Tuesday, April 28, 2009
By Jon Dell
City Council unanimously votes to restrict sex offender’s living space.
Convicted sex offenders who choose to live in the city of Santa Clarita will have to pay extra close attention to their home’s location, after the city council voted unanimously to restrict where they can live.
Current law forbids serious registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools, parks and other areas where children regularly congregate.
But in November of 2006, California voters passed Prop 83, which allowed local governments to further restrict the residency laws for sex offenders.
After waiting for conflicting legislation to be cleared up, City staff was able to craft this new ordinance, which also forbids sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of trails, paseos, and open space within the city.
Los Angeles County has already passed a similar ordinance governing the unincorporated areas for the Santa Clarita Valley.
Since the state law was not passed until November 2006, any registered sex offender who’s current residency is now in violation of the city ordinance, but who moved there before prop 83 was passed will not be forced to relocate. Any sex offender who established residency after November 8th, 2006 must comply.
- So, once again, you add a new amendment to the bill, and once again, it's ex post facto!
The ordinance will not become official until it is passed at a second reading in two weeks.
See the state citation against Bluegrass Care
By Valarie Honeycutt Spears
Bluegrass Care and Rehabilitation Center in Lexington has been cited by state officials who allege that the staff used personal cell phones to "inappropriately photograph and make audio recordings" of residents without their knowledge, according to documents from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
The staff attached songs with sexual lyrics to the photographs and circulated them to other staff members, said Cabinet spokesperson Beth Fisher.
On April 10, 2009, the facility on Pimlico Parkway received a Type A citation, the most serious that a nursing home can receive, according to documents the Herald-Leader received under the state Open Records Act.
"There was no evidence that the facility had identified or trained staff that using residents' pictures and/or recordings of a sexually exploitative nature were a form of abuse," the citation said.
- What? I cannot believe anyone even said this!
"Interviews with facility staff, including aides, licensed staff and housekeepers revealed this was a usual event that was not recognized or identified as abuse; therefore staff failed to report the abuse to their supervisors," it said.
Jo Ann Lovell, the facility's administrator, issued a statement Tuesday saying that the nursing home administration conducted "a thorough investigation which resulted in the dismissal of several employees."
"Bluegrass Care and Rehabilitation Center's foremost concern is the care and protection of its residents and we have taken this matter very seriously," Lovell said.
The citation given by the state said the facility was not enforcing its policy that staff members could not have cell phones in resident care areas.
Lovell said Tuesday that facility officials had re-educated the entire staff on the existing policy regarding the strict prohibition against employees' use of electronic devices in resident care areas.
The Type A citation said that, as a result of the recordings and photographs, the state considered seven residents to have been abused.
"The facility failed to have an effective system in place to ensure residents were protected from abuse," the citation said. "The facility's failure placed residents in imminent danger."
Fisher, the Cabinet spokesperson, said a civil monetary fine of $6,550 per day was imposed by the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services because residents were found to be in immediate jeopardy.
Lovell said Bluegrass Care's administration "is currently working in conjunction with state and federal agencies to insure that our residents are protected now and in the future."
This is a video on YouTube, and I am not sure if it's some student debate thing, or real. From the notes in the description (below) is sounds real. Anyway, here is the video.
NCSL 72nd Annual Session. Rep. Farkas introduces an amendment to a bill allowing for the administration of deprovera to sex offenders in State of North Carolina.
The purpose of any program should be to promote safety and rehabilitation.
Not many lawmakers want to be caught casting a vote that could be interpreted as going easy on sex offenders. That means laws that make the lives of these felons difficult are easy to pass and those that try to fix excesses are legislative nonstarters.
But a measure of common sense has infected an attempt in the Maine Legislature to create a more effective system for tracking and treating people convicted of sex offenses, including those who have committed crimes against children.
Any discussion of the issue should start with the notion that the purpose of sex-offender registries and restrictions should not be to punish the offenders. If lawmakers feel that added punishment is warranted for these crimes, then the proper way to address that concern is to lengthen prison terms for offenders. Indeed, that's not unreasonable, especially for those crimes where the perpetrators have a strong history of re-offending, as is the case with abusers of young children.
If one takes punishment out of the equation, however, then the current patchwork of state and local ordinances regulating sex offenders in Maine starts making less sense.
For one thing, restrictions placed on where sex offenders can live, work or shop haven't been shown to improve public safety. That squares logically with the fact that more than 90 percent of sex offenders know their victims. The predator on the prowl in a school yard is a rare threat, while the deviant uncle, stepfather or even parent is all too common.
Also, not all sex offenders share the same tendency to re-offend. The man or woman convicted of having sex with a minor who is months shy of the age of consent deserves to be punished, but those offenders do not pose the same risk as a pedophile or serial rapist.
Some good ideas are coming up in Augusta. One is to focus the registry on those offenders who pose a genuine risk to public safety. Another is to create statewide standards regulating where registered sex offenders can live relative to schools and other settings where their presence would be upsetting and perceived as a safety risk.
It's neither fair nor practical for towns and cities to so severely restrict sex offenders that they have no choice but to leave town. That, as critics rightly say, carries the risk of driving sex offenders underground, and it undermines their ability to rehabilitate themselves.
If that sounds soft on crime, then let's talk about longer prison sentences.
The Released - Frontline investigates what really happens to mentally ill offenders when they leave prison
This year, hundreds of thousands of prisoners with serious mental illnesses will be released into communities across America, the largest exodus in the nation’s history. Typically, mentally ill offenders leave prison with a bus ticket, $75 and two weeks worth of medication. Within 18 months, nearly two-thirds are re-arrested. In this follow up to the groundbreaking film The New Asylums, FRONTLINE examines what happens to the mentally ill when they leave prison and why they return at such alarming rates. The intimate stories of the released—along with interviews with parole officers, social workers and psychiatrists—provide a rare look at the lives of the mentally ill as they struggle to stay out of prison and reintegrate into society.
Five years ago, FRONTLINE’s groundbreaking film, The New Asylums, went deep inside the Ohio prison system as it struggled to provide care to thousands of mentally ill inmates. This year, FRONTLINE filmmakers Karen O’Connor and Miri Navasky return to Ohio to tell the next chapter in this disturbing story: what happens to mentally ill offenders when they leave prison. The Released—airing on Tuesday, April 28, at 9 P.M. on PBS (check local listings), is an intimate look at the lives of the seriously mentally ill as they struggle to remain free.
As communities across the country face the largest exodus of prisoners in history, the issue has never been more pressing. This year alone, over 700,000 people will leave prison, more than half of them mentally ill. Typically, these offenders leave prison with a bus ticket, $75 in cash, and two weeks’ worth of medication. Studies show that within 18 months, nearly two-thirds of mentally ill offenders—often poor and cut off from friends and family—are re-arrested.
In 2007, Lynn Moore, armed with bottles and bricks, broke into a house looking for Osama bin Laden. A paranoid schizophrenic with a history of drug and alcohol abuse, he was arrested more than 20 times and sent to prison for the fourth time. After serving eight months, Moore was released without supervision. FRONTLINE follows him from his first day of freedom to a homeless shelter in Canton, Ohio. “I don’t think people understand how hard it is to transition from prison life back to everyday life,” says Scott Schnyders, program director at Refuge of Hope, the shelter that housed Moore.
For about a month, Moore stays on his medication and does well. But when he fails a breathalyzer test, he is asked to leave the shelter—and, like the majority of unsupervised ex-offenders, he is unable to remain on medication. After once again searching for bin Laden, Moore resurfaces at the county jail, where he has been charged with criminal damage for throwing rocks at a trailer. Asked about the incident, Moore tells FRONTLINE: “It is no delusion. ... It was the devil, Antichrist, bin Laden, Satan, Saddam.” After 30 days, Moore is released from jail. But one week later, he is re-arrested.
“The realities of psychiatric treatment for those coming out of incarceration is that it is nonexistent or very poor,” says Dr. Mike Unger, a psychiatrist with a community outreach team. “This isn’t a population that’s going to come with their planners and their organizers ... and be compliant with their medications and keep them in that perfect little medication box as they live behind a dumpster somewhere.”
Finding housing is always difficult for ex-offenders, but the challenge is even more acute for the mentally ill who need treatment. “For the severely mentally ill, there is virtually no facility designed for long-term inpatient care,” says Sherri Sullivan, director of Bridgeview Manor, the only residential treatment center in Ohio that accepts the indigent mentally ill. “If they exist, they exist in the form of a group home, and most group homes don’t offer treatment.”
FRONTLINE also tracks down Keith Williams, a paranoid schizophrenic who had been arrested more than 10 times since producers first met him in 2004. Now at Northcoast, a state psychiatric hospital in Toledo, Ohio, Williams has been stabilized on forced medications. “I’m doing a whole lot better,” Williams says. “I want better things in life than this just, you know, going back and forth to jail, back and forth to jail.”
But Northcoast, like all other state psychiatric hospitals, now provides only short-term crisis care. “The good news is that Keith is getting better,” says Michelle Istler-Perry, a nurse at Northcoast. “And in a sense, the bad news as well is that because of this, he’ll be sent back into the community in Toledo, and he’ll be back within three months, ... probably very psychotic, and hopefully not having hurt somebody.” Once released, Williams will be responsible for taking his own medication. Asked how he’ll know when to take his pills, Williams tells FRONTLINE: “I would know when to take them because ... if I feel like kaboo-ka-kaboojaning, ... I mean groovy or foamy or something, ... that’s when I know I already took them.” Four days after being discharged from Northcoast, Williams assaults a police officer. He is facing 10 years in prison.
“We release people with two weeks’ worth of medication. Yet it appears it’s taking three months for people to actually get an appointment in the community to continue their services,” warns Debbie Nixon-Hughes, former mental health bureau chief of the Ohio Department of Corrections. “And if they don’t have the energy and/or the insight to do that, they’re going to fall through the cracks and end up back in some kind of criminal activity.”
The Released is a FRONTLINE co-production with Mead Street Films. The film is produced, written and directed by Miri Navasky and Karen O’Connor. FRONTLINE is produced by WGBH Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS. Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Park Foundation. Additional funding for The Released is provided by The Open Society Institute and The Jacob and Valeria Langeloth Foundation. FRONTLINE is closed-captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers and described for people who are blind or visually impaired by the Media Access Group at WGBH. FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of WGBH Educational Foundation. The executive producer of special projects is Michael Sullivan. The executive producer for FRONTLINE is David Fanning.
Promotional photography can be downloaded from the PBS pressroom.
Alamitos Beach residents need help in cleaning up high-priced flophouses.
There are few neighborhood leaders more passionate than Mike Wilson, who heads the Alamitos Beach Homeowners Association. But he has a lot to be passionate about.
His Long Beach neighborhood has become infested by a collection of businesses that operate without a license, collect apartment rents far above usual rates, pack in tenants six to a unit and, much to the neighbors' anguish, specialize in housing sex offenders. What is particularly galling is that the California Department of Corrections picks up the tab.
- Well, sex offenders have to live somewhere!
In a column published Sunday on our Comment page, Wilson let fly at prison bureaucrats who pay $1,300 a month (and sometimes nearly twice that) for a bed in a small building that in one case housed 16 offenders with no treatment and no supervision whose raucous behavior last year provoked 201 police calls. City Hall went after the seedy operation with a lawsuit.
That was only one example of these flophouses for convicted deviants. According to Wilson, there are 140 sex offenders living in his ZIP code alone, 55 of them in an area just one block wide and four blocks long. The crimes these people have been convicted of include pedophilia and the most violent and ugly sex offenses on the books.
- "Convicted deviants?" I think that is the first I've heard that.
Wilson says these profit-driven flophouses and their sometimes threatening occupants are destroying his otherwise pleasant neighborhood. In response, he says, there should be a continued scream from local officials and the press demanding that Sacramento do something.
- Is it destroying the neighborhood, or your property values? Like I said, the state has made laws, pushing them into various regions of the state, so don't get mad at sex offenders for living at the only places they can legally live, get mad at the legislature who are passing these insane laws.
He's right about Sacramento being the problem, at least in one respect. The laws restricting where sex offenders live and requiring that their addresses be made public have a section that says these offenders should not be grouped in the same dwelling, but there is no penalty attached to it. A memo issued by Attorney General Jerry Brown's office says, therefore, that local jurisdictions can't prosecute anyone who ignores this "recommendation."
But even if they could prosecute, sex offenders might just declare themselves to be alcoholic or drug-dependent, thus protected under federal law as "disabled," and bunk together in these flophouses. There would be nothing state or local officials could do about it.
- You can repeal Proposition 83, which doesn't and isn't working!
That doesn't mean Alamitos Beach residents and others should give up. The Sacramento politicians at the very least should close the loophole in state law, and allow prosecution of violations.
- You should repeal the residency restrictions, and ex post facto issues, then you'd not have a problem!
Actually, there is one sign of progress. Probably as a result of audit criticisms, budget problems, pressure from local officials and unpleasant publicity, state corrections officials have been talking in recent weeks about spending less money on free rent for paroled sex offenders. One, in response to aggressive pressure from Long Beach Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal, said the department was planning to cut the free rent from a year to just a month. That would help.
Wilson's passionate plea is for his neighborhood, but it could be for yours as well. If the state is allowed to continue using tax money to inflate rents six-fold, these sex-offender flophouses will show up in a lot more places.