Monday, January 24, 2011

LA - Former Shreveport attorney (Robert Goodman) sentenced for sex crime

Original Article

01/24/2011

Shreveport (KSLA)- A long time Shreveport Attorney received a one year probation on charges of sexual contact with a juvenile.

Robert Goodman, 81, received his sentence Monday morning at the Caddo Parish Court House.

Goodman pleaded not guilty on those charges back in March of 2010 after police raided his downtown law office.

He was accused of having oral sex with a sixteen year-old girl who also appeared in court for today's sentence.

"It's a really humiliating experience as it is, I am just really grateful that he was sentenced," the juvenile said.

The judge suspended Goodman's one year sentence of hard labor, but instead he'll serve a one year probation and register as a sex offender, which is what the victim says she was mostly concerned with.

Meanwhile, Goodman's attorney would not speak on camera but stated that this has been a very difficult time for Goodman and his family.

Goodman has been involved in some very high profile cases in Shreveport throughout the 80's and 90s.


MI - Action News Investigators dig into possible motives for shooting that wounded four DPD officers

Original Article

01/24/2011

By Scott Lewis

DETROIT (WXYZ) - The Action News Investigators have uncovered new information on a possible motive for the police station shooting that left four officers wounded on Sunday. A source tells Channel 7 that police were hot on the tail of the gunman, [name withheld] in their investigation of an unsolved sex crime.

The gunman's relatives told Action News in an exclusive interview Sunday night that police had been to [name withheld]'s house shortly before he shot up the police station. Now a police source tells Channel 7's Scott Lewis that investigators had indeed executed a search warrant on [name withheld]'s home shortly before the shooting. The source says [name withheld] was a suspect in the kidnapping and rape of an underaged girl.

Chief Ralph Godbee won't talk about a motive but makes it clear that [name withheld] had been on their radar screen for something.

"We are investigating whether he was involved in another crime, so it's too early to speculate about that that is"' said Godbee.

There was some speculation that [name withheld] might also have been angry at police because his brother is facing a long prison term for murder. [name withheld]'s brother, [name withheld], was sentenced today, just hours after [name withheld] shot up the police station. He was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison for shooting and killing two people at Master's Collision in Detroit last March over a disputed repair bill.

But relatives don't think his brother's pending prison term had anything to do with [name withheld] shooting four police officers. They say [name withheld] was against his brother since the murders happened.

Chief Godbee says the brother's situation is something the police still plan to look at.

"Suffice it to say that we still have a lot of investigative work to do, talking to family members, relatives, anybody who knows him, at least to get a glimpse into what has happened," said Godbee.

Relatives tell the Action News Investigators that [name withheld] was the oldest of five siblings. They say he lost both of his parents at an early age, and add that he had no criminal record, nothing more than a traffic ticket.

But the Action News found one prior run in with police. According to public records, [name withheld] was arrested in Dearborn 14 years ago for attending an animal fight and resisting and obstructing police.

He was convicted only of resisting police, a city ordinance violation.


FL - 2 Police Officers Killed, as 2 Others Are Mourned

Original Article

01/24/2011

By LYNN WADDELL and DON VAN NATTA Jr.

ST. PETERSBURG - Two St. Petersburg police officers were shot and killed Monday morning in a gun battle with a suspect whom the police had tried to serve with a felony arrest warrant, a police spokesman said.

A SWAT team surrounded the house where a gunman was barricaded, said Mike Puetz, spokesman for the police department. Negotiators made contact with the suspect, who was not immediately identified.

The two St. Petersburg police officers and a third officer, a United States marshal’s deputy, were taken to Bayfront Medical Center, where the police officers were pronounced dead. The marshal’s deputy was in stable condition, a spokesman said. The three were not identified.

The shooting occurred as thousands of Florida police officials and officers congregated at the American Airlines Arena in downtown Miami to attend the funeral service of two Miami-Dade police officers, who were also trying to serve arrest warrants when they were shot and killed by a fugitive on Thursday. The fugitive was killed by the police.

The police arrived at the home, shortly before 7 a.m. Monday to serve a felony warrant, the authorities said. As the officers entered the house, they removed a female resident, who told the officers that the suspect was hiding in the attic, Mr. Puetz said.

As the officers tried to gain access to the attic, the suspect shot the officers. The police punched a hole in the side of the house to remove the wounded officers, and the authorities also used tear gas.

The officers who arrived at the house did not expect the man for whom they were serving the warrant to be there, said St. Petersburg Police Chief Chuck Harmon, adding that they had been there a few weeks before and he was not there. They intended to interview a girlfriend, but when they arrived she told them that the suspect was in the attic.

Mr. Harmon said that at that point, the officers called for backup. One officer went up into the attic to get the suspect, who began firing down at him. The suspect took possession of one of the officer’s guns and used it as well as his own, Mr. Harmon said. There were more than 100 rounds fired between the SWAT team, the police and the suspect, he said.

Mr. Puetz said they did not know whether the gunman was wounded inside the house or “laying in wait.” The police cordoned off a six-block radius surrounding the house. A nearby school, Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School, was placed on lockdown.

The St. Petersburg Times identified the gunman as [name withheld], a known sex offender. But the police have not released the suspect’s name.

The incident is the latest case of police officers being shot in recent days. In addition to the two officers who were killed in Miami on Thursday, two sheriff’s deputies were shot Sunday in Port Orchard, Wash.; a gunman opened fire at a police precinct in Detroit on Sunday, wounding four officers; and an officer was shot during a traffic stop in Oregon on Sunday.

The cluster of shooting deaths of police officers comes after an especially deadly year for law enforcement. In 2010, 60 federal, state and local officers were killed by gunfire, a 20 percent increase from figures in 2009, when 49 were killed in the line of duty, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit group that tracks police deaths.

This does not look good since the beginning of this year,” said John Timoney, former Miami police chief. “And usually January is one of the quieter months, with the cold weather. Now all of a sudden we are seeing more incidents all together, with higher body counts of officers. That’s very unusual, and a big cause for concern.”

In 2010, 10 of the shooting deaths occurred in just five incidents when several officers at a time were killed by one gunman.




CA - Assemblyman Tom Ammiano Questions State's Sex Registration Laws

Original Article

01/24/2011

By Erin Sherbert

No two sex offenders are the same, which is why Assemblyman Tom Ammiano wants California to consider a tiered system to categorize those who break the state's sex laws.

As he points out, there is a gradation of offenses. It's true that a consensual, sexual relationship between a 21-year-old and a 16-year-old, for instance, is not even in the same league as a person who sexually assaults a 3-year-old. However, in both scenarios, the guilty party is stamped a sex offender for life.

To get to the bottom of this issue, the veteran assemblyman will hold the first hearing Tuesday, where experts will discuss the merits of this "black and white" system.
- So will they be sex offender experts or people who think they are experts?

Specifically, he wants to reconsider registration requirements, so that perhaps less violent sex offenders, or those in consensual relationships, don't have to register as sex offenders for life.

"You are forever a sex offender, regardles of the scope of your offenses," says Quintin Mecke, a spokesman for Ammiano. "But there are differences across the board -- there is a whole range of sex offenders."


UK - Officer (Brian Connor) jailed for child abuse images

Original Article

01/24/2011

A former police officer who admitted downloading over 600 indecent images of children from the internet has been jailed for six months at Londonderry Crown Court.

Brian Connor, 46, of Clooney Road in Knockloughrim, County Londonderry, pleaded guilty to 27 specimen charges involving 603 abusive images.

He was also placed on the sex offenders register for five years.

The judge said the offences "helped rob children of their childhood".

Connor also had a sex offences prevention order imposed on him.

Under the conditions of the order he must inform the authorities of any change of address after he is released from prison.

He is also banned from unsupervised access to children, and from accessing the internet for five years.

Connor was dismissed from the PSNI after the images were found on his home computer in January of last year.


VA - Bill would keep sex offenders away from school bus stops

Original Article

01/18/2011

RICHMOND – Convicted violent sex offenders can’t go onto school property by state law. Now, some lawmakers want to expand the law to include school bus stops.

Lawmakers in Richmond are reviewing House Bill 1523 (PDF, Impact Statement), which would also keep convicted sex offenders away from “any property, public or private, during hours when such property is being used solely by a public or private elementary or secondary school for a school-related or school-sponsored activity.”

The bill advanced Monday to the Committee for Courts Justice.

Virginia has about 21,000 registered sex offenders. State Police Trooper Mike Dooley monitors some of them. He says it's a challenge. Even if the law passes, police don't have the manpower to keep an eye on thousands of school bus stops.

"Parents need to help us. They can call in and give us tips," Dooley said.

Dooley also says schools should check the offender registry online to find out where sex offenders are living before making bus routes. But some local school districts say they haven't been able to use the registry as a definitive planning tool.

"The information would have to be highly accurate and up-to-date for a city this large to use it as the basis for identifying hundreds of bus stops. As you can surmise, the fluidity with which individuals relocate make it difficult for this database to be as precise as we would need it to be," Kathy O'Hara of Virginia Beach Public Schools said.

Suffolk and Norfolk schools stated a similar response. "Accuracy of the data in the sex offender registry is questionable. Is the offender still living at that address especially if it is an apartment complex? How often is that information updated, we do not know," Karen Tanner of Norfolk public schools said.

Schools and police will investigate when parents voice concerns about any school bus stop.

Violators caught at bus stops could face prison time, costing taxpayers an estimated $50,000 a year.

"I think it's worth it. Anything to protect our children," parent Keith Kimball said.
- If he really believed that, then he'd push for an ALL CRIMINALS registry.  Even then, it would not protect children from criminals intent on committing a crime.

State police say parents should teach children bus stop safety. If they see a stranger, they should run to a neighbor's home.
- I can see it now, kids constantly running to a neighbor's home, who is also a stranger. Out of all the sex offenders in this state, how many have committed their crime at a bus stop? I am willing to bet ZERO!


Recovery Money for Byrne JAG Won’t Stimulate Greater Public Safety

Original Article

10/2010

The Justice Policy Institute (JPI), a research and policy organization in Washington, D.C. that studies law enforcement issues, recently reviewed two documents related to the $2 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds spent on the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program: a new U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released October 15, 2010 (PDF) and a National Criminal Justice Association release on self-reported spending on the program by states in 2009. JPI found that both reports reinforce the need for lawmakers to re-examine funding for the Byrne JAG program.

Outcomes and impact of the funding are not being adequately assessed. In its report, the GAO reviewed ARRA funding of Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) in 14 states. These states collectively received a little over half of the ARRA Byrne JAG funds, and as of June 30, 2010 had spent about $270 million.

According to the GAO report, “The DOJ’s performance measures do not consistently exhibit key attributes of successful performance measurement systems, such as clarity, reliability, linkage, objectivity, and measurable targets.” As a result of a lack of clear evaluation measures the impact of increased funding through these grants is unclear and benchmarks for assessment are absent. This information is consistent with past reports that showed the Byrne JAG Program did not produce significant public safety outcomes. With taxpayers spending more than $2 billion in funding for these activities, measurable public safety outcomes are a necessity. That state and local grantees have not produced measurable outcomes calls into question the wisdom of such large outlays of federal dollars.

Funding continues to be focused on law enforcement despite decreases in crime

Byrne JAG grants can be used to fund a variety of justice-related activities, including treatment and prevention. As the graph shows, violent crime has steadily declined for the past five years. Given the decline in both violent and nonviolent crime,2 ARRA funds should have been appropriated with greater emphasis on important social services. However, according to both the GAO and NCJA reports, Byrne JAG grants are most frequently used to fund law enforcement, corrections and prosecution. Research shows spending on law enforcement frequently results in increased arrests and incarceration of people for low-level, often nonviolent, offenses and has a disparate impact on people and communities of color.

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VA - Sex offender program elicits queries

Original Article

01/23/2011

The concept of civil commitment has always raised certain troubling philosophical questions.

Now in Virginia, it’s raising financial ones as well.

Civil commitment is the system through which violent sexual predators who are considered likely to commit another sex crime may be held in state custody after their prison term ends. But this time, instead of being kept in prison — which of course would be illegal once they had fulfilled their debt to society — the offenders go through a mental evaluation process. If they are judged likely to reoffend, they are transferred to a treatment facility.

One of the earliest questions about such programs was: If offenders are likely to get out of prison and hurt more victims, then isn’t there something wrong with the sentencing system? After all, one of the objectives of imprisonment is to protect the public by keeping criminals off the street.
- The problem is, they do not get treatment in prison. Prison is just a place to lock someone in a box for awhile until they serve their time.

Conversely, if treatment is the appropriate way to deal with sex offenders, then why are they incarcerated in the first place? They should be sent initially to facilities that can take care of whatever mental illness prompts their dangerous behavior.

In fact, civil commitment is exactly as described: a way to keep certain predators locked up even after they can no longer be held in prison. A program with such a purpose raises ethical and philosophical problems — some would even say constitutional ones.

Right now, one of these questions is raising financial problems for Virginia.

The commonwealth adopted the civil commitment option in 1998 and expanded it in 2006 to cover 28 crimes instead of the original four. That year it also changed the test by which sexual predators were evaluated for commitment.
- So how are they tested now as compared to before?

Since then, the number of offenders committed for treatment has skyrocketed. A new facility built for them in 2008, at a cost of $62 million, already is overcrowded. At the time, officials expected to receive about a dozen new “patients” annually; instead, the number has grown to 75 to 80 per year.

An older facility may now have to be renovated to handle the overflow. That would require a $43.5 million bond issue. Additionally, Gov. Bob McDonnell has proposed spending another $24 million in next year’s budget to pay the system’s exploding costs.

Members of the House Appropriations Committee who were given the news earlier this month were appalled. “The cost is astronomical,” said Vice Chairman Del. M. Kirkland Cox.

They also were set to wondering how this could have happened.

Is the number of sexual predators increasing in the general population, and are they becoming more violent?
- My question is, how are they evaluated now as compared to before? Maybe you should check that.

Are prosecutors being especially aggressive and winning more sex-crime cases?
- Or scaring more people into taking plea deals?

Is the new test inaccurate in seeking to identify offenders who are most likely to commit additional sex crimes?

Or, as original concerns about civil commitment postulated: Is there something wrong with the justice system that lets dangerous predators out of prison when, for public safety, they should be kept behind bars for longer periods?

Whether predators are kept in prison or a treatment center fails to solve the financial problem. Either way, the state must pay to keep them in custody.

But the ethical problem still demands an answer. If keeping violent predators out of society is one of the goals of the justice system, then it is failing that goal when predators are released too early for public safety and when, in attempted remedy, the state must create and expand a second program to do the job.