Sunday, December 9, 2012

Katie Couric - Falsely Accused: Innocent Behind Bars

Original Article

12/09/2012

"Falsely Accused" Airing on December 10, 2012

On this episode of Katie, meet two people who both lost years of their lives, sitting behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit. They were everyday people whose lives changed in an instant and in ways they never could have expected. First, Audrey Edmunds, a Wisconsin mom who was falsely accused of murdering an infant. Then, Thomas Kennedy, a single dad living a humble life in Washington State trying to rebuild his relationship with his daughters, until one of them accused him of rape.

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MN - Editorial: Sex offender reform is closer to reality

Original Article

12/08/2012

Report makes it clear action is needed on civil commitment.

The first report from a new task force reviewing Minnesota's costly, potentially unconstitutional sex offender program is remarkable less for its initial recommendation than for the strong signal it sends about moving forward with reforms and taking seriously the threat of a federal takeover of the program.

Legislators need to heed the task force's call to action and follow its lead in keeping the debate over this controversial issue calm and constructive.

The report (PDF) from the Sex Offender Civil Commitment Task Force, which is led by retired state Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson, came out last week. The group's 20 members deserve credit for wading into the charged debate over the state's civil commitment program, which detains sex offenders for "treatment" long after their prison sentences have ended.

About 600 offenders are currently held in prison-like facilities in the state, with very few ever being released. The Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) has become one of the largest per capita in the nation. The program is not only expensive -- civil commitment is about three times more expensive than incarcerating offenders -- but it has long raised constitutionality concerns.
- Yes it's a prison, unconstitutional and expensive, but they do not care, they cannot afford to look "soft" on crime, especially the sex offender scapegoats.  I seriously doubt anything will seriously be done, and the fed will take control of it, they are good at that.

The state now faces a federal class-action lawsuit filed by offenders in Minnesota who have argued that commitment decisions are arbitrary and that remote prospects for release amount to a life sentence. Last August, a federal judge lent credibility to the constitutionality questions when he ordered the state to pursue reforms. The task force is a key part of these efforts, and its members clearly take seriously the potential of federal involvement.

The group faced a tight timeframe for issuing its first report. It understandably has not yet offered solutions to the program's most vexing challenge: deciding which offenders in the program could be released into a less restrictive, less costly setting. "We realize our work is not done,'' Magnuson said in a letter accompanying the report.

The task force did, however, sensibly focus on one reform that is a key piece of the puzzle if further changes are to occur. Taking a cue from a 2011 Office of the Legislative Auditor's report (PDF), it recommended that Minnesota create and fund a regional network of alternative treatment facilities.

A number of other states operate centers like this for sex offenders. It's a sensible proposal that would move the program away from its problematic all-or-nothing approach. Right now, the program either commits an offender for years in costly, high-security facilities or it releases them, often with too little supervision.
- And how many, who have been committed, been released in other states?  I don't recall seeing a study on that issue, which is probably close to zero as well.

The proposed regional centers would offer a less restrictive, less costly option for offenders deemed less risky -- such as elderly offenders. Public safety could be enhanced by this option. Greater numbers of offenders could be supervised if regional centers become a reality. Right now, resources are instead directed at keeping a limited number of offenders in high-cost, high-security facilities.

For years, state policymakers who feared being labeled soft on crime have made changes like this virtually untouchable, even as it became common knowledge that the MSOP program was broken and unaffordable. What's striking about the task force report is that it doesn't waste any time debating whether reforms are necessary.
- My point exactly, they don't want to look "soft" on crime.

Instead, its decisive language makes clear that the issue is how best to reform MSOP. That's a milestone shift in this long, bitter debate and a reason for confidence that balanced solutions will soon be found.



MI - Police investigate "sexual crime" in kindergarten class by 5-year-olds?

Original Article

Yep, the world is going friggin' insane!  What is next?  Toddlers who touch themselves or someone else?

12/04/2012

CONSTANTINE – A southwest Michigan teacher was not in her classroom today, as police investigate an alleged sex crime involving 5-year-olds.

Parents at East Side Middle School in Constantine, which is in St. Joseph County, say they received a letter informing them that police were investigating a “sexual crime” that happened between 5-year-old boys.

The letter explains the act happened in a kindergarten classroom but did not say exactly what happened.

The school says one other child may have been involved.

Some parents are hesitant to send their kids back to school.

(My son) begs for me not to send him to school,” said parent Jamie Russell. “He doesn’t want to go to nap time or recess.”

I think she’s a great teacher,” said Melissa Stevenson, another parent. “It is not her fault at all. I’m upset with the parents of the kids. I think stuff like that starts at home.

The teacher of that class was removed from the classroom, which is a school district policy.

The school says she is not involved in what happened between the kids. but further investigation is needed before she could return to school.