Friday, May 14, 2010
If they get a way with this, what's next? A drivers license which states depression, psychotic, thief, murderer, drug dealer/user, Christian, Jewish, etc? When does it end?
By Crystal Tatum
Veterans and current military members with post-traumatic stress disorder could soon have their diagnosis displayed on their driver’s licenses.
COVINGTON — Veterans and current military members with post-traumatic stress disorder could soon have their diagnosis displayed on their driver’s licenses.
The Georgia General Assembly recently passed legislation that would allow current and former military to request the information be included on their licenses. The bill was sponsored by State Sen. Ron Ramsey (Email) (D-Decatur) and co-sponsored by State Sen. John Douglas (Email), R-Social Circle.
“I thought it was something that could help sick veterans and police officers. It would be beneficial to both sides,” Douglas said. “If a law enforcement officer saw a certain move or something like that he may could attribute it to something along the lines of PTSD. Many police officers and deputies are former military themselves and it would help garner some understanding and recognition of something they themselves might well be familiar with.”
- That is the problem, you are thinking again!
Since the bill passed, several veterans advocacy groups have expressed opposition, including Marvin Myers, president of the Georgia Vietnam Veterans Alliance Inc. Myers said having that information on a driver’s license will only serve to perpetuate stigmas associated with PTSD and pave the way for more discrimination against sufferers.
“I spent two and a half years in Vietnam. Most people who were there have some touch of PTSD at some time in their lives,” Myers said. “They’ve been portrayed as everything from Rambo running around like an idiot all over the world shooting people. That’s not the typical veteran ... If you’re running along speeding and you get pulled over and you pull out your driver’s license and it says ‘PTSD,’ they’re not going to be sympathetic.”
Myers said it’s important to remember the information will be available to everyone from employers to banks — anyone who requests an ID — and could affect employability and applications for a firearm, for example.
Douglas said there was no opposition expressed by any veterans groups while the bill was in the works.
“As a result of no concerns being expressed, it passed the Senate unanimously and there was only one no vote in the House,” he said. “Had we known there was concern, then we could have worked on that.”
Douglas said the bill is not intended to get lenient treatment for PTSD sufferers.
“If there is an altercation, the normal rules and laws that already apply would be in effect anyway,” he said.
Asked if the bill could set a precedent for those with other psychological diagnosis to have that information on their licenses, Douglas, who is not running for re-election, said, “That’s going to be for the next folks that come along after me to deal with. I’m a co-sponsor. It’s not my bill. It’s Ron Ramsey’s bill.”
- Yeah, but you are sponsoring it, so will your license be stamped with "A--HOLE?"
Douglas said the governor has until May 29 to sign the bill.
Terry Norris, executive director of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association, said he doesn’t see any harm to the bill.
“To be honest, this is one of the many, many things the Sheriffs’ Association didn’t get involved with directly. We certainly didn’t oppose it,” Norris said. “The more information you have on a person may explain why that person is behaving the way they are.”
- So hell, with that attitude, why don't we just put everything on a license, like if they are corrupt cops, having an affair, a prostitute, a gang member, drug dealers, murderer, Christian, Jew, Muslim, etc? This would set a precedence, then there will be no end to what is done. It seems like every single day, many laws being passed, are pushing the limits, pretty soon, there will be NO limits!
Law enforcement officers receive specialized training to learn how to deal with mentally ill individuals, he said.
“There are certain things you do and don’t do to help mitigate conditions and behaviors by those suffering from mental illness to help deaccelerate possibly volatile situations. It may be helpful to be aware that someone may be suffering from (PTSD),” he said.
- And it will also be used against people as well!
The legislation has prompted the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association to revisit a previous idea of having sex offenders identified on their drivers licenses, he added.
- The Scarlett letter, and surely the ACLU will jump on this to get it knocked down.
The Department of Drivers Services has not finalized its policies and procedures related to the new legislation, according to Spokeswoman Susan Sports.
“We do know that this new information will be on the back of the license. With the new licensing system, DDS has the capability to add text to the back of licenses and IDs such as medical information, etc.,” Sports said.
The PTSD designation would be voluntary and would require a sworn statement from a physician verifying the diagnosis and a waiver of liability for release of medical information. If signed by the governor, it would become law July 1.
- It may be voluntary at first, but eventually it will be mandatory!
By Kenny Goldberg
SAN DIEGO — Later today, a man who's admitted to raping and killing two San Diego-area teenage girls will be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Some say the murders of Chelsea King and Amber Dubois could have been prevented had the state had tougher sanctions on sexual predators. But others question whether stricter laws make a difference.
California voters approved a crackdown on sexual predators in 2006. Jessica's Law (PDF) severely restricts where a registered sex offender can live. It also mandates lifetime electronic monitoring of felony sex offenders.
Cynthia Calkins Mercado is an assistant professor of psychology at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. She says measures like Jessica's Law may placate the public, but their effectiveness is limited.
"The studies that have been done," Mercado says, "seem to show that if anything, they're creating a lot of problems or collateral consequences that could even have the paradoxical effect of increasing, rather than decreasing, risk of future offenses."
For example, Jessica's law did not provide any money. As a result, only about ten percent of sex offenders in California are being monitored. Restrictions on where predators can live have driven some into homelessness.
In light of the Chelsea King murder, a new measure has been proposed. Under Chelsea's Law, prosecutors could seek life in prison without parole for forcible sex crimes against a minor.
Rehabilitation is another option. Some say treatment can help change predators' behavior.
Dr. Saul Levine is a professor of clinical psychiatry at UCSD.
"The long-term follow-ups of a lot of the studies, that have been done for various kinds of psychological interventions, all have equivocal results," said Dr. Levine. "Meaning that there's no prediction than once you've gone through this, that that particular perpetrator that has been labeled already, is not gonna do it again."
There are some medical treatments designed to reduce sexual urges. Levine says studies indicate the treatments can be effective, as long as a person stays on the medication. But it's like managing other chronic conditions -- once you stop the treatment, the patient lapses.
"There have been some terrible cases of that where there's expectation that this individual has learned his or her lesson, has controlled their impulses, has gotten over their obsessions, goes off the medication and reverts, and something terrible happens," Levine points out.
Nonetheless, treatment professionals say even some violent sex offenders who go through extensive therapy can be rehabilitated.
Pedophiles are a different story.
David Peters is a therapist in private practice in San Diego.
"Pedophiles will pretty much always have a sexual arousal toward pre-pubescent children," Peters says. "And while they may be controlled, they won't be cured, and they have to be monitored, really, for the rest of their lives."
Forensic psychologist Dawn Griffin is a program director at Alliant University. She agrees if you lock up a sexual predator for life, you've solved that individual problem. But…
"What have we learned from him?" Griffin ponders. "Why did he begin offending? The more we can understand that dynamic, the better I think we can apply it into treatment standards, into assessments, the better, more holistic understanding we will have as to why individuals offend."
Griffin believes the key to that understanding is treatment.
Here's one thing to keep in mind, however: Up to 90 percent of sex offenders are related to or know their victims. That means that strangers who abduct and murder young girls are rare.
So why do we concentrate on these infrequent crimes?
"Because it's a little safer, quite honestly, dealing with a stranger rape, and abduction and killing, rather than taking a look at a family dynamic and saying, a father did this to his child, or a mother did this her child," Griffin responds. "That's really tough for all of us to wrap our head around."
In fact, Griffin says even if we locked up all convicted sexual predators for life, we wouldn't put an end to the vast majority of sexual offenses.
- This is something else I have said over and over for years.
For the children politics
By Brian J. Howard
YORKTOWN — Two years ago, Greg Ball told a roundtable trying to crack down on sex offenders that the danger to children "lurks not in the bushes but in the four walls of our own homes, and that's scary."
- Also those who act on vengeance and personal emotions to make and pass laws, like this man, and Ron Book in Florida, to name a few.
The assemblyman and now state Senate candidate seems to have been speaking from painful personal experience. On Thursday, in the same town for a gathering on the same subject, he revealed that he himself was once the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a family friend.
Ball, R-Patterson, made the remarks to a panel of elected officials, police officers, school officials and a small audience of reporters and members of the public. He hosted the forum as a member of the Assembly Minority Sex Offender Watch Task Force and had a staff member filming it.
- Filming it? Yep, got to have something to campaign on, right?
Ball prefaced his comments by asking reporters not to repeat what he was about to say. Gannett's policy is that comments made in a public forum are considered on the record, particularly when made by a public official.
Ball declined to elaborate immediately after the forum. But reached later in the day he called it "an intensely personal issue that motivates everything I do." He would not share any other details on when the abuse occurred or who the abuser was.
- Like I said, politicians and many others, run on emotions instead of what is right and wrong!
Later in the day, he said the abuse occurred "within the four walls of the house" — echoing the phrase he used in 2008.
Ball said he was moved to suddenly reveal his past by panelists' comments on the incidence of sexual violence where alcohol and drugs are a factor.
"That struck a chord with me," Ball said. "The victims of sexual assault or rape or child molestation for the rest of their life often they feel responsible for the horror that was visited upon them. It is the No. 1 factor why a lot of times these animals are not brought to justice."
- Not everyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse feels this way, many do, and I understand it, and we are talking about sex offenders in general, and not all sex offenders are "animals!"
The comments came near the end of a discussion on Child Safety Zones, which bar sex offenders from living or working near places children live or frequent. Ball recalled public service announcements common in the 1980s that encouraged children to be wary of strangers. It was then that he said he was harmed as a child, but not by a stranger.
Ball's revelation is the latest in a political career marked by controversial events and punctuated by Ball's own penchant for making combative remarks.
Ball's campaign office was vandalized in 2006 with swastikas and other graffiti. In October 2007, federal agents investigated alleged e-mail theft at his Carmel district office. The following year he accused state Sen. Vincent Leibell (Contact) of "planting a mole" in Ball's Assembly office, prompting Leibell to call Ball, who is now running for Leibell's seat, "crazy and erratic."
- Sounds to me like Ball needs to seek therapy!
In 2008 a former staffer accused Ball of sexual harassment, though the Assembly's ethics committee found no evidence of any violation. During that same campaign, it was brought out by political opponents that an ex-girlfriend of Ball's obtained an order of protection against him and alleged he had stalked her. Ball filed his own order of protection, and the matter was eventually settled.
Spoke too soon, Governor vetoed the bill
And of course, the person running the business many have a problem with, is raising hell, because he will no longer be able to get rich off the backs of sex offenders. If an offender can go to an approved therapist, instead of one who works with and probably for the state, and they are comfortable, then that is good for everyone, as long as they participate.
By Kirk Mitchell
An amendment to a bill before Gov. Ritter would let offenders choose their treatment provider
The sponsor of an amendment late in the session that would allow sex offenders to choose their own treatment provider said she wrote the law partly because of complaints from a relative's friend about an agency considered one of the strictest in Colorado.
Sen. Joyce Foster (Email), D-Denver, said she offered the amendment to the Sex Offender Management Board sunset bill, House Bill 1364, because of numerous complaints against Teaching Humane Existence, which treats about 120 sex offenders.
"I received calls from offenders," Foster said, referring to complaints about the program, called THE. "I've heard too many complaints from a variety of people. I've never gotten another complaint about another provider."
Greig Veeder, executive director of THE, said Foster never spoke with him about any complaints. He said the amendment will destroy his business because offenders will seek out more-lenient agencies that don't hold them accountable.
- Awww, my heart bleeds! What a load of BS! You are apparently in the business to make money, not treat people. If they go to someone else they are more comfortable with, that is a good thing. Maybe you need to work on changing the way you do things? There are good programs and bad, yours is apparently one of the bad ones.
"This is totally disastrous," he said. "When you work with manipulative people and you hold them accountable, they're going to hate your guts."
Foster's amendment was introduced on the Senate floor and was never considered in committee.
"All public testimony was closed, so we never got to debate this point," Veeder said.
Veeder had been a vocal opponent of HB 1364 because it removes language that says there is "no known cure," for sexual deviancy. The bill unanimously passed the Senate on Monday, having earlier passed the House, and is on the way to the governor, who has not said whether he will sign it.
While Foster acknowledged that she wrote the amendment specifically because of complaints that THE is punitive and retaliatory, she said she did not intend to run the agency out of business.
The amendment allows sex offenders to choose among three sex-offender treatment facilities that a parole or probation officer agrees meet the needs of a particular offender.
The bill also allows offenders to petition for a new treatment provider under guidelines created by probation or parole supervisors.
Allowing offenders to choose will adversely affect public safety, said Jeff Jenks, owner of Amich and Jenks Inc., which conducts polygraph exams of sex offenders.
"If you give them a choice, they will search around for one that is more lenient and not necessarily the best for them," Jenks said.
- And you folks are raising hell, because you may lose a ton of money!
Eric Philp, programs manager for the Division of Probation Services, said he did not believe giving an option to offenders would sacrifice public safety.
- And I agree!
Some agencies are better equipped to help offenders who are developmentally disabled or mentally ill. Others are better suited to handle higher risk offenders, Philp said.
Armed with risk assessments and after reviewing an offender's record and interviewing the offender, probation officers will provide a list of three treatment agencies they believe would best meet the needs of offenders. The offender will pick one from that list, he said.
Philp said an important component of successfully preventing recidivism among sex offenders is the relationship between the treatment provider and the offender. He said there was bipartisan support for the amendment.
Veeder said in an effort to win favor with sex offenders, some agencies will soften their approach.
- Give me a break. Talk about manipulative people, you are one of them, it would seem. You stand to lose a lot of money, so of course you are going to raise hell about it.
"To spin this as a public- safety effort would be laughable if it wasn't so horrific," he said. "I would ask the governor to veto this bill."