Tuesday, September 1, 2009

TX - My 10-year prison term as a sex offender

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In 2002 I was transferred from the private prison in Venus to the state-run unit at Dayton, Texas. This unit, known as the Hightower unit, would be my last prison unit over a ten-year prison term. It was here that my request was finally answered. I was finally allowed into the Texas Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP). What had started as an I+-60 (Inmate Request to Official) in 1994 to SOTP director Judy Johnson had become a regular barrage of requests every 18 months for a decade and numerous letters to other officials, protesting the fact that prior to decisions in about 2002 an inmate could be released to parole before the end of his sentence, but he was not allowed into the SOTP until the last 18 months of his sentence. That would eventually change as the legislature has granted some additional resources to the SOTP.

It was interesting to see the some of the faces at Hightower with whom I had served time on other units. Some of those faces had always been known to be sex offenders. Others had managed to conceal the nature of their offenses, and one offender had been known to openly condemn any known sex offenders on other units. In prison there was an old saying "Be all you want to be in the TDC" and these offenders who were incarcerated for sex offenses but concealed their past by assaulting, condemning or brutalizing other sex offenders were classic examples of this mantra. There were also offenders who naturally claimed their innocence. I can now look back and recall two offenders, with whom I would eventually get into physical altercations, who claimed to have never committed a sex offense. I doubted their story then but now I have to admit I could have been wrong in light of recent stories that the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles have been imposing the so-called condition "X" on prospective parolees for years without factual or legal basis. This means that a person with no convictions for sexual violence could be labeled a "sex offender" and made to register for life based only on the whim of the parole board in closed hearing without any meaningful due process of law.

The majority of inmates coming into the SOTP in my experience resisted treatment at first because they were used to surviving in a prison system where sex offenders are not respected. The only exception were the few of us who had volunteered for the program. Even so, in time nearly all of the offenders in the SOTP program with who I participated came to work the system and to make positive changes in their lives. Since my 2004 release I have encountered several of these people discretely. I went so far as to help one get a job a couple of years ago and another passed along information to me that helped me land a client for a former employer. But for the most part we maintain our distance from one another and live our lives without contact. As the program says, "No More Victims." For me treatment was about continuing what I had been doing for myself. Eventually I came to realize that I had committed my crimes because I had a bad view of reality and an inaccurate definition of manhood. As a teenager, I had seen two goals: (a) Graduate and get into a good college and (b) Get laid. It did not matter to me back then what it took. I had to achieve my goals at any cost. The ends justified the means.

Almost everyone has thinking errors, but criminals such as myself have more than the average and we never discipline ourselves enough to cope with these thinking errors. Through the thinking errors we develop over time, a poor worldview emerges that festers into a fantasy land in which we can do no wrong. Everything we do is justified and all of our actions are golden. When we are caught, we blame our compulsions and our critics. We do not stop and say "I accept responsibility." Maybe when I die someone will finally see proof that during that hot afternoon day in July 1994 when I decided to turn myself in and accept responsibility I had made the choice which disproves the myth that a sex offender cannot change. It is not easy changing the way one has thought for more than a month or two. It is even more difficult to change one's mindset after eighteen years. In the Texas Department of Criminal Justice I had picked up bad habits that follow me even today, five years later. I still have my prison commissary cup from which I drink my never ending coffee. But I also did pick up some good habits. I earned a college degree from Lee College in Baytown while serving time at the TDCJ Ferguson unit. I also learned the cost of violence by watching people with whom I served time injured and hurt. But most importantly I learned about the thinking errors which had resulted in my prison term through the SOTP. I learned empathy.

Over the course of my participation in the SOTP I learned a lot about who I am. Some of what I learned I had started to explore in the KIAROS program on Ferguson unit years before. I believe that my participation in KIAROS was a good step in the direction towards the SOTP. Both led me to explore things about myself that any person would rather leave undisturbed. As the days moved on and I worked further into the program I soon found myself able to help others in the program and to start feeling as if I belonged into the community. As I prepared for release I worked to finalize a plan that had started back on Ferguson. I finalized my plan in May 2004 and was released in July. But planning for my release had started in 1999 while assigned to Ferguson 1-Dorm.

Many inmates used to laugh at my white plastic binder. The binder had been issued from some program or another to another inmate who had thrown it away. Never one to waste the opportunity, I had grabbed that binder and still have it somewhere in a box to this day. That binder was the start of my post-release plan, handwritten and pages long. I would spend hours with that binder and hand drawn tables estimating a budget intended to restart my life with only the minimal resources available to me. In 1999 I had also started collecting the names and addresses of halfway houses which were later hand copied like a medieval monk for distribution to others. At one point when library resources were available in my time on Stiles unit, I had started researching where I would live. At first I had planned to move nowhere around central Texas so as to make a clean break from everything in the past and start over. Statistics found in the almanac and statistical abstracts on Stiles unit had given me three options: San Antonio, Dallas or Austin. These three cities at the time had the best mix of low unemployment versus cost of living. Due to the high cost of living, Austin was dead last on my list of places to move. Yet, from 1999 to 2004 I wrote hundreds of letters to organizations asking for assistance. I needed a halfway house. I had no place to live when I was to be released. Without a residence I was uncertain of how I could comply with sex offender registration requirements or how I could possibly make it in life.

Numerous Christian organizations and secular organizations alike declined my requests for assistance based only on my status as a sex offender. Some had legitimate concerns such as their proximity to schools, etc. Others gave no reason, but promised me that God loves me...which I found somewhat humorous and often joked that "God loves me, but they don't." One group was honest, however, and this church out in west Texas candidly explained that they rely on donations from their community to operate their church and they just did not want to upset the cash flow. Somehow I had more respect for that small church than any other group that promised me eternal salvation but could not honestly tell me they were likewise more afraid of public criticism than of their own convictions and beliefs. It was not until immediately before my release that I received a letter from a group in Austin, Texas that was willing to give me a place to stay. That halfway house, now closed due to mismanagement and drug problems would later retract their invitation in a letter dated late June 2004. I remember sitting in my cell reading this letter and asking "what do I do now?" I had no idea. My plan had started to be tailored toward this place and the rug had been jerked out without warning.

That night while working as an SSI orderly on the Hightower unit I stopped to think. I realized that their retraction letter was not certified. No record existed to my knowledge of its arrival to my hands. The convict in me just decided to keep the little secret and proceed as if I had never received the letter in the first place. I wasn't sure the deception would work, and if it failed I knew I needed some other plan. But I wasn't sure what I could do other than to go to the police department and advise them that I needed to stay in their jail as I had no other register able address. I would later learn that I had another option. A homeless shelter near the police station would have accepted me on a nightly first-come, first-serve basis. The area is known for drugs, prostitution and other criminal activity and in retrospect I am glad I did not go that route. Instead I simply went forward as if I never received the retraction letter and on 6 July 2004 I showed up at the halfway house with my initial acceptance letter and one bag of property.

Looking back on my release I think I was just ready to move on. My release was neither too soon or too late. I had experienced everything I was intended to experience in TDCJ. Most offenders will probably smirk at my writings on these years but to me it was and is an integral part of my life. One night, days before my release from prison, I was transferred from Hightower to the Huntsville unit, where I had a couple of final prison meals and happened across an old friend from the Terrell unit, _____. It was appropriate that this older convict from Terrell who had helped me start my time off right get the opportunity to see me before I left prison. Perhaps there was a divine intervention that placed him at the Huntsville unit prior to my release. I do not know. What I am certain of is that when I saw him and flagged him down that day, shook his hand and continued along my way from the chow hall back to the transient housing area, I was saying good bye to a time in my life I will never forget. _____ and I never did get the chance to commandeer the prison intercom and play the Beatles but at least he did get the opportunity to have a lasting positive effect on a young kid doing a long sentence in a bad environment. Because _____ is now on parole I do not have contact with him, though I would think that there are positives to allowing ex-offenders to support one another. I know from the Texas Sex Offender Registry that he is currently on parole and unemployed, no doubt struggling like all of us on the registry. if anything, maybe he will have the chance to read this blog some day and see the impact he had on my life. Maybe he will not. Most likely we will just continue doing time on the outside the same as we did within the walls--slowly.

The night before I was to be released from prison, I packed my bags and waited. After ten years I was good at that. Breakfast came and I went to eat, then returned to my cell. Soon convicts were called for release, but my name was not listed. The officer would not talk to me, nor would he concern himself with my prison timesheet that showed I was through with my sentence. Frustrated that morning I watched inmates leave the cell block for release and continued to call for the officer to get a supervisor on the floor. I did not act like an inmate. I did not threaten lawsuits, violence or the other garbage most convicts spewed. I tried to be reasonable. ...and they tried to ignore me.... Eventually the guard was starting to shower those of us on the cell block. I used this as my chance to get the cell open, to make them deal with me peacefully. When my door opened I grabbed my possessions and went to the officer to explain--again--that I was supposed to be released. But the system does not make mistakes. People in the system never overlook things. I had to be wrong. This is the response most guards assume by default. When the guard ordered me to return to my cell, I refused peacefully and respectfully. I stood at parade rest in a non-threatening stance three feet from the officer and asked "Sir, if you did ten years to the day and were in my shoes, would you go back to your cell?"

The officer threatened me with pepper spray and I sat down next to my property bag, crossed legs, looking at the floor. I had interrupted the showers and many inmates were not angry at the system for forgetting to release an inmate whose sentence was complete. They were angry at me for interrupting their shower routine. Still I sat there. I calmly repeated that I needed a supervisor and that my sentence was complete. The officer repeated his threats to use pepper spray and we found ourselves in a stalemate. Eventually after several minutes another officer in the corridor called to the officer that they needed an inmate Caldwell for release. The officer ordered me to leave his cell block, gruffly. In many ways I felt bad for that officer and for every guard who had been in his position for those years. Looking back I don't know if I could have done that job. He followed orders that turned out to be wrong. What if he had used force against me? Would he have been in the wrong? Would the state have backed him up? Or would they have let him swing in the political winds for not getting a supervisor? It was an awkward position for both of us that day, and as we walked to the cell block gate, I tried to express this as best I could in a prison setting. I wish I could now go back to that guard and say what I truly feel: "We were both just small mushrooms in a large field, well fed by the caretakers of the lawn."

I was processed out of the TDCJ and paid the inmate working the front area a little extra for better clothes than the random pick I would otherwise receive. Weeks earlier I had refused to cut my hair and had paid another convict to give me a decent (free-world) haircut. Coupled with a decent set of clothes that fit, I at least didn't look as much like an inmate when I left as I could have...which turned out to be an important factor in my success. As my group left the fabled gates of the Huntsville unit I did not linger. I hefted my bag of property and jogged to the bus stop. One guy behind me called out to ask why I was running. I remember turning, still moving, and shouting that "...on Ferguson they make you run up a hill, why not when you are leaving?" As I ran, I remember also shouting, more for myself than them that it would be the only time I could run from a prison without worrying I would be shot. (Thinking back on several notorious escapes from 1994 to 2004 and the number of people who escaped without being hit by a single bullet, the risk may not seem like much.)

I made it to the store/bus stop before the rest of the crowd, purchased a Gatorade, bag of chips and a wallet. Then I went to redeem my bus voucher (which still hangs on my home office wall). I would board the bus just leaving that morning while watching the other ex-offenders sit at the bus station watching the bus leave. It was a good way to start my life over. Once again I had done what the others hadn't and I had stood up to act on my own initiative and found that I was leading the pack. But as I left Huntsville that day I felt sad. I knew I was leaving prison while many others remained behind me for years to come. Some, like _____ would serve another few years before being deported to his home nation of Slovakia. Others like _____ will die in prison, having been convicted of capital murder in his early 20's. A few would eventually be paroled eventually, but as the bus headed to my first stop in Houston I found myself thinking about the men that had impacted my life in prison and whose life I had impacted. There was a young couple in the seat opposite mine at the rear of the bus. As we went through Houston they started asking me about prison. Somehow the guy who never knows when to shut up (or so I am told) could not talk about something so intimate as those years now behind me. It was not that I was ashamed; it was that I knew they would never understand my experiences. To this day I have a hard time helping people relate to the honest reality of life in a Texas prison. Beyond the bullshit of ex-cons who tell their tales and build their stories into woeful legends of horror and victimization at the hands of "the man," there is a clear and objective reality that you have to experience to understand.

The difficulty of relating my experiences in the Texas prison system had another effect. For the first time, as a participant in the SOTP, I was in an environment where I could consider my life in prison in relative peace and discover more about my relationship to my father. I had never understood him. He had served in Vietnam during the 1960's and had been changed by that war in ways that still affect him. I never understood the bond he felt for Vietnam as a conflict or for the men with whom he had served. I never understood how he could not talk about Vietnam in any detail other than a few short glimpses into his life in that small country. But as I started to look at my time in prison while still on Hightower unit I found myself in the same position. Then, as I rode to Houston on that Greyhound bus, I came to realize that for me, prison was like my father's Vietnam. I could not accurately tell anyone what prison was like or how prison had affected me. Prison was too important a part of my life to fail to accurately relate its complexity as a horrific experience, a boring experience, even at times a humorous experience. As I write these words, five years later, I still cannot tame the flashes of individual moments that span the spectrum of hate, anger, fear, terror, humor, laughter, confusion and irony I will forever remember as the TDCJ.

Sam Caldwell is an IT professional living in Round Rock, Texas with his wife. He has been interviewed by the Dallas Morning News (2007) and twice by a member of the ACLU for their public access television show. A registered voter, Sam has also testified in front of legislative committees and continues to advocate reason.

"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)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

Facebook, Twitter Revolutionizing How Parents Stalk Their College-Aged Kids

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"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)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

CA - Woman Admits to Having Sex With 14-Year-Old Boy

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Of course, a woman gets a slap on the wrist, while a man doing the same thing would be thrown in prison for a long time. And so the double standards continue!


By Kimberlee Sakamoto

REDWOOD CITY (AP) - A 31-year-old San Bruno woman who admitted to luring a 14-year-old boy into her van for sex will avoid state prison, but is still facing time in county jail after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors.

San Mateo County prosecutors say _____ is facing up to a year in jail after pleading no contest to unlawful sexual intercourse. Had she been convicted by a jury, _____ could have been sent to prison for four years.
- Even four years is less than most men get for the same thing.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe says _____ met the victim while cruising for teenage boys at a movie theater in March 2008.

She is due back in court for sentencing in November.

Besides an expected jail term, prosecutors say _____ will have to register as a sex offender.

"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)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

MN - Missing boy's mom: Jaycee's story 'makes my heart smile'

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Interview with Patty Wetterling - June 27, 2008


By Chris Welch - CNN

ST. PAUL (CNN) -- News of Jaycee Dugard's safe return after 18 years in captivity gives Patty Wetterling hope.

Wetterling's son Jacob is still missing after a gunpoint abduction almost 20 years ago near their home in St. Joseph, Minnesota.

"Jacob was with his best friend and his brother. They witnessed it," Wetterling says, recalling that day back in October 1989. "They saw this masked man with a gun."

Jaycee Dugard's return "is reaffirming," Wetterling adds. "There are cases where nobody believed [the children] were coming home, and they did. This is one. So for me, it makes my heart smile. It's a success."

Both children -- Jaycee Dugard and Jacob Wetterling -- were 11 years old at the time of their abductions.

Wetterling met Dugard's mother, Terry Probyn, on a television show -- "it might have been 'Geraldo,'" as Wetterling recalls -- shortly after Jaycee's disappearance, and they also spoke on the phone occasionally.

"It's just phenomenal," Wetterling says of Dugard's case. "I know a lot of parents of missing children, and we all hope and pray that one day we'll get to hold our kids again. That's the goal."

Wetterling says she hasn't spoken to Probyn since her daughter's discovery because the media chaos has yet to subside and since the family undoubtedly "needs some time, they need some space ... to heal."

But knowing that the Dugard family now has a chance to rebuild their lives does more than fuel her optimism for Jacob. It gives her reason to go to work every day.

Since her son's kidnapping, Wetterling has turned being an advocate for families of missing children into a full-time job.

After helping create the sex offender registry for Minnesota and subsequently for the nation, she helped build Team HOPE -- Help Offering Parents Empowerment -- a parent-to-parent mentoring program for mothers and fathers in similar situations.

"Most parents know nothing about child abduction, so when it happens you just scramble for what's out there," Wetterling says.

She felt so strongly that children needed a bigger voice in government that she ran for Congress in 2004 and 2006. She lost, but not without garnering more than 40 percent of the vote each time.

A secondary math teacher until just shortly before Jacob's abduction, Wetterling currently heads up the sexual violence prevention program at the Minnesota Department of Health in St. Paul.

"We're all seeking solutions ... some kind of protection, some kind of prevention work. So that's really where my energy flowed. 'How can we stop this from happening in the first place?'"

A large portion of Wetterling's job centers on ending social norms in television, video games and advertising that, she says, tolerate sexual victimization and in some cases "sort of encourage it."

"We [need to] collectively say, 'This is not OK -- you cannot sexually victimize.'"

Through the program's five-year strategic plan, Wetterling hopes to lower the numbers of children who become victims. But she says she'll also continue educating others and, specifically, urging people to report any peculiar behavior.

For example, the case of Jaycee Dugard's is similar to many of the children who've turned up after being abducted in that the only reason they were found is because of "somebody noticing something and calling the police."

With Dugard, it was a police officer who noticed something suspicious, and Wetterling urges everyone to be just as vigilant.

"These kids do not come running forward on their own. They are found by someone else," she explains. "The bottom-line lesson is to tell people to report things when they see them. Trust your instincts ... You'd want somebody sticking up for your child, so don't second-guess. And call."

Wetterling described another example -- the case of a child taken from Wisconsin to a hotel in Texas.

"The maid in the hotel said, 'There's something not right about this relationship.' And the second time this girl was on 'America's Most Wanted,' the maid was watching and called the show. Within minutes [the child] was found."

An instance like that or Jaycee Dugard's could very well be what brings Jacob home someday.

"C'mon home, Jake," Wetterling says when asked what she'd tell her son in the event he sees this story. "We never quit. We need you home. And to the man who took him: It's time. It's time to lift the burden that you've carried, as well, for all these years and tell us where he is and what happened. It's time."

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"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)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

MA - GPS alone won’t protect us

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GPS is nothing more than a placebo to make you feel safe, but it's a waste of tax payer money. It doesn't tell you where a person is in real time, and doesn't tell you if they are with a child or what they are doing. It may deter some, but the truly dangerous predator is not going to care about that. If they are intent on committing a crime, they will.


By John Larivee and Len Engel

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled recently that sex offenders convicted prior to 2006 cannot automatically be required to wear GPS devices to monitor their location. The decision set off a hue and cry regarding questions of public safety, with some critics even suggesting that it would result in sex offenders flocking to Massachusetts.

But the likely result will be quite the opposite. The decision underscores that, while GPS monitoring can be a helpful tool, it’s no substitute for active human supervision of released offenders. The court decision will likely push Massachusetts toward a more comprehensive approach to safeguarding its citizens.

Electronic monitoring has been used since 1964 to keep track of individuals convicted of drug possession, drunk driving, domestic assault, housing fraud, and credit card fraud. More recently, it has been used to supervise sex offenders. But does GPS monitoring of sex offenders provides the protection we assume?

There is a perception that offenders with GPS supervision are constantly watched, and that such surveillance alone prevents further crimes. Not so. Most GPS monitoring enables the parole or probation officer to track an offender’s movements after they have occurred. If an offender is prohibited from being within 100 feet of a school, an officer will not likely know that the offender went within 100 feet of a school until after reviewing the data showing the offender’s movements. In rare circumstances, an offender’s movements may be monitored in real time 24 hours a day by a technician or officer, but this is labor-intensive and expensive.

Also, the reliability of GPS monitoring suffers from technical problems including cellular interference - similar to dropped cellphone calls - and from the ability of some offenders to remove the bracelet without alarming surveillance officers. Moreover, GPS cannot prevent contact with possible victims within approved zones, such as the supermarket. Finally, most sexual assault victims know the perpetrators, whether as extended family members or community acquaintances, and GPS will do little to prevent that victimization.

Indeed, using GPS to track the sex offenders who are most likely to re-offend does little to curb their behavior. After a while, with little personal intervention by professionals or supervision officials, an offender is likely to ignore the device in an effort to satisfy destructive and antisocial urges. While the officer will eventually discover the offender’s violation, it may well be too late to prevent another victim from being attacked.

GPS is best used in conjunction with many other tools designed to reduce the risk of re-offense. A wise approach concentrates on those most likely to re-offend. Such parolees should be given a comprehensive re-entry plan that may include work, counseling, and other obligations.

Electronic monitoring can be geared specifically toward checking compliance with this regimen. Rather than just tracking offenders through GPS this model focuses on supervising how offenders interact with the community - and on promoting an active, constructive relationship between an offender and a parole officer - in order to reduce the risk that the offender might return to criminal behavior. The officer explains to the offender the responsibilities regarding the supervision plan including attending meetings and therapy sessions and staying away from people and areas that could potentially trigger a relapse.

The GPS device is then used to identify flight patterns, enforce curfew requirements, validate whereabouts and maintain exclusion zones. The GPS device supports the officer’s ability to keep the offender focused on rehabilitation and risk-reduction; just as importantly, it is used to re-enforce positive behavior.

Massachusetts is fortunate to have this knowledge and experience close at hand. Since 1996, the state Parole Board has employed a comprehensive approach to supervising and managing sex offenders in the community. Ten years later the board introduced GPS - but it never assumed GPS could take the place of human supervision. Instead, the board employed the devices to support the existing management model for released sex offenders. In 13 years of the program, with and without GPS, there has not been a single sex offense committed by the more than 275 sex offender parolees on this caseload.

GPS is helpful but alone is insufficient. Policy makers in Massachusetts and nationally who are interested in enhancing public safety need to follow the evidence.

"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)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

UK - 'Vigilantes' target sex offenders' homes

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VIGILANTES are targeting sex offenders in North East Lincolnshire.

Police are concerned for the welfare of the families of convicted sex offenders – who are facing threats of violence and damage to their homes.

The details emerged in a case heard at Grimsby Crown Court in which the prosecuting barrister applied for reporting restrictions on the name and address of a defendant.

While the Grimsby Telegraph successfully argued against the proposed restrictions, the paper has agreed not to print the precise address of _____, 27, after hearing concerns from the police and the judge.

Earlier this year, it was reported how residents on the Nunsthorpe estate gathered outside the home of a convicted paedophile – not _____ – and hurled abuse at him.

He was moved by police and Shoreline housing officers to a different address.

In a letter to the court, PC Brian Bagnall said: "In the last few months, there has been an increase in violence and damage at the homes of persons who are subject to notification requirements."

"There was an incident recently when, following publicity, police were deployed to an incident in Grimsby when they had to relocate a male and his family."

"Two other addresses have been subject to anonymous attacks, with damage and threats of violence."

"I am concerned about so-called vigilantes who feel it appropriate to target people and their families."

Judge Jeremy Richardson QC described the actions of vigilantes as "monstrous".

He said that, while he has no power to prevent reporting of his address, he was pleased with the Telegraph's offer to simply say _____ lives in Grimsby.

"This newspaper appears to me to be responsible and this seems to be the sensible way forward," he said.

Child pornography was found on _____'s laptop when he took it in for repairs, the court heard.

_____ admitted six counts of making indecent video clips, which were found on his laptop on July 8.

James Sampson, prosecuting at Grimsby Crown Court, said _____ took the laptop to PC World to be fixed and store technicians found the video clips in the deleted files.

Stuart Lody, mitigating, said _____ was searching for general pornography when he downloaded the clips, which showed young boys involved in sexual acts.

The court heard how he was unable to see what he was downloading until it was saved to his computer.

Judge Jeremy Richardson QC said _____ had a penchant for "extreme" porn and "happened upon" the illegal material which he watched once and deleted.

Judge Richardson told _____: "You are in no way a committed paedophile but you had this material on your computer and you have committed a crime."

He was given a nine-month suspended sentence and was banned from working with children.

"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)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

NY - Schumer: HUD must keep sex offenders out of public housing

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Just more grandstanding. He must be running for something! Why do you need to get in front of news cameras to make and pass bills? Grandstanding, that's why!


By Gerald McKinstry

WHITE PLAINS - The federal government must do a better job of keeping sex offenders out of public housing, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (Contact) said yesterday.

More than 3,000 sex offenders nationwide are breaking the law by living in taxpayer-subsidized housing, New York's senior senator said, so he called on the leaders of the Department of Housing and Urban Development to step up law enforcement.
- If they are breaking the law, then why not arrest them?  What law are they "breaking?"  And why are you asking HUD to do the job the police should be doing?

"It's obvious, people like this shouldn't be in public housing," Schumer said during a news conference at the White Plains Housing Authority. "Too many offenders are slipping through the cracks, and they put residents at an unnecessary risk."
- So why is it against the law to live in a home?  I'm sure if you had your way, they'd all live in prison, or be shot on site, right?

Many offenders cleverly circumvent the law by using aliases and crossing state lines, Schumer said. A standardized system of conducting background checks and consistent recertification on the part of housing authorities would help local authorities properly screen residents, he said.

"Unless you have national background checks done across the country, you're inevitably going to have sex offenders living" in public housing, the senator said. "They've learned how to avoid the law."
- Yeah right, make all sex offenders appear as if they are scheming to boost your "reputation" and to get votes, we know.  Politics as usual, right?

Schumer blamed HUD's leadership under the Bush administration for lax enforcement.
- Finger pointing as usual!  What about the current administration?

In this proposal, local housing authorities would conduct thorough checks more often or face penalties - the intent of an improved system would be to make it more cost-effective for authorities to complete searches, Schumer said.

A recent report by the Office of Inspector General showed that thousands of sex offenders are living in subsidized housing nationally, violating a 1997 law that bans them from receiving rental assistance.
- You pass laws which force them from homes, jobs and to live in clusters, but it's not your fault?  Come on, stop the BS!

Although none of the offenders lives in the White Plains housing units, Schumer estimated that more than 450 were living in Westchester, perhaps 100 in Rockland and several dozen in Putnam, making it plausible that they could slip into such housing.

A HUD spokesman said the agency was deeply concerned about the safety of residents and was redoubling its efforts "to make sure families are living in the safest possible environments."

The agency is reviewing policies and working toward new procedures to address the problem and welcomed the help of Schumer, the spokesman said.

Schumer's proposal resonated with Barbara Man[0xad]gam, a Hillcrest woman who went on a rent strike this year after learning that a convicted Level 3 sex offender who served prison time for abusing a boy had moved into her complex. She spoke of her day-to-day experiences and the difficulty in getting the offender out of the unit.

"Because I'm living with a disability, it's hard enough," Mangam said. "It's impossible to get a tenant out."

The plan would help groups better manage public housing, said Mack Carter, executive director of the White Plains Housing Authority, which works closely with police and parole agencies to keep offenders off the premises.

"It will help tremendously," Carter said. "It will support our efforts and housing authorities throughout the nation."

"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)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved

MA - Pair seek to sue town

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By David Pepose

DALTON -- A Dalton husband and wife are suing the town and the state Department of Children and Families, claiming they were victims of a "witchhunt" that resulted in his arrest and her having to flee the country with their three children.

John G. Swomley, the attorney for Dalton residents Louis and Elena Piccone, filed suit on their behalf in United States District Court in Springfield last week, seeking unspecified damages for economic loss, legal fees, and emotional distress.

Piccone, a former patent lawyer for General Electric, was accused early last year of molesting his youngest child, and he was later cleared of the charges against him. His wife, a Russian immigrant, took the children from the U.S. to Russia, following the DCF’s charges.

Since then, all criminal charges filed against both Piccones -- ranging from kidnapping to neglect to abuse -- have been dismissed, stemming from irregularities in the DCF investigation, including one social worker’s lack of interview training, as well as her refusal to videotape her talks with the children.

According to the suit, the Department of Children and Families in January 2008 "received an uncorroborated, totem-pole hearsay report that Mr. Piccone’s 3-year-old son had allegedly said something suggesting that he had been abused by Mr. Piccone. Š Based on that one alleged ‘statement,’ DCF and the Dalton Police began a witchhunt against Mr. and Mrs. Piccone that ultimately resulted in Mrs. Piccone being forced to leave the country with her children and Mr. Piccone being thrown in jail."

The suit claims the Dalton Police searched the family’s home last year without a warrant, and carried out other searches using warrants based on misrepresentations or omissions of critical facts. The suit also alleges DCF gained legal custody of the children using similar tactics.

The Piccone suit names 11 defendants, including seven DCF employees, two members of the Dalton Police Department, the Town of Dalton, and a state police officer.

Swomley said they were filing constitutional violations at the federal level.

"The [DCF] behaved horribly vindictively," Swomley said. "The real reason this got as far as it went was because [Mr. Piccone] insisted on protecting his children and his family’s rights."

Piccone left the Berkshires for Russia last week, and was unable to be reached for comment.

Swomley said Piccone has been unable to have his name expunged from law enforcement databases ranging from INTERPOL to the Sex Offender Registry, and that his legal battles interfered with several potentially lucrative patent deals from pharmaceutical companies.

Police Chief John W. Bartels Jr., named a defendant in the suit, said he only learned of the complaint after being contacted by The Eagle. "It’s news to me," he said, declining to comment further.

The Dalton Town Clerk’s office said they had not received any complaint thus far. Meanwhile, representatives from the DCF said they do not comment on pending legal proceedings.

Swomley said Bartels was named in the suit because Bartels "allowed the court to think that the mother had custody taken away by artfully wording his affidavit -- she never lost her custody. Š In terms of legal liability, the Town of Dalton served that one up to us on a silver platter."

Yet one noticeable omission from the complaint was the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office. Swomley said that he was not targeting them because "they have qualified immunity and, in some cases, absolute immunity."

Swomley said that much of the motivation for this suit was to prove a point to the DCF, as well as the families it typically deals with. He alleged the DCF’s "unholy relationship" with the District Attorney’s Office helps "manufacture" wrongful cases through suggestive or agenda-driven interviews.

"[DCF] operates in the shadows, basically, in many respects dealing with people with low income and modest educations," Swomley said. "And the standard of proof in this case -- and in all of these cases -- are the lowest standards of proof in any legal proceeding."

"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)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved