Monday, January 6, 2014

PA - Proposed: Registries of animal abusers in Pennsylvania and nationally

Abused dog Lexi
Original Article

Like we've said before, instead of having many different registries, why not one for all sinners?


By Beth Brelje

Shivering, starving and unloved, abused and neglected animals too commonly make news in the Poconos.

Etched in the minds of many is the photo of Lexi, the Pike County dog whose owner bound her legs and muzzle tightly with duct tape and left her in a chicken coop.

Another dog named Lexi was discovered in Monroe County with more than 20 broken bones from abuse.

Just as heartbreaking: There are animals that will never make the news but are spending winter outside, cowering from the cold, dying for affection and a water bowl that has not frozen over.

"It's not unique to the Poconos. It happens all over the state," Rep. Mike Carroll, D-118, said of animal abuse.

His office receives many calls from citizens concerned about animal abuse.

That is why Carroll has co-sponsored a bill that calls for an animal abuser registry in Pennsylvania.

Similar registries have been proposed in 26 states, but none has succeeded in becoming a state law, said Chris Green, legislative affairs director at the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

However, a few counties in New York have made it law for animal abusers to be put on a list, Green said.

In Pennsylvania, the legislation, House Bill 265, would require convicted animal abusers to register with the county sheriff once a year for 15 years.

The sheriff would then inform every residence, school, humane society, animal shelter and any business within a half-mile radius of the animal abuser's residence.

The state police would also get the abuser's name and put it on an online, publicly searchable database of animal abusers, similar to the current Megan's Law sex offender registry.

If the state law is passed, anyone registered on the list would be barred from owning an animal.

The bill was moved to the Judiciary Committee in January 2013, where it remains. The legislature has until November 2014 to act on it, or it will have to be reintroduced in a future session.

"It will take a commitment by the majority to run the bill out of the committee, hopefully in 2014," Carroll said.

He is optimistic because the bill has received bipartisan support so far.

NE - Should Nebraska step up its use of electronic ankle bracelets?

Original Article

No! GPS has flaws, like someone going into a building, bridge or mountains. Several examples can be found here.


By Matt Wynn

Ankle monitors, the telltale sign of a person who's been on the wrong side of the law, just might get a lot more visible as Nebraska looks for ways to turn out more prisoners out onto the street.

But while law enforcement officials and lawmakers hope the technology can keep better track of more convicts, Nebraska has a lot of wrinkles to iron out before expanding its use.

Some in law enforcement caution against increased reliance on the devices.

There are some things that are probably going to fall through the cracks, and they're going to fall to us,” said Jim Maguire, president of the deputies union for the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.

Two prospective bills in the Nebraska Legislature look to expand the use of the “electronic monitoring.”

One bill, being drafted by the Omaha Police Department and searching for a sponsor, would put monitoring bracelets on parolees convicted of violent gun crimes for up to six months. Another, sponsored by State Sen. Brad Ashford, would free up prison space by releasing offenders early — if they agree to wear the tracking units.

Both would represent a dramatic shift in how the state uses electronic monitoring.

As it stands, electronic monitoring is most common in Nebraska for parolees, those prisoners who followed an assigned plan behind bars and were released early.

Some 230 parolees were assigned to wear ankle bracelets as of late December, said Dawn Renee Smith, a spokeswoman for the Nebraska Department of Corrections. About one-fifth of parolees spend time on electronic monitoring, she said.

Sex offenders make up the largest group who are monitored electronically. They account for 42 percent of the currently tracked parolees. An additional 38 violent offenders are wearing the devices, as well.

Some criminals who are sentenced to probation rather than prison also are assigned to use the devices. In 2013, more than 500 adults and juveniles on probation were monitored, or about 2 percent of all probationers.

Relying more on the monitors raises concerns, Maguire said.

People cut the bracelets off all the time, he said. And expecting such monitoring to dissuade violent offenders would be an invitation for trouble.

If somebody has it in their mind that they're going to do something to somebody, what's an ankle bracelet going to stop?” he said.

Deputy Chief Greg Gonzalez of the Omaha Police Department said ramping up ankle monitoring wouldn't be a panacea for violent crime.

But he said it could reduce the risk of criminals re-offending — or could give officers better information if they do re-offend, which could be particularly useful with gun crimes.

Tracking data could be coupled with other technology to help pinpoint whether a released prisoner was at a crime scene.

It's another resource, that extra layer of protection,” he said. “You have to explore that.”

Electronic monitoring is used across the country, and a number of studies have confirmed that it reduces the odds that criminals will re-offend.

A Florida study funded by the National Institute of Justice found that electronic monitoring reduced recidivism by 31 percent. The study concluded that the monitors were less successful for violent criminals.

A Pew Charitable Trust study on parole in New Jersey had similar results. Criminals freed without any oversight re-offended 40 percent of the time. Supervised offenders re-offended 25 percent of the time.

FL - Sex Sting Backlash

Coffee and morning paper
Original Article


By Chad Petri

PENSACOLA - Two and a half years ago Escambia County deputies arrested 25 men in operation Blue Shepherd. Officials said the men were looking for sex with minors after chatting online. One of those men was _____.

Once you're labeled a pedophile that sticks with you for an eternity,” says _____. He's innocent in the eyes of the law--but his life has ground to a halt. This past fall his guilty plea was thrown out on appeal--the higher court saying investigators were the ones who were talking about sex with a minor--not him--_____ thought he was chatting with a college age woman. He says he still hasn’t fully recovered.

For nearly three years now there hasn't been much of an improvement if I wasn't a veteran probably very bleak, probably homeless,” says _____. When he’s not at school he spends much of his free time on the computer--fighting back against internet sex stings. He has built a couple of websites (Blog, Facebook, Website) dedicated to the cause where he’s working with other men arrested in these stings. In most cases police post ads on adult sites like Craigslist saying they're adults--but once they start one-on-one chats the officer claims he's underage.

In almost every instance it is the police who are doing the seducing, the alluring and the enticing,” says defense lawyer Peter Aiken (Blog, Website). He works in Florida and specializes in defending men arrested in these stings. “The problem with the stings is they're catching 5% of the predators and they're destroying 95% of the lives of innocent men.”

According to _____'s analysis only a few suspects are caught with child porn. Opponents say the stings are motivated in part by the good PR they generate and also money. There’s money from cars seized from suspects and federal funding they get from the Internet Crimes Against Children division of the Department of Justice. _____ and others argue some police are violating the rules set out by the feds when it comes to sex stings.

What we want to happen in Florida is the same thing that's happened in Georgia, we want the stings down, we want them investigated and to find the violations,” says _____.