Monday, October 24, 2011
LOUISIVILLE (WDRB) -- Parents, your fingertips and your cell phone could offer some peace of mind this Halloween. A new smart phone app can track how close your kids are to sex offenders as they trick-or-treat.
As the youngest ghouls and goblins prepare to hit the streets for Halloween, many parents don't know where the scariest characters lurk in their neighborhood.
- Well, it's not known ex-sex offenders. Most sexual crimes occur by someone the victim knows, not a known ex-sex offender. Ex-sex offenders have the lowest recidivism of most other criminals. And if a parent is so freaked out, why don't they be a parent and go along with their child? Do you really think a ex-sex offender is going to snatch your kid while you are right outside? Come on!
But a free sex offender search app changes all of that. It links to the National Sex Offender Registry database, then taps into your cell phone's GPS and identifies the address of offenders near the phone's location.
- So what about the ex-offenders who are out and about? Can't track them. They could be lurking behind a bush, just waiting to pounce on your little kiddie! Mu ha ha haaaa!
To test it, WDRB's Gilbert Corsey traveled to the Highlands off Cherokee Rd., just one block from Bardstown Rd. -- a location many would consider the heart of suburbia and a safe place for their children. But the app determined that there were two sex offenders, very close. In fact, one lives just across the street.
"You can't be too careful especially Halloween night. It pays to go that extra mile for safety," says Sgt. Andy Abbott of the Louisville Metro Police Sex Crimes Division.
- You should always be aware of your surroundings, regardless of the day of the year.
Police admit the chances of encountering a sex offender on Halloween are rare, but unlike other states, Kentucky does not participate the mandatory "lights-out" program that keeps sex offenders from answering the door to trick-or-treaters.
Parents we talked to say the app could give them some piece of mind.
"I don't even want them walking down that street," said Rhonda Etheron.
There are more than 1,000 sex offenders in Jefferson County and 9,000 throughout the state. The app shows their address and a street view of the neighborhood. In many cases there's a picture of the offender and the charges they were convicted on.
"That's a good thing, just so you would know which places to avoid," Abbott said.
It's available to iPhone and Android users
And for Christy Grass and her 5-year-old daughter, added security is just a fingertip away.
- A false sense of security though.
"I have tons of apps," Grass said, adding that she'd consider using the sex offender app. "I'm all about the apps."
|William Brian Duncan|
Kansas City - A former Lansing police officer pleaded no contest Monday in federal court to attempting to entice a minor for illicit sex, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.
William Brian Duncan, 40, of Leavenworth, entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs in Kansas City, Mo. Duncan pleaded to the charges contained in a Jan. 4 federal indictment. He was taken into federal custody at the conclusion of Monday’s hearing.
Duncan was charged with using the Internet to attempt to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity and with crossing the state line to attempt to engage in a sexual act with a minor, according to the release.
Duncan acknowledged that he communicated online with a person he believed to be 14 years old. In reality, Duncan was communicating with an undercover law enforcement officer. Duncan corresponded with the undercover officer on multiple occasions in December; many of the conversations were sexual in nature, according to the news release.
According to the government’s factual basis for Monday’s plea, Duncan began making arrangements to meet with the minor in person during an online chat Dec. 28. Duncan drove from his residence in Kansas to the meeting location in Missouri the next day with the intent to engage in sex with the 14-year-old minor. When Duncan approached the location, he was pulled over by a Kansas City, Mo., police officer and arrested.
Duncan was an officer with the Lansing Police Department until November. He had been a Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer and coordinator of the Safe Kids program. He was named Officer of the Year in 2008. Duncan also served on the Lansing school board. He resigned from the board in November, according to the release.
Duncan also previously served with the Leavenworth Police Department.
Under federal statutes, Duncan is subject to a mandatory sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole and up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole, plus a fine of up to $500,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a pre-sentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
Show is now over, but you can listen to it below.
(Listen) Folks this appears to be a Training Session for Advocates who appear before the media. Given it will be hosted by a well known West Coast Advocate it is likely to be informative. I suggest folks at least go to the link below (TalkShoe Radio) and listen in. Beforehand check out the Video which is below for more information.
Time: 10/24/2011 09:00 PM EDT
Episode Notes: Welcome to the Molester Mondays Green Room. Our green room is Unlisted here at TalkShoe and therefore can be a place to relax and get ready for going on air. Our green room is where we will learn about how the Molester Monday with Bill Blathers works, what the lesson plans look like and to give you an idea of how you will want to participate as a "call-in" radio show guest. The Molester Mondays program is to educate future activists by allowing them to practice in interview situations, whether radio, TV or any other. All participants will by first name only and it matters not that it is fake if you want it to be.
For now have a great day and a better tomorrow.
By LONZY EDWARDS (Web Site)
The Editorial Board is usually on target when the important issue of public safety is in its sights. But it missed the mark in suggesting that we need to build more jail space. That is about the last thing we can afford or need to do. If their counsel is taken, an already heavy local tax burden will get much heavier. This position is reminiscent of what our state and many others did when they adopted draconian “get tough” and “lock them up and throw away the key” policies. We are still paying for that misguided and myopic approach to our social problems.
As I and many others have observed, if simply locking people up made them better we would have the most virtuous and safe nation on the planet. After all, we imprison more of our citizens than any other nation.
Part of the national problem, which was the subject of a recent piece in The Wall Street Journal, is undoubtedly related to the proliferation of laws that do not require criminal intent. Once ensnared, the unwary are prosecuted and sent to a federal penitentiary. This could happen to law-abiding citizens for thousands of offenses of which they have no knowledge. Not only does this make citizens afraid and distrustful of their government, it also radicalizes some of them and may explain why many join anti-government extremist groups. This makes how the criminal justice system is misused a matter of national security.
What is happening at the national level is occurring at the state and local level. We are just as prone as members of Congress to say, “there ought to be a law,” against something and pass laws without regard for their effect on our finances or freedom. Consequently, our local jail stays full for many of the same reasons people are unnecessarily incarcerated by the federal government.
The bottom line is that, as our governor observed on a recent visit to Macon, we are incarcerating more people than we can afford. That is the message of conservative groups such as “Right on Crime,” a national criminal justice reform initiative. States like Texas have abandoned “get tough” sentencing in favor of programs which have resulted in significant reductions in the cost of operating their prisons. Georgia is considering similar cost-saving measures as part of a criminal justice reform effort. If that is necessary for the state, it is also necessary for counties.
When people advocate building more local jail space, the questions they ought to answer are to what end and how much. We spend roughly a third of our budget on law enforcement and the jail. How much more should we spend? We cannot afford what we are spending. If we had a 3,000 bed jail it would be full in no time. We have averaged in excess of 900 inmates a week in our local jail for a long time. That number would be much higher if the Sheriff’s office did not do a good job of managing it in order to stay under the 966 inmate cap.
Does anyone seriously think this serves the cause of public safety? During the recent rash of incidents in Macon involving youth violence, having a large number of people locked-up made no difference. At least part of the reason may be related to the way bonds are set. We still make this critically important decision not on the basis of “risk to the community, but ability to pay.”
That often means that dangerous people with money get out of jail and those who are harmless and broke stay in. The way “probation holds,” are used also contributes to the problem. We have a lot of people in and out of jail for reasons that have nothing to do with the seriousness of their offense and some who periodically get “lost in the cracks” of the criminal justice system. What taxpayers may not know is that jails are used for all kinds of purposes that have nothing to do with protecting them from dangerous criminals. It is undoubtedly the best debt collection tool in town. It doubles as a mental health facility. It is also used to mask problems in schools and other parts of our community. Although it amounts to peanuts when what is spent to generate it is considered. Taxpayers also may not know there are financial incentives to keeping a big jail population because of money that comes into our coffers from the commissary and confiscated property funds.
We need to make sure we are locking up the right people. I am not sure the system we now have consistently produces this result. The most efficient part of the criminal justice system by far is law enforcement. Aided by reward money from nonprofit organizations, it is good at making arrests. But after arrests are made, the system faces the same dilemma that is laughably presented to a dog chasing a car -- what to do with it once he catches it?
In our community, the answer is almost always jail. We need more thinking of the kind our judges did that led us to invest in the Drug Court Program that is saving lives, reducing costs and preventing crime. Our criminal justice system needs a serious overhaul to fix what is obviously broken.
The solution may be as simple and cheap as shifting our focus from “re-entry” to “pre-entry.” This will mean not sending people to jail for nonviolent, minor offenses. With a little effort and inter-governmental and intra-governmental cooperation that does not always exist, we can safely reduce our jail population -- possibly as low as pre-2005 levels, when we had a population of less than 600 inmates. That would save millions of dollars and allow us to begin to pay deputies what they are worth and possibly mitigate the tax burden that is running people out of our county.
If we listen to advocates of jail expansion and do not get a handle on this expense, more property tax increases, that I will oppose, are coming. We cannot wait to start this process until next year’s budget hearings. Reducing our jail population will also insure that adequate jail space is available for those who are incorrigible or dangerous.
What happens in the criminal justice system affects the bottom line of the county because virtually all of the community’s social problems eventually end up on our doorsteps. That is one of the reasons I believe passing the SPLOST is essential.
Funding for recreation facilities will allow us to devise an effective crime prevention strategy for our children and keep them in school. It is far cheaper to deal with this problem through recreation and education than incarceration.
We need sentencing alternatives that do not require jail. If spending time in jail is a rite of passage which improves a young person’s credibility on the streets, why not find other sanctions?
The system is being gamed now by folks with a Brer Rabbit -- please don’t throw me in the briar patch -- mentality. Once there, they “chill” on our dime and if they get sick we give them better health care than many people receive who work for a living.
If we apply what we learned about conditioning from B.F. Skinner years ago we might come up with something more workable and less costly than what we have now. Obviously, what we are doing is not working. But we continue to do it year after year, without regard for costs or results.
We need to devise ways of disincentivizing anti-social behavior like requiring public work. It is a shame that we have been so unimaginative that all we know to do with petty criminals is lock them up.
Among other options, graduated sentences, citations for minor offenses, use of nationally validated screening instruments to make bond and probation decisions and speeding up probation revocation hearings could make a difference in the size of our jail population.
Under current law, we can use ankle monitors. Why we do not use this cost-effective measure is beyond me. The law allows bail bondsmen to monitor their use for a modest fee that is far cheaper than a jail cell.
For some offenders, we could modify and use the day reporting concept that the state is using. Although experts who study this issue are not sure of the reasons, the crime rate has been dropping for years. Some are quick to attribute that to the high number of people behind bars.
But there are states that have reduced their jail population without experiencing an increase in crime. That is why we have to find similar ways of protecting the public that are hard on criminals instead of tax payers.
We have a choice. We can do what we have always done and hope for a different result or we can follow the lead of our governor and “conservatives” of both parties who say enough already and try to find more cost-effective ways of protecting the public. Unfortunately, that mindset seems to exist at every level of government, except cash-strapped, over-taxed local communities such as ours.
Doing something different will cost money we do not have. Why not let our friends and neighbors from outside our county who shop here help us pay for it by passing the SPLOST?
This is a short documentary for one of my film classes. Barbara Farris is trying to move along her plans to build a 'Sex Offender Village' in Lake County, Florida only to be blockaded by the locals. Activism is still running rampant.
This is not a "loophole!" It's as it should be. When someone is off probation/parole, they should be able to do as they please, just like everyone else. This is how it is in almost all states. So what ever happened to the media actually investigating things and reporting all the facts? If they would've been doing that, then they would've seen this a long time ago. It's how the system works!
By Gary Taylor
Rules designed to protect trick-or-treating children from the registered sexual offenders living in their neighborhood have a huge flaw.
They only apply to the sex offenders and predators on supervised probation.
In a six-county area of Central Florida, there are more than 4,450 registered sex offenders and predators, but just 1,150 of them are on probation, according to the state Department of Corrections, responsible for supervising them.
Just last year the Volusia County Sheriff's Office received calls when a registered sex offender decided to take his child trick-or-treating, sheriff's spokesman Gary Davidson said.
"A number of residents in the neighborhood recognized the offender and called to either complain or ask if he was allowed to be out trick-or-treating," he said.
But the man was no longer on probation, and there was nothing deputies could do, Davidson said. There were no reports of inappropriate behavior by the man, and he wasn't breaking the law.
When asked whether laws need to be changed, state and local law enforcers pointed to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's sexual-offender database as a tool parents can use to protect their children. They encourage parents to familiarize themselves with the registered sex offenders in the areas where their children will be trick-or-treating.
"This is a good personal- and family-safety practice for all times, and particularly so on Halloween due to the potential for predators to take advantage of the child gatherings and outdoor activities," Davidson said.
- Particularly on Halloween? Come on! Show me one case where ANY known or unknown sex offender or "predator" has harmed a child on Halloween. This is nothing but pure mass panic and hysteria over nothing, which has been spread by the media and police, and not based on any actual cases of a child being sexually abused on Halloween. It's the definition of fear mongering.
Volusia County has about 830 registered sex offenders and predators, but fewer than 200 of them are under supervision and must heed the rules of their probation.
"This public database serves a critical role arming parents with information on the location of those who exploit children," said state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, R-Orlando.
Though Eisnaugle has introduced the Protect Our Children Act of 2012 to require registration and increase penalties for those who exploit children through video voyeurism and child pornography, in a statement sent to the Orlando Sentinel he did not address the problem of Halloween rules not applying to those no longer on probation.
Instead, he emphasized the importance of the FDLE database.
"As a father, I know that the safety of our children must receive a special emphasis this time of year," Eisnaugle said. "One important way that parents can help protect their children from predators is to utilize the online Florida Department of Law Enforcement sex offender registry."
- So tell me Mr. Eisnaugle, why does it need special emphasis this time of year? Can you show us any real facts to show why it's needed? Like I said above, there has not been one case of a child being sexually abused on Halloween.
In addition to showing the addresses of registered sex offenders, the FDLE database provides photos and descriptions along with information about the crime offenders committed.
It also specifies which ones are under supervision.
Parents shoulder much of the responsibility for keeping their children safe on Halloween, and it goes well beyond monitoring the sex-offender registry, officials said.
"Parents are encouraged to accompany children when trick-or-treating, to carry a cellphone and to instruct them to avoid darkened houses and hotels and motels," said Department of Corrections spokeswoman Jo Ellyn Rackleff.
- It's called COMMON SENSE!
Sex-offender probation officers from her agency will be out in force on Halloween, making sure sex offenders on supervision are not participating in any Halloween activities, Rackleff said.
They will work with local law-enforcement officers to do surprise home visits, residential drive-bys and surveillance, she said.