Georgia - Stone Mountain Laser Show 2007:
Monday, December 31, 2007
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There's much to be said for working in a comfortable environment, but if this ErgoPod 500 is any indication, sometimes ergonomics isn't a good thing. The ErgoPod 500 is marketed as an ergonomic computer desk on wheels that goes over your bed. That way, you can stand, sit, or lie down in bed while typing away. The questionable aspect of the desk is the fact that the monitor can tilt up to a 55-degree angle; looks like a death trap to me if the monitor were to fall!
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A Pennsylvania appeals court ruled Monday that forcing a convicted sex offender to take annual lie detector tests does not violate constitutional protections against self-incrimination.
A Superior Court panel called polygraph tests an essential tool for therapists trying to get offenders to confront their urges or examine their deviant behavior.
"The test results further the primary goal of counseling as part of a sexual offender's sentence, which is to rehabilitate the offender and prevent recidivism, with reasonably small incremental deprivations of the offender's liberty," wrote Judge Correale F. Stevens for the unanimous three-judge panel.
The court said test questions must relate to the underlying offense and may not force offenders to admit things that might be used against them in a future criminal trial.
The ruling involves the case of Robin Dale Shrawder, on probation after pleading no contest in Lycoming County in 2005 to luring a child into a motor vehicle and corruption of minors.
Shrawder, the judges ruled, "remains free to assert his Fifth Amendment privilege if any incriminating questions or coercive tactics are actually employed during the polygraph examination."
Shrawder was arrested after trying to entice two 16-year-old girls into his vehicle to perform sex acts for money, and was sentenced to three years of probation.
He was required to cooperate with sexual offender counseling, but in September 2006 he filed a court motion saying the polygraph would violate his constitutional rights. A county judge later ruled the lie detector tests were a reasonable condition of Shrawder's probation, and he appealed.
The Superior Court judges noted that the issue has arisen in other states and within the federal courts, where the use of polygraphs has been generally upheld, although often with restrictions on what may be asked.
Phone messages left Monday for Shrawder's lawyer Douglas Engelman, and for prosecutor Kenneth A. Osokow with the Lycoming County District Attorney's Office, were not immediately returned.
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Again, why are we wasting tax payer dollars on many registries when we could create one registry with all criminals on it, and be done with it. Why are we picking and choosing which registries to create, which wastes money? Hell, why don't we just create one registry with all people on it, regardless, then we'd know who our next door neighbors are, their past, etc... More knee jerk reactions to something. Think!!
A dream to create a violent offenders registry in memory of Leah Gustafson got a boost in November when Wisconsin Rep. Scott Suder (Email), R-Abbotsford, introduced the bill at the Capitol in Madison.
Brutally attacked in her own apartment by a neighbor she barely knew, Gustafson, 29, died Jan. 7, 2006. Friends and family believe she could and would have protected herself if she had known the long, violent history of her neighbor, Jason Richard Borelli, then 31, who was convicted of the murder later that year.
For more than a year, Gustafson’s friends and family worked to gain support for a state law that would require violent felons to register with the state. The group has actively been working to develop laws in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. Their goal is to prevent the kind of tragedy that resulted in Leah’s death.
Their effort was rewarded when Suder introduced the “Leah’s Law” legislation Nov. 6, which would create a searchable violent offender database and information system, similar to the Wisconsin Sex Offender registry.
State Rep. Frank Boyle (Email), D-Superior, is co-sponsoring the bill.
“It has great bipartisan support, and I think we’re going to be successful in dealing with it in the Assembly,” he said. “The bill is on track and has an excellent chance.”
- Of course it does, attach any humans name to any bill and it will pass.
A public hearing has been held on Leah’s Law, and the next step is for the bill to be brought forward to the floor.
It would require the Department of Corrections to create and maintain a Violent Offender Registry Web site, which residents could access over the Internet.
Murderers, violent abusers, batterers, arsonists, hostage takers, kidnappers, and carjackers would be required to register with the department following their release from prison.
- Why not ALL criminals, or ALL humans period?
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This is a good idea. Like the media outlets who rate shows and do not show child porn on TV, why should it be allowed on the Internet? They need the same regulations as the TV industry uses on the net. To bad it's only being done in Australia, it needs to be done world wide, IMO.
Telecommunications Minister Stephen Conroy says new measures are being put in place to provide greater protection to children from online pornography and violent websites.
Senator Conroy says it will be mandatory for all internet service providers to provide clean feeds, or ISP filtering, to houses and schools that are free of pornography and inappropriate material.
Online civil libertarians have warned the freedom of the internet is at stake, but Senator Conroy says that is nonsense.
He says the scheme will better protect children from pornography and violent websites.
"Labor makes no apologies to those that argue that any regulation of the internet is like going down the Chinese road," he said.
"If people equate freedom of speech with watching child pornography, then the Rudd-Labor Government is going to disagree."
Senator Conroy says anyone wanting uncensored access to the internet will have to opt out of the service.
He says the Government will work with the industry to ensure the filters do not affect the speed of the internet.
"There are people who are going to make all sorts of statements about the impact on the [internet] speed," he said.
"The internet hasn't ground to a halt in the UK, it hasn't ground to a halt in Scandinavian countries and it's not grinding the internet to a halt in Europe.
"But that is why we are engaged constructively with the sector, engaging in trials to find a way to implement this in the best possible way and to work with the sector."
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At the end of October, Denis Vranich, a millionaire night club owner and property speculator was convicted of a sexual assault on a 22 year old his employee working at his club. The Hamilton Spectator reported that "Vranich grabbed the woman, pulled down her bodice, groped her breasts and penetrated her with his finger", in her Victim Impact Statement the employee reported "The thought of him makes me absolutely nauseous and brings on panic attacks" writes Andrew Flemming.
The Spectator also reported that Vranich was convicted in 2001 of "procuring persons under the age of 18 and exercising control over them to engage in prostitution." The Crown sought house arrest, Vranich's punishment will be one-year house arrest in his luxury mansion.
Meanwhile Mohawk father and activist, Shawn Brant has already spent two months in pre-trial jail. The Crown is prosecuting him for his role in the struggle of the Tyendinaga Mohawks for the return of the Culbertson Tract. In his case the Crown has announced that they are seeking a minimum 12-year jail term.
Brant's so-called crimes amounted to blockades and reclamations of sites in which no one was injured. Brants mistake it would appear was to be neither a night club owner or a property developer. Being a Mohawk rather than a millionaire cannot have helped.
And rather than engaging in an activity the Crown obviously finds only a minor problem like a sexual assault his crime is being "an articulate and militant spokesperson for his community and indigenous struggles in Canada more generally." That’s justice in Ontario, a slap on the wrist for a millionaire sex offender as against 12 years in jail for an activist who struggles for justice for his community.
AK - MARION, Va. (AP) - A former police sergeant in Chilhowie has been sentenced to jail time for sex crimes involving a teenage girl.
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Cutting down on re-offenders could help, commissioner says
One prisoner lounges on the top bunk, another on the bottom, and a third stands awkwardly near the toilet in the pinched space of cell No. 15, his bed on the floor, partially slid under the sink.
This is Charlie Mod, a unit at the Anchorage jail where cells are filled with three felons crammed into 9-foot-by-10-foot spaces barely big enough to swing an arm.
The prisoner unlucky enough to be the third in a cell sleeps on a temporary bed that looks like an oversized rubber sled and is called a "boat." It takes up nearly all the floor space, including underneath an unmovable metal chair sticking out from the wall.
"There's just not enough room," said the unlucky prisoner, who says he normally sleeps curled in a ball.
Overcrowding has been a headache at the Anchorage jail for years. Being the place where those arrested in Alaska's largest city are first processed and where some end up serving their time, the facility on Fourth Avenue east of downtown is on the front lines of a statewide problem: a burgeoning prison population that is expected only to grow.
This has the head of Alaska's prison system, Corrections Commissioner Joe Schmidt, on a mission: Build more prisons and reduce the staggering number of prisoners -- three out of five -- who are released but end up back in jail for a new crime.
To do this, he wants to change how Alaska looks at its prisons. He wants to move the system from a punitive one where people just do their time, waiting for their release date, to one of rehabilitation.
He plans on asking the state government for an additional $3 million to pay for in-prison programs, some of which were cut under the previous administration.
The state had forecast more prisoners on par with Alaska's mild population growth, but when this year's numbers came in, it realized there is a sizable problem. While last year 33,000 people were arrested and booked into the system, this year the number is expected to have jumped to 38,000.
The average number of offenders in prison on any given day in 2004 was 4,780. In 2006, it was 5,090. And, in 2007, it is expected to have grown by several hundred more.
There simply isn't enough room for them all. Already, about one in five is transported 3,000 miles away to a private prison in Arizona to do their time.
The increase in prisoners can't be pinned to any one cause, according to law enforcement officials. More Anchorage police officers, new minimum sentences for sex offenders, a law that limits electronic monitoring and puts more offenders in prison, and increased drug and gang activity are among the reasons cited.
"We always support more police officers, I've always said that, but everyone has to realize there's another cost to it. It's more than just the wages and the police car; it's the backup system, which is us," said Schmidt, a former superintendent of a Mat-Su prison promoted to the top job by Gov. Sarah Palin when she took office a year ago.
The state is scheduled to break ground on a 1,500-bed prison at Point MacKenzie next fall. It is also working on plans to expand the Bethel and Seward prisons. The idea is to relieve pressure at the Anchorage jail and the other dozen jails and prisons in state, and to bring back some inmates from Arizona.
"Having Arizona as a release valve is a healthy thing," Schmidt said.
His vision of reshaping the department means about 100 of Alaska's worst offenders will be kept in the Southwest.
"When we have someone doing 200 years or 400 years, they're never going to re-enter, and I don't mean to sound like we've given up on them, but those folks we're not trying to program and fix for society because they're never going to be back in society," he said.
SEX OFFENDERS, DRUG ABUSERS
Schmidt's goal is to cut down on the large number of re-offenders, the criminals who are in and out of prison. The number of repeat offenders in Alaska is distressing. In fact, within three years of a 1999 offense, 59 percent were arrested for a new offense, according to an Alaska Judicial Council study that came out this year.
Schmidt wants treatment programs for sex offenders, substance abusers and those with mental health problems to cut this number down. He also wants more vocational training and apprentice programs, ones that will turn into real jobs post-prison.
- This is a man who is thinking for once. There is no treatment in most prisons, which is a major problem. They just lock them up for awhile, and when their time is done, set them free. They need help while in prison.
Schmidt said 90 percent of his prisoners were drunk or high when arrested. About 40 percent have a mental illness -- half of them serious, for example with bipolar or schizophrenic disorders.
Under Gov. Frank Murkowski's administration earlier this decade, sex offender treatment programs were cut; so were all the state-funded alcohol-abuse ones. Only three federally funded drug treatment programs were kept; today, they each have long waiting lists.
They were cut because they didn't seem to be working, said Bryan Brandenburg, a psychologist and 17-year veteran of Corrections who was recently made deputy director of institutions and is overseeing the development of the new programs.
- So what facts are they basing this on that it "didn't seem to be working?" How do they know? Where are the facts to back this up? And if it wasn't working, did they look at why? Did they change the program, or get other people to run it who knew what they were doing? Apparently not, they just wanted to save money, and figured why waste the money when it can be used elsewhere. That is my opinion. The one thing these people need, they cut. Doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me at all.
This angers him. "They just decided the treatment was not needed and instead of looking at it and revamping it so that it was more effective (they shut it down)," he said.
Brandenburg recognizes not everyone can be rehabilitated, but for those who have the potential, he wants to try. "Evidence says you can reduce recidivism by providing these people with opportunities to make changes in their lives."
For Debbie Miller, superintendent of the Anchorage jail, the changes would be welcome. She's been dealing with overcrowding for years. Her jail has about 950 inmates, about 100 over its capacity.
Two weeks ago, it was so crowded that some inmates slept on recreation-room floors. She just put in an order for 25 new "boats," she said.
The overcrowding means more planning and micromanaging of the prisoners, Miller said.
For those in cell No. 15 in Charlie Mod, the overcrowding means paperback books are put the only place they fit, under the bunk bed. It means waiting in long lines to use one of the unit's six phones.
And, for now, with few to no rehabilitation programs offered, it means passing the time in their stark-white, cinder-block rooms, just waiting until they are released.
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Of course they drop the charges and give him only one year, he's a former cop. They get slaps on the wrist, which this is, IMO. If this were not a cop, he would've got a lot longer than this.
MARION (AP) - A former police sergeant in Chilhowie has been sentenced to jail time for sex crimes involving a teenage girl.
Thirty-2-year-old Brian Doss was sentenced to a year in jail Thursday after pleading guilty in Smyth County Circuit to child endangerment and assault and battery.
A court official said that under a plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to drop three charges, including forcible sodomy. The judge suspended 9 months of the 12-month jail term.
- So I guess this means he will serve 3 months only?
Doss and former Chilhowie police Chief Dwayne Sheffield had sex with the 17-year-old last year at a Halloween haunted house fundraiser. Both men said the sex was consensual.
Sheffield is serving about three years in jail after entering a plea in the case last month.
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CALIMESA - The yearlong saga of a city councilman who refused to step down from his post after being arrested on child-pornography charges wrapped up early in 2007.
Former Councilman Jon Winningham admitted an addiction to child pornography on Jan. 27 hours before he surrendered himself to guards at Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside.
The 13-year City Council veteran pleaded guilty to 10 felony counts of intent to distribute child pornography and three misdemeanor counts of possession of child pornography before having his attorney read a prepared letter apologizing to the community and his family.
Winningham, 51, spent more than seven months in jail before being released in late September.
This is very sad... And no, I don't claim to have the answers, but I believe in God and believe I will be saved through Jesus Christ. Why do I believe this? Look around you... How can you not believe in God with all the beauty in the world??? Yes, I am punished every single day, but I know, in the end, I will be with the Lord forever... I do not think I "evolved" from slim... To everything, there is a purpose... The last comment is very sad. If there is not a purpose in life, then why try? And this is exactly how kids today think, without God, what hope is there?