Is it me, or does it seem like a whole slew of child abuse comes from Florida? Many times you hear about abuse, you can bet it's in Florida!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
FL - Teen Kept in Bathroom, Beaten For Years - Once again, a child, abused by their own family, and not some known sex offender stranger, and once again, from Florida!
Is it me, or does it seem like a whole slew of child abuse comes from Florida? Many times you hear about abuse, you can bet it's in Florida!
Dougherty Officer Faces Three Charges, Including Sexual Battery
ALBANY -- A Dougherty County police officer accused of attempted rape surrendered to sheriff's deputies Wednesday.
According to Albany police spokeswoman Phyllis Banks, Oscar David Gilliam was charged with sexual battery, false imprisonment and violation of oath of office.
Banks said a criminal complaint was filed by a 25-year-old woman against Gilliam, who was placed on administrative leave.
Police declined to release any additional information about the case.
Gilliam, an officer since 2005, was assigned to the Albany-Dougherty drug unit.
Albany is approximately 185 miles south of Atlanta.
ATLANTA -- Channel 2 has learned that two Atlanta police officers are on administrative leave accused of sexually assaulting a woman.
Officials at the Office of Professional Standards told Channel 2’s Eric Philips the investigation is ongoing.
The alleged incident happened on Feb. 6. The victim was a passenger in a car that had been involved in an accident.
Police said the driver was arrested in connection with a DUI and police were giving the female passenger a ride home from the scene.
As some point, the woman claims the officers sexually assaulted her while on duty. She went to the hospital and called police. She was later given a rape kit.
“Anytime something like this happens we're going to investigate it and if, in fact, there was wrongdoing, we will take the necessary action," Maj. Lane Hagin of the Atlanta Police Department told WSB-TV Channel 2's Eric Philips.
Police have not released the officer’s names. Officials said both officers have been on the force for three years or less.
- Of course they have not released their names, because they are not equal to other citizens. If the average Joe did this, there would be a picture of them, and their names.
They have been placed on administrative leave with pay.
By Craig Crosby Kennebec Journal Staff Writer
A former drug prosecutor in the state attorney general's office is facing child pornography charges.
A federal grand jury in Bangor returned a 16-count indictment charging James M. Cameron, 46, with transporting, receiving and possessing child pornography, U.S. Attorney Paula Silsby announced in a release Tuesday.
Cameron, formerly of Hallowell, was an assistant attorney general in charge of the state's drug prosecutors. He was fired in April following a four-month personnel investigation.
The charges against Cameron carry a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, or both, Silsby said.
An indictment is not a determination of guilt, but it is an indication that sufficient evidence is present to proceed with formal charges and a trial.
Cameron was scheduled to have his first appearance in federal court in Bangor Tuesday afternoon.
View the article here
By Scott Fink
The false report of a rape on campus shocked the NIC community on Feb. 6, sending a school-wide security alert to students and staff.
NICAlerts spread the message through text messaging and the NIC web page that Friday morning to inform students of the possible existence of a threat on campus. The alert gave a thorough description of the suspect, who turned out to be a figment of the woman's imagination, and gave information about possible contacts if anyone was to encounter the assailant.
The alleged rape didn't affect campus activity to a great extent. Classes continued as scheduled and people went on with their regular business.
"It didn't make me feel any less safe on campus," said Becca Jamar, 28, sophomore, education major. "It could happen anywhere."
The female, who is not being identified due to the request by the police department, reported that a white male, age 48, dressed as a woman accosted her in the first-floor bathroom of the Meyer Health & Science Building Jan. 30. According to early reports by police, she claimed she knew the man from a prior dating relationship, but could not supply investigators with a name.
- Why is she not being named? Why protect someone like this? Everyone should know who she is, so they can stay a way from this insane lady! Also, I hope she is going to be brought up on charged and put into jail/prison for awhile for making bogus claims which could've ruined someone for life.
Eric Murray, vice president for Student Services, was unable to disclose any information about the incident in order to protect the supposed victim.
- Victim of what? A false allegation? We should know about this crazy lady!
"The institution must err on occasion to assure the protection of students and staff at our institution," Murray said, after being informed that the report was false.
Sgt. Christie Wood, Coeur d'Alene Police Department investigator, said a report was not available regarding the incident. The woman who made the allegations was cited for filing a false police report. The charge is a misdemeanor and will be dealt with through the prosecutor's office, according to Wood.
"The incident has now become a matter of counseling, and we hope the woman gets help," Murray said.
By CATHY BUSSEWITZ , Associated Press Writer
CARSON CITY - An Assembly panel voted Tuesday to kill a bill that would have changed lifetime supervision requirements imposed on convicted sex offenders, after critics said the changes would violate constitutional due process protections.
Under AB36, convicted sex offenders who violated the terms of their lifetime supervision would face a state Parole Board hearing, rather than a court hearing.
Representatives of the Division of Parole and Probation said the bill was needed because the process of getting a court hearing often takes too long, and there are too few consequences on the books for violating lifetime supervision.
- So what? It's everyone's right to a fair trial and due process of law. When you trample on one persons rights, you trample on everyone's rights. Go back and read the constitution!
But David Smith, executive secretary of the state Parole Board which is separate from the division, opposed the bill, saying it would be more appropriate to conduct such hearings in a court.
"Due process is sometimes time-consuming," said Assemblyman William Horne (Email), D-Las Vegas, chairman of the Assembly Corrections, Parole and Probation Committee. "It's inconvenient sometimes, but it's the system that we have and we just don't cast it aside for expediency."
- Amen! Why do we even have a constitution, since everyone in politics is foaming at the mouth to get rid of everyone's right?
Legislators also heard an audit report on the Division of Parole and Probation's performance in 2007.
Denis Klenczar, a deputy legislative auditor, said that for 20 percent of "high-risk" offenders examined in the report, it took the division more than 30 days from when the offender was sentenced or released until supervision began.
"When reassessments are not timely, there is an increased risk the offender is not properly supervised," Klenczar said.
"It seems like we almost need an entire day to go through this report," said Assemblyman Mark Manendo, (Email) D-Las Vegas, noting there were many other "embarrassing" problems in the document.
- So stop passing so many unconstitutional laws, and putting people who do not deserve to be in prison, in prison. You are wasting your time, and tax payer money, for law suits due to your grandstanding and boasting about being "tough on crime!"
Mark Woods, deputy chief of the division, said that many of the recommendations made by the auditor have been implemented.
The committee also heard AB38, a bill to ensure that civil rights aren't automatically restored to convicted sex offenders who are sentenced to a lifetime of parole.
"Why on earth would the Division of Parole and Probation see as a priority disenfranchising people they supervise?" asked Lee Roland of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada. "When you're talking about reducing someone's right to vote, there needs to be compelling reasons to do so."
- Because it gets the votes, and sex offenders are their scapegoats, so they can grandstand and "look touch on crime!"
Roland pointed out that the bill's broad definition of sex offenders could mean that people who urinate in public or steal pornographic images also could lose their civil rights.
Manendo moved to kill AB38, but the committee agreed instead to reconsider it at a later date.
"I think it's very far-reaching," said Manendo, adding that in light of the division's problems, it should focus its energy elsewhere.
The committee also heard testimony on AB35, which would make it tougher for a sex offender to get a judge to release the offender from lifetime supervision.
_____, a convicted sex offender who at age 22 was charged with attempting to meet a 15 year old over the Internet, opposed the bill.
"I understand trying to protect children, and I understand serious molesters and people who have had direct contact," _____, who is hearing-impaired, said through an interpreter. "But for my situation, where I was a young kid who made a poor choice over the Internet, I feel that lifetime supervision doesn't connect to the crime that I committed."
By Bob Kinzel
The Legislature is moving quickly to strengthen sex offender laws after a highly publicized murder this summer.
Later this week, the House is set to debate a bill that includes tougher prison sentences for anyone convicted of sexually assaulting a minor.
VPR's Bob Kinzel reports:
(Kinzel) The legislation is the result of a series of public hearings that were held by the Senate Judiciary committee following the murder of 12 year old Brooke Bennett last summer.
The Senate passed its bill last month and the approach taken by the House Judiciary committee is very similar to the one adopted by the Senate.
The legislation creates a new crime, aggravated sexual assault of a minor. People convicted of this crime will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in jail.
House Judiciary chairman Bill Lippert says the bill is a top priority for his committee:
(Lippert) "I think Vermonters are eager for the Legislature to fully respond to the crimes of sexual violence and particularly the tragedy that took place last summer."
Lippert says the bill contains more than just tougher sentences. He says it has additional money for prevention programs and it fully funds special investigative units across the state:
(Lippert) "Which prosecutors and virtually everyone who testified said if there's a single most important thing that we can do to successfully prosecute but also to prevent future crimes of sexual violence is to establish ‘SIU's' - specialized investigative units in all parts of the state, and this bill does that."
The bill includes several controversial items. One virtually eliminates the practice of allowing a defense attorney to interview an alleged victim before a trial.
Another provision calls for DNA samples to be taken from all people charged with a felony if the court determines that there's probable cause to believe that the person is guilty. Allen Gilbert is the director of the Vermont Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union:
(Gilbert)"Everybody seems to think that DNA is this failsafe way of determining whodunit and in fact there are all sorts of problems with DNA that range from samples that aren't preserved correctly to samples that are thought to be from one person when they actually come from somebody else... so I think we've all fallen into this belief that DNA is a silver bullet and can solve all sorts of crimes and pinpoint things exactly and it really can't."
Chairman Lippert acknowledges that there are difficulties with this provision but he says the committee wanted to keep it in the bill:
(Lippert)"We heard testimony that this might not meet the constitutional test under the Vermont Constitution and we understand that this may be taken up and will be taken up to be tested but we decided to go forward with the proposal essentially as the Senate had put it forward."
The full House is scheduled to debate the bill on Thursday.
For VPR News I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.
By Ann O'Neill - CNN
The judge has been dead for 15 years, and no one has been able to find the criminal case file since 2004. Yet a 1977 sex scandal involving famed director Roman Polanski and a 13-year-old girl continues to stalk the courts of Los Angeles.
Attorneys for the 75-year-old Academy Award-winning director will ask a judge Tuesday to put the matter to rest once and for all.
Lawyers Douglas Dalton and Chad Hummel last month filed a 239-page dismissal "request," citing allegations brought to light in the documentary "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired." The documentary was first broadcast in June on HBO, which shares a corporate parent with CNN.
The court filing alleges that a meddling prosecutor who believed Polanski should be behind bars improperly influenced a judge to ignore the terms of a plea bargain, as well as the wishes of the district attorney's office, the probation officer and the victim. None of them wanted Polanski to serve jail time.
Polanski's attorneys back up the allegation with a DVD of the documentary, a script, a copy of Polanski's 1977 pre-sentencing report and various court transcripts, interviews and declarations.
They paint a picture of backroom conversations between a prosecutor itching for a piece of the case and a judge so image conscious that he kept a scrapbook of media clippings, asked lawyers to "stage" Polanski's sentencing hearing and feared criticism if he didn't send the director to prison.
The misconduct was so extreme, Polanski's attorneys argue, the only fair solution is to toss out the sex case "in the interest of justice."
Allegations of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct are commonly raised on appeal, but only a small percentage of these appeals succeed.
Prosecutors will say only that they're anxious to see Polanski in court -- but doubt he'll show. "It's really a matter between Mr. Polanski and the court," said spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons.
"Under the circumstances, all we can say is that this matter is in active, pending litigation and the court can't discuss it other than to say that there is a hearing on calendar that is a mandatory appearance" for Polanski, said Allan Parachini, a spokesman for Los Angeles Superior Court.
Polanski pleaded guilty in 1977 to a single count of having unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. The director, his lawyer and the prosecutor handling the case believed they'd hammered out a deal that would spare the young victim a public trial and Polanski jail time, according to the filing.
The first surprise came when Judge Laurence J. Rittenband sent Polanski to prison for "diagnostic testing" to determine whether he was what then was called a "mentally disturbed sex offender." (The results came in after Polanski spent 42 days at a maximum security prison. He wasn't.)
The second surprise came on the eve of sentencing, when Rittenband informed the attorneys that he was inclined to send Polanski back to prison for another 48 days.
Polanksi fled the United States and has been living in exile in France ever since.
Previous attempts to resolve the case failed, including a recently disclosed secret negotiation in 1997. The sticking point has always been Polanski's refusal to come to court because he would face almost certain arrest the moment he set foot in the United States.
As a director, Polanski is best known for the films "Rosemary's Baby," "Chinatown" and "The Pianist," a 2002 drama about the Holocaust that won him the Oscar for best director.
But he is also known for a personal life tinged with tragedy. He was born in France and moved to Poland with his parents as a small child. Later, he escaped Krakow's Jewish ghetto and hid from the Nazis with the help of strangers. His mother died at Auschwitz.
He endured the anti-Semitism of post-war Europe, attended film school and directed "Knife in the Water," which won a 1963 Oscar nomination for best foreign-language film. He then came to Southern California to make "Rosemary's Baby."
As he was making his mark in Hollywood, Polanski was also making headlines in connection with two lurid Los Angeles crimes in the 1960s and '70s.
Polanski was filming in Europe when members of Charles Manson's "family" butchered the director's pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, and four others in August 1969. Eight years later, he stood accused of plying a 13-year-old girl with champagne and a sliver of a quaalude tablet and performing various sex acts, including intercourse, with her during a photo shoot at actor Jack Nicholson's house.
Nicholson was not at home, but his girlfriend at the time, actress Anjelica Huston, was. According to a probation report contained in the filing, Huston described the victim as "sullen." She added, "She appeared to be one of those kind of little chicks between -- could be any age up to 25. She did not look like a 13-year-old scared little thing."
Huston said Polanski did not strike her as the type of man who would force himself on a young girl. "I don't think he's a bad man," she said in the report. "I think he's an unhappy man."
As she has from the beginning, the victim says Polanksi shouldn't go to prison. Samantha Geimer, now 45, married and a mother of three children, sued Polanski and received an undisclosed settlement. She long ago came forward and made her identity public -- mainly, she said, because she was disturbed by how the criminal case had been handled.
Earlier this month she filed a court declaration accusing prosecutors of victimizing her yet again by publicizing graphic details of the sexual encounter.
The makers of the documentary also talked with people who played roles behind the scenes. From those interviews, the tale of alleged backroom dealings emerged.
Former prosecutor David Wells was regularly assigned to Rittenband's Santa Monica courtroom. He handled routine matters and told the filmmakers he had the judge's ear.
"I was in the court every day," he said in an interview with the filmmakers. "So Rittenband [would] ask me questions about the thing because he counted on me, or whoever was his favorite DA at the time, to advise him on what the -- what the law was, criminal law. He was very good at civil law, but criminally, he left that to his DAs to do."
Although he was involved in the early stages of the investigation, Wells was taken off the Polanski case. He said he was "miffed" at the way it was handled because he believed Polanski should go to jail.
Wells recommended the 90 days of diagnostic testing to the judge because Polanski would be in a prison setting but couldn't appeal, he said.
Wells told the filmmakers he showed the judge a photo of the director at an Oktoberfest celebration while the sentence was pending. "I took the picture into Judge Rittenband. I said, 'Judge,' I said, 'Look here. He's flipping you off ...' And I said, 'Haven't you had enough of this?' And then he exploded and what happened happened."
Polanski's attorneys said the conversations were improper ex parte communications -- and nothing short of prosecutorial misconduct. Legal ethics and rules of criminal procedure usually bar one party in a case from discussing it with the judge unless the other side is present.
Wells could not be reached for comment. His voice mail was full, and was not accepting new messages. But he recently told the Los Angeles Times that he did nothing wrong and that he still strongly feels Polanski should go to prison.
It will be Judge Peter Espinoza's call on how to handle a celebrity case that appears to have been snakebitten from the start.
MONTGOMERY (AP) - The Alabama House has passed a bill that would prevent convicted sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a college or university.
The bill by Rep. Jamie Ison (Email) of Mobile would also prevent convicted sex offenders from loitering within 500 yards of a college or university.
The bill passed the House Tuesday on a 97-0 vote.
Existing law prohibits convicted sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of high schools or elementary schools. Ison's bill expands the current law to include colleges and universities.
The bill would not prohibit convicted sex offenders from attending a college or university, but they would not be able to live on campus.
By KEVIN MCDERMOTT, The Southern Wire Services
SPRINGFIELD -- Every year, Illinois’ list of registered sex offenders grows. And every year, the Legislature introduces a new crop of bills to restrict where they can live, where they can walk or stand, what they can drive, even what they can wear.
New bills would crack down on sex offenders who try to sign up for Internet dating sites, would prohibit them from driving ice cream trucks or donning Santa costumes and would prevent them from visiting nursing homes. One bill mandates that their movements be monitored for life by satellite.
Those bills, if ultimately passed into law, would join a long list of boundaries already encircling the state’s roughly 23,400 (and counting) registered sex offenders. On the books in Illinois now are laws prohibiting more than one sex offender from living in the same household while on parole; requiring that they have their names and images posted online, generally for life; and barring them from living within 500 feet of schools, from loitering near playgrounds, or from working in youth programs.
Similar restrictions have been proposed in Missouri. For example, in 2006 the Legislature increased mandatory sentences for sex offenders and increased the number of offenders who would be electronically monitored. But a measure pushed last year by then-Gov. Matt Blunt calling for the death penalty for child rapists did not get to a vote.
Lawmakers in Illinois say the special nature of sex crimes makes tighter restrictions on them necessary.
- What a crock of s--t! The laws are necessary, so politicians can grandstand and boast, to look like they are actually doing something, or, to distract the public from the sell out of the country by the corrupt politicians!
“If you look at the recidivism rate of sex offenders, it’s over 50 percent,” said state Rep. Jack Franks (Email), D-Woodstock, sponsor of the new satellite monitoring legislation. “These people can’t be cured.”
- Hey Rep. Fransks, why don't you show me this so called "study?" I think you are full of s--t! I have many linked on my blog, which prove you know not what you are talking about, but like I said, fear-mongering and grandstanding to get brownie points. There is not a cure for anything, or you would be cured of stupidity!
Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union have argued that restrictions that extend past a convict’s prison sentence and parole time — extending in many cases to a lifetime — are unconstitutional.
Courts have ruled otherwise, and even the Chicago ACLU today acknowledges that that debate is over. But they and others say there are still legitimate concerns that the proliferation of sex-offender restrictions could become unmanageable for the state, and so onerous for the offenders that some will attempt to evade the registration system altogether.
- Of course the courts have, because the Constitution is not worth the paper it's written on anymore, and you can bet, your rights will be eradicated eventually as well. When you have a corrupt government, they can do anything, which is obvious that they are doing this, but the blind sheeple sleep and continue to watch American Idol, while their rights are being stomped on. And why is the ACLU giving up? That is what the government wants!
“At a very pragmatic level, if you create so many harsh rules that there is literally no place for this person to live ... they’ll try to live ‘off the books’,” said Chicago ACLU spokesman Ed Yohnka. “Then whatever value that system had goes out the window.”
Another side of the issue is state enforcement complications when so many restrictions are in place.
Franks, the legislator, ran into that problem when he filed his bill (HB327) to require that sex offenders wear electronic monitoring devices for life so their movements can be tracked by a global positioning system. The state Department of Corrections told him they simply can’t afford the cost of such a system.
- Even then, it's a waste of money. If a person is so dangerous, which many are not, that they need to be monitored 24/7, then why are you wasting tax payer dollars on something that will not work? If a person is intent on committing a crime, do you really think this will prevent that?
An official with the Illinois Department of Corrections, which is in charge of much of the monitoring and other requirements for released sex offenders, said there are concerns about the annual influx of proposed new mandates.
“It does get difficult,” said Alyssa Williams-Schafer, who handles sex-offender issues for the Department of Corrections. “Every legislative session, the restrictions change. ... Some of the restrictions make it difficult to even find housing for them.”
Rep. Bill Black (Email), R-Danville, has sponsored a measure (HB637) that would prohibit sex offenders from visiting nursing homes. He said he agreed to file the bill at the behest of a constituent who was distressed to learn that a registered sex offender was visiting a relative in a nursing home where his own relative lived.
“I told him I’d file it and we’ll see where it goes ... but I’m not particularly comfortable with this bill,” said Black. “You want to take all prudent precautions, but how far can you go (with new restrictions)? At some point, I don’t know how much further we can go.”
- So why file it then? Why make a law you are not comfortable with?
Franks acknowledged that there are some concerns about whether lawmakers are “piling on” with new restrictions on sex offenders year after year, to the point that it could become difficult to enforce the laws.
- As Abraham Lincoln once said "The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly."
“But we keep hearing more and more sinister aspects of (sex offenders’) behavior that we hadn’t thought of before,” he said. “That’s why you see additional legislation.”
- That is a cop out! Show me the proof, if you have any!
Among other new bills pending in Springfield this month are:
- HB249: Would create the “Internet Dating Disclosure and Safety Awareness Act,” requiring that Internet dating services tell their Illinois customers whether they screen clients through sex-offender registries.
- HB435: Would prohibit sex offenders from participating in holiday events involving minors, and from being employed as a department store Santa Claus or wearing an Easter Bunny costume near Easter.
- HB463: Would require that sex offenders whose crimes involved computers submit to restrictions on Internet usage, electronic monitoring of their computers, and random searches of their computers.
- HB550: Would bar sex offenders from using any computer “scrub” software designed to hide what websites have been visited.
- SB62: Makes if a Class 4 felony for a convicted child sex offender to operate an emergency vehicle or ice cream truck “for the purpose of attracting or enticing a person under 18 years of age to be in the presence of the offender.”
- SB1294: Bars convicted sex offenders from entering any part of a public library that has been designated as a children’s area.
By Tonya Brown
Tuesday, a former Florence police officer accused of raping a teenage girl about 23 years ago, appeared in court.
A preliminary hearing took place for Harry Shaffer in Florence.
In 1985, police say he sexually assaulted a 13-year-old relative at a home in the Tara Village community in Florence.
In court Tuesday, the judge ruled there is probable cause for Shaffer to stand trial on charges of criminal sexual conduct and incest.
Officials say he worked for the Florence Police Department in the 1980's, but retired last year from law enforcement in Virginia.
By SCOTT GORDON
"I guess I live in a fantasy world," woman admits to police
A woman who had reported her baby girl missing Monday night in Terrell was arrested after detectives discovered the baby never existed, police said.
Child welfare workers took custody of a 5-year-old boy who was with the woman, police said.
Deborah Holste, 46, of Lake Charles, La., faces a charge of filing a false police report.
Police said she told officers her 5-month-old baby, "Jacqueline," had vanished from her car seat while driving from Louisiana to Texas.
Holste said the baby apparently disappeared when she stopped to use the bathroom at a roadside park, but she didn't notice the baby was missing until later, police said.
Police started to mobilize to find the baby, but investigators got suspicious when she couldn't remember key details, including the location of the rest area.
"But she was sticking to her guns," said Terrell police Det. Walt Newell.
Officers doubted the woman's story even more when they searched her car and found brand new diapers, but no bottles. A baby's car seat "was just laying there" and not strapped in, Newell said.
After more than an hour, police said she finally admitted she made the story up.
"I guess I live in a fantasy world," she said, according to police.
Police said she had driven to Terrell to meet a former boyfriend after telling him he was the baby's father. The boyfriend had sent her money and "was giddy" about meeting his baby for the first time, police said.
"He was just an honest guy trying to make it right," Newell said.
Police put her in jail and called Child Protective Services to pick up the 5-year-old boy who was travelling with her.
Holste claimed she had adopted the boy but police could not verify that, Newell said.
Detectives informed the woman's former boyfriend that the baby didn't exist.
"I don't know if he was relieved or disappointed," Newell said.
Yes, IMO, abortion is child abuse. So why are all these women who murder a child, not on a child abuse registry for killing their own child?
Teachers threaten disqualification, but girl chooses to speak against abortion
Despite facing threats of disqualification, a 12-year-old girl took first place in a speech contest when she eloquently argued for the rights of unborn children – after an offended judge quit.
"What if I told you that right now, someone was choosing if you were going to live or die?" the seventh-grader begins in a video recording of her speech on YouTube. "What if I told you that this choice wasn't based on what you could or couldn't do, what you'd done in the past or what you would do in the future? And what if I told you, you could do nothing about it?"
The girl, a student at a Toronto school identified only as "Lia," continued:
"Fellow students and teachers, thousands of children are right now in that very situation. Someone is choosing without even knowing them whether they are going to live or die.
"That someone is their mother. And that choice is abortion."
But what made the 12-year-old choose to speak about abortion?
"It was really a family thing," her mother explained on the blog Moral Outcry. "I saw Lou [Engle] speak at a conference several years ago. I came back to my family with the Life Bands, and we all wore them, made our covenant, and prayed the prayer for abortion to end. … We were invited to participate in a 'Life Tape Siege.' Once my kids heard of this invitation, they all agreed: 'We have to do that!' Since then, Lia's passion for seeing abortion end has continued."
Despite Lia's enthusiasm for her topic, her teacher "strongly encouraged" her to select a different one for her class presentation or she would be considered ineligible for an upcoming speech contest.
"[S]everal teachers discouraged her from picking the topic of abortion; she was told it was 'too big,' 'too mature' and 'too controversial,'" her mother wrote. "She was also told that if she went ahead with that topic, she would not be allowed to continue on in the speech competition."
Lia's mother continued, "Initially, I tried helping her find other topics to speak on, but, in the end, she was adamant. She just felt she wanted to continue with the topic of abortion. So she forfeited her chance to compete in order to speak on something she was passionate about."
Lia's teacher was so impressed by the speech that she allowed her student to advance as the winner. Lia presented her speech to judges in front of her entire school on Feb. 10.
The school principal and teachers called Lia's presentation the "obvious winner" – but the judges suddenly disqualified her the following day "because of the topic and her position on abortion," her mother said.
Lia's father later revealed that the judges had a "big disagreement." One was offended by the speech and voluntarily stepped down while the others reversed their earlier decision – declaring her the winner.
Now Lia plans to take her message of life to a regional speech competition, and more than 100,000 visitors have viewed her presentation online.
"Why do we think that just because a fetus can't talk or do what we do, it isn't a human being yet?" She asks in the video. "Some babies are born after only five months. Is this baby not human?
"We would never say that. Yet abortions are performed on 5-month-old fetuses all the time. Or do we only call them humans if they're wanted?"
She continues, "No, fetuses are definitely humans – knit together in their mother's womb by their wonderful Creator who knows them all by name."
View the article here
By James Coburn - The Edmond Sun
EDMOND — Rep. Jason Murphey (Email, YouTube), R-Guthrie, proposes to add further restrictions to state law that would prohibit some sex offenders from living close to an in-home day care. Terminology of a law signed by the governor in 2008 uses the words “day care facility” but did not refer to an in-home day care, Murphey said.
Murphey said south Logan County residents of a new neighborhood at Simpson and Broadway became alarmed when they learned a convicted sex offender moved into their neighborhood in the vicinity of a new in-home day care.
At first, Murphey thought the law’s terminology had been changed by accident.
“When I checked into it, I found out it hadn’t been an oversight,” Murphey said. “DHS wanted that to happen because there’s so many in-home day cares that sex offenders were having a hard time going anywhere to live.”
- So he's going to ride the sex offender exploitation boat, and try to get it implemented again, thus making it impossible for sex offenders to live anywhere.
Mary Leaver, DHS spokesperson, said the department’s policy is not to discuss pending legislation, but this is not a DHS requested bill.
Sex offender laws enacted during the past few years have developed a classification system with sex offenders designated at levels 1, 2 and 3, Murphey said. Sex offenders are classified when they are released from incarceration. A level 3 is someone who is highly probable to re-offend. Levels 1 and 2 include a light to moderate risk for re-offending.
“I don’t know what level that particular offender was classified as, in their case,” Murphey said. “But I don’t think offenders who have committed crimes against children should be close to children ever again.”
- Hell, anywhere they go, they will be near children. So I see we have yet another politician riding the backs of sex offenders for votes and brownie points, as if I expected something different.
House Bill 1082 would use the classification system to prohibit level 3 sex crime offenders from living within a 2,000-foot radius of an in-home day care center or a day care facility. Those sex offenders who already live in a home previous to the construction of a nearby day care would not have to relocate.
“That’s the day care’s responsibility to be aware of,” Murphey said.
Any nonprofit organizations housing sex offenders prior to the proposed Nov. 1 effective date of the legislation would be allowed to continue their operation.
A $3,000 fine and/or imprisonment for no less than one year, not to exceed three years, would punish any person willfully violating this provision, according to the bill’s language.
By Gabriel Dobbs
Although many Americans have lost their life savings, their homes and their jobs, the economic recession has had a beneficial effect for some of the most down and out members of our society: convicts. No, they aren’t scooping up securities and bonds from the bargain aisle, and no, they won’t be getting plasma T.V.’s paid for by the recent stimulus package. Their reward is more valuable to them than even $787 billion — freedom.
Facing a budget deficit of $42 billion over the next 17 months, a three judge panel in California has ordered the state to reduce its overcrowded prison population by as many as 55,000 prisoners (approx. 1/3 of the more than 150,000 prisoners in California). Although many non-violent offenders will be released out of financial necessity, their early exoneration raises the question: Why are these prisoners locked up in the first place? Shouldn’t criminals be incarcerated out of social necessity, rather than economic luxury? The following anecdotal policies exemplify what is wrong with a system that locks up too many Americans unnecessarily.
The 100-to-1 Ratio
The United States has about 5 percent of the world’s population, and about 25 percent of the world’s jailed community. With a prison population of 2.3 million people, the United States has the world’s highest incarceration rate. Are we a nation of ne’er-do-wells, thieves and wife-beaters, maniacs and murderers?
Unsurprisingly, many scholars and criminologists attribute the rise in men and women behind bars to our country’s zealous war on drugs. Despite a decline in violent crime over the past two decades, our prison population has quadrupled since the war on drugs began in the 1980s. This exponential growth is largely due to the mandatory minimum sentences for possession, as well as policies like the “100-to-1” ratio.
From 1988 to 2007, possession of five grams — that’s about five sugar packets worth — of crack cocaine (predominately used by poor African Americans) was punishable by five years in jail — the same punishment as 500 grams of powder cocaine (more commonly used by wealthy white suburban teens). In 2005, states spent over $17 million per day to incarcerate drug users, or more than $6 billion for the year. Facing another budget crisis, the Governator will have to choose between cuts in education, government jobs and social welfare programs or keeping recreational drug users behind bars.
Three Strikes, You’re Out
The quirks of California’s justice system don’t end with drug violations. Kevin Webber was sentenced to 26 years to life for stealing four chocolate chip cookies. Gary Ewing received the same punishment for shoplifting golf clubs. What do these two men have in common? They both committed two prior felonies and under California’s cruel-but-catchy three strikes law. The fact that this law applies to non-violent felonies boggles my mind. This law is widely regarded in the legal world as a violation of the eighth amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment; three strikes law gives the saying, “Don’t get caught with your hand in cookie jar,” a totally new meaning.
Kids on the Chain Gang
Two corrupt judges in Pennsylvania ruined the lives of thousands of children for personal financial gain. 14-year-old Bernadine Wallace was sent to a wilderness detention camp after pleading guilty to charges of making “terrorist threats.” Bernadine’s real crime was less than serious — she got into a heated argument on MySpace. Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan sent hundreds of juvenile offenders to expensive and privately run detention facilities in exchange for over $2.6 million in kickbacks from the for-profit youth prisons. In addition to the obvious lack of judicial oversight, this case has drawn attention to the severity of youth sentencing for minor offenses.
The Draconian Laws of our Puritan Yesteryear
Many of our statutes related to sex and indecency reflect our prude and proper Puritan past. Until 1998, oral sex between any two adults (including married couples) was illegal and punishable by up to 20 years in jail in the state of Georgia. Although this law was overturned more than a decade ago, it took another 10 years for a less visible law to be revised.
Genarlow Wilson was charged and convicted for aggravated child molestation for engaging in oral sex with a 15-year-old woman when he was 17-years-old. The term “aggravated” specifies the crime involved oral sex; had he had intercourse with the woman, he would have been charged with a misdemeanor resulting in a maximum of 12 months jail and no sex offender status. But because of Georgians strong aversion to third base, Wilson received the mandatory 10-year jail sentence in addition to sex offender status. After the intervention of several high profile activists including ex-President Jimmy Carter, the Georgia Supreme Court agreed to hear Wilson’s case. The Court found Genarlow’s punishment excessive and therefore cruel and unusual, but stopped short of declaring the law unconstitutional.
Our system of justice is intended to provide rehabilitation, set a standard of deterrence and deliver retribution to those who wrong others and are threats to society’s general well being. It is irresponsible, illogical and immoral to jail citizens whose crimes are so inconsequential that their sentences are commuted due to budget deficits. The government should only revoke a citizen’s freedom and liberty as a last resort for egregious crimes. America’s 51.8 percent recidivism rate speaks for itself — our prison system fails to rehabilitate and often further encourages criminal behavior. State legislatures should reevaluate the war on drugs and redirect their efforts to the truly dangerous cartels and drug producers at home and abroad. It took a financial meltdown to remind us that it isn’t worth billions of dollars (nor any amount of money) to lock up potheads and sexually active teenagers. Hopefully, as California goes, so does the nation.
By Paula Reed Ward, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In June, _____ was about to complete his two-year state prison sentence for corruption of minors. Following his release, the convicted sex offender was to serve an additional year of state probation.
But because he couldn't find housing in compliance with state regulations, that meant before even getting out of prison, he was back in, this time in the Allegheny County Jail -- on a technical probation violation.
He's been there for more than seven months without a hearing.
Mr. _____ is one of three men who recently filed a federal lawsuit against the director of the state Board of Probation and Parole, Catherine C. McVey, claiming that her organization has failed to provide required due process.
The men are seeking to have the complaint certified as a class action, though their lawsuit specifically states that it is unknown how large the class might be.
As of the end of 2008, 757 defendants from Allegheny County were serving state probation.
Generally in Pennsylvania, a suspect who has been arrested has a preliminary arraignment within hours to be informed of the charges. A preliminary hearing, to determine if enough evidence exists to warrant holding a suspect for trial, must be held within three to 10 days.
That kind of due process of law is required under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The same kind of process is provided to defendants who are picked up on parole violations through regulations set by the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole.
But there are no such regulations for state probationers.
And even though U.S. Supreme Court decisions have dealt specifically with probation, there is no time requirement concerning how quickly prisoners must have hearings. Instead, those cases require only that a hearing be held "as promptly as convenient after arrest while information is fresh and sources are available."
The case that set that precedent is from 1972, and in all the years since the court has never defined what "as promptly as convenient" means.
"You can't argue in any sense of the word that an 87-day delay, or a 217-day delay, is 'prompt,'" said attorney Kevin Quisenberry, who represents the plaintiffs.
He said he hopes the lawsuit will force the state to implement a time frame for probationers so they have the opportunity to have their cases heard more quickly.
"We're not trying to get freedom for people," Mr. Quisenberry said. "We're trying to get process for people."
Under the law, a person picked up for a technical probation violation has the right to what is known as a Gagnon I hearing -- an administrative proceeding where a judge determines if there is probable cause to show that a violation has occurred.
If the judge makes such a determination, a Gagnon II hearing will follow and could result in formal revocation.
The lawsuit alleges that it is the policy and practice of the state board to incarcerate probationers without providing notice and a prompt preliminary hearing.
The way the process is supposed to work, according to state board spokesman Leo Dunn, is that if a violation is alleged, the probation officer takes that information to the court and requests a hearing on the matter.
Jim Rieland, director of Allegheny County Probation, said his office is then responsible for scheduling the hearing. Sometimes, because of court calendars thick with cases, it can take a month or more to get a state probation hearing before a judge.
"Any time you don't have time frames -- and you have discretion -- you don't have the same sense of urgency," Mr. Rieland said.
No one will say what caused the delays for the three plaintiffs in the lawsuit. However, shortly after their complaint was filed and a request was made for a temporary restraining order, state attorneys filed a motion saying their request was moot because parole board agents that day faxed a request to Common Pleas Court for a hearing.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy Bissoon granted the plaintiffs' motion and ordered the state Board of Probation and Parole to make a formal request to schedule their Gagnon I hearings. A hearing for a preliminary injunction in their lawsuit had been scheduled for Friday but has been postponed indefinitely.
Last week, the state filed a motion asking that the case be dismissed, claiming that the board does not have the power to create new law regarding probationers because they are still under the jurisdiction of the courts.
"The Board (or an arresting officer) cannot be responsible for the constitutionality of criminal rules which they do not execute," wrote attorney Mary Lynch Friedline, an attorney for the state.
Further, the board argues that the actual scope of the lawsuit encompasses the authority of each county's court of common pleas and the Pennsylvania rules of criminal procedure. Again, the state argued in its brief, the board has no control over those.
Raymond L. Billotte, the Allegheny County district court administrator, said if there is a delay in the process for state probationers, his organization and the state should work cooperatively to identify the problem and correct it.
"As a general rule, being in jail for 200 days without any kind of hearing does seem to be problematic," Mr. Billotte said.
Defendants serving county probation usually have a Gagnon I hearing within a week of being picked up for a violation. The hearings are held twice each week in the basement of the county jail.
Without scheduling probation violation hearings quickly, Mr. Billotte said, "We would just cripple the jail."
In addition to losing their freedom by being incarcerated, there can be other consequences for the probationers, as well.
"Certainly, when you have someone incarcerated, they're going to lose their job, lose their apartment," Mr. Rieland said. "Then you're really starting from a negative position."
For sex offenders, the problems can be multiplied by new residency requirements prohibiting them from living close to children or places that children frequent. That often makes it difficult for them to find acceptable housing. That was the case for all three plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the Board of Probation and Parole.
Mr. _____ submitted four housing plans. All were rejected by the state.
But a goal of probation, Mr. Rieland said, is to help offenders become productive again, and the type of offense doesn't figure in.
"However disagreeable an offense might be to the general public ... every individual has the same rights no matter what their crime is," he said. "What we're trying to do is change the focus of probation to help an offender change behavior."
That means the quicker a violation is discovered and heard before a judge, the quicker that offender can get back on a supervision plan that might be effective, he said.
"The easiest thing we do is lock people up," Mr. Rieland said.
Due process is especially important in instances where a person's liberty is at stake, said Michael Jacobson, the director of the Vera Institute of Justice in New York City.
He called it a "moral and ethical burden" on the system to respond to those cases quickly.
"You're spending tons of money to keep someone in jail when they're not even accused of any new crime," Mr. Jacobson said.
Part of the problem, he said, is that often judges don't regard probation violations with the same level of seriousness as other cases.
"It has implications across the board. But unfortunately, it's such an inside-baseball, in-the-bowels-of-the-system kind of thing, that it's hard to make a case to the public," Mr. Jacobson said.
By Jim Peppard
Bartow - Deputies have arrested a mental health therapist on charges he tried to extort money from a sex offender he was counseling.
They say Dr. Paul H. Sandman, PhD., of Winter Haven, owner and operator of Adjustment & Awareness, took advantage of one of his court-ordered clients.
Investigators said a registered sexual offender attending four years of therapy was one month shy of completion when Sandman was arrested for marijuana possession and was removed from the list of acceptable providers for the Department of Corrections. Nonetheless, the offender was assured he would get his letter of completion.
Citing financial difficulties and the need to move to Tennessee, the doctor said he would provide a letter of completion, if the sex offender paid him $2,500. He later dropped the amount to $2,000, deputies said.
The offender complained to the sheriff's office. Deputies interviewed Sandman and booked him into the county jail without bond pending a court appearance Tuesday.