Friday, January 24, 2014

Women in Solitary Confinement: Sent to Solitary for Reporting Sexual Assault

Solitary Confinement
Original Article

12/12/2013

By Victoria Law

It seems absurd that a person who has been sexually assaulted would be punished for speaking up, especially since prison policy prohibits sexual contact between staff and the people whom they guard. Yet, in many women’s prisons, those who report rape and other forms of sexual assault by prison personnel are often sent to solitary confinement.

After enduring over a year of repeated sexual assaults by a guard, Stacy Barker became one of 31 women incarcerated in Michigan who filed Nunn v MDOC, a 1996 lawsuit against the Department of Corrections for the widespread sexual abuse by prison guards. The following year, Barker was repeatedly sexually assaulted by an officer, who was also a defendant in Nunn. After a month of silence, she reported the assaults to a prison psychiatrist. Barker was immediately placed in segregation and then transferred to Huron Valley Center, which was then a psychiatric hospital for prisoners. There, she reported that hospital attendants verbally harassed her.

Torture
In October 1997, Barker attempted suicide. Barker did not receive counseling or psychiatric evaluation. Instead, three male guards stripped her naked, placed her in five-point restraints (a procedure in which a prisoner is placed on her back in a spread-eagle position with her hands, feet and chest secured by straps) on a bed with no blanket for nine hours. She was then placed on suicide watch. She reported that one of the staff who monitored her repeatedly told her he would “bring her down a few rungs.”

Placing women in solitary confinement for reporting staff sexual harassment or abuse is far from rare. In 1996, Human Rights Watch found that, in Michigan, incarcerated women who report staff sexual misconduct are placed in segregation pending the institution’s investigation of their cases. The placement is allegedly for the woman’s own protection. The five other states investigated also had similar practices of placing women in segregation after they reported abuse.

Not much has changed in the thirteen years since Human Rights Watch chronicled the pervasive and persistent sexual abuse and use of retaliatory segregation in eleven women’s prisons. Former staff (PDF) at Ohio’s Reformatory for Women have stated that women who reported sexual abuse are subjected to lengthy periods of time in solitary confinement where cells often had feces and blood smeared on the wall. In Kentucky, a woman who saved evidence from her sexual assault was placed in segregation for fifty days. In Illinois, a prison administrator threatened to add a year onto the sentence of a woman who attempted to report repeated sexual assaults. She was then placed in solitary confinement.

In 2003, the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) became law, ostensibly to address the widespread sexual abuse in the nation’s jails and prisons. Among its recommendations was “the timely and comprehensive investigation of staff sexual misconduct involving rape or other sexual assault on inmates.” However, this has not stopped the widespread practice of utilizing solitary to punish those who speak out. An investigation (PDF) into sexual abuse at Alabama’s Tutwiler Prison for Women found that women who report sexual abuse “are routinely placed in segregation by the warden.” Some prison systems have also created new rules to continue discouraging reports of staff sexual assault. At Denver Women’s Correctional Facility, a woman reported that prison officials responded to PREA by creating a rule called “False Reporting to Authorities.”


Prison staff responsible for half of reported inmate sexual abuse cases

Prison
Original Article

01/24/2014

Allegations of sexual abuse in US prisons are on the rise, and correctional staff are responsible for half of reported incidents, according to a new Department of Justice study (Here & Here). Meanwhile, prosecution for such abuse is very rare.

The report released Thursday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics deals with data collected and offered by administrators at federal, state, and many county adult prisons. From 2009 to 2011, administrators reported about 25,000 allegations “of sexual victimization in prisons, jails, and other adult correctional facilities,” the report states. Yearly totals in that time span gradually increased, reaching 8,763 in 2011.

The latest three-year count is up 11 percent from the Justice Department’s previous report, which included 2007 and 2008.

Prison staff were responsible for 49 percent of incidents reported from 2009 to 2011. These are classified as staff sexual misconduct (any sexual act aimed at an inmate from staff) or sexual harassment (verbal statements of a sexual nature meant to demean).

The other 51 percent of allegations of non-consensual sex acts (most serious) and abusive sexual contacts were those between inmates. Of inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization, 18 percent of substantiated incidents resulted in physical injury. Less than one percent of staff-on-inmate victimization resulted in injury, the report said.

At the same time, the number of abuse allegations dismissed as “unfounded” or “unsubstantiated” by prison facility officials has increased. Only around 10 percent - or 902 - of incidents substantiated after investigation. This number has not significantly changed since 2005.

Prosecution for crimes committed by correctional staff are extremely rare, the report shows. Over three-quarters of prison staff responsible for sexual misconduct were allowed to resign before an investigation concluded - leaving no record of the offense - or were fired. Around 45 percent were referred for prosecution. Yet, only one percent of perpetrators were convicted.

These findings point to a level of impunity in our prisons and jails that is simply unacceptable,” said Lovisa Stannow, executive director of prisoner advocacy group Just Detention International, according to ProPublica.

When corrections agencies don’t punish or choose to ignore sexual abuse committed by staff members - people who are paid by our tax dollars to keep inmates safe - they support criminal behaviour,” Stannow added.

Whether sexual abuse in prisons is on the rise or there are simply more outlets for reporting victimization remains unclear. Justice Department statistician Allen Beck, who prepared the report, told ProPublica that the increase may be tied to awareness of the 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act.

It’s a matter of speculation, but certainly there’s been a considerable effort to inform staff about the dangers of sexual misconduct, so we could be seeing the impact of that,” said Beck.

The Justice Department’s statistics - supplied by prison administrators - contrast starkly with a 2013 survey of inmates which showed that over 80,000 prisoners had been sexually victimized by other inmates or staff in a two-year period.
- And since the info was given to them by prison staff, it's probably a lot larger than this report states!

Inmates don’t report because of the way the institution handles these complaints: they’re afraid if they do report, then the staff will retaliate,” Kim Shayo Buchanan, law professor at the University of Southern California, told ProPublica.


NY - Mount Pleasant police chief (Brian Fanelli) faces child-porn charges

Brian Fanelli
Brian Fanelli
Original Article

01/23/2014

By RICHARD LIEBSON, ERIK SHILLING, SHAWN COHEN and LEE HIGGINS

Mount Pleasant Police Chief Brian Fanelli, accused Thursday of possessing child pornography, told federal investigators his alleged habit began when he was researching material for school classes he was teaching about the dangers of sexual abuse, according to papers filed in U.S. District Court in White Plains.

But shortly thereafter (Fanelli) began viewing child pornography for personal interest,” the 10-page complaint says.

Fanelli was freed on $50,000 bond after appearing in federal court on child-pornography charges late Thursday, hours after federal agents raided his Mahopac home and seized computers alleged to contain more than 120 files of children as young as 7 engaging in sex acts.

The complaint describes graphic, sometimes incestuous sexual activities so disturbing that The Journal News has chosen not to post the documents on lohud.com. Fanelli is accused of downloading the files to his computer and sharing them with others, including undercover federal agents.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called the case “disturbing and sad,” saying the police chief is accused of breaking a law “designed to protect the youngest and most vulnerable of our population from vile exploitation.”

Fanelli, whose wife was in the courtroom, did not enter a plea to a charge of possession of child pornography. The crime is alleged to have occurred between October and January, during which time he was elevated to chief.

A longtime digital whiz at the department, Fanelli, who has two grown children, was well-liked among other officers and heavily involved with the community. He taught fifth-graders at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish school in Shrub Oak, where he spoke to hundreds of students yearly about the dangers of sexual abuse, according to a letter posted on the parish’s website.

Shortly after 4 p.m., he was led into the courtroom by U.S. marshals. Pouring himself a glass of water, he accidentally spilled some on the defense table and laughed with his lawyer, federal defender Susanne Brody, as she brought him towels to clean it up.

Fanelli told U.S. Magistrate Lisa Margaret Smith that he takes Lipitor and another prescription medication but that they did not affect his ability to understand the proceedings.

I am quite clear,” he told the judge.

Before adjourning the case until Feb. 19, Smith told the chief that he could not use computers or cellphones and could not be in the presence of minors without supervision. He is to be monitored electronically and can leave his home only for medical appointments, visits to his lawyer, church services and for work.

If convicted, Fanelli faces up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.

Town Supervisor Joan Maybury called the news “very disturbing” and said Fanelli has been suspended with pay in accordance with his contract. She said she most likely will appoint one of the department’s two lieutenants as acting chief.

U.S. Homeland Security agents notified Maybury of Fanelli’s arrest about 12:15 p.m., telling her that he would be charged with trafficking in child pornography, she said. Maybury said agents turned Fanelli’s gun and badge over to Mount Pleasant police and that a federal technician was inspecting the computer in his office.

No one was home Thursday afternoon at Fanelli’s raised ranch on Archer Road in Mahopac Falls, a quiet neighborhood of single-family homes near the Westchester border.

About 8:30 a.m. Thursday, neighbors saw a group of cars and vans pull up in front of Fanelli’s house. At least two agents wore helmets and SWAT gear, though Fanelli was arrested without incident, neighbors said.

Sgt. Eric Anttila of Mount Pleasant police had no comment; other officers said they were shocked by the news.

I’m still trying to get information myself,” Lt. Robert Miliambro said.

The arrest was disturbing to town residents, though several said they weren’t surprised a police chief had been implicated.

You hear so many things today — look at how many officials are caught with their hand in the cookie jar,” said John Mangeri, who has lived in Mount Pleasant for 15 years.

Dennis Adisson, 50, a White Plains resident who works in a school in Mount Pleasant, said that as a police chief, Fanelli should know better.

It’s sad, it’s embarrassing, it’s sickening,” he said. “It’s all of those things wrapped in one.”

Fanelli, 54, a native of Valhalla, was hired by the town in November 1981. He rose to the rank of lieutenant before being appointed chief in November, just the sixth police chief in the town’s history. Fanelli receives an annual salary of $135,518.

A member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton for decades, the church website says Fanelli spoke to around 1,000 parish schoolchildren in 2012 and again in October, warning younger children to stay safe from sexual abuse and older students to beware of “the pitfalls of social media devices, games and computer applications.”

He has overseen numerous criminal investigations involving sexual abuse,” according to a letter on the website written by Sara Koshofer, the parish’s religious education coordinator.

Fanelli has been best known most recently for his involvement in the fatal shooting of Pace University student Danroy Henry Jr. In January 2013, a lawyer for Henry’s family accused Fanelli and former Mount Pleasant police Chief Louis Alagno of covering up crucial details of the incident.

Fanelli denied any coverup, and the Henry family’s lawsuit is ongoing in the same courthouse where Fanelli was arraigned Thursday.

Justice for DJ,” a pro-DJ Henry Facebook page, was quick to comment on Fanelli’s arrest. “Same person that lied to us the night DJ was killed, the same person that changed Ronald Beckley’s statements, the same person that promised he would get to the truth! I hope he likes his jumpsuit! The walls are crumbling!” said a post Thursday.

Fanelli, a 1977 graduate of Valhalla High School, led the department’s successful bid for state accreditation in 1998. He was instrumental in computerizing the department’s records and in 1999 introduced an email alert system to disseminate crime and emergency information to residents.

Staff writers Jorge Fitz-Gibbon, Jonathan Bandler, Terence Corcoran and Hoa Nguyen contributed to this report.


FL - Port Orange council members want to put targets on sexual predators, putting them and their families in danger!

Original Article

They are just following in Sheriff Gordon Smith's footsteps and also Nazi Germany. This does nothing except place a bulls-eye on the offender and their family's heads. It's only a matter of time before someone with one of these signs is murdered, and will the Sheriff's department be held accountable for putting someones life in danger? We doubt it, Florida is corrupt and has a ton of sexual predator cops themselves! Send these folks an email letting them know what you think of this idea by clicking here.

01/23/2014

By Lacey McLaughlin

PORT ORANGE - By placing signs in front of sexual predators’ homes, a City Council member hopes to tell sex offenders they aren't welcome in Port Orange.

Vice Mayor Don Burnette said he is proposing a policy that would require red public notice signs be placed on city-owned right of way in front of the residences of sexual predators. The predator’s name would be included on the sign.

We are not going to roll out the welcome mat for sex offenders,” Burnette said.

The signs would not apply to all sex offenders living in the city, only sexual predators. Of the 64 sexual offenders living in the city, four are sexual predators who have been convicted of a first-degree felony sex crime or two second-degree felony sex crimes.

Not all offenders are created equally and it’s hard to distinguish who has done what,” Burnette said. “But sexual predators are more serious offenders.”

It’s unclear how the proposed policy will play out. Burnette plans to bring it up for discussion at the council’s meeting Tuesday.

Councilman Bob Ford said the signs may have unintended consequences.

That is a heavy step that we’d have to think about very seriously,” Ford said. “How would you sell your house if you live on the same street as a predator? That would not do well for property values.”

Just the usual knee-jerk reactionThe push for tighter restrictions for sex offenders comes after a neighbor’s discovery last week that _____, 46, was living across the street from Sugar Mill Elementary. _____, who was convicted of distributing child pornography by a New York court in 2004 and is not registered as a sexual predator, can live that close to the school because his conviction occurred before a state law creating stronger residency restrictions for sex offenders.

In response to the public outcry, council members unanimously approved an emergency ordinance that now requires all sex offenders moving into the city to live at least 2,500 feet from childcare facilities, schools, parks and playgrounds — 1,500 feet farther than state law requires.

Port Orange resident Margie Patchett brought the proposed policy to the attention of Burnette because she fears for the safety of her grandchild, who attends Sugar Mill. Patchett acknowledged the signs could turn offenders into targets for harassment but said it’s more important to protect children.

I am more concerned about our children being a target as opposed to the sexual predators being a target if signs are placed in their front yards,” she said.

The North Florida city of Perry adopted a similar policy last year and placed a sign in front of the home of the only sexual predator living there, _____, who was convicted of sexual battery in 2009. Shortly after the city placed a sign near his home,_____ moved to Clearwater.

Sex offender online hit-listThese predators are already listed on public websites with their addresses,” Perry City Manager Bob Brown said. “It’s similar to that. We just wanted to make sure that people who are coming by know that a sexual predator lives there.”
- That isn't right either, and people have been murdered (Video) due to the online hit-list!

Jennifer Klein, a criminal justice instructor and researcher at the University of Florida, said several cities and counties in Florida are taking similar approaches to sexual predators. She said that recidivism rates for sex offenders are relatively low. A 2003 study by the U.S. Department of Justice reported that 5.3 percent of sex offenders were rearrested for another sex crime three years after being release from state prison.

There are more offenders than sexual predators in most states,” Klein said. “When you place something like this in front of their house and mark them as an outsider, it’s going to be more difficult to re-enter society and find jobs.”

See Also:


KS - Attorney general appeals offender registry ruling

Off the sex offender list
Original Article

01/23/2014

By ROXANA HEGEMAN

WICHITA (AP) - The attorney general urged the Kansas Supreme Court on Wednesday to overturn a district judge's decision that allowed a child molester's name to be removed from the state's offender list.

The lengthy filing (PDF) by the Kansas Attorney General's Office outlines, for the first time publicly, the state's arguments against the ruling last year by Shawnee County Judge Larry Hendricks. The judge ruled that the offender registry law was unconstitutional, saying it ostracizes offenders and requires them to remain registered longer than necessary.

The ruling applied to a 50-year-old Lenexa man who sued the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and Johnson County Sheriff's Office seeking to end his registration requirement. However, a ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court would affect others on the registry whose reporting requirement was retroactively lengthened by a 2011 amendment to Kansas Offender Registration Act, or KORA.

Christopher M. Joseph, the Topeka attorney representing the Lenexa man, said a ruling by the high court could affect thousands of people. His client isn't named in court documents.

"If the Supreme Court affirms the trial court's decision, the KBI will be forced to reduce the registration periods for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of registrants whose constitutional rights are also being violated," Joseph said Thursday in an email to The Associated Press.

The state law requires people convicted of certain sex, drug and violent crimes to register with law enforcement for between 15 years and life, depending on the severity of the crime. Kansas has 11,114 people now listed on the registry: 6,706 for sex crimes; 2,189 for drug offenses; and 2,219 for violent crimes, the KBI said Thursday.

The man at the center of the lawsuit pleaded guilty in 2003 to having indecent liberties with a child/touching in Johnson County. At the time, he was required to remain on the registry for 10 years.

But the Legislature amended the law in 2011, extending the length of time such offenders must be registered to 25 years. The state then told the man, now a married father, that the law applied retroactively — meaning he had to remain registered until 2028.

Hendricks concluded the law was punitive, meaning it was a punishment that couldn't be retroactively enforced per the U.S. Constitution. The judge noted that the law requires offenders to register in person four times a year, pay a $20 fee each time and face a felony for failing to register.

In the state's appeal, Assistant Attorney General Christopher Grunewald argued the law wasn't punitive, but rather a law to protect the public. He said the penalty for failing to register was to ensure compliance not impose a punishment.

"Sex offenses are repugnant, and the risk of sex offense recidivism remains high — the Legislature chose to make sex offender registration a top priority," Grunewald wrote in the appeal. "The choice does not represent a judgment that registration is punitive, only that compliance is a paramount goal."
- That is a flat out lie!  Recidivism for new sexual crimes is low, below 5% in most studies.

The state also argued that the judge erred in refusing to throw out affidavits from the man and his wife that recounted how their children would come home crying after being teased at school, after being told their father was a "bad man," ''pervert" or "pedophile." The state contends most of that was hearsay, because the father had no personal knowledge of what his children's classmates told them.

The state's appeal also contends that the judge should not have considered research journals citing studies that confirmed offender registries cause significant employment and housing disadvantages.

Kansas also defended the public notification requirements. The law requires a notation of "RO" to be placed on the driver's licenses of a registered offender, which the district court called a "visible badge of criminality." It also requires law enforcement to notify the public about sex offenders in their vicinity, which the state contended advances the legitimate non-punitive purpose of public safety.

In addition, the appeal asked the Supreme Court to allow the man's name to be released, saying the public has an interest in knowing the identity of the person challenging a law that requires him to register as a sex offender.

Joseph, the man's attorney, objected.

"The apparent objective is to force Mr. Doe to dismiss his case in order to protect his family from renewed threats of violence and his property from further vandalism," the lawyer said. "It is sad that our Attorney General has resorted to such a tactic."