Saturday, July 18, 2009

MA - First Annual Reform Sex Offender Laws National Convention - Boston Massachusetts July 10-11, 2009 - CFC NM Report Part 3

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only, and we do not necessarily agree with everything posted below.

Saturday July, 11

First I want to bring up another serious matter introduced during the Fred Berlin panel session, and again this goes towards the massive collateral damage of the sex offender registry, and another reason so many non-former offenders have become the driving force behind this movement. Several former offenders or their wives mentioned incidents where their children’s parent was “outed” in class for being on the registry, in one case by the teacher! Generally for offences that occurred long ago. Just another example of how “saving the children” is “destroying the children”.

And while I am on my soap box what do you tell the child of a parent murdered for a youthful in-discretion 20 or 30 years ago because of the internet registry? Murders of those on the internet registry for being on it have increased from 1 in 1992 to 45 in 2008. Food for thought.

State Affiliate Presentations:

After the SOSEN presentations RSOL had state affiliate directors give a short presentation. I believe 8 states were able to give presentations. Generally most directors discussed the reasons for becoming involved, such as wife, mother of former offender, personal beliefs, ect. I was also struck by how many state directors go at it alone, out of passion and obtain little support from former offenders that have a duty, not only to have paid for their past crimes and taken care of any treatment issues, but to stand up for their own rights. A single, or handful of individuals in any state can only achieve so much. The last 7 months in New Mexico I have been witness to this, with many single individuals speaking out before formal organization, but now much more powerful as possibly the second most organized affiliate in the US!

With all that said, I was shocked to hear how many groups had passed or almost passed reform legislation, in the short 2 years reform groups have been active. I had been thinking if we got something done in New Mexico we would be cutting edge, but NOT! Some examples: Massachusetts passed a 7 year expungement law that had no sex offender exclusion! And 100% REGISTRY ABOLISHMENT was proposed, but not passed.

Oklahoma passed a Romeo and Juliet Removal clause, and when the governor asked if the state director would back off if he signed it(as her son will be removed from the registry by this) she said “absolutely not until the registry is abolished” to which the governor said “See you next year Mary”. Nothing quite like a mother scorned!

Maine passed a bill for Ex-Post-Facto registrants to get off the registry, convicted before inception. They also banned local residency restrictions beyond 750’ from municipal property.

Georgia, home of the worst rights violations in the US amazingly nearly passed a bill to remove people from the registry via petition once there parole or probation requirements are satisfied. While it did not pass, what a great step toward reform and slimming down the registry that would be!

New Hampshire passed a 4 year Romeo and Juliet clause of no more then a Misdemeanor and no registration.

Without any legislative victories in New Mexico other then defeating bad, new bills, and everyone hearing already why we were all here, I focused on the road CFC NM had taken in the first 6 months, from meetings, legal, support, victim resources, prevention, media, education, legislation, ect. In hopes other budding affiliates could use some of those ideas. I have a hand out on this if anyone is interested in the details. I also briefly again mentioned unity and thanked the organizers of RSOL, the University and The Criminal Justice Policy Coalition.

Afterwards we adjourned for lunch. Myself and 2 others enjoyed lunch in the Commons, on a beautiful after noon and unseasonably cool weather. I also made a trip to the cemetery across the street from the law school and visited one of the historic churches. The fact that so many children in this area are allowed to get around on their own was interesting, as the panic will not allow that in other places, including my home town. But it also further shows the absurdity of the sex offender registration system. I also tried to chase down some Iraq war protesters with some brochures on a more “relevant issue” but they were chased off before I could.

2:30 Texas Keynote Speaker, Attorney William Habern, “Sex Offender Civil Rights - From Where We Were to Where We Are Going.

Attorney William Habern is not your average attorney. He speaks his mind and with a fierily flair you might have once thought only existed in TV shows such as Boston Legal. His passion in this cause is something we need more of.

His career was in Criminal Defense, and he made it absolutely clear that Civil Rights and Constitutional law are completely different, very costly and best left to experienced federal litigators. The need for work in this area dwarfs the available resources. Upon retirement he formed a small group of attorneys who are still active to take on pro-bono, sex offender civil rights cases. As he put it, he is not the gun slinger, but found the gun slingers he needed for these difficult cases. To date he has won EVERY case. The focus of his group is primarily “Due Process” issues, something that affects every single former offender at some point, from ex-post-facto registration, re-classification, parental rights, parole and probation process, ect. His cases go beyond the basic problems with the registry many times, and into the realm of abuse of power.

Some of the extreme cases; A burglar registered because of he was miss-named in a prior case he was picked up for, excused but due to the record his PO put him on the registry despite no sex conviction.

A developmentally challenged teen had trouble cleaning his baby daughter and caused a yeast infection due to simple improper wiping, but was convicted of child abuse. His PO registered him, even though NO sex offense occurred, and DA concurred.

A lawyer was set up for child porn in an incredibly elaborate scheme (entrapment essentially for a related party) took a 5 year probation deal, but changed to 18 months in prison and taken directly to jail and ordered not to be with his kids. They fought it and just before trial, and the DA knew he would loose he gave up so they could not win attorney fees. A problem with many of these types of cases is recovering attorney fees.

In another, famous case “Jennings” had youth sex offense, and later in life other non-sexual convictions. After learning of his youth convictions long ago the PO placed him on Sex Offender Supervision and ordered him not to have a computer in his business, and to NOT have any consensual sexual relations. The courts found requiring someone to not have a computer in a business is unreasonable today, and you cannot tell someone who they will date.

The Raul Mesa case involved someone on Acid that murdered a child. No sexual abuse occurred, (or charged) but was forced to admit it or he could not leave prison. The victim’s family chased him around, but the situation was fixed. Was eventually violated and put back in jail. But the point is you cannot someone sex offender supervision with out due process.

He tried numerous cases of those without sex offense convictions being placed on the registry anyways. Additionally represented cases where plea bargains did not include registration, yet were required to register many years later, in one case 27 years.(As in New Mexico)

Keep in mind Parole boards can act un-constitutionally EXCEPT when they pass formal rules that are unconstitutional.

His suggestions for state affiliates supporting those released from prison for sex offenses to Parole or Probation:

  • Have 2-3 sets of people ready to help, action teams.
  • Prepare families for the nightmare of parole, probation, the requirements and council for what is coming and the effect of registration for all of them.
  • Legal teams need to be formed to take on Sex offender rights cases and funds need to be raised.

He told us we have a difficult fight ahead but to NEVER give up.

We must finish plowing the fields of the legal system” - Civil Rights Attorney William Habern, First Annual Reform Sex Offender Laws Conference July 11, 2009

Laurie Peterson: Lobby Techniques and Experience for Sex Offender Laws at state and National Level

Laurie is the New Hampshire State Affiliate Coordinator, and one serious activist. In yet another case where someone was able after 3 years, to pass legislation that removed her loved from the registry, she is only re-doubling her efforts and even helped put together the conference.

She presented a thorough power point on the legislative process and lobbying, along with her impressions from several years of efforts. She also has the distinction of being among only a few activists to lobby congress in Washington.

Some of here most important suggestions:

  • Know all aspects of the issue, including both sides.
  • Know the sponsors.
  • Know the legislators.
  • Be prepared to answer tough questions.
  • Know the opposition.
  • Know the laws.
  • Try to be the last speaker at hearings.
  • Connect with different languages.
  • Learn where to best start a bill, house or senate.
  • Avoid the over use of statistics.

The power point should be made available to state affiliates at a later date and is a great tool for those affiliates new to the daunting, legislative process.(where was that back in December!)

3:45PM Break Out Groups

The final portion of the conference was 4 break out groups, chosen at random and sent to different rooms to come up with one or two important ideas for RSOL to work on. Our group had many ideas but focused on building our base and making sure all 50 states have active affiliates. Our group also came up with the likely concept and location for next years conference.(which I will not disclose for now) Despite the RSOL founder being in our group, his complex idea was shelved. Sorry Paul!
Other groups presented great ideas including stories, courts task force, networking, lobbying, fundraising and others.

After the Break Out Group Discussions the RSOL team said a few words before dismissal. Including “Remember, this fight is for the country, not just the civil liberties of former sex offenders” and the importance of bringing former victims to speak out, and discussing the effect these laws are having on the nation between men, women, children and the generational gap being created. Few feel sorry for any former offender, so we must tap into the growing, national unease over these laws. And get people to see their main function in life is to live, not protect.

I was also impressed by the state affiliate coordinator, who in 2 years has helped to organize 35 states in this new civil rights movement. Being a non-former offender with no loved ones in the fight, and being from Canada even, he had the vision to see what was going on in America, and the guts to take on the fight. In a later discussion I thanked him and promised to assist in working to organize an Arizona affiliate group as to remove a small amount of burden from his back if I could.

With that the conference concluded. I want to mention a couple of interesting folks, one is a just retired journalist who is working on a book about the sex offender registry, and will be including many personal stories. A long, and interesting project, but what is a retired journalist to do?

Also the gentlemen with http://www.satasort.org/ who presented a disturbing array of juvenile treatment materials, where children as young as 5 are treated as though they are a 40 year child rapist. Please visit his website and learn more, as the treatment of children is a significant issue that must be addressed.

Thanks again to all who sponsored this event, and I look forward to next year, and hope that every one feels inspired to do the right thing, against all odds, and against popular opinion. We can be a part of the solution to a safe and secure future for all People.

Lloyd Swartz
Citizens for Change New Mexico

Remember, this fight is for the country, not just the civil liberties of former sex offenders” - Paul Shannon, First Annual Reform Sex Offender Laws Conference July 11, 2009

End Part III


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)


MA - First Annual Reform Sex Offender Laws National Convention - Boston Massachusetts July 10-11, 2009 - CFC NM Report Part 2

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only, and we do not necessarily agree with everything posted below.

Saturday July, 11

The SOSEN folks managed to secure another late shuttle into Boston, but thankfully we had figured out a better subway plan, how ever a complicated walk….Anyhow we were early at least. And the video link to Austin would perform somewhat better today.

Dr. Richard Pillar introduced Keynote speaker Dr. Fred Berlin with Johns Hopkins University, and made a few short comments. Dr. Richard Pillar was responsible for removing homosexuality as a medical diagnosis. He is concerned about how these issues affect the pour, and the serious myth that sexual deviations cannot be successfully treated. Many programs have a close to perfect success rate. Feels registry laws are naive in the thinking they will prevent any sex crimes. Used the example of people infected with a disease, you would not just lock them up in the house forever, but that is how sexual disorders are handled.

Dr. Fred Berlin brings to the conference significant credentials, as Director of Treatment at Johns Hopkins University. His insight into the depth of this crisis and into diagnoses impressed me. He has 5 major areas of concern. First, that the tremendous spectrums of offenders are lumped together. Second, Legislative responses to serious events. Third, Legislation Driven by misconceptions. Fourth, de-humanizing of offenders and victims, and finally “Truth in Language” in legislation.

His greatest concern is not actual registration, but the community notification. He believes the extremely low recidivism rates of 2.5-5% are based upon the ability to re-integrate into the community. This is no longer able to happen due to public notification. Those that admit a problem are persecuted, but you cannot have punishment and treatment both. He is also extremely concerned that while legislators push mandatory chemical castration,(which he does not support) the very few that would actually benefit from sex drive medication, and want it to help control issues, cannot get access to it due to regulation or insurance. Punishment and legislation cannot solve problems like pedophilia.

Simple Diagnoses

Evaluation: Is it a recognizable physical condition? Is it a difference in makeup? Such as non-sexually deficient, like retardation, brain injury, Alzheimer’s, ect. Many times those with a condition like this are moved to other facilities “for the safety of others”, where they are put in unsafe conditions due to the law. Dr. Fred Berlin presented other examples of miss-diagnoses, such as priests that were Exclusive Pedophiles, but diagnosed as homosexual.

Pre-Disposition: Everyone is pre-disposed to different make up, and are physically attracted to different people, and aroused differently.
  1. Behaviors’ related to arousal. Ie: Cross dressing. Dr. Berlin treated a pediatrician with this problem, afraid of image. But this condition had no bearing on his orientation. Exhibitionism and Masochism are other examples.
  2. Partners that a person finds appealing. Such as Zoophilia, or Pedophilia. Does not always mean a disorder. Pedophilia means attracted to those under 13, but must be broken down further.
  3. Intensity of Drive differences
  4. For Pedophilia , if attitude about desires does not conflict with the persons morals they are ego syn-tonic, for those where the desires do conflict with morals, they are ego-dystonic. This is further broken down into which sex or sexes attracted to, as well as whether they are attracted to children and adults or only children. A person who is ego-syntonic and or exclusively attracted to children is the most difficult to treat, and the most dangerous. But they represent a very small percentage of those with Pedophilia issues. Less then 1%.

Myths about Pedophilia include it is about power and control, or someone lacks social skills. If this were the case then how could an erection occur due to sex drive occur? It really is a fundamental difference in make up. A study was conducted among adults about attraction to children, but was stopped when MOST men showed attraction to young teens. Dr. Jerome Miller mentioned the day before that he wondered what would happen if people were shown child porn walking down the sidewalk, and how many would actually show arousal.

Treatment: Ideology, what pedophilia is not due to is choice. It is NOT a persons fault but IS their responsibility to do something about it, but they are prevented from doing so by mandatory treatment reporting laws. This endangers children by preventing help preventing offenders from seeking help.

Contributory factors can include nurture, nature as well as prior abuse. But studies of large numbers of abused children showed very few were permanently damaged, nor developed pedophilia. Society uses prior abuse as an excuse.

Do not advocate bias. Will power cannot alone control actions, just as one needs help sticking to a diet. It is easy to violate, as sex drive is preservation of human race. A person gives in and hurts a child and him self. Support systems are a vital part of the solution.

Sex control drugs should be made available, but not mandated.

In general the experts are afraid of the effects of the sex offender hysteria on families, victims and society as a whole. Despite the fact stranger danger is a myth, parents are afraid to let there kids play outside, men are always suspected as abusers. A huge sex gap between children and adults, as well as generational gap is forming as adults fear being simply “accused” of impropriety and the potential fall out. The sex offender registries perpetuate this problem while providing no public safety, and need to be abolished. Former victims are being made out to be life long, scared human beings, is also not healthy.(several former victims in the audience cheered this concept, and one broke down sobbing over being told what she is) These were some comments that came out regularly.

Dr. Fred Berlin Panel:

Dr. Nancy Earvin a concerned psychologist from California commented on training to treat sex offenders, and how the lines between victim and perpetrator are blurred. Questioned how risk assessments could be used early on for abused children. Must recognize children as sexual beings. Age appropriate education is important. Fred Berlin sees treating sexually abused children as aspect of prevention. Again discussed mandatory reporting laws of the CAPTA act need to be amended.

Panelist commented legislation was passed with lack of understanding or balance. Policies are setting up former offenders for addiction, and may become worse people due to ongoing punishment, and lack of opportunity due to the registry.

A short Q&A session occurred afterwards, with several comments from former victims. Then a short break was held.

RSOL Related National Project Reports 11:15am

  1. Support hotline status and availability 800-773-4319. Commented on being tested by victims rights groups. Must report ongoing abuse, but have not been put into that position ever.
  2. RSOL Prison Project, requests for volunteers. Discussed security, journal mailed for free.
  3. Discussion and presentation of various educational materials produced by various organizations.
  4. Presentation on http://www.solresearch.org/~SOLR/ as an independent clearing also for studies, research and litigation around sex offender laws.

Special Report from SOSEN Staff (http://www.sosen.us/)

Comments about SOSEN and SOSEN projects by various members. I emphasized bringing diverse interests in our 2 year old movement together, and using various online resources without duplicating what already works, such as SOSENS highly secure and monitored forums. Encouraged use of state forums and introduced new RSOL forums.

End Part II


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)


FL - Sex offender businessman: He finds homes for other offenders

View the article here

07/18/2009

Randy Young runs "housingforsexoffenders.com," angers neighbors

Randy Young calls himself  "a Robin Hood" for Florida's sex offenders. Neighbors say he ruins communities.

For about three years, Young has been buying and renting houses, condos and trailers throughout the state and leasing them as "habitats" for registered sex offenders.

He targets properties, often in foreclosure, within the few remaining zones where convicted sex offenders can legally live in Florida. He once ran an entire trailer park for sex offenders in Orange County and was cited for cramming 24 men into a three-bedroom house in central Broward County.

"I am providing a service people need," said Young, 53, a registered sex offender himself. "In the world of sex offenders, it's either a mattress inside a room with other offenders, or living under a bridge."

But for the neighbors living next door, Young's business is a nightmare.

"He has no respect for us, and no shame for what he's done," said Wilfredo LLantos, whose family lives next to a home Young owned in the Broadview Park neighborhood in unincorporated Broward.

Young's business model is straightforward. He advertises his house-hunting services as "Habitat for Sex Offenders" on his website, Housingforsexoffenders.com. The website also helps match visitors with "sex offender friendly" attorneys, counselors and employers.

Young is registered as living and working from Cocoa, and as living part-time in Broward, St. Petersburg and Zephyrhills in central Florida. An accountant by training, he once owned an upholstery business.

He was convicted in 2003 in Volusia County of lewd or lascivious conduct on a minor and was sentenced to 11 months of incarceration and seven years of probation. He is labeled a sex offender for life. He says a teenager had sex with an adult at a party at his house.

Young declined to say where his homes are located, fearing neighbors and local officials would torment his company and tenants. Over the past three years, he said, he has purchased 15 Florida homes and found housing for about 300 sex offenders.

He says he charges anywhere from $400 a month for a mattress-sized flop, up to $1,000 for a private room. He declined to say how much money he makes, but says it's not much. He describes himself as a soft touch.

"A lot of these guys can't find jobs," Young said. "So many of the times they just give me 20 bucks, and I let them stay until they can find somewhere else."

Corrections officials said they don't keep track of how many houses Young runs, but are aware of several in South Florida and Central Florida, including in Orlando and Cocoa. At one point, Young operated an trailer park in Orange County called Lake Shore Village Mobile Home Park. Young said he sold park after neighbors and local authorities started to crack down on his business.

Young routinely e-mails probation officers listings of his available housing and they, in turn, give the lists to the sex offenders they supervise, to help them find places to live, state officials said.

Florida Department of Corrections spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said her department, which supervises sex offenders on probation, takes no position on Young's business venture. It's all legal as long as the homes meet local codes and are outside the restricted boundaries.

"It's a [probationer's] responsibility to find housing," she said. "They give us an address, and all we do is tell them whether or not it's legal for them to live there."

Neighbors in Broward's Broadview Park know the locations of at least two of Young's homes. The neighborhood, less than a square mile, is one of the last few legal areas left for sex offenders in the county. Ninety-two registered offenders live there.

Earlier this year, Young rented 24 sex offenders space in a three-bedroom house at the 4100 block of SW 22 Street. Broward officials cited him for code violations, and now the home has five residents.

Several blocks away on 44th Terrace, Young purchased a foreclosed home for $48,000 in March and turned it into what he calls a "professional house" exclusively for offenders with professional jobs.

One of his tenants, a former medical researcher, says he heard about Young's place about a year ago through the sex offender grapevine. With a 2007 conviction for lewd or lascivious molestation of a minor, the tenant insisted on being identified only by his initials. He said he feared repercussions to himself and his family.

"I really wouldn't have a place to live if it wasn't for him," M.L. said of Young. "This is like any other home anywhere. We don't bother anyone, and nobody bothers us. We all have the right to live somewhere."

M.L. pays Young $500 a month for his own bedroom in the 3,500-square-foot home he shares with three other men. The neatly kept house was recently refurbished with a new tile floor and a new kitchen. It has a pool, a hot tub, and a line of palm trees in the yard.

The home has been a nightmare for next-door neighbor Heinz Bodmer. Bodmer, who has lived there since the 1970s, says he wants to move, but can't.

"Real estate is a bust. I can't sell my house, much less with all these creeps running around," Bodmer said. "I can sell it to Young, but he'll probably only offer me a couple thousand dollars."


"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)


IN - Man wrongly accused as sex-offender

View the article here

07/17/2009

By Kate Greene

TERRE HAUTE (WTHI) - It all started in 2005 after Dave Winemiller spent two years in prison for criminally confining his ex-wife. When released he was forced to sign a statement claiming he was a sex offender.

Documents stated someone under the age of 18-years-old was involved in Winemiller's charges. However, those documents by the State of Indiana Department of Correction were wrong.

Winemiller was taken off the list in 2007 after filing a lawsuit against the State of Indiana Department of Correction.

It was shortly after that Winemiller got a call that said he had to go back on the sex-offender registry list and this time for life.

Winemiller got a court order from a Terre Haute judge demanding he be taken of the list in March of this year.

He said it's ruined his life.

"It made me more angry the second time, because they should have corrected it the first time. It's changed my life, since 2005 I did my time for what I did. Since 2005, I've still been doing time for something I didn't do," Winemiller said.

The State of Indiana Department of Correction told News 10 they apologize for its error.




"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)