Monday, October 13, 2008

More of The Onion!

Sex Offenders To Register Email Addresses


Proposed legislation in New York would protect underage Internet users by creating an email registry of convicted sex offenders. What do you think?

Asian Man 
Spencer Rimmer,
Pollster

"Don't they already have ways to distinguish sex offenders online? Isn't that what the winking emoticon is for?"


Old Man 
Ben Birtwistle,
Show Salesperson

"Underage kids shouldn't be on the Internet. They should be outside, enjoying fresh air, and getting into stranger's vans."


Old Woman 
Lucy Pritchard,
Jewelry Cleaner

"But can't sex offenders just get new e-mail addresses? Nah, I'm probably just overthinking this."

Florida Evicts Bridge-Dwelling Sex Offenders


The state of Florida is dissuading sex offenders from continuing to live under a bridge, despite their claims that existing ordinances prevent them from living elsewhere. What do you think?

Asian Man 
Duncan Garfield,
Pizza Cook

"I hope all this talk of sex offenders doesn't tarnish the squeaky-clean image of the common bridge-dweller."


Old Man 
Alex Gladstone,
Nail Salon Worker

"I know that sometimes it's difficult to have sympathy for sex offenders, but just pretend for a minute that one of them was your father."


Old Woman 
Mallory Ryan,
Marketing Consultant

"This is an outrage. My children drive over that bridge!"


Politician Shifts Focus From Sex Scandal By Shooting Man Right Next To Him

Visit The Onion!


12-Year-Old Boy Scouts Offer To Give Breast Exams


DC - MySpace can now expel sex offenders

View the article here

10/13/2008

BY JULIANN VACHON - juliann.vachon@newsday.com

WASHINGTON - Social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook can now trace and expel potential sexual predators under new law requiring sex offenders to submit all identifying Internet information along with home addresses.

Under the law, signed yesterday by President George W. Bush, registered sex offenders must submit all e-mail addresses, instant messenger names or other online identifiers for inclusion in the National Sex Offender Registry.
- Oh, it will be fought with many law suits, I can guarantee you that!

The U.S. attorney general will make that information available on a database where approved Web sites can cross-check their users' information and weed out any potential predators, said New York Sen. Charles Schumer, who introduced the original bill.

Under the law, sex offenders not providing all Internet information face the same penalty as those who fail to register their home address - up to 10 years in prison.

"Millions of teenagers log on to Web sites like MySpace and they, and their parents, shouldn't have to worry about running in to these predators online," Schumer said. "Sex offenders have no business joining social networking communities - especially those with teenage users - and our legislation will help keep them out."
- You are assuming all sex offenders are predators trolling for kids to molest!  Stop playing politics!  This is just more forced banishment, which will not work.  A person truly intent on committing another crime, will just create another email address in a matter of seconds, and off they go...

Many child advocacy groups and other social networking sites, including the American Family Association, MySpace and Facebook have also endorsed the legislation.

"We at Facebook are very pleased that Congress has acted to enhance sex offender reporting requirements and give us access to data that will supplement our robust safety systems," said Chris Kelly, chief privacy officer at Facebook.


AL - Dothan teen faces 10 rape charges of 15-year-old

View the article here

Another child who may be ruined for life, over consensual sex.

10/13/2008

By Matt Elofson

A Dothan teenager faces multiple sexual assault charges involving a 15-year-old girl after police arrested him Friday.

Investigators arrested Caleb Blake Brooks, 18, of Robindale Drive, and charged him with 10 felony counts of second-degree rape. Brooks was released from the Houston County Jail on Friday after he posted a $15,000 bond.

Dothan Police Capt. Larry Draughon said the rapes happened over the past several months.

It was with her consent, but she was unable to give consent because of her age. We got a statement out of him that confirmed the activity,” Draughon said. “It happened in cars and other places but never at his place of employment.”

Houston County District Attorney Doug Valeska said there has been an increase of second-degree rape cases in the judicial district, which includes Henry County.
- So why has there been an increase?  Maybe because of these very draconian laws?

According to Dothan City Jail records, Brooks works at Calvary Baptist Church. Draughon said Brooks was employed as a kind of teacher’s aide in the education part of the church. Pastors at the church could not be reached to specify Brooks’ employment.

Brooks could face between two and 20 years in prison per charge if convicted of the Class B felony. Valeska said people convicted of sex crimes, including second-degree rape, would be required to follow the state registered sex offender laws, which prohibit them from working or being around children.

“The defendant is going to have a record, and they’re going to have to register as a sex offender,” Valeska said.
- Well, why don't you wait until he goes to court before convicting him?

Valeska said much of the problem has included teenagers who claim they didn’t know it was against the law. He said if the girl is over the age of 12 and under 16, she can not consent to a sexual act. Valeska said lawyers in his office will be willing to speak with area organizations, including schools, to explain the law on the second-degree rape.
- Children, are having sex, and will continue to do so...  It's reality!  So I guess these laws, which are suppose to protect children, will ruin them forever...  This is another "Romeo & Juliet" case!

The teenagers need to be instructed and taught,” Valeska said. “They need to know what the law is pertaining to rape second. If you’re at least two years older it’s rape second-degree.”
- So when is the police going to go to schools and give lectures on these laws?


WA - Yet more political grandstanding and BS - Seattle police officers discuss sex offenders

Go here for more BS!

They don't tell you why these offenders are homeless! These very laws are what is making them homeless.  POLITICS AS USUAL!  Use sex offenders as scapegoats to get votes!

When an ex-offender is forced to move from his/her home, thus having to sell it, cannot find another home within the law due to the residency "buffer" zones, get fired from their jobs due to being on the registry, cannot find a new job due to being on the registry, their husband/wife lose their jobs due to a significant other being on the registry, their children lose their friends and are harassed and bullied in school due to a family member being on the registry, thus destroying the children's lives, ex-offenders are forced into homelessness and to live under bridges, harassed by police, neighbors and probation/parole officers, have to wear "I'm a sex offender T-shirt" or have a neon green license plate on ALL their cars, have "sex offender" on their drivers license and forced to renew their licenses every year, forced from shelters during tornadoes or hurricanes, cannot give blood at some places due to being discriminated against for being on the sex offender registry, denied housing due to being on the registry, signs placed in their yards inviting harassment and ridicule from the neighbors, forced to move when the neighbors start picketing outside the ex-offenders home, the list is endless.

I THINK THIS IS CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT, BEYOND THE EXTREME!


When are we going to move away from being "TOUGH ON CRIME" and move to being "SMART ON CRIME?" If you locked every single sex offender up, at this moment, or killed every one of them, do you think the problem is over? No, more will follow. (See here for more of my thoughts)

Video Link



NV - New Sex Offender Laws Unconstitutional

View the article here

It's about time someone uses their brain!

10/13/2008

The Eyewitness News I-Team has learned that Nevada's tough new sex offender laws have been deemed unconstitutional.

A recent order issued in federal court strikes down the law that would've classified sex offenders by crime instead of by risk to re-offend.

"We're checking to see if William Smith is still living here," said Metro Detective Janice Blasko and her partner Detective Marv Courtney as they check another address looking for a registered sex offender. The two have sacrificed plenty of shoe leather in the months leading up to the implementation of the Adam Walsh Act.

"We're going to try to get a little bit ahead of the curve and be ready for it when it happens," said Detective Marv Courtney, Metro.

Due to take effect last July, Nevada's version of the federal law would have classified sex offenders based on their crime instead of their risk to commit the crime again. Early estimates predicted the new rules would increase the number of Tier 3 or high risk offenders from 165 to more than 2,500 statewide.

"Doug" who is an offender and has served 11 years in prison for sexual assault claims he is no risk. He's currently compliant on parole.

"Pretty soon they're going to have us all homeless and wondering where the hell we're at and then what, lock us all back up?"

On behalf of 12 sex offenders, the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the law in federal court. It argued the government cannot impose new punishments on people who've already served time for their crimes.

"These were people who were determined not to be a risk by the state of Nevada," said Maggie McLetchie is an attorney with the ACLU.

"The government just doesn't have the right to enact retroactive punishments. And in this instance, we're talking about sex offenders. But this case isn't just about the rights of sex offenders. It's really about the limits of the power of government," McLetchie said.

The federal court agreed. A recent order finds Nevada's version of Adam Walsh unconstitutional. An appeal is up to the state attorney general.

"I think that the public is safer with these laws in place," said Deputy Attorney General Binu Palal.
- Well, studies show the public ISN'T safer with these laws in place, but in more danger, because it makes offenders homeless and wondering the streets, or they vanish.  Plus, the laws are unconstitutional, based on your own states Constitution, if you'd read that document, and uphold the "oath of office," then you'd know that!

"It's not just a question of if we appeal, but what strategy to take while appealing. We have a few options, so until we figure out which of those options we might take, it's kind of irresponsible to say we will or we won't," Palal said.

Whatever the decision, for now, Nevada's existing sex offender law remains in place which means sex offenders will not be classified by crime but whether they are seen as a risk to the community.

The Nevada Attorney General has less than 30 days to decide whether to appeal the decision.


DC - Statement by Press Secretary Dana Perino

View the article here

10/13/2008

On Monday, October 13, 2008, the President signed the following bills into law:

S. 431, the "Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators Act of 2008" or the "KIDS Act of 2008," which requires: sex offenders to provide Internet identifiers, including e-mail addresses, to State sex offender registries; and tasks the Justice Department to establish and maintain a system that allows social networking websites to compare Internet identifiers of its users with those provided to the National Sex Offender Registry;

S. 1738, the "PROTECT Our Children Act of 2008," which requires the Department of Justice to create and implement a National Strategy for Child Exploitation, Prevention, and Interdiction; statutorily establishes the existing Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Program; and makes other amendments to Federal child pornography laws.

S. 3296, which extends through December 29, 2013, the authority of the United States Supreme Court Police to protect court officials off the Supreme Court grounds;

S. 3325, the "Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property (PRO IP) Act of 2008," which amends civil and criminal intellectual property laws; establishes the position of an Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator appointed by the President in the Executive Office of the President; and authorizes Justice Department grants to assist in addressing intellectual property theft and infringement crimes;

S. 3477, the "Presidential Historical Records Preservation Act of 2008," which establishes a grant program for the preservation of, and public access to, historical records of former Presidents whose archives are not maintained in Federal archival depositories; and contains various other authorities related to the National Archives and Records Administration;

S. 3536, the "Air Carriage of International Mail Act," which allows the United States Postal Service to negotiate terms for international air mail transportation contracts directly with airlines;

S. 3569, the "Judicial Administration and Technical Amendments Act of 2008," which makes miscellaneous changes to the administration and operation of Federal courts;

S. 3598, the "Drug Trafficking Vessel Interdiction Act of 2008," which prohibits the operation of submersible and semi-submersible vessels which are not registered with any nation;

S. 3605, the "Criminal History Background Checks Pilot Extension Act of 2008," which extends through January 30, 2010, a pilot program for certain volunteer organizations that serve children to have fingerprint checks on applicants for positions as volunteers or employees processed through the Fingerprint Identification System of the Federal Bureau of Investigation;

H.R. 1532, the "Comprehensive Tuberculosis Elimination Act of 2008," which makes changes to Department of Health and Human Services grant programs and activities related to the prevention, elimination, and control of tuberculosis;

H.R. 5350, which authorizes the Department of Commerce to: sell or exchange a property in the City of Norfolk, Virginia; and enter into a land lease with Mobile County, Alabama;

H.R. 5618, the "National Sea Grant College Program Amendments Act of 2008," which authorizes appropriations for the Commerce Department's National Sea Grant College Program for FYs 2009-2014; and makes miscellaneous amendments to statutory provisions related to the National Sea Grant College Program;

H.R. 6199, which designates a facility of the United States Postal Service as the Kenneth Peter Zebrowski Post Office Building;

H.R. 6229, which designates a facility of the United States Postal Service as the Mayor William "Bill" Sandberg Post Office Building;

H.R. 6338, which designates a facility of the United States Postal Service as the Amy SPC Daniel Agami Post Office Building;

H.R. 6849, which permits producers to aggregate base acres and reconstitute farms to avoid the current prohibition on receiving various farm payments when the sum of the base acres of a farm is 10 acres or less;

H.R. 6874, which designates a facility of the United States Postal Service as the Lance Corporal Eric Paul Valdepeñas Post Office Building.


OK - Punishing sex offenders not a one-size-fits-all proposition

View the article here

Yep, they admit once again that these laws ARE punishment!

10/13/2008

By Donna Hales -Phoenix Staff Writer

Prosecutors say a number of variables must be considered in setting punishment for people convicted of sexual abuse of children.

“Criminal charges may be dismissed at some point because of lack of evidence — or plea agreements the public doesn’t always understand take place,” said Muskogee County District Attorney Larry Moore.

Sometimes witnesses either change their story or fail to appear, Moore said.

“Even with a confession — we still have to have the witness show up,” he said.

State law says you have to have corroboration, along with a confession, he said. If you don’t, the judge, by law, has to dismiss the case.

When a sex offender gets a suspended sentence, it gets the public’s attention, but the public isn’t privy to all evidence in the case, said Assistant District Attorney Nikki Baker Dotson. She prosecutes most sex offender cases in the county.

There are juvenile matters and confidentiality issues prosecutors can’t discuss, she said.

“We would much rather have someone on probation, if they are willing to plead, or on a suspended sentence than have that person walk entirely free and have nobody watching them.” Moore said.

“People say, ‘Make ’em testify,’” he said.

“This person probably has been violated in the worst way it could happen,” Moore said. “It could have been by a parent. Sometimes the child just absolutely refuses to testify.”

It is hard for children wanting to forget what happened to them to remember every detail from the time of the crime to a preliminary hearing and from the preliminary hearing to a trial, Dotson said.

“After six months they start to forget details or want to forget details,” she said. “We’re relying on these poor little children as adults, but we can’t. They’re not capable of it. They’re little kids who don’t understand time, what day something happened.

“Some of them crawl up in a corner, shake and bawl before they go into the courtroom,” she said. “Sometimes they throw up.”

Prosecutors try to do everything they can — make sure the victim isn’t threatened, make sure there’s some protection, Moore said.

Each case is different, and intimidation is always a possibility, he said. A child loves their parent in spite of some of the horrible acts perpetrated by that parent.

“They are still their parent,” he said. “It’s a fine line sometimes to keep that child focused and able to go forward.”

Very few such cases have to be dismissed or given some type of probation. But those are the cases that make the papers, Moore said.

“No doubt it shocks the conscience of many people. And they believe, rightfully so, that they (defendants) deserve so much.”

But evidence cannot be manufactured, and it takes live testimony for juries to convict someone, he said.

“And the conviction rate is very good,” Moore said.
- Due to plea bargains!  If people stopped accepting plea bargains, there would be less convictions!

“I work real hard for these kids,” Dotson said.

Dotson researched every Muskogee County sex offender case since 2005 on Oklahoma’s On Demand Court Records system.

Of the sex offender cases filed:

• In 2006: 14 offenders were sentenced to a total of 229 years.

• In 2007: 22 people were sentenced to a total of 318 years. Some 2007 cases are still being prosecuted, Dotson said.

“A sex offender case is a little bit different for the jury because that’s an all-or-nothing situation,” Moore said. “Jurors want to make sure before they label someone as a sex offender. It’s absolutely imperative that we have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.”
- That is an outright lie.  Almost 100% of the time, if someone is accused of a sex crime, they are going to prison!

Child abuse and child sexual cases are the most difficult cases because of the witnesses.

“Robbery or theft you want your day in court,” Moore said. “If you find yourself the victim of a sex offense — whether child or adult — the last thing you want to do is come to court and tell of the personal abuse you incurred at the hands of this person. It’s embarrassing, and some people, especially children, just shut down.”

Dotson recalls a recent case when a child refused to testify against a parent. The case resulted in a plea agreement.

“She would not even give me eye contact — she didn’t want her daddy to go to prison, no matter what. She would not even look at me.”

The child’s mother agreed. She said she knew what was in the best interest of her child, Dotson said.

We’re trying to help the public by getting a plea agreement in these kind of cases and tell him (perpetrator) you have to live certain places, report, and we know where you are,” Dotson said.

People have a constitutional right to face their accusers — we can’t get around that,” Moore said.

Reach Donna Hales at 918-684-2923 or Click Here to Send Email


UK - Dead Wymott inmate was a Blackpool sex offender

View the article here

10/07/2008

By Nazia Parveen

A man who died after being found in his Leyland prison cell with head injuries was a registered sex offender from Blackpool.

David Winder, a prisoner at HMP Wymott in Leyland, died at the Royal Preston Hospital on Sunday after he was found in his cell at Wymott jail, near Chorley, by a fellow prisoner.

Mr Winder, 48, of Falkirk Avenue, Bispham, was found with a broken jaw and was bleeding from the head.

Police are not treating his death as suspicious after a scan at hospital revealed Winder had brain cancer.

A post mortem yesterday however was inconclusive.

Mr Winder was jailed for four years in July for possession over 2,500 child porn images.

It was the second time he had served time for a similar crime, after being sentenced to five years behind bars in 2000 for five offences of indecently assaulting a female and one of taking indecent photographs.

The coroner has been informed but no inquest date has been set.

His family have been informed.


UT - Cuts may result in reoffenders

View the article here

Mo Money, Mo Money, Mo Money!  Why do they talk about people going back to prison, but forget about peoples safety?  So why could they not use some of that $700 billion?

10/13/2008

By JESSE FRUHWIRTH - Standard-Examiner Davis Bureau

Sacrificed: Sex, substance abuse therapies

DRAPER -- In response to the recent state budget crunch, the Department of Corrections did not resort to releasing inmates early.

It did, however, reduce funding to such programs as substance abuse and sex offender and mental health treatment, programs that lower the chances of paroled individuals reoffending and ending up back in prison.

"That's the problem that we're having with everything," said department spokeswoman Angie Welling.

"We know for a fact that programming, treatment and education reduce recidivism, so we do what we have to do ... knowing that, in the long run, it costs taxpayers more."

Welling said that, in advance of a special legislative session at the end of September, the state asked the department to propose cuts that would amount to 3 percent of the department's $384 million budget.

To achieve that, the department had a head start.

Planned construction of a new building has been delayed by Salt Lake City officials leery of approving a 300-bed halfway house for parolees planned for their city.

During the last budget process, the department was given $7.6 million to operate the so-called parole violator center, Welling said.

Headlines in other media suggested lawmakers had "yanked" the funding for the center because of the delay, but Welling said about $5.7 mil-lion in operating costs for the center was offered for sacrifice from the department.

The money to build the facility was not cut, she said.

Still, more cuts were needed.

Encouraging eligible administrators to retire provided more savings, Welling said.

"We lost quite a bit of personnel. We ultimately ended up losing 35 full-time positions throughout the department."

Half of those eliminated positions had yet to be filled, Welling said, and positions for corrections officers the department has been trying all year to fill were not cut.

More savings were found by cutting programming.

"We've seen cuts to a number of programming things inside and outside the (prison) facilities," she said.

In Davis, Weber, Salt Lake and Tooele counties, for example, sex offenders on parole with electronic monitoring will now pay a fee, about $30 to $50 a month, Welling said.

That move saved another $200,000 and brought offenders in those counties in line with sex offenders statewide. Offenders in all other counties have had to pay for their ankle monitors all along, Welling said.

Funds for the 2007 Drug Offender Reform Act were not cut, she said. DORA reduces incarceration for some first-time drug offenders and increases state-funded rehab programs at little cost to the user.

"(Cuts to DORA) were discussed, and fortunately, that didn't happen this time," she said.

Other programs received reduced funding, but few programs were eliminated outright, Welling said.

"We offer the same range of programming, but perhaps not as many sessions."

The remaining programs will also be offered in fewer locations.

What that means for a facility like Ogden's Northern Utah Community Correction Center is the elimination of a behavioral therapy program for about 35 lower-functioningoffenders per year, as well as a substance abuse and life-skills program offered through NUCCC's day reporting center.

Welling said NUCCC's substance abuse program will be replaced soon with "in-house treatment," but she did not say where the funding would come from for it, nor how the replacement might differ from the original.

NUCCC Director Steve Yeates declined to comment unless he got permission from Welling to do so. He did not get permission.

Welling said no other officials within the Department of Corrections would be available for interviews.

"I am the only person speaking on behalf of the department on this issue," Welling said in an e-mail.

When asked whether the department sought or considered an inmate population reduction to save costs and preserve programming options, Welling said it did not.

And, as she said earlier, cutting programming today may cost taxpayers more in the future.

"If recidivism increases as a result of these offenders not having the tools they need to succeed," Welling said, "they're going to come back to prison, and that always costs more."
- Well, you are assuming they will all re-offend, but studies show most sex offenders DO NOT RE-OFFEND, just see the many studies here.


Just hating pedophiles won't keep children safe

View the article here

10/10/2008

Scott McKeen, The Edmonton Journal

Gut reaction to abhorrent behaviour needs to be tempered with programs to rehabilitate or jail dangerous predators

Torches and pitchforks will not drive the monsters from our realm.

Neither prosecution nor protest will protect our children from pedophiles. Our common sense and humanity might. But on this issue, both are in short supply.

Pedophiles live among us, as we were so starkly reminded last weekend when two young girls were abducted and assaulted. And they will continue to live among us. Not just known offenders, who complete jail sentences and return to the community, like Danial Todd Gratton, the accused in last weekend's abductions.

New pedophiles are being created as we speak. Today's victim of sexual abuse can become tomorrow's abuser.

The gene pool, it seems, is also spawning new pedophiles. Research now indicates pedophilia, in some cases, behaves like its own sexual orientation, as vulgar as that might seem to the natural order of things.

Whatever the cause, experts say pedophiles don't choose their sexual desires any more than we do. Nor can we pick pedophiles out of a crowd. Yes, some are anti-social, slovenly and odd.

But I once knew a kindly St. Albert family man -- a former Citizen of the Year -- who was a success in his profession and pegged for a career in politics. Until he was charged with sexually abusing the family babysitters.

I was appalled at the time. Just as we all were by last weekend's abductions. Seducing or forcing children into sexual activity is a gross violation of the trust they place in adults, as their guardians.

But I've come to believe we fail that trust by blinkering ourselves with disgust and hatred. The time has come to dial down emotion and look to the community for pragmatic answers.

That's not to say the justice system has no role to play in a common-sense response. One answer is for the courts to use dangerous offender legislation more often against repeat, cold-hearted sex offenders. Yes, in some cases you throw away the key.

But what of the first-time offender? Or the teenager who recognizes his urges, is horrified by them, but has no place to turn? Or the man caught with child pornography, who may be just starting to explore his deviant sexuality?

The experts say there is no cure for pedophilia. But that is not to say it can't be treated.

The Phoenix Program at Alberta Hospital Edmonton has demonstrated success in reducing recidivism of sex offenders to below four per cent, compared to 25 per cent for those who receive no treatment.

But no system is perfect -- even old-school castration failed to prevent recidivism. Such is the baffling nature of the human sex drive.

The big problem with treatment is its availability, or lack thereof. Governments aren't exactly throwing money at research or treatment centres for sexual deviants. Sympathy for the devil wins you no votes.

Dr. Fred Berlin, one of the world's leading experts on pedophilia, believes demonizing pedophiles has made the world less safe. In a climate of hate, it's almost impossible to get pedophiles into early treatment, though the evidence is that many begin molesting at age 13.

Mental-health professionals in the U.S. and Canada are now legally required to report a client who has offended or is at risk to offend. Berlin says he once got regular calls from men who truly wanted be treated for their pedophilic urges. Once the law changed, and he was required to report possible predators, the phone stopped ringing.

Yes, our hate forces pedophiles underground, where they are hard to track. If driven from one community, they will slip quietly into another.

And a pedophile unable to connect even loosely with community -- get a job, a place to live -- is much more of a threat.

Pedophilia is likened to alcohol and called a craving disorder.

Like an alcoholic, an anxious, depressed or despondent pedophile is much more likely to act out on his cravings. Knowing that, the answer seems obvious. Why not create a support and accountability network like Alcoholics Anonymous for pedophiles?

Good idea. So good, in fact, that it's been around for years. A mostly unheralded and underfunded program known as COSA, or circles of support and accountability, began in Ontario in the mid-1990s.

Volunteers from the Mennonites and other faith communities were asked by a pioneering corrections official to serve on a committee, or circle, that offered not only a watchful eye over the pedophile, but a sense of connection to community.

Volunteers helped the offender find places to work and live. Daily contact and weekly meetings allowed for monitoring and for a place where the ex-convict could share his thoughts and feelings.

COSA not only spread across Canada, but to eight other countries that enthusiastically supported a program that reduced recidivism in hard-core offenders by at least 80 per cent. COSA now exists in every major city in Canada -- except Edmonton.

The Mustard Seed church in Edmonton's inner city used to operate circles for released pedophiles. But Kris Knutson, the church's corrections chaplain, says the church was simply unable to continue.

"It was just so resource-intensive, we had to make a call," he said. The call was to shut down the demanding circles and focus on other offender programs.

Knutson isn't happy with the situation. Edmonton, with its surrounding jails, becomes home for many released pedophiles.

"When these men are pushed underground and isolated from the community, they are at a much greater risk to re-offend," he says. "They hide and there's no one to keep them accountable."

Knutson said the biggest roadblock to maintaining COSA in Edmonton was finding volunteers. Stigma kept many from participating. And those who agreed to volunteer suffered from the stigma, too.

Many were denounced by friends and family as pedophile sympathizers. Some felt their jobs were at risk if they continued. Ultimately, COSA folded in Edmonton because of this community's climate of hatred.

It is a bitter irony. Pedophiles continue to live among us -- unseen and unsupervised, at greater risk of re-offending -- because we couldn't drive the monster out of ourselves.



Many convicted felons remain on voter rolls, according to Sun Sentinel investigation

View the article here

Take the poll, and leave a comment, at the above link.  Watch the video below as well.  I think this is something Charlie Crist was working on, to restore felons right to vote. I guess these reporters, as usual, did not do any homework before making a video and story, which makes them look like idiots!

10/12/2008

Thousands who should be ineligible are registered to vote

Reported by Peter Franceschina, Sally Kestin, John Maines, Megan O'Matz and Dana Williams Written by Sally Kestin

More than 30,000 Florida felons who by law should have been stripped of their right to vote remain registered to cast ballots in this presidential battleground state, a Sun Sentinel investigation has found.

Many are faithful voters, with at least 4,900 turning out in past elections.

Another 5,600 are not likely to vote Nov. 4 — they're still in prison.

Of the felons who registered with a party, Democrats outnumber Republicans more than two to one.

Florida's elections chief, Secretary of State Kurt Browning, acknowledged his staff has failed to remove thousands of ineligible felons because of a shortage of workers and a crush of new registrations in this critical swing state.

Browning said he was not surprised by the newspaper's findings. "I'm kind of shocked that the number is as low as it is," he said.

Asked how many ineligible felons may be on Florida's rolls, Browning said, "We don't know."

The Division of Elections has a backlog of more than 108,000 possible felons who have registered to vote since January 2006 that it hasn't had the time or staff to verify. Browning estimated that about 10 percent, once checked, would be ineligible.

"This is part of a big mess," said Jeff Manza, professor of sociology at New York University and author of a book on felon voting. "It's almost certain there will be challenges if the election is close enough that things hinge on this. Both parties are armed to the teeth with legal talent in all the battleground states."

Florida's felon ban originated before the Civil War, and today the state remains one of 10 that restrict some felons from voting even after they've served their time. The law requires state and county elections officials to remove felons from voter rolls after conviction and add them only when they've won clemency to restore their voting rights.

In 2007, the state eased the restrictions by granting automatic clemency to most nonviolent offenders who have completed their sentences. Others, including people convicted of federal offenses, multiple felonies or crimes such as drug trafficking, murder and sex charges, must still apply for clemency and have their cases reviewed.

The felons the Sun Sentinel identified never received clemency, but their names remain on Florida's voter rolls. Some are well-known: ex-Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne and ex-Palm Beach County Commissioner Tony Masilotti, for instance, both convicted last year of public corruption.

Browning said the state painstakingly checks all voters before removing them to avoid inadvertently taking off eligible voters as happened in two previous large-scale purge attempts.

"The policy of this department, this state, is that we will err on the side of the voter," he said.

Florida registers voters largely on an honor system, asking applicants to affirm on a signed form that they are not convicted felons or that their rights have been restored. State law requires the Elections Division to conduct criminal records checks only after voters are added to the rolls, and it takes months or even years to remove those who are ineligible, the Sun Sentinel found.

"It's scandalous, really," said Lance deHaven-Smith, professor of public policy at Florida State University. "Why do they have to cull the rolls after they get registered? They shouldn't get on the rolls in the first place."

Felons confused
Several felon voters interviewed by the Sun Sentinel expressed confusion over automatic clemency and said they thought their voting rights had been restored. Some said they merely signed registration forms that were filled out by volunteers.

"If I wasn't able to vote, they wouldn't have given me my [voter registration] card," said John A. Henderson, 55, a Hallandale Beach Democrat. "I voted the last time and the times before that."

Henderson served about a year in prison in the late 1990s for battery and trafficking in cocaine. He said he was unaware he needed to formally apply to restore his rights when he successfully registered to vote in 2002. Henderson has since cast ballots in at least six elections and received three updated voter ID cards from the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office, records show.

Broward elections officials were unaware of Henderson's criminal record and did not check it when he registered, said county elections spokeswoman Mary Cooney. Nonetheless, she said he will remain on the rolls "until we are directed otherwise to remove him."

Maintaining accurate voting rolls is up to the state Division of Elections, which has failed to effectively remove felons for years.

Most recently, in 2006, the Auditor General recommended the division conduct a "comprehensive check" of all registered voters against lists of convicted felons, a step the state still has not taken, Browning acknowledged.

In response to auditors, the division said running the search "would not be a problem," but it lacked the manpower to verify possible matches. "Staff further stated that they were busy full-time" checking newly registered felons.

Once voters are added to the rolls, the state's procedure for removing them is tedious and labor-intensive. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement runs daily checks of criminal records against new voters and those who have made changes to their registrations, sending possible matches to the Elections Division.

Elections staff then manually check each one, a process that involves three to five workers reviewing records, comparing driver's license and prison photos and verifying convictions. Confirmed matches are sent to the counties for removal.

Since January 2006, more than 1.6 million new voters have registered in Florida. FDLE identified more than 124,000 possible felons.

In that time, elections workers removed about 7,200 from voter rolls statewide. Broward County took off just 232 and Palm Beach County 31.

"We do want to make sure ... that we have the right voter," Browning said.

Elections workers are now reviewing more than 3,800 possible felon voters but have more than 108,000 others still to be checked. "We've not touched those records yet," Browning said.

Asked how long it will take to review them all, he said, "I don't have a clue. I really don't."

Recently registered
John Teate, who lives west of Boca Raton, remains on the voter rolls after registering as a Democrat in July despite felony drug and theft convictions dating to the early 1990s. He said someone he thinks was a Democratic supporter signed him up while he waited for a bus at the central terminal in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

"I said, 'I'm a convicted felon. I can't vote,'" recalled Teate, 45. "I figured when the paperwork came in, there would be a red flag."

A spokesman for Barack Obama's campaign said it is unlikely his volunteers signed up Teate because his name is not in a database of new voters they registered.

Teate hasn't voted and said he doesn't plan to.

It's a third-degree felony for ineligible voters to knowingly cast ballots and for campaign workers and voters to submit false registration forms. Prosecutors and elections officials in South Florida could not recall any prosecutions related to felons registering or voting in recent years.

Henderson, the Hallandale Beach voter, said he does not think his criminal record should keep him from voting.

"I paid my debt," Henderson said. "Just because I was incarcerated, that means I'm nothing now? I'm still a father. I got two kids I'm raising."

Evan Snow, a West Palm Beach Republican, agrees. Convicted of burglary, battery and other crimes dating to the 1980s, Snow said he sought clemency several years ago but was discouraged by the lengthy process and gave up.

Snow, 46, registered to vote in June. He said he plans to cast a ballot Nov. 4 but hasn't decided which presidential candidate to support.

"Everybody is getting interested in politics right now," he said. "We are all here together. Shouldn't we all be able to make a decision about who runs the place?"

To civil rights advocates, the troubled system is an argument to change the state's constitution to automatically restore voting rights to all felons who complete their sentences.

As of mid-September, about 118,000 mostly nonviolent offenders had received automatic clemency under the 2007 change. For more than 9,700 of them, it didn't matter — their names had never been removed from the voter rolls.