Sunday, June 6, 2010
By Tim Challies
Last week’s series on Sexual Detox was quite an experience for me. I figured it would garner a little bit of interest simply because it dealt with an universal issue (sex) and because it included several important peripheral issues (pornography, addiction, and so on). But even then the response surprised me, both in terms of the number of visitors who showed up to read the articles and the outpouring of comments and emails in response to it. All of this showed me that I had tapped into an important issue.
Quite a few people wrote me to ask if I would be able to put the series together into a booklet or e-book. I am hard at work preparing a booklet form of it. I’ll be using a self-publishing printer to prepare it in paperback format and those will soon be available at Amazon for anyone who would wish to have a hard copy. What I’ve done in the meantime is create two different versions of the e-book, one for single guys and another for married guys. There are differences between them with each targeted at its specific audience.
Today I am glad to announce that the e-books are ready to go. I added to them a whole new chapter dealing with masturbation and also added study questions for those who are interested in working a bit on application.
A Guide for the Single Guy (Download)
But for now, here is Sexual Detox: A Guide for the Single Guy. You are free to download the e-book and to pass it along however you see fit in either printed or electronic formats.
A Guide for the Married Guy (Download)
And here is Sexual Detox: A Guide for the Married Guy. You are free to download the e-book and to pass it along however you see fit in either printed or electronic formats.
FL - Coming to a Halfway House Near You - How many sexual offenders have been relocated to your neighborhood?
What is REALLY going on with the Julia Tuttle Causeway?
The relocation of homeless sex offenders from under the Julia Tuttle Causeway bridge has sparked a backlash from homeowners in the Upper Eastside, in particular the Shorecrest neighborhood, where 13 of the offenders have been placed. Residents’ concerns were first aired at a well-attended Town Hall meeting on April 21, which was covered by the BT (“Mr. Mayor, Can You Please Tell Them To Be Quiet?” May 2010).
At the meeting, residents learned from Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff that the city had no control over the relocation of the offenders, that it was entirely a county issue. Subsequently, county Commissioner Audrey Edmonson received numerous e-mails and phone calls from citizens complaining about the concentrated grouping of sexual offenders in one small community. Edmonson responded by organizing another community meeting to address the subject. It took place May 17 at Legion Park.
The star of the show was not the commissioner or the other dignitaries in attendance, including Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, Commissioner Sarnoff, and state Rep. Ronald Brisé. Rather the star was Edmonson’s invited guest, Ron Book, chairman of the county’s Homeless Trust. Months earlier Book had stepped forward to help solve the problem of homeless sex offenders, which had garnered embarrassing national headlines. Now she wanted him to explain how 13 offenders ended up in Shorecrest.
Commissioner Edmonson began the meeting by welcoming everyone and clearly stating that she did not have a solution at hand. She was there to listen, to gather suggestions, and then move forward to develop a plan to resolve the matter. It poured rain that night, which caused Book to run late, so David Raymond, executive director of the Homeless Trust, spoke first, providing an overview of the Trust’s role in the relocation process.
Raymond gave a concise synopsis of the actions taken by the Trust to eliminate the filthy squatters’ village that had evolved under the causeway bridge. Just as he was finishing, Book entered the auditorium. It was all downhill from there.
For those who don’t know Ron Book, perhaps the most influential political lobbyist in Florida, suffice to say that he is an expert on just about any topic you might want to discuss. He made it abundantly clear that he was better informed than anyone in the room on the subject of sexual offenders and predators.
- So how is Ron better informed? Is he an experts on sex offenders now?
He’d been through a terrible ordeal involving a predator (a female nanny) who lived in his home and assaulted his daughter for several years. “So don’t you tell me about the pain and the anguish,” he snapped, “because I have lived through it and know it better than any of you!”
- So, I guess nobody else is a victim of sexual abuse, only Ron's daughter?
Well, that introduction certainly set the tone for the rest of the evening. One resident after another attempted to voice their frustrations and worries, only to be rebuked by Book, who acted as a buffer between the exasperated residents and the elected officials, who sat mum on the dais.
- From what I've seen, if Ron doesn't get his way, he screams and moans like a little kid!
Book went on and on about how upstanding the politicians were and how wonderful the Homeless Trust is, and then he finally got around to Commissioner Edmonson’s question: How did 13 sexual offenders end up being housed in Shorecrest?
- Exactly, it's all about self promotion and grand standing!
Book’s response: “We ran the Shorecrest ZIP code and it just popped up as an eligible site. So I drove it and determined that it would be a good fit to relocate the sexual predators.” What could be more simple!
It was a despicable display of grandstanding by Book, especially when compared to the manner in which David Raymond addressed the residents earlier in the evening. Book should have folded his tent, sat at the dais, and allowed the public to speak and the elected officials to respond.
Mayor Regalado presented a somewhat disjointed discourse on the history of the Homeless Trust, from the time when Miami police violated the civil rights of the homeless, resulting in the now infamous Pottinger Agreement, which for years has tied the city’s hands in dealing with the homeless street population.
Book opined that he didn’t think the Pottinger Agreement was all that bad and that “we have it and we are living with it.” Sort of like living with a fatal disease until it kills you.
Then a member of the audience asked question about a different constitutional issue. This gave Commissioner Sarnoff the opportunity sidestep the constitutional issue but emphasize again that the county had full responsibility for the sexual offender/predator issue and that it was not the responsibility of the City of Miami.
This made everyone feel a lot better, though it caused Commissioner Edmonson to twitch a little as another tire from the proverbial bus ran across her back.
In response to a murmur from the crowd about how many sexual offenders had been relocated to Coconut Grove, where Sarnoff lives, the commissioner commented that he empathized with the residents because he lives on a block with four offenders and that hordes of them live within a half-mile of his home.
A subsequent check on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website (updated daily) showed exactly one offender located within a half square mile of the commissioner’s home and two within one square mile. So either a bunch moved out or a bunch moved in over the course of 24 hours, depending upon whose stats you want to believe. (An elected official who lives in a gated community, has no children, and has just two offenders located within a square mile of his home is going to find it difficult to elicit sympathy from a room full of residents who were obviously at wit’s end.)
I also searched a specific Shorecrest residence in the vicinity of the relocations and found that there are 14 offenders within a half square mile and 63 within one square mile. The 13 relocated to Shorecrest are all serious sexual predators, according to Ron Book -- “real bad guys,” as he put it.
- Ron thinks all sex offenders are predators!
One young mother pleaded for help: “I cannot walk the streets around my home without my husband with me. This is not me, this is not how I want to live!” Even when prodded by a vociferous resident demanding to hear from his elected officials, who sat silent before their constituents, only Commissioner Edmonson responded.
But then the resident was cut off by Book, who taunted the man to “heap your complaints and insults upon me, sir. I am paid the big bucks to take your abuse!”
All in all, it was a pretty pathetic show, hardly a shining example of how to solicit input from the public to address a very real problem and work on a solution. I applaud Commissioner Edmonson for calling the meeting, but next time she should leave the experts at home and just listen.
Original Article (Listen)
By Dr. Jean Kennedy
This article questions the reason why so many sexual offenders are being held in the Coalinga State Hospital. Who benefits? Who suffers?
During my radio show (Valley Black Talk, "Health Comes at a Premium," on KFCF) in January, I did a special program on letters written by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when he was arrested in Alabama. I had just reminded my listeners of those famous words, "an injustice to one is an injustice to all," when I received a call from listeners at Coalinga State Hospital. The callers claimed that they were being held on false evaluation assessments as having a mental disorder to label them as sexual violent predators (SVPs).
Since my January radio show, I have received much mail from patients at Coalinga State Hospital, which is under the California Department of Mental Health (DMH), explaining how the state is violating the civil and human rights of many men being held on a civil commitment as sex offenders. These individuals feel that an injustice has been done to them.
I proceeded to investigate the civil commitment procedures. It appears that individuals are being "warehoused" who have served their prison sentences and are then being assigned to the DMH for indefinite confinement at Coalinga State Hospital.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation appears to be responsible for releasing higher-profile sex offenders back into the community while releasing those with lower-level offenses into the custody of the DMH, which, in turn, places a "civil commitment " on them. Coalinga State Hospital gets a bed filled with a less threatening person and receives $200,000-$270,000 per person to provide minimal supervision.
Following my interviews with patients at Coalinga State Hospital, it appears that the more serious repeat multiple sexual violent offenders are sent to the Parole Department. However, instead of releasing individuals with lesser offenses back into society with a fitted GPS monitor or into the custody of the Parole Department, they are assigned to Coalinga State Hospital.
This situation presents a public safety issue. We have created an unsafe community and possibly violated the rights of those being held under a false diagnosis simply to keep hospital beds filled.
Proposition 83 increased the number of penal code sexual offenses and certain juvenile sexual offenses. It extended the minimum sentences for sex crimes, eliminated "good time" credits for habitual sexual offenders and increased parole terms to up to 10 years for the most severe sex crimes.
Possibly the most significant change to the SVP statute legislation was the change in the commitment period from two years to an indeterminate period unless the courts find that the individual no longer meets the definition of an SVP. The SVP patient can still petition the court to be conditionally or unconditionally released on an annual basis, and the court can choose not to hear the case "if [there is] insufficient evidence to suggest that the individual's condition has changed significantly."
Two additional changes were mandatory lifetime GPS monitoring for registered sex offenders and the prohibition against sex offenders living within 2,000 feet of a school or park. Homelessness among registered sexual offenders has subsequently increased 800% due to the residency prohibition (Santa Rosa Press).
There are a number of problems in both the structure and operation of the SVP system. Coalinga State Hospital is one of those problem areas. The number of referrals to the DMH for screening and evaluations had risen tenfold by January 2009. Prop 83 resulted in a $27 million increase in cost for evaluators (http://www.dmh.ca.gov). Doctors were paid $3,500 per initial evaluation for SVP commitment as January 2009. Two to four initial evaluations are required for each potential SVP, and it takes court preparation, testimony and travel time, which pays out at a rate of approximately $200 per hour.
The involuntary commitment of sexual offenders to state hospitals in California was intended to "help cure sexual offenders in a shorter time than they would serve in prisons as well as to protect society against release of sexual offenders who had not been cured within the maximum incarceration sentence" (American Psychiatric Association, 1999).
The Sexual Offender Treatment and Evaluation Project (SOTEP), which is funded by the legislature, started in 1981. The SOTEP was limited to about 50 sexual offenders recruited from state prisons at any one time. This program provided prisoners with an opportunity to spend the final 22 months of their sentence receiving treatment in a hospital setting rather than in prison. This change in the law resulted in an increase in the average number of referrals to the DMH for SVP review from approximately 50 per month to about 600 per month.
The legal process for SVP commitment status was implemented in 1996 and is a post-incarceration civil commitment process. It is implemented by the DMH as the sexual offender commitment program (SOCP). To determine and process an individual, a standardized assessment protocol determines whether an inmate is an SVP. Independent evaluators, either psychiatrists or psychologists, are contracted by the DMH to concur that a person has a "mental disorder." It is this diagnosis that places an individual in Coalinga State Hospital for an indefinite time.
The SVP hearing is a civil procedure and requires a trial by a judge or jury. For the patient's status of SVP to change, the jury must unanimously decide beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual meets all the SVP criteria. Currently, there are elderly men, one in his 80s, and several who are disabled awaiting a hearing. These individuals feel that they do not pose a danger to society, yet they cannot get a hearing to be released and reenter society (conditional or unconditional release, even if it means that they wear a monitor).
Meanwhile, we continue to pay taxpayer money to keep these men locked up at a hospital. The patients at Coalinga State Hospital are confined to be treated by the DMH until they either no longer meet the definition of an SVP or they can be safely and effectively treated in the community. The DMH uses the SOCP to implement the SVP civil commitment status. It is known as a phase or treatment program and is "voluntary" because the SVPs are civilly, rather than criminally, committed. It is said that not too many SVP individuals consent to participate in the phases of the SOCP. Many SVP individuals and their attorneys often cite the low treatment participation rate as evidence that the DMH program is not successful.
We have a large number of homeless persons in Fresno, and several are previous sex offenders. Which ones pose a danger to society and which ones are being managed? The civil commitment seems not to be working (except that Coalinga State Hospital makes a lot of money from taxpayers). Making sex offenders who have been released from prison homeless is also not working.
What do we want to accomplish from this conversation?
- The State of California must look into how it is wasting taxpayer money on treatments that might not be working on a large scale.
- The Coalinga Hospital must become an advocate for its patients rather than a warehouse of patients.
- Our legislators must evaluate the sexual predator/sexual psychopath laws to reduce barriers to good treatment programs and ensure better monitoring.
- We must determine what society can do to create healthy and safe living environments.
- We must support programs such as the one at Fresno Pacific University's Peace Center that integrate sex offenders back into society with the proper support systems.
- We must change the labeling of sexual violent predators.
Dr. Jean Kennedy is the host of the "Health Comes at a Premium" segment of Valley Black Talk on KFCF. Contact her at KFCF/News Article, 1449 N. Wishon Ave., Fresno, CA 93744, Attn.: Dr. Jean Kennedy.