Friday, November 1, 2013
By Kevin McArdle
Do you know who else is on most of the social media sites your children are using?
Convicted sex offenders are and one New Jersey lawmaker wants force everyone required to register under Megan’s Law to provide notification of that important fact on social networking websites.
- And so are murderers, identity thieves, bullies, drug dealers, gang members, racist groups and others, so are they going to have to register their criminal pasts on social networks as well?
“Sex offenders are very sneaky and despicable,” says Assemblywoman Donna Simon who sponsors the measure. “What they will do is they will have a myriad of screen names and other identities to use for communicating to children.”
- Some do this, but putting all ex-offenders into one group is wrong, but it's typical for ignorant politicians and the media to do so, and it's usually done, in our opinion, to help further ones own career or reputation.
The bill, which is modeled on recently enacted Louisiana legislation, expands sex offender registration requirements to include this disclosure on the offender’s profile on any social networking sites.
“It’s very similar to Megan’s Law,” explains Simon. “It protects children on the Internet. Anybody caught violating this could face a fine up to $10,000 and also jail time up to 18 months.”
- How is it similar to Megan's Law?
Also under Simon’s measure, any person required to register as a sex offender must also provide the appropriate law enforcement agency with a list of e-mail addresses, screen names, or other identities used for web-based chats, instant messaging, or a social networking website.
“This is a total bi-partisan measure,” says Simon. “This is something that benefits everyone and I expect it to pass quickly.”
- And we expect it to be shot down for constitutional issues!
The legislation also requires registered sex offenders to provide a list of any social networking websites of which they are a member.
The Assemblywoman hopes the bill will become law before the calendar flips to 2014.
“That’s something we’re pushing for,” explains Simon. “This is very important and one of the bills that should be part of the spotlight for the lame duck session.”
Several social networking sites, like Facebook and Match.com, already prohibit sex offenders from using their sites in their terms of service.
- Doesn't make it right! And why don't they also prohibit all other ex-felons? Because it's against their constitutional rights, and the same applies to ex-sex offenders!
Original Article (Video Available)
By Bridget Shanahan
Studies have shown the therapy can help lower recidivism rates but not everyone gets help.
COLCHESTER - It’s a rare glimpse into a treatment program for sex offenders.
Studies have shown the therapy can help lower recidivism rates but not everyone gets help.
- Ex-sex offenders already have the lowest recidivism rate, for a new sexual crime, than any other ex-felon.
Sex offender treatment is only an option for Vermont inmates, and those who enroll end up being less than a quarter of the population.
But for those who choose, there is help. There are meetings and groups all over the state where convicted sex offenders can find support.
“It was like losing my child cause we were so close living together, you know,” Lucinda Milne said.
Not a day goes by for Milne without remembering her granddaughter, Brooke Bennett.
“Terrible. It's like a nightmare. A terrible, terrible nightmare that I haven't woke up to yet,” Milne said.
Milne's son-in-law is awaiting his final sentencing after being convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing his 12-year-old niece, Brooke, five years ago.
“I just couldn't believe that he did those things. You know? Tore my family apart,” Milne said.
_____ was a convicted sex offender when he killed Brooke, and like many others in Vermont he'd been through treatment, both while he was in prison and when he was released on probation.
When we asked Milne if she thought treatment could help someone like _____ she said, “I'm not sure. I'm not sure.”
According to a Vermont Department of Corrections study, those who go through treatment are less likely to reoffend. But convicted sex offenders cannot be forced into a program while they're incarcerated. Prison officials say that's because the program works best when offenders are committed to it similar to AA or drug rehab programs.
”If I’m in a situation where I may be tempted, I have the skills to think my way through it and get out of it. That's what we can offer in a treatment program,” Corrections commissioner Andy Pallito said.
That study is now more than 10 years old.
And according to more current information obtained by Newschannel Five, the number of sex offenders in Vermont prisons was between 450 and 550 each year from 2008 to 2012 but because of limited space only 78 of those can be in treatment at any given time. In an email to WPTZ the DOC noted there has not been a waitlist for quote "quite some time."
And because Vermont has no civil confinement law, which can keep high risk offenders in prison past their sentence, those without treatment are simply released when their sentence is up.
“Some people, I think, tend to judge people when they hear the word or when they find out you've come out of prison they tend to judge you on what you did and that's who they think you are.”
Two years after his release, this convicted sex offender still worries about the repercussions of identifying himself as a sex offender. He asked us to conceal his identity.
He went through treatment in prison and says he's continuing to make progress now that he's on the outside.
“It's accepting responsibility for what you've done, what you're capable of, that you did what you did, acknowledging it and not making any excuses.”
He attends a weekly faith-based meeting in Burlington for ex-cons. It's hosted by Pastor Pete Fiske from the Church at Prison.
“Nobody is born wanting to be a sex offender. It happens in their lives. They get messed up. And it's despicable and they know it,” Fiske said.
Fiske helps provide support to those he says society often rejects.
“If you have that you have to learn how to manage that, like in AA alcoholics learn how to manage their addictions,” Fiske said.
Still, some will never find faith in treatment. There's simply too much to overcome.
“I don't want somebody to buy the house that right over there and move in that's a sex offender. I don't care if he's married, got kids or not. I don't want him in my neighborhood. It would bring back too much. Too much,” Milne said.
|Joseph Harp Correctional Center|
By REID WILSON
Bobby Cleveland, an Oklahoma state representative, had some questions about the amount of money being spent at Joseph Harp Correctional Center. As chairman of the state House’s Public Safety Committee, state prisons fall under his jurisdiction. But on a tour of the prison facility, he and two fellow representatives found something they didn’t expect: a software program written by two inmates that could save the prison, and maybe the state, a lot of money.
The program tracks inmates as they proceed through food lines, to make sure they don’t go through the lines twice, Cleveland said in an interview. It can help the prison track how popular a particular meal is, so purchasers know how much food to buy in the future. And it can track tools an inmate checks out to perform their jobs.
“It’s a pretty neat program. It’s all done by the direction of the supervisor, one of these guys who’s kind of, what do you call it, thinking outside the box,” Cleveland said.
Cleveland said the program, if implemented statewide, could save Oklahoma up to $20 million a year.
It can also track incoming shipments of food and supplies — and catch discrepancies, like the one that raised red flags with Cleveland and his colleagues, state Reps. Scott Martin (R) and Jason Murphey (R). The software showed that Sysco, which supplies food to the state prison system, was charging the state different prices for the same food item sent to two different facilities, according to the Daily Oklahoman, which first reported the program Monday.
The program came to lawmakers’ attention when Cleveland took a tour of the facility without the prison warden around. He brought his colleagues to a subsequent visit to hear about the program.
“It does kind of expose the waste at all the other facilities. It was just one of those genuine, lightning-strikes things,” Murphey said.
“When you deal with the way state government spends money, billions of dollars go through” the system, Murphey said. “You’re always dependent upon those at the ground level to report what’s going on. Here in this facility, you had those employees at the ground level taking their jobs very seriously.”
The supervisor, William Weldon, worked with two technologically-savvy inmates to develop the program. Prisoners each have a bar code they can scan, which then shows prison officials who has eaten a meal, or checked out a spatula before a shift in the kitchen, or borrowed a pair of gloves to scrub dishes after a meal. Jerry Massie, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, said prison officials at Joseph Harp have used the software for about two years.
The software could even help save the state from lawsuits. Cleveland said several prisoners have sued over being denied special meals, whether for medical or religious reasons. When an inmate’s bar code is scanned, prison officials would be alerted that they should receive a diabetic meal, or a Halal or Kosher meal.
Massie said it was premature to think the program can make the leap from one prison to the rest of the state penitentiary system. But, he added, the program is working for Joseph Harp.
One caution flag, Murphey said, is that any software created by inmates to track something as valuable as food would need constant monitoring.
“If they build on what they’ve done here, they actually have to script it out. If you have inmates writing code, there has to be a continual auditing process,” he said. “Food in prison is a commodity. It’s currency.”
The Department of Corrections wouldn’t identify the inmates who created the program, beyond saying that one of them is a sex offender and one is serving a sentence for murder. They may not be the most savory characters, but the program appears to be working.
“They built a system that could save the state millions of dollars,” Cleveland said. “I want to get the state using this thing.”
By Timothy Bella
For Caleb Warner, weekends still revolve around sports and hanging out with his friends. But life hasn't been so carefree in the four years since he met a young woman.
“We met at a party,” Warner told America Tonight. “And, I don’t know, we just kinda made eye contact. And, you know, one thing led to another.”
On Dec. 13, 2009, Warner, then a junior at the University of North Dakota, attended a party thrown by his fraternity, Phi Delta Theta. There, he met a freshman who caught his eye. They played beer pong in the basement of the fraternity house, later making out. Soon after that, they would head into a side room to have sex. When they were done, Warner says they exchanged numbers and went their separate ways.
“I liked her,” Warner said. “She was, she was fun. She was a fun person to hang out with.”
Warner said he and the freshman were “sexting,” and that both of them were keen on hooking up again. Later in the week, she came over to his house off campus to watch a movie. After they started kissing, Warner says they went up to his room and had sex. Holding her in his arms, the freshman suggested to Warner about the idea of him being her boyfriend. He told her he wasn't sure, but enjoyed hanging out with her.
The next morning, they had sex again before Warner drove her home. He said he received a text later on from the freshman. “Don’t ever talk to me again.”
After the holiday break, an administrator pulled Warner out of class. To Warner’s surprise, he was asked about that night in mid-December, the night he watched a movie with his new freshman friend. After learning why he was pulled out of class, Warner called his mother.
“When he told me what he had been accused of, I felt like somebody hit me in the stomach,” said his mother, Sherry.
According to the incident report, the young woman filed a sexual assault charge with the university against Warner. The report stated that she requested a rape kit from a local hospital.
“That night, I was sexually assaulted by someone I thought was a friend,” she said in the statement. “The experience was brutal and being completely sober, and knowing what exactly happened made it worse.”
Two weeks later, Warner faced a disciplinary hearing on campus, which would ultimately decide his fate. He had a lawyer, but Warner said the attorney was not allowed to speak. He said he wasn't allowed to question his accuser. During one point of the accuser’s story, she ran out of the room crying.
“I knew she was lying,” Warner said. “I mean, everything she said, it just wasn't true and it was opposite of what had actually happened.”