Thursday, January 31, 2008

CO - Reward program introduced

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This is what people who are USING their brain do. Instead of treating inmates like animals, which will only make them act like animals, you treat them with respect and dignity, then we all benefit.

01/31/2008

Sheriff: Corrective actions can only go so far at Public Safety Center

Craig — It’s not touchy-feely. It’s what works better for everybody, Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz said.

Jantz is referring to the the start of an inmate rewards program at the Moffat County Public Safety Center. Jantz said the program, so far, has been a success.

The program works like this:

If inmates demonstrate model behavior during a month, they can select a movie to rent and eat pizza while they watch, Jantz said. The movie and pizza are paid for out of the Inmate Welfare Fund, which is generated by commissary sales within the jail.

Inmates responded, and some who blew off the reward the first time have started to come around, Jantz said. All credit for that program belongs to Lt. Dean Herndon, who came up with the idea, Jantz added.

“It makes them take ownership of what they do,” Herndon said.

Jantz said he encourages everyone working at the Safety Center to think of other ways they can use positive reinforcement with the inmates, he said.

“It works in conjunction with corrective actions,” the sheriff said. “We can only do so much corrective behavior” such as cell confinement.

Inmates don’t respond to punishment after a certain point, Jantz said. Combining positive reinforcement for good behavior is a better approach.

Safety Center personnel also encourage inmates to work outside the facility. Those who show they can be trusted are let out of the facility to work around town at places such as the cemetery, Sunset Meadows and the American Legion.

A local church also started a program for female inmates to crochet clothing and blankets, Jantz said.

“We have a female inmate that was a problem,” he said. “Since this program started, she has become a working inmate. Other girls in here said that in the years they’d known her, they’d never seen her smile.”

Now she smiles and laughs while crocheting blankets for a local church or during the movie and pizza time, Jantz said.

The Moffat County Commis­sion, at the Safety Center on Wednesday for its annual walkthrough, supports the program.

“Tim, my hat’s off to you, because both of these are great programs,” Commissioner Tom Mathers said. “This benefits everybody.”

During the tour, Safety Center officials informed the Commission about maintenance issues around the facility, including problems with leaky water pipes hidden behind mortared walls without any access paths.

Rooftop heating and air conditioning units also need scheduled replacing, and officials would like put in some sound-dampening measures, such as carpeting and foam blocks on the walls, so the rooms don’t echo to the point no one can hear anyone else.

The Commission lamented the Safety Center’s construction.

“Before the hospital builds their new building, they should tour this building for what not to do,” Mathers said.

Jantz also proposed construction projects he said would help with the Safety Center’s longevity. One project would relocate library space within the jail so the facility could better handle inmates.

The extra space could hold male or female inmates when current spaces for them are full and could help officials segregate inmates to guard against potential problems.

“Once these guys find out a sex offender is in here, especially one against a child, they beat them,” Herndon said.
- I wonder why this was even mentioned? Out of this whole article, it never mentions sex offenders, until here. Why? Subliminal message maybe? Why aren't sex offenders segregated so they are protected?

That incurs medical and legal costs the county likely will not be reimbursed for, Herndon added.

Jantz thanked the Commis­sion for approving two full-time positions for the jail’s master control, which moves inmates and coordinates their daily activities. The Commission did that without solicitation from Safety Center officials, he added.

“We have to work as a team concept with the community and other agencies,” Jantz said. “If I put a lot of pressure on them for more money, then that money has to come from somewhere else, and maybe another group is going to suffer.”

The Safety Center maintenance and construction projects are something Jantz suggested, but will leave to the Commission to consider.

“We need to make sure we do the best with that money for the public,” Jantz said.


OH - County muzzled on 150 sex offenders

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This is great, but what about all the other sex offenders who are not rich enough to afford an expensive lawyer? This should apply to all offenders across the state, until the court cases are done.

01/31/2008

LORAIN — The county sheriff’s office won’t be able to carry out new state-mandated community notifications on sex offenders who are challenging the new requirements, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Visiting Judge William Coyne issued a stay on enforcing the notification requirements for the more than 150 sex offenders who have filed challenges in county Common Pleas Court.

The stay only covers notification requirements for those sex offenders who are challenging the law, but even they must comply with new, more stringent reporting requirements.

The stay will remain until Coyne holds hearings later this year and makes a decision. Judges in other Ohio counties have already issued similar stays.

Coyne said he would also decide soon whether attorneys should be appointed for sex offenders who don’t have one for their challenge. The challenges can only be filed as civil claims and state law doesn’t typically allow court-appointed attorneys in civil matters.

The new law — known as Adam’s Law after Adam Walsh, a 6-year-old Florida boy who was abducted and killed in 1981 — was passed by the state after the federal government threatened to cut funding if uniform sex offender classifications weren’t in place in each state by 2009.
- This is why these draconian laws are passing, money and bribery, which is illegal!

It increases the length of time offenders have to register with county sheriff’s departments and also reclassifies currently registered offenders, which means even people who had only a few years or months left to report will suddenly face the prospect of having to register for longer.

It’s the retroactive sanctions that have prompted most of the court challenges, including an argument that the new law may be unconstitutional.
- If they were not ignoring experts and the Constitution, then yes, it would be shot down for being unconstitutional, but the Constitution apparently means nothing anymore. So why does it even exist if we don't obey it? Even the government has laws they MUST follow. If not, welcome to Nazi USA!

Attorney Kenneth Lieux, who represents about 15 of the challengers, said the new law is a breach of contract some convicted felons entered into with the state when they agreed to plea deals, and is effectively punishing people twice.

It’s a very poorly thought out law and I’m happy the judge prevented it from going into effect,” he said.

Under Ohio’s old law, there were eight classifications ranging from a 10-year reporting requirement as a sexually-oriented offender to the lifetime reporting requirements for more serious sexual predators.

The new law aimed to standardize reporting requirements nationally, making it easier to track sex offenders, according to State Rep. Matt Barrett (Email), D-Amherst, who voted for it. Barrett has said the new law makes it more difficult for sex offenders to get around registration requirements.
- How does it do this? All they have to do is give you false info and vanish, which is exactly what they are doing now that these laws came into being. Before everything was working, so you broke something that wasn't broke, all just to comply with the fascist people running this government, and all for money!

But the law is also unfair to people who already served their punishment, according to one woman who is representing herself in the matter.

The woman, who declined to give her name, said she has already been punished under a plea deal on a sexual offense charge she made with prosecutors, and doesn’t think it’s fair that the state now wants to change the deal.

I’m sympathetic to people wanting to protect their families, but just because someone takes a plea bargain doesn’t mean they actually did it,” she said.
- Yeah, all it requires is someone to accuse you of a sex crime, and you are screwed....

The woman said she is innocent of the charges, but was faced with three consecutive life sentences if convicted of the crime at trial, so she took the deal.
- Yeah, the legal system does this to SCARE PEOPLE INTO ACCEPTING A PLEA DEAL, which 100% of the time is NOT A DEAL! They do this so they get their money and a conviction, so their reputation looks better, and so they get paid and can move on to the next victim... NEVER ACCEPT A PLEA DEAL, EVEN IF YOU DID THE CRIME... TAKE IT TO A JURY TRIAL!!!


HRW says US flouts human rights

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01/31/2008

Report criticises American secret prisons, torture policy, human rights abuses in Iraq.

NEW YORK - The United States continues to violate basic human rights by keeping secret detention facilities abroad, holding people illegally as "disappeared" and justifying torture, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Thursday.

The Human Rights Watch World Report 2008 found no improvement in the human rights situation in the United States, despite efforts by the US Congress to end the alleged abuses carried out in its so called ‘war on terrorism’.

"There was no evident progress concerning the treatment of so-called enemy combatants, including those held at Guantanamo Bay (Cuba), or the use of secret detention facilities" in foreign countries, HRW said.

The Pentagon in 2007 released more than 100 "war on terror" detainees held in the prison facility at the US Navy base in eastern Cuba, but 305 continue to be imprisoned there, most of them without having been formally charged.

After the 2006 legislative elections that put Democrats in charge of both houses of Congress, a bill restoring Guantanamo prisoners' right to habeas corpus was proposed but has yet to be approved.

HRW said in its report that by announcing in April that a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) prisoner had been transferred to Guantanamo, the Pentagon made it clear there still were US detention facilities around the world.

The rights group said it believed 39 people were being held in US secret detention facilities and recalled that the US government had admitted to holding 100 prisoners in all.

"Under international law those persons remain unlawfully 'disappeared' until the United States can account for them," the report said.

And despite congressional pressure forcing the Pentagon to adopt new rules for prisoner interrogations to preclude torture-like abuses, HRW said the US government continues to justify such techniques in certain cases.

"The CIA contends that it is not bound by these rules, and the (US) administration has gone to great lengths to justify the CIA's continued use of certain techniques banned for use by the military," said the report.

On the domestic front, HRW said 2.2 million people were imprisoned in 2007 in the United States, a 500 percent increase over the past 30 years and equivalent to five times the entire prison population of Britain.

In addition to having the largest prison population in the world, the report added, the United States imprisoned blacks at a rate 6.5 times higher than that of whites.

HRW also found that undocumented foreigners faced greater risk of arrest in the United States, had difficulty in asserting their legal rights in court and were imprisoned under sometimes abusive conditions.

The report also criticized US laws listing people convicted of sexual offenses in a national sexual offender registry that turns them into social pariahs with little chance of finding employment or housing, and making them the target of violence.

US causing civilian casualties in Iraq

The report also said that American military operations against Iraqi insurgents have caused death to civilians.

"US military operations continued against Shiite and Sunni insurgents throughout the country, leading to an unknown number of civilian casualties."

Due to the US-Iraqi offensive in Baghdad, the number of detainees increased sharply, Human Rights Watch said.

"Iraqi detention facilities strained to accommodate them, and the justice system often foundered in reviewing their cases, leading to a backlog in Iraqi detention centres where reports of physical abuse and torture were common."

The killing of at least 17 Iraqi civilians by employees of US-based security firm Blackwater in September, the report said, "focused attention on the impunity with which private contractors operate in Iraq."


SC - House approves revisions to sex offender law

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01/31/2008

The state House, in a surprise move Wednesday morning, struck down one controversial provision of Jessica's Law and altered another. Gone is the "mistake-of-age" defense, which prosecutors said could allow adult offenders to have sex with preteens and escape punishment if they could convince a jury they believed the child was older.

The House also changed the "Romeo clause," the provision that made it legal for people age 18 and younger to have sex with children as young as 14. It is now a misdemeanor punishable by up to three years in prison, but it does not require inclusion on the state's sex offender registry.

"The bottom line is that it took us two years to correct something that shouldn't have been on the books in the first place," said House Speaker Pro Tem Doug Smith (Email), R-Spartanburg. "I give a lot of credit to the solicitors across the state, and particularly to (7th Circuit Solicitor Trey Gowdy), for bringing this to our attention and for helping us work toward a solution."

Jessica's Law, which went into effect on July 1, 2006, was intended to increase penalties for sex offenders, making someone convicted twice of raping a child 10 or younger eligible for the death penalty. But the mistake-of-age defense and the Romeo clause were inserted at the last minute.

State Attorney General Henry McMaster (Contact) issued an opinion calling the provisions unconstitutional, and lawmakers promised swift action. Procedural moves by Rep. Todd Rutherford (Email), D-Columbia, who inserted the mistake-of-age defense, killed attempts to make the changes last session.

On Wednesday, Rep. Murrell Smith Jr. (Email), R-Sumter, added the changes to another bill. Rutherford was not in the chamber when the changes were approved - something he says wasn't a coincidence.

"I'm not surprised at anything the Republicans do," Rutherford said. "They'll use any underhanded tactic, including waiting until I'm out working on something else, to pass something they know I'm passionate about."
- That is typical politics. They all do this.

Rep. Scott Talley (Email), R-Moore, said Smith didn't try to hide anything. Smith stood at the podium for nearly 20 minutes explaining the changes.

"The manner in which it was done originally is a lot more questionable than the manner used to fix it," Talley said. "He (Rutherford) didn't seem to want to tell us he was putting it in there."

Gowdy, one of the most vocal critics of the law, said getting the provisions removed took a great deal of work by local lawmakers. He said the legislation "never should have been born, and thank goodness it's finally dead."

"The shining hot white light of scrutiny on that abominable piece of legislation came from Spartanburg," Gowdy said. "The Children's Advocacy Center took the lead, and several members of the local legislation carried the torch."

Gowdy called the changing of the Romeo clause a "reasonable compromise."

Bill Herrick, executive director of the Children's Advocacy Center, said Jessica's Law was passed with the best intentions, but the fine print had dire consequences. He said the House had taken a "huge step" toward rectifying the situation.

"The mistake-of-age defense really opened the door for abusing children," Herrick said. "I know it's not easy to go back and change things, but I'm really pleased that they did."

After third-reading today, a formality, the bill goes to the Senate. Gowdy said he hopes it will be on the fast track.

"We'll see if the Senate takes up legislation protecting children with the same lightning speed they've taken up some other legislation this session," he said


PA - Man fatally shot as federal officials sought child porn

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01/31/2008

The Bucks County coroner says a Hilltown man was shot to death as FBI agents executed a search warrant at his home.

Dr. Joseph Campbell reported Wednesday that 39-year-old Darius Hill was shot six times Monday evening.

But Campbell says one of the wounds was self-inflicted and he does not know conclusively which one caused Hill's death.

Bucks County District Attorney Michelle Henry says the shooting is being investigated. She says the federal warrant was for investigation into possession and distribution of child pornography.

FBI spokeswoman Jerri Williams says an earlier statement that a coroner's report showed Hill had shot himself was premature. She says the FBI is conducting an internal investigation into the shooting. Bucks County detectives are also investigating.


NC - CMPD Officer Accused Of Sexual Assault Makes First Court Appearance Tuesday

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Video is available at the site.

01/29/2008

CHARLOTTE -- As Joseph Anthony's attorney was in court Tuesday afternoon, representing the accused officer, Eyewitness News heard for the very first time, a detailed account of what allegedly happened, from the person the victim ran to for help.

“As soon as he left, she came and told us.” Sheila Crowder lives next door to the sexual assault victim.

Crowder says she was outside the afternoon officer Joseph Anthony stopped by their neighbors house.

“She had called the police from our house,” Crowder said.

The police chief told us the victim called 911 to provide information about a missing person case -- Anthony responded.

Crowder says her neighbor got into the officer's car. They drove off for a bit, but came back to the house together.

“They went on in the house,” Crowder said.

Not long after Officer Anthony left that house that evening, Crowder says the victim came banging on her door.

“She wasn't screaming, but she was all hyped up and scared and stuff, all jittery and stuff and I was like calm down -- calm down,” Crowder said.

Crowder says the victim claims Officer Anthony forced her to perform oral sex and bit her on her chest.

“I say calm down, she sat down, and she was just ranting and raving. She had red marks on her neck,” Crowder said.

Anthony's attorney was in court today, but says he's not commenting on this case.

He would only say his client, a nine-year veteran of the force, who's married with children --plans on pleading not guilty.


NY - NYPD Detective Accused of Pimping Teen

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01/31/2008

NEW YORK (AP) — A police detective and a woman forced a 13-year-old runaway to work as a prostitute at parties around the city, telling her that if she tried to escape the officer would make her sell herself on the streets, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Wayne Taylor, 35, and Zelika Brown, 29, were arrested on charges of kidnapping, promoting prostitution, assault and endangering the welfare of a child, the Queens district attorney's office said.

Taylor, a 14-year New York Police Department member assigned to the housing bureau, was suspended without pay, the department said. Both he and Brown pleaded not guilty Wednesday.

Taylor's attorney, Peter Brill, told reporters his client "has the right to have the case proven against him beyond a reasonable doubt." Randall Unger, an attorney for Brown, did not immediately respond to an after-hours phone message seeking comment.

Taylor and Brown each face up to 25 years in prison if convicted. They were each being held on $250,000 bail, prosecutors said.

According to prosecutors, the teenage girl ran away from her Brooklyn home on Jan. 10 and met someone who offered to get her a job dancing for money at parties. That person then introduced her to Brown, who told the girl that she had bought her for $500 and that she had to work off the debt, prosecutors said.

Taylor instructed the girl to tell people that she was 19 years old and that she charged $40 to $80 for sexual acts, prosecutors said.

Taylor and Brown took the girl to parties throughout the city where she was told to have sex with about 20 men in exchange for money given to the pair, prosecutors said.

While holding the girl against her will, Brown chided her for not earning enough money and slammed her head into the floor, prosecutors said.

Taylor told the victim that if she failed to earn more money or tried to leave, he would force her to work as a prostitute on the streets, prosecutors said. He told the girl an alarm on the house would alert him if she tried to leave, they said.

A 17-year-old girl was also being held on charges of promoting prostitution, assault and endangering the welfare of a child, prosecutors said. Her arraignment was scheduled for Wednesday night. She will be charged as an adult.

The 17-year-old was told to oversee the 13-year-old at parties, prosecutors said. She is accused of slapping the 13-year-old at Brown's behest for being too talkative with customers and punching the girl, giving her a black eye, prosecutors said.

The 13-year-old escaped to her family, who took her to a police precinct, police said.

"This case is every parent and every child's worst nightmare, made even more frightening by the fact that one of the defendants is a police officer who swore to uphold the law and the community he serves," District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement.


OH - Creating sex monsters at the Statehouse - Lawmakers ignore reality of sex crimes, opt for simplicity

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01/31/2008

What is so outrageous about Ohio's new law on sexual offenders is not how much of a mess it is. It is that those involved with its passage last year were aware of the potential legal and practical difficulties.

Then they went ahead, anyway.

Sexual offenders are the easiest political targets imaginable, their crimes triggering public revulsion and primal fears.

They don't have a political action committee to make contributions. What's more, Ohio's prompt action to comply with the federal Adam Walsh Act brought the promise of a bonus in Department of Justice grant money. Refusal would have brought a reduction, starting next year.

So the legislative gears meshed. The attorney general's office was on board. You can imagine the political calculation: We get to kick the stuffing out of sexual offenders (again) and get paid for it! What could be better?

As it turned out when the law took effect this year, quite a lot.

The Adam Walsh Act called for the classification of sexual offenders based solely on the type of crime committed and not, as under previous state law, evidence of the likelihood that offenders would repeat their crime. Judges no longer have flexibility.

The biggest problem is not moving forward on new sexual offender cases. It is that the classification system called for by Adam Walsh Act applied retroactively. Some 26,000 existing offenders in Ohio were notified recently that they could challenge their new designations within a 60-day period.

And provisions of the new law are tough. Time limits for registration were extended, in some cases from 10 years to life. Community notification was greatly expanded.

Not surprisingly, a legal quagmire resulted.

On Friday, Summit County's common pleas judges, facing the potential of handling several hundred challenges, issued a 90-day stay. Several other counties have done the same. Summit's judges estimate it could cost $100,000 to provide legal representation to indigent offenders who want to fight the new law. (The federal bonus money hasn't been appropriated yet.)

Besides the difficulties of handling a crush of cases, fundamental legal issues arose. Didn't the reclassification really amount to punishment after the fact?

The Ohio public defender's office, among the organizations that warned legislators about complying with the Adam Walsh Act, filed suit in U.S District Court in Cleveland seeking class-action status for reclassified sexual offenders and asking for a temporary order blocking the new law. Similar lawsuits are in the works in the state courts.

What's worse is that the underlying assumption behind the Adam Walsh Act, that it will make children safer, is highly questionable, at best.

Steve Austria, Senate sponsor of the bill that changed Ohio law on sexual offenders, voiced the prevailing sentiment last spring.

''We want to have the strongest laws possible to protect our families against sex predators, who, even after serving time in prison for their crimes, choose to repeat them when they have the opportunity,'' the Republican from Beavercreek told his colleagues.

The overwhelming evidence is that around 75 percent of sexual offenses against children are committed by family members. Research has shown that 90 percent of child sexual abuse is committed by someone who knows the child well.

In that context, providing family counseling and monitoring of teachers and day-care workers would appear to make a lot more sense than spending money tracking down low-level sexual offenders who fail to meet registration requirements.

(Which, if not met for a second time, results in a mandatory three years in prison, at a cost of around $25,000 a year. Where is that extra federal money, anyway?)

The other highly questionable assumption is that sexual offenders are likely to repeat their crimes. Research cited by Sarah Tofte, author of No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws in the U.S. and of a recent essay that appeared on this newspaper's Commentary page, indicates that three out of four sexual offenders do not reoffend even 15 years after being released from prison.

In fact, burdensome and lengthy registration requirements, and the ostracism that comes with community notification, easily could drive sexual offenders out of the system, giving communities no notice whatsoever. County sheriffs had difficulties enough enforcing the previous state law.

The legal and practical difficulties, and concern over assumptions underlying the Adam Walsh Act, were essentially brushed aside last summer.

In such an atmosphere, almost any argument for toughening laws on sexual offenders made sense. Attorney General Marc Dann went so far as to argue that if Ohio failed to act, it would become a haven for sexual offenders.

Those offenders might consider moving here — until they checked the want ads to find work.


FL - Dave's Sexual Predator Legislation Profiled on the Evening News

I wonder why the reporter is the only person who knows this is nothing but a "blanket" that will do nothing to protect anybody. Yet Senator Aronberg wants to make more laws which will do nothing! These people are just ignorant and do not want to listen to reason, experts or the facts. But, he does say it's not working, and pushing for GPS. I bet they have stock in the GPS market also. Even GPS won't protect you. If a true predator wants to commit another crime, they will simply cut the GPS off and vanish.


Child Sexual Predator Sting A Success

They say "13% of children will be sexually solicited online. My question is, how many from adults and how many from other kids? I am willing to bet most are other kids, yet they never tell you this. Why? Also, the lady said "Entice them, invite them and arrest them!" I believe enticement is pretty close to entrapment.

Enticement Definition: to attract artfully or adroitly or by arousing hope or desire : tempt

Hmm, sounds close to entrapment to me.

Entrapment Definition: the action of luring an individual into committing a crime in order to prosecute the person for it.

What these police are doing is great, they need to do this, but why do they need Perverted-Justice? By inviting these people, many across state lines, you are endangering children from another neighborhood who may have never been in danger before.



GA - Rep Davis HB908 TV Address

See Related Article

You took an oath to uphold the Constitution Mr. Davis, so I guess you lied!!! NOT ALL SEX OFFENDERS ARE PREDATORS, GET THAT THROUGH YOUR THICK SKULL!!! I am willing to bet you are running for higher office, aren't you? How is anything about these laws going to protect anybody? I'd love to hear your thoughts about this? Also, what about the children and family of sex offenders? Do they not matter? Apparently not, so if that is true, then you care nothing about children, but are using them to further your hidden agenda, aren't you? Plus, this law says if someone owned a home prior to July 1st, 2006, they can stay and not have to move. So how is that protecting people? You are lying through your teeth. If a true predator is intent on committing another crime, how would anything about these laws prevent them from committing another crime? IT WON'T!!


Citizens Arrest - A little ironic humor for you!!

Also see this article about how legislature is breaking the law!


GA - Ramsey’s committee ignored valid legal objections to sex offender bill

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01/29/2008

Re: “Ramsey supports sex offender restrictions.” I know for a fact that there were numerous experts in the field of sex offender management, law enforcement, victim advocates who spoke to Mr. Ramsey’s committee and they were IGNORED.

This is why the five members who voted not to send the bill to the House floor issued a Minority Report. You can find that here:

http://sosolutionsnetwork.org/docs/HB908_MinorityReport.pdf

If I may ask you a question, how many of your tax dollars are you willing to spend on needless defense to court challenges? Is $1 million enough? How about $2 million, or $5 million? Do you know how much has been spent to date defending HB1059? Couldn’t this money be better spent on other needs? Why don’t the media, as our public watchdog, hold these irresponsible General Assembly members accountable for passing laws that will not pass constitutional muster?

No one is talking about being “soft” on sex offenders, but since when is a person who urinated behind a building the same risk as a serial rapist?

Or when is someone convicted of consensual sex as a teenager the same as someone charged with multiple counts of aggravated child molesting?

According to Mr. Ramsey and HB908 they are the same. Is this common sense or is political ego now involved? Just remember, not everyone on the registry is a child molester, regardless of what Mr. Ramsey tells you.

Additionally, the continual use of the term “dangerous sexual predators” and “convicted sexual predators” in your article to describe everyone on the registry is inherently dangerous. As of a few moments ago, there were only 56 people listed on the GBI Sex Offender Registry as a PREDATOR.

By ascribing the term to all 15,007 registrants, we dilute the meaning of the term and the end result is women and children are less safe.

HB1059 set up a Sexual Offender Review Board, and the General Assembly did not adequately fund or staff it. HB908 does not address this problem. In place of solutions we are being sold a bill of goods by the General Assembly, and the media is a willing accomplice, rendering a false sense of security and making women and children less safe.

We need to protect our children, but we need to do it right. After the Georgia Supreme Court stuck down Georgia’s residency restrictions for sex offenders last November, one would think that Georgia’s legislators would have connected the dots and got the message.

Evidently, some of legislators are not that smart or just too arrogant. Either way, the taxpayers will have to pay for defending avoidable lawsuits.

As an example, in HB908, the legislators are attempting to reinstate where renters may live, ignoring the fact that under Georgia’s Constitution, renters enjoy the same rights as property owners.

This is nothing more than a modern “poll tax” that treats people according to what they own. At the very least, the voters of Georgia should send these “public servants” home.

Speaking against the bill, law enforcement, treatment providers, and victim advocates testified to the House Judiciary (Non-Civil) Committee hearing on HB908. Yet the committee, except for five members, passed it, sending it to the House floor. It appears the majority just cannot get it right.

One can only hope the Georgia taxpayers will contact their representatives, and tell them to VOTE NO on HB908. Should the bill pass, there will certainly be court challenges. This will cost taxpayers money that could be spent on the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board, health care, water conservation, school programs, or roads and bridges.

It’s time to tell the General Assembly, “Either connect the dots or go home!

Please visit the Sex Offender Solutions Network website to find out more about this important issue, and for the sake of our women and children, please report this issue in a truthful and responsible manner.

Kyle Paul Sandusky

Marietta, Ga.


NE - Bill Could Change Sex Offender Registry in Nebraska

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01/30/2008

Lincoln - The number of sex offenders on the State Patrol's registry Web site could increase significantly under a bill being considered by lawmakers.

Currently, only those sex offenders who are considered a high risk to offend again are put on the public registry that can be viewed by anyone. Should the bill pass, the name of everyone convicted of a sexual offense, even misdemeanors, would be put on the registry.

The federal government is trying to get Nebraska and other states to pass the legislation and has threatened to withhold some federal dollars for local law enforcement if they don't. In Nebraska, not passing the legislation could mean the loss of about $60,000.


OH - Former Police Chief Returns To Court 10 Years After Pleading Guilty To Rape

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01/30/2008

DAYTON -- A former Miami Valley police chief is back in court nearly 10 years after pleading guilty to the rape of a child.

Edward Heys, a former police chief in the small Miami County town of Potsdam, and his attorneys are trying to stop the enforcement of the Adam Walsh Act.

The act, which went into effect at the beginning of the year, subjects all sex offenders to new classifications and more restrictions.

John Rion, Heys' attorney, said Heys pleaded guilty to rape in 1998 and served six years in jail. As part of his sentence, Rion said Heys, who now lives in Dayton, is required to register as a sexually oriented offender until later this year.

Rion said the Adam Walsh Act, which is retroactive to include past sex offenders, now requires Heys to register his address every 90 days for the rest of his life.

Rion said the act is unconstitutional.

During a temporary injunction hearing Wednesday, Rion asked the judge to consider stopping the enforcement of the act in Heys' case.

Douglas Trout, with the Montgomery County Prosecutor's office, said the state supports the act.

"The public policy behind this law is to protect the citizens, and it's in the state's best interest to protect any laws that do so," Trout said.

A decision in this case is expected to be issued within the next several days.


VA - High cost of freedom - Despite innocence, he's labeled a sex offender

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01/30/2008

NORFOLK -- Arthur Whitfield is either one of the luckiest men alive or the unluckiest. It's never clear, least of all to Whitfield.

Sweat pours off his forehead, down his face, through his gray beard, falling like fat raindrops on his drenched black T-shirt.

He pedals his bicycle through traffic, a bag of work clothes hanging from the handlebars. The hazy August heat drapes the 52-year-old like a steamy blanket. His past trails him like a black cloud.

The produce warehouse where he works is almost in sight, the 4-mile ride nearly over, when the chain pops off his cobbled-together Huffy. Again.

Fingers still greasy, he quickly fixes the chain and is on his way. This lanky, soft-spoken man isn't easily discouraged.

"Every day that I'm not incarcerated," he explains later, "is a good day."

Three years ago, Whitfield was released from prison after serving 23 years for two rapes that DNA tests showed he didn't commit. He was cleared based on evidence that was supposed to be long gone but wasn't. The tests also identified the real attacker, a serial rapist who by then was serving life in prison.

But unfortunately for Whitfield, the law and politics of DNA aren't as advanced and clear-cut as the science.

Today, Whitfield isn't free but on parole. He's a registered sex offender for crimes the local prosecutor and state crime lab director agree he didn't commit.

But Whitfield, of all people, with nearly half his life already stolen, knows it could be worse. Much worse.

Had he been convicted in Ohio, for example, he almost certainly still would be in prison.

Gambling on a guilty plea

Whitfield pleaded guilty to rape on May 6, 1982.

Not because he was beaten, tortured or tricked by police or lawyers. Not because he was mentally impaired. Whitfield was 27 years old and knew exactly what he was doing.

He had just been convicted of one rape. The victim, grabbed from a dark street at knifepoint, had picked Whitfield from a police lineup. The judge bolstered her identification by allowing another victim -- both women were raped an hour apart, in the same neighborhood, apparently by the same man -- to testify that she had picked Whitfield from a lineup, too.

The jury deliberated for more than seven hours but ultimately trusted the victims' memories, not Whitfield's friends, relatives and a neighbor who testified that he was with them at a birthday party on the night of the rapes. Whitfield was sentenced to 45 years.

Now, Whitfield faced trial for the other rape. Coincidentally, the victims were friends, and both were lined up again to testify.

It would be a virtual replay of the first trial. If convicted again by a jury, Whitfield faced a potential life sentence. Also working against him was his record: two prison stints, in 1976 and 1978, for robbery.

"I knew I didn't have a leg to stand on," he said.

"If I take the deal for 18 years," he figured, "I can make parole maybe somewhere down the line."

Determined to see his family again someday outside prison walls, he took the deal, for a combined sentence of 63 years.

Pinning his future on DNA

Hope faded as Whitfield appeared before the parole board 14 times over the years, each time only to be returned to his cell.

After years behind bars, he decided to tell the parole board what parole boards everywhere want to hear.

"I finally decided I'd go in there and admit I did it and say I'm sorry," he said. "But I didn't do it. Every time I went in there, I froze up."

Being rejected for parole, it turns out, became yet another irony-tinged stroke of luck for Whitfield. "Because I never would have gotten a chance to also clear myself," he said.

In 2001, Virginia passed a law allowing convicted felons to apply for DNA testing. The law followed a DNA exoneration of an inmate who was one of the first in the nation saved by the emerging science of identifying microscopic human cells in the blood, semen, hair and saliva left by attackers at crime scenes.

Virginia was several years ahead of Ohio, and today remains more open to testing, in law and practice. While being paroled might have prevented Whitfield from getting a DNA test in Virginia, it would have automatically disqualified him in Ohio.

Also, Ohio is one of only a few states that wrote an additional hurdle into its law for inmates who, like Whitfield, pleaded guilty.

In those cases, Ohio law says a judge can't grant a test unless the prosecutor agrees -- an all-but-insurmountable barrier. Only one of 92 of those requests has been granted, The Dispatch found in a first-ever examination of Ohio's testing program.

Whitfield faced no such legal roadblock in Virginia, although winning approval for a test in any state is a long shot.

"At the time, everything seemed impossible in terms of me getting out," Whitfield said. "I always liked to think I had a chance to get out. But it felt like I was slipping, and I needed something to hold onto."

He filled out the brief application in 2003.

Thanking 'Miss Burton'

Everybody warned Whitfield that the evidence from his case likely was gone.

Norfolk police looked and couldn't find it. Neither could the clerk of courts.

The victims' sexual assault exams were conducted years before the advent of DNA testing. According to crime-lab procedures at the time, the swabs should have been disposed of long ago.

"I didn't too much understand at first, when they said the evidence might be destroyed," he said. "Why would my evidence be thrown away?"

Nowadays, it probably wouldn't be. Virginia stopped the indiscriminate destruction of evidence when it adopted its inmate DNA testing law. So have 21 other states.

Evidence preservation still isn't required by law in Ohio, and inmate applications for DNA testing are routinely derailed because of lost or destroyed evidence, the Dispatch investigation found.

Fortunately for Whitfield, he was not in Ohio.

More important, his case was handled by Mary Jane Burton, a headstrong scientist not given to policies that involved trashing her work.

When the state pulled lab files from Whitfield's case in December 2003, the swabs, like cottony Q-tips, were taped inside. So were swatches of the victims' clothing.

By then, Burton, an Ohio native who retired to Cincinnati, had been dead five years. But Whitfield still talks about "Miss Burton" as if the forensic scientist were a beloved aunt.

"She's no longer here but, if she can hear me, I want to thank her, because I know she's in a good place now. I've never forgotten her name."

Winning his freedom

Norfolk lawyer Michael F. Fasanaro was assigned to the case.

To him, Whitfield was just another court-appointed obligation -- a twice-convicted rapist who had pleaded guilty, no less -- to juggle between paying clients.

"I just thought it was another case," Fasanaro said.

Then the fax came across his machine late one Friday afternoon.

The 23-year-old swabs still contained DNA from the women's attacker, and the genetic fingerprint didn't match Whitfield's.

"I was absolutely surprised -- stunned," Fasanaro said. "I had to read it twice, quite frankly. I had to read it out loud."

He immediately confirmed the results with the prosecutor's office, which wanted to re-test. The next day, officials swabbed the inside of Whitfield's cheek for a fresh DNA sample and ran the comparisons again.

Again, no match -- not to Whitfield, anyway.

Unable to immediately reach Whitfield, Fasanaro called his mother.

"I told her I had wonderful news for her, that her son was coming home the next day," he said. "She cried. She was overwhelmed.

"That was probably one of the most joyful things I've done."

Whitfield was released from prison, 23 years and three days after his arrest.

He caught a bus home. There were no seats available, so Whitfield gladly stood the whole 100-mile ride -- finally free.

Twisting in a technicality

But Whitfield's life of viciously cruel ironies followed him home to Norfolk.

To clear the way for his immediate release from prison, the state put him out on parole.

Nobody gave it a second thought until his lawyer filed for a writ of actual innocence, paperwork to formally certify what the prosecutor already had acknowledged and continues to tell anybody who asks: Arthur Lee Whitfield didn't do it.

By then, the prosecutor even knew who did.

The DNA matched Aaron Doxie III, whose genetic profile was part of a state computer database. Doxie, who declined to be interviewed for this story and hasn't commented publicly, already was serving life in prison for rapes he committed two years after Whitfield was sent to prison.

And another old rape had just been belatedly pinned on Doxie. In that case, yet another man, Julius Ruffin, had been wrongfully convicted and served 20 years before DNA cleared him in 2003, just as Whitfield's exoneration was playing out.

Ruffin also had been saved by DNA tests on swabs squirreled away by Mary Jane Burton.

So nobody expected the judge to reject Whitfield's request for a declaration of innocence. But the judge ruled that a close reading of Virginia law showed a person must be incarcerated to be considered for a writ of actual innocence.

The circular logic caught everybody by surprise. Whitfield appealed. The case went before the state Supreme Court, which ruled in a split decision in October 2005 that Whitfield in fact had no legal standing now that he was out of prison.

"It is tragic, because we're talking about a technicality rather than the actual facts of the innocence," Fasanaro said. "I mean, he's been found innocent through the DNA, and no technicality should stand in the way of that."

Working on a fresh start

Outside the courtroom, Whitfield fared better -- for a while.

Everything seemed to fall into place. Managers at a local credit union read about his plight in the newspaper and offered him a job. Whitfield was a high-school dropout laborer who earned his diploma in prison. He looked around, bewildered by the computers, and declined.

The manager insisted. He told Whitfield that he was prohibited from hiring convicted felons, but he was going to do it anyway and keep Whitfield on the staff as long as he could.

"That was a big turnaround for him," said his older brother, Raymond Whitfield, of Dayton. "I've never seen him so thrilled and so happy, and the people liked him."

Whitfield worked as a customer service representative, teller and loan processor. His co-workers helped set him up with an apartment and a car, and welcomed him as one of the team. He smiles as he recalls them dragging him onto the dance floor at the office Christmas party.

But after two years, somebody outside the branch office noticed a convicted felon on the payroll, Whitfield said. They bid him a warm goodbye.

"They asked me when I get my pardon to come back," he said.

Lobbying against a pardon

By then, Whitfield already had asked the governor for a pardon.

Ruffin, the Norfolk man released a year before Whitfield after serving 20 years, offered Whitfield encouragement.

But for all of their similarities -- both cases involved the same rapist, both were investigated by the same police detective, both men were cleared by DNA saved by the same lab technician -- there was a key difference.

After the DNA tests, the victim in Ruffin's case greeted him with public apologies for her part in unknowingly convicting the wrong man. She called for reforms to prevent mistakes in the future. She even testified before the legislature to help Ruffin secure $1.2 million from the state.

A previous governor pardoned him on the way out of office.

In Whitfield's case, one victim wrote a seven-page letter to the governor urging him to deny a pardon, still convinced that Whitfield was her attacker.

Both victims say their separate descriptions of the attacker were similar, and that they bore no similarity to Doxie. The women, who were forced to perform oral sex during the rapes, also both say their attacker was uncircumcised -- like Whitfield and unlike Doxie.

They question the validity of DNA tests on swabs that had been stuffed in files, unprotected, for more than 20 years by a lab worker who isn't alive to answer for them.

"DNA doesn't lie? No, it doesn't. But you can screw it up," one victim told The Dispatch, which does not identify victims of sexual crimes unless they agree to be named.

The other victim bristles at what she views as a "pity party" for Whitfield.

"There is no way I made a mistake. It's absolutely him. I've been saying that since Day One."

While both victims gave the jury strikingly similar descriptions of their attacker, the testimony contradicted some of their initial statements to police, records show.

They testified to Whitfield's distinctive hazel-colored eyes, but only one had noted his eye color immediately after the attack, describing it as brown. They also both told police the rapist was clean-shaven, but Whitfield had a beard.

In her letter to the governor, the contents of which haven't been reported until now, one victim says she now believes the other woman was raped by a different man and mistakenly identified Whitfield.

She suggests that evidence could have been intermingled in the two decades leading up to the DNA tests.

After the DNA tests, Norfolk Commonwealth Attorney John R. Doyle III, the prosecutor, said in his request for Whitfield's release from prison that he was convinced "beyond any question" that Whitfield was innocent.

"All the evidence in the case excludes him as the rapist," he said recently. "And I haven't seen anything that would persuade me this is not the case."

Pete Marone, director of the Virginia Department of Forensic Science, also backs the results.

"From a scientific standpoint, Aaron Doxie is there and Arthur Whitfield is not," Marone said. Moreover, DNA from the victims on those same swabs, while degraded and incomplete, was consistent with the women's genetic fingerprints. "There's enough (victim DNA) there you feel confident there's not a mix-up."

Living in seclusion

Whitfield is frustrated but not angry.

"I'm not mad or have any hard feelings," he said. "I believe (the victims) actually believe what they saw was me. I understand."

Push, prod, provoke, needle Whitfield all you want. He won't raise his voice or lash out.

Not when he talks about losing his credit-union job and having to move back home with his parents.

Or when he talks about the time his neighbors watched him being arrested because, as a registered sex offender, there was brief confusion about where he was living.

Whitfield's mother can't, or won't, talk about her son's ordeal anymore.

"I let God work it out," Louise Whitfield said, breaking down and retreating out the back door of her house.

Outside of work, Arthur Whitfield mostly has reverted to the lifestyle that served him well in prison -- minimizing contact with others and filling the time watching TV, particularly soap operas.

If 23 years in prison taught him anything, it's not to get his hopes up. On the other hand, he also knows as well as anyone never to give up.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, who declined to comment for this story, hasn't granted a pardon. But the Democrat, who took office in January 2006, hasn't denied one, either.

Finding a new home

The cramped waiting room is filled with stiff-backed chairs, a vending machine and glum-faced men wearing electronic ankle bracelets.

Whitfield walks up to the receptionist's window and asks to see his parole officer, who seems to recognize that Whitfield isn't a typical ex-con.

"Arthur's a hard case," he says, smiling, patting Whitfield on the shoulder. He encourages Whitfield to be patient. "I keep telling him, all we've got is time."

Whitfield smiles sheepishly, but it's difficult being patient when you're a 52-year-old man living with your parents.

A day earlier, Whitfield pedaled to work, struggling to keep the chain on his Huffy. Today, he is taking a day off from the produce warehouse to chase a short-term dream: finding his own place to live.

He recently lost his wallet -- Whitfield is prone to losing his wallet, keys, you name it -- and he needs new identification to secure a lease. His parole officer agrees to help.

His bosses at the produce warehouse are helping, too. The business office reviews paperwork and leases for him, and offers to advance deposit money if he finds the right place.

Earlier in the day, a friend of his mother's had shown him a house she had for rent.

As Whitfield sized up the tiny pale yellow shotgun house with teal shutters and a front porch, he spied a group of teenagers across the street. Music blared, bass thumping, from a parked car. "Is it rowdy around here?" he asked.

In the end, Whitfield looked past the neighbor kids, beyond the overgrown yard and the weed-choked flowerbed obscuring the front porch, and saw possibilities.

"I'm gonna have fun cutting the grass, trimming the hedges, fixing things up. I don't even care if it doesn't have a bed," he said.

"My life's not too good right now. But things are looking better. Any time you're not incarcerated, it's a good life."

Waiting for a pardon

Whitfield, now 53, moved into the house in August, where he lives with his girlfriend and her two daughters.

Also last summer, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional the portion of the law here that gives prosecutors sole authority to reject DNA applications from inmates who, like Whitfield, pleaded guilty.

Ohio has yet to enact a law requiring evidence to be preserved.

In Virginia, after the exonerations of Marvin Anderson in 2002, Ruffin in 2003 and Whitfield in 2004 -- all thanks to evidence saved by Mary Jane Burton -- the governor ordered a review of a random sampling of 31 more of her files.

Those led to the exonerations of two other men who had served a combined 31 years in prison for rape and were by then on parole.

Now, the state lab is combing all of its files -- more than a half-million, from 1973 to 1988 -- in search of other evidence that, contrary to lab practice, was stowed in files.

So far, officials have found samples that could cast new light on more than 2,000 murders, rapes and serious assaults, Marone said, most of them handled by Burton.

A first batch of 166 cases has been sent to a private lab for DNA testing, the start of a process that will probably take another year.

Meanwhile, Whitfield still awaits word from the governor on a pardon. It's been 772 days and counting.


PA - Ex-Delco pol pleads guilty to sex attack on wife's aide

View the article here

01/30/2008

Harry McDevitt Jr. had a thing for younger nurses, according to Delaware County authorities, particularly those who cared for his handicapped wife in their Norwood home.

McDevitt, 63, the borough's former code-enforcement officer, admitted yesterday to assaulting a 28-year-old caretaker who told police that he had offered her cash for sexual favors and had threatened her with a handgun.

"Your conduct was completely unacceptable, outrageous and very, very serious," Common Pleas Judge Barry C. Dozer said.

"In fact," he added, "quite despicable."

Two other nurses who had worked at McDevitt's house on Winona Avenue came forward with similar allegations after the initial charges were filed against him in 2006. They hadn't contacted police immediately out of concern for McDevitt's wife, according to Deputy District Attorney Michael Galantino.

Galantino had intended to use their testimony in the trial involving the latest victim to demonstrate McDevitt's pattern of engaging in "unlawful, and strikingly similar, sexual conduct with younger adult women," according to court records.

But with the evidence mounting against him, McDevitt pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of aggravated indecent assault, a second-degree felony. He will be required to register as a sex offender under Megan's Law and submit a sample of his DNA.

If McDevitt had gone to trial and was convicted, "the consequences would have been horrendous under the sentencing guidelines," said his attorney, John List.

The victim, a mother of three, said she was satisfied with the sentence. "I'm glad it's over," she said.

Authorities say McDevitt, who also served on Norwood's civil- service commission, preyed on women hired to take care of his wife, who uses a wheelchair.

In the most recent case, McDevitt asked the woman to change a bedroom light bulb, then pulled down her nurse's scrubs while she was standing on a chair, according to the criminal complaint. He later cornered her in the kitchen, brandished a large handgun and offered her $50 for sexual favors, she said.

The woman told police that when she tried to leave, he grabbed her, covered her mouth and sexually assaulted her.

McDevitt's sentencing is scheduled for April, after he undergoes psychological evaluations to determine if he is a sexually violent predator.

Galantino said he would recommend a sentence of nine to 23 months' incarceration, with the first four months served at the county prison and the remainder of the time on house arrest. Upon his release, McDevitt will serve two years' probation.

"This is a step forward," Galantino said. "The defendant admitted responsibility for his conduct."

McDevitt, who no longer serves in any official capacity in Norwood and doesn't have the option of returning, declined to comment yesterday outside the courtroom as authorities led him away. *