Monday, May 26, 2008
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BATON ROUGE -- A Senate panel temporarily placed a bill on hold that would force convicted sex offenders to take lie-detector tests and could require them to pay associated costs as part of their probation and parole.
Amid confusion over who would actually pay for the tests and how much they cost, the Senate Committee on Judiciary C last week voted to defer the legislation by Rep. Jerry "Truck" Gisclair (Email), D-Larose, until this week.
Gisclair said the random tests are needed to make sure sex offenders aren’t revisiting the scene of their crimes, such as playgrounds or schoolyards, or even worse, repeating their crimes.
"I’m trying to use this as a tool to trigger an investigation, if needed," he said.
Under his House Bill 1134, a judge would have to approve a polygraph test before probation officers could administer it to the parolee.
Lt. J.P. DeGravelles, a Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office employee, told the committee that the committee that the tests would be useful to not only probation and parole officers, and law enforcement.
"It can’t be used in court, but it can be used to eliminate somebody under suspicion or to put your investigation personnel heading in the right direction," DeGravelles said.
A lobbyist for the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association also provided testimony to the committee earlier this week, but it did little to ease the concerns of lawmakers.
Sen. Jody Amedee (Email), D-Gonzales and chairman of the judiciary committee, asked if local law-enforcement officials would be able to find -- and afford -- the right kind of personnel to run such tests.
"I know they don’t have lie-detector tests in my district, so where would they go?" Amedee asked. "Is this going to become a money-making scheme for someone?"
Gisclair said the court wouldn’t order a test as part of a sex offender’s probation or parole if there’s no one in the region to administer it.
But if there is a private vendor available, then the judge would have the option to go that route, he added.
The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office also provided Amedee with a standard cost of administering one test -- $300 to $500.
Gisclair’s bill originally allowed the courts to tack all related expenses onto the convicted sex offender, but it was removed on the House floor during debate earlier this month.
Instead, the House voted to make the appropriate law-enforcement or probation and parole office pay up.
The Senate Committee on Judiciary C, however, reinstated that provision forcing offenders to pay this week before putting any further debate on hold.
Amedee promised Gisclair a follow-up hearing sometime this week so the committee can gather more information on how much the tests cost and whether courts or offenders should pick up the tab.
Capitol Correspondent Jeremy Alford can be reached at email@example.com.
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DENVER - A guard who used to watch the jail, was in jail this week, after being charged with having a sexual affair with a female inmate, then repeatedly missing his court hearings.
The sex behind bars is a crime in itself for former Sgt. Leshawn Terrell, but it's not half as shocking as the charges contained in the inmate's lawsuit against the guard, filed this month.
Police first charged the Terrell in 2006 for the sexual relationship.
And now an inmate at the Denver Women's Correction Facility, who's name we have chosen not to use, is telling her story in a Federal law suit, claiming Terrell made her a "virtual sex slave"; coerced her into repeatedly having sex with him in the kitchen cooler over the course of five months in exchange for coffee, stamps and money; and then sexually assaulted her so savagely, the inmate sustained internal injuries according to her lawyer.
"She's been assaulted in ways that are so inhumane and so offensive we can't talke about them on TV," Mari Newman told us.
What's more, she says, her client wasn't alone.
"What I've learned after the filing, I've got many many e-mails about other similar cases, and this is a problem system wide in the Colorado Department of Corrections," Newan said.
The on-line journal Colorado Confidential broke the lawsuit story. Writer Erin Rosa wanted to make sure it didn't go unnoticed.
"It's certainly something that needs to be reported especially if a warrant has been issued for an individual," Rosa said.
Terrell has not commented publicly on the criminal charges, but has plead guilty according to court document. The state department of corrections will not comment because of the on-going court case.
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Episode 1 - Sex Offenders in the News: Is TV News Coverage Fair and Balanced?
Episode 2 - Sex Offenders and the Politicians: Protect the kids or exploit public fear?
Episode 3 - Discovery Series: Sex Offenders and the Victims Rights Groups