Sunday, April 4, 2010

CA - GPS ankle bracelet designed for real-time sex offender tracking

They say the band cannot be cut. They underestimate the determination of some people. I'm sure scissors may not cut it, but I'm sure someone who is wanting to escape, will find a way to cut it. Just more people, IMO, making a quick buck by exploiting fear and sex offenders. See the comments here, and the comments below this blog post.

Video Link | YouTube Channel | Web Site




"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin



MO - Preconceived notions about suspect's sex-offender history pose threat to integrity of fire case

Original Article

04/04/2010

By Dave Iseman

A sad and frightening criminal case started early March 15 in Springfield.

Three children died horrific deaths. Their grandfather was hurt. A home was destroyed. Within hours, authorities accused 26-year-old _____ of knowingly setting 1711 W. Olive St. ablaze.

An important piece of evidence, police say, is that _____ had no soot or smell of smoke on him when investigators talked to him about the fire, yet he claims he tried to save the kids.

And, one more thing: It's not supposed to be important to this case. You decide for yourself: _____ is a sex offender.
- You see, if all is true here, just because he has a sex offender label, they immediately assume he's guilty without any proof.

Looking at the photos of the now-dead children, your mind might immediately go to punishment, maybe even to the death penalty.

Mine did not. Having covered a lot of court cases as a journalist, and edited stories about more, I wanted to know the motive. Why would he do this?

_____' fiancee, the mother of the children, says he's innocent. In more than an hour of TV interviews, she insisted time and again that she saw him trying to save the kids from the burning home they all shared.

When _____ was so quickly arrested and charged -- about a day after the fire -- I figured that the paperwork would finally point out a "why" in this case. There had to be a confession or evidence of some tragic domestic dispute or, with the sex- offender history, maybe worse.

There was nothing like that.

The paperwork talks of "pour patterns" in the house indicating arson, dogs alerting to accelerants and opinions of how _____ looked and smelled hours after the fire -- at the hospital.

Arson, experts acknowledge, is a very difficult charge to prove.

Fire investigators are trained to not to put too much trust in a dog's nose or human perceptions of "pour patterns." Both can be explained other ways, with lab testing.

Surprisingly, the prosecution reports no damning lab tests in this case, which begs important questions: Does this seem strange? Were you surprised at how quickly the charge was filed in this case? Did you already have _____ convicted in your mind when you heard he was a sex offender?

Do you realize the sex offense happened years ago, reportedly when _____ was 17 and his female victim 13?

I tried to press the prosecutor to explain more of the reasoning behind the arson charge, other possible evidence, whether more tests are coming.

He said he cannot talk about details other than those that come out in court. That's understandable.

But _____' fiancee is talking, as is at least one of his former bosses, Nikki Wardell. Both saw him after the fire at St. John's Hospital.

They describe him as sooty, smelling of smoke. Wardell said she gave him a Baby Wipe and watched the black come off his hands.

They point out he changed some of his clothes before police talked to him at the hospital.

On video, the fiancee tells of how her now-deceased little boy had only days earlier lit a cover on fire. Wardell says she was told before the fatal fire that the boy had a history of playing with lighters and once lit a mattress afire.

They both talk of a young man with a mistake in his past who doted over these three kids and planned to adopt them. They talk of a hard worker who seemed to be turning his life around.

Above all, they presume innocence. And that begs the most important question of all in this case: If you were a juror, could you do the same?


"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin



CT - All Sex Offenders Are Not Equal - State Must Look To Research, Not Fear Or Politics

Original Article

04/04/2010

When the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, a federal law aimed at sex offenders, was being debated in 2005, Florida Attorney General Charlie Christ (Contact) said, "The experts tell us that someone who has molested a child will do it again and again." Others made the same point.
- Which "experts" Charlie?  "Experts" who are biased and work for the government or real experts?

The law was passed and signed by President George W. Bush in 2006. The law attempts to expand the scope of sex offender registries at the state level as well as create a national sex offender registry. States were told to sign on or risk losing a small amount of grant money.
- It costs more to implement the laws than to not, so losing grant money is not much to lose.

Last week, a bill that would have brought Connecticut in line with the Walsh Act was — wisely — allowed to die in committee.

The Walsh Act has been widely criticized on many fronts, for everything from including adolescents as young as 14 on the list to violating several provisions of the Constitution. Only one state, Ohio, has adopted it.

Laws such as the Walsh Act, often named for victims of crimes the law is trying to prevent, are of course well-intentioned. But they tend not to be based on research, and so do not achieve an optimal level of public safety. Indeed, they can unintentionally make things worse.

For example, if Connecticut officials followed the research, they would not expand the state's sex offender registry, but reduce it.

All states have sex offender registries to which residents have online access. Some states put offenders on their registries based on their risk to the community. Connecticut is one of the states that place people on the registry because they are convicted of a sex offense.

Many people assume everyone on the registry is either a rapist or pedophile. If that were so, the list would be much smaller. But it also includes an array of porn possessors, voyeurs and people who as older teenagers had consensual sex with an underage girlfriend or boyfriend. As a result, the state now has more than 5,000 people on the sex-offender registry, an increasingly unwieldy group for hard-pressed police departments to monitor.

Some on the list are dangerous and must be watched, but many are not. As the list is now presented, it's difficult to tell one from the other. They are listed by the crime they were convicted of committing, but it's not clear whether a conviction for "risk of injury" or "second-degree sexual assault" means the person is a danger to others. (The registry also misses people who pleaded to a lesser offense to stay off it.)

Why does the state list so many offenders? In part, as the Florida attorney general's testimony suggests, from the widespread belief that sex offenders are likely to re-offend, along with the notions that all sex offenders are alike and that they are not amenable to treatment.
- Which is based on myths and not facts. The recidivism studies here, show that sex offenders have the second lowest recidivism rates of all other criminals.

The research contradicts all of these premises.

The Myth Of Incorrigibility
Sex offenders represent a cross-section, ranging from psychotics to a lot of seemingly normal people who have made a serious mistake. "They've all done something bad, but they don't all present the same level of risk," said David D'Amora, who directs the state's post-prison sex offender treatment programs for The Connection, a Middletown-based nonprofit.

Treatment works: It can reduce recidivism by as much as 40 percent, according to recent studies. "We have the lowest recidivism with the people we get through treatment, no question," said William Carbone, director of the Judicial Branch's Court Support Services Division.

Perhaps the most surprising research finding is that sex offenders as a group have among the lowest rates of recidivism of any category of criminal.

A major U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics study of nearly 10,000 sex offenders released in 1994 found that only 5.3 percent had been arrested for a new sex crime in the ensuing three years. Other studies put the sex offender recidivism rate between 14 and 20 percent.

The major implication to be drawn from this data is that the great majority of sex crimes are committed by new criminals, people who have never been arrested for such an offense before. That strongly suggests that more resources should be shifted upstream, to education and prevention programs in date and dorm rape, domestic violence and similar behaviors. Just focusing on convicted sex offenders ignores the prevalence of sexual violence in the broader culture, which in part is producing sex offenders.

Shrink The Sex-Offender Registry
One way to capture resources would be to shrink the sex-offender registry so that it only lists former violent offenders who may still pose an appreciable risk to the public.

If the list is there to protect the public, it's not clear why nonviolent offenders should have to register at all. But if they do, they should not be on a list available to the public.

For low-risk offenders who have served their sentences, the additional burden of public humiliation can be devastatingly cruel. They need a home and a job, but when their presence on the sex offender registry becomes known, they not infrequently lose the house and job.

Sometimes they and their families suffer threats, harassment or physical harm, according to several studies. Some experts say the shame, isolation and depression that accompanies the public pillorying can trigger relapse.

Vermont limits public notification to individuals who pose a high risk to the community, as does Minnesota. New Jersey divides offenders into three tiers of risk, and the names on the low-risk tier are shared only with law enforcement agencies. That is the direction Connecticut should head.

In dealing with sex offenders, Connecticut officials are clearly doing some things right. There is treatment available in prison as well as close supervision, treatment and individualized case management, with appropriate restrictions, for those on parole and probation. This works. Of about 1,800 former sex offenders who have come off parole in the past six years, only a handful — fewer then 10 — have been rearrested for a sex crime, a state Department of Correction spokesman said.

Residency Restrictions
But the good work is often challenged by fear or flawed thinking.

Another bill proposed this year, and wisely allowed to die in committee, would have prohibited a registered sex offender from living within 2,000 feet of a school or day care center. Although residency restrictions may make sense in individual cases — and are sometimes imposed as conditions of probation — blanket residency restrictions do not.

They are fueled in part by the notion of "stranger danger," another myth that most child molesters are strangers, sinister perverts in trench coats lurking around the school playground. The research belies that stereotype and says the vast majority of child sexual abuse victims identify their abusers as family members or acquaintances. A Justice Department study in 2000 of police reports from 12 states found that only 7 percent of sexual assaults on children were perpetrated by strangers.

The data is similar for adult women victims: More than 70 percent of rapes and 85 percent of sexual assaults are carried out by people known to the victim.

This year, thanks to thoughtful leadership on the Judiciary Committee, the legislature resisted some laws that would have been easy "get-tough" targets, but not good policy. Next year, they have the chance to make things better.


"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin



ISTTF - Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies (02-03-2009)

Playlist Link | Source Article & Video | Study



"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin



SERBIA - Eastern Block Prison



ISTTF - Sahara Byrne on Parent vs Child Reports of Internet Behaviors (12-15-2009)

Playlist Link | Source Article & Video



"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin



CA - Interviews of offenders cut sharply (Taking the easy way out, as usual)

Original Article

They always take the easy way out! You watch, they will eventually just start calling everyone a violent person and committing all of them, just to be safe, and commitment cost 4 times more money, so with a state having financial problems, this will increase that problem.

04/04/2010

By John Wilkens

Critics say the change in policy may be illegal

The mental health experts who help decide whether convicted sex offenders are too dangerous to be released from custody used to rely heavily on face-to-face interviews.

They would travel to the prison, sit across a desk from the inmate in a tiny office and ask deeply personal questions about parents, siblings, puberty, sex. Many say it’s the best way to understand what makes someone tick.

Now the experts are more likely to sit at home and look at an inmate’s records on a computer screen.

That shift in policy may be illegal, critics say. It has prompted a local assemblyman to ask for a government audit and has raised concerns about the effectiveness of a program designed to protect the public from what are known formally as sexually violent predators.

It’s gone from a very well-functioning program to just a disaster,” said a sex-offender evaluator who has worked on the program since its inception in 1996. She asked to remain anonymous for fear of losing state contracts. “The whole program is in disarray.”

Nancy Kincaid, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Mental Health, which runs the Sex Offender Commitment Program, denied that the new policy is illegal or that it has affected the quality of the evaluations. She said about 40 percent of the inmates refuse to be interviewed anyway.

Questions about the program are mounting in the wake of the slayings of Chelsea King, 17, of Poway and Amber Dubois, 14, of Escondido.

John Albert Gardner III, 30, a convicted sex offender, is charged with raping and killing Chelsea and is a focus of the Amber investigation. He has pleaded not guilty.

Critics say the commitment program is overwhelmed by Jessica’s Law, a crackdown on sex offenders approved by voters in November 2006.

The measure brought a tenfold increase in referrals from the prisons for psychological evaluations. But the number of offenders being sent to mental hospitals rather than being released has gone down, according to a data analysis by The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Now some people want to know why.

The state’s management of sex offenders has failed countless children over the years. This has to stop,” said Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (Contact), R-San Diego, whose district includes Chelsea’s family. He’s calling for a Bureau of State Audits investigation.

Fletcher’s concerns echo earlier complaints lodged by a San Francisco lawyer representing a group of private-contract psychologists and psychiatrists. They say they’re being pressured by program administrators to do cursory evaluations as a way to save money.

Commitment programs began in Washington state in 1990 and have spread to 20 states. California’s began in 1996.

The programs have always been controversial, flying in the face of America’s notion of itself as a land of liberty by locking up people for crimes they might commit.

The programs are expensive, too — roughly four times as costly as prison.

But they’re also popular with a public outraged by repeat offenders, and they’ve withstood legal challenges all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

California’s program requires prison officials to red-flag sexually violent inmates when they’re nearing parole and refer them to the Department of Mental Health for an evaluation by two psychologists or psychiatrists.

A traditional evaluation involves a review of case files, an interview with the inmate in prison and a written report — a process that typically takes 20 to 30 hours, evaluators say.

If the evaluators disagree about an inmate’s prognosis, two more clinicians are brought in. If they also disagree, the offender is paroled.

That, in essence, is what happened with Gardner, although under a different program for mentally disordered offenders. Evaluators disagreed about the threat he posed after his 2000 conviction for molesting a 13-year-old neighbor, and he was released.

Inmates found to be a continuing danger are sent to court in the county where they were last convicted.
- Which violates double jeopardy, being punished for the same crime more than once.

A judge or jury decides whether an inmate should be hospitalized.

In 2004 through 2006, there were 2,956 referrals from the prison system for Department of Mental Health evaluations, an average of 82 per month. In that same period, there were 71 commitments.

Jessica’s Law widened the net in late 2006. Only one offense was required to qualify for screening, instead of the previous two. And the number of sex crimes that triggered review grew from nine to 35.

As a result, there were 22,976 referrals in 2007 through 2009, an average of 638 per month. During those three years, there were 59 commitments.

Despite the huge increase in prison referrals, then, commitments have gone down. Why? The Union-Tribune data analysis shows that the rate of cases moved forward by prosecutors and judges has stayed the same, with less than 10 percent of cases rejected.

But the rate of rejection by the Department of Mental Health has gone up significantly.

Before Jessica’s Law, 62 percent of referrals were eliminated in an initial screening. Since then, it has been 79 percent.

Before Jessica’s Law, 81 percent of cases were rejected after the next step, a full evaluation including an interview. Since then, it has been 93 percent.

Kincaid said the rejections went up because many of the new referrals don’t have an underlying mental disorder and a propensity for sexual violence that would qualify them for commitment.

But critics say the program is weeding out more cases at the front end, both to better manage the increased workload and to save money.

The initial screening used to include just a check of whether the inmate had committed a qualifying crime. In 2007, deeper record reviews were added. They call for scrutiny of an inmate’s case files, but no face-to-face interviews, and generally take a few hours.

We were told it was legal, and if we didn’t do it, some evaluations wouldn’t get done at all, and nobody wants that to happen,” the longtime evaluator said. “We figured it was better than nothing.”

Chris Johnson, the San Francisco lawyer who represents some evaluators in a potential whistle-blower lawsuit against the state, questions whether the change is legal.

He pointed to the state code that governs the program, which says that once a referral comes to the Department of Mental Health, two psychologists or psychiatrists are supposed to do a “full evaluation.” For most professionals, a full evaluation includes an interview, Johnson said.

But Kincaid referred to another code section that calls for a review by prison officials of an inmate’s “social, criminal and institutional history.” Because of its expertise, the Department of Mental Health does that, which is where the record reviews come in, she said.

Johnson said evaluators who refuse to do record reviews on ethical grounds face a backlash. The evaluator said there’s pressure from department administrators to find that an inmate isn’t dangerous.

Kincaid called those allegations “patently false.” She said evaluators are encouraged to get whatever records they need to render an opinion and, if in doubt, can pass an inmate along to the next level of scrutiny, which includes interviews.

The evaluator acknowledged that she stands to gain financially if the program returns to more full evaluations and fewer record reviews. Some did very well under the old system.

In the first year after Jessica’s Law passed, the program raised the flat rate for evaluations from $2,000 to $3,500 to entice the 70 private-contract experts who perform them to do more and reduce a backlog.

About a dozen of them ended up making more than $500,000 that year, and at least one made more than $1 million.

The latest contract still pays about $3,000 for clinical evaluations. The flat rate for a record review is $75.


"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin



CA - Governor appoints Napa DA to monitor sex offender policy

Original Article
CSOMB - Recommendations Report (January 2010)

So why are they not hiring actual people who treat sex offenders? The board is stacked against sex offenders from the start, you are doomed to fail, especially with people like this DA, whose mind is apparently set that all sex offenders are evil, which is not the case, and any sex offender expert can tell you that, yet they continue to lump all offenders into one group and treat them all as if they are all child molesting, pedophile predators who go around killing kids, which is not true either. The should be monitoring the truly dangerous. From this article, there are 88,000 sex offenders in this state, and only 1,700 are sexually violent offenders. So if they monitored 1,700 instead of 88,000, then they'd actually accomplish something, but they like to treat all offenders as if they are all sexually violent.

04/04/2010

By ALISHA WYMAN

One of Napa’s own will join the ranks of officials shaping state policy regarding sex offenders.

Napa County District Attorney Gary Lieberstein will be sworn onto the Sex Offender Management Board at its meeting this month.
- If you look at the members at the link above, you can see, it's pretty much stacked against sex offenders from the start.  It's mainly lawyers, DA's, probation/parole officers and police.  Who are mostly all biased from the start.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (Contact) office contacted Lieberstein to ask him if he would be willing to join the board, he said.

The governor’s office announced the appointment Tuesday.

I’m happy to serve in any way that I can to contribute to public safety in the state, particularly in regard to sex offenders,” Lieberstein said.

The board reviews and oversees potential policy changes regarding sex offenders. Its nearly 20 members include criminal justice and mental health officials from across the state.

Lieberstein said that when he was a deputy district attorney, much of his case load involved prosecuting sex crimes.

I understand from my experience the danger this particular class of citizen represents to our society and communities,” he said.
- You see, he's lumping all offenders into one group, assuming all are a danger to society, when a vast majority are not.  Less than 5% in almost all states, are truly dangerous while the other 95% are not, yet they treat them all as if they are all dangerous.

Sex crimes have an impact on victims that often lasts their whole lives, even if the case is prosecuted successfully and the victim receives therapy, he said.

Sex offenses in general, and most particularly against children, short of murder, are among the most horrific crimes that we see,” he said.
- I've often hear it stated, that eventually, the laws are going to be so harsh, that those who do harm a child sexually, will just wind up killing the kid so they do not have someone to identify and speak out against them. I pray to God this doesn't happen, but it is a possibility.

Laws in place that require registration and monitoring are an important part of preventing the crimes, he said. Studies show that sex offenders often have more than one victim, he said.
- But that is a false statement. Registration and monitoring doesn't PREVENT anything.  A true predator who is dangerous is going to commit a crime anyway, if that is their intent.

They’ve shown by their prior conduct that they need to be watched closer than the rest of us,” he said.
- Again, lumping all offenders into one group!

Lieberstein has served as district attorney since 1998. He previously worked as a deputy district attorney from 1985 to 1998.

He is president of the California District Attorney’s Association and is also on the National District Attorneys Association board of directors.

Lieberstein said he hopes the relationships and experience he builds through national and state connections will benefit Napa County.

His obligations require a balancing act, but they are worth it, he said.

Lieberstein’s experience makes him a good match to serve on the board, said Mike Naples, a spokesman for the governor’s office.

The governor appoints the most qualified individuals to serve the people of California, and Mr. Lieberstein certainly falls into that category,” he said.

There is no salary for his service on the board.


"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin



MD - Senator Nancy Jacobs MD Senate Bill 622 Increases Mandatory Jail Terms for Sex Offenders

Video Link | SB-622 | Senator Web Site



"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin