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'This isn't conjecture, it's happening now'
A doctor at the renowned Children's Hospital Boston has launched a new program to drug children to delay puberty so they can decide whether they want a male or a female body, according to a report today in the Boston Globe.
Pediatric endocrinologist Norman Spack, 64, says he started the Gender Management Service Clinic because he found himself encountering 20-somethings who were "transgendered" and in good shape socially, "but they were having trouble getting their physique to conform to their identity.
"I knew the 20-somethings could have better chances of passing if they were treated earlier," he said.
"We don't think that demonic is too strong a word to describe this," said a statement from the pro-family Mass Resistance organization. "It brings us thoughts of the Nazi doctors who thought they were doing good things."
WND has reported previously on some of the controversies prompted by the belief that a man can be born in a woman's body, or vice versa, including in Montgomery County, Md., where county officials have adopted a law that precludes those who provide public accommodations from discriminating based on that "gender identity."
Voters there have petitioned to have a vote on that law because they fear men who "decide" they are female walking into women's restrooms and locker rooms.
"Is this our future?" asked Mass Resistance in a commentary. "Dr. Norman Spack runs a clinic for young children who've 'decided' they are transgendered. Among other things, the clinic administers powerful hormones to delay (or even stop) puberty in order that the children more easily undergo operations that mutilate their bodies to 'change' them to the opposite sex."
"This is going on at the world-renowned Children's Hospital in Boston – not some backwater clinic. This is the elite of the medical profession," the organization said.
In a question-and-answer session with Globe columnist Pagan Kennedy, she starts the apologetic for doing surgery on children by saying, "Little boys sob unless they're allowed to wear dresses. The girls want to be called Luke, Ted, or James."
"Until recently, children with cross-gender feelings rarely received modern medical care – and certainly not hormone shots. After all, who would allow a child to redesign his or her body?" she asks.
But Spack, she wrote, has started a clinic that "is one of the few in the world to give children treatments that change their bodies."
She reports he uses drugs to delay puberty, "granting them a few more years before they develop bodies that are decidedly male or female."
Spack tells the interviewer he's seen "preadolescents" who have been dressing in underwear of the opposite sex "for years."
"The puberty-blocking drugs work best at the beginning of the pubital process, typically age 10 to 12 for a girl and 12 to 14 for a boy," he said. He's based some of his work on a Dutch model for sex-change, and said the recommendations there are age 16 for hormones that forever change a child's body.
But "for others," he wrote, "you lose opportunities if you wait. [One of my patients, a] transgendered girl from the UK, was destined to be a 6-foot-4 male. With treatment, she's going to end up 5-foot-10."
He said such treatments not only change the physical characteristics of the growing children, but also could leave them sterile for life.
"You have to explain to the patients that if they go ahead, they may not be able to have children. … But if you don't start treatment, they will always have trouble fitting in," he said.
"This isn't conjecture," Mass Resistance' commentary said. "It's happening now. And 'transgenderism' is being promoted to kids by homosexual/transgender activists in the public schools."
Children as young as 12 already have been given the treatment.
Meanwhile, LifeSiteNews has reported that Spack previously acknowledged that only about 20 percent of children who claim to have a confusion over their gender hold those feelings in adulthood.
The hospital itself calls the program "unique in the Western hemisphere."
"This will be the first major program in the country that … [is] also welcoming young people who appear to be transgendered and are considering medical protocols that might help them," Spack said.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
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A Human Rights Watch report criticizes state and federal sex-offender laws.
Is hostility toward suspected pedophiles so severe that prosecutors exhibit excessive zeal and defense attorneys don't bother to defend their client? Will juries convict regardless of inconclusive evidence? For persons accused of sex offenses, is it guilty unless proven innocent beyond a reasonable doubt? If so, there is a systematic denial of justice for those charged.
In Michigan an 11 year old boy who is accused of a sex crime is being treated as though he has already been found guilty.
Do judges impose unreasonable bond and sentences for consensual sex with teenagers or for mere possession of child pornography?
The pressure that law enforcement uses on alleged victims and their families to give testimony against the accused should be reported.
Accusing someone may seem like a good way to get revenge or an advantage of some kind. Be sure to read both of these news stories.
Does it matter if MySpace incorrectly lists someone as a sex offender? Would it matter if it was you?
The federal government engages in intimidation of a defense witness.
In prison, are they set up for abuse and sometimes for murder by other inmates?
In Missouri they can be segregated from the general prison population. This should be the case in all states and in federal prisons.
No Place to Stand, No Place to Sit
And when they get out of prison, if they ever do, where can they live?
A federal law providing for civil commitment of sex offenders has been ruled unconstitutional.
In Georgia it is a crime for a sex offender to be homeless. The penalty can be life in prison.
If you are on parole, in treatment and open about your thoughts, they may take away your freedom.
The Orwellian double speak, that limiting where sex offenders may live is not punishment, has been struck down by Judge Patricia Joyce.
In Illinois child sex offenders are not permitted to enter schools in order to vote. It is also a crime for them to knowingly "be present" within 100 feet of a site posted as a school bus stop. North Dakota takes a different approach.
At least in Minnesota a sex offender in prison can't have his sentence increased by refusal to admit to more crimes while in "treatment." But this is pretty standard practice in many other states. In Idaho a person may refuse to participate in a post conviction psychosexual evaluation, the Supreme Court has ruled in upholding fifth amendment rights against self-incrimination.
Do we want to keep pedophiles in prison for life?
There are now proposals to establish ghettos for sex offenders similar to those they had in pre-WWII Europe.
That is likely to be the end result of the increasing number and severity of laws restricting where convicted sex offenders are permitted to live, work or just be.
Soon they may not be able to have any kind of employment.
New Jersey may make it a crime for a sex offender to use the internet thus denying them another form of employment. Florida places a host of restrictions on released sex offenders, including restricted use of the internet.
There is also a proposal to require sex offenders to display a special green registration plate on their cars. Will they be made to wear an emblem on their clothing after that? Does any of this seem familiar?
In Florida driver's licenses will indicate who is a sex offender. When they use it for identification in cashing a check or buying liquor the sales clerk will be duly warned.
There are over 390 thousand registered sex offenders in the US, 48 thousand in Texas. Do we really want to create a large group of very unhappy and desperate men?
Here's the head guy, Phillip Eide aka Xavier Von Erck, from Perverted Justice, the one who now is going after people for what they say and think.
An investigation of their sting operation shows that they clearly engage in entrapment.
The mere allegation that someone has an attraction to underage persons has become enough to obtain a search warrant.
One man has had a restraining order issued against him even though he has committed no crimes.
Some years from now you don't want to be the one to say, "First they came for the sex offenders. But I wasn't a sex offender, so I did nothing."
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CINCINNATI — People who have never been convicted of a sex offense still could end up on a public registry in Ohio.
A law that went into effect in August targets alleged sex offenders who can no longer face charges or be sued because the time allowed for either action — the statute of limitations — has expired.
The new law allows prosecutors, the state's attorney general or alleged victims to seek to put a person on the registry.
Whoever makes the request must try to present enough evidence to convince a judge that the crime was more likely than not to have occurred. If a judge, after hearing testimony and reviewing evidence from both sides, determines that the abuse is likely to have taken place, then the alleged offender must register with the Ohio Attorney General's Internet Civil Registry.
No other state has a civil registry or is even considering one, said Blake Harrison, a policy analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The law creating the registry was a substitute for a proposed law that would have allowed people to file lawsuits in old cases that otherwise would have been barred by the two-year statute of limitations.
Hamilton County, Ohio, prosecutor Joe Deters is the first to test the new law.
In September, he filed a motion in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court asking that David Kelley, a priest who served at St. Therese the Little Flower in Mount Airy Ohio, be ordered to register with the state's civil registry.
Kelley, who lives in Nashville, is accused of sexually abusing a student at the Ohio church's elementary school in the early 1980s, according to court documents.
"People deserve to know if they live near sexual offenders," Deters said. "The statute of limitations may have expired, but this allows for notification."
A hearing is set for Dec. 6. Kelley, who is on administrative leave from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, could not be reached for comment.
"This raises a lot of questions for me," said Jonathan Entin, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University who specializes in constitutional law and civil rights issues. "At least in criminal registries, there is some sort of formal determination a person committed a sex offense."
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a group that lobbies for abuse victims' rights, supported the bill that would have extended the statute of limitations because hundreds of people who have claimed priests abused them as children are unable to file lawsuits or pursue criminal charges.
"I don't think it will work, and it won't deter the abuse," Christy Miller, SNAP's Cincinnati co-leader, said of the new law. "These people won't be financially responsible, and they're not criminally responsible. All that will happen is their name will go on a list that nobody will see because nobody knows about it."
The registry's creator, state Rep. Bill Seitz, said he knows it is controversial but said it accomplishes the same goal as retroactively extending the statute of limitations.
The Ohio ACLU's legal director, Jeff Gamso, called the civil registry troubling.
"It is a dangerous, troublesome law," Gamso said. "This is punishment without the protection of a criminal proceeding."
Coolidge reports daily for The (Cincinnati) Enquirer
By AARON SANBORN (firstname.lastname@example.org)
There's a stigma that comes with being classified as a sex offender, [name withheld] of Rochester says.
[name withheld], a registered sex offender, was 18 when she had a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old; [name withheld] describes the contact as consensual.
She was convicted of felonious sexual assault in 1999. She served nine months in the Strafford County House of Corrections and is required to register on the Rochester Police Department's private sex offender list twice each year.
Currently, adults who commit sexual offenses against other adults are kept on a private list at local police departments in New Hampshire. Those who commit offenses against children are placed on a public list. Offenders who normally would be on the public list can be placed on the private list at a judge's discretion.
A victim's age, not the crime's brutality or severity, is the primary measure governing an offender's listing. Both the public and private lists can contain the names of a range of offenders, from those who committed relatively nonviolent offenses to those convicted of brutal sex crimes.
[name withheld] is now a married mother of four who works as a social services advocate. She says the sex offender label continues to cause her problems, noting she was charged in October 2007 with felony-level duty to report for not telling police about a change in job status, which she is required to do as a sex offender.
Her status as a sex offender shows up on her record and has limited her job and housing options and prevented her from chaperoning her children's field trips, she said.
Her offense would be a misdemeanor under current state law, which was changed in 2003, because there was less than a three-year age difference between herself and the victim. She said she can petition to come off the private sex offender list and is looking into doing so.
But [name withheld] says regardless of what happens with her petition, it's time for New Hampshire to change its sex offender law as not all sex offenders are the same, and she and others are being lumped in with more serious offenders.
"People like myself are bulked in with people who rape babies and pedophiles and that's not OK," she said.
Some changes are on the way. Federal legislation, titled the Adam Walsh Child Protection Act, became law in 2006. It calls for a tiered federal sex offender classification system and gives states until July 29 to instate similar systems. An offender's tier would govern whether they appear on a public registry.
The New Hampshire House of Representatives has passed House Bill 1640, which would create a state tier system, provide more information to the public and help prevent sex offenders from moving to the state to take advantage of its private list, lawmakers say.
The bill passed the House last month and was sent to the Senate, where the Judiciary Committee discussed it Tuesday.
The bill, however, wouldn't necessarily affect situation's like [name withheld]'s, which fall under the state's statutory rape law.
But at least one lawmaker hopes to change that.
While HB 1640 was being discussed in the House, State Rep. Jennifer Brown (Email), D-Dover, made an unsuccessful bid to exempt from the registry people younger than 21 who had consensual sex with a minor. She said she made her bid after hearing stories from multiple men, now married with families, who engaged in consensual sex while under 21.
"They all have the same issue; all of the guys were under 21 when they committed their crimes, and they all were deceived by the girls about their ages," Brown said. "Some of their wives told me their husbands carded them when they met because they were scared."
Brown said she's hearing more of these stories around the state and said it's unfortunate the new legislation does little to deal with the situation.
"The registry is not supposed to be a punishment," she said. "These guys aren't dangerous, and people get confused when they look at the registry and make that assumption. Who doesn't make one mistake before they're 21?"
The issue was argued again at the Senate hearing, Brown said, adding that while no resolution was made, the senators did listen, and she's confident changes still could be made.
State Rep. Gene Charron (Email), R&D-Chester, a house bill co-sponsor, said even if it passes as is, it still would be possible to make changes in the future.
"I can see in the future that we're probably going to look at this further and refine it," he said. "Especially with younger folks who engage in consensual sex."
A tier system let the state look at sex offenders individually and their chances of rehabilitation or repeating the offense, said Amanda Grady of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
"It's a more comprehensive look at sex offenders," Grady said.
Grady and the coalition worked with New Hampshire State Trooper Jill Rockey to draft the current bill.
"One of the biggest reasons for (the Walsh Protection Act) is that states don't have uniform registries," Grady said. "Sex offenders are smart and know that adults who offend against adults aren't on the (public) list (in New Hampshire), and offenders who come to New Hampshire know that."
Under the legislation, Tier 1 would include offenses like sexual touching and violation of privacy, while Tier 2 would be used for crimes of nonviolent penetration and sex abuse, including felonious sexual assault or computer pornography or those convicted of any two registerable offenses. This can include those convicted of more than one charge at a single trial.
Tier 3 is for the most serious offenders and includes charges of aggravated felonious sexual assault, kidnapping, capital murder or those convicted of three or more registerable offenses.
"It ensures information about serial rapists who prey on adult victims is available to the public," Grady said. "A tier system really gives more information to the public and is one tool families can use."
The state's public list also would be expanded to include all of an offender's criminal convictions and the offender's probation or parole status. It would include the offender's registration status, whether the offender is compliant, has absconded or whether there is a warrant for the offender's non-compliance.
Dover Police Chief Anthony Colarusso said he favors any legislation that could provide more information to the public and protect children.
"It's important to do everything we can do to protect children's safety," he said. "I think it does need clarification; I hear a lot of comments from people about those who commit a consensual offense being lumped in with other offenders who prey on children. There's certainly something to be said for using a tier system to separate them and put the focus on higher offenders."
He added that he also likes the idea of the names of offenders who offend against adults being added to the public list, saying the public has a right to know if an offender committed a violent sex crime against another adult.
It's unknown if a change to the tier system would affect Dover's sex offender ordinance, which bars offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school or day-care center.
"If the state changes the law substantially where we feel we need to change the ordinance, we'll do so, but that doesn't include eliminating it," Colarusso said.
The ordinance is at the center of a lawsuit against the city filed by the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union. The suit, filed on behalf of sex offender [name withheld], claims the ordinance is unconstitutional.
Charron said he doesn't like ordinances like Dover's because it sends sex offenders "underground," which he says can be just as dangerous as having sex offenders living a certain distance from schools or certain areas.
"I'd rather know where they are," he said. "You have a lot of people afraid for kids, and I fully comprehend that, but I don't want people hiding."
[name withheld] was charged in November with failure to register as a sex offender for not reporting to local authorities about his change in address. He also was charged with that same offense in Portsmouth.
Dover also charged him with being in violation of the city code for living too close to My School, a preschool and kindergarten at 118 Locust St.
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By TODD HELBERG (email@example.com)
Several weeks ago, a Defiance resident suggested that city council pass legislation placing additional restrictions on sex offenders.
But where this is headed raises questions by those close to the matter and others involved in sex offender issues generally.
Resident Jody Shaneyfelt, 424 W. High St., asked council on March 11 if municipal officials could do something about a sex offender living in the apartment above his. A few weeks later, he presented a petition on the issue signed by city residents.
Although Shaneyfelt provided no details about the offender, law enforcement records show that the 62-year-old offender is under the supervision of the adult parole authority.
He was recently released from prison after serving a brief sentence on a charge of gross sexual imposition, a fourth-degree felony, involving an adult female. The man has been classified as a tier 3 sexual offender, the most serious of three categories.
The classification requires him to register and verify his address with authorities every 90 days for life. (Tier 2 and tier 1 classifications allow less frequent registrations and verifications.) As with all sex offender classifications, the county sheriff's office must provide persons within 1,000 feet with written notice that the offender is living in their neighborhood.
So what will City Hall do, if anything about Shaneyfelt's request?
Law director David Williams says he hasn't fully researched the issue, but cautions against acting hastily. He notes that banishment as a form of punishment is no longer permissible.
"My as yet uninformed opinion is that the city probably does not have home rule authority to dictate where a specified class of individuals can and cannot live," he said. "Municipalities can exercise the state's constitutional 'police power' only to the extent doing so is authorized by the Ohio Constitution.
"The constitution empowers cities to enact local regulations that do not conflict with state law," he continued. " 'Conflict' is generally thought to mean that a city cannot legalize conduct the state has declared to be criminal and cannot criminalize conduct the state has declared to be lawful.
"The (Ohio) General Assembly has enacted a statewide law that prohibits registered sex offenders from being within so many feet of designated places," added Williams. "By implication, the state has authorized them to be anywhere it hasn't forbidden them to go, and a municipal ordinance that forbids them from living in places that are not forbidden by the state's comprehensive, statewide regulation of the same issue would arguably conflict with the state law pertaining to the same subject."
At-large Councilman Steve Hubbard thinks council should do something if constitutionally permitted.
"This is a serious issue that should not be swept under the rug," he said. "We should see if we can come up with something that will pass constitutional muster. Whatever we come up with, it must not conflict with general federal and state laws and a person's constitutional rights."
Another At-large councilman, Joe Eureste, says existing laws should be allowed to work.
"I feel as a city we need to support the systems that are already in place that notify neighborhoods when convicted predators move into neighborhoods," he said. "I do not feel we need to add more bureaucracy to overlap the good work of our local law agencies."
Eureste said he and his wife recently received written notification of a sex offender living in their neighborhood.
"My wife and I appreciated this notification because it made us aware of a risk in my neighborhood," he said. "When our granddaughter comes to our house we will use this information as a defensive precaution when she goes outside to play."
As the law stands, sex offenders are classified into three categories, generally when they are sentenced. The classification determines how frequently they must register their residential and work addresses with authorities.
But offenders are also prohibited from living within 1,000 feet of a school or a registered daycare center.
Beyond these prohibitions, some persons question where additional restrictions on sex offenders might be headed.
Defiance County Sheriff David Westrick, whose department is responsible for registering countywide sex offenders and their home/work addresses, says restrictions could eventually become so onerous that offenders will only be allowed to live lawfully in rural areas.
But he notes that this would amount to "pushing the problem off to rural areas" where few homes are for rent.
"You can tighten up the restrictions, but pretty soon there won't be any place for them to live," added Westrick.
Defense attorneys are apt to agree with law enforcement on that issue.
"Part of my concern is they have to have a right to live somewhere," said Defiance attorney E. Charles Bates. "I understand the need for restrictions, but some of them are overbearing."
Sheriff's Lt. Larry McCurdy, who is responsible for registering sex offenders, sympathizes with persons living next to convicted sex offenders, but asks the same question.
"I wouldn't feel comfortable either," said McCurdy. But he says where a sex offender is living is an issue for a concerned neighbor "to take care of with their landlord."
He and Westrick note that a convicted sex offender is often under supervision -- either by a county probation officer or a state parole officer. But monitoring them is not their responsibility.
"I think people are under the impression that much more is being done than making sure people are living where they are supposed to be living," said Westrick. "They have the rights of anyone else on parole, but have a qualification about where they can live and their proximity to schools, and how long and how often they must report."
One fear among residents living with sexual offenders nearby is that they tend to have high recidivism rates. This is confirmed by law enforcement.
- Well, it's a lie. Study after study disproves this "high recidivism" rate, here and here. And I do not think law enforcement is qualified to determine this anyway, experts are...
"It's very high, and some of them will tell you that they are going to recidivate," said Westrick.
- It's not high...
But he says sexual offender classifications group together different types of defendants whose crimes are completely different. Child molesters, for example, are considered the most heinous, but some classified sexual offenders have been convicted of far more serious crimes.
As an example of the latter category, Westrick mentioned 19-year-olds who engaged in sexual relations with a 15-year-old.
"You've lugged a whole group of people together that may have done a whole myriad of crimes," said Westrick.
So what can residents do when a convicted sex offender moves into their neighborhood?
- If they are living there legally, nothing, except talk to your child, and monitor them, or move. If you have a neighbor who gets on your nerves, you either move or deal with it, this is no different.
McCurdy encourages concerned persons to monitor an offender's behavior and note anything suspicious to authorities.
For those interested in where sex offenders are living, the Defiance County Sheriff's Office, like others throughout Ohio, posts details about them on the Internet.
PORTLAND (AP) — An assistant attorney general who’s reportedly under investigation for alleged possession of child porn has been fired.
Officials say James Cameron, who’s in charge of the state’s drug prosecutors, was fired Friday after a lengthy investigation. WGME-TV reported a day earlier that Cameron was subject of an investigation into child pornography and that his computer had been seized.
David Loughran, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, confirmed that Cameron was fired. But he declined to comment on a possible criminal investigation.
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I am so happy for this person!!!! Any success is better than nothing!
SARASOTA COUNTY — Joshua Tomlin has been a registered sex offender for a decade, after he pleaded no contest to having sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 19 and stationed in Nokomis with the U.S. Coast Guard.
With his name included on a popular state Web site that lists those convicted of having sex with underage girls along with rapists and pedophiles, he knows that volunteering as a coach for his 6-year-old daughter's soccer team is not even an option.
Two apartment complexes asked his family to leave after they found out about his conviction, and he worries that his daughter and 3-year-old son will start to wonder why a North Port police officer stops by their home to check on him once a month.
So when he found out about a new law giving him a chance to have his name stricken from the state's registry of sex offenders, he planned to use his income tax return to get a lawyer.
Last week, after a court hearing in which state prosecutors agreed that he met all the criteria set out by the new law, Tomlin became the first person in Sarasota County to get his name removed from the state's registry, usually a lifelong stigma that follows convicted sex offenders.
He is the 20th person to be granted relief under the "Romeo and Juliet" law, intended to separate those convicted of certain teenage sexual activity from other sex offenders. There are more than 43,000 men and women registered as sex offenders or sexual predators in Florida.
Few sex offenders qualify to have their name removed from the registry under the new law. The victim in the case must be between 14 and 17, a willing participant in the sexual activity and no more than four years younger than the offender. The offense must be the only sex crime on the offender's record.
Judges in Manatee County have denied three sex offenders' petitions to be removed from the sex offender registry since November after prosecutors argued that they were not eligible under the law. One sex offender had lied to his probation officer, saying that he had sex with other teenage girls.
In another case, the judge found that the sex was not consensual. A third petition was denied after the victim testified she did not consent to have sex.
It is not known how many judges in Florida have rejected petitions from sex offenders. In Tomlin's case, the prosecutor agreed with Tomlin's lawyer, who said he met all the requirements.
"He is the person the Legislature had in mind when they wrote this statute," his attorney, Paul Hudson, told Circuit Judge Rick De Furia. "One of the sad things is, the net used to be so wide it caught everybody."
Tomlin, who works as an electrician and is studying geography at Manatee Community College, had no violations during his three years of probation and followed all the rules for being a sexual offender.
As part of his probation, he was required to take a sex offender class. Tomlin says he was the youngest offender with the oldest victim in the group.
He had been convicted of a misdemeanor charge, but worried that any violation in reporting requirements could make him a felon.
With his shiny shaved head and fiery orange-red goatee, Tomlin says he is not trying to hide from anyone.
He cooperated with detectives at the time. After being asked to leave two apartment buildings, he and his wife made a habit of telling landlords and neighbors upfront about what he would call his "immature choices." They would explain the entire reason why he was on the sex offender registry, and that the girl was a runaway who had told him she was 17.
As required, he divulged the conviction to Manatee Community College and the city of North Port on applications. The pastor of his church praises his character, and his boss for a temporary job with the city of North Port reported he is a good worker.
He had to look ahead and make extra preparations before doing anything: getting a new job, moving to a new home or going to parent-teacher conferences at his daughter's school.
Being removed from the sex offender registry changes all of that.
"Now, I can coach my daughter's soccer team," Tomlin said. "I have complete freedom of movement.
Tomlin said he does not plan to leave the area.
"We love Sarasota County, we want to raise our family here."
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I think I'm going to start working on a document for a registry with all criminals on it, and have their photos splashed on huge billboards across the country. Then we'll really see how scared people get!!!
Tammy Rhodes says she is afraid to let her 9-year-old step a foot outside her front yard in Richland.
"There's at least one or two sex offenders in the neighborhood," she says. "I found that out after I built my house."
So Rhodes is in favor of the billboards scattered across the state that say: "Convicted, Sex Crimes Against Children," some of them in bold, red letters.
Some 100 of these billboards, paid for by the state Department of Human Services, are plastered with photographs of convicted sex offenders serving time.
The purpose is not to punish the offenders, says Don Taylor, executive director of DHS, but to "raise the public's awareness of the magnitude of the problem, and have a chilling effect by disabusing people of the idea that it's OK to sexually abuse children."
- This is a flat out lie! That is all it's for, period!!! Where is the convicted murderers sign, or drug dealers sign, or DUI offender who killed a whole family sign?
Many of the cases involve statutory rape.
The age of sexual consent in Mississippi is 16, but the examples described on the billboards include victims as young as 3.
At least one case involves a husband and wife "team," as Taylor describes them, convicted of statutory rape of a 12-year-old.
"These are some of the most egregious cases," Taylor says. "That's one reason we chose them. But we also chose a cross-section of offenders to show that this isn't limited to one group."
- Yeah, you chose the worst, and make the public think all sex offenders are child killers!!!
Several of the billboards have shown up in the Jackson area. They include 14-by-48-foot signs, along with smaller, square-shaped billboards.
- If they are convicted and in jail or prison, why splash the photo like this? FEAR, that is why... Whip the public into a frenzy and George Bush can instigate his MARTIAL LAW which he's been drooling at the mouth to implement!
Rhodes saw at least one driving to work this week.
"It's a good idea," she says. "The only problem I have with it is I believe they also ought to show the ones who get out of jail, so we know who to look for."
- Why don't you use the registry?
The billboards will remain up for about six weeks. They cost $38,000 and are paid for by money from the Children's Trust Fund, which is administered by DHS, Taylor says.
- More wasted money that could be better spent in prevention!
Money for that fund comes from a $1 surcharge on birth certificates issued by the state Department of Health.
DHS tried out the sex-offender billboards two years ago. "This is not something you'd want to do once a year," Taylor says.
If the billboards are up every year, that could diminish their impact on the public, he says.
- What impact? Scaring the hell out of everyone? If you knew where all the drunks, thieves, murderers, gang members, drug dealers/users, and all the other criminals lived, you'd live underground and never come out!!! But, why not do it? I'd like to know all the crazy people living around me as well, especially killers and gang members!!
But Merrida Coxwell believes the impact is overrated.
"It seems to me that money could be better spent on early childhood education," says Coxwell, a Jackson defense attorney.
"I'm not knocking their efforts, but I believe they're misguided. Web sites have the same information.
"They even tell you where (released) sex offenders live."
For his part, Taylor believes the billboards are justified by the numbers.
The DHS Web site shows that 18,300 cases of child abuse and neglect were reported in 2007.
- Ok, out of all those reported, how many were false alarms, lies, etc? Why do you not show ALL THE FACTS? I am not saying it doesn't happen, I just want ALL THE FACTS, not just what you want the public to see...
It is estimated at least two of every 10 girls and one of every 10 boys are sexually abused by age 14, reports the Child Molestation Research & Prevention Institute.
Taylor says the billboards make people pay attention. "The last time we did this, we had calls from everywhere, including other countries.
"I believe sunshine is a great disinfectant. You look at the age of some of these children, the things done to them, and you can just imagine the psychological impact this will have on them forever.
"There's a Latin phrase, qui tacet consentire videtur: 'He who is silent gives consent.' ... This is something we can't be silent about."
- You are right, but scaring the hell out of people, showing bogus "facts" and making it impossible for ex-offenders to find a job or even live anywhere, then it's not doing anything, IMO.
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A reporter who jumps the gun and doesn't check the facts, but publishes a news article to lure people to the site and help ratings, now they come back and repair the damage. What ever happened to getting the facts first then reporting the news? Now it's any accusation, report it, then fix the issues later. By them reporting something incorrectly, it could put someones life in danger.
There’s always two sides to a coin.
Earlier this week, police were looking for a pickup truck believed to have been involved in an attempted child abduction off Stonewall Jackson Boulevard. As it turns out, the original story may not have been true.
“When we got the initial report, we had to take it at face value,” Orangeburg Department of Public Safety Chief Wendell Davis said. “It sounded as if the child had been approached inappropriately.”
- Do you always take people at face value? If so, we are screwed!!!
But the story given to police by a 10-year-old Orangeburg boy appears to have been only partially true. There doesn’t appear to have been an abduction attempt Monday.
At around 4:30 p.m., a 10-year-old boy told police that a woman had demanded he get into her truck as he walked down an Orangeburg roadway. The boy said he ran home and the truck followed him, parking in his driveway.
There was a truck, however. That part of the story is true, police say. It belonged to Lane Woodward of Orangeburg.
“I want to clear this up,” Woodward said. “That’s not what happened at all.”
According to Woodward, she was traveling on Stonewall Jackson Boulevard when the incident occurred. As she waited on traffic to clear to make a left turn onto her road, she saw a little boy standing nearby.
“It just struck me as odd because he was just standing there,” Woodward said. “When I turned left, I heard a ‘dink.’”
Woodward said she turned around and drove back to the intersection to ask the boy if he’d thrown a rock at her truck.
“He didn’t say anything but I could see he had a bunch of rocks in his hands,” she said.
The kid then bolted, she said.
Woodward drove to a house where she thought the child had entered. There, she asked a neighbor is she had seen the boy. She wanted to tell his mother what he was doing, she said.
“I would appreciate someone telling me,” Woodward said. “But I guess things are different these days.”
- You got that right! You even look or talk to a child and you can be thrown in jail and have to prove you did nothing!
Having lived in the neighborhood for nearly 50 years, Woodward says she’s glad the police reacted the way they did. She wants a safe neighborhood.
But she doesn’t think this story’s over.
“I’ve yet to get so much as an apology from the people,” she said. “Definitely, I think that certainly the little child is not responsible enough to be out there by himself.”
T&D Staff Writer Richard Walker can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 803-533-5516.
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A former Creek County judge who was convicted of indecent exposure for using a sexual device while presiding over trials will be a free man soon.
According to the Tulsa World, Department of Corrections records show Donald Thompson's release from his prison term is tentatively set for May 1st, although he could be out as early as Wednesday.
Thompson will have to register as a sex offender with the Sapulpa Police Department and the Corrections Department within 72 hours of his release.
A jury convicted Thompson in June 2006 of 4 indecent-exposure charges. Prosecutors accused him of exposing himself by using a penis pump during four trials between 2001 and 2003. He denied wrongdoing.
Thompson was formally sentenced to serve four 1-year prison terms consecutively.
If Thompson is released May 1st, he will have served slightly more than 20 months behind bars. His early release would be the result of good-behavior credits normally given by the DOC.
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Video is available at the site.
A few dozen convicted sex offenders are homeless in Florida because they can't find a place to legally live, and the number is expected to grow.
BY DIANA MOSKOVITZ (dmoskovitz@MiamiHerald.com)
It began when lawmakers crafted laws with the best intentions -- keeping convicted sex offenders away from children.
Then the laws had an unexpected consequence: Today, anywhere from 30 to 40 convicted sex offenders in the state -- who mostly live in South Florida -- can't find homes, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.
The problem is expected to get worse as more convicts are released -- and they find it nearly impossible to find housing. It is this dilemma that is highlighted in a bill now making its way through the Florida Legislature.
• In Broward County, three men were kicked out of four locations in two months as they struggled to find housing earlier this year. Of the three, two are back in jail after violating a condition of their release.
The third, Sten Johanson, 45, is living on the western edge of urbanized Broward, according to correction records. He gave an address of 1006 N. U.S. 27, which is the Sawgrass Recreation Park.
• In Miami-Dade, groups of sex offenders live in makeshift communities, such as one found under a Julia Tuttle Causeway bridge in Miami.
"These people are sort of victims of the system," Davie civil rights lawyer Randy Fleischer said. 'Under the law, they're not protected from discrimination in housing. And yet they need to live somewhere, but where do you put them? People will say, `I don't want them in my backyard.' "
Several years ago, Florida lawmakers crafted rules stating that convicted sex offenders who were released from prison couldn't live within 1,000 feet of places where children congregate, such as schools and parks.
Municipalities followed with their own beefed-up restrictions. In some places, such as Davie, Pembroke Pines and Weston, convicted sex offenders can't live within 2,500 feet of where children congregate.
Then came skyrocketing housing prices. For people who typically have low-paying jobs after leaving prison, this was a huge hurdle.
In theory, the offenders could move to places that have fewer restrictions and fewer children. But offenders from South Florida tend to stay here. Even convicted sex offenders have a sense of home. 'Some of them have said, `Even though I don't have a place to live, all my resources are here.' Family, jobs, things like that," said Gretl Plessinger, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Corrections.
Homelessness makes it harder for the offenders to reintegrate into society, Plessinger said. People without a true address are tougher for probation officials to track. And spending so much time looking for a home, or trying to survive in a makeshift one, makes attending required programs difficult. Meanwhile, agencies charged with tracking convicted predators are forced to make sense of the different boundaries that are mandated in various communities.
"These are well-intentioned ordinances that have backfired and are now jeopardizing public safety," said state Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres.
It's these scenarios that Aronberg said led him to file a Senate bill this year -- as he did last year -- relating to sexual predators. A matching version is moving through the House. Aronberg said that recent media attention to the problem had provided more momentum for his efforts this year.
Part of the bill aims to revise provisions relating to the residence of sexual predators. It would mandate a minimum distance of 1,500 feet between where offenders can live and where children congregate -- and ensure that no local ordinances could change that 1,500-foot distance.
Still, others believe the 2,500-foot restriction should be extended statewide. One is state Rep. Martin Kiar, a Democrat whose hometown of Davie has the 2,500-foot limit. Kiar said he believes that despite the increasing rate of homelessness among convicted sex offenders and predators, the restrictions work. "I know a lot of people disagree with me on this, but I believe the more restrictions we place on sexual predators, the safer our children," Kiar said.
No matter what restriction is put in place, says civil rights lawyer Fleischer, the system will still be flawed because of the way convicted sex offenders are handled after their release.
"The system isn't treating these people to make them well. It is treating them as pariahs," Fleischer said. "You've got drug courts, and teen courts and family law and juvenile courts. But you don't have a place for sexual deviants or sex offenders. How are you going to deal with them?
"They aren't getting treatment. They can't even live anywhere."