Thursday, December 11, 2008
TALLAHASSEE (AP) -- The Florida Supreme Court has ordered a sexual predator released because he was improperly held in the state's civil commitment program after his prison term.
The ruling Thursday resolved differing interpretations by appellate courts of the Jimmy Ryce Act. The law named for a 9-year-old Miami-Dade County boy who was raped and murdered allows for post-sentence confinement.
The majority, though, ruled a convict must be in lawful custody when commitment proceedings begin.
The decision will free _____, who was released from prison in 1998 after serving time for lewd and lascivious conduct in Jacksonville. The state tried to commit him in 2004 when he was back in prison for a probation violation then reversed.
"The greatest obstacle to those who hope to reform American education is complacency."
Complacency has the ability to lull us into thinking that everything is OK. It provides a sense of false security. A security which, if unchecked, has the potential to rob us of our very foundation as a country.
In our effort to understand this vicious and quiet disease that is plaguing America, we have learned that not only does it teach us ignorance as Citizens, but that we also can potentially lose our ability to fight back.
In this final segment, we are going to discuss how the loss of our ability to fight back and our ignorance leads to us losing our Rights.
There is another quote that I've been meaning to share:
"You need to have a redesign because familiarity breeds a kind of complacency."
In the "Civil Rights" Movement, we all became accustomed to hearing about Civil Rights. Some, even to the point of rolling their eyes. We all became "familiar" with the concept. Now, we are complacent to the idea of reformation in the area of Civil Rights.
The familiarity is where the ignorance comes from. In our familiarity, we stop caring enough to pay attention. While we are not paying attention, we quietly and slowly lose our ability to fight back. Laws are passed and judgements are made in Court that slowly and silently remove our ability to say "No!"
The intent of the article is to bring to attention the dangers of allowing ourselves to become complacent with anything in our lives, let alone becoming complacent with our Civil Rights.
Do your research, study up on what's going on around you. Become active. It's the only way for things to turn around. I cannot remember where I heard it before, but it's been said that "The only way for Evil to win is for enough good people to do nothing."
Don't be one of those that stood by and did nothing only to kick yourself later in life for failure to act. Complacency is (in my opinion) the leading cause of the failure in our Legislative Branch to create new and better laws. We see many many laws being passed that waste money, create hardships for citizens, and set precedence for future equally absurd laws.
Are you willing to continue to let this happen? Are you willing to stand up for no one else but yourself? Does the direction of the country worry you? Do you feel that things are being handled the way you think they should? Do you realise that a phone call to your local Senator makes a HUGE difference?
Do you finally see the dangers that complacency creates for us in our lives?
By JUAN A. LOZANO / Associated Press
DNA testing shows that a Houston man convicted of sexually assaulting an 8-year-old boy in 2002 did not commit the crime, Harris County District Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced Thursday.
- So why did they not use DNA in the first place?
Ricardo Rachell is expected to be released on bond during a court hearing on Friday after having served five years of a 40-year sentence.
- They need to pass a law so people who have been thrown in prison without reasonable doubt, and not using DNA, can sue them for false imprisonment. Then, they will work harder to get "reasonable doubt" evidence instead of just getting a conviction!
Magidson said that Rachell, 51, will be freed from prison so that he can begin the legal process required to overturn his 2003 conviction on aggravated sexual assault. The district attorney's office will also support Rachell's efforts to receive a full pardon, he said.
"As soon as the evidence was found to exonerate him, we have acted as swiftly as possible to see that justice is done in this case," Magidson said.
Deborah Summers, Rachell's attorney, said her client was very pleased by the news.
"He has all along said he was the wrong person. He has always maintained his innocence," she said.
- This just shows, all it takes in an allegation, no evidence, and your life is over!
Rachell's case is among about 540 that have been reviewed — or are currently under review — by the district attorney's office since 2001.
Many of the case reviews were prompted because of problems with the Houston Police Department's crime lab, which has been under scrutiny since 2002, when its DNA section was first shut down. Inaccuracies were later found in four other lab divisions that test firearms, body fluids and controlled substances.
Three inmates have been released from prison because of mistakes by the lab.
Rachell's case is different because the DNA that was collected prior to his trial was never tested.
- And thus why he should be able to sue the hell out of them!
Magidson said a mistake was made in not testing the DNA.
In 2002, the victim was taken to a vacant house by a stranger and sexually assaulted after being told by the man that he would pay him for help with removing some trash.
The next day the boy's family called police and the boy identified Rachell as his attacker. Although DNA from both the attacker, which was taken from the boy, and from Rachell was collected, no tests were ever performed. Magidson said DNA was not an issue at the trial because the boy and a young companion both identified Rachell as the attacker.
- So how many times in history, has someone mistaken someone's identity? ALL THE TIME!
The eyewitness identifications were the only evidence against Rachell, Summers said.
Rachell filed his request for a DNA test in April 2007.
But the evidence to be tested — some clothing and medical swabs — wasn't found until February, Summers said.
"I had no idea where the evidence was, why it wasn't available to his trial or appellate attorneys," she said.
The testing was completed on Oct. 28 and it identified the attacker as being another man who is a known sex offender, Summers said.
This man is currently incarcerated for crimes similar to the one Rachell was falsely convicted of, she said.
Investigators have reopened the 2002 rape case and have identified a suspect, who has not yet been charged. But no other information on this suspect was being released, said George Flynn, a spokesman for the district attorney's office.
Magidson said the case demonstrates that the system and the appeals process to challenge convictions does work.
- Well, if everyone was DOING THEIR JOBS, and not just trying to get a conviction, and PROVE someone did something, beyond a shadow of a doubt, then we'd not need these other organizations.
"We feel confident that, with our assistance, he will be able to gain his freedom," he said.
The power of the Department of Health & Human Services to intervene in families lives on the thinest of suppositions never ceases to amaze me. Prior to a few years ago if the Department sent a letter "substantiating" you as a sex offender or a danger to children there was very little practical recourse. From that point forward the Department would require the subject of the letter no to have contact with children-even their own natural children who were not subject to any allegations (i.e. a man accused of sexual contact with a 15 year old unrelated girl might be prohibited from living with his 3 year old son or his natural teenage daughter). There would not need to be a court order because the prohibition would be phrased in such a way that if the "suggestion" were not followed the Department would seek an ex parte court order snatching the children and placing them in a foster home. These determinations would be made by a typically young social worker fresh out of social work school and her Department supervisor. The choice for the target of the letter and their family is to obey the Department's directives and kowtow to their every whim or face the near certain prospect of a court order snatching their children until some distant point in the future. It is unfortunate that those charged with second guessing the Department tend to be self selecting for traits similar to social workers ("I just want to protect the children" or "Children don't lie"). "Substantiation" is a status whereby the Department gets to maintain a record of the alleged issue forever instead of having to destroy it within 18 months as they must do otherwise. Substantion suggests that the event(s) actually occured. While not made public, substantiations are shared with people/organizations that have a need to know. For example if you want to become a school bus driver or day care worker the Department will search its database of substantiated offenders. Recently a new term has enetered the Department lexicon-"indication." Indication suggests that the event(s) may have occured but that the Department doesn't have the level of proof necessary to get to "sustantiation." The Department wants, however, to save a record of the encounter so as to bolster their case later should another problem occur. The Department will then offer an "indicated" status which is not supposed to be used for job clearance purposes but which can be used in future investigations. That is the theory-I suspect in practice there is very little distinction between substantiation and indication. Once a letter has been recieved from the Department "substantiating" or "indicating" an individual then the individual has 30 days to appeal. The appeal process at this stage is relatively simple and consists of a letter requesting an appeal. An internal supervisor then reviews the paper documentation of the case and does a rubber stamp approval. A letter is then sent to the individual upholding the original finding. The individual then can appeal to an internal DHHS hearing. This hearing more closely resembles a formal court proceeding with subpoena powers and a formal record of the proceedings, including tape recordings. The Department is represented at the hearing by the Maine Attorney General's office. Although I have not had an opportunity to challenge the provision, children relevant to the proceeding may not be subpoena'd by the defense and any such hearsay statements are typically admissable. A decision is rendered by an employee of the DHHS who is a hearing officer acting as an administrative judge. These hearing officers are typically former caseworkers. After a decision is rendered by the hearing officer, the decision is reviewed by a further supervisor and then either accepted or rejected. Suprisingly I have had some success at this level. A recent case consisted solely of the allegation that my client, a foster grandfather figure, had sexually molested his "grandaughter" based on the statement by the 4 year old that "pop-pop took a rat out of my butt with rat clippers." Based on this nonsensical statement and absolutely no other evidence my client was substantiated through the hearing officer level. As I was preparing to file an action in District court, the head of DHHS rejected the finding and the case ended. The proceedure I have described above is a few years old and I am not aware of any cases that have been tested through the District Court level. Often the clients find themselves in some additional trouble, they give up or they run out of money. After the hearing decision
If you live in this state, here is your opportunity to voice your opinion on the law(s).
By Susan Tuz - STAFF WRITER
RIDGEFIELD -- The town's proposed sex offender ordinance has been reviewed by State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky and is ready for a public hearing.
Work on the ordinance began in November 2007. First Selectman Rudy Marconi, past police chief Richard Ligi and current Police Chief John Roche collaborated with town attorney David Grogins to write it.
The ordinance was prompted when convicted sex offender _____ moved to the Branchville section of town, within a mile of Branchville Elementary School. Parents were not notified and became alarmed when they learned he was living nearby.
"We've been working on this for a little over a year," Marconi said Wednesday. "It will give local police the opportunity to tell [registered sex offenders] to leave areas where children are ... Our ordinance is very similar, if not identical, to the one Danbury has."
The ordinance sets up child safety zones, or sites where convicted sex offenders cannot go. They include parks, playgrounds, recreation centers, beaches and sports fields.
A sex offender found in any of these areas will be required to leave and will be fined $250.
Sedensky has one concern. "This type of ordinance ... may create an unwarranted sense of safety among citizens," he said in a Nov. 17 letter to Roche. "The vast majority of children who are sexually assaulted are victimized by someone they know, not strangers."
Roche sees a need for the ordinance. He said Wednesday it will be "another tool in our officers' arsenal to protect our children."
- But that is just it, it will NOT protect children. If a criminal wants to harm someone, they will, regardless of any laws on the books! I think you meant it's one more tool in your arsenal to make yourself look like you are doing something, and to boost your reputation!
President Bush Participates in Meeting on Drug Use Reduction
President George W. Bush (April 24, 2008)
Today, President Bush announced new data that demonstrates continued progress reducing drug availability and use since 2001. New youth drug use data from the Monitoring the Future Study showed continued reductions in overall youth drug use over the past seven years, and new law enforcement and workplace drug test data show a significant disruption in the cocaine market.
Helped Protect America’s Children
- Implemented a national drug control strategy to combat teen drug use, which helped reduce illicit drug use among teens by 25 percent since 2001.
- Through the PROTECT Act, strengthened law enforcement’s ability to prevent, investigate, and punish child exploitation crimes, abolishing the statute of limitations for crimes involving the abduction or physical or sexual abuse of a child. Established a nationally-coordinated AMBER Alert Program, which has helped save nearly 400 children nationwide.
- Combated sexual crimes against children with the Internet Crimes Against Children program (more than 13,750 suspects arrested since January 2001) and the Innocence Lost Initiative, a joint Federal and State effort to prevent child prostitution (more than 575 children rescued, more than 300 defendants convicted). Federal prosecutions of child predators in Fiscal Year 2008 posted a 33 percent increase over Fiscal Year 2006.
- Greatly expanded the national network of Department of Justice-funded Internet Crimes Against Children task forces, now numbering 59, that investigate computer-facilitated child sexual exploitation. Launched Project Safe Childhood to further protect children from exploitation over the Internet by coordinating law enforcement efforts to prosecute online predators.
- Signed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which expanded the National Sex Offender Registry, strengthened Federal penalties for crimes against children, and made it harder for predators to reach children on the Internet.
- Created the Helping America’s Youth initiative. Led by Mrs. Bush, the program develops resources to connect caring adults with young people, particularly at-risk boys, through helpingamericasyouth.gov.
Improved Education For Every American Child
- Transformed the Federal government’s approach to education through No Child Left Behind, which held schools accountable for helping every student, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, succeed. No Child Left Behind has helped fourth and eighth graders achieve the highest math scores on record, increased the percentage of first-grade students reading at grade level in 44 of 50 States, and enabled African-American and Hispanic students to post all-time highs in several categories.
- Gave parents the opportunity to choose a better public school, a tutor, or a public charter school if their child’s school did not improve. Provided funding to more than half of all public charter schools in the country to expand alternatives for students in struggling schools; since 2000, the number of charter schools in the United States has more than doubled.
- Established the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships program, the first Federal school-choice program, which allows families to choose a private or religious school if it better meets their child’s needs. At the end of the 2007-08 school year, had provided more than 2,600 low-income children with up to $7,500 to attend the private school of their choice.
- Increased the percentage of highly qualified teachers in classrooms from 87 percent in the 2003-04 school year to 94 percent in the 2006-07 school year. Created the $100 million Teacher Incentive Fund, which rewards teachers who improve student achievement in high-need school districts. Proposed, and Congress enacted, an “adjunct teacher corps” of math and science professionals who can bring their expertise directly to American classrooms.
- Provided a record $95 billion in new grants, loans, and work-study assistance to help nearly 11 million students and their families obtain the benefits of postsecondary education. More than doubled the funding for Pell Grants to help 5.8 million students – 1.5 million more than in 2001 – and increased the maximum award to the highest level ever.
View the article here
We've always been committed to providing you the tools to have the best possible YouTube experience. Educating parents, teens, and families on how to stay safe on our site is a critical part of that commitment, so we can't think of a more appropriate place to introduce our new Abuse and Safety Center than at the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) conference in Washington, D.C., today.
The new center also makes it easier for you to find our Help and Safety Tool, which lets you report concerns to us and gives you granular control over your channel, like the option of blocking comments from specific users or disabling the video comments feature on specific videos.
The Abuse and Safety Center is easy to find. Just look at the bottom of any YouTube page and click on the link titled "Abuse and Safety Center." From phishing scams to just learning what it means to be a good YouTube citizen, you'll find the information you need.
Finally, check out FOSI's meeting page for more information about our presence at the conference, where Shantal Rands from Google's legal team will receive a FOSI Award for Outstanding Achievement in advancing the goal of a safer Internet. Plus, Andrew McLaughlin, Google's Director of Global Policy & Government Affairs, is speaking about "Protecting Kids and Free Speech Online," and YouTube's Policy Analyst Micah Schaffer will address online safety in social media.
We'll continue to add new information and features to the center, so check back often.
Posted by The YouTube Team
Visit Obama's Change.gov web site, and speak up!
By Kim Hart - Washington Post Staff Writer
Online safety advocates are urging President-elect Barack Obama to put more resources toward protecting children from crime, harassment and predators on the Web.
In a report to be released today, the Family Online Safety Institute, a Washington nonprofit organization, is urging the new administration to appoint a national safety officer to serve under the chief technology officer, a position Obama has promised to create. The group is also asking for $100 million a year to fund education and research, an annual White House summit on safety issues, as well as the creation of a national council to coordinate efforts among federal agencies and advocacy and industry groups.
"We need to react more swiftly to the challenges new technology brings," said the institute's chief executive, Stephen Balkam. "We see a lot of activity in the industry and some agencies, but I don't see overall coordination we can work off of."
Protecting children and teens from the new dangers presented by the proliferation of social networks, blogs, instant messaging and cellphones is seen as a growing challenge. Officials cite incidents such as the case of the Missouri woman convicted last month for computer fraud for her involvement in creating a fake MySpace page to trick 13-year-old Megan Meiers, who later committed suicide.
Such cyberbullying tactics are just one type of crime targeting Web-surfing, text-messaging minors, online safety advocates say. Minors are also vulnerable to identity theft, exposure to inappropriate material and abusive messages.
- Why protect kids only? Why not everyone? Many adults have been harassed and threatened online as well!
Currently, much of the federal funding for raising safety awareness has been focused on law enforcement, Balkam said. The Department of Justice, for example, has developed instructional material. The Federal Trade Commission has created educational Web sites. Companies, including Internet service providers and social networks such as MySpace, have launched their own content filters and other safeguards to protect teenage users.
The Family Online Safety Institute's recommendations are a step in the right direction but may not go far enough, said Nancy Willard, executive director for the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use. She said a national effort has to include teachers and behavioral specialists, rather than focusing solely on technology policy.
- Just how many organizations has the sex hysteria started? We need to get rid of private organizations and vigilante groups, and let the FBI and government handle it, but if we did that, many people would go out of business.
"Young people who are at the greatest risk online are the ones who are already at greater risk in the real world," she said. "We have to stop thinking about Internet safety as a technology issue and recognize that it is an extension of youth risk behavior."
Samuel McQuade, a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology who has studied cybercrime, said education is the key. Many young people, from first-graders to college students, are not aware of the information security risks of the mobile devices and Web sites they use every day, he said. Parents and teachers should also be taught responsible online behavior.
"Today's under-supervised and under-educated kids are increasingly technology-savvy," he said. "And they are growing up to become the next generation of managers that rely on these systems to protect the nation's most critical information."
- You need to be educating everyone. Many kids know more about computers than their own parents, just ask the parents!
ST. LOUIS — A St. Louis police officer who was under investigation in a child pornography case jumped out of a police car, ran away, and killed himself, authorities said Wednesday.
The officer's name was not released. He was 37 and had been with the department for 2 1/2 years, city police spokeswoman Erica Van Ross said.
St. Louis County police went to the officer's home in south St. Louis County on Tuesday.
"We had received an IP address belonging to a computer at that residence associated with child pornography, either the possession or transfer of it," Panus said. "We went there to serve the search warrant."
The officer wasn't home but provided a key when investigators tracked him down. Panus said the computer and personal papers were seized, but the officer was not arrested.
Later Tuesday, members of the city police Internal Affairs division picked up the officer and were driving him to police headquarters. Van Ross said he was being taken in for two reasons: To await results of the county search of his computer and papers, and for questioning about why he apparently lived in the county when city officers are required to live in the city.
Suddenly, just blocks from police headquarters, the officer jumped out of the car and ran, Van Ross said. Police searched but couldn't find him.
- How do you just jump out of the back of a police car? Apparently they were treating him special, or he would've been in the back where he could not have gotten out.
Hours later, a resident called 911 after finding the officer, reportedly behind a church. He had a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Van Ross said. Police transported the officer to Saint Louis University Hospital, where he died.
Van Ross said the officer was not technically in custody so he was not handcuffed or restrained in the police car. Police Chief Dan Isom has ordered a review of protocol to see if changes should be made in the method of transporting people to the Internal Affairs Division.
- So why wasn't he in custody? Anyone else being served a warrant would've been! Sounds like preferential treatment to me.
Next they will be banning pictures you have taken of your own children in the bathtub, or running around the house nude.
An anti-child abuse watchdog has reversed its decision to blacklist a Wikipedia page showing a controversial 1976 album cover after protests over censorship.
Most British internet service providers had blocked users from accessing the image of a prepubescent naked girl on the cover of the Virgin Killer album by the Scorpions, a German band, after the Internet Watch Foundation ruled it was a "potentially illegal indecent image".
But the picture was accessible on many other sites and some argued that, while provocative, it was an artistic historical artefact and should not be banned.
Last night the IWF accepted that its ban had been counter-productive after the controversy had prompted millions to view the image.
It said in a statement: "The IWF Board has considered these findings and the contextual issues involved in this specific case and, in light of the length of time the image has existed and its wide availability, the decision has been taken to remove this webpage from our list.
"IWF's overriding objective is to minimise the availability of indecent images of children on the internet, however, on this occasion our efforts have had the opposite effect. We regret the unintended consequences for Wikipedia and its users. Wikipedia have been informed of the outcome of this procedure and IWF Board's subsequent decision."
The IWF said that any further reported instances of the image which are hosted by ISPs outside Britain would not be blacklisted. But it reserved the right to reconsider other instances of the image hosted in the UK.
Wikipedia had sharply criticised the IWF decision which had the side-effect of leaving many British internet users unable to edit Wikipedia entries and affected the website's performance.
The IWF is funded by the European Union and the British online industry to gather reports of instances of child abuse pictures on the internet and issue 'take down alerts' to ISPs. Its blacklist is used on a voluntary basis by 95 per cent of British-based residential ISPs.
In its statement the IWF said that it still considered that the image was "potentially in breach of the Protection of Children Act 1978" in the UK. The image shows a naked girl, aged about 10, with a cracked glass effect covering her genitals.
The album cover, which was replaced in many countries after an outcry when it was released in 1976, has been under discussion on Wikipedia for many months and has been deleted and reinstated. The page was reported through the IWF's online reporting mechanism on 4 December and assessed to be potentially illegal and indecent.
The IWF said: "As such, in accordance with IWF procedures, the specific webpage was added to the IWF list. This list is provided to ISPs and other companies in the online sector to help protect their customers from inadvertent exposure to potentially illegal indecent images of children. Following representations from Wikipedia, IWF invoked its Appeals Procedure and has given careful consideration to the issues involved in this case. The procedure is now complete and has confirmed that the image in question is potentially in breach of the Protection of Children Act 1978."
The Wikimedia Foundation behind Wikipedia had protested that the IWF had gone too far. "The IWF didn't just block the image; it blocked access to the article itself, which discusses the image in a neutral, encyclopedic fashion," said Wikimedia Foundation head Sue Gardner from San Francisco.
"The IWF says its goal is to protect UK citizens, but I can't see how this action helps to achieve that - and meanwhile, it deprives UK internet users of the ability to access information which should be freely available to everyone. I urge the IWF to remove Wikipedia from its blacklist," she added.
From KBI Office - Topeka Kansas
Effective January 1, 2009 the Kansas Bureau of Investigation will no longer mail you a letter reminding you of your statutory obligation to report in person to the sheriff's office during a required month. This letter serves as notification of the change and details below the months you are required to register. As a reminder, you must report to the sheriff's office of each county in which you are required to register.
So I guess below, they could've just said "Register on your birthday!" But, notice they also put the "each of these months" into the text. So does that mean all sex offenders must register three times a year?
If you birthday is in January, May or September you are required to report to the appropriate sheriff's office(s) during each of these months.
If you birthday is in February, June or October you are required to report to the appropriate sheriff's office(s) during each of these months.
If your birthday is in March, July, or November you are required to report to the appropriate sheriff's office(s) during each of these months.
If your birthday is in April, August or December you are required to report to the appropriate sheriff's office(s) during each of these months.
David G. Sim
Kansas Bureau of Investigation
View the article here
By Nancy Bowman, staff writer
TROY — A former West Milton police officer pleaded guilty Monday, Dec. 8, to having a relationship with a 16-year-old girl then headed directly to jail to begin serving his time early.
James B. Johnston Jr., 30, formerly of Troy and now living in Florida, told Juvenile Court Judge Lynnita "Kay" Wagner he brought few items with him for the plea hearing because he expected he would be going to jail.
Wagner said she wanted more information from a sex offender evaluation and a pre-sentence investigation.
Johnston told Wagner he wasn't sure he could find a place to stay locally during the evaluation and investigation, so he agreed to start serving his time while the pre-sentence work is done.
He was accused of having the relationship in 2007 while he was a village police officer. He was fired in July 2007.
Johnson, for his pleas to misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency or unruliness of a minor, faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
- And yet another cop, and another slap on the wrist. Why do those, who should be held to a higher standard, get slapped on the wrist, while the average citizen gets a lot of time in prison? It should be equal, period!