Saturday, September 5, 2009

CA - Kennedy & Suits - Discussion on Sex Offenders and Ricky's Life

Clearly these radio "shock jocks" have no clue to what they are talking about. They spew the usual hate and ignorance. They do not even know who Patty Wetterling or Fred Berlin are. Wow! Anything for ratings!

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TX - $1.9M for decades of imprisonment

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_____ may not have technically worked for the state of Texas, but he’s about to get a pension of sorts for the time he spent with the state.

_____, who now lives in Dallas but spent much of his childhood in Boone County, was imprisoned for about 24 years for crimes he didn’t commit — and DNA proved it.

But he and other former inmates who were exonerated based on DNA evidence will get a lump sum of $80,000 for every year they spent behind bars.

That’s pretty reasonable,” he said in a telephone interview Friday.

In spring 1982, a serial sexual offender was preying on women in the Dallas area. Wearing a gray sweatshirt, a hood and a bandana, the man would force women, sometimes in large groups, to strip and perform sexual acts at gunpoint.

Witnesses and victim told police about the suspect’s bright blue eyes.

‘I’ll never forget those blue eyes’ is what the witnesses said,” _____ recalled last year. “My eyes are green. It was a pretty big deal.”

_____ was arrested in Dallas in June 1982 on an indecency charge and his mugshot was shown to witnesses. Two of them positively identified him as the suspect.

But _____ had an alibi. He said he was with his wife and her sister and her husband when the crimes were committed.

I was physically with them, 15 miles away from the crime scene,” he said.

Police didn’t buy his alibi. In August 1982, he went on trial where the jury didn’t buy the alibi either. And jurors apparently looked past the fact that witnesses described the suspect’s bright blue eyes.

He was convicted of burglary with intent to commit sexual assault and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

A year later, he went on trial for the actual sexual assault charge. The same set of witnesses and the same testimony led to another conviction and another 30-year prison sentence.

But even then, he said, there was a bright spot: Prosecutors were seeking a life sentence, so he dodged that bullet.

Another year passed and he was taken back to trial again. This time, officials began offering him a plea bargain, which he initially refused.

I wouldn’t even talk to them, right?” he said.

Motions on his behalf before the court fell on deaf judicial ears. Family and friends, ever supporting him and believing his innocence, showed up for trial yet again, bearing their own burdens with high legal fees and travel expenses.

It was taking a real toll on the family,” he said. “That was actually part of the consideration on whether to take a plea or not.”

Prosecutors agreed to wrap up all the remaining charges against him into one case and offered to add only 10 more years to his sentence. Against his better judgment, he took the plea bargain.

I may not have been real smart,” he said, “but I could see we were going to lose at trial.”

After years of legal wrangling, he finally won his battle to have DNA evidence in the case tested. That evidence was taken and kept, but investigators and prosecutors didn’t have the technology in the early 1980s to use it.

In December 2007, he left prison. But he was actually released because he’d served enough of his sentence to make parole. He was forced to wear an ankle bracelet to monitor him and was then still considered a sex offender.

But it wasn’t long before the courts and DA’s office acknowledged that _____ wasn’t guilty based on that DNA evidence and he was finally a free man.

According to a story by The Associated Press, _____ and a number of other exonerees will get $80,000 for each year they spent behind bars. The compensation also includes lifetime annuity payments that for most of the wrongly convicted are worth between $40,000 and $50,000 a year — making it by far the nation’s most generous package.

All in all, it’s a reasonable and fair deal,” _____ said of the approximately $1.9 million lump sum he will receive.

So, what does he plan to do with the money?

Honestly, I’m going to go fishing,” he said Friday afternoon.

He said some of the money will go to faith-based charities because his needs are minimal.

This is money from the Lord, right?” he said. “If I’ve got a new pair of tennis shoes, I’m good.”

Even though he graduated from college with a degree in marketing and literature while in prison, he is now going back to college again. But this time he’s studying criminal justice, and one class he’s taking is called “Wrongful Convictions.”

He said students in that class investigate actual cases. He said he brings insight to the course with his personal experience and is often chosen to go on interviews with convicts.

_____ said that in a way he did work for the state of Texas. While in prison, inmates have to work, but they don’t get a paycheck.

Now, I’m fixing to get one, though.” he said Friday.

"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 - America's flawed sex offender laws

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By Sarah Tofte

The Jaycee Dugard case illustrates how America's sex offender registries hurt efforts to stop repeat sex crimes

Americans have been doing some soul-searching about our approach to monitoring convicted sex offenders since the recent discovery of Jaycee Lee Dugard. Dugard was kidnapped in California at age 11 and held captive for 18 years in Phillip Garrido's garden. He managed to hide his secret prisoner from the police even though he was a convicted rapist and his name appeared on the public sex offender registry.

In the past, news of a horrific crime committed by a convicted sex offender inevitably led to widespread calls for increasing the scope of sex offender registration and community notification laws. Over the past 15 years, the US has expanded its registration and notification schemes to include an estimated 674,000 convicted sex offenders. Some remain on the public list for the rest of their lives, regardless of the seriousness of their offence, the current threat they might pose or their progress toward rehabilitation. The effectiveness of such laws has rarely been questioned, and they enjoy widespread public support.

But this time around, there has been a different type of discussion. Rather than just calling for tougher sex offender monitoring laws, Americans are openly wondering if a new approach is needed to deal with convicted sex offenders who have re-entered the community.

Although Garrido's case is extraordinary, it illustrates the flaws in America's sex offender registration and community notification schemes. Experts in sexual violence say that placing all convicted sex offenders on a registry for life may do more harm than good. The public nature of the registry makes it nearly impossible for convicted sex offenders to re-enter the community with the kind of support system they need to reduce their likelihood of committing another offence. Low-level offenders who pose little risk to the community are monitored in the same way as high-risk offenders, diluting police resources to concentrate on those, such as Garrido, who pose a high risk of committing another offence.

Furthermore, focusing so much public attention and resources on convicted sex offenders ignores the reality of sexual violence in the United States. It is estimated that 87% of new sex crimes every year are committed by individuals without a prior sex crime conviction. And very few sex crimes move through the system – less than one-third of all reported rapes result in an arrest.

So pouring scarce resources into monitoring all convicted offenders means there is less money for programmes to prevent sexual violence and counsel victims and for the rape investigation units, rape evidence testing and other tools that could bring justice in these cases.

Because of such concerns, Human Rights Watch (Contact) called in a 2007 report for a major revamping of America's sex offender laws. Registration should be limited to former offenders who have been individually assessed as dangerous, and only for as long as they pose a significant risk. Community notification should be restricted to those who genuinely can benefit from knowledge about dangerous former offenders in their midst.

Sex offender registration and community notification laws didn't cause Garrido's crimes, but they didn't help the police stop them, either. While Americans are starting to question the value of our extensive sex offender monitoring system, it remains to be seen whether these doubts will lead to real reform.

Once sex offender laws are in place, it is hard for politicians to repeal them, because they don't want to appear weak on the issue of sex offenders. If Britain wants to do more to prevent sexual violence, it should keep its sex offender registry narrowly focused, and use the savings in time, energy and resources to implement sexual violence prevention policies that will actually keep the public safe.

"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 - Too many registered sex offenders make dangerous sex offenders difficult to track

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By William Pfeifer, Jr.

The case of Jaycee Dugard being kidnapped, raped, and held prisoner by Phillip Garrido for 18 years has put a spotlight on a problem in the criminal justice system. With so many people being branded as registered sex offenders, how can law enforcement keep track of the ones who are truly dangerous?

An article in the Wall Street Journal highlights many of the problems in California's system for tracking sex offenders. In the article, Ryan Knutson and Justin Scheck state that in 1994 there were 45,000 registered sex offenders living in California, but in 14 years the number has doubled to 90,000. Of the 20,000 sex offenders currently on parole in California, only 9 percent are considered to pose a high risk of reoffending and only 29 percent pose a moderate-high to high risk. But law enforcement has to spread its resources to monitor them all equally.

One result of treating everyone the same was that Phillip Garrido was monitored no more closely than the other 200 registered sex offenders living in the same area, despite many of them being nonviolent offenders unlikely to reoffend. Garrido, on probation for life for a prior violent abduction and rape, is exactly the kind of offender who is likely to reoffend and should be monitored closely. Yet Garrido's probation officer never noticed a problem at Garrido's home during visits there, and a deputy who went to Garrido's home over complaints that children were living in tents in the back yard never bothered to look in the back yard. Was the problem that the officers just didn't have enough time?

The problem is not limited to California. In August of 2009, The Economist ran an article entitled “America's Unjust Sex Laws.” The focus of the article was not on the Phillip Garrido's of the world, but on the people who are lumped into the sex offender database with him with no regard for the “apples and oranges” differences in their crimes. The article noted:

According to Human Rights Watch, at least five states require registration for people who visit prostitutes, 29 require it for consensual sex between young teenagers and 32 require it for indecent exposure. Some prosecutors are now stretching the definition of “distributing child pornography” to include teens who text half-naked photos of themselves to their friends.

The number of “registered sex offenders” in America is currently around 674,000 people – more than the entire population of some states. Of those, the majority are people who are not likely to reoffend, unless you count the myriad of ways that a convicted sex offender can violate laws regulating where he lives, where he travels, or where he drives down the street.

A teenage boy who gets convicted of having sex with his underage teenage girlfriend is labeled a rapist on the sex offender registry the same as Phillip Garrido. An underage teenage girl who texts a nude photo of herself to her boyfriend is now registered for distributing child pornography the same as Gary Kendall, the Ohio minister convicted of distributing pornographic images of prepubescent minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Both the hormonally-charged children and the perverted adults are branded as sex offenders on the same sex offender databases, and their images are spread across the internet for the rest of their lives, despite obvious differences in the situations as well as studies showing that the reoffender rate of juvenile sex offenders is only 10 percent.

As Monica Davey said in the New York Times:

The sheer numbers of sex offenders on the registries in all 50 states — an estimated 674,000 across the country — are overwhelming to local police departments and, at times, to the public, who may not easily distinguish between those who must register because they have repeatedly raped children and those convicted of nonviolent or less serious crimes, like exposing themselves in public.”

While many experts recommend reducing the number of crimes requiring registration and limiting the public registry to those offenders who are considered dangerous, the law appears to be moving in the opposite direction. With the enactment of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 more and more nonviolent offenders are being added to the registry (many retroactively for convictions from years ago). Yet while the sex offender database grows exponentially, funding for monitoring sex offenders is on the decline. Fewer officers monitoring more people means other Garridos will be more likely to go unnoticed, and the original purpose of sex offender registration will be lost in the politics of the system.
- The truly dangerous, who have been deemed so, based on their criminal past, and an expert panel, should be in prison for life, then we'd not need to monitor anybody, nor waste tons of tax payer dollars.  Like was said in this article, 5% - 10% or less are dangerous, so monitor the 5% - 10% only!

"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

MI - Westerlund child molestation charges may be dropped in plea deal

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Of course, he's a former official, and they always get deals. Just goes to show you, instead of holding those in office to a higher standard, they hold them to a lower standard, and the double standards continue.



Fed plea could wipe out six charges with teen boys

Ottawa County - Attorneys for a former Tulip Time official facing federal child pornography charges are working toward a plea agreement in which state charges of child molestation could be dropped, documents filed in federal court this week reveal.

Thomas Gustav Westerlund, 50, is charged in Ottawa County Circuit Court with six counts of criminal sexual conduct involving two teenage boys. Prosecutors have not yet agreed to dismiss those charges, and “additional time is necessary to secure the prosecutor’s approval,” according to state documents filed by Westerlund’s attorney, David Kaczor.

In federal court, Westerlund faces two counts of sexual exploitation of a child, possession of images of minors engaged in sex acts and possession of child pornography.

Westerlund resigned from his position with Tulip Time Inc. in late March, following the opening of an investigation by the Zeeland Police Department, who responded to a March 25 complaint Westerlund had provided alcohol to a juvenile male.

Another minor told police he believed Westerlund had sexual contact with one of his juvenile friends.

When police conducted the searches on March 26 and April 15, they confiscated DVDs, CDs and computer hard drives, locating multiple photographs and videos of boys in various states of undress that dated back to 2005.

The documents released this week do not specify what the terms of Westerlund’s plea agreement might be.

Kaczor did write, however, that the defense would seek additional time in making the plea because search warrants that allowed police to enter Westerlund’s properties “were not authorized by a neutral and detached magistrate,” referring to court magistrate Mark Bos, a former police officer who spent more than three decades with the Holland Police Department.
- If this is true, then how are they able to keep the evidence confiscated without a legal warrant?

Bos was a sergeant with Holland police in 2002 when the department conducted a search of Westerlund’s computer on a report that it contained inappropriate images.

Bos is currently a part-time magistrate for Ottawa County.

Bos could not be reached for comment Friday. A court employee said he is on vacation.

In documents filed earlier this month, Westerlund’s attorney sought to suppress evidence collected from the search warrants executed at Westerlund’s residence, vehicle, sailboat and Tulip Time office. He wrote the searches were unreasonable because police did not establish probable cause to search those premises.

He asked the federal judge to disregard as evidence statements Westerlund made to police following the searches, calling those statements “the fruit of a poisonous tree.”

If Westerlund does not take a plea deal, his jury trial in federal court is scheduled for November.

"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