Friday, September 5, 2008

Forgiveness and grace in Him

Isaiah 55:7 - Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.


NV - Sex offender pleads not guilty to trying to burn down Supreme Court building

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It was only a matter of time before something like this occurred!

09/05/2008

CARSON CITY - A convicted sex offender will be tried in October on charges he attempted to light the Nevada Supreme Court Building on fire in June to protest a change to sex offender registry laws.

Christopher Hollis, 26, pleaded not guilty to fourth-degree arson before First Judicial District Court Judge Todd Russell on Tuesday.

According to court records, Hollis, who was living at a Fallon motel at the time, told investigators he was upset about changes made during the 2007 Legislative session in the sex offender tier system

He allegedly said he wanted to blow up the Supreme Court and hurt people in the government.

He also allegedly called Reno radio station 104.5 recently and demanded they record him as he ranted about the government, said Department of Public Safety spokesman Daniel Burns.

The June 22 fire outside the building caused minor damage. Police say an anti-government slogan was also found scrawled in black spray paint nearby.

Legislative complex officers discovered the scene the morning after the fire had extinguished itself.

Surveillance at the complex allegedly shows Hollis walking to and from the area, but there were no cameras that caught the actual act.

He was arrested the following day by undercover investigators outside the Bonanza Casino parking lot in Fallon.

Hollis, convicted in 2000 on a charge of second-degree sexual assault in Big Spring, Texas, is being held in the Carson City jail.

Judge Russell reduced his bail from $25,000 to $5,000.


VT - Ex-state employee makes plea deal in sex assault of 12-year-old

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09/05/2008

BARRE - A Waterbury man who worked for the Vermont Office of Child Support pleaded guilty Thursday to sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl and lewd and lascivious conduct as part of a plea deal that would put him in prison for four years to life.

Ricky Smedley, 53, of Waterbury, has been in trouble for his sexual behavior before.

In June 2001 in Moretown, police said, Smedley sexually assaulted a 17-year-old girl with developmental disabilities. Smedley later pleaded guilty to three amended charges of prohibited sexual acts. He served 90 days in prison for the misdemeanor convictions and was on probation for those offenses until December 2006.

Less than a year later, the victim in the most recent case went for a walk with her mother and then returned home to finish her homework. She was doing homework on her bed when Smedley walked in and assaulted her, according to court records.

The victim's mother walked in on the assault, the affidavit states.

The victim, her mother and another woman went to the State Police in Middlesex the next afternoon. Police arrested Smedley in the parking lot of the state complex building in Waterbury that night. Smedley was an employee with the Office of Child Support, which operates under the auspices of the Department of Children and Families.

Commissioner Steve Dale has said Smedley had no direct contact with children or the general public in his job.

Smedley completed outpatient sex offender treatment following his 90-day incarceration for the 2001 crimes, according to Department of Corrections Deputy Commissioner Andy Pallito.

Pallito would not discuss the details of Smedley's treatment, such as its duration, but he said sex offender treatment averages about 24 to 30 months.

The victim and her mother became tearful in the courtroom Thursday as Washington County State's Attorney Tom Kelly read to the court an overview of the facts in case.

Smedley will be sentenced at a later date, but before that, there will be a pre-sentence investigation. During the sentencing, the judge will have a chance to determine whether the sentence in the plea agreement is adequate.

"If at the sentencing I'm not in agreement and I think a harsher sentence is needed, I'll inform you, and you'll have an opportunity to withdraw your plea," Judge Brian J. Grearson told Smedley.

The plea deal calls for a four- to five-year sentence on the lewd and lascivious conduct and a four- years-to-life sentence on the sexual assault charge. The sentences will run at the same time.

Vermont has done away with "good behavior" rules that would allow a convict to be let out before his minimum sentence is served, so Smedley will serve at least four years.

Asked why he didn't bring the case to trial to get a longer minimum sentence, Kelly said, "There's a risk in going to trial. The result of a trial could be an acquittal, and then there would be no sentence."

Kelly said he has concerns with the evidence in the case, including that fact that there is no physical evidence, possibly because of a delay between when the act occurred and when the victim went to police.

In this case the victim did not refuse to testify or give a deposition, but the plea deal provides a break for the victim, Kelly said.

"It avoids further involvement by the victim," he said.

The maximum of life in prison for certain sex offenses has existed only since 2006 when the Legislature amended the statutes. Kelly said the possibility of life in Smedley's case is one of the strengths of the plea deal.


CA - Carson seeks sex offender 'cluster' ban

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Video available at the site and below.

09/04/2008

CARSON (KABC) -- The Carson community is rallying in support of a ban on clustering paroled sex offenders in a single location.

The Carson City Council unanimously passed an urgency ordinance to allow only one sex offender per dwelling. "Jessica's Law," which was passed in 2006, allows up to 12 sex offenders to live in one dwelling at least 2,000 feet from parks and schools. However, community members say that is too close to their homes.

Sergio and Reina Larranaga bring their children to Dominguez Park, which is a centerpiece of their community. The park rests on the edge of Carson and Long Beach. However, less than a mile away, on Harrison Street, sits a duplex occupied by 12 sex offenders.

"Don't come into the neighborhood. Don't shop here, don't walk through here, don't catch the bus right here ... catch it somewhere else," said Sergio.

The duplex on Harrison Street and the Carson Plaza Hotel, near the 91 Freeway, are two locations in town where sex offenders are living in what Carson's mayor calls "clusters."

"If you cluster them, then the likelihood increases six-fold or ten-fold or a-hundred-fold that an incident will occur," said Carson Mayor Jim Dear.
- Where is the statistics to back this up?  This is just your personal feeling, which is not based on facts!

Thanks to the new urgency ordinance, those living in clusters will have six months to move.
- So they were living there LEGALLY, now they are being forced to move.

"They have six men in a little, tiny house and then in a little, tiny house behind that, another six men. One restroom for six adults? I mean, obviously it's a money-making endeavor and it's not going to come at the cost of this community," said Mayor Dear.

In the meantime, the Larranagas are making their community aware of who is living in the neighborhood. They are also urging other parents to make sure they talk to their children about strangers.

"Know where your kids are going, know whose houses they're going to and who's going to be there. And, just get all the awareness out there and our community can get closer and stronger," said Reina Larranaga.

Gardena and Long Beach have similar ordinances.

Long Beach has not implemented its law due to some legal issues.

The State Department of Corrections says they look forward to working with local governments to limit the number of sex offenders coming into these communities.


WI - Woman gets seven months for attempted sexual assault

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09/04/2008

A New York woman accused of attempting to have a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old boy in an Eau Claire hotel will spend seven months in jail and seven years on probation.

"In some ways, it's every parent's nightmare," Eau Claire County Judge Lisa Stark said Thursday at Tracy A. Taylor's sentencing hearing.

"This was so close to taking place," the judge said of the attempted sexual rendezvous.

Taylor has no prior criminal record and has bachelor's and master's degrees in social work.

"You knew the boundaries. You knew what you shouldn't do," Stark said to Taylor. "What happened here cannot happen again."

Taylor, 44, of Albany previously pleaded no contest to a felony count of attempted second-degree sexual assault of a child under age 16.

Taylor has been in the Eau Claire County Jail on a $50,000 cash bail since her April 25 arrest. After she completes her jail term, she will have spent nearly one year behind bars.

As conditions of probation, Taylor must register as a sex offender, have no contact with the victim or his family, and not use computers or cell phones without her probation agent's approval. She must also pay restitution for any uninsured counseling expenses incurred by the victim.

If possible, Taylor will be allowed to serve her probation in New York.

Taylor apologized in court before she was sentenced.

"I do hate to hurt people and regret doing so," she said. "I knew it was wrong to start a relationship with a 15-year-old and for it to become romantic."

Her own family has been affected by this incident, Taylor said.

Eau Claire County Assistant District Attorney Meri Larson said the teen believed he loved Taylor and feels guilty for getting her into trouble.

"She used his vulnerability to draw him into this relationship," Larson said. "This was incredibly selfish and destructive behavior. She knew better. The whole relationship was a predatory relationship and it involved a lot of planning."

Defense attorney Gary King of Eau Claire said Taylor accepts total responsibility for her actions and is remorseful.

"She's never been in trouble before," King said. "Her actions were out of character."

According to the criminal complaint:

An Eau Claire woman contacted police after she learned her 15-year-old son was chatting online and text messaging via cell phone with a woman for three months.

The mother said her son confided in his sister that he was having the online relationship with the woman.

The boy believed the woman was about 30 years old. The boy also told his sister that he and Taylor had plans to meet in Eau Claire on Friday, April 25, and spend the weekend together. The boy said Taylor would be bringing condoms.

Authorities then discovered Taylor had reserved a room from April 25-28 at the Days Inn West, 6319 Truax Lane.

Officers served a search warrant at Taylor's hotel room after she was observed checking in.

Inside the room, officers found numerous condoms, candles, baby oil and bottles of alcohol. Also located in Taylor's belongings was a letter from the boy clearly describing himself as 15 years old.


NJ - Smith gets GOP to back international Megan's Law

International Megan's Law
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09/05/2008

New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith (Contact) has taken the legacy of young Megan Kanka's death with him to the floor of the Republican National Convention, where his international version of Megan's Law has become part of the party's platform.

"I'm ecstatic," Smith said from the convention in St. Paul, Minn., on Wednesday. "I suggested it strongly to the party and I've been getting a lot of support for it on the floor (of Congress). I'm trying to get both parties to realize this is an idea whose time has come. I hope we can make it become law in September."

On April 8, Smith was joined by eight other representatives in introducing an International Megan's Law to Congress. The bill prohibits known foreign sex offenders from entering the United States and requires convicted sex traffickers and other sex offenders from this country who want to travel internationally to provide 21-day notice of such intentions to the government of their intended destination.

"I think it's wonderful," commented Maureen Kanka, the Hamilton resident whose 7-year-old daughter, Megan, was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a repeat sex offender in 1994. "I think it should be part of the platform. It highlights and draws attention to the need for an international law to prohibit sex offenders from other countries coming here unrecognized (and to track) offenders from the United States going to other countries."

Smith announced the new legislation in April at Megan Nicole Kanka Memorial Park in Hamilton, stating, "What happened in Hamilton is a tragedy beyond belief. Megan's Law has been an effective tool in making sure people are notified when a convicted sex offender moves into their neighborhood."

"Yet, to date we have no idea when a sex predator travels into this country and, likewise, when American sex offenders travel abroad."

The New Jersey Republican, who represents the 4th Congressional District, is in St. Paul with his delegate-wife Marie for the convention. Although coverage of Hurricane Gustav ate into full coverage of the Republican convention Monday, that is when the expanded version of Megan's Law was entered into the platform and adopted, with Smith on the convention floor.

According to the congressman, his staff is working with Asian countries interested in establishing their own Megan's Laws and a database that would facilitate true reciprocity with the United States. On Wednesday afternoon, Smith met with Swedish parliamentarians to help build a global network of Megan's Laws.

Smith said the idea for the proposed law evolved while meeting with a Thai delegation at his Washington office a year ago.

"I asked what they would do if we notified them that an American pedophile was coming to their country and I told them we'd do a Megan's Law there," Smith remembers.


Woman With a Mission: Keeping Tabs on Sex Offenders

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Just another person riding the backs of sex offenders to get rich, all in the name of "protecting the children" and further ostracizing sex offenders.

03/08/2008

STONY BROOK — After a quick aerial survey of Long Island and the sites where its 1,200 registered sex offenders reside, Laura Ahearn used her computer’s mouse to swoop down on the Nassau County village of Hempstead, dotted with 50 icons resembling pushpins: green for Level 2 offenders, blue for Level 3. She headed east over Brentwood in Suffolk County, home to about 60 offenders, and zeroed in on the thickest cluster: the Gordon Heights section of Coram, with 69 pushpins, more than a dozen crowded onto a single block.

She clicked on one pushpin icon, and up popped a picture, complete with dossier: Age, 67. A Level 3 offender. Drives a red Ford Focus. Convicted of first-degree sexual abuse of an 11-year-old girl.

For the past decade, Ms. Ahearn has been painstakingly compiling such information about sex offenders and distributing it — first by hand, then by e-mail — to their neighbors, including updates like a new car or new scar. Last week, her nonprofit advocacy group, Parents for Megan’s Law and the Crime Victims’ Center, received a $593,000 federal grant to take the project national, using the sharp new mapping program that enables such a computerized tour.

“Probably safer than giving it in person,” said Ms. Ahearn, 44, a tough-talking smoker and workaholic who started the group as a grass-roots crusade with several volunteers and now has 25 part- and full-time employees and a million-dollar annual budget. “Sex offenders may be good at what they do, but all of us are getting better at what we do.”

Senator Charles E. Schumer (Contact) and Representatives Timothy H. Bishop (Contact), Pete King (Email) and Carolyn McCarthy (Contact) all joined Ms. Ahearn in her inconspicuous office in a strip mall here to announce the federal grant. The group plans to use the money to compile sex offender data from all 50 states into maps on a revamped version of parentsformeganslaw.com, its Web site, scheduled to make its debut on May 1; to create a national e-mail notification program to alert people about offenders in their ZIP code; and to establish a toll-free number that Ms. Ahearn says will be the first national Megan’s Law help line.

Critics call Ms. Ahearn’s zealous pursuit of sex offenders counterproductive and unconstitutional, and contend that overexposure can deter the offenders from checking in with the authorities.
- She's a vigilante, like others, hell bent on harassing people, that is all this is about.

Mapping out sex offenders makes them greater social lepers than they already are,” said Seth Muraskin, executive director of the Suffolk County chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “You’re fostering punishment, not rehabilitation, and you’re leaving them very vulnerable to mob justice. You’re basically challenging vigilantes to come to their doors.”

Notification has also caused some complications. In Southbury, Conn., neighbors recently petitioned the local authorities to reduce their property tax assessments, claiming that a registered sex offender’s recent move into the area had brought down the value of their homes.

But Ms. Ahearn is constantly pushing for more restrictive laws against sex offenders on local, state and federal levels. She worked with lawmakers on state legislation limiting online activities of sex offenders, and on the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.

She supports state legislation that would require real estate brokers to provide house hunters with sex offender registry material, as well as a proposed Suffolk County regulation against renting to more than one sex offender per residence. She opposes, however, a proposal to prohibit registered sex offenders from residing within a quarter-mile of homes for the elderly, worrying that it could be used to overturn existing residency requirements prohibiting sex offenders from living near schools, parks and day care centers.

After Ms. Ahearn fought to keep paroled sex offenders out of homeless shelters, Suffolk County in 2006 began placing them in a trailer it promised to move from location to location to avoid overburdening any one area; lately officials have been keeping the trailer next to the county jail in Riverhead.

Long Island has had its share of nationally covered sex crimes — from the Friedmans of Great Neck, whose strange tale was documented in the film “Capturing the Friedmans,” to the Katie Beers dungeon case — and Ms. Ahearn has harnessed the issue to attain national prominence.

She is on a first-name basis with elected officials and has gained folk-hero status in many neighborhoods dense with sex offenders.

Ms. Ahearn, a mother of two, was studying to become a social worker when New York State enacted Megan’s Law in 1995, and she found that it was difficult, despite the new disclosure requirements, to get the names and addresses of local sex offenders from the authorities. So she began pressuring politicians and the police, all the while compiling her own local registry and posting it online, complete with offenders’ addresses and graphic details about their crimes.

Publicizing such details has provoked anger among those on Ms. Ahearn’s registry, and after numerous threatening phone calls, she moved her office out of her home in 2000. At the strip mall, one room holds a mock witness stand and stenography machine that are used to familiarize children with the setting before they testify in court. Ms. Ahearn’s office walls are lined with photographs of politicians and notorious sex offenders, and drawings by victimized children.

On Tuesday, workers were cross-checking registry information and preparing updates for school districts and community groups, based on the latest state data and notifications mailed from dozens of local police departments, a vital source of information on Level 1 offenders.

Early on, volunteers would gather information by visiting local police departments and hand-copying details to type later into the database. The group distributed the information to schools and community groups by mail or in person. Though much of the latest information is now computerized, the group still has a huge number of files in binders, labeled by ZIP code, by last name and by offender level.

“These people navigate under the radar screen,” Ms. Ahearn said of the offenders. “We want them to know they’re being watched.”
- And by doing this, you will make more vanish and harder to track down, then more people are in danger.


AK- Alaska's prisons and sex offender therapy

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Most of the laws in this country, were based on this decision


Examining the Lucifer Effect

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Visit LuciferEffect Web Site

Something else I have said before.  With guards working in prisons for year on end, and not being forced to change jobs, eventually they will think everyone is evil and criminals, which many do, and this is obvious by the way they treat people in jails and prisons.

09/04/2008

Exploring the transformation an individual undergoes when encountering an insidious influence.

“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”

—Albert Einstein

“In threatening and survival situations, we look for evidence of hope—a small sign that the situation may improve. When an abuser/controller shows the victim some small kindness, even though it is to the abuser's benefit as well, the victim interprets that small kindness as a positive trait of the captor. In criminal/war hostage situations, letting the victim live is often enough,” writes Dr. Joseph M. Carver in his article “Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser.”

As with many hostages of the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Colombians or Colombian Armed Forces), or with the famous publishing heiress Patty Hearst after she was abducted by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), some kidnapped individuals are known to develop a psychological condition known as Stockholm Syndrome—named for an event in Sweden where a pair of criminals kept hostages in Stockholm’s Kreditbanken bank for six days in August 1973.

When police rescued these captives who had been held for 131 hours and faced violent threats and abuse, they actually feared the law enforcement personnel. They had come to believe that their captors were protecting them from the police. Even more surprising, one of the hostages got engaged to her captor while another helped aid the criminals in their defense.

Such behavior seems out of step with what should be expected in these situations. What would lead an individual to befriend or even protect a captor? According to modern psychology, the most rational explanation for Stockholm Syndrome stems from a natural fear victims develop due to the physical risk the situation exposes them to, creating a total obedience toward their captors. In this environment, the subject restructures his or her value system in a confused manner, unconsciously coming to defend the same ideals as the assailant.

The Milgram Experiment

Some, like Dr. Carver, believe that the symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome can develop in abusive interpersonal relationships as well, such as in battered women who refuse to press charges on their abusive spouses, even after enduring years of mental and physical assault. While a majority of people are unlikely to face these circumstances, other situations involving a powerful authority figure can still bring about unexpected behavior.

The Milgram experiment, a psychological test developed in 1961 by a scientist of the same name, shocked the scientific community with its implications for individuals with seemingly stable mental faculties.

A year after the execution of Nazi Lieutenant Colonel and Holocaust promoter Adolf Eichman, Stanley Milgram wondered how it was possible for otherwise stable, even peaceful, individuals to degenerate to the point where they contribute to genocide.

With this idea in mind, Milgram enlisted numerous volunteers of sound mental health to take a simple test. Acting as “the teacher,” one subject would administer electric shocks to a fellow participant, called “the learner,” when that person answered a question incorrectly. With each incorrect response the voltage would be increased, and the cries and supplications of the learner would match the intensity of the rising voltage. The teachers were told that they were helping to develop a new system of learning, but they had no idea that the electric shocks were fake or that the learner was a professional actor.

But despite cries of pain and torment from the learner, the teacher was found, again and again, to continue to administer the increasingly painful shocks. Even though the majority of the 40 psychologists assessing the project predicted that none of the teachers would continue the experiment past 150 volts, two-thirds of the participants, blindly obeying the experimenter’s insistence that “the shocks are required to continue,” applied the maximum possible—450 volts.

The Milgram experiment brings to the table a number of chilling questions: Can a seemingly normal person develop a sadistic personality in unhealthy surroundings? And is this debility of the spirit a trait shared by the majority of humanity?

Obeying Officer Scott

This phenomenon found a bizarre manifestation in the 1990s when a character by the name of “Officer Scott” began calling fast-food restaurants around the United States. Pretending to be a local police officer and armed with key information about each restaurant—such as the names of managers, supervisors, and employees—Officer Scott was able to goad individuals into committing outrageous acts.

After introducing himself in a telephone call to a McDonald’s in New Hampshire, for example, Officer Scott accused a new employee of stealing a purse. He asked the assistant manager to call the young woman into the office. The assistant manager did as instructed and locked the office door, dutifully obeying the voice on the telephone. The assistant manager was ordered to strip the young woman of all clothing except her apron while searching for evidence of the allegedly pilfered purse. Officer Scott had convinced the assistant manager that he had the McDonald’s corporate office on the other line, as well as the store’s manager. The assistant manager even believed she could hear police radios in the background, adding to the apparent authenticity of the story.

Among the dozens of other cases involving restaurants across the country between 1995 and 2005, Officer Scott’s demands became increasingly horrifying, but his victims, nevertheless, consistently followed his orders. Convinced that they were following the instructions of a real policeman, many of Officer Scott’s victims had to appeal charges of sodomy, rape, and other crimes, months later in court. Other Officer Scott victims had spouses divorce them after they saw the security footage of the consequences of these telephone conversations.

One manager was convinced into removing her clothing in front of a customer who the caller said was a suspected sex offender. Officer Scott promised that undercover police would burst in and arrest the customer as soon as he attempted to molest her. The manager was surprised when the police never came.

Real police detectives had suspected the caller of working from across the road of these restaurants, using binoculars. They later realized he was a master of deception. The restaurant workers who talked to Officer Scott said he was unusually persuasive and had mastered the calm, authoritative tone of a genuine police officer. He knew a lot about the places he was calling and often used police jargon.

A security guard was later identified as the infamous “Officer Scott” after police saw him on Wal-Mart security footage buying the calling card used in his coercive scheme. The lawyer for one of his victims described him as "a freak who plays God." Yet, despite his repeated instigations, he was never convicted of any crime.

Many specialists believe that during the communist revolution, as many Chinese people were destroying sacred monuments, killing so-called enemies of the people, or participating in other horrors such as several incidents of cannibalism in Guangxi Province, their personalities became distorted. These people were no longer rational individuals but mindless automatons under the total command of an authoritarian regime.

But this behavior isn’t just isolated to Maoist China. In fact, dictators around the world seem to be well aware of this psychological phenomenon and have repeatedly used it to their advantage. Some are able to control their populace with such skill that even the initially skeptical soon submit their will to the pervasive and perverse ideology. This phenomenon is what Phillip G. Zimbardo calls “the Lucifer effect.”

In his 2007 book The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, Zimbardo explores the transformation an individual undergoes when encountering an insidious influence.

In 1971, Zimbardo devised the controversial Stanford Prison experiment, which had ordinary college students assigned to roles as either prisoners or guards. The experiment was designed to be a two-week project, but Zimbardo had to disband the experiment after a mere six days because “our guards became sadistic and our prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress.”

He proposes, nevertheless, that undesirable external influences on our behavior could be resisted through heroic acts. “Each of us has three possibilities: to be passive and not do anything, to turn bad, or to become heroes. I admire those everyday heroes, normal people who do extraordinary things,” Zimbardo writes.

Having carefully examined how horrifying the degeneration of human nature can be, Zimbardo has come to admire the individuals who manage to hold tight to their moral principles and take notice of external forces that could otherwise push a person to work against his conscience. His latest work looks at what he calls the “heroic imagination,” celebrating individuals who are able to maintain their moral fiber in traumatic situations and stand against unjust authorities.