Saturday, August 23, 2008

MA - When electronic monitor fails!

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Yet more proof GPS will not work on someone who is intent on committing another crime, and is a waste of tax payer dollars.  I also wonder sometime, if state reps, or the people pushing for GPS, have investments in the GPS stock market to help them get rich off people's fear?

08/23/2008

The week opened with reports that the local summer golf classic had, as usual, produced a dramatic and inspiring story line, a hometown parallel to some of the activity in Beijing that has provided a pleasant diversion as the summer clock ticks down toward Labor Day. But it closed with the shadow of sexual endangerment of children casting a dark blot over thoughts of fun and games.

Faith in the value of electronic devices to monitor criminal suspects was seriously undercut by an incident reported Friday. Paul A. McKay, 44, of North Attleboro, stands accused of raping a 17-year-old girl in Norton despite being equipped a GPS device while he was free on bail while awaiting trial for the indecent assault of a 14-year-old girl.

Adding to the outrageousness of the case is that the second victim is the sister of the first and is a witness to the crime against her. McKay has had his bail revoked and been sent back to jail. A community is left wondering why he had been allowed to go free at all.

Meanwhile, already notorious locally as a sexual offender, Timothy Vacher, 31, was arrested Thursday for violating the probation that followed a prison term he was given after indecently touching a 6-year-old girl in 1996. He has admitted to leering at two young girls in a local department store.
- Damn!  You violate his probation for LOOKING at someone?

No physical contact was made, but observers are quick to point out that might not have been the case had not the girls' mother quickly interceded; that the incident indicates a lack of control on Vacher's part, and there have been indications his behavior is escalating. Given the potential for danger to the most precious members of the community, a judge's decision to send him back to prison for 21/2 years is most welcome
- More of the "thought police" in action!  He did not commit a crime, but only looked at someone!

Vacher's lawyer had asked for continued probation and electronic monitoring. That request sounds particularly hollow in light of the McKay case. Same mistake twice?


CA - Sex offenders were housed at shelter

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This sounds like the same shuffle they were doing MANY years ago (See the video). When will this constant shuffle stop? These laws are what is causing this. They have to live some where.

08/22/2008

"We did not sneak people into Turlock," says State parole

At last week's Turlock City Council meeting, allegations of sex offender parolees being hidden at the Turlock Cold Weather Emergency Homeless Shelter ran rampant throughout the meeting. In response to the claims, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has admitted to using the Shelter to house paroled sex offenders last year, but also claims that a lot of the things said at last week's meeting were factually untrue.

"It is true that we did use the (Turlock shelter) last winter, probably between January and March," said Jenni Avila, CDCR Parole Administrator. "There were about eight different sex offenders, not there all at same time, there at different times during that period."

While some were there for as short as eight days, Avila claims that all sex offenders registered with the Turlock Police Department in compliance with state law, contrary to what was stated at last week's council meeting.

"We make sure that they do that," Avila said. "If they don't do that, they're in trouble with parole."

Chief Gary Hampton went on record at last week's City Council meeting saying that, while he believed the parole department felt as though they were meeting the appropriate notifications, he had a "philosophical disagreement," that certain standards were not being met.

"We did not contact the Chief directly, but the sex offenders, by law, have to register when they move into a new place and we always confirm that they've done that," Avila said. "Legally, they have been notified. The Chief feels that that's not sufficient. It is, in actuality; they are walking into the police department to register."

The CDCR also denies the claim that sex offender parolees were moved out of the shelter quickly to avoid forced police notification. While some stayed as long as 30 days, none were shuttled around quickly to avoid detection. Sex offenders legally have five days to register with the local law enforcement agency when they change addresses or become homeless.

"We did not sneak people into Turlock, we didn't bus them down there, and we didn't hide them," Avila said.

As a public facility, the Turlock Cold Weather Facility was, legally, an available resource for the CDCR to use to house parolees. In addition to the open nature, the location of the shelter was compliant with the various restrictions that prevent sex offenders from living within certain ranges of schools and parks frequented by children, a requirement that makes the Modesto shelters unusable.

In addition, each sex offender parolee was tracked with GPS at all times, with movements reviewed daily by parole officers with small case loads. That same GPS system actually helped the Modesto parole office track down a sex offender in Turlock this summer.

"We tracked a parolee driving around the Stanislaus County Fair," Avila said. "He wasn't in the fair, but the agent wondered why he kept driving around outside."

With the assistance of the Turlock Police Department, the automobile the parolee was traveling in was pulled over. Inside the vehicle were a woman and her child.

"He wasn't supposed to be around children," Avila said. "That's what the GPS can do and that's what parole does. He's now in custody."

Bill Sturtevant, executive director of the We Care Program which operated the shelter last year, stated that he was never informed that sex offenders were staying in the building.

"We do not harbor them, it's not a place where they can come and hide, but it's not a place where we deny them," Sturtevant said. "A parolee has committed some crime, but I'm not a judge or jury. If he's gone through the procedure of doing his time, they're the ones who put them back out on the street, not me."

Sturtevant went on to state that he was made aware by parole officers that one or two parolees were staying at the shelter with ankle bracelets, but he did not know what their offenses were.

The We Care Program only denies services to those considered dangerous to themselves or others by staying in the building. While those who stay there can voluntarily complete intake forms that ask the question, "How did you get here?" the answers are often unreliable at best.

"Airplane, limousine..." Sturtevant trailed off as he recounted the things he's seen written down. "Nobody came that way. Nobody wrote down, 'Oh by the way, I'm a sex offender and I haven't registered yet.'"

To address any potential threats, We Care had two security guards on staff at all times, one inside the shelter and one securing a one-mile radius outside the shelter. Additionally, two We Care staff were present at all times.

While Sturtevant stated that he was disappointed he was not notified that sex offenders were staying at the shelter, he reiterated his strong working relationship with the police department and his willingness to help the police in any future issues.

"If I had to face it again how would I deal with it?" asked Sturtevant. "Maybe ignorance is bliss in this case. We're not there to judge people, we're there to give a safe place for everybody."

Police Chief Gary Hampton's office was contacted multiple times in reference to this story, but he could not be reached by press time.

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.


CA - Upland man was incorrectly identified as a molester

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08/22/2008

The U.S. attorney in L.A. apologizes for describing Evan Craig Stephens, who was arrested this week on child porn charges, as a convicted molester and registered sex offender.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles today apologized for incorrectly describing an Upland man arrested earlier this week on child pornography charges as a convicted child molester and registered sex offender.

Evan Craig Stephens, 36, has no prior convictions for child exploitation, said U.S. attorney spokesman Thom Mrozek in a statement released today.

"On Wednesday, I issued a press release that incorrectly identified an Upland man as a convicted child molester and a registered sex offender. This information is not correct," Mrozek said in the statement. Stephens "does not have any prior child exploitation offenses," Mrozek said.

"I apologize to Mr. Stephens and to you for this error," Mrozek said in a statement released to news organizations.

Stephens, who is scheduled to go on trial Oct. 14 in federal court, was among seven Southern California men arrested Tuesday on suspicion of possessing child pornography after an eight-month investigation by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The investigation led to charges being filed against 52 people for allegedly using peer-to-peer computer networks to exchange graphic images and videos.

Mrozek did not immediately respond to calls for further comment on the matter.

Amanda.covarrubias@latimes.com