Thursday, July 23, 2009

FL - Bridge sex-offender saga played out in Iowa

View the article here

Where is Mikey when you need him?

07/23/2009

By JULIE BROWN

A flock of sex offenders camping out in alleys, sleeping under bridges and hiding in places where police can't keep track of them.

A patchwork of inconsistent city, township and county laws carving out zones where sex offenders are not welcome.

And squeamish politicians petrified, afraid that if they try to craft a fix, their next attack ad will be a snapshot of them with their arms around a sexual predator.

Sound familiar?

It may all seem like Miami-Dade's quandary over what to do with the sex offenders living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway -- but it's not.

Iowa leaders faced nearly the same issues, but in April they settled things by doing something Florida hasn't found the political will to do: change its sexual-predator law.

This past spring, Iowa's state legislature -- with almost no dissent -- passed a new sex-offender law that superseded local ordinances and eased residency requirements for minor sex offenders.

The law ended the ban against some sex offenders living within 2,000 feet of a school or day-care center and created other zones where they are prohibited from lingering,visiting or working.

The new statute is less confusing, and while it's not perfect, it has been lauded by law enforcement, victims' rights advocates, the ACLU, prosecutors and legislators as a positive step.

Iowa offers a roadmap for Florida to break its political stalemate over how to deal with convicted sex offenders who have left prison.

FAULTS WITH LAW

The story in Iowa began in 2005 when the state legislature passed into law a strict measure prohibiting all sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or day-care center. But it became problematic almost from the start.

Like Florida's law, it was written so broadly that even those who only gave a pornographic magazine to a minor were considered as dangerous as someone who raped a 9-year-old. In Iowa, both were classified as sex offenders and had to register and live outside the 2,000-foot zone. (Florida's law is 1,000 feet)

"We were just about the first state in the nation to pass a sex-offender law," said Randall Wilson, legal director for Iowa's ACLU. "It sounded good on paper to a lot of politicians. But after several years, everyone realized we made a terrible mistake."

Iowa state Sen. Jerry Behn said that legislators were nervous about changing the law at a time of media frenzy over child abductions and deadly sex crimes against children.
- And this is the whole issue, it's about saving their own personal jobs, and not looking soft on crime!

"Nobody wants a flier saying you are going soft on sex predators," Behn said.

But law enforcement prevailed by pointing out the problems with the law.

Police had a tough time enforcing it for several reasons: With no place to live, sexual offenders often absconded; police spent too much time trying to find them; and when they did find them, they couldn't register them because they had no residence.

Like South Florida, Des Moines had its share of sex offenders living under bridges, in alleys and on the streets.

William Melville, president of the Iowa Association of Chiefs of Police and Peace Officers and a Sioux City police sergeant, said that at one point the city had a map with all of the exclusionary zones circled on it.

"Someone would come up to us and ask, `Where's this little white area where I can go?' "

FIXING THE LAW

How did Iowa do it?

Legislators were prodded by some powerful forces -- all of whom lobbied hard for change.

With an election year on the horizon in 2010, the jittery lawmakers formed a committee that met in secret and crafted a law they felt the entire legislature -- and the public -- could live with.

Among other things, the law created three tiers whereby those who committed very minor sex crimes would be permitted to live near a school or other place where children could congregate. The very worst sex offenders still must adhere to the 2,000-foot ban and other strict rules.

"The law enforcement community was pretty united," said Ross Loder of the Iowa Department of Public Safety. "We are not nearly concerned about where the sex offender sleeps; we are really concerned about what they do when they are awake."

But in Florida, local and state government leaders continue to point fingers at each other and file lawsuits to find an answer.

Meanwhile, attempts by the Florida Legislature to fix the problem have run into opposition.

A bill that state Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, has pushed for several years would have streamlined the state's sex-offender residency rules, eliminating the hodgepodge of local ordinances.

The bill nearly passed in 2008 but was blocked by Miami-Dade legislators, who even made a failed attempt to have their county excluded from the bill's requirements.

Gov. Charlie Crist has refused to step in, saying it's a local matter.

LOCAL CHALLENGES

Democratic state Sen. Dan Gelber, who is running for state attorney general, agrees that something needs to be done but says a lot more thoughtful policy must go into it.

"Florida has much more different challenges than Iowa," said Gelber, whose district includes the Julia Tuttle Causeway. "What we're not going to do is have statewide lower standards and open our neighborhoods because some professor says it's OK."

Gelber said he firmly believes that sex offenders are likely to continue to commit sex crimes. He favors some of the proposals being hammered out by Ron Book, chairman of Miami-Dade's Homeless Trust. Book is trying to find housing alternatives for the homeless sex offenders now living under the causeway.
- Well, his FEELINGS are not backed up by facts and statistics!

Book said Thursday that they are looking at several properties in South Miami, as well as the old North Dade Detention Center, where staff offices have previously been converted into living quarters.
- Ron Book is an idiot!  Do you really think those coming out of prison will be okay with living at another detention center?  Are you really this ignorant?

He conceded, however, that moving them is not the solution. "We don't need a Band-Aid; we need a longer-term solution. As more and more of these sexual predators exit the correctional system and there's less and less space, what do you do with the population?"
- Um, you let them get on with their lives and integrate back into society, maybe?


But Lode, of the Iowa Department of Public Safety, warns that the more people marginalize sexual predators, the more isolated they become from society -- and the more likely they are to recommit crimes.

Said Lode: "It takes political courage to step up and enact changes."
- You expect politicians to have courage and common sense?  What a joke!




"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)


IL - Illinois citizen angry because a RSO is on the board helping educate people!

Video Link | Jim Prevo YouTube Channel




"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)


FL - Commissioner Marc Sarnoff Leads Lawsuit over Sex Offenders Under Bridge

THIS NEEDS TO BE TAKEN UP TO THE SUPREME COURT, APPARENTLY THE STATE AND COUNTY OFFICIALS CANNOT GET THEIR THUMBS OUT OF THEIR BUTTS LONG ENOUGH TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM THEY CREATED!

All you have to do is repeal the county laws and go back to the state law, which is 1,000 feet instead of 2,500 feet, or better yet, since no studies have been done to back that residency restrictions even work, repeal all the residency laws. Then take the registry offline and used by police only, like it was before it became an online hit list.

Ron Book and many other counties, lobbied and pushed for these laws, now, as usual, they as passing the buck (blame) off to someone else.

Yep, politics as usual!

Many of these offenders are NOT on probation or parole, so you have no right, besides the usual yearly registration, to monitor and track them 24/7.

This sex offender moral panic needs to stop.

When are you going to start listening to the experts and facts which prove that the registry, nor the residency laws have nothing to do with protecting children, but just further punishing those who have done their time, which is ex post facto and violates the state and US constitutions, which many of these hypocrites took an OATH to defend.

Oh well, just goes to show you, politics and hypocrisy as usual!

Push a problem out of sight, to protect yourself, and your organization, but, doesn't solve nothing. Typical politicians at work for you.

Ron Book, the hypocrite he is, said in one interview, that the registry nor residency laws would've protected his daughter from sexual abuse, because the Nanny he hired, did not have a criminal record and wasn't on any registry. Then in another discussion, he said it would've protected her. You see, double talking hypocrites who are out to save their own careers, reputation and businesses, but that is basically all.

This is why I hate politics, they are all lying jerks, IMO, for the most part.


Video Link



"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)


FL - Sex Offenders Could Get New Home (In a former jail, yeah right!)

Source Video | YouTube Video Link




"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)


The Misuse of Statistics by Parents for Megan's Law

Original Article

05/14/2009

By David Hess

I've been exploring Parents for Megan's Law's web site. It actually has some pretty good material with which I agree, like their tips on prevention.

Parents for Megan's Law actually gives some helpful statistics which make it clear that most children are victimized by family members and acquaintances, not by strangers. Unfortunately, they do not point out that 95% of those arrested for sex crimes in New York State (their base of operations) are first time offenders and thus are not listed on any registry. They also do not point out that the vast majority of sex offenders in New York State are not arrested for a repeat offense.

Unfortunately, they also do their share of twisting and misusing statistics:

Their offender statistics page states: "The typical pedophile commits an average of 280 sexual crimes during his lifetime." The source given is Able, G., et al. Self-reported Sex Crimes of Nonincarcerated Paraphiliacs. Journal of Interpersonal Violence 2:3-25, 1987

You can find the quoted number (actually 281.7) on p. 16 of the study. Parents for Megan's Law states that the number applies to a "typical pedophile." Apparently, they think the typical pedophile does not target girls. The number quoted refers only to offenders with male nonincest victims. Actually, the majority of pedophiles in the study targeted girls and committed an average of 23.2 offenses (far fewer than those who targeted male victims). If you define the "typical pedophile" as someone who was diagnosed as being a pedophile (not everyone who has molested a child is a pedophile) who targeted both male and female nonincest victims, the accurate statement would be that the offenders committed an average of 128 offenses (less than half the number Parents for Megan's Law reports).

But wait, there is even more! The numbers above give the "mean" (average) number of offenses. The study also lists the "median" number of offenses. It is important to know the difference between "mean" and "median." Mean is the average number of offenses per offender. Median gives the halfway point---half the offenders have committed more or less than this number of offenses.

In the Abel study, the offenders with male nonincest victims committed an average of 281.7 offenses. The median number of offenses was 10.1. This means that half of the offenders committed less than 10.1 offenses. The median number of offenses for those with female nonincest victims was 1.4. This means that a small percentage of offenders in the study are responsible for a disproportionately large amount of the offenses.

If you included all pedophiles with nonincest victims, an accurate statement would be that half of the pedophiles in the Abel study committed 4 or fewer offenses and had 3 or fewer victims. This is a far cry from Parents for Megan's Law's claim: "The typical pedophile commits an average of 280 sexual crimes during his lifetime."

This is just some of the "fun" some can have with the numbers. The study has other problems as well.

The sexual abuse of children is a serious issue. One does not need to hype the numbers in order to raise hysteria.


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)


OFF TOPIC - Don't Apologize For Me




"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)


FL - Sex Offenders under Julia Tuttle Causeway "may" get a new home (This is how the GOVERNMENT treats it's own citizens!)

Video Link



"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)


FL - Nowhere to hide for architects of offenders' colony

View the article here

07/23/2009

By FRED GRIMM

They're no longer so invisible. So many of the banished now reside under the Julia Tuttle Causeway that their camp spills out from beneath the bridge like the contents of a closet jammed too full.

Tourists, driving across Biscayne Bay, can now add a bayside sex offender colony to postcard memories of a Miami vacation. Local citizens, on their way to work, can see the wretched consequences of ill-considered city and county ordinances.

Of course, I'd rather pretend that it was the hard work of South Florida journalists who caused this sudden flurry of concern among county and city officials. But the local media has been reporting on grotesque conditions under the Tuttle for more than two years. Nobody in power seemed to mind all that much, not as long as the sex offenders consigned to the bridge were kept out of sight, their tents and shacks and campers down under the bridge.

NOW A SPECTACLE

But the Tuttle population grew to 50, 60, 70, 80, maybe more. The concrete shelves under the bridge could no longer contain this weird government creation -- men (and one woman) forced into homelessness and made to live in a public health hazard by official fiat.

Some government entity had obviously made a mistake. The evidence was in plain sight.

Suddenly, the city of Miami has decided to sue the state, including the Department of Transportation, claiming its agencies "have created, allowed and/or condoned the maintenance of a public nuisance.''

At their meeting last month, county commissioners (and favorite lobbyist Ron Book) complained angrily that the state Department of Corrections was dumping sex offenders under the bridge. But Book was talking this week about opening a temporary shelter.

SHIRKING BLAME

None of the local pols blamed the fools who actually created the problem -- that would be themselves. Both the county and the city (along with most municipalities in South Florida) expanded the state's 1,000-feet residency restriction around schools, kindergartens, day-care centers, parks, playgrounds, even school bus stops to a 2,500-foot radius.

The Florida Department of Corrections warned that the expanded zones eliminated all practical housing options, forced sex offenders into transient conditions and complicated efforts to track and treat offenders.

But no Miami-Dade politician would grapple in public with an unsavory problem of their own making. Not when it concerned the treatment of sex offenders.

Secretly, they were counting on a certain outfit to save them from their conundrum. And the ACLU had indeed ridden to their rescue.

CALCULATED AVOIDANCE

State Sen. Dave Aronberg (Email), whose tough and sensible bill aimed at fixing this problem statewide found little support in the last two sessions of the Legislature, told me months ago that state and local political leaders were calculating that it would be safer, politically, to just allow the courts to undo these ordinances.

When Miami-Dade was hit with a lawsuit July 9, the mayor and the county commissioners should have whipped out their checkbooks and made out hefty contributions to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Let the ACLU and a Miami-Dade circuit court judge take the heat and toss the restrictions. And they can erase that ever-more-visible reminder of political ineptitude marring the view from the Tuttle Causeway.


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)


OFF TOPIC - Exposed: PC repairmen access your personal data and photos

Something to think about, if you ever need to take your computer in for repair!




"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)