Wednesday, January 22, 2014

NJ - Megan's Law Gets New Teeth Under Bill Signed By Gov. Christie

Gov. Chris Christie
Gov. Chris Christie
Original Article

01/22/2014

By Keith Brown

Penalties under Megan’s Law got a little stiffer under new law signed Tuesday by Gov. Chris Christie that makes sex offenders pay for part of their monitoring costs.

Under the new law, sponsored by Assemblymen Wayne DeAngelo and Daniel R. Benson, both D-Mercer/Middlesex, newly convicted sex offenders will have to pay a $30 monthly fee – money that would go into a state fund to pay for offenders’ supervision. Some of the money also would pay for authorities to track offenders’ online activity.

The law also upgrades penalties for sexual assault if the victim is physically or mentally incapacitated. The crime is now a second degree offense, up from the former third degree offense. It carries a sentence of 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.

It also increases the penalty for failure to register a new address with authorities from a fourth-degree to a third-degree crime and clarifies that a juvenile caught "sexting" with a cell phone would not have to register as a sex offender.

Under the new law low-level offenders whose conduct has been deemed "repetitive" and "compulsive" can be seen in publicly accessible online databases. Formerly, only mid-level offenders were included.

The law provides money from the supervision fund to upgrade authorities’ computer equipment to monitor sex offenders’ online moves, and it prohibits parole officers from handling more than 40 sex offender cases.

This tweaks Megan’s Law to help prevent innocent children from becoming victims,” DeAngelo said in a release. “Measures like ensuring that parole officers are not overwhelmed by large case loads and creating penalties that can help fund initiatives to aid in the surveillance of these offenders will all help ensure that these perpetrators do not become repeat offenders at the expense of our children.”


TX - Texas Voices Annual 2-Day Conference - Friday February 21st and Saturday February 22nd

Click the photo for more information



CA - Woman confronts alleged abuser, posts conversation online

We can understand why she did this, but it's also illegal to record someone without their knowledge in the state of California. So will she be punished for that? Highly doubtful.


FL - Port Orange votes to keep sex offenders far from children's gathering places

Trying to please everybody
Original Article

More videos are available at the link above.

01/21/2014

PORT ORANGE - Port Orange city leaders approved tougher restrictions for sex offenders Tuesday night. But it wasn't enough to satisfy all of the city's residents.

Some city residents became upset when they learned a convicted sex offender recently moved into a home across from an elementary school.

The convicted sex offender, _____, attended Tuesday's meeting to tell his side of the story.

_____ told residents and council members that when he committed his crime in 2004 he was going through a rough divorce and was drinking heavily. He described Tuesday night's meeting as a "mob lynching."

That ordinance won't force _____ to move from his current home across from Sugar Mill Elementary School without violating state law.

He was convicted in New York federal court for distributing child pornography. That conviction was before the law went into effect that prevents sex offenders from living near schools, _____ is grandfathered in.

That didn't stop residents from expressing their displeasure at having _____ in their neighborhood.

"Distributing child pornography was his charge. Great place to take pictures, ain't it guys?" one resident said.

"The heck with the grandfather, let's tell him he has to move and let's go to court and see what happens," said another.

_____ seemed to understand the reason for the public's outrage.

"All I do is put fear in people's hearts and they worry about the kids. I have kids too, so I understand where these people come from," _____ said.

He said he has no plan to move just yet.

"My family is doing what a family does, they're letting me stay there and get back on my feet. That's what any family does," said _____.

Even with the city's new ordinance, many residents left even more upset than when they entered.

"Nobody is doing anything about it because we have laws that we have to follow. In the meanwhile, you tell me how I'm going to go to sleep tonight," said Christine Herring.

See Also:


CA - Youth boot camp operator (Kelvin Bernard McFarland) gets prison for sex assault, kidnapping

Kelvin McFarland
Kelvin McFarland
Original Article

01/21/2014

By Samantha Schaefer

A man who operated a youth boot camp in Pasadena was sentenced to state prison Friday for charges including sexual assault, kidnapping and extortion stemming from two cases, prosecutors said.

Kelvin Bernard McFarland, 43, was sentenced to four years and four months in state prison and was ordered to register as a sex offender, according to the Los Angeles district attorney’s office.

McFarland pleaded no contest last year to child abuse, kidnapping, false imprisonment, extortion and unlawful use of a badge, a misdemeanor.

He also pleaded no contest to sexual penetration by a foreign object, oral copulation of a person under 16, lewd act on a child and unlawful sexual intercourse -- charges from a second case.

Prosecutors alleged that in May 2011, McFarland was driving in Pasadena when he spotted a girl walking along the street during school hours. He stopped to question her, then handcuffed her, placed her in his car and told her to direct him to a relative's home.

At the relative's home, he demanded money from her father to enroll the 14-year-old in his program. The girl's father mistook McFarland for a truancy officer when he flashed a badge, Pasadena police said.

In a separate case, he was charged with felony counts of assaulting two 14-year-old girls in March and December 2004.

A former Marine who liked to be called "Sgt. Mac," he founded McFarland's Family First Growth and boasted that his tough-love tactics and military-strict discipline were the perfect formula for reforming gang members, taming runaways and getting through to troublemakers.

See Also:

Video Source


KS - Corrections officials seek funding to treat more mentally ill inmates

Mentally ill inmates
Original Article

If they actually treated the inmates, as they should, that would be great, but their track record shows that they do not treat the mentally ill, they just warehouse them until the day they are released. Prison is no longer about treatment and rehabilitation, it's nothing more than a glorified warehouse where crime, murder, sexual abuse and corruption happen on a daily basis. You will never see a documentary show you what truly goes on inside a prison, never! So giving them more money would be a waste of money, in our opinion.

01/21/2014

By Bryan Lowry

The Department of Corrections is seeking money to provide treatment to more mentally ill inmates.

Thirty-eight percent of the state’s prisoner population has a mental illness – an increase of 126 percent since 2006, Secretary of Corrections Ray Roberts told the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday.

Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposed budget adjustments call for $3 million in 2014 and another $4.1 million to fully fund the Corrections Department’s health care contract with Corizon, which includes mental health care.

In order to just stay functional, there has to be some expansion of mental health management,” Roberts said.

Sen. Dan Kerschen, R-Garden Plain, was taken aback by the statistic.

Well, that’s an alarming number because it looks like it’s continued to grow, and we probably have to figure out a way to fund that so we can treat those individuals,” he said after the meeting.

Increased funding would allow the department to hire more clinicians and offer mental health services to more inmates, corrections spokesman Jeremy Barclay said after the meeting. He noted that the Department of Corrections is the state’s largest mental health care provider.

Flushing money down the toilet
Roberts said the rising number of mentally ill prisoners has been a trend nationwide.
- Well when you continually lock people up for stupid stuff, what do you expect?  This should also show that flushing more money down the toilet for "treatment" is not a solution!  We are called the "Prison Nation (Video)" for a reason!

Kerschen asked if mentally ill inmates created a greater expense. Roberts said the high cost of psychotropic drugs makes treatment more expensive for inmates with mental health needs.
- Drugging people is also not the answer!

Brownback vetoed the corrections budget for 2015 last year, saying the department needed more funding.

His new budget proposal also includes an additional $2 million for adult offender programs, which provide targeted rehabilitation for behavioral health, substance abuse and sexual offenses.

The money would make the programs available to more inmates, said Barclay. The programs focus on decision-making so offenders make better choices when they are released, he added.
- But then when they get out of prison, you pass a ton of laws making it impossible for them to get a home, job, etc, so the merry-go-round continues!

We have developed a lot of cognitive-based programming to address the criminal thinking issues that mentally ill offenders have,” Roberts said.
- Then why do many offenders wind up right back into the merry-go-round system?

The state has reduced inmate programs by about 60 percent since 2009, and that has resulted in gaps, he said. For example, 66 percent of inmates are substance abusers, but only 10 percent of released offenders with substance abuse problems receive services.

Among sex offenders, only about 60 percent received facility-based programming, Roberts said.
- Then why do you need civil commitment (prisons) facilities?  Apparently your "treatment" isn't working!

Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, the committee’s chairman, expressed enthusiasm about an increased focus on rehabilitation.

If you can find effective programs to treat … if you can lower the number of people that are incarcerated, you can lower that section of the budget,” Masterson said. “So I’m all for programs that reduce recidivism.”
- If that were true, then you'd also be for removing the online shaming hit-list that prevents people from getting homes and jobs, right?

Other increases in the 2015 budget include 28 additional corrections officers for Topeka Correctional Facility after a U.S. Department of Justice audit found that the prison had insufficient staffing, Roberts said.

Brownback’s budget reduces funding for juvenile corrections in 2015, cutting almost $1.4 million. The number of juvenile offenders in out-of-home placements had dropped from 416 in February 2013 to 368 in November.

Roberts said the decrease would not affect the amount of money the state gives per juvenile to the Judge Riddel Boys Ranch in Sedgwick County.


OH - Trooper Ricky Vitte Jr. watches porn with underage boy and masturbates with him, yet no crime was committed?

Ricky Vitte Jr.
Ricky Vitte Jr.
Original Article

01/21/2014

By COURTNEY ASTOLFI

An Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper with a history of domestic violence won't face charges related to alleged sexual encounters involving a boy, Sandusky County Sheriff's Deputy Sean O'Connell said.

Trooper Ricky Vitte Jr. acknowledged to his wife that he watched porn with the boy five years ago and both Vitte and the boy masturbated together, according to a report by O'Connell.

Vitte later told his wife he was attempting to teach the boy about sex, the report said.

Vitte said a dresser blocked his and the boy's views of each other as they both masturbated, according to the report, which also alleges there were two sexual encounters of that nature involving Vitte and the boy.

"Rick's reasoning is the fact that he did not want (the boy) to feel pressured on feeling the need to have to have sex with someone, when he can fix those needs by masturbating to porn," O'Connell wrote after an interview with Vitte's wife.


Sandusky County prosecutor Tom Stierwalt opted against seeking an indictment. He declined to present testimony before a grand jury because Vitte might have presented a defense that justified his alleged actions, Stierwalt said.

This is not the first time Vitte's off-duty behavior warranted a criminal investigation.

Five years before Vitte allegedly masturbated with the boy, he was charged with domestic violence. When his then-girlfriend's 5-year-old son wet the bed, Vitte spanked the boy's buttocks until they were bruised and bleeding, according to a Sandusky County deputy's report.

When an argument ensued over the spanking, Vitte head-butted the woman, the report said. In a plea agreement, he later pleaded no contest and was convicted on a reduced charge of child endangering.

Sandusky County officials initially did not provide the woman's identity to the Register — they redacted her name on an incident report — but the name was later included, without redactions, on a second copy of the report officials provided.

Vitte's violent past resurfaced during the recent sex crime investigation.

During an interview with social workers, one of Vitte's children said his father has pushed and shoved him over the years, and punched him at least once, according to O'Connell's report.

The boy and his siblings also told investigators they saw their father punch holes in walls and doors during violent fits of rage. At other times, they watched Vitte drag their mother into another room by her arm and begin yelling at her, the report stated.

Vitte has been represented in the past by attorney Dean Henry, who has worked closely with O'Connell since November 2012 as a special prosecutor and defense counsel for Sandusky County working on the Limberios death investigation.

Late last year, when O'Connell and social workers tried to interview Vitte about the most recent allegation, he sped away from his home in his Ohio State Highway Patrol cruiser.

A chase ensued. O'Connell instructed the deputy driving to activate the overhead lights in his cruiser, and Vitte fled for about a mile at speeds of up to 60 mph before the chase ended, according to the report.

"He was purposely fleeing the area to avoid confrontation and or an arrest," O'Connell said in his report.

When Vitte finally stopped and O'Connell questioned him about allegedly masturbating with a boy, Vitte declined to talk and said he wanted to contact his attorney first.

Vitte was not charged for fleeing from law enforcement.

O'Connell said that decision was made by the prosecutor, but Stierwalt said, "I suppose that's something; we could give a misdemeanor."

O'Connell did not provide any further information in his report detailing whether he interviewed Vitte, or what he said, or whether he was represented by Henry or a different attorney in this latest incident.

In a Jan. 10 memo included in O'Connell's report, the detective stated the reason Stierwalt declined to seek charges was because of the amount of time that had elapsed since the incident, as well as the lack of physical evidence.

It's not clear why the time element would be a factor, since the statute of limitations for felonies in Ohio is six years and the alleged sexual encounters with the boy happened five years ago. O'Connell also did not say in the report what physical evidence he was seeking.

But when asked about the reasons O'Connell listed, Stierwalt said he reviewed the file again after the Register made a public records request. After that second review, he determined the main reason he declined to seek charges was Vitte could argue he masturbated with the boy while watching pornography to teach him about sex, suggesting it was not a crime for which Stierwalt could get a conviction.

It's not clear why Stierwalt would preemptively decline to file charges. Generally it is incumbent on the suspect to present his own defense, rather than the prosecutor providing a defense for him. Stierwalt did not respond to written questions the Register emailed him, asking about these and other issues.

O'Connell maintained the report had no discrepancies in need of correcting.

"I can't imagine a situation where that would be appropriate in our culture," clinical counselor Marlene Boas said.

"If he would've masturbated in the same room as (a pre-teen girl), do you think he would be prosecuted?" Boas said.

Vitte is a state trooper in good standing, according to his personnel file with the Ohio State Highway Patrol. His annual salary at the Toledo patrol post is about $83,000.

His father, Richard Vitte Sr., is a retired Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper.

Vitte's wife, and the past girlfriend of the 5-year-old child who was bruised and bleeding from his buttocks after Vitte spanked the boy and allegedly head-butted the woman, both obtained civil protection orders against Vitte in the past.

The most recent CPO was modified, however, to allow Vitte to carry his service revolver so he could continue to work as a state trooper.

Attorney Henry is representing Vitte Jr. in a court motion filed by Vitte's wife described as a "domestic violence petition filed with parenting affidavit." She appears to be seeking full custody of the couple's five children and has requested Vitte not be allowed access to them, according to court records.

In response to the motion, attorney Henry appears to have successfully petitioned to allow Vitte to carry weapons and give him supervised visitation with his children.

Henry declined to respond to the Register's inquiry.


'Friend to the Martyr, a Friend to the Woman of Shame': Thinking About the Law, Shame and Humiliation

SSRN Paper
Original Article

Michael L. Perlin
New York Law School

Naomi Weinstein
New York State Unified Court System - Mental Hygiene Legal Service

January 17, 2014

Abstract:
This paper considers the intersection between law, humiliation and shame, and how the law has the capacity to allow for, to encourage, or (in some cases) to remediate humiliation, or humiliating or shaming behavior. The need for new attention to be paid to this question has increased exponentially as we begin to also take more seriously international human rights mandates, especially – although certainly not exclusively – in the context of the recently-ratified United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a Convention that calls for “respect for inherent dignity,” and characterizes "discrimination against any person on the basis of disability [as] a violation of the inherent dignity and worth of the human person..."

Humiliation and shaming, we believe, contravene basic fundamental human rights and raise important constitutional questions implicating the due process and equal protection clauses. Humiliation and shaming practices include “scarlet letter”-like criminal sanctions, police stop-and-frisk practices, the treatment of persons with mental disabilities in the justice system, and the use of sex offender registries. Humiliation and shame are detrimental in the ways that lead to recidivism, inhibit rehabilitation, discourage treatment, and injure victims. They also directly contravene the guiding principles of therapeutic jurisprudence, especially in the context of its relationship to the importance of dignity in the law, and potentially violate international human rights law principles as well.

In this paper, we will explore how humiliation and shaming are bad for all participants in the legal system, and bad for the law itself. We will urge that humiliating and shaming techniques be banned, and that, this ban will enhance dignity for the entire legal system and society as a whole. First, we consider the meaning of shame and humiliation. Then, we briefly discuss principles of therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ) and its relationship to the significance of dignity, and then consider recent developments in international human rights law, both of which are valuable interpretive tools in this conversation. Next, we consider how the United States Supreme Court has considered these concepts in recent cases. Following this, we consider several relevant areas of law and policy from the perspective of how overt shaming is employed: scarlet letter punishments, use of the police power, treatment of institutionalized persons with mental disabilities and elders, and sex offender registry law. We then, using a TJ filter and drawing on international human rights law principles, examine why these shaming tactics are contrary to bedrock principles of the legal system: the mandates to honor dignity, to minimize recidivism, and to enhance rehabilitation.