Wednesday, January 15, 2014

MD - Guarded Optimism - Boys in custody and the women who abuse them

Cheltenham Youth Facility
Cheltenham Youth Facility
Original Article


By Joaquin Sapien

Last week, the Justice Department convened hearings under the Prison Rape Elimination Act to examine the prevalence of rape and sexual abuse in the nation’s prisons and juvenile detention centers. As we've reported, the department has found alarming rates of abuse by staff on youngsters in custody. In a 2013 survey of more than 8,700 juveniles housed in 326 facilities across the country, 8 percent said they experienced sex abuse at the hands of the staff supervising them. Twenty percent of those who said they were victimized by staff said it happened on more than 10 occasions. But perhaps the most surprising finding: Nine out of 10 victims were males abused by female staffers.

The prison rape elimination legislation first passed in 2003, but it then took the Justice Department nearly 10 years to study the issue and release rules for prisons and juvenile detention centers to implement. Beginning late last year, auditors contracted by the federal government started inspecting these facilities to make sure that staff members are being trained on how to prevent sexual abuse and that there are effective means to monitor it.

American University law professor Brenda Smith has devoted much of her research to studying the problem, and she and her work helped shape the legislation that addresses it. We talked to her about the difficulty of getting the bill passed, the resistance from the corrections industry, and the psychological damage suffered by young boys who are abused by the women overseeing them. This is an edited transcript of our conversation.

People who have worked in this field know that sexual abuse in prisons has been a problem for decades. Why did it take so long to get Congress and the Justice Department to act?

I think gender has a lot to do with it. When legislation was first proposed by Rep. John Conyers in 1998, it was part of the Violence Against Women Act, and it had to get stripped out so the rest of the bill could pass.

MN - Sex Offender Task Force wants special judges' panel

Sex offender task force
Sex offender task force
Original Article


By Allen Costantini

SAINT PAUL - The Minnesota Sex Offender Commitment Advisory Task Force addressed a group of state legislators on Wednesday. Chair Eric Magnuson, former Supreme Court Justice, spoke to a joint meeting of the Senate Heath and Human Services and Judiciary Committees.

Magnuson told the Committee that the Task Force believes that politics should be kept out of decisions involving civil commitments and releases. He said a panel of retired judges should make the decisions, "insulated" from local pressure.

"We have great faith in the judges of Minnesota," said Magnuson. "They work hard. They take their job seriously, but they may not see many of these cases."

Magnuson said a panel of experts on the science of sex offender treatments should be created to advise the retired judges, but not make any final decisions on individuals.

He said the task force report offered "What changes, in either procedure or law, the Legislature should contemplate so that someone does not receive what today has become a defacto life sentence when they are civilly committed. People simply do not get out."

Currently, there are 698 persons in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) and a number of them are juveniles. Magnuson said the Task Force was "very concerned" about juveniles in the system.

"We felt that it was very important to recommend that no one should be civilly committed solely on conduct that occurred while that person was a juvenile," said Magnuson.

Magnuson and the committee are conscious of the fact that there is a lawsuit before Judge Donovan Frank in Federal Court challenging Minnesota's Sex Offender commitment program. The lawsuit contends that the commitments are unconstitutional.

It is not know when Judge Frank will rule or if he might order those committed to be released immediately.

"It cannot be that no one should ever be released, or if that is what it is, then we should say that right up front," said Magnuson.

See Also:

OH - Bainbridge Parents Sound Off about Convicted Sex Offender Volunteering as Firefighter

Our comment left on the video:

What do they expect the ex-offender to do? "Oh hey, sorry your house is on fire and burning down, but let me rape you real quick!"

Come on, this is pure insanity!

NY - Man sentenced to prison for not disclosing criminal record on employment application

Original Article


MOREAU - A man who lied on an employment application about being a Level 2 Sex Offender has been sentenced to 1 ½ to 3 years in State Prison.

According to Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy, _____, 57, pleaded guilty to Offering a False Instrument for Filing 1st Degree, a felony.

_____, of Whitehall, admitted to submitting a job application in the town of Moreau and failing to disclose his criminal record. He was offered a job as groundskeeper in town parks.

At the time, _____ was on parole after a 2008 conviction of a sexual conduct charge related to a number of sexual assaults of a child.

Murphy said the town did not perform a background check on the man. However, he was fired in early May after he was recognized by a parent.

There were no allegations he had improper contact with children at the parks.

The town of Moreau has changed its job screening process.

IL - $6.3M settlement for man in prison 25 years for rape he didn’t commit

Wrongly accused of rape
Original Article



A man who spent 25 years behind bars for a rape he did not commit is the latest wrongfully convicted ex-prisoner to collect a multimillion settlement from the City of Chicago.

The City Council Finance Committee authorized $6,375,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed by Larry Gillard, alleging the police crime lab distorted evidence in his case.

Gillard, now in his 50s, was convicted of a May 1981 rape after he was identified by the victim in a photo lineup and after a crime lab analyst testified that he was among only 4.4 percent of the African-American population that could have provided the semen recovered.

A jury took less than an hour to convict him, and he was sentenced to 24 years.

A later audit of the city crime lab found it did not comply with standards, and it was shut down and its work was turned over to the State Police.

After Gillard spent decades in prison, the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago Law School took up the case. State Police DNA tests in 2009 definitively excluded Gillard and he was granted a certificate of innocence.

We basically had proof that the crime lab misrepresented the results in Larry’s case,” said his attorney Jon Loevy, of Loevy & Loevy. “If they had reported them accurately, he never would have been convicted. We also developed evidence that this was going on routinely.”

Loevy was protective of his client and gave few details of his current life. “He’s a very gullible guy. People take advantage of him easily,” Loevy said.

He’s trying to make a life. When you’re wrongfully convicted, obviously it interferes with your ability to build a career and make relationships with people. It really breaks your life, but he’s doing the best he can under the circumstances.”

Gillard knew that his settlement was in the pipeline, according to Loevy.

Nothing is going to give him back the years that he lost, he’s doing his best to live his life. But he is appreciative that the city has at least made this effort to right the injustice,” Loevy said.

In another recently settled wrongful conviction case, the City Council in September approved a $12.3 million settlement to be divided between Ronald Kitchen and a co-defendant, Marvin Reeves. They were convicted of murder after Kitchen confessed under torture by detectives under the watch of Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge.

NJ - Updated Megan's Law heads to Gov. Chris Christie's desk

Linda Greenstein
Linda Greenstein
Original Article


By Mike Davis

TRENTON - The state Senate this week approved an updated Megan’s Law that would place added focus on digital and electronic mediums.

The original Megan’s Law was adopted in 1994 and named after 7-year-old Megan Kanka of Hamilton, who was raped and killed by a neighbor who was a twice-convicted sex offender.

The law created the first sex-offender database, which has become a standard throughout the country.

If signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie, the updated bill would provide additional training for parole officers to identify supervised sex offenders who are using electronic devices, including computers and the internet, for unlawful activities.

Additionally, it would impose a $30 monthly penalty for sex offenders, providing revenue to pay for additional parole officers and supervisory equipment.
- It's nothing more than an extortion fee.

Like any piece of legislation, as times change, it is important for the Legislature to revisit and update it,” said Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro), a co-sponsor of the bill.

Since technology has so rapidly advanced, parents must now be vigilant against sexual predators both when their children are outside and inside the home, because luring and sexual advances can happen on computers and phones in living rooms and bedrooms. This legislation will help better arm law enforcement — including parole officers — with the skills, training and tools to effectively monitor those convicted of sex crimes to ensure the continued safety of our kids.”

The bill would also provide that juveniles who commit a sexting offense, transmitting sexually explicit images via cell phone or computer, won’t have to register as sex offenders.

Critics of the law have said it paints with broad brush strokes and does little to reduce the rate of recidivism among released sex offenders.

Shana Rowan
The initial idea of a registry was not a bad one, but unfortunately it has expanded exponentially.”

It’s no longer a safety tool, where people can look and say, ‘These people might be dangerous to my kids,’USA Families Advocating an Intelligent Registry Executive Director Shana Rowan told The Times last year.

Offenders need to be held accountable, but it gets to a point where, once somebody has served their time and is back out into the community, a lot of these laws are set up to make them fail,” she said.

NY - Assemblyman Zebrowski Introduces Bill to Crackdown on Public Lewdness

Kenneth Zebrowski
Kenneth Zebrowski
Original Article



Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski (D-New City) has announced legislation that would increase penalties for public lewdness offenses (A.8270). This legislation is in response the troubling incidents at the Palisades Mall where individuals have exposed themselves in a disturbing manner to children. The bill will create tougher penalties for those that engage in these acts, as well as provides grounds for sex offender registration. Currently, petty larceny (class A misdemeanor) is a more serious crime, and has tougher consequences than public lewdness (class B misdemeanor).

These unsettling incidents highlight a weakness in our laws where horrendous crimes are treated with minor consequences,” Zebrowski said.

The bill would amend the penal law by creating three levels of public lewdness with increasing severity. The current public lewdness law carries a penalty of a class B misdemeanor, with no requirement to register under the Sexual Offender Registry. Assemblyman Zebrowski’s legislation would create two new crimes of public lewdness that include “intent of sexual gratification” which will carry harsher penalties. The first degree offense will cover repeat offenders and offenses whose victims are under the age of 14. Public lewdness in the first degree will be a class E felony and will require offenders to register as sex offenders.

The Clarkstown Police Department brought specific cases to the Assemblyman’s attention and suggested changes to the law.

The Clarkstown Police Department has investigated numerous public lewdness incidents at the Palisades Mall over the past few years. In the past 6 months alone, the department has arrested two individuals who perpetrated this offense numerous times. As the public lewdness law stands now, it is a more serious crime to steal a soda from a grocery store than it is to expose yourself to a child,” said Detective John Fredericks, Clarkstown Police Department.

Locally, there have been a number of these kinds of crimes with a lack of applicable offenses. This bill would provide clarity and tougher punishment for perpetrators, as well as act as a form of prevention. Studies have shown that these offenders have the highest rate of recidivism. Perpetrators of public lewdness are more likely to go on to commit even more serious sex offenses, graduating to sexual contact, touching, or assault.

This legislation will ensure that there is parity between the severity of the crimes that these offenders commit and their punishment. We must ensure tougher penalties to protect the public, and especially, our children,” continued Zebrowski.