Sunday, May 17, 2009

BORDER - Rape Tree Segment


Republican Offenders - MASSIVE LIST!!

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Video Link


Torture in American prisons


NY - Woman indicted on charges of sex with an inmate

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Man, it's an orgy at this place!!

05/17/2009

By DAVID WINTERS

CANTON — A suspended Gouverneur Correctional Facility employee was indicted Thursday by a St. Lawrence County grand jury on charges of having sex with an inmate.

Laura E. Douglass, 39, of 966 County Route 35, Potsdam, faces charges of third-degree rape, third-degree criminal sexual act, first-degree promoting prison contraband and two counts of official misconduct. She will be arraigned June 1 in County Court.

She is accused of having sex with a 31-year-old male inmate in December. She also allegedly provided a knife to an inmate in 2008.

Ms. Douglass worked as a principal account clerk at the medium-security state prison. She was among three women charged in the fall for allegedly having sex with inmates at the prison.

Lisa A. Vaughn, 41, Carthage, pleaded guilty last month to felony third-degree rape. The plea agreement calls for her to receive 10 years' probation and register as a sex offender when sentenced this month.

She was accused of having sexual intercourse and oral sex with four inmates. She also was accused of sneaking food, cigarettes and postage stamps to inmates. She was a laundry supervisor at the prison.

The third woman, Rachael S. Patterson, 32, Ogdensburg, also face charges of having sex with inmates. Her case is pending.

All three were suspended without pay pending the outcome of their criminal cases and face disciplinary charges with the state Department of Correctional Services.


SD - A long wait for justice

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05/17/2009

Innocent man's name cleared after more than 20 years

FLANDREAU - Irvin Schoenwetter's big right hand is roughened by hard work.

Dirt from the tires he handles all day darkens his fingernails.

For more than 20 years, few people wanted to shake that hand.

That's because Schoenwetter, 43, served seven years in prison, accused of raping his 8-year-old stepsister. He then lived the cowering life of a registered sex offender after getting out in 1995.

He always said he didn't do it.

The pardon from Gov. Rounds, released publicly last week, made official what Schoenwetter knew since the day he was arrested. Now the people of his hometown know he didn't do it.

And they want to shake his hand.

For Schoenwetter, that simple sign of acceptance is gratifying. But a stranger on a Brookings street and a country lawyer believed him before there was a governor's signature. They believed the basic premise of Schoenwetter's story and formed a lasting bond that conquered the belligerent doubt of the system.

For some reason - demeanor or sincerity or just blind trust - they always knew he didn't do it.

Seeking a home, fighting a claim

Fate picked on Irvin Schoenwetter like a schoolyard bully. He quit school after eighth grade, fulfilling the prediction of a teacher who told him he would not amount to much.

An early marriage was on the rocks when Schoenwetter, in his early 20s, moved in with his father in Huron in 1987. Months later, his father died.

"I had no place to go," Schoenwetter says. He stayed with his stepmother and her daughter for a time. He left when his stepmother found a boyfriend.

"I came back to get the title for a car. That's when he told me he was going to put me up on charges," Schoenwetter says of the boyfriend. "I just walked away. I knew I hadn't done nothing."

About a month later, he was arrested at work.

Schoenwetter says he remembers little of the trial but does recall hearing the verdict. "My heart kind of dropped in disbelief."

'I learned in prison to listen'

The trepidation of going to the penitentiary was compounded for Schoenwetter, since he knew he was wrongly convicted.

"When I took the first few steps in there, somebody yelled at me, 'Welcome to the jungle,' " Schoenwetter says. He had to learn the inmates' hierarchy, "where you can sit, where you can't."

Concerned how others would treat him if they found he was convicted of molesting a child, he told inmates he had been accused of theft.

There is not much to hang on to in prison. But Schoenwetter stubbornly clung to innocence. He refused to take part in sexual offender counseling that would have cut the sentence. "I wasn't guilty in the first place," he says.

The worst time in prison was when he got the chance to enroll in an auto repair course at the medium-security Mike Durfee State Prison in Springfield. Inmates there found out he was a convicted child rapist.

"I had to put myself in protective custody," Schoenwetter says. "They sent me back to Sioux Falls."

In the penitentiary, though, he earned a GED, and in seven years spent in close proximity with other inmates he learned something about people.

"I learned in prison to listen," Schoenwetter says. "Out here, that's helped me a lot, to listen, not interrupt, to hear what they say."

Trust of a new employer, friend

With credit for good behavior, Schoenwetter was released after seven years. He went to live with his mother in Flandreau, and slowly his fortune began to change.

He got a job in Brookings and on a day off was sitting on the front porch when Don Ulwelling drove by.

Ulwelling saw a large, apparently unemployed man at the same time he had an immediate need for help at his tire shop. Schoenwetter looked big enough to do the work. Ulwelling offered him a job.

It was in Flandreau, which was good, Schoenwetter says. But working for Ulwelling meant he would have to tell him he was a registered sex offender. Ulwelling had to sign a statement acknowledging he knew.

"It was kind of hard when I first told him," Schoenwetter says.

"He told me right off what his situation was. No problem," Ulwelling says.

A slight tightening in Schoenwetter's voice more than the words themselves convey what Ulwelling's ready acceptance meant to him.

"I've been with Don 12 years," he says.

Ulwelling insists he knew early on Schoenwetter was innocent. "I've seen him with customers, seen him with kids, seen him with my own family. I knew he never done nothing wrong," he says.

People now tell Ulwelling he's a good guy for hiring Schoenwetter. A rumbling laugh like far off thunder is his answer.

"I needed somebody at the time," he says. "I'm not that good a guy."

Stepsister comes forward

The soft-spoken Schoenwetter kept to himself for almost 15 years. In a small town such as Flandreau, everyone knows if you're a sex offender. When he wasn't working at Don's Tire Shop or helping a brother with haying in summer, Schoenwetter spent much of his time in the house he shares with his mother. His portal to a wider world was his computer screen.

The tire shop with its two bays, hissing air compressor, air wrench rattling against lug nuts and worn out tires piled out back might not seem much of a refuge. In there, though, in their working man's uniform of jeans and blue shirts, Ulwelling and Schoenwetter are just two guys.

Schoenwetter is not a social pariah.

"We talk about women, booze, politics, things that happen in Flandreau, things that pass our way," Ulwelling says.

This might have been the best Schoenwetter could look forward to in life. But in 2000, a brother committed suicide.

Schoenwetter's stepsister, grown now and living in Iowa, learned of it from other relatives. "She was afraid I might do it, too," he says.

To try to prevent that, she sought to right an old wrong.

In April and May that year, Schoenwetter received two notarized statements. In the first, his stepsister wrote that Schoenwetter "did not in fact commit any sexual abuse toward me. ... I do not wish him to be held responsible for a crime he did not commit."

In the second, she said her mother's boyfriend "unduly influenced my knowledge of the incident and conditioned my thinking to believe that the incident of sexual misconduct did take place."

Schoenwetter says: "I was happy she did that. She could have gone the rest of her life without doing anything."

'My greatest legislative' act

When Schoenwetter told him about the affidavits, Ulwelling directed him to John Schaeffer, a Flandreau lawyer.

"I told him 'Yes, you've got some information that's beneficial. But the battle has just begun,' " Schaeffer says.

Schoenwetter's connection to his stepsister was a phone number. He talked to her after she sent the affidavits. But when her phone was disconnected he lost track of her until 2004, when she contacted another brother. He passed on to Schoenwetter the information where she was living in Iowa.

Schaeffer went to Iowa then and taped an interview with the woman in which she reiterated that Schoenwetter had never harmed her. "Within a week, we had a letter to Rounds requesting a pardon," Schaeffer says.

In June of that year, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously voted to pardon Schoenwetter. Members of the governor's staff and the Division of Criminal Investigation subsequently looked into the case.

It took five more years to get the governor's signature.

Schaeffer surmises that because former Gov. Bill Janklow was criticized for secret pardons he handed out, including one to his son-in-law, Rounds might act especially cautiously when considering requests.

In any event, despite his efforts over several years to prod the governor, Schaeffer says he made no headway until state Sen. Russell Olson, R-Madison, learned of the case last year.

Olson says his uncle was making a sales call at Don's Tire Shop that summer when Ulwelling told him the story.

Olson was serving in the House at the time, preparing to run for the Senate.

"You've got to go over there and visit with this guy," he says his uncle told him.

So before the election, in October, Olson went to Flandreau and talked with Ulwelling, then Schaeffer and Schoenwetter. He read the lengthy file on the case.

"I would be the first person to throw away the key for someone who was guilty of a crime like that," Olson says he told Schoenwetter.

But he also became convinced Schoenwetter deserved to be pardoned.

He wrote to Rounds' chief of staff, Neil Fulton. "It was every week bugging him about it," he says.

Olson suspects the request "fell between the cracks" and dragged on for years. "It got left on somebody's desk, and it took prodding to get it reviewed."

Near the end of the legislative session this year, Olson says, Rounds met with him at length and told him he was going to grant Schoenwetter a pardon.

"I stepped out of the governor's office, and I got a lump in my throat. It is my greatest legislative accomplishment to date," Olson says.

Has never heard from governor

Schaeffer received a phone call March 11 from Rounds telling him the pardon had been granted.

"He said to me, 'You must really have believed in this case to have pursued it so long,' " Schaeffer says. "I didn't bark at him, but I would have liked to have heard him say, 'Sorry for the delay.' "

The pardon itself is framed and hanging on Schoenwetter's bedroom wall. But he's never heard directly from the governor. "It would have been nice," he says. "Hearing it from my lawyer was good enough."

Rounds addressed Schoenwetter's case only in a statement issued by his spokesman Joe Kafka: "The governor has thoroughly reviewed the history of the case. Based upon that history, the recommendation of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, and Mr. Schoenwetter's history since the occurrence, the governor believes the pardon was appropriate."

James Sheridan of Huron was a member of the parole board that voted to recommend pardoning Schoenwetter. He subsequently resigned from the board out of frustration Rounds was dragging out decisions on clemency requests.

Schoenwetter's case wasn't a tipping point in his decision to leave the board. But Sheridan remembers Schoenwetter's request. "I'm glad for him," he says. "He deserves it. It was too long in coming."

Judge remembers testimony

Schoenwetter is not big on seeking retribution - not from his stepsister, nor the governor, nor 3rd Circuit Judge Jon Erickson who sentenced him to 10 years and told him he was going to make an example of him.

"Actually, I don't know what I'd say to him," Schoenwetter says, "probably, 'See, you shouldn't have made an example of me.' "

The trial took place within Erickson's first six months as a judge. He did not immediately recall the case but after reviewing the file remembered "the young lady, who was 8 at the time, testified quite eloquently."

Schoenwetter "did take the stand for a very short time and did deny the allegations," the judge says. "The jury was out about 45 minutes and came back with a guilty verdict."

Schaeffer says "she was a little girl. He was a big brute of a guy charged with molesting her. People's minds were made up."
- You see, the legal system is screwed up!  Instead of sentencing someone based on "evidence," they sentence someone based on feelings.  And that is wrong, and the reason so many innocent people are sitting in prison right now.

Greeted differently now

When Schoenwetter learned his pardon had been granted, he and Schaeffer contacted the Moody County Enterprise for a story and word spread from there.

And Schoenwetter's life changed. People who had nothing to do with his misfortune have been making an effort to set it right. "All our customers come in and shake hands with him," Ulwelling says.

Schoenwetter says he's received letters and phone calls of support from strangers as far away as Estelline.

"I can walk around now with relief," he says. "People say 'hi' now and actually mean it."

Ulwelling can see the difference at work in the tire shop. "He doesn't shy away like he did," Ulwelling says. "He's coming out of his shell."

With his citizenship rights restored, Schoenwetter lights up when he reports "I never had a gun permit in my life. I have one now."

Ulwelling plans to ease into semi-retirement this fall. He figures Schoenwetter can take on more responsibility at the shop.

Schoenwetter is looking forward to it.

His life never offered much to begin with, then took away what little he had. Now Schoenwetter is coming to see things from the perspective of the general run of people, anticipating more good will happen than bad.

A good name - and a firm handshake - helps in that regard.

"He's very proud," Ulwelling says, grinning. "And he should be."


RI - State lawmakers debate who needs GPS tracking

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05/17/2009

By Michael P. McKinney

More than 90 convicted sex offenders listed on Rhode Island’s public notification Web site are considered a high risk to re-offend.

Those who are now monitored using a global positioning system that tracks movements with regular updates by satellite signal? One.

State law authorizes the state Sex Offender Review Board to decide if and how to supervise high-risk offenders. But the board’s options are governed by when the crimes were committed, leaving offenders who committed similar crimes monitored by different systems.

The issue of how offenders are monitored has gotten renewed focus this legislative session as lawmakers have attempted to increase GPS monitoring for offenders who are appealing their risk classification.
- Hell, every year sex offender punishment gets more attention, that is nothing new.

Most offenders are supervised by means other than GPS — such as an ankle bracelet that verifies through a radio-frequency system that an offender stays in an authorized location, usually on home confinement, but, if the offender leaves, the GPS does not track that person. Instead, it issues an alert to authorities if the person is in violation.

Still others are watched through in-person monitoring by corrections authorities that is meant to be intensive though not constant.

But the list of high-risk offenders also includes those whose crimes predate the law, requiring no supervision if their sentences have ended.

Meanwhile, with the state’s passage of a version of the national Jessica Lunsford Act, offenders convicted on or after Jan. 1, 2007, of first-degree child molestation are required to be monitored for the rest of their lives by GPS once their sentences end.
- Well, then their sentence never ends, except once they die.  GPS costs a ton of money, and if they are so dangerous, that they need 24/7 monitoring, why did they not get a longer sentence in the first place?  This is just more unconstitutional (ex post facto) punishment.

Those on the public notification Web site listed as high risk include 30 offenders who have second-degree child molestation convictions, 18 with first-degree child molestation convictions, 20 with first-degree sexual assault convictions and 20 with second-degree sexual assault convictions. Some have more than one of those convictions.

The only high-risk offender now monitored by GPS is _____, of Providence, according to Department of Corrections spokeswoman Ellen Evans Alexander. According to the state court system Web site, _____, 43, was convicted of second-degree child molestation in 1990 and again in 2002. His probation sentence for the second conviction expired in October.

Under his second conviction, _____ was subject to community supervision and authorities decided on GPS monitoring.

The state ranks registered sex offenders in three tiers. Level III is for those considered the highest risk of re-offense and requires public notifications. Level II also requires public notification. Level I offenders are deemed low risk and there is no public notification.

To assess risk level, the Sex Offender Board of Review looks at each case, assessing an “actuarial risk score,” degree of violence, “degree of sexual intrusion,” characteristics of their victims such as number, age, vulnerability and prior history of crime and sexual aggression.

Many of the most serious offenders are appealing in Superior Court to lower their classification and therefore not meet the public notification requirement, former state Parole Board Chairwoman Lisa S. Holley testified before the House Judiciary Committee in April. During the appeals process, offenders, even those considered Level III, are exempt from community notification, including appearing on the Web site. Holley testified that some appeals have taken up to two years.

Rep. Peter Palumbo (Email), D-Cranston, has sponsored a bill to require sex offenders to wear GPS devices while appealing their risk level. The proposal drew objections from the Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, which testified in legislative committee hearings.

Palumbo’s bill and similar legislation have been tabled in committee.

Even as policymakers debate to whom GPS monitoring should apply, the state is in the midst of choosing the company that will provide the monitoring technology. Eight companies submitted bids. BI Inc., a Colorado-based company, currently supplies the GPS service to the state Corrections Department. BI is one of the bidders.

The choice may prove important as the list of those monitored by GPS is expected to grow significantly in the Jessica Lunsford Act era.


TX - Texas' Expanding Sex Offender Registration Requirements

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05/17/2009

Sex offender registration statutes are not a recent occurrence; for almost twenty years, Texas has required some form of registration for those convicted of certain sex-based offenses. In 1991, the Texas legislature passed the first -- of what would become many -- sex offender registration laws, this one requiring those convicted of incest, sexual assault or indecency to register with the state.

While this initial foray into sex offender registration may have gone somewhat unnoticed, the issue received the full attention of the state in 1993, with the abduction, rape and murder of 7-year-old Ashley Estell. In response, the legislature pushed through Ashley's Law, which required all sex offenders to register for a period of years after their sentences -- for some violent sex offenders, the law required registration for life.

Since the passage of Ashley's Law, the legislature has revisited the sex offender registration issue often, each time adding new crimes for which registration is required or increasing the scope of information that must be included in the registry.

Piece by piece, the sex offender registration law evolved, until today most sex offenders face lifetime registration requirements. Under the current regulations, sex offenders must report their address, birth date, height, weight and race to local authorities and must keep an up-to-date photo on file. This information is also available to the public, via a number of searchable Web sites. Moreover, Texas' sex offender registration laws may soon become even more stringent, despite the efforts of a number of civic groups.

The Impact of the Adam Walsh Act

Passed by Congress in 2006, the Adam Walsh Act is a federal law that sets minimum standards for public registries at the state level, including who must register and for how long, as well as what portion of the registered information is made public. The Act was signed on the 25th anniversary of the abduction and murder of Adam Walsh, the son of John Walsh, host of the television program America's Most Wanted.

Under the Adam Walsh Act, states are required to set up a tiered system of registration requirements based on the severity of the underlying crime. Beginning with Tier I -- the least serious crimes -- offenders are required to register for 15 years and must update their status annually. Tier II crimes require registration for 25 years and status updates every six months, while Tier III crimes -- the most serious -- require registration for life. Those convicted of Tier III offenses must update their status every three months.

In Texas, the Adam Walsh Act would require the state to take a step backward in its policy toward juvenile offenders. The Act requires certain juveniles -- as young as 14 years old -- to register as sex offenders for life. At one time, Texas had a similar mandatory registration law, but relying on the opinions of prosecutors and defense attorneys alike, the state now relies on the discretion of judges in individual cases.

Texas Voices

In the opinion of at least one civic group, Texas' sex offender registration laws are already too severe, even before the sweeping changes promised by the Adam Walsh Act. The group includes hundreds supports of those convicted of sex offenses or placed on sex offender probation of sex offenders who believe that the existing registration laws do not work to keep the children of Texas safe because they fail to separate sexual predators from non-violent, non-dangerous offenders. The group believes that the law should distinguish, for instance, between an 18-year-old high school senior who foolishly had sex with his freshman girlfriend and a serial rapist. Since, in Texas, anyone under the age of 17 cannot legally consent to sex with an adult, both situations are treated as rape crimes.

Through monthly meetings and an expanding outreach effort, Texas Voices is working to convince lawmakers that the sex offender registration laws should be rewritten to better focus on those offenders who pose a risk to the public, especially children. According to a study conducted by the US Department of Justice, only 5 percent of sex offenders were arrested for another sex crime within three years of their release from prison.

As evidence of the trouble with sex offender registration laws, Texas Voices can point to the case that started it all, at least in Texas: the rape and murder of Ashley Estell. Prior to the passage of Ashley's Law, authorities convicted a man named Michael Blair of the crime, at least in part because of a previous conviction for a sex offense.

Long after his conviction, Blair maintained that he was innocent of the crime. In 2008, DNA evidence cleared Blair, pointing instead to a man who died ten years ago. In this case, at least, the sex offender registration laws that were designed to protect children such as Ashley would have failed; in fact, it was knowledge of Blair's previous offense that may have cost him more than a decade of his life.