Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Bomb in the Brain - The True Roots of Human Violence


MI - Ex-jail guard (Jonathan Kermeen) sentenced for CSC with inmates

Jonathan Kermeen
Jonathan Kermeen
Original Article

03/10/2014

WEST OLIVE (WOOD) - A former corrections officer has been sentenced for having sexual encounters with two female inmates at the Ottawa County Jail while on duty.

Jonathan Kermeen was sentenced Monday to between 5 and 15 years in prison. He must also register as a sex offender.

Kermeen pleaded guilty in early February to two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct against a prisoner. In exchange for the plea, the Ottawa County prosecutor agreed not to file additional charges against him in connection to the two named victims and a third woman.

Court documents detail a four- to five-minute encounter with one inmate in June 2013, in which Kermeen said he kissed and fondled the bare breast of an inmate. On another occasion in September 2013 in a medical area of the facility, Kermeen admitted to far more lewd behavior.

Allegations surfaced in October 2013. Kermeen was charged a month later and terminated from the department.

Kermeen worked for the corrections department for nine years.


FL - Miami Sex Offenders Live on Train Tracks Thanks to Draconian Restrictions

Train tracks
Original Article

If you really wanted to fix this, which we know you do not, you'd remove the residency laws that do not prevent crime or protect anybody, they only force people into homelessness and the problem you have had for many years now. Florida just continues to put out the burning fires and shuffles ex-offenders around and not solving anything.

03/13/2014

By Terrence McCoy

Darkness has swallowed the train tracks. It won't be long until the men arrive. At 9:50 p.m., the first pair of headlights punches through the black, and a white Ford pickup rolls into the parking lot of a large warehouse sitting among the nameless structures dominating the Miami-Hialeah border.

Within minutes, more men approach on foot, on bicycle, and by car. With a downtrodden but urgent gait, they stride into the parking lot. They hate it here. They wish they could be anywhere else, in another country, or back in prison, perhaps even dead. But they have no choice. It's almost 10 p.m. This is Miami-Dade County. And these 57 men are sex offenders.

"I'm a businessman myself," says _____, a wiry 38-year-old erecting a cheap black tent atop a cement stairwell. In 2010, he was convicted of sexual activity with a minor; for the past three years, he has spent every night here, in torrential downpours, in frigid temperatures, with neither a bathroom nor running water. "And I need to sleep up here so I can get my rest. It's too loud everywhere else here."

In 2007, New Times documented (Video) how a Miami-Dade County law severely restricting where sex offenders could live led to dozens of them forced to sleep under the Julia Tuttle Causeway (Video). That story led to national outrage and local promises to fix a law meant to protect children from predators — but which many said created only more danger by placing offenders in the kind of desperate situations that led to new crimes.

Seven years later, it's clear the problem is as bad as ever. For the past five months, a growing community of sex offenders has swarmed these train tracks with tents, blankets, and lawn chairs. Because their probation imposes a curfew, the men must return here every night at 10 p.m. and stay until 6 a.m. or risk jail time.

"Not even dogs live like this," says one sharp-featured man who declined to offer his name. "We sleep on the ground, and you need this" — he hefts a flashlight — "when you go to s*** in the bushes so you don't step in someone else's."

Worse, Miami-Dade County Police Department emails obtained by New Times show the camp has become a worrying security concern. The number of transient sex offenders has soared from 20 the year after the law was passed to 324 last July, according to police. With more sex offenders forced by law into homelessness every day, tracking the men has become almost impossible. Many have disappeared.

"Efforts to conduct mandated address verification on these sexual predators... is now impossible," says one memo sent to the unit that deals with sexual predators. "Those under supervision have assigned curfew hours, and the probation officers can check in [on them]. Individuals [off parole] have no such restrictions. This is a huge problem for law enforcement."

The fetid conditions in this parking lot underscore the deeper problems with Miami-Dade's flawed law. In 2005, following the rape and murder of 9-year-old Jessica Luns­ford in Homosassa, Florida, by a repeat sexual predator, Miami Beach effectively banned offenders from its mile-wide island with a new law restricting them from living within 2,500 feet of parks and schools — more than twice the distance mandated by the state. Fearing an influx of sex offenders from the Beach to the mainland, Miami-Dade passed an identical countywide law later that year.

Probation officers soon faced a nightmarish question no one could answer: Where were all the sex offenders supposed to go? Men who generally would have gone to live with family members after getting out of jail were now barred from doing so.

Probation officers began taking offenders to a giant overpass in Coral Gables — just one block from Kristi House, a treatment center for victims of sexual assault. They were also within 1,000 feet of two day-care centers and within 2,500 feet of eight schools.

New Times' revelations about that situation sparked an angry outcry, but another encampment sprouted months later, much larger than the first. This time, it was under the Julia Tuttle Causeway. For at least eight months, a new sex offender arrived every week. Some offenders were arrested for minor violations of their parole and thrown back in jail. Others vanished.

The growth of the community incited widespread condemnation of the law. Critics pointed out that the vast majority of sex crimes are committed by friends and family members and that 87 percent of sex offenders have no prior record. Studies also show that living under extreme duress — like sleeping on train tracks or under a bridge — only exacerbates criminal tendencies.

Yet the county law has never faced any serious attempts at reform. Its facilitator, superlobbyist Ron Book, whose daughter is a victim of sexual abuse, still cheers the ordinance. "Have I changed my mind on whether this law is good and important? No," he says. "It's cheap, demagogic rhetoric that people throw at this issue to make excuses for why the sexual deviant can't find places to live. Well, people aren't entitled to live wherever they want."

But critics say the law is illogical and counterproductive. "There's got to be a more humane way of handling this," says Miami-Dade Commissioner Xavier Suarez, who concedes there's no movement to change the rule. "That we restrict where they can live and not provide any facilities for them isn't humane or logical and is a totally incorrect way of handling this."

The backstory behind how the men have now ended up living on Hialeah train tracks only illustrates the absurdity of the restrictions.

By April 2010, the county had closed the Julia Tuttle encampment, while Book's organization, the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, used $1 million in public money to find six months of housing for the offenders. Those funds were intended to bridge the men into normalized society: employment, sustainable housing, a new life. Soon, however, the money ran out, and many offenders, still unable to find housing or jobs, were back on the streets.

Others discovered a mobile home community near the Miami River called River Park that seemed to be legal housing. Dozens settled in. But then, last summer, Book's Homeless Trust dispatched a note to Miami-Dade Police, telling them there was a school nearby. "The trailer park houses sex offenders," Elizabeth Regalado, an assistant director at the trust, wrote in an email. "It is infested with crime and criminal activity due to prostitution and drugs."

At first, according to emails, both police and probation officers thought the offenders at the park were grandfathered in. Plus, many believed evicting the sex offenders wouldn't make kids any safer. "The prostitution and drugs will continue at the park even if the sex offenders leave," one cop wrote. "And there has not been one incident with a sex offender targeting" the kids nearby.

More troubling, there didn't appear to be any place where the offenders could go. "Having to tell irate individuals that they must move once again because a particular site was now labeled a school will make the situation difficult," Lt. Dillian Robin lamented in another internal email.

But such concerns weren't enough to stop the eviction. On September 17, police notified dozens of sex offenders living there that they had to move. The men who were still under parole say they were taken to the train tracks at the intersection of NW 71st Street and NW 36th Court — one of few locations left that satisfies the draconian restrictions. Others simply disappeared. "Sexual predators understand how to work around the law," a police memo noted.

_____ witnessed the influx of predators to the train tracks. In 2007, he was picked up for cocaine possession and given a DNA swab. According to court documents, his DNA years later matched the saliva found on boxers owned by a 17-year-old who'd told police a man had performed fellatio on him at a Liberty City laundromat in 2006. Four years later, _____ was convicted of sexual activity with a minor and spent 16 months in jail.

When he got out, he says, his probation officer gave him "a few weeks" to find housing that was beyond 2,500 feet from a school, but he couldn't.

Is this what the system is all about?"That's when they told me about these train tracks and I had to live on the street," he says. That realization crushed his family. "I don't understand what happened," his mother, _____, wrote the court in October 2011. "Is this what the system is all about? Not helping anyone, by banning him from his family?"

Once at the train tracks, _____ met _____. The tall 27-year-old with gold-plated teeth had also just arrived after serving time for lascivious battery on a child. In 2005, _____, who was then 21, "implied he had a gun and would shoot" a 15-year-old girl if she didn't have sex with him, according to Miami-Dade Police. (_____ claims the teen was his girlfriend and the sex was consensual.)

_____ soon found himself wishing he was still incarcerated. "When I was in prison, I had somewhere to sleep, a roof, food. Out here, I don't have any of that. I have to pee in a cup at night. I don't have anywhere to sleep. People crap in the bushes. Most nights I wish I was still locked up."

In those early days, _____ and _____ say, there were only a dozen offenders living at the train tracks. But last September, droves suddenly arrived with nowhere else to go. They'd all come from River Park after the eviction.

Today the offenders have melted into a new, unhappy life. "They threw us out," explains one fast-talking man who declined to give his name. "Where in the hell was I going to find someplace to stay in one week knowing our status? We ended up running to any place we could find, and it was here."

"Don't we have the right to make ourselves better?" another asks. "How can we do that if every time we try, they close the door on us?"

Around midnight on a recent ­Tuesday, the men settle on the concrete of the parking lot to sleep and don't rustle again until 5:45 the next morning. In the darkness before dawn, a dozen offenders wearily yet hurriedly take down their tents. They say the manager of the nearby warehouse threatened to kick them off his property if they made a mess, and no one wants to endure another move.

A frazzle-haired man gargles some water, takes a swig of cafecito, and schleps his tent back into the bushes before climbing into the bed of a white pickup.

At the strike of 6, offenders take off on bike and foot while watching the white Ford pull away, taillights dissolving into the pale morning light.


FL - Bill Creating Sex Offender Advisory Board Passes First Committee Hearing

Janet Adkins
Janet Adkins
Original Article

03/10/2014

By RYAN BENK



Fernandina Beach Republican Representative Janet Adkins held a town hall meeting in her district last summer, shortly after the abduction and murder of a Jacksonville girl by a registered sexual predator. Since that gathering, both houses of the Florida Legislature worked in concert to create a package of bills dealing with sexually violent predators and sexual offenders. Those proposed measures, likely to pass, mostly deal with the monitoring of cooperative registrants. But Adkins told the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee Monday the patchwork of new bills left something out – a plan to wrangle those who flee the registry altogether.

This bill creates the sexual predator and sexual offender strike force within the office of the Attorney General. The purpose of this strike force would be to shine a very bright light on those registered sexual offenders and sexual predators who have absconded from supervision,” Adkins said.

The team would work much like other task forces within the Attorney General’s Office. The Attorney General would serve as the board’s Chair, the Executive Director of the Department of Law Enforcement as Vice Chair and officials from the Department of Children and Families and various local law enforcement officials from around the state would make up the bulk. Their task? Compile local, state and federal lists of registry absconders to actively pursue. Dr. Suzzone Kline, the former head of the state’s Sexually Violent Predator Program, agrees with bill’s intent but, worried that creating a new task force might divert attention from preventing new crimes as the focus shifts to recapturing runaways.

People that are already caught are less likely to reoffend than the ones that we haven’t identified yet. So, pulling our resources and making – doing bills to try identify people that we haven’t already identified, I think would serve our state better. But, I can certainly understand why people want to make sure they know where all the sex offenders are,” Kline said in a phone interview Monday.

And in a state that has close to 8-thousand registered predators and offenders, knowing where they all are is a Herculean task. However, estimates of the number of absconders remain comparatively low. According to the Department of Corrections, which oversees most of the efforts to recapture those who don’t meet their obligations, close to 380 offenders and predators have disappeared. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, though, puts that number much higher -- at close to 800. Adkins argues fixing that disparity is reason enough to create the strike force. What’s more, she said not pursuing registry truants sends the wrong message to criminals.

Listen to say that it’s the law but we really don’t sort of mean it and if you break the law then we’re really not going to go after you, sends the absolute wrong message to these sexual offenders and sexual predators,” Adkins asserted.

But much of the bill’s debate in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee focused on another issue. Palm Springs Democratic Representative David Kerner wondered if allowing task force members to hold positions in local government could present a conflict of interest.

This can be interpreted as an office that is being held by one of the members. Even though the legislature is prohibited from being on this particular strike force, if a local mayor or somebody that holds an office also holds this office, there could be a dual office holding issue,” Kerner said.

The Palm Springs Democrat wants to clarify that a strike force seat wouldn’t be considered an office and advised subsequent committees look into amending the bill to reflect that.


NH - Bill prohibiting sex offender living restrictions raises worry

Morning paper and coffee
Original Article

03/08/2014

By Kimberley Haas

CONCORD - A bill prohibiting residency restrictions for registered sex offenders and offenders against children which was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this month is causing concern among some legislators, who say the bill would strip communities of their ability to protect children.

HB 1237 (PDF) is based upon two court decisions where judges found local ordinances restricting residency for offenders to be unconstitutional.

One of the cases cited came out of Dover District Court. In August of 2009, Dover's ordinance that prohibited registered sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school or day care center was deemed unconstitutional by Judge Mark Weaver after a challenge by the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union. Weaver found the city did not show a substantial relationship between the ordinance and the protection of children.

Judge Larry Smukler cited the same reason when he overturned Franklin's ordinance in 2012 at Merrimack County Superior Court. New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union also challenged that ordinance.

Rep. Jim Webb, R-Derry, contacted Foster's Daily Democrat to voice his concerns this week. He said the bill would force the 11 cities and towns with residency restrictions to allow sex offenders and offenders against children to live wherever they want, even if it is in an apartment above a day care. Webb said this strips local governments of their ability to protect children as they see fit.

Derry does not have residency restrictions for offenders.

Rep. Laura Jones, R-Rochester, said she also believes in local control.

Because I support local control, I decided to vote against HB 1237,” Jones said.

Jones has a friend that lives in a town where there is such an ordinance and she said her friend reports it is effective and has protected children.

The Rochester representative said she performed her own research on court rulings in this area and found decisions made by judges are mixed.

Rep. Steve Beaudoin, R-Rochester, echoed Webb's concerns about the proximity of sex offenders to children and loss of local control.

Though the courts have ruled that no town or city can restrict where a sex offender lives, I believe that if a city or town wants to challenge that they should be able to. As I see it, this law will prohibit that challenge,” Beaudoin said.

Supporters of the bill say that residency restrictions deprive registrants of their fundamental property rights and drive them underground.

The research explains why banning offenders from most areas of a town forces them into homelessness, destabilizes them and concentrates them in the outskirts of town, far away from buses, services, jobs and mediators,” the bill's sponsor, Timothy Robertson, D-Keene, wrote on behalf of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee for representatives to review when preparing to vote.

In an interview Wednesday, Robertson said that every molester is not the same.

There are lots of cases where a 21-year-old didn't know the other person was 15,” Robertson said. “They simply came upon each other and got what they wanted.”

When asked if the bill would, in effect, allow an offender against children to rent an apartment above a day care center, Robertson said he doubts very much that a person with a day care center on their property would rent to anyone without checking the free public sex offender list which is posted online.

Robertson cited cases of people who are legitimate and successful business owners who are considered sex offenders and others who, even 30 years after the crime, have a hard time finding a job due to the discrimination they face.

Robertson pointed out that judges do have the discretion in individual cases to limit where a sex offender or offender against children can live.

HB 1237 will now go to the Senate, where a similar bill was tabled in 2010.