Sunday, December 12, 2010

GA - Prisoners Strike in Georgia

Original Article

12/12/2010

By SARAH WHEATON

In a protest apparently assembled largely through a network of banned cellphones, inmates across at least six prisons in Georgia have been on strike since Thursday, calling for better conditions and compensation, several inmates and an outside advocate said.

Inmates have refused to leave their cells or perform their jobs, in a demonstration that seems to transcend racial and gang factions that do not often cooperate.

Their general rage found a home among them — common ground — and they set aside their differences to make an incredible statement,” said Elaine Brown, a former Black Panther leader who has taken up the inmates’ cause. She said that different factions’ leaders recruited members to participate, but the movement lacks a definitive torchbearer.

Ms. Brown said thousands of inmates were participating in the strike.

The Georgia Department of Corrections could not be reached for comment Saturday night.

We’re not coming out until something is done. We’re not going to work until something is done,” said one inmate at Rogers State Prison in Reidsville. He refused to give his name because he was speaking on a banned cellphone.

Several inmates, who used cellphones to call The Times from their cells, said they found out about the protest from text messages and did not know whether specific individuals were behind it.

This is a pretty much organic effort on their part,” said Ms. Brown, a longtime prisoner advocate, who distilled the inmates’ complaints into a list of demands. “They did it, and then they reached out to me.” Ms. Brown, the founder of the National Alliance for Radical Prison Reform in Locust Grove, Ga., said she has spoken to more than 200 prisoners over the past two days.

The Corrections Department placed several of the facilities where inmates planned to strike under indefinite lockdown on Thursday, according to local reports.

We’re hearing in the news they’re putting it down as we’re starting a riot, so they locked all the prison down,” said a 20-year-old inmate at Hays State Prison in Trion, who also refused to give his name. But, he said, “We locked ourselves down.”

Even if the Corrections Department did want to sit down at the table with the inmates, the spontaneous nature of the strike has left the prisoners without a representative to serve as negotiator, Ms. Brown said.

Ms. Brown, who lives in Oakland, Calif., said she planned to gather legal and advocacy groups on Monday to help coordinate a strategy for the inmates.

Chief among the prisoners’ demands is that they be compensated for jailhouse labor. They are also demanding better educational opportunities, nutrition, and access to their families.

We committed the crime, we’re here for a reason,” said the Hays inmate. “But at the same time we’re men. We can’t be treated like animals.”


FL - Killer Targeted Sex Offenders

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FL - Deltona sexual predator receives state pardon

Original Article

12/11/2010

By MARK HARPER and ANDREW GANT

DELTONA -- A Deltona man listed as a sexual predator for eight years won a pardon this week after he told the governor's clemency panel he has received therapy, and the designation has kept him from finding steady work.
- Florida, from what I've heard, lists almost everybody as a predator, or considers them one.

[name withheld], 49, must now petition the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to have his name and photograph removed from a state website listing sexual offenders and predators, said Jane Tillman, a spokeswoman for the Executive Clemency Board.
- Not likely, the state of Florida doesn't like removing people, even dead people are still on the registry, bloating it.

The board -- Gov. Charlie Crist and three members of the Cabinet -- granted [name withheld] a pardon Thursday. [name withheld]'s was among 81 cases heard.

In a brief interview outside his Deltona home Friday evening, [name withheld] and his wife said the family "just wanted to move forward" years after the 2001 arrest.

"The situation was blown out of proportion from the beginning," [name withheld] said. "It just took time for the state to see I wasn't a threat to anyone."

[name withheld] told the board his sexual-predator designation has made it difficult to get a good-paying job to support his wife and seven children in the home. He was remorseful about a sexual encounter with a minor in 2001, and said he's successfully completed therapy.

"Forgiveness, particularly at this time of year, is a very worthwhile message for all of us to be reminded of," Crist said after Thursday's meeting.

Cocoa police initially charged [name withheld] with sexual battery and fondling a victim younger than 16, Florida Department of Law Enforcement records show. He entered a plea in Brevard County in 2002 to molesting a child between the ages of 12 and 16 and received probation, according to the records.

Keith Kameg, an agency spokesman, said [name withheld] must apply to the FDLE to be taken off the registry. FDLE must review and confirm the pardon before [name withheld]'s name will be removed.

Tillman said no other information about why the board made its decision was a public record she could release.

Florida's Executive Clemency Board is comprised of the governor and Cabinet members Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Attorney General Bill McCollum and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson.

The board rejected most of the clemency requests.

[name withheld], who worked for several years for a federal government agency, for an aeronautics technology company and served in the U.S. National Guard, said he has lived in his Deltona neighborhood for three years, and all his neighbors were notified of his sexual predator designation.

[name withheld] said his 2001 arrest came after he sought therapy for what he called an "isolated incident" with a girl. Each therapist he contacted reported the incident to authorities, he said.

After Thursday's hearing, Sink expressed frustration with the state's classification of people as sex offenders even though they may have been convicted of consensual relations. She said it's an issue that needs more work by Gov.-elect Rick Scott and the three new Cabinet members who take office Jan. 4.


UK - Let sex offenders adopt and work with children, says report

Original Article

11/30/2010

By Afua Hirsch

London School of Economics family law expert calls for each case to be judged on merit

The government could face legal action if it continues to ban sex offenders from working with children, according to research published today.

A report by a family law expert argues that some sex offenders should be allowed to adopt or foster children, and claims that the current blanket ban is discriminatory.

"Sex offenders shouldn't all be tarred with the same brush," said Helen Reece at the London School of Economics, who wrote the report. "People need to be carefully screened for adoption and fostering, but each case should be taken on its merits."

"There shouldn't be blanket rules. What somebody has done before is not necessarily what he or she will do again. When someone has served a sentence, as far as you can, you should treat them the same as anyone else."

The report points to legal challenges that have overturned other blanket bans on adoption, including a 2008 case in which the House of Lords said rules in Northern Ireland preventing cohabiting couples from adopting children were discriminatory.

"If we believe that blanket bans are an effective and legitimate means to protect children then we should no more allow cohabiting couples to adopt or foster than convicted sex offenders," said Reece.

But claims in the report that cohabiting couples can present more of a risk to children than sex offenders are likely to provoke anger among groups concerned with child protection.

Responding to the report, the government said child and adult safety was its priority. "It is vital that children and vulnerable adults are protected," a Home Office spokesperson said. "We are committed to ensuring that decisions on who is suitable to work with the vulnerable are proportionate and meet the test of common sense."

Sex offenders have been prohibited from working with, and adopting, children since 2006, when measures were put in place to prevent a recurrence of the murder of schoolgirls Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells by school caretaker Ian Huntley in Soham.

The "vetting and barring" scheme introduced by the 2006 law has divided opinion, and was halted by the home secretary, Theresa May, in June after criticism that it was "draconian" and would deter volunteers .

This month a group of nurses who had been automatically placed on the barred list after they committed offences at work successfully challenged the scheme in the high court, claiming their human rights had been violated.

"The vetting and barring scheme contradicts human rights legislation and is therefore challengeable," said Reece. "I agree with this government that it should be brought back to commonsense levels."


Trafficked Teen Girls Describe Life In 'The Game' (Part 1 of 2)

Original Article (Listen)

12/06/2010

By Youth Radio

Last month, the FBI announced the results of Operation Cross Country V, a 40-city investigation that led to the rescue of 69 children who were being victimized through prostitution. More than 800 people, including 99 pimps, were arrested.

According to the FBI, more than 100,000 children are sold for sex in the U.S. each year. In a two-part series, Youth Radio takes a look at the problem of child prostitution in the U.S. Today, two young women who recently escaped what's called "the game" share their stories.
- Once again, the magical goldilock number of 100,000 is used without specifying how or where the number came from.

"I'd wake up at 5; I'd be outside by 5:30," says Brittney, 19. "I would just wait and see what happened, whether it'd be in the streets or whether I'd be on the Internet. And then I won't be able to come back inside until like 2 o'clock in the morning, so I'd get only, like, three hours of rest."

Brittney, a former sex worker, agreed to share her story under the condition that her real name not be used. She's a native of Oakland, Calif., and only recently out of what's called "the game." Less than a year ago, Brittney was being forced to work as a prostitute on the Internet and on the streets of Oakland.

"I got kidnapped when I was 15," says Brittney. "I decided to cut school one day. I was in Oakland, on Havenscourt and Foothill, and all I heard was, 'Man, go get that girl!' And one of them came out and dragged me by my hair, and he pulled me into the car."

Brittney was the victim of a so-called guerrilla pimp — a person, usually a man, who uses force and fear to traffic women, many of whom are underage. Oakland police estimate that a third of teenage girls working in prostitution were abducted and forced onto the streets the way Brittney was.

She says that after she was kidnapped, at least six men gang-raped her. She was then driven to Sacramento, where her 32-year-old pimp put her out on the street as a prostitute. He took her phone, told her not to talk to anyone but "johns," and had his sister watch her so she wouldn't run. She was shuttled back and forth to work Oakland's red-light district.

A 'Romeo Pimp'
Darlene, whose name has been changed as well, came into "the game" a different way.

She entered her teens around the same time her native Oakland, as part of the San Francisco Bay Area, was named by the FBI as one of the 13 national hot spots for child prostitution.

Classmates talked about their boyfriends who had lots of money, and — like most kids in the Bay Area — she listened to music by Oakland rappers, whose lyrics about pimping glamorized "the game."

"A lot of it is glorified," says Darlene. "Oh, you're from Oakland. Everybody has dreads; everybody goes dumb; we pop pills, smoke a lot of weed; parties, sideshows and hos."

If you're not part of the scene, it's hard to believe that prostitution has become normal for so many in Oakland and other cities. But many see it as an alternative to desperate home lives, friends getting shot, no food on the table and absent parents. And pimps take advantage of that.

Darlene became a prostitute at the hands of what Oakland police call a "Romeo pimp." Now 18, she moved in with her boyfriend when she was 14, after she was kicked out of the house.

"On my 15th birthday, he was like, 'Well, you know, since you'll be staying with me, we need more food. We need to find a way to get some money'," says Darlene. "He's the one that, like, introduced me to prostitution, and I didn't see anything wrong with it."

Darlene says she later found out her then-18-year-old boyfriend had pimped other girls before. When he became her pimp, Darlene says, he told her what to do to make money. 'This is how you look at the guys; this is what you tell them; these are what cars to stay away from; this is how much you charge.' "

On 'The Track'
International Boulevard, one of Oakland's busiest streets, is what pimps call "The Track." In a 50-block span on one recent day, there were some 20 girls. Some of them were posted on street corners; others were hanging by bus stops, or just walking the same blocks over and over.

The guys who work at one of the many taco trucks on International Boulevard say that every day, pimps use their parking lot to drop off girls and hang out. They say it's common to see pimps beating girls.

While most Oakland residents drive by and don't think twice about what's going on here, the people in this neighborhood do.

"They're always there," says Frank Pardo, whose mother owns Yoyi's Bridal shop. "You always see them, and some of them are quite beautiful, looking like straight models."

Just down the street, a teenage girl in a short red dress is crying on a bench. She has blood coming from her mouth. A business owner who runs a clothing store says he saw the whole thing: The man who punched the girl appeared to be her pimp, and stole her purse.

The witness would not identify himself by name, for fear of retribution from sex traffickers. That's the same reason he gave for not calling the police.

Brittney and Darlene each survived the many months they spent turning tricks on International Boulevard and meeting johns through the Internet. Brittney says her pimp got her hooked on drugs to keep her working around the clock and eating only one meal a day, usually a burger from McDonald's.

"It's not the best deal to have sex with 15 different guys in one day and only get a cheeseburger at the end of it," says Alameda County Assistant District Attorney Sharmin Bock. Bock compares the girls' situation to being brainwashed by a cult.

"Remember Guyana and Jim Jones, where everybody's drinking that Kool-Aid drink? Well, that's exactly what these girls have had. Let's call it pimp juice. They've all had it, and they can't see past either their affection for their trafficker, or their fear of him," says Bock.

A History Of Violence
According to a recent survey of social service providers in Oakland and the rest of the county, 61 percent of the teen prostitutes they see say they were raped as children.

That's what happened to Brittney. She says she was raped by her stepfather and years later by her trafficker. Brittney tries to understand how she kept going back to her pimp.

"I knew what he was capable of," she says. "He'd beat me and he'd rape me, he'd beat me and he'd rape me, and I just kept going back until I ended up being pregnant by him. And he beat me so bad that I ended up having a miscarriage."

"I got shot at quite a few times," says Darlene, who had been arrested for prostitution and robbery in the year after she ran away from her father's house. She wanted to go home.

"I used to fantasize about boys that are gangstas. 'Oh, they get hecka money and they're just gangsta and cute, and it's cool,' " says Darlene. "That's OK when you're in high school. After that, what are you gonna do with your life? You're gonna be in jail or you're gonna be dead, and I don't want part of either one of those."

A New Life
After her last arrest, Darlene joined a program that transitions girls off the streets. Brittney got out, too, shortly after she had the miscarriage.

"Six days later — it was a Sunday — and he put me on East 14th. I told him that I didn't want to be out on Sundays because I had a bad feeling about Sundays. And I saw my aunt. And my aunt ended up snatching me up and putting me in the car. And then she took me to my mom's house," says Brittney.

"Two days later, police came knocking on my door, saying I had a warrant."

That warrant put Brittney back in jail for prostitution and, like Darlene, she enrolled in a community program.

It's been less than a year since Brittney and Darlene turned their lives around. Now they are both working with community organizations to help other girls escape sex trafficking. Darlene and Brittney consider themselves survivors, navigating a new life.

"I got back in school and I graduated high school with, like, 20 extra credits," says Darlene, who has two jobs and is planning to attend college. "When I was 15, I didn't see myself alive at the age of 18. And now I am 18, and I can look back and say, 'You know, I've been through all that, and I've come out of it.' It feels wonderful."


SC - Evaluating the Effectiveness of Sex Offender Registration and Notification Policies for Reducing Sexual Violence against Women


Executive Summary:
The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of one state’s sex offender registration and notification policy in reducing sexual violence. The problem of sexual violence is a national legislative priority as evidenced by numerous sex offender-specific policies enacted at the federal level over the past 15 years. Specifics vary among states regarding criminal justice responses to sex offending, but all such policies have as their primary goals the prevention of sexual violence and the reduction of sexual re-offending.

The present study examined the effects of comprehensive registration and community notification policies on rates of sexual violence in South Carolina. Specifically, the present study proposed to evaluate whether broad sex offender registration and notification policies have reduced recidivism or deterred new sexual offenses. Additionally, this study proposed to examine whether unintended effects of broad registration and notification policies have occurred. Of note, the present study focused almost exclusively on the effects of registration and notification as pertains to offenses committed by adults. Given that registration and notification policies often target juveniles adjudicated delinquent as minors, the investigative team has been involved in separate research pertaining to the effects of these policies as pertains to juveniles (see Letourneau & Armstrong, 2008, Letourneau, Bandyopadhyay, Armstrong, & Sinha, 2010; Letourneau, Bandyopadhyay, Sinha, & Armstrong, 2009a; 2009b).

Specific Aims
This study examined whether the introduction of sex offender registration and notification laws in South Carolina were associated with reductions in sexual crimes and, if so, whether this reduction could be attributed to an actual reduction in sexual violence and/or recidivism (i.e., an intended effect) or to changes in criminal judicial processing of individuals for registry crimes (i.e., an unintended effect). In the context of this project, “sex offender” typically refers to anyone with one or more sex crime convictions. Specific sex crime charges are listed in Table 1 and include contact and noncontact offenses against children and adults.

Specific study aims included: (1) To examine whether South Carolina registration and notification policies have the intended effect of preventing first time sexual offending; (2) To examine whether South Carolina registration and notification policies have the intended effect of reducing sexual recidivism for known sex offenders; and (3) To examine whether South Carolina registration and notification policies have the unintended effect of reducing the probability that individuals who commit sexual crimes will be prosecuted or convicted for such crimes. In addition to these primary aims, we also investigated (4) whether registration violations (e.g., failure to register) were associated with sexual or general recidivism.

The following points highlight the key findings of the study:
  1. A significant deterrent effect was noted after 1995, the year that South Carolina first implemented sex offender registration and notification (SORN). An approximately 11% reduction in first-time sex crime arrests was found in the post-SORN period (1995-2005) relative to the pre-SORN period (1990-1994).
  2. However, there was no significant decline in the six year period after 1999, which was the year that South Carolina implemented its online sex offender registry, indicating that online notification did not influence general deterrence of adult sex crimes.
  3. Across a mean follow-up of 8.4 years, 490 (8%) of registered sex offenders had new sex crime charges and 299 (4%) offenders had new sex crime convictions. Registered sex offenders were not less likely to recidivate than non-registered sex offenders.
  4. Defendants were more likely to have charges reduced from sex to nonsex crimes over time, with a 9% predicted probability of reduced charges from 1990-1994 (pre-SORN), a 15% predicted probability of reduced charges from 1995-1999 (corresponding with initial implementation of SORN) and a 19% predicted probability after 1999 (corresponding with implementation of Internet notification).
  5. Results also indicated that the probability of obtaining a charge reduced from truth-in-sentencing (TIS) to non-TIS increased over time for sex crime defendants.
  6. The probability of a guilty disposition changed at each year group, with a predicted probability of 55% from 1990-1994, increasing to 65% from 1995-1999, and then declining to 60% after 1999. This final decline was more pronounced when pleaded cases were removed from analyses.
  7. With respect to failure to register (FTR) as a sex offender, no significant differences were found between the sexual recidivism rates of registered offenders with FTR charges and those without FTR charges (11% vs. 9%, respectively). There was no significant difference in the proportion of sexual recidivists and nonrecidivists with registration violations (12% and 10%, respectively). Failure to register did not predict sexual recidivism, and survival analyses revealed no significant difference in time to recidivism when comparing those who failed to register (M = 2.9 years) with compliant registrants (M = 2.8 years).

Conclusions
Results from this program of research indicate that SORN, as implemented in South Carolina, appears to have a positive impact on general deterrence associated with averting approximately three new first-time sex crime cases per month. However, South Carolina’s SORN policy has no effect on deterring the risk of sexual recidivism. South Carolina’s SORN policy does exert unintended effects on judicial decision making with respect to adult sex crime cases. An increased number of defendants were permitted to plead to nonsex charges following the onset of South Carolina’s SORN policy and following its modification to require online notification. The net effects of this change could be to reduce community safety by increasing the likelihood that defendants guilty of sex crimes pleaded to nonsex crimes or were aquitted altogether. Finally, it does not appear that registered sex offenders who failure to register are more sexually dangerous than compliant registrants.