Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sexual Violence: Should Dangerous Sex Offenders be Committed to Mental Hospitals After Serving Their Prison Terms?

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"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

NV - Appeals court says DNA test violated Las Vegas inmate's rights

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An appeals court panel ruled today that a Metropolitan Police Department detective violated an inmate’s rights when he forcefully extracted a DNA sample to determine whether the sex offender was involved in old sex offense cases.

In a 2-1 vote, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered _____’s case back to federal court in Las Vegas, where U.S. District Judge James Mahan had dismissed it in 2005.

_____ claimed his Fourth Amendment rights were violated after he was arrested in 2003 on charges related to stalking someone at a health club and making threatening calls.

As a pretrial detainee, he refused to submit to a DNA test requested by Las Vegas police Detective Dolphus Boucher.

Boucher received permission from Clark County Deputy District Attorney Ellisa Luzaich to place _____’s DNA in a cold case bank, the opinion states.

_____ said he was in shackles and chained to a metal bar when Boucher forcefully swabbed his mouth.

In dismissing _____’s case, Mahan said Boucher and Luzaich were entitled to “qualified immunity,” which shields government officials from being sued for violating an individual’s constitutional rights.

Two of the three judges sitting on the appellate panel said authorities had no right to forcefully take _____’s DNA sample for the purpose of placing it in a cold case bank.

They also noted the DNA was never entered into the cold case database.

Neither the Supreme Court nor this court has ever ruled that law enforcement officers may conduct suspicionless searches on pretrial detainees for reasons other than prison security,” the opinion written by Judge Sidney Thomas stated.

Thomas also dismissed the qualified immunity argument, because _____’s rights were clear when Boucher took the sample.

The opinion states that _____ was arrested in 1980 and pleaded guilty to rape in Montana. He was released in 2001 and moved to Las Vegas. He was not on parole or probation when he was arrested by police.

The Nevada authorities extracted the DNA from _____, not because they suspected he had committed a crime, nor to aid in his reintegration into society, nor as a matter of his continuing supervision,” Thomas wrote. “Their purpose was simply to gather human tissue for a law enforcement databank, an objective that does not cleanse an otherwise unconstitutional search.”

Thomas said the proper process for the detective would have been to secure a search warrant. He noted the request probably would have been denied, however, because no probable cause existed.

The sole dissenting vote came from Judge Consuelo Callahan, who called the “minimally invasive search 'reasonable.’

Callahan said inmates should expect little privacy under the Fourth Amendment. She also noted that the government has an interest in identifying repeat sex offenders.

Here, _____, a convicted sex offender, was a pretrial detainee facing charges of indecent exposure and open and gross lewd conduct when the state officials took a buccal swab from the inside of his mouth,” Callahan wrote.

Judge Jane Roth sided with Thomas.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

OH - Cleveland: Former police officer sentenced for sex crime

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CLEVELAND -- Duhamel Torres, 42 was sentenced to one year in jail for sexual battery and tampering with records. Crimes prosecutors say he committed while on duty as a Cleveland police officer.

Torres was originally indicted on rape, kidnapping, tampering with records and other charges. In May of this year he plead guilty to sexual battery and tampering with records. Torres then resigned his position as a Cleveland police officer.

Prosecutors say last December, while on duty, Torres encountered a 41-year-old female in the area of West 43rd Street and Lorain Avenue.

Torres then used the law enforcement database to view information about the victim.

Prosecutors say Torres then asked the victim about a warrant and ordered her into his patrol car so he could give her a ride home.

The victim says Torres drove to the area of 2100 Scranton, slapped her, and then forced her to perform a sex act before dropping her off near her home.

Torres told investigators that he was at Steelyard Commons during the time of the rape.

The automatic vehicle locator in his patrol car indicated he was in the area of 2100 Scranton. DNA from the rape kit matched Torres'.

Torres was also ordered to pay a $2,000 fine and will have to register as a sex offender for life.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

MO - Kansas Supreme Court upholds conviction of woman involved in the murder of lobbyist

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By Justin Kendall

The Kansas Capitol hasn't been the same without self-appointed homeless lobbyist and registered sex offender _____.

Three years ago, I profiled _____ in the midst of lawmakers' sex-offender hysteria while _____ -- convicted of possessing child pornography in 1998 -- was walking the halls, which were often filled with children.

_____ wanted strict penalties for sex offenders, but his mission was to send every homeless person home. If that meant destroying homeless camps to make sure homeless people weren't feeling comfortable, then he'd trash the camps. This didn't endear him to the people who lived there. And in June 2006, he barged in to the wrong camp.

In my story, _____ claimed that his father had bought him a burial plot in case a homeless person killed him. Four months after profiling him, I was writing about his death.

Then, the next year, I was writing about the people who killed him: four homeless people. They were all convicted and sentenced.

One of them, Kimberly Danielle Sharp, was an on-again, off-again meth addict. She was also the divorced mother of two young children -- a 3-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy.

Last Friday, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld Sharp's first-degree murder and kidnapping convictions. Here's the court's 37-page ruling.

Sharp's role in _____'s murder was burning _____'s possessions -- his phones, his photos, his messenger bag. At her trial, lawyers argued one key point: Whether Sharp told her 18-year-old boyfriend Charles Hollingsworth III "Don't kill him" or "Don't Kill him here" when she saw Hollingsworth standing over _____ with an axe).

The Kansas Supreme Court denied Sharp's appeal on all four points:
  • Did the trial court err in denying Sharp's motion to suppress her confession? No.
  • Did the trial court err in limiting the defense's cross-examination of an accomplice witness? No.
  • Did the trial court err in admitting into evidence statements from two codefendants under the coconspirator exception to the hearsay rule? No.
  • Did cumulative error deny Sharp a fair trial? No.

Sharp entered maximum custody at Larned State Hospital on April 3, 2007, according to the Kansas Department of Correction's Web site.

Sharp's earliest possible release date is July 13, 2026.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

DC - 60,000 inmates sexually abused every year

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WASHINGTON — A federal commission on prison rape has concluded that the risk of being attacked depends greatly on the type of prisoner, and where the inmate is locked up.

More than 60,000 inmates are sexually abused every year, according to a report being made public Tuesday by the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission.

The eight-member panel was formed under the 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act.

Based on a 2007 survey of tens of thousands of incarcerated people, 4.5 percent of those surveyed reported being sexually abused in the previous 12 months — and more prisoners claimed abuse by staff than by other inmates.

Among the key findings of the report aimed at reducing the amount of rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse behind bars, the panel found:

  • Who gets abused depends a great deal on where they are incarcerated. Ten facilities studied had high rates, between 9 percent and almost 16 percent, whereas six facilities reported no abuse at all for the past year. The commission said prison management must show leadership in stopping such abuse.
  • Inmates in jails reported fewer instances of rape than in prisons.
  • Inmates who were short, young, gay or female were more likely to be victimized than other inmates.

To fight the problem, the commission says prison authorities should adopt more internal monitoring and external oversight. They also say prison officials need to improve investigation of claims of sexual assault and rape, because currently many victims cannot safely and easily come forward.

After the prison rape report is sent to Congress, the attorney general is to create new national standards for detecting and preventing rape and sexual assault in prisons, jails and detention facilities.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

Teen kills 4-year-old Sister To Protect Her?

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

MA - Cape Mom Charged With Raping Toddler, 2

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BOSTON -- Authorities arraigned a Centerville mother on child rape charges in Orleans District Court Monday, after _____, 27, was accused of raping a 2-year-old girl she babysat earlier this month.

Prosecutors alleged that _____, herself the mother of a 2-year-old boy, raped the toddler using her finger on several occasions.

_____, who lives at home with her parents and grandparents, is a Cape Cod Tech graduate and also works a part-time job at the Cape Cod Times.

She was charged with seven counts of rape of a child by force and seven counts of indecent assault on a child under 14, Dennis police said.

Her attorney, Joseph McParland, told the court that there had "never been any evidence of any of this prior to this particular incident" and said _____ had "no explanation for why or what happened."

Judge Don Carpenter ordered _____ held on $25,000 cash bail and $50,000 surety until her next court appearance, which was scheduled for July 6.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

CA - California lawmaker arranges improper deal on parolees

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By Andy Furillo

A California lawmaker arranged an improper deal with state corrections officials to stop an influx of parolees into his district 10 months before voters approved "Jessica's Law," the 2006 ballot measure he wrote to restrict where paroled sex offenders could live.

In what state Sen. George Runner (Contact) characterized as a "side agreement" with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the prison and parole agency said it would limit assignments of released offenders into the Antelope Valley to those who had "historical ties" to the area.

The agreement created an added layer of anti-parolee protection for the fast-growing desert valley communities on the northern fringe of Los Angeles County.

State law mandates only that parolees be returned to the county of their last legal residence. In vast Los Angeles County, for instance, an inmate from South Central Los Angeles could be paroled to Lancaster.

CDCR officials, saying that the deal violated the law, terminated the agreement this spring.

"When we took a look at it, we said we can't treat offenders in this county any different than offenders in any other county," said Terri McDonald, the CDCR's chief deputy secretary for adult operations.

"Jessica's Law," which bars sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools or parks, has turned the vast majority of the state's big-city urban landscapes into no-go zones for the measure's targeted population. One result of the initiative has been a huge increase in the number of sex offender parolees who say they are now homeless, spurring a key state oversight agency to call for a "rethinking" of the measure's housing restrictions.

Lawmaker: Valley hit hard

Runner, R-Lancaster, said his January 2006 deal had nothing to do with the possibility of sex offenders flooding into his home turf as a result of the ballot measure approved by 70 percent of California voters in November 2006. The wider open spaces and lower-cost housing in the Antelope Valley, which he represents, made it a potential relocation center for sex offenders looking to escape tightly packed urban locales for legal places to live.

Instead, Runner said, he only wanted changes in the parole division's operating procedures. He said the Antelope Valley was being disproportionately affected by run-of-the-mill parolees who moved there when they got out of prison. He said the side agreement had nothing to do with sex offenders per se.

"From the very beginning, there was not a connection between the issue of 'Jessica's Law' and this particular issue of parolees in the Antelope Valley," Runner said in an interview.

He said that the location of a major, maximum-security prison in the Antelope Valley combined with the area's relatively cheap housing made it "easier to dump (parolees) in Lancaster."

Rather than getting special treatment from the state, Runner said he requested only "normal treatment" for the communities he represents.

"I don't think anybody should have disproportional numbers in their communities," Runner said. "I think my job as a legislator is to make sure my constituents are being treated fairly by the state of California."

In Lancaster, 0.9 percent of the population is made up of parolees. That is three times the 0.3 percent rate for all of Los Angeles County, according to corrections department statistics. The other, larger city in the valley, Palmdale, has a rate of 0.57 percent, nearly double the county's figure.

Since 2006, the parolee population in the Antelope Valley has climbed 17 percent, to a current total of 2,306, according to corrections figures.

But the number of paroled sex offenders in the area has not risen nearly so dramatically. There are only six more paroled sex offenders living in the Antelope Valley now than there were three years ago. The increase from 144 to 150 represents an expansion of 4.2 percent, corrections department figures show.

'Classic case of NIMBYism'

State Sen. Dean Florez (Contact), D-Shafter, opposed "Jessica's Law" because he thought it would result in sex offenders moving from cities to rural areas such as the district he represents in Kern and Tulare counties.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

CHINA - China's Internet plan may backfire

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By Evgeny Morozov

The mandatory requirement that all computers sold in China carry security software has caused a stir among Chinese Internet users. Officially, the purpose of the Green Dam-Youth Escort software is to shield kids from online pornography, but most China watchers expect Beijing to use the program to block access to sensitive political and social online resources that the regime considers dangerous. The program is designed to thwart not just the browsing of undesired content, but also attempts to create unwanted content—it would shut down your word-processing program if the novel you're writing contains too many illicit words. And it can learn new words too, automatically installing updates to its text and image vocabularies.

Scary stuff. But there is reason to think that this latest effort at surveillance and social control is not going to be effective in the long run. The Green Dam software is so clunky and creates so many security problems that it may give Chinese citizens a strong incentive to circumvent it. By requiring all PC users to install this particular software on their machines, China's leaders may be shooting themselves in the foot.

The Green Dam software got its start as part of a Ministry of Information project to build a "healthy network environment to protect the healthy growth of young people." In 2008 it began testing the software in 10 cities. Green Dam is already installed in 518,000 computers, including those at 2,279 schools. Despite having gone through several iterations, the program is surprisingly buggy.

Green Dam's much-feared artificial intelligence is supposed to filter images and text separately and then determine if the content is inappropriate, without having to rely on a list of banned sites. But this feature doesn't work reliably. For instance, although Green Dam picks up on images of white-skinned porn actors, it tends to miss dark-skinned ones completely. And a recent video produced by Hal Roberts, a cybersecurity researcher at Harvard University, shows how his attempt to access a Web site associated with Falun Gong, a banned religious group, resulted in Green Dam banning his use of any sites that start with the letter F.

The most curious of Green Dam's problems is that while claiming to eradicate online threats, it has created many of its own. A study by researchers at the University of Michigan has found out that since Green Dam relies on "outdated programming practices," it inadvertently creates security vulnerabilities in the PCs on which it is installed. In other words, the Chinese government is in essence imposing on its citizens a program that would make China's millions of PCs sitting ducks for hackers, to remotely install malware or spyware, or enlist the computer as part of a network of "botnets." Of course, government officials could also commandeer Chinese PCs remotely.

Beijing might have had a better chance to get China's PC-using masses to acquiesce to a well-designed program that was selective about blocking pornographic content. But because Green Dam blocks legitimate content and increases vulnerability to hacking, it may provoke a backlash. Since Green Dam currently works with only one operating system, Windows, it may push some users to experiment with Linux. Others might learn the advanced tricks of Windows or experiment with advanced anticensorship and privacy tools, which may not have been a high priority before the imposition of Green Dam.

Taking on pornography may also be more difficult than Beijing thinks. By most accounts, it is the Internet's biggest killer app. Blocking it would run afoul of the "cute-cat theory of digital activism," which holds that it's always best to post illicit content on extremely popular Web sites. (Shutting down YouTube, for instance, may thwart a handful of dissidents, but it would upset many millions of cat lovers.) The popularity of online pornography, of course, outshines even that of pets. "There are probably more people in China who want to look at porn than want to look at Western human-rights sites or Falun Gong sites," says Ethan Zuckerman, a fellow at MIT's Center for Future Civic Media. There may be no more effective way of promoting awareness of anticensorship tools than putting a bug-ridden program between pornography and a generation of teens.

Beijing's efforts to build a Great Firewall to censor political discussion has been circumvented before. While it's too early to tell what kind of tricks China's Netizens will invent to evade Green Dam, it's certain to provoke a groundswell of artful dodging.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)

CO - Studies question sex-offender restrictions

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By Sue Lindsay, Rocky Mountain News

It all began in 1999 when five men dutifully went to the Lakewood Police Department to register as sex offenders.

Each gave the same address, which grabbed the attention of city officials, who quickly took action to close the house. Soon the City Council passed an ordinance permitting only one sex offender to live in a house in a residential area.

Lakewood's approach spread like wildfire, with 16 other metro- area cities promptly passing similar regulations.

But governments that passed laws over the past few years to keep sex offenders from living in group homes in their jurisdictions may have done so at the cost of public safety.

A number of studies, including one released last month by the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice, conclude that restricting where offenders may live does not prevent repeat sex crimes.

Instead, the restrictions encourage sex offenders to "disappear," blending into communities where they live in the privacy essential to committing new sex crimes, the studies say.

"Frankly, sex offenders like being told they can't be around other sex offenders," said Greig Veeder, executive director of Teaching Humane Existence, a sex offender treatment program. "It ruins their privacy. They can't commit their crimes unless they have privacy."
- See the documents on their web page above.

Colorado has more than 10,500 registered sex offenders. More than 3,000 live in the metro area. As of last week, Denver had 1,337 registered sex offenders.

Sex offenders generally have a high rate of recidivism - 18.9 percent for rapists and 12.7 percent for child molesters over a period of five years, the Colorado study reported.
- That is a lie!  You can see a 2003 recidivism study from the state, here.

"But recidivism only reflects crimes that are reported," said Kim English, research director for the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice, an arm of the state Department of Public Safety.
- Plus, they take into account any crime or violation as being recidivism.  They should only look at if another sex crime was committed, not anything.

"We know that most victims of sex crimes never report the crime," English said. "What we do know is that known sex offenders are more likely than other criminals to commit another sex crime."
- Not from what the Bureau of Justice says.  They say "sex offenders are less likely than any other criminal, except murderers, to commit another sex crime!" On Page 7 it shows 5.4%

'Snakes in a basket'

What keeps that from happening is having sex offenders living in a structured environment with close supervision by professionals and observation by their peers, English said.

"Residency restrictions prevent us from having sex offenders living together," Veeder said, "but 25 years of my experience and significant research all support that the more you can make them live together, the easier it is to control them."
- Residency restrictions does not prevent other RSO's from living with one another!  And by other RSO's living together, they tend to keep each other in line, because they do not want someone else committing a crime, and possibly getting them into trouble.  They help each other.  Control has nothing to do with it!

"It's far better to have snakes in a basket than running around loose in the yard."
- Assuming all sex offenders are snakes, which they are not!

The Colorado research, based on a 2004 survey of sex offenders, found that high-risk sex offenders living in shared living arrangements had significantly fewer probation and criminal violations than those living in other living arrangements.
- I agree, because of what I said above.  And where is this 2004 study?

Violations also were more quickly reported because of the heightened peer and professional oversight. Quick reporting is essential for speedy action to protect potential victims, the study noted.

"Offenders hold each other accountable for their actions and responsibilities and notify the appropriate authorities when a roommate commits certain behavior, such as returning home late or having contact with children," the 2004 Colorado report said.
- Exactly, like I said!

The study found that sex offenders living with their families re-offend or violate probation at twice the rate of high-risk sex offenders living with other offenders.
- I do not by that for one second!  People with less stress in their lives, the recidivism goes down, and with a lot of stress, it goes up.  So where is this so called study?  Funny how people can cite a "study" but not provide a link to said study!

Residency restrictions often force sex offenders to "go underground," registering their residence at a shelter or motel where they stay only temporarily.

Temporary address

In 2006, the Salvation Army's Crossroads Shelter caused concern among some Denver officials because more than 50 registered sex offenders were living at the shelter, at least temporarily.

Salvation Army Maj. Neal Hogan said the shelter's ministry is to serve the homeless, but that sex offenders - and others released from prison - stay at the shelter when they have no place else to go.

"We don't seek them out," Hogan said, adding that Crossroads would happily refer them to a shelter designed to handle sex offenders. "But we don't know of any services that exist for that purpose."

Last week, 66 sex offenders were registered at the shelter's address, but Hogan said that number is misleading because people frequently move on while the shelter address remains on official records.

Hogan said the shelter keeps in close contact with the police department, alerting them to new residents, those who have left and those who gave the shelter as their address but never showed up.

"The numbers can be somewhat skewed," he said. "It's a convenient address for them to use."

Colorado has no state laws restricting residency of sex offenders, though probation and parole officers must approve residency and keep sex offenders away from schools or other high-risk situations, English said.

Though Veeder and English say restrictions like those that swept through the suburbs beginning in the late '90s work against public safety, parents don't want sex offenders living in their neighborhoods.

"I was absolutely shocked when I found out," said Lori Housel, who lived next door to the house where the five sex offenders were living in 1999. Housel said she had two teenage boys who were left alone at times.

"It made me sick to my stomach," she said. "I don't think they should be in a residential area with young children, whether they are supervised or not."

An offender's view

R.P., a sex offender who says he was among the "Lakewood Five," said the reaction of neighbors and city officials, though understandable, was frightening.

"At that time, I was really scared, getting thrown into the spotlight like that," he said. He and his roommates were yelled at and received threats, he said.

He said he understands why people who hear about a "horrendous crime" by a sex offender want him locked up forever, but "people forget there are a lot of shades of gray."

He spoke on the condition that his full name not be used out of fear of retaliation.

After the men were forced to leave the Lakewood house, he moved to another home with several sex offenders.

R.P. completed his five-year probation three years ago, but has continued to live in the shared living arrangement and take part in therapy sessions with Veeder's group.

"SLAs (Shared Living Arrangements) are a very good thing to help sex offenders get hold of their issues - you can't avoid therapy," he said. "In general, it forces guys to be more honest and live a much straighter life."

The Colorado study concluded that a "tight web of supervision, treatment and surveillance" - like that offered by shared living arrangements - was more important in maintaining public safety than where a sex offender resides.

Colorado is one of the few states where shared living arrangements are used, English said. It also is one of the few states that uses polygraphs to monitor sex offenders and requires lifetime supervision of some.

English said none of the 15 new crimes committed by the 130- member study group involved sexual contact, and most were identified through polygraph examinations. Only one was detected by law enforcement. Two were reported by group members and one man reported himself.

"The way we manage sex offenders is so tight, it is a real success story," English said.

Twenty-two other states have passed laws creating buffer zones around schools, child-care centers and playgrounds where sex offenders can't live. Again, researchers say there is no evidence to show that these restrictions prevent sex crimes.

A 2007 Minnesota Department of Corrections study of new offenses committed by known sex offenders concluded that none would have been prevented by a boundary restriction.

Most of the 224 sex offender recidivists surveyed for the study found their victims through another adult, and none made contact with a child near a school, park or playground.

"It is unlikely that residency restrictions would have a deterrent effect because the types of offenses such a law is designed to prevent are exceptionally rare and, in the case of Minnesota, virtually nonexistent over the last 16 years," the report said.

Colorado has no state buffer zone law, though there have been several unsuccessful attempts to pass one. Some local governments, however, have adopted such measures.

These laws are ineffective because sex offenders most often prey on a victim they know, English said.

"We keep passing public policy as if these are 'stranger' crimes, but most are not," she said.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (Bill Of Rights)