Sunday, July 19, 2009

FL - Are deceased offenders still a threat? Why are they still on the registry?

These are snap shots from the Florida Registry for those only in Miami-Dade county Florida. I wonder, out of all the 700,000 or so ex-sex offenders across the country, how many are deceased and still on the registry? Why do you even need an option to search for deceased offenders? Is it to further shame the family, or bloat the registry so you can fear monger?

Click the images to enlarge






"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)


FL - BoCC Meeting - Ron Book - Julia Tuttle Causeway

You will also notice in video #3, Ron Book states "every single one of the predators or offender living under that bridge, was charged and convicted of a crime against a child!," which is a flat out lie. You see, he spreads lies and BS and expects people to take what he says at face value, and the sad part, most do, and he knows that. But if you actually do the homework and check this out yourself, and even talk to the offenders under the bridge, you will see that Ron Book is a damn lier!!! Watch video #3 below, and advance to about 4:15 and listen to his lie!

07/16/2009

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"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)


FL - BoCC Meeting - Ron Book - Julia Tuttle Causeway

06/30/2009

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"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)


Pregnancy, STDs on the Rise Again Among U.S. Teens

View the article here

07/19/2009

By ROBERT PREIDT

Trend Threatens to Reverse Years of Positive Change, CDC Researchers Say

Birth rates among U.S. teens increased in 2006 and 2007, following large declines from 1991 to 2005, according to a new U.S. government study.

It found that previously improving trends in teens' and young adults' sexual and reproductive health have flattened or may be worsening in some cases.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers analyzed national data from 2002-2007. Among their findings:

  • About one-third of adolescents hadn't received instruction on methods of birth control before age 18.
  • In 2004, there were about 745,000 pregnancies among females younger than age 20. This included an estimated 16,000 pregnancies among girls aged 10 to 14.
  • Syphilis cases among young people aged 15 to 24 have increased in both males and females in recent years.
  • In 2006, about one million young people aged 10 to 24 were reported to have chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis. Nearly one-quarter of females aged 15 to 19, and 45 percent of females aged 20 to 24 had a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection during 2003-2004.
  • From 1997 to 2006, rates of AIDS cases among males aged 15 to 24 increased.
  • In 2006, the majority of new diagnoses of HIV infection among young people occurred among males and those aged 20 to 24.
  • From 2004 to 2006, about 100,000 females aged 10 to 24 visited a hospital emergency department for nonfatal sexual assault, including 30,000 females aged 10 to 14.

"This report identifies a number of concerns regarding the sexual and reproductive health of our nation's young people," Janet Collins, director of CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, said in a news release.

"It is disheartening that after years of improvement with respect to teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, we now see signs that progress is stalling and many of these trends are going in the wrong direction," she said.

The study also identified a number of racial/ethnic disparities in the sexual and reproductive health of young Americans. For example, Hispanic teens aged 15 to 19 are much more likely to become pregnant (132.8 births per 1,000 females) than non-Hispanic blacks (128 per 1,000) and non-Hispanic whites (45.2 per 1,000). The study also found that non-Hispanic black youth in all age groups have the highest rates of new HIV and AIDS diagnoses.

The study appears in the July 17 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the CDC.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about teen sexual health.

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, July 16, 2009


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)


IA - Sex-offender costs to skyrocket

View the article here

07/19/2009

By LEE ROOD

_____ was 25 when he drove the 14-year-old girl from a Fayette city park to a secluded wooded area.

He was charged with kidnapping for locking her in his car and forcing her to have sex that day in 2005. The sentence he wound up with for sex abuse was typical: about four years in prison.

What will happen to _____ after he is paroled from the Mount Pleasant prison in January is anything but typical, however.

_____ will be among the first of thousands of sex offenders to be subject to monitoring for the rest of their lives by the Iowa Department of Corrections.

The state law requiring _____ to be subject to "probation for life" was enacted in 2005. The law is intended to better protect Iowa children from sexual predators, who, previously, could walk out of prison after serving their time with few restrictions.

Few Iowans have been aware of the law change. Only this year, as the first of those offenders have begun to trickle out of prison, has the cost of the monitoring become a significant concern.

At a minimum, Iowa's experiment with lifetime monitoring will cost about $168 million over the next 20 years, a Des Moines Register analysis has found.

"This is going to be an extremely expensive piece of legislation," warned Phyllis Blood, a state analyst for the Iowa Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning.

Blood helped the Register determine some of the potential costs of the monitoring law.

"There will be people who were 15 years old at the time of their offense who will have to be supervised for life," she said.

The $168 million estimate represents the cost in today's dollars of the only two expenses that can measured - electronic monitors and probation officer salaries. The expenses will be needed for the almost 4,000 people expected to be added because of the special post-prison sentences to the 29,000 people already on state probation rolls.

The actual cost - which will also include various types of testing and post-prison counseling - is likely to be far higher, Blood and other state officials said.

Iowa's more intensive monitoring was part of the Legislature's response to public outrage over the highly publicized murder of Jetseta Gage, a Cedar Rapids 10-year-old, in 2005.

But state leaders are getting their first whiff of the fiscal impact this year, as they face a $1 billion gap between state revenues and state expenses projected for fiscal year 2011.

Unlike other states' laws, Iowa's "special sentence" legislation provides no way to ever release someone from a lifetime of probation. That is likely to be a problem for the state, officials in other states say.

"It's an extremely good tool for the people who need it," said Wes Shipley, an adult probation supervisor for sex offenders in Maricopa County, Ariz. "But there are people who get on lifetime probation who don't need it. You have to have a way to get them off."

Lifetime supervision for sex offenders is being tried in about 20 states, but Arizona in the mid-1980s was the first state to implement the monitoring. Today, more than 95 percent of the 1,600 sex offenders on probation in Maricopa County are on lifetime probation.

Already, Iowa corrections officials have told state leaders that absent more money, they will be forced to reduce supervision of other criminals to fulfill the requirement to track sex offenders for a lifetime.

Costs to treat, supervise and monitor sex offenders have already mushroomed - from $3.3 million to $11.5 million - between fiscal years 2005 and 2010, according to Iowa's Legislative Services Agency.

When questioned about the considerable tab yet to come, several state lawmakers said "no price is too high" to spare even one child from sexual abuse.

"You can't put a price on public safety," said Rep. Deborah Berry, D-Waterloo, vice chairwoman of the House Public Safety Committee.

Sen. Keith Kreiman, D-Bloomfield, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said cost was discussed when the law was changed in 2005.

"But we decided that whatever the cost was, it was worth it," he said.

Mandate forces tough public-safety choices

Treatment experts, state corrections officials and law enforcement officials in other states, where lifetime sentences were begun years ago, say there are reasons lifetime supervision for so many sex offenders may not be a good idea.

"The problem is that in passing one-size-fits-all requirements, you dilute the resources for the people who really need to be watched," said Jill Levenson, a specialist on sex offender treatment and a professor at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.

In Iowa, budget limits and existing requirements for sex offender monitoring have already forced the state to reduce supervision of other convicts on probation.

Sally Kreamer, who heads the corrections department in the Fifth Judicial District, said the growth in sex offenders will force probation officers to give other convicts less supervision.

She said her department already is foregoing electronic GPS monitoring of some criminals who are high risk to accommodate more sex offenders.

Kreamer said those who could be released from supervision in the future due to the requirement include drunken drivers with numerous convictions, batterers at risk to go after ex-wives again and people convicted of second-degree murder and rape.

"It's going to be a huge challenge for us if we don't have the resources," said Ron Mullen, who in May became superintendent of the Mount Pleasant prison, which houses a majority of Iowa's sex offenders who are behind bars.

"I guess the jury's out as to the impact long-term."

Shipley, the Arizona probation official, said his state passed a law allowing judges to review some young offenders' cases annually so those who didn't need lifetime supervision could be released.

"If I got to make the rules, I would err on the side of safety, but I would make sure everyone got an annual review hearing," Shipley said.

"We throw a lot of money at this. But this shouldn't be about the length of time you supervise. It should be the quality of the supervision."

Iowa's new special sentence legislation affects a larger swath of people convicted of sex crimes than even Arizona's law.

As in Arizona, anyone in Iowa convicted of a felony sex crime will receive lifetime probation.

Iowa's law also includes a 10-year special sentence with monitoring for people convicted of some less serious crimes, including indecent exposure, fondling or having sex with a minor.

State spending more on monitoring, prisons

Statistics provided by Blood, the criminal justice planning official, show the costs of the lifetime and 10-year "special sentence" offenders, as well as other requirements of a 2005 sex offender act, will build until at least the year 2028. That's when the number of prisoners flowing from prisons and to probation is expected to stabilize, based on current projections.

The Legislature appropriated $9.9 million in additional money at the time the monitoring requirement passed. But much of that went toward an existing backlog of sex offenders awaiting state services. Corrections department officials say they know of no plan to cover the tab to come.

State analysts and corrections officials say it will also cost millions annually to provide the required prison aftercare, risk assessments, monitoring, DNA testing, polygraph testing and relapse prevention for the additional sex offenders over the next two decades.

Those offenders will be a more serious breed of criminal than most others typically tracked by probation through on-site checks, calls and electronic monitoring.

"This is going to be a very different thing than we've ever had in the past," said Kreamer. "We're going to be getting a lot of people straight out of prison who could be very, very high-risk."

Fred Scaletta, spokesman for the corrections department, said GPS monitoring of some lower-risk offenders will likely ease over time, provided offenders show they are complying with laws, have jobs and a stable place to live.

This year, lawmakers approved spending almost $130.7 million on a new prison and $30.6 million for 320 additional prisoners in community-based residential facilities - a decision necessitated in part by the growing number of sex offenders in prison and those being released.

At the end of the state's 2004 fiscal year, before the new sex offender law requiring special sentences went into effect, 12 percent of Iowa's prison population were sex offenders. By the end of fiscal 2008, 14 percent were sex offenders, according to the Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning.

Several lawmakers pledged at a government oversight committee meeting in June that they would do "whatever it takes" to assure no sex offender goes unwatched.

Rep. Wayne Ford, D-Des Moines, suggested all of the more than 5,000 people currently on the state sex-offender registry - 86 percent of whom include offenders of minors - should be monitored by global-positioning ankle bracelets.

"The bottom line is we need to come up with the money and protect these kids," he said.

What does the research show?

Researchers caution against a one-size-fits-all approach to treating and managing sex offenders because each case is different, but legislatures have not always listened.

At least 20 states now require lifetime supervision for groups of sex offenders convicted of sex crimes involving minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Proponents of lifetime supervision argue that sex offenders often can control their behavior, but do not always voluntarily choose to do so without being watched.
Wider supervision allows probation officers to respond to individual offender risks and needs, according to a report by the National Center for Sex Offender Management in 2000.

However, the center also noted that no research confirms that lifelong, across-the-board mandates are more effective than less expensive, more flexible alternatives.

Research in Iowa and nationally shows sex offenders who successfully complete treatment in prison — which can include counseling and behavior management — are less likely than other criminals to commit new offenses.

But other research shows those under special supervision are much more likely to return to prison after being put on probation. That’s because they are being watched more closely and are easier to catch committing parole violations, not necessarily new sex offenses, state officials say.

In Iowa, 27 of 139 sex offenders who require special supervision already have been sent to prison for violations, according to Mount Pleasant prison Superintendent Ron Mullen.

But studies also suggest that a majority of sex offenders never commit new offenses.
More than 60 percent of sex offenders are never convicted of new crimes — even after 20 years, according to one long-term study of Canadian sex offenders, said Jill Levenson, a sex offender specialist in Boca Raton, Fla.

“Unfortunately, although it is not pleasant to accept, we are probably never going to prevent every random act of terrible violence, and no strategy is perfect,” Levenson said. “There are always going to be some who reoffend that you thought never would.”

Iowa’s criteria for lifetime/10-year monitoring

The special sentence legislation went into effect on July 1, 2005, and applies to all offenders convicted of a sexual offense that occurred on or after that date. The special sentence is imposed only after the offender successfully completes his or her original sentence, whether that be probation or incarceration.

Those convicted of less-serious crimes receive 10-year special sentences, which can be reduced to roughly half with earned time. Offenders convicted of more serious felony crimes are subject to the lifetime supervision. Unlike those with 10-year special sentences, they will never be eligible for “earned time” and no judge can eliminate the mandatory supervision.

Figuring electronic monitoring costs for offenders

Consider the expense of tracking George _____, the relatively young sex offender convicted in 2005, by GPS. Using today’s costs to the Iowa Department of Corrections, the 29-year-old’s ankle bracelet will cost $7.50 a day— a proposition that could total $82,125 over 30 years.

Probation officials may ultimately determine _____ does not need a bracelet in old age, but many high-risk sex offenders require GPS tracking into their 60s and 70s, corrections officials say.

The Des Moines Register found that by 2028, the annual cost of GPS monitoring for the 3,943 additional people on special sentences would top $117.2 million.

Corrections officials are developing a new risk-based criteria to determine who will be subject to electronic monitoring going forward. Still, they anticipate the state will need many more GPS tracking devices, probation officers and polygraphs to comply with the requirements of the special sentence law.

More than half of the people on electronic monitoring statewide in 2007 were sex offenders: 363 of 633, according to a 2008 state report. Others included drug offenders, drunken drivers and those accused of violent crimes like kidnapping, murder or assault.

Needed: More probation officers, more money

Sex offenders will require the state’s most experienced probation officers and be subject to taxpayer-financed requirements, such as post-release counseling, DNA testing and polygraphs.

Corrections officials have predicted the number of probation officers will need to grow by at least 77 by the year 2018, up from about 47 this year.

Even if the number of probation officers was kept to 80, the amount in probation salaries alone for the special sentence population would be $50.5 million in 20 years, according to Phyllis Blood, a state crime analyst. That amount is in today’s dollars and is an underestimate of the real cost, she said.

How much time do they actually spend in prison?

Iowa sex offenders made up about 12 percent of Iowa’s prison population in 2005, but the number has grown to 14 percent since the Legislature required lifetime monitoring and other tougher changes to the state’s sex offender laws.

All sex offenders are required to receive treatment while in prison, which must be completed successfully to earn time off their sentences. Before release, they typically are transferred to residential facilities where they are granted work release and finish treatment.

Receiving the maximum amount of earned time, sex offenders are likely to serve the following:
  • Aggravated misdemeanor: 10.9 months
  • Class D felony: 27.3 months.
  • Class C felony: 54.6 months.
  • Class B felony: 17.6 to 21.3 years
  • Class A felony: Life in prison


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)


TX - Sex-offender label on boys unravels family's lives

View the article here

07/19/2009

By DIANE JENNINGS / The Dallas Morning News

In 1998, 7-year-old Mary was sexually assaulted.

That's enough sorrow for a lifetime.

It gets worse: Her assailants were her brothers, Billy, 12, and Mark, 10.

Their mother, Carol, says watching her adolescent sons shuffle into court – in handcuffs and oversized orange jail jumpsuits rolled up to fit their scrawny frames – for assaulting their sister "just tore my heart out."

But the horror was only beginning.

Following the juvenile justice philosophy that children deserve a second chance, the boys received probation, and their delinquency records remained private. But ostensibly to protect the public, their names were added to the sex offender registry.

The Smith sons, now in their 20s, are due to be removed from the registry next year after the 10-year juvenile registration limitation expires. But Carol says the family will never recover from the boys being branded as sex offenders.

"Even though they were 10 and 12 when this happened ... they'll be sex offenders when they die," she says.

The Smith family – whose names have been changed to protect Mary's privacy – is not unique. According to a Dallas Morning News analysis, about 4,000 people are on the Texas sex offender registry for crimes committed as juveniles. About a thousand of them were younger than 14 at the time of their crimes.

It's her label, too

Mary is 19 years old now, thin, pale and soft-spoken. She forgave her brothers long ago.

But she's never been able to put the matter behind her, primarily because of her brothers' registration. "It's always in the back of my mind," she says. "You know, not so much what happened, but [it's] who we are now."

Though she was never identified publicly as the victim, she suspects people know. Her brothers' registration information includes their address and the victim's age and gender. Even if the people in her North Texas town don't know she was the victim, she's recognized as the sibling of sex offenders.

"They see the word 'sex offender' and they automatically see it as some horrible monster that took some little girl out somewhere and raped her," she says. "Nobody really cares what the story is."

The case file is sealed, and attorneys and others involved in the matter would not discuss it, but court papers provided by the brothers' father, Bob, describe the story clinically: Billy penetrated Mary and had her perform oral sex. No violence was involved, but because of her age the crime is aggravated sexual assault. Mark later touched her genitals and was charged with indecency with a child.

Sex offender treatment providers say penetration by young children is unusual, but looking and touching is fairly common, falling within the range of "normal development."

Their parents, while not playing down the seriousness of the offenses, say the boys learned the behavior from adults.

"A kid came over and spent the night with Billy and brought with him a porno tape from his dad," Carol says. "That's where they got these ideas from."

Billy declined to talk for this story, but Mark says they also witnessed sexual activity between a teenage baby sitter and her boyfriend. Both boys were diagnosed with learning disabilities from an early age, and Billy was treated for emotional problems in kindergarten.

The Smiths admit their family isn't suited for a Norman Rockwell painting. Bob's trucking job took him away for long stretches of time. Carol worked at the post office and made extra money cleaning houses. The kids were often left with the sitter.

"We may not have been the perfect people, but we both tried," Bob says.

Mark doesn't blame his parents. "They did the best they could," he says.

Both parents say they don't know how long the behavior went on, but after Carol walked in on Billy and Mary in the bathroom one day, she and Bob "told him this is not acceptable, this is not the way people conduct themselves."

They also told Mary not to let anyone touch her that way.

Carol sought help, unaware the therapist was required to report the incident. When authorities interviewed Mary, she told them about Billy and about when Mark touched her.

Mark says Billy encouraged him to touch their sister, and their parents say Billy did so because he didn't want to be in trouble by himself.

Billy and Mark pleaded guilty and received two years' probation. Mark went to live with a foster family from Carol's church; Billy was sent to a residential treatment center.

Carol expected the kids to get help "and we could go back to being the family we were," she says.

4 feet 7, 80 pounds

But to the Smiths' horror, the boys' names, descriptions and crime soon cropped up on the Internet. Bob shuffles through a stack of papers and pulls out a copy of Mark's early state sex offender registration: white male, 4 feet 7, 80 pounds, size 6 shoe.

The family knew the boys would be registered with law enforcement authorities – Mark's acknowledgement was printed with childlike letters, signed in careful cursive – but didn't realize the information would be listed on the public sex offender registry.

Juvenile registration was not mandatory at the time but was left to judicial discretion as it is today. Court records do not show whether a judge specifically ordered public registration, and the Smiths are puzzled about why their sons, who received light sentences and eventually were sent home to live with their victim, were listed.

The Smiths say they favor public registration for sexually violent criminals, and maybe for repeat juvenile offenders, but "you don't need to protect the community from an 11-year-old kid," Mark says.

Carol says: "This was a horrible thing that happened, but ... they are not these horrible animals."

Registration "ruined both their lives," she says softly. "It totally ruined them."

When they returned to school, the principal vowed to keep a close eye on the boys; teachers asked if they were dangerous; fellow students quickly learned about the crime.

Attending church camp was nixed. Sleepovers became a thing of the past. After an old friend's mother saw Mark on the Internet, "He was not allowed to associate with that child," Carol says.

Both boys gravitated toward young thieves and junkies, Bob says, "because they're the only people that would accept [them]."

Neither son dated much. When Carol asked Mark why he didn't ask a girl he liked to go out, he replied, "I can't ask her out, Mom, I'm a sex offender."

Mark says his life spiraled out of control after his arrest.

"Once I was in jail when I was 10, that made me accept that jail was OK," he says. "It exposed me to drugs. It made me accept a world I never would have accepted."

Mary also struggled. At school, she says, her teachers told her that they knew her brothers and warned her not to be a troublemaker like them.

And, she added, "it was hard making friends."

Mary "continued really to be a victim," Bob says. "She couldn't live a normal life."

"We were scared to death if some girl came to the house and they were here and their parents knew."

At a counselor's suggestion, alarms were installed on Mary's bedroom door when the boys returned home. "I was OK with that," Carol says, "because I want Mary to be safe, too."

Being the parents of both the victim and the perpetrators is like "being pulled apart," Carol says. "Because if you take up for your boys, then they're thinking, 'What about your daughter? Don't you care about her?' And if you take up for your daughter, it's, 'What about the boys?' "

Her dream of a normal family life vanished "as soon as I knew it was on the Internet," she says. "Our family was looked at as a family of degenerates."

Tremendous strain'

The Smiths' marriage was already on shaky ground, and the situation with their children made it worse.

"It caused tremendous strain," Carol says, and for a long time the couple blamed each other for what happened. "We don't feel that way now," she says.

Carol particularly had a difficult time dealing with the situation. She quit going to church after a deacon asked her, in crude terms, exactly what happened. And she began abusing methamphetamines.

"I can't deal with it," Carol says of her sons' status. "The way I've dealt with it is to not think about it."

She and Bob divorced in 2004.

All three kids dropped out of high school. Mary works at a fast-food restaurant, and Billy, who earned a GED certificate, recently landed a construction job. But employers willing to hire poorly educated teen sex offenders in a town of 25,000 are rare.

Bob considered sending his sons to live with relatives who were willing to give them jobs. But "nobody wanted their address" on the sex offender registry, he says.

Under one roof

Today, Billy, Mark and Mary call Bob's small rental house home. He's grateful his landlord has not objected to having sex offenders on the property, but others have not been so welcoming.

Bob points to a jagged hole in the siding where a passer-by shot a pellet gun, then ticks off the other incidents: two broken car windshields; a Molotov cocktail thrown in the driveway; a neighbor who complained about the boys visiting a nearby park; talk of forming a neighborhood group to keep an eye on the Smiths' sons.

Bob admits he has not always turned the other cheek. In 2002, he received deferred adjudication for a misdemeanor assault he says sprang from escalating tensions with a neighbor.

Ironically, Bob says, when irate people target his house, they're also victimizing his daughter again.

"I really didn't have much of a childhood at home," Mary says. "I kept to myself most of the time because I was afraid."

In and out of jail

Neither Smith boy has committed another sex offense. But they haven't stayed out of trouble either.

Both have been in and out of prison for crimes such as burglary. Billy also spent a year behind bars for failing to register as a sex offender.

"He didn't want to create problems for me and his sister," Bob says. "He didn't want his face in the newspaper. He had just made new friends – he was a teenager."

Even though juvenile registrations are capped at 10 years, the conviction for failing to register "is going to be on his record the rest of his life," Bob says.

What bothers Carol is that her boys accept prison life as normal.

"Billy's all but institutionalized," Carol says. "He sees no point in trying, because he's branded."

The last time Billy got in trouble, Bob asked him, "Why? Why did you do this?"

"What else do I got to do?" Billy replied. "At least if I'm in prison, I can crawl into my little hole. I don't have to deal with anybody on the outside."

Mark is currently in the local jail for using heroin in violation of his latest probation.

He doesn't seem particularly bothered by the prospect of spending a couple of years behind bars. "I don't have to deal with it in here," he says. "Nobody really knows."

By the time he is released, his registration period will have expired, and he hopes to find a job and a place to live without worrying about a sex crime appearing on his record.

"When I get out, it'll be a clean slate," he says hopefully.

He is less optimistic about his brother's chances.

"He may have taken it worse than anyone else," Mark says. "He's shy; he's never had friends."

"Me and my sister, we can get past this, but I don't think my brother ever will."

The rest of the family also continues to suffer. Bob recently applied for a part-time job as a security guard. After a background check, he was asked, "Who's the sex offender?" at his home. He explained the situation and never heard back from the company.

At 56, on disability because of two bouts with cancer and other health problems, he longs to leave Texas. But he's trapped, he says, because his sons would have no place to live.

"If I take off, if I bail out, then I'm stuffing it all on her," Bob says of his ex-wife. "I don't want to do that."

If Billy and Mark were simply thugs, "I would have said, 'Boys, I'm leaving. Y'all want to be crooks and thieves all your lives, fine,' " Bob says. "But because of the registration thing, that I feel deeply in my heart had such negative impact on their lives ... I don't have a choice."

The rest of the world may have given up on the Smith brothers, but their victim hasn't.

People can't understand "why we were still there for them if they were such awful people," Mary says. "But I'm not going to do that. I'm never going to abandon them."


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)


TX - Justice experts say sex offender registry ruins a juvenile's 2nd chance

View the article here

07/19/2009

By DIANE JENNINGS / The Dallas Morning News

The faces of child sex offenders are startling – chubby cheeks, big eyes, a mop of hair, or wispy strands held back with barrettes. The descriptions on Texas' public registry are equally jolting: 4 feet tall, 65 pounds; 4 feet, 2 inches, 70 pounds.

"Those are not the people that we're walking around terrified of," says Michele Deitch, a University of Texas law professor.

The inclusion of children as young as 10 on the state's public sex offender registry is a little-known policy – even to juvenile justice experts such as Deitch.

"I'm absolutely a little bit shocked that kids that young can be on the list," says Deitch, who teaches juvenile justice policy at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

She's stunned because public registration contradicts the purpose of juvenile justice: to give kids a second chance. In the case of some juvenile sex offenders, their criminal records are off limits, but information about their crime is easily accessible on the Internet.

"It is a terrible situation," Deitch says. "The juvenile justice system is designed to rehabilitate kids and to make sure that they can change."

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, there is no minimum age for inclusion on the state list. But a child must be at least 10 to be handled by the state juvenile justice system, so a judge may order an offender that young to register.

No child can be certified as an adult in Texas until age 14.

Shocked though Deitch and others may be, Texas is actually more liberal on juvenile sex offender registration than some states. After experimenting with mandatory registration from 1999 until 2001, registration was left to judicial discretion. Juvenile registration lasts for only 10 years, and those on the list may petition for removal.

In some states, children can be registered at age 7, though Nicole Pittman, a Philadelphia attorney who monitors juvenile sex offender registration laws nationwide, says adjudication of children younger than 10 is rare.

Judge Tim Menikos of Fort Worth, past chairman of the juvenile justice section of the State Bar of Texas, says that since mandatory registration ended, judges rarely require juvenile registration. But according to a Dallas Morning News analysis of the Texas sex offender registry, there are about 4,000 people on the registry who were younger than 18 at the time of their crime, including 1,004 younger than 14.

Only two children currently under 14 are on the registry, but the inclusion of any child that young bothers many, including some victim advocates.

"I don't think it necessarily supports community safety to put really young children on the registry," says Annette Burrhus-Clay, executive director of the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.

Burrhus-Clay has been working with sexual assault victims for decades and was stunned to hear young children are included.

She worries that sexual abuse may go unreported as a result. "If I found my 10-year-old child with my 7-year-old child, I would be very tempted – even after 30 years in the field – not to report my child just to keep them off the registry."

But not everyone opposes registration of young teens.

Dianne Clements, president of Justice for All, a Houston-based victims' rights organization, says the state's current system of judicial discretion with juvenile offenders works.

"We don't want to believe that children can do the types of horrible things that they do," she says. "But they do. And whether they're 13 or 23 years old, they can be as dangerous."

Nationally, the Adam Walsh Act calls for mandatory registration of sex offenders ages 14 and older. Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, says, "Congress got it about right by setting that 14-year level." He does, however, favor judicial discretion over mandatory registration.

"It's important, in our interest in protecting ourselves, that we not throw out all the protections of the juvenile justice system," he says.

But, he adds, those calling for juvenile registration often speak from painful experience.

In Wisconsin, teenager Amie Zyla pushed for public registration of juveniles after the 14-year-old boy who molested her when she was 8 assaulted other children after his release from a juvenile facility.

Texas has also had its share of juvenile sex offender problems. In 2005, Jeremiah Sexton, who had a juvenile record for molesting several children in another state, assaulted a 9-year-old girl in Arlington. Because he was not required to register publicly, neighbors were unaware of his past.

But most juvenile offenders do not re-offend, says Liles Arnold, chairman of the Texas Council on Sex Offender Treatment.

"With adolescent offenders, the recidivism rate is very, very low," he says. "Adolescents are not simply younger versions of adult offenders. They're highly treatable. They're good candidates for rehabilitation."
- The recidivism for adults is also very, very low!  Some show 5.3% and others 3.5%.

Their chances for rehabilitation may be hampered, Arnold says, by public registration.

Publicizing their names and addresses often leads to social isolation because parents don't want their kids associating with sex offenders. School officials must be notified of the offender's history, and registration makes getting accepted to college or finding work difficult.

"We're stigmatizing children who have a much better chance of success completing sex offender treatment and never perpetrating again," Burrhus-Clay says.

Clements, of Justice for All, agrees registration is a "tremendous burden" but says, "it may be a burden that they should bear."

Frank Zimring doesn't think so. Zimring, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, is the author of An American Travesty: Legal Responses to Adolescent Sexual Offending.

Zimring says the laws allowing juvenile registration are an accidental byproduct of adult policies.

"Nobody is making policy for 12-year-olds in American legislatures," the professor says. "What they're doing is they're making crime policy and then almost by accident extending those policies to 12-year-olds – with poisonous consequences."

Zimring thinks it's inappropriate to register anyone adjudicated as a juvenile – which would be anyone under 18 in Texas.

"We have a cure for youth crime," he says. "It's growing up."


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)


FL - Sex Offender Lives Under The Julia Tuttle Bridge

YouTube Channel | Video Link




"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)


MO - Man's on sex registry — for being dumb

View the article here

07/19/2009

By BILL MCCLELLAN

One morning about nine years ago, a young man was driving to work in St. Louis County. He was in his mid-20s and recently divorced. He had custody of his two small children. (That had not been easy, but he had an honorable discharge from the Marines, a good work record and had come across well in court.)

He was listening to Howard Stern, who was talking about a way to download things from the Internet. For free. That's interesting, thought the young man, not knowing that this information was going to be life-altering. That's the thing about life. Pivotal moments come and go without our realizing their significance.

Soon the young man was using this program at work to download music, videos and movies. He would then "burn" these files on discs to take home. "I was stupid," he told me.

Apparently, the company noticed unusual activity on his computer. A man from Human Resources came by one day and led the young man into a conference room. Two men were already at a table. They were police detectives. When the company had checked the young man's computer, the checkers had discovered child pornography.

"Sometimes files aren't what you think they are," the young man told me. "I had been downloading a lot of stuff. The only pornographic file I knowingly downloaded was something with Pamela Anderson. Child porn? I didn't intend to download any of that."

Who knows? He was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography, which was then a misdemeanor. The case was submitted to a judge, who found him guilty and gave him a suspended imposition of sentence, which meant that if he successfully completed his probation, he would have no record.

Actually, he was charged twice — in St. Charles County, where he lived, and in St. Louis County, where he worked. He received the same suspended imposition of sentence in both venues. That seemed like a decent outcome.
- Double jeopardy violation!

"I just wanted it to go away," he said.

He lost his job, but the economy wasn't so bad then, and he got another one. Plus, he remarried. Did he tell his new wife? "On the first date," he said. She had a couple of kids and she had custody of them. So now the young man was the co-head of a melded family of six.

For a while, it seemed that life had returned to normal. Then in August 2004, Missouri amended its laws to require people who had been convicted of possession of child pornography to register as sex offenders.
- Ex post facto violation!

Who would argue against that? What legislator would want to look sympathetic with people involved in child pornography?

The young man registered as a sex offender, and his name went on the Missouri Sex Offender Registry.

Almost immediately, his son was dismissed from his baseball team. "The coach said he wasn't hustling, but I'm sure other parents didn't want me around," the young man said. Then he went to school to pick up his daughter. There was a scene.

"Apparently, people in the office had learned I was on the registry and somebody had started the rumor that I had lost custody of the kids and wasn't supposed to have contact with them."

That rumor was squashed, but still, the superintendent of the district told him he wasn't allowed on school property. Nor was he allowed to go to plays or sporting events. Also, other parents didn't want their children visiting his house. "Who can blame them?" asked the young man.

In June 2007, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in a case that a man who had been convicted of a crime that did not require registration at the time of conviction could not later be required to register.

So the young man's name came off the registry. He got a new job. However, change was coming again, and change in these cases is always one way. The federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act required all offenders, regardless of when they were convicted, to register. Again, who is going to argue against that? In truth, there is never a debate.

Last month, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the federal law supersedes the state law. Earlier this month, the young man got a letter from the Highway Patrol. He would have to register as a sex offender.

In desperation, he wrote to the parole and probation department and inquired about clemency. He received a letter explaining that the governor can grant pardons only after a conviction, and because he received a suspended imposition of sentence and successfully completed his probation, he does not have a conviction.

Except, of course, as far as the Sex Offender Registry is concerned.

"I'm not a sex offender," he told me. "I'm guilty of being dumb and trying to get some free music and movies."

He figures he'll lose his job.


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)


FL - Lobbyist Ron Book weighs in on the saga of the hurricane repair audit

View the article here

07/16/2009

Education Writer Akilah Johnson reports:

Yet another version of events just surfaced regarding a recent audit - which has caused quite a bit of controversy - alleging two contractors ripped off more than three-quarters of a million dollars from the Broward school district after Hurricane Wilma repairs.

At issue: Whether AshBritt, Inc., a national disaster recovery company, and C&B Services, a Texas-based company, inflated invoices; did unnecessary work. And according to the draft report, if district staff possibly tried to cover it up.
- Wonder why C&B Services changed their name to Cotton?

Basically under dispute is who was hired to repair what, when, and at what price?

Auditors say representatives from C&B (the general contractor), district officials and lobbyist Ron Book gathered that November day two weeks after Wilma. AshBritt was absent from and didn’t get involved until months later, according to the audit. Michael Garretson, deputy superintendent of facilities and construction, said present were AshBritt and C&B, which was a subcontractor.

Today, Book gave a third version: “AshBritt was not at the meeting.” C&B was present but as the subcontractor, he said.

The whole thing has gotten ugly with words such as “slanderous” and “disgusted” being tossed around amid the debate of the 48-page draft report. The district’s Audit Committee is holding a special meeting on Wednesday to hash out the facts.


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)