminal justice department.
- And that is a flat out myth.  If you read the MANY studies out there, they will tell you that sex offenders are less likely than any other criminal, except murderers, to commit another RELATED crime.  Usually because murderers are in prison for life, or get the death penalty.

Although somewhat circumspect, data suggests that the higher-level sex offenders will reoffend, Cordella said. Whereas with the exception of the obviously worrisome serial killers, not all other killers pose a risk, he said.

Whether a killer might kill again depends on circumstances facing the parolee, Cordella said. If there's a chance of a repeat murder, it will most likely be the same kind of murder, he said. For instance, a killing of a domestic nature or one that is tied to drugs, he said.
- What?  I don't buy that.  Just look at the many serial killers out there, like Ottis Toole and Henry Lee Lucas.

The state Adult Parole Board provided The Telegraph with a list of the 81 parolees who served prison time for murder, manslaughter and negligent homicide and now live in New Hampshire communities. The board provided the list as it likely would for any member of the public; it isn't available on the Internet.

Also, the list didn't include residences. The state Department of Corrections later provided the cities and towns in which the parolees live, but not their home addresses. The parolees report to their parole officers and are, for the most part, trying to resume life under the radar of scrutiny, state officials said.
- And so are sex offenders!  My, isn't all this BS ironic?

New Hampshire doesn't require a registry of convicted killers; that would have to be implemented by the Legislature. Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Strelzin said he never hears the public question why sex offenders are monitored with greater scrutiny than killers.
- Maybe because the news doesn't report on it like they do with sex offenders?

"I don't know the answer," Strelzin said. "No one else has ever asked. I don't know what the distinction is. Maybe the studies of recidivism say the rates are higher with sex offenders."
- Well of course they are.  Most murderers are sentences to death or are in prison for the rest of their lives.  So that is only common sense.  But those who do get out, did they get treatment in prison?  More than likely they did not.  So would you want some killer living next door to you?  How would you sleep at night knowing that?  Let's just put all criminals on the public registry, then let's see how afraid everyone is of everyone around them!

Strelzin posits that perhaps when convicted killers are released, they are 30 to 40 years older and are physically and mentally "different" people. A 70-year-old parolee might not kill again, he said.
- Oh give me a break!

Cordella said the public probably doesn't feel threatened by the parolee down the street who killed his wife because of the circumstances of that crime. "His new partner" may have reason to be concerned, but not "the adult male down the street," he said.