Wednesday, June 19, 2013

STOP JUST READING! STAND UP AND FIGHT!


OH - Former North Royalton corrections officer (Michael Maresh) sentenced to three years in prison for sexual battery

Michael Maresh
Original Article

06/19/2013

By Scott Patsko

Former North Royalton corrections officer Michael Maresh was sentenced to three years in prison June 17 for sexually assaulting a woman while working as a probation officer for Parma Municipal Court.

Maresh, 26, of Cuyahoga Falls, pleaded not guilty to two counts of sexual battery but was found guilty last month.

He was charged with having non-consensual sex last June with a 32-year-old woman at her North Royalton residence. The woman was reporting to Maresh as a probationer.

Maresh was hired by North Royalton as a part-time corrections officer in 2007. He was placed on leave in July 2012 following the sexual battery charges, then discharged in August.


FL - Commentary: More homeless sex offenders on the way

Original Article

06/18/2013

By GAIL COLLETTA (Florida Action Committee)

The United States is home to about 750,000 sex offenders, with slightly less than 60,000 registered in Florida. According to a 2012 study by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Florida saw a 74 percent increase in the number of sex offenders in the past five years.

What has also increased exponentially in the last five years is the number of municipalities that have passed tough residency restrictions against those classified as sex offenders. With thousands being added to the list each year and Florida requiring lifetime registration, the number of registrants will steadily climb while the available housing options will steadily decrease, leaving a growing number of registrants with nowhere to live.

In a 2009 study that appears on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website, it was reported that as much as 50 percent of the state is off limits to sex offenders. More populated areas had less than 10 percent available, with some cities entirely zoning out registrants. Wherever there is an available pocket for registrants to cluster, the growing trend has been to install a pocket park to close off the area.

Compounded by the fact that few landlords want their address published online or are unwilling to rent to former sex offenders, and public registration rendering employment unlikely, more sex offenders are forced into a life of homelessness or are driven underground.

So why should we care? As WFTV Channel 9 in Orlando reported, "More than 230 convicted sex offenders in Central Florida are almost untraceable." Without an address, it is virtually impossible to check up on them. Those numbers are even worse in South Florida, which has twice as many homeless registrants. Also, homelessness leads to instability and recidivism.

All the while, study after study has shown that residency restrictions are ineffective and actually do more harm than good.

So, unless we do care about public safety and do something to reverse these counterproductive residency restrictions, more homeless sex offenders will be coming to our neighborhoods.

See Also:


CA - '3 strikes' campaign splits Klaas family

Original Article

It seems Marc didn't inherit his dad's common sense, but instead is running on hate.

06/14/2004

By Bill Ainsworth

SACRAMENTO - The tragedy of his daughter's murder thrust a grieving Marc Klaas onto the public stage nearly 11 years ago. Now the tough anti-crime law forever linked to Polly Klaas' death has triggered a feud between Marc and his father, Joe Klaas.

They are two of the most prominent voices in a bitter campaign over whether to modify the "three strikes" sentencing law, which was fueled by anger over the 12-year-old girl's slaying in October 1993. Their disagreement over Proposition 66 on the November ballot is in some ways a fight over the political legacy of Polly's killing.

Once united against the original three-strikes law, Marc and Joe Klaas now are so divided on the issue that they aren't speaking to each other.

Marc Klaas believes the nation's toughest three-strikes law works well.

"'Three strikes' is where it should be," he said. "Crime has gone down and none of the dire predictions about it have come true."

Joe Klaas has campaigned for years to change the law. He's now serving as the spokesman for the ballot measure that would amend the law by requiring that second-and third-strike felonies be either violent or serious.

Under the current law, defendants with one serious or violent felony conviction have their sentences doubled if they commit any new felony. Those with two convictions face 25 years to life for their next felony, regardless of its severity.

Joe Klaas believes the law is unjust and costly. The money spent locking up nonviolent criminals could fund other services, he contends.

"This state is really strapped," he said. "They are closing libraries. They are closing day-care centers. People don't want that."

Proposition 66, which had strong public support in a poll last month, would impose a penalty of 25 years to life only if the third felony is a serious or violent crime. It would also reduce the number of crimes that qualify for strikes and increase sentences for child molesters.

The measure would allow thousands of offenders to have their sentences reduced and save the state hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the nonpartisan legislative analyst.

Ten years ago, the three-strikes law was passed amid a politically charged atmosphere and public outrage over violent crime.

In 1993, the slaying of Polly Klaas, kidnapped during a slumber party at her Petaluma home, seized the nation's attention and served as a flash point for public concern over violent crime.

Hundreds of volunteers helped in the search for the missing child. Eventually, Richard Allen Davis, a repeat violent offender, was captured, tried and convicted for her murder. Since then, he has been sentenced to death.

Just after his daughter's body was found, Marc Klaas teamed up with Mike Reynolds, whose daughter, Kimber Reynolds, had been killed nearly 18 months earlier.

Reynolds was working hard to pass the three-strikes law.

Klaas endorsed the measure, prompting thousands of volunteers to gather signatures to qualify the initiative in 1994. Nearly 100,000 of the 800,000 signatures the measure needed came from residents of Sonoma County, where Polly lived.

Within a few months, the Klaas family broke with Reynolds. They believed his version would force the state to spend too much money locking away nonviolent criminals, leaving less money for other services and programs.

Marc and Joe Klaas toured the state to speak against the measure.

They were joined in their opposition by an unlikely ally, the California District Attorneys Association. The group favored an alternative that would have targeted violent offenders. They even named the law, with Marc Klaas' blessing, the Polly Klaas Memorial Habitual Offender Reform Act.

By this time, momentum had swung against the Klaas family. The Legislature passed the law favored by Reynolds, then-Gov. Pete Wilson and the prison guards union.

In November 1994, voters approved the law by 72 percent to 28 percent.

Reynolds, a wedding photographer from Fresno, took his campaign nationwide. Now 24 states and the federal government have three-strikes laws.

But Reynolds said none of those laws is as strong as the one passed in California because they all require strikes to be violent and serious crimes. The California law has added years to the sentences of more than 58,000 criminals, he said.

In California, a petty thief with two strikes can get a 25-years-to-life sentence in some cases, forcing the criminal to wait longer for parole than someone convicted of second-degree murder, which carries a 15-to-life sentence. In San Diego, Steve Elias was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for stealing a printer at a hospital.

Elias is among the 357 inmates serving a third-strike sentence for petty theft. An additional 678 are serving such sentences for drug possession and 235 for auto theft, according to the Department of Corrections.

"I don't think we ought to be locking people up for stealing golf clubs. What kind of justice is that?" said Joe Klaas, referring to another publicized case.

Several initiatives to modify the three-strikes law have failed to qualify for the ballot, doomed by the lack of money to hire signature gatherers.

Joe Klaas said he is thrilled that the measure is on the ballot and that it gained support from 76 percent of voters surveyed in the nonpartisan Field Poll in June.

"I've been working on this for 10 years. The word finally got out," he said.

But Marc Klaas said he's horrified.

During the past 10 years, the former owner of a car-rental franchise has become a full-time advocate. He heads the Klaas Kids foundation, based in Sausalito, that helps promote child safety by supporting programs such as Amber Alert, which notifies the public about child abductions.

He now supports the three-strikes law he once opposed.

Court decisions have made it easier for judges and prosecutors to use discretion so pizza thieves – also a highly publicized case – don't end up in prison for life, he said.

Further, he was persuaded by a study of DNA samples in Virginia, which requires samples from all felons. Among the matches for unsolved crimes the state has found, 60 percent come from inmates convicted of violent felonies and 40 percent from nonviolent offenders.

Those results convinced Klaas that many nonviolent felons have also committed violent crimes. "The fact that they get busted for shoplifting and stealing pizza means they have a propensity for all types of crime," he said.

Klaas also dislikes a provision in Proposition 66 that would allow those convicted under the old law to apply for reduced sentences.

Opponents say that could lead to the release of 26,000 repeat offenders, including second-strikers. Backers of the measure contend that it applies only to about 4,000 three-strikes criminals whose last conviction was nonviolent.

Reynolds believes Marc Klaas' change of heart shows great integrity.

"It takes a real man to admit he's wrong," he said. "We're talking serious courage. I've got to hand it to the guy."

Marc Klaas isn't the only one to switch positions.

The California District Attorneys Association, which once opposed the law, now supports it.

San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said she has come full circle on the three-strikes law. After initially calling the law too rigid, she said she saw firsthand as a judge that it worked. It gave offenders an incentive to go to drug treatment, and it was applied only to those with long criminal records, she said.

"I saw that a judge has the ability to exercise discretion and do the right thing," Dumanis said.

Marc Klaas said he plans to stay involved in the campaign opposing the new ballot measure to protect his daughter's legacy.

"The last thing I told my father about this is to never, ever use my daughter's name," Marc Klaas said. "I just don't want it to be part of her legacy that 26,000 bad boys are released on the streets and there's more little girls like Polly and more dads like me. Who wants to be part of that?"

Joe Klaas said he is honoring his son's request not to use Polly's name in the campaign.

In the past, he had said the law dishonors his granddaughter by equating her murder with the theft of a stereo from a home. Both crimes count as strikes.

In the campaign, both sides are using heated rhetoric that appears to deepen the rift between father and son. Opponents call the measure the most dangerous piece of legislation to come before voters in decades.

Joe Klaas, in a recent newspaper article, referred to three strikes as an "al-Qaeda-type" law.

Marc Klaas took offense to the comment. "Is he suggesting that me and the others are supporters of bin Laden?" he asked. "I can't even talk to my father about this."


LA - Louisiana removes sex-offender label from those who shouldn't have had it

Original Article

The sex offender registry is suppose to be for those who have committed sex crimes, is it not? So why wouldn't you want prostitutes, pimps and John's to also be on the list?

06/18/2013

By Jarvis DeBerry

[name withheld], whose crimes had earned him a place on California's sex-offenders registry, was murdered by neighbor Ivan Garcia Oliver in November 2007, 35 days after [name withheld] moved into a mobile home in California's Lake County. Oliver, who was convicted of first-degree murder in 2012, never denied killing the man.

Instead, in a jailhouse interview with the Los Angeles Times, Oliver gave what amounted to a manifesto. His son had already been molested, Oliver explained. Then [name withheld] whose name was on the registry, moved into the neighborhood. "Society may see the action I took as unacceptable in the eyes of 'normal' people. I felt that by not taking evasive action as a father in the right direction, I might as well have taken my child to some swamp filled with alligators and had them tear him to pieces. It's no different."

California listed [name withheld]'s crimes as "rape by force" and "oral copulation with a person under 14 or by force." As for the oral copulation, it was the "by force" part that applied to [name withheld].

"He was convicted of other bad things," a Lake County prosecutor told the Los Angeles Times, "but nothing involving a minor." Oliver leaped to the wrong conclusion. He isn't much different in that regard from most of us. We tend to assume that people on a sex-offenders list have hurt children.
- Well you need to stop assuming that now don't you?

I imagine that's why "Louise" was so quick to tell me what she hadn't done when we spoke in October 2011. "I've never molested a child," she said. Even so, "I can't even celebrate Halloween or go trick-or-treating with my kids." Louisiana's registration laws didn't distinguish between predators who had raped or otherwise exploited minors and desperate drug addicts who, like Louise had, peddled oral sex on the streets.

Nope. In Louisiana a sex offender was a sex offender was a sex offender. And all of them with the label were instructed to register their addresses and keep their distance from children.
- So it's okay to take prostitutes off the list, but continue to punish many others who didn't harm children?

That's why it was such a big deal last week when U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman approved a settlement that removes hundreds of names from the state's sex-offender registry. It was wrong in and of itself for the law to label prostitutes as if they were predators. But not everybody selling sexual gratification got the label. Only those who sold oral or anal sex. Those selling intercourse could get convicted repeatedly and never be labeled a sex offender.
- So what about all the others still on the list who are labeled predators who are not, or is this a sexist issue?

In 2011, the Louisiana Legislature changed the law so that those convicted of soliciting oral and anal sex wouldn't have to register, but that didn't help people whose names were already on the list. Thanks to a settlement between the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Louisiana attorney general's office, those names will be removed.

Attorney General James "Buddy" Caldwell should have removed the names sooner, but as the Legislature was debating changing the law, an attorney from Caldwell's office said the state couldn't afford the $37,000 a year it might take to go back and remove the names of people like Louise, people who hadn't ever preyed on anybody. Caldwell continued his foot-dragging even after Feldman ruled last year that the state had no "rational basis" for putting people like Louise on its registry. In a December hearing, Feldman said, "I am incredulous and very concerned about why this process has been dragged out against the backdrop of politics for so long."
- So apparently they don't think that dressing up in sexy outfits and walking the streets looking for John's is predatory?

Louise had cleaned herself up from drugs and was a full-time college student when we spoke. But she was weary of all the obstacles she routinely encountered as a labeled sex offender. She had an upcoming court date after being charged with not registering as she should have. She later pleaded guilty to avoid going to jail.

But the label itself was its own kind of prison, not to mention an invitation for scorn and ridicule. Some people think they can do anything to convicted sex offenders, that people with that label can't be mistreated. They're wrong, of course. And Louisiana itself was wrong for ever burdening non-predators with that label.


WA - Inmate (Forrest Amos) allegedly extorted sex offenders to run drug trafficking ring

Forrest Amos
Original Article

06/18/2013

By Michael Harthorne

CENTRALIA - An inmate is now facing new charges after he was busted allegedly running an organized drug trafficking ring from inside prison.

According to the Centralia Police Department, 30-year-old Forrest Amos would extort personal information from sex offenders in prison in order to set up false phone lines for making collect calls. He would reportedly use those calls to set up sales of prescription pain-relief medication between suppliers, sellers and customers.

But, the Centralia Police Department intercepted those calls and launched a long and complex investigation into the ring in January, culminating in the serving of search warrants at New Beginnings Wellness Centers in Tumwater and Aberdeen June 17.

All told, the investigation ended with the arrest or referral for charges of more than 20 people, the recovery of 1,650 prescription pills, 156 marijuana plants, 1.5 pounds of dried marijuana, $19,000 in cash and five vehicles. Police also plan on seizing a Lewis County house in the near future.

According to police, arrests were made in SeaTac, Lacey, Centralia, Chehalis, Napavine and Longview after police observed numerous drug transactions and gained information about the trafficking ring.

Every person arrested directly supplied and distributed controlled substances in Centralia, according to police.

In addition to trafficking in prescription pills, the ring reportedly facilitated medical-marijuana authorizations, trafficked in non-medical marijuana, and arranged to have contraband smuggled into the prison system.

Amos and the other suspects are facing charges including violations of Uniform Controlled Substances Act, delivery and possession with intent to deliver; leading organized crime; assault and intimidating a witness; identity theft and forgery; extortion; Medicaid fraud.

Amos was in prison for possessing prescription drugs without authorization.