Monday, May 20, 2013

FL - Florida funds sex offender database search by school

Original Article

And you can bet that once this is live, these people will lose their jobs as well, which we believe is the intent of the action.

05/18/2013

By Jeff Weinsier

Florida Legislature allocates $18K to update FDLE's Sex Offender, Predator database search

MIAMI - Change is coming to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Sex Offender and Predator database following a Local 10 investigation.

You will soon be able to search for registered sex offenders and predators listed by the college or university they attend or work at. Currently, you can only search the database by name or neighborhood.

The Florida Legislature allocated $18,000 to update FDLE's computer program.

State records show more than 100 registered sex offenders attend or work on campuses in South Florida.

It took Local 10 weeks to get a list, and only after we requested it.

Students who Local 10 interviewed said they had no idea the information even existed.

"I really appreciate you bringing this to my attention," said State Senator Eleanor Sobel. "You do not know who is on your college campus, you do not know who is in your class, you do not know who is in your study group, you do not know who you are having a drink with."

The Texas Department of Public Safety has a link on their website that allows users to search for sex offenders by campus.

Because the Florida Department of Law Enforcement already tracks that information, Sobel and Local 10 wanted to know why it couldn't be done here.

"We met with the FDLE -- they didn't need a law, they didn't need statutory changes," said Sobel. "All they needed was a little bit of money to put it on their website."

The money becomes available July 1.

The Florida Sheriff's Association and Florida Police Chief's Association supported the measure brought to their attention by Sobel.

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OK - Lawmakers benefit from private prison donations

Original Article

As we've said many times before, prison is a business.

05/19/2013

By CURTIS KILLMAN & BARBARA HOBEROCK

OKLAHOMA CITY - Private prison interests have given nearly $200,000 in campaign dollars and gifts to 79 of the 149 members of the state Legislature since 2004, a Tulsa World analysis shows.

From a meal valued at $3.87 for one lawmaker to $22,500 toward T.W. Shannon's Speaker's Ball, private prison and halfway house influence has become well entrenched at the state Capitol.

As the state's prison population has climbed, so has spending on private prisons, which was nearly $73 million last fiscal year, up from slightly more than $57 million in fiscal year 2004.

Halfway-house expenditures were nearly $14 million in fiscal year 2012, up slightly from more than $12 million in fiscal year 2004.

Since 2004, lobbyists, private prison and halfway house employees have given $375,425 to 165 elected officials and candidates for office.

The contributions and gifts come from lobbyists and others affiliated with Avalon Correctional Services, The GEO Group Inc. and Corrections Corporation of America. All three have operations in the state. The lobbyists' representation is not limited to one private prison or halfway house company. They have contracts to represent dozens of far-ranging interests.

House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, is the top recipient of private prison-linked dollars. Shannon has received $34,950. The sum includes $22,500 donated by three private prison companies to fund the 2013 Speaker's Ball.

People make donations to the speaker's campaign because of his ideals, not to buy a spot for theirs, said Joe Griffin, a Shannon spokesman.

"This office makes decisions based on what is best for Oklahoma," Griffin said.

Gov. Mary Fallin ranks No. 2 in private prison dollars. Private prison interests, which include employees, political action committees and lobbyists employed by the companies, have donated $33,608 to her campaigns.

"Campaign donations do not affect the way Gov. Fallin makes policy decisions, period," said Alex Weintz, a Fallin spokesman.

Because she ran a large statewide campaign, it is not surprising that she has large amounts of contributions from any particular group of donors, he said.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, is the top recipient of private prison and halfway house dollars in the Senate and No. 3 recipient among elected officials overall. Jolley has reported receipts totaling $30,450 toward his campaigns.

Jolley said employees of Avalon live in his district, which could account for his ranking.

Jolley said people are going to believe what they want about politicians and donations.

"But my vote is not for sale," Jolley said. "It never has been. It never will be."

State Treasurer Ken Miller received the bulk of his contributions in his current position but collected $2,250 as a member of the Oklahoma House.

Political action committees representing CCA and The GEO Group also have donated nearly $100,000 since 2004 to candidates.

In 2012, private prison interests donated nearly $50,000 to campaigns.

Private prison interests donated $72,900 to 2010 campaigns, records show.

In 2008 and 2006, private prison interests donated a respective $72,900 and $71,395 to political campaigns.

Republicans, who control houses of the Legislature and all elected state offices, have received about 83 percent of the contributions from private prisons since 2004.

Since 2010, The GEO Group and Avalon Correctional Services both reported gifts to various lawmakers and legislative staff.

Most of the gifts were given while the Legislature was in session.

Cooper "Brett" Robinson, a lobbyist on behalf of Geo Group, paid for $865.71 in meals and a "movie night" for lawmakers and their spouses during 2010 and 2011. His clients range from Bank of Oklahoma to the City of Oklahoma City, according to a filing with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission.


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WI - High-risk rent: Renting homes to Wisconsin sex offenders

Original Article

05/19/2013

By Brad Hicks

FOND DU LAC COUNTY (WITI) - FOX6′s Brad Hicks set out to do a story on taxpayer money, and how the state is spending it. However, sometimes stories take an unexpected turn — which is what happened in this instance.

Kirk Everson is proud to promote his Fond du Lac County compost company. He’s not afraid of being in the limelight as a lawyer — and he’s even a bit of a ham, appearing in the popular Chad Vader spoofs.

However, there is one thing Everson doesn’t want to talk about — not at his home, at his office, over the phone, or after his court appearance.

Steve Troscan wishes he had heard about Everson when he moved his mom from the family home into an assisted living facility. He says the house wasn’t selling until someone swooped in with a cash offer.

From what I understood, the man was a lawyer from Fond du Lac. My sister and I would have never sold the house if we would have known this,” Troscan said.

The Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center in Juneau treats the worst sex offenders in Wisconsin — men who, after their prison terms, are still too dangerous to set free. They are committed to Sand Ridge to be treated, and most will never get out.

However, each year, a handful make enough progress that the state orders they be returned to the community, where they will be supervised and under tight restrictions.

Currently, there are 33 sexually violent offenders under supervised release.

The Department of Health Services returns them to the county from which they came. There is usually outrage and concern when a sex offender is placed in a neighborhood, but the law says they have to be placed.

These sex offenders live in rented homes that the state pays for with taxpayer dollars at prices that are nothing like what neighbors pay.

In one Milwaukee neighborhood, the state pays $1,900 a month to house a sex offender, which is about $1,000 more than neighbors pay in monthly rent.

Lydia Nichols rents a new two-bedroom in Manitowoc. Next door is a one-bedroom and home to a sex offender. The state pays $1,600 a month for the one-bedroom, while Nichols pays just $650.

The state says the rent is so high because it is hard to find suitable housing for these sex offenders. For starters, not a lot of people want to rent to the violent sex offender program. It can be risky for a landlord’s reputation. Also, places like Racine are tightening the reigns on where sex offenders can live.

Bob Peterson is a lawyer who represents many of the sex offenders at Sand Ridge and has seen how hard it can be to place them. Peterson says if more people were willing or able to rent, rent for sex offenders would go down.

If there’s an individual that’s willing to do that, I look at is as they’re doing a public service,” Peterson said.

From that perspective, no one is providing a bigger “public service” than a company called Ervin J. Fenske. The Milwaukee home renting for $1,900 and the Manitowoc home renting for $1,600 are both Fenske properties. The company also owns a home Wisconsin rents for a sex offender in Wheatland, one in Beloit, one in Eau Claire and one in Marathon County.

In fact, Fenske owns 20% of the 30 homes the state rents for sexually violent offenders.

So who is behind this company?



FL - Teen arrested, expelled for alleged same-sex relationship

Original Article

UPDATE: Parents of underage victim in Kate Hunt's case defend actions

05/20/2013

By Angela Cruz

SEBASTIAN - [mother name withheld] said it's been a nightmare since her daughter, 18-year-old [name withheld], was arrested on a charge of "lewd and lascivious battery of a child 12 to 16 years old."

"She's scared to death, she can't sleep," said [mother name withheld], from her and [name withheld]'s home on Sunday night.

[mother name withheld] said [name withheld] became friends with an underaged female student at Sebastian River High School at the beginning of the school year.

"They began a dating relationship," [mother name withheld] recalled. "Never in my mind did I consider what that meant."

[name withheld], a former cheerleader and basketball player, was expelled from school after the arrest. [mother name withheld] hopes what she calls the "overwhelming" online support could somehow help get [name withheld]'s charge dropped.

Their family's "Free Kate" Facebook page has more than 14,000 members, and their change.org petition has more than 40,000 signatures.

"I just put our story out there on Friday," said [mother name withheld]  "I wanted people to know what was going on. Within thirty minutes, I had so many outpouring support. On Saturday evening, we crashed the change.org website. The president of change.org contacted us personally."

"She is the sweetest girl," [mother name withheld] continued. "I wondered if I was crazy, if it was only because I'm a mom. But I wondered if anyone else thought, like me, that this was wrong and unjust. Apparently, they do."

The family also created an online account to assist with their $50,000 legal fees incurred, according to [mother name withheld].

[mother name withheld] spent all Sunday morning passing out 1,000 "STOP THE HATE, SAVE KATE" green bracelets. She is hoping the attention could help to avoid a trial.

"It's not something I want for my daughter, and it's not something I want for the other girl," said [mother name withheld].

[mother name withheld] said the relationship was consensual. She questions why the parents of [name withheld]'s girlfriend chose to press charges.

"You get with me, and say, hey, as a mom, this is going on and I don't like this, let's talk about this," said [mother name withheld]  "I would have sat down with her, I would have sat down with our children, and I would have nipped it in the bud, and I would have respected her."

The state attorney's office has offered [name withheld] a plea deal, which would include two years of house arrest.

[mother name withheld] doesn't feel [name withheld] deserves the penalty if they don't accept, and they lose her case. She denies her daughter's actions were criminal.

"She would have a lifetime sexual offender on her record," said [mother name withheld]  "She would not be able to, we think we all know what that means. It's a death sentence for her, her life would be over at 18."

"[name withheld] would not hurt a fly," said [mother name withheld]  "She didn't know what she was doing was quote, unquote 'wrong' or illegal. There was no intent to hurt anybody or commit a crime. I know that's not an excuse for the letter of the law, but it's reality."

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