Sunday, June 5, 2011

CA - Sex offenders would have to list online accounts

Original Article

Once again a person kills a child(s) and all offenders have to pay! Why not just lock him up for life, until he dies, then it would not be a problem. Stop stomping on others rights for the deeds of others!


SACRAMENTO - Registered sex offenders in California would have to report their online social networking accounts to law enforcement, under a bill approved by the state Senate.

Sen. Sharon Runner cites the example of John Albert Gardner, a convicted child molester who pleaded guilty last year to raping and killing two San Diego County teenagers while he was on parole. Runner, a Republican from Lancaster, says a red flag was his MySpace page, which contained graphic descriptions of sex acts.

Her bill, SB57 (PDF), would require offenders to report their online addresses at the same time they report their home addresses, but they could continue to use the websites.

The bill is patterned on similar laws in New York and Illinois. It passed on a 32-2 vote and moves to the Assembly.

Sexting PSA - By Parry Aftab

VA - Sex offender program is running out of room

Original Article


By Frank Green

BURKEVILLE - A program keeping some of Virginia's most dangerous sex offenders off the streets for treatment has been brought to a crossroad by unexpected growth.

The Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation is the involuntary home of rapists, child molesters and others deemed "sexually violent predators" too dangerous for release after they have served their prison sentences.

When it began in a makeshift facility in Petersburg in 2003, the VCBR was not projected to reach 100 residents until 2013. Instead, this fall there will be 300 at $91,000 a year each — almost four times the cost of a prison inmate.

As a result, a $62 million, 300-bed, maximum-security campus that opened in Nottoway County in 2008 is about to run out of room. Proposed solutions include construction, re-evaluating those being admitted, privatization and greater use of community supervision.

For now at least, the General Assembly has decided that double-bunking sex offenders is part of the answer.

This fall, VCBR management will start pairing residents for cells with 85 square feet of floor space, much of it taken up by the bunk, the sink/toilet, lockers, a chair and a desk.

Second bunks will be installed above lower ones, but it is not yet known how residents will reach upper bunks. Toilets face the bunks and so, too, will anyone using them.

Had it been known two people would share a room, as in some prisons, the toilets would not have been installed where they are, said Olivia J. Garland, deputy commissioner for the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

"There are a number of things that would be different," Garland said. "It wasn't set up this way, and now we're being pushed into making this work."

She said about half the commitment programs across the country double-bunk, but some that have say they regret it because it has created difficulties.

"Clinically it is not seen to be therapeutic for these type individuals to be double-bunked," Garland said. "We're teaching them a number of things about their sexuality, and we just see double-bunking as counterproductive to that."

But, she said, "We'll do what we need to do. Our job is to make things happen. … We'll make the best of it."

Civil-commitment programs are not supposed to be punitive, says Dr. Fred S. Berlin, a forensic psychiatrist and founder of the Johns Hopkins Sexual Disorders Clinic.

Courts have ruled such offenders can continue to be held after prison on civil — not criminal — court orders, but only if they are given meaningful treatment with the aim of making them safe for release, if possible.

"These are, after all, people who have already served their time and paid their debt to society," he said.

"If the conditions are going to become almost indistinguishable from what goes on in prison — for some of them perhaps even more restrictive than what they had experienced in prison — then it begs the question of what are we really doing here," Berlin said.

The 1997 U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing civil commitments was a narrow, 5-4 vote, he said. "You can't normally lock someone up for a future crime that someone else thinks they're going to commit."

The idea that this is legitimate is based on the notion that they have a mental disorder that is treatable, he said.

And the treatment is expensive. In addition to security staff, the VCBR requires a wide range of professionals, from counselors to physicians. Some $17.3 million was appropriated for the year ending June 30, 2010, to pay for 297 positions there.

Treatment or therapy of various kinds goes on through much of the day. Unlike prison inmates, residents are not locked in their rooms unless they request it.

Officials say the current resident population of 267 includes several incompetent to stand trial, three who are deaf, some who are physically handicapped and/or chronically ill, and those with psychiatric problems who are not amenable to treatment.

Most of the other 19 states with such programs require a history of sexually dangerous behavior — not just one sex offense. And unlike Virginia, other states do not admit those who cannot be made competent to stand trial or seriously mentally ill persons.

There are predators among predators, and some are susceptible to victimization. The task of matching cellmates, officials say, could be difficult. Garland said initially they may double-bunk appropriate newcomers who may have had cellmates in prison.

In recent years, the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services has written highly critical reports of the VCBR.

"Past inspections have consistently documented concerns at the facility including: limited treatment opportunities; inadequate treatment planning … and inadequate staffing to assure safety and effective programming," stated the most recent report last month.

The OIG suggests that the rapid, unforeseen growth and rising cost of the program presents an opportunity to evaluate the state's civil-commitment laws and the treatment of sexually violent predators.

Garland said Gov. Bob McDonnell requested $69 million this year to cover the program's shortfall until January 2013 in a plan that included reopening the program's old 48-bed facility in Petersburg.

But the legislature opted for roughly $24 million along with double-bunking up to 150 residents. It also ordered a study by the Joint Legislative Audit Review Commission of why the center costs so much and why it has grown so quickly.

"We are thrilled that JLARC is doing this study," Garland said. "I don't think the program has been looked at since those changes in 2006. This is an opportunity to look at the types of people we're putting in the program."

Kenneth W. Stolle, the Virginia Beach sheriff who, as a state senator in 2003, helped create the center, warned from the beginning that treatment was expensive and feared funding it would be a challenge.

He believes that part of the current problem started in 2006 when the General Assembly opened the door to more admissions by expanding the list of offenses that can lead to civil commitment from four crimes to 28.

Also the screening tool used to determine eligibility was updated in 2006 to one believed more accurate. But the new tool means someone with just one sex offense could be committed to the VCBR, which was started with the intent of holding only the most dangerous of sex offenders.

Stolle said, "Some people are of the opinion you ought to lock them up and throw away the key. That's all fine and good if you've got the money."

"We made some very unwise decisions for Virginia's future and the future of the sexually violent predator program," he said.

Martin Andrews, a sexual-assault victim and the activist largely credited for getting the VCBR funded by the legislature, said he is concerned.

"We need to take a very hard look at our program to determine if the effort is still within the original scope and intent of providing an option for the state in dealing with the worst of the worst offenders," he said.

Andrews said that clearly, "A lot of people have said these particular guys need to be in some sort of a program. But I am — like a lot of people — just alarmed by how fast the program has grown."

Andrews and Stolle think some offenders can be less expensively, but still effectively, handled through community release and treatment under tight supervision.

On the other hand, Stolle recognizes there are political realities that must be faced should someone who is not committed is released from prison and goes out and reoffends.

"You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't," he said.