Sounds to me like they are just picking on him for some reason. He was in jail, and they charged him again with failure to register. WTF?
Maybe Jack Miner likes to play cat and mouse with the police.
The homeless man was convicted of misdemeanor sexual battery involving a 10-year-old girl in 2000. But since then he has racked up far more time than his original jail sentence by repeatedly failing to register as a sex offender.
Miner is a puzzle for law enforcement, even though he is not the kind of criminal who gets labeled as a predator or ends up among the 63,000 sex offenders listed on the Megan's law Web site maintained by the California Department of Justice.
Although he doesn't have a home, two jurisdictions have charged Miner with failing to register as a sex offender.
And even though authorities know that Miner has been in jail in San Jose since July 2, a judge in Modesto signed a bench warrant Aug. 13 for his arrest, because Miner did not show up in Stanislaus County Superior Court to explain why he hasn't shared his address.
Deputy Public Defender Peter Stavrianoudakis, who represented Miner but never has met him, said odd situations frequently crop up as law enforcement agencies seek to enforce sex offender registration laws.
"It doesn't make much sense," he said. "It's absolutely ridiculous."
Chief Probation Officer Jerry Powers, whose agency started the latest round of litigation, said Miner's status as a sex offender must have put him on the radar, because most people with misdemeanor convictions are able to violate their probation without getting any attention at all.
"I don't have the personnel, quite frankly, to go and monitor misdemeanants," he said.
Miner is among 22,000 sex offenders statewide who must register with authorities but do not end up in a database that is open to the public. Stavrianoudakis and Powers said the bench warrant is aimed at getting Miner back to Modesto once Santa Clara County is done with him.
Behind bars and back out
Jail has been like a revolving door for Miner, even though the 27-year-old transient has not been charged with any sex crimes since the incident eight years ago. That's because Miner was charged with failing to register as a sex offender in 2004, twice in 2005 and again in 2006.
Court records show that Miner also has married and divorced since his misdemeanor conviction, and he lived with a woman who obtained a temporary restraining order. She claimed Miner can become violent and suicidal.
The details of the incident with the young girl in 2000, which led to a 90-day sentence for sexual battery, are not spelled out in the court record.
Miner racked up an additional 180 days in the following years, violating the terms of his probation because he failed to attend sex offender counseling and used a friend's address when he registered with the police.
Later, Miner caught four more cases for failing to register as a sex offender, resolving one case in 2004 when he was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three others in 2006 when he was sentenced to 270 days, according to court records.
His files are full of bench warrants that were issued when he failed to show up in court or surrender to jail as required, then were recalled after casual contact with the police led to his arrest.
Another probation violation put Miner behind bars in February, but he hit the streets May 31, when he was reminded to check in with authorities every 30 days and not leave Stanislaus County for more than 48 hours without permission.
On July 2, a police officer in Palo Alto struck up a conversation with Miner because he was sleeping in a bus station.
Miner volunteered his whole story, catching another case in the process.
"I get ignorant," Miner told the police officer, according to Palo Alto Police Department spokesman Dan Ryan. "I just don't want to register, so I don't."
A depressing story
Miner probably doesn't have a bed to call his own in either jurisdiction, but he has cases for failing to register as a sex offender in Santa Clara and Stanislaus counties. Calls to various addresses associated with Miner didn't turn up any friends or family who could explain the situation.
Ryan said he got depressed reading the officer's report of his encounter with Miner, because Miner is like many others who get caught up in the system without resolving their underlying issues.
"Clearly, there's some miscommunication that keeps repeating itself," Ryan said.
A return trip to Modesto will come when the Santa Clara County case is over. Assistant District Attorney Carol Shipley said her office sought the bench warrant to retain jurisdiction over Miner because he repeatedly violates the registration law.
"We think somebody who has committed a sex violation that requires him to register as a sex offender needs to do exactly that," Shipley said.
Powers said cases such as Miner's are a sad reality in the legal system.
A sex crime is enough to get a person on the radar, but misdemeanor charges may not trigger the kind of attention needed to send an offender to programs that can help break the cycle.
Miner might be a good candidate for mental health court, where offenders can get convictions dismissed if they complete counseling programs. But he won't catch a break unless he tells authorities where he lays his head each night.
"We are aware of him," Powers said. "And we're going to be protecting our interest, so to speak."
Bee staff writer Susan Herendeen can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2338.