Wednesday, May 19, 2010

DC - House votes to expand national DNA arrest database

Original Article

Yep, attach a child's name to a bill and everyone will pass it, regardless of what rights it tramples on. This bill is named "Katie's Law," after another child. You know, the "for the children politics?"

05/19/2010

By Declan McCullagh

Millions of Americans arrested for but not convicted of crimes will likely have their DNA forcibly extracted and added to a national database, according to a bill that the U.S. House of Representatives approved on Tuesday.

By a 357 to 32 vote, the House approved legislation that will pay state governments to require DNA samples, which could mean drawing blood with a needle, from adults "arrested for" certain serious crimes. Not one Democrat voted against the database measure, which would hand out about $75 million to states that agree to make such testing mandatory.

"We should allow law enforcement to use all the technology available to them... to reduce expensive and unjust false convictions, bring closure to victims by solving cold cases, better identify criminals, and keep those who commit violent crime from walking the streets," said Rep. Harry Teague (Contact), the New Mexico Democrat who sponsored the bill.

But civil libertarians say DNA samples should be required only from people who have been convicted of crimes -- and argue that, if there is probable cause to believe that someone is involved in a crime, a judge can sign a warrant allowing a blood or cheek sample to be forcibly extracted.

"It's wrong to treat someone as guilty before they're convicted," says Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute. "It inverts the concept of innocent until proven guilty."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Contact) and the Democratic leadership scheduled Tuesday's debate on the bill -- called the Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act of 2010 -- using a procedure known as the "suspension calendar" intended to be reserved for non-controversial legislation.

"Suspension of the rules is supposed to be for praising the winner of the NCAA championship or renaming Post Offices," Harper says. "Things like collecting Americans' DNA are supposed to be fully debated in Congress."

In a surprise move, as the U.S. Congress was expanding the FBI's DNA database, the UK's new coalition government was pledging sharp curbs on its own databases.

Created in the mid-1990s, the UK National DNA Database originally was supposed to store data on convicted criminals, but grew to include records on over 5 million Britons including many who were only arrested on suspicion of a crime.

UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg promised once-in-a-century privacy reforms in a speech on Wednesday: "We won't hold your Internet and email records when there is just no reason to do so. CCTV will be properly regulated, as will the DNA database, with restrictions on the storage of innocent people's DNA. Britain must not be a country where our children grow up so used to their liberty being infringed that they accept it without question."

Background

The United States has followed a similar pattern: first, DNA was collected from convicted criminals, and then the practice was expanded to sweep in Americans arrested on suspicion of a crime.

A 2000 federal law called the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act required that DNA samples be taken from anyone convicted of or on probation for certain serious crimes. This was challenged in court on Fourth and Fifth Amendment grounds, but a federal appeals court upheld (PDF) the DNA collection requirement as constitutional.

A second bill that President Bush signed in January 2006 said any federal police agency could "collect DNA samples from individuals who are arrested." Anyone who fails to cooperate is, under federal law, guilty of an additional crime.

In addition, federal law and subsequent regulations from the Department of Justice authorize any means "reasonably necessary to detain, restrain, and collect a DNA sample from an individual who refuses to cooperate in the collection of the sample." The cheek swab or blood tests can be outsourced to "private entities."

A May 2009 ruling from a federal judge in California was the first decision to say that police can forcibly take DNA samples from Americans who have been arrested but not convicted of a crime. U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory Hollows said the requirement of DNA-sampling felony arrestees did not violate the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of "unreasonable searches and seizures" -- but noted that he took no position on whether or not DNA sampling for misdemeanor offenses was reasonable and constitutional.

But that law applied only to federal agencies, and the bill approved this week would provide a strong incentive for state and local governments to follow suit.

If states follow suit, it's difficult to overstate how many more DNA samples would flood into the FBI's Convicted Offender DNA Index System (CODIS) database. Federal agencies arrested about 133,000 people in 2004, according to data compiled by the Urban Institute under a Justice Department grant.

But local and state governments arrested nearly 14 million Americans that year, not counting traffic offenses, according to FBI data.

Rep. Teague's proposal would extend DNA sampling and testing to anyone arrested on suspicion of burglary or attempted burglary, aggravated assault, murder or attempted murder, manslaughter, sex acts that can be punished by imprisonment for over one year, and sex offenses against minors. The attorney general would be required to report to Congress which states have and have not signed up for the DNA database.

Rep. Dave Reichert (Contact) (R-Wash.), a former sheriff who spoke on the House floor in favor of the bill, said the measure is supported by the National Sheriffs' Association, the National District Attorney's Association, and the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN).

The legislation would allow states to receive 15 percent "bonuses" from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program. The program gave out $165 million in local funding and $318 million in state funding for fiscal year 2009, not counting stimulus grants.

"We're strongly opposed to expanding collection," says Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C. He suggested the U.S. should follow the lead of the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled two years ago that holding DNA samples from people arrested but not convicted of a crime violates their privacy rights.

Video Link


ARC RADIO - John Haralson (director) of the newly formed Texas Ministry known as Reclamation


ARC Talk Radio
Wednesday, May 19, 2010 (8 p.m. EST)
Call in: (724) 444-7444
Code: 29521#
Chat Room: Click here

Please join us Wednesday, May 19 th as we sit down with John Haralson (Director) of the newly formed Texas Ministry known as Reclamation which is located in Fort Worth, Texas.

Per our discussion with Mr. Haralson he says:

“Reclamation is a newly formed multi-faceted ministry located in Fort Worth, Texas. Its primary mission is to reclaim the ground stolen by the enemy and I can’t think of any issue where he has stolen so much ground so quickly than with this issue of sex offenders.

I am a former sex offender. Over 20 years ago I turned myself in to get help. Back then things were a lot different. The term sex offender was hardly ever used and there certainly weren’t any laws like today. I have to ask myself, given today’s climate if I would make the same decision. It wouldn’t be easy but I’d have to say I would. Since then I managed to finish sex offender treatment and complete my sentence (10 years probation). I left my job to start in full time ministry in 2006 and worked as a program coordinator for a sex offender housing ministry. I formed my own ministry in late 2009.

Reclamation Ministry provides housing for former sex offenders, ministers to prison inmates convicted of sexual offenses and is developing materials to educate offenders and the public. The ministry’s current project is a book to help sex offenders and their families rebuild a life while faced with the stigma of being labeled a sex offender. The book provides frank discussions about sex offenders, the criminal justice system, laws and treatment. How do I find a job, place to live and a church? Are registration laws effective? What is sex offender treatment about? How is it different from other forms of treatment and should it be? What are characteristics of a good treatment program verses a bad one? What if I’m stuck in a bad one? What do I do if I fail a polygraph in treatment? What states have authorized castration? Is it an effective treatment? How did I get assessed “high risk?" These are just of few of the many questions addressed in the book.

Our long term vision is to build a complex to help sex offenders coming out of prison and have no where to go. We’ll provide housing and job training.

Our website is under construction but nearly complete. The address will be www.reclamationtx.org.”

Please come join us in support of the work Mr. Haralson is doing as we discuss his ministry, his journey and his book.

ARC Hosts,

Kevin and Mary
www.arctalkradio.com


Supreme Court Assaults Due Process for Sex Offenders

Original Article

05/18/2010

By Matt Kelley

Yesterday in a disappointing ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court green-lighted the federal practice of detaining sex offenders for years — even after their sentences end.

The court ruled 7-2 in United States v. Comstock that it was okay for Congress to allow authorities to continue imprisoning people after sentence completion, so long as a judge sees “clear and convincing” evidence that the person would be likely to re-offend.

It's not often that I agree with Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, but as I wrote when this case was first argued, Scalia is right when he argues that the practice is unconstitutional.

Sadly, the two were the only ones to dissent in this latest ruling — the only ones to stand up for sensible sentencing practices and clear limits on the government’s power. As Thomas wrote, "The fact that the federal government has the authority to imprison a person for the purpose of punishing him for a federal crime — sex-related or otherwise — does not provide the government with the additional power to exercise indefinite civil control over that person.”

Sex offenders are already subject to frequently changing, and expanding, punishments. Sex offender registries keep getting bigger and bigger, and registration and residency requirements appear to be getting increasingly strict each year. Often, judges and juries sentence someone for a sex offense without knowing the nearly unlimited extent of the punishment to which that person's being condemned.

Although only 100 or so people are currently locked up past their sentences, that's 100 too many. Civil commitment is a backhanded maneuver that circumvents courts in order to extend punishment outside of the public eye.

In deciding Comstock yesterday, the court granted the federal government the power to incarcerate Americans without due process . Likewise, they also reinforced the dangerous notion that no punishment for sex offenders is ever too great.
- And that means they can lock you up without reason as well, just like they are doing with terrorists at Guantanamo.


MO - Sex Offenders Under the Same Roof with 100 Mid-Missourians

Original Article

Leave it up to the vigilante news outfit, Target 8. It seems, from what I've seen, that every story they do about sex offenders, is about further harassing those wearing the label!

05/18/2010

By Tom Maclean

MOBERLY - A nursing home is rehabilitating sex offenders but not telling the families of geriatric residents who also live in the same facility.

Eighteen registered sex offenders live at North Village Park Rehabilitation Center. They have been convicted of crimes from child molestation to rape.

The state government is largely paying for the program.

"The reason they're here is because the government allows them to be here" said Rick DeStefane, owner of the North Village Park Center.

Residents are separated from the convicted residents by solid doors with coded locks. Staff are also trained on how to deal with patients with psychiatric issues. Management doesn't view the sex offender residents as a security threat.

"Out of the 18 all are child molesters, so none of them have done anything sexual to an adult" says DeStefane.

However when KOMU-8 dug deeper into the background of some of the residents we found crimes against adults, such as the rape of a 36 year old woman in Kansas City in 1992. KOMU-8 informed management so now they know about that resident.

Management has no legal responsibility to inform residents or their families about the disturbing background of some of the residents. So they don't.

Across town at the Loma Linda nursing home, management refuses to take anyone with a history of sex offenses. If they do find a resident with a concerning past, they usually move them on to North Village Park.

North Village Park management does not plan to start informing families of geriatric residents about the criminal history of some of the residents and won't separate the two groups into different buildings.

"Who's going to pay for the care? The costs are going to be very high," DeStefane said.

video


CA - Relative's Megan's Law Listing Forces Family To Move

Original Article

So how long is California going to continue to play the "sex offender shuffle?" See the video at the end, which is from 2006.

05/18/2010

_____ Says His Family Was Evicted After Neighbors Found His Brother's Megan's Law Listing

CARLSBAD - A Carlsbad family is being forced to leave their neighborhood after a relative was found listed on the Megan's Law website.

We moved here to be safe and the neighborhood's turned on us,” said _____ who lives in a Carlsbad neighborhood with _____ and their two children.

In 2007, _____’s brother, _____ was sentenced for burglary. _____ was released from prison two weeks ago

[He] had no place to go, [so] we let him stay here for about a week,” said _____.

However, _____’s brother is a registered sex offender. _____ said his brother is not dangerous and the offense happened 25 years ago and involved a girlfriend.

But when _____’s picture appeared on the Megan’s Law website, neighbors launched an effort to get rid of them.

Neighbors worried that the next John Gardner might be just around the corner.

A 10News poll found 73 percent of San Diegans polled wanted to receive e-mail alerts if a sex offender moved in to their neighborhood. Eighteen percent said no, and eight percent were not sure.

Though _____ is now gone, he was legally entitled to live there.

He’s still registered here, but doesn’t stay here now,” said _____.

_____, who closely resembles his older brother said he’s being targeted.

We’re the ones in fear now because of a bunch of comments that say a child molester drives a black BMW; everything from that to people saying they’re worried they’re not safe in their own homes,” said _____.

I didn’t realize people could get that ugly,” said Grove.

One neighbor said he’ll be glad when the family moves.

Another neighbor said everyone was on edge after what happened to Amber and Chelsea.

I think it’s an incendiary environment and think people are in fear, checking Megan’s Law weekly,” she said. “I know I am and that’s how they saw it right away.”

Though the family is moving to another place, they said their next move would be to see an attorney.

Video Link


TX - Sex Offender Ruling Causing Controversy

Original Article

Hell, if we wanted to "keep the community safer," then why do we not lock up every single criminal for life? You see, I think it's all smoke and mirrors, so they can look like they are actually doing something to keep people safe, and also help them get re-elected, or, to "look tough" on crime, while actually doing nothing, except destroying this country and our rights!

05/18/2010

By Kristen Guilfoos

Amarillo - A controversial supreme court ruling is designed to make our community a safer place to live.

NewsChannel 10's Kristen Guilfoos has more on the recent ruling involving sex offenders.

It's called civil confinement... And it means if the court decides someone is likely to re-offend, they can be kept locked up past their release date, perhaps indefinitely, forcing them to go through a treatment program.

The ACLU (Contact) says this violates an offender's rights, and once their sentence is over, they should be free to go. But the Randall County DA James Farren disagrees, saying it's something we desperately need.

"This is not a punishment. The prison time was punishment. This is preventative. This is a proactive step to number one try to help them get better, and number two, to protect future victims and our communities from having victims at the hands of these people."
- Not punishment, that is total BS!

Texas has had a law like this one on the books for a while, but this ruling now gives federal officials the same power.

That means it will fill in all the gaps not covered by state law, things like if an incident happens on an indian reservation, or on a military base or if for whatever reason a state case has to be tried in federal court.

Video Link | Video #2 Link


NY - 2 Officers, 2 Courts and Charges of Eliciting Sexual Favors

Original Article

05/18/2010

By A. G. SULZBERGER

Both cases started the same way, with a woman’s complaint that she had been coerced into performing sexual favors for a police officer. The ensuing investigations reached the same alarming conclusion: These women were not the only victims.

Two police officers, both accused of using their positions to elicit sexual favors, appeared in separate courthouses in unrelated but similar cases on Tuesday.

A former officer, Wilfredo Rosario, already convicted of telling an 18-year-old woman that he would destroy a summons he was issuing her in exchange for oral sex, is now on trial in Manhattan, charged with sexually abusing two other women. He is accused of luring both with promises of applications for jobs and programs for their children.

And in Brooklyn, Detective Oscar Sandino was arraigned on federal charges of violating the civil rights of two women by using the threat of arrest to persuade them to perform sexual acts and then, shortly after learning the department wanted to dismiss him, ordering a prisoner to lift up her shirt while he made lewd gestures.

The case against Detective Sandino, 37, a 13-year veteran who worked in the narcotics bureau in Queens, began in February 2008, when a woman he had arrested on drug charges told the police that she had been ordered to perform oral sex on him in a precinct bathroom, according to information unsealed on Tuesday.

The woman told investigators that Detective Sandino warned her that if she refused she would go to jail and lose custody of her children. After her release, she said, the detective told her he expected to have sex with her later and repeatedly called and sent text messages to her, threatening to arrest her again if she refused, according to court papers. (She later filed a lawsuit seeking monetary damages.)

After the complaint was made, Detective Sandino was removed from active duty, in March 2008, and assigned to central booking in Brooklyn while the Queens district attorney’s office conducted an investigation. The office declined to prosecute the officer, and the Police Department filed administrative charges seeking his dismissal in August 2009, a police spokesman said.

But the next month, prosecutors said, Detective Sandino escorted a prisoner in central booking to a private room, where he ordered her to lift her shirt while he rubbed himself and made sexual comments. The woman filed a complaint, and Detective Sandino, who was not authorized to have contact with prisoners, was arrested and suspended, said Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the police.

Since then, a third case has surfaced: He is accused of coercing a woman to have sex with him in 2006 by claiming he could help her cousin, who had recently been arrested on drug charges.

Detective Sandino faces three misdemeanor counts of depriving the women of their civil rights and faces a maximum of three years in prison. He was released on $250,000 bond. He also faces misdemeanor charges of official misconduct and second degree harassment in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn stemming from the episode at central booking in 2009.

A lawyer for Detective Sandino, Peter E. Brill, denied the accusations, which he called “old news.”

In Mr. Rosario’s trial, one woman told her story publicly for the first time from the witness stand on Tuesday. The woman, a 29-year-old mother of one, testified that Mr. Rosario had lured her with promises to give her applications, for a job as a crossing guard and for after-school programs for her son.

When he arrived at her apartment building with the applications on the night of March 30, 2008, she said, he told her to get into his car so he could explain the applications. They were in English, and she speaks only Spanish.

But once she got into the car, she testified through an interpreter, he began driving and telling her, “Don’t be afraid.” He eventually stopped the car, told her he wanted to feel her heart and groped her breast, she said.

After she pushed his hand away, she said, he showed her a necklace that she believed to be associated with Santeria. The woman testified that Mr. Rosario said the necklace “gave him the power to feel people” and said he could tell that she “had suffered a lot in this lifetime.” He told her he wanted to help her, she said.

His tone became stronger, she testified, and he forced her to hug him, give him a kiss on his cheek and show him a tattoo on her lower back. He later unzipped his pants, she said, grabbed her by the wrist and forced her to touch his genitals.

She said that when he finally dropped her off at home, she immediately washed her hand. He later called her, she said, and told her that he knew where she lived in a conversation she taped with a handheld digital recorder.

I took that almost as a threat,” she said.

In his opening statement, John McConnell, an assistant district attorney, said Mr. Rosario “used his job as a public servant to commit two very horrible, very personal crimes against two New Yorkers.”

Mr. Rosario, 41, also faces charges that he raped another woman, a case that prosecutors said would be handled after this trial.


FL - Officials in Miami try to allay neighbors' sex-offender fears

Original Article

Well, before the sex hysteria came to be, we were all living better lives and as safe as we could be. But leave it up to politicians and lobbyist to fuel the fire for their own gain. I wonder if those people know that Ron Book used tax payer money to move offenders from the bridge, into their neighborhoods and hotels/motels? He lobbied for the laws, that made folks homeless, now he's having to put out the fires he has started.

05/18/2010

By THEO KARANTSALIS

Upper Eastside residents gathered to seek answers from community leaders as to why so many sex offenders have ended up in their neighborhood.

Residents of the Shorecrest neighborhood in northeast Miami remained worried this week, even after the mayor and other officials visited with them for the second time in a month and reassured them that they are safe.

Mayor Tomás Regalado joined Miami-Dade Homeless Trust chairman Ron Book, City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, state Rep. Ronald Brise and County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson at a meeting of the Shorecrest Homeowners Association on Monday.

Regalado and Sarnoff attended a similar meeting in late April after residents learned that 15 offenders had been relocated into the neighborhood from their previous home beneath a bridge on the Julia Tuttle Causeway.

About 100 residents turned out for the meeting. The number of offenders still living under the bridge remained unknown after the meeting.

There are 111 registered sex offenders and predators living within a 2-mile radius of the Upper Eastside, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Crimes include sexual battery, possession of child pornography, molestation and kidnapping. The victims are mostly children under the age of 12.

David Raymond, executive director of the Homeless Trust, told how the situation came about.

"Predators were living near the courthouse in downtown Miami," said Raymond. "Judges looked at a map and chose a place for them -- the Julia Tuttle Causeway."

Focus was placed on a "memo of agreement" between several agencies responsible for discharging homeless offenders that included the Department of Children & Families, the state department of corrections and the court system.

The corrections department did not sign the agreement, according to Raymond, so there were limited areas where these people could live. They were placed wherever the law allowed in a program that ended in March.

Since 2005, explained Book, the trust's chairman and a prominent lobbyist, sex-offender compliance was up, and absconding and crimes against children were down.

Residents grew impatient with the statistics and started heckling him.

"I didn't vote for you," shouted Elias Martin, who held his hand up to ask more questions.

"I voted for those people. Why aren't they talking?"
- So, is Ron Book the Puppet Master?

Martin meant Regalado and the other elected leaders.

Martin wanted to know how many of the people who once lived under the Julia Tuttle Bridge were now living in his neighborhood.

"You have been talking for more than 30 minutes and still haven't addressed the issue," said Martin. "We're not safe."

As the residents grew restless, Book came from behind the lectern, walked to the end of the stage, and with wide eyes and a sweaty brow put his lips right up to the microphone.

"Nobody has a better understanding of your concerns than I do," he said. "My daughter was raped for six years."
- And that makes you an expert on sex offender issues, how?

Book then challenged anyone in America to "run their ZIP code" on a sex-offender database.

"I've spent the last nine years studying sex offenders all over America," Book said. "It's a crisis, and we have a problem."
- Really?  I don't believe anything you say!  So show us what became of this "study!"

Leaders discussed zoning restrictions aimed at keeping sex offenders at bay. There is the 2,500-feet rule that limits how close an offender can be from a school, park or place where children congregate.

In January, Miami-Dade County approved stricter "300-foot child safety zones" around these same locations.

"The Supreme Court made a ruling this afternoon," said Regalado, to the first wave of applause of the evening. "We will study it and maybe through that make some changes."

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal government has the power to keep some sex offenders behind bars -- indefinitely -- even after they've served their sentences. Officials must show that the inmates have a propensity to be "sexually dangerous" in the future.

Regalado said that not every sex offender listed on the databases is "hard-core" and reassured residents that they should feel safe.

"I've instructed the police to be very proactive in this neighborhood."