Tuesday, September 22, 2009

FL - Inmate who stabbed cellmate to death kills himself

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09/22/2009

By DAVID ADLERSTEIN

CARRABELLE - The inmate who allegedly stabbed to death his cellmate early Monday morning at Franklin Correctional Institution died Tuesday afternoon of an apparent suicide.

After _____, a 43-year-old convicted sex offender, was stabbed to death in his cell early Monday morning, the inmate believed to have committed the crime, Christopher Lunz, 41, was moved later that day to Florida State Prison in Raiford, the Florida Department of Corrections’ most secure facility.

At 12:35 p.m. Tuesday, Lunz was found dead in his cell in Raiford of an apparent suicide, authorities said. They did not specify how he might have killed himself.

We are investigating now,” said Gretl Plessinger, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Corrections.

The series of deadly events began around 4:55 a.m. Monday, when Lunz apparently stabbed _____ to death with a shank, a homemade weapon, while they were in their cell. Lunz was serving a life sentence for the March 2003 shotgun slaying of his father in Palm Harbor.

Plessinger said Lunz also stabbed a second inmate Monday morning, although his wounds are not life-threatening. Prison officials declined to release the second victim’s name, citing medical privacy regulations.

The second victim was not a cellmate of Lunz’s, Plessinger said. “Because it just happened, we’re still investigating but some details are blurry at this point,” she said.

Plessinger said a captain approached Lunz after the stabbing, talked him out of the weapon and got control of the situation. The facility, located just outside Carrabelle, then went into restricted movement for the next several hours.

_____ was convicted in March 1996 in Volusia County on two sex-related offenses, lewd and lascivious assault on a child under age 16, and coercion of a sex act on a child by an adult.

He served about 7.5 years for the crimes, and was released in December 2003. _____ returned to prison in June 2006 after violating his parole and was expected to be incarcerated until September 2016.


"TThey who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved


GA - Lawmakers should be careful how they vote

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09/22/2009

By Tom Crawford

When Republicans gained control of the Georgia House after the 2004 elections, the party leadership saw a political issue they were sure would be a winner: sex offenders.

At the time, there was not any particular problem with sex crimes. Georgia already had laws that imposed lengthy prison sentences on persons who molested children, and district attorneys were eager to prosecute them. There had not been any great scandals where sexual predators were set free to prey on the innocent.

But in the spring of 2005, there had been a brutal slaying in Florida where a nine-year-old girl was senselessly raped and murdered by a sex offender. Legislative leaders seized upon that tragic crime to proclaim that Georgia really needed to get tough with sex offenders.

We need to review our own laws and make sure they are the toughest in the nation,” House Majority Leader Jerry Keen (Email) said. “My intent personally is to make it so onerous on those that are convicted of these offenses . . . they will want to move to another state.”
- And instead of dealing with the issue, he wants to push it off to some other state!

House Speaker Glenn Richardson (Email) agreed: “These are sick people and I think the public has a right to know where they are.”
- Show me where in the Constitution, where people have a right to know where others are!  What about us knowing about murderers, gang members, DUI offenders, abusive men/woman, drug dealers/users, etc?

The Legislature overwhelmingly passed a sex crimes bill in the 2006 session that probably is the toughest law in the nation. It made prisons sentences even longer, required lifetime electronic monitoring of registered sex offenders, and prohibited offenders from living anywhere near schools, churches or other places where children might gather.

As with any law passed under such political pressure, this one had some unforeseen consequences. A teenager in Douglas County who had consensual sex with a younger classmate was given a 20-year prison sentence (the state Supreme Court ruled that was cruel and unusual punishment and ordered his release). The residency prohibitions were also struck down by judges who noted that in most counties, it would be physically impossible to find a place to live that wasn’t within 1,000 feet of a church, school or bus stop.
- And by Jerry Keen's own words, this was his and others intent!

Rep. Howard Maxwell (Email) (R-Dallas) is one of the many legislators who voted to pass these measures to get tough on sexual offenders, but his vote came back to haunt him this summer.

One of Maxwell’s friends and constituents, an 86-year-old veteran of World War II, was caught up in a case involving an 11-year-old girl he had met at church and was convicted of child molestation. The man’s attorney called Maxwell and asked if the legislator would testify as a character witness before the judge imposed sentence.

Maxwell quickly agreed and testified during the sentencing hearing that his friend was “nothing but a man of character . . . I’ve never heard any problems, any word, any type of discussion, nothing come out against him.”
- And this proves, people are eager to pass draconian laws, until it affects them personally!

After Maxwell testified for him, the convicted child molester avoided going to prison. The judge instead ruled he could remain at home, under house arrest, so that he could continue to take care of his elderly, ailing wife.

The judge who allowed the child molester to avoid a prison sentence that normally would have been required under the “get tough on sex offenders” law was Paulding Superior Court Judge James Osborne a former law partner of Glenn Richardson.

Maxwell’s testimony could cause political problems for him because at least one local TV station reported on it. He acknowledged that he voted for that sex crimes bill, but now contends that it’s one of several state laws that are perhaps too tough.

This is the whole problem with half the laws we pass, like the two strikes law and zero tolerance in the schools,” Maxwell said, referring to a Cobb County school policy that caused a sixth-grader to be suspended because the ten-inch key chain on her Tweety Bird wallet was considered a weapon.
- It's those "sound good on paper" laws, which nobody making the laws does any research, or even thinks about the consequences of the laws they are making and passing, until it affects them.

I don’t particularly like the laws, no,” he said. “I think they’re too stringent. I don’t like it that we’ve taken the power to sentence away from the judges, basically. You’ve got to use common sense.”
- Yes, you need to use common sense, so why did you vote for it then, to make yourself look better, or to "go with the flow?"

Common sense often goes out the window when our legislators are stampeded into voting for something that seems to be a political winner. They need to be careful how they vote as this incident shows, actions have consequences.


"TThey who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved


VT - Barre Mayor Calls Sex Offender Law 'Waste Of Time And Money'

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09/18/2009

Louzon Suggests Dropping Residency Ordinance

BARRE - The mayor of the city of Barre is recommending that officials not fight for an ordinance that regulates where sex offenders can live, nearly two weeks after a judge struck it down.

Mayor Thomas Lauzon is recommending the city drop an ordinance that regulates where convicted sex offenders can live.

This comes after a Superior Court judge upheld Barre resident Christopher Hagan's appeal of the city's "Child Safety Ordinance." Lauzon told The Rutland Herald the city should not pursue an appeal because it would be a "waste of time and money."

"Our likelihood of success in appealing the ruling to the state supreme court is extremely remote," Lauzon said. "We could place that item on the local ballot and seek a charter change from the Legislature, but my assessment -- given the current political climate -- would be that the effort would be turned into a political football. Again, our likelihood of success is diminished. I think our time is really best spent in working with the legislature to overhaul the sex offender registry, I think most agree that our registry is remedial at best."

Lauzon said he will ask the council to drop the ordinance, but not the issue, when they meet next week. Lauzon points to the state's sex offender registry, which he said needs a lot of work and much more information.

"What I've learned we need to encourage the state of Vermont to empower parents and others by providing them accurate, up to date information. We've heard a lot of lip service about transparency in government -- it's time to apply that standard to the Vermont registry," Lauzon said.


"TThey who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved


FL - Florida Justice Transitions

Old video, but reposting due to original being deleted.

Florida Justice Transitions

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"TThey who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved


FL - Sex offender helps others find suitable housing

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09/22/2009

By JULIE MURPHY

Finding a place for registered sex offenders to live is a matter of balance -- teetering between safety, emotions and the complexity of Florida law.

While there may not be any silver bullets, there are plenty of double-edged swords because of residential restrictions placed on offenders. Now one man is turning the problem into a business opportunity.

_____, 53, a registered sex offender since 2003 for an offense in Holly Hill, is also an entrepreneur who finds suitable housing for others through a business he calls Habitat for Sex Offenders.

"It's a snowball that would be difficult to stop," he said of the increasing need in Florida, and across the country, for housing for sex offenders.

Florida law requires a 1,000-foot buffer between registered sex offenders and schools, parks, day care centers, as well as any place "children may congregate."

Public Defender Jim Purdy of the 7th Judicial Circuit, which includes Volusia and Flagler counties, says the good-intentioned law is both complicated and vague because it was "written in broad strokes."

"The Everglades and the Ocala National Forest is about the only place sex offenders can live," Purdy said with a hint of sarcasm in his voice.

Some cities, like Deltona and Ormond Beach, have increased that buffer -- something _____ says is good for his business because it forces offenders out of certain areas and "clusters" them in others.

_____ owns several properties in Brevard County and leases even more. He acquires whatever housing he can find that's cheap.

"We're getting a new home every month," _____ said. "We bought a couple that owners financed 100 percent because they weren't going to sell any other way and we lease a lot of houses."

NEED IS GREAT

Jill Levenson, human services department chairwoman at Lynn University in Boca Raton, has spent much of her career studying sexual offenders and said there is an immediate need for housing.

"With all the restrictions, it's very hard for these people to find a place to live, so this (group housing) can be beneficial," she said. "There are some landlords who take advantage because there are so many limitations. It can be exploitative -- lots of people in one small location."

Levenson knows of one offender who moved to a trailer park in the Tampa area for a lack of anywhere else to go.

"He's paying $500, but he's living in this trailer with three or four other people," she said. "Five hundred dollars isn't a lot of money, but he's living in some pretty cramped quarters."

_____ tried to establish two sex offender residential motels in Volusia County last year, but failed to make arrangements with either owner.

Gary Ballard, who owns the Bird's Nest on West International Speedway Boulevard, said he doesn't have a problem with sex offenders living there -- three list it as their address according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement -- but said it came down to money.

"Taxes and insurance are high," he said of his 10-unit motel. "We had to figure out what we'd need to cover our bottom line, and it was too much for _____. In a lot of ways, it would make sense though, because it's out there close to the jail."

_____ says some of these people can't find work or get good-paying jobs, so rents are low.

"Some people pay nothing. The most anyone pays is $500 a month (when living in a home with multiple roommates)."

Julie Martin, who already houses several sex offenders in New Smyrna Beach, declined _____'s offer to work with her because she is concerned he is drawing too much attention to himself and, therefore, too much attention to the people he says he's helping.

"If they get a job their probation officer has to go (to the employer) and tell them what happened," she said. "They can't hide this, but it's not fair to throw it back in their face day after day."

Volusia County sheriff's deputies conduct quarterly checks on sex offenders and monthly checks on sexual predators, spokesman Brandon Haught said. Some local cities do the same.

DO HOUSING LAWS HELP?

Communal living can be either good or bad, depending on the circumstances, Levenson said.

"There is some risk of creating a negative peer group," she said, "but there is other research that offenders living together will police each other."

Recidivism rates are lower than commonly believed, Levenson said, and lower re-offense rates than other criminals. Additionally, she said there is no evidence that residential restrictions, such as preventing offenders from living near schools, is effective.

According to the 2002 Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics Recidivism Study, prisoners released in 1994 and tracked for three years with the lowest re-arrest rates included those convicted of homicide, rape, sexual assault and DUI -- between 41 and 52 percent. The study notes that subsequent arrests are not necessarily for violent offenses.

In a separate report by the Bureau of Justice, "Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison in 1994," just 5 percent of sex offenders followed for three years after their release from prison were arrested for another sex crime.

Living 1,584 feet away from Chisholm Elementary School in New Smyrna Beach didn't prevent _____, 28, from coming onto the campus to pick up his roommate's child earlier this month. He was arrested, though, because he brought a BB gun that looked like a full-size semi-automatic handgun on the school's property and told people he was a federal drug enforcement agent.

_____ was convicted in Miami-Dade County in 1999 on kidnapping and rape charges of a boy.

"Sex abuse to children is a terrible thing and I don't want to minimize it," Levenson said. "Sex offenders cultivate relationships with children whose families they know."

Preventing sexual abuse and re-offending is about individual case management, Levenson said.

"Blanket solutions dilute resources across the field," she said.

"It should be case management rather than law," Levenson said. "People need to learn more about what causes children to be victimized. Children are much more at risk by their own family members and close family friends."


"TThey who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved


Video Brings New Meaning To ‘Stranger Danger’

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"TThey who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved


TX - Mentor Care Ministries

Website

About:
John and Marian Leonardson have a heart of compassion for people coming out of the prison environment. They have both worked for years to help ex-offenders get their lives straight and center their decisions around Jesus Christ. Inmates’ lives are changed one life at a time when coming out of prison.

In prison ministry since 1980, John has worked inside many prisons, run three prison ministries and an aftercare center and written three manuals. MentorCare loves to work with churches or aftercare centers to help them establish or improve their ministry. He has also traveled to several countries to train local Christians to work in prison ministry. MentorCare believes the key issue facing our criminal justice system is re-entry. John specializes in teaching, mentor training, understanding the criminal mind, ministry analysis, fundraising and literature development.

Rev. Leonardson carries a deep sense of calling to this ministry and served as an elder in Colleyville Christian Fellowship. Marian has been his wife since 1971 and they have three daughters.

Marian Leonardson, LMSW–AP is a Licensed Master Social Worker, Advanced Practitioner. She can offer consultation to your ministry and make you aware of social programs and resources from which you may benefit. She has a wide range of experience in child welfare, medical and psychiatric social work and aftercare ministry.

Marian is a perfect co-worker with her strong background in social work and keen interest in helping ministries and former inmates. She knows how to gently delve into a person’s background with the goal of finding the resources to address their issues. Marian shares the calling and compassion for people finding their way into successful life. Together with John, they make a powerful team backed by years of experience and spiritual maturity.

Contact:

MentorCare Ministries
John Leonardson
1808 Chattanooga Dr.
Bedford, TX 76022
817.688.4044 or 817.688.2578

Video Link



"TThey who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved


NY - Bill adds residency, GPS rules for sex offenders

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09/21/2009

After listening to the tearful testimony of a mother whose 8-year-old daughter was molested by a neighbor, Nassau lawmakers Monday moved to expand restrictions on the activities of convicted sex offenders.

A law proposed by Legis. David Denenberg (D-Merrick) and Joseph Scannell (D-Baldwin) would require high-level sex offenders to wear a GPS monitor around their ankles while on probation.

It also would prohibit everyone convicted of a sex crime from living within 2,000 feet of their victim's home or workplace.
- Thus making them homeless.

Nassau already bans sex offenders from living near schools or parks.

The new residency and monitoring restrictions passed unanimously through the legislature's committees and will be considered at an Oct. 5 public hearing.

Denenberg said he had developed the residency restriction after encountering a constituent who complained that her daughter's convicted molester returned to live in her neighborhood after serving less than five months in jail.

The mother, a pediatric nurse who identified herself only as "Rosemary," testified in favor of the new law - saying her once cheerful daughter refused to leave the house after her confessed molester - the father of her daughter's former best friend - returned to their neighborhood.

"My daughter was afraid to go anywhere in our community," Rosemary said. "She lived in constant fear of this family," which recently moved away. "We should err on the side of the victim."
- So how is adding more restrictions and GPS going to make her "feel" any better?  It won't!

Legislators thanked her for "putting a face" to a victim's story.

"I don't want another child to suffer," Rosemary said, turning to the cameras. "Here's my face. It's OK."
- Nobody wants a child or an adult, to suffer.  Not any sane person anyway!


"TThey who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved


RI - Rhode Island gets extension on complying with sex offender law

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09/22/2009

By Katie Mulvaney

PROVIDENCE - Rhode Island is getting an extra year to comply with a federal law that would create a nationwide network of sex-offender registration and notification programs.

But despite the additional time, serious challenges still stand in the way of the state meeting the requirements of the law by July 2010, said Michael J. Healey, spokesman for the attorney general’s office. The state might even have to ask for another year’s reprieve. “We have a lot of work to do in a very short time.”

President George W. Bush signed the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act into law in 2006. Also known as the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, it requires all 50 states and federally recognized Indian tribes to track people convicted of sex crimes, even those who completed their sentences decades ago, on a centralized computer registry. The state’s Web site would feature a photograph of and detailed information about each offender, including their home address, job locations and license plate numbers. It could be accessed by anyone.

States nationwide have been struggling with the cost and legal complications of implementing the law, so much so that the federal government extended the deadline for all to comply from July 2009 to 2010. In addition, it’s met more than 100 legal challenges.

States that fail to comply stand to lose 10 percent of the federal money they receive for sex-offender management programs and other law-enforcement initiatives. In Rhode Island, $80,000 to $500,000 could be at stake, Healey said.

Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch (Contact) recently detailed the obstacles in a letter to Governor Carcieri (Contact), House Speaker William J. Murphy (Email), Senate President M. Theresa Paiva Weed (Contact), the state police and the state Department of Corrections. In the coming weeks, he plans to convene a group of stakeholders to work on how to bring the state into compliance, Healey said.

Complying with the act will mean significant changes to the state’s sex-offender registration and notification laws. Under the federal act, for example, a sex offender’s risk level would be based on the offense committed.

Currently, a sex offender notification board assigns an offender’s level based on a predicted risk that he or she will reoffend, after a review of his or her criminal history, disciplinary record in prison and course of treatment, among other factors. The offender then has the right to appeal.

The lowest-risk category is Level I. The highest, Level III, requires a broad range of notifications to the public about where those people are living after serving their sentences. A Level II designation also requires community notification. An offender can appeal his or her level under the state system.

Another concern Lynch raised in his letter is that the law would require community notification for anyone over 14, including juveniles involved in a crime of violence or a crime against a child under 12. Minor offenders — even those whose cases go through closed Family Court trials — would have to update registration information three times a year for at least 25 years, perhaps for the rest of their lives. Currently, in Rhode Island, the community is alerted to the presence of juvenile sex offenders, but their information cannot be posted on the state’s Web site.

The law would also mandate that all sex offenders register with the state. State law now requires that anyone convicted of a sex crime since 1992 register, amounting to about 1,800 registered sex offenders. No one knows how many more offenders would be required to register under the retroactive provision, but Paula Kocon, coordinator of the Parole Board’s sex-offender community-notification unit, says she knows of at least 350.

Finding sex offenders who committed their crimes decades ago will mean police and state prosecutors must dig through old records. “How are we going to find these individuals?” Assistant Attorney General Bethany Mactaz said. “It is going to be very difficult.”

In addition, it broadens the crimes that require registration, lengthens the time offenders must register and increases the information states must provide to the public.

Despite the hurdles, Lynch backs the measure, saying it will streamline registration, eliminate the offender’s right to appeal his or her classification and save money, Healey said. “Ultimately, it would really do, we think, a better job of safeguarding the public.”
- So you can "look tough" on crime, and trample on peoples rights, as well as get you votes?

But his office notes that the law is facing legal challenges across the country.
- And for good reason, they are unconstitutional!

No states have complied with the act, but the Department of Justice expects to announce that several jurisdictions have completely implemented it, possibly before the week’s end, said Susan Oliver, spokeswoman for the Department of Justice.


"TThey who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)

© 2006-2009 Sex Offender Issues , All Rights Reserved