Saturday, May 10, 2008
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ST. JOSEPH — School and law enforcement officials have told a St. Joseph man that he can't attend his son's eighth-grade graduation because he is a convicted sex offender and isn't allowed on school property.
James Jones, 36, said he may go anyway although the Buchanan County Sheriff's Department has told him he would be arrested and face up to four years in prison.
"I've already been punished for this. This isn't about me anymore. Now they're punishing my kids, and that's taking it a little too far," said Jones, who served five years in prison after being convicted in 1990 of forcible rape of a 15-year-old girl when he was 17.
"I'm always preaching education to my children. How does that make me look if I'm not there at graduation?"
In August 2006, a state law went into effect prohibiting sex offenders from going onto school property without permission from the district superintendent. The only exceptions were government meetings or polling sites.
Rather than deal with individual requests, Buchanan County superintendents said they will ban all sex offenders from their schools.
"If I start deciding which offenders can and cannot be at school, then I become the judge. And it is not my position to judge a case. The courts have already done that," said St. Joseph School District Superintendent Melody Smith. "My job is to provide the safekeeping of 11,632 students and the people who attend our events."
Smith said she's denied requests by five offenders, four of whom visited her office.
"Half of them have been extremely sad about the decision, and half of them have been rudely angry," she said.
The county Board of Education, which would normally consider appeals, is so far backing Smith's decision.
Jones is not a registered sex offender as his offense happened before the state's sex offender registry law went into effect in 1995. That means he doesn't have to check in with the sheriff's department every 90 days, but he does have to follow other restrictions for sex offenders.
- I think this is a typo. Either he is or isn't a sex offender, so if he is not, then how can he be made to obey sex offender laws?
Sheriff's investigator Shawn Collie said although Jones has argued against the school property restriction more than any other offender, he has signed an agreement acknowledging he knows about the restriction. That means he can't claim ignorance if found on school grounds, such as for the May 22 graduation.
"We'll be there. And we'll arrest him if he's there," Collie said.
Ray Hill's - The Prison Show, has been broadcast on Houston Pacifica radio station KPFT, 90.1 FM, weekly since March 1980.
You can tune in on Friday nights at 9 p.m., CST.
During the first hour of the program, Ray and the gang, and sometimes a special guest, discuss related current issues and review the week's mailbag. In the second hour, we receive calls from listeners that make the show so special, as they connect to talk to their family members, friends and loved ones within the Texas prisons; and somehow form together to become one large family through their common experience. Texas doesn't yet permit inmates to have access to telephones or the web, so for many, The Prison Show is the only way an inmate can hear the voice of is friends and relatives between the rare visits.
We begin accepting long distance calls at 9:20 p.m. and local calls at 10.
The Number to Call Is 713-526-5738
As Ray frequently says, "Business is good", so should you get a busy signal, just make that redial button work!
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By Melissa Regennitter of the Muscatine Journal
MUSCATINE — John Ruiz Hernandez waited Monday afternoon in the foyer of the Muscatine County Sheriff’s Office patrol division while Cpl. Michael Schmidt pecked at a typewriter behind a locked door.
On forms and colored carbon copies, Schmidt updated Hernandez’s status on the Sex Offender Registry for Muscatine County.
Hernandez, a convicted sex offender and four-time convicted felon, had been released from the Muscatine County Jail after serving time on a probation violation. He had only five days to report his change in residency to Schmidt. To re-register he was required to report where and with whom he planned to live and work, if his phone number had changed, and any other relevant information.
Schmidt is the primary person in charge of tracking sex offenders in Muscatine County and updating the Iowa Sex Offender Registry. On the wall of his small, shared office is a list of every Muscatine County offender, when that person needs to do a yearly status update and mug shots of offenders from other counties who have warrants issued for their arrest.
“If they violate, I don’t have a problem putting them in jail,” Schmidt said. He relies on the required yearly update and the fact sex offenders must report to him any life-changing event.
“If they get a tattoo, new car, grow a beard or long hair, get married, if their parent dies, when they move to a new address, if they’ve become an amputee,” he went on. “We want to keep record of those things and keep mug shots updated.”
For two years he’s been responsible for the time-consuming job of tracking registered offenders. Schmidt said he’s met all but maybe two of the 57 Muscatine County residents who are listed on the Iowa Sex Offender Registry Web site.
He keeps busy. Within an hour’s time Monday afternoon, four offenders had contacted him to report changes.
Another issue he must track is offenders whose crimes were against minors. In 2002, Iowa enacted a 2,000-foot law, making it illegal for those offenders to live within that distance from an elementary or secondary school or registered day-care. When offenders move, and they tend to do so often, Schmidt goes to their neighborhoods and places fliers on doors to inform residents.
Within the heart of Muscatine there are very few places a sex offender can live. A map in Schmidt’s office marks schools and day-care facilities with red dots. The 2,000-foot circumference around each one is highlighted in larger yellow dots. Muscatine’s Riverfront Park and a stretch of Second Street, between Pine and Cedar streets, are unprotected.
It makes life difficult for Hernandez, 39, and other offenders. He entered a guilty plea in 2002 for lascivious acts with a child. He was accused of inappropriate sexual acts with a minor under the age 12.
Hernandez served two years in prison and was released in September 2005. In July 2006, he was charged with violating the 2,000-foot law.
“Since I’ve been out of prison it’s been hectic. I’ve had so many different residences since 2005. It’s been hard finding a residence where I can actually live,” Hernandez said. He now lives in the unprotected area on East Second Street. Four other registered offenders also live in the 200 block of East Second Street.
Hernandez said he doesn’t feel as if he committed a crime and said his victim, a relative who later admitted she lied about the accusations, now has a relationship with him and he’s forgiven her. That statement could not be confirmed with the victim.
Though he hasn’t had trouble maintaining a job in construction and has never been persecuted publicly for his presence on the registry, Hernandez said it’s been a very negative aspect of life. As a married father of six children he worries about how people might treat his family. He said he regrets not being able to fight the charge and couldn’t do so because he did not have the money to pay an attorney for the extended battle that would have ensued.
“When I first got out of prison my wife and kids were living on Spring Street and they (law enforcement) made me move,” he said.
Friends have approached Hernandez and told him officials were putting up fliers stating that he’s an offender. It bothered him but he understands.
“I don’t have problems with the law whatsoever. I have a problem with sex offenders who don’t register because I have kids and want to protect them too. I am trying to stay on the straight and narrow and do what the law requires,” he said.
A sex offender can live on protected property only if he or she resided there prior to establishment of the ordinance on July 1, 2002. If the offender was incarcerated and lived in a protected area prior to the ordinance, he or she may return to that residence upon release from prison and remain there.
The 2000-foot restriction is effective only for existing schools and day-cares and their property established prior to July 1, 2002. Schmidt said if a day-care provider moves to a new home and re-establishes a business, that new home is not protected under the restriction unless it is within 2,000 feet of another qualifying establishment.
“My yellow dots are disappearing,” Schmidt said, because when a protected area closes or moves, even on a temporary basis, it’s no longer protected.
For example, he said when the new West Liberty High School was built at a different location and opened in 2006, it was no longer protected.
Schmidt has to keep track of day-care facilities to see if they are still open so he can tell offenders where they can and cannot live in the County.
“In Nichols, there’s one day-care in the center of town and it’s the only thing keeping the ordinance in place,” Schmidt said.
In Conesville there are no schools or registered day care centers, according to Schmidt’s records, so the city came up with its own ordinance. The ordinance, passed in December 2005, prohibits sex offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of a public park, library or playground.
In Louisa County, Wapello has also formed a city ordinance to keep sex offenders out. Sex offender-free and pedophile-free zones were created in places where children congregate.
Right next to a bright blue and yellow sign that reads “Welcome to Wapello” Upon entering the city limits, at the intersection of County Road G62 and K Avenue, a second, smaller sign, reads “Pedophile free zones within city limits — violators will be prosecuted.”
Wapello Police Chief Wayne Crump said that to his knowledge, no sex offenders live in town, but there are two persons on the registry who live outside the city limits.
The Wapello City Code states the reason for the ordinance beyond the state requirement is due to the idea that when sex offenders re-enter society they are much more likely than any other type of offender to be arrested again for similar crimes. The Code states that “reducing the opportunity and temptation is important to minimizing the risk of re-offense.”
- Well, this is an outright lie as well. Study after study and expert after expert will tell you it's a lie. I have many here and here. Even the Department of Justice says this is not true, here.
Schmidt says that all cities in Iowa should adopt a strict city ordinance to avoid the inevitable disappearance of protected zones. He plans to bring the idea to the Muscatine City Council in the future when he can update his map and explain how zones are disappearing.
Though offenders are bounced from town to town looking for a place to live, law enforcement officials in each county are continually looking for a way to keep the public safe.
“I foresee in five years from now the only yellow dots on my map will be schools. We’ve already lost half of the day cares,” he said. “I have no problem with an ordinance that keeps sex offenders out of Muscatine County.”
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This video is a humorous stab at a real dilemma that voters have to face in this country. Namely, that when it comes to the biggest foreign policy decision that the U.S. will be making in the near future, all three major Presidential candidates offer only minor variances in rhetoric when it comes to Iran. The tacit implication being, they will act pre-emptively;
Senator Obama: "As president I will leave all options on the table for dealing with a threat from Iran including the military options."
Senator Clinton: "We cannot, we should not, we must not, permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons, and in dealing with this threat, as I have said for a very long time, no option can be taken off the table."
Senator McCain: "You know that old Beach Boys song, Bomb Iran? Heh--heh. Bomb, bomb, bomb-- heh--heh-- anyway..."
"New World Order" is probably too simple of a catch-phrase to reflect the genuine complexity of power relationships that have made the candidates' decisions for them. But I can understand "NufffRespect's" frustration at having no real choice, only options for different shades of malevelonce, with caveats that only exist for CYA and PR purposes.
All that said, I enjoyed this video, I hope that you do too, even if you think "NWO" is not a useful or accurate term ... sometimes satire is more effective than carefully massaged rhetoric.
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On the Alex Jones Show this afternoon, Joseph Strizack, a condominium-association manager at Park Lake Towers, Debra Jeane Palfrey's Florida residence prior to her "suicide," revealed that Palfrey's client list went "from the White House on down." Palfrey told Strizack her clients consisted of "a lot of influential people" from both political parties.